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  • R.I.P. Andre Braugher, the Greatest TV Cop Ever; Solving the Great Leonardo DiCaprio Mystery

R.I.P. Andre Braugher, the Greatest TV Cop Ever; Solving the Great Leonardo DiCaprio Mystery

Plus, my Oscars power rankings for Best Editing, and thoughts on the new trailer for 'Dune: Part Two.'

Happy Tuesday, everybody!

Today, I dropped a month’s rent on two veneers for my front teeth. Only one of my front teeth was chipped, mind you, but I had to pay for two of them because apparently, your front teeth have to “match.” Whatever. I’ve seen a lot of bank heist movies, so I should be okay…

In tonight’s newsletter, you’ll read about the dearly departed Andre Braugher and the newly employed Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as my thoughts on the Oscar race for Best Editing and WB’s new trailer for Dune: Part Two. Read on for more…

R.I.P. Andre Braugher, the Greatest TV Cop There Ever Was

R.I.P. to the GOAT — the man behind Det. Frank Pembleton and Capt. Raymond Holt.

When a celebrity dies, there’s a public outpouring of emotion, some of it genuine, some of it performative. But today’s outpouring felt very real.

And what’s amazing about the outpouring of emotion for Andre Braugher is that everyone seemed to love him for something different.

For me, it was Homicide: Life on the Street.

I’m already on the record saying that Andre Braugher’s Frank Pembleton is the greatest TV cop of all time. It’s not Dennis Franz’s hard-charging Andy Sipowicz, or Don Johnson’s stylish Sonny Crockett, or Tom Selleck’s mustachioed lawman on Magnum P.I. 

It’s Frank Pembleton from Homicide: Life on the Street. To think that we lost Braugher and Yaphet Kotto in a span of two years just adds insult to injury.

“I remember staying home from more than a few middle school dances on Friday nights to watch the acclaimed NBC series,” I wrote at the time. Even right now, a box set of Homicide DVDs rests about a dozen feet from my head. The show had a profound impact on me, and Braugher’s Pembleton was the key to the whole thing.

Years later, at NYU, I even wrote a short film titled Justice that was just a single interrogation scene, and it was closely modeled after all those episodes I watched Pembleton break someone in “the box.”

In the Hollywood Reporter’s article about the untimely cancellation of Men of a Certain Age back in 2011, the trade quoted yours truly as tweeting, “Men of a Certain Age was easily one of the best shows on TV. This is a dark day for original cable programming. I’m beyond bummed.”

So I’ve been a huge fan of Braugher ever since I was 10 years old, no joke.

He never really got his due on the big screen, where he was best in Glory, Primal Fear, The Mist, and She Said, in which he recently stood out with his performance as New York Times editor Dean Baquet. But he always made the most of his screen time.

Born in Chicago in 1962, Braugher broke out with a role in Ed Zwick’s Civil War movie Glory before doing a series of Kojak TV movies and eventually graduating to bigger and better things on Homicide. He used one of the show’s hiatus periods to star in the notable TV movie The Tuskegee Airmen. After Homicide ended, Braugher went on to star in shows such as Gideon’s Crossing, Hack, and Thief, which earned him his second Emmy following Homicide.

Braugher would go on to star alongside Ray Romano and Scott Bakula in Men of a Certain Age, which brought him two more Emmy nominations. Though that series ended abruptly, Braugher quickly landed on his feet with the role he may be best remembered by — that of Captain Raymond Holt in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which brought him four Emmy nominations.

Braugher’s comic rapport with actors such as Andy Samberg and Terry Crews served as comfort food for millions of sitcom fans in need of a laugh. He also served as an example of professionalism to his younger co-stars.

The fact that Braugher is gone at just 61 makes me truly sad, as I thought we’d have another 20 years with him. My heart goes out to his loved ones.

Men of a Certain Age is streaming on Max, while Brooklyn Nine-Nine is streaming on Peacock. And if you can, track down his work on Homicide, please do. It’s impeccable. R.I.P.

The Great Leonardo DiCaprio Mystery

You can’t always trust these agency grids, but it sure is fun to speculate…

Before we begin, I want to be clear that I am not reporting this. This is merely speculation. But I was planning to run this item today even before Leonardo DiCaprio told Deadline that, as far as new movies go, “I have one, but I don’t think I’m allowed to discuss it. I want to but I don’t think I’m allowed. I would love to give you a scoop, but I can’t.”

What in the heck could Leo be talking about? There are really only three realistic possibilities that I can think of…

  1. The Wager - This is supposed to be Martin Scorsese’s next movie, based on the nonfiction book by David Grann that bills itself as A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny, and Murder. It seems like Leo would be able to talk about this one if he wanted to, especially on the campaign trail for Killers of the Flower Moon.
    Odds: 10 percent.

  2. Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Movie - Leo was absolutely in talks to star in this movie prior to the strike. I know my reporting has been accurate on that front. I’m just not sure how the strikes affected the schedule for this film. But let me put it this way… since when is Leonardo DiCaprio “not allowed” to discuss something, or told he “can’t” do something? Not often, I imagine. Few directors wield that kind of power and influence. PTA is one of them.
    Odds: 35 percent.

  3. The Movie Critic - This is billed as Quentin Tarantino’s “final” film. Names like Paul Walter Hauser and Jesse Plemons have been rumored for the male lead… but I was sent the above screenshot of an agency grid. It indicates that Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson were offered two of the “leads” back in May. This doesn’t mean, of course, that either actor is confirmed, or that this agency grid is even accurate — they’re often not, as far as reporting the news goes. Trust me there. But allow me to play devil’s advocate here, and ask you to watch just the first few seconds of this clip.

In that Charlie Rose clip, DiCaprio expounds on his love for Taxi Driver, and how he became fascinated by the role of Travis Bickle as a young man.

Well, it just so happens that the main character in The Movie Critic has been described by its director as “Travis Bickle if he were a film critic.”

It has long been my opinion that Tarantino’s leading man couldn’t be too handsome, which us film journos rarely are — all apologies to Anthony Breznican and his fabulous head of hair — but DiCaprio loves to, for lack of a better word, “ugly” himself up, from The Revenant to Django Unchained and Don’t Look Up. And we know he’s a student of cinema himself…

Of course, Tarantino has already made Leo look cool (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), and he’s made him look crazy (Django Unchained). Perhaps the title role in The Movie Critic will give an actor, whether it’s Leo or someone younger, the chance to indulge in both modes.

The other possibility within The Movie Critic, of course, is that Leo is coming back to play Rick Dalton, given that Tarantino’s new film is also set in Hollywood in the ‘70s. Could the title character be reviewing a movie starring Rick Dalton — including, possibly, Rolling Thunder, as previously indicated by Paul Schrader?

I just think that if Tarantino is, actually, retiring, Leo would want to be a part of the director’s farewell to film. Of course, PTA’s movie could shoot in the spring, and Tarantino’s could shoot in the fall, and Leo could end up doing both films, though he tends to avoid making two in one year. But who knows, maybe after the SAG strike, he’s hungry to get back to work?
Odds: 55 percent.

Besides those three, I don’t know what else it could possibly be. An “older” James Bond? A role in Christopher Nolan’s next movie? Replacing Bradley Cooper as the lead in Steven Spielberg’s Bullitt? The lead in David Fincher’s rumored Squid Game project? The possibilities sure are juicy, and they’re the opposite of endless because Leo only works with the best, so stay tuned, because I’m sure we’ll find out soon…

Oscars Power Rankings: Could Anatomy of a Fall Pressure Oppenheimer for the Best Editing Oscar?

“Did she do it?” The better question is, “Do you even care?”

Best Editing

  1. Jennifer Lame, Oppenheimer

  2. Thelma Schoonmaker, Killers of the Flower Moon

  3. Jacqueline West, Maestro

  4. Laurent Senechal, Anatomy of a Fall

  5. Nick Houy, Barbie

  6. Kirk Baxter, The Killer

  7. William Goldenberg, Air

  8. Jon Poll, The Color Purple

  9. Claire Simpson and Sam Restivo, Napoleon

  10. Pietro Scalia, Ferrari

Analysis: Ah, the fine art of editing. I was never good at it at NYU. I found it tedious and never had the patience to do it myself, so I tip my cap to those who can sit in a dark room all day and sift through hours of footage.

This year, I can’t imagine two successful films with more footage than Oppenheimer and Killers of the Flower Moon, both of which clocked in north of three hours. Both films have fared well on the precursor circuit thus far, and I have to believe that they’ll continue to square off in this category all season. right now, I’ll give the never-nominated Jennifer Lame the edge, but Thelma Schoonmaker is, obviously, beloved, though she has won three times before.

I have Michelle Tesoro and Laurent Senechal next in line, and I’m pretty confident in both of those picks — especially Senechal given the way Anatomy of a Fall unfolds, even though I still put him behind Tesoro.

As for the fifth and final slot, I went with Barbie, even though I thought Air was particularly well-edited by Oscar winner William Goldenberg (Argo), while The Killer is cut with meticulous precision by two-time Oscar winner Kirk Baxter.

Again, I saved two slots for the editors behind Napoleon and Ferrari, given the fact that they were both made by master filmmakers — Ridley Scott and Michael Mann, whose below-the-line collaborators are often recognized. And I threw Jon Poll in there, as I suspect that The Color Purple will gain more traction as the season goes on.

I like how my lineup turned out, though I’ll say, don’t sleep on Poor Things for a possible nod either…

Bits and Bobs (A Daily News Roundup)

It sounds like Cecily stayed “strong” to her beliefs…

  • Not a Strong Sketch - SNL alum Cecily Strong was all set to appear on last week’s episode, playing Rep. Elise Stefanik in the show’s cold opening, but she backed out at the last minute because she was “uncomfortable” with the sketch, which has since been heavily criticized for being antisemitic. The New York Post broke the story, reporting that Strong appeared as a guest in the dress rehearsal ahead of the live show before changing her mind shortly before the broadcast, prompting newcomer Chloe Troast to step in on short notice. I saw the sketch and while I wasn’t necessarily offended, I didn’t think it was very funny, which is more important anyway. I’ve also been saying for years that SNL needs to move away from political sketches to open the show. But what do I know? The show is chomping at the bit for the upcoming election year, so let’s see how Lorne Michael — and Colin Jost — decide to play this one.

  • The next King Richard? - Mathew Knowles, the prolific music manager and father to artists Beyoncé’s father, Matthew Knowles, has partnered with production company Say Unkel Entertainment to adapt his 2017 memoir Racism From the Eyes of a Child into both a feature film and a limited series, according to Variety. Is this the next King Richard? Or a vanity project from the relative of a real celebrity? And will any major buyers fall for it? Stay tuned…

  • Eyes of Wakanda - Marvel announced that it’s developing an animated Black Panther series titled Eyes of Wakanda, which will follow the brave warriors tasked with retrieving vibranium artifacts from around the world. Black Panther director Ryan Coogler will be involved in the series, given that he’s under an overall TV deal with Disney. Marvel also announced that the animated series X-Men ‘97 will debut in 2024. Meanwhile, Spider-Man: Freshman Year is now titled Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, and there was no mention of Marvel Zombies.

  • Sam Raimi Is a Fan of Terrifier - Terrifier 2 director Damien Leone let it slip that he’s developing a project with Sam Raimi’s company Ghost House. I’m curious what a more “mainstream” Leone movie looks like, but for now, I’m glad he’s going all-out for Terrifier 3.

  • Streaming Deals Galore! - Reacher star Alan Ritchson and his AllyCat Entertainment banner signed a first-look film deal with Amazon MGM Studios. Season 2 of Reacher will debut soon on Prime Video and I can’t wait to tell you about it. Needless to say, I like this deal for the streamer, as Ritchson is a rising star. Meanwhile, Silo star David Oyelowo has signed a first-look deal with Apple TV+ along with his wife and producing partner, Jessica Oyelowo. The two of them will produce movies and TV shows for the streamer under their Yoruba Saxon banner, which also produces Lawmen: Bass Reeves for Paramount+. Silo has been renewed for Season 2, and Oyelowo is already set to star in another Apple TV+ series, Government Cheese.

  • Good Luck - To Kate Micucci, who recently had surgery to treat lung cancer, which is what killed my mother. I wish the Big Bang Theory actress a speedy recovery.

We’ll get into some Netflix viewership data info tomorrow. For now, feast your eyes on the new Dune trailer…

Trailer Time: I’m Starting to Believe the Dune: Part Two Hype… and That Part Three Is In the Works

Let’s get this out of the way right now. I was not a big fan of Dune: Part One. It was long and it was kind of boring, and even though it looked — and sounded — absolutely incredible, it didn’t fill me with wonder the way a sci-fi movie should, whether it’s big like The Matrix or small like Primer.

It just felt like half a movie.

Having said that, Dune: Part Two looks like a different beast. Director Denis Villeneuve doesn’t have to spend a bunch of time establishing the world and the characters, he can just drop us right back into it and get going. There will be more romance this time around thanks to the increased presence of Zendaya, and Austin Butler’s chrome-domed Feyd-Rautha looks like a worthy opponent for Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides — a role that the Wonka star seems to have grown into over the past few years.

Villeneuve himself has said that he thinks this sequel is much better than the first film, and I believe him — because the first film wasn’t very good, and this one looks like it’s going to actually pay off all that grunt work. If nothing else, it’ll be nice to see Christopher Walken in a big, A-list movie again.

And before I let you go, I’m already hearing rumblings that WB is so bullish on Villeneuve’s vision for Dune that Part Three has been already been greenlit with a 2027 release date in mind. WB sees Part Two as a home run, and internally, I’m hearing the studio is already projecting an opening north of $100 million. That may be optimistic, but given the trailer above, hardly out of the question.

That’ll do it for me, folks!

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