The Texas roots of rapper Vanilla Ice are often overlooked, if not willfully ignored—no more so than by Vanilla himself. The man born Robert Van Winkle grew up here, in the milquetoast Dallas ’burbs of Carrollton, although if one were to read his (mostly ghostwritten) 1991 autobiography, Ice by Ice—or any of the interviews that surrounded the meteoric rise of “Ice Ice Baby”—you’d come away with the repeatedly flogged misconception that he spent his youth running wild on the rough-and-tumble streets of Miami, where legend has it the gunshots ring out like bells. He does devote some of Ice by Ice to discussing his teen days getting in trouble along Dallas’s Forest Lane (“Just ask any of the cops there,” Ice doth protest). But for the most part, Van Winkle’s sage, suburban Texas upbringing always seemed to be a bit of a hindrance to the image he was trying to project, his past as a member of a gang that was devoted to disrupting pep rallies repeatedly buried under so much hip-hop bluster.
But hey, it’s 2020, and we’re long past worrying about the street cred of a man who rapped for the Ninja Turtles. So at last, the true-ish story can be told in the new biopic To the Extreme, which will star Dave Franco and his eyebrows as a young Vanilla, covering the artist’s rise to fame “from a high school dropout selling cars in Dallas to having the first hip-hop single to top the Billboard charts.” In a recent interview with Insider, Franco explains that he’s aiming for something akin to his brother James Franco’s The Disaster Artist, a biopic about the similarly overweening filmmaker Tommy Wiseau. “With that movie, people expected us to make a broad comedy where we make fun of Tommy Wiseau,” Franco said, “but the more real we played it, the funnier and heartfelt it was—that’s the tone we want for this one as well.” And indeed, when it comes to Vanilla Ice, it’s always a lot funnier when you just play it straight, as anyone who’s seen Cool As Ice can attest.
Of course, in this case, keeping it real paradoxically means talking to Vanilla Ice himself, with Franco saying he’s been “super helpful in the process of getting all the details correct and making us privy to information the public doesn’t know”—which definitely seems like a potential red flag. Still, inconvenient as it may have been back when he was marketing himself as a Miami gangsta, the log line suggests that To the Extreme (whenever it’s finally cleared for production) will deal with Vanilla Ice’s Dallas roots without any lies or embellishment. Or at least, no more than usual.
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Beyoncé Gathers Her Famous Friends and Relatives for Black Is King Trailer
Offering a separate (though far less risible) story of a young man’s ancestry as told through the fabulist prism of myth, Beyoncé’s upcoming visual album Black Is King now has a full trailer, offering a glimpse at the many other celebrities who will make their appearances in the considerable shadow of the Houston megastar. Beyoncé’s fellow Destiny’s Child—mate Kelly Rowland, Pharrell Williams, Lupita Nyong’o, and Naomi Campbell all pop up briefly in the two-minute clip alongside Beyoncé’s husband, Jay-Z, and mother, Tina Knowles-Lawson, joining the singer for a supremely heady take on The Lion King story that centers on “a young king’s transcendent journey through betrayal, love and self-identity.” Said journey takes him through various lush and surreal vistas that evoke various touchstones of black culture, as well as every weird dream you’ve ever had after watching too much YouTube. Black Is King streams on Disney Plus beginning July 31.
Cheer Season Two Is Still Possible Whenever We’re Done With All … This
Netflix’s Cheer debuted in January 2020, a date that already seems of a distant, more naive era, when we binged on Netflix docuseries simply because they were compelling, not because we were trapped inside with no other recourse. Ironically, the COVID crisis that soon made Cheer’s first season into mandatory viewing is the very same thing that robbed it of a second: when cheerleading’s national championship in Daytona, Florida, was canceled back in March, so was the entire cheerleading season at Corsicana’s Navarro College, meaning there was nothing left to film, meme, or keep J.J. Watt entertained. Still, director Greg Whiteley tells The Wrap this week that he hasn’t entirely given up. “We’re still trying to figure that out,” Whiteley said of a potential second round. “There’s enough interest in there being a subsequent season that it’d be silly for us not to explore it. But under the current conditions it’s made it complicated, I’ll say that. We’re still working through it.” Granted, most of the squad members who made Cheer such a sensation have already moved on—and Whiteley isn’t “working through” just the usual network talks here, but rather a global pandemic. Nevertheless, it sounds like there’s still some light at the end of that tunnel. For just $150, you could hire Jerry Harris to scream a reminder at you every morning.
New Docuseries Chronicles Austin Restaurants in the Age of COVID
In the meantime we’re all just muddling through, making the best of things—particularly those who work in Texas restaurants. As seen in the new short-format docuseries ReOpen, from Austin filmmaker Christian Remde, restaurant owners have been forced to make difficult decisions, operating at increasing risk and reduced capacity just to stay afloat, in an atmosphere that bristles with paranoia and political tension—all while wearing masks in the Texas summer. Each episode of Remde’s series focuses on a different Austin restaurant as it grapples with staff layoffs, new safety requirements, and falling revenue in this strange and uncertain world, offering people’s candid thoughts on the reality of our situation and the future of their business. You can check out a trailer at ReOpenDoc.com, where a new episode will debut every Tuesday, beginning July 28.
Post Malone’s Next Album Will Deal With “What’s Going on Currently”
If you too find yourself overwhelmed by the anxiety and uncertainty of our time, wishing someone would come along and make sense of this deepening morass we’re mired in, I have good news: Post Malone is already working on a new album that’s all about “what’s going on currently.” The Grapevine rapper told the Wall Street Journal Magazine this week that lately he’s been “just vib[ing]-out and [seeing] where my brain takes me”—which is apparently somewhere in the vicinity of a newspaper, given that Malone also alludes vaguely to the “dark time in America” that’s inspired him to write a new batch of songs filled with comparably articulate messages of love, community, and hope. So yes, although we may all be experiencing the pain and confusion of [makes sweeping gesture in the nation’s general direction], perhaps this suffering will all be worth it, knowing that it’s also inspired what Post Malone claims are his best songs yet? No? Okay. Well, he also got a succubus tattooed on his head. Maybe that will take your mind off things for a minute.
THIS WEEK IN MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY
After all, we can’t put the burden of lightening the world on just one man. Not Post Malone—not even Matthew McConaughey, who spent most of the spring taking us to school, church, and various astral planes while preaching about our pandemic responsibilities, but has lately settled into what seems to be a well-deserved summer break. But while he remained mostly dormant on his social media channels, the actor did turn up this week in a new profile in Austin Monthly, where McConaughey appeared in a set of photos taken by his kids that capture him in various states of perfectly staged livin’: Diving into a pool. Wielding a machete. Frying up a steak. Straddling a burnt-orange motorcycle, etc. It’s not much, admittedly—just a little taste of McConaughey to tide you over in this long and uncommon drought. Will it ever stop? Yo, I don’t know.