Did You Hear ... ? ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ burns red-hot, Joanie gets Chachi in trouble, and more from the week in entertainment

Hulu's adaptation of "The Handmaid's Tale" sent actresses to the L.A. Times Festival of Books on Sunday for some live marketing.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

A dystopian drama debuted, a child star didn’t overdose, an influential director died, a newbie music festival spun into chaos and a union said it might walk off the job. Here’s all that news and more from this week in entertainment.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ takes the TV world by storm

The first three episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a 10-part series about a dystopian society where women (and others) have no rights, dropped Wednesday on Hulu. In this adaptation, terms like “Tinder” and “Uber” are tossed around along with source-material phrases like “praise be” and “under His eye,” from Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel. TV critics found themselves crazy in love with the series and its star, Elisabeth Moss of “Mad Men” (and a little scared about Atwood’s possible clairvoyance.) Don’t freak out, folks: It’s just a story.

Erin Moran’s death gets Scott Baio in trouble

After Erin Moran, a.k.a. Joanie Cunningham of “Happy Days,” died a week ago, her TV family — including her former TV boyfriend, Scott “Chachi” Baio — offered their condolences. Then Baio went on the radio Monday and suggested that, while he didn’t know her cause of death, “she was just an insecure human being and fell into this world of drugs and alcohol. … I’m sure it was a culmination of years and years of doing it that might have had something to do with it. She just never found her way.” Turned out the former child actress had succumbed to stage 4 cancer. Baio fell all over himself apologizing, then blamed his mistake on fake news.

Jonathan Demme’s death is ‘a big loss to the caring world’

Director Jonathan Demme photographed by The Times in 2004 in Malibu.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

The quote in the headline above came from Meryl Streep after director Jonathan Demme’s death Monday from complications of esophageal cancer at 73. Even if you don’t immediately know his name, you know his work: “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Married to the Mob,” “Something Wild,” “Beloved” and the Talking Heads movie “Stop Making Sense” are but a sample. All that from a guy who started under low-budget producer Roger Corman. “He was the grandest of men,” said “Philadelphia” star Tom Hanks.

Fyre Festival, hyped by Ja Rule and Kendall Jenner, fails bigly

Hyped as “the cultural experience of the decade,” the Fyre Festival in the Bahamas looked less like Coachella and more like total chaos. Organizers, who canceled the two-weekend gig at the last minute, stranded guests who’d paid thousands for the private-island experience. Funny how overpriced school-lunch sandwiches and FEMA-style “luxury” accommodations can go viral, eh? “It looked like the set of ‘Outbreak,’” one guest tweeted. “We figured it was for [general-admission ticket holders]. It would be crazy to treat people who paid the most like this.” Ja Rule said it wasn’t a scam — and it wasn’t his fault.

Writers Guild of America inks its strike authorization

Members of the Writers Guild of America — at least 96.3% of the ones who cast a strike ballot Monday — are willing to walk if they don’t get their way. The situation is complex, but there’s still time to make a deal before the May 1 deadline. Even so, some production-related companies are already tightening their belts (anyone in the market for a gently used picture car?). Animation studios aren’t too stressed, but showrunners on some of TV’s most talked-about series have their fingers crossed.


Domestic Goods — and Bads: Johnny Depp’s ex, Amber Heard, might be dating Tesla’s Elon Musk, or maybe they’re just good friends who hold hands at the zoo … exes Kris Jenner and Caitlyn Jenner are still fighting, this time over things in the latter’s new book.

Trumped: “The Simpsons” had a scathing take on President Trump’s first 100 days in office … Seth Meyers discovered a Trump-related law of physics … John Oliver said Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner at the White House shouldn’t help you sleep at night … “The President Show” star Anthony Atamanuik showed “Travis Noah” how he becomes Donald J. Trump … Stephen Colbert thanked the president for boosting ratings on “The Late Show.”

RIP: Magdalena Abakanowicz, a sculptor whose headless human forms are displayed across the U.S., died at 86 … Robert Pirsig, an author who wrote the counterculture classic “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” died at 88.

Bonus Links: The summer movie season just launched — beating the season itself out of the starting gate — and we put together a list of every movie headed your way in the coming months. Enjoy.