Here's what's new and interesting in entertainment and the arts:
- 'Hamilton' L.A. tickets go on sale Sunday, at long last
- 'Facts of Life' star Charlotte Rae has bone cancer
- Katy Perry serves up new single 'Bon Appetit'
- Kim Kardashian says she's no longer materialistic
- Caitlyn Jenner memoir creates a new rift in the family
- Chris Soules' lawyers: Don't prejudge 'Bachelor' alum
- A new Haim LP is on the way (and a new video's here)
Midway through James Cameron's 2009 sci-fi action film "Avatar," set on the distant planet of Pandora, lead character Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) observes, "Out there is the true world. In here is the dream."
He's referring to his ability in the film to inhabit an alien body, and not, of course, a theme park. Yet Disney, at its Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Fla., will on May 27 attempt to transport guests to an otherworldly reality -- a place not inhabited by princesses and castles and singing ghosts but by floating mountains, a bioluminescent forest and mysterious creatures who rustle plants just out of sight of guests.
Pandora -- the World of Avatar, which was inspired by the Cameron film but does not feature any of its main characters, aims to put a true-to-life spin on the fantasy universe. Situated in Animal Kingdom, Pandora will play up themes of conservation as it presents a fragile world on the road to rehabilitation. Set about a generation after the conflict of the film, much of Pandora, which we visited as part of a preview today, conveys a tranquil setting.
The Na'Vi River Journey boat ride is an intimate (the boats seat about eight people each) and calming trip through a bioluminescent forest, culminating in a visit with the Shaman of Songs, a Na'Vi relaxing and serenading guests amid the glowing fauna.
The Shaman of Songs also happens to be one of Disney's most impressive audio-animatronics to date, possessing almost human-like fluidity. Along the journey, guests will encounter flowing jellyfish, pulsating orange plants and the wolf-like creatures that haunt Pandora. The effect is akin to floating through an above-ground coral reef.
Elsewhere, the more thrilling Avatar Flight of Passage aims to simulate the effect of riding a banshee, one of "Avatar's" winged, dragon-like animals. After traversing up a small mountain -- consider it a very moderate hike -- guests enter a cave and see ancient Na'Vi drawings. The cave eventually reveals itself to be a science center, where humans are working with the Na'Vi to protect the banshees from extinction.
In Flight of Passage, guests are matched with an alien body. The aim is to create the illusion of becoming a Na'Vi, who can train and tame the banshees. After boarding a solitary, stationary-bike-like ride system, a back support will rise and push guests forward. Once the ride begins, a screen is revealed and, with the help of 3-D glasses, attendees will soar amid Pandora's flying mountains.
The first half of the 4 1/2-minute ride is rather thrilling, as the banshee careens down mountains, through waterfalls and nearly gets into a tussle with a Great Leonopteryx, a bigger, more orange-hued dragon. The second half slows down, as guests again visit some of Pandora's glowing forests.
The ride was longer than I expected, and also far smoother. As someone who doesn't fare too well on motion simulators -- I cannot ride Star Tours: The Adventure Continues without getting sick -- I experienced no such nausea on Flight of Passage. I attribute that to the variation in ride pace, but also the crispness of the effects.
Pandora is big, about 12 acres, and everything in it is billed as an attraction. Some plants, for instance, will allow guests to interact with them -- acting as drums that affect the lighting of the land or release spores into the air. At night, the ground will glow beneath guests' feet.
If you rush through the land just to hit the two rides, Joe Rohde, the Imagineer behind the project, cautions that you're "wasting your time." Once it opens, for instance, Disney will have cast members act as Pandora expats who will chat up guests on Pandora wildlife.
We'll have more on Pandora for you today, and in the weeks to come.
After intense criticism over a festival-preview trailer that many fans found sexist, Hard's Gary Richards has made his first statement on the controversy.
The Hard Summer preview clip, written and directed by Agata Alexander, featured several male headlining DJs wearing outsized prosthetic breasts, ostensibly to satirize the lack of women artists at dance music festivals.
In an emailed statement to The Times, Richards said:
"Here at Hard Events we are here for everyone. The Hard Summer trailer was created as a satirical piece to raise consciousness at a time when equality issues are of utmost importance. Our goal is to promote good music and we are trying to give women more of a platform at our festival.
My intentions here were only to help, not offend anyone, in supporting Agata's vision and message. I understand that she does not speak for all women and how people could be upset by the trailer. There is always a risk of misinterpretation when satire is used, but we felt it was right to let her express herself and have creative control over the piece. We want to extend a sincere apology to those who were offended.
We hope the conversations started by this piece bring the change we intended and we will continue to be a champion for Women's rights within our community and world at large."
How could no one behind Hard Summer’s new preview trailer suspect that so many fans would hate it?
The clip, which can be watched here and does contain imagery that could offend, may have been done with the intent to admirably satirize the lack of women on music festival bills (including Hard's). But doing so by putting gigantic prosthetic breasts on top-billed male acts including DJ Snake, What So Not, Party Favor and Claude VonStroke?
The clip is, indeed, hard to watch, and not just for its juvenile tone and the way it trivializes a legitimate concern in music culture. It’s maybe most embarrassing because it is a completely unforced error from a festival that actually took complaints about gender imbalance on the lineup seriously this year.
As the video itself notes, in 2016 the festival only had four female performers. This year, there are 26 out of 110. That’s actually a very real and laudable gain, and Hard could very easily have coasted on that goodwill. The bill is better for it. Rising acts like Madam X and Cray and established draws like Tinashe and Anna Lunoe bring a different energy and attitude to a fest.
There was just absolutely no need to vaporize that hard-won goodwill with a wince-worthy gag, one that could even alienate many of the same women artists whom the fest worked so hard to get on the bill (a few artists in the electronic scene have already spoken out against it, as evidenced by the tweets below).
That’s where the attention should have been — on the gains made by taking active efforts to diversify lineups. It makes for a better, safer, more inclusive and exciting experience, one that fans are demanding from festivals.
For someone who won a Tony four years ago for fearlessly flying on a trapeze in “Pippin,” off-stage Andrea Martin is endearingly self-effacing and excitable. Over eggs and coffee at a cafe on the Upper West Side, where she’s rented the same apartment since the early 1970s, Martin discussed her love of the circus, her Armenian roots and the possibility of an “SCTV” reunion.
Currently in production on the third season of the caustic Hulu comedy “Difficult People,” the actress, 70 and fabulous, can also be seen in “Great News."
The only time I allowed myself fear was every night we’d rehearse before the show. I was just me as myself, and it was harder to hold on to the fantasy.
Over the weekend, over 40,000 LGBTQ-friendly people and lovers of drag descended upon the Los Angeles Convention Center for RuPaul's DragCon. In its third year, the celebration of “the art of drag, queer culture and self-expression for all" featured panel discussions, drag "herstory" sessions, and fashion and makeup workshops for men and women.
Think Comic-Con, but for drag queens.
One of the most attended panels of the weekend was titled “What Is Drag in Trump’s America?,” hosted by the new purveyors of scathing political takes, Teen Vogue. It featured the outspoken Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Alaska, standout and fan favorites from "RuPaul's Drag Race" -- which, in its ninth season, moved from Logo TV to VH1 this year.
One of this year's additions was the Kid Zone, an area dedicated to drag's youngest fans.
"We did it because we recognize that there are so many young people, from 3 to 11 or so," RuPaul told The Times ahead of DragCon. "I think young parents know how important it is to expose their children to this diversity, especially in this current political climate. This is a place where they can go and expand their lives and see that there is more than one way to live a successful, abundant life. It doesn't have to exist in this box, and it involves all the colors in the crayon box. We are so proud of this because it gives our queens an opportunity to meet them, fans that wouldn’t necessarily go to a nightclub to see them."
A 210,000-square-foot exhibitor space has more than 200 vendors selling drag-related merchandise and makeup. The world's most famous drag queen also had a booth, where he signed autographs and sold all things RuPaul.
DragCon ended Sunday night with a keynote by RuPaul. In it, he announced good news for drag's fans in New York: the convention will be making its debut in the Big Apple in a few short months on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
"Hamilton" fans began arriving at the Hollywood Pantages about 8:30 p.m. Saturday. By Sunday morning, the crowd lined up on Argyle Street had swelled to hundreds, all trying to snag tickets as they went on sale at 10 a.m.
Although tickets were also available online and by phone, some thought their chances would be better in person. Times staff writer Jessica Gelt was on the scene.
Every day I like to hit a few licks to see if the old fingers are still working. And I really believe it's still getting better every day.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: Always on his mind
The 2017 Tribeca Film Festival came to a close Saturday with the announcement of the two winners for the Audience Awards, sponsored by AT&T.
"The Divine Order," directed and written by Petra Volpe, won the narrative award for its tale of Swiss suffrage in the 1970s.
Winning the documentary award was "Hondros," which was directed by Greg Campbell and written by Campbell and Jenny Golden, about the life of Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Chris Hondros, who died in Libya in 2011.
"It is always exciting to see what resonates most with the audience, and this year, both the narrative and documentary winners represent smart filmmaking and impactful storytelling," Paula Weinstein, one of the founders of the festival, said in a statement.
"On behalf of the Tribeca team, we congratulate 'The Divine Order' and 'Hondros' as the 2017 Audience Award winners, and hope moviegoers worldwide get to experience these powerful films."
Runners-up for the Audience Awards include "Saturday Church," written and directed by Damon Cardasis, for narrative film and "Shadowman," written and directed by Oren Jacoby, for documentary.
The festival awarded its top jury prizes Thursday, with Rachel Israel's "Keep the Change" winning the top narrative jury prize.
A closer look at the land of Pandora. The map of the Mo'ara territory reveals how Pandora has changed a generation after the conflict of between the local Na'vi and the human invaders over the mining of unobtanium.
The park covers an expansive 12 acres of property, but the map itself extends well past the boundaries set by Disney's imagineers.
At Walt Disney World's new Pandora -- the World of Avatar, guests can order something that sort of tastes like a cheeseburger. Except it doesn't look like a cheeseburger. It's a doughy white pod, filled with burger fixings.
The story, Disney Imagineers said, is that humans who have inhabited Pandora miss the food of home, only now they have to use alien ingredients.
Also on the menu is green beer -- a light, wheaty ale made by Terrapin Beer Co. Restaurant staff said the initial plan was for a blue beer -- the Na'Vi, after all, are a blue-skinned race -- but that proved a tougher task using natural ingredients.
Wine drinkers can go with Banshee Chardonnay, which we did not get to sample, and the bulk of the food offerings center on mix-and-match bowls (beef, fish or tofu). But perhaps the most colorful offering is dessert. A rich blueberry cream cheese mouse is a perfectly circular orb that glistens a bright shade of toothpaste blue.
The restaurant, Satu'li Canteen, is themed like an old mess hall, one once used by the RDA, the evil corporation shown in the 2009 James Cameron film "Avatar."
In James Cameron's 2009 film "Avatar," the blue-skinned Na'Vi bond with giant winged creatures called banshees in a duel to the near-death. At Disney's new Pandora — The World of Avatar, situated inside Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Fla., the banshees are far cuter and much less violent.
In fact, when the park opens May 27, guests will be able to take home a mini robotic banshee for $49.95. Inside Windtraders, Pandora's store for all things "Avatar"-related, guests are matched with a colorful banshee that will rest on one's shoulder. Mine was pink and menacingly cute rather than vicious.
A leash, or, controller, if you prefer, will wrap around one's waist, allowing the wearer to order the banshee to flap its wings, open its mouth and even let out a mini howl.
But do not call them baby banshees. All of Disney's cast members in Pandora are in on the story, and will politely inform guests that the take-home banshees are scale-models to help conservationists study the creature.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and singer Ciara drafted a sure thing Friday, welcoming a baby girl to their family on the first day of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Baby Wilson was immediately drafted as QB by the Cleveland Browns. (Not really.)
Ciara and Wilson posted matching Instagram pictures announcing the birth of their daughter Friday night, featuring a photo of the singer on the beach, taken by Wilson.
"Dear Sienna Princess Wilson, No matter how big the wave, we will always be your calm in the storm. We Love You," the post read.
This is Wilson's first child and the second for Ciara, who shares 2-year-old son Future Zahir Wilburn with rapper Future.
"Judge Judy" took home its second consecutive award for best legal/courtroom program at Friday night's ceremony for the Daytime Creative Arts Emmy, its third win in 21 seasons.
The ceremony, held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, celebrated the men and women working behind the scenes in daytime television, honoring programming broadcast between 2 a.m. and 6 p.m. during 2016.
Veteran actor Kelsey Grammer won his first Daytime Emmy at the ceremony for his voice work as Blinky on Netflix's animated series "Trollhunters."
Grammer's voice acting on "The Simpsons" as Sideshow Bob garnered him a Primetime Emmy in 2006.
Streaming-content provider Amazon took home Emmys for both preschool children's animated program and children's animated program, with "The Snowy Day" and "Lost in Oz: Extended Adventure," respectively.
The rest of the Daytime Emmy categories, including awards for morning program, talk show and drama series, will be awarded Sunday at a ceremony hosted by Mario Lopez ("Extra") and Sheryl Underwood ("The Talk").
Late-night host Stephen Colbert celebrated the first 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency Friday, saying that much has been accomplished in the country.
"A lot has been done in the first 100 days," Colbert said in his opening monologue of CBS' "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert." "Just none of it by him."
He quipped that the 100-day milestone was also an indication of another deadline. "We cannot bring him back to the store without a receipt. Slightly damaged goods."
Colbert added that he was so pleased that the country "survived" those first 100 days: "I did not have that in the office pool."
After a day of memes and negative press about the massive disaster that greeted music fans arriving in the Bahamas for the first-ever Fyre Festival — unfinished grounds, lack of promised accommodations, no luggage, no beer, food better suited for an elementary school sleep-away camp and the cancelation of one headliner — the organizers are offering an explanation and apology for the now-canceled event.
Hyped as “the cultural experience of the decade,” the festival was supposed to launch the first of two consecutive weekends Friday on a remote island in Fyre Cay in the Exumas, a string of islands in the Bahamas. Blink-182, Disclosure, Kaytranada, Migos, Rae Sremmurd, Tyga, Desiigner, Pusha T., Major Lazer and two dozen other artists and surprise-guest headliners spanning a myriad of genres were promised.
But the festival, co-created by Ja Rule and entrepreneur Billy McFarland and promoted by Fyre Media Inc. — collapsed into disarray on Thursday as guests began to arrive for the event, which was expecting 6,000 to 7,000 people. (Read our full breakdown here.)
As images of collapsed tents instead of plush villas and trash-strewn grounds started to go viral on social media, organizers canceled the festival at the last minute and frustrated guests blasted the entire event as a fraud.
Late Friday, after the festival bore the brunt of some intense scrutiny, McFarland offered a full explanation.
Here’s what went wrong, in his own words, as sent directly from festival organizers:
"Today was a very challenging day for all of us. But we would like to fully explain what happened.
"Billy McFarland and Ja Rule started a partnership over a mutual interest in technology, the ocean, and rap music. This unique combination of interests led them to the idea that, through their combined passions, they could create a new type of music festival and experience on a remote island.
"They simply weren’t ready for what happened next, or how big this thing would get. They started by making a website and launching a viral campaign. Ja helped book talent, and they had hundreds of local Bahamians join in the effort. Suddenly, they found themselves transforming a small island and trying to build a festival. Thousands of people wanted to come. They were excited, but then the roadblocks started popping up.
"As amazing as the islands are, the infrastructure for a festival of this magnitude needed to be built from the ground up. So, we decided to literally attempt to build a city. We set up water and waste management, brought an ambulance from New York, and chartered 737 planes to shuttle our guests via 12 flights a day from Miami. We thought we were ready, but then everyone arrived.
"The team was overwhelmed. The airport was jam-packed. The buses couldn’t handle the load. And the wind from rough weather took down half of the tents on the morning our guests were scheduled to arrive. This is an unacceptable guest experience and the Fyre team takes full responsibility for the issues that occurred.
"Everyone was very concerned for our guests. They needed a place to sleep and everyone did their absolute best to rebuild. We took everyone to the beach and built as many tents and beds as fast as possible, but as more guests arrived, we were simply in over our heads. Ultimately, we didn’t think security could keep up, so we had to postpone the festival. The response to the postponement was immediate and intense. We had no other options this morning, so we began the process of getting guests quickly and safely back to Miami, which continues now. Our top priority as a company is to ensure the comfort and safe return home of all of our guests.
"Then something amazing happened: venues, bands, and people started contacting us and said they’d do anything to make this festival a reality and how they wanted to help. The support from the musical community has been overwhelming and we couldn’t be more humbled or inspired by this experience. People were rooting for us after the worst day we’ve ever had as a company. After speaking with our potential partners, we have decided to add more seasoned event experts to the 2018 Fyre Festival, which will take place at a United States beach venue.
"All festival-goers this year will be refunded in full. We will be working on refunds over the next few days and will be in touch directly with guests with more details. Also, all guests from this year will have free VIP passes to next year’s festival.
"We’re grateful for the Bahamian Government and The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism for their assistance during this challenging time — their efforts have been exemplary. We want to thank the people of the Bahamas for their support and for graciously allowing us the privilege of visiting their islands. We apologize for any inconvenience the past 24 hours has caused and we look forward to making a considerable donation to the Bahamas Red Cross Society as part of our initiatives. We need to make this right. And once we make this right, then we will put on the dream festival we sought to have since the inception of Fyre.
"Thank you for all your continued patience and understanding. We apologize for what all of our guests and staff went through over the last 24 hours and will work tirelessly to make this right."
A bioluminescent forest. A ride on a banshee. Flying mountains.
On May 27 Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom's will open what's expected to be one of the company's most technically immersive theme park lands to date, Pandora -- The World of Avatar. But we're headed in there Saturday, and you can follow along online.
Inspired by the 2009 James Cameron film "Avatar," Pandora will inject a heavy dose of make believe into Disney's more realistic theme park, one that features sections modeled after Africa and Asia and puts live animals rather than costumed creatures center stage.
Set a full generation after the conflicts of the film, Disney Imagineers promise Pandora to be so intricately constructed that this planet in the Alpha Centauri star system will feel more lifelike than not.
We'll begin to find out when we get our first glimpse of Pandora, as Disney is opening up the land for a small media preview. We'll have multiple stories about the land in the coming weeks, including interviews with some of those who are bringing it to life.
We'll be going on both of the land's main attractions -- one, Avatar Flight of Passage, that simulates a ride on the winged banshees, and another, Na'Vi River Journey, that serves as a calming ride through a glowing forest -- as well as sampling some of Pandora's food.
The flagship Las Vegas edition of Electric Daisy Carnival, America's largest multi-day music festival, has announced its full lineup.
The bill is again packed with many of the top names in EDM — the recent Coachella dance-tent headliner Marshmello, Martin Garrix and Zedd among them — who are now staple performers at the festival. Others, like the tropical-house mainstay Kygo and the Los Angeles genre-hopper Mija, will make their EDC Las Vegas debuts.
But a few new concepts and one-off collaborative sets are worth a fresh look.
One set will see Alison Wonderland, one of the first two women to perform on the fest's main stage last year, perform on that stage yet again back-to-back with Diplo and Jauz. Insomniac's factory93 concept — focused on underground-leaning acts — will have a much bigger stage, with all-night label takeovers from Drumcode, Paradise and Moodzone.
And the roving Burner-inspired art cars will feature sets from a few notable SoCal DJ crews and promoters including Desert Hearts and Brownies & Lemonade.
The festival, now in its 21st installment, will hit the Las Vegas Motor Speedway once again on June 16-18.
Pop culture’s ongoing love affair with the ’90s rages on with word that Anne Rice’s “Vampire Chronicles series is angling for a TV revival.
Paramount Television and Anonymous Content announced they have obtained the rights to 11 of Rice’s books for development. Rice will executive produce the series and her son, Christopher Rice — a bestselling author in his own right — will write the adaptation. Previously, the Paramount/Anonymous partnership yielded “Berlin Station” on Epix and Netflix's teen suicide drama “13 Reasons Why.”
“It is undeniable that Anne Rice has created the paradigm against which all vampire stories are measured,” Amy Powell, president of Paramount TV, said in a statement. “The rich and vast world she has created with ‘The Vampire Chronicles’ is unmatched and sophisticated with 90’s gothic undertones that will be perfectly suited to captivate audiences.”
For those who didn’t experience the ’90s the first time around, Rice’s vampire series has sold more than 100 million copies, and its first book — published in 1976 — yielded the 1994 film “Interview with the Vampire,” which starred Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and an unnervingly young Kirsten Dunst. If that doesn’t sound decade-specific enough, Guns N’ Roses also covered the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” for the soundtrack.
“For decades now fans of ‘The Vampire Chronicles’ have been clamoring for a long-form television adaptation of this galaxy of content,” Christopher Rice said in the same statement. “We’re confident this exciting deal will result in many excellent things for Lestat in the universe of television.”
Los Angeles fans finally get their shot: Tickets for "Hamilton" at the Hollywood Pantages go on sale at 10 a.m. Sunday. There are three ways to make a play for the hottest theater ticket in town: through the Pantages website, by phone at (800) 982-2787 and in person at the Pantages box office.
Keep reading for details on ticket prices, show dates and more:
Charlotte Rae, the actress who played matriarch Edna Garrett on "Diff'rent Strokes" and "The Facts of Life," has bone cancer.
The 91-year-old sitcom star, who beat pancreatic cancer seven years ago, was diagnosed Monday, according to People.
“So now, at the age of 91, I have to make up my mind. I’m not in any pain right now. I’m feeling so terrific and so glad to be above ground,” Rae told the magazine. “Now I have to figure out whether I want to go have treatment again to opt for life. I love life. I’ve had a wonderful one already. I have this decision to make.”
The actress’ mother, sister and uncle died from pancreatic cancer, she said. Rae, who said she was cancer-free after six months of chemotherapy when she fought pancreatic cancer, was supposed to start chemo again Thursday, but held off to “think about it first.”
The first time around, nobody knew about her treatment, she said, noting that she had “great wigs.”
“I think I’m going to go for it,” said the TV veteran, who celebrated her birthday over the weekend. “The side effects were not too bad when I did it originally. I’ve had a great life, but I have so many wonderful things happening. I’d like to [choose] life. I’m grateful for the life I’ve already had.”
Rae was born in Milwaukee in 1926 and got her start in theater at Northwestern University. She perfected her comedy in clubs “to showcase myself for Broadway,” she told The Times in 2006 when her impish album “Songs I Taught My Mother” was rereleased.
Rae, who was wed to the late Emmy- and Grammy-winning composer John Strauss, most recently appeared alongside Meryl Streep in 2015’s “Ricki and the Flash,” on Disney Channel’s “Girl Meets World” and ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars.”