Leo DiCaprio Celebrates New Rihanna Song with a Birthday
The Friday Post.
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The Black Panther sequel Wakanda Forever opens today, and the second of Rihanna’s two songs for the movie was released at midnight. Midnight on November 11th. Did you know who was born on November 11, 1974?
So, yeah: technically he is celebrating his birthday. But he is celebrating nonetheless! He ain’t slick!
You can see this one of two ways: a complete coincidence that has more to do with Marvel and the release calendar than it has to do with Rihanna. Or you can see it as a sign, which I’m sure Leonardo DiCaprio does. He said “Born Again? I think you mean born on this day…” Tobey Maguire is begging him to get a grip and turn on “Her Loss”; Lukas Haas is consoling him, saying she ain’t slick, and texting Eric Adams “How soon can we get a table at Zero Bond?”
Leo being hopelessly devoted to Rihanna, hopelessly obsessed with her, hopelessly pining after her is my favorite pop culture conspiracy theory. Coincidentally, I am also that conspiracy theory’s author.
“Super Bowl is one thing,” Rihanna told the AP at the Savage x Fenty show when she was asked about a new album. “New music is another thing. Do you hear that, fans?”
The Wakanda Forever songs are fine — maybe only slightly better than the Beyoncé tennis song that I hope Blue Ivy has removed from her setlist.
What Paying Subscribers Got This Week
This started as a Friday Post section that I was having too much fun with, and made it into the Tuesday night post. Casey Affleck, actor and travel blogger, took the most backwards road trip imaginable. He did not mention his girlfriend and traveling companion once, which is a totally normal thing to do.
Thank you to everyone who does not watch Love Is Blind for rocking with me through all the Love Is Blind material. The season is over now!
We Have A Barb in the House
Not that kind of Barb, thank God. A Greta Gerwig’s Barbie Barb: Meet Maxwell Alejandro Frost, the U.S. Representative-elect for Florida's 10th congressional district.
He is also an Ariantor, which — finally! No taxation without representation!
Selena Gomez, promoting her new Apple TV documentary Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me was interviewed for Rolling Stone’s December issue. I liked that story (haven’t watched the documentary yet, but I am a Selenator). Gomez’s friend and kidney donor, the actress Francia Raisa, apparently did not.
“I never fit in with a cool group of girls that were celebrities,” Gomez told Rolling Stone. “My only friend in the industry really is Taylor [Swift], so I remember feeling like I didn’t belong.” When E! posted a photo of Swift and Gomez with that quote, Raisa commented: “Interesting.”
On TikTok, Gomez gave a half-apology: “Sorry I didn’t mention every person I know.” Raisa does not appear to follow Gomez on Instagram anymore. Gomez still follows Raisa.
I am always interested in friendship breakups. I’m inclined to extend a lot of grace to the relationship between a donor and a donee, because I’m sure that’s a relationship fraught with complication. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the week this goes viral, a random podcast interview from 2020 — with the dad from Gomez’s Disney show Wizards of Waverly Place — resurfaces to reify what a good friend she’s been to Demi Lovato.
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A Man That Is Alive, Yes
People selected Chris Evans as its Sexiest Man Alive. “The Universe Has Spoken,” the coverline declares, though I don’t remember being polled. Is this some kind of Lightyear tie-in? Lightyear, of course, “the origin story of the human Buzz Lightyear that the toy is based on.”
Chris Evans is … maybe the sexiest man in New England? I guess? Depending on where Adam Driver or Desi-from-Girls is at any given moment? Chris Evans stans are, secretly, more fanatical than the Barbz so at the advice of counsel I will not be commenting more on this. It’s fine! He’s handsome!
Vogue Giving The Girls Something To Talk About
Anna Wintour is putting on her legal action wig: Condé Nast, the publisher of Vogue, is suing Drake and 21 Savage over the fake Vogue magazine that was part of their Her Loss trollout. A Manhattan judge has already issued a restraining order, according to Reuters.
It is … just like Drake that his fake Vogue cover overshadowed the real Vogue cover that featured one of his exes: Jennifer Lopez and her nude lip.
There is always something about J.Lo where I’m like … wait, but be serious … The Affleck pap walks. The three weddings and a dozen wedding dresses. Asking Shakira, who was born in Colombia, to sing “Born in the USA” at their Super Bowl halftime show.
This time it’s the cover image. Shot by Annie Leibovitz, it’s a reference to a Gordon Parks photo of Eartha Kitt. The comments on the Gordon Parks Foundation’s instagram are too through:
TV Star Laments The Demise of Movie Star
Friends was never my thing, so I don’t have a lot of patience for these people. (But I did just rewatch Friends With Money last night — amazing Frances McDormand performance in that movie.)
Jennifer Aniston was on the cover of Allure, and the magazine reads her an (honestly very basic) analysis of Hollywood: “No one’s ever going to be famous the way she is. That kind of mass-fame phenomenon burning so bright for so long, it’s just not achievable today. She’s like a silent-film star among a generation of TikTok dipshits.”
Aniston considers this, and is dismayed: “Whoa. Oh, that just gave me chills,” she says. “I’m a little choked up. I feel like it’s dying. There are no more movie stars. There’s no more glamour. Even the Oscar parties used to be so fun....”
I have a lot of complicated thoughts about this, but first we have to agree that Aniston is a TV star. That’s not a pejorative, in this case anyway, it is just a fact. She’s a TV star like Steve Carrell is a TV star or Sarah Jessica Parker is a TV star: they’ve made movies, some of them good, but their biggest and most important output has been television. Movie stars — people you are introduced to when they are forty feet tall on a screen in a room you have to pay to get into, and not on the same screen you watch Jake Tapper on, will always feel different. To me, anyway.
But, without the existence of a significant monoculture (that’s not Marvel), actors with a degree of cultural saturation and power exist with less frequency. When they do exist, they have to exist on the same pedestrian internet that everyone else exists on — it is harder to create a mythic-grand-deluxe narrative of yourself when you are only slightly more in control of your image than, say, DeuxMoi is. Famous people who perform their personal life, as Aniston often has, and who have an always-interested audience for that performance exist with less frequency, too.
By and large, though, I agree with this. Movies used to exist to package and sell glamour. Glamour could be Rita Hayworth, but it could also be Mission: Impossible. Zendaya is a movie star, and Timothée Chalamet is a movie star, Jennifer Lawrence is a movie star, and even Emma Watson (who is really more famous for an iconic pixie cut and a Bling Ring gif than she is for any single Harry Potter movie) is a movie star.
Infinite Avatar (Maybe) (But Maybe Not) (Kinda Depends, We’ll See)
There will be three Avatar sequels. Or maybe there will just be one. It depends! “The market could be telling us we’re done in three months, or we might be semi-done, meaning: ‘OK, let’s complete the story within movie three, and not go on endlessly,’ if it’s just not profitable,” Avatar director James Cameron said in an interview with Total Film magazine.
Streaming and the pandemic might have ruined the marketplace for the Avatar movies, Cameron continued. “Or, conversely, maybe we’ll remind people what going to the theater is all about. This film definitely does that. The question is: how many people give a shit now?” he added. And, for that matter, maybe he doesn’t want to do infinite Avatar anymore. “The Avatar films themselves are kind of all-consuming,” Cameron told Empire. “I’ve got some other things I’m developing as well that are exciting. I think eventually over time — I don’t know if that’s after three or after four — I’ll want to pass the baton to a director that I trust to take over, so I can go do some other stuff that I’m also interested in. Or maybe not. I don’t know.”
Most decisions in Hollywood, generally, are kind of a maybe, let’s wait and see, depends on the mood of the moment. Finally someone is honest about that!
Avatar’s re-release made $15 million at the box office; Avatar: The Way of Water will open December 16. When Avatar was first released, Obama was president, Katy Perry and Russell Brand were dating but not married, I had probably just failed a math test, and Tiger Woods had just gotten into the Thanksgiving day car wreck. Amazing.
At Vulture I spent several years (maybe like two) cataloging every Avatar sequel development and delay. They have continued updating that post here.
The Slap Again Maybe
Jimmy Kimmel is hosting the 2023 Oscars, and if they are derailed by another slap, maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Kimmel is the obvious, and safest, selection for a host (barring the brutally bland Jimmy Fallon, who will never be selected because he is on a competing network). Kimmel famously hates movies and hates the winners and hates the Oscars, which makes him a perfect host — the Academy hates all those things, too.
Something I think about a lot is Kyle Buchanan’s advice every year: book the talent sooner, before the big stars schedules’ get packed! And if the Academy really wants Gen Z viewers, it should try booking Gen Z’s favorite stars: Adam Sandler, Ryan Reynolds, the cast of Don’t Worry Darling… (a girl can dream!)
Three things I read and loved:
“She’s just a crazy, rich New York nut.” (Vulture)
“I described it to friends as The Last Temptation of Elvis. It’s as if Satan is telling the story of Christ and detailing the architecture of his downfall.” (Vulture) — how often does a question in a Q&A feel so amazing? This totally articulates a lot of what made Elvis work for me.
“The neighbors I actually know are not white edgelords who are so enamored with being seen as having an edge that they’re ostensibly pseudo-conservatives. I get sort of obsessed with how absorbed legacy-media people are with people I find generally irrelevant and too white to actually have a real aesthetic.” (WSJ) — the only appropriate opinion on the Dimes Square “culture”
More, More, More!
The trailer for the season of Gossip Girl that I was a staff writer on is here:
The new season premieres December 1 with two episodes, followed by one new episode a week.
The Tell Me Lies couple is dating-and-or-holding hands weirdly. (PopCrave)
DaGiveaway: Tickets for an upcoming DaBaby show are selling buy-one-get-one free. (Complex)
Kathy Griffin is tweeting from her dead mother’s account after Twitter suspended her own account. (Variety) (Shocked she didn’t commandeer Yashar’s account, though.)
Don’t Worry Darling is now streaming on HBO Max:
That’s all this week. Thank you for reading! This weekend I’m dealing with a cold but if I make a miraculous recovery I’m seeing The Heartbreak Kid at BAM.