A version of this story appeared in Pop Life Chronicles, CNN’s weekly entertainment newsletter. To get it in your inbox, sign up for free here.
Change is good, yes?
I’ve been thinking about mixing it up when it comes to this newsletter, but I’d like to hear from you. What would you like to read about? Are there some sections you like more than others? Do you feel like I’m missing something that will liven up your brunch conversations?
Drop me a line and let me know.
In the meantime, let’s get to this week’s round-up.
Three things to watch
True confession: I have my old Blockbuster membership card somewhere around here.
I was a regular at my neighborhood store in Baltimore which is why I was thrilled when I learned of this new comedy series based on the #throwback movie rental chain.
In the eponymous show, Randall Park plays Timmy Yoon, “an analog dreamer living in a 5G world” who manages the last Blockbuster location out there. He’s out to prove his store provides “something big corporations can’t: human connection.”
What a great message. The series is streaming on Netflix now. Yes, you read that right – you can now stream a show about movie rentals.
‘Hip Hop Homicides’
Sadly, with the recent death of rapper Takeoff, this new WEtv show feels more timely than ever.
Produced by 50 Cent and Mona Scott-Young, and hosted by Van Lathan, the series will be “taking a ‘big picture’ look at the epidemic of violence in hip hop.” Given that at least one rapper has lost his life every year to gun violence since 2018, the topic is ripe for examination.
The first episode, which looks at the 2020 murder of rapper Pop Smoke, is available on WEtv.
‘Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me’
Celebrity confessionals are popular for good reason.
They serve as a reminder that, no matter how young, rich, famous or good looking you may be, life can still be a challenge.
That appears to be the message within Selena Gomez’s new documentary “My Mind & Me,” in which she gets vulnerable about her world and her mental health. In my opinion, this sort of first-person advocacy is one of the best uses of a celeb’s platform – because it can help others to realize that they are not alone.
“Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me” is streaming on Apple TV+.
Two things to listen to
‘Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me’
A strange phone call reveals a question from beyond the grave – was The Godfather of Soul murdered?
Almost 40 years ago, a songwriter found herself in musician James Brown’s inner circle, though the relationship would nearly destroy her career. Decades later, she finds herself trying to solve the mystery of Brown’s death. When she makes a call to CNN reporter Thomas Lake, the two stumble into a world of secrets, intimidation, and suspected foul play.
“The James Brown Mystery” podcast is currently streaming on CNN Audio.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of their second album’s release, the iconic British girl group have curated a new version of the record, “Spiceworld25,” bringing together the hits, their favorite B-sides, some live concert recordings and a “Spice Girls Party Mix” mash-up.
It’s kind of wild that Melanie Chisholm, Emma Bunton, Melanie Brown, Geri Halliwell and Victoria Beckham have been around that long, but it’s also an opportunity to reminisce about how caught up in their girl power so many of us were – and still are it seems.
The album is out now.
One thing to talk about
By far my favorite story of this week was the tale of how Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King paid the hospital bill for Julia Roberts’ birth. It was the perfect combination of “Wait, what?” and “How cool is that?”
The story itself has been here and there on social media since Roberts shared it with journalist Gayle King in September as part of the History Channel’s “HISTORYTalks” series, but gained traction in particular during fans’ celebration of Roberts’ 55th birthday on October 28.
No matter how the story broke through, I’m glad it did.
Something to sip on
“Welcome to the Jenaissance” read the headline of a recent Vogue magazine story on Jennifer Coolidge, and I think that perfectly captures it.
“The White Lotus” star is having a moment – and we love to see it.
Not only did Coolidge win an Emmy in September for her work on the hit HBO show, but she also has a role in the buzzy Netflix series “The Watcher.”
Coolidge is getting a kick out of it as well. She told CNN’s Don Lemon this week that, “It’s way more enjoyable if you never expected the moment to happen.”
“It’s the surprise of it all that makes it so fun,” she added during an interview which aired Wednesday on “CNN This Morning.” “I truly believe if I expected all this to happen it never would have.”
In Hollywood, being 61 and still killing it on screen continues – sadly – to be a rare triumph. But Coolidge is an institution, having appeared in so many movies that have helped define pop culture, from “American Pie” to “Legally Blonde” to “Best in Show,” to name just a few.
Long live her reign as the actress most likely to steal all the scenes.