Last Week’s Episode: Grief and Rage

Last Week's Episode

It’s been a hell of a week, y’all. We ended the sixth month of pandemic lockdown with multiple murders by a white supremacist in Kenosha and the unexpected passing of a beloved icon. And now we’re entering the fall with more news of continued police violence, as well as no end in sight for the coronavirus that has devastated the lives of so many. Talk of a possible vaccine sooner than later has become prominent even as experts caution against accelerating the timeline for testing/approval, and in the meantime we at WWAC are here to summarize the week’s entertainment news in Last Week’s Episode.

The Sad

Last Friday night, the world received the shocking news that actor Chadwick Boseman had passed away after a four-year battle with colon cancer, at the age of 43. Boseman, who became a household name after playing the MCU’s first Black superhero in Black Panther (2018), had kept his diagnosis private while shooting multiple Marvel films as well as Netflix’s recently-released Da 5 Bloods (2020) and upcoming Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020). Over the course of his career, he earned acclaim embodying iconic roles such as Thurgood Marshall in Marshall (2017), James Brown in Get on Up (2014), and Jackie Robinson in 42 (2013), and the outpouring of grief and tributes to his legacy have been overwhelmingly moving. In Boseman’s honor, AMC Theatres will be rereleasing 42 in theaters beginning today, and [The Hollywood Reporter] featured him in a cover story this week.

Leslie Hamilton Freas, stunt double for and identical twin sister of Terminator actress Linda Hamilton, has also passed at the age of 63. Hamilton Freas was an ER nurse for most of her career and later a hospice nurse, but worked on Terminator 2: Judgement Day as her sister’s double, filling the role of Sarah Connor when her likeness was needed multiple times in the same shot. [Comic Book]

Fans of X-Men: The Animated Series also mourned this week at the news of the passing of Norm Spencer, who voiced the role of Cyclops from 1992 to 1997 in various Marvel animated properties. The Canadian actor’s most recent role was as Billy Blazes in Rescue Heroes (1999–2013) and was 62 when he died. [Comic Book]

On Jimmy Kimmel Live last weekend, Amber Riley performed a moving tribute to former Glee costar Naya Rivera after the Afro-Latinx actress’s tragic death in July during a boating trip with her son. You can watch Riley’s rendition of her song “A Moment” in Rivera’s honor on YouTube below.

The Exciting

Felix Ever After, author Kacen Callender’s second YA novel, is in development at Amazon Studios for a TV adaptation. The story follows a Black, queer, trans teen while he puts a catfishing scheme in motion as revenge for having his deadname outed, only to end up in a love triangle of sorts. The project will be overseen by Field Trip Productions’s Director of Development, Stephanie Dietz, and is already getting anticipatory buzz from fans of the book. [Deadline]

Gay Twitter exploded with glee on Monday when actor Niecy Nash (Reno 911, Claws, Clean House)  announced via surprise tweet that she had gotten married to singer Jessica Betts. The two have likely known each other for awhile, at least since they both appeared in Claws back in 2018, and are adorable in their wedding photos. [Autostraddle]

For many years I pitched science shows to large science networks and was unsuccessful. I would receive the feedback that…

Posted by Emily Calandrelli on Tuesday, September 1, 2020

CBS All Access has announced that the Star Trek franchise will feature its first non-binary and trans characters in Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery. Blu del Barrio will play Adira, a “highly intelligent” and self-assured non-binary character who will form a bond with characters on the U.S.S. Discovery. Ian Alexander will be playing Gray, a trans man who is “empathetic, warm, and eager to fulfill his lifelong dream of being a Trill host.” It’s exciting to see accurate and thoughtful casting for a property which has often been at the forefront of strides in representation. [Star Trek]

The Bad

As productions have started up again even amid continuing pandemic concerns, we continue to get reports of cast and crew contracting COVID-19. Among the most recent are Robert Pattinson—who tested positive for the virus, resulting in the halting of the filming for The Batman for the second time this year—and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who has said that although his entire family was affected, they are out of the woods at this time. [Vanity Fair]

French filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré, whose debut feature Cuties (2020) [Mignonnes] has received positive reviews on the international circuit so far, faced backlash recently when Netflix began to market her film on Twitter using a sexualized image of the main characters, who are preteen girls. Netflix has apologized for the blunder but the damage had already been done, resulting in a petition to pull the movie from the streaming service and death threats against the director, who for her part has emphasized that the message of the film actually interrogates the hyper-sexualization of young girls. More details about the film and Doucouré’s response to the outcry can be read at [Deadline].

Nickelodeon dropped a trailer for its new Nick Jr. show Made by Maddie this week, which features the titular Maddie, her parents, and their cat as the young Black girl goes on fashion adventures with her friends, but the similarities between the visuals of the show and that of Matthew A. Cherry’s Oscar-winning Hair Love were striking enough to prompt accusations of plagiarism from fans of the latter. Silvergate Media, the company that is producing Made by Maddie, has denied these claims. [Shadow and Act]

The Righteous

In a profile with Jimi Famurewa, John Boyega spoke candidly about his experiences with racism in Hollywood and how he’s dealt with the smothering effects of whiteness and anti-Blackness during his time with the Star Wars franchise. He calls out the systemic mistreatment of Black characters in film as a whole and airs frustrations with how Disney/Lucasfilm treated his character, noting the stark differences in screentime and nuance afforded to each character of color relative to the white characters. Among Famurewa’s excellent observations and moving descriptions of Boyega’s emotional journey since his big break, there is a sense that Boyega is finally allowing himself speak his mind, and we are all the better for it. [British GQ]

Netflix’s Big Mouth has now found a replacement for Jenny Slate after her decision in June to end her role as a white person voicing a mixed-race character. Writer, producer, comedian, and actor Ayo Edebiri will now voice the character of Missy, beginning with the penultimate episode of Season 4. Having booked a job in the writers’ room for Season 5 already, Edebiri will also fully take over from Slate in the recording studio when the new season begins. [Variety]

… and the Zany?

It’s the 20th anniversary of Bring It On (2000) and people are posting their versions of the cheers from the movie as a TikTok challenge.

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Rebecca Y. Lee

Rebecca Y. Lee

Lapsed poet, SoCal gal pal, equal opportunity foodie. Tweets @aquariuschicken.