TV

This Haunts Me: Shaggy as Sebastian in "The Little Mermaid LIVE!"

Who forgot his claws? Was it you, Shaggy?!

ABC13 Houston

Today's greatest threats to civil society may be climate change, the 2020 presidential election, and live versions of Disney musicals.

Despite the combination of curiosity, nostalgia, and skepticism that keeps viewers tuning in to ABC's live productions of musicals, it's not like we like them. Are we entertained? Surely, but for all the wrong reasons. When The Little Mermaid Live! aired last night, Twitter was interested in how the 1989 beloved classic would be staged before an audience. After all, it's been 30 years since songwriters Alan Menken and Howard Ashman gave the world "Part of Your World," "Kiss the Girl," and "Under the Sea."


What aired was a bogus bastardization of Broadway musical numbers, creepy puppeteering, and a watch party of the original animation, as the "live" musical was a disjointed mix of animated clips and live performances. Even with Queen Latifah breathing life into the production with a sonorous performance as Ursula and a decent, if pitchy, showing from 18-year-old Auli'i Cravahlo (Moana), ABC's constant commercial breaks advertising the upcoming Disney+ streaming platform made it clear that the whole production was just "the most expensive Disney+ ad" made to date.

But above all, what cannot be unseen is Shaggy's role as Sebastian. Yes, the officious, suck-up crab and side kick who represented every nerdy teacher's pet who tried to sit with the popular kids in the cafeteria but ended up a tattle tale by recess. Most notable about his performance as the iconic crab was the fact that Shaggy, rather than matching the staging and rest of the cast's costumes, simply wore red pants and a red, boxy faux leather jacket. Some viewers saw Michael Jackson from Thriller ghost-walking along the bottom of the sea and haunting Ariel, while others saw Shaggy doing a good job playing Sebastian if Sebastian were a 51-year-old philandering reggae singer.

Queen Latifah strutted across the stage with full tentacles, Cravahlo was rendered immobile by Ariel's fish tale for whole scenes, and, oh yeah, children dressed in full red crab costumes scuttled across the stage during John Stamos' harlequin rendition of Chef Louis's "Les Poissons." But Shaggy apparently got a pass.



To be clear, ABC's resident costume guy, Robert Mills, came to his own defense. (Apparently his title is "senior vice president of alternate series, specials, and late-night," but realistically, all we know him as is "the crab costume guy" now). Mills tweeted, "For those wondering, Shaggy wore crab claws in early rehearsals and it looked ridiculous." Then he answered public demand by tweeting a photo of Shaggy wearing the claws behind scenes, closing the loop of the masochism and cartoonish hellscape that is modern entertainment on ABC.

What's worse than Sean Spicer, Trump's former Press Secretary and traitor to the American public, being cast on ABC's Dancing with the Stars? Sean Spicer remaining on Dancing with the Stars because of Trump's encouragement to get his 66.5 million Twitter followers to keep voting for him. And you know what's worse than that? Shaggy cast as Michael Jackson playing Shaggy as Sebastian.

Film Lists

Popdust's Best of 2018: Movies

This year's staff picks are in!

While there was no avoiding the big-budget blockbusters and franchise films that are churned out in a never-ending cycle of sequels and reboots, 2018 also provided a full slate of movies that thrived on specificity. Smaller scale, but fully-realized, stories got a ton of critical acclaim, offering audiences a look into the mind of a reverend questioning his faith—in everything, the trajectory of a telemarketer on a very precise path to the top, and a tween's YouTube page, among other deeply personal narratives. That so many films this year dug deep into such singular stories is perhaps a good sign that, in the otherwise precarious cultural landscape of 2018, we still value stories that are different from our own.

Here are the best movies of 2018, according to Popdust staff:

LEAVE NO TRACE | Official Trailer www.youtube.com

Leave No Trace (and Eighth Grade)

Chosen by Rebecca Linde, Staff Writer

Call me a sucker for stories about teen girls and their single dads. Eighth Grade somehow captured the horror and hope of adolescent girlhood in excruciatingly awkward, accurate, and deeply empathetic detail—a formidable challenge for any writer/director, but handled delicately by comedian Bo Burnham with help from the heart-wrenching performance of star Elsie Fisher. Despite its title, Debra Granik's Leave No Trace left a lasting impact. Granik leads her audience through the depths of the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest and into the world of 14-year-old grifter/survivalist Tom (a great Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) and her father, Will (Ben Foster, also great) with stunning cinematography. Yet when it comes to Will's motivation for keeping them there, the restrained dialogue and almost bucolic pace keeps Tom—and us—achingly on the margins.

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? | Official Trailer [HD] | FOX Searchlight youtu.be

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Chosen by Meg Hanson, Staff Writer

The strangest aspect of Marielle Heller's film about a down-and-out writer turning to a life of copyright crime is the real story behind it. Lee Israel not only forged and sold over 400 letters from literary giants, but she wrote a memoir in 2008 exposing it all with little apology. Starring Melissa McCarthy, the adapted film of the same name recounts how an under-appreciated writer decided to market her talent by stealing original letters from libraries and replacing them with forgeries or outright drafting copycat letters to sell for thousands of dollars apiece. The penalty for her crimes? In 1993 she pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce. She was sentenced to six months' house arrest and five years' probation.

ISLE OF DOGS | Official Trailer | FOX Searchlight www.youtube.com

Isle of Dogs

Chosen by Brooke Ivey Johnson, Assistant Editor

This was a difficult decision for me to make, as I love-hate Wes Anderson with such intensity and fervor, its possibly diagnosable. With Isle of Dogs, Anderson made the questionable choice to use stop motion claymation, a medium that probably should have remained in the 20th century with Polio. But somehow, it worked. The truth is, the strange story of an evil dictator who banished all dogs to a garbage island, and the little boy who loved his dog too much to give up on him, made my cold, dead heart beat again. The plot was tight and gripping, every dog character well rounded, the movie itself an absolute technical and aesthetic marvel. The caveat? Debatably pretty racist. The human characters were from a weird, pseudo-Japanese country that engaged every bad eastern stereotype, and spoke in a weird nonsense language that sounded suspiciously like a white Dad doing a cringey, drunken, Kim Jong-Il imitation. This movie stirred up a heated post-movie dinner conversation that was productive and engaging, because all parties, even the very offended, loved this movie. Isle of Dogs tops my list because of the questions it raises: can you love a movie and still recognize its cultural failings?

The Death of Stalin Official Trailer #1 (2017) Jason Isaacs, Steve Buscemi Biography Movie HD www.youtube.com

The Death of Stalin

Chosen by Matt Clibanoff, Editorial Lead

In his newest film, Armando Ianucci manages to turn a new batch of politicians into bumbling idiots, this time taking on the post-war Soviet government and the turmoil that followed Joseph Stalin's death. Lavrenti Beria, head of the NKVD, played by Simon Russell Beale, is a chubby, screeching loon whose megalomaniacal urges come across less like Hitler's and more like Eric Cartman's. Jeffrey Tambor plays Stalin's ineffectual deputy, Georgy Malenkov, a man so incapable of command the entire Soviet inner circle allows him to function as head of state for two years while they secretly jostle for power. And Steve Buscemi, as Nikita Khrushchev, is so fidgety and anxiety-prone you'd think he was playing a bit part on Curb your Enthusiasm.

The precision with which Ianucci attacks these historic figures makes the film feel like the world's angriest European history lecture, but it never feels preachy. Instead, reality is simply presented, in all of its absurdity. A masterclass in stripping the emperor of his clothes, The Death of Stalin is a film without a protagonist. There are no good guys. Just morons.

Bonus: The 2018 Popdust Movie Awards

Most Audience Moms in Need of Tissues: A Star is Born

Most Surprising Horse Phallus: Sorry to Bother You

Least Surprising Horse Phallus: The Rider (ok, we haven't seen it, but of all the films that came out this year, this is the most likely to have at least one shot of a horse penis)

Superhero We'd Been Waiting For: T'Challa

Superhero Body We'd Been Waiting For: Aquaman

Best Use of a Rabbit: Leave No Trace

Worst Use of a Rabbit: Peter Rabbit

The "These Two Movies Came Out on the Same Weekend and Therefore We Will Never be Able to Distinguish One from the Other" Award: Social Animals & American Animals

Movie That Definitively Proves that Lord of the Rings Drove Peter Jackson Insane: Mortal Engines

Worst Father Figure: Thanos

Best Father Figure Who Always Comes Back: Thanos

Least Frightening Creature: The Meg, The Meg

Most Frightening Creature: The Bush Administration, Vice

Best Music Video: Bohemian Rhapsody

Most Effective Stoking of Cold War Tensions: Creed II

Least Effective Stoking of Cold War Tensions: Red Sparrow

Worst Childhood Memories: Eighth Grade

Best Childhood Memories: Never being subjected to The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Most Clearly Made for Horny Gamers: Tomb Raider

Movies That, Apparently, are Still Being Made: Fifty Shades Freed, Bumblebee, Maze Runner: The Death Cure, The First Purge


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FILM & TV

BOX OFFICE BREAKDOWN | ​Invasion of the puppets

AUGUST 24TH-26TH | What's Coming to Theaters This Weekend?

What would happen if The Muppets were to become detectives?

In Popdust's column, Box Office Breakdown, we aim to inform you of the top flicks to check out every weekend depending on what you're in the mood to enjoy. Looking to laugh? What about having your pants scared off? Maybe you just need a little love? Whatever the case may be, we have you covered. Take a peek at our top picks for this week…

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FILM & TV

BOX OFFICE BREAKDOWN | Laughing and suspense are good for the soul

MAY 11TH-13TH | What's coming to theaters this weekend?

Your mom is going back to college, you'll need to rescue your kids, and things are getting dark this week at the movies.

In Popdust's column, Box Office Breakdown, we aim to inform you of the top flicks to check out every weekend depending on what you're in the mood to enjoy. Looking to laugh? What about having your pants scared off? Maybe you just need a little love? Whatever the case may be, we have you covered. Take a peek at our top picks for this week…

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Top Videos

Melissa McCarthy honors moms, wrecks Sean Spicer on new SNL

VIRAL | The comedienne plays up the press secretary's anxieties and makes a mother's dreams come true

NBC | Getty Images

Spicey's back and better than ever.

When Saturday Night Live released a trailer featuring Melissa McCarthy singing and dancing to "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story, we didn't exactly picture the transformation that then took place. Well, maybe we did, but it was still awesome to watch her go from twirling in a flowy white-skirt with floral print to a fat suit and a scowl. We wonder if Kimberly Guilfoyle is doing the same dance while thinking about the job she's about to take from incumbent Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

All said and done, nobody can pull off a bald cap quite like McCarthy; since her tenure as "Spicey" (and Alec Baldwin's as Donald J. Trump), Saturday Night Live has enjoyed its highest ratings in six years. We can only hope that this is to the chagrin of the figures they're parodying, but after gems like the below tweet, we don't exactly doubt it.

McCarthy's return highly-anticipated return as Spicer involved riding a mechanized podium through the streets of New York, yelling at his possible replacement as she peeled apples onstage, and getting what most foreshadow as the kiss of death from Baldwin's Trump. She opened the show with a heartwarming Mother's Day monologue that involved giving a mom an express backstage tour of SNL, meeting Blake Lively and HAIM, and getting free foot cream (and ketchup?) from NBC's dutiful pages. In other words, a fitting appetizer to a Spicey main course.

Watch Sean Spicer's Return on last night's episode of Saturday Night Live below.

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melissa mccarthy body image crusade

Melissa McCarthy is on a one-woman body image crusade.

The 45-year-old is sick of women being judged and ranked by size, and she’s evoking Gloria Steinem to help spread her message.

Emily Ratajkowski Is Too A Feminist So Stop Your Hating!

Distorted reflections melissa mccarthy body image crusade

McCarthy, who recently underwent an amazing slim-down, and claims to be a size 14 these days, posted on Instagram:

She captioned the image:

We have to stop categorizing and judging women based on their bodies.

We are teaching young girls to strive for unattainable perfection instead of feeling healthy and happy in their own skin.

Taylor Swift Is A ‘Nazi Barbie,’ Says Feminist Scholar Camille Paglia

Adding a quote from Steinem:

Imagine we are linked not ranked.

Make connections melissa mccarthy body image crusade

Amber Rose Is A Bad Bitch Feminist—Wants Y’All To Stop Slut Shaming

The Steinem quote comes from a speech the renown feminist gave back in April 2014.

Steinem spoke about how making connections can allow people to "see the world more wholly."

By connecting the way in which our everyday surroundings can contribute to larger societal issues, people can begin to come up with positive, practical solutions.

Becoming linked to the natural world then allows people to see there is no such thing as a hierarchy or pyramid, but a circle.

There is no such thing as gender, race or class. They are cultural inventions.... We are linked, not ranked.

There's nothing more radical than listening.

Not the norm melissa mccarthy body image crusade

Spice Girl Mel B—I Wouldn’t Call Myself a Feminist

McCarthy is a vocal advocate for changing societal standards of judging women by their appearance and size.

She told Refinery 29:

I know I am not the 'norm.' It never occurs to me in terms of being a role model, though, because I don't know any perfect women.

If I, off the top of my head, name 20 of the most amazing women in my life, it's all shapes, sizes, ages, colors, jobs. I can only go off my reality.

What people pass off as 'normal,' I just have to keep in my head that it's bullshit. It’s all fictitious, made-up stuff.

I know some of those women in those magazines who get called perfect or whose butt is supposedly better, and often they don’t even look like that in person.

And they would die — they don't want you to compare who wore it better. They would be more horrified than anybody else that you're pitting them against each other and judging.

You don't do that with guys. You don't see two guys next to each other and somebody going, ‘Who's got the better knees? Who's got old knees? Who's got weird feet?’ I want to get rid of constantly categorizing.

Lists give somebody a way to shove and tear down women. Those women that are always shown, that we're all supposed to be like, is like .000009% of human beings.

That's crazy. That's like saying, ‘We're all going to get a perm and get green hair, right?’

You'd be like, ‘All of us?’ No, knock yourself out with your perm, but if we all did it, that would be bizarre.

Amen to that Ms. McCarthy.

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