Pro wrestler Jerome ‘New Jack’ Young dies at 58

By Melissa Alonso, CNN

Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) pro wrestler Jerome “New Jack” Young has died at 58, his wife, Jennifer Young, confirmed on Facebook.

The wrestler joined ECW in the mid-90s and was featured in the 1999 documentary “Beyond the Mat,” according to the entertainment data website IMDB.

The wrestling website, who spoke to the wrestler’s wife, reports Young died following a heart attack.

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) tweeted Friday night, “WWE extends its condolences to Young’s family and friends.”

Jennifer Young wrote Friday, “For all the outpouring of love from family, friends, and fans- I’m totally blown away.

“Jerome was not only my husband, he was my best friend and I’m completely gutted. He loved a lot of you very much, and you’ll never know how much I appreciate the love,” said the post which was also shared on New Jack’s Facebook page.

Young is also survived by his children.

CNN has reached out to Young’s family and representatives directly but has not yet heard back.


‘The Resident’ is tackling real-world medical issues

By Lisa Respers France, CNN

According to “The Resident” showrunner and executive producer Andrew Chapman, there was a time when the medical drama took some heat from those in the field.

“We were really the first show to show problems in medicine and to really attack them and we took a lot of flack from doctors all across the country saying, ‘Why are you doing this?’ Doctors are heroes, et cetera, et cetera,” Chapman told CNN. “And we said, ‘Yeah, doctors are heroes. Absolutely. But there are issues out there and you have to deal with these issues.'”

Now about to air the finale of their fourth season on May 18, Chapman said that’s all turned around.

“Over the course of our now four seasons to run into people who are in the healthcare world, to have them come to me and go, ‘Oh, you work on “The Resident?” I love that show. It’s so true that this is a problem and that we deal with that problem all the time,'” he said. “That’s incredibly fulfilling to me.”

That type of respect has come from the show tackling some very real world issues including the current pandemic, as well as some not ordinarily seen on the small screen, such as racial disparity in medical care.

Manish Dayal stars as Dr. Devon Pravesh on “The Resident.” He praised his series for “really spotlighting issues that are happening around our country and our world and taking on the responsibility of discussing those things and asking our viewers what their thoughts are on it.”

“It’s said that if you want better healthcare in this world, you have to achieve equity. And I think that that’s something that is true amongst so many different platforms.” he told CNN. “These are subjects that we talk about in the show and to be able to talk about medical issues like the sickle cell crisis and healthcare disparity among Black and Brown populations in this country during a global pandemic really elevates our show and our storytelling.”

Dayal’s character lost his father to Covid-19 on the show, something made even more poignant to the actor of Indian descent, given what has been happening in that country.

“I think what’s happening in India is, is one of the most horrible humanitarian crisis we’ve ever seen,” Dayal said. “I feel like Devon is the kind of guy that would just go there and help, get down and dirty and do whatever he can to bring respirators to people in rural areas of India who are dying by the thousands.”

The show tries to give visibility to real medical issues

Such empathy is a reflection of the writers on the show including Daniela Lamas and Anthony “Tony” Chin-Quee, both of whom are doctors.

Chin-Quee said the writers room really focuses on trying to accurately portray what those in the medical field grapple with on a daily basis. For him, that means being able to give voice to Black doctors such as himself and reflect stories from his community.

“I think the most important thing is to give airtime and visibility to a lot of these issues,” said Chin-Quee, who is new to the writing staff. “For example, with our sickle cell storyline, I know both Daniela and I felt so strongly about this storyline, because sickle cell anemia really isn’t a disease that gets airtime on TV.”

Sickle cell anemia is an inherited red blood cell disorder which is found most commonly in the African American community. Those who suffer from it don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.

This season’s sickle cell story line was based on an experience Lamas, who works in pulmonary and critical care, had with a former patient. She said that patient’s story stayed in her heard because Lamas doesn’t feel like she had adequately helped her.

Lamas sees her work on the show as an extension of the education she seeks to give as a medical professional.

“It’s a way to teach through stories that people actually tune into because they’re entertaining and because they’re engaging,” she said.

The season 4 finale of “The Resident” airs Tuesday on Fox.


Robert De Niro leg injury won’t hamper Scorsese production

By Lisa Respers France and Toyin Owoseje, CNN

Robert De Niro injured his leg on location, but the show will go on.

A rep for the legendary actor provided a statement to CNN about the incident on Friday.

“While at his on-location home in Oklahoma for the filming of Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” Robert De Niro injured his quadriceps muscle which will be treated medically in New York,” the statement read. “This will not affect production as he was not scheduled to film again for another three weeks.”

The Apple Original film also stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jesse Plemons and Lily Gladstone.

It is based on the nonfiction book “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” by David Grann about a series of murders in 1920s Oklahoma.

De Niro and Scorsese are longtime collaborators, having worked together on multiple films from “Taxi Driver” to “Goodfellas” and 2019’s “The Irishman.”


Singer Tank reveals he’s going deaf

By Lisa Respers France, CNN

R & B singer Tank is speaking out about losing his hearing, in an effort to help others who may face similar problems.

The 45-year-old crooner and actor best known for tunes like “Maybe I Deserve” and “When We” took to his verified Instagram account to post a video about what he’s been going through, saying, “I want to use my situation to encourage your situation.”

“I’m going completely deaf in my right ear and I’m kind of losing sound in my left,” he said. “I’m dizzy, can’t walk a straight line. All of this out of nowhere.”

The Grammy nominee said he’s been seeing a doctor, getting tested and using medication, but doesn’t know yet why he’s going deaf.

“Don’t know how or why. I’m seeing a doctor, got MRI’s going on and medication and, you know, all of that.”

“But, it still hasn’t given me a reason to give up,” he said. “It still hasn’t given me a reason to stop feeling like I can do and be everything that I’ve set out to be. The goals are still the same: to be great, to be the greatest. And I want to say that for you, too.”

He also offered an update video in which he said one ear had actually gotten worse and that doctors had also found that he has a deviated septum.

The singer said he plans to document what’s happening in the hopes of helping others.

“No matter what you’re going through, no matter where you find yourself,” he said, “whether your body is failing you, whether your mind is failing you, whether your spirit is failing you: keep going, keep pushing.”


‘Pride’ offers snapshots in the battle for LGBTQ rights across the decades

Review by Brian Lowry, CNN

“Pride” offers an off-the-beaten-track history of LGBTQ experiences and activism in the US from the 1950s to the present, with different filmmakers undertaking each decade/episode. Even diced up that way it’s a lot to cover, most effective when it comes to highlighting key individuals and moments than connecting those dots.

Indeed, the format of this FX project — which precedes Pride Month and coincides with the final season of the network’s Emmy-nominated drama “Pose” — ensures that the result will provide snapshots of the gay-rights movement, eliding over certain events while emphasizing less-heralded ones.

Toward that end, something like the 1969 Stonewall riots receive relatively short shrift, while focusing on public demonstrations of defiance and anger that preceded and followed them. Similarly, if you’ve come for a walk down memory lane about the significance of “Will & Grace” or Ellen DeGeneres coming out in the 1990s, this isn’t the docuseries for you.

The result is a production worth viewing in concert with other recent documentaries, including Apple TV+’s “Visible: Out on Television” and “The Lavender Scare,” a deeper dive into how red baiters targeted gay men in government in the 1950s.

“Pride” begins in that post-war period, chronicling the turn into homophobia during the McCarthy era, and how the world was in some ways less prejudiced toward gays and lesbians prior to that decade than after it.

As interview subjects note, entrapment was common in policing, and the prospect of being outed wielded as a weapon. Perhaps the starkest illustration of the dirty political tactics employed focuses on Wyoming senator Lester Hunt, who was blackmailed over his son’s “activities,” before dying by suicide.

Similarly, there’s a detailed section devoted to Bayard Rustin, an architect of the civil-rights movement and planner of the March on Washington, whose public role was diminished because being gay was seen as a liability.

The first hour heavily employs dramatic reenactments, one way the tone and style varies from chapter to chapter. The most consistent through line is the culture’s influence on LGBTQ rights and acceptance, from Anita Bryant’s anti-gay campaign — and the activism that yielded in response — to movies with gay characters that raced ahead of where US laws were in the 1990s.

“Culture changes minds. Culture changes perceptions,” observes film historian B. Ruby Rich, while media studies professor Julia Himberg describes an “explosion in queer visibility” during those years, with series like “Six Feet Under,” “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and more tentative advances by broadcasters in primetime.

Later chapters deal with AIDS in the ’80s and culture wars of the ’90s, from Pat Buchanan’s us-versus-them 1992 Republican National Convention speech to the Clinton administration’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy.

Transgender rights take center stage during the single hour devoted to the 21st century, with the emphasis on bathroom laws in earlier decades illustrating how such lines of attack have resurfaced as a political tactic across the decades.

“Pride” condenses decades of history as best it can, recognizing the progress made and the battles that remain.

“I don’t like the idea of tolerance,” longtime Village Voice columnist Michael Musto says in a later chapter. “Don’t just tolerate me.”

“Pride” might feel a little scattered at times in its format, but that singular message comes through loud and clear.

“Pride” premieres May 14 at 8 p.m. ET on FX, with episodes available the next day on Hulu.


‘Spiral’ strands Chris Rock in a not-quite ‘Saw’ sequel that goes down the drain

Review by Brian Lowry, CNN

Following his dramatic TV turn in “Fargo,” Chris Rock expands his portfolio again with “Spiral: From the Book of Saw,” an extension on the eight-movie-old “Saw” franchise. But this attempt to stitch together the horror staple and a “Seven”-like detective thriller flatly misfires, yielding a not-sequel that finally feels like putting lipstick on a pig mask.

Samuel L. Jackson also lends his name to the effort, in a smallish role as Rock’s father, a former top cop in a police department that’s generically known as Metro PD.

Dad has retired, but his son Zeke remains on the force, despite having been treated as a pariah for having reported a corrupt colleague, a wrinkle that brings to mind the old Chuck Norris movie “Code of Silence.”

The film opens with a positively gruesome sequence, during which what’s described as a Jigsaw copycat captures a police officer, putting him through the customary “Saw” choice between enduring something horrible and dying. The killing strikes close to home for Zeke, who soon enters into a cat-and-mouse game with a psychopath preying on cops, who, as is so often the case in these affairs, somehow seems to be everywhere at once.

“Spiral” occasionally escapes its narrow arc when Rock and Jackson snipe at each other, or when Rock has time to riff by, say, musing about “Forrest Gump.” Beyond that, almost everything feels hackneyed, including Zeke breaking in a new partner (“The Handmaid’s Tale’s” Max Minghella) and getting barked at by his boss (Marisol Nichols).

Otherwise, director Darren Lynn Bousman (a veteran of three “Saw” sequels), working from a script by Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger, appears duty-bound to keep plunging back into obligatory torture territory, building toward a conclusion that manages to be as unsurprising as it is unsatisfying.

The “Saw” movies have obviously possessed a loyal following, so the impulse to keep mining that vein — and plenty of other veins — is hardly a shock. Horror also represents one of the logical genres as the movie industry tries to lure people back to the collective experience of theaters.

“Spiral,” however, doesn’t chart its own course as much as simply try to have it both ways. And if the title implies a certain motion, the main direction the movie heads is essentially down the drain.

“Spiral: From the Book of Saw” premieres May 14 in theaters. It’s rated R.


Amy Adams in ‘The Woman in the Window’ is a poor reason to stay indoors

Review by Brian Lowry, CNN

“The Woman in the Window” dispenses with an on-screen nod to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” early, explained by its protagonist’s love of old movies. Yet sitting through this baffling, long-on-the-shelf thriller starring Amy Adams, the clips mostly serve as a subtle cue you’d be better off watching those films instead of this poor reason to stay indoors.

Netflix stepped up to acquire the movie — which was originally slated for release in 2019, then delayed even before Covid intervened — suggesting a lack of faith from the studio behind it. After a peek into this “Window,” it’s easy to understand why.

Although streaming provides a logical venue for this small-scale film, it’s hard to think of a time or platform where this adaptation from British director Joe Wright (“Darkest Hour,” “Atonement”) would have felt satisfying, with an ill-considered, twisty finish that’s a sizable letdown from the already so-so material preceding it.

Like “Rear Window,” Adams’ Anna is cooped up at home, watching the other inhabitants of her street from the shadows. After meeting a new neighbor (Julianne Moore) and her 15-year-old son (Fred Hechinger), she catches a glimpse of what sure looks like foul play, causing her to wonder what happened.

Unlike James Stewart’s temporarily hobbled photographer, Anna suffers from agoraphobia, which prevents her from leaving her house. That situation is tied to her past, with her psychologist (Tracy Letts, who also adapted the screenplay from the novel by A.J. Finn) gently trying to coax her out, thus far to no avail.

If that sounds timely after a year of quarantine, as constructed it’s oddly not. Anna’s condition has also prompted placing her on medication that might make her a less-than-ideal witness, so the story becomes not just a whodunit but a question of whether it was done at all, and if she can believe her own senses as others doubt them.

The film certainly assembled a top-flight cast, with Gary Oldman as the other half of the couple that just moved in, and a “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” pre-union with Anthony Mackie and Wyatt Russell in smallish roles.

Still, this is mostly Adams’ show, and while she throws herself into Anna’s plight, the narrative contortions mostly provide an incentive to begin peering out your windows, wondering if the neighbors might be watching something that makes more sense.

Netflix obviously has different needs than a theatrical distributor, and the big names might be enough to make its investment pay off. In another footnote, the film was produced by Scott Rudin, who recently apologized and stepped back from upcoming projects following reports of his abusive behavior toward employees.

Lots of movies shifted to streaming during the pandemic, but “The Woman in the Window” feels more like a second-hand item than most. If nothing else, the film will likely leave those old enough to remember Hollywood’s golden-age thrillers, like its protagonist, nostalgically pining for them too.

“The Woman in the Window” premieres May 14 on Netflix.


‘Halston’ dresses up Ewan McGregor as the fashion icon in an era of excess

Review by Brian Lowry, CNN

“Halston” follows the familiar rise-and-fall structure of cinematic biographies — think “Citizen Kane,” only with more sex, better clothes and disco. Yet what really defines this style-over-substance miniseries, other than Ewan McGregor’s no-holds-barred performance, are its insights regarding the tension between art and commerce.

Spanning three decades in the designer’s tempestuous life, “Halston” has to be watched as much in spite of its sneering, easily provoked leading man as because of him. His career arc, however, invariably keeps finding conflict in resistance to those pushing him to make financially motivated decisions instead of staying true to his aesthetic vision.

A name-dropper’s paradise, producer Ryan Murphy’s latest salacious ode to the glamorous past (following “Feud: Bette and Joan,” “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace” and the fictionalized “Hollywood”) kicks off in 1961, with Halston (the only name by which he’s known) achieving fame after one of his hat designs has been worn by First Lady Jackie Kennedy.

Flash forward to 1968, and hats have gone out of style. Halston is thus prodded to segue into women’s dresses, which won’t be the last time he’ll expand his fashion footprint –coaxed by patron David Mahoney (Bill Pullman) of Norton Simon Industries — usually kicking, screaming and cursing every step of the way.

“I’m going to change the face of American fashion,” Halston announces early on, while dismissing negative response to one of his shows by snapping, “I’m brilliant. They’re the dummies.”

Halston himself was a self-made creation, and McGregor effectively inhabits his imperious, sharply enunciated persona. He finds a muse and lifelong pal in Liza Minnelli (Krysta Rodriguez), one of the few friends or associates he hasn’t alienated by the time it’s over.

The ’70s bring extraordinary success and decadence in equal measure, with rampant cocaine use, a new relationship with a fellow named Victor Hugo (Gian Franco Rodriguez) and every other diversion available at Studio 54. That’s followed by the toll AIDS exacted on the gay community in the ’80s, with one striking moment when a member of Halston’s circle is asked to write down his sexual partners and says he’ll need multiple notepads.

“Halston” idles too much during the middle chapters — how many temper tantrums can one man throw? — and overall, the five-part production appears most enamored with its flashy trappings. While the costumes and hairstyling should merit Emmy nominations, the writing makes a far less compelling case.

Still, it’s easy enough to luxuriate in the meticulous way the limited series re-creates this bygone era, as people chain smoke on airplanes and Halston explodes every time someone dares mention rival designers, especially Calvin Klein, whose signature commercials torment him on TV.

Murphy has certainly been prolific since landing at Netflix, and while “Halston” isn’t a top-tier show, the kinetic force of McGregor’s performance — fast becoming streaming royalty, coupled with plans to reprise his Obi-Wan Kenobi role for Disney+ — makes it watchable, despite (and for some perhaps because of) its shortcomings. Halston’s family has criticized the project, which is based on a book by Steven Gaines.

“Reviews don’t matter,” Halston says more than once, while quietly living and dying on every word as he insists on having them read to him.

“Halston” doesn’t merit the kind of adulation that its namesake craved, but strictly in terms of garnering attention, combining a marquee star with juicy material is one of those things that never goes out of style.

“Halston” premieres May 14 on Netflix.


Broadway is bringing pop up concerts to Tavern on the Green

By Marianne Garvey, CNN

Broadway stars will be popping up around New York City this summer.

Stars from Broadway shows have teamed up with iconic New York eatery Tavern on the Green for “Broadway at Tavern,” a special series of live concerts under the stars at the restaurant.

The exclusive TodayTix Originals concert series kicks off on May 25 at 8:30pm ET with a one-night-only performance by “Hamilton” cast member and star of Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” Ariana DeBose. The show will be followed by performances on June 8 and June 9 by Broadway star Shoshana Bean.

TodayTix Originals’ Executive Producer, Tony Marion said in a statement, “If any two New York institutions are synonymous with the city itself, it’s Tavern on the Green and Broadway. Simply put, Tavern is the perfect venue in which to reunite this incredible line-up of New York-based mega talents with the fans who adore them. For those of us who have spent the last 14 months yearning for live performance and a reason to get dressed up, this is going to be the ultimate tonic.”

Tavern on the Green’s Proprietor, Jim Caiola added, “When I was young and dreaming of New York City, what I imagined were artists, singers, dancers and actors, all coming together to create culture. And, years later, when I first came to Tavern on the Green, I found all of them gathered right here. In that spirit, we welcome TodayTix Originals and their Broadway talent with open arms. It is our great privilege to provide a stunning home for these artists, as we aim to continue and expand Tavern’s exceptional legacy as a cultural haven while Broadway gets ready to come back bigger and better than ever.”

Tavern on the Green has had a long connection to Broadway, with plays and musicals often celebrating their opening nights at the restaurant. In 1978, the City of New York threw a star-studded party at Tavern to launch its now legendary “I ❤ NY” ad campaign.

Tickets will be sold in pods of two and four, and will require that each pod contain only members of the same party.


Bill Maher thanks fans following Covid-19 diagnosis

By Lisa Respers France, CNN

Bill Maher sounds more concerned with missing his show than testing positive for Covid-19.

The host of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” tweeted his thanks to supporters Thursday.

A spokesperson for HBO, which is owned by CNN’s parent company, WarnerMedia, confirmed the news to CNN.

“Thanks to all wishing me get well – hard to do since I feel perfectly fine, but I appreciate it!,” Maher wrote. “Most upset about ending my streak going back to 1993 of never missing a Politically Incorrect or Real Time episode. Oh well, even Cal Ripken had to sit one out at some point.”

The official twitter account for Maher’s show tweeted about his test result Thursday evening

“Bill tested positive during weekly staff PCR testing for COVID,” the show announced. “He is fully vaccinated and as a result is asymptomatic and feels fine.”

Due to Maher’s positive test result, the show’s taping scheduled for Friday was canceled and will be rescheduled, the show said.

“Real Time production has taken every precaution following COVID CDC guidelines,” the show said. “No other staff or crew members have tested positive at this time.”