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Tribune News Service

Entertainment Budget for Thursday, July 11, 2019

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Updated at 4 p.m. EDT (2000 UTC).

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^TOP STORIES<

^'The Farewell's' Lulu Wang and Awkwafina want you to cry, then call your grandma<

^MOVIE-FAREWELL:LA—<Over breakfast on a recent morning in Beverly Hills, Awkwafina proudly estimated that 80% of the people she's met at screenings of her latest film, "The Farewell," have come up to her misty-eyed. Hearing that, the film's writer-director, Lulu Wang, smiled.

Those tears are validating for the rising filmmaker, who based her second feature on an "actual lie" her family agreed to tell her grandmother in 2013. When the matriarch was diagnosed with terminal cancer, family members requested she not be told to spare her the grim prospect of facing the truth in her remaining months — a practice not uncommon in China.

"My goal is to leave people talking about the film, or talking about their own lives and their own family, or calling their grandma," said Wang, whose parents emigrated from China to Miami when she was 6 years old. "That's my gift to the world. We should all call our grandmas more."

2350 by Jen Yamato in Beverly Hills, Calif. MOVED

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^The global financial scandal that has spread from Malaysia to Hollywood<

1MDB-SCANDAL:LA — Accepting his 2014 Golden Globe Award for acting in "The Wolf of Wall Street," Leonardo DiCaprio thanked "Joey, Riz and Jho," three little-known producers and financiers, "for taking a risk on this movie."

The film is based on the memoir of a stockbroker who defrauded investors out of millions of dollars in the 1980s.

The three men — Joey McFarland, Riza Aziz and Jho Low — have since been accused in connection with an even bigger fraud: the theft of more than $4.5 billion from a Malaysian government investment fund known as 1MDB.

The newest charges in the case came against Riza, who was arrested in Malaysia last week and pleaded not guilty to laundering nearly a quarter of a billion dollars, in part to finance the movie.

The globe-spanning investigation also has implicated a former Malaysian prime minister, employees of a prestigious Wall Street investment bank, a member of the Fugees rap group and a top Republican fundraiser.

Here's the latest:

1150 by Shashank Bengali in Singapore. (Moved as a business story.) MOVED

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^Why has Hollywood's optimism about indie studio STX faded?<

MOVIE-STX:LA — In late 2015, the fledgling studio STX Entertainment was riding high on the success of its first movie, a well-reviewed low-budget thriller titled "The Gift." It had grossed a healthy $44 million in domestic box-office revenue, following a red carpet premiere at L.A. Live.

"The Gift" was an early confidence boost for STX, whose co-founder Bob Simonds had set out with an ambitious, if counterintuitive, plan for his new studio: Bet on mid-budget movies driven by famous actors rather than well-known franchises. Backed by cash from Silicon Valley and China, the company also promised to take advantage of the burgeoning entertainment market in Asia.

But lately, the optimism surrounding STX, best known for the Mila Kunis comedy "Bad Moms" and the Kevin Hart vehicle "The Upside," has turned to morbid curiosity in Hollywood.

1550 by Ryan Faughnder in Los Angeles. (Moved as a business story.) MOVED

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^'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory' actress Denise Nickerson dies at 62<

^NICKERSON-OBIT:NY—<Denise Nickerson, who played perpetual gum-chewer Violet Beauregarde in the classic "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," has died at 62.

300 by Peter Sblendorio. MOVED

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^Rip Torn's fan account 'Rip Torn Outlives' still has something to live for<

^TORN-FANACCOUNT:LA—<Actor Rip Torn outlived Grumpy Cat, "Game of Thrones" and Theresa May's stint as British prime minister. He also lived longer than iTunes, Mad Magazine and "Jeffrey Epstein's freewheelin' international waters underage sex adventures," may they rest in peace.

That's according to tweets from the fan account @RipTornOutlives on Twitter, which has been devoted to "The Larry Sanders Show" star for nearly three years. It's a novelty account that its owner says is now "obsolete" because Torn died Tuesday at 88 and no longer has things to outlive.

L.A.-based screenwriter Conor Sullivan started his self-described "dumb account" because he's long loved Torn, but also because he found it "so insane that this old, brash, hard-drinking wonderful maniac stayed alive when so many other people, places, and things did not," according to a Twitter thread he posted Wednesday.

750 by Nardine Saad. MOVED

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^MOVIES<

^'The Lion King' review: Visually stunning, technically innovative<

^LIONKING-MOVIE-REVIEW:ND—<Cutting-edge technology tells a story of primal power in Disney's new version of "The Lion King." It's the studio's third reworking of an animated classic this year, following an overstuffed "Aladdin" and a weighed-down "Dumbo," but get ready: "The Lion King" is a whole different animal. It may not capture hearts like the 1994 original, or even the still-running Broadway play, but this extraordinary movie is so visually stunning and technically innovative that it could mark another "Avatar"-level event.

450 by Rafer Guzm n. MOVED

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^Review: Lulu Wang's delightful 'The Farewell,' starring Awkwafina, shows us a family divided<

^FAREWELL-MOVIE-REVIEW:LA—<In "The Farewell," Lulu Wang's stealthy, melancholy charmer of a movie, a family mounts a grand illusion in the name of love. The story follows a 30-year-old New Yorker named Billi (Awkwafina) who returns to her Chinese hometown to see her grandmother, her beloved "Nai Nai" (Zhao Shuzhen), one last time. Her relatives have chosen to keep Nai Nai in the dark about her Stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis, hoping to spare her unnecessary fear and forcing themselves to say goodbye without really saying goodbye, with brave, strained smiles and held-back tears.

1150 by Justin Chang. MOVED

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^'Shangri-La' review: Fascinating look at enigmatic music producer Rick Rubin<

^TV-SHANGRILA-REVIEW:ND—<Rick Rubin, the legendary producer and music executive who grew up in Long Beach, has cultivated an air of mystery almost as much as he has cultivated young artists. This four-part documentary sets out to tell his story, as well as the story of his studio Shangri-La in Malibu, Calif., though how clearly that story gets told seems questionable from the start.

550 by Glenn Gamboa. MOVED

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^'Stuber' review: Action-comedy stalls out<

^STUBER-MOVIE-REVIEW:ND—<Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani team up for "Stuber," the story of a hard-hitting police detective who drags a knock-kneed Uber driver into his latest case. "Stuber" is a vehicle, forgive the pun, for its two leads: Bautista, a wrestler-turned-actor whose deadpan comic delivery is a high point of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies, and Nanjiani, a stand-up comedian still basking in the goodwill generated by his heartfelt 2017 rom-com, "The Big Sick." Both are well-liked faces but not yet full-blown stars.

450 by Rafer Guzm n. MOVED

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^'Maiden' review: Inspiring true story of high-seas adventure and personal triumph<

^MAIDEN-MOVIE-REVIEW:ND—<The 1980s look about as woke as the 1950s in "Maiden," Alex Holmes' documentary about an all-female sailing crew. Billie Jean King had already beaten a male tennis champ in a televised match; Sally Ride had already become the first woman in space; Margaret Thatcher, England's first female prime minister, was still in office; but glass ceilings were as thick as ever. When Tracy Edwards, a young British sailor with ambition and skill, tried to join a professional yachting crew for the legendary Whitbread Round the World Race, she found her gender a problem.

450 by Rafer Guzm n. MOVED

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^MOVIE-CAPSULE:PHI—<Capsule reviews of feature films

550. MOVED

^MUSIC<

^Inside Ed Sheeran's ridiculously star-studded new 'Collaborations' album<

^MUS-SHEERAN:LA—<Ed Sheeran's new album grew out of the fact that he really didn't need any more alone time.

Arguably the most successful male pop star in the world, Sheeran nonetheless tours like a lonely street busker, with just his guitar and a digital looping pedal to accompany his voice, even when he's selling out multiple nights at gigantic stadiums like London's Wembley.

So when the 28-year-old English singer began work on his follow-up to 2017's Grammy-winning " ," he figured it might be nice to have someone to talk to for a change.

900 by Mikael Wood. MOVED

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^Billie Eilish, music's biggest anti-pop star, returns home a hero<

^MUS-EILISH-REVIEW:LA—<The green slime came in waves on Tuesday. In the lines to get into the Shrine Expo Hall, teenage girls were covered in it, head to toe. Inside, as the 17-year-old pop singer Billie Eilish awaited her headline set, that green dripped from her fans' sweaty hair. At the merch booth, everything — hoodies, T-shirts, shorts — was slathered in it.

Not actual slime, to be sure. But a particular shade of sticky neon green that the L.A.-raised Eilish has recently adopted as her battle flag. It's now in her hair, on her stage outfits, in the frames of her sunglasses. To walk out in the crowd and see just how quickly her legion of fans draped themselves in it is to understand just how important Eilish is to Gen Z, and how quickly fans respond to her imagination.

800 by August Brown in Los Angeles. MOVED

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^TV, DVD, STREAMING<

^James Holzhauer to return for 'Jeopardy!'<

^TV-JEOPARDY-HOLZHAUER:NY—<Clue: a second match or game between two teams or players.

Answer: What is a rematch?

James Holzhauer, the professional gambler who became a part of the mainstream media zeitgeist last spring when he became the fourth-highest earning "Jeopardy!" contestant, is set to return to the long-running game show.

250 by Karu F. Daniels. MOVED

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^'SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout' review: A funny, funky celebration<

^TV-SPONGEBOB-REVIEW:ND—<Are ya ready kids? "SpongeBob SquarePants" is turning 20, and SpongeBob, coincidentally, is having a birthday too. (How old is 'Bob? That mystery won't be revealed Friday). His friends, neighbors and co-workers decide to throw a surprise birthday party in his pineapple house. Preparations for this party do not go well, and in fact disastrously. ("Uh oh," says Sandy Cheeks. "I hope someone brings a wall as a present.") Meanwhile, 'Bob's dear friend and neighbor Patrick Star has taken him on a bus tour of the Surface World (that would be dry land) where David Hasselhoff is still surfing, or trying to, and where Kel Mitchell ("All That") reveals that he has an uncommon passion for canned beans.

700 by Verne Gay. MOVED

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^How 'Stranger Things' made the Starcourt Mall<

^VID-STRANGERTHINGS3-MALL:LA—<No doubt about it: The Starcourt Mall is, like, totally awesome.

In the latest season of "Stranger Things," the newly opened shopping center captivates the residents of Hawkins, Ind. The Starcourt offers everything a Midwestern consumer in 1985 could ask for, and then some: a Jazzercise, an Orange Julius and, oh yeah, a portal to the Upside Down controlled by the Russian military.

Series creators Matt and Ross Duffer understand the potent nostalgia of the 1980s, and part of what has made the Starcourt the breakout star of Season 3 — along with newcomer Maya Hawke — is the throwback thrill of revisiting the heyday of the American mall.

1300 by Meredith Blake. MOVED

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^'The Handmaid's Tale': How Aunt Lydia's back story came together<

^VID-HANDMAIDSTALE-AUNTLYDIA:LA—<"I really like the fact that it's a weakest link episode," Bruce Miller says. He's addressing "The Handmaid's Tale" writers inside their Sherman Oaks offices on a weekday in late November.

"It's like, you pull on the chain and the weakest link breaks and it isn't who you think it's going to be," Miller continues.

It's just after 10 a.m., and the team is working on the eighth episode of the current season. Titled "Unfit" and written by Kira Snyder, the episode picks up after the death of Frances, a housekeeper whom the series' heroine, June (played by Elisabeth Moss), had pressured into arranging a visit with her daughter Hannah. Another handmaid named Ofmatthew, having witnessed the exchange, reports the matter to Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) — leading to Frances' hanging.

1800 by Yvonne Villarreal in Sherman Oaks, Calif. MOVED

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^TV-QUESTIONS:MCT—<Television Q&A: Was there supposed to be more of 'The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp'?

750 by Rich Heldenfels. MOVED

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^VID-NEWONDVD:MCT—<New on DVD: Action-filled 'Shazam!,' 'Space: 1999' top releases

650 by Rick Bentley. MOVED

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^TV-REMOTE-ADV14:CC—<Around the remote: Chuck Barney's TV and streaming picks for July 14-20

550 by Chuck Barney. MOVED

^POKER COLUMN<

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^POKER-ADV:TB—<Sunday release—Poker column.

(EDITORS: Column sold separately; not included in your News Service subscription.)

900. (Moving later.)

^TCA VIDEO NETWORK <

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