Lady Cora is coming back to America, but this time, it’s in real life. According to The Associated Press, McGovern and her folk-rock band, Sadie and the Hotheads, will be embarking on a 10-date U.S. tour along the East coast starting Dec. 4. The seven-person band was formed in 2007 with McGovern as the lead vocalist and picked up in popularity when Downton Abbey came along.
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Despite changing plots and wild twists, one of the constants of the four seasons of American Horror Story has been star Jessica Lange, who has now won two Emmys for AHS. The actress is back for this year’s Freak Show (premiering Oct. 8 at 10 p.m. on FX) to play the maestro behind the titular group of performers, an ex-German cabaret star named Elsa Mars. Lange, who has said that this will be her last AHS installment, talked to EW about about bringing the concept to co-creator Ryan Murphy, musical numbers, and what else is in store for this year’s epic Show.
EW: So Ryan said you brought this to him, right?
JESSICA LANGE: Yeah this had been in my mind for a long time. I have forever been fascinated and I photograph it a lot myself—small-time kind of carnival, sideshow, things like that. I mean I started kind of looking into freak shows. It is an amazing history and I’ve always been fascinated by a community of people living like gypsies, on the road and traveling from place to place and, in this case, heightened to the degree that they’re all extremely special.
So it was something I suggested to him a year or so ago. I had originally imagined it like a traveling freak show, maybe Dustbowl, with that kind of desperation. Ryan has set it in another time, which I think is clever, actually.
With the time setting and the return of Pepper (Naomi Grossman), it’s almost like a prequel a bit to Asylum.
Well, with that character, yes. For all the outrage at exhibiting freaks at the time, the fact is they had community. They had family. Some of them made quite a bit of money. They were extremely popular in Victorian times. Yes, they were being exhibited, but when you look at the other side of that, they were cared for. The most important thing—and I think this is what people don’t understand—is the idea of community.
I think what will be revealed with Pepper is that when these freak shows were finally closed down, in a lot of cases they were closed down without the consent of the performers. And a lot of these people ended up in asylums, alone and isolated. So you’ve got many facets to this topic.
You play Elsa Mars, a German lady. And you’re sort of the owner of the freak show and it’s on its last legs.
Yeah, it’s kind of that thing of the end of one popular entertainment and the beginning of another. As Ryan likes to say, “The end of one freak show and the beginning of another.”
And you arrive in this town and you discover conjoined twins Bette and Dot (Sarah Paulson) and they become the new star of your show?
Yeah, that was a way a lot of these people were found. They would find them in hospitals or jails or wherever and recruited. So that’s how Sarah is introduced into the story. I hear something about her, she’s in the hospital, and I go there.
Is it a maternal relationship between Elsa and the twins?
Well, maternal would be putting it very generously. My character is very manipulative. She understands what’s needed, and she provides it. However, the thing I want to be very clear in this is that my character Elsa really loves these people. She truly cares for them, in her own selfish, narcissistic way. But they mean a great deal to her. It’s not just exploitation. She’s tough, and she’s mean sometimes, and all of that, but she really does love them.
Is she not as villainous as Fiona or Constance?
I don’t see her as villainous. She’s delusional—let’s put it that way [laughs]. But it’s fun to play a delusional character. But she came out of the Weimar Republic, out of that just the s–tstorm between the two wars in Germany and was at one moment a very successful cabaret performer and then everything dissembled. And this is ultimately where she ended up: in a freak show, small town circuit in the south in the early ’50s. So it’s been a wild ride for Elsa. I don’t see her as villainous. I see her as delusional, as narcissistic, as ruthless in her ambition. But her ambition is all tied up in her delusion.
I heard you get to sing again.
Oh my God! Singing, yes! In the first four episodes, I sing three numbers. Which is nuts!
How was that?
Well, actually, it was great. Ryan is a little more than usual playing a little loose with time and genre. So we’ve got a couple really big production numbers that I think if they work are going to be very unique.
You perform in the freak show?
And there’s a flashback?
Yes there’s a flashback to the cabaret, to the late 1920s, early ’30s.
Well, “The Name Game” performance was one of the highlights of Asylum, so I can’t wait for more Jessica Lange singing.
Yeah, well, you’re gonna get it, for better or worse!
And Kathy Bates basically plays your henchwoman/right hand gal, Ethel Darling.
Yeah that’s another character I kind of save. We have a long history and bond together. We’ve got some amazing characters I think this year. The actors, of course, are all great.
I heard the sets are phenomenal too. Ryan said you actually got emotional when you walked on.
Well I walked onto our big set, the big compound where all the tents are set up and the trailers and everything. I mean I told our art director it was like a poem. It was like you are inside this poem. Incredible. I’ve never seen a set like that.
Have you had to do any scary stuff yet, like deal with Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch)?
No. Ryan always keeps me out of that fray because he knows that’s not my favorite part. I think this is very different, certainly very different from last year. I mean, I don’t know where this is going, so there’s always that! But I don’t forsee any real slasher moments.
Has Ryan told you what the end of Elsa’s arc will be?
Yeah, he has. He just came up with it the other day.
And what did you think of his plan?
I thought it was kind of brilliant.
You had said previously this would be your last AHS. Has this made you want to sign up for another season?
I haven’t reconsidered. I’m just trying to get through this year, and I think this year, without a doubt, will be my favorite. In a way, it was an idea that I had wanted to explore for a while. I think just the richness of it and the time and the place and the characters. I just think it’s going to be unique. And I think, to my mind, what I’ve seen already and what we’ve done, it will far surpass anything we’ve done before.
The 37th annual Kennedy Center Honors, which recognize the lifetime contributions of artists, have selected their 2014 honorees: singer Al Green, filmmaker Tom Hanks, singer-songwriter Sting, comedienne Lily Tomlin, and ballerina Patricia McBride.
As per usual, the honorees, who are chosen by the Kennedy Center’s Board of Trustees, will sit with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the Kennedy Center Opera House, while their peers and fans honor them with performances and tributes. READ FULL STORY
USA’s Suits is dressing up for a fifth season. The cable network has renewed the legal dramedy for another 16 episodes for next year. “Suits continues to fire on all cylinders, delivering provocative storytelling and complex characters that viewers can’t get enough of,” said Chris McCumber, president of USA Network. “With some of the best writing on television, and a brilliant ensemble cast, we anticipate a spectacular fifth season for a series that has become a marquee property for USA.”
So far this summer, the current fourth season is averaging about 4 million viewers, including DVR playback. This current season included a big plot shift at the firm that left Harvey (Gabriel Macht) at odds with his legal associate Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) who left to head to Wall Street as an investment banker. The show’s midseason finale airs Wednesday, Aug. 20.
How can Fox improve American Idol? According to the network’s top executive, it’s the contestants that could use some upgrading.
Fox Networks Group chairman Peter Rice told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills on Sunday that Idol is “aging gracefully,” and that increased competition from shows like NBC’s The Voice are a factor in the former ratings kingpin’s declining popularity. Yet the executive had one specific note for improving the show itself, which is carrying over last season’s judges panel of Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. into next year’s 14th season. READ FULL STORY
Lifetime has found its replacement for Zendaya Coleman.
Alexandra Shipp will play late R&B singer Aaliyah in Lifetime’s upcoming biopic Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B (working title), EW has confirmed. The planned film is set to premiere this fall and will be executive produced by Debra Martin Chase and talk show host Wendy Williams.
Willams broke the news earlier today when she tweeted:
Shipp’s previous film credits include Nicklelodeon’s House of Anubis, and guest appearances on Awkward, Switched At Birth, and Victorious. Zendaya Coleman (Shake It Up) was originally cast in the lead role, but the 17-year-old actress dropped out of the project in June. Coleman, whose “Replay” spent 21 weeks on Billboard Hot 100, was originally set to sing in the film as well. No word yet on whether or not Shipp will also sing in the film.
Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B is based on Wall Street Journal editor Christopher John Farley’s biography on the late singer Aaliyah: More than a Woman.
Lifetime has confirmed that Zendaya Coleman, the 17-year-old best known as the star of Disney Channel’s Shake It Up! and as a breakout on Dancing With the Stars, will no longer be starring in the cable channel’s upcoming Aaliyah biopic, Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B (working title).
“We are sad Zendaya will no longer portray Aaliyah. Production is currently on hold,” the network’s PR team confirmed Sunday on its Twitter feed. The casting of Coleman, whose own 2013 single “Replay” spent 21 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, was announced June 16. READ FULL STORY
Ever since Angela Bassett announced she would direct a Lifetime film on beloved singer Whitney Houston, diehard fans—and most of the Internet—have speculated on nearly every aspect of the film. Who would play Houston, with her prodigious voice and winning smile? Would her daughter Bobbi Kristina appear in the movie? Would her family be involved? How would her ex-husband, singer-songwriter Bobby Brown, be depicted? And what of Houston’s death in 2012—would that make it to the small screen? READ FULL STORY
When it comes to albums, Bruce Springsteen can be ruthless. Ruthless in the sense that if a great song doesn’t fit with the tone, message, or general vibe of the rest of the album he’s building, he’ll throw it out. Maybe the song gets a little oxygen on stage during a tour, maybe it finds its way onto another project years later, or maybe it’s still sitting in Bruce’s attic. As Springsteen told Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello in High Hopes, the HBO documentary about the making of his most recent album, “I got a million of ‘em, man.” READ FULL STORY
It started with Elmo. A little over a year ago, web entrepreneur Ilya Pozin was working on his computer with his two-year-old daughter perched in his lap. To keep her entertained, he was searching for online Sesame Street videos. He’d put one on, but after each one ended, his daughter would yell out, “More Elmo, Daddy!” — and Pozin would have to go on the hunt for another video. “I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Why am I having to DJ for her every three minutes?'” Pozin says, laughing. “I should be able to just throw on a channel for my daughter that plays videos she loves constantly.”
So he and co-founders Nick Grouf and Tom Ryan built a new web platform, Pluto.TV, to do just that. The platform, which launched today, March 31, essentially sifts through the millions of online videos available on Youtube and elsewhere, finds the best ones, and then put them into channels, and shows on those channels, that run 24/7. It’s like a cable menu for online video. So, for instance, if you’re really, really into cute cat videos (and let’s face it, who isn’t), you can click on Pluto’s Cats channel, and watch a curated list of the best of those — everything from shows on “Big Cats” to “Kitten Zone” — all.day.long., for free. You can also DVR stuff and invite friends via Facebook to watch videos with you (and chat about them) live.
Contestants on The Voice are getting double the coaching this season as Coldplay’s Chris Martin joins the show to help Shakira, Usher, Blake Shelton, and Adam Levine coach their teams.
News of Martin’s involvement was first announced yesterday through Snapchat. At around 8 p.m. Tuesday night, The Voice’s Twitter sent out a post instructing followers to add “nbcthevoice” to their Snapchat contacts.
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