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Penn & Teller’s magic shows go on, from home, during coronavirus lockdown

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Need some relief from the coronavirus pandemic?

Magicians Penn & Teller hope to pull off a heck of a trick on Monday — make fears of the coronavirus disappear, at least for an hour.

The duo, who went full DIY, star in the CW’s special “Penn & Teller: Try This at Home,” created and filmed entirely by the homebound magicians and their friends.

“It is a fascinating challenge to be able to do magic for people when you can’t touch anything,” said Penn Jillette, the taller, more vocal half of the group, who goes by his first name. “It’s not even a retooling. It’s a complete ground-up rethink.”

Teller — Raymond Teller, the silent onstage partner — does a trick with two bowls and seven tin foil balls, and also submerges into his home swim spa with a snorkel to make magic with yellow sponge balls. “It was much, much harder than I ever dreamed,” he said.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

Magicians Shin Lim and Michael Carbonaro share some of their tricks, and illusionist Mac King reveals a cool one — taking uncooked popcorn, pouring it into a paper lunch bag and somehow using his phone’s light to turn it into cooked popcorn.

The special’s name is a riff off the title of a TV special they did years ago, “Don’t Try This at Home.” This time they want the audience to try the tricks on their families and maybe amuse delivery people.

“We have a bunch of tricks that they can learn and actually do and actually practice,” said Penn, whose wife did his hair and makeup and who was also in charge of sound, camera and props.

This combination of photos released by The CW shows magicians Penn Jillette, left, and Raymond Teller during their upcoming special “Penn & Teller: Try This at Home,” created and filmed entirely by the homebound magicians and their friends. The special airs on The CW on Monday. (The CW via AP)

This combination of photos released by The CW shows magicians Penn Jillette, left, and Raymond Teller during their upcoming special “Penn & Teller: Try This at Home,” created and filmed entirely by the homebound magicians and their friends. The special airs on The CW on Monday. (The CW via AP)

The duo decided to dress in formal clothes and avoid directly talking about COVID-19. “That was an artistic choice,” said Penn. “You know, ‘Can we do a special that is entirely created by the pandemic without pandering to it?’”

Says Teller: “We didn’t ignore totally the fact that this was being done during a pandemic. We just we just put it in its place.”

The show marks the 45th anniversary of Penn & Teller, who started working together in 1975. Penn was in high school in Massachusetts, and Teller was a high school Latin teacher in New Jersey. Both adored magic and established a friendship.

“Teller wormed his way into my heart by buying me dinner, which is really all it took to get my full attention and really doesn’t take much more nowadays,” Penn joked.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

Some of the highlights for Penn over the years is meeting and becoming friends with his heroes, including Frank Zappa and Bob Dylan. When he met Lou Reed, Penn was the actual president of the Lou Reed Fan Club.

“Lou said one of the funniest thing that’s ever been said to me — he said ‘Penn, if we’re going to be friends, you need to stop crying,’” Penn recalled.

One of Teller’s highlights is their 1986 appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” in which they seemed to do tricks that defied gravity. Only at the end of their set was it revealed that they had been hanging upside down the whole time.

Despite all their appearances in Vegas or on Broadway or the millions watching on TV, Penn & Teller still cherish the early days, when about 100 people would come to see them at carnivals or fairs.

“The goal was to do shows. The goal was not the venue,” Penn said.

Teller agrees: “The scale doesn’t make much difference because it’s still that difficult thing of trying to fool essentially one other human mind.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Why Nicole Avant Made Doc About Her Father – Variety

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When Nicole Avant was growing up in Beverly Hills in the 1970s and ’80s, her father, Clarence Avant, was one of the most connected and successful African American power brokers in the music industry. He launched record labels, owned radio stations and became a key figure in politics and the civil rights movement.

The Avant home was always buzzing with a stream of Hollywood and Washington insiders coming and going. “I knew that he was very powerful because the phone rang constantly and I always heard him fixing something or giving advice,” says Nicole, who made her producing debut with Netflix’s “The Black Godfather,” a documentary about her father. “And then I did see him on ‘Soul Train’ one day, and he was giving an interview with Don Cornelius. …That’s when I thought, ‘Oh, he must be a big deal because he’s on television.’”

That point is driven home by the documentary, which features interviews with Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, David Geffen, Jamie Foxx, Sean “Diddy” Combs and the late Bill Withers, whom Avant signed to his Sussex Records while the singer was still working as an aircraft assembler.

Nicole Avant, who is married to Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, says she had plans to shop the doc around before her husband snapped it up for the streamer. “I actually had this idea in my head since I was a little girl. I really did,” Avant, who served as Obama’s ambassador to the Bahamas, says on this week’s episode of the Variety and iHeart podcast “The Big Ticket.” “I had told Ted, even when I was dating him, there’s this idea I have for this film, and I said to him, ‘I’m going to take it to HBO.’ Once I started getting the interviews and everyone started confirming, Ted said, ‘Do you really have all these people saying yes?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, for sure.’ He said, ‘Let me take a look at it again.’ And then at that point, Ted is a part of the family, and he saw a solid film, and he saw an important film, and he actually wanted to tell the story just as much or even more than I did.”

What do you want people to know about your dad?

I really wanted people to take away that it’s important to have a strong sense of self. It’s important to keep moving forward. It’s important to pay back. It’s important to move the needle. Also, it’s very important to take risks in life. Sometimes you’re going to fail. Sometimes people are going to say no. So what? It’s a part of life. You keep going. You pick yourself back up again.

What did you learn about your dad while making the documentary that you didn’t know already?

I took it for granted how hard his childhood was and how abusive it was — having a stepfather, really beating up my grandmother in front of him and in front of the other children. My dad didn’t really have a childhood, and he took care of seven kids because everyone was working and they were so poor.

How hard was it to hear those stories?

Very hard for me. And it made a lot of sense when everything did fall down for him and everything blew up at one time and we lost everything. I think everything triggered to his childhood again of not having things he didn’t have or anybody to really rely on.

Tell me about a time in which someone really big turned up at the house and you were like, ‘What is this person doing here?’”

The one time I was very star-struck was when Whitney Houston showed up one day and I had just been listening to the “Greatest Love of All.” I’d sing it in the car like I was Whitney Houston. I was floored; I stood at the front door and I thought, “Oh, my God, this is a real celebrity. This is a big deal.”

If you were to make a scripted narrative about your dad, who would play him?

Forest Whitaker could play him because he knows him and he could “get” him actually.

This interview has been edited and condensed. Hear it in its entirety below. You can also listen to “The Big Ticket” at iHeartRadio or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.


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Even Prince William Has To Deal With This Classic Family Dinner Challenge

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There’s no question about it: lockdown has changed our lives and transformed the way we work. And that goes for royals, too. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have adapted, taking their royal duties online, via a number of zoom calls. But not everything has changed… On his latest call, Prince William revealed that even he has to deal with this classic family dinner challenge.

Speaking to representatives of the PEEK Project, a Glasgow-based charity, on May 20, the Duke of Cambridge said the success of his family meal depend very much on “what’s on the table”. Joking with community chef Charlie Farrally, Prince William agreed that dinner time can be very challenging: “If parents put something on that children love, dinner time goes very well,” he said. “But if you put something on the table they don’t want to do, that’s another ball game.”

PEEK Project, Possibilities for Each and Every Kid, have been working throughout COVID-19 to provide balanced, and hot meals for families in need. The Duke of Cambridge praised them for their work and pointed out the immense pressure that parents are under as well.

The PEEK project has been supported in it’s work throughout the pandemic by the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal. Were it not for lockdown, the Duke of Cambridge would have been in Scotland this week to meet representatives at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Obviously, this couldn’t go ahead face-to-face, but he still spoke to the chefs, volunteers, and the CEO via a video call. “I hope when I find myself up in Glasgow in the near future I can come and see you guys in person and congratulate you,” he added.


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Ozark’s Esai Morales to Replace Nicholas Hoult As ‘Mission: Impossible’ Villain – Find Out Why

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Esai Morales, known for his work in Ozark and How to Get Away with Murder, is joining the cast of Mission: Impossible 7 and Mission: Impossible 8, director Christopher McQuarrie revealed on his Instagram on Thursday (May 21).

However, Deadline is now reporting that Esai, 57, is actually replacing Nicholas Hoult in the movie in the villain role for the films.

The reason why Nicholas is being replaced? The Coronavirus pandemic has delayed production of tons of movies and television shows across the globe. As a result, the “delay put Hoult in conflict with another commitment.”

The film currently has a release date of July 23, 2021, but that could change as many films have had to alter release dates due to the global health crisis.

If you missed it, Nicholas just made a super rare comment about his two-year-old son.


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