Welcome to this week’s “Just for Variety.”
It sounds like Michelle Obama will appear on the final season of “Black-ish.” After star Anthony Anderson teased the possibility when I caught up with him at the Television Academy’s pre-Emmy party for performer nominees, sources tell me that the former first lady’s appearance isn’t a done deal just yet, but they’re close to finalizing the details any day now.
— Variety (@Variety) September 18, 2021
I’m also hearing that after Keanu Reeves was seen shooting “The Matrix Resurrections” in the Bay Area, sources tell me that Warner Bros. will hold the film’s U.S. premiere in San Francisco on Dec. 18. Details, including the location, are still being worked on. The fourth installment of the sci-fi film franchise sees the return of Reeves as well as Carrie-Anne Moss. Directed and co-written by Lana Wachowski, the new cast includes Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Christina Ricci and Jonathan Groff. “The Matrix Resurrections” will be released in theaters and on HBO Max on Dec. 22.
Jessica Chastain follows her big-screen singing debut as Tammy Faye Bakker in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” by portraying Tammy Wynette in Spectrum Originals’ limited series about the country music icon’s marriage to singer George Jones (Michael Shannon). In other words, Chastain will tackle belting out Wynette’s signature anthem, “Stand by Your Man.” She’s prepping with T Bone Burnett. “There’s Tammy Wynette’s version of it, and then there’s going to be our version of it, which can be completely different,” Chastain tells me on this week’s “Just for Variety” podcast. “I don’t even know yet, but we’ve had singing rehearsals together where he’s like, ‘Sing “Stand by Your Man” and pretend you’re singing a lullaby to a baby.’ Or he’s changing the tempo and he’s trying to figure out how do we get out of any pressure of trying to make it sound just like Tammy Wynette and make it more part of our storytelling.” With Josh Brolin as a producer, I suggest Chastain hit up his stepmother, Barbra Streisand, for pointers. “Can you imagine I call him up and I’m like, ‘Hey, can you get me a singing lesson with your stepmom?’” she says. “Yeah, no, I can’t even think like that because it’ll really make me go, ‘What’s the point? Why open my mouth because I don’t sound like this goddess.’”
John Legend’s wife, Chrissy Teigen, and daughter, Luna, are no longer rooting for him on “The Voice” now that Ariana Grande has joined the show. “They are Team Ariana and not Team Legend,” Legend told me at the launch of his Sperry shoe collection at Nordstrom at The Grove. He added that Grande is “very competitive.” “She’s butting heads with all of us,” he says, laughing. “But that’s OK because we all get competitive. She’s really smart. She understands this business … and the actual singing voice so well. She passes that on to her contestants.”
Legend’s tour in support of his latest album “Bigger Love” is back on after being postponed due to the pandemic. “I missed it,” he says. “We have a lot more protocols, COVID testing every couple of days, my whole staff and crew is vaccinated. It’s all worth it. So many of the folks who work with us weren’t able to work for a long time…I’m happy that we’re able to keep people working now.”
Legend also says he’s looking for my acting gigs as well as projects to produce. He’s hoping to see a sequel to David E. Talbert’s “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey,” the Netflix movie musical he co-produced with his production company Get Lifted Film Co. “David is very busy. He’s got a lot of work from the success of ‘Jingle Jangle,’” Legend says. “We’re happy for him. Hopefully we’re going to collaborate with him on the ‘Jingle Jangle’ sequel and some other projects.”
Working with Sperry on a new footwear collection, which includes pastel colored boat shoes as well as more rugged boots, isn’t as surprising as some fans may think. “Both my mom and my dad are tailors,” Legend explains. “They’ve been making clothes since I was a kid. They used to dress us when we went to school and to church and they would do alterations for our neighbors. My dad designs hats so it kind of runs in the family.”
SIGHTINGS: Leslie Jordan reading the New York Times while having lunch at Tender Greens in West Hollywood…Delilah Belle Hamlin checking out the Versace Jeans Couture x Fred Segal line at the collection’s launch event at Fred Segal on Sunset Boulevard. For more star sightings, check out the Exposure photo gallery here.
Remember Hyde, the VIP nightclub on Sunset Boulevard? Well, a new über-exclusive spot is opening in the same location this week after Hyde closed a decade ago. Founded by Stafford Schlitt and Gunner Safron with Shyon Keoppel and Costas Charalambous, Offsunset’s soft opening has already attracted Jaden Smith, Brooklyn Beckham and Malia Obama. “Offsunset is a private bar and lounge designed for guests to truly be themselves,” Schlitt says. “With an eclectic mix of high-level DJ and entertainment programming, each night we curate our guest list to ensure attendees feel amongst friends and family, living in the moment.” Performers and DJs will never be publicized in advance, and privacy will be a top priority, Schlitt says. “Social media is prohibited.”
Congrats to Erich Bergen. The actor and singer (and virtual producer) will headline the closing night of the “TodayTix Presents Broadway at Tavern on the Green” concert series on Oct. 5. The former “Madam Secretary” star will be backed by a five-piece band and perform a playlist ranging from George Gershwin to George Michael.
“The Estate,” out on Oct. 22, is a campy guilty-pleasure-in-the-making indie starring Eliza Coupe as a woman who schemes with her stepson (newcomer Chris Baker) and a hot hitman (Greg Finley) to kill her mega-rich husband (Eric Roberts). Baker, who also wrote the screenplay, appears in various stages of undress throughout the movie. “I remember this essay that Nora Ephron wrote in which she said I would tell my younger self in my 20s and 30s to be naked every day all the time, wear a bikini every single day all the time, because that’s all I wish I would have done,” Baker (above) tells me. “I was a chubby kid, and then I got my act together and was rowing in college, so I feel like, why not? I’ll do it as much as people allow me to.” He adds, “I was ready to be naked in every scene.” There’s plenty of sex, drugs and naughty word play in the movie. And then there’s a particular subject that comes up in the end that is a total jaw-on-the-floor reveal. I’m not going to spoil it, but let’s just say it’s very taboo and pushes the envelope in a John Waters kind of way. “I wanted to make something that was really memorable,” Baker says. “I think a lot of people walk away from the movie and talk about the comedy or how colorful it is or the costumes, but they will never forget the ending. I wanted people no matter how they feel at the end of it, I wanted them to never forget it.” The cast also include “Vanderpump Rules” stars Lala Kent and Heather Matarazzo.
Check out the exclusive first look at “The Estate” trailer below:
Actor, writer and producer
Banadir Somali Restaurant
137 Arbor Vitae St., Inglewood
“I love ethnic African food. Get the goat platter. They marinate it perfectly.”