Hi. Still Covid free over here. While Caitlin’s been living in our basement since her positive test over the weekend, my daughter and I have had the run of the upstairs. (I ordered Jolibee for lunch on Monday, which shows how quickly I can dissolve into chaos.) I’ve been chipping away at this edition after our daughter goes to bed. Hopefully we can avoid getting Covid ourselves between now and the next edition.
Big changes coming to the late-night landscape.
In the aftermath of TBS canceling Full Frontal, Trevor Noah leaving The Daily Show and James Corden ditching The Late Late Show, CBS may have the biggest change yet in store for late-night TV.
While this is a major change — the current formation of late-night network shows has existed for two decades — The Late Late Show doesn’t have the same history as The Tonight Show, The Late Show or Late Night.
The Tonight Show has existed since 1954. People have gone to war — more than once — over that show. Names like Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno again (ugh) and Jimmy Fallon have graced its marquee.
The Late Show was hosted by none other than David Letterman after his flight from NBC, with Stephen Colbert succeeding him.
Late Night is where Letterman, O’Brien and Seth Meyers made their late-night TV marks. (Saturday Night Live is separate from the nightly late-night shows.)
The Late Late Show? No offense to any of them, but Tom Snyder, Craig Kilborn, Craig Ferguson and Cordon aren’t much of a legacy. (“Carpool Karaoke” is hacky and shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath as something like “A Closer Look.”)
Paramount is drawing from its array of corporate siblings for this move. @midnight previously ran on Comedy Central from 2013 to 2017. While the show was hosted by Chris Hardwick, Deadline reports that the disgraced Talking Dead host will not have direct involvement with the network TV version of the show.
Killing one of the core late-night franchises is a big deal. But it comes down to money. According to Deadline, Paramount has “aimed to trim the cost in the 12:30 a.m. hour from the just north of $60M a year it takes to make The Late Late Show to roughly $35M a year range for its replacement.”
This move will leave Meyers and Late Night as the only 12:35 a.m. show. Meyers has long been rumored to be a prime candidate to replace Lorne Michaels when he eventually steps down from running Saturday Night Live. Would a Meyers departure from Late Night — whether it’s in two years to run SNL or in ten because he wants to do something different — mean the end of that franchise too?
I actually enjoyed watching @midnight back in its Comedy Central days. (The network should’ve never canceled The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, though.) I just never pictured it as the successor to The Late Show.
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Disney restructures and lays off 7,000 — but don’t worry, they’re making sequels to Frozen, Toy Story and Zootopia
A reminder that corporations are not your friends. We shouldn’t be cheering for them as if it’s a sport. Sure, it’s great that Disney buying 20th Century Fox brought the X-Men and Fantastic Four into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but that purchase wound up costing real people their jobs.
Disney CEO Bob Iger announced another round of layoffs on Thursday. Seven thousand jobs will be cut as the company looks for ways to save money.
“I have enormous respect and appreciate for the dedication of our employees worldwide,” Iger said (via Deadline). “While this is necessary to address the challenges we face today, I do not make this decision lightly.”
Iger also announced that Disney would be reorganized into three segments: Entertainment, ESPN, and Parks, Experiences & Products.
Hey, but Iger also announced that we’re getting sequels to Frozen, Toy Story and Zootopia, so let’s forgot about those layoffs, right?
“Today I’m so pleased to announce that we have sequels in the works from our animation studios to some of our most popular franchises, Toy Story, Frozen and Zootopia,” Iger said during an earnings call. “We’ll have more to share about these productions soon, but this is a great example of how we’re leaning into our unrivaled brands and franchises.”
It was a no-brainer that there would eventually be a third Frozen film. A second Zootopia movie seems like an easy decision too. But back to the Toy Story well for a fifth time? (Sixth time, if you count Lightyear.) I dunno. Toy Story 4 is the highest grossing of the Toy Story films, both domestically and worldwide, so if it’s about money, sure, whatever. But each additional film only dilutes the perfect ending that Toy Story 3 gave the franchise.
I hope the Frozen team has an easier time cracking the third film than they did Frozen II. If you haven’t watch the behind-the-scenes features for that movie, it was fascinating. They didn’t figure out until almost the last minute who Elsa was searching for. Yes, the core part of her arch in Frozen II was basically made up on the fly.
We may have a synopsis for Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes
I love the Planet of the Apes movies. The originals, no matter how bizarre and low-budget the series got with each additional sequel. The Andy Serkis trilogy, which was snubbed Oscar glory on several fronts. Even the Mark Wahlberg/Tim Burton reboot, since no matter how bad it was it, it still had that Danny Elfman score, Tim Roth chewing scenery and that bonkers ending.
Needless to say, I can’t wait to see where the franchise goes with Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, the first installment in the series under Disney’s watch.
The Hollywood Reporter broke the news on Monday that Severance actor Dichen Lachman had joined the Wes Ball-directed film. More interestingly, THR revealed a synopsis for Kingdom that I can’t seem to source anywhere beyond them.
The new Apes movie is set many years after the conclusion of 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes. Many apes societies have grown from when the Moses-like Caesar brought his people to an oasis, while humans have been reduced to a feral-like existence. Some ape groups have never heard of Caesar, while others have contorted his teaching to build burgeoning empires.
In this setting, one ape leader begins to enslave other groups to find human technology, while another ape, who watched his clan be taken, embarks on a journey to find freedom. A young human woman becomes key to the latter’s quest, although she has plans of her own.
Very curious to see where THR got this rundown for Kingdom, but it does sound legit. I love that it’s a continuation of War for the Planet of the Apes while still jumping years into the future. The “young human woman becomes key” part definitely evokes both the original Planet of the Apes and the Burton remake.
Is Yellowstone alright, alright, alright?
Interesting times over at Paramount.
Hot on the heels of a report that Paramount is planning to remake Showtime to mimic the success of Yellowstone and its spinoffs (Billions sequels tentatively referred to as Millions and Trillions! A Dexter prequel series!) came a Deadline report that the flagship Yellowstone series would end after its current season. The twist: Kevin Costner would depart and the rest of the cast would spin over to a new series in the Yellowstone universe led by Matthew McConaughey.
While the Deadline story was buzzy, Paramount has repeatedly denied the report.
“We have no news to report. Kevin Costner is a big part of Yellowstone and we hope that’s the case for a long time to come,” a Paramount spokesperson told Deadline. “Thanks to the brilliant mind of Taylor Sheridan, we are always working on franchise expansions of this incredible world he has built. Matthew McConaughey is a phenomenal talent with whom we’d love to partner.”
Paramount even told outlets like Entertainment Weekly the same thing.
EW, however, did confirm the news that McConaughey is in talks to join the Yellowstone universe.
I’ve lost track of all the Yellowstone shows. There’s the original, the Harrison Ford one, maybe a McConaughey one. Should we be watching these shows? I’m a dad. Yellowstone is a dad show, right? (Full disclosure: My dad does not watch Yellowstone.)
Paramount has ambitious plans for the upcoming merger of Paramount+ and Showtime. Yellowstone and its multiple spinoffs are definitely going to be a huge part of that.
Welp, Justin Roiland is awful
In the aftermath of the pair of felony charges made public in January, Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland was stripped of everything. Rick and Morty, Solar Opposites, Koala Man, his video game company.
More recently, multiple sources say that Roiland, other than voice work, has not had any meaningful creative presence on any of the series that bear his name. In fact, many of his former colleagues say they haven’t heard from him in years, and when they have, it’s been unpleasant. They note, too, that he hasn’t been on speaking terms with his Rick and Morty co-creator, Dan Harmon, for multiple seasons, and a substantial number of staffers on that show as well as Solar Opposites and Koala Man have never actually met Roiland, even over Zoom.
There’s too much in the THR piece to break apart here, but I really urge you to read it. Too many other people have spent years working on Rick and Morty and Solar Opposites to not only have Roiland tank their jobs as he goes down in flames but to allow him to take credit for the work they’ve been doing all along.
Rick and Morty lives on
While there’s still the huge question of who’ll step in to voice Rick and Morty’s title characters, TheWrap reported on Thursday that Adult Swim has no plans to cut its original 70-episode order for the series short in light of Roiland’s downfall. There are still 40 episodes left to be produced under the deal.
Andrew Garfield will reportedly play the monster to Oscar Isaac’s Frankenstein
Not sure about the sourcing on this one, as Giant Freaking Robot isn’t a site I visit often, but they reported on Wednesday that Andrew Garfield was joining Guillermo del Toro’s adaption of Frankenstein and would be playing the monster.
The Netflix project already has Oscar Isaac on board as Victor Frankenstein.
I Know What You Did Last Summer again … again
The success of the Scream franchise clearly has other studios looking at their libraries of slasher films and wondering if they’re ripe for revivals too. Sony Pictures has found its next franchise to bring back to life, with Deadline reporting on Monday that a sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer is in the works with Jennifer Love Hewitt and Freddie Prinze Jr. in talks to return.
Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, who co-wrote Thor: Love and Thunder and wrote and directed Netflix’s Do Revenge, is set to direct.
Confession: I’ve never seen I Know What You Did Last Summer or its sequel. (I’ve never seen the Scream movies either.) I do remember them being a big deal, especially when it came to Hewitt, Prinze and Sarah Michelle Gellar. (Will she be in the legacy sequel? Or did she die in one of the originals?)
Get ready to pay more for a good seat at AMC
There will be three different seat-pricing options. The first is Standard Sightline, described as the “seats that are the most common in auditoriums and are available for the traditional cost of a ticket.” Then there’s Value Sightline, referred to as “seats in the front row of the auditorium, as well as select ADA seats in each auditorium, and are available at a lower price than standard sightline seats.” (Value Sightline pricing is only available to AMC Stubs members, including the free tier membership.) The third option is Preferred Sightline, which are the “seats in the middle of the auditorium and are priced at a premium to standard sightline seats.” AMC Stubs A-List members will be able to reserve seats in the Preferred Sightline Section at no additional cost.
I’m going to be honest with you. I don’t even pay attention to what I wind up paying for a movie ticket anymore. The rare times I go to the movies now, it’s probably opening weekend and it’s in a Dolby Cinema showing at AMC. I dunno what that costs these days. $25? $30?
Once you have me buying a ticket that costs that much, an extra buck or two isn’t going to phase me. I’m not going to sit in the front row or the sides in a world where reserved seating exists.
That said, there’s a point where AMC is going to fly too close to the sun when it comes to wringing out additional money from movie tickets. knows what I’m talking about.
Just as long as AMC doesn’t start allowing people to play on TikTok during a movie for an extra two dollars, I can live with this.
The Bear’s Ayo Edebiri joins Abbott Elementary
By the time you’re reading this, Ayo Edebiri will have already appeared on Abbott Elementary in a small way. The Bear actress is set to join the series as Ayesha, the sister that Janine has been talking about over the run of the show. After a brief appearance this week, Edebiri will return for a lengthier storyline later this season.
Abbott Elementary creator Quinta Brunson confirmed the news on Twitter, posting a photo of herself with Edebiri and Janelle James.
Edebiri finds herself with a growing presence in the Disney universe. In addition to being on Hulu’s The Bear and ABC’s Abbott Elementary, she has an unknown role in Thunderbolts, an upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe film.
Ben Stiller, Ben Stiller and Ben Stiller cast in Three Identical Strangers
Severance creator Ben Stiller has a new TV project. He’ll be joined by Ben Stiller and Ben Stiller. The joke here is that Stiller will star in Three Identical Strangers, a limited series based on the story of a set triplets that were separated at birth.
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The Last of Us
“Please Hold to My Hand”
The fourth episode of The Last of Us returned to the road, taking Joel and Ellie from outside Boston to Kansas City. Despite his insistence that Ellie is “cargo,” we’re now beginning to see the duo move toward becoming, maybe not a family yet, but at the very least a team.
One thing the two have in common? Violence.
We’ve seen Joel beat a man to death. We’ve watched Ellie see what it’s like to kill a clicker. In this episode, both characters take violent turns in order to survive.
What would a zombie or postapocalyptic story set in a country other than America be like? Stories like The Last of Us and The Walking Dead believably have guns everywhere because, well, America loves guns. And they’re everywhere.
Speaking of The Walking Dead, not to keep comparing it to The Last of Us, but getting little glimpses of the larger world adds so much to the story. I know The Walking Dead jumped around to places like (allegedly) Alexandria, but the vibe of Ellie and Joel driving along in this episode reminded me more of how Gareth Edwards’ Monsters slowly revealed how the world had changed.
“This is my second day in a fucking car, man.”
Bella Ramsey continues to be fantastic as Ellie.
I’m not sure about Melanie Lynskey’s Kathleen yet. The character is a bit flat at the moment, but I’m assuming Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann have more in store for us to flesh out the character and her place in this story.
Love that we don’t have to wait until Sunday to watch the next episode of The Last of Us, with HBO Max streaming Episode 5 tomorrow to avoid going against the Super Bowl. Let’s hope HBO makes the same decision for the season finale. I don’t care if The Last of Us could arguably beat the Oscars in the ratings — I just don’t want to have to choose that night.
The Bad Batch
This was a fun installment of The Bad Batch. The show reached back to its Clone Wars roots, bringing Gungi, the Wookiee Jedi, into the post-Order 66 era.
I’ll never not believe that the Clone Wars era is one of the best eras of Star Wars storytelling, so I loved seeing a lightsaber mixed in with the usual Bad Batch blaster fire.
“Tribe” illustrated a tricky point when it comes to how the Star Wars universe works, even though it didn’t dwell on it. Omega and her colleagues were horrified that Gungi was being smuggled by some random group of droids. But then they bring Gungi back to Kashyyyk and note that he doesn’t even remember what village he’s from — because he was taken from his family when he was young. The Clone Wars never shied away from poking at the failures of the Jedi. Let’s add this one to that pile.
I also don’t get Star Wars when it comes to translating Shyriiwook, the Wookiee language. Every other language in Star Wars gets translated into whatever language the subtitles are written in. Shyriiwook? Nope. It’s just “GUNGI SPEAKS SHYRIIWOOK.”
Not sure what happens to him next, but there’s only pain in Gungi’s future, huh?
“The Clone Conspiracy” and “Truth & Consequences”
You cannot outwit Palpatine. You will never be a step ahead of him. If you think you’ve outmatched him, you’ve already lost.
The two-part midseason finale of The Bad Batch made this point crystal clear. For almost an hour, we thought Rex, Bail Organa, Riyo Chuchi and the rest of the Batch squad had finally pulled together what should have been a massive victory against Palpatine’s military machine.
In the final moments of the second episode, Palpatine rose from the bowels of the Senate chamber to cast aside Admiral Rampart, one of his own soldiers, along with what was left of the clones to snatch victory from Omega and company and spin it for his own nefarious purposes.
Palpatine cannot be defeated through the bureaucracy.
What a great two-part story. We got to return to Coruscant. (Never forget how awesome Coruscant is. Star Wars needs more Coruscant. Looking at you, sequels …) We got Rex again. We got Clone Wars favorite like Bail and Chuchi. We got Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine again. (Had to check the credits to see if it was Sam Witwer, even though I was pretty sure it was McDiarmid.)
Weirdly, these episodes drove home the point that The Bad Batch would be a better show if it was just another season of The Clone Wars. Omega is great, but the Bad Batch themselves are often the least pivotal part of the show.
Here’s to these episodes for diving deeper into the murky legal and civil status of the clones. They’re humans but do they even have rights? It was also interesting to see nonhuman species pushing for Palpatine’s conscription bill when stormtroopers would wind up being only human.
This was a pretty major way for The Bad Batch to hit its midseason point. What’s next for the rest of the season? Further investigation into how Omega fits into the cloning/Grogu/Palpatine future?
- The children’s show Bluey is a balm for stressed, child-free adults (Abby Ohlheiser, The Washington Post)
- Finding Pedro Pascal’s perfect The Last of Us jacket was a Herculean effort (Emma Fraser, The Daily Beast)
- Saturday Night Live should have more dumb sketches like “Lisa From Temecula” (Jesse David Fox, Vulture)
- Crushed: When Johna Ramirez’s son joined a wildly popular circle of tween YouTube influencers, it seemed like he was fulfilling his Hollywood dreams. But in the Squad, fame and fortune came at a cost. (Nile Cappello, The Atavist Magazine)
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The Most Oreo Oreo
I did the weirdest thing before trying one of these cookies. I paused the music I was listening to … as if that would help me fully taste them? Is this a thing food tasters do?
The Most Oreo Oreo presents itself as the turducken of Oreo cookies. What. No. That’s not right. I’m missing a third-level of Oreo in that comparison. What do you all it when you shove a duck instead a turkey? Turduck? These are the turducks of Oreo cookies.
I’m sorry. That sounds awful. These Oreos aren’t awful. They’re pretty good, actually. Just not as Oreo-y as you’d expect them to be.
I’m not sure if I was late finding these in stores, but I wound up ordering them from Target. Yes, a UPS delivery person actually dropped a box containing The Most Oreo Oreo cookies off at my house. They were surprisingly intact.
Lay’s Game Day Chili
I was going to save these for the Super Bowl, but I wound up eating them during the State of the Union. Caitlin asked me if I wanted chips that taste like meat when I bought them at the grocery store a few weeks ago, but they didn’t taste like meat. (I’ve enjoyed the Wendy’s Baconator Pringles, so “chips that taste like meat” doesn’t scare me.) I dunno, they’re like a BBQ chip with a little more on them?
Lego returns to Middle-earth
Lego unveiled a massive new Lord of the Rings set this past week. The upcoming Rivendell set clocks in at 6,167 pieces for $499.99. The set comes with 15 minifigs, including several new and updated characters. Rivendell goes on sale on March 18, but if you’re a VIP member (it’s free), you’ll be able to order yours on March 15.
This is a fantastic set, but it’s not one I’m going to be adding to my collection. I have several smaller Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit sets from the last time the franchise was available in Lego form, but this isn’t really where my collection is centered. I’m also out of space for massive sets like this. It’s a weird problem to have.
‘I will burn them out of time’: Kang the Conquerer featurette
Man, I hope I don’t have Covid when it comes time to see Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania when it comes out. (I mean, I have multiple reasons why I don’t want Covid, but this is definitely on the list.)
Jonathan Majors as Kang is one of the main reasons I’m excited to see this movie. Marvel released a new featurette focusing on the next big bad of the MCU, highlighting how powerful and dangerous he is.
I’ve said this before, but it really needs to be noted that we’re watching Kevin Feige, Majors and the MCU craft the villain for this saga with a plan from the beginning. Sure, Thanos and the Infinity Saga more than worked out, but that was thanks to a throwaway credit scene in The Avengers and a ton of luck.
Okoye ponders a challenge to throne in Wakanda Forever deleted scene
This is an unexpected Black Panther: Wakanda Forever deleted scene. Ryan Coogler and team appear to have completed scrubbed the film of any hint of a storyline where Okoye put forth a challenge to be the next ruler of Wakanda.
Disney also celebrated earlier in the week the news that Wakanda Forever was the biggest Disney+ premiere to date.
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