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May he rest in peace.

Animal House star Stephen Furst dies at 63
Stephen Furst, best known for playing Kent “Flounder” Dorfman in 1978’s Animal House, died in his California home on Friday from complications due to diabetes. He was 63.

Furst’s death was confirmed by his sons, Nathan and Griffith.

“Steve has a long list of earthly accomplishments,” Furst’s sons wrote on Facebook. “He was known to the world as [a] brilliant and prolific actor and filmmaker, but to his family and many dear friends, he was also a beloved husband, father and kind friend whose memory will always be a blessing. To truly honor him, do not cry for the loss of Stephen Furst. But rather, enjoy memories of all the times he made you snicker, laugh, or even snort to your own embarrassment. He intensely believed that [laughter] is the best therapy, and he would want us to practice that now. If you knew him personally, remember his gift for lighting up a room. And no matter who you are, when you think of Steve, instead of being sad, celebrate his life by watching one of his movies or use one of his bits to make someone else laugh — really, really hard.”

Born in Norfork, Virginia on May 8, 1955, Furst made his first credited acting appearance in the 1977 film American Raspberry just one year before breaking out in Animal House. He played Flounder in the comedy classic, a legacy pledge and “real zero” who becomes friends with the disruptive fraternity brothers of Delta Tau Chi — played by John Belushi, Tim Matheson, and Peter Riegert. Furst reprised the Flounder role in the short-lived 1979 follow-up television series Delta House.

After Animal House, television success followed. Furst appeared on numerous series throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including a costarring role on St. Elsewhere, where he played Dr. Elliot Axelrod through the show’s five-year run from 1983-1988. He also made guest-star appearances on Newhart, The Jeffersons, MacGyver, CHiPs, Murder, She Wrote, Scrubs, and many other series. Furst’s other notable television role was playing Vir Cotto on Babylon 5.

Furst last appeared on screen in 2006’s Basilisk: The Serpent King, which he also directed.

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I’m so happy that my country will be recognizing Gord while he’s still alive. This is a beautiful thing!!

Gord Downie, Indigenous activist Sylvia Maracle to receive Order of Canada on Monday

OTTAWA—Gord Downie and Indigenous activist Sylvia Maracle will be appointed to the Order of Canada on Monday, while Downie’s Tragically Hip bandmates will also receive one of the country’s highest civilian honours at a later date.

Maracle will be named an officer of the Order of Canada and Downie will be named a member.

They are among 30 recipients to be honoured for leadership in supporting Indigenous issues, including NHL player Jordin Tootoo, who will receive a meritorious service medal in the civil division.

Maracle, a Mohawk from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and executive director of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, is known as a passionate advocate for urban Indigenous peoples and women’s issues.

Downie, who announced last year that he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, has become a strong advocate for Indigenous people and issues.

His recent solo album and graphic novel Secret Path tells the story of an Indigenous boy, Chanie Wenjack, who died while trying to escape a residential school.

The Hip’s members — Downie, Rob Baker, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois and Gord Sinclair — are being honoured for their contributions to Canadian music and support for social and environmental causes.

An officer of the Order of Canada is recognized for national service or achievement, while a member of the Order of Canada is honoured for contributions at the local or regional level or in a special field of activity.

Other recipients to be feted on Monday include Métis author Jacqueline Guest, whose children’s and young adult books showcase Indigenous culture. She was announced as a member of the Order of Canada in January.

Cree activist, producer and actress Tina Keeper and Royal Winnipeg Ballet artistic director Andre Lewis will also each receive a meritorious service medal for producing the acclaimed ballet Going Home Star — Truth and Reconciliation.

The story depicts the painful history of residential schools and was envisioned by late Cree elder and activist Mary Richard, who will receive a posthumous meritorious service medal.

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Well done, Stephen!!

Colbert’s full-season victory over Jimmy Fallon is official

It’s official: Donald Trump has been good for Stephen Colbert.

A final tally of late-night numbers were released on Tuesday for the 2016-2017 TV season, confirming a stunning comeback for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

Colbert’s final average nightly viewership was 3.26 million — 80,000 ahead of the 3.18 million nightly total for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” according to Nielsen.

The left-wing, bespectacled talk-show host claimed his full-season victory after losing miserably in the 2015-2016 TV season, when he trailed Fallon’s “Tonight” by 870,000 viewers.

Indeed, Colbert mounted his impressive comeback after beginning the latest season with a 738,000-viewer deficit versus Fallon, closing it steadily as the election and its aftermath wore on, according to Nielsen.

Colbert’s victory over Fallon came as viewers flocked to Colbert’s “Late Show” for its cynical take on politics and nightly take-down of President Trump – including a vulgar rant last month that drew outrage but boosted ratings.

Fallon floundered, meanwhile, as he stuck to his usual mix of song, dance and amiable celebrity interviews — although many believe he never recovered after fawning over Trump and mussing his hair during a September show.

In terms of eyeball share, Colbert’s comeback was the product of a 12.4 percent viewership gain, versus a 15.6 percent loss for Fallon, according to Nielsen.

“Late Show’s” seasonal late-night crown in total viewers is the first for CBS since the 1994-1995 TV season.

Viewership numbers for the season, which stretched from Sept. 19, 2016, to May 24, 2017, include live viewing plus seven days of delayed playback.

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Good luck to all the nominees, but I hope that Gord wins – one way or another.

Gord Downie, Tragically Hip both make cut as Polaris Prize long list revealed

The Polaris Prize announced its long list Tuesday of 40 early contenders for this year’s prize for top Canadian album of the past year. They are:

A Tribe Called Red, We Are The Halluci Nation

Alaclair Ensemble, Les Frères Cueilleurs

Anciients, Voice of the Void

Arkells, Morning Report

Philippe B, La grande nuit vidéo

BADBADNOTGOOD, IV

Louise Burns, Young Mopes

Chocolat, Rencontrer Looloo

Clairmont The Second, Quest For Milk and Honey

Leonard Cohen, You Want It Darker

Antoine Corriveau, Cette chose qui cognait au creux de sa poitrine sans vouloir s’arrêter

Le Couleur, P.O.P.

Marie Davidson, Adieux Au Dancefloor

Mac Demarco, This Old Dog

Gord Downie, Secret Path

Drake, More Life

Feist, Pleasure

Figure Walking, The Big Other

Fiver, Audible Songs From Rockwood

Geoffroy, Coastline

Hannah Georgas, For Evelyn

Japandroids, Near To The Wild Heart Of Life

Carly Rae Jepsen, E.MO.TION Side B

B.A. Johnston, Gremlins III

Lisa LeBlanc, Why You Wanna Leave, Runaway Queen?

The New Pornographers, Whiteout Conditions

Klô Pelgag, L’Étoile thoracique

Peter Peter, Noir Éden

Lido Pimienta, La Papessa

Jessie Reyez, Kiddo

Daniel Romano, Modern Pressure

The Sadies, Northern Passages

John K. Samson, Winter Wheat

Tanya Tagaq, Retribution

The Tragically Hip, Man Machine Poem

TUNS, TUNS

Leif Vollebekk, Twin Solitude

Weaves, Weaves

The Weeknd, Starboy

Charlotte Day Wilson, CDW

The jury will confer over the upcoming weeks and the short list of 10 albums will be revealed on July 13, one month from the long list’s announcement. The winner of the top prize of $50,000 will be announced on Sept. 18.

The Polaris, which began in 2006, has in the past given the top honour to Arcade Fire, Feist, Buffy Ste. Marie and others.

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May she rest in peace.

Rolling Stones muse Anita Pallenberg dies at 75

Anita Pallenberg, a model and actress who had children with Keith Richards and served as a muse for The Rolling Stones, has died. She was 75.

A spokesperson for Richards told the Associated Press that Pallenberg died Tuesday at St. Richard’s Hospital in the city of Chichester, located in southeast England. The cause of death was not revealed, but the statement released Wednesday said Pallenberg “had been ill for some time” and her family was by her side.

“A most remarkable woman. Always in my heart,” Richards said in a statement.

Pallenberg was born on April 6, 1942. She served as inspiration for the Stones’ Miss Amanda Jones and You Got the Silver.

She appeared in films like Barbarella, Candy, Le Berceau de Cristal and Performance, which included Mick Jagger.

Pallenberg first dated the late Brian Jones of the Stones, but later dated Richards, with whom she had three children (their youngest son died months after he was born).

Pallenberg said in an interview with The Guardian in 2008 that she didn’t want to write her autobiography because publishers wanted dirt and drama about the Stones.

“I had several publishers and they were all the same. They all wanted salacious,” she said.

Pallenberg will be cremated and a memorial service is being planned. She is survived by a son, a daughter and five grandchildren.

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In a day and age when no one announces new music anymore, they just release it, Shania Twain announces a new single and album. Good luck, Shania!!

Shania Twain Announces New Album ‘Now,’ Reveals Cover Art

Shania Twain has officially announced the title of her new album – Shania Now – her first full-length in nearly 15 years. The performer shared artwork for Shania Now square by square today on Instagram, and tweeted art for lead single, “Life’s About to Get Good.” The album is currently slated for a September 29th release.

The black-and-white cover for Shania Now is a classic Twain pose – flirty and mysterious, with her leopard-spotted gloves and windblown hair, but confident and in control. The art for “Life’s About to Get Good,” by comparison, shows a more relaxed Twain, smiling contentedly while lying on the grass.

“Life’s About to Get Good,” which Twain debuted live at Stagecoach 2017, is a bouncy, optimistic number about moving from troubled times into better days. Yoking a steady four-on-the-floor beat to energetic handclaps and thumping piano, the tune has a touch of Jeff Lynne’s hyper-melodic work with Electric Light Orchestra in its DNA, from the rich harmonies to the bright combination of chords. “Life’s about joy, life’s about pain,” she sings at one point, acknowledging the good and bad, sweet and sour of living.

Twain has noted at various points that the songs on Shania Now came out of an extended dark period in her life, during which she divorced husband and longtime producer Mutt Lange, battled Lyme disease and temporarily lost her singing voice. She returned to the spotlight in 2011, issuing the single “Today Is Your Day” and setting up her Las Vegas residency Still the One at Caesars Palace. She followed that two-year stint by getting back on the road with the Rock This Country Tour, which she claimed in 2016 would be her final tour.

A track listing for Shania Now has not yet been announced, but fans may hear something new when Twain performs as part of Today’s Summer Concert Series on Friday, June 16th, on NBC.

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Can’t wait to see Wonder Woman again!!

Box office report: Wonder Woman stays strong, The Mummy doesn’t rise

Wonder Woman storms the box office yet again, emerging as No. 1 for the second week in a row.

The critically acclaimed film pulled in an estimated $57.2 million, seeing only a 45 percent drop in domestic earnings from last week’s record-breaking debut. It’s a marked difference from other DCEU movies like 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and 2013’s Man of Steel, both of which saw steep second-week drops of 69.1 percent and 64.6 percent, respectively. Even the ensemble flick Suicide Squad saw its earnings decrease by 67.4 percent as it pulled in $43.5 million during its second week at the box office in 2016.

Wonder Woman‘s worldwide popularity (it has an A on CinemaScore) also means that despite the previous three DCEU films posting higher opening numbers, this most recent DC adaptation has pulled in higher numbers than its predecessors in its second week for an estimated domestic total of $205 million. Internationally, the movie (which stars Gal Gadot and Chris Pine) has earned $230 million, bringing its worldwide total to $435 million.

The DC comic adaptation serves as the title character’s first solo outing after her appearance in BvS last year. It follows her journey from the island of Themyscira into the human world, accompanied by a WWI spy named Steve Trevor as she works to find — and defeat — Ares, the Greek God of War, in an effort to save the world.

Coming in second this week is The Mummy, the first entry in Universal’s Dark Universe franchise and a reboot of the 1999 fan-favorite film of the same name. However, the new film, which stars Tom Cruise, won over neither critics nor audiences (it has a B- on CinemaScore) and only earned an estimated $32.2 million its opening weekend. By comparison, every film in the original Stephen Sommers-directed, Brendan Fraser-starring trilogy debuted with higher numbers, with The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor earning $43.4 million, $68 million, and $40 million, respectively (adjusting for inflation).

But despite the film’s low numbers in North America, the movie has proved to be a hit internationally, earning an estimated $141.8 million. This marks Cruise’s biggest international opening ever, beating out War of the Worlds‘ $102.5 million haul, and brings the film’s worldwide total to $174 million, also signifying Cruises’s biggest worldwide opening weekend ever (War of the Worlds opened to $167.4 million). It’s also a big weekend for Universal, which has officially crossed the $3 billion mark in terms of worldwide earnings and the $2 billion one in terms of the international box office.

In third and fourth place are two familiar sets of characters. Captain Underpants (based on the best-selling book series by Dave Pilkey) earned an estimated $12.3 million in its second week out, beating Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (the fifth in the Disney franchise), which brought in an estimated $10.7 million in its third outing. It’s a bit of a surprise given that the Johnny Depp-starring Dead Men Tell No Tales is actually more popular with fans (an A- on CinemaScore) compared to the family-friendly animated feature (B+ on CinemaScore). In any case, Pirates‘ estimated domestic total is $135.8 million, with the movie having already passed the $500 million mark worldwide.

In fifth place is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 with an estimated $6.2 million. The movie — which stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, and Dave Bautista as the namesake band of space heroes — has now earned an estimated $365 million domestically and $461.9 million internationally. This brings the worldwide total to $833 million.

Elsewhere in the top 10 is It Comes At Night, A24’s psychological horror film starring Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby) as the patriarch of a small family that takes in another family seeking refuge from a highly contagious disease ravaging the outside world, only for mysterious circumstances to cause mutual mistrust. The movie did not play over well with audiences (D on CinemaScore) and only earned an estimated $6 million, a much lower figure than was expected from its 2,533 locations.

Megan Leavey places at No. 8 at the domestic box office this weekend. The Bleecker Street film only earned an estimated $3.7 million from 1,956 locations but nonetheless proved to be popular with moviegoers (an A on Cinemascore). The film, based on a true story, stars Kate Mara (House of Cards) as the eponymous young Marine corporal who bonds with Rex, a member of the K-9 unit responsible for sniffing for explosives, during her deployment in Iraq. The pair grows closer and complete multiple missions before getting injured by an improvised explosive device that threatens both their lives.

Outside the top 10, Fox Searchlight’s My Cousin Rachel earned an estimated $954,000 from 523 locations for a per theater average of $1,824. The film is an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s novel of the same name and stars Rachel Weisz (The Mummy) and Sam Claflin (Me Before You).

Also out this week is Roadside’s Sundance favorite Beatriz at Dinner, earning an estimated $150,160 from five theaters for a $30,032 per theater average. Salma Hayek stars as a Mexican massage therapist whose car troubles force her to attend her clients’ (played by Connie Britton and David Warshofsky) dinner party, which is also attended by their wealthy friends with more elitist views.

Per ComScore, overall box office is up 3.2 percent in the same frame from last year. Check out the June 9-11 box office figures below.

1 – Wonder Woman – $57.2 million
2 – The Mummy – $32.2 million
3 – Captain Underpants – $12.3 million
4 – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – $10.7 million
5 – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – $6.2 million
6 – It Comes At Night – $6 million
7 – Baywatch – $4.6 million
8 – Megan Leavey – $3.8 million
9 – Alien: Covenant – $1.8 million
10 – Everything, Everything – $1.6 million

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I am truly heartbroken. He will always be Batman to me. Rest in peace, Adam West.

Adam West, Straight-Faced Star of TV’s ‘Batman,’ Dies at 88

The actor struggled to find work after the campy superhero series was canceled, but he rebounded with voiceover gigs, including one as the mayor of Quahog on ‘Family Guy.’

Adam West, the ardent actor who managed to keep his tongue in cheek while wearing the iconic cowl of the Caped Crusader on the classic 1960s series Batman, has died. He was 88.

West, who was at the pinnacle of pop culture after Batman debuted in January 1966, only to see his career fall victim to typecasting after the ABC show flamed out, died Friday night in Los Angeles after a short battle with leukemia, a family spokesperson said.

West died peacefully surrounded by his family and is survived by his wife Marcelle, six children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

“Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero,” his family said in a statement.

After struggling for years without a steady job, the good-natured actor reached a new level of fame when he accepted an offer to voice the mayor of Quahog — named Adam West; how’s that for a coincidence! — on Seth MacFarlane’s long-running Fox animated hit Family Guy.

On the big screen, West played a wealthy Main Line husband who meets an early end in Paul Newman’s The Young Philadelphians (1959), was one of the first two humans on the Red Planet in Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) and contributed his velvety voice to the animated Redux Riding Hood (1997), which received an Oscar nomination for best short film.

Raised on a ranch outside Walla Walla, Wash., West caught the attention of Batman producer William Dozier when he played Captain Quik, a James Bond-type character with a sailor’s cap, in commercials for Nestle’s Quik.

West, who had appeared in many Warner Bros. television series as a studio contract player, was filming the spaghetti Western The Relentless Four (1965) in Europe at the time. He returned to the States to meet with Dozier, “read the pilot script and knew after 20 pages that it was the kind of comedy I wanted to do,” he said in a 2006 interview with the Archive of American Television.

He signed a contract on the spot, only asking that he be given the chance to approve who would play his sidekick, Robin the Boy Wonder. (He would OK the casting of Burt Ward, who had a brown belt in karate but zero acting experience).

“The tone of our first show, by Lorenzo Semple Jr., was one of absurdity and tongue in cheek to the point that I found it irresistible,” West said. “I think they recognized that in me from what they’d seen me do before. I understood the material and brought something to it.

“You can’t play Batman in a serious, square-jawed, straight-ahead way without giving the audience the sense that there’s something behind that mask waiting to get out, that he’s a little crazed, he’s strange.”

The hunky Lyle Waggoner (later of The Carol Burnett Show) and Peter Deyell also tested to play the Gotham City crime fighters, but West and Ward clearly were superior, and Batman debuted at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 12, 1966, a Wednesday.

The cliffhanger episode would be resolved the very next night — Same Bat-time! Same Bat-channel! The show was originally intended to last an hour, but ABC split it up when it had two time slots available on its primetime schedule.

West said that he played Batman “for laughs, but in order to do [that], one had to never think it was funny. You just had to pull on that cowl and believe that no one would recognize you.”

The series, filmed in eye-popping bright colors in an era of black-and-white and featuring a revolving set of villains like the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), Joker (Cesar Romero), Penguin (Burgess Meredith) and Catwoman (Julie Newmar), was an immediate hit; the Thursday installment was No. 5 in the Nielsen ratings for the 1965-66 season, and the Wednesday edition was No. 10.

Batman was nominated for the Emmy Award for outstanding comedy series in its first year, losing out to CBS’ The Dick Van Dyke Show. A 20th Century Fox movie was rushed into production and played in theaters in the summer before season two kicked off in September 1966.

However, the popularity of the show soon plummeted, and Batman — despite the addition of Yvonne Craig as Batgirl — was canceled in March 1968 after its third season.

West quickly struggled to find work, forced to make appearances in his cape and cowl at car shows and carnivals and in such obscure films as The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker (1971), written by Semple, and The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood (1980). He and his family downsized, leaving their home in the tony Pacific Palisades for Ketchum, Idaho.

“The people who were hiring, the people who were running the studios, running the shows, were dinosaurs,” the actor said in the 2013 documentary Starring Adam West. “They thought Batman was a big accident, that there was no real creative thought, expertise or art behind it. They were wrong.”

He returned to voice his iconic character in such cartoons as The New Adventures of Batman, Legends of the Superheroes, SuperFriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show and The Simpsons, and Warner Bros.’ long-awaited DVD release of ABC’s Batman in 2014 brought him back into the Bat Signal’s spotlight.

He was born William West Anderson in Seattle on Sept. 19, 1928, the second of two sons. His father, Otto, was a wheat farmer; his mother, Audrey, was a pianist and opera singer.

West attended an all-boys high school, then graduated with a major in English literature from Whitman College. During his senior year, he worked for a local radio station, doing everything from Sunday morning religion shows to the news.

He also starred in a couple of plays at the local theater. “I found that I could move an audience and I was appreciated,” he said.

In the Army, West served as an announcer on American Forces Network television, then worked as the station manager at Stanford while he was a graduate student.

He got a job at a McClatchy station in Sacramento, Calif., then moved to Hawaii, where he hosted a two-hour weekday show in the late 1950s with a diaper-wearing chimp named Peaches. (West said he once interviewed William Holden as the actor was passing through.)

West got a contract at Warner Bros. at $150 a week and was placed in one of the studio’s TV series — Colt .45, Maverick, Hawaiian Eye, 77 Sunset Strip, Cheyenne, etc. — pretty much every week.

He got his first regular TV role when he played Det. Sgt. Steve Nelson under the command of Robert Taylor on the 1959-62 ABC/NBC series The Detectives, coming aboard when that show expanded to one hour in color.

After he split with Warner Bros., West showed up in such forgettable films as Geronimo (1962) starring Chuck Connors, Tammy and the Doctor (1963) with Sandra Dee and in The Three Stooges film The Outlaws Is Coming (1965) before Batman changed his life forever.

He later starred in a rejected 1991 NBC pilot episode called Lookwell — written by Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel — in which he portrayed a once-famous TV detective who thinks he can solve crimes in real life.

Then came the gig on MacFarlane’s Family Guy.

“I had done a pilot with Seth that he had written for me. It turned out we had the same kind of comic sensibilities and got along well,” he said in a 2012 interview. “When Family Guy came around and Seth became brilliantly successful, he decided to call me and see what I was doing. He asked if I would like to come aboard as the mayor, and I thought it would be neat to do something sort of absurd and fun.”

The documentary Starring Adam West culminates with him receiving a star on The Hollywood Hall of Fame in 2012.

He married Marcelle in 1970; they met when she was the wife of the Lear Jet founder and they posed for a publicity photo at Santa Monica Airport, with him in his Batman costume. (They each had two children from their previous marriages, then added a couple of their own.)

When Batman was canceled, “The only thing I thought is that it would be the end of me, and it was for a bit,” he told an audience at Comic-Con in 2014. “But then I realized that what we created in the show … we created this zany, lovable world.

“I look around and I see the adults — I see you grew up with me, and you believe in the adventure. I never believed this would happen, that I would be up here with illustrious people like yourselves. I’m so grateful! I’m the luckiest actor in the world, folks, to have you still hanging around.”

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I can NOT wait to hear this!!!

Harry Shearer Recording Solo Album as Spinal Tap Bassist Derek Smalls

Actor and comedian Harry Shearer is slipping back into his character of Spin̈al Tap bassist Harry Smalls for a new solo album due later this year.

News of the LP, tentatively titled Smalls Change, is tucked into the end of a lengthy (and fascinating) profile piece recently published by GQ, which largely focuses on the legal battle Shearer’s spearheaded to account for decades of allegedly unpaid back royalties. While the case is undoubtedly time-consuming, it isn’t keeping Smalls out of the studio — or from enlisting a number of high-profile friends.

Guests who’ve already recorded contributions for the set include Steely Dan‘s Donald Fagen — who sings the bridge on “a little ditty about erectile dysfunction” titled “Memo to Willie” — as well as Steve Vai and Peter Frampton. Reportedly something of a concept album about the life of an aging rock star, the record also currently includes the song “MRI” and the ode to senior-citizen touring “It Don’t Get Old.”

Although Shearer hasn’t nailed down a release date yet — and his lawsuit against Spın̈al Tap’s corporate parents at Vivendi could complicate the project in all sorts of ways — he’s pressing ahead; according to the article, he’s already mapping out plans for a Derek Smalls tour that would see him performing as an older but presumably no wiser version of the lovably clueless bassist, complete with white muttonchops. If and when Smalls Change makes its way to stores, it’ll mark the first Tap-related LP since the parody band resurfaced with Back From the Dead in 2009.

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The new MUMMY isn’t the worst film of the year, but it is pretty bad. If you’re a fan of the Universal Monsters movies, don’t miss it. Otherwise just skip it.

‘The Mummy’: Why Tom Cruise Couldn’t Top Brendan Fraser

The 1999 film harkened back to ‘Indiana Jones,’ while the new installment is more interested in setting up a shared universe.

“Where’s your sense of adventure?” is a question that Tom Cruise poses multiple times in The Mummy. The 2017 film may be a revival of the iconic horror-movie character from Universal Pictures, but that question suggests something more in line with the Indiana Jones films, as does the fact that Cruise’s character is a treasure-hunter at his core. Tom Cruise may not be the first choice to play an Indiana Jones-esque explorer, but it’s hard not to make the connection, especially considering that this isn’t the first stab at a Mummy remake from Universal; a 1999 version, starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, owed a great debt to the Indiana Jones series. Unfortunately, the 1999 film did a much better job of paying homage to Harrison Ford’s adventurer.

Director Stephen Sommers’ take on The Mummy arguably made more sense in placing its hero, Rick O’Connell, as an Indiana Jones type; the film takes place in 1926, roughly a decade before the first three Indiana Jones films. The new version of The Mummy, directed by Alex Kurtzman, takes place primarily in the present day, excluding a couple of exposition-heavy flashbacks. But it’s hard for the kind of spirit evinced by the Indiana Jones films to be replicated in the present. (It’s no coincidence that last week’s exciting Wonder Woman movie, a welcome throwback to the upbeat comic-book adventures of old, takes place a hundred years in the past outside of brief bookends.) So perhaps another complete Indiana Jones-like version of The Mummy would have been impossible.

However, the new movie does try to echo the Steven Spielberg-directed films in fits and starts. Cruise plays Nick Morton, a military man/treasure hunter, an inverted version of Harrison Ford’s hero. He has a push-pull relationship with archeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) that’s sometimes reminiscent of the failed romance in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (at one point, as in the 1989 film, Nick and Jenny wind up in an overturned tomb, with only a few inches of breathable air below a vast ocean of water). Nick’s friendship with his fellow soldier of fortune Chris (Jake Johnson) feels similar not only to Indy and his trusty sidekick Sallah (John Rhys-Davies), but to the ‘99 Mummy, with Rick O’Connell’s contentious relationship with the shifty Beni (Kevin J. O’Connor).

Thus, there are elements of the Indiana Jones films in this new Mummy, which means that there are also more than a few elements of the ‘99 Mummy here. (One image that’s hard to forget, and is repeated here: the mummy’s roaring face appearing at the front of a massive sandstorm.) Largely, this new Mummy exists less to weave a rousing adventure yarn or to embrace the old-school horror of the 1932 original. No, this Mummy is all about building out the shared universe of characters known as the Dark Universe. After the Universal Pictures logo, the Dark Universe logo makes its first appearance on the big screen, leading into a narration from Russell Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll; this functions as a statement of purpose much more than any of Cruise’s derring-do ever could.

The continuing success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been arguably one of the most important points of mainstream cinema in the 21st century, for better or worse. It’s only because of the MCU that we have a DC Extended Universe, or a would-be six-film franchise about King Arthur, or an ever-expanding series with Jekyll, The Mummy, the Bride of Frankenstein, the Invisible Man and more. Putting the cart before the horse didn’t work for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and the jury’s out on whether it’ll work for The Mummy, though the early reports (and the film itself) aren’t encouraging. With the summer movie season approaching its halfway point, what would be nice is if studios like Universal take a lesson from the two biggest creative successes so far: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 and Wonder Woman. The lesson should not be “Build out shared universes instead of telling interesting stories.” The lesson should be “Make movies that are fun.”

The Mummy (1999) was not made in a vacuum: Universal was hoping to revive its 1930s-era horror-movie characters into a big franchise. (Sommers, after his two Mummy movies, directed Van Helsing, which would have further expanded the series.) But it manages to both be heavily indebted to the Indiana Jones films while also being a fun, rip-roaring thrill ride of its own. The new Mummy wants to be too many things: a shared-universe kickstarter, an exciting adventure, a swooning romance, etc. So it’s unable to be good at any of those, especially its attempt to mirror Marvel’s success.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with remaking The Mummy; the 1999 film (itself a remake) is a lot of dumb fun, but just that. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a studio wanting to create a franchise for itself to rake in cash a la Marvel. But The Mummy (2017) falls into every possible trap by focusing too much on the long con of getting audiences to buy into a decade of movies, instead of focusing on the story it’s supposed to be telling, even if that story is mildly derivative, as the ’99 film was of the Indiana Jones films. By aiming too high, the new Mummy falls very far.