The Texas cheerleading squad in the hit Netflix docuseries Cheer always overcame obstacles, both personal and physical, with indefatigable good spirits. Still, not even they can surmount the coronavirus: Last week saw the cancellation of the NCA & NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida, which was the focal point of the Netflix show’s first season, and the main cheerleading event that the Navarro College team (and all collegiate cheer teams) spend each year striving toward. Coach Monica Aldama wrote in an Instagram post that she was “heartbroken” to see the cheerleading season come to a premature end, lamenting that, while circumstances made it inevitable, “I have always been able to control the narrative and resort to plan B or C or even Z. For the first time in my life I had no control.”
Aldama’s sentiments were echoed by the members of her team, several of whom, like Gabi Butler, Morgan Simianer, and La’Darius Marshall, have now reached the end of their cheerleading journey. (There’s no professional team, so college cheer is cheerleaders’ final opportunity to compete.) But it will take more than a pandemic to get Jerry Harris down. The breakout star responded with one of his positive “mat talks,” encouraging everyone to look on the bright side of quarantine: “Think of this as a time to reboot, recharge our mental battery, and reconnect with family, okay? This is not gonna last forever, and it will be over before we know it, and we will be able to resume our normal lives, how they were before.”
Supernatural’s Final Episodes Delayed Indefinitely
Supernatural showrunner Andrew Dabb struck a similar note of optimism about his show’s own waylaid finale, saying in a statement that the long-running series, starring San Antonio’s Jared Padalecki, will return to finish out its fifteenth and final season. Nevertheless, the episode that aired this past Monday will be its last for “a while.” The show was one of dozens that shut down last week over coronavirus concerns, and while Dabb says that shooting had already wrapped on eighteen episodes of the season’s eventual twenty, the shuttering of so many post-production facilities means they won’t be completed until the quarantine is over. But Dabb promises, “ It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ it’s a matter of ‘when’” they’ll be able to get back to work—a positive attitude we’d probably all do well to adopt.
SXSW Announces Film Awards
As we reported last week, the South by Southwest Film Festival soldiered on in the wake of its own cancellation by moving all juried awards to online voting. And this week, the winners of those awards were announced, with director Cooper Raiff’s indie romantic drama Shithouse taking the Grand Jury Prize for narrative feature, and Katrine Philp taking top documentary honors for her exploration of children coping with grief, An Elephant in the Room. The full list of winners can be found here. Meanwhile, SXSW announced that it has partnered with Mailchimp and Oscilloscope to stream more than seventy short films that were scheduled to play the festival. You can check all of them out, for free, on Mailchimp Presents. (Disclaimer: A Texas Monthly staffer was a judge for one of these juried awards.)
T Bone Burnett and Craig Finn Team for New Musical TV Series
With the news consumed by so many things that aren’t happening, any announcement about fresh projects in development feels oddly life-affirming—especially when they’re a big swing for the fences like a new musical anthology series from T Bone Burnett and the Hold Steady’s Craig Finn. The Fort Worth-bred Burnett and Finn (an occasional Austinite) have teamed up for the AMC project National Anthem, described as “the tragically funny story of a middle-class Midwestern family tumbling down the ladder of American society, periodically bursting into song as they struggle to catch themselves.” Finn can pen story-songs about Midwestern ennui in his sleep, while Burnett—whose credits include Nashville and Walk the Line—remains the go-to producer for movie and TV shows about other musicians. Plus, the show has pedigree to spare in the form of Breaking Bad producer Mark Johnson and (because we can’t escape pandemics, even for a second) Contagion writer Scott Z. Burns.
Luke Wilson Heads to Space With Bruce Willis
Although Bruce Willis’s science fiction actioner Cosmic Sin was among the many productions shut down by the coronavirus, Deadline reports that Dallas-born actor Luke Wilson managed to slip into the cast sometime before the curtain fell, alongside other late additions Frank Grillo and Adelaide Kane. We don’t know yet who Wilson will be playing in the film, which apparently follows “a group of warriors and scientists who must fight to protect and save their race when a hostile alien species with the power to infect and take over human hosts sets its sights on a futuristic human society.” We also don’t know when we’ll be excited about a movie where people are “infected,” if ever. But who knows? Maybe our own future society will embrace it.
THIS WEEK IN MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY
Last week, Matthew McConaughey became the drawl of reason in these irrational times with his “Every Red Light Eventually Turns Green” pep talk, already the “Keep Calm and Carry On” of our current coronavirus crisis. Naturally, it wasn’t long before Texas made that official: That’s McConaughey’s voice in the new Department of State Health Services PSA, heard praising first responders for their service and urging everyone else to “stay home, if you can.” It’s classic McConaughey: laid-back yet authoritative in its appeal to our better, Texan nature, and coolly confident that we’d all be a lot better off if everyone just relaxed. Listen to your friend Matthew McConaughey and just stay put.
If we all work together Texas, we'll be alright, alright, alright. pic.twitter.com/n77VCVVBY1
— Texas DSHS (@TexasDSHS) March 23, 2020
McConaughey was a bit less direct in posting this photo of a “Witness Room,” which he captioned “we’re all in it now.” There are a few ways you could interpret this—unfortunately. He might be alluding to our being isolated, like witnesses in a trial. Or, since a “witness room” is also where observers gather during executions, perhaps it’s a grim metaphor for how we’re watching people die from our own safe remove.
Luckily, McConaughey also posted another of his soothing quarantine chats, in which he reminds everyone that, in these “rough and tumble times,” the bravest thing we can do right now is stay home and take care of ourselves. Once again, it’s three minutes of borderline ASMR that should calm even the most jangled of nerves. Just don’t read the comments.