New in Entertainment: ‘Athena,’ ‘Sidney’ and ‘Quantum Leap’ returns
(AP) - This week’s new entertainment releases include albums from Kelsea Ballerini and 5 Seconds of Summer, a Oprah Winfrey-produced documentary about acting icon Sidney Poitier and a starry celebration of Norman Lear that includes George Clooney, Rita Moreno, Anthony Anderson and Jennifer Aniston. “Quantum Leap” is jumping back to TV with a sequel to the 1989-93 sci-fi series about a scientist trapped in the past by an experiment gone awry. Also, the film “On the Come Up” is about a 16-year-old girl with rap ambitions that is based on the best-selling 2019 young-adult novel by Angie Thomas.
Less than a year after the death of Sidney Poitier, who died in January at the age of 94, arrives the Oprah Winfrey-produced documentary “Sidney.” Premiering Friday on Apple TV+, it’s a poignant portrait of the groundbreaking actor who paved the way for countless Black actors in Hollywood and revolutionized how they were portrayed on screen. Shot largely before Poitier’s death by director Reginald Hudlin, “Sidney” was made with the cooperation of the Poitier estate (several of Poitier’s daughters appear in the film) and a number of luminaries. Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, Morgan Freeman, George Nelson, Robert Redford and Halle Berry are all interviewed in “Sidney,” as is Winfrey.
In “Athena,” director Romain Gavras brings spectacular flare and long, sinewy shots to a panoramic thriller about a police siege in a fictitious housing project in a Paris suburb. The film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and debuts Friday on Netflix, is a violent but balletically filmed urban Greek tragedy by the youngest son of the Oscar-winning Greek director, Costa-Gavras. It’s the French filmmaker’s third feature (he’s also made music videos for Kanye West, Jamie xx and others); he wrote with Elias Belkeddar and Ladj Ly, whose 2019 film “Les Miserables” covered some similar territory.
Based on the best-selling 2019 young-adult novel by Angie Thomas (“The Hate U Give”), “On the Come Up” is about a 16-year-old girl (Jamila Gray) whose rap ambitions have both urgency (her family is in need of money) and poignancy (her late father was a hip-hop legend killed by gang violence). The film, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, streams Friday on Peacock while also playing in some theaters.
Kelsea Ballerini may sound pretty good on her new album but it’s the title of the 15-track set that seems pretty perfect: “Subject to Change.” On the poppy first single, “Heartfirst,” she decides to jump into a relationship not knowing if it will last. “Who knows what’ll happen/Ain’t that always kinda magic?” she sings. On the ballad “Love Is a Cowboy,” Ballerini sings: “All the bad ones say they’re the good and all the good ones ride way.” The new music comes after she and her husband Morgan Evans decided to divorce after nearly five years of marriage. The album comes out Friday.
We’ve already had the album “Denim & Rhinestones” from Carrie Underwood so get ready for “Denim & Diamonds” from Nashville singer and songwriter Nikki Lane. For Lane’s first album in five years, she enlisted Queens of the Stone Age’s frontman Joshua Home for production and mixing, with further contributions from Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders. Singles include “Black Widow” and “First High,” with the splendid lyric: “Take me back to the first dream/501 blue jeans/Tighter than goddamn Springsteen.”
Coming just as fall approaches is a new 5 Seconds of Summer album. “5SOS5″ — their fifth album — has already spawned the tracks “Blender”, “Take My Hand”, “Me, Myself & I” and the pop-rock anthem “COMPLETE MESS.” Another early single is the ballad “Older,” which features vocals and a co-writing credit from lead singer Luke Hemmings’ fiancée, Sierra Deaton, and the lyrics: “On the day that you leave me/I’ll forever be bleeding love.” The majority of the new album was written by the band with Michael Clifford leading on production.
“Quantum Leap” is jumping back to TV with a sequel to the 1989-93 sci-fi series about a scientist trapped in the past by an experiment gone awry. Three decades later, physicist Ben Song (Raymond Lee) is part of a team attempting to decipher the nature of the quantum-leap accelerator when he suffers a similar fate. But his colleagues (including co-stars Ernie Hudson and Caitlin Bassett) are determined to rescue him. Scott Bakula, star of the original series, affirmed online he’s not connected with NBC’s newcomer but wishes it “good luck and happy leaping!” It debuts Monday.
Hulu’s “Reboot” is a clever take on the resurrection of an early 2000s cheesy family sitcom and its former stars whose careers haven’t exactly flourished. The ensemble cast is appealing — Keegan-Michael Key, Johnny Knoxville, Judy Greer, Paul Reiser, Rachel Bloom, Calum Worthy and Krista Marie Yu — but the marquee name is creator-executive producer Steven Levitan. “Reboot” marks a return to TV for the award-winning “Modern Family” co-creator, and he takes delight poking fun at network TV’s fondness for repeating itself. The series debuts with three episodes on Tuesday.
Norman Lear turned 100 last July, but it is nitpicking to begrudge the legendary TV producer and activist a belated party, especially one that’s pulling out all the stops. “Norman Lear: 100 Years of Music and Laughter,” airing Thursday on ABC, will celebrate Lear’s life and achievements, among them the groundbreaking sitcoms “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons.” George Clooney, Rita Moreno, Anthony Anderson, Jennifer Aniston, Jimmy Kimmel and Octavia Spencer are among those set to appear in the two-hour special that promises comedy, performances and surprise reunions.
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