A Last Lesson from Martin Landau

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It’s Monday, and I’m starting a support group for people who don’t watch Game of Thrones. On Sunday nights, we meet and talk about Proust.

Hello from Los Angeles, where we’re mourning Martin Landau and George Romero, celebrating a new Doctor Who, and casting some shine on A Wrinkle in Time.

R.I.P. MARTIN LANDAU

Martin Landau has died at age 89, and on VF.com, Gary Susman delivers a full obituary covering Landau’s extraordinary career in movies like Ed Wood, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and North by Northwest, and his master-of-disguise role in the 1960s Mission: Impossible series. In addition to his screen and stage work, Landau was also a gifted acting teacher at the West Coast Actors Studio, who counted Jack Nicholson among his students. When I interviewed Landau in 2012, he delivered one of the best tutorials on acting that I’ve ever heard. “No one shows their feelings except bad actors,” Landau told me. “No one tries to cry. You try not to cry. No one tries to laugh. You try not to laugh . . . In a well-written script, dialogue is what a character is willing to say to another character. The 90 percent he isn’t is what I do for a living.” Thank you for the work, Martin Landau. We’re trying not to cry.

R.I.P. GEORGE ROMERO

Hollywood suffered another loss this weekend, with the death of horror-movie godfather George Romero, who died of lung cancer at 77, “while listening to the score of The Quiet Man, one of his all-time favorite films,” according to a family statement. Tre’vell Anderson’s L.A. Times obit traces Romero’s history as a Hollywood outsider who minted the zombie movie sub-genre with his groundbreaking Night of the Living Dead. On VF.com, Joanna Robinson gathers the remembrances that have poured in from the likes of Stephen King, Guillermo del Toro, and The Walking Dead’s Greg Nicotero, who called Romero his “mentor” and “inspiration.”

BEACH SEASON AS AWARDS SEASON

Sure, it’s the lazy, hazy days of summer, but it’s never too soon to start packing for the Venice-Telluride-Toronto trio of film festivals that kicks off awards season. A glimmer of a major Oscar contender emerged on Friday when Variety’s Ramin Setoodeh reported that Paramount will see its Alexander Payne social satire, Downsizing, open Venice, in the slot La La Land claimed last year. On VF.com, Chris Lee reads the tea leaves on another potential awards film, Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic, Dunkirk, which Warner Bros. will open Friday. As Lee writes, “The Oscar pedigree on this film is too much to ignore . . . So what’s a classy movie like this doing opening between Transformers: The Last Knight and The Emoji Movie?” WB’s summer counter-programming follows a path forged by another prestigious director’s World War II movie, Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, which opened in July of 1998 and went on to win five Oscars. And the timing allows the studio to give big-screen traditionalist Nolan a full theatrical release before sending out Oscar screeners.

DOCTOR WHO?!

VF.com’s Laura Bradley e-mails:

The wait for the new Time Lord has finally ended. For the first time in 55 years, Doctor Who will be . . . a woman! Specifically, Jodie Whittaker will play the iconic character. After years of lobbying for a female Doctor, many fans were ecstatic—but naturally, not everyone was thrilled. As one might have guessed, a healthy contingent of trolls cropped up, complaining that a time-traveling alien also being a woman would be simply ludicrous. Thankfully, Whittaker appears to have predicted that backlash, and came prepared to her introductory interview with the BBC with a rebuttal: “I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender. Because this is a really exciting time, and Doctor Who represents everything that’s exciting about change. The fans have lived through so many changes, and this is only a new, different one, not a fearful one.”

IS THIS THE REAL LIFE?

VF.com’s Yohana Desta e-mails:

. . . Or is this just fantasy? Queen fans will no longer have to ponder that age-old question—it appears that the Freddie Mercury biopic, titled Bohemian Rhapsody, is really happening after all. The band confirmed the news on Friday with a long post on their official website, announcing that Emmy winner Rami Malek will play Mercury and Bryan Singer will direct. Guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor will executive produce. Pre-production will begin this week in the U.K., and principal photography will gear up around mid-September in London, according to the band. Close followers of this film will note that rumors have kicked around for years about the potential biopic. Back in 2010, Sacha Baron Cohen was tapped as the potential star, but he eventually parted ways with Taylor and May in 2013 after creative differences. Not only did they not see eye-to-eye on the storyline (Cohen claims the duo wanted to play down Mercury’s wild personal antics, which May later disputed—and called him an “arse” to boot), they also couldn’t settle on a potential director. Cohen’s list reportedly included boffo options like David Fincher and Tom Hooper. After the actor’s departure, Ben Whishaw was thrown into the mix as a potential replacement, but that fizzled out too. Now it’s Mr. Robot’s turn to bring Freddie to life—if this movie is as close to happening as the band swears it is.

WRINKLE UNFURLED

Last March, I had my remain-chill-at-all-times reporting philosophy challenged when Oprah Winfrey emerged gloriously costumed as a celestial being on the Santa Clarita, California, set of Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time. Over the weekend, Disney fans were living their best lives at D23, the media giant’s convention in Anaheim, where DuVernay, Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, and newcomer Storm Reid appeared to unveil the film’s first teaser. VF.com’s Robinson, who is officially the hardest-working woman in show business right now, attended the mouse-house bacchanal, and writes up the Wrinkle in Time teaser here.

GAME ON

Game of Thrones—you might have heard?—premiered its seventh season Sunday night. At VF.com, we have the deepest coverage, including Robinson’s recap, Julie Miller’s interview with production designer Deborah Riley about the design of Khaleesi’s Dragonstone den, and a look ahead at next week’s episode. Dive in!

That’s the news for this sunny Monday in L.A. What are you seeing out there? Send tips, comments, and Game of Thrones support group R.S.V.P.s to rebecca_keegan@condenast.com. Follow me on Twitter @thatrebecca.

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