‘Wizard of Oz’ Remake In The Works

Are we off to see the wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz — again?

New Line Cinema is making a new adaptation of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” L. Frank Baum children’s novel, with Nicole Kassell, the visual architect of “Watchmen,” set to direct. Baum’s 1900 novel, now in the public domain, has spawned many adaptations over the years — most famously, of course, the 1939 MGM musical by Victor Fleming and starring Judy Garland.

Kassell’s version will not be a musical. New Line said it will be a “fresh take” and a “reimagining” of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” It will have some advantages, too, since Warner Bros. owns New Line and the 1939 film. That means it can use some trademarked elements like the ruby slippers.

“While the 1939 musical is part of my DNA, I am exhilarated and humbled by the responsibility of re-imagining such a legendary tale,” said Kassell in a statement. “The opportunity to examine the original themes — the quest for courage, love, wisdom and home — feels more timely and urgent than ever. These are profoundly iconic shoes to fill, and I am eager to dance alongside these heroes of my childhood as we pave a newly minted yellow brick road!”

Kassell is an executive producer of HBO’s “Watchmen” and directed three of its nine episodes, including the pilot. She has worked primarily in television but directed the feature films “The Woodsman” and “A Little Bit of Heaven.”

The most recent “Wizard of Oz” film came from the Walt Disney Co.’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” in 2013. Directed by Sam Raimi and starring James Franco, it was set 20 years before the events of the 1939 classic.

Rebecca Black Transforms ‘Friday’ Into a Hyperpop Symphony With Help From Big Freedia, 3OH!3 & More

Ten years ago today, the world met then-13-year-old Rebecca Black. They watched as she woke up at 7 a.m., had some cereal, waited for a bus and contemplated which seat she should take in her friend’s car. Now, Black is ready to revisit her debut and remake it into a modern pop anthem.

On Wednesday (Feb. 10), Black dropped her “Friday Remix,” a glitched-out, star-studded revision to her 2011 viral hit “Friday” on the original’s 10th anniversary. Produced by Dylan Brady of 100 Gecs and featuring new vocals from Big Freedia, 3OH!3 and Dorian Electra, the new song morphs the original’s simple pop aesthetic into a hyperpop overload.

Black’s original vocals are distorted and pitched-up to the point where they’re hardly recognizable, while Brady laces the track with a pounding bass kick and pixellated synth line to give it a fresh, modern refurbishing. Electra joins in on the fun, giving the “story” from the original a sight detour; “It’s 7:45, we’re driving on the highway/ I got this, you got this, my friend is by my right, aye,” they sing.

By the time 3OH!3 arrives to declare that they’re “sick of living through these Monday, Tuesday, Wednesdays” for the bridge, the track completely changes once again to an ethereal, synth-filled chorale. But Big Freedia quickly rips the song back into a thrumming dance rhythm, as the Queen of Bounce commands you to “Make it clap like you’re grateful/ Make it clap like you’re blessed/ Make it clap clap, dance in your backseat, ain’t nobody strapped.”

“I’d had the idea to do this remix of Friday for years leading up to now, but honestly it was also mildly insane for me to think anyone else would want to be a part of it,” Black said of the song in a statement. “As I started talking about it with other artists and producers, I couldn’t believe how stoked people were about it. I am thrilled to have some of my favorite artists (and people) as a part of this moment.”

The shocking remix comes just on the heels of yet another milestone for the viral single: On Monday, “Friday” was officially certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), meaning the single has moved more than 500,000 units.

Check out Rebecca Black’s “Friday Remix” here.

A Guide to Valentine’s Weekend Livestreams & Virtual Concerts

Valentine’s Day might not look the same this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t line up some romantic entertainment.

Below, find a lineup of livestreams and virtual concerts this weekend (Feb. 12-14), from a Boyz II Men sensual serenade to a Dashboard Confessional concert for all the “Lonely Hearts & Lovers” out there.

Boyz II Men’s Love Delivered

Looking for dinner and a show on Valentine’s Day? Look no further than “Love Delivered,” presented by DoorDash and Shake Shack, which will serve up a virtual concert by Boyz II Men to be enjoyed alongside your burger and limited-edition Berryz II Men shake. The concert will stream through Twitch as well as DoorDash’s Instagram and Facebook Live channels at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Sunday.

A Night In With Josh Groban

Let Josh Groban serenade you at this Valentine’s Day show, shot in Los Angeles and airing first Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and then playing Monday at 8 p.m. GMT. Packages for the ticketed show start at $30 and go up to $150 with an autographed show poster, and Groban promises his “most romantic songs.”

Dashboard Confessional: Lonely Hearts & Lovers

The Lonely Hearts and Lovers livestream on Sunday will be Dashboard Confessional’s first performance since frontman Chris Carrabba’s severe motorcycle accident in June 2020. The stream begins at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on Sunday and includes a range of merch to go along with the headlining set.

A Valentine’s Day Eve Special With CeeLo Green

CeeLo invites fans into his home for this Saturday night concert, with tickets starting at $9.99 and going up to $99.99 for a VIP package. The show will stream on SessionsLive.com on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

Valentine’s Day With the Harlem Gospel Choir

Tickets are $25 for the Harlem Gospel Choir concert, at New York’s Sony Hall, which will livestream on Sunday night from 7 to 8:30 p.m. ET.

Grace Potter’s Valentine’s Day Twilight Hour

Billed as a “frantic rock explosion for the lovers!,” Grace Potter will play songs from some of her earlier albums during the Sunday livestream concert, kicking off at 8 p.m. ET. Tickets are $25.

Go On a Date With Hoobastank

From TikTok to Instagram Live: Hoobastank will perform on Riot Fest’s IG Live on Friday night for a pre-Valentine’s Day virtual dinner date. Tune in to Riot Fest’s Instagram account on Friday at 8 p.m. ET to get to know Hoobastank’s Doug Robb and Dan Estrin on a more intimate level.

Seth MacFarlane Virtual Valentine’s Day Concert

Family Guy creator and crooner Seth MacFarlane will raise money for The Motion Picture & Television Fund and BrightFocus Foundation with a Virtual Valentine’s Day Concert, streaming Saturday night on Variety.com at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

Kim Kardashian Slams Critics Who Questioned North West’s Impressive Painting Skills: ‘How Dare You’

Don’t mess with Kim Kardashian, especially when it comes to her babies.

The star took to her Instagram Stories on Tuesday (Feb. 9) to shut down haters who questioned a detailed and impressive oil painting by her seven-year-old daughter North West.

“My little artist North,” Kardashian captioned a previous snap of the scenic mountain landscape North painted, clearly flaunting the artistic genes from father Kanye West. Following the post, Twitter users doubted the authenticity of the piece given North’s young age, and jokingly compared her to Bob Ross, known for painting nature scenes.

“DON’T PLAY WITH ME WHEN IT COMES TO MY CHILDREN!!!” Kardashian wrote in response to the criticism. “My daughter and her best friend have been taking a serious oil painting class where their talents and creativity are being encouraged and nurtured. North worked incredibly hard on her painting which took several weeks to complete.”

“As a proud mom, I wanted to share her work with everyone,” she continued. “I’m seeing op-ed pieces in the media and social media from grown adults breaking down whether or not my child actually painted this! How dare you see children doing awesome things and then try to accuse them of NOT being awesome!?!?!”

“Please stop embarrassing yourselves with the negativity and allow every child to be GREAT!!!” the statement concluded. “NORTH WEST PAINTED THAT PERIOTDDDDABCDEFGZFDT!!!!!!!!!”

See via a Twitter screenshot below.

Encore Live Teams with MetaMedia for Drive-In Concert Series

Encore Live is partnering with entertainment technology company MetaMedia to offer livestreamed concerts at more than 300 drive-in venues across North America in 2021. The partnership follows Encore Live’s Encore Drive-In Nights’ 2020 event series, which featured exclusive concert films from Metallica, Garth Brooks, Kane Brown, Blake Shelton and more. 

Together, Encore Drive-In Nights and MetaMedia will activate hundreds of outdoor venues to reach audiences across the country, including those who are not traditionally reached by the touring routes of music’s biggest stars.

“People will always seek new experiences and our model allows fans to enjoy live concerts and sports outside of the traditional arena setting, which will last long after we’re past this virus,” said Encore Live CEO Walter Kinzie in a release. “This partnership will enable millions of fans who generally don’t attend large live shows to safely experience some of the biggest performances on earth, live once they return.”

Using MetaMedia technology, Encore Live partnered with UFC last month to air its marquee UFC 257 event, which featured a highly-anticipated rematch between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor.

“UFC 257 was a great test case for us, proving that MetaMedia’s live-streaming content delivery technology is the best in the business regardless if a venue is in a suburban area with strong internet or rural area with limited cell reception,” added Kinzie. “We just can’t wait to kick off our 2021 season!”

According to Encore Live, more than 900,000 fans attended their drive-in performances last year between June and September. 

“During the most challenging year in modern history, Encore made it possible for hundreds of thousands of music fans to safely gather outdoors across North America to enjoy the communal experience of watching performances from the biggest stars in music,” said MetaMedia CEO Jason Brenek in a release. “MetaMedia is honored to support Encore in 2021 by expanding its entertainment programming to include live-streamed music and sports, and bring people across the world some much-needed joy and connection.”

Cynthia Erivo Performs ‘Chain of Fools’ as Aretha Franklin in ‘Genius: Aretha’ Trailer

“I’mma let that Queen thing go wherever I want it to,” Cynthia Erivo proclaims in the new trailer for Genius: Aretha on Tuesday (Feb. 9), in which the Oscar nominee takes on the role of Aretha Franklin.

The upcoming season of the National Geographic anthology series is an authorized look into the singer’s life and legendary career, and the two-minute trailer finds Erivo’s Franklin confidently shutting down doubts from industry professionals and loved ones to become the Queen of Soul. The clip also features inspiring moments with her preacher father Rev. C.L., played by Courtney B. Vance.

Erivo is heard singing the icon’s 1968 hit, “Chain of Fools,” throughout the trailer. “I’m writing a new song, it’s gonna hit you hard,” she says in a voiceover. “It will get under your skin, right down to the bone. It’s gonna be a whole new vibe that brings people together.”

Genius: Aretha will premiere over four consecutive nights on National Geographic Channel, beginning on Sunday, March 21 at 9 p.m. ET. The episodes will become available to stream on Hulu the next day.

Watch the trailer below.

Music Docs From Beastie Boys, Taylor Swift & More Are Left Off Oscars Shortlist

Not one music documentary made the shortlist of 15 films competing for best documentary (feature) at the 93rd annual Academy Awards. Among the music docs that members of the documentary branch considered, but didn’t vote for in sufficient numbers, were: Beastie Boys Story, the Taylor Swift doc Miss Americana and Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences revealed its shortlists in nine categories, including documentary (feature), on Tuesday (Feb. 9).

Beastie Boys Story, which Spike Jonze directed and co-produced, is nominated for a Grammy for best music film. The Grammy winners will be announced on March 14.

Here are the 15 shortlisted films in the documentary (feature) category:

All In: The Fight for Democracy
Boys State
Crip Camp
Dick Johnson Is Dead
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher
The Painter and the Thief
76 Days
The Truffle Hunters
Welcome to Chechnya

These 15 films were selected by members of the documentary branch from 238 films that were eligible in the category. Members of the documentary branch will also select the five nominees, which will be revealed on March 15. All Oscar voting members will vote to determine the winners, which will be announced on April 25.

Other music docs that failed to make the shortlist include Billie (about Billie Holiday), Chuck BerryCreem: America’s Only Rock n Roll Magazine, Dave Grusin: Not Enough Time, The Go-Go’s, Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind, Harry Chapin: When in Doubt, Do Something, On the Record (about a rape charge against a hip-hop mogul), Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band and Zappa (about Frank Zappa).

But there is a strong music/documentary connection this year in one respect: Four of the 15 songs that are shortlisted for best original song are from documentaries that were entered in the competition for best documentary (feature): “Turntables” from All In: The Fight for Democracy, “See What You’ve Done” from Belly of the Beast, “Never Break” from Giving Voice and “Show Me Your Soul” from Mr. Soul!.

Of these four docs, only All In: The Fight for Democracy, which looks at the history of voter suppression in the U.S., is on the shortlist for documentary (feature). A song from the film, “Turntables,” which was co-written by Janelle Monáe, Nathaniel Irvin III & George A. Peters II, is shortlisted for best original song.

Once in Oscar history, a song won best original song that was featured a doc that won documentary (feature). That happened 14 years ago when Melissa Etheridge’s “I Need to Wake Up” and the doc An Inconvenient Truth both took top honors.

Eight music-themed docs have won in the documentary (feature) category over the years — including three in the last decade: Arthur Rubinstein – The Love of Life (1969), Woodstock (1970), From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China (1980), Artie Shaw: Time Is All You’ve Got (1986), In the Shadow of the Stars (about the world of opera, 1991), Searching for Sugar Man (about mysterious 1970s rock’n’roller Rodriguez, 2012), 20 Feet from Stardom (about backup singers, 2013) and Amy (about Amy Winehouse, 2015).