COVID-19’s devastating effects on the live music industry have forced Houston rapper Travis Scott to explore some new venues, from staging virtual concerts in Fortnite to hitting the pipe dream of a fully restored AstroWorld. And thanks to TikTok, he’s found a brand-new place to play: inside the shattered minds of McDonald’s employees, where his music echoes in an endless, haunting loop. As Variety reports, Scott is at the heart of the latest trend on the still technically legal social-media app, which finds fans ordering Scott’s recently debuted McDonald’s meal by blaring his song “Sicko Mode” into drive-through speakers and the headsets of some poor cashier who definitely has enough to deal with right now.
While some McDonald’s employees have expressed reservations about the practice—such as the defeated woman heard asking, “Are you gonna blast music in my ears?” in this video—the company itself has issued a memo assuring its traumatized workers that it’s all in good fun, and also that compliance is mandatory. “Various Travis Scott Meal marketing materials include the line, ‘Say Cactus Jack sent you’, leading some customers to say, ‘Cactus Jack sent me’ or other social-media-inspired variations including: ‘It’s lit, sicko mode,’ ‘The Fortnite guy burger,’ or ‘You know why I am here’ (while playing Travis Scott music),” the memo reads. “To reduce confusion, please make crew aware of these monikers or alternate ordering methods.”
But while McDonald’s employees have certainly stayed in “sicko mode” when it comes to learning all the new, totally lit ways their job can get more annoying or demeaning, stores themselves are reportedly having trouble keeping the meal in stock. USA Today reports that demand for the Travis Scott meal has been so high that the chain is running low on key ingredients, including Quarter Pounder beef, bacon, onions, and lettuce, prompting it to make the meal available exclusively through the McDonald’s app—which means crews probably won’t be hearing Scott’s music much longer, except whenever they try to think or sleep.
Liv Tyler Bows Out of 9-1-1: Lone Star Over Pandemic Fears
Much like the city in which it pretends to be set, the pandemic has had its own dramatic effects on Fox’s 9-1-1: Lone Star. Deadline reports that Liv Tyler will not be returning to Fake Austin for the show’s second season, citing a reluctance to travel between her London home and Los “Visibly Not Austin” Angeles, amid the ongoing uncertainty caused by the coronavirus. The series reportedly won’t recast Tyler’s paramedic captain Michelle Blake, although her role will presumably be filled by the recently added Gina Torres, who will play a retired paramedic who’s called back into action after COVID threatens her husband’s restaurant. According to co-creator Tim Minear, “The door here will always be open for a return” for Tyler’s character—although last season did already see her arc more or less completed after she was reunited with the missing sister she’d been searching for, with the supernatural help of one of Austin’s many famed santeria stores. Anyway, Tyler’s departure from the show means she no longer has to attempt a Southern accent.
Selena Gomez to Star In and Executive-Produce Hotel Transylvania 4
There will be no such concerns for Selena Gomez on the recently announced Hotel Transylvania 4, considering a) voice-over work can be done just about anywhere, negating the need for risky travel; and b) Gomez’s character is a “modern” girl, meaning she doesn’t even have to bother trying to sound Romanian. Besides, even if someone did try to foist those on her, Gomez’s newly anointed role as executive producer means she could probably just have them fired. Variety reports that the Grand Prairie–born star will return as both the animated sequel’s colead and as a producer, adding to a rapidly growing list of production credits that includes the recently released indie The Broken Hearts Gallery, her HBO Max cooking show Selena + Chef, and her upcoming Hulu series with Steve Martin and Martin Short. Hotel Transylvania 4 is slated to hit theaters (or whatever) on August 6, 2021.
JT Neal Rebounds With Fox Sitcom Pilot
Dallas-born star JT Neal saw his breakout ABC series Bless This Mess canceled earlier this year after two seasons, but he’s already bouncing back with the aptly named Pivoting. The Fox sitcom pilot has cast Neal as the main love interest of star Ginnifer Goodwin, who plays one of three women who decide to take charge of their lives following the death of their childhood friend. According to Deadline, Neal’s character will be a “a cute, guileless, trainer who, while not an intellectual, is a savant when it comes to fitness,” and who aids Goodwin in her own quest to get into shape. He’s also reportedly “a sheltered guy” who still lives with his mother—which is definitely a step up from the guileless, sheltered farm boy Neal played on Bless This Mess, who still lived with both his parents.
Audie Murphy Gets His Own Limited TV Series
Speaking of Texas farm boys—albeit far less callow ones—Deadline also reports that a new limited series is in the works on the life of Audie Murphy, the Hunt County native who became a highly decorated World War II hero before embarking on a successful movie career in the fifties and sixties. Among the many films he made was 1955’s To Hell and Back, with Murphy starring in a dramatization of his own life from a tough childhood among dirt-poor sharecroppers to his famed military exploits, which included single-handedly fending off a Nazi battalion in France. But as the new series’s producers note, To Hell and Back is only half of the Murphy story, and their show aims to cover the rest with a more modern, less sensationalized air of realism—presumably focusing on Murphy’s decades-long struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. No doubt the show will also have a slightly darker read: The project is based on the biography No Name on the Bullet, from the late Texas Monthly contributor Don Graham, whose portrait of Murphy is one of a flawed, tormented, and often cantankerous man who would probably more accurately be classified as an anti-hero—all the better for a modern prestige TV series.
Carole Baskin Gets Her Own Reality Series
We are, after all, living in an era in which almost nothing or no one is considered so controversial that they won’t be given their own TV show. Case in point: Carole Baskin, the Bexar County–born big-cat lover best known as the foil to Joe Exotic, the subject of the Netflix docuseries Tiger King, as well as the forthcoming Amazon drama starring Nicolas Cage (and based on a feature from Texas Monthly’s own Leif Reigstad). Baskin quickly achieved infamy thanks to the lingering questions around the disappearance of her husband, Don Lewis, a scandal that’s dogged her right into a slot on Dancing With the Stars, as well as her own, just-announced reality series. The as-yet-untitled show will find Baskin and her current husband, Howard Baskin, exposing the acts of animal cruelty and exploitation committed by various abusers who, let’s face it, probably won’t be wearing any gaudy sequined shirts or pretending to be a country singer.
Did Post Malone Get a New Tattoo?
He did not, but he did get sixteen nominations for this year’s Billboard Music Awards, putting him well ahead of the likes of Kanye West, Billie Eilish, and El Paso’s Khalid. The Grapevine rapper will compete in fifteen categories, including Top Artist, Top Male Artist, and Top Billboard 200 Album in the virtual October 14 ceremony to be hosted by Burleson’s own Kelly Clarkson, after which Malone will hopefully get fresh ink for every trophy he takes home.
This Week in Matthew McConaughey
With the release of his new meme-oir, Greenlights, now less than a month away, Matthew McConaughey has been busy remaking himself into a man of letters, including sharing a photo of himself reading another book that he didn’t even write. (Granted, that book was John Grisham’s A Time for Mercy, the sequel to 1989’s A Time to Kill, and thus about a character that Matthew McConaughey once played. But, nevertheless …) This week, McConaughey also promoted the virtues of reading classic literature—or at least listening to it—in an interview with Fatherly about his new Hank the Cowdog podcast, musing on some of the values he shares with his canine alter ego, as well as his approach to being both a dog and a dad. “Duty. Responsibility. Accountability. Courage,” McConaughey said, all of which can apply equally to raising children and sniffing out ranch-related mysteries.
But of course, the actor’s greatest contribution to the Western canon this week came with the debut of yet another Greenlights excerpt, in which McConaughey muses, “If we’re not sure how to respond to a certain situation, our default emotion should be sense of humor. Think about it, we would all get along so much better with more laughter.” And sure, you may find yourself quibbling with that, saying, “But Matthew McConaughey, ‘sense of humor’ describes a trait or ability, and not really an emotion, per se.” But then you’d be just the sort of grim-faced, red-light-stringing pedant he’s talking to! Game, set, McConaughey!
Giving us the gift of reading and laughter-related pop psychology is just the tip of McConaughey’s recent philanthropic streak. The all-star Fast Times at Ridgemont High live-read he participated in drew four million viewers and raised $135,000 for COVID-19 relief. He also joined fellow celebrities like Will Smith, Alicia Keys, and Houston’s own Liza Koshy for Facebook’s Vote-a-Thon 2020, where he reminded everyone of the importance of registering to vote by emphatically clapping his hands. But by far his most altruistic contribution came on Wednesday, when McConaughey shared a video of himself watching his audition tape for Dazed and Confused, something he claimed to have never seen before.
— Matthew McConaughey (@McConaughey) September 23, 2020
“You thought you might just have a three-day summer job for a little hobby,” McConaughey says to his 1992, MTV Headbangers Ball–shirt-wearing self. “And 28 years later, I’ve still got a little summer job that turned into a career.” It’s a nostalgic reminder that Matthew McConaughey gets older, but his whole thing stays the same age.