Change comes to Hamilton, Mormon, Lion King
And Hollywood steps up after Rust tragedy
What to know
Book of Mormon, Lion King, Hamilton make post-George Floyd changes… Broadway has not forgotten the lessons of last summer. Hamilton has revised its depiction of Sally Hemings, Rafiki will no longer be called a “monkey” in Lion King, and Book of Mormon has made significant revisions to the character of Nabulungi, giving her way more agency. Show edits like this (especially to long-running hits) are rare, so it’s good to see Broadway stepping up. 🎭
AFI sets up scholarship in honor of Halyna Hutchins as candlelight vigil draws hundreds; The Rookie and The Boys ditch “live” gunfire… Nothing can undo the Rust set tragedy, but it’s comforting to see these tributes to Hutchins and at least two productions ditch real guns. Hopefully this serves as an inflection point. Also, the Rust production has shut down for now amid investigations. 🎬
First photos of Shonda Rhimes’ Anna Delvey series revealed… Remember Anna Delvey, the infamous NYC con woman and long-read subject? Shonda Rhimes is making a show about her. It will be the first show Rhimes has created since Scandal and it stars Julia Garner, Anna Chlumsky, Jennifer Esposito, Anna Deavere Smith, Jeff Perry, Anders Holm, and Laverne Cox. Not bad! Watch out for it. 🕶
James Michael Tyler, who played Gunther on Friends, has died at 59… Tyler recently appeared on the Friends reunion special via Zoom. His cast mates have been paying tribute to their on-camera barista across social media.
Netflix and Kenan Thompson are going to roast the Jonas Brothers… for being too good looking and talented? 🎸
Facebook threatens production company planning behind-the-scenes drama series starring Claire Foy… more mustache twirling over at the ol’ FB 📨
Mike Schur and Shea Serrano team for comedy series at IMDb TV… ok but what is IMDb TV? 📺
Brendan Fraser to play the villain in HBO Max Batgirl movie… you love to see it 🦇
For more pop culture news, discussion, and what-to-watch recommendations subscribe to my pals over on the Kickball Friends podcast. 🎙
What’s new this week:
Love Life s2 premiere — Oct 28 HBO Max comedy series | 🍅
Star Trek: Prodigy — Oct 28 Paramount+ sci-fi toon series | 🍅
Last Night in Soho — Oct 29 in theaters Edgar Wright thriller | 🍅 73%
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin — Oct 29 Paramount+ horror film | 🍅
Army of Thieves — Oct 29 Netflix action film | 🍅
Colin in Black & White — Oct 29 Netflix drama series | 🍅
What to watch
Like fun size candy bars and front-porch pumpkins, sometimes Halloween is about simple pleasures. Muppets Haunted Mansion, now on Disney+, is such a thing. Its themes are surface level, its performances are big, and its humor is often on the nose — but damn if it isn’t delightful.
Over the course of its brisk 49 minutes, writers Bill Barretta, Kirk R. Thatcher, and Kelly Younger manage to pack in 3 original songs, 14 celebrity cameos, dozens of clever references to the titular Disney ride, and what feels like hundreds of jokes, easter eggs, and winks. It’s silly and spooky and self-referential in all the right ways. Barretta, Thatcher, and Younger pull off an impressive double duty of staying true to the spirit of The Muppets AND the classic Disneyland attraction. It just understands these characters and what makes them funny. It feels risky and adult at times, but still inviting and universal. I’d go as far as to say it’s the best Muppets property since Jason Segel’s The Muppets. And as for The Haunted Mansion, they’re not just using the ride for name recognition. The story of this special follows the story of the beloved ride almost beat-for-beat, using the Imagineer brilliance in charming and surprising ways.
Disney is making a big budget Haunted Mansion movie with LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Rosario Dawson, and Owen Wilson, and they’ve now got some big felt feet to fill. That movie might have a more epic scope and more genuine scares — but there’s absolutely no way it will be as fun as this.