Chris Evans Goes All Captain America On Trump During Biden Fundraiser

Who besides Thanos could get the Avengers to assemble together? Well, apparently there’s one person.

The Avengers took on President Donald Trump on Tuesday in a fundraiser for Democratic nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris — with the “fate of the universe once again on the line,” as “Avengers” director Anthony Russo said in his opening remarks.

The virtual event, called “Voters Assemble,” included Chris Evans, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana and “Avengers” directors Joe and Anthony Russo as well as California Sen. Harris.

Early on in the conversation, the cast asked one another questions sent in by fans, with Evans tackling a question about how playing Captain America affected his personal life and his role in politics. 

The actor first downplayed the idea that he had any role in politics — again, he said this while at a virtual fundraiser for Biden — but got candid when pushed by his cast mates.

“It’s tough right now because I have strong political opinions, but what I see happening right now, as I’m sure we all see it happening, is that we’re just such a divided country,” he said. “And not to start throwing bombs this early in this thing, but I think the fish rots from the head down, and I think we certainly have someone who is actively trying to divide us, so my involvement in politics these days is more about trying to just get people engaged.”

Shortly after, Harris joined the chat and added to Evans’ comments while comparing the presidential election to the Marvel superhero films.

“Chris, I heard you talking before I came on, right? And I couldn’t agree with you more about the fish, by the way. But the importance of honor and courage and unity and those being some of the, I think, guiding principals among many in the ‘Avengers’ series, right?” Harris said, adding, “Joe and I, of course, are committed to honoring the dignity of work, protecting the most vulnerable, respecting science and truth in the White House, and of course we all know honor and decency matters, and it matters whether you are saving the universe from Thanos or fighting for the soul of our nation, but the integrity that should come and be in any leader in terms of valuing that principal I think is very important.”

Harris also went on to talk about the Avengers coming together at the end of “Endgame” to take down supervillain Thanos, saying there’s “symmetry” around that and this current moment.

“That was about the fate of the universe and he held the fate of the universe in his hand and right now we are looking at somebody who is denying science,” Harris said, later wrapping up her statement by adding, “I guess if the Avengers can assemble from across the galaxy, then the American people can get together from wherever we are, whoever we voted for in the last election and whatever language our grandmother spoke and come together to get our country on the right track.”

If you think comparing Trump to Thanos — a villain who wiped out half the life in the universe — is a little much, just remember Trump’s own campaign already made that comparison. So as Thanos might say, it’s “inevitable.”

Other highlights from the event included an appearance by Robert Downey Jr.:

Some super-powered trivia:

And Harris echoing Captain America:

Tony Lewis, Lead Singer Of The Outfield, Dead At 62

The Outfield frontman Tony Lewis, whose distinctive high-pitched vocals can be heard on ’80s classics like “All The Love,” “Say It Isn’t So,” and the enduring smash “Your Love,” has died, according to a statement released Tuesday morning by his publicist, Bari Lieberman.

He was 62.

Lewis is the second founding member of the powerpop band to pass away, following primary songwriter John Spinks’s death from liver cancer at age 60. The cause of Lewis’s death was not revealed at press time.

“It is with deep sadness and sorrow to report that Tony Lewis, singer of the ’80s rock band the Outfield, suddenly and unexpectedly passed away yesterday, October 19th, at the age of 62 near London, England. Tony’s music touched people around the globe for decades,” read Lieberman’s statement. “Lewis and the late John Spinks took the ’80s by storm with the Outfield’s infectious pop songs, including ‘Your Love,’ ‘All the Love’, and ‘Say It Isn’t So.’ ’Your Love” reached No. 6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1986 and is still widely known today, with features in various TV spots and commercials, gaining millions of streams each month.

“Tony Lewis’s legacy will live on forever through his beautiful family and his legendary music. The family requests their privacy during this difficult time.”

Lewis was born Dec. 21, 1957 in London’s working-class East End neighborhood, and he formed the prog-rock group Sirius B with friend Spinks when they were teenagers. Although that band broke up in the early ’80s, eventually Lewis and Spinks reconnected and formed the Baseball Boys, who later changed their name to the Outfield.

Upon its release in 1985, the Outfield’s debut album, Play Deep, was a hit, although the band enjoyed much more success in the U.S. than they ever did in their native Britain, where they remained relatively unknown.

Play Deep sold 3 million copies and went to No. 9 on the Billboard 200 in the States, largely on the strength of “Your Love.”

That song has since been covered or sampled more than 1,000 times, notably by Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, B.o.B, Less Than Jake, Wyclef Jean, Lloyd, and Morgan Page, and it was also the inspiration for a memorable Saturday Night Live skit featuring a cameo by HAIM.

Three other tracks from Play Deep, “Say It Isn’t So,” “All the Love,” and “Everytime You Cry,” also cracked the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100.

The Outfield released five more albums at a sporadic pace — 1989’s Voices of Babylon, 1990’s Diamond Days, 1992’s Rockeye, 2004’s Anytime Now, and 2011’s Replay — but when Spinks died in 2014, Lewis took a hiatus from his career to mourn.

He eventually returned to music, collaborating with his wife Carol on the 2018 solo album Out of the Darkness and reforming the Outfield to play various ’80s-nostalgia package tours. He released an EP earlier this year, Unplugged – The Acoustic Sessions.

Lewis is survived by his wife of 35 years, Carol, his two daughters Gemma and Rosie, and three grandchildren.

Kanye West ‘Praying’ For Issa Rae After He Slams Her ‘SNL’ Sketch Mocking His Candidacy

West slammed the comedy show for using “Black people to hold other Black people back.” He has appeared on “Saturday Night Live” six times.

In one of the sketches, “Insecure” star Issa Rae, who hosted “SNL,” played an NAACP lawyer who explained that her voting strategy was to back “everybody Black” — no matter what. But when it came to voting for West to be president, she snapped: “F him.” (Check out the video above.)

The sketch was a send-up of Rae’s comments at the 2017 Emmy Awards that she was “rooting for everybody Black.” Kenan Thompson and Ego Nwodim were also part of the sketch that featured faux talk show “Your Voice Chicago.” 

In another bit on “Weekend Update,” co-anchor Michael Che characterized West as a possible election spoiler — but only because the other options are so weak

West said that he would be “praying” for Rae and her family in his tweet attacking her sketch, and, oddly, tweeted her Google profile, which is in Spanish. He didn’t mention Che.

He also complimented himself and his “20 years of service … in the entertainment field” for furthering “our ability to be more successful.”

Neither Rae nor “Saturday Night Live” has responded to West.

West, who has been an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump, announced in July that he was running for president as an independent or on his “Birthday Party” ticket.

His action is seen by many as a spoiler strategy to lure just enough votes from Democrats to give Trump a boost. At least two people with deep ties to West’s campaign were delegates at the Republican National Convention, New York Magazine has reported.

GOP lawyers and activists have also battled in court to get the artist on ballots, according to Vice.

West is currently on the ballot in at least 11 states as a presidential or vice-presidential candidate.

Last week, West promoted fake poll results from Kentucky claiming that he was leading the race in the state. Twitter marked it “manipulated media.” “Get the West Wing ready!” he crowed on the video he tweeted. It’s still on his page.

When West was last on “SNL” two years ago, he infuriated some cast members when he went on a conspiracy-riddled political rant supporting Trump as the credits were rolling and continued after the program went off the air.

Several responses to his tweet about Rae were critical, particularly about his apparent claim that he is somehow responsible for the actress’s success because of all his years of “service” in the entertainment industry.

Here’s the section of “Weekend Update” that includes Che’s bit on West’s candidacy:

‘Cheer’ Star Jerry Harris Asks For Jail Release Before Trial

CHICAGO (AP) — A judge said Wednesday that she will decide soon whether to allow Jerry Harris, a star of the Netflix documentary series “Cheer,” to be released from jail and placed on home confinement while he awaits trial on child pornography charges.

The issue before U.S. District Judge Heather McShain is whether she believes a plan to release Harris that includes around-the-clock monitoring will be enough to prevent him from victimizing young boys.

A motion from Harris’ attorneys filed ahead of a court hearing Wednesday argues that the mental health treatment that the 21-year-old suburban Chicago man needs is not available in federal jail. The document also said that Harris has asthma, which puts him at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

The judge did not say when she would issue her ruling, only that it would be soon.

Jerry Harris attends the Build Series to discuss "Cheer" on Jan. 29, 2020 in New York City. 



Jim Spellman via Getty Images

Jerry Harris attends the Build Series to discuss “Cheer” on Jan. 29, 2020 in New York City. 

At the 90-minute hearing, Todd Pugh, one of Harris’ attorneys told the judge that third-party monitors would make sure Harris doesn’t use the devices that he allegedly used to coerce young boys into sending him obscene photographs.

The four women who would take turn monitoring Harris assured the judge that they would turn him in if he tried to use a cellphone or other electronic device.

A prosecutor argued that it would be impossible to prevent Harris from acting on his “criminal impulses.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Parente noted that after Harris learned he was under investigation, he destroyed his cellphone and used another phone to seek photos from children.

“His dangerousness is his ability to access the internet (and) there’s no ankle bracelet for cellphones,” Parente said.

Allegations against Harris surfaced last month when twin boys who are now 14 years old filed a lawsuit alleging that he had sent them sexually explicit photographs of himself and cornered one of them in a bathroom and begged for oral sex.

Jerry Harris (R) attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Feb. 9 in Beverly Hills. 



Frazer Harrison via Getty Images

Jerry Harris (R) attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Feb. 9 in Beverly Hills. 

Later that week, Harris, who lives in Naperville, was arrested and charged with producing child pornography.

According to the criminal complaint, Harris admitted to FBI agents that he had asked one of the teens to send him photos and videos the boy’s genitals and buttocks via Snapchat.

He also admitted to requesting and receiving photographs of 10 to 15 other children, according to the complaint.

Demi Lovato Takes Direct Shot At Trump In Political Ballad ‘Commander In Chief’

With one toxic man in her rearview mirror, Demi Lovato is now shifting her focus to President Donald Trump

The singer dropped a politically charged diss track “Commander In Chief” on Tuesday night, unleashing her anger over the president’s mishandling of COVID-19 pandemic, among other crises ahead of the election. 

“You can’t get enough of shutting down systems for personal gain / Fighting fires with liars and praying for rain,” Lovato sings in an early verse of the song, which she co-wrote with Finneas, Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter. “Do you get off on pain? We’re not pawns in your game.”

She directly addresses the president in the track’s razor-sharp chorus:

“We’re in a state of crisis, people are dying / While you line your pockets deep / Commander in Chief, how does it feel to still be able to breathe?” she sings.

The pop star also spotlights the cries for racial justice in the song, hailing the generation that “won’t give up” and will “stand our ground” in the fight for equality. 

“We’ll be in the streets while you’re bunkering down,” Lovato continues. “Loud and proud, best believe / We’ll still take a knee.”

Lovato, a Disney Channel alum who has been outspoken about her political beliefs, said the song was born out of a desire ― however unrealistic ― to reach Trump. 

“There’s been so many times that I’ve wanted to write the president a letter or sit down with him and ask him these questions,” she told CNN. “And then I thought, I don’t really actually want to do that and I thought one way that I could do that is writing a song and releasing it for the whole world to hear, and then he has to answer those questions to everyone and not just me.”

While Lovato hopes the song’s message will appeal to both Republicans and Democrats, she’s already fielded some flack on social media.

In a comment Lovato reposted on her Instagram stories, one fan complained “they can’t listen to you anymore” because the song is “going too far.”

Lovato responded to the disappointed follower: 



Instagram

“You do understand as a celebrity I have a right to political views as well?” she wrote. “Or did you forget that we aren’t just around to entertain people for our entire lives … that we are citizens of the same country and we are humans with opinions as well?”

“I literally don’t care if this ruins my career,” she continued. “This isn’t about that. My career isn’t about that. I made a piece of art that stands for something I believe in. And I’m putting it out even at the risk of losing fans.”

Lovato is set to release an accompanying music video on Wednesday. She’s shared clips of what fans can expect, showing people of all races, genders and political affiliations ― even a man wearing a MAGA hat ― singing along to the song’s lyrics.

Last month, Lovato released the breakup anthem “Still Have Me,” which fans believed to be her official response to her split with Max Ehrich after a two-month engagement.

She’s set to perform “Commander In Chief” for the first time live at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, which will air Wednesday on NBC. 

Whitey Ford, Yankees Pitching Legend, Dies At 91

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y. (AP) — Whitey Ford, the street-smart New Yorker who had the best winning percentage of any pitcher in the 20th century and helped the Yankees become baseball’s perennial champions in the 1950s and ’60s, has died. He was 91.

A family member told The Associated Press on Friday that Ford died at his Long Island home Thursday night. The cause was not known.

Nicknamed the “Chairman of the Board,” Ford was a wily left-hander who pitched from 1950-67 in the major leagues, all with the Yankees. He was among the most dependable pitchers in baseball history.

He won 236 games and lost just 106, a winning percentage of .690. He would help symbolize the almost machinelike efficiency of the Yankees in the mid-20th century, when only twice between Ford’s rookie year and 1964 did they fail to make the postseason.

Former New York Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford waves to fans from outside the dugout at the Yankees' annual Old Timers Day baseb



AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Former New York Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford waves to fans from outside the dugout at the Yankees’ annual Old Timers Day baseball game in 2016 in New York.

Ford’s death is the latest this year of a number of baseball greats: Al Kaline, Tom Seaver, Lou Brock and Bob Gibson.

The World Series record book is crowded with Ford’s accomplishments. His string of 33 consecutive scoreless innings from 1960-62 broke a record of 29 2-3 innings set by Babe Ruth. Ford still holds records for World Series games and starts (22), innings pitched (146), wins (10) and strikeouts (94).

Ford was in his mid-20s when he became the go-to guy in manager Casey Stengel’s rotation, the pitcher Stengel said he would always turn to if he absolutely needed to win one game. Ford was Stengel’s choice to pitch World Series openers eight times, another record.

Ford’s best seasons came in 1961 and 1963, in the midst of a stretch of five straight AL pennants for the Yankees, when new manager Ralph Houk began using a 4-man rotation instead of 5. Ford led the league in victories with 25 in 1961, won the Cy Young Award and was the World Series MVP after winning two more games against Cincinnati. In 1963, he went 24-7, again leading the league in wins. Eight of his victories that season came in June.

He also led the AL in earned run average in 1956 (2.47) and 1958 (2.01) and was a six-time All-Star selection.

Ford did have his World Series disappointments. He spoke bitterly of the 1960 championship, when he shut out Pittsburgh twice but was used by Stengel in Game 3 and Game 6 and so was unavailable for the finale, won 10-9 by the Pirates after a Bill Mazeroski home run in the bottom of the ninth. In 1963, Ford was outmatched twice by Sandy Koufax as the Los Angeles Dodgers swept the Yankees.

When Will Concerts Return? Experts Weigh In.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve taken restaurant dining outside, replaced international travel with national park road trips and put work meetings that still probably should’ve been emails on Zoom.

But one experience that seems almost impossible to imagine in our new reality is the traditional live music show. While virtual concerts can provide great joy and entertainment, fans have lamented that they don’t capture the true feeling of an IRL show.

But when will we get the real deal again? HuffPost asked health experts to share their thoughts on the concert experience in time of coronavirus and their predictions for the future of live music.

Concerts are particularly risky in this pandemic.

While we’ve figured out relatively safe ways to bring back pre-pandemic activities like restaurant dining, concerts pose many more challenges in the coronavirus era.

“Concerts bring together some of the highest-risk behaviors for COVID-19 transmission,” said Brian Labus, a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ School of Public Health. “We have large groups of people standing in close contact for an extended period of time while singing and cheering. Plus they would need to keep removing their masks to smoke or drink a beer. If we try to change these things, we would really change the entire concert experience.”

“The social aspect of traditional live music concerts makes it difficult to transition to a scenario where concertgoers are asked to enjoy the music in a socially distanced setting.”

– Dr. Kristin Dean, board-certified physician and medical director at Doctor on Demand

As large gatherings, traditional concerts are by nature potential superspreader events. The lack of personal space and constant flow of respiratory droplets as people sing or speak loudly to each other make most music shows a prime location for virus transmission.

“Enjoying live music with friends has begun to feel like a remnant of a better time as the impacts of a global pandemic continue to change the way we interact with the world,” said Dr. Kristin Dean, a board-certified physician and medical director at the telemedicine service Doctor on Demand. “The social aspect of traditional live music concerts makes it difficult to transition to a scenario where concertgoers are asked to enjoy the music in a socially distanced setting.”

She noted that attempts to hold live shows with (and without) social distancing, masks and additional precautions have sparked controversy and led to questions around how to move forward while remaining safe.

In August, German researchers conducted an experiment that aimed to answer those questions. To study the spread of the novel coronavirus in a concert setting, they outfitted about 1,500 people with tracking devices and fluorescent hand sanitizer. Participants then attended three simulations of a concert ― one as if there were no pandemic, one with moderate restrictions and one with more strict safety measures.

While the results have not yet been published, the study has already faced criticism for the risks involved in the experiment and questions about its accuracy given participants were not permitted to drink. Still, the findings could offer helpful insights into the possibilities for live music going forward.

Participants in the German concert study watched singer Tim Bendzko perform at an indoor arena in Leipzig on Aug. 22.

Sean Gallup via Getty Images

Participants in the German concert study watched singer Tim Bendzko perform at an indoor arena in Leipzig on Aug. 22.

We’ll need to have the virus under control first.

The experts who spoke to HuffPost were in agreement that the virus must be much more under control before we can bring back the concert experience. Most pointed to the need for a very low level of coronavirus transmission in communities, which is best reached through a widely deployed vaccine.

“For concerts to be as safe as possible, you’d need to have herd immunity established,” said Dr. Kim Kilby, a family and preventative medicine physician and senior leader at MVP Health Care. “To achieve this, experts have suggested that 75% of the population must either have received the vaccine or survived the infection.”

The U.S. is nowhere near the point of herd immunity, and to try to reach that level without a vaccine could cost millions of lives, overwhelm hospitals, further harm the economy and lead to a number of long-term health challenges for those who survive severe cases.

There are multiple vaccine candidates that look promising, but the CDC has said they won’t be widely available until mid-2021. Thus, many artists and venues have already moved their concerts to dates next summer, and they may have to push them again as the year unfolds.

“No large gatherings such as concerts should be held at least till the middle or end of next year,” said Jagdish Khubchandani, a professor of public health at New Mexico State University. “Concerts are not essential, and people should find alternate ways of entertainment … The pandemic won’t last forever, but the more we engage in events like concerts, there will be prolonged recovery from the pandemic.”

A vaccine will be a big help, but not the total solution.

“It is difficult to anticipate when or even if we will return to the traditional live concert setting that we were accustomed to prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dean. “Vaccinations, immunity and decreased spread of the virus may result in a safer environment to consider returning to concertgoing as we knew it, but it is too early to tell.”

Even if we reach the herd immunity threshold in the next year or so, traditional concerts may still pose a risk to many, as the virus will not simply “disappear.” As a result, venues will likely need to take precautions to protect concertgoers’ health, and some music fans may still be hesitant to attend a big show.

“It would be a better situation if we had vaccines, but realistically we may have to have a hybrid of recommendations,” said Dr. Jake Deutsch, a physician and founder of Cure Urgent Care. He emphasized the need for venue safety measures and rapid testing in addition to greater immunity.

“Testing being readily available, accurate, cost-effective, and providing rapid results can also facilitate the return of traditional concerts,” noted Dr. Sachin Nagrani, a physician and medical director for the telemedicine and house call provider Heal.

Outdoor concerts will resume before indoor shows.

“Outdoor events will return sooner given the lower risk of transmission of the virus when outdoors due to easier ability to distance, naturally high ventilation and sunlight sanitizing outdoor surfaces,” said Nagrani.

Indeed, concert organizers have already been testing out new outdoor music experiences amid the pandemic. In August, English artist Sam Fender performed for 2,500 fans at the Virgin Money Unity Arena ― “the U.K.’s first socially distanced music venue.”

Sam Fender was the first to perform at the Virgin Money Unity Arena in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Ian Forsyth via Getty Images

Sam Fender was the first to perform at the Virgin Money Unity Arena in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

The setup featured spaced-out private platforms, food and drink delivery and strict distancing rules. Six weeks after the venue opened, however, new COVID-19 restrictions to address rising case counts forced it to shut down.

Although outdoor concerts may be a good first step in the return of live music events, changing seasons and everyday weather conditions can be limiting. Keeping people spaced apart is also not necessarily easier outside.

A Hamptons fundraiser concert featuring the Chainsmokers came under fire in July after photos and videos from the event showed “egregious social distancing violations.”

Masks will be part of the equation for a while.

While the prospect of an effective COVID-19 vaccine looks promising, health experts have made it clear that it won’t completely shield everyone from the disease. Therefore, face masks will still be an important part of our lives, especially in high-risk situations like large public gatherings.

“People need to understand that even as the vaccine is rolled out, we will need to continue to wear masks and physically distance to prevent spread of coronavirus,” said Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious diseases physician and vice chair of the IDSA Global Health Committee.

Mask-wearing will be part of the concert experience of the future, at least for little while, as will other important restrictions, Dean noted.

“The same safety measures we recommend for reducing the spread of COVID-19 apply to live music shows, including social distancing, wearing a mask, frequent hand-washing, disinfecting communal surfaces prior to use and remaining home while you are sick or if you have had a known exposure to COVID-19 within the past 14 days,” she said.

Expect more checkpoints.

Just as we’ve seen restaurants do temperature checks before allowing patrons to dine, music venues will likely implement similar measures as concertgoers arrive at shows.

“While those checks will not be the only safety installments into the concert experience, we can reasonably expect that temperature checks, questionaries and other protections might be built into concerts in the future,” said Kilby.

Concert organizers will have to monitor the spread of the virus in the community and surrounding areas where attendees may travel from. As rapid testing becomes more widely available, venues could also require proof of a negative result.

“The reduced capacity will make it difficult, or even impossible, for the bands and promoters to break even.”

– Labus

“Point-of-care testing to get done in the moment when they arrive would be a game-changer,” noted Deutsch.

If there are going to be more checkpoints, however, he believes venues need to rethink the ways they funnel attendees into the space to allow for social distancing. Touchless technological solutions and sanitizer stations at entry and exit points are obvious additions as well.

Organizers will need to reduce crowding.

As in-person concerts resume, organizers will likely have to limit the number of attendees to allow for social distancing. Still, Labus noted, that’s not enough to prevent crowding.

“It’s not just about reduced capacity, we have to reduce the density of the crowds as well,” he said. “Even if you only allow 10% of the venue’s capacity, those people will all crowd near the stage unless you have assigned seating that keeps them apart. That means having small crowds spread out in large venues, which would drastically change the concert experience.”

Venues with built-in seating may be at an advantage, but other spaces can of course add chairs or other mechanisms to ensure proper spacing.

“I do think that outdoor venues will return before indoor ones,” Kuppalli said. “I would also think smaller venues would be more likely, and places with assigned seating like the Hollywood Bowl would be preferential ― this way you can have people appropriately distance and wear masks.”

The Chainsmokers performed at a "Safe & Sound" drive-in concert fundraiser on July 25 in Water Mill, New York. The event sparked outrage and a state investigation due to apparent public health violations.

Kevin Mazur via Getty Images

The Chainsmokers performed at a “Safe & Sound” drive-in concert fundraiser on July 25 in Water Mill, New York. The event sparked outrage and a state investigation due to apparent public health violations.

Artists and venues will continue to face challenges.

It’s no secret the concert industry is struggling in 2020, and a vaccine or gradual resumption of live shows will not cover the financial losses wrought by the pandemic.

“The reduced capacity will make it difficult, or even impossible, for the bands and promoters to break even,” said Labus. “Given the logistical challenges of mounting national tours, I would expect to see smaller acts in smaller venues before we see the return of large arena shows.”

In a recent survey of about 1,350 live industry professionals, more than 72% expressed “concern about their company’s ability to survive COVID-19.” A similar number said they do not believe the government “has given proper consideration to the plight of the sports and live entertainment industry as compared to other impacted industries such as airlines, hotels, restaurants/retail.”

It’s important for music fans to support their favorite artists and venues as they navigate this new reality, whether that means donating to relief funds, buying tickets to virtual events or spreading awareness.

“There are options to enjoy concerts right now, such as online or drive-in performances,” said Nagrani. “I highly encourage supporting your favorite artists and venues via the available options given our current constraints.”

Virtual concerts and viewings of pre-recorded shows have their own entertainment value, but as Kilby noted, it’s not quite the same as the powerful live experience.

“We can expect that the concert experience will be different going forward, and innovative artists are already trying new ways of engaging fans,” she said. “Throughout the pandemic, drive-in concerts have gained in popularity as an alternative to traditional concerts, but they are not accessible everywhere. They also don’t allow for the same experience or sound quality that a traditional in-person concert would have.”

While there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the concert experience in the age of COVID-19, one thing we know for sure is that it’s going to take some time for the industry to recover.

As Khubchandani emphasized, “We have to be patient.”

Kristen Stewart On The Most Intimidating Part Of Portraying Princess Diana

Kristen Stewart is feeing the weight of portraying one of the most iconic figures of our time: the late Princess Diana.

The “Twilight” actor will take on the role of the former Lady Diana Spencer in the upcoming biopic “Spencer,” which starts production in January 2021. 

The film takes place over a three-day period in which the Princess of Wales realizes that her marriage to Prince Charles isn’t working, according to Deadline. “Spencer” is set at the Sandringham Estate, which is where the British royal family spends the Christmas holiday. 

Stewart finds elements of the role particularly intimidating, she told InStyle magazine, for which she is the November 2020 cover star.

“The accent is intimidating as all hell because people know that voice, and it’s so, so distinct and particular,” the actor revealed. “I’m working on it now and already have my dialect coach.” 

She added: “In terms of research, I’ve gotten through two and a half biographies, and I’m finishing all the material before I actually go make the movie,” most likely referencing Tina Brown’s 2007 biography, “The Diana Chronicles,” and Andrew Morton’s 1992 tome, “Diana: Her True Story.” Morton revealed after Diana’s 1997 death that the princess was one of the main sources for the book. 

All in all, Stewart said that she wants to know the late princess “implicitly” and to do her story justice.

“It’s one of the saddest stories to exist ever, and I don’t want to just play Diana — I want to know her implicitly,” she said. “I haven’t been this excited about playing a part, by the way, in so long.”  

“Spencer” director Pablo Larraín is equally excited for Stewart to take on the role. Stewart “is one of the great actors around today” and “can be very mysterious and very fragile [and] ultimately very strong as well,” he told Deadline in June.

“The way she responded to the script and how she is approaching the character, it’s very beautiful to see,” Larraín added. “I think she’s going to do something stunning and intriguing at the same time. She is this force of nature.” 

Oliver Jackson-Cohen On Returning For ‘The Haunting Of Bly Manor’

Viewers have come to know that it’s never a good thing when the protagonists of a horror story play a round of hide and seek, at night, in a haunted house. Yet that’s exactly how creator Mike Flanagan gets the night terrors going in the opening episodes of “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” the highly anticipated follow-up to his 2018 Halloween season hit “The Haunting of Hill House.”

“We’ll be back in our beds before too long, right? We can’t be out of our rooms too late,” a pajama-clad little girl tells her new au pair before peering down at a faceless doll lying underneath her dresser. 

“We won’t,” the caregiver assures her. 

“Bly Manor” is a retelling of Henry James’ 1898 novella “The Turn of the Screw” about a nanny who comes to care for two orphaned children in their English country house. Flanagan’s version takes place in 1980s England and follows a young American woman, Dani (Season 1 returnee Victoria Pedretti), who is hired by Henry Wingrave (fellow returnee Henry Thomas) to care for his niece and nephew, Miles and Flora (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Amelie Bea Smith), following the tragic death of their previous au pair, Miss Jessel (Tahirah Sharif). 

Once at the house, Dani meets housekeeper Hannah (T’Nia Miller), chef Owen (Rahul Kohli) and groundskeeper Jamie (Amelia Eve), who help look after the children as Henry keeps his distance from the estate. Henry’s assistant Peter Quint, played by Season 1 standout Oliver Jackson-Cohen, checks in on the group from time to time, but brings with him an off-putting disposition. The characters’ worlds collide through grief and fear as the mysteries of the house unravel around them.

“It’s a story that resonates. It’s profound,” Jackson-Cohen told HuffPost during a recent interview about the second season. “There’s a huge amount of pressure on all of us to deliver something that not only elicits the same response as ‘Hill House,’ but that is also going to have something to say and strike something in someone so they can see themselves, in a way, represented.” 

“It’s a story that resonates. It’s profound,” actor Oliver Jackson-Cohen, who stars in both Seas



EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX

“It’s a story that resonates. It’s profound,” actor Oliver Jackson-Cohen, who stars in both Season 1 and 2 of “The Haunting” series, told HuffPost.

“Hill House” was lauded for its jump scares as well as its rumination on trauma and the familial demons that follow us through life. It is loosely based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson and follows the Crain siblings ― Steve (Michiel Huisman), Shirley (Elizabeth Reaser), Theo (Kate Siegel), Luke (Jackson-Cohen) and Nell (Pedretti) ― whose paranormal experiences at their former home continue to haunt them in the present day. Jackson-Cohen exquisitely played Luke, who battles a drug addiction while trying to push down the painful memories of his past.

“If you take away the ghosts, if you take away the haunted house, ‘Hill House’ is dealing with childhood trauma. None of us get out of childhood scot-free and so it became sort of a universal thing that everyone seemed to feel,” Jackson-Cohen said. “The fact that Mike Flanagan used ghosts as symbols for our past, I don’t think that’s anything I’ve necessarily seen before. He’s able to tell a horror story about mental health, grief, loss and addiction and there’s something quite powerful in that.” 

Most critics praised the series, with The New York Times saying it “marries the terrors of a ghost story with an intricate, multigenerational family drama.” Some called it a slow burn, others deemed it “essential viewing.” Fans, however, were enraptured by every twist and turn, especially if it had anything to do with the dreaded “bent-neck lady.” 

“I had never read anything quite like it,” Jackson-Cohen said of the “Hill House” script. The English actor also recently starred in “The Invisible Man” opposite Elisabeth Moss and admitted that, although he could be seen as a “scream queen,” it’s the original storytelling within the horror genre that reels him in.

“The characters in this genre have been some of the most fascinating to play,” he said. “With ‘The Invisible Man,’ Leigh [Whannell] had written such an incredible story about gaslighting and about how we treat women when they speak up. And what Mike is doing with the genre is something that I don’t think broad audiences have seen before. The fact that he is giving these characters so much complexity and so much depth and so many colors is a really engaging experience.”

“Luke Crain, for me personally, was a really important character because there was so much of myself that I was able to give to him through my own experiences,” he continued. “And similarly with Peter Quint, Mike writes these incredibly complex, deeply troubled men. I do feel very fortunate that I managed to play both of them, really.”

Victoria Pedretti and Oliver Jackson-Cohen in 2018's "The Haunting of Hill House" as twins Nell and Luke Crain. 



Steve Dietl/Netflix

Victoria Pedretti and Oliver Jackson-Cohen in 2018’s “The Haunting of Hill House” as twins Nell and Luke Crain. 

Flanagan’s take on “The Haunting of Bly Manor” intrigued Jackson-Cohen as it uses psychological horror to tackle the complexity of love ― both the beautiful and dark sides. It does so through the union of a group of colleagues; colleagues who, in turn, become a united front. 

“Every single person who enters Bly Manor is from a completely different walk of life. They are strangers that are all coming together to form a family, regardless of where they’re from, regardless of color of skin, or anything like that,” Jackson-Cohen said. “This is about strangers finding each other, and that’s kind of what was happening in our worlds at the time, as well, with the new cast coming in.”

Alongside Jackson-Cohen and Pedretti is a diverse cast of characters who bring a new energy to the anthology series. Eve, Kohli and Miller are a dynamic bunch, and Smith and Ainsworth prove once again that Flanagan and his team of directors know how to get stellar performances out of child actors. 

“In ‘Hill House,’ since we were playing the adult versions, we rarely got to interact with the kids. So [for ‘Bly Manor’] it was such a joy to be on set with these minds that have these huge imaginations and have not be affected by the industry in any way,” Jackson-Cohen said. “Ben and I spent an awful lot of time together ― I don’t want to say any spoilers, but it all becomes clear when you watch the show ― and he’s just the most incredible little man. They are brilliant, brilliant kids.” 

From left: T'nia Miller as Hannah, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as Miles, Rahul Kohli as Owen, Amelie Bea Smith as Flora and Victo



EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX

From left: T’nia Miller as Hannah, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as Miles, Rahul Kohli as Owen, Amelie Bea Smith as Flora and Victoria Pedretti as Dani.

Although “Bly Manor,” at its heart, is a love story, don’t think it’s all romance and no terror. Creepiness and confusion ooze from the screen over the nine-episode season as the true threat of the estate, the Lady in the Lake, is revealed.

Jackson-Cohen said Flanagan wanted the ghosts to look completely different than they did last season and that he liked the idea that time weathers people away to where they become featureless.

“Their identity is completely lost,” the actor said. “I thought that was actually quite interesting because, again, Mike’s sort of reflecting what we feel in real life so well.”

Jackson-Cohen concluded, “Mike said to me once, ‘Every time we fall in love, we give birth to a new ghost.’ That love will follow you for the rest of your life. It was such a beautiful way of looking at it.” 

“The Haunting of Bly Manor” debuts on Netflix Oct. 9. 

‘The Boys In The Band’ Still Has A Lot To Say About Gay Men’s Lives In 2020

Depending on who you ask, the 1968 play “The Boys in the Band” is either a theatrical touchstone capturing the sentiments of gay men before the Stonewall uprising, or a stereotypical portrait that ultimately betrays the queer community.

With that controversial legacy in mind, director Joe Mantello hopes viewers will approach his film adaptation of “The Boys in the Band” as a “specific story about specific people on a specific night,” while taking into account the social advances that seemed out of reach for LGBTQ people when the play was written.

A two-time Tony Award winner, Mantello first directed “The Boys in the Band” on Broadway in 2018. Two years later, he and producer Ryan Murphy have reassembled that production’s all-gay cast ― including Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons and Zachary Quinto ― for the movie, which arrived on Netflix last week. Thanks to that powerhouse ensemble, the new “Boys” could be its most accessible incarnation yet.

“[Playwright Mart Crowley] got at certain truths about the gay identity that, even though this story is specific to a certain time in our history, tapped into something that feels very much alive today,” Mantello told HuffPost. “When you look at it from a historical perspective ― that it was the first play about gay men’s lives that had a wide, mainstream reach, and that it still resonates more than 50 years later ― that’s an incredible achievement.”

Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (front, at left) directed the new film adaptation of "The Boys in the Band," which debute



Netflix

Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (front, at left) directed the new film adaptation of “The Boys in the Band,” which debuted on Netflix last week.

Set in 1968, “Boys” follows Michael (played by Parsons), who is hosting a birthday party for his pal Harold (Quinto) at a swanky New York loft. The guests include Michael’s on-again, off-again lover Donald (Bomer), sassy decorator Emory (Robin de Jesús), and Larry (Andrew Rannells), an artist in a relationship with Hank (Tuc Watkins), who is soon to be divorced from his wife.

Things take a dramatic turn with the arrival of Michael’s former roommate, Alan (Brian Hutchison), who is married to a woman but whose sexuality is questionable. Alcohol flows, fists are thrown and insults are exchanged as the night wears on. By sunrise, each of the men will have been forced to explicitly confront their sexuality and identity.

Murphy tapped Mantello ― who is gay, and whose professional credits include the seminal queer plays “Angels in America,” “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and “The Normal Heart” ― to direct “The Boys in the Band” on Broadway for its 50th anniversary two years ago. In spite of the play’s success off-Broadway and in regional theaters across the country, it had never been produced on the Great White Way.

"The Boys in the Band" stars (from left) Tuc Watkins, Andrew Rannells, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Robin de&nbsp



Scott Everett White/Netflix

“The Boys in the Band” stars (from left) Tuc Watkins, Andrew Rannells, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Robin de Jesús, Brian Hutchison, Michael Benjamin Washington and Charlie Carver. All the actors are gay.

Together, the pair auditioned a host of actors, both gay and straight. The fact that every actor who was ultimately cast is gay, Mantello said, wasn’t an intentional decision, but rather a “happy accident.”

“We didn’t limit it to only auditioning openly gay actors,” he said. “But when it worked out that all nine of them were gay actors, obviously that informed the work. There was a kind of shorthand that they all had with one another and the subject matter.”

The Broadway production of “The Boys in the Band” earned critical praise and won a 2018 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play. True to form, Murphy was eager to repeat this success on film.

The Netflix incarnation uses Crowley’s screenplay for the 1970 film adaptation, with updates by Ned Martel, and stays remarkably true to its stage predecessor. Sadly, Crowley died in March at age 84, but not before he shot a cameo at the legendary New York gay bar Julius for the movie’s opening sequence. Mantello’s film is dedicated to the playwright’s memory.

Parsons (left) and Bomer in a scene from "The Boys in the Band."



Netflix

Parsons (left) and Bomer in a scene from “The Boys in the Band.”

Crowley “was really clear with us at the beginning that he wanted us to make our own unique version of this play. He wasn’t precious with the material,” Mantello said. “That didn’t mean he didn’t have insight or ideas to offer, but there was a generosity of spirit and trust in the process.”

To audiences accustomed to modern LGBTQ-inclusive offerings like “Love, Simon” and “Moonlight,” the film may seem dated in its specifics. But a dry history lesson it is not: Quinto and Parsons are both superbly witty and caustic, and Michael Benjamin Washington’s performance as Bernard, the night’s sole Black guest, is a revelation. Even the film’s cramped apartment party setting offers an unintentional touch of nostalgia amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though Mantello is best known for his theater work, Netflix has proven to be a worthy outlet for his talents as live performances remain off-limits due to the COVID-19 crisis. In June, he stepped back in front of the cameras to play Dick Samuels, a closeted studio executive in the Murphy-produced series “Hollywood,” a revisionist take on Tinseltown’s golden age that received four Emmy nominations.

“We didn’t limit it to only auditioning openly gay actors,” Mantello says. “But when it worked out th



Netflix

“We didn’t limit it to only auditioning openly gay actors,” Mantello says. “But when it worked out that all nine of them were gay actors, obviously that informed the work.”

Still, he’s eager to get back to his first love ― live theater ― as soon as it’s safely possible. This spring, he’d been slated to direct Laurie Metcalf and Russell Tovey in a Broadway revival of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” That production, however, closed ahead of its April opening night after just nine preview performances, making it one of Broadway’s first pandemic casualties.

“I don’t miss going to the movies, because it’s never felt like a communal experience to me, but I really miss theater,” Mantello said. But he believes his industry will persevere and even benefit from its extended closure. “I think there’ll be a re-evaluation, a newfound appreciation for the ability to watch an excellent play with extraordinary actors,” he said.

Whether Mantello’s forthcoming work materializes on stage or on screen is anybody’s guess, but either way, he vows each of his projects will come “from a place of truth.”

“I just make the things that are interesting to me,” he said. “The world will say what the world says.”