Opening today: Next year’s best picture winner?

Filmmaker Celine Song and actor Greta Lee from "Past Lives."
Filmmaker Celine Song and actor Greta Lee, who stars in Song’s acclaimed, semi-autobiographical Sundance film “Past Lives,” in theaters June 2.
(Emil Ravelo / For The Times)

Malibu’s “Wave House” just hit the market, and I’ve spent the morning looking under the sofa cushions to see if I can swing the down payment on the iconic property. I’ve always wanted to live in a nice, quiet little beach community. Anyone want to go in with me on this? The list price is under $50 million, just a quarter of what Jay-Z and Beyoncé paid for their Malibu pad. A bargain!

I’m Glenn Whipp, columnist for the Los Angeles Times and host of The Envelope’s Friday newsletter and the guy just sitting around waiting for the jacarandas to bloom and the sun to come out. How are you spending your weekend?

‘Past Lives,’ future Oscars?

I missed Celine Song’s superb romantic drama “Past Lives” when it premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, but, boy, was it worth the wait. I can’t remember the last time I so completely surrendered to the mood of a film as I did watching Song’s meditation on love and destiny, of choices made, roads not taken, regret and relief.

My pal Justin Chang wrote a superb review of “Past Lives,” calling it “at once the loftiest and the most grounded love story I’ve seen in some time, a movie that feels lingering and contemplative in the moment but is over as quickly (too quickly) as a drink with a long-absent friend.” And Times contributor Carlos Aguilar interviewed Song and the film’s star, Greta Lee about the movie and the inspirations behind its creation.


“Past Lives” is opening today in a couple of theaters and will expand widely in three weeks. I don’t want to oversell it — maybe I already have (I make no apologies!). Just find it. You’ll be transported.

A man and woman sit on the top deck of a boat in a scene from "Past Lives."
Greta Lee and Teo Yoo star in “Past Lives.”
(Jon Pack/Sundance Institute)

Natasha Lyonne wants to grow old with ‘Poker Face’

Natasha Lyonne is laying her (credit) cards on the table, along with her Nicorette and Tea Tree Therapy mint toothpicks. We’re sitting in the back house of the Studio City office she shares with producing partner Maya Rudolph, and this emptying of pockets came as a response to talk of her moving, part time at least, to L.A.

Lyonne holds up her driver’s license, emphasizing it was issued by the state of New York, and when I study the photo for a beat too long, she points at the picture and says, “Just because I look like s— right now doesn’t mean that’s not what I look like, Glenn. Do I come out on tour with you and say, ‘Hey, Mr. Danzig, how come you don’t always look like you do when you’re onstage?’ Do you hear this, Root Beer?”

Root Beer, Lyonne’s longtime Maltipoo BFF, barks, sounding a note of disapproval. Lyonne and I met about 20 minutes ago and from the moment we laid eyes on each other, she’s been calling me Glenn Danzig, though there’s precious little overlap between the heavy metal icon and myself. But Lyonne likes to free-associate. Thoughts tumble forth, heavy on references to ‘70s movies, Elliott Gould, Bob Fosse, John Cassavetes and possibly becoming a cyborg one day. That she quit smoking for the first time in her life a few weeks ago isn’t necessarily helping her focus, she notes.

“It’s confusing, you know what I mean?” Lyonne says, comparing giving up nicotine to kicking heroin many years ago. “It seems like the stakes are much lower and yet arguably for your health, they might be even higher now.”


We talked about all these things and, of course, her terrrific TV series, “Poker Face,” which deserves a bevy of Emmy nominations, including one for Lyonne’s potrayal of Charlie Cale, a woman possessing a superpower — she always knows when people are lying. Circumstances force her to move from town to town where she uses her intuition to solve crimes. Each self-contained episode delivers a new homicide (you really don’t want Charlie showing up where you live), along with a different set of guest stars — the likes of Nick Nolte, Chloë Sevigny, Hong Chau and Joseph Gordon-Levitt among them.

Check out the full conversation, which includes some thoughts from “Poker Face” creator Rian Johnson and, yes, more interjections from Root Beer.

Natasha Lyonne, star of "Poker Face."
(Julian Ungano / For The Times/Julian Ungano)

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Emmy campaigns walk a fine line during strike

In the few hours between the time when the Writers Guild of America called for a strike May 1 and the labor action began at midnight the next day, Apple TV+ and the “Ted Lasso” team held an Emmys event for Television Academy members at Hollywood’s Goya Studios, where the streamer had carved out a lavish for-your-consideration space.

Emmy voters and Screen Actors Guild members, many sporting AFC Richmond scarves and jerseys, began lining up on Cahuenga Boulevard hours before check-in, eager to see the show’s stars — including Writers Guild members Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt and Brett Goldstein. There would be a costume contest — more than one woman sported a Roy Kent beard — and a trivia battle, during which voice actor Jennifer Roberts somehow beat Sudeikis, possibly because she watched the first season of the show 20 times, calling it a “comfort thing” during the pandemic lockdown.


The onstage vibe during the event’s Q&A portion was, at times, a little bizarre. Sudeikis, sporting a baseball cap and hoodie, shook his head at one point and said, “Shout-out to the writers. What a day to be doing this.” Four days later, he and Hunt were walking the picket line outside Warner Bros., saying they’d be willing to strike as actors as well, if it came to that. (The Screen Actors Guild will soon begin negotiating a new contract. Directors Guild discussions are underway.)

Against a backdrop of picket lines, layoffs and a strike involving roughly 11,500 writers that analysts believe will drag on for months, the 2023 Emmy campaign season has continued, largely uninterrupted. On a recent May weekend, there were nearly a dozen events around Los Angeles, some held in the cavernous stages that studios and streamers have set up for FYC screenings. In New York, HBO unveiled the ninth episode of “Succession” for voters a handful of hours before it aired. There was a reception afterward, but no panel. Since the writers strike began, HBO has pulled the plug on talent participating in any of its Emmy events.

Of course, given the labor strife, maybe there won’t even be an Emmys ceremony to participate in this year. Who knows? In a recent column, I examined that possibility as well as the ways campaigns are balancing a respectful tone for the striking writers with a needy quest to get the attention of Emmy voters.

The “Ted Lasso” cast at an FYC Emmy event.
The “Ted Lasso” cast took part in an FYC event the day before the writers’ strike.
(Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)


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