Welcome to this week’s “Just for Variety.”
Taylor Kitsch thinks a reboot or revival of “Friday Night Lights” could happen. “You may see it, but I will not be a part of it,” the actor, who played Tim Riggins on the beloved NBC series, tells me. “I’m done. I’m good. I want to keep growing as an actor. Going back to Rigs — let him live in everyone else’s memories. Whatever that is, whatever he means to them, let him lay there.” However, let me be clear — Kitsch has no bad feelings about “FNL”: “It was such a huge springboard for me, but I’m such a different actor now. It allowed me to explore the process, be fucking green and embrace it.”
Kitsch can currently be seen on Amazon Prime’s “The Terminal List” opposite Chris Pratt.
Big Freedia is coming to Los Angeles. The music superstar will receive the inaugural Platinum Alchemy Award at this year’s Outfest as well as headline the Alchemy Party this weekend.
One of the last times she was in L.A., she visited Beyoncé’s recording studio to have a first listen to “Break My Soul.” Freedia’s vocals from “Explode” are featured on the single, which dropped on June 20. “As I was leaving the studio, they were like, ‘Do you want to see her? She’s here,’” Freedia told me Tuesday during a phone call from Cleveland, Ohio, where she was getting ready to perform at the National Independent Venue Association’s inaugural conference. “I was like, ‘Holy shit!’ I’m just smiling as I’m approaching her and she opened her arms and I opened mine and we hugged each other. She thanked me for allowing her to use my song, but I was like, ‘No, thank you!’”
The song marks Freedia’s second time collaborating with Queen Bey. She was also heard on “Formation.”
Big Freedia would also love to work with Janet Jackson: “She just performed one of my songs at the Essence Festival so I’m already speaking it into existence.”
Outfest kicks off tonight, July 14, at the Orpheum Theatre with the premiere of Billy Porter’s directorial debut “Anything’s Possible.” The Alchemy Party takes place at Catch One on July 17, 8pm-2am.
Paramount Pictures chief Brian Robbins told Variety in June that the studio and J.J. Abrams were “getting close to the starting line” for a new “Star Trek” movie. However, John Cho, who plays Sulu, says one of the big obstacles is scheduling the star-studded cast. “There have been some starts and stops over the years, so we’ll see, but whenever I hear buzz about it, I get very excited,” Cho told me at the premiere of “Don’t Make Me Go,” adding, “But it’s hard to get all those people in the same room at the same time. Chris Pine is doing stuff. Zoe Saldaña is busy.”
In “Don’t Make Me Go,” Cho plays a man with a fatal brain tumor who goes on a road trip with his daughter (Mia Harris) to reunite her with her mother. “He’s just a really full character,” Cho said. “It’s the kind of movie that I really like. I don’t see this kind of movie that much. It’s something that I really wanted to put my energy into and [director] Hannah Marks was someone I thought could do it with. I loved her work. And when I find a person to follow, I follow. I start walking.”
“Don’t Make Me Go” premieres on Amazon Prime Video July 15.
Reese Witherspoon is not only a producer of “Where the Crawdads Sing” — she was also the film’s unofficial regional consultant. “She came on the prowl when she came to set,” Taylor John Smith, who stars alongside Daisy Edgar-Jones in the film, tells me. “She was quizzing us on all of her Southern slang. I remember [actor Harris Dickinson] learning that the plural of ‘y’all’ is ‘all y’all’ and his mind being opened.”
Funnily enough, Edgar-Jones admits she didn’t know what a crawdad was until she signed on to the project: “I did think they might actually sing.”
Make sure to check out “The Gray Man,” Netflix’s new very fun action thriller starring Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas and Regé-Jean Page from Anthony and Joe Russo. You can also watch all my interviews with the cast and creatives at Wednesday’s world premiere in Hollywood here and here and also over on Variety’s Twitter. Yes, I talked to Mr. Gosling about “Barbie.”
Joshua Jackson is looking all sorts of handsome these days with a shaggy, two-month-old beard and longer locks than he usually has. “As my darling wife [Jodie Turner-Smith] said to me today, ‘It’s giving off ‘Castaway,’” the actor, who was recently named interim CEO of Liquid Media Group, the Vancouver-based company he co-founded, told me. “She’s ready for it to be gone.”
His hirsute appearance is for his work in the upcoming series adaptation of “Fatal Attraction.” “At first it was ‘This is great. I don’t have to shave.’ Then the phase after that was, ‘Oh, I’m going to scratch my skin off,’” Jackson says.
Facial hair isn’t the only thing that’s made him a bit uncomfortable going into shooting, which is set to begin July 18. While discussing his underwear choices for his bedroom scenes, he also talked to the intimacy coordinator about what he’ll use to cover his nether regions for nude scenes. “I found myself trying to find a way to describe a cock sock without saying ‘cock sock,’ and I was fumbling and stumbling over it,” Jackson recalls. “Finally she was just like, ‘It’s OK, I know you call it a cock sock.’ But yeah, I was like, ‘I would like to avoid those if at all possible because they’re not comfortable.’”
As for Liquid Media, the company recently launched Projecktor Platform to connect independent content creators to help them secure financing, monetization and distribution opportunities. “I want our company to be able to jump in and meet the creators and say, ‘We’re going to be able to provide you with the services that you need in order to not just make money off of this project, but survive long enough to be able to make the next one,’” Jackson says. “In a perfect world, we jump in right at the very beginning and we help with the late stages of development, then with packaging, financing and then into distribution. Projecktor gives content creators a beautiful place that they can be proud to have their work displayed on.”
In addition to naming Jackson interim CEO, Liquid also recently named former American Apparel president and EVP and CFO of Blockbuster Tom Casey to its board.
Before I sign off, I just wanted to send love to Variety Editor-in-Chief Claudia Eller, who’s on medical leave at the moment. Here’s to your speedy recovery. Hope we all get to see you real soon.
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