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It’s a new morning for Jennifer Aniston

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Jennifer Aniston was trying to have a quiet weekend away. It was just after her 50th birthday, and she’d boarded a plane for Mexico with six of her best girlfriends — most of whom have known her since her early days in Los Angeles, before Brad, before Justin, before Friends and before the tabloids, when they lived as neighbours on the same street in Laurel Canyon. But a few minutes in, the pilot asked to speak with her. They had a tyre missing, and they would have to return to Los Angeles.


As the pilot burned off fuel, Aniston spent the next four hours cracking jokes and trying to remain calm (she is terrified of flying), while fielding text messages from friends who’d read about the “emergency landing” — which hadn’t actually happened yet.


The women landed safely, switched planes and, the next night, gathered for a ritual they’ve been doing for three decades: a goddess circle. Seated on cushions, cross-legged on the living room floor, they passed around a beechwood talking stick decorated with feathers and charms, much as they had done for every major event of their lives. They had circled before Aniston’s weddings to Brad Pitt and Justin Theroux. They circled when babies were born, and when Aniston and Theroux had to put down their dog, Dolly. This time they set the circle’s intention: to celebrate how far they’ve come — and to toast Aniston’s next chapter.


“It’s so weird. There’s so much doom around that number,” Aniston said of 50, noting that the New Yorker in her was slightly horrified at the thought of the term “goddess circle” appearing in a story about her. “Should we just call it a ‘circle’?” she asked.


We were sitting in the kitchen of her sunny, midcentury Bel-Air home, on a Tuesday afternoon in late August. She was warm and radiant, which is how glossy magazines often describe her, and also thoughtful, inquisitive and self-deprecating, which is not.


But about that age thing: “I’m entering into what I feel is one of the most creatively fulfilling periods of my life,” she said. This is the kind of thing actors say all the time in interviews. But in this case, it feels like more than a platitude.


Since Friends ended, Aniston has had critical success in smaller independent films, mixed reviews for mainstream movies, a lot of product endorsements, a couple of outright flops. But nothing has clicked quite like Rachel Green, the beloved runaway bride she played on Friends. She’s spent 15 years taking parts that had the potential to get her past that iconic role, that haircut, that “cloak of Rachel,” as she once put it — but they didn’t deliver. Perhaps the only way to do that may be to return to the medium that made her famous.


So come November 1, she’ll have a homecoming of sorts as the star of Apple’s The Morning Show — a big-budget drama set behind the scenes of a news show that looks a whole lot like Today. Aniston plays Alex Levy, a serious morning anchor whose personal life is complicated and professional life is more so, compounded by the sudden firing of her longtime co-host (played by Steve Carell) for sexual misconduct.


For Aniston, who is the spine of the show as both a lead and an executive producer, it’s the chance to dig into a more sophisticated dramatic role that, as she put it, has everything: “children, guilt, power struggle, being a woman in the industry, going through a divorce, publicly going through a divorce, feeling alienated, being just a little bit of a screw-up.”

Aniston signed on to play Alex, a morning host akin to Ann Curry, who must traverse the cutthroat, ego-filled world of TV news as a woman in her 40s who executives declare is past her prime.


Apple bought the show in a bidding war and ordered up two seasons. If the people who brought you the iPod were going to compete with Netflix and Hulu, Aniston and Witherspoon — who also serve as executive producers — seemed like a pretty good bet. “I just felt like this was exactly what we were looking for,” said Eddy Cue, a senior vice president at Apple overseeing the new service.


But then Weinstein happened. Charlie Rose was cancelled. Matt Lauer was fired from Today. “And we basically just started over,” said Witherspoon. “We had to.”

Kerry Ehrin, a creator of the A&E series Bates Motel, was brought in to write a new script, replacing the original showrunner. The updated premise: Alex’s longtime co-host is fired after news of his behaviour on the job (and in his dressing room) becomes public, throwing the show and her career into chaos.


Carell would be cast to play the disgraced anchor — whom Aniston described as a kind of lovable, cocky narcissist who, like so many powerful men before him, “just thinks everybody wants to sleep with him”. Witherspoon’s character would be positioned as a potential replacement to fill his now open anchor chair. The Morning Show would still tackle gender and ageism, but also tell a more complicated story of what happens when an idol falls. What does it mean for his unknowing co-workers and friends, like Alex? His ability to seek redemption? And, without knowing exactly of what he’s accused, whose side should we be on?

It’s a role that is asking her to draw on more of her personal life than ever before. And it may also be her best chance to finally get the world to see her as an actor, not just a star.







© 2019 The New York Times

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‘Can’t Handle Rambo?’ New Last Blood Ad Aims To Show Haters As Anti-American Wimps

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The Downton Abbey movie looks like it might kick Rambo: Last Blood‘s ass at the box office, and critics — including Rambo’s own creator — have called Sylvester Stallone’s movie out from the sidelines. So Rambo V‘s marketing team decided to package the film’s antagonists together for a new ad. Taking a patriotic angle, the ad seems to mock the movie’s haters as tea-drinking Downton-loving anti-American wimps who “can’t handle Rambo” and his “disturbing” violence.

Check out the ad Sylvester Stallone shared on Saturday, the day after First Blood author David Morrell said he hated the new Rambo movie and was embarrassed to even be associated with it:

Sly Stallone is famous for playing fighters who beat the odds — his brand is the scrappy underdog who never quits — so this whole controversy is really playing to his strengths.

The ad gets cheeky with the Downton Abbey “cup of tea” pun, but the message is not exactly subtle — loving Rambo: Last Blood is a sign you are a strong red-blooded American. “Can’t handle Rambo?” is like a masculinity challenge. Will you pass or fail? It’s the job of an ad to sell things, and this will probably speak directly to the choir already singing Rambo V‘s praises in defense of critical attacks.

Rambo: Last Blood has a low Metascore of 29 from 26 critics on Metacritic, but that site’s users have given it an average of 8.4/10. Over at Rotten Tomatoes, 89 critics so far have given Rambo V a rating of 29%, with 1,677 RT users giving it an 86% audience score. Not all critics hated it and not all fans loved it, but Last Blood is now the new poster child for the fan/critic divide.

Defending Rambo: Last Blood has become its own movement, and there’s definitely a political edge. Rambo’s creator shared a headline calling Last Blood a “MAGA fantasy.” Sylvester Stallone’s new ad brings in British men as a stand-in for Downton Abbey and to represent a certain type of guy, probably the type who would be mocked as a “snowflake.”

I’m very fond of Downton types myself, but to each his or her own. I also love me some Sly Stallone. I also love honest criticism and think we need more of it, especially if you don’t agree with it. Being free to argue with each other over movies = the true American way.

Based on Rambo: Last Blood‘s opening day box office, it was expected to make around $20 million in its opening weekend, behind Downton Abbey and close to both Brad Pitt’s Ad Astra and the still-slaying It: Chapter 2. Stay tuned for our weekend box office roundup for the full report. And keep up with everything heading to the big screen this year with our 2019 movie release date schedule.

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Wait, Did IT Chapter Two Have An Alternate Ending For Richie?

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Spoilers ahead for IT Chapter Two.

The horror genre has been through an exciting renaissance over the past few years, with plenty of new and exciting projects hitting theaters and raking up dough at the box office. But the genre has always been one that relied heavily franchises and sequels, and a fair amount of reboots have accompanied new original stories. Stephen King’s IT was recently given the movie treatment, with a pair of horror flicks by Andy Muschietti. The sequel delivered an emotional ending for Bill Hader’s Richie Tozier, but was there an alternate (and sadder) ending for the fan favorite character?

Richie was the scene stealer in IT Chapter Two, as Bill Hader had an endless supply of one liners for the members of the Losers’ Club. Andy Muschietti made a narrative choice by deepening the bond between Richie and James Ransone’s Eddie. It turns out that Richie’s feelings for his friend were romantic, and ultimately left unexplored in the wake of Eddie’s death. But Ransone recently shared a photo from the set of Chapter Two, which is going to start endless fan theories about an alternate ending. Check it out.

Um, what? Is there a version of IT Chapter Two that ends with Richie’s death? My head is spinning, and fans of both the franchise and Stephen King’s beloved novel are likely doing the same.

This image comes to us from James Ransone’s personal Instagram page. The image shows what appears to be a prop table on the set of IT Chapter Two. Included is a photo of Bill Hader’s character, which says “In Loving Memory of Richard Tozier”. As such, fans are wondering if an alternate ending for the movie saw Richie dying at the hands of Pennywise, rather than Eddie. But would the ending have been as powerful?

Eddie sacrifices himself during the final battle with Pennywise, but being killed by the demon after saving Richie. Bill Hader’s character was shown weeping and mourning for his fellow Loser, with the movie later revealing that his feelings were actually romantic in nature. Eddie’s death gives Richie the final motivation to destroy Pennywise, with the remaining Losers’ bullying the monster until he was small enough to kill.

The strength Richie has to stand up to Bill Skarsgard’s villain comes with the realization and memories of his time with Eddie. The movie ends with the comedian seemingly coming to terms with his sexuality, re-carving his and Eddie’s initials before leaving Derry. But could the above photo indicate an alternate, sadder ending for the character?

It’s unclear, as James Ransone didn’t offer any type of context with the photo. It’s more than possible that it was an inside joke on the set, and was not actually a prop for the horror sequel. But with Andy Muschietti willing to make some changes to Stephen King’s original story, it seems just about anything is possible.

Killing Richie off would have presumably given Eddie the chance to survive, and possibly come to the same realization that Bill Hader’s character did during IT Chapter Two‘s conclusion. The hypochondriac Loser was shown having the same problems he did as a kid during adulthood. While no longer under the thumb of his abusive mother, Eddie’s relationship with his wife had a similar power dynamic. Unfortunately, he ultimately died before being able to make a real change.

We’ll just have to wait and see if Andy Muschietti ends up commenting on this photo, and whether or not IT Chapter Two had an alternate ending for Richie. Perhaps the answers will arrive with the supercut of both movies, which the director has shown an interest in.

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Megan Fox Says She And Amanda Seyfried Were ‘Horrified’ To Make Out In Jennifer’s Body

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Throughout Hollywood’s history, there have been tons of movies that originally slipped through the cracks before being embraced by audiences years later. Such is the story with Jennifer’s Body. The horror film starring Megan Fox opened in theaters ten years ago to poor reviews and fell flat with audiences with its $31 million box office earnings.

Jennifer’s Body writer Diablo Cody, who famously wrote hit comedy Juno before the now cult horror classic, cites some unfortunate marketing as the reason for Jennifer’s Body flopping. Since Megan Fox was at the height of her sex symbol status, the studio focused on objectifying the actress to sell tickets to young men over the film’s target to women on themes of female sexualization and queer representation. Perhaps it was ahead of it’s time?

Thinking back, Megan Fox remembers her and Mamma Mia’s Amanda Seyfried being timid to film one scene in Jennifer Body where the two friends make out on a bed, revealing a rare instance of bisexuality on the big screen. In Fox’s words:

Now these are the behind-the-scenes things you don’t think about! Make-out scenes such as the one between Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried in Jennifer’s Body have the camera getting as intimate with the viewer as the actors on screen. And for the two young women, the idea of baring all their blemishes was the most terrifying aspect of filming the sequence.

Counterpoint, I don’t think anyone was looking for chin acne or even thinking about that during the steamy sequence! However, it was scenes such as this one that was particularly used in the marketing of Jennifer’s Body to entice male theatergoers and largely ignore the film’s intended audience. Megan Fox told Variety in the tenth-anniversary interview that the film was sold as the ‘Megan Fox is sexy, come see this movie,’ when there was more than met the eye.

Diablo Cody also remembers predicting the film’s flop fate during a test screening with the film’s marketing target. She has one of the responses saved to this day, which read “needs moar bewbs.” Since 2009, Hollywood has certainly shifted its focus and a movie like Jennifer’s Body may have been marketed different and reached its intended audience.

Since the failure of Jennifer’s Body, Diablo Cody has moved on with critically-acclaimed projects such as Young Adult, Tully and television show United States of Tara, while Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried have found successful careers, with Jennifer’s Body remaining a deep cut (hidden gem?) during their acting beginnings.

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