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Blake Shelton And Gwen Stefani Perform Together At ACM Awards For The First Time

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By Sarah Curran.

There’s ‘no doubt’ about it, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani really are a match made in Heaven.

The loved-up duo joined together at the 2020 ACM Awards to perform a heart-melting rendition of “Happy Anywhere,” live from Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe.

 

RELATED: Gwen Stefani Wishes Her ‘Twin’ A Happy 12th Birthday

Fans took to Twitter to praise the romantic performance from the pair, who first started dating back in 2015.

The 2020 ACM ceremony was originally scheduled to take place in April, but was delayed due to the pandemic.

Instead of a traditional show, awards will be presented virtually, while socially distanced performances will take place at three iconic Nashville venues: the Grand Ole Opry House, the historic Ryman Auditorium and the famed Bluebird Cafe.

Country superstar Taylor Swift will be taking to the stage to perform “betty” from her new album folklore, marking the first time for her to sing at the event in seven years.

RELATED: Blake Shelton Responds To Luke Bryan Saying Fans Only Listen To His New Music For Gwen Stefani

In addition to Swift, other scheduled performers for the 55th annual ACM Awards include Jimmie Allen, Kelsea Ballerini, Gabby Barrett, Kane Brown, Florida Georgia Line, Riley Green, Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw, Maren Morris, Old Dominion, Tenille Townes, Morgan Wallen, Trisha Yearwood and more.

Keith Urban is host of this year’s awards, which airs Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Global.

RELATED: Julia Garner Does Spot-On Britney Spears And Gwen Stefani

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Ms. Marvel: Canadian newcomer Iman Vellani cast as Kamala Khan

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Ms. Marvel has been found! One of the latest Marvel and Disney Plus shows has been searching for its lead star and has found her in an up and coming Canadian actor.

Embiggen your hearts, Marvel fans! Ms. Marvel has been found, reports Deadline.

Iman Vellani, a young actor hailing from Ontario, Canada will be taking on the lead role of Kamala Khan in Marvel and Disney Plus’s new series.

Despite not having any on-screen credits under her belt, Vellani has already been making a name for herself in the industry.

She was a member of the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival Next Wave committee that helped choose some of the festival’s diverse picks.

With the Ms. Marvel role, Vellani will be paving the way for even more diversity in the Marvel universe that has only recently started including ethnically diverse superheroes.

Though Marvel and Disney have yet to comment on the news, Ms. Marvel comics writer G. Willow Wilson confirmed the news via Twitter.

Vellani’s fellow Marvel actor, Kumail Nanjiani, the franchise’s first subcontinental superhero, who will be appearing in 2021’s Eternals, congratulated the young actor on landing the role.

Simu Liu, who will be headlining Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, also slated for a 2021 release, hails from Canada, and took to Twitter to welcome Vellani to the universe.

Ms. Marvel is still in development, but Vellani is already set to make a beloved franchise richer than it was before.

Ms. Marvel: What do we know so far?

The Ms. Marvel comics introduced Kamala Khan as the first Muslim superhero in the Marvel comics universe in 2014.

Khan, a Pakistani-American with immigrant parents, developed superpowers from Terrigen mist. She can morph parts of her body and uses the ability to fight villains in her hometown of Jersey City.

Following her solo series, Ms. Marvel joined the Champions and the Secret Warriors. She has featured in numerous animated Marvel shows and videogames, including the 2020 Avengers game.

Vellani is the first cast member to be announced for the show. Bad Boys for Life directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah will be directing episodes of the series, alongside Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Meera Menon, who will also be serving as showrunners. Bisha K Ali is set to be the head writer for the show.

No other details are available thus far, but we can assume that the first season of the Ms. Marvel show will follow her origin story.

Next: Disney Plus: 5 upcoming shows we’re most excited to watch

What are you looking forward to seeing in the Ms. Marvel show? Tell us in the comments below.

The Ms. Marvel show is still in development for Marvel and Disney Plus.

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The Walking Dead, Star Trek, and the rise of the TV mega-franchise

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There are six Walking Dead shows in the works, seven Star Trek shows, and so on. Why all the interest in mega-franchises, and how is Game of Thrones doing it right?

TV runs in phases. In the ’90s, everything was about sitcoms. In the 2000s, gritty antiheroes were all the rage. And since Game of Thrones debuted in 2011, everyone is trying to make splashy expensive fantasy dramas.

All of this is natural; something catches on, different studios put different twists on it, and then they move on to the next thing. What’s the next trend on the horizon? Based on what I’ve been seeing, it may be TV mega-franchises, and I’m far from convinced it’s a good thing.

First, what do I mean by a TV mega-franchise? I’ll give you a few examples. Not long ago, AMC announced that The Walking Dead was ending after a decade on the air — the show’s upcoming 11th season will be its last. That’s a pretty big deal. Love it or hate it, The Walking Dead had become a TV mainstay and it’s going to be strange not having it around.

But that’s the thing: even with the original show gone, The Walking Dead isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s expanding. This time in a few years, we’ll have Fear the Walking DeadThe Walking Dead: World Beyond, Tales of the Walking Dead, a bunch of Rick Grimes movies, and an untitled spinoff about Carol and Daryl. The end of The Walking Dead doesn’t actually mean the end of The Walking Dead. It’s growing into a mega-franchise with new content coming out practically all year round.

Then look at Star Trek over at CBS All Access (or, as it recently rebranded itself, Paramount+). Star Trek: DiscoveryStar Trek: Picard and the animated Star Trek: Lower Decks are already running, not to mention the short film series Short Treks. Coming down the pipeline we have the kids show Star Trek: Prodigy, an episodic show called Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and a series about the intelligence agency Section 31. Meet another mega-franchise.

Just one more to show you this isn’t a weird coincidence: Disney has a hit with The Mandalorian, but they’re not content to stop there. We have lots of Star Wars shows coming up, including one about Obi-Wan Kenobi, another about Cassian Andor from Rogue One, an animated Bad Batch show, and several other rumored series a couple of which I will bet my life get made. The mega-franchise isn’t just a passing idea: it’s the new standard. You even see shows like Netflix’s The Witcher, which is just one season old, planting the seeds with spinoffs like The Witcher: Blood Origin and Nightmare of the Wolf.

So why the sudden interest in building these mega-franchises rather than just giving us one show to enjoy and then maybe a spinoff down the road if it does well? A lot of this probably started with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which showed studios they could stitch together a lot of movies in a way that appealed to a mass audience (and indeed, Marvel looks like its trying to mimic the success of the MCU on TV with upcoming shows like WandaVisionThe Falcon and the Winter SoldierLokiShe-HulkMs. MarvelMoon Knight and Hawkeye). We’ve seen other movie studios mimic this formula, too, most notably Warner Bros. and its DC Extended Universe, although it hasn’t had as much success.

But it’s still trying, because the potential rewards are so high. And what are the rewards? Why, nothing less than the sum total of all your time and money, of course. Marvel made so much money with the MCU that TV studios want in, chaining you to your couch all year long so you can watch all six Walking Dead shows, all seven Star Trek shows, and however much Marvel and Star Wars stuff they can throw at you. The studios are aiming for entertainment domination so complete it won’t leave time for anything else.

The problem with this is that if everyone has this idea, no one’s idea can really succeed. People simply won’t have time to watch every Star Trek show and every Walking Dead show and every Witcher show and so on and so forth, at least not in the numbers needed to make the big investments these studios are making worth it. I see a bubble situation forming, and there’s danger of a pop.

However, the way people watch TV nowadays may be uniquely suited to this kind of mega-franchise model. Back in the old days, when networks made shows and then sold advertising for them, there was a way to easily quantify whether each show made its money back: did the income from advertisements and merch exceed the production costs? If so, great: it was a hit and could be given another season.

However, the new model is to watch shows on streaming services without commercials. Netflix and Disney+ and Paramount+ and the rest make money through subscription dollars, not ads. In this case, a studio can make a ton of shows, and so long as they attract enough new people to sign up, it doesn’t even really matter if those people actually watch them; the shows will have done their job.

As someone who watches a lot of TV, I find the prospect of so many shows a little exhausting, and kind of manipulative. But at the end of the day, if this results in a lot of content for people to choose from, it’s really not that bad of a thing. The cream should still rise to the crop, and I’m happy so many creatives are getting jobs.

Still, I worry about that bubble eventually popping and all those people losing their jobs when the world’s TV executives decide they’d rather make money another way. I guess I’m kind of boring and prefer the slow-and-steady-wins-the-race method of TV production, rather than the throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks method. That’s why, in the midst of all these rising mega-franchises, I appreciate what HBO is doing with House of the Dragon, its follow-up to Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones was more than popular enough to justify a spinoff or two. In fact, I’ve long thought that if the series had been with any other network, we’d already have one. But HBO doesn’t seem to have any interest in making a mega-franchise. It’s making one prequel show, and that’s not due out until 2021, two years after the original show ended. Might people lose some interest over that period? Sure, but it also means HBO is taking its time and making sure what it’s creating is good, which is better for the show’s health in the long run.

And as a fan, it gives me a chance to catch my breath and miss the series for a while, and when HBO finally starts releasing proper promo material for House of the Dragon, I’ll have one direction in which to focus my attention. Blasting me with too much content all at once kind of takes the fun out of fandom, at least if you ask me.

I’d be curious to hear what you think. Why are studios investing in so many mega-franchises? Are you excited by all the variety or exhausted by the overflow of content?

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South Park Tackles the Coronavirus, Police Defunding and More in Utterly Insane Pandemic Special — Grade It

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For months, South Park fans have wondered how the Comedy Central staple would tackle the current state of the world. After Wednesday’s pandemic special, they finally have their answer — and it’s horrifying.

Naturally, everyone in South Park takes a slightly different approach to the pandemic. Randy sees it as a business opportunity, proudly calling a summit in the town square to announce that Tegridy Farms is having a “pandemic special,” a 10 percent-off extravaganza. “People are dying, Randy, and all you can think is to make a special about it?” asks voice-of-reason Sharon. But Randy remains confident in his latest venture, and it isn’t long before he’s rubbing his success in his family’s face.

That is, until a news report confirms that scientists have pinpointed the origin of the coronavirus to a specific bat in a “seedy part” of Wuhan. The news stops Randy dead in his tracks, as he suddenly recalls having unprotected sex with a bat during his trip to Wuhan. It was during one of his all-night benders with Mickey Mouse, who reminded Randy that a bat is basically just a mouse with wings.

It’s a serious wake-up call for Randy, who previously referred to COVID-19 as “some dirty virus from China” and downplayed his brother-in-law’s diagnosis because “Jimbo’s a fat alcoholic who would be in the hospital anyway.” Randy is desperate to hide the truth from his wife because, as he points out, “If she finds out I started the pandemic, she’s going to be a total bitch about it.”

Randy is briefly relieved when follow-up tests reveal that the bat is not connected to the pandemic, but a whole new panic sets in when he learns the real creature responsible. It’s a actually a pangolin, and you guessed it — Randy suddenly remembers that he and Mickey had sex with one of those, too.

He immediately attempts to cover his tracks, infiltrating the containment lab by posing as a “pandemic specialist.” (By his logic, he’s not lying!) After setting his one-time lover free, Randy thinks he’s in the clear, until Mickey threatens to expose him to the world. Thinking quickly, Randy buys himself some time by testing a new theory: If he can get his DNA into COVID-19 patients, he could vaccinate them without them anyone learning the truth. So he does just that by depositing his specimen (ugh) into a Tegridy joint and delivering it to Jimbo. And wouldn’t you know, it works!

So Randy gets down to business, filling his massive supply of weed with his own personal seed. (Grossest rhyme ever.) But while this “special” strain of weed does briefly eliminate symptoms of COVID-19, it comes with an unexpected side effect: a Randy-style mustache! Pretty soon, every stoner in town is rocking his signature ‘stache, forcing Dr. Anthony Fauci to encourage all Americans to start wearing their “face diaper” over their mouth “where the mustache would be.” (Ironically, this is what gets everyone to start wearing their masks correctly.)

Meanwhile, the children of South Park must readjust to life back in the classroom. They’re all a little hesitant, but no one is more opposed to the return of in-person learning than Cartman, who opens the special with a full-blown musical number about the unbridled pleasures of social distancing. The portly troublemaker, who angrily concludes that “Cartman’s life doesn’t matter,” is determined to make things very uncomfortable for his classmates.

Then again, things at South Park Elementary School are already a mess, what with most of the teachers being replaced by police officers. As Detective Harris explains, they force has been defunded “due to events beyond our control” and wants to re-establish itself as a leader of the community. Cartman takes advantage of the police presence, starting a fight that leads to Token getting shot. After dismissing the shooting as a “COVID-related” injury, the cops force the entire school into lockdown.

The boys make a desperate plea to President Garrison, who only takes their call because they misrepresent themselves as Mr. Slave. (Aww!) They beg him to return to South Park and stop the pandemic, to which he asks, “Why would I do that? I made a promise to the American people to get rid of all the Mexicans.” When the boys remind POTUS that it isn’t only killing Mexicans, he replies, “Well, it’s killing a lot of them. I was doing a crap job until this pandemic happened. I’m going to actively not do anything, and you can eat s–t off my balls and die.”

Stans’ attention then turns to a downtrodden Butters; in an attempt to life his spirits, the boys book him an appointment at Build-a-Bear and help him break out out of quarantine. At this point, the townspeople have been whipped into a looting frenzy (doesn’t take much, huh?) until they’re at each other’s throats in the streets. The police claim they can’t get involved because they’ve been defunded, so the mayor signs an executive order to re-fund them. Once again, it takes only a few minutes for them to start shooting innocent children.

Just when the madness reaches its apex, Randy decides to come clean, bringing the pangolin out for everyone to see. But Cartman moves surprisingly quickly, snatching the creature and dangling it over the Build-a-Bear machine. (As if it hasn’t been through enough already!) One of Stan’s classic speeches inspires a change of heart within Cartman, so he hands the pangolin over to the scientists, ensuring a vaccine can be made.

Sadly, the pangolin — and the scientist holding it — is then burned alive by President Garrison, who pops into the frame to remind everyone, “Don’t forget to get out and vote, everybody! Big election coming up!” Yikes.

Was South Park‘s quarantine special everything you hoped it would be? Grade it below, then drop a comment with your full review.

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