This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.
- The best new show of the week.
- The best news story of the week.
- The best Broadway content of the week.
- The best documentaries of the week.
- The best photo of a kitchen of the week.
“Hi guys! I’m in my gym right now. I haven’t been here for like six months because I burnt my gym down, unfortunately.”
This week, Britney Spears posted a video to her Instagram in which she explains, with all the matter-of-factness of my dad reading aloud our house’s new wifi password, that she accidentally set fire to her home gym six months ago. The whole damn thing, just torched to a crisp, save for two pieces of equipment and a mirror.
“I had two candles and, yeah, one thing led to another and I burned it down.”
The sheer casualness with which she tells the tale! Britney Spears was trying to moodlight her workout with some candles and—whoopsie!—fire everywhere. I mean, who among us?
Are we still debating what is camp? I think Britney Spears shrugging her shoulders while recounting her Yankee Candle inferno is camp.
Just, like, no biggie. That’s that whole story about the candle fire, and here is one minute and 45 seconds of me showing you how I now lift free weights in the smoke-touched aftermath of that little ole conflagration.
The thing is, of course this hardly ranks among the things that Britney Spears has gone through. Naturally she’s nonplussed about it all. I bet she barely looked up from placing her mobile Starbucks order when her house manager texted, “YO BRIT THERE’S A FIRE IN YOUR DAMN HOUSE!” In the grand scheme of a life lived as Britney Spears, that doesn’t even warrant mention in the memoir.
I hope you’ve been following Spears on Instagram. We’ve mentioned it before. It is a pure, earnest, vaguely Marxist treat.
Now, it’s complete with her greatest post caption yet: “It was an accident ….but yes …. I burnt it down 🙈. I walked past the door to the gym and flames 🔥🔥🔥🔥 BOOM !!!!!! By the Grace of God the alarm 🚨 went off after that and yippy hoorah nobody got hurt 🙏🏼. Unfortunately now I have only two pieces of equipment left lol and a one-sided mirror gym 🙄🙄🙄 !!!!! But it could be much worse so I’m grateful. Pssss I like working out better outside anyways 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸 !!!!”
It is my favorite celebrity news story of the week. Maybe the year.
It seems as if, at any given moment in this quarantine, you can somewhere on the internet find a celebrity singing a song from the confines of their home over a grainy webcam feed. It’s inspiring. It’s incessant. It’s my favorite part of all this horribleness: Seemingly private little concerts from the most talented people in the world.
What made Sunday night’s tribute concert in honor of Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday so unusual, given that little preamble, is how not private it was. Gathered together on social media and in the comment section of a YouTube livestream feed were tens of thousands of musical theater fans, all collectively losing their minds (heh) when the start to the entire thing was so completely and fantastically bungled.
Are things elevated by disaster? In this case...maybe! First the whole event started exceedingly late, initiating the first wave of “holding the curtain” theater jokes. Then, it started with glaring technical snafus, including an errant gray box, a muted host yapping away unaware in Raúl Esparaza, and a flood of “guess they really did send in the clowns” nerdy Sondheim-themed ribbing.
To recount the brief insanity of it all isn’t to do any justice to the cycle of about 400 emotions each person watching went through watching the comedy of errors unfold—and, more, witnessing it together. It is the most alive I’ve felt since this whole thing started. The most connected, too.
But the concert did go off, beautifully so. All two hours and 23 minutes of Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration happened, a joy slog of theater bliss.
Sutton Foster, Mandy Patinkin, Laura Benanti, Patti LuPone, Jake Gyllenhaal, Annaleigh Ashford, Donna Murphy...they all sang, beautifully. Christine Baranski, Meryl Streep, and Audra MacDonald did a Zoom rendition of “Ladies Who Lunch” and gays across America all got their wings. Bernadette Peters closed everything out with an a capella version of “No One Is Alone,” and we were wrecked, but also healed.
It was a hell of a time to binge Sondheim, the maestro of scoring the human condition and the tangled relationship between satisfaction and despair. And the whole thing lives on here for all of you to watch.
We are keenly aware that people have a lot of time they need or want occupied, and are even more acutely aware of their slavish devotion to whatever happens to be on Netflix.
As such, in addition to the superb Never Have I Ever and the errant delights of the much messier—but far more LuPone-ier—Hollywood, we would like to point you towards two sensational LGBT-themed documentaries now streaming on the service.
The first is Circus of Books, in which filmmaker Rachel Mason depicts what it was like to grow up the daughter of a couple that owned and operated a hardcore gay porn shop and adult film business. (Read about that one here.) The other is A Secret Love, which tells the love story of Terry and Pat, two women who met in 1947, fell in love, and, after 70 years together hiding their relationship, decide to start coming out to their families. (Read about it here.)
Both treat their subjects with a light touch, making for breezy, heartfelt viewing experiences that land with a loud emotional impact. It’s exactly the right tone for what I want to be watching right now—hopeful and inspirational reminders of the purity and power of love, of all kinds—and, I suspect, you do, too.
This week, Nancy Meyers posted a photo of her kitchen on Instagram, captioning it, “Headquarters.”
If you have watched It’s Complicated, The Holiday, Something’s Gotta Give, or any of the movies that Meyers has directed or written, then you understand the borderline religious significance of a kitchen to her oeuvre.
To not just luxuriate in one of her jealousy-inducing fictional open-concept airy masterpieces, but be privy to the actual sanctuary of the creator herself? It’s as if God himself opened the pearly gates to his sunny bungalow in the sky and offered you a personal tour of his chef’s stove and large Italian marble island. A true quarantine miracle. Saint Nancy.
What to watch this week:
Hollywood: It’s messy. It’s pretty. It’s uneven. It’s got Patti LuPone!
Betty: Though seeing New York alive with action during the summer is bittersweet.
Becoming: A little retreat to the comfort of Michelle Obama might help us all.
What to skip this week:
Dream Horse: There are better Toni Collette vehicles to spend your time with.