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Understanding Screenwriting #101: Celeste & Jesse Forever, Hello I Must be Going, Raiders of the Lost Ark, & More

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Understanding Screenwriting #101: Celeste & Jesse Forever, Hello I Must be Going, Raiders of the Lost Ark, & More

Coming Up In This Column: Celeste & Jesse Forever, Hello I Must be Going, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Helen (stage play), The Beautiful Blonde From Bashful Bend, but first…

Fan Mail: Hell is freezing over, since David E. and I agree yet again, this time on Five Fingers. It was Michael Wilson who came up with the name “Staviski” first rather than Mankiewicz, but he may well have been thinking about the Stavisky scandal.

As for Wilson on Lawrence of Arabia, the first chapter of the book Understanding Screenwriting is on Lawrence, and I certainly give Wilson his due. I am glad they finally added his name to the credits.

Celeste & Jesse Forever (2012. Written by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack. 92 minutes.)

Tricky: As my wife and I were leaving the theater after seeing this one, I said to her, “This one is going to be difficult to write about.” Lots of scripts, especially the obviously good and the obviously bad ones, are fairly easy to discuss. Others, like this one, not so much. On the surface, the script is rather straightforward. Celeste and Jesse have been best friends for years, got married, and are now divorced. They are trying to remain best friends. Sort of When Harry Met Sally… (1989) after the divorce. Problems ensue.

Jones and McCormack get the movie off to a fast start: we get a lovers’ montage that includes, at great speed, everything you have ever seen in any lovers’ montage. We’re glad to get it out of the way as soon as possible. Then we get an actual scene in which Celeste and Jess are having dinner with Beth and Tucker, another married couple. Celeste and Jesse get off on a collective improvisation in German accents. Typical things young marrieds in love do. Until Beth calls them on it. For God’s sake, she says, you guys are divorced, act like it. Nice early twist. Celeste is a trend-spotter who handles branding for companies and celebrities. Jesse is an artist but not working at it very hard, spending most of his day in the studio behind their house watching footage of old Olympic coverage and eating Cheetos. It’s obviously those differences that made them split up.

Celeste is established right away as the adult in the room. She’s smart, she’s hardworking, and she’s written a book called Shitegeist. So how is this smart woman going to handle this very friendly divorce? Not well. After establishing her as an adult, the writers turn her into an adolescent, and not even a smart adolescent. She gets insanely jealous when Jesse starts to date again, even more so when he gets a Belgium woman pregnant and marries her. Celeste starts doing drugs and drinking too much, all the while claiming she is not bothered by Jesse’s actions. Yes, yes, we all know women who are very together at work and a mess in their private lives. And to be fair, the several thirtysomething women sitting behind us laughed a lot in recognition at how Celeste behaves. But I found it difficult to laugh at a woman who had been established as so smart behaving so stupidly. And we get a lot of her behaving that way, so much so it becomes the focus of the whole film. She dates losers, she goes partying, and she even screws up at work, letting a vaguely obscene logo go out for a new client. The logo does end up working for the client in an odd way, but still. Rashida Jones not only is the co-writer, but plays Celeste. I have liked Jones’s work as an actor before, as in her scenes as the lawyer in The Social Network (2010). My guess is that like Zoe Kazan on Ruby Sparks (see US#100), she was determined to write flashy scenes for herself, but she doesn’t yet have a writer’s sense of how those scenes might play.

We spend so much time with Celeste being stupid that we don’t get much of the other characters. We see very little of Jesse’s changing life, and have no sense of what his new wife is like. Celeste and Jesse do have a scene late in the picture in which he tells her about how Veronica lets him do his work, and he says that Celeste always wanted to be in charge and keep Jesse in his stage of arrested development. It is the best scene in the picture because it digs deeper than any other scene. If the rest of the script had been up to this level, the picture would have been terrific. Instead we get more of Celeste being an idiot. At the wedding of Beth and Tucker…wait a minute: from the beginning of the film we have assumed they are married, with no indication that they were not. Suddenly this couple that have been together for ten years decide to have a fancy wedding in Rhode Island? The rest of the film is set in L.A. Obviously the writers felt they needed a big public event in which the drunken Celeste can make a fool of herself yet again, which she does. Eventually Celeste and Jesse have a quiet little scene where they agree to try to be friends again. I don’t hold out much hope. The script has not been nuanced enough to make us believe that scene.

Hello I Must Be Going (2012. Written by Sarah Koskoff. 95 minutes.)

Hello I Must Be Going

The Yasser Arafat of movies: This one was also a disappointment. I have been a huge fan of its star Melanie Lynskey since her 1994 debut as one of two teenage girls who commit murder in Heavenly Creatures. She has been doing great work ever since, as in last year’s Win Win and especially as Charlie’s stalker Rose. (Pop quiz: Rose was also the name of the character Lynskey’s co-star in Heavenly Creatures played in a movie. Who’s the co-star, what’s the movie, and what new secret have we recently learned about that film? Answers at the end of this item.) This film is her first starring role since Heavenly Creatures, and I had high hopes for it.

An acquaintance of mine told me several years ago that he could tell from the first shot of a movie whether the movie was going to work. I don’t have that kind of eye, but I could tell from the first scene that this one is in trouble. We come in on Lynskey as Amy in her bed. She has pictures on the wall, so we assume it’s her apartment, but as she gets up it becomes clear it is a room in a big house. We realize later that Amy, a 34-year-old divorcee has moved back in with her parents. The details of the room should have suggested that but don’t. I am a big believer in not telling the audience things until they need to know them, but this film is constantly late at telling us what we need to know. That may be Koskoff’s script (it’s her first produced feature) or it may be Todd Louiso’s direction. Amy is sulking and her mother, Ruth, comes in and gives her a hard time for just sulking about the house. Ruth, especially in Blythe Danner’s performance, dominates the scene, but it’s Amy’s movie, and the writer and director have not given her enough reactions to Ruth. The balance is just off.

Amy sulks some more. A lot. And it becomes just as tiresome to us as it does to her mother. We hate having to agree with her mom, since her mom is such a pain. What Koskoff needed to do was give Amy a greater variety of reactions and emotions to play. Lynskey tries, but if it’s not on the page, it’s not on the stage. Eventually Amy falls into a relationship with 19-year-old Jeremy, the stepson of a client Amy’s dad is trying to land. Amy and Jeremy’s dialogue is mostly flat, so we get very little texture to the relationship. We do get a nice bit when, after Amy and Jeremy have made love a couple of times, Ruth tells Amy that Jeremy’s mom Gwen thinks Jeremy is gay. The writer and director give Lynskey reactions to that to play. We also get a nice explanation later from Jeremy that he lets Gwen believe he’s gay because she is so accepting of it, which makes her feel good.

When Gwen catches Amy and Jeremy swimming naked in the family pool, we only get a mention later of what their explanation was. Koskoff doesn’t bother with what could be a terrific scene of the kids making up the story on the spot. Later when both families discover Amy and Jeremy in the act, we get their immediate reactions, which are shock, but we only get explanations after the fact of their responses to this. Again, another missed opportunity. By this point in the film I was thinking that Koskoff was living up to Abba Eben’s great line about how Yasser Arafat “never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” If you look up Koskoff and Louiso on the IMDb, you will discover that they both have a lot of experience as actors, so it was very surprising to me that they couldn’t come up with better scenes for the actors to play. They do have one good scene that shows you what the film should have been. Amy goes into the city to have lunch with her ex, David. It is a nice, edgy scene between Lynskey and Dan Futterman as David.

Ah, yes, the pop quiz. Lynskey’s co-star was Kate Winslet, and she played the young Rose in Titanic (1997). If you have read my Understanding Screenwriting book, you know I don’t think much of the script for that film and I don’t think Winslet’s performance is very good. You may have picked up an earlier Link of the Day here at the House to Winslet’s screen test for Titanic. You can see it here. The person commenting on it said you can see why she got the job. Yes, but what struck me is that she was much, much better in the test than in the film. Having a director who thinks he is the King of the World yelling at while you are in a tank of water in a 1912 dress doesn’t necessarily make for a good performance.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981. Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan, story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman. 115 minutes.)

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Indy in IMAX!: Paramount has brought out a boxed Blu-Ray set of all four Indiana Jones movies, and as part of the preparation for that, they have restored Raiders of the Lost Ark. Then, presumably as promotion for the set, they set up a one-week-only run of Raiders at Imax-equipped theatres. And then nobody at Paramount or anywhere else told anybody about it. There have been no ads in the Los Angeles Times for the run. The AMC theatres, which have more theaters on the West Side of Los Angeles than any other chain, several months ago stopped running an AMC display ad in the Times. I assume the big brains at AMC figured nobody reads newspapers any more, so why bother. Except that a month or so after AMC stopped the ads, Variety reported that moviegoers make more of their decisions about what movies to see based on information from newspapers, less than make their decisions based on television, but more than all other devices combined. And the AMC has been so sloppy about its website, it’s often difficult to find out what is playing at which of their theaters and when. So what happened to the run of Raiders? It had the highest per theater gross its one week. If people want to see a movie, you can’t stop them.

George Lucas had the idea for Indiana Jones back in the seventies. He conceived of him as a 1930s playboy who also happened to be an archeologist. Lucas’s friend at the time, Philip Kaufman, suggested that he could be looking for the Lost Ark of the Covenant. Kaufman gave Lucas enough detail that Lucas, very reluctantly and under pressure from Kaufman, shared the story credit with him. Lucas originally thought the character he created could appear in a series of low-budget adventure films, like those Lucas grew up watching. He was thinking B picture, and for all the money and talent spent on Raiders, it has the limits of a B picture.

In 1977, two years after Lucas worked with Kaufman, Lucas and Steven Spielberg talked about making the first of the films. It was Spielberg who suggested that the character not be a playboy type, but someone a little more down to earth. They settled on the name Indiana Jones. In 1978 Spielberg came across a screenplay called Continental Divide by Lawrence Kasdan, a former advertising copywriter. Spielberg liked the writing and thought about directing it, but passed on it. It was filmed in 1981, but without the charm of the original script. Spielberg suggested Kasdan to Lucas as somebody to write what became Raiders, since Continental Divide had a tough cookie as the female lead, and both men wanted that in Raiders. Kasdan worked with Spielberg and Lucas, and he has described it as working the way Howard Hawks used to work, hiring writers and telling them what he wanted. In some ways it was more like Ernest Lehman writing North by Northwest (1959) for Hitchcock, with Hitch suggesting scenes he wanted to do and Lehman trying to tie them all together. Spielberg came up with the idea of the boulder chasing Indy, and Lucas wanted “a submarine, a monkey giving the Hitler salute, and a girl slugging Indiana Jones in a bar in Nepal,” according to Joseph McBride, Spielberg’s biographer. (The information for this item is from McBride’s Steven Spielberg, Dale Pollock’s Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, and an interview with Lawrence Kasdan in Backstory 4.)

As a film teacher in Los Angeles, I had a lot of friends in low places, and one of them managed to get me what appears to be Kasdan’s 3rd draft of the screenplay, with pages dated June and August 1979. I read it over the night before I saw the new restoration, and what I will be doing in the rest of this item is toggling back and forth between this draft of the script and the final film. We have learned above some of what Lucas and Spielberg wanted in the film, and we can see in the draft how Kasdan was working that into the script. The film itself is episodic, but the draft is even more so, since it evolved out of Lucas’s idea to recreate the adventure films and especially the serials he watched as a kid. Their structures were very simple: action-plot-action-plot-action-plot-big-action-at the end. With the emphasis on the action and not much on plot or character. One reason Kasdan was brought in was to help develop the characters, but in the draft and the film they are not particularly deep. The plot scenes are more about plot than character, since Lucas wanted a relentless pace to the film, which he got. The pace is even more relentless in the draft than the film, since the action scenes are shorter and there are more of them.

The script begins, as does the film, with Indy, Barranca, and Satipo working their way through the jungle. Barranca runs off, but Satipo goes into the temple with Indy. In the writing, which Spielberg’s direction carries through nicely, Satipo is there as the coward to show how courageous Indy is. In the script Satipo just seems frightened, but Spielberg, who loved actors, lets the actor playing Satipo come up with several different reactions not in the script. When Indy throws the idol to him, Kasdan writes, “Satipo stuffs it in the front pocket of his jacket, gives Indy a look, then drops the whip on the floor and runs.” Look what the actor does in the film. The actor, by the way, was appearing in only his second theatrical film, and he went on to play parts as diverse as Diego Rivera in Frida (2002) and Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2 (2004). He is Alfred Molina, of course.

Satipo does not escape, but Indy does. After an interlude at his college (the girl with the “Love you” written on her eyelids is not in this draft; all we get are a couple of girls looking at him adoringly), he is off to Shanghai. What, you don’t remember the sequence where he breaks into a museum and steals a piece of the head of the staff from General Hok? Well, the whole sequence was cut. The script, probably at Lucas’s insistence, was simplified. Lucas is big on making sure the audience understands exactly what is going on, and Indy having to find two pieces instead of one is confusing. Besides it gets us to Nepal and Marion quicker.

In the draft, Marion is established as a tough cookie by throwing a bunch of rowdy patrons out of her bar. In the film that becomes the drinking game she wins, which I think is a much better introduction. Indy shows up and she punches him, then we get a long dialogue scene, which includes the line that Kasdan moved to Indy’s first appearance, when Marion says, “I always knew that someday you’d come through that door.” The line works better in the film as a single line instead of part of a longer speech. We do get in Kasdan’s dialogue as much characterization as we get in the film. Then we are back to action as Belzig (in the draft, Toht in the film) tries to get the piece.

To Cairo next, and in the draft we get more of an introduction to Sallah, Indy’s friend, but that has been condensed in the film. Then we get Marion’s kidnapping. The famous business of Indy shooting the swordsman is not here, but somebody was thinking in terms of comedy relief. The equivalent bit in the draft is Indy making a Bad Arab’s pants fall down with his whip. And then, boom, Marion is killed. We are suspicious because a) she was given such a great introduction and b) she is one of the name actors. But Indy at least thinks she is dead. In the draft he is in a bar, “A dark, smoke-filled den of iniquity,” but in the film he is at an outdoor café. In neither the draft nor the film do we get to mourn Marion for long. Spielberg’s direction of Indy is badly misconceived, since he has the monkey playing all over Indy while the camera dollies into Indy. All that movement takes us away from the mourning we want to do.

Kasdan has written in the monkey giving the Nazi salute at several places, but they were only able to get one shot of it. Then the monkey dies and we are off to Tanis, where Indy finds Marion alive, but tied up. He leaves her tied up to go off and find the Ark, which he does. He also finds it guarded by snakes. We learned in the opening sequence he hates snakes, and he says here, “Why snakes? Why did it have to be snakes? Anything else.” Lucas’s original choice for Indy was Tom Selleck, but CBS would not let him out of Magnum P.I. Selleck would have been a good choice if they had stayed with Lucas’s original idea of Indy as a playboy. But it is difficult to imagine Selleck making the “snakes” line as convincing and entertaining as Harrison Ford does. It is a perfect match of character and actor, as we all know now.

In escaping from the Well of Souls, Indy and Marion go through a chamber of mummies, which has been elaborated in the film to a House of Horrors with skeletons attacking them, especially Marion. She no longer seems as tough as we thought when she was introduced to us. The Flying Wing scene is not as detailed in the draft as the film; it’s the kind of scene Spielberg is perfect at directing.

The truck chase that follows is more detailed in the film than the draft. In the draft it is more a conventional chase, with Indy staying in the truck the entire chase. It is shorter in the draft than the film, but has been elaborated on with the new stunts of Indy being thrown out of the front of the truck, being pulled along underneath and coming back up the other side. Even so, the sequence does not seem as varied as other great action scenes in films. Belzig/Toht is killed in the chase in the script, but survives in the film to melt away at the end.

The sequence on board the ship of Marion kissing Indy’s wounds is not in this draft of script. It is a variation of a scene in Kasdan’s Continental Divide that Lucas decided to use here. The draft does include an explanation, cut in the film, of how Indy survived riding on top of the submarine. This draft does include the scene of Indy threatening to blow up the Ark with a bazooka, but it is in the Tabernacle that has been set up and not in the desert. The process of getting everyone to the opening of the Ark is more complicated here than in the film, again probably Lucas cutting to make it clearer.

The opening of the Ark is not as big a scene in the script as it is in the film, and the assorted Nazis are not all killed, as they are in the film. So when Indy and Marion take the Ark and escape, the Nazis give chase. In a bunch of mine cars in the mine train in the tunnel. Oh, yeah, I remember that scene. Sure, but it’s not in Raiders. It was dropped from here, probably at the script level, and then used in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984). My guess is that it was in this draft because they all felt they needed a big action scene at the end. As they began to work on the special effects, they probably realized that would be big enough, and more importantly, different enough, to be the big finish. And they were right.

In the draft Marion is with Indy and Brody when they talk to Musgrove and Eaton at the Pentagon. In the film she is not. The end of the scene in the first cut of the film has the Intelligence guys assuring Indy, “We have our top men working on it right now,” which then cuts to the warehouse where it is being crated up. It was George Lucas’s then-wife Marcia who pointed out to the boys that the way the film was cut, we have no idea what happened to Marion. Not surprising in a film by the guy who included follow-ups on all the male characters at the end of American Graffiti (1973), but none of the women characters. They went back to a scene that is in this draft of Indy and Marion on the steps, rewrote it a bit, and shot it. And then dropped Marion in the first two sequels, only bringing her back in the fourth film in a few underdeveloped scenes.

So, what we have in Raiders is a rousing, relentless B movie, but with A movie talent making it as entertaining as they can. And it looks great in IMAX. And probably in its 35mm prints. And in Blu-Ray. And probably in regular DVD as well.

Helen (412 B.C. Stage play by Euripides. 2012 A.D. adaptation by Nick Salamone. 90 minutes.)

Helen

Menelaos’s back and Helen’s got him: You may remember that in writing about the 1956 film Helen of Troy in US#75, I discussed the problem of writing the character of Helen of Troy and how famous playwrights like Shakespeare and Marlowe avoided her as a major character. Well, the great 5th Century B.C. Greek playwright Euripides found an interesting way to deal with her. He borrowed a version from the 6th Century B.C. Greek poet Stesichoros. According to legend, Stesichoros wrote a poem that described Helen as essentially a world-class slut. Then he went blind, some say out of Helen’s anger (she was part god after all). So he decided to write another version, the one that parts of survive. In his Palinode Helen never went to Troy at all. Her father Zeus sent Hermes to carry her off in a cloud to an island off Egypt, where she was protected by King Proteus. She was replaced at Sparta and Troy by a phantom, created out of a cloud by Hera. In this new version she stayed on the island for seventeen years until Menelaos was dumped on the island by a shipwreck. They escaped the lusting son of Proteus, Theoclymenus, and returned to Sparta. And Stesichoros’s eyesight was restored.

This version probably appealed to Euripides because he saw another opportunity for a comment on the stupidity of war. After all, three years before this play, he had written, for a Greek audience, The Trojan Women, which was enormously sympathetic to the women of Troy captured and abused by the Greek army. Euripides generally pissed off the pro-war contingent in Greece and was later driven into exile by them. Some things never change.

This new version of Helen was created for the Getty Villa. J. Paul Getty had an imitation Roman villa built just up from the Pacific Coast in Malibu, and the villa now serves as a museum holding the Getty’s collection of antiquities. In the recent remodeling, stadium seating was installed in front of the main façade of the building, and each year a Greek or Roman play is produced there.

Salamone’s adaptation is this year’s play. The original was more a romantic drama than a tragedy (Helen and Meneloas escape the island at the end), and Salamone has turned it into more of a show than a drama. Helen is seen as a slinky ‘30s movie heroine, but a very devoted wife, putting off Theoclymenus as best she can. She is very angry at having been kept out of the loop for seventeen years. The three ladies who make up the Chorus are inspired by famous movie figures. Cherry is obviously Marilyn Monroe in her Bus Stop (1956) role of Cherí, complete to the costume. Cleo is Cleopatra, although not obviously either Claudette Colbert, Vivian Leigh, or Elizabeth Taylor. Lady is Blanche DuBois. Hattie, the household slave, is Hattie McDaniel. There are a lot more movie references than there need to be, but some of them are fun. Theoclymenus is clearly “inspired” by Kim Jong-un, the young North Korean leader. And one of the soldiers shipwrecked with Meneloas is obviously a veteran of the Iraq-Afghanistan wars. There are not as many modern anti-war lines as there are Hollywood gags. Still, Eurpidies’s point gets made, and the recognition scene between Helen and Meneloas is probably as funny and as touching as it was in the original.

We saw the play the night after it opened and I read in the program a notice of a lecture called “Beautiful Evil: The Challenge of Helen of Troy” by a classics professor. By the time I called a few days later to reserve a ticket it was completely sold out. Who says L.A. does not have a hunger for culture?

The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend (1949. Written by Preston Sturges, adapted from a screenplay and story by Earl Felton. 77 minutes.)

The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend

Didn’t you used to be Preston Sturges?: When I finished up my Sturges Project in US#91, I mentioned in passing that I had this film stashed on my DVR. Since I was trying to make room on my DVR for the new TV season, I was watching stuff. I figured it was about time I got around to this one. Alas, it lives down to its reputation.

After Sturges left Paramount at the end of 1943, he did time with Howard Hughes, and then ended up at Fox, where he still owed Zanuck a picture for loaning him Henry Fonda for The Lady Eve (1940). Zanuck had noted how his scripts had done well by Veronica Lake and especially Betty Hutton, and he hoped that Sturges could do the same thing with his top star, Betty Grable. Grable was a big fan favorite with her musicals during World War II, but Zanuck hoped to move her beyond those. So far he had not been very successful, so he had the great idea of teaming Grable and Sturges.

Except it was not that great an idea. Grable was immensely loveable, which is what made her a star in the first place, but she simply did not have the edge that Lake, Hutton, Stanwyck and Colbert had. Like Ella Raines in Hail the Conquering Hero (1944), she leaves a hole in the middle of the picture. It was Zanuck who suggested Sturges write the script from Earl Felton’s story of a saloon girl who accidentally shoots a judge in the rear end, twice no less, then takes over the identity of a schoolmarm coming to a new town. Saloon? Schoolmarm? Yes, the story is a western, which is not the most perfect fit for a writer who grew up in the big city and toured Europe with his mother as a kid. Sturges simply did not have a feel for the west, as did, for example, William Bowers in Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969) and Mel Brooks and his posse of writers in Blazing Saddles (1974). (The background is, as before, from James Curtis’s Between Flops.)

The opening scene shows what might have been. We see a bunch of empty whiskey bottles being shot off a fence. We hear a grandfatherly type voice instructing Frankie on shooting. We eventually pan over and Frankie turns out to be a six-year-old girl, who not only shoots, but reloads as well. Then we jump ahead to Frankie as an adult. She is in jail, explaining to the sheriff, our old friend Al Bridge, how she came to shoot the judge. She was a saloon singer, since both Sturges and Zanuck wanted Grable to sing, and Sturges insisted the film be made in color because he had watched all Grable’s pictures and thought she came across best in color. Frankie waves a gun around going after her boyfriend, but shoots the judge instead. The post-shooting scene is as frantic as some earlier Sturges scenes, but unfocused. Zanuck, not a stupid man in these matters, saw the problem in the dailies but couldn’t do much about it. The scenes Sturges has written simply don’t have the edge of his earlier work, and even with the slapstick, or perhaps because of it, they just don’t hold our interest. The finale is a big shootout that makes very little sense.
Leonard Maltin, in his Movie Guide, notes that the film was a flop but that its reputation has improved a bit. Sorry Leonard, I don’t think so.

Tom Stempel is the author of several books on film. His most recent is Understanding Screenwriting: Learning From Good, Not-Quite-So Good, and Bad Screenplays.

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Watch: Two Episode Trailers for Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone Reboot

Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes.

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The Twilight Zone
Photo: CBS All Access

Jordan Peele is sitting on top of the world—or, at least, at the top of the box office, with his sophomore film, Us, having delivered (and then some) on the promise of his Get Out. Next up for the filmmaker is the much-anticipated reboot of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, which the filmmaker executive produced and hosts. Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes, “The Comedian” and “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.” In the former, Kumail Nanjiani stars as the eponymous comedian, who agonizingly wrestles with how far he will go for a laugh. And in the other, a spin on the classic “Nightmare at 20,0000 Feet” episode of the original series starring William Shatner, Adam Scott plays a man locked in a battle with his paranoid psyche. Watch both trailers below:

The Twilight Zone premieres on April 1.

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Scott Walker Dead at 76

Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde.

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Scott Walker
Photo: 4AD

American-born British singer-songwriter, composer, and record producer Scott Walker, who began his career as a 1950s-style chanteur in an old-fashioned vocal trio, has died at 76. In a statement from his label 4AD, the musician, born Noel Scott Engel, is celebrated for having “enriched the lives of thousands, first as one third of the Walker Brothers, and later as a solo artist, producer and composer of uncompromising originality.”

Walker was born in Hamilton, Ohio on January 9, 1943 and earned his reputation very early on for his distinctive baritone. He changed his name after joining the Walker Brothers in the early 1960s, during which time the pop group enjoyed much success with such number one chart hits as “Make It Easy on Yourself” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore).”

The reclusive Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde. Walker, who was making music until his death, received much critical acclaim with 2006’s Drift and 2012’s Bish Bosch, as well as with 2014’s Soused, his collaboration with Sunn O))). He also produced the soundtrack to Leos Carax’s 1999 romantic drama Pola X and composed the scores for Brady Corbet’s first two films as a director, 2016’s The Childhood of a Leader and last year’s Vox Lux.

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Watch: The Long-Awaited Deadwood Movie Gets Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

Welcome to fucking Deadwood!

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Deadwood
Photo: HBO

At long last, we’re finally going to see more of Deadwood. Very soon after the HBO series’s cancellation in 2006, creator David Milch announced that he agreed to produce a pair of two-hour films to tie up the loose ends left after the third season. It’s been a long road since, and after many false starts over the years, production on one standalone film started in fall 2018. And today we have a glorious teaser for the film, which releases on HBO on May 31. Below is the official description of the film:

The Deadwood film follows the indelible characters of the series, who are reunited after ten years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought.

And below is the teaser trailer:

Deadwood: The Movie airs on HBO on May 31.

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