FROM THE SILVER SCREEN TO THE CONCERT STAGE, STREAMING SUPERSTARS TO WHAT’S NEW ON THE GREAT WHITE WAY, THE INSIDE SCOOP ON THIS YEAR’S MOST ANTICIPATED ENTERTAINMENT NUGGETS TO FEAST UPON WITH WILD ABANDON.
BY LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI AND AMANDA MCCOY
INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY
The final installment of the revered franchise premiered at the Cannes Film Festival prior to opening in theaters. A.K.A. “Indiana Jones 5,” the retro action/adventure gives Harrison Ford, the perpetual “Hero with A Thousand Faces,” a worthy finale. The story fast-forwards to 1969, giving us a new character, archeologist Indy’s goddaughter Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). John Rhys-Davies returns as Sallah, joined by Antonio Banderas, Mads Mikkelsen, and Toby Jones. As Indy’s retirement looms, a familiar evil resurfaces. Not surprisingly, an ancient artifact is involved, as is de-aging technology used on Ford. Kathleen Kennedy is a producer; Steven Spielberg and George Lucas executive produced. Savor the soaring music by composer John Williams, who has scored every Indy film since 1981.
ASTEROID CITY (RATED R)
No director defies description like Wes Anderson, who has again assembled a mega-watt cast to bring his quirky, vaguely surrealistic visions to life. Another Cannes entry, this 1950s-era take on the human condition got early buzz for its sun-washed color palettes and space-age tone. Desert colors dominate the screen and the action, which takes place in a small tourist town where otherworldly events begin to unfold. Embroiled in the paranormal events are Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Jeffrey Wright, Margot Robbie, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Ed Norton, Adrien Brody, Liev Schreiber, Matt Dillon, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, and Rita Wilson, whose husband Tom Hanks makes his Wes Anderson debut here. Steve Carell took the role that would have gone to regular Bill Murray after a bout of COVID-19 forced him to drop out.
NO HARD FEELINGS (RATED R)
A raunchy comedy about overprotective parents hiring a desperate young woman to “date” their son before he heads to Princeton University is the latest project for Jennifer Lawrence. The film’s producer and lead character Maddie, Lawrence portrays an Uber driver struggling to save her family home. The object of her commissioned affection, the 19-year-old Percy, proves a more elusive mark than anticipated. After a rocky start, the pair build a relationship that frees Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman) from his shell. Feldman played the titular role in Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen from 2019 through 2020 and had a recurring role in High School Musical: The Musical. Matthew Broderick and Laura Benanti star as Percy’s parents. Comedians Hasan Minhaj and Kyle Mooney co-star.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: MUTANT MAYHEM (UNRATED)
“Perpetual Teenager” Seth Rogan produced the CGI animated return of our heroes on a half shell, this time harkening to their introduction to crimefighting in the sewers of New York City. To achieve a more youthful tone, Rogan used teenaged voice actors for turtle brothers Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael for the first time. Jackie Chan is cleverly cast as rat sensei Splinter. Joining in the action are Rose Byrne, John Cena, Ice Cube, Paul Rudd, Maya Rudolph, Giancarlo Esposito, and Post Malone. Rogen stars as the villainous Bebop while Ayo Edebiri (The B is April O’Neil and Jeff Rowe (The Mitchells vs. the Machines) directs. Since first debuting in a 1984 comic book, the pop culture icons have been depicted in television series and live-action features, including two produced by Michael Bay.
Elements don’t mix. Or do they? In Pixar’s Elemental, fiery Ember Lumen connects with go-with-the-flow Wade Ripple and the fast-paced adventure begins. Uproxx called the film “a gorgeous, inventive successor to Inside Out.” Premiering at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the film was inspired by director Peter Sohn’s childhood with his Korean immigrant parents who owned a Bronx grocery store. “We were among many families who ventured to a new land with hopes and dreams, all mixing into one big salad bowl of cultures, languages, and beautiful little neighborhoods. That’s what led me to Elemental,” Sohn told the outlet. In the film, fire, water, land, and air residents all live together. Mamoudou Athie (Jurassic World: Dominion) voices Wade while Catherine O’Hara brings his mom to life.
DISNEY’S HAUNTED MANSION (UNRATED)
Following the winning formula of Pirates of the Caribbean, a classic Disney attraction becomes a live-action cinematic spectacle. Rosario Dawson is a single mom who moves into a ghostly New Orleans mansion with her young son. Soon, she joins a group of ne’er-do-well ghostbusters including Danny DeVito’s historian, Owen Wilson’s priest, and Tiffany Haddish’s psychic. Jamie Lee Curtis plays the legendary Madame Leota. Look for Dan Levy, Jared Leto, Wynona Ryder, and Hasan Minhaj. Director Justin Simien has fond memories of working at Disneyland and frequently riding the Haunted Mansion attraction, launched in 1969, so expect copious Easter eggs, spooky portraits, dark secrets, and appearances by the Hatbox Ghost, spectral bride, and more. The plot diverges from that of the 2003 Haunted Mansion film starring Eddie Murphy, which followed the ride’s lore. This film, rumor has it, is designed for sequels.
THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES (UNRATED)
Nobody does gruesome like Hunger Games trilogy author Suzanne Collins. It will take courage to see certain characters and events come to life in this prequel based on her fourth book. Future Panem President Coriolanus Snow is a teen mentor to winning tribute Lucy Gray Baird, who has a pivotal role in the tale’s lore. Lucy and her musical family hail from District 12 (as did Katniss Everdeen) and perform for locals and loose change. Familiar names and places pop up in revelatory and surprising ways. West Side Story’s Rachel Zegler is Lucy, Brit Tom Keri Blyth (Billy the Kid) is Snow, Viola Davis plays the vile Dr. Volumnia Gaul, Peter Dinklage takes on Casca Highbottom, and Jason Schwartzman plays Lucretious “Lucky” Flickerman, ancestor of showman Caesar. Trenton’s own Hunter Schafer plays a young Tigress, a role sought by Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Elle Fanning, and Kaia Gerber, according to IMDb.
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 3 (UNRATED)
Creator, star, and Academy Award-nominated writer Nia Vardalos has penned and directed the third installment of her popular franchise. Returning cast members include JohnCorbett, Louis Mandylor, Andrea Martin, Joey Fatone, and Lainie Kazan. Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson (who is of Greek descent), along with Gary Goetzman, are three-timeproducers. Vardalos told Variety, “We filmed our family reunion in Greece, which was thrilling. Plus, we ate for free.” The journey began with 2002’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding, based on Vardalos’ one-woman play. She continues to play Fotoula “Toula” Portokalos, a Greek-American woman who falls in love with and marries a dashing non-Greek (Corbett) despite her colorful family’s reservations. The sleeper hit earned over $368 million worldwide, Variety reported, and spawned a 2016 sequel. The film pays tribute to the late character actor Michael Constantine, who played Toula’s father Gus and died in 2021.
The top hat and purple coat suit Timothée Chalamet well as he embodies a younger version of the mysterious candymaker made famous by Gene Wilder in the classic 1971
film based on Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (Johnny Depp starred as the Machiavellian factory owner in a 2005 version.) A Christmas release is expected and bonus – Hugh Grant plays an Oompa Loompa! Through the musical, comedy/fantasy origin story,
we learn how Willy met the Oompa-Loompas, among other things. The cast also includes Olivia Colman, Keegan-Michael Key, Rowan Atkinson, and Sally Hawkins.
The mega-hit, multi-award-winning Broadway play that riffs on The Wizard of Oz becomes a two-part cinematic musical under the direction of Jon M. Cho with Ariana Grande playing Glinda the Good Witch and Cynthia Erivo cast as the ill-fated Elphaba. The all-star cast features Jeff Goldblum as the Wizard, Michelle Yeoh as Madam Morrible, Jonathan Bailey as Fiyero, Bowen Yang as Pfannee, and Marissa Bode as Nessarose. Cho told Entertainment Weekly he split the story into two parts to allow for more songs and characters familiar to the legions who have seen the play since it debuted in 2003 with Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel in the title roles. The story is based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Fun IMDb fact: The name Elphaba was created from the initials of original Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum.
FIGMENT HEADS TO THE MOVIES
The tiny purple dragon encased in a snow globe on my desk is smiling. The EPCOT mascot known as Figment, as in “figment of your imagination,” is cherished by Disney World visitors, particularly those who rode the park’s “Journey Into Imagination” ride, opened in 1983.
Figment and the Dreamfinder, an eccentric scientist/inventor, hosted and narrated the entertainingly educational action. Figment is known to never appear outside of EPCOT. Deadline recently reported the mischievous dragon will star in a new Disney film produced by Seth Rogen’s Point Grey studio. Stay tuned!
PLATONIC; APPLE TV+
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are Will and Sylvia, lapsed best friends who reconnect as adults. Their attempted reconciliation results in havoc, hilarity, and property damage. Sylvia, a mom of two, soon realizes it’s tough, and more dangerous, to party like the old days. The actors, who co-starred in 2014’s Neighbors and its 2016 sequel, are also executive producers on the project. Sylvia’s dubious husband Charlie is played by Luke Macfarlane, a cast member in Brothers and Sisters (2006 – 2011), and frequent lead in Hallmark Channel films.
The spy-buddy genre gets a twist in an action/comedy starring Emmy winner and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, also executive producer. The hour-long, eight-episode show marks his first scripted television role, in which he portrays an undercover CIA operative. Unbeknownst to him, so is his daughter. They discover each other’s secret identities as the show commences and become partners, juxtaposing family life with international intrigue. “They have more issues than Sports Illustrated,” one character observes. Monica Barbaro (Top Gun: Maverick) is Emma to Arnold’s Luke. Fortune Feimster, Travis Van Winkle, and Gabriel Luna round out the cast. Tom Arnold appears in one episode, reuniting the True Lies co-stars.
FRASIER REVIVAL; PARAMOUNT+
Ah, Frasier Crane. The pompous radio psychologist with a heart of gold played by Kelsey Grammer first appeared as a character on Cheers before spinning off into his own show and television history. Expected this summer, the show made headlines this spring when returning cast members were announced. The premise: Crane returns to Boston from Seattle to the consternation of ex-wife Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth), who we also met on Cheers. The pair renew their combative chemistry as they clash over son Freddy’s birthday. Peri Gilpin, Frasier’s Seattle assistant Roz, will guest star in an episode, but David Hyde Pierce, who played Fraser’s brother Niles, had not signed on as of press time. Cheers creator James Burrows will direct the first two episodes.
THE PERFECT COUPLE; NETFLIX
Nicole Kidman and Liev Schreiber headline a suspenseful who-done-it based on the 2019 New York Times best-selling Elin Hilderbrand novel. Dakota Fanning and Isabelle Adjani also grace the six-episode run. Netflix reveals the story follows Amelia Sacks (Eve Hewson), a bride marrying into a wealthy Nantucket family. The groom’s mother Greer Garrison Winbury (Kidman), a famous novelist, spends heavily on the high-society wedding. The festivities halt when the maid of-honor’s corpse floats into the harbor. Secrets and suspicion bubble up as a wealth of suspects are interrogated. Omar Epps also stars. Filmed on location in Cape Cod.
BARBIE DREAMHOUSE CHALLENGE; HGTV & MAX
After HGTV headliners renovated the Brady Bunch house to high ratings, Barbie’s iconic dream house will be the subject of a new challenge show coinciding with the release of the feature film in July. Experts transforming a real home into a Barbie-worthy abode are Egypt Sherrod and Mike Jackson (Married to Real Estate), Jasmine Roth (Help! I Wrecked My House), Ty Pennington (Rock the Block), Alison Victoria (Windy City Rehab), Jonathan Knight and Kristina Crestin (Farmhouse Fixer), Christina Hall and James Bender (Christina on the Coast), Keith Bynum and Evan Thomas (Bargain Block), Brian and Mika Kleinschmidt (100 Day Dream Home), and Michel Smith Boyd and Anthony Elle Williams (Luxe for Less). The four episodes will also feature Food Network Chef Antonia Lofaso. Ashley Graham hosts.
ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING SEASON 3/HULU
Expectations are high among fans eager to see Oscar winner Meryl Streep join Steve Martin, Martin Short, Selena Gomez, Tina Fey, and Paul Rudd for a new true crime rollercoaster ride. Podcasting and amateur sleuthing continue for Arconia residents Charles (Martin), Oliver (Short), and Mabel (Gomez) after an ornery actor (Rudd) drops dead on a Broadway stage. Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams reportedly plays a documentary filmmaker also focused on the case. Nathan Lane has said he will not appear this season. IMDb took note of a running joke on the series – the trio’s podcast rival Cinda Canning (Fey) only hires assistants who look like her and have similar names. Cindy, for example, is played by Anne Stringfield, Steve Martin’s wife, who strongly resembles Fey.
THE STICKY; AMAZON
Margo Martindale continues her prolific acting career, teaming with frequent voice actor Chris Diamantopoulos of HBO’s Silicon Valley in a fact-based telling of “The Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist” that made news in 2002. In the half-hour comedy series, Martindale’s Ruth is a determined Canadian maple syrup farmer with a sick husband, incensed at a bureaucracy that threatens her home and livelihood. She enlists two dubious associates to take $18 million of the county’s liquid gold: over 70% of the global supply. Diamantopoulos has voiced over 40 episodes of American Dad and has provided the voice of Mickey Mouse for Disney. Filmed in Quebec through Jamie Lee Curtis’ Comet Pictures. Curtis will guest star.
MR. MONK’S LAST CASE; PEACOCK
Work has begun on a Monk movie that will reunite the original cast with multi-Emmy Award-winning star Tony Shalhoub. The story will follow obsessive/compulsive San Francisco detective Adrian Monk as he tackles his final case involving his stepdaughter Molly, a journalist about to be married. The original creative team is at the helm, including creator Andy Breckman. Among the returning cast are Ted Levine, Traylor Howard, Jason Gray-Stanford, Melora Hardin, and Hector Elizondo. Fans know Monk’s challenges are the result of his wife’s unsolved murder from the series that ran from 2002 – 2008 on USA Network. The show won eight Emmy Awards, one Golden Globe, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.
MY SPY: THE ETERNAL CITY; PRIME VIDEO
Little Sophie (Chloe Coleman) from 2020’s surprise hit My Spy is now a teenager headed
to Italy on a school trip with her fellow choir members. After she persuades CIA operative JJ (Dave Bautista) to chaperone, the pair become pawns in an international terrorist plot targeting CIA chief David Kim (Ken Jeong) and his son, Collin, Sophie’s best friend. Scene stealer Kristen Schaal and love interest Nicola Correia-Damude are also back for the high action hijinks. Craig Robinson, Anna Faris, and Flula Borg have been added to the cast. Pete Segal (Get Smart, Anger Management) directs.
FOOL ME ONCE; NETFLIX
This eight-part series marks the eighth time author Harlan Coben, known for his plot twists, has collaborated with Netflix on an adaptation of his works. Previous efforts include Safe, The Stranger, and Stay Close. Maya Stern (Michelle Keegan, Coronation Street) is a mother mourning the death of her husband Joe (Richard Armitage, The Hobbit trilogy), or so she thought. Is Joe’s supposed death related to another family murder just months earlier?
“I’m thrilled and honored to again be collaborating with my uber-talented partners…man,
it never gets old,” Coben is quoted on Netflix’s site. “Fool Me Once is a pulse-pounder, a shocking story of how secrets and deceit have the power to bring people together while tearing them apart. I can’t wait to see how this dream cast brings these characters to life.” Joanna Lumley of the British long-running comedy Absolutely Fabulous stars as Joe’s mother. Production is ongoing in Northwest England.
LIFE OF PI
The epic stage adaptation of Yann Martel’s iconic novel is this year’s most nominated show, debuting to buzzy fanfare at the end of March. Dubbed by the Wall Street Journal “an exhilarating evening of theater,” the action-adventure follows a 16-year-old boy named Pi who, after surviving a shipwreck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, sets out on a lifeboat with four unconventional companions: a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a Royal Bengal tiger. A remarkable story ensues, with plenty of twists, turns, and lessons that will speak to every generation. Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, lifeofpibway.com
Featuring a flashy leading cast of Josh Groban as the demonic barber and Broadway heavyweight Annaleigh Ashford (Kinky Boots) as his accomplice Mrs. Lovett, this Sondheim revival has been soaked in praise since its late March opening. It also boasts a stellar creative team, including Tony Award-winning director Thomas Kail, music director Alex Lacamoire (both Hamilton alumni), and choreographer Steven Hoggett (Once, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), plus a haunting 26-piece orchestra to set the ominous stage. It’s the first time the musical thriller has been performed with its original score since the ‘80s. Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, sweeneytoddbroadway.com
MOULIN ROUGE! THE MUSICAL!
With ten Tony Awards (including Best Musical) under its bedazzled belt, this stage adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 blockbuster is an electrifying parade of glitz, grandeur, glory, and tragedy. Tony Award winner Alex Timbers directs this theatrical celebration of love, loss, and excess, featuring an updated score of contemporary hits like Sia’s “Chandelier,” Katy Perry’s “Firework,” and Lady Gaga’s steamy “Bad Romance.” Elton John’s “Your Song” does, of course, make an appearance. From now until July 16, platinum-selling singer Joanna “JoJo” Levesque (“Leave (Get Out)”) will play the leading role of the Sparkling Diamond, Satine. Al Hirschfeld Theatre, moulinrougemusical.com
A BEAUTIFUL NOISE
One of the Great White Way’s hottest new shows is this upbeat biopic on the legendary showman Neil Diamond. Fear not, superfans, all the hits are accounted for, from “Sweet Caroline” and “America” to “Cracklin’ Rosie.” Follow along as the native New Yorker begins his career on the unforgiving streets of the Big Apple to eventually selling out arenas, and how he amassed his status as an eternal rock legend. Tony Award winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) directs and Olivier Award winner Steven Hoggett is the choreographer. Broadhurst Theatre, abeautifulnoisethemusical.com
Queen Bey’s Renaissance Tour will be sweeping over East Rutherford for a two-night stint on July 29 and 30 at MetLife Stadium. Soul-pop’s reigning leader will have just wrapped up a busy spring overseas, playing in arenas across France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Belgium, and Great Britain, and the Garden State will be one of the first to welcome her back stateside. The concert tour – which is expected to out earn Taylor Swift’s Eras by half a billion – is the singer’s ninth and will feature bangers from her 7th studio album, Renaissance, but also favorites from her vast canon of work. Tickets average $165.
Venture into the Big Apple to catch pop’s resident bad girl at Citi Field in Queens on August 6 for a dazzling, special events-laden spectacle around her latest album, Trustfall. The 43-year-old songstress acknowledged she feels stronger than ever – both physically and emotionally, and her refreshing vulnerability is a cornerstone of her latest LP. Expectraw, heartfelt ballads along with her signature badassery, plus plenty of aerial acrobatics.
DAVE MATTHEWS BAND
Perhaps the world’s biggest jam band is landing at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel on July 18 to celebrate its latest LP, Walk Around the Moon. The Virginia-hailing quartet kicked off their summer tour (the first with new member Buddy Strong) in Texas following the May 19 release of the new LP and will traverse the Eastern Seaboard before wrapping up at the iconic Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington.
The charming crooner famed for pop-country powerhouse hits like “Body Like a Back Road” and “Speakers” is stopping in Holmdel on July 8 to play the PNC Bank Arts Center with fellow country greats Brett Young and Lily Rose. This will be his second Garden State show this year after heating up the Mark G Etess Arena in Atlantic City over Memorial Day weekend. Both standing lawn and seated tickets were available at press time, plus a variety of VIP packages that include a catered meal, cash bar, photobooth, activities, and an exclusive gift.
GUNS N’ ROSES
Axl Rose and his troupe of metal rockers are in the thick of a massive world tour, their first since 2021’s We’re F’N Back! extravaganza across the globe. Expect less hair but the same stadium-filling sound that’s knighted the group rock gods since the mid ’80s. Their NJ standing is at MetLife Stadium on August 15 before heading north to Boston and eventually culminating in sunny California in October.