Whether it’s stories of serial killers or corrupt cops, bloody wars or apocalypses (of the environmental, zombie, or super-intelligent-ape variety), there is almost nothing that Woody Harrelson can’t take the edge off. Deadline reports that HBO will put the actor’s natural likability to the test once again with The White House Plumbers, a limited series that will star Harrelson as Watergate mastermind E. Howard Hunt, a CIA officer turned criminal fixer for Richard Nixon, opposite Justin Theroux’s G. Gordon Liddy. Hunt’s mission as a self-described “plumber” was to plug the White House leaks that led to Nixon’s downfall and Hunt’s own imprisonment—back in that quaint age when abuses of presidential power were more widely frowned upon. Harrelson actually has a roundabout connection with Hunt, who was alleged to be one of the “three tramps” arrested in Dealey Plaza shortly after John F. Kennedy’s assassination—just like Harrelson’s own father, contract killer Charles Harrelson. Granted, we doubt that will come into play during The White House Plumbers.
St. Vincent Plays St. Vincent in Movie About St. Vincent Making a Movie About St. Vincent
After a foray into directing on the 2017 horror anthology XX, Dallas’s own St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark, is set to make her film acting debut in The Nowhere Inn, which was just announced as part of next year’s Sundance Film Festival lineup. Clark cowrote the script with Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein, who, like Clark, costars in the thoroughly meta tale as herself. According to the synopsis, “When St. Vincent sets out to make a documentary about her music, the goal is to both reveal and revel in the unadorned truth behind her onstage persona. But when she hires a close friend to direct, notions of reality, identity, and authenticity grow increasingly distorted and bizarre.” Those are themes that Clark has long explored with her music, and under the direction of Portlandia’s Bill Benz, they should pair nicely with the layers of Charlie Kaufman-esque comic irony hinted at here. Ideally it’ll lead to a series of increasingly outlandish star vehicles for Clark, a la Elvis or Prince. How long must we wait for St. Vincent’s Clambake or Under the Cherry Moon?
Terrence Malick’s Vatican Audience
Austin auteur Terrence Malick received the rare honor of having one of his films play at the Vatican, God’s own personal Sundance, where the director attended a screening of A Hidden Life before a group of Catholic dignitaries this week. This was perhaps even more meaningful considering that it’s one of very few films to be approved by the church before its official release—and at least one of those other movies was about the pope himself. Telling its own true story, A Hidden Life concerns the Austrian conscientious objector Franz Jägerstätter, who was sentenced to death for refusing to join Hitler’s army, an act for which the church later declared him a martyr. It doesn’t get a wide release until next week, which makes its preview screening just another one of those papal “indulgences”—though unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as though Pope Francis himself was in attendance. Presumably even he hasn’t forgiven Malick for Knight of Cups.
Kanye West and Joel Osteen Redux
Meanwhile, Houston’s very own Money Pope, Joel Osteen, is reportedly reteaming with rapper Kanye West for another mega-church spectacle at Yankee Stadium, New York’s own Vatican, on a stop along Osteen’s upcoming “Night of Hope” tour. The two first shared a stage in November, when Osteen welcomed West to his Lakewood Church for a live performance and accompanying sermon from the Book of Kanye—a testament to the humbling power of faith in which West memorably declared that “the greatest artist that God has ever created is now working for Him.” And, obviously, one of the perks of working for God is the choice booking. Although tickets have not yet been announced, it’s believed that Osteen and West will convene on May 2, 2020, to give glory unto him—and, if they have time, Him.
Post Malone Breaks More Records
In a clear affront to God, it was another artist entirely who amassed the most followers in 2019: Grapevine’s golden calf, Post Malone, who this week can boast not only of having the number one song on the Billboard 100 with his surprisingly bubbly pop confection “Circles,” but also a new record as the most-streamed artist of the year, with some 6.5 billion total streams across the world. Malone also lays claim to two of the year’s most-streamed songs, “Sunflower” and “Wow,” as well as two of its most-streamed albums, Hollywood’s Bleeding and Beerbongs & Bentleys. In fact, the former’s continued reign at the top of the album charts is being challenged only by the soundtrack to Frozen II; in short, it would take an entire army of parents desperate to placate their demanding children just to bring him down. His dominance is so pervasive that Slate this week suggested, only somewhat grudgingly, that Post Malone may well be the defining artist of the decade, if only for his uncanny knack for synthesizing and quickly capitalizing on its many disparate, fleeting trends. So perhaps Posty is, if nothing else, the defining algorithm of the decade.
Still, Malone doesn’t seem to have let this awesome power go to his head, at least not in any extravagant or particularly cool way: he capped off his history-making week by giving away a bunch of Crocs at the Chicken Express he used to work at in Southlake, with thousands of fans standing in line (despite Malone not actually being there) just to get a pair. You know, if Post Malone somehow manages to make Crocs cool, God may have to shuffle His roster.
This Week In Matthew McConaughey
During a week that was set aside for giving thanks, primarily for Matthew McConaughey, the man himself was paying it forward by carving up turkeys for first responders in Los Angeles, then hightailing it back to Austin in time to continue his recent tradition of delivering food for Meals on Wheels. A few days later, McConaughey gave back to the city again by not only helping to break ground at the University of Texas’s new Moody Center arena, but by doing it in a three-piece burnt-orange suit that GQ singled out as its “Big Fit of the Day.” Of course, unlike volunteering, that last charitable work probably shouldn’t be attempted by anyone but Matthew McConaughey. Still, you have to admire the aspirational example it sets.
Overall, it was an unusually inspirational week for McConaughey, one in which he also found time for, apparently, taking a dip with his “brother from ‘nother mother” Woody Harrelson, as well as digging up this throwback baby photo, from an age when McConaughey first developed his smooth approach to life thanks to his as-yet-unwrinkled brain. Gaze upon it, and marvel at how many more blessed weeks of McConaughey were still yet to come.