FROM MANHATTAN TO HOLLYWOOD AND BEYOND, THE ARTS ARE ROARING BACK WITH INTRIGUING NEW PROJECTS ON TELEVISION, FILM, IN THEATERS, AND ON THE CONCERT STAGE
BY LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI AND AMANDA McCOY
SHANG CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS SEPTEMBER 2021
The first Marvel movie to feature an Asian superhero will combine action, adventure, science fiction, family drama, and the special effects choreography that first wowed 20 years ago in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The latter’s star, Michelle Yeoh, joins the MCU with this flick. The production is replete with Asian filmmakers and actors, including Awkwafina, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, and Ronny Chieng, who appeared in Crazy Rich Asians and plays unscrupulous wrestling promoter Greg Yao in the new TV series Young Rock. The title character, a Kung Fu master, is portrayed by Sium Liu, a Canadian actor and stuntman whose previous credits include Fresh Off the Boat and Awkwafina is Nora from Queens.
2021 FILMS FORECAST
HOUSE OF GUCCI
When set photos for this biographical crime movie first appeared, they sparked an international stir, along with negative reaction from the Gucci family, who did not approve of Director Ridley Scott’s casting decisions. Adam Driver dons glasses to portray Gucci fashion house heir Maurizio Gucci, who was killed by a hit man hired by his ex-wife Patrizia Reggiani, played here by Oscar nominee Lady Gaga. Scott, who has been working on the film since 2006, considered numerous Hollywood heavyweights for roles that eventually went to Al Pacino, Salma Hayek, Jared Leto, and Jeremy Irons. The screenplay is based on the 2001 book The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed by Sara Gay Forden.
TOP GUN: MAVERICK
Like several other blockbusters that experienced pandemic caused delays, Top Gun: Maverick, starring Tom Cruise, has nixed its July opening date for the more reasonable November 19. Events take place 30 years after the original. Cruise reprises his role as Navy flying ace Pete Mitchell, confronting the past while training a new squad of graduates for a dangerous mission. Val Kilmer returns as Iceman, while Miles Teller is the new pilot on the block. Also starring Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, and Ed Harris. The film is shot entirely on IMAX-certified Sony Venice 6K full frame cameras. The release of Cruise’s other highly anticipated sequel, Mission Impossible 7, has been moved to Memorial Day Weekend 2022.
INDIANA JONES 5
The “Untitled Indiana Jones Project” from Lucasfilm reunites Producer Steven Spielberg, Composer John Williams, and Indy himself Harrison Ford to resurrect one of the world’s most popular cinema franchises. In April, it was announced that Mads Mikkelsen and Phoebe Waller-Bridge have also joined the cast. Rumors abound that beloved characters from previous films will make surprise appearances. Ford, who will be 78 when the movie is released, said, “I enjoy working with Steven Spielberg and making that kind of movie…A movie that’s more about movies than anything else.” Plot details had not been revealed as of press time.
THE LOST CITY OF D
A privacy-loving romance novelist (Sandra Bullock) reluctantly embarks on a book tour with her cover model (Channing Tatum), only to become the victim of a kidnapping plot that sends them both on a jungle adventure in this romantic comedy. Producer Bullock, who recently did a cameo in Brad Pitt’s upcoming Bullet Train, got him to return the favor for this flick. Daniel Radcliffe joins the cast in the role of a villain. Oscar Nunez, also Oscar in The Office, previously starred opposite Bullock as a waiter/minister/exotic dancer in The Proposal (2009).
WEST SIDE STORY
Steven Spielberg both directed and produced this remake of the 1957 Broadway musical and 1961 classic film, a tragic love story set amidst street gang warfare originally adapted from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. New Jersey’s Rachel Zegler was chosen from a staggering 30,000 actresses who auditioned to play Maria. Ansel Elgort plays Tony, while the original’s Anita, Rita Moreno (90 years old this year), appears as the character Valentina. Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Tony Kushner wrote the script with Author Laurents, who wrote the book for the original Broadway production, scored by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The classic songs and rousing production numbers are timeless.
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM 3
The prolific Mads Mikkelsen has joined another blockbuster franchise, replacing Johnny Depp as the evil wizard Grindelwald in the third installment of J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts series. This time, the adventures of magical creatures expert Newt Scamander takes him to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The quirky wizard, portrayed by Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne, only appeared in the Harry Potter books and films as the unseen author of one of Harry’s schoolbooks. Through this spin-off franchise, Rowling is having fun revealing details of Wizarding World history prior to Harry’s arrival at Hogwarts. The epic 1940s battle between Grindelwald and Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) will be reenacted in this fi lm. Potter veteran David Yates directs. Also returning are Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, and Dan Fogler.
Sullivan Jones (mentioned below) has a recurring role in the biopic/mini-series about fashion icon and innovator Roy Halston Frowick, who shortened his name to Halston, rose to designer superstardom, created a fashion empire, and defined the “disco” style of the 1970s. Halston was the first designer to license himself as a brand, reshaping the business of the luxury fashion world. His glamorous and sexy creations were worn by the likes of Liza Minelli, Elizabeth Taylor, Iman, Bianca Jagger, and Jacqueline Kennedy. The handsome Halston, who died in 1990, became a fixture in the era’s club scene, often appearing in newspapers and magazines partying with his muses at hot haunts like Studio 54. From Emmy winning producer Ryan Murphy with Ewan McGregor in the Halston role.
THE GILDED AGE HBO (RELEASE TBA)
A crucial period in the evolution of America, beginning in 1882, gets the full costume drama/superstar cast treatment in this ambitious mini-series now filming. The period saw the U.S. population double, new tycoons rise, factories proliferate, and distinct classes emerge. Real life characters like the Astors are portrayed alongside fictional ones, with much of the action occurring in New York City. The story will include a notable Jersey connection actor Sullivan Jones plays T. Thomas Fortune, a prominent journalist of the day whose Red Bank home was recently restored and is now a museum and cultural center. Jones has been visiting the center to research his role. Among the all-star cast, which includes Broadway luminaries, are Nathan Lane, Christine Baranski, Cynthia Nixon, Audra McDonald, Kelli O’Hara, Donna Murphy, and Michael Cerveris. Julian Fellowes, known for creating, writing, and executive producing the award-winning Downton Abbey, is the creator, writer, and executive producer on this series.
OUR MAN FROM JERSEY NETFLIX
We couldn’t resist revealing this long-range project, set to begin filming in London early next year, starring Mark Wahlberg and Halle Berry. According to Flickeringmyth.com and IMDb, plot details are being kept secret. What has leaked is Wahlberg plays “a blue-collar James Bond” in a concept he pitched with his producing partner Stephen Levinson. The plot is based on Robert B. Parker’s Spenser For Hire novels. In addition to two other upcoming films, Wahlberg has an “Untitled Basketball Project” in the works, and is in pre-production for a remake of The Six Billion Dollar Man.
BEING THE RICARDOS AMAZON STUDIOS
Lucie Arnaz, daughter of superstars and television pioneers Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, shut down casting complaints with, “Nobody has to impersonate Lucy Ricardo nor do the Vita meat ave gamin routine. It’s the remarkable story of Lucille Ball, my actual mother, not Lucy Ricardo, and her husband, Desi Arnaz, my dad, not Ricky Ricardo.” That eased the pressure on stars Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem, headlining this dramatic biography. Written by Aaron Sorkin, the script focuses on the pair’s rise to studio moguls, and their days co-starring as their alter egos “the Ricardos” on I Love Lucy, from 1951 to 1957. J.K. Simmons takes on William Frawley (Fred Mertz on the series) while Nina Arianda portrays Vivian Vance, his onscreen wife Ethel. Fun fact: In addition to being a TV star, Ball’s ground-breaking company Desilu also produced the original Star Trek series in 1966.
CHUCK BARRIS BIO APPLE TV+
In other casting news, Justin Timberlake will embody the late Chuck Barris in a new series based on the host of the wacky but insanely popular Gong Show (1976-1980). The story will also draw from Barris’ memoir, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, where he notoriously claimed to be a former CIA assassin using his TV gigs as a cover. Barris also created The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game. The book was previously depicted in a 2002 film of the same name directed by George Clooney with Sam Rockwell playing the wild haired Barris and Dick Clark playing himself.
ON THE SOCIAL SCENE WITH CELEBRITY INFLUENCERS
RYAN REYNOLDS + BLAKE LIVELY
INSTAGRAM @VANCITYREYNOLDS, 37.2 MILLION FOLLOWERS / INSTAGRAM @BLAKELIVELY, 28.4 MILLION FOLLOWERS
This cheeky A-list Hollywood couple is famous for brilliantly and at times, mercilessly trolling each other on social media, and hilarity always ensues. From cutting each other out of photos and mocking questionable outfit (or even film) choices to that time Lively wished her hubby “happy birthday” with a picture of Ryan Gosling, these parents-of-three aren’t unafraid to live, laugh, and let loose on the ‘gram. They, of course, intersperse the antics with a medley of loving posts, too.
DWAYNE “THE ROCK” JOHNSON
INSTAGRAM @THEROCK, 231.8 MILLION FOLLOWERS
The former wrestler and multifaceted superstar donned a crisp white button-down and black bow tie last October to celebrate a special occasion: he officially became the most followed man in the U.S. on social media, surpassing a staggering 200 million followers on Instagram alone. And despite being the most followed man in the country and most followed American man in the world, he ended his celebratory post highlighting that he was still “most importantly, the #1 daddy at home.” Johnson shares inspirational life lessons, sneak peeks into his home life, and tons of cocktail recipes with his small-batch tequila brand, Teremana.
INSTAGRAM @KRISTENANNIEBELL, 14.7 MILLION FOLLOWERS
The Good Place star is a breath of fresh air on Instagram, offering her fans a mix of useful advice, positive and heart-warming content, and relatable, often funny snapshots of her home life. She’s unapologetically quirky, evident in a tribute of Toto’s Africa with her husband Dax Shepard (which they quickly gifted all of us on YouTube), and isn’t afraid to get personal, raw, and downright weird. In a world of self-promotion and unrealistic, airbrushed photos, Bell might be exactly what we all need right now.
INSTAGRAM @JLO, 151.4 MILLION FOLLOWERS
For a daily dose of fabulous, it doesn’t get shinier than Jenny from the Bronx, one of the most followed women on Instagram. The now 51-year-old icon is also a recent TikTok sensation, showing off her abs and trademark moves in a variety of dance videos. Follow J.Lo for a combination of challenging fitness videos (it takes ample work and sweat to maintain her rock solid physique), behind-the-scenes snapshots from her latest films and music videos, relatable anecdotes about motherhood, and pages upon pages of that J.Lo glow.
INSTAGRAM @DJKHALED, 23.9 MILLION FOLLOWERS
Earning the title of the unequivocal “King of Snapchat,” this New Orleans-born music mogul became a social media sensation in the early 2010s for his refreshing authenticity, essentially making confidence a brand. By 2017, a massive three to four million people were watching each of his individual Snapchat posts. His messages run the gamut from dippy and uproarious (getting lost at sea on a jet ski, for instance) to uplifting and cheerful, as when he shared his weight loss journey with the world.
NEW IN NEW YORK
UNTIL BROADWAY THEATERS OPEN THEIR DOORS TO LIVE PERFORMANCES THIS FALL (TICKETS ON SALE NOW!), THESE MARQUEE EXPERIENCES CAN FILL THE VOID
IMMERSIVE VAN GOGH
At Pier 36, from June 10 through September 6, visitors can walk among 500,000 cubic feet of projections and 60,600 frames of video featuring the works of influential Dutch impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh. The inventive, mesmerizing experience was created by Italian digital art master Massimiliano Siccardi, a pioneer in the emerging genre. Over two million visitors viewed his Paris installation, featured in Netflix’s Emily in Paris, and it’s a sell-out in cities across the U.S. and in Canada. (Note: A different show entitled Van Gogh, the Immersive Experience at Brookfield Place is unrelated.) vangoghnyc.com
Acclaimed musicians will be on stage as well as lounging under palm trees in this 32-story corner property transformed into a tropical oasis in the heart of Times Square the latest of the worldwide chain started by entertainer Jimmy Buffett. Its 234 rooms and suites have a “breezy” coastal vibe and soundproof windows. Order frozen concoctions at multiple atmospheric bars, or take a culinary tour of the Caribbean at the resort’s restaurants, including the centerpiece Margaritaville Restaurant and Tiki Bar with its whimsical themed décor uniquely designed to each location. Get your flip flops and parrot hats at the ground floor Margaritaville store. Amenities include a roof deck, outdoor heated pool, and fitness center. Guest bookings begin in June and weddings are welcome.
560 7th Avenue, margaritavilleresorts
SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK
Central Park’s Delacorte Theater comes to life again with free performances of the bard’s The Merry Wives of Windsor under the stars July 9 through August 29. The adaptation by Director Saheem Ali is an updated version set in Harlem and focused on immigrants. According to the website, its “a New York story about the tricks of the heart, performed in the heart of the City with brilliant artists.” Attendees must obtain their free tickets in advance to adhere to safety protocols.
THE GREEN AT LINCOLN CENTER
Stars will be in the skies and on terra firma with the May opening of the Green, a new 14,000-square-foot park-like space created at Lincoln Center by celebrated set designer and MacArthur Genius grantee Mimi Lien. Outdoor pop-up performances, including dance and music, will take place through fall. The Green is part of Lincoln Center’s Restart Stages initiative to help kickstart New York City’s arts industry. A wide range of talented professional and amateur performers are featured. Consult Lincoln Center’s online calendar for new performances, programs, and cultural opportunities.
GUNS ‘N ROSES
AUGUST 21 & 22
2831 BOARDWALK, ATLANTIC CITY
AN EVENING WITH MICHAEL BUBLÉ
JIM WHELAN BOARDWALK HALL
2301 BOARDWALK, ATLANTIC CITY
THE CHROMATICA BALL
AUGUST 19 / METLIFE STADIUM / EAST RUTHERFORD / METLIFESTADIUM.COM
JUNE 25 & 26
HARD ROCK CASINO HOTEL
1000 BOARDWALK, ATLANTIC CITY
OCEAN CITY MUSIC PIER
825 BOARDWALK, OCEAN CITY
DOOBIE BROTHERS 50TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR
Rescheduled from last year, founding members Michael McDonald, Tom Johnson, Pat Simmons, and John McFee will kick off their delayed tour in Florida this July the first time they’ve performed together in 25 years. New Jersey dates are the PNC Garden State Arts Center, Holmdel, (August 2) and the BB&T Pavilion, Camden (August 4)
RINGO STAR AND HIS ALL-STAR BAND FEATURING THE AVETT BROTHERS
Early stops include the Beacon Theater (June 6–8), Count Basie Center for the Arts, Red Bank (June 10), and the Met Philadelphia (June 19)
An ambitious tour schedule in tandem with Fall Out Boy, Weezer, and The Interrupters began in Europe in May. The show starts in the U.S. on July 14 in Seattle, then makes its way across the country, landing in New York’s Citi Field on August 4. Shows are also scheduled in Fenway Park, Hershey Park, and Philly.
Some shows on this nationwide tour commencing June 2 in San Diego will feature Jaden Smith and Kehlani. The Biebs plays major cities in the U.S. and Canada, including Newark’s Prudential Center (July 9), Philadelphia’s Well Fargo Center (July 11), Madison Square Garden (July 11 & 13), and Barclay’s Center (July 20).
The country/folk artist begins his summer tour in Milwaukee on June 25, followed by nationwide shows through November with stops in Hershey, PA (July 9), Holmdel’s PNC Garden State Arts Center (July 18), and the Jones Beach Theater (August 13).
If Vegas is calling, you may want to include a Sting concert in your long-range plans. After a May residency at Caesars Palace, the superstar singer/songwriter/musician heads overseas to Europe before returning to play the Met in Philadelphia September 7 and 8. He’ll return to Caesars in Vegas in October with shows set through November. The international tour and residency will continue through 2022.
DAVE MATTHEWS BAND
Begins July 23 in North Carolina and transverses the nation through November. The sole New Jersey show is September 22 at the PNC Garden State Arts Center in Holmdel.