Welcome to this week’s “Just for Variety.”
Tommy Chong says reuniting with the “That ’70s Show” cast for the upcoming “That ’90s Show” reboot felt like no time had passed. Chong reprises his role as Leo in the Netflix series, which also sees the return of Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp as Red and Kitty Forman. “The minute Kitty knocked on the door and I opened the door and it was her, it could have been yesterday,” Chong tells me.
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Original “’70s” cast members Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Topher Grace, Wilmer Valderrama and Laura Prepon are also expected to make appearances. Chong reveals he wasn’t sure if he would be asked back when he first learned a revival was in the works. “I heard they were going to reboot it, but I never got a call,” he says. “I was like, ‘What’s going on here?’ But then the call came, and we were shooting right away.
He added with a laugh: “I like the paycheck.”
Earlier this week, at the premiere of “Vengeance,” Kutcher told Variety‘s Carson Burton, “It was really nostalgic to be back on the set. It’s all the same folks that made ‘That ’70s Show,’ so it was pretty bizarre.”
He said that he and Kunis shot for about a week. “Mila and I were contemplating it,” Kutcher said. “We thought, ‘Listen, we’re only in the position that we’re in because of that show, so let’s just go back and do this.'”
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Neil Patrick Harris stars in Netflix’s new series “Uncoupled” as a gay man in his 40s who must learn to navigate being single in New York City when his boyfriend (Tuc Watkins) suddenly leaves him. In real life, Harris and his husband David Burtka have been married for eight years. “My best date ever was my first date with David,” Harris told me Tuesday at the “Uncoupled” premiere at the Paris Theater in NYC. “First, I had to wait until he was single. We got lunch at the old Coffee Shop in Union Square, then went to a movie and that was supposed to be it. But then we went to dinner at 44 & 10. And then we spent more time together and we sort of never stopped.”
Harris’ co-star Brooks Ashmanskas, who plays an art gallery owner and one of Michael’s best friends, also says his most memorable date was his first with his now-partner of almost 24 years at the Tabard Inn in Washington, D.C. “It’s a charming, yummy and comfy place,” he said. “I finally got him to go to dinner after weeks and weeks of asking. I swear to God, it was just one of those nights that I knew we’d end up together.”
Emerson Brooks, who plays Michael’s very vain television meteorologist bestie, recalled an unforgettable and horrific first date. “We went out to dinner,” he said. “They really liked my car and asked if they could drive it. I let them and they crashed it. They got out and was just like, ‘I gotta go.’”
At the premiere party at the Oak Room at the Plaza, there was lots of talk about Harris showing off his new arm tattoo of a bunny in a magician’s hat with his sleeveless Atelier Cillian ensemble, Botox for sex (more on that later!) and whether co-creator Darren Star is contemplating an “Uncoupled” crossover with “Emily in Paris” or “Sex in the City.” Star told me don’t bet on it, even though I did catch some “SATC” Easter eggs tucked into the new series.
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Before striking gold with her breakout role on “Ted Lasso,” Hannah Waddingham was already a bona fide theater star. However, the Brit actor-singer tells me she won’t be returning to the stage anytime in the near future. “There have been plenty of opportunities that have come up, but I’m not ready to do that yet,” Waddingham told me at the “Ted Lasso” Emmy FYC event in Beverly Hills. “Not least of which my little girlie — the love of my life — is about to turn 8. I’m not ready to be out at night. It’s a very muscular, all-encompassing career shift. It’s eight shows a week, and I’m just about to turn 48 at the end of this month, so I’ll leave it to other people at the moment.”
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Riley Keough’s grandfather may have been Elvis Presley, but she insists she’s not nervous about making her major singing debut in the titular role in the upcoming Amazon Prime Video series adaptation of the novel “Daisy Jones & the Six.” “I haven’t really put pressure on myself,” she says of the Stevie Nicks-inspired part. “I think it’s beautiful when people who haven’t done things get the opportunity to do them, whether that’s acting for the first time or singing for the first time. I think people are sometimes so scared of being vulnerable.”
Could releasing her own album be in the future? “I don’t know,” Keough says. “I love making music, so who knows?”
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Get to know Abubakr Ali! In Billy Porter’s feature narrative directorial debut, “Anything’s Possible,” the Los Angeles-raised actor plays a high schooler dating a trans girl (Eva Reign). “This film is massively important,” Ali, a graduate of the Yale school of drama, tells me. “I think it’s an opportunity for so many people to find themselves seen.” Next up? Ali becomes the first Arab Muslim star of a comic book adaptation with Netflix’s “Grendel.” “I went from playing this lanky teenager to ‘OK, I have like two or three weeks to put on a lot of muscle. Hopefully I can do it quickly enough,’” Ali recalls. To bulk up 25 pounds, his daily workouts began at 4:30 a.m. “To get to tell the story of this genuinely haunted, unwell — frankly, murderer was both the scariest thing in my life but also the greatest joy as an actor,” Ali says.
Congrats to Project Angel Food! The meal service organization that serves critically ill people in Los Angeles County raised more than $1.1 million during its Lead With Love 3 telethon that aired July 23 on KTLA. The evening opened with a message from Oprah Winfrey: “When we find a way to serve other people, we see how compassion and empathy can really make a lasting, positive impact by showing up for somebody else.”
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