It’s an especially stressful time, and an unusually paradoxical one. What with all the tension surrounding the somehow-still-lingering presidential election, we’d all probably benefit from getting a little exercise. But odds are you’re feeling nervous about hitting up the gym during a somehow-still-raging pandemic. So maybe you’re one of the many who finally splurged on a Peloton bike during lockdown, because all this pent-up energy had to go somewhere. Yet you’re also so drained from doomscrolling that you can barely muster up the drive to actually get on the thing. Fortunately there is an answer, something that people have turned to time and again for strength in arduous times, whether it’s a six-minute climb in spin class or a nation that’s on the slippery slope toward full-blown authoritarianism: listening to Beyoncé.

This week, the Houston superstar officially partnered with Peloton on a multiyear deal to curate a selection of Beyoncé-themed “workout experiences” for the home fitness giant, lending her considerable expertise in making people feel less like enervated slugs, suppurating in their sweatpants, to designing a series of classes and challenges themed around her music. Beyoncé, unsurprisingly, is the most-requested artist on the Peloton platform, according to a press release. And Beyoncé herself is also an active Peloton member, which must get weird sometimes. Does suddenly hearing her own music in the middle of a class ever throw her off? Or does it just make Beyoncé work out even harder, striving to match the energy of Beyoncé? Who can say, except all the other Peloton users watching as “ActuallyTheRealBeyoncé” slowly climbs the leaderboard while they’re making fun of that clearly deluded person’s stupid handle?

The Beyoncé/Peloton collaboration is already in full swing with a series of homecoming-themed classes that celebrate historically Black colleges and universities, with students at ten of those colleges receiving free, two-year subscriptions to the Peloton digital app. Meanwhile, Peloton has been rolling out a steady stream of Beyoncé-themed classes in cycling, running, strength, yoga, and even a Beyoncé-themed meditation, in case you need to let everything go and just focus on Beyoncé for a while. 

Jeff Nichols Moves Into A Quiet Place 

Austin filmmaker Jeff Nichols is finding his own stillness, one that’s even more suited to these days of hushed, eerie unease. The man behind Midnight Special and Mud has signed on to write and direct a movie set in the universe of A Quiet Place, the hit sci-fi franchise about a world beset by monsters who will swarm on anything that makes a sound. John Krasinski cowrote and directed the original and its recent sequel, which, somewhat ironically, saw its release date delayed by an entire year because of the outbreak of an actual quasi-apocalyptic event that left people cowering in their homes. Nichols’s film, currently slated for release in 2022, is unlikely to be a direct follow-up to those two movies, but it’s expected to expand on the franchise’s wider universe of underground survivors, all of them scraping by in a stalled American wasteland beset by dark forces they barely understand, resisting the urge to just go outside and scream their damn heads off. For inspiration, Nichols is expected to just, you know, be alive right now. 

Ethan Hawke to Star in Dystopian War Thriller Zeros and Ones

Austin’s Ethan Hawke will wage his own battle against mysterious enemies threatening the entire world in Zeros and Ones, a thriller from director Abel Ferrara that takes place in the wake of a devastating attack on the Vatican. Hawke will play an American soldier who’s stationed in Rome, in a film Ferrara describes as one “of lockdown and war, danger and espionage, American soldiers, Chinese middlemen, Mid-Eastern holy men, provocateurs, diplomats, rogue elements of the CIA and KGB”—a smorgasbord of geopolitical anxieties, with an atmosphere he says is informed by the pandemic that partly inspired it. So it’s yet another eerily timely drama for Hawke, who filmed the Showtime abolitionist series The Good Lord Bird right before the nation erupted in civil unrest over the deaths of Black citizens at the hands of police. Maybe Hawke’s next movie can be about a world where everyone gets to sit inside a bar with their friends?

Selena Gomez Will Play a Mountaineer

Selena Gomez continues to ramp up both the acting and the producing sides of her burgeoning moguldom, this week adding a starring role in an adaptation of In the Shadow of the Mountain to her growing onscreen slate. The forthcoming memoir from Silvia Vásquez-Lavado tells the story of the Peruvian mountaineer’s pioneering trek to become the first lesbian to climb the highest mountain on each of the seven continents, as well as her work founding Courageous Girls, a nonprofit dedicated to helping sexual abuse survivors. It’s a rare, fully dramatic role for Gomez, whose film work to date has largely been limited to comedy, romantic and otherwise, excepting the psychosexual nightmare of Spring Breakers and her upcoming turn in the Black Swan–esque thriller Dollhouse. But of course, she’s been preparing for the physical demands of the role all her life by scaling the forbidding slopes of her native Grand Prairie.

Jennifer Love Hewitt Will Play a Talking Dog

In what I can only assume is a gauntlet thrown down to Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Love Hewitt has signed on to the family feature Pups Alone, where she will prove that McConaughey isn’t the only Texas actor who can capably play a talking dog. The Nolanville-bred Hewitt will be part of what Deadline describes as “a ragtag group of neighborhood dogs who team up to save Christmas from two bumbling thieves and their scheming boss,” presumably through a combination of persuasive rhetoric and biting. The film’s already in production and will be virtually shopped to buyers soon, after which I’m hoping it kicks off a trend of all Texas actors lining up to play talking dogs. You’re up, Margo Martindale! 

Willam Jackson Harper Lands Lead in HBO’s Love Life

Dallas actor William Jackson Harper has yet to enter the “talking dog” pantheon, but he’s still got plenty to be proud of, including his Emmy-nominated turn on NBC’s The Good Place; a recurring role in Moonlight director Barry Jenkins’s upcoming The Underground Railroad series for Amazon; and now, the lead in HBO Max’s Love Life. Harper will take over for Anna Kendrick in the anthology rom-com series, playing a New York man who’s just ended a long relationship with a woman he thought was “the one,” only to find himself thrust back into the dating world on a journey that, if the first season is any indication, will take him through several years’ worth of being jerked around before he’s finally rewarded with his one true soulmate. It’s the perfect part for Harper, who proved on The Good Place that he does romantic frustration better than just about anyone. And because it’s on HBO, he should have ample opportunity to go shirtless. Dude is cut

Jamie Foxx to Star in Funeral Home Drama for Amazon

It’s already become near impossible to keep track of any Jamie Foxx project that is not the one where he plays a pool cleaner who’s also a vampire hunter, yet he keeps adding to the list anyway. The Terrell native is now also also starring in and producing The Burial for Amazon, a legal drama based on the real-life 1995 battle between a Canadian funeral home company and a Mississippi businessman, a breach of contract case that ended up becoming a $500 million referendum on the dangerous loopholes of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The trial that captivated the Clinton White House was led by a flashy attorney named Willie Gary, who also turned it into a veritable international war with America’s attic, one that invoked race, God, and even Pearl Harbor. Foxx will presumably play Gary, who called himself “The Giant Killer” and traveled in a private plane he christened Wings of Justice. But did he also hunt vampires? No? Then who cares.

Did Post Malone Get a New Tattoo?

For yet another week, no, he did not—a reticence that could possibly be explained by this recent Complex interview, where Malone explains that his most recent tattoo “hurt like a motherf***er.” So perhaps this long dry spell is less some deliberate strategy to undermine the integrity of this column and make me look like a fool than it is Malone’s own reluctance to go back under the needle again, after getting a giant skull etched into his own. Maybe it’s not all about me? Anyway, the Grapevine rapper spent this week not getting tattooed and picking up his third career diamond certification for the single “Sunflower,” which has now moved more than 10 million units, so I suppose he is still technically newsworthy. 

THIS WEEK IN MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY

Need another reason to find fault with the endless political turmoil that’s been slowly eroding the bedrock of American democracy these last couple of weeks? It also really ate into Matthew McConaughey’s press blitz around his number-one best-selling Greenlights, just as that crazy train was finding its rails. While the actor had spent the days prior to November 3 appearing everywhere from podcasts to professional wrestling events, he found himself more or less bumped from the front pages in the weeks since, continuing his run through the junket at a markedly quieter volume. The man even rang in his fifty-first year with relatively little fanfare, save for a “Happy Birthday” serenade from his kids that he, for reasons known only to McConaughey, cut into a German expressionist art film and then posted to Instagram.

 

 

Perhaps in an effort to steal back just a little thunder, McConaughey—who’s spent much of the past decade decrying his romantic-comedy past, and even writing a book about it—casually told E!’s Daily Pop that he would maybe consider making a sequel to How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days with costar Kate Hudson. “I mean, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is teed up, you know, teed up for one that you could easily do a sequel,” McConaughey said. “And that was a really good one. As far as romantic comedies go, that was a really good one.” Granted, he was largely speaking in hypotheticals there—although it’s possible McConaughey also wants another chance to kiss Kate Hudson in a way that doesn’t leave her disappointed or covered in snot.

As an indicator of just how much things have changed, and how quickly, the man who’s spent the past eight months or so using his webcam to become our patron saint of the pandemic is now mostly using it to talk to Shawn Mendes, and Shawn Mendes only. Last week, McConaughey posted a sixteen-second video message thanking the Canadian singer for sending over a sweatshirt and wishing him luck on his impending album release, as though all of Twitter was little more than a glorified answering machine for McConaughey to leave his message at the self-determined beep. But again, these are weird times. Whatever outlet you can find to just keep livin’, grab it.