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Magic Johnson Docuseries; Playing Serena Williams; Grizzly v. Ninja

Magic Johnson Docuseries; Playing Serena Williams; Grizzly v. Ninja

King Richard: What Really Happened in That John McEnroe-Pete Sampras Meeting

The Rundown

Magic Johnson gets a docuseries that should be even better than Michael Jordan’s; meet the 14-year-old playing Serena Williams in King Richard; how a 37-year-old grizzly movie starring George Clooney and Laura Dern got a second chance. All in today’s Movie News Rundown.

But First: Can you sign up for this here newsletter you’re reading, if you haven’t? It helps us.

Today in Movies-Delayed-for-37-Years News: Yesterday we brought you the story of New York Ninja, which languished incomplete for 37 years until a dedicated moviemaker cobbled together the footage to bring the story back to life. Today, the latest episode of The Industry brings you the story of Grizzy II: Revenge, which also languished incomplete for 37 years until a dedicated moviemaker cobbled together the footage to bring the story back to life. Hot damn! You can listen on Apple or Spotify or here:

Is Grizzly II: Revenge Any Good? Do you think George Clooney, Laura Dern and Charlie Sheen would have appeared in Grizzly II if it wasn’t great? Or, to phrase that differently: Do you think George Clooney and Laura Dern would have appeared in Grizzly II if it wasn’t great?

Playing Serena Williams: Margeaux Sippell has this interview with Demi Singleton, who plays Serena Williams in the upcoming film King Richard, about how Venus and Serena William’s dad led his daughters to greatness. Singleton, already a Broadway and film veteran at 14, seems destined for greatness herself.

Magic Johnson: I can remember exactly where I was the first time someone told me that Magic Johnson was HIV positive — one of the most staggering moments of a Los Angeles childhood. (High school, by the lockers.) So I’m incredibly eager to see the new Apple+ four-part series about the Lakers star’s life before and after his diagnosis, almost exactly 30 years ago. The Hollywood Reporter has details, including the news that Rick Famuyiwa (Dope) will direct.

Clarification: That Dope in parentheses refers to the name of his best-known film — not me saying “Dope!” as in “rad!,” both of which were words used by me and my ’90s high school friends that we still look ridiculous saying today. Speaking of, do you know how excited high-school me would have been to learn that Magic is still going strong in 2021 and leading a chain of great movie theaters? Dope!

The Last Dance: I’m sure the terrific, Michael Jordan-sanctioned doc about the last season of the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls helped fuel interest for the Magic Johnson doc, but to me, Johnson’s story is even more compelling. Also excited for Adam McKay’s upcoming HBO series about the ’80s and early ’90s “Showtime”-era Lakers.

Comment of the Day: Here’s Tom Peterson, commenting on our fun facts about Robert J. Oppenheimer, the father of the A-bomb who is the subject of Christopher Nolan’s next film: “Another fun fact, Oppenheimer was one of the bettors at Trinity Site (where the first atomic bomb was detonated in New Mexico). The bet: 25 cents that that bomb would ignite the atmosphere and engulf the world, destroying mankind. Why 25 cents? The winners wouldn’t be around to collect. I never heard what side of the bet he was on, but I had the good fortune to work with two of the scientists who where there – they both swore they were on the side that said it wouldn’t happen.” Caveat: I personally can’t find corroboration for this story myself. But it sounds like a great thing to put in a movie, if you happen to be reading this, Christopher Nolan.

King Richard Trailer: Does anyone else get “they’re definitely gonna give this Best Picture” vibes? It looks like exactly the kind of movie the Academy wants to celebrate and everyone I know who has seen it has loved it. Can’t wait to join them:

Main image: Will Smith, Demi Singleton and Saniyya Sidney in King Richard.


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  1. Tom Peterson says:

    Re: Oppenheimer

    Hi Tim,

    I found this link to the Department of Energy’s Manhattan Project website that talks about the bet.

    I was led astray by those scientists! I’ll never trust science again!

    According to DOE, there was some doubt about the weather clearing enough to conduct the test. So, “To break the tension, Fermi began offering anyone listening a wager on “whether or not the bomb would ignite the atmosphere, and if so, whether it would merely destroy New Mexico or destroy the world.” Oppenheimer himself had bet ten dollars against George Kistiakowsky’s entire month’s pay that the bomb would not work at all. Meanwhile, Edward Teller was making everyone nervous by applying liberal amounts of sunscreen in the pre-dawn darkness and offering to pass it around.”

    As a counterintelligence officer, I helped coordinate the Underground Nuclear Weapons Testing Orientation Program for the US Intelligence Community. We familiarized intel analysts from various agencies with the signs of weapons testing in general, and of course nukes in particular. Because it was in the Mid 80’s, quite a few of the original scientists were available to provide “color commentary” on old black and white test film.

    One surprising fact about the Manhattan Project, was that most of the scientists were actually astronomers or mechanical engineers. A nuclear bomb was the closest astronomers could get to star. Civil engineers build things, mechanical engineers blow them up. The field of nuclear physics was in its infancy.

    For me, somebody with a degree in Middle Eastern studies, it was one of the best assignments ever. I ended up writing a film for the Department of Defense about counterintelligence activities surrounding the testing program. It was actually produced and then promptly classified. It did, however, set me on the road to studying screenwriting and film production.

    Any way, I look forward to your blog posts, there is always something interesting.

    Congratulations on the newest member of your family!

    Tom Peterson
    Manager, Bachelor of Applied Science in Digital Filmmaking
    Olympic College
    Bremerton, WA

  2. Tom Peterson says:

    Re: King Richard

    Celebrate!? I expect this movie, with it’s simultaneous release on HBOMax, to not just be celebrated, but to sweep most categories causing numerous directors and producers to declare the end of film is neigh, the Academy to question if a film should be eligible if it is *simultaneously* released on a streamer, and the Television Academy to wonder if they shouldn’t bring the streamers solidly into their universe!

    I am looking forward to November 19!

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