It’s Friday, and I’m planning an Ocean’s 8-style heist, but the mission is to get eight friends over 30 to commit to a single brunch date.
Hello from Los Angeles, where we’re getting our hair done like Midge Maisel, hitting the rodeo with Chloé Zhao, and listening in as Guillermo del Toro and William Friedkin talk shop.
When I ask Emmy voters which show they’re most enthusiastic about this year, the title that often comes up is Amy Sherman-Palladino’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which hit Amazon’s streaming service last November and won over critics with its witty writing, period production design and costumes, and plucky housewife-turned-comedienne protagonist, Rachel Brosnahan’s Midge. In a sign of how Peak TV has yielded inevitably to Peak Awards Campaigning, Emmy voters now have the opportunity to immerse themselves fully in Midge’s world, in a space at the Hollywood Athletic Club that Amazon is calling its “Prime Experience.” This is Amazon’s second year taking over the club to showcase its shows, and this time it’s inviting members of the general public as well. “We started to do some research,” Amazon Studios head of marketing Mike Benson told me, of the company’s for-your-consideration initiative. “Everyone was doing the same thing from an awards perspective—a screening and a panel. We thought, what if we do it differently? What if we made it more intimate?” From April 12 to April 27, TV Academy members and casual fans can step into a 1958 New York kitchen designed like the Maisels’, have their hair done like Midge’s, and stop by the Gaslight Cafe, where she performs her stand-up comedy. In addition to the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel space, which was built to Sherman-Palladino’s specifications, Amazon will also have experiences devoted to other original series, including Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, Mozart in the Jungle, The Grand Tour, and The Dangerous Book for Boys.
Netflix, too, has made an art form of the out-of-the-box Emmy campaign. Last year the streaming company took over an office building in Beverly Hills and filled it with costumes, props, and installations of its numerous series, including The Crown and Stranger Things. This year Netflix is going even bigger, filling a more-than-30,000-square-foot space at Raleigh Studios beginning on May 6, and stacking it with programming for such shows as Grace and Frankie, Ozark, and Queer Eye. The people behind Emmy contenders from more traditional TV networks often complain about their deep-pocketed, tech-company competitors. If there’s one advantage the networks have had over streamers, it’s the fact that most TV Academy members still rely on a good old-fashioned cable TV package. But this year, Amazon has added a space for people reluctantly grappling with the new technology. Amazon will have a room at the Hollywood Athletic Club dedicated to helping visitors learn how to stream television, whether on a smart TV, laptop, phone, or other device. And if you can’t even figure out how to connect your fancy new smart TV at home? “We’ll have experts there to help you learn how to do it,” Benson said.
If you have not yet discovered Hulu’s 9/11 drama, The Looming Tower, this would be a good weekend to start, as the propulsive show drives toward its finale next week. Vanity Fair’s Nicole Sperling profiles the series’s breakout performer, French actor Tahar Rahim, who plays Lebanese-American F.B.I. agent Ali Soufan. Cinephiles may remembers Rahim from Jacques Audiard’s 2009 Oscar-nominated prison drama, A Prophet. After that role, Rahim kept Hollywood at arm’s length, turning down parts that would have called on him to play a two-dimensional villain, usually an Arab terrorist. “I was waiting for something good from America,” Rahim said. “At some point, I thought maybe it’s a dream I better leave [alone].” Instead, in the role of The Looming Tower’s Soufan, Rahim plays a real-life tragic American hero, who tried to warn the U.S. of an encroaching threat.
ROPIN’ ’EM IN
Chloé Zhao’s neo-western, The Rider, the talk of last year’s Telluride Film Festival, finally gets its theatrical release this weekend. Critics have heaped praise on Zhao’s portrait of an ailing rodeo man, starring and inspired by real cowboy Brady Jandreau. Vanity Fair’s K. Austin Collins writes that The Rider is “soulful, elegant, filmed as often as not at the magic hour, when the sky is as broad as it is orange yellow, and every nook of the world seems alight with possibility.”
It appears there actually is something Dwayne Johnson can’t save: his new movie, Rampage. Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson says Rampage, which is based on a 1986 arcade game, “dumps Johnson into a blank role and figures that’s enough to make things work. ‘It’s The Rock, doin’ stuff!’ Yeah, sure, it is The Rock doing stuff. But it’s stuff we’ve seen him do before, in better movies.”
This week’s very special episode of Vanity Fair’s podcast Little Gold Men, made in partnership with the Talkhouse Podcast, includes part of an expansive and frank conversation between directors William Friedkin and Guillermo del Toro. When Friedkin asks how del Toro’s life has changed since his film The Shape of Water won the best-picture Oscar in March, del Toro describes the months-long awards-season process as “like Heart of Darkness”: “You start with one mission—you start saying look, whatever happens happens. Then you get the nominations, and little by little you are in.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“If anyone tries to tell me any of my modest movies aren’t actually movies they can kindly go stab themselves in the face several times and set themselves on fire”—Jeremy Saulnier, director of Hold the Dark, a Netflix movie impacted by the streaming company’s feud with the Cannes Film Festival, to IndieWire’s Eric Kohn.
That’s the news for this week on the Hollywood and awards beat. Tell me what you’re seeing out there. Send tips, comments, valet-line gossip, big deals you overheard at the Polo Lounge, bad vibes you picked up on at Craft, and Midge Maisel’s favorite cold cream to Rebecca_Keegan@@thatrebecca.. Follow me on Twitter