Wokeness Wrecked ‘The Bachelor’ Only For Matt James To Get Back Together With A ‘Racist’

The latest rumor circulating the Bachelorsphere is that the last “Bachelor” Matt James is back together with his recently-wrapped season’s front-runner Rachael Kirkconnell, whom he dumped in disgrace after internet trolls dug up purportedly racist photos of the sorority girl at an antebellum-themed college party.

“It’s been a while but here’s some news: Matt and Rachael? Yeah, they’re not over. They’re currently in New York together. FYI,” tweeted Reality Steve on Tuesday night after somebody snapped a photo of what is allegedly the pair walking together in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The buzz about Matt and Rachael is truly fascinating as it comes only three weeks after the cringiest episode of “After the Final Rose” in “Bachelor” history, in which romance took a backseat while race issues were front and center. Matt and interim host Emmanuel Acho — who was tapped to host the finale after Chris Harrison got canceled for initially asking for grace for Rachael before folding to the woke bullies — put Rachael through an on-air struggle session. The conversation was egregious, and it ended in Matt telling Rachael that their relationship wouldn’t work because of her “not fully understanding” his “blackness” and Matt refusing to initiate a “final embrace.”

The Matt-Rachael rumor also comes on the heels of news that current casting for another franchise spin-off, “Bachelor in Paradise,” is not going so well, as Bachelor Nation stars are hesitant to jump on board the turbulent train of Hollywood wokeness.

“Casting has begun and some members of Bachelor Nation are apprehensive to sign up,” one “Bachelor” insider told E! News. “Some are wondering what direction the season will take and are curious if it will strictly focus on contestants falling in love.” If the next run of “Bachelor in Paradise” looks anything like the last “Bachelor” season, fans can expect the focus to stray from contestants falling in love to land instead on progressive politics.

“Many people are declining due to the current state of Bachelor Nation. A lot of people are removing themselves from the franchise,” reportedly added another source.

At this point in the franchise’s progressive purge, it seems the options are for the stars to remove themselves or be removed — just ask Chris Harrison, who hosted the show for nearly two decades and then got the boot for saying essentially the same thing as his replacement host before resorting to groveling pathetically to keep his post. It’s hard to blame potential would-be contestants for walking away. Who wants to be the next victim of a rose-strewn struggle session?

Wokeness ruined “The Bachelor.” It watered the franchise down to the worst version of itself and became repulsive even to woke millennials desperate for Instagram fame. Anything the show had going for it in the way of mindless entertainment has now been replaced by insufferable leftist dogma and cancel culture landmines that nobody wants to navigate for fear of blowing up their life and reputation on national television and being remembered as nothing more than the next fill-in-the-blank controversy.

And for what? If the rumors about Matt and Rachael turn out to be true, which many fans of the show have said would not be surprising, the main takeaway will be that the girl at the center of this year’s biggest pop culture racism scandal will ride off into the sunset with her black boyfriend.

You didn’t solve racism, Hollywood. You effectively matchmade the first black bachelor and his prejudiced lover. Was destroying the franchise worth it?

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Jimmy Kimmel Fails Trying To Rip Americans Skeptical Of Mandatory Vaccine Passports

Late-night television host Jimmy Kimmel backed vaccine passports on his show Tuesday night and contradicted his own argument against Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on voter identification laws. Kimmel said DeSantis and the GOP should support vaccine passports because of election security measures, producing a false equivalency.

“Unfortunately, many Republicans aren’t on board with [vaccine passports], including Ron DeSantis, the terrible governor of Florida,” Kimmel said, proceeding to play a clip of the governor in his Monday press conference vowing to ban vaccine passports in Florida.

“You want to go to a movie theatre, should you have to show that? No. You want to go to a game? No. You want to go to a theme park? No. So, we’re not supportive of [vaccine passports],” DeSantis said in the clip played by Kimmel.

“Right, which is very rich coming from the party that wants nine forms of identification before you can vote,” Kimmel said, to which there was applause in the crowd.

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Kimmel’s argument flips one of the many reasons conservatives argue against vaccine passports. Kimmel claimed that if Republicans support voter ID laws, then they should support vaccine passports.

But in fact, one of the chief contradictions those on the Right point out with vaccine passports — which The Washington Post reports the Biden administration is backing for people to prove their vaccination status — is the fact Democrats are actively opposing voter ID laws (in support of H.R. 1), but now advocating for a coronavirus ID.

Democrats oppose the new Georgia election bill signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on the grounds that it requires voter ID for absentee ballots. The left deems this measure racist, while simultaneously pushing for vaccine passports, which would effectively ban anyone who has not been vaccinated from frequenting venues or traveling.

It’s worth pointing out Biden’s administration is having to address vaccine hesitation, notably among Black and Latino Americans. So by Kimmel’s logic, documentation to prove COVID-19 vaccinations is not racist, but the ID requirements to cast a legal ballot in an election are.

Kimmel employs hyperbole to say it is supposedly contradictory that DeSantis opposes vaccine passports, claiming he “wants nine forms of identification before you can vote.” This is false. In reality, you only need one form of identification to vote, with several states not even requiring a photo ID and accepting things like bank statements, or something with your name and address.

On the contrary, GOP members are now fighting against a radical Democratic Party seeking to eliminate voter ID altogether — and thus seeking to protect just one form of ID.

“Ron DeSantis isn’t the only dope who opposes the passport,” Kimmel said, before playing a clip of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene saying vaccine passports are “Biden’s mark of the beast.”

“None other than Klan Mom herself Marjorie Taylor Greene believes there are biblical implications,” Kimmel said.

Kimmel contradicted himself once more, saying, “Poor Joe Biden. How can you reach across the aisle when the other side thinks you have hooves?”

For starters, there has been no attempt by Biden to “reach across the aisle,” since he has governed from the far-left side of the aisle and is on pace to have signed the most executive orders by any president since Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to The American Presidency Project.

Biden has also continued to call Republicans racist, claiming the GOP’s efforts to oppose H.R. 1 is “makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle,” alluding to segregation laws which southern Democrats favored at a greater rate than Republicans. Taylor Greene, along with a lot of other Americans, is skeptical of an unprecedented attempt to digitize and categorize the confidential data of millions of Americans.

Kimmel acknowledges that “we now have controversies where we never had them before,” and in the process dunks on himself. While he attempts to make the argument that the GOP makes a big fuss over everything the Democrats aim to legislate, his reliance on vaccine passports as something completely new to American culture further validates DeSantis and Greene’s points.

Since vaccine passports are unchartered water, and precisely something “we never [have] had,” the talk show host is unintentionally spot-on. Americans are not insane for being skeptical of a potential program that would require them to inject something in their bodies in order to participate in civic life.

Keep doing your thing though, Jimmy. The more you try to make arguments, the more you demonstrate the insanity of the modern-day left.

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Identity Politics Will Be Hosting ‘The Bachelor’ Season Finale

Following cancel culture’s unjust victory over longtime host of “The Bachelor” Chris Harrison for the sin of compassion, the franchise has announced who will take his place to host the final episode of this season, which boasts the series’ first black bachelor. The interim host will be former Eagles linebacker Emmanuel Acho.

Harrison, of course, can’t host right now because shortly before filming the season finale, termed “After the Final Rose,” he made the mistake of talking back to cancel culture. When photos surfaced of one of this season’s contestants at an antebellum era-themed party in college, Harrison asked for “a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion” for her. That was a bridge too far for progressives intent on carrying out vigilante justice on people whose pasts weren’t quite woke enough. Not only did the contestant face backlash online, but so did Harrison, who then offered a self-flagellating apology for his grace that read like a hostage letter and stepped away from hosting indefinitely. Enter Acho.

Acho isn’t a former contestant, nor is he a close friend of the Bachelor Nation franchise. He has never guest-hosted or made a cameo. Acho’s arena isn’t matchmaking, it’s Lincoln Financial Field; he’s an ex-NFL player, not an ex-bachelor. In other words, he isn’t the logical replacement for Harrison following the iconic host’s fall from grace during the infamous interview with the first black bachelorette Rachel Lindsay. So why is Acho hosting?

Well, Lindsay and her husband recommended Acho, who hosts the podcast “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man,” as a “fantastic” host for the finale. “[He’s] very outspoken about racial injustice, for social justice, and has pretty much been the person who said, ‘I can have these uncomfortable conversations, and people trust it,’” Lindsay said. “Who better to lead it? [He’s] someone who’s not involved with the franchise, no ties, no bias — I think it’d be great.”

Lindsay’s husband agreed, saying: “I echo those sentiments. I think Emmanuel Acho would be the perfect person to have those uncomfortable conversations with the contestants, with [bachelor Matt James] at the end of the day, and I think it would really be a positive step forward.”

Acho, according to the woman who led the outrage mob against Harrison, is the perfect person to host a nonpolitical reality game show about finding love because he’s what? Loud about race issues?

This isn’t the first time ABC has caved to the loudest voices in the room. “Last summer, I was saying that I was going to step away if there wasn’t a lead of color, if changes weren’t made, and then the Bachelor Diversity Campaign came together, which was amazing,” said Lindsay of her former ultimatum. “The Bachelor” Diversity Campaign was the result of an online petition for “anti-racism in the Bachelor franchise,” which featured demands such as racial quotas within the cast and crew, as well as “equitable screen time,” the addition of a “diversity consultant,” and BIPOC “resources” for viewers.

While this might be shocking to ABC writers and producers, many of us fans of Bachelor Nation watch the show not because we were interested in Harrison or Lindsay’s political leanings but because we want to take a break from work, the pandemic, and politics, and instead be entertained. If we wanted to watch someone “outspoken about racial injustice,” we would attend a Black Lives Matter rally or read a Robin DiAngelo book. The only “uncomfortable conversations” many viewers are interested in watching on Monday nights are cringey first impressions and tearful breakups with mean girls.

One of the things that made Harrison so integral to the show was the fact that he was its first and only host. For nearly two decades, Chris Harrison has been synonymous with the series. “Take a moment. Say your goodbyes,” will never sound the same coming out of someone else’s mouth. Lindsay’s plug for Acho, that he’s “not involved with the franchise, no ties, no bias,” shows how out of touch with viewers she really is.

Acho will be hosting the finale not because he’s the best person for the job, but because of his skin color and his voting record. It’s identity politics at its finest, and it’s not why we’re here.

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Give Yourself The Gift Of Watching These Classic Rom-Coms This Valentine’s Day

Picking a movie is always a daunting task in my family. My mom and I have had to sit through our fair share of war movies with no discernible plot, while my dad and brother have patiently suffered through “Gone With The Wind.” The beauty of a good rom-com is having enough “rom” to satisfy more sentimental audiences and enough “com” to keep less romantic viewers interested.

As a connoisseur of the “rom,” I can’t guarantee all the movies on this list will please the most macho of audiences, but I can promise they’re quality classics everyone should see at least once.

Father Of The Bride

There is nothing like watching Steve Martin and a hilariously flamboyant Martin Short argue about a front yard full of swans. In this 1991 classic (a remake of the 1950 Elizabeth Taylor movie), Martin plays a practical but loving father who has a hard time coming to terms with his daughter’s marriage—and the fact that he has to pay for it. Short plays the wedding planner brilliantly with an indeterminate but comical accent.

The comedy in this movie—and in its 1995 sequel—is superb. But the film is also a heartwarming reminder of the gifts of family and memory. Especially in a year when pandemic restrictions have forced many to downsize their weddings and other celebrations, “Father of the Bride” reminds us that everyday moments with loved ones are more important than a picture-perfect ceremony. I never watch it without tearing up at the end, and I never watch it without belly laughing.

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Hitch

This 2005 classic stars Will Smith as a “date doctor,” who helps men learn to pursue women intentionally and creatively. He successfully pairs wealthy, beautiful celebrity Allegra Cole with his kindhearted but stereotypically average client Albert. In his own romantic pursuits, however, he finds his tactics less successful.

Albert and Allegra’s relationship is adorable and heartwarming, but the movie also brings a profound message to an audience steeped in hookup culture.

The art of dating is neither a means to an inevitable one-night stand nor a drab ritual of “hanging out.” Dating shouldn’t be a passive excursion—as Hitch shows us, dating is an opportunity to be authentic but also to put thought and effort into making another person feel interesting.

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High Society

This musical rom-com is definitely on the effervescent side, but a cast that includes Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, and Grace Kelly makes up for any deep intrigue the film might lack. Kelly plays Tracy Lord, a spoiled heiress and the divorced wife of jazz musician C. K. Dexter Haven (played by Crosby), who happens to live next door.

While Lord prepares to marry another man, her ex-husband tries to win her attention, as does a journalist sent to cover the wedding, played by Sinatra. Armstrong and his band grace the whole drama with toe-tapping musical numbers.

Fun fact: this was Kelly’s last film before she left Hollywood to marry real-life Prince Rainier of Monaco, so the whopping 10-carat ring she wears in the movie is her real engagement ring.

The film is a remake of the 1940 movie “The Philadelphia Story,” which has no less impressive of a cast, featuring Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart, and Cary Grant.

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Miss Congeniality

Grace Hart (Sandra Bullock) is a tough FBI agent—not exactly the girly type. When there’s a potential bomb threat at a national beauty pageant, Hart has to go undercover as a contestant, where she struggles to fit in with the ballgowns and bouffants.

You may not come away from “Miss Congeniality” with a deep understanding of how to achieve world peace, but it’s nonetheless fun and lighthearted slapstick comedy.

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Charade

If, like me, you think Breakfast at Tiffany’s is wildly overrated, try this Audrey Hepburn classic instead. The movie begins at an alpine ski lodge, where soon-to-be widow Regina Lampert (Hepburn) meets a mysterious stranger (played by Cary Grant). The rest of the movie is as intriguing and delightful as its opening.

Regina returns from vacation to find her apartment completely empty and her husband murdered. At his funeral, she meets three men who fought with her husband in World War II and are now after money he stole. Lampert seeks help from Grant’s character, while also wondering if he’s actually the one behind the murder.

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You’ve Got Mail

I will admit I don’t exactly get why Tom Hanks is cast in so many rom-coms. But with Meg Ryan, a killer soundtrack, and the most charming bookstore aesthetic, this 1998 film is an enduring classic.

Ryan plays the owner of family bookstore The Shop Around The Corner, which is threatened when giant corporation Fox Books moves in across the street. Ryan and Hanks, the owner of Fox Books, antagonize each other every time they meet. But when they’ve both struck up a conversation with an unnamed stranger in an internet chat room, they just happen to be chatting with each other.

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While You Were Sleeping

Yes, Sandra Bullock makes the list twice. In another classic with less shtick but more good schmaltz than “Miss Congeniality,” this 1995 hit follows Chicago metro employee Lucy after she rescues a handsome stranger from falling onto the rails. They’ve never officially met, but she’s watched him from afar on his commute and fantasizes about a romance with him.

After the accident puts him in the hospital with a coma, a nurse overhears Lucy lament “I was going to marry him!” Assuming she’s the fiancée, the nurse introduces Lucy to the rest of the family, who welcomes her before she has a chance to correct them.

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Whether you’re cozied up with your sweetheart or enjoying a girls’ night, grab some popcorn (and chocolate) and treat yourself to one of these seven classics this Valentine’s Day.

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‘The Real Housewives Of Salt Lake City’ Are All Insufferable And I Love Them

There’s no Sonja Morgan on “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.” There’s no Teresa Giudice or Nene Leakes. There’s only a gang of thoroughly unsympathetic wannabes, thirsting for whatever level of fame Bravo can supply.

They are awful but iconic. By the end of the series premiere, they’d already started a legendary fight over “hospital smell,” the key allegation in a saga involving a double amputee and a Pentecostal first lady married to her step-grandfather.

There’s only one practicing Mormon in the cast (as far as I can tell), who happens to be the proprietor of multiple tequila brands, although a handful of the women are former members of the church. The LDS backdrop is probably overused, and perhaps unfairly so given that it doesn’t have much to do with the cast’s debauchery.

It may, however, have something to do with their attempts at outward perfection, as is immediately implied by one of the women, who owns a “med spa” business. Heather Gay describes herself as “a good Mormon gone bad.”

“A devout Mormon from birth, Heather Gay was married to Mormon royalty for 11  years, but has distanced herself from the church after her divorce,” reads her bio on the Bravo website.

Another member of the cast is a Mormon convert to Islam. The aforementioned Pentecostal first lady who is married to her step-grandfather belongs to the cast as well. These are the two women on opposite sides of the “hospital smell” fight.

There is no Brandi Glanville on RHOSLC. All of the women have reputations to maintain as small(ish)-town socialites. They care deeply about looking rich and happy and well-liked at all times, which is often the kiss of death for a would-be reality star. But it’s working so far. (Almost like the early, Recession-era seasons of “Orange County”?)

Having a cast full of wannabes is not Bravo’s usual recipe for success. It’s always good to have a truth-teller who may care about publicity but doesn’t care much about what people think. (A Bethenny or a Lisa Rinna.) It’s also good to have some sympathetic women in the mix, people you genuinely like or empathize with. That usually requires a mix of self-serious people and foils who deflate them.

All of the RHOSLC women are insufferable. They’ve watched the other housewives get richer and more famous off brand exposure on Bravo and want that for themselves. As key franchises like “Orange County” and “Beverly Hills” sink, and longtime housewives like Vicki Gunvalson, Lisa Vanderpump, and Bethenny Frankel depart their series and make room for new women, RHOSLC feels like an early part of Bravo’s second act.

From “Southern Charm” to “Vanderpump Rules,” time is taking its toll on Bravo favorites. But the network is adapting by introducing strong new series like the “Real Housewives of Potomac” and allowing its shows to break the fourth wall.

RHOSLC hasn’t broken that fourth wall yet, but there’s a clear sense that it’s a new kind of housewives franchise. In the same way reality television of the late aughts introduced us to a group of women shaping the reality landscape, this new era seems to be about women who are being shaped by that landscape. This is franchise for the influencer era.

“The Real Housewives” series is first and foremost a comedy. Again, that’s why you usually need a Bethenny to step in and point the insanity out. But the desperation of the Salt Lake City housewives practically jumps off the screen, from their outfits to their cars, to Jen’s insistence her parties are comparable to the Met Gala.

This isn’t to say they’re irredeemable. As we learn more about their lives, I’m sure we’ll have reasons to empathize.

Well, I’m not sure, but it’s an okay bet. Maybe an unlikely hero will emerge. Maybe they’ll continue making a sweet, consumerist cacophony for the rest of their time on Bravo.

For now, it’s at least interesting that a franchise so dominated by antiheroes is captivating. You’re not laughing with the wives, you’re laughing at them. It’s more evidence that reality television isn’t about the drama. It’s about the comedy.

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Latest ‘Mandalorian’ Shocked Viewers With Action, Adventure, And The Ultimate Name-Drop

This week’s adventure, “The Heiress,” on “The Mandalorian” is directed by Bryce Dallas Howard and finds Mando and Baby Yoda in the midst of some of the greatest danger they’ve faced yet, but with the help from a few new friends, it makes for the best action this series has seen. This is the way!

It’s a Trap

As we rejoin Mando’s adventures with Baby Yoda and the Frog Lady, they’ve made it to the water-filled moon of Trask, and the Razor Crest has barely managed to stay in one piece. While a group from “It’s a Trap!” fame Mon Calamari repair the ship, Mando and Baby Yoda set out to find the rumored Mandalorians that live on this moon. A Quarren, the Star Wars creature whose head looks like a squid, promises to take Mando and The Child to his brethren but only after a trip on the high seas. So off we go on what amounts to the Star Wars version of a fishing boat.

Not surprisingly, the Quarren turns on Mando and tries to feed him and Baby Yoda to an underwater creature, only for them to be rescued by the very Mandalorians they’re seeking. These aren’t just any old Beskar-wearing bounty hunters. It’s none other than Bo-Katan Kryze, leader of the Night Owls, former ruler of Mandalore, and friend of a certain ex-Jedi — but we’ll get to that in a moment.

The Heiress Unmasked

After saving Mando and The Child, Bo-Katan removes her helmet, and lo and behold, it’s none other than acclaimed genre actor Katee Sackhoff. This isn’t Sackhoff’s first foray into the galaxy far, far away. In fact, she and Jon Favreau worked together on Dave Filoni’s “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” Favreau had a guest-starring role in several episodes as the Mandalorian extremist Pre Vizsla. Together, with the help of Darth Maul, that awesome horned villain with the double-bladed lightsaber from the Star War prequels, they started a civil war on Mandalore.

After many hours of animated Star Wars action over two separate series, Bo-Katan served as the wielder of the Darksaber and ruler of the planet that Mando technically calls home. This is her triumphant return to Star Wars.

Mando tells Bo-Katan he’s looking for the Jedi, and she says that if he helps with their mission on the moon, she’ll tell him where he can find one. After a little intra-Mandalorian squabble about whether or not “The Way” allows you to take off your helmet, Bo-Katan tells our titular hero that she’s on this moon to steal weapons from black-market traders and use them to retake Mandalore. Mando drops the egg devourer off with Frog Lady and her husband while he and the Night Owls go storm an Imperial cargo vessel.

To any passing fan of Star Wars animated television, that Gozanti-class cargo freighter will be incredibly familiar. A central part of many “Star Wars: Rebels” adventures, Gozantis are small Imperial cargo ships that carry a squad of Stormtroopers and sometimes TIE fighters or even walkers docked to the underside of their hulls. Here our new group of Mandalorians are assaulting the ship because its cargo contains weapons they need, and it can lead them to Moff Gideon, who has what Bo-Katan ultimately desires more than anything else: the Darksaber.

Space Pirates

Now what transpires is one of the best action sequences of the entire series. Mando and the Night Owls storm the ship, pirate style. This is straight out of an episode of “Rebels” or one of the many Star Wars video games you’ve played since your childhood. The four Beskar-clad badasses take the ship one group of dead Stormtroopers at a time. At one point they even jettison a large group of Imperials out of the airlock of the cargo hold. It’s fantastic fun with more blaster bolt-colored action than you can handle.

Once they’ve reached the cockpit, they take control of the ship from its commander just as he’s about to crash it into the choppy waters of Trask. Bo-Katan asks, “Does he have it?” referring to Moff Gideon’s ownership of the Darksaber. Just before he dies, the Imperial officer says, “If you’re asking, you already know.”

That Massive Name-Drop

Now in the clear, Bo-Katan provides us with what is undoubtedly the most exciting moment of this entire television series. She tells Mando to take the child to the city of Caladan on the forest planet of Corvus where he’ll find Ahsoka Tano. Boom! — the ultimate Star Wars name-drop, at least for big fans of the franchise. Now, if you’re only a fan of the mainstream Skywalker Saga movies, you probably have no idea who that is and are wondering why the hell I’m so excited. If you’re a fan of “The Clone Wars” or “Rebels,” however, then you know what a humungous moment this is.

Ahsoka Tano was the Padawan apprentice of Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars. Her story, told through “The Clone Wars” cartoon created by George Lucas and Filoni, makes the Star Wars prequels actually make sense. The sad thing about those movies is that Lucas focused on the wrong things and didn’t do a great job showing us why Anakin went from Jedi to Sith. Ahsoka makes all that clear.

Assigned to Anakin by none other than the real Master Yoda, Ahsoka starts “The Clone Wars” series as an almost obnoxious teenage student. By the end of the war, she has grown to be a very capable warrior, a good friend to Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and a skeptic of the Jedi Order. The Order even expels her when she’s framed for a terrible crime, but what is critical for Mando’s story is what happened at the end of “The Clone Wars.”

In the closing episodes of the series, Ahsoka and Bo-Katan work together to free Mandalore from the control of Darth Maul. She was a liberator of Mandalore and someone Mando must respect when they meet shortly. The Armorer has told him that Mandalorians battled the Jedi, and that was once true, but as Mando is finding out in this episode, the history of his people is much more complicated than he thought. “The Way,” as it were, isn’t quite as clear as he might think.

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Animated Libertarian Series ‘Tuttle Twins’ Secures $1 Million In Crowdfunding

Known for recent successes with “Dry Bar Comedy” viral videos and unconventional biblical adaptation “The Chosen,” VidAngel Studios based in Provo, Utah announced it has raised $1.07 million in crowdfunding for kids entertainment show “Tuttle Twins.” Author Connor Boyack, whose Tuttle Twins books are geared to elementary-age children, will serve as an executive producer of the animated version.

“Our book series was born of a need and a desire to teach children ‘classical liberal’ ideas,” said Boyack in an interview. “Now we call them conservative or libertarian values: justice, property rights, personal freedom, and personal responsibility. As a father of two children, I literally went on Amazon searching for books to help teach kids those ideas and came up short.”

He and an illustrator friend raised tens of thousands of dollars to produce their first book in 2014. Six years later, their 11 children’s books have now sold more than 1.5 million copies.

Hoping to springboard off that success, VidAngel president Neal Harmon says their animated series will bridge a “huge disconnect” between Hollywood and the nation’s heartland. “There’s an overlooked segment of 41 million Americans who want content for their families that reflects their values,” said Harmon. “These underserved [audiences] need not feel powerless to impact our culture any longer.”

With its million-dollar haul, “Tuttle Twins” ranks as the top crowdfunded children’s entertainment project ever, outraising past efforts from the creators of “Adventure Time” and famed film director Don Bluth (“The Land Before Time”). Daniel Harmon, a creative ad executive and brother of Neal, will serve as showrunner for the “Tuttle Twins” team.

“Our goal is to make this a good cartoon series grounded in great storytelling,” said Harmon in an interview. “The pilot has been created, though currently it’s only in animatic form. People can watch it on our site and get a sense of the story, adventure, comedy, and how we’re depicting these principles.”

Hayek, Rand, and Rothbard—For Kids

Both fathers of young children, the co-creators say recent headlines back up the need for this venture. Last year, a Harris Poll found half of millennial and Gen Z respondents would prefer to live in a socialist country.

“The emerging generations are being seduced by socialism and even communism,” said Boyack. “This reflects an abject failure to teach history and critical thinking, and to expose young people to ideas such as free markets, property rights, and individual liberty. Where schools have failed, parents need to step in and fill that void.”

As president of Libertas Institute, Boyack advocates for libertarian policies in his day job. Writing kids’ books started as a “fun side project” that quickly had substantial market response. He started by adapting French economist Fredric Bastiat’s 1850 classic “The Law,” distilling nearly 100 pages into a breezy illustrated kids’ book.

Since then, essential reads from libertarian authors F.A. Hayek, Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, and even former senator Ron Paul have been adapted as “Tuttle Twins” books. “We’re taking core principles from those original works and turning them into a fun, beautifully illustrated story,” said Boyack. “Then kids and, frankly, their parents as well, are learning the main ideas from these big thinkers.”

Described as “a clean-cut Mormon with a Republican background” by HuffPost, Boyack and Harmon share an affiliation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Just as his children’s books have been embraced by conservatives broadly, they intend the same for the animated series.

“In that first book, the twins learn that rights of life and liberty originate from God,” said Harmon. “It’s straight from Bastiat, and it’s central to my core beliefs. But how it’s captured in the cartoon series will be inclusive. We’ll acknowledge that freedom of religion is a right, but religion is not what we’re pushing here.”

The story themes are largely economic in nature, with one title centered on the Golden Rule. “We have a sizable chunk of our audience who are secular, agnostic, or atheist,” said Boyack. “They believe in these core ideas of human flourishing and strong societies, but they approach it apart from God. These aren’t Christian or American principles, they’re universal.”

When challenged that some see free markets as empowering big corporations rather than individuals, Boyack has an answer at the ready.

“Capitalism and free markets are what make the poorest people today wealthier than the kings of a century ago,” said the author. “The standard of living for people has risen in every segment of society. Today, we see low-income people in African nations who have smartphones able to send and receive digital currency and access the world’s information.”

Storytelling to Transcend Boundaries

Assembling a team of comedy and creative writers, Harmon aims to produce top-notch, fast-paced stories for the small screen. “We want kids to be entertained and think it’s fun,” he said. “Create something kids want to watch, regardless of the principles, then they’ll choose to watch it over all their other options.”

His elevator pitch for “Tuttle Twins” has been finely tuned. “Our creative vision is to mix the comedy of shows like ‘Phineas & Ferb’ and ‘The Simpsons,’” he said. “Then we’ll add the educational teaching and family friendliness of series like ‘The Magic School Bus.’”

Family animation has become a crowded marketplace, with no shortage of hubris among rivals. “We want to beat Disney in family animation,” said Reed Hastings, co-CEO of Netflix, in a recent interview. “That’s going to take a while. I mean, they are really good at it.”

Working with a relatively small budget, VidAngel plans to finalize show scripts with an ad-hoc internal team then farm out character design, backgrounds, and production to an animation house. Harmon says they’re in talks with various teams that have “worked on projects for Disney, Hasbro, and Sony Animation,” although he declined to name specifics.

Part of their vision from the outset is for the show to reach international markets. “A lot of the success of the series will depend on the ability to appeal to diverse audiences,” said Harmon. “That includes ethnic diversity. In the show, the twins have a grandma who is Latina and a first-generation immigrant who has a significant role.”

Considering “Tuttle Twins” books have already been translated into ten languages, author Boyack supports this broadening of the message. “These ideas about forming a strong society are applicable to people of all ethnicities, religions, and cultures,” he said. “With this cartoon series, we have an even greater opportunity to support families all over the world.”

The Power of Big Ideas

With production underway, season one of “Tuttle Twins” will be comprised of four half-hour episodes. VidAngel has confirmed exclusively that the first episode will premiere in early 2021, via streaming avenues to be announced.

More than any aspect of production or storytelling, ideas behind the series excite show creators. “I think everyone likes their freedoms,” said Harmon. “But there’s a giant gap between the number of people who like freedom and the number of people who really understand what freedom is. Where this show has an opportunity is to bring clarity and define these ideas.”

To illustrate the power of dramatic narrative, Harmon brings up the “Spider-Man” movie trilogy starring Toby Maguire. “We all remember that principle, ‘With great power comes great responsibility,’” he said. “It stuck in our heads because it was wrapped up in such a great story. We want these ideas to really sink in, and you do that through compelling stories.”

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With Alex Trebek, We Say Goodbye To An Era In Television

The audience takes its seats, members murmuring amongst themselves. Some comment on how the soundstage looks smaller in person than on the small screen, an optical illusion caused by wide-angle lenses. Others note the set’s cool temperatures, intended to offset the stage lights’ heat. As the production staff provide information and instructions about what they are about to see, the guests just take it all in.

Preliminaries concluded—audience briefed, crew in position—the theme music starts, the lights come up, and the cameras roll. The show’s voice for nearly two score years intones the introduction, rising with the audience’s applause to reach his crescendo:

“And now, here is the host of ‘Jeopardy!’—Alex Trebek!”

* * *

In the last episode of his documentary “Baseball,” filmmaker Ken Burns highlights the inherently nostalgic nature of a national pastime that has as its prime objective “going home.” Home, of course, means many things to many people. In many cases, it represents a sense of place—a feeling or place of being—more than a physical place itself.

Johnny Gilbert recognizes that. At the start of a “Jeopardy!” taping, the announcer introduces himself as “the person who’s been yelling at you for years.” (He’s only half-joking; the Hollywood legend in his own right—at a spry 96 years young—still gets physically animated as he enunciates his script.) He adds that “I feel like I know all of you—you’ve welcomed us into your homes every night.”

Gilbert’s comments hit on the way Trebek feels like an extended member of the family to millions of Americans, someone who has come into their homes every evening, five days a week, for more than 36 years. It seems somehow fitting that Trebek represents merely the public face of a close-knit “Jeopardy!” crew, a television family with names and faces still in the same roles as when I appeared on the show more than a quarter-century ago.

To me, and some of my fellow contestants, Stage 10 at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Overland Avenue represents a home. But for nearly four decades, “Jeopardy!” and Trebek have served as a home for millions—even those who have never set foot on the Sony Pictures Studios lot.

* * *

What has made Trebek feel like a member of so many Americans’ families? Why the outpouring of support and compassion when news of his cancer diagnosis became public? Familiarity helps, of course. Hosting a television show for more than three decades makes one a constant presence in American culture.

But, as evidenced by his behavior at a taping last fall, Trebek has commanded respect precisely by shying away from the limelight. Yes, he hosts a popular quiz show, which has brought him no small amount of fame and fortune. But most regular viewers don’t tune in to see Trebek—they tune in to compete against the material, and watch the contestants strut their intellectual stuff.

Unlike other game shows, where hosts can show off their outsize personalities, hosting “Jeopardy!” requires a light touch—gently moving the game along, and deferring to contestants rather than using them as fodder for comedy bits. In fact, one of the few times Trebek seemed out-of-place on stage—a Pennsylvania gubernatorial debate he moderated in 2018—arose precisely because he inserted himself into the discussion far too often.

In general, Trebek deprecates, both on camera and off. Asked about his health by an audience member, he responds by saying, “I’m doing fine,” and then elaborates only slightly: “I have good days and bad days, and today’s OK.” As might be expected from someone battling a major illness, Trebek doesn’t seek to make his condition a major topic of discussion—he has a job to do, and wants to get on with it for as long as he can.

Trebek also employs humor to self-deprecate, responding to audience questions with quick quips, often at his own expense. Asked for his hobbies and outside interests: “I drink.” If he couldn’t host game shows, what would he have done with his life? “Pope. I’m fine with the celibacy, and I like wearing white”—accentuated with a few faux pontifical blessings for comical emphasis. And when Gilbert jokes that a gift bag contains boxes of Depends, Trebek shouts out: “I’ll take ‘em!”

In 2007, Britain’s Labour Party tried to humanize their otherwise-dull prime minister, Gordon Brown, with a marketing campaign: “Not Flash, Just Gordon.” Trebek holds little of Brown’s dour Scottish demeanor but, due in large part to his working-class Canadian roots, he eschews flashiness, or a desire for cheap headlines. He has functioned in the background of American life, ever-present, but rarely foremost in prominence.

Now, however, that voice seems conspicuous by its absence.

* * *

At that November taping, one of the contestants in particular struggled mightily. Early in the episode, she couldn’t master the signaling button to ring in. But once she learned how to use the buzzer, she rang in—and froze. She rang in for the wrong clues, and forgot responses under the glare of the stage lights. On this particular day, everything that could go wrong for her did.

Having over-compensated when behind in a match myself, I couldn’t help but feel compassion for the contestant, who seemed shell-shocked by the experience. With a negative score heading into Final Jeopardy!, the producers escorted her off the stage, while the two remaining contestants played out the last clue.

At the end of the match, the producers brought the contestant back on stage while the show’s closing credits rolled. While the two other contestants chatted with Alex, this third contestant stood there awkwardly, likely wishing she was standing anywhere else in the world than on that soundstage.

Trebek noticed her discomfort, and pulled her aside for a quiet conversation as the cameras switched off. I know not what words he spoke to her, or whether his words helped to put the episode in proper perspective. But I couldn’t help but recognize the fact that a man fighting for his life took time to comfort this distraught contestant. That heartfelt gesture had an impact on me, an observer watching from a distance; I can only imagine it had a similar impact it had on her.

* * *

Towards the end of the day, I had a surprising feeling. I had flown out to Los Angeles solely to attend a “Jeopardy!” taping. Given Trebek’s ill health, and the impact “Jeopardy!” had on my life—I met my sister through the show—I wanted to go back to Stage 10 while I still could. I got on a plane, went straight from the airport to the studio, and after several patient hours of waiting, got escorted onto the set.

Yet despite all the effort and all the drama, an hour or so into the taping, that emotion had all subsided. The show felt like just another “Jeopardy!” taping, one of the many I have seen in Washington and Los Angeles. I even thought to myself that I could come back for another taping in the coming months.

I soon stopped myself, realizing that day would never arrive. Trebek’s illness had numbered his days, and the coronavirus—not on anyone’s radar that day last November—closed the “Jeopardy!” set to audience members.

But as usual, Trebez’s pitch-perfect professionalism and quick wit had calmed my emotions, and made me feel at home, just as he has made millions of people feel at home for decades. And because he made them feel at home, Americans welcomed him, and his show, into their homes, night after night, for good-natured entertainment in the form of answers and questions.

Alex Trebek has himself gone home now, having left us with many fond memories and a powerful legacy. Requiescat in pace.


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‘Supermarket Sweep’ Remake Is Losing Its Coherence In Flash

The world contains so many examples of the old cliché that one person can make a difference. One of the more recent happens to air Sunday nights on ABC.

“Supermarket Sweep,” a game show originally created in the 1960s that featured a popular 1990s relaunch, has returned for another reboot. While remaining true to the show’s original premise, its tone and tempo vary significantly from the “Supermarket Sweep” of a generation ago—due in large part to the show’s latest host, Leslie Jones.

Running through the Aisles

In substance, the ABC show largely resembles the version that aired on Lifetime from 1990-95, and later on PAX-TV from 2000-03. (Reruns of these shows air frequently on Buzzr, a digital game show channel available on many cable systems.)

Three pairs of contestant teams answer questions about food and grocery products, winning time to spend out in the market. Following the question round, the teams all compete in the “Big Sweep,” rushing through the aisles with shopping carts to gather as many groceries and bonus prizes as they can with the time they had previously banked.

The team with the highest total in the “Big Sweep” goes on to the bonus round. In the 1990s cable version, teams that could solve three puzzles about grocery products, and gather the items referred to in the clues, within one minute won a prize of $5,000. The network remake features higher cash prizes—$25,000 for collecting three clues within a minute, with the opportunity to risk that sum to win $50,000 or $100,000.

Different Hosts, Different Styles

While using the same general format as the 1990s cable version, the ABC remake also features modernized touches. “Supermarket Sweep” features new graphics, and more visually based clues consistent with our digital age.

But the biggest differences come when comparing the two hosts. David Ruprecht, who hosted the 1990s cable version, represented the epitome of Middle America. Born in St. Louis to a Lutheran minister, Ruprecht’s genial demeanor made him seem so inoffensive as to be bland. In promoting its “Supermarket Sweep” reruns, Buzzr went so far as to air commercials claiming his mother had knitted him the sweaters he wore religiously on the Lifetime episodes of the show—a real-life Ned Flanders turned game show host.

By contrast, Jones, a former “Saturday Night Live” cast member, exudes energy, enthusiasm, and confidence. Whereas Ruprecht employed gentle ribbing or corny jokes while interacting with contestants, Jones will jump and shout right along with them. The fact that “Supermarket Sweep’s” producers replaced the prior theme song with Salt-N-Pepa’s hip-hop anthem Push It demonstrates the brash, up-tempo style they wish the newest version to exhibit.

Excitement, Or Just Chaos?

At times, however, Jones’s style means the show gets lost in a cacophony of noise, most notably during the “Big Sweep.” In the 1990s version of “Supermarket Sweep,” announcer Johnny Gilbert gave a detailed narration of the contestants’ movements throughout the market. His voice-overs explained what the teams had loaded into their carts, and the strategies they used while prowling the market, bringing valuable context to the chaotic footage.

In the modern version, Jones doubles as the announcer during the “Big Sweep,” and the show suffers for it. (Ruprecht told TMZ this summer that he auditioned for the announcer role, but the producers had Jones fill the role instead.) While showing enthusiasm for the contestants’ efforts, Jones doesn’t do a good job of weaving a clear narrative. A viewer randomly tuning in would just see a bunch of people running around, and likely wouldn’t understand the plot.

Despite knowing the 1990s version by heart—I watched its original run as a child, and have viewed reruns on Buzzr over the past few years—I couldn’t always make sense of the show. Viewers heretofore unfamiliar with the “Supermarket Sweep” franchise likely will understand even less.

New Generation of Game Show Hosts

Jones, who not only watched the 1990s version of the show, but auditioned for it, represents a new generation of game show host. With hosts almost universally white, middle-aged males until the past few years, people like Jones, Elizabeth Banks, and Jane Lynch—who host remakes of “Press Your Luck” and “The Weakest Link,” respectively—have helped break that mold.

While the diversity of on-air talent doubtless represents progress, viewers still need a coherent show to hold their attention. Hopefully, the producers and Jones will work on improving “Supermarket Sweep” to make the show congeal more clearly.

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Why ‘The Simpsons’ Shouldn’t Hire Voice Actors Based On Their Race

Tuning in to the season premiere of “The Simpsons” Sunday night, something felt different. Halfway through the episode, the thought occurred that one of Homer Simpson’s co-workers sounded off.

Sure enough, a search online revealed that Alex Desert had taken over the voice of Carl Carlson, who works with Homer at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. The move comes as “The Simpsons,” along with other animated shows, said they will no longer cast white actors to voice African American roles.

Coming two years after the controversy about recurring Simpsons character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the move represents an attempt, however well-intentioned, to increase diversity that looks more like a ham-handed appeal to the social justice crowd.

Panoply of Characters

Earlier this year, Simpsons actor Hank Azaria said he would no longer voice the role of Apu. That character has remained in limbo since a documentary, “The Problem with Apu,” argued the character had become a derisive stereotype used against those with Indian or South Asian ancestry.

Azaria, who is white, had also provided the voice for Carl Carlson prior to this season, as well as Officer Lou, an African American officer with the Springfield Police Department. Hank Shearer, who is also white, had voiced Doctor Julius Hibbert, “The Simpsons”’ other recurring African American character. Neither Lou nor Hibbert had voice roles in Sunday night’s episode, so it remains unclear which actors will portray them.

Therein lies one potential implication of “The Simpsons”’ move. The show already has an enormous cast of recurring characters that numbers in the dozens at minimum. Finding individual actors to voice every role—as opposed to voice artists who can switch between “characters” easily—represents an enormously time-consuming endeavor.

It, therefore, seems quite possible that an ensemble show like “The Simpsons” will end up hiring one African American actor to play all the African American roles, a move that would increase diversity among voice actors, but only marginally.

Other Insensitive Stereotypes?

More broadly, the notion that only actors of a given race, sex, or ethnicity can fill roles for that demographic background would rapidly disqualify talented actors, and narrow the range of roles an actor could portray.

Take two other examples from “The Simpsons.” In addition to his prior roles providing the voices for Carlson and Officer Lou, Hank Azaria also voices Dr. Nick Riviera, Springfield’s resident quack physician.

Azaria based Riviera’s voice on a bad Ricky Ricardo impersonation. But Azaria’s Italian heritage holds little in common with the Cuban roots of Desi Arnaz, who created and played the original Ricky Ricardo character in “I Love Lucy.”

If Azaria voicing an African American or Indian American character represents an offensive action he and the show felt the need to stop, why would he continue to voice a Cuban American character? Similarly, Don Castellaneta also holds Italian roots, but voices Groundskeeper Willie, “The Simpsons”’ stereotypical Scotchman with a feral beard and thick Scottish accent. How can an Italian American properly voice a Scotchman?

Of course, taken to its most extreme limits, this kind of logic would eliminate acting altogether. If only “lived experience” qualifies an individual for a role—the same reasoning that says an African American actor cannot play a white character, a childless woman cannot play a mother, and so forth—then no one ever has the right to portray anyone else, because no two people have ever had the exact same lived experiences.

Increase Diversity the Right Way

Rather than going down this intellectual cul-de-sac, “The Simpsons” and other animated shows would have served themselves far better by continuing their prior efforts to increase diversity among the actors they hire. Variety notes that over the past few years, the show has hired Kevin Michael Richardson, an African American known for his work on “The Cleveland Show,” for a variety of roles.

Having done the right thing over the past few years, “The Simpsons” now appears to have jumped the proverbial shark. Hiring actors from under-represented groups — whether individuals of color or other social backgrounds — naturally represents a laudable movement towards inclusion and diversity. But setting hard-and-fast rules, or recasting long-standing characters just to meet rapidly changing social mores, just looks like pandering.

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