This article contains spoilers for the premiere of “The Golden Bachelor.”
Arguably the most hyped series of the new fall season, “The Golden Bachelor,” ABC’s new twist on its hit “The Bachelor” franchise, has finally arrived. One of the biggest questions revolves around whether a large audience, particularly regular members of the Bachelor Nation fan base, will enjoy seeing a story about senior citizens falling in love.
The show features Gerry Turner, a 72-year-old widower from Indiana who is looking for a partner to share his “golden years.” He is introduced to 22 women in their 60s and 70s, many of them hoping for a second or third chance at love.
Although “The Golden Bachelor” carries over many of the touchstones of the franchise, producers are counting on attracting viewers who are not familiar with the show.
So does “The Golden Bachelor” live up to expectations? Senior writers Greg Braxton — who has written numerous stories about “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” — and Meredith Blake, a relative newcomer to the franchise, weigh in.
Braxton: Welcome to Bachelor Nation, Meredith!
I will start by admitting that I have never gotten a lump in my throat or felt any surge of emotion when watching “The Bachelor.” But resistance was futile while watching “The Golden Bachelor.” The premiere was a heady mix of humor and heart, a definite departure from the usual bombastic kickoff, which typically promises all kinds of sexy fun and games in exotic locations as the leads start their journey for love. This chapter starts almost with a whisper — a Cat Stevens tune scores Gerry’s introduction as he recounts his devastation losing his wife, Toni, his high school sweetheart and the love of his life, to a bacterial infection seven years ago. It’s impossible not to be moved as we see both his deep grief and his hopes of finding a new partner. It’s hard to imagine folks tuning out after those moments.
Blake: Someone must have been chopping onions because I, too, found myself tearing up while watching this episode, which was such a pure delight that I can’t believe it’s taken ABC this long to give us a “Golden” spinoff.
I agree that there probably will be a lot of curiosity seekers checking out the premiere — and that they’ll probably stick around. To state the obvious, Gerry makes an absolutely superb “Bachelor.” He’s handsome, kind, funny, self-deprecating, big-hearted and open-minded. Listening to him talk about Toni and their 43-year marriage, it’s impossible not to root for the guy.
However, I do wonder whether the ruthlessness of reality TV — even a kinder, gentler version of it like “The Golden Bachelor” — will take a toll on our hero over the coming weeks.
I was also impressed by the ladies, who were vibrant, fun and seemingly as eager to compliment each other as they were to win Gerry’s approval. They were all well-versed enough in “The Bachelor” to know that making a memorable first impression was essential, with Leslie (the freakishly fit aerobics instructor who disguised herself as a hobbled old lady) winning my vote for best entrance. Since this is a competition, I’m already starting to wonder if any of the early standouts — like Faith, who rode in on a motorcycle and won the first impression rose, or Theresa, who shared a birthday kiss with Gerry — will go the distance.
Greg, as a seasoned viewer of “The Bachelor,” are you ready to make any predictions yet? What are your impressions of the ladies so far?
Braxton: Before I get to the ladies, I have to do my own salute to Gerry. I don’t know how a retired restaurateur from Indiana can have such a natural presence and charisma perfect for TV. I interviewed him over Zoom about a week after he started filming and liked him instantly. Believe me, most of the other Bachelors in recent years should take lessons from Gerry about being real and genuine. He’s so down-to-earth, and seems so far up to the considerable challenge of being the face of this very popular and expensive show.
As for the ladies, producers and the casting department deserve their own bouquet of golden roses. The women are so elegant and vibrant, with an unquenchable spirit. They’re also very open and comfortable with their sexuality, a real revelation for those of us holding on to the stereotype that older people have little interest in getting it on.
Another refreshing departure from the usual “Bachelor” dynamic is that Gerry and the ladies all seem to be there for the right reason, and not interested in portraying an outrageous character or competing for camera time. These folks are not trying to increase their social media followings. There’s a real desire for connection and honesty. When Gerry and the ladies he’s talking to look into each other’s eyes, the warmth is palpable. You just don’t see that kind of genuine feeling on most reality dating shows.
And no, I’m not making any predictions yet.
Blake: I am not ready to make predictions, either, except to say I think this spin on “The Bachelor” is going to be a hit and will probably generate more positive chatter than the last few seasons of the show combined. Who knew the best way to reinvigorate a 20-year-old franchise would be to cast a retired senior citizen with a hearing aid in the lead role?
But as you noted, in an era when we’ve grown accustomed to watching fame-thirsty people do insane things on reality TV, often for dubious reasons that have more to do with building a social media presence than forging real human connections, it is lovely — revelatory, even — to see people earnestly looking for romance later in life.
And in a culture that worships youth, it’s refreshing to see a show that centers aging and experience and deals with issues like grief and loss in an unflinching manner. It was striking to see Gerry dissolve into tears as he recalled his wife’s passing, and equally moving to hear from the women as they spoke about the events that shaped their lives and compelled them to sign up for “The Bachelor” — from Ellen, egged on by a best friend battling cancer; to Theresa, whose husband died nine years ago; to April, who longed to get back in touch with who she was before she became “a caretaker and matriarch.”
I know you will roll your eyes at me for saying this, but one of the most redeeming qualities of “The Real Housewives” franchise — my reality TV drug of choice — is that it shows women over 40 living full (if chaotic) lives. I’d be thrilled if “The Golden Bachelor” ushered in a new era of older-skewing reality shows. How about a season of “Love Is Blind” featuring residents of the Villages? Sign me up.
Braxton: Meredith, my hope is one day deprogramming you away from those horrid “Housewives.” Meanwhile, I’m putting ABC and every studio and network on notice that I have already thought of an idea for a show that features older people dancing to current hits. So the IP belongs to me. That scene with Gerry and all the ladies dancing to “Little Boo Thing” was priceless, and my pick for the water-cooler moment of the hour. When else have you seen such unbridled joy and spontaneity on a reality show?
Of course, one tradition of the franchise is showing the lead encountering difficulties as the field narrows, and as his feelings for the front-runners vying for the final rose grow deeper. There always seems to be a preview scene where the lead threatens to quit the show, and it’s suggested that Gerry had some raw and emotional moments as the season progressed. Those clips are designed to heighten viewer interest, or course.
But it seems like ultimately Gerry’s search for love has a happy ending. He deserves it, and I’m rooting for him.
Blake: Me too, Greg. Me too! I suspect the previews were edited for dramatic effect, but I also expect this process will be hard for Gerry — as it would be for any normal person who suddenly found himself simultaneously dating multiple women on national television. All we can hope is that the pain is worth it and Gerry finds the next great love of his life.
Maestro is the movie of the year. Amendment: not to slight the amazing Oppenheimer, make that one of the two best films of the year. But Bradley Cooper’s warts-and-all biopic about volatile conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein has more passion, tenderness and heartbreaking resonance—and it’s a lot more fun.
MAESTRO ★★★★(4/4 stars) Directed by:Bradley Cooper Written by: Bradley Cooper & Josh Singer Starring: Bradley Cooper, Carey Mulligan Running time: 129 mins.
Cooper, already revered as an actor of extraordinary skill, is fast becoming one of our best contemporary film directors. His recent take on A Star Is Born extracted a career-changing performance from Lady Gaga (not even in the same league with George Cukor’s definitive 1954 version starring Judy Garland, but impressive). Now, he shows massive improvement in every creative department—acting, screenwriting, cinematography, editing, scoring—to create not only the celebration of a great man but a great tribute to filmmaking itself.
Maestro is the closest thing to perfection I’ve seen on the screen in a very long time. Despite the prosthetic nose he designed for himself to look more like Bernstein that raised the hackles of some offended viewers but was publicly approved and applauded by members of Bernstein’s own family, it’s a meticulously calibrated character study that personifies the conflicted traits, mannerisms, triumphs and flaws of a musical genius who conducted his life like the movements in a symphony, paying a supreme price for the privilege—and the loving, long-suffering wife who wrote and signed the check.
Admire or admonish the result, but protests are a waste of time. Every ravishing frame is the exclusive vision of Bradley Cooper. It’s his film, and he’s in the catbird seat from start to finish.
Or, I should say, it’s Carey Mulligan’s film, because as Lenny’s patient, devoted wife Felicia, who sacrificed her own acting career to guide, support and honor his fame while coping with the pain and humiliation of his numerous homosexual affairs throughout their tortured marriage and the negative effect they had on her, this thrilling, inventive, brilliant and beautiful actress is endlessly mesmerizing. From the day a dying Bruno Walter surrendered his baton and Lenny became a 25-year-old sensation conducting the New York Philharmonic to the day Felicia died of cancer, she was the primary force throughout his life and career, and with radiant naturalism, Mulligan gives ballast to a great centerpiece. Cooper’s direction and exemplary screenplay, co-authored by Josh Singer, are admirably generous in allowing her performance the space it deserves.
The film leaves no stone unturned and no turn unstoned as it investigates every turbulent chapter in Bernstein’s career. You get the Broadway forays with Betty Comden and Adolph Green that produced Candide, On the Town, and West Side Story. From every angle, the director moves into Lenny’s skin with blistering ease. Blending himself in bed with the bodies of his male lovers, chain-smoking and talking like a rapid-fire machine gun, conducting with a baton in one hand and a cigarette in the other, lowering his voice and speaking through his nose almost without breathing, and filling the screen with heart-stopping musical sequences from Beethoven to Mahler’s 2nd Symphony to recreating those popular Young People’s Concerts on Omnibus, Mr. Cooper is awesome. Vocally and physically, he literally disappears into the role.
When the elements combine, you get a film as welcome and rare as a perfect Christmas morning. Maestro is a masterpiece.
Adjunct professors at the University of Southern California’s prestigious film school are moving to unionize in pursuit of higher pay, benefits, better working conditions, expanded career opportunities and other demands.
The college’s Adjunct Faculty Alliance-UAW announced that its colleagues at the USC School of Cinematic Arts will march Wednesday to the provost’s office and deliver a letter of request for their union to be recognized.
In a news release, the AFA-UAW accused the film school of preventing its adjunct professors from teaching more than one class “to avoid providing health and other benefits.” The alleged class cuts have resulted in a “severe” loss of pay, the alliance said.
Other grievances outlined in the announcement include “low, fixed wages, gender disparity in divisions, lack of diversity school-wide, no clear path to full-time, expecting adjuncts to work unpaid on committees, training, meetings, etc.”
Adjunct professors make up approximately 75% of the film school faculty, according to the alliance, and specialize in a wide range of subjects, including screenwriting, producing, film editing, sound design, animation and cinematography.
“SCA Adjuncts are recognized creatives in their fields. They teach the majority of both undergraduate and graduate courses and are advisors, mentors, and often counselors. Students depend on adjuncts and they are often students’ first adult role models after leaving home,” the news release states.
“Adjuncts love what they do, love USC and the students, and want to continue to provide the excellence both the students and the school deserve. However, USC is severely hindering the adjuncts’ ability to do their job with new and existing policies. … Enough is enough.”
A spokesperson for USC was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.
Earlier this week, about 3,000 graduate student workers at USC averted a strike by reaching a tentative labor agreement with the university that includes wage increases and anti-harassment protections.
“Graduate student workers’ first contract will improve the lives of thousands of workers at USC and create a culture of accountability,” said Stepp Mayes, a fifth-year doctoral student in environmental engineering and a bargaining team member. “This agreement marks the beginning of a stronger USC.”
Times staff writer Teresa Watanabe contributed to this report.
Join Staff Reporter Sophia Verma as she reviews the new horror film “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” released on Oct. 27.
Bringing the heart-pounding terror of classics like “Hush,” “The Black Phone” and “Insidious” to the big screen, Blumhouse Productions takes a stab at turning Scott Cawthon’s wildly popular “Five Nights at Freddy’s” video game franchise into an edge-of-your-seat horror film. This film is sure to delight and disturb fans who love horror and the franchise. With a track record of adapting frightening source material into blockbuster scare-fests, Blumhouse seems set up to transform the sinister, animatronic characters that have terrified players for years into equally chilling movie antagonists aiming to stalk their way to box office glory. As of Nov. 6, the movie has made over $217 million worldwide.
The main animatronics in this movie are Freddy Fazbear, Chica, Bonnie and Foxy. During the first three and a half minutes of the movie, I felt very tense and anxious. The movie opened with a security guard, Mike, beginning his first overnight shift at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria, and he barricaded himself inside of the security office so that the animatronics couldn’t catch him. While watching this scene, I was lulled into a false sense of security since I thought the guard was going to be okay. Unfortunately, he was chased down by one of the animatronics and was strapped down to a chair. When he woke up, he was face-to-face with a nightmarish bear mask contraption that had glowing red eyes. The interior of the mask was filled with blades and it was moving quickly towards him. I was immediately hooked in and really liked how the film wasted no time bringing the horror, jumpscares and nerve-wracking chase experiences straight from the games to the big screen.
However, the first 34 minutes of the movie felt really slow to me and were not engaging. After the harrowing opening sequence, the film settled into a slower pace as it showed Mike looking for a job while also delving into the backstory of the five missing children tied to the pizzeria, whose souls inhabited the animatronics. There were also many scenes where Mike’s sister, Abby, followed him to his new job at the pizzeria and met the animatronics.
While these events were important for setting up the plot, this section of the film felt drawn out compared to the terror, fear and intenseness of the opening scene. I thought that it was a bit confusing and hard to follow since there were so many storylines happening at once. While watching these plotlines unfold, I found myself willing for the pace to be picked back up, eager to get back to the frights promised by the first vigorous moments. I think that the film could have benefitted from tightening up these slower parts to better maintain the fear factor, as the real action and interesting parts didn’t start until about 40 minutes into the film, which is when I started to get into it again.
After the slow parts were over, the rest of the movie really delivered on the horror and suspense aspect. The action picked back up after Mike started his night shift and the movie kept me on the edge of my seat with nonstop scares and shocking moments. I have to say, for a PG-13 rated horror movie, some of the jumpscares were a bit over the top. I think that an R rating would have made much more sense for this frightening film. For example, there were three jumpscares that were definitely uncomfortable to watch, even if they didn’t scare me.
Those who don’t wish to read about the descriptions of the jumpscares should skip the following paragraph. One of those three jumpscares was when Carl, a thief who trashed each room of the pizzeria, got attacked by Mr. Cupcake, Chica’s sidekick. Mr. Cupcake was hiding in an abandoned fridge and jumped onto Carl’s face after he opened the door, mangling him. Not even two minutes later, Hank, one of Carl’s friends and another thief, got killed by Bonnie in a storage closet. During this scene, there was a bloody handprint on the door and disturbing sounds of bones cracking. Four minutes later, Max, Abby’s babysitter, got chomped in half by Freddy, which reminded some fans of “The Bite of ‘87,” while others are calling it “The Bite of ’23.” Watching those three very graphic and violent back-to-back jumpscares made me wish the movie had toned the jumpscare aspect down a bit for the PG-13 rating.
Overall, I really enjoyed watching “Five Nights at Freddy’s” and would recommend it to horror fans looking for a scary good time. When it came to building suspense, once the pace picked back up after the slower middle parts, I could not stop watching and I loved the nonstop action once the horror ramped up. The film had chilling atmospheres as the animatronics chased the characters through the pizzeria in the dark and even followed some to their houses. While a few moments pushed the boundaries of the rating, a majority of the scenes were creative, fun and intriguing. So, if you love horror, jumpscares and animatronic terror, definitely check out “Five Nights at Freddy’s” for a thrilling flick, just be prepared for some gruesomeness. I’d give this movie an 8.5/10 overall because I liked the way that it was entertaining and provided an exhilarating horror experience.