Celebrity news: Spike Lee’s David Byrne concert film opens TIFF

Spike Lee’s film of David Byrne’s Broadway show “American Utopia” will open this year’s Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 10.

Lee filmed the Scottish-American musician, a founding member of the band Talking Heads, and 11 other musicians in a theatrical concert that ran in New York from last October to February.

Jacquelene Acevedo of Toronto was among the performers.

Byrne performed songs from his 2018 album of the same name, as well as Talking Heads hits like “Burning Down the House” and “Once in a Lifetime,” and Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout,” a 2015 protest song about police brutality.

The HBO film will also be available on Crave.

“This joyful film takes audiences on a musical journey about openness, optimism and faith in humanity,” Joana Vicente, executive director and co-head of TIFF, said in a statement.

“This is especially poignant at a time of great uncertainty around the world.”

The 45th Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 10 to 19 with a mix of in-person and virtual events.

Star staff, wire services

CBC brings back ‘Burden of Truth’ and ‘Diggstown’

Two Canadian legal dramas are coming back for new seasons.

CBC announced Tuesday that it has renewed “Burden of Truth” for a fourth season and “Diggstown” for a third.

The former stars Kristin Kreuk (“Smallville”) as a big-city lawyer who returns to her small hometown, with each season centring on a “life-altering legal case.” It’s to resume production in Winnipeg later this summer.

The Halifax-shot “Diggstown” stars Vinessa Antoine (“General Hospital”) as a legal aid lawyer fighting “to protect society’s most vulnerable from a capricious justice system,” CBC said in a news release.

Both shows highlight “systemic corruption, injustice and discrimination in the legal system, including anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism,” Sally Catto, CBC’s general manager of entertainment, factual and sports programming, said in the release.

“Diggstown” will resume shooting in early 2021.

Both shows have been picked up by U.S. networks, the CW for ‘Burden of Truth’ and BET Plus for ‘Diggstown.’

Debra Yeo

‘Friends’ reunion may go ahead in August

HBO Max may film its highly anticipated “Friends” reunion as early as next month, according to David Schwimmer.

The entire “Friends” squad — including Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc — was originally scheduled to shoot in March, but the pandemic shut down production on all film and TV projects.

Schwimmer, who played Ross in the ’90s sitcom, said on “The Tonight Show” the shoot is supposed to happen in August, but “we’re gonna wait and see another week or two if we all determine it’s really safe enough to do. And if not, then we’ll wait until it’s safe.”

Star staff, wires services

New ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ season will tackle COVID-19

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The doctors of “Grey’s Anatomy” aren’t immune to the fallout of COVID-19. In fact, the fictional doctors will be grappling with the coronavirus crisis in Season 17.

Per Entertainment Weekly, executive producer Krista Vernoff says the long-running ABC medical drama will tackle the pandemic in the new season, which is being informed by front-line health care workers fighting the rapidly spreading disease.

“There’s no way to be a long-running medical show and not do the medical story of our lifetimes,” Vernoff said during a recent “Quaranstreaming: Comfort TV That Keeps Us Going” panel hosted by the Television Academy. The panel will stream in full Tuesday at 8 p.m. Eastern on Emmys.com.

It’s still unclear when production will resume on the series or when it will return given the latest halt in Hollywood’s reopening because of COVID-19. But Vernoff said that the show’s writers are hard at work on the new season.

Los Angeles Times

‘MacGyver actor says showrunner almost drove him to suicide

In the weeks since CBS showrunner Peter Lenkov was fired, dozens of people have come forward with stories about alleged abuse on the sets of shows like “MacGyver,” “Hawaii Five-0” and “Magnum P.I.”

That includes “MacGyver” star Lucas Till, who accused Lenkov of verbal abuse, bullying and body-shaming to the point that the 29-year-old actor considered suicide.

“I’ve never worked this hard in my life and I am fine with hard work,” Till told Vanity Fair. “But the way Peter treats people is just unacceptable. I was suicidal that first year on the show, because of the way he made me feel. But the way he’s treated the people around me — that’s just my breaking point.”

Till said he approached CBS executives twice, once in 2017 and once in 2020, but they “didn’t take it seriously.”

Lenkov’s lawyer told Vanity Fair that Till’s accusations are “100% false and untrue.”

Lenkov was fired from CBS on July 7 and the network said the studio “has ended its relationship with him.”

New York Daily News


The Orca is headed back to the waters of New England, but this time its mission isn’t to hunt sharks but to help save them.

A group of ocean advocates and movie buffs is turning an old lobster fishing vessel into a replica of the Orca, the boat captained by the grizzled shark hunter Quint in “Jaws.” The work is taking place on Martha’s Vineyard, where Steven Spielberg shot the blockbuster movie in the 1970s.

The occasion doesn’t call for a bigger boat so much as one with a different purpose, said Vineyard native David Bigelow, who is heading the project. When finished, he said, Orca III will be used as an educational tool to help the public understand sharks and as a research vessel for scientists.

The project is dear to the heart of Bigelow, who appeared as an extra in “Jaws,” and to that of his drama teacher Lee Fierro, who played the mother of a shark attack victim. Reports of shark sightings on some New England beaches in recent years moved him to take on the project.

“The need to educate people about the new ecosystem we’re living in, because of climate change and the seal population, is probably our only defence,” Bigelow said.

Bigelow believes the retrofitting work can be completed by this fall and that the boat can start helping people study sharks by next spring. The boat will be called Orca III because there were actually two vessels in “Jaws”: Orca and Orca II. Orca is seen in much of the film and Orca II was a prop vessel.