It’s been nearly a decade since Selena Gomez last dabbled in the dark arts, when the end of Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place finally released the Grand Prairie star from the binding spell of child stardom. She’s had a few dances with evil since then: playing a vampire’s daughter in the Hotel Transylvania franchise; grappling with zombies in Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die; dating Justin Bieber. But now she’s set to make her first genuine foray into horror as the producer and likely star of Dollhouse, a thriller that could tap into a side of Gomez not seen since she last called upon the Outer Gods to rain pestilence and ash upon those mewling souls of Waverly Place. [Note: I’ve never seen that show.]
Deadline describes Dollhouse, a psychodrama set in “the upper echelon of New York City’s fashion scene,” as being in the spirit of Darren Aronofsky’s phantasmagoric ballet drama Black Swan. According to those who have seen the script, it’s about a mysterious Parisian designer who chooses a struggling fashion model as his new muse, forcing her to “decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice for beauty and recognition.” Presumably Gomez would play the model, which would mark a significantly dark new direction for an acting career that, Spring Breakers aside, has largely been dominated by romantic comedies and pretending to eat ice cream.
Demi Lovato Releases Trump Protest Song
Selena Gomez’s old Barney the Dinosaur buddy Demi Lovato has been wrestling her own, far less cuddly monsters of late—both the vindictive “Commander in Chief” she lambasts in her new protest song of the same name, as well as the specter of conservative backlash the track has already unleashed. Lovato’s single, which the Dallas-bred artist performed during last weekend’s Billboard Music Awards, finds her channeling her pandemic frustration into this blistering refrain, which certainly pulls no punches: “If I did the things you do / I couldn’t sleep, seriously / Do you even know the truth? / We’re in a state of crisis, people are dyin’ / While you line your pockets deep / Commander in Chief, how does it feel to still / Be able to breathe?”
Unsurprisingly, “Commander in Chief” was met with near instant criticism from her conservative fans who, as Lovato sniped, expected “a queer Hispanic woman to silence my views / beliefs in order to please my audience.” But as Lovato declared, “I literally don’t care if this ruins my career.” And although she never actually mentions Donald Trump by name—really, it could be about any commander in chief who’s selfishly profited while allowing his constituents to die!—Lovato made it clear in an interview with CNN exactly who she was talking to, even urging Trump to “bring it on” and attack her for it on Twitter. “Prove to them you’re exactly who I said you are in the song,” she added. “Just do it, go for it.” So far, Trump hasn’t taken the bait. But given that the bridge finds Lovato singing about being “in the streets while you’re bunkering down,” it’s not hard to imagine him soon officially declaring her the leader of Antifa.
Sandra Bullock Readies for Adventure (and Romance)
With her Netflix deal keeping Sandra Bullock mired in dystopian thrillers and heart-wrenching family dramas, it seemed that we—much like the heroine of a Sandra Bullock movie—had all but given up on seeing her fall in love again. But this week, Variety brings the welcome news that the Austin star is plotting her return not only to the big screen but to the romantic-comedy genre that put her there. Bullock is set to produce and star in The Lost City of D, a comic adventure about a romance author who “discovers that a fictional city she had written about is real, prompting her to embark on a risky journey to find the city.” Paramount Pictures is said to be angling to reteam Bullock with her The Proposal costar Ryan Reynolds, whom we’re guessing would play the sarcastic jungle guide who initially chides Bullock about her mollycoddled ways, before adrenaline and circumstance inevitably thrust them together. Then they’ll fall in love and probably settle down somewhere in the lost suburbs of D. There are some excellent schools in F.
Joshua Jackson Takes Over Lead Role on Dr. Death
Peacock’s long-in-the-making drama Dr. Death has traded its original lead Jamie Dornan for Joshua Jackson, who will now step in to play disgraced Dallas neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch in the limited series. According to Deadline, Dornan was forced to bow out because of COVID-sparked production delays (and not, it turns out, because producers finally pulled up a photo of Duntsch). With Jackson on board, production is finally set to begin this fall on the tale of Duntsch’s reign of medical terror throughout the Metroplex in the early 2010s, with Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater playing the fellow surgeons who finally raised the alarm over Duntsch’s mounting record of dead or disfigured patients. This is, of course, an absolutely horrifying story, but now that it’s got the Dawson’s Creek star, you could probably just pretend like this deadly malpractice is just one of Pacey’s many go-nowhere jobs.
Bryan Washington’s Debut Novel Already Has a TV Deal
Houston author Bryan Washington’s debut novel Memorial isn’t even out until October 27, but it’s already been picked up for a movie adaptation by A24, the indie production house behind Uncut Gems, Midsommar, and the Best Picture–winning Moonlight. Deadline reports that the book has been optioned by A24’s TV division, which currently produces the buzzy HBO series Euphoria, for an adaptation that Washington will write himself—another milestone for the rising literary star. Like many of Washington’s acclaimed short stories, Memorial is set in Houston, following a couple, Benson and Mike, whose lives are upended after Mike flies off to see his ailing father in Osaka, leaving Benson at home with Mike’s just-arrived, tart-tongued Japanese mother. It’s described as “a funny and profound story about family in all its strange forms,” and—what with its culture clashes, odd-couple roommate pairings, and late-in-life epiphanies—certainly sounds like it’s made for television already. Provided it stays true to the material, it could also join the surprisingly small pantheon of Houston-set TV shows. (And although it hasn’t even been shot yet, we’re pretty confident in saying that it could be the best.)
The Legendary Stardust Cowboy Gets His Own Documentary
Jeff Feuerzeig and Henry Rosenthal, the team behind 2005’s acclaimed The Devil and Daniel Johnston, are turning their attention to another Texan cult music hero with a documentary on the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, otherwise known as Norman Carl Odam. Lubbock’s unlikely claim to art-rock history got his start in 1968 with the single “Paralyzed,” a feverish, whooping cacophony of hollers, bugle bleats, and (somehow) T Bone Burnett on drums that became an early novelty hit for the fledgling Mercury Records. Its success earned the Legendary Stardust Cowboy an appearance on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and, in a cosmic coincidence, the devoted fandom of his labelmate David Bowie. As Bowie himself said, it was Odam who inspired his Ziggy Stardust surname, and he would continue to sing his praises in interviews over the years, even covering Odam’s song “I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship” on his Heathen album.
Of course, while Odam remained a favorite of outsider music scavengers, Dr. Demento listeners, and, apparently, Raquel Welch, his songs were also derided as some of the worst ever recorded. And while his stage attire of shiny yellow pants and ten-gallon hats may have begged to differ, Odam bristled at his music being treated as a joke. (You can see him storm off stage at the end of his Laugh-In appearance—genuinely angry, he later said.) He more or less disappeared once his faddish fame was over, which is where the documentary aims to fill in some gaps. Feuerzeig tells Rolling Stone that his film will follow “the Don Quixote–like adventures” of the man known to followers as “the Ledge,” from riding the rails in the Southwest to his current colorful life running an “entertainment empire” in Las Vegas while also performing as part of the Bay Area punk scene.
Did Post Malone Get a New Tattoo?
No, but he got a little kitty cat earring! Granted, as cool body modifications go, it lacks the derring-do of, say, a tattoo of yourself riding a horse. But it takes a similar caliber of rapper/rocker/whatever to pull off a tiny, sparkly black tabby in your ear—and after taking home Top Artist (and eight other honors) at the Billboard Music Awards, the Grapevine star has earned the right to put whatever cuddly, kawaii kitsch he wants in his lobes. Or for our purposes, on his skin? C’mon, man. It’s been weeks.
THIS WEEK IN MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY
We’re mere days away from hurtling full speed through Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey’s smoldering dab at the end of the literary canon, and the press blitz is already picking up. The Austin actor adorns the cover of this month’s People, photographed by his own kids for a profile about marriage, fatherhood, and the hard work of staying humble despite being Matthew McConaughey. “We let them know that Papa’s celebrity does not define Papa,” McConaughey says within, a sentiment that we suppose is only partially undercut by the fact that he’s on the cover of magazines because a major publishing house slapped a hardcover around his private journal scribbles.
But as he explained to the New York Times in another not-just-a-celebrity profile this week, McConaughey’s goal was to write a book where “the words on the page are still worthy to share if they were signed by anonymous” that would “at the same time be a book that only McConaughey could’ve wrote.” To that end, as the Times notes, Greenlights is apparently long on cribbed bumper-sticker aphorisms like “If you’re high enough, the sun’s always shining,” and short on the kind of personal, kiss-and-tell details you might expect from your usual celebrity memoir, or demand if you’re sitting in the dark and stone-cold sober.
Not that he’d necessarily want to share those stories, anyway: according to his rom-com costar Kate Hudson, kissing Matthew McConaughey isn’t as magical as you might expect, based on how dexterously he moves his lips. In an interview on Gwyneth Paltrow’s podcast, Hudson recalled, “The thing is, every time I kiss McConaughey, it’s like there’s just something happening and there’s like snot or wind … Like when we were kissing in the end of Fool’s Gold, we’re like in the ocean, we like had the plane crash. He just had snot all over his face.” Of course, that’s just in the movies. In real life, it’s probably hard to work around the endless stream of bon mots.
Anyway, not that McConaughey is likely sweating Hudson’s assessment—or much of anything really, as per usual. After all, the man has already turned a global pandemic into a teachable opportunity, remade himself into a fount of conventional COVID wisdom, and is now poised to become a fixture on the bookshelves of “spiritual” tech bros, on top of his many other accomplishments. By all appearances, he’s remained as cool as this cocktail surrounded by dead scorpions he posted this week—which is as potent a metaphor for McConaughey’s own peculiar magic as any.