Challengers, Nicole Kidman’s AFI Lifetime Achievement with Chris Perfetti | Crooked Media
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May 01, 2024
Keep It
Challengers, Nicole Kidman’s AFI Lifetime Achievement with Chris Perfetti

In This Episode

Ira and Louis discuss the incredibly sexy new film Challengers, The Tony Award noms, Nicole Kidman’s AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, middle fingers as an insult, and Normani’s return to music. Chris Perfetti joins to discuss playing everyone’s favorite white teacher on Abbott Elementary, why he prefers theatre to TV, and more.

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Ira Madison III And we’re back with an all new episode of Keep It. I’m Ira Madison, the third.


Louis Virtel And I’m Louis Virtel. Obviously, the Tony nominations are out. We’ll get to that in a second. But first, I want to say something about a former Tony nominee, an honorary Tony winner who, made some waves on social media yesterday. Are you familiar with an artist named Barbra Streisand? Because she has been typing.


Ira Madison III I know exactly what you’re talking about.


Louis Virtel Melissa McCarthy posted a picture of her, and, Adam Shankman, a friend of the show, fan of Keep It and Barbra Streisand posted on the, on her Instagram. Give him my regards. Are you on Ozempic? And I can only assume she thought that was a DM, and she has never sent a DM in her life and didn’t really know what was going on there. All I know is I read that fucking post, which is so crazy to read and is still up as far as I know, and I can only read it in the voice of Barbra Streisand in What’s Up doc? Where she says it, where she would say it’s something like, “give him my regards. Are you on ozempic?” There we go. That’s my impression.


Ira Madison III That’s a beautiful Barbara impersonation.


Louis Virtel Thank you.


Ira Madison III I definitely saw that, of course. And I hate it that people on internet immediately jumped to its gross and invasive. Asking Melissa McCarthy that it’s like it’s clearly, it was supposed to be a DM.


Louis Virtel Yes. Right. And they have a previous relationship. Melissa McCarthy sang with her on that album, of duets she did a few years ago.


Ira Madison III Yeah, they’re clearly friends. And of course it is. We’ve seen things like this. I feel like one. Kathy Hilton always comments on Instagram like this. And I also think most of our parents and grandparents or aunts, they’re all people who are boomer age.


Louis Virtel Yes.


Ira Madison III Maybe older. And they will just comment on your Instagram as if they are leaving you a personal message.


Louis Virtel Oh no. I mean, like I remember somebody in my life posted about the Oscars, like I mostly liked it or something like that. And it’s like, did you did it have to be public? Did it have to be public the way you said.


Ira Madison III That or call me? No, that’s what my grandmother were, right sometimes to call me, you have my number.


Louis Virtel Okay. We can get into the real Tonys now. Not too many surprises other than, here lies love is just totally not here at all. I was surprised not to see a single nomination for it.


Ira Madison III Yeah, well, the title of the play us at. I walked over the grave.


Louis Virtel Joe respects.


Ira Madison III I did love that show anyway. And I think that, I don’t know, it’s it’s first of all, it has the controversy because, musicians hated it. Like, hated it because they wanted to, you know, have the cans of music in it. But also that is the music of David Byrne, you know? And Fatboy Slim. So that’s sort of what you’d expect. So weird mash up, I guess, for a Broadway show, it never really felt. Like a show. To me, it felt like a lot of songs about a topic and then a weirdly strung together story, and it felt like I was watching karaoke, to be honest. Like the way they’re moving around. The show didn’t really give Conrad Wigmore and R.L. Jacobs sort of much to go with. I don’t know, I felt like the story was just very, Conrad Whitmore. We’ll have another chance for nomination next year, though, because Omari is transferring to Broadway.


Louis Virtel Yes, which I know we talked about this on the show. That’s Cole Escola performing as Mary Todd Lincoln, a very, zany, at wit’s end, Mary Todd Lincoln. Though, honestly, when you look at Mary Todd Lincoln, there’s a lot going on. I think they could have they could have gotten into she was like, notorious shopaholic, for one thing. Anyway, it’s a very funny play, and they will both be in the running next year when the show inevitably explodes once it hits Broadway.


Ira Madison III I’m sorry, I got another concept of being a shopaholic and, you know, for score. Go. Yeah. Whatever. Lincoln was president because you just happened in the buggy.


Louis Virtel Yeah, right.


Ira Madison III Going into town and walking into the store. I’ll take everything.


Louis Virtel Yeah. Which is what, a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I mean, what’s available? Elsewhere on the Tony situation, best actress in a play is very exciting to me. We have Amy, Ryan and Doubt who took over very last minute from. I believe it was Cherry Jones and Sarah Paulson. Inappropriate. Ex of Cherry Jones. Rachel McAdams and Mary Jane. I am so excited to see this play. I think she seems like she’s on stage the entire time. Very emotional story. Thriller. Jessica Lange and mother plays. She last won a Tony for A Long Day’s Journey Into night, which I believe is still going. I left the theater sometime in the halfway zone. No, actually, it was phenomenal. She was wonderful in that. And then Betsy in Prayer for the French Republic. But that’s a star studded category.


Ira Madison III Yeah. My prayers to prayer, for the French Republic. I’m not thinking about that play or supporting it, but lead actress, that is so interesting to I mean, to publicly know that they’re exes and in the same category together, because how often does that happen for the men in categories? I just assume.


Louis Virtel Right now it’s like that one Oscars where Lesley Manville and, Gary Oldman were both nominated, and I’m like, I don’t want Lesley to have to see him that night. This is her night. And then he won and she did it anyway. Life’s battle at the time. Also, something happened here that I fucking hate, which is featured actress in a musical has one, two, three, four, five, six, seven nominees. No. Can I make a plea right here? All award shows need to have five nominees in every category. We want to see that. I don’t want to see ten Best picture nominees. I will settle for. If it’s a slim year, three nominees for maybe Best play or something like that that I can do too. But five or on rare occasions, three. Everything else I don’t want to see, like at the Emmys when there are eight supporting nominees up for something. And like there’s always doubles from the same show. It’s not giving imagination. I don’t like to see it.


Ira Madison III In terms of the nominations, best new play. I am, I think, rooting for Stereophonics. Although I quite liked, JoJo’s African Hair Braiding by Jocelyn Bo. My friend Nana mensah is in it as well. So I mean, a win for that would be great. I’m hearing fantastic things about Mary Jane and I’m excited to see it. It is not about the ganja, unfortunately, but, you know, she’s doing her thing in it.


Louis Virtel Okay. Very good. I’m actually excited to see Purlie Victorious, which is written by Ossie Davis.


Ira Madison III It’s good.


Louis Virtel Oh, you saw it? Yeah its 16 years old.


Ira Madison III It’s so good.


Louis Virtel And the costume designer for it who was nominated is Emilio Sosa, who was a Project Runway runner up on season seven. He lost to, I believe, Seth Aaron Henderson on that. A really good season, underrated season.


Ira Madison III Friend of Keep It Juan Ramirez, former guest co-host for one of our Broadway episodes. Did deceive me by taking me to see Purlie Victorious, which I thought was a revival of the musical Purlie, but it was instead a revival of the play Purlie Victorious, which has no music in it.


Louis Virtel And also no Victoria Justice. I just want to say that too.


Ira Madison III I’m like Leslie Odom Jr. I want to see you singing. But he was great. And Carrie Young is fantastic in it, so.


Louis Virtel Oh, by the way, congrats to Juliana Canfield. Our guest last week was nominated for stereophonic. I want to say that first controversial nomination, Eddie Redmayne is nominated for that cabaret thing where he gets to be as gay as he wants. Now, I remember you saying you liked this performance. Juan Ramirez, the aforementioned hated this performance. Explain this to me what’s going on here?


Ira Madison III Here’s the thing about cabaret. It is very polarizing.


Louis Virtel I think it’s my favorite movie musical for one thing.


Ira Madison III Yes. Polarizing. Because for one, there’s Eddie, who’s playing the mic, and, you know, he’s playing it with, all the gusto of a, Power Rangers villain.


Louis Virtel Oh, okay. We got subpoena going. We got a rumble still going?


Ira Madison III Yeah, there’s a lot of mugging. There’s a lot of. There’s a lot of hand movements. A little bit like you dancing. Okay. Oh, you know.


Louis Virtel All right.


Ira Madison III But I don’t know. He’s playing it big, and some people don’t like it. I like it, although I will say he’s playing it big because of this. Production of the show is just sort of huge. But the show itself, I’m not much of a fan of, like, Bebe Neuwirth is nominated. We love Bebe Neuwirth, but I just feel like she was swallowed up by this play and the stage.


Louis Virtel Also, she’s still doing this shit, It’s like Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain. We can’t get her out of Chicago. Like she needs to be fried with a spatula out.


Ira Madison III Of this world. So, yeah, I mean, it’s back and forth. What I will say is that, I don’t know if you saw that review of a by, mama’s niece, Meena Harris.


Louis Virtel Oh, yes.


Ira Madison III Well, you know where it said critics don’t like cabaret. Young women do, because it you know, she talked about how Sally Barnes decides to, choose to survive. And it’s about abortion rights or what the fuck ever. Kind of weird lens that you would put on it if you were, you know, taking a girlboss to the theater.


Louis Virtel And I often am Sally Bowles.


Ira Madison III I mean, the play really is about how this bitch is just like doing the jitterbug while Nazis are rising to power. Correct? So she doesn’t give a fuck. She wants to go like Elsie. She’s like, okay, I want a drink. I want to do my pills. I got rid of the baby. Have fun in Paris.


Louis Virtel All I know is you’re going to feel sorry once James Corden starts playing Sally Bowles. So enjoy it now. Enjoy it now.


Ira Madison III There is a thing that, tends to happen sometimes in big ensemble casts, in film particularly. And, and it always happens at the Emmys, where the cast of stereophonic is all competing against one another. Right.


Louis Virtel It’s the modern family ization of award shows. Yes.


Ira Madison III Yes. But, Douglas Lyons, a fantastic playwright, who I know was tweeting about the fact that the Tony should really add a best ensemble category at this point because there are ways to celebrate. Not even I’m not even just talking about the stereophonic cast, you know, I just feel like so much goes into a Broadway play and particularly a Broadway musical, I feel like where even if a show doesn’t win, like Best New Musical, right, or Best New Play, but you still feel like, I don’t know, the cast was giving you if the playwright or director weren’t, there’s a way to honor those people. And I think that, you know, giving more people awards, is never a bad thing. And especially when there are people who I just feel like work as hard as Broadway performers who are doing that shit eight times a week.


Louis Virtel I will disagree and say that I think there are too many Grammys, and it has lessened my interest in who wins a Grammy. But I will say in the wake of, the Oscar for best casting that we’re getting, there’s there’s sort of an end for this to occur. So I think that’s somewhat realistic. But anyway, I guess we should get on with the episode. What on earth is happening today? I haven’t really read the outline. IRA. What’s happening?


Ira Madison III You’re just like Larry King.


Louis Virtel Oh my God. When you look at his old interviews, he is. So there’s no other word for it. Disappointing. He is waiting for someone to just keep talking so he can say little to nothing and act curious about whatever is on the no card that he didn’t write in front of him.


Ira Madison III I think that once you’re doing it, as long as he was doing it, and then once you got to a point where, you know, you’re just listening to, like, radio, not as intently as probably you would have been paying attention to interviews. Yeah. Back then, you know, like everyone’s been interviewed to death at this point. You know, like, probably by osmosis. He started learning things about guests.


Louis Virtel I would hope he had his ear to the sand somehow. Who knows what was going on with him. But yeah.


Ira Madison III But you can’t really be interviewing someone in, like, who are you? Yeah. That’s like you. It’s like you’re meeting your boyfriend’s agent for the first time. Yeah, some family event. Who are you? Didn’t know he was gay.


Louis Virtel We’ll be right back. Yeah.


Ira Madison III So our episode this week, we’ve got challengers, which is finally out. Lewis and I love it.


Louis Virtel I mean, like, we’ll get into it. And how actually, I feel bad for my usually extremely primed critical faculties in this moment. I’ll explain why I don’t feel I have access to them. But yes, we’ll discuss challengers.


Ira Madison III And, Nicole Kidman, we’re going to talk about her because she was recently honored, by the American Film Institute with a lifetime achievement award.


Louis Virtel Of course. Extremely well deserved. It was a pleasure over the weekend to revisit some of her filmography and also meryl’s toast to her at the AFI Awards. Sensational. Somebody else just brought up to me. How does this woman not have a memoir yet? This woman turned 75 this year. Hey, Meryl, let’s get going. I know you wrote that courtroom speech in Kramer versus Kramer. So I know you have a pen or a computer or whatever. Let’s get it on paper.


Ira Madison III Yeah. We only have in existence the. Fantastic. Book her again.


Louis Virtel Yes, by Michael Shulman.


Ira Madison III I need more, I need the my name is Barbara treatment from Meryl. Right. Okay.


Louis Virtel I want to know who is treating Meryl like shit on the set. Yeah, allegedly. Dustin Hoffman, like, threw a plate at the wall and didn’t tell Meryl. I need to know those those types of stories.


Ira Madison III Yeah. I need to know she hated heartburn as much as we do. Yeah.


Louis Virtel The book is really enjoyable. The movie? Not as much.


Ira Madison III Yeah. So we’re going to talk about, Nicole Kidman in general. Our favorite performances of her, certainly what we think of her as a celebrity. Where the fuck is the sequel to the AMC ad? No. Promised it.


Louis Virtel And we also, like, they like, chopped up the last one and just gave us a couple different angles. Not what I want it. Sorry.


Ira Madison III Yeah. And then also we will be joined by the fantastic Chris Perfetti, from Abbott Elementary, who is also a fantastic theater actor himself.


Louis Virtel And he is 1 in 1 of these things called a television comedy, which if you’ve listened to Jerry Seinfeld, you know, this is an endangered species and we’re not allowed to be funny anymore. So it’s actually illegal for them to be doing what they’re doing, which is saying jokes on television.


Ira Madison III Which is very silly. They like, oh, you can’t put the shows on that you used to put on, anymore. I mean, I have it on good authority that Abbott Elementary is just reusing Welcome Back, Kotter scripts.


Louis Virtel I’ve never put them next to each other like that. The juxtaposition is obvious now. Gabe Kaplan, we love you.


Ira Madison III All right, we’ll be back with more keep. We want you to know something. We’re not just disembodied voices with flawless opinions and incredible tastes. We’re also pretty faces.


Louis Virtel But don’t take our word for it. Check us out on our YouTube channel, which has the loveliest commenters ever. I was just looking at them and not commenting, just leering like a witch type. Keep it into your nearest YouTube search bar and make sure to follow us so you never miss an episode.


Ira Madison III Much like Vanessa Williams as music career. Sex is back, baby.


Louis Virtel Can we talk about that song for two seconds? Okay. Vanessa Williams has a new dance song. It’s called Keep on Dancing or legs up, leg legs. Okay. Great song. Love her in the video. She’s obviously scintillating. Beautiful gray eyes. Underrated. The sentiment is a little grim. They say the legs are the last to go. I’m a creep. As if she is saying the rest of me has atrophied. But allow me to levitate onto the dance floor. I love her. I love her.


Ira Madison III I will say she’s eaten up some of the pop curls on that video. At least dance wise.


Louis Virtel Yeah. Danceable songs.


Ira Madison III Remember those? Yeah. And she’s moving. I’m not going to drag. Another one of our favorite pop stars, because I do actually adore, this woman. And her album is coming out, this week, and we will be discussing it on next week’s episode, if you can guess who that is. But when Vanessa Williams was moving, I definitely did not see her counting dance moves.


Louis Virtel Well, when you have to have the talent for the pageant competitions, you know, you get the you prime it, you know what I’m saying.


Ira Madison III Yeah. I did but speaking of legs, the movie challengers starring Zendaya, Mike Feist and Josh O’Connor. Luca Guadagnino’s latest film. Baby. It is about legs.


Louis Virtel Quite. Oh my God. And also like how clothes hang on these athletic bodies. I think there’s something specific to almost all of Lucas films. And this is strange to identify because his films really are extremely different. Like, this does not remind me of Suspiria, which does not remind me of a bigger splash, whatever. But like this and Call Me By Your Name in particular. There’s just something where you’re watching how the clothes touch these bodies, and as they walk around, it’s extremely palpable, feeling like it’s not just sensual, it’s like, oh, there’s texture that seems to be on me as I’m watching this movie. And that’s just one of the many pleasures of challengers.


Ira Madison III Even Suspiria, with just like the costumes the dancers wear and even the intense athleticism that I feel like, is displayed within that film. You get that in this, and it’s I know I really enjoy watching his movies total.


Louis Virtel I know he’s one of my favorite directors, even like bones and all is maybe my least favorite that I’ve seen of his. And even that had its pleasures.


Ira Madison III Oh, I fucking love that movie.


Louis Virtel Oh you do.


Ira Madison III I hate Suspiria.


Louis Virtel Suspiria is, like, too much, and there is a little bit of a shout out to it in this movie where I don’t think I’m spoiling much. Zendaya breaks a bone, and the way they zoom in on it was straight up out of that Witch Academy. I did not need to see it that close.


Ira Madison III Yeah, that’s a scene where you can see it’s coming because the film is told in non chronological order.


Louis Virtel Yeah, almost tortuously actually.


Ira Madison III That’s I mean like.


Louis Virtel It works for the movie but it’s also like it’s confusing. And also when the movie starts you’re like so are we going to really be seeing a version of these characters 11 years younger all the time? Like, are they really going to pull it off? But it works on you. You believe it after guys?


Ira Madison III I do think that, I mean, this will be one of the very few critical things we have to say about this movie because it’s it’s sort of hard to think critically about this, though. I mean, shout out to the people who have, but it’s just fun. Yeah. It’s sexy. The soundtrack by Trent Reznor. Atticus. Boys noise it. I felt like I was at the club.


Louis Virtel I mean, I haven’t stopped playing that soundtrack since I’ve. It’s all I can say about this movie is I never have this feeling. Last time I felt this way was, get ready, call me by your name. You’re so in the world of this movie and you don’t want to leave it.


Ira Madison III Yeah.


Louis Virtel So the soundtrack kind of keeps you there and the music is both clubby. It’s very now, which is kind of unusual for a soundtrack. I feel like most soundtracks have like a throwback vibe a certain way. This feels very 20, 24. You feel like you’re at a warehouse party or something like that, but also the intensity of it. It has this final boss quality where like it’s electronic, but you’re also in the head of a competitive person. So there’s this like rumbling undertone to this, throbbing, kind of horny music, and you feel like you’re in the headspace of somebody who wants to win and is putting a lot of pressure on themselves. It’s that’s really well realized in this music.


Ira Madison III Yeah. So the film starts chronologically with Mike bass and Josh O’Connor, battling each other and, a match. And then we go back in time and we sort of see the deterioration of their relationship, as best friends and see how, Zendaya, plays a part in this. And then we keep cutting back and forth to the match and jumping around in time. And I will say, the one thing that works with the, mixed chronology of the film is that by the time you get to, you know, the end of the match again, when we start zooming in different POVs in the match, I feel like I’m fully inside their characters. Where that works for me. Yes, but I don’t know. I’m like, I feel like either we should have done like, a Harold Pinter betrayal thing, where maybe we start here at the end, then move backwards to the beginning and then jump right back to the end again, or something else. But at a certain point, the jumping back and forth from different times was very dizzying to me, and I guess that it was to sort of hide a bit of the soapy twist of the story. But I think that. Twice. And soap operas are always predicated on you giving a fuck about the characters anyway. So I think that we didn’t need the mystery of, oh, that’s why this has happened, because this has happened in the past. I think that if we just saw those events unfold in real time, they’d still have the same impact.


Louis Virtel And also like when you’re looking at how the characters are different, looking, earlier on than now, sometimes it’s not immediately apparent. So as I’m watching a scene, sometimes I didn’t know which era we were. Em, you know, you can always figure it out, but it always takes an extra second of adjustment because it moves around a whole lot. But by the way, it just something that is awesome about this movie is the drama really is just about these three people. There is like a line judge played by Zendaya’s real life assistant who’s in the movie.


Ira Madison III He’s so fucking good.


Louis Virtel Very funny. Josh O’Connor has a Tinder date at some point, but otherwise it’s all about these three people and the constantly shifting power dynamics, as I said. Here comes some Gene Shalit for you. It put the tennis in Tennessee Williams. I mean, it’s all about the drama churning between these three people. It feels like it should be a play.


Ira Madison III Well you know what, I’m going to give you your tens for that.


Louis Virtel Love 15. Yes


Ira Madison III Ugh. No. You’re right. I mean, I brought up Harold Pinter’s betrayal, but it’s just like there is something about a you usually get this in plays more, but there’s just really something about a film that it feels. It feels classic Hollywood film to me, you know, where you just sort of have three main characters, and it is about the changing power dynamics and it just it swings back and forth with such good precision that no one really comes off as ultimately the most evil person within the triangle. Like there’s there’s always someone who’s at fault. Although I will say, Art, Mike Feist is, a demon and a snake.


Louis Virtel He starts off the the demon behavior early in the movie. He starts interloper in between what’s happening with Josh O’Connor and, Zendaya. But ups something else I’m going to say about the music in this movie, which we’ve already described. Sometimes I’ll just blast it over a conversation between two people, and I love that because that, to me is classic Hollywood. You know, think of, you know, Betty Davis unleashing some monologue as the strings kick up.


Ira Madison III Mmmhmmm.


Louis Virtel It really took me back to something like that, like putting this crazy heft over just what somebody is saying. You just never hear that anymore. I overheard somebody at work being like, did they need to play the music at all those times? But the answer is, of course they did. And the the directorial decision is so interesting. It makes it so memorable. I remember those there’s a particular scene in asana between the two guys where the music is just pumping super loud as they cut each other down to size, and because of that, it’s this utterly specific moment in movies like, I don’t think I will ever forget that scene.


Ira Madison III Yeah, I think that, to bring up the soap opera aspect of it again, you know, you can get a bit sort of cliched and overwrought where you just hear, like these strings, you know, behind like a big dramatic conversation. Right? But because this music is different, because it is like this club music, because it’s going for a specific feel. I think it highlights those scenes in the way that music used to do in those films before it became, you know, sort of a crutch to just put a, song behind the conversation. And I think what really works for it, too, is the music isn’t telling you how to feel the scene, it’s telling you how to feel. The music isn’t like sad or it’s not, telling you there’s danger happening. You know, like you’re still interpreting it from the scene and you brought up the, how the film sounds current. And that’s also what I really liked about it. It’s set in 2006. Right. And I love it. Listen, I love like a throwback moment,.


Louis Virtel Certainly.


Ira Madison III But.


Louis Virtel What do you think this podcast is? My God, our references? You’d think I’m 93 years old. C’mon.


Ira Madison III You are.


Louis Virtel I wait till they find out. It’s like a Kenneth on 30 Rock situation.


Ira Madison III But the music, you know, there’s a scene where they’re kissing, where two characters are kissing and a blood orange song plays instead of, like, a song from 2006. Yeah. So it never feels steeped in nostalgia too much, at least with the music. It lets you stay in the present and you’re just telling a story about the past. But shout out to the moments that we do get. Like when I saw Applebee’s and I knew it was Applebee’s the minute we were inside that restaurant, I was gagging.


Louis Virtel Also, there’s a lot of product placement in this movie that like, it actually says something about how successful the vibe is of the movie, that it never becomes overbearing. But there is quite, quite a bit of it. One thing I will say if I have to make a criticism. So, Zendaya is a former tennis player who injures herself and then becomes the manager of my face character, who, then becomes this sort of. Sort of under motivated tennis player who’s like, never becoming a big star. Like, she doesn’t really get him to the highest tier or he he kind of falls from that tier. They have a moment where they are about to have sex and she’s talking about tennis, and that’s really like getting her into the sex. And then he says he doesn’t want to talk about that, and she immediately jumps off. It is very. Faye Dunaway in network. You know where she is. It’s all business and wants to talk about business. And she’s talking about ratings in the middle of having sex. That said, that kind of I mean, I guess I’ll call it tunnel vision, almost psychotic drive that the Zendaya character has. I feel like Zendaya left a little bit of the potential for an interesting psychotic character on the table. I like I felt like she played that part of the character a little too cool. And by the way, her cool is essential to the movie. Like, you need to believe that these two people are obsessed with her, and when they, meet meet her early in the movie, you are as transfixed by her as they are, so it really works. But I wonder if maybe we could have gotten something a little bit more outwardly, psycho from her?


Ira Madison III Yeah, I will say that the film is really about the relationship between Art and Patrick. Those are the two characters? Yes, names. And, it’s funny that everyone’s been bringing up how gay is this film? Because, you know, there’s the whole three way aspect of it. It’s not as gay as you think in terms of sex, but it is very gay. And the fact that it’s really about these two men being in love with each other.


Louis Virtel And also like the drama going on in their head, right. Like that reminds me of Call Me By Your Name to where it’s so much about this person going over, like the possibilities of what could happen with this person. And you know that that percolating sense of something raw about to happen.


Ira Madison III He does longing very well. And there are moments like, especially that sort of theme that you brought up where you’re like, you’re wondering, like, are these two about to have sex? Yeah. You know, it’s like that is the undercurrent in the relationship the entire time. And even if it’s never consummated, you know that they both know that that is probably like something that they thought of, when terms of each other. And I think that that is such an interesting way to depict a story between two men who are very close, because I feel like those relationships exist with I mean, they exist with gay men. Get out who are close friends who maybe I’ve never even had sex with each other, but they’re very close. But with straight men, too, you know, there is this sort of thing, that sometimes goes unaddressed in relationships. But I will say that it’s really their film is my critique. Yeah. Right. Right. Not and just that Zendaya. Maybe there’s parts that she could have played a little bit differently. I would have liked to. She’d gone sort of that psycho route, as you meant. But I will also say that the film doesn’t really give her any scenes to really depict anything besides, cool, you know? Makes up for one scene later where she’s slipping out of the hotel room to have a clandestine meeting, but, and there’s a moment where she slaps Josh O’Connor, spit in his face, but needed something else. You know, I’m gonna need to see her killing a puppy or something, but, like, you need to see something more like. Tashi. This bitch is a little unhinged.


Louis Virtel Yeah, right right.


Ira Madison III And I think that she was not completely serviced, within the play.


Louis Virtel Also, I have to say, this is one of those things that’s becoming a Carly Rae Jepsen emotion situation where the box office does not feel like everybody in the universe is running out to see it. And yet all of our friends have seen it three times. And in fact, we want to keep re seeing it. What do you think it is about this movie that isn’t capturing everybody else’s imagination? Because once I heard it was amazing, I had to go see it. And I’m verifying to everybody inside that they should see it.


Ira Madison III Well, one, I think that this movie has the potential to be word of mouth. I hope so, and a success because first of all, I’ve been telling everybody, you need to see challenges, you need to see challenges. But also I do get what you’re saying, because I was at a party on Saturday telling multiple friends they need to go see challenges and how the people I was telling didn’t know what the fuck challenges was, right?


Louis Virtel No. And it stars one of the biggest stars we have. Like, I know you saw the fucking Dune movies. You know who Zendaya is? So I and also like this is something I usually don’t care about. It has a B-plus CinemaScore which I mean to which to me says people like us love it. And then some people out there are really down on it. I wonder if that’s a reading on the gay material. I have no idea what that is.


Ira Madison III Yeah, I don’t know if it’s the greatest of it all. I don’t know how the Zendaya of it all isn’t translating to it being a bigger hit, but I will also say that running this film right after Dune. I feel like because she’s been so dominant in runways, and just this sort of it feels like the whole first part of the year has beens and days and days and. Yeah. Yeah. Maybe it sort of bled together and people are just like. Is she still just promoting doom?


Louis Virtel Yeah, maybe, I don’t know.


Ira Madison III So there’s a bit of that, but there’s also just, I don’t know, it’s her leading this film, but also not really being the lead of the film. And it is two actors who are still sort of unknown. I think that in another universe, or maybe even a few years ago, you put, three actors who are all at the same level of danger in it. Maybe people are going to see it a bit more, you know, like if it’s Zendaya and Tom Holland’s and I don’t know, like, Timothee Chalamet, right?


Louis Virtel I and there’s a world of course where that happen. Right. That does sort of make sense. I will say also on that front, maybe it’s also just because it’s an adult movie. Like nothing about this has like broad comedy in it or like the typical like one person comes out the winner at the end. In fact, something I love about this movie is all three of them in specific ways. Multiple ways are losers, you know, like, it’s not just we won the big game at the end or, somebody has a clear path to what happens next. And in fact, the ending is also extremely nebulous. I’m sure that’s a part of this. The cinema score, too.


Ira Madison III You know? Yeah, they all lose something at the end of the film, but I will say two of them gain the most important prize. And that.


Louis Virtel Are you crying?


Ira Madison III Is friendship.


Louis Virtel *Laughs*


Ira Madison III Yeah, I don’t know. The movie didn’t make me really emotional. Like I was really hooked on, the friendship between both of them. And, you know, I just think that, I don’t know, I want more stories about men being friends.


Louis Virtel And.


Ira Madison III And cinema.


Louis Virtel And feeling like there’s stakes there, too. I think something I love about, I think I love most about this movie is it’s about competitiveness, which has so much in it for people. It has, for one thing, pettiness, right? Like it’s all ego oriented, etc. but then also it’s passion. And that means like you’re intensely thinking about other people, which can turn into feelings of romance and, yeah, angst and things like that. So I just thought it really captured the soul and the pettiness of competition. I find that just a rare thing for a movie to tackle. The. In fact, by the way, it doesn’t remind me of many other movies, too. The only one I could really think of. I think, two things. There’s a movie from the late 60s that’s Barbara Hirsch’s debut called last Summer. I think I’ve brought it up on this show before. It’s this weird movie where she befriends these two guys and they have a kind of quasi queer relationship going on, and then they meet this other girl who’s very weird, doesn’t know how to socialize. She’s awkward, and they all kind of turn on her. Anyway, that’s something about that dynamic between three people that has a somewhat queer thing going on. And then secondly, there’s a movie written and directed by Robert Towne who did Chinatown, shampoo, etc., called Personal Best with Mariel Hemingway, which is about a track star and like the way the sweetness of her body as she runs, it captures sort of the passion and competition that I rarely see in a sports movie.


Ira Madison III Yeah, I mean, it ain’t Philadelphia Story is that screwball. And in terms of one of those triangles. But, yeah, I just really love this movie. And I will say lastly, this one was written by Justin Curtis, who is, partners with Celine song. Yes. Who did past lives. Past lives is also about a love triangle and. I need to know who this person is. Yes, because they have both written about something that seems extremely personal to them. And I need to know who was this third person and when are they going to talk their shit?


Louis Virtel Yeah. What’s the triangulation? I want to know who the hypotenuse is in this situation.


Ira Madison III Yeah, and I think that their film has the potential to be a banger.


Louis Virtel Yeah, right. Step on up.


Ira Madison III Yeah. Anyway, my CinemaScore is an A.


Louis Virtel And mine’s also an A. I cannot wait to see it again. I did, yeah.


Ira Madison III Literary going to see it again.


Louis Virtel Yes. In fact, I regret having not seen it twice before this podcast. That’s how much I want to see it again.


Ira Madison III I need to. I need to go see it on. Go see this movie on a date. Definitely go see it on a date. And bring someone else.


Louis Virtel Or crash somebody else’s date. You know, I mean, just sit too close to a couple and see what happens for you.


Ira Madison III Yeah. All right, when we’re back, we’re joined by Chris Perfetti.




Ira Madison III This week’s guest has become the favorite white boy of everyone with a Hulu account. And when he’s not molding the PC minds of tomorrow, he’s on stage starring in works like the LeBron James inspired play King James, which I adored. Please welcome to Keep It. Abbott Elementary, his very own Chris Perfetti.


Chris Perfetti Hi, Ira. Hi, Louis.


Louis Virtel All right, pick one right away. TV or stage? Go.


Chris Perfetti Stage every day of the week. Stage.


Louis Virtel Really? I’m actually somewhat surprised to hear that. How come?


Chris Perfetti I don’t know. You know, I think that’s where I trained. That’s like. That feels. It feels the most like acting to me, you know, it’s it’s, doing a play is an infinitely more collaborative medium. I feel like the actor is so in control on stage in a way that they’re not in TV and film. And so, I guess I’m just a control freak. And so that’s where that’s where I’m happiest.


Ira Madison III Okay, so I have to ask that, you know, like, obviously, you know, we’ve actually gotten a lot of actors lately who, have been talking about theater just in that sort of regard. And I have to wonder like her there, you know, who’ve recently Louis. I don’t know.


Louis Virtel Juliana Canfield.


Ira Madison III Yeah, Juliana Canfield. We talked to her recently.


Louis Virtel Yes.


Ira Madison III Yeah. And I have to imagine a show like Abbott Elementary, is a lot different than just the regular show. Because I feel like there are a lot of moving pieces all the time. And maybe that lends itself to the. I’m not in control of the entire thing. I mean, you have just your regular actors, you have kids, actors, you have managing the schedules of when you can shoot with children, etc. like explain how crazy it is filming this show and how stressful this.


Chris Perfetti You know, it’s honestly, I think people would be shocked to learn that. I mean, especially now, you know, we just wrapped our third season and, and, and really, the majority of our crew has been with us since the pilot. And, and that is, is very humbling and exciting and it makes this work environment feel like home. But I think, I think at this point, like and truly, honestly from the jump because, you know, Quinta really, really created an environment of, just flow and inspiration and ease and, and comfortability. But I think, I think, if I were to finish the sentence I’ve started three times now, people would be surprised to learn how chill the set of Abbott Elementary is. You know, we we have to work very quickly in order to make the show. We kind of crank out an episode a week, and so it feels like a well-oiled machine at this point. And and there is so much talent, in front of and behind the camera that it’s really just sort of this, like, balletic, symbiotic thing that’s happening right now where, our camera operators just kind of can guess where we’re going and what we want to do. And we’ve been lucky enough to have so many of our directors come back and direct multiple episodes. And so we have a shorthand now where I feel like making this show is just very easy and, satisfying. But yes, there are also droves of kids and. You know, you know, what it’s like to, to create, comedy, especially a sitcom, you know, the amount of jokes that are left on the, the that are strewn on the floor off of our set. It’s, it’s it’s a very fast and furious process. And so, that’s also really what’s exhilarating about it. You know, I’m very used to, as I said, spending a month figuring out what a story is with, with your family in a rehearsal room and, and sort of learning to be comfortable with, whatever it’s going to be. And, and the permanence of it that that used to plague me in TV and film, and now I’m addicted to it. I love not knowing what take they’re going to use. I love not knowing what joke is going to make it into the final cut. And I love being in an environment where, anything can happen, you know, in, in theater, the work really becomes about how to make the same story real for yourself every night. And, and on Abbott, the work is I feel like, really just trying to tickle myself and make my costars break, you know, that’s that’s that’s how it, you know, remains alive for me.


Louis Virtel Know your character on the show. Jacob is basically the Pollyanna of the, school, you know, like eternally optimistic, helpful, etc.. Have you had a favorite moment where you’re, we learn something about your character, or he got to do something that would be unexpected to the viewer, that you got to play.


Chris Perfetti It’s wild. Playing a character this long is obviously not something I really expected to do or was on my bucket list. But one of the beautiful things that that affords you one me is, there is a room of experts on Jacob that are constantly coming up with things that Jacob has done, desires of his fears of his. And so, yeah, I would say every episode I’m learning something, ridiculous about, what one man show Jacob has done, what college he’s applied to and didn’t get into. So, yeah, it’s kind of hard to pick. I think I particularly loved, this, this storyline that Jacob was a part of the story. Pirates. Yeah. That’s, you know, growing up in, in New York doing theater and, you know, popping into Drama bookshop, that was like something that I thought, you know, that was very real for me. And I thought that was really such a funny, connection that he would have. And, but, yeah, it’s weird. It’s it’s like I have at this point, sort of like, choked up. I’m learning about Jacob in real time along with our audience. It it seems like.


Ira Madison III What’s so fun about, like, a sitcom character, too? Is that especially what is a good sitcom? You know, where you are learning things about the character? You get really good writers sort of make it feel like they feel like a full person, sort of. But by the time you’re done with the entire series, because I made I totally it made total sense that, Jacob applied to Morehouse and and it made perfect sense that, from this most recent episode, that, you are constantly sending your coworkers, newsletters and emails that they don’t read.


Chris Perfetti Yeah, there’s sort of like an endless there’s an endless trove of, we have really, really talented writers, and producers and, yeah, I think I think in terms of what you said about, trying to come up with real life examples, you know. Comedy is is difficult, you know? Writing jokes is difficult because you sort of have to tread a fine line of. Keeping your audience and knowing and and having the trust of an audience. And if you write characters that are two dimensional or, sort of cartoonish, I think you, you roll the dice and you potentially lose people’s empathy for them. And. And I think it’s inherent in this genre, this medium of mockumentary that like, you know, if we’re doing our job well, we should hopefully dupe you a little bit into believing that this could be happening somewhere, actually, in the world. You know, that’s why we shoot it that way. And so, yeah, I think we have to strive to make them as authentic and three dimensional and multifaceted and flawed as possible, all while trying to write jokes, which is harder than you’d think. And so a lot of comedies that don’t write jokes.


Ira Madison III *laughs*


Louis Virtel Shots fired. Okay.


Ira Madison III Speaking of empathy for a character, I want to revisit, a character you play at a show called looking, which I loved.


Chris Perfetti Thanks, Ira.


Ira Madison III This show has, you know, not had its, girls Sex and the City, where people are rewatching and discovering how now they hate some of these characters now. But people did sort of really hate Jonathan Ross character a lot while watching it. But I also have to wonder, how do you feel about your character now, or how did you feel about that character while you were on the show? Because I feel like we emotionally liked Jonathan Groff so much and we kind of, you know, like Russell Tovey as character that, you know, when you came into the picture, I found your character intensely annoying. But now revisiting it, I’m like, actually, you were just sort of a normal human being dealing with two awful people.


Chris Perfetti Thank you. Finally, I feel like I’m just finishing reading the, the treasure trove of think pieces about what an awful person Brady was.


Ira Madison III There were a lot.


Chris Perfetti That’s not true. I don’t read that shit. But thank you for saying that. Thank you for saying that you didn’t like him, because I feel like that’s that’s kind of like a supreme compliment. He was, he was a complicated and troubled dude, and he was an asshole. At times I think he had a lot going on, but. Yeah, that that honestly, I feel like. Not to be too corny, like, really prepared me. I feel like for the work that I’m doing on Abbott right now, weirdly enough, because, you know, there’s there’s so much embracing of the unknown and sort of like jumping off of cliffs that is required in, to be on the set of Abbott Elementary and, and looking was was such a remarkable and unique shooting experience in that, you know, we had scripts, but but so much of the tone of that show and the conceit of that show and the feeling of that show was about capturing a feeling. And so we would go into shooting things, not really knowing what we were going to shoot and, and sort of knowing the plot and the arc of, episode, but, trusting that we would kind of put it together, based off of something that felt organic to us. And that scared the ever loving shit out of me, you know, because I was, I was very used to. And still am very used to not doing that, but. Yeah, it was a great time. That’s also like a particular experience where I feel like. You know, I also hate when actors say this, but like. It’s, it’s a group of people that I think of very fondly, and that had such a, huge impact on my life. I have so much affection for everybody who was a part of that show, acting in it and designing on it and and writing for it. And so it’s just kind of stuck with me.


Louis Virtel I have to say, it’s funny that you hate when actors say things like that, and then you go and say something like that. I mean, like doo doo doo doo doo doo. Find yourself having a lot of contempt for when actors give interviews and are sincere about what they do.


Chris Perfetti I have a lot of. I have a lot of contempt for actors in general. I just think everybody thinks they have the best. Everybody thinks they have the best cast, or they have the best time shooting that thing. And and they’re wrong because I have the best cast. They are the cast of Abbott Elementary.


Louis Virtel I want to say also about King James, the play you did you started at the Steppenwolf. And, I’m always curious when actors are in Chicago because, I mean, I it’s just where I grew up. I think of it as like a fun, rowdy town. But, like, what does an actor do, like, during their time living just in Chicago, which is, you know, a city that doesn’t revolve around the theater industry, for example? Yeah, but.


Chris Perfetti Theater is theater. I mean, Chicago is probably the second biggest theater town in our beautiful country. And so that was nice to be. I mean, obviously, I’ve spent ten years in New York doing plays on and off Broadway and and going to Chicago to start King James was the first time I had been anywhere else to do a play. And I was surprised to see how much a part of the culture it is there. It’s not a weird thing to go and see a play like it is in LA. And, that was beautiful. I really enjoyed being in Chicago. I find the people of Chicago so incredible. I’m slightly embarrassed to say that, like, I have a lot more to learn about Chicago. I wasn’t. When I’m working on a play and particularly a new play, I tend to. Hibernate. And so, you know, it was a two hour, two person play. And so we each had 120 pages of lines to remember. And so I was truly like walking from the theater to my apartment, to rehearse in my apartment and then go back to rehearsal the next day. But, yeah, Steppenwolf is one of those places that, you know, if I told. 18 year old Chris that you were going to work there? I don’t think I would have believed it. I, I grew up just, so attracted to the work coming out of there and to the actors that got their start there. And I still believe very strongly in what that company stands for and what they do. And so it was really surreal to be, on that stage. I used to have an aunt who lived in Chicago, and I went, to visit her expressly under the conditions that she would take me to a play at Steppenwolf. I, I think I said, like, I won’t come unless we can go into town and, like, see a play at Steppenwolf. And so I, I spent, like, my spring break one year in high school, in Chicago and saw a play there. And, and. Yeah. So that that experience was just like, a dream come true. And, and the process of bringing that play to life was also, really groovy. Like one of the things I’ll, I’ll remember for a very long time. And we were lucky enough to get to do the play in LA, and in New York. And that is a wild thing that actors don’t usually. That’s a gift that I haven’t been afforded before. You know, usually once a play is over, I’m, I that’s when I get all of my good ideas about it. I’m like, oh, that’s what that meant. Or, God, we should have done that. Because because the wheels just stop turning and it settles a bit and you, have some objective perspective. But, we got to do the play three times. And so it was the first time that I’ve left to play, and I didn’t want to do it again. And so, you know, maybe in a year I’ll want to do it again. But it was it was amazing.


Louis Virtel This is not the kind of spring break you hear about on MTV, by the way. Just like.


Chris Perfetti Steppenwolf. Take your top off.


Louis Virtel Yeah, right.


Ira Madison III Yeah. Louis was busy at the Barnes and Noble or something. You know.


Louis Virtel Oh please.


Ira Madison III Immersed. I was immersed in theater in Chicago. I worked as an usher at Menopause the Musical for two years.


Louis Virtel That’s a long menopause. It’s a long menopause.


Chris Perfetti Immersed.


Ira Madison III Yeah. No, I love Chicago theater. I studied at Loyola Chicago, and I want to know, what was the play that you saw at Steppenwolf? Do you remember?


Chris Perfetti It was August Osage County?


Louis Virtel Well, that’s one of the big ones. Yes, I saw I saw Tracy Letts in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? There was unbelievable. Yeah, yeah, yeah.


Ira Madison III I worked, August Osage County when it went to Broadway, I was at. Oh, yeah.


Chris Perfetti During years I had, I was in drama school by that time, and I was in New York when they were doing it on Broadway. And I think it’s the only play that I’ve seen more than once, and I dare say I saw it four times. You know, because they did it for quite a while and they kept, you know, changing the cast up and yeah it was like one of those formative experiences. But I guess you saw it more than four times, Ira.


Ira Madison III Yeah. But you know, doing that, it’s always weird watching a play from that sort of vantage point because it some nights you will see act one and then sometimes you just won’t see act two and then. Yeah, then mixing it up and everything. But yeah, it was a great production. And I served Glenn Close a drink once, so. Oh, man, that was great.


Louis Virtel I’m sure she needed one. I would love to see. Pound the $27 double. Whatever they give you about those players.


Ira Madison III You want to see her pounding a drink now. You just got to go to Cafe Cluny in the West Village.


Louis Virtel Apparently.


Ira Madison III She is, always there. Chris, thank you so much for being here.


Chris Perfetti Oh, my gosh, it’s so great to talk to you guys. I love your show. And, it’s.


Ira Madison III Oh, thank you.


Chris Perfetti Honored to be with ya.


Ira Madison III I love your show.


Chris Perfetti Thanks, man.


Ira Madison III You know, so, yeah, we just love each other, right, great.


Louis Virtel It’s such a it’s it’s such a pleasurable show. So congrats for filming your third season.


Chris Perfetti Thanks, Louis. Thanks, guys.




Ira Madison III After decades as one of Hollywood’s preeminent leading ladies, Nicole Kidman has received the American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award because why she makes movies better.


Louis Virtel Ah. She even said it herself. Yeah.


Ira Madison III We’re going to talk about those movies from our favorite Nicole Kidman performances to some of our blind spots. I fixed one of my blind spots and started over the weekend with Dead Calm.


Louis Virtel What did you think of Dead Calm?


Ira Madison III I kind of loved it.


Louis Virtel Yeah.


Ira Madison III Yeah, I think it’s like it’s totally wacky and of its time, and it’s sort of an edge stick movie where I feel like, first of all, she looks completely different. Yeah, right. And I, you know, we’re we’re not even talking about just you like. Like I always forget that she wasn’t always blond.


Louis Virtel Yes. And in fact, at the beginning of her career, she was thought of as the second coming of Judy Davis, who looked to whom she looked like at the beginning of her career. And now those two actresses don’t look anything like to me.


Ira Madison III Yeah. I mean, Dead Calm. And then you sort of have Days of thunder, and I feel like it wasn’t really until maybe, to die for where she starts really becoming this, the icy blond that we know her to be.


Louis Virtel Yeah, right. I have to say, it’s very interesting about Nicole Kidman because I think obviously, almost maybe even the average person can name 10 to 15 performances of hers, and there’d be so many that are completely unrelated to others. Like to die for is not like anything else she ever did, you know? Even the others is not like anything she ever did. But there still is this prevailing image of her, as I’ll say, kind of a leave all type where there’s a porcelain vulnerability. And is she going to crack feeling about whatever she does? But at the same time, she’s like a Liv Ullmann who also gets to be the star of blockbusters. Not only does she do all these different types of roles, she does them at all these different types of scales, you know, like it can be the smallest possible movie or a gigantic, you know, blockbuster banger of a movie. She is just, if you will, beguiling in that way. She is just a shocking, fabulous actress who is routinely sublime in anything, everything. Weirdly, a performance of hers that I feel like goes underrated is Eyes Wide Shut, because, that movie really is about though her character has a journey and we’re finding out about her, like desires, etc. it’s really more about Tom Cruise’s foray into, escape in this kind of dreamy underworld. But in that movie, she has a scene where she’s high and she confesses this, fantasy and situation to Tom cruise. And when it begins, you kind of think, oh, no. Did she read about being high on a pamphlet or something like, is this going to be acting? And then it goes into just this scorching, character revealing moment that, she’s given us so many of over the years? Like, you know, it really peaked for a second with Big Little Lies, where, like, everything we know her to be great at culminated in what seemed like a dissertation on on how to give an emotional performance. But I think if people are looking to revisit a performance that is surprising and strange, that has a lot in it, that’s not another movies check out Eyes Wide Shot, a movie that, by the way, I don’t love.


Ira Madison III Oh. Really?


Louis Virtel Yeah. I think the beginning when they’re at the party is amazing. And then her confession to him is amazing. And then once he gets into, like, the Bad Romance video orgy.


Ira Madison III *Laughs*


Louis Virtel And they’re concluding, like what? Like they try to sum up what’s happened to them at the end. It feels very pat and not up to how surreal the rest of the movie is.


Ira Madison III Yeah. I mean, you know, my man loves those movies. Okay, that Vanilla Sky.


Louis Virtel He looks amazing in Eyes Wide Shut. And he has it. He’s so good in it, too. I think it’s his best performance, maybe.


Ira Madison III Yeah. I mean, how could she have said no more precisely. Precisely. I mean, you get when you watch especially like, their movies together and when you watch Days of Thunder, you sort of get like the initial attraction between them. Right? They were just two of the fucking hottest people in Hollywood at the time.


Louis Virtel Yeah, and in Eyes Wide Shut, you might believe that they’re the same height, too. So movies are magic, we come to this place for magic. I’m looking at it right now.


Ira Madison III A lot of angles going on in that movie.


Louis Virtel Stanley’s like, let’s shoot up.


Ira Madison III I do love that you mentioned that she is able to do, you know, films like The Hours, right? And then also just be a fucking Batman forever. Like, she loves, she loves to work for one. And I think that she amongst like, A-list actors really sort of has that good balance of I’m in really good films. And then I’m also in blockbusters that are generally fun and, you know, competently made to, you know, like there are like a couple of them that maybe falter. But, you know, I just feel like. She was really in something that you just feel is truly abysmal and a waste of your time.


Louis Virtel There. I can only think of a couple of like, bad move. Like I’ve never seen the Aquaman movies because of course I am. But, like Birthday Girl, not a great movie, but otherwise it’s a pretty excellent record. And in fact, she’s somebody, and this is super rare, I think, who won the Oscar for Best Actress for the hours, of course. And then afterwards seemed to have this kind of Phuket mentality where she went as dark and weird as she wanted. Like to follow that up with a movie like birth, which I think most Nicole Kidman fans would put in her top three, if not her her best movie. Dogville. People that Margot at the wedding I love to, but like birth and like there are other strange movies that followed like fur etc. but in birth, the combination of both vulnerability that she gives, which obviously there’s a famous scene where it’s like locked on her face in a theater and you just see her sort of well up. And that’s again, like something Liv Ullmann would do. You just believe the paranormal undercurrent of this movie because of what she brings to it. Like, you have to believe it through her. There’s a movie with Ellen Burstyn called resurrection, where there’s a similar amount of amazing acting that has to occur for you to even get in on the ground floor in this movie, for you to even subscribe to what’s happening. And that it’s just tremendous. It’s a tremendous performance. And like her streak of movies during that decade is so unexpected. For somebody who just won an Oscar, it’s so unexpected.


Ira Madison III I mean, girl, if you want to talk about Nicole Kidman really going for the gusto and just like having fucking fun in a film, you cannot do that without talking about the fucking Paper Boy.


Louis Virtel Yes. Essential to her filmography. Yes.


Ira Madison III It’s wild watching that performance back and just being like, yeah, she read this was like, let’s just fucking do it. And honestly, there’s so many parts of that film that I truly love. I ultimately think it doesn’t work, but I do sort of, commend Lee Daniels for attempting.


Louis Virtel It’s also it’s one of those things where the movie feels like a detour in her career, because so much of it is not what she, quote unquote, typically does. But then those movies, I think, in retrospect, end up being essential to understanding what they’re good at. It’s like Meryl Streep and she never she never did another movie like that again. And yet if you see that movie, you’re aware of this whole other, like tentacle of her talent that you won’t find anywhere else. And and I want to say that that’s also true of To Die For, which I consider, in that time, there are three particular performances that come up all the time on this show. Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, Parker Posey and Party Girl, and Nicole Kidman and To Die For where there’s like a bubbly, self-possessed, subversive quality to the character. And I think some of it is in the script, which is terrific for To Die For, written by Buck Henry. But otherwise you’re seeing them bring some sort of essential part of their charisma that I don’t think is written down, that they come up with themselves, and it feels like you realize they are able to elevate a script to another level just by their sheer being.


Ira Madison III Yeah. I mean, I feel like you could see a direct line sort of from the, melodrama, and camp, in the paper boy to her sort of realizing that she could play roles like that, but maybe a bit more, serious, and with a little less, peeing on Zac Efron. Right. And big Little Lies. And then also The Undoing, which, by the way, is somehow messier than The Paper Boy.


Louis Virtel The undoing, the way that ended. I was just so upset. I was like, I don’t need to see, this long of a production about how something is inevitable. I don’t know, they they forgot to make it dramatic or something. Even though she was great and her wigs were, of course, lustrous and, I believe, dragging on the street behind her.


Ira Madison III I still have not seen Nine Perfect Strangers.


Louis Virtel I can’t, I mean, just like that’s one of those things when there’s no discussion about it, then you move on from it. Like I end up choosing something like Baby Reindeer that everybody still is discussing. If I had to pick a single favorite Nicole Kidman performance of all time, I think I would have to go with Rabbit Hole because one, the acting in that movie across the board and you’ve got Miles teller, you’ve got Aaron Eckhart, you’ve got Dianne Wiest in a small, excellent role as fabulous. But I think I just love when someone of Nicole Kidman’s caliber tackles something that is such a triumph as a play, and they don’t fuck with the play that much, and they want to just put the raw, elements of it on screen for us to observe. And like, there’s so many ways that can go wrong or it’s just there’s less tension. You know, I keep thinking of August Osage County, the movie, like, what was it missing? Like something was just like a letter grade below the quality we expected. And in that movie, she is so, wrenching. And also just, this is something we talk a lot about with Cate Blanchett and Carol. You just get to see a lot of somebody thinking. And when you’re a good actor, that is mesmerizing to watch.


Ira Madison III Yeah, I would. Say, you know, for me, her best performance for me is probably Moulin Rouge. You know, I just feel like she is able to infuse Satine with, this sort of, not just vulnerability, but, you know, there’s also you talk about inevitability, right? You know, like, it’s inevitable that, like, she’s going to die. Yeah, but. There’s just something about this performance that feels like there’s beauty in this inevitability, and she’s just able to infuse so much, like I said, vulnerability, sort of like sadness into this tragic character, obviously, but also so much life.


Louis Virtel Oh yeah.


Ira Madison III Fun. And her scenes with Ewan McGregor, or maybe some of the most romantic scenes I’ve ever seen, Baz Luhrmann accomplished. And certainly up there with like, romantic scenes in cinema in general. It’s a it’s a fun, great movie. And I really love it. And I would say that, underrated performances for me. I fucking love the film Stoker.


Louis Virtel Oh. Oh, please. And I’m so glad that’s become a monologue that, you know, gay people recite to each other at weddings, at funerals, etc..


Ira Madison III Hahahahaha. That and Julianne Moore in Magnolia.


Louis Virtel Right.


Ira Madison III Those are up there in monologues.


Louis Virtel I would say I do not like Moulin Rouge, but I’m Nicole Kidman, I think is amazing in it, specifically because you’re right, she does have that emotional quotient that of course, the movie, the romance, the passion, etc. but also, she’s not just the delicate thing, she meets the excess of the movie. So she’s playing a strange amount of levels at once. And of course, there’s no movie like that either, so she feels particularly suited to how crazy the movie is.


Ira Madison III I’m just want to commend her also for, like, still being at the top of her game, still turning out performances that are fucking mesmerizing. And recently going into performances that are kind of scary. You know, there’s not that bubbly presence that there was in, to die for. I mean, it’s it’s there are dark performances in, The Killing of a Sacred Deer.


Louis Virtel Northman.


Ira Madison III Fucking Love and Northman. I was going to say Northman too, and she is terrifying in that movie, and I love all the scenes between her and Alexander Skarsgard in it. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t tell people to check out, expats, which is a fantastic series, and she and Soraya Blue are amazing, in it. So, watch that series.


Louis Virtel And of course, Practical Magic is worth three good gifts. I don’t know. Beyond that, I needed much more from the movie. But like somebody levitating on a broom, proud of themselves, we needed to see that.


Ira Madison III Better than Bewitched, where she levitates out of her.


Louis Virtel Though I do. I do want to say I love that Nicole Kidman loves the original show Bewitched. That also gets her points in my book. When she did her 73 question, she said that was her favorite TV show, which is brave. After having made that movie.


Ira Madison III Her 73 questions is maybe it top? Top 3, 73 questions ever?


Louis Virtel Yes, except for when she sings those lyrics by her husband. Woof woof. Tough for me


Ira Madison III Those lyrics honestly. Pretty raw.


Louis Virtel Another reference.


Ira Madison III All right. When we are back. Keep it up. And we are back with our favorite segment of the episode. It is. Keep it. Louis.


Louis Virtel Yes?


Ira Madison III What’s yours?


Louis Virtel A minor keep it, I guess. But, Jennifer Lawrence is talking about Amy Schumer, who is, of course, you know, very pro-Israel. And she said Amy’s choice to use her voice to speak for justice puts her under immense fire. I wouldn’t say she navigates it so much as she throws her middle fingers up and walks away from negative comments, like a gas station fire and a Michael Bay movie. My keep it this week is to the concept of middle fingers. I don’t want to see that ever again. I it just feels like something your aunt does in a photograph at a family reunion. It seems like something a Road Rules cast member does while they are bungee jumping. I just don’t think it stands for anything anymore. It’s one of those things, like the word cringe or math, where it just. It’s it’s giving you a sense of power you have not earned. So I find it just revolting end period.


Ira Madison III Well, you know what? I’m kidding.


Louis Virtel Who are you Pink? Throwing up that middle finger at me.


Ira Madison III It’s so funny. I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve given someone the middle finger.


Louis Virtel Yeah.


Ira Madison III I think maybe one of the last times was, like, probably got, like, a big crowded music festival, like Coachella or something. Like, trying, like, you know, there are people who sort of, like, plant themselves in places and like, don’t move, which I think is to this is too advanced for in general, but also like people are having to get through and you had to get through to so like just sort of like make yourself malleable. Yeah. And like I remember this like one and just sort of like really snapping at like people who are like moving parts and it’s like, like the middle finger is only useful for that when you’re like, do it quickly and you’re moving on. Yeah, I think it came out. But I was also like, I’ve never done this as a kid at all.


Louis Virtel Also just like you made a body part move at me. It’s just so strange. Use your words. You know, like we’re one of the more evolved species. Go ahead and speak.


Ira Madison III Yeah.


Louis Virtel Ira, what is your Keep it?


Ira Madison III Well, unfortunately, I am going to have to prove Roxie Andrews wrong when she said you can’t read the doll because, my keep goes to Normani.


Louis Virtel Oh no.


Ira Madison III This week, The doll herself. I feel bad saying this to. But Normani finally released her single 159. First of all, people were afraid that that was how long I was going to be. But it is a full length song. I kind of wish it were one minute and then seconds, but, because it’s mostly just boring. Yeah. And here’s my specific thing about Normani. Obviously we’ve waited five years plus for the album to come out. And she’s done a whole, a couple interviews recently. She did one with, she has one out in the cut today talking about the weight. Just talking about wanting to get things right, etc.. Okay, girl. I mean, it’s it’s just like the way that she is talking about this record. It is like it is her magnum opus, you know, and it is just sort of, there’s just sort of this general attitude amongst her fans that, she’s an icon. She should be exalted. She is the future of music when it’s. None of that has been brought to the table. You were in fifth Harmony. A girl group, which I actually really quite liked.


Louis Virtel Of course.


Ira Madison III Camila Cabello has come out, and she’s had a bunch of hits. But even that hasn’t stopped her from this weird Charli XCX aping career pivot that she’s doing right now.


Louis Virtel That song, I love it, I’m not loving it.


Ira Madison III I do love it now.


Louis Virtel Oh my god.


Ira Madison III I know. Unfortunately, it’s it’s Pavlov. It’s Pavlov. Okay? Like it’s been beaten into me. So I walk around and I just say, like, I love it, I love it, I love it like it’s in my head. I mean, don’t you want to rock lemons on the chain with the V cut? Because I do.


Louis Virtel Oh, okay. I don’t relate to that in any way, but okay.


Ira Madison III But I don’t know. It’s just there’s a specific quote from Normani in one of the interviews where she talks about motivation and the interviewer says, I must admit, I’m a motivation lover. It comes on in the gay club and I’m like, let’s go. But as she responds, it’s crazy. Now, I appreciate that song so much more than I did. I cried, I boo, who cried. I was like, I don’t want this to be my single. Then I had total creative control over the video, which means a lot. I just wanted to feel represent it. Now I get it, I understand it more now. I get you want to be this R&B girl with these sort of like sleepy, sort of.


Louis Virtel Solange ified music.


Ira Madison III Solange not even Solange-ified. It sounds like, most of her songs sound like the opening 30s of One in A Million. Yeah, four. Until you start singing, it sounds like the like the the low humming beat in the beginning. There’s just no really sort of, gymnastics to the song. There’s no going any different levels, you know, and I just feel like, 159 is sort of like a very ho hum single after waiting for so long. And it doesn’t make me feel positive about the upcoming album. And when I critiqued it online, many of her stands were like, you don’t you don’t know what the whole album is going to sound like. It’s just a single. And I’m like, this goes back to the whole Billboard Hot 100 thing that we were talking about before the show. I’m wearing a Post Malone shirt. Shout out to Post Malone for being number one on the Billboard Hot 100, but it’s just what does music even mean anymore? You know, because in my day, a lead single was supposed to get you anticipated for an album. Yeah, okay. It doesn’t exist to just be on streaming, and then maybe your fans can say, oh, well, you know, like I’ll listen to the album when it comes out. But I don’t really care. I mean, in my day, like, you had to go and buy a fucking single at the record store. You had to request it on the radio, you had to wait to watch the video on MTV, which means that that single better be fucking good. Yeah. Right. Right. It also means that it’s going to tell you what the album is going to be sounding like. Motivation was a great single, and I get that. Maybe it wasn’t the exact sort of flavor of R&B that she wanted, but the fact that you also just sort of like hate it. And we get like a listen, a lot of our favorite artists hate some of their favorite songs. She talks about it all the time on the show, but if you really hate the one song in your short solo career that all your fans really love and people who even aren’t your fans loved, then sort of, what are we doing here? And then I’m thinking that just maybe your solo career might not be for me.


Louis Virtel I mean, it’s interesting, like the amount of time somebody puts out, like a big pop song and it turns out to be the one they don’t like. It’s always in my head that Alanis Morissette didn’t want ironic on Jagged Little Pill, you know? And it’s like, obviously that’s like that went to number one. But also you like kind of get it too. It’s like, oh yeah, I guess the theme of that is like a little corny or whatever. Like I think being perceived as corny is a fear for a lot of people when it comes to, pop music. But also, I mean, Normani is up against espresso culture, which I’m sorry, has taken over my brain. Girl.


Ira Madison III It’s such a fucking good song.


Louis Virtel And also the lyrics do not get dumber. It does not get better than the lyrics to that song. It’s me espresso. I mean, we used to have English as a language, used to speak it.


Ira Madison III I’m working late.


Louis Virtel But it is an amazing song. We’re talking about Sabrina Carpenter’s new single. It’s still, I think, at number 22 on the hot 100, even though Taylor Swift’s completely dominated.


Ira Madison III The thing is, it was higher a week ago. It was at seven. And then, you know, the Tortured poets, all started turning their ovens on.


Louis Virtel Taylor and her 16 versions of Howl all made it onto the list.


Ira Madison III So I think that once Taylor Hysteria dies down, then espresso will be going back to the top. But. I don’t know. It’s just I want music, especially if you’re a pop star. Should be fun. And if you’re an R&B star, it should be sexy, I guess. And I’m not really getting any of it. And I feel bad about, you know, the sort of I want this creative freedom, etc. but it’s been five years and if you want to read them, do anything else. Yeah. No. You know, or drop that, Max Martin produced album with all these songs you maybe don’t like, and at least use that to have the capital to release a second album that you do like, you know, I mean, our fans are always comparing us to Beyonce and things, and it’s just you have to get to that level first. And just because you got to love each other then started solo, like fifth Harmony to Normani, solo career is not the exact same thing. Okay? They’re not even the same kind of artists, to be honest. They’re releasing different kinds of music.


Louis Virtel I feel like it’s always a good idea to release the Max Martin single, because if you look at all everything he’s done, if it were a bad music, ultimately that would be pretty rare for his catalog and we would still remember it for that reason. I remember when Max Martin made bad music that one time. Go ahead and put that out.


Ira Madison III Also, most of our classic artists have a first album that nobody really gives a fuck about or even remembers.


Louis Virtel Carly Rae Jepsen we speak your name. Yes.


Ira Madison III Do not come for this kiss.


Louis Virtel No no no, not before that. The tug of war album.


Ira Madison III Oh.


Louis Virtel Yeah.


Ira Madison III Oh.


Louis Virtel Yeah.


Ira Madison III Oh, yeah. Sorry. We don’t speak about that one..


Louis Virtel I love that, I love that Carly Rae Jepsen album. Yeah.


Ira Madison III As you know, like Janet Jackson had Dream Street and then that other one.


Louis Virtel Right. Before Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were like, actually, we have amazing hats.


Ira Madison III Anyway, this sounds like a very negative keep it, but it’s also a, I’m somehow still rooting for you, girl. Keep it. Because I feel like even when people are making jokes about Normani online, it’s because they still care.


Louis Virtel Yeah.


Ira Madison III If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t be talking about you at all, you know? So I would love nothing more for her to be topping the charts. And having a hit. I love more music.


Louis Virtel But in the meantime, we’re going to be having a hit of ketamine next to a pool in Palm Springs while espresso plays. Baby, the summer is here. Yeah.


Ira Madison III I’m working late because I’m a singer. Is that’s that’s art, though.


Louis Virtel It is goofballs. By the way, I’m working late because I’m a singer. You look so cute wrapped around my finger. I just want to say singer and finger don’t rhyme. And I want to say that what she has to do to the word singer to make it rhyme is again a new landmark and stupidity. Singer. I mean, it’s like new to the language. She’s introducing so much here and I hope we don’t pass up how progressive it is.


Ira Madison III Okay, well, first of all, that is a classic in pop music. Okay? Sometimes you have to rhyme words that do not make sense. I think our friend John even tweeted about this today. About the classic song Somebody’s Love by Leighton Meester, where she is melting in the words parents, friends to Michigan. It’s it’s I love it. I love it when pop songs are like, you know what? Here are the words to the song. Here’s the melody. I’m going to make it fit.


Louis Virtel Right and nobody’s paying that much attention. So moving right along, you know, not everything has to be song of the year, you know?


Ira Madison III Haha, I know I Mountain Dew it for ya. I mean, I need that on a shirt.


Louis Virtel Right? I think you’re going to get it.


Ira Madison III Yeah. Mountain Dew is going to send it to me next week.


Louis Virtel That’s our episode. Thank you to Chris Perfetti, who is, delightful.


Ira Madison III Yeah.


Louis Virtel And thank you, Nicole Kidman, for being tall and willowy and always fair skinned. We need you out there in the world representing SPF deprived culture.


Ira Madison III Yeah. And also, I need that AMC ad. I’m tired of playing with you, girl.


Louis Virtel Even like the losers who, like, clap when the airplane lands aren’t clapping any more for this ad. We need a renewal.


Ira Madison III Yeah, I mean, I heard someone say woo when the ad came on recently and I was like, still, it’s been for years. Go ahead. This is your first like it’s your second time seeing it.


Louis Virtel Right. Yeah.


Ira Madison III Shocking. Yeah. All right. We’ll see you next week. Great. Don’t forget to follow Crooked Media on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. You can also subscribe to keep it on YouTube for access to full episodes and other exclusive content. And if you’re as opinionated as we are, consider dropping us a review.


Louis Virtel Keep it is a Crooked Media production. Our producers are Chris Lord and C.J. “Seige” Polkinghorne are executive producers are Ira Madison, the Third, Louis Virtel, and Kendra James. Our digital team is Megan Patsel, Claudia Shang, and Rachel Gaeski. This episode was recorded and mixed by Evan Sutton. Thank you to Matt DeGroot, David Toles, Kyle Seglin, and Charlotte Landes for production support every week.