A version of this story about “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” appears in the Oscar Nominations Preview issue of TheWrap’s awards magazine. Makeup artist Sergio Lopez-Rivera’s relationship of trust with Viola Davis was cultivated over six seasons of “How to Get Away With Murder.” And therefore, in the early days of making “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — starring Davis as the real-life 1920s blues singer — the actress sensed a trace of hesitation in Lopez-Rivera’s hands. “At that first camera test, I was tweaking the makeup to make Viola look better,” he recalled. “And she said something to me I’ll never forget. She said, simply, ‘Bette Davis in ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?'” That reference to the 1962 thriller about a grotesque former child actress clicked instantly for Lopez-Rivera. Viola Davis’s Ma Rainey isn’t an unhinged antagonist like Bette Davis’s Baby Jane (who serves her sister, played by Joan Crawford, a dead rat for lunch), but the connection between them is hard to be miss once it has been pointed out. Also Read: 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' Cinematographer on Chadwick Boseman: 'I Cried as We Were Filming His Performance' “Ma Rainey was very sensual but she also liked making people uncomfortable with how she looked,” he said. “And (the reference to Baby Jane) was Viola saying to me, “I, Viola, am giving you permission to really go there.'” He continued, “I can’t think of another modern actor aside from Viola who would be so bold. It requires a certain willingness to really own her work. So many actors are afraid of pushing their own artistic boundaries. Viola isn’t.” Lopez-Rivera’s job incorporated five elements: Davis’s smooth skin was etched to add pigmentation; her eyebrows were drawn in a vaudevillian pencil line; gold teeth were fitted in her mouth; mascara and blush were precisely applied to appear sloppily applied; and various serums and gels gave the illusion of beading sweat on her face and upper chest. “Watching Viola become Ma was an architectural process,” Lopez-Rivera said. Also Read: Watch Chadwick Boseman Widow's Tearful Golden Globes Acceptance: 'He Would Say Something Beautiful' (Video) Ma Rainey’s gold teeth were manufactured by the same special effects department that did work on “How to Get Away With Murder,” especially the series finale in which several characters were aged. “They already had a mold of Viola’s teeth,” Lopez-Rivera said. “The first set we tried had a lot more gold in the bottom teeth, but it was so much gold that it was distracting, so we went with the slightly less heavy version.” The body padding and elaborate costumes by Oscar-winner Ann Roth were then topped with Ma Rainey’s on-stage wig, a pièce de résistance created by hair designer Mia Neal from a horse mane she found on Etsy. “It came covered in manure and lice eggs,” Neal said. “So I boiled it and set the wig on rollers, then boiled it again. But horsehair is very thick, so every time I pulled one hair through the lace, it would scrape off the manure. There was plastic sheeting everywhere to prevent contamination. It was a trip.” Also Read: How 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' Screenwriter 'Touched the Sleeve of Greatness' in August Wilson's Classic Play (Video) Neal devoted 60 hours to the wig’s creation. “And that was 60 hours over three or four days,” she said. “We didn’t sleep much.” For the artist, a veteran of Broadway productions including 2018’s revival of “The Iceman Cometh” and 2020’s “West Side Story,” the hair was an essential part of understanding Ma Rainey’s psychology. “Horsehair wigs maintain their set. And we guessed that this wig was important to Ma to have while traveling, not knowing if she was going to be in a city where she could get service. And it was glamorous. This was a woman who wore fur coats in the summer, who had gold teeth, who was married and also had a girlfriend. She was from the rural South and had access to things she’d never had before. She was going to have everything that people tried to deny her.” Indeed, like Lopez-River, Neal stressed the importance of Davis’s commitment to tackling the role of Ma Rainey honestly. “During one of the early wig fittings,” Neal remembered, “Viola said to me, ‘In this time period, Black women weren’t often described as being beautiful. But in this particular case, everyone made a point of saying Ma was unattractive. So we have to listen to that.’ How often do you get permission to do that with an actress?” But Neal pointed out that Davis was not simply commenting about Ma Rainey’s appearance. The actress was making a more profound point about the character and how society still views women, especially Black women, who don’t confirm to accepted beauty standards. “Some people who watched the film have said to me, ‘Oh, she’s so oily and it’s hard to see Viola like that,'” Neal said. “But you’re getting the same experience that people watching Ma Rainey’s shows in the 1920s got. The sweat was flinging off of her and spraying into the crowd. That can be jarring, for sure. Ma was used to that. She probably made people uncomfortable even when she was small, being fierce and dark-skinned. She didn’t care and there’s beauty in that discomfort.” Read more from the Nominations Preview issue here. Read original story ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ Hair and Makeup: How Viola Davis Was Inspired by Bette Davis’s Classic ‘Baby Jane’ At TheWrap
(Major spoilers abound for “WandaVision” through the series finale) Well, that sure was a thing. After a lengthy buildup to the reveal that a witch named Agatha had some kind of nefarious designs on Wanda, everything came to a head in the “WandaVision” finale. And it was, well, kind of a big, wet fart of a climax to the hugely popular show. The fans deserved better than what they got with Agatha, as did Kathryn Hahn, the actress who played her. Agatha has no layers. No human element. She’s just a one-dimensional cartoon bad guy who we still know nothing about. And that is not how the MCU typically treats its villains. Also Read: 'WandaVision' Finale: How the Post-Credits Scene Sets Up 'Doctor Strange 2' Most of the MCU films to date have been painstaking in the way they humanize their baddies. I mean, this is the franchise that did a pretty in-depth exploration of the guy who deleted half of all life in the universe. This is a franchise that will present a genocidal maniac like Killmonger in “Black Panther” and make you think that, you know, maybe he’s got a point. And that’s a very good thing, having antagonists who are actually characters with motivations that are clearly on display. It helps with our emotional investment in the whole thing, and the heroes themselves are humanized by facing these complex foes. But Agatha is not complex. She revealed herself with a funny little cartoon song, and then stuck with that cackling, maniacal tone the rest of the way. We got just one piece of information about her past, thanks to a flashback in the penultimate episode, but even in that scene she was the same flatly evil caricature that she was in the present. Cackling as she turned her witch pals into dried up corpses. Also Read: 'WandaVision' Finale Mid-Credits Scene Explained I find this particularly annoying because “WandaVision” was supposed to be a meditation on grief. You’d have thought that maybe we’d learn that Agatha had some kind of tragic backstory that turned her into this monster, a la Zemo from “Captain America: Civil War.” Or that she would have, like Thanos, some kind of messed up purpose that she thought would ultimately serve the greater good. But no. The Agatha on “WandaVision” is just a bad lady with magic powers on a quest to get more magic powers. What did she even want to do with those powers? What’s her general deal? She’s been alive for hundreds of years — but why? What has she been doing this whole time? And why did Agatha only just pop up now? Wanda has been on the scene for years — and she would be super famous after the Sokovia Accords were enacted because of something she did. And Wanda has apparently been casting magic spells this whole time, so you’d think that would have gotten Agatha’s attention. Also Read: 'WandaVision': Marvel Really Pulled a Bait and Switch With Pietro The idea that makes the most sense to me as I reflect on “WandaVision” as a whole is that Agatha’s backstory was supposed to be tied in with multiverse stuff. Perhaps given that the MCU’s Phase 4 had to be reordered due to COVID closing movie theaters, they stripped out the multiverse story elements because they didn’t think it was the right place to introduce all that. And if Agatha’s history took place in an alternate universe, then they would have had to delete it, leaving us this absolute caricature. This is, for the record, me giving Marvel the benefit of the doubt on this. I’m operating under the assumption that they didn’t just fail to humanize Agatha, but that they were forced into presenting her character this way because of circumstances. Regardless of the reason, the way Agatha turned out on “WandaVision” is pretty maddening. The MCU fandom grew so attached to the franchise over the years in large part because they didn’t handle villains this way, and they know full well we expect our villains to have much more going on beneath the surface than Agatha ever did. Hopefully this isn’t the start of a trend. But at least we should be at least somewhat safe with “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” later this month since it’s bringing back Zemo and we already know all about him. Beyond that, though… We’ll see. Read original story ‘WandaVision': Agatha Is One of the Worst MCU Villains At TheWrap
The Securities and Exchange Commission is suing AT&T and three of its investor relations executives for telling Wall Street analysts about the telecom giant's sales data before it released quarterly results. The early warning helped AT&T avoid having its results fall short of Wall Street expectations, according to the SEC's complaint filed in Manhattan federal court. The U.S. financial regulator said Friday that in March 2016, AT&T was worried that a steeper-than-expected decline in smartphone sales would make it miss Wall Street estimates for its first quarter.
The voting rights group backed by basketball star LeBron James is kicking off a new campaign to fight Republican-led efforts to tighten voting requirements in Georgia and other states that could restrict access for Black voters and Democrats. The group, More Than A Vote, will start by running a 30-second advertisement narrated by James during the televised NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta on Sunday. "Look what we made happen," the Los Angeles Lakers star says in the ad, as images flash of demonstrations protesting the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor last year.
It’s a very different landscape this week than it was a year ago, just before the pandemic forced cinemas to close around the country. Still, with New York cinemas cautiously reopening this week and many other markets determined to bring moviegoing back, the studios and indie distributors alike are bringing many of their long-delayed releases […]
KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — It has been over a week since Malaysia started its National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme on February 24 with the prime minister being the first in the country to take the...
A powerful rally to end the week on Wall Street after a big three-day slump unraveled investor confidence.By the time the closing bell rang on Friday, the Dow surged 572 points. The S&P 500 jumped 73. The Nasdaq rallied 196 points.It's been a tough time for tech stock - the Nasdaq was down for the third straight week.A hefty rebound in employment fueled hopes of better economic days ahead. Employers added a much better-than-expected 379,000 new jobs in February.The lion's share of the hiring came from restaurants and bars, which accounted for 75 percent of all the job gains in February. Hiring was up across the board for entertainment, leisure and recreation industries. The key unemployment rate dropped to 6.2 percent. But even with February's hiring surge the economy still has to recover 10-1/2 million jobs lost since the health crisis hit last year. Nevertheless, investors should feel good about the economic outlook and the stock market, says Jerry Braakman, chief investment officer, First American Trust."I think when you look two to three quarters ahead, at the rate where we're vaccinating folks by a million to 1.5 million a day, we have some 300 million folks in the U.S., in 200-300 days we will be able to vaccinate all the people in the US and that is a game changer. So when you look back between that and another $1.9 trillion or somewhere around there of additional stimulus that hits people's checking accounts, I think that creates a great setup."Economic hopes also pushed interest rates higher. Yields on the U.S. government's benchmark 10-year note jumped to its highest in over a year.Higher interest rates are likely to make it more costly for high-growth companies like Tesla to do business. The electric car maker was left out of Friday's rally, capping what was a terrible week in which the stock dropped 11 percent.
Olympic hockey star Mark Pavelich was found dead Thursday in a residential treatment center, the Minneapolis Star News reported Friday. Police said emergency personnel were sent to the Eagle's Healing Nest after Pavelich had not been seen for most of a day. Pavelich, who turned 63 last week, had been receiving mental health treatment under civil commitment for a violent assault on a neighbor in 2019.
Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Entertainment, saw his pay jump to $20.9 million in 2020 despite movie theaters being closed in major markets and other parts of the country throughout much of the pandemic, according to AMC’s SEC filing Friday. Last year Aron made $9.7 million and $9.5 million the year before that. However, his base salary for 2020 was down slightly, and most of the pay raise came from bonuses and stock options paid out this year, just shy of $14.8 million in stock awards. Last week it was reported that Aron received a bonus of $3.75 million awarded by AMC’s board “to recognize the extraordinary efforts of employees to maintain the company’s business and preserve stockholder value during the COVID-19 pandemic, encourage continued engagement and retention, and incentivize our management and employees during the continuing and unprecedented difficult business conditions,” the company said. He received two bonuses totaling $5 million for the 2020 fiscal year, one in October and the other in February. Also Read: AMC Theatres Stock Plunges 50% as Reddit-Inspired Rally Loses Steam Sean D. Goodman, AMC’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, also made $4.2 million this year. John McDonald, the executive president of U.S. operations, earned $3.4 million. And Craig Ramsey, the company’s former chief financial officer, also made $377,000 in 2020. Just like other theater chains, the pandemic hit AMC hard. In March of last year, more than 26,000 theater employees were furloughed, including Aron, who worked without pay. In its Q3 earnings report, AMC said its revenue for the quarter ending in September declined by 91% to $119 million due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company, owned by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, reported a loss of $905.8 million, compared with the company’s $54.8 million loss during the same period of time the year prior. AMC Theaters got some relief this week as New York City movie theaters reopened their doors on Friday, with requirements that theaters be at just 25% capacity. Read original story AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron’s Pay Doubled in 2020 to $20.9 Million Despite Theater Closures At TheWrap
Michael Chavis belted a two-run home run with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Boston Red Sox a walk-off win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday at Fort Myers, Fla. Moises Gomez and Mike Brosseau banged solo homers for the Rays, who nearly came back from a 4-0 deficit after starter Rich Hill gave up three hits and four runs in the first. Kevin McCarthy got the win after first blowing the save opportunity by allowing three hits and two runs over innings of work.
Jacques Anouma of the Ivory Coast pulled out of the race to become the next president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), throwing his weight behind South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe.
Disneyland, Universal Studios and other theme parks in California — as well as sports stadiums — have gotten the green light to potentially reopen their gates once again after a long shutdown prompted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. According to the California Department of Public Health, ballparks, stadiums and theme parks can open outdoors starting […]
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