New this week: Beyoncé, Shark Week, ESPYS and ‘The Gray Man’
Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music platforms this week.
— Netflix places one of its biggest bets yet on “The Gray Man,” a globe-trotting action thriller starring Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas. One of the streamer’s most expensive films, “The Gray Man” is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, the brothers who presided over one of the biggest box-office smashes ever (“Avengers: Endgame”) before they started churning out blockbusters for Netflix. Their “Extraction,” with Chris Hemsworth, ranks as one of the service’s most-watched films, and “The Gray Man” — a spy vs. spy adventure with some comic flare and major franchise ambitions — is likely to follow suit. It debuts Friday.
— Before Billy Porter was a Broadway star and red-carpet doyen, he was a kid in Pittsburgh. In “Anything’s Possible, ” Porter returns to his hometown to make his directorial debut, a trans coming-of-age comedy. The film, which debuts Friday on Amazon Prime Video, stars Eva Reign as a Black transgender girl in a relationship with a boy (Abubakr Ali) that causes a high school-wide stir. Porter fashioned his film, written by Ximena García Lecuona, as a teen rom-com for Gen Z and a love letter to Pittsburgh.
— AP Film Writer Jake Coyle
— Few details about Beyoncé‘s new album “Renaissance” out Friday are available but the lead single is performing well. Her “Break My Soul” became the first song to debut in the top 10 in 26 years on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. Of the 16-track album itself Beyoncé calls it “a beautiful journey of exploration.” Creating it “allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world,” the superstar wrote on Instagram, next to an image of her on a see-through horse. Back in June, she teased on her social media accounts that “Renaissance” would be “act i,” but it’s unclear how many acts will follow or when they will be released.
— It’s July so that means a promised second 2022 album from the mad professor of rock, Jack White. He follows up the April release of “Fear of the Dawn” with the 11-track “Entering Heaven Alive.” The two albums share the same song — Taking Me Back” — but arranged differently, one heavy, one jazzy. Another song on the new set is titled “Queen of the Bees” and has the silly lyric “I want to hold you like a sloth hugs a tree.” He told EW: ”I was challenging myself to sort of see what I could get away with!”
— ZZ Top — now without Dusty Hill — have a new, 11-track live album, called “Raw,” with several of the band’s hits like “Gimmie All Your Lovin″” and “La Grange.” Recorded at Gruene Hall — “the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas” — in 2019, “Raw” features the band’s original lineup of electric guitar player Billy Gibbons, drummer Frank Beard and the late Hill on bass. Made in connection with the 2019 ZZ Top Netflix documentary, “That Little Ol’ Band From Texas,” the 11-track album was produced by Gibbons, and is dedicated “in righteous memory of Dusty Hill.”
— Ben Harper has never really minced words and that’s clearly the case on his new album, the 11-track “Bloodline Maintenance. “Slavery/We need to talk about it/Black Lives Matter/’Cause history says we don’t,” he sings over a funky guitar on the lead single, “We Need To Talk About It.” The new record sees Harper reflecting on the loss of his father and the personal nature of the subject matter led Ben to perform most of the album himself — playing guitar, bass, drums and percussion, including a plastic toy snare. ”I knew the sounds I was hearing in my head were so unorthodox that I had to do most of it myself,” he says.
— AP Entertainment Writer Mark Kennedy
— Stephen Curry is the host of the ESPYS sports awards, and more. The NBA championship finals MVP is up for three honors including best male athlete at the ceremony airing Wednesday on ABC. Curry’s rivals for the top award include Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels, with Olympic champs Sunisa Lee and Katie Ledecky among those competing for best female athlete. ESPN previously said the ceremony will honor Vitali Klitschko, former heavyweight boxing champion and mayor of Kyiv, Ukraine, with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Gretchen Evans will receive the Pat Tillman Award for Service.
— Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were acclaimed actors and a long-married couple. They were also “The Last Movie Stars,” according to the six-part documentary of that title out on Thursday on HBO Max. The docuseries, directed by actor Ethan Hawke, promises a definitive account of their “dedication to their art, philanthropy and each other.” Transcriptions of interviews with Newman and intimates — conducted for his autobiography that went uncompleted — are voiced by actors including George Clooney and Laura Linney. Also heard from are several of their children and Martin Scorsese, an executive producer for the film. Woodward, who is 92, was married to Newman from 1958 until his death in 2008 at age 83.
— The summer thrill ride known as Shark Week is back on Discovery Channel for its 34th year, with stars including tiger sharks with a taste for pork and “monster” hammerheads. The Bahamas’ Exuma Islands and Papua New Guinea are among the new spots visited during the extravaganza airing from Sunday, July 24, to Saturday, July 30, with Dwayne Johnson as its first emcee. Marine biologists and institutions contribute insights about shark mating and migration, with findings about a new and undescribed species promised. Among the highlights: “Island of Walking Sharks,” on Wednesday, with a scientist’s investigation of shark evolution.
— AP Television Writer Lynn Elber
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