That’s some “Wicked” good casting.
Pop icon Ariana Grande and Tony-winning, Oscar-nominated singer-actress Cynthia Erivo revealed that they will be starring opposite each other in the highly anticipated film adaptation of the smash Broadway musical “Wicked.”
The performers broke the news on their Instagram pages.
“Pink goes good with green,” Erivo, 34, wrote on her page along with a series of photos of her looking elated about her upcoming role. Meanwhile, Grande, 28, posted a screenshot of herself and her “Wicked” co-star receiving the good news via Zoom from the film’s director Jon M. Chu (“In the Heights,” “Crazy Rich Asians”).
“Thank goodness,” Grande captioned the pic.
Grande will play the teen version of Glinda (the Good Witch) opposite Erivo’s Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West, in the movie, which follows the friendship of the two young sorceresses before the events of “The Wizard Of Oz.” They will fill roles originated by Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, who earned a Tony for her performance as Elphaba in the “Wicked” musical by Winnie Holzman, which is currently in its 18th season on Broadway.
The role marks Grande’s first appearance on the Broadway stage since the 2008 production of “13,” in which the Grammy winner played the role of gullible teen Charlotte. She also predicted her eventual casting via a tweet a decade ago:
Erivo, meanwhile, has been a veteran of the theater, having received both a Grammy and a Tony Award for her work in the stage production of “The Color Purple.” The actress and singer is also a two-time Oscar nominee for “Harriet” (2019), and earned an Emmy nod for her portrayal of Aretha Franklin in “Genius: Aretha.”
The “Wicked” movie is currently slated to start production in the UK in summer 2022.
Natalie Wood’s 1981 drowning death has remained one of Hollywood’s great mysteries for four decades.
But her sister Lana Wood believes there is one person to blame for the “West Side Story” actress’ death: Natalie’s husband, Robert Wagner.
“I don’t believe it was premeditated,” Lana, 75, told The Post. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t think he did it: Of course he did!”
Now, she has written “Little Sister: My Investigation into the Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood” (Dey Street Books), out Tuesday. The book — part memoir, part true-crime investigation using new evidence dug up by homicide detectives — aims to dispel the myths and illuminate the facts surrounding Natalie’s tragic death.
In it, Lana also alleges that actor Kirk Douglas sexually assaulted a teenage Natalie — confirming one of Hollywood’s oldest rumors.
According to the book, their mother, Maria, had dropped 16-year-old Natalie at the Chateau Marmont to meet Douglas, a very important actor at the time.
Lana was asleep in the car when Natalie finally came back, disheveled and upset, whispering angrily at their mother. But Natalie later told her what had happened: Maria had arranged a meeting with Kirk Douglas, who sexually assaulted Natalie.
“I knocked on the door Mom told me to go to, and next thing I knew, Kirk Douglas was ushering me into his suite,” Natalie told her, Lana writes in the book.
Then Natalie began to cry before murmuring softly, “He hurt me, Lana … It was like an out-of-body experience. I was terrified. I was confused.”
“That really affected her entire life — how she looked at things and how she perceived things,” Lana recalled. But Natalie did nothing about it, “because of my mom telling her that she’d ruin her career, she’d never work again.”
After that, “Natalie was so guarded … And she really mistrusted men after that.”
Which makes Lana’s allegations about Natalie’s death all the more heartbreaking.
Lana woke up in her Los Angeles home the morning of Nov. 29, 1981, to a ringing phone — followed by a blood-curdling scream.
The 35-year-old leaped out of bed, found her wailing mother on the floor and took the phone away from her.
“I’m so sorry, Lana. I just heard about Natalie,” said her friend on the line.
Natalie was, at that moment, supposed to be on a yacht with Wagner and her friend and current co-star Christopher Walken.
“They found her body this morning,” the friend explained. “Washed up on shore on Catalina [Island].”
At first, Lana didn’t believe it. Then she turned on the TV. According to breaking news, Natalie had disappeared from the yacht during the night, supposedly taking a dinghy to — her husband would later say — “party hop.” Her body was found floating in the water the next morning, in a nightgown, socks and a down jacket.
According to “Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind,” a 2020 documentary made by Wood’s daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, the manager of a mainland restaurant where Natalie, Wagner, Walken and the yacht’s skipper, Dennis Davern, had dined the night before was worried they were all too intoxicated to make it back to the yacht. (Wood’s toxicology report revealed a blood-alcohol content of 0.14 percent, nearly twice most states’ DWI limit.) But they did make it back, after 10:30 p.m. In the documentary, Wagner says he and Walken got into an argument, but both thought Natalie was safe on the boat.
They went looking for her just after 11 p.m. and apparently discovered the dinghy missing.
“None of the things that [Wagner, Walken or the yacht’s skipper] said or that the police said at that time rang true to me,” Wood told The Post from her home in Los Angeles.
“The things that they were saying that Natalie did” — that the nightgown-wearing actress had taken the yacht’s dinghy to “party hop” among the boats parked in the harbor — “they might as well have been saying that she was trying to fly to another planet. They were totally out of character.”
A representative for Wagner had no comment.
Over the next few months, she tried to get more answers from Wagner — but he swiftly cut Lana out of his life, telling her to only contact him through his lawyer. She tried not to read too much into his strange behavior.
But 10 years after Natalie’s death, she received a phone call out of the blue from Dennis Davern, the yacht’s skipper.
“I didn’t tell the cops everything,” he said between tears. “Not even close.”
In 2011, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reopened the case after Davern‘s 2009 book, “Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour,” revealed he had heard the married couple arguing before Natalie’s disappearance. That year, the coroner changed the cause of death to “drowning and other undetermined factors” after re-evaluating the case details, including that Natalie’s body appeared to have fresh bruises when it was initially found. Police reclassified the case as “suspicious” and, in 2018, named Wagner, now 91, a “person of interest.” The case remains open.
“It isn’t for my sake, it’s for Natalie’s,” Lana said of the book. “I felt like nobody was watching over Natalie. Nobody was trying to, you know, stand up for her … She would have done the same for me.”
Natalie Wood was born in 1938 in San Francisco, the oldest child of Russian immigrants. A fortune teller told her mother, Maria, that she would give birth to a famous actress, and Maria did her best to manifest that prediction. By the time Lana was born, in 1946, 8-year-old Natalie was already a movie star, acting alongside Orson Welles in “Tomorrow Is Forever” and filming “Miracle on 34th Street.”
“I basically grew up on her sets,” Lana said, adding that her mother would drag baby Lana to watch Natalie work. Lana nabbed her first film role when she was 7, playing a younger version of her sister’s character in the Western “The Searchers.”
Lana never felt shy around Natalie’s Hollywood friends like Dennis Hopper and Tab Hunter, who would often come over and swim, or her boyfriends like hotel heir Nicky Hilton. One day, Natalie’s quiet “Rebel Without a Cause” co-star James Dean came by, and Lana ambushed him.
“I turned off all the lights and shone a flashlight on the wall and moved it quickly up and down so it looked like it was dancing — I thought it looked like a stylish movie, and I wanted to show him,” she said. “Poor Jimmy Dean sat through it and then told [me] it was wonderful.”
But Robert — “R.J.” — Wagner was different. The 26-year-old actor, who had starred in “Prince Valiant” and “A Kiss Before Dying,” began dating Natalie when the actress was 18, and he never even uttered a “hello” to 10-year-old Lana.
“I remember him walking down the hall past my room and that he had very blue eyes,” she said. “Other than that, I felt absolutely nothing towards him.”
In 1957, “When they got married the first time, I cried loudly throughout the entire ceremony,” Lana said. Afterward, Natalie went over and put her arm around Lana, asking her what was wrong. “I said, ‘I just lost you.’ And you know what? I was right. I did.”
Lana continued to see Natalie — even living with her and R.J. at one point when tensions with her mother reached a boiling point — yet she noticed that her sister’s new husband mostly stayed out of her way. Still, she was shocked in 1962 when Natalie showed up at their parents’ house, distraught and with a bleeding hand.
Natalie told her family she had walked in on Wagner “in a compromising position” with his butler and was so “enraged that she squeezed the glass she was holding until it shattered and cut her,” Lana writes.
The couple divorced, with the press blaming the breakup on Natalie’s affair with her “Splendor in the Grass” co-star Warren Beatty. Lana said her sister didn’t begin dating Beatty until after she and Wagner had split.
Natalie went on to marry producer Richard Gregson and give birth to their daughter, Natasha; Wagner wed actress Marion Marshall, with whom he had daughter Katie. But 10 years later, both newly single, Natalie and Wagner announced they were getting married to each other a second time.
When Lana expressed confusion about their reunion, given that Wagner had cheated on her sister with a man, their mother glibly parroted, “He’s cured” of homosexual tendencies.
Pushed by Lana on the matter, Natalie told her: “Sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.”
“I would have really liked to hear, ‘I love him dearly and I can’t live without him,’ something like that,” Lana said. “But to give me a quote about devils? It really didn’t sit well.”
Natalie and Wagner’s daughter, Courtney, was born in 1974, and after making such hits as “Gypsy,” “West Side Story” and “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,” Wood had largely disappeared from the big screen. In 1981, she was making the sci-fi movie “Brainstorm” with Walken, and the two had become pals.
He was on the boat the night she died, but has never spoken publicly about her death. (Lana told The Post that Walken has spoken with the detectives currently working on the case, under the condition that his remarks would never be made public.)
Lana told The Post that she doesn’t believe Natalie and Walken ever slept together, but that they were close and had great chemistry. “Everybody flirts on sets.”
After Natalie’s death, according to the book, Wagner began to treat Lana with outright hostility. He would invite her daughter and mother to dinner and exclude her. He ragged on Lana to the press after she sold some of Natalie’s clothes, and had his lawyer draw up a statement for Lana to sign, relinquishing any and all further claims against Natalie’s estate.
Lana — a sometime actress who was Bond girl Plenty O’Toole in “Diamonds Are Forever” — had been employed behind the scenes in film production, but after her sister’s death, she couldn’t find any work. Eventually, Rowland Perkins, president of the Creative Artists Agency, called her and told her that Wagner had gotten her blacklisted in the industry.
“I have no idea [why he would blacklist me] other than it came back to me that he considers me a loose cannon,” Lana told The Post.
She started selling dolls and got a job as a salesperson for Sprint. She and her young daughter moved in with Maria, who was living in one of Natalie’s old condos. Then Wagner kicked her out, explaining he was the rightful owner.
“He was trying to make sure and sink me, but he wasn’t able to,” Lana said. “He didn’t ruin me.”
In the early 1990s, Dennis Davern began calling her, talking about Natalie and Wagner’s troubled relationship. He told Lana — and would write in a 2011 testimonial — that he overheard Wagner accuse Walken of wanting to “f–k” Natalie. He claimed that the married couple had a fight out on the boat’s deck right before she went missing and that Wagner prevented him from putting out a call to shore for a missing person.
In 2009, Davern collaborated on a book about the incident, which exposed several inconsistencies in witness testimonials and holes in the investigation.
For one, Wagner had told police that his wife probably tried to take the dinghy out when she drowned, but Davern said Natalie couldn’t operate the dinghy. Plus, she couldn’t swim and had a severe phobia of dark water — due to that prophecy her mother had received from a fortune teller, who not only told her she would have a famous daughter, but also that her daughter would drown.
Wagner had also said that Natalie had probably taken the dinghy out to go party hopping, yet the actress was wearing her nightgown and slippers.
In 2011, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reopened the case, interviewing other key witnesses, whom the original detectives never bothered pursuing. The book mentions one woman who talked to the press shortly after Wood’s death — after trying to contact the police several times — then received a threatening note saying, “If you value your life, keep quiet about what you know.”
A coroner found that Natalie had fresh bruises on her body that didn’t look like they were from the boat but from a person.
Lana writes in her book that she believes Wagner and Natalie had an “alcohol-fueled argument” that “escalated into a physical confrontation” and that Wagner “delivered a blow to the left side of Natalie’s face that knocked her unconscious.”
“I believe,” she writes, “that suddenly, panic-stricken when he realized what he’d done, R.J. made the fatal decision to put Natalie in the water to avoid being held responsible for what had happened.”
The book speculates that Wagner sent Davern — who had come up to intervene — to look for the “missing” Natalie “to give himself time to untie the dinghy.” Davern said in his testimonial that Wagner did tell him not to turn the searchlights on or to call the authorities until two hours later, and Lana writes that she believes that he did this to “[cover] up the fact that, in a drunken, jealous, rage-filled moment, he’d ended the life of Natalie Wood.”
Still, Lana said she didn’t write the book to bring down her brother-in-law.
“Wagner is not going to jail. He’s not going to be arrested. He’s not going to admit anything,” Lana explained. “All I can do is attempt to have people understand the truth, and to show Natalie as she really was.”
In the 2002 film “Spider-Man,” Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben told his nephew, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
What he did not dramatically say was: “With great power comes more than 30 films.”
But that unfortunately is maniac Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige’s misguided interpretation of the comic book wisdom.
“Eternals,” out Friday, is somehow the 26th movie in the so-called Marvel Cinematic Universe, a Texas-size web of interconnected superhero features that’s been devouring cinemas since 2008’s “Iron Man.”
There are seven more on-screen clones publicly announced through 2023’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” and many others are said to be in development, which sounds less like a plan than a threat.
If Marvel continues their Usain Bolt pace of releasing three movies a year, by 2029 we’ll have 50 of these things. Stop the madness!
Yet why would these addicts pack up shop now? Feige & Friends are printing money (“Endgame” raked in nearly $2.8 billion worldwide) for the Evil Little Mouse, Disney, and crazed fans are still slobbering over capes and Spandex — if not with the same intensity as they did with “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Endgame,” briefly the highest-grossing film of all time before “Avatar,” buoyed by a rerelease, blew past it.
Those two films, however, also marked the franchise’s peak of quality. “Black Panther,” lest we forget, was nominated for Best Picture in 2019.
If I were Feige, well, I’d buy a Greek island. But I also wouldn’t send my awards-show tux out to the dry cleaners next year.
Besides being the flick to surpass the James Bond series’ scant 25 chapters, “Eternals” holds a less illustrious record: It’s the worst-reviewed Marvel entry so far. “Nomadland” Oscar winner Chloé Zhao’s movie holds a mere 53 percent on RottenTomatoes.
In my review for The Post, I gave it one star. The sleepy dud jumps between so-so and so embarrassing. It introduces some 10 bland characters we don’t enjoy or care about, but like our distant cousins in Wyoming, we have to see them again and again because they’re in the damn family.
Yes, I know the recent “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings” was very good. And “Black Widow” was fine. However — and deep down you know this, Marvel fans — the MCU’s best days are behind it. Before the pandemic, we were being force-fed flavorless Soylent Green like “Captain Marvel” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” And there will be more uninspired crapola. So. Much. More.
Getting out when the going is good, and ensuring a legacy, goes against our modern “More! More! More!” attitude. Instead, we wring out every last penny from something until it dies a pathetic death. Over at Disney, they’ve turned “Star Wars” into “The Neverending Story” and are forcing Harrison Ford to play Indiana Jones again at 79 years old. The guy already looked exhausted when he made “Crystal Skull” 13 years ago — but it’s Disney who’s holding the whip now.
It wasn’t always that way. “Seinfeld” went off the air in 1998 as one of TV’s most popular shows. In 2002, tennis player Pete Sampras retired shortly after he won the US Open. Harper Lee wrote just one great novel with “To Kill A Mockingbird” (“Go Set a Watchman” doesn’t count).
Here’s Uncle Johnny’s advice: There’s real dignity in walking away on top. Or flying, such as the case may be.
On his visionary debut album, 2009’s “Man on the Moon: The End of Day,” Kid Cudi opened up about his “Pursuit of Happiness.” But after years of battling depression, anxiety and drug abuse, the influential rapper-singer found himself in such a dark place that he was contemplating suicide in 2016.
“I had just started using [cocaine] again, not happy with myself that I allowed myself to go back to that after all these years,” Cudi says in the new Amazon Prime documentary “A Man Named Scott,” premiering Friday. “I was just really ashamed. I was suicidal, and I was at a place where I was trying to plan it. And I knew that if I didn’t go get help, that something woulda happened … I just had to get my s – – t together.”
And in an emotional Facebook post Oct. 4, 2016, Cudi — whose real name is Scott Mescudi — revealed that he checked himself into rehab. But it was a long journey to recovery for this 37-year-old artist, whose emo hip-hop has inspired everyone from his longtime collaborator Kanye West and A$AP Rocky to actors Timothée Chalamet and Shia LaBeouf — all of whom are interviewed in “A Man Named Scott.”
After the breakout success of “Man on the Moon” — which also featured the hit “Day ’n’ Nite” — Cudi struggled with his newfound fame. “I just really found it hard to be happy,” he says in the doc. “I accomplished what I came to New York City to accomplish, but I was miserable, man … There would be some nights where I’d be at the club, and I would just run out the club and run for blocks, and I would hop in a yellow cab trying to get away from my security.”
Along the way “from being Scott to being Kid Cudi,” he got lost. “It was a little bit of a nightmare for me, because I wasn’t right with myself,” says Cudi. “When I would do shows, I didn’t feel anything.”
Cudi used cocaine to cope with the anxiety that came with finding stardom and losing his privacy. “[Interviewers] would be like, ‘Oh, when you lost your dad at 11 years old, what was that like?’ ” he says. “And I would do interviews with sunglasses on, and I’d be on cocaine, and I’d just be, like, sitting there answering these questions, ’cause that’s the only way I could talk about stuff like that.”
After getting arrested in New York in 2010 on charges of criminal mischief and possession of a controlled substance, Cudi had a wake-up call. “I remember I got out of jail, and I was ashamed because I grew up with two uncles that were addicted to crack,” he says. “But I’m glad I got arrested, because that’s when I quit. I don’t think I woulda quit if people didn’t find out about it.”
Still, he couldn’t shake all of his demons, and in 2015, he even sang about killing himself on his single “Confused!” Feeling “empty inside,” Cudi relapsed on cocaine.
“People look up to me, but I’m not a happy person, so a lot of the times I felt like a fraud,” he says, “and that’s what drove me to the dark side.”
Cudi even drove away his BFF LaBeouf. “The cocaine s – – t scared me deeply,” says LaBeouf. “When he started doing it, I couldn’t talk to him no more, like, I couldn’t get to him no more. He started getting isolated, he wouldn’t respond.”
But after finally facing “my bulls – – t” in rehab, Cudi says, “I’m in such a happier place … And knowing that I’m at a better place with me, with Scott, that I love myself, that I’m happy, I just hope fans can see that.”