By Wonderwall.com Editors 11:53am PDT, May 30, 2021
Kylie Jenner denies bullying claims
On May 27, Kylie Jenner denied allegations claiming she bullied an Instagram model on the set of her then-boyfriend Tyga’s music video for “Ice Cream Man.” According to TMZ, Victoria Vanna shared on her Instagram Story that she worked as a dancer on the shoot many years ago and that Kylie, along with her assistant and a friend, bullied her about her dancing skills. Victoria claims Kylie was seated “in a Rolls-Royce, eating McDonald’s” at the time. Kylie chimed in on the discussion at the end of the week, posting simply, “This never happened.”
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Kim Kardashian denies she and her kids contracted COVID-19 on infamous birthday trip
Kylie Jenner’s not the only one in her family denying claims about herself this week. Kim Kardashian West took to social media to take on fresh backlash concerning an extravagant 40th birthday trip she took last October. And this time, it involved multiple COVID-19 diagnoses. Back in October, the reality star was widely criticized for traveling with her extended family during the coronavirus pandemic, for hosting multiple nights of birthday parties at the group’s tropical getaway location and for posting about it on social media as unemployment and homelessness spiked across the country and around the world. The backlash eventually died down, but it returned this week after “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” aired footage showing Kim and two of her kids tested positive for COVID-19 last fall. BuzzFeed did some timeline crunching and quickly deduced that the positive COVID-19 tests came “roughly 10 days” after the family returned from the now infamous birthday bash. “Now, we don’t know exactly where or from whom Kim contracted the virus (it’s implied in the episode that she caught it from Saint),” BuzzFeed reported, “but we know for sure it came after she was blasted for taking a seemingly cavalier attitude to the pandemic with the big vacation.” The outlet went on to suggest the Kardashian-Jenner krewe likely kept the test news private because they were already suffering from the “PR mess of that trip.” Kim, however, disagreed with BuzzFeed’s claims. “False. Nobody caught Covid from the trip,” she tweeted on May 27, sharing a link to the BuzzFeed post. “Saint was the first to have it in our family and he caught it from school from another student who tested positive first. I then developed symptoms and got it a few days after he coughed on me while caring for him,” she added.
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Beyonce and JAY-Z may be behind the most expensive new car in history
Earlier this week, Rolls-Royce announced its bespoke coachbuilding division is back in action and ready to offer an “almost limitless” array of customizing options to its most upscale clients. The first of those clients optioned a custom, $28 million, slate blue Boat Tail convertible. Believed to be “one of the most, if not the most” expensive new cars ever sold, multiple outlets are reporting the buyers are Beyonce and JAY-Z, whose massive car collection is known to include at least one Rolls. The Boat Tail, however, is beyond being in a class of its own. Its amenities include a rear deck featuring a built-in picnic set, complete with cocktail tables, folding chairs, a parasol and a double refrigerator for high-end champagne chilling. (And as Page Six reminds us, Jay recently sold his 50 percent stake in Armand de Brignac.) “It’s thought this fantastic car has been commissioned by Beyoncé and Jay-Z with all its detailing matching their favorite things,” a car industry source tells The Telegraph. Page Six also points to the luxury car brand’s boast that the Boat Tail’s “double refrigerator houses the clients’ favorite vintages of Armand de Brignac,” and can “rapidly [cool]” the bottles “to precisely six degrees.” Its blue exterior is thought to be another possible clue, referencing Jay and Bey’s eldest daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, while its overall, yacht-inspired design could be a nod to the superyachts the couple’s been known to rent, like the $2 million-a-week one they sailed around the Croatian coast on last year. The Boat Tail also comes with his and hers “timepieces” that can be worn as watches when not being used as clocks inside the car. As for that heart-stopping price tag? Jay’s $1.4 billion net worth, combined with Beyonce’s $500 million net worth would certainly leave room for a $28 million indulgence.
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Harry Styles appears to be going into the fragrance and cosmetics biz
Over the past few years, Harry Styles’ flair for outre ensembles with feminine touches have made him one of Hollywood’s most beloved fashion plates. Now, Page Six has reason to believe the singer and actor could have his own fragrance and cosmetics lines in the works. On May 28, a fan account called @TheHarryNews noticed Harry’s listed as the director of a new company called Pleased As Holdings Limited, which was registered as a business in the U.K. earlier this week, Page Six has confirmed. The filing shows the company plans to sell fragrances and cosmetics. It also lists Emma Spring as Harry’s co-director. Emma is Harry’s longtime assistant and friend (she recently named him her child’s godfather). Page Six points out that Harry has some experience in the fragrance world, having released four perfumes with One Direction over the years.
Ariana Grande shows off new wedding ring at iHeartRadio Music Awards
Ariana Grande’s brand new wedding ring made its public debut on the iHeartRadio Music Awards on May 27. The show marked the singer’s first performance since she and Dalton Gomez said “I do” at her home in Montecito, Califrnia, earlier this month. And when she took the stage with The Weeknd to perform “Save Your Tears” from his “After Hours” album, Ari turned to face him, putting her left hand on display for the audience. E! News previously reported Dalton worked with Solow & Co jewelers to create a “platinum and diamond pavé band” that matches her pearl-centric engagement ring. A spokesperson for the jeweler said the pearl was especially meaningful for the singer, whose grandmother reportedly gave it to her after telling Ariana her grandfather said to her grandmother “in a dream” that the pearl would “protect” her, according to Page Six. It’s also Ariana’s birthstone. The Weeknd ultimately went home with some major wins, including Male Artist of the Year and Song of the Year for “Blinding Lights.”
Jenna Fischer recalls ‘sexist’ fan backlash against her ‘Office’ character, Pam
Fans of “The Office” certainly loved Pam and Jim’s love story, but did they give Pam a fair shake when it came to the rest of her life? Not so much, according to Jenna Fischer, who played Pam opposite John Krasinski’s Jim for all those years. When Jenna checked in with Angela Kinsey on this week’s “The Office Ladies” podcast, the show’s alums took a closer look at fans’ response to Pam’s Season 5 decision to relocate to New York City to pursue her art school dream. “People were not happy with Pam when this episode aired, I remember,” said Angela, who played Angela Martin on the long-running series (via People). “I just want to say that when Pam went to art school for only three months when she was not yet married and didn’t have children, people came down real hard on her because of Jim’s feelings,” Jenna added. She said there was more questionable pushback a few seasons later. “Then, when Jim invested in a business without telling Pam, and left his family, and left Pam alone to care for their two children while he chased his dreams, people came down on Pam again for not being supportive enough of Jim,” Jenna recalled. “So in both of these instances I just want to say I noticed a lot of hate for Pam. Do I want to call it sexist? I do.” Angela agreed, telling her former co-star, “Pam faced a lot of scrutiny as a character I think because she was a woman, right? That river runs deep.” Jenna concluded that the sexist response to TV storylines is likely far from over, telling Angela, “It runs deep and it’s going to run long into some future seasons.”
Billy Porter reflects on his HIV-positive reveal: ‘I’ve never felt joy like this’
Free and joyful. That’s how Billy Porter’s been feeling ever since he revealed the health secret he’s been hiding for the past 14 years. The “Pose” star, 51, recently told The Hollywood Reporter he was diagnosed as HIV-positive in 2007, explaining that he’d told almost no one, including his mother, because of a combination of shame, his religious background and a fear that his mother would suffer unnecessarily. “Having lived through the AIDS crisis, it was heavy for me,” Billy told Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” on May 27. “I lived with the shame of it for a really long time. Last week I released that shame, I released that trauma, and I am a free man,” he marveled. “I’ve never felt joy like this before,” Billy added. “We talk about it in the Black church, [how] this joy that I have, the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away. I got it. I got some joy now. It really feels good. It really feels great.” As the actor previously told THR, he has come clean with his mom, who was his main priority in keeping the diagnosis under wraps. When he finally told her, she was supportive and loving, if frustrated and concerned that he’d carried the burden alone for so long. Recalled Billy to THR: “She said, ‘You’ve been carrying this around for 14 years? Don’t ever do this again. I’m your mother, I love you no matter what. And I know I didn’t understand how to do that early on, but it’s been decades now.'”
Country crooner Jimmie Allen is a married man
ACM Award-winning country star Jimmie Allen finally got hitched to nurse Alexis Gale on May 27 after a long wedding postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic. People confirmed the singer, 34, and nurse, 25, said “I do” before loved ones and friends including Jimmie’s country music peer, Darius Rucker, and others. The happy couple, who share a 14-month-old daughter and Jimmie’s 7-year-old son from a previous relationship, got engaged back in 2019. Speaking to People around the beginning of their romance, Jimmie described how he and Alexis “had an immediate connection” as if they’d “always known each other,” in part because they were both raised in the same Delaware town of Milton. “Her smile melts me,” he gushed at the time. “Her pure heart challenges me to love better, the way she motivates and supports me is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, the way she loves me and my son is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It feels incredible to find the type of love I’ve been writing songs about all these years!”
Having transformed into Cruella de Vil for Disney’s new live-action, London punk scene-set origin story about the infamous “One Hundred and One Dalmations” villain, Emma Stone’s weighing in on which other classic villains she’d like to see return to the big screen for a backstory explanation. During a recent chat with Variety, Emma, 32, picked the evil Ursula, from “The Little Mermaid,” which hit theaters the same year Emma was born. Her reasoning? “She’s an octopus and the world you would get to live in, like Ursula’s parents and what happened there,” Emma explained. “You’ve never really seen a non-human Disney villain be explored in that way.” In “Cruella,” we learn Cruella de Vil only became, well, cruel and villainous, after experiencing more than her fair share of a trauma as a kid on the mean streets of London in the ’70s. Emma’s co-star, Emma Thompson, who plays Cruella’s nemesis, the Baroness von Hellman in the film, suggested that an octopus could have more outlandish — or ridiculous –reasons for being mean. “The parents keep giving her a shirt that only has four arms,” Thompson joked. “They really mess her up with that from a very early age, so she’s constantly trying to fit two arms into each hole. That would really mess you up, wouldn’t it?”
The radio host, Breaking Bobby Bones star and American Idol mentor and Parker tied the knot at their Nashville-area home on Saturday evening — and PEOPLE has all the exclusive details.
“We love home. We picked this place out together — that was really one of the first decisions that we made as a couple. And so she thought, ‘What if we got married here?'” Bones, 41, tells PEOPLE.
Adds Parker, 29, “It was such a big gesture for Bobby to want to get a home for us both, that had some of my touches. We got to start fresh. For me, it really wasn’t even a question. It was just — if we’re getting married in Nashville, we’re getting married at the house.”
With the help of Ninth & Everett owner and planner Josiah Carr, the couple’s backyard was transformed into the wedding venue of their dreams. Blooms from Stella Rose Floral were everywhere while a “C + B” from Alpha-Lit Nashville lit up the area. Additionally, string quartet Long live La Strings played while floating in Bones and Parker’s pool during the cocktail hour.
“Josiah has just been the best — not only planning, but also being a bit of a therapist at times for different reasons,” Bones says. “Honestly, I didn’t know the value of a wedding planner. I thought they hired a couple of people, you ate your cake and you called it a day. But he has been so great and helpful and giving in ways that I never expected him to be.”
Bones and Parker planned to forgo a first look ahead of the ceremony — “I will not see her until she’s walking down the aisle,” he tells PEOPLE — but both were looking forward to the other’s appearance as the wedding march began.
Parker was also awaiting the moment her father would hand her off to her fiancé. “I am so close with my dad and he’s just the perfect example of what a man should be to his wife and his daughters,” she says. “His blessing means a lot to me. And I just like the idea of being passed over from my favorite man in the world to my new favorite man in the world.”
After the groomsmen — including retired tennis pro Andy Roddick — walked in to The Office theme song, the couple’s two dogs, Stanley and Eller, also made their way down the aisle in bow ties and pearls — though days before the ceremony, Bones was unsure if the rambunctious pups would be able to “pull it off.” He joked, “We’re rooting for them, but it’ll be a game-time decision.”
Bones and Parker, who wrote their own vows, were married by her childhood music minister, Jeff Elkins. “I don’t have a godfather, but if I did, it would be him,” Parker says of Elkins, who’s also her childhood best friend’s dad. “He was the only option.”
For their wedding, Bones wore a custom suit with bow tie by Alton Lane, preferring to “blend in” with a classic look so Parker could “come down and own the show” in her Galia Lahav gown.
“It was probably the third dress that I tried on, and I knew it immediately. I had five girls [including bridesmaids Abby Smyers and Bobby Bones Show personality Amy Brown] with me and three of them started crying! It was the absolute opposite of what I thought that I wanted from the start — completely different,” she tells PEOPLE. “Bobby’s very superstitious about it. He doesn’t even want me to say the word ‘dress.’ He won’t look at my phone — he’s afraid a picture will pop up. He won’t go into the closet where it’s hanging, even though you can’t see it.”
Following the ceremony, guests — including country stars Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen, Chuck Wicks and radio personality Charlamagne Tha God — enjoyed a cocktail hour with apps passed on marble trays in the shape of Bones and Parker’s home states of Arkansas and Oklahoma while listening to the floating quartet White Door Events set up in the couple’s pool.
The party then moved into a tent on the property for dinner and dancing, where the pair were officially introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Bobby Estell. Pals Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney of Dan + Shay then took the stage to sing Bones and Parker’s first dance song — the Jesse and the Rippers version of The Beach Boys’ “Forever” from Full House.
Charla Storey Caitlin Parker and Bobby Bones
Other industry friends provided additional entertainment, as Gary LeVox serenaded the crowd with Rascal Flatts‘ hits “Bless the Broken Road” and “Fast Cars and Freedom” while Ronnie Dunn performed the Brooks & Dunn classic “Neon Moon” as a light-up moon was lowered from the ceiling as a surprise for the newlyweds.
Bones tells PEOPLE he was especially looking forward to the dances — both the first and last. “I know I won’t cry then,” he says of the Dan + Shay performance, but if a few tears sneak out, “I can just hide on her shoulder.” The pair planned to share a private moment at the end of the night as well. “We’re going to do a last dance when everybody’s gone,” Bones explains. “I look forward to that with no pressure.”
Bubbles & Brews Nashville provided champagne and craft beer, while Beyond Details catered the event, serving steak, crab cakes, mashed potatoes and vegetables, while Cakes + Co provided sweet treats, including Bones’ favorite Funfetti cookie dough cake that he previously had for his birthday. “They’ll be very full when they leave here,” Bones jokes of his guests.
But the couple was most excited about the evening’s send-off — a Sonic Drive-In pop-up serving everything from “put a ring on it” onion rings to Nashville hot chicken sliders to the couple’s personal concoction, the Bobby Water. (Despite the name, the drink — which features water, strawberries, cherries and Nerds — was Parker’s creation. “Bobby went on air the next day and was like, ‘So I invented this crazy thing at Sonic.’ And I caught wind of it and was furious!” she recalls with a laugh. “That might be the biggest fight we’ve ever had.”)
Bones and Parker consider the Sonic snacks the “most personal part of the night” because it reminds them of the early days of their relationship when they were figuring out their feelings for each other.
“When she was coming from Los Angeles to Nashville and I would pick her up at the airport, I would go by Sonic and get her drinks first,” Bones explains of the first few months of dating long-distance in 2019. “It was like, ‘Hey, you just flew for five hours. This is an odd thing I’m doing because I’m trying to show you how much I care about you, but I don’t really know how to express human emotions.’ So to have that as a big part of our wedding means a lot to us. It wasn’t some sort of product placement. We actually pursued them and were like, ‘Is there any way you will do this here?’ And they went above and beyond.”
After meeting through mutual friends on the West Coast, the couple dated for a few months before the pandemic hit in March 2020. Parker, who was living in California at the time, decided to travel to Tennessee to ride things out. “I came with a mindset of, ‘I’m going stay for about a week because L.A. is shut down and Nashville isn’t.’ It was just, ‘I’d rather be with my boyfriend locked in the house than by myself in L.A. locked in the house,’ so that part was easy. It was months later when I was about to graduate grad school where we had to really think about if I was going to officially make the move or continue long-distance.”
For his part, Bones “was mostly just trying to convince her to be here. I wanted her to stay the whole time. When it was time to have those conversations, I didn’t want to because I didn’t want her to even think about going back.”
Bobby Bones Wedding Caitlin Parker and Bobby Bones
By the summer, Parker had decided to stay in Nashville. “When she finally agreed to move here, I just knew I was going to propose,” Bones tells PEOPLE.
He continues, “I knew immediately that it was extremely different, even from the start. Early on, it was like, ‘I really needed to treat this delicately and invest my time and my capabilities because this is going to be for a long time.’ I wasn’t freaked out and that’s how I knew it was right. I never once went, ‘Oh God, what’s happening here?’ Mostly I was like, ‘Maybe this is what people are talking about, when you watch movies and read books.’ That’s how I knew she was the one — because I wasn’t freaking out.”
Bones proposed to Parker in the barn on their property last October, soon after they’d moved from his bachelor pad where they’d quarantined together. Parker knew accepting was the right decision.
“I had conversations with my mom growing up about when you fall in love with that right person and how you know,” she recalls. “And she always told me that it’s just not hard. You will go through a lot of things together as a couple, but that the relationship itself shouldn’t be hard. That it feels like a sense of peace washing over you. And with Bobby, that’s how it’s always been. When I’m with him, there’s such a strong sense of peace about us no matter what it is we’re going through that day. I just know he’s the one for me.”
Of course, not everything’s perfect — Parker wishes Bones would stop biting his fingernails and learn how to soak a plate (“I don’t even need you to do the dish; just put water on it before you let it crust over in the sink!”), while Bones is irritated that Parker’s “better than him” at just about everything, including time management. But he admits he needs to hear it.
“She’s the first person that actually tells me, ‘No’ or ‘You don’t need to spiral this way.’ And I’ve listened — probably not as much as she likes— but I’ve never listened, honestly ever. I get so annoyed by being told what to do, but this is actually, ‘Hey, let me help you get a little more balanced.’ I’m getting better because I see it’s for my own good.”
Bones grows introspective. “I’ve just been so alone, by myself, independent. I’m finally starting to have substance in my life. She’s constantly trying to convince me that my life is more than just what I do for a living and trying to show me that my worth is more than just what I put out on TV or on the radio,” he says. “I haven’t been much of a human. I’ve been very much a robot for all of my life until now, but I can feel small cracks in that really unhealthy frame that I used to live inside of. I’m learning.”
Hannah Hall Bobby Bones and Caitlin Parker
As talk turns to the future, both Parker and Bones say they hope to have children — and develop their own family traditions.
“We want kids. I never really had a family growing up,” Bones tells PEOPLE of his childhood burdened by poverty, an absent father and a mother (now deceased) who abused drugs and alcohol. “It’s also a growing process for me to be a better, more well-rounded human. I’m looking forward to that.”
Adds Parker: “My family is really big on traditions. Christmas Eve, we do the same thing every year, and we always go on a family vacation. I really look forward to continuing some of those with him, but also starting our own.”
But first, the honeymoon. “There’s a little motel about a mile from the house, so we’re going to go stay for a day,” Bones initially jokes, before confirming he will in fact be enjoying a brief break. “I’ve never taken two weeks off of work!”
The Breaking Bobby Bones season finale airs Sunday night at 10/9 CT on Nat Geo. For more from Bobby Bones and Caitlin Parker’s wedding, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.
This article was published online on June 21, 2021.
When I look out my window, a few floors up in New York City, I see Star Wars. Rooftop bouquets of dirty satellite dishes, jumbled architectural styles united by peeling paint, variously shaped (and largely face-masked) life-forms jostling on the sidewalk—each sign of shabby modernity feels like something I glimpsed in childhood while hypnotized by George Lucas. In the director’s 1977 space fantasy, wizards lived in what appeared to be crumbling stucco huts, and moon-size superweapons had onboard trash compactors. As a kid, I believed that Earth was just another planet in Lucas’s universe. Today, I’m still susceptible to that lovely illusion.
The Star Wars franchise offers action and escapism, but re-enchanting our own world was always its greatest trick. As Luke Skywalker rises from backwater farmhand to galactic savior over the course of the first three films, audiences gain a visceral sense of why the galaxy he lives in is worth saving. Debris-strewn sets convey that exotic planets have history and commerce. Silly-looking critters and robots carry themselves with dignity and purpose. A supernatural “Force” hums throughout the interstellar menagerie. Viewers come to feel a humanistic, or even animistic, connection. Star Wars immerses you in the awesome knowledge that peripheral things—the neighbors you don’t understand, the buildings you don’t notice—have their own sagas.
From the March 1979 issue: The man who made ‘Star Wars’
Right now, Star Wars is at a turning point. Lucas’s original vision famously inspired an era of big-budget blockbuster movies whose creators, just as famously, eventually ran out of new ideas and came to rely on sequels and spin-offs. Inevitably, Star Wars itself succumbed to that fate. After releasing a divisive trio of prequels around the turn of the millennium, in 2012 Lucas sold his franchise to Disney, Hollywood’s chief recycler of old stories. Fresh Star Wars films began to roll out in 2015. Though early acclaim and profits were impressive, creative troubles began to hurt the bottom line. In 2019, dismayed reviews and relatively soft ticket sales greeted The Rise of Skywalker, the finale of a trilogy set 30 years after the action of the first films. Around that time, Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, announced a moviemaking “hiatus” for Star Wars.
Had Lucas’s galaxy lost its power, or had its new stewards simply mismanaged it? The recent success of a remarkable Star Wars television series suggests the latter. When the streaming-TV service Disney+ launched in late 2019, it featured The Mandalorian, which picks up five years after the events of the original trilogy, and follows the adventures of a mysterious mercenary who has sworn never to take off his helmet. By the end of Season 2, a critical consensus had emerged: It was the best live-action Star Wars product to arrive since the early 1980s. Millions of viewers cooed over the short-statured enigma known to fans as Baby Yoda, who has a price on his adorable head for unknown reasons. As The Mandalorian’s laconic and lethal hero travels from one planet to the next, the sublime feeling of immersion that laced Lucas’s early movies reemerges. To watch the show and then look back at the sweep of Star Wars history is to understand where that feeling comes from—and why most of Hollywood’s hero-driven, special-effects-laden fantasies never attain it.
The plot of The Mandalorian unspools like a thin, near-invisible thread: Each week, the protagonist completes a discrete quest that unobtrusively points the way toward the next quest. The pleasure of watching lies very much in the journey and not the destination. This episodic, open-ended style of entertainment is a hallmark of dramatic TV—but it’s also very Star Wars. Soon after its initial success, the first movie was retitled Episode IV—A New Hope because Lucas wanted viewers to feel as though the film were one chapter in an ongoing Saturday-morning serial. In the new book Secrets of the Force: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Wars, by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, Lucas says this of his work on the first film: “It’s always been what you might call a good man in search of a story.”
What Lucas means is that when conceiving Star Wars, he dreamed first of visuals, concepts, and feelings—not of plot. He felt drawn to make “a movie in outer space like Flash Gordon used to be. Ray guns, running around in spaceships, shooting at each other.” He also wanted to mash up tropes from samurai films, Westerns, and spy flicks. Above all, he wanted a look and feel that prized “credibility” rather than the “clean,” sleek sci-fi of 1950s serials and 2001: A Space Odyssey. His own days working in a greasy mechanics’ shop, plus the thought of NASA’s Apollo capsule returning from the moon full of “candy wrappers and old Tang jars,” informed that vision.
Without a narrative he was burning to tell, Lucas had trouble turning such notions into a workable screenplay. He wrote multiple, overlong drafts that each radically refigured its characters, arcs, and themes. Eventually, he arrived at a relatively straightforward tale modeled on ancient legends. Lucas had been reading the work of Joseph Campbell, a literary scholar who identified a “monomyth,” with a predictable structure, occurring across cultures throughout the centuries. Star Wars would be a Chosen One story; Luke Skywalker was like King Arthur or Siddhartha Gautama. This blueprint, with its prescribed wise-mentor figures, talismanic weapons, and trusty sidekicks, helped make the mess of a script gel.
Lucas’s reverse-engineered fairy tale resonated with audiences, but Star Wars aficionados tend to overrate plot when explaining his success; books have been written about the profundity of Luke’s search for identity. In the new oral history, the critic Roy Morton articulates conventional wisdom when he argues that Lucas’s “most significant creative decision in crafting the script” was to draw from myths. Disney’s chief Star Wars executive, Kathleen Kennedy, says that “what was really important to [Lucas]—and certainly important to me—was story.” Whenever Star Wars films have faltered with audiences, commentators have blamed shoddy storytelling: the needless complexity of Lucas’s prequels, the inconsistent logic of Disney’s sequels.
Yet the hero’s journey in the original movies was always sketchy. The opening 15 minutes of A New Hope feature strikingly few recognizable human characters, and Luke Skywalker is usually the least interesting thing in any scene that follows. A lot of the film’s suspense derives more from wondering what the movie’s about—the touristic curiosity of “Where is this going?”—than from tracking clues to how Luke will fulfill his destiny. Secrets of the Force documents that the trilogy’s iconic twists, which would seem key to choreographing a monomyth, nearly weren’t filmed. In the shooting script for A New Hope, the mentor figure, Obi-Wan Kenobi, survives to the end rather than dying midway through. Some drafts of the second film, The Empire Strikes Back, don’t indicate that the evil Darth Vader is Luke’s father. Glorious though such surprises are, Lucas’s work wasn’t driven by them.
In fact, the story crescendos are compelling because they double as world-building. Learning who Darth Vader really is raises a host of tantalizing questions about the history of the galaxy (not least, how does someone become Darth Vader?). Kenobi’s early-movie references to mysterious concepts such as “the dark times”—exposition left unfinished once he dies—also spark rich intrigue. “Lucas makes movies that are intentionally designed to have holes in them that need to be filled later,” the producer Brian Volk-Weiss says in the oral history. He’s right except for one thing: Do they need to be filled in? Many a mediocre Star Wars product has arisen from trying to define every entry in the galactic glossary. The original films work precisely because of the holes.
They also work because Lucas, as a filmmaker, was fastidious about blending novelty with naturalism. Directing the initial movie, he insisted that the sets be streaked with scum and scorch marks. He spliced together footage of World War II dogfights and then invented special effects to make space battles look like those dogfights. When the time came to shoot, Mark Hamill (who plays Luke) first delivered his lines with campy panache—but Lucas encouraged him to be more low-key. “These actors believed the world they were in,” Liam Neeson, a star of 1999’s The Phantom Menace, says in Secrets of the Force. “Mark Hamill jumps into his speeder and—phooph!—he’s off … To them, it was everyday stuff.”
Such far-out realism has rarely been achieved since then. In the dreary prequels, Lucas went overboard with then-novel computer-generated imagery, losing the lived-in feel he’d once prized. The Disney sequels are too frantically paced—and too packed with winks to old Star Wars films—for viewers to settle in with the new sets, creatures, and costumes. Both of those later trilogies told strenuously mythic stories: The prequels followed the tragic transformation of a hero into a villain, and the Disney movies amounted to another Chosen One tale. The flaws of their scripts have been rightly scrutinized, but fixing those flaws would not solve the more fundamental failures of execution. When Star Wars is bad, its galaxy feels like a thing on a screen—not a place you can go.
The world of The Mandalorian, thankfully, is sturdy, like well-worn concrete. The hero flies a rickety spaceship modeled on a ’70s warplane. Baby Yoda’s twitching puppet ears convey the expressive range of actual toddlers. Most important, the showrunner, Jon Favreau, has absorbed the take-your-time, exploratory ethos of Lucas’s first trilogy. One early episode spends 10 dialogue-free minutes following the Mandalorian as he tries to survive on an arid planet. Two episodes later, the Mandalorian arrives in a forested village where locals harvest bioluminescent krill from ponds. He doesn’t just save the village from a hostile tribe’s attacks. He moves in to live the Star Wars simple life for a few weeks.
Such wanderings do have a mythic quality. The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda are an odd couple: protector and charge, father and son, man and beast. There is also a running plot, involving a black-armored arch-villain, that fulfills the demands of modern blockbusters to set up future spin-offs (10 other Star Wars TV shows were announced in December). When the second season culminated in a CGI-assisted cameo from the original-trilogy cast, some critics fretted that the show was about to devolve into Hollywood hackery. But thus far, archetypal storytelling and serialized intrigue—ingredients often misused in franchise-driven entertainment—have mainly just anchored Favreau’s careful creative riffing. If the miracle of The Mandalorian continues, viewers of future seasons will only rarely notice an overdetermined hand of fate guiding the action. They’ll instead continue to be caught up in individual moments.
To cheer for a Hollywood product that emphasizes look and feel rather than story and character may sound superficial. But in life, aesthetics are not incidental. The dents on a vehicle tell a story. So does the glint in a stranger’s eyes. Tidy plots are scarce, and populations do not readily divide into Chosen Ones and Unchosen Ones. Star Wars has proved that mass entertainment can wake us up to such realities. My favorite of the many arcs in The Mandalorian involves a froglike creature carrying her unhatched eggs to another planet. Because the alien doesn’t speak his language, the Mandalorian treats her coldly—until she commandeers a droid’s translation system and delivers a desperate plea for help. Watching that scene jangled my empathy so much that I began to look even at subway rats with a sense of wonder. They are characters in this galaxy too.
This article appears in the July/August 2021 print edition with the headline “A New Hope for Star Wars.”
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LEAWOOD, Kan.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Fulfilling a commitment to release share count data, AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AMC) (“AMC” or “the Company”) is today providing the following information:
There were 501,780,240 AMC shares outstanding as of June 2, 2021, the record date for the Shareholder Meeting that is scheduled for July 29, 2021.
Only the holders of these shares whose trades have settled as of June 2, 2021 are entitled to vote at the Shareholder Meeting. Trading or other transactions relating to the shares, such as share borrowing, derivatives (including options contracts) or short selling, do not impact the number of shares entitled to vote at the Shareholder Meeting.
Advance voting for the Annual Shareholder meeting is expected to begin on June 16 and will continue through July 28. The details of proposals up for a vote and procedures for voting will be available in AMC’s proxy statement, a preliminary version of which is being filed today, with the definitive proxy statement expected to be filed on June 16. Shortly thereafter, the proxy and voting materials will be mailed or emailed to individual investors known to AMC, and to brokerage firms holding shares on behalf of investors in street name. Such investors are encouraged to reach out to their brokers in the latter part of June or early in July if proxy materials have not yet been forwarded to them by their brokers.
The share count presented above includes those shares held by both domestic and international investors. AMC has been informed that certain international brokerage houses may restrict international investors’ ability to cast their votes. Affected international investors may wish to seek out other brokers who do facilitate shareholder voting for future elections.
AMC expects to receive an approximate count of the number of individual shareholders whose trades have settled as of June 2 and will release this information as soon as it is available, which is currently anticipated to be no later than June 9.
The Company does not record or have access to information regarding any share lending or short selling transactions other than what is publicly available from third party providers.
AMC has received a number of inquiries regarding so-called synthetic shares and fake shares. AMC has no reliable information about this, therefore we can make no comment in this regard. AMC only maintains records regarding the shares it has legally issued and which are outstanding.
The Company has received a number of inquiries regarding speculation about a potential split or reverse split of our stock. A stock split or reverse stock split is not a capital raising transaction and therefore does not achieve the aims of bolstering our liquidity or providing proceeds for other transactions. AMC has no plans to propose or take any actions regarding a stock split or reverse stock split, and in any event such actions would require shareholder approval.
AMC understands that there is considerable trading in derivatives on the Company’s stock including both put and call options. These derivative securities can have the effect of increasing the volatility of AMC’s share price, and while they can be structured to replicate the economics of owning or short selling real AMC shares, they carry no voting rights.
About AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc.
AMC is the largest movie exhibition company in the United States, the largest in Europe and the largest throughout the world with approximately 950 theatres and 10,500 screens across the globe. AMC has propelled innovation in the exhibition industry by: deploying its Signature power-recliner seats; delivering enhanced food and beverage choices; generating greater guest engagement through its loyalty and subscription programs, web site and mobile apps; offering premium large format experiences and playing a wide variety of content including the latest Hollywood releases and independent programming. For more information, visit www.amctheatres.com.
This press release, along with other news about AMC, is available at www.amctheatres.com. We routinely post information that may be important to investors in the Investor Relations section of our website, www.investor.amctheatres.com. We use this website as a means of disclosing material, non-public information and for complying with our disclosure obligations under Regulation FD, and we encourage investors to consult that section of our website regularly for important information about AMC. The information contained on, or that may be accessed through, our website is not incorporated by reference into, and is not a part of, this document. Investors interested in automatically receiving news and information when posted to our website can also visit www.investor.amctheatres.com to sign up for email alerts.
Additional Information and Where to Find It
This communication may be deemed solicitation material in respect of the Annual Meeting of stockholders (the “Annual Meeting”) of AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. (“AMC” or the “Company”). This communication does not constitute a solicitation of any vote or approval. In connection with the Annual Meeting, the Company plans to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) and mail or otherwise provide to its stockholders a proxy statement regarding the business to be conducted at the Annual Meeting. The Company may also file other documents with the SEC regarding the business to be conducted at the Annual Meeting. This document is not a substitute for the proxy statement or any other document that may be filed by the Company with the SEC.
BEFORE MAKING ANY VOTING DECISION, THE COMPANY’S STOCKHOLDERS ARE URGED TO READ THE PROXY STATEMENT IN ITS ENTIRETY WHEN IT BECOMES AVAILABLE AND ANY OTHER DOCUMENTS FILED BY THE COMPANY WITH THE SEC IN CONNECTION WITH THE BUSINESS TO BE CONDUCTED AT THE ANNUAL MEETING BEFORE MAKING ANY VOTING OR INVESTMENT DECISION WITH RESPECT TO THE BUSINESS TO BE CONDUCTED AT THE ANNUAL MEETING BECAUSE THEY CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE BUSINESS TO BE CONDUCTED AT THE ANNUAL MEETING.
Stockholders may obtain a free copy of the proxy statement and other documents the Company files with the SEC (when available) through the website maintained by the SEC at www.sec.gov. The Company makes available free of charge on its investor relations website at www.investor.amctheatres.com copies of materials it files with, or furnishes to, the SEC.
Participants in the Solicitation
The Company and its directors, executive officers and certain employees and other persons may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from the Company’s stockholders in connection with the business to be conducted at the Annual Meeting. Security holders may obtain information regarding the names, affiliations and interests of the Company’s directors and executive officers in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020, which was filed with the SEC on March 12, 2021 (the “2021 Form 10-K”). To the extent the holdings of the Company’s securities by the Company’s directors and executive officers have changed since the amounts set forth in the Company’s 2021 Form 10-K, such changes have been or will be reflected on Statements of Change in Ownership on Form 4 filed with the SEC.
Forward Looking Statements
This communication includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the federal securities laws. In many cases, these forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of words such as “will,” “may,” “could,” “would,” “should,” “believes,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” “intends,” “indicates,” “projects,” “goals,” “objectives,” “targets,” “predicts,” “plans,” “seeks,” and variations of these words and similar expressions. Examples of forward-looking statements include statements we make regarding the impact of COVID-19, future attendance levels and our liquidity. Any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date on which it is made. These forward-looking statements may include, among other things, statements related to AMC’s current expectations regarding the performance of its business, financial results, liquidity and capital resources, and the impact to its business and financial condition of, and measures being taken in response to, the COVID-19 virus, and are based on information available at the time the statements are made and/or management’s good faith belief as of that time with respect to future events, and are subject to risks, trends, uncertainties and other facts that could cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed in or suggested by the forward-looking statements. These risks, trends, uncertainties and facts include, but are not limited to, risks related to: AMC’s ability to obtain additional liquidity, which if not realized or insufficient to generate the material amounts of additional liquidity that will be required unless it is able to achieve more normalized levels of operating revenues, likely would result in AMC seeking an in-court or out-of-court restructuring of its liabilities; the potential impact of AMC’s existing or potential lease defaults; the impact of the COVID-19 virus on AMC, the motion picture exhibition industry, and the economy in general, including AMC’s response to the COVID-19 virus related to suspension of operations at theatres, personnel reductions and other cost-cutting measures and measures to maintain necessary liquidity and increases in expenses relating to precautionary measures at AMC’s facilities to protect the health and well-being of AMC’s customers and employees; AMC’s significant indebtedness, including its borrowing capacity and its ability to meet its financial maintenance and other covenants; the manner, timing and amount of benefit AMC receives under the CARES Act or other applicable governmental benefits and support; the impact of impairment losses; motion picture production and performance; AMC’s lack of control over distributors of films; intense competition in the geographic areas in which AMC operates; increased use of alternative film delivery methods or other forms of entertainment; shrinking exclusive theatrical release window; AMC Stubs A-List not meeting anticipated revenue projections; general and international economic, political, regulatory and other risks; limitations on the availability of capital; AMC’s ability to refinance its indebtedness on favorable terms; availability of financing upon favorable terms or at all; risks relating to impairment losses, including with respect to goodwill and other intangibles, and theatre and other closure charges; and other factors discussed in the reports AMC has filed with the SEC. Should one or more of these risks, trends, uncertainties or facts materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those indicated or anticipated by the forward-looking statements contained herein. Accordingly, you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they are made. Forward-looking statements should not be read as a guarantee of future performance or results and will not necessarily be accurate indications of the times at, or by, which such performance or results will be achieved. For a detailed discussion of risks, trends and uncertainties facing AMC, see the section entitled “Risk Factors” in the Company’s 2021 Form 10-K filed with the SEC, and the risks, trends and uncertainties identified in its other public filings. AMC does not intend, and undertakes no duty, to update any information contained herein to reflect future events or circumstances, except as required by applicable law.