‘Wicked’ Ariana Grande Set Leaks as Glinda Are Out of Control newsusface

This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by editor Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.

This week:

  • My favorite ridiculous show caught your attention.
  • The Wicked movie set leaks are sustaining me.
  • A fix to one of Hollywood’s biggest problems.
  • No actor deserves this.
  • The worst character on TV.

We Have Been Changed For Good By These Set Leaks

First of all, I want to say that I could not be prouder of my four-year-old nephews for the work they’ve done as the on-set security for the Wicked movie. They are doing their best to prevent footage of Ariana Grande performing as G(a)linda from leaking, but, alas, it was nap time when the paparazzi arrived, so what are you going to do?

For years, I’ve been mystified by the superhero fans that drooled over and dissected every element of “first look” photos of actors in costume for the first time, creating entire content cycles based on leaked production footage of those movies. It’s the actor you already know is playing the part, in costume as the character you know they’re going to play, shooting the film you’re going to see in the near-future. What’s the big deal?

Well, I am “confusified” no more. They finally made that hoopla gay—so gay, we’re using the word “hoopla” to describe it. Now I get it.

There’s been a treasure trove of new official photos, paparazzi snaps, and even drone footage of the Wicked movie coming out daily. Fans of musical theater, fans of Ariana Grande, fans of juicy media leaks, and the overlapping population at the center of that triumvirate—gays, in general—have been rabid, seizing on and picking apart every element. This is our Marvel moment. Rejoicify!

Watch a clip here. And here!

I have seen TikToks of dressmakers analyzing Grande’s pink, scalloping Glinda gown, comparing it to Kristin Chenoweth’s blue one in the original Broadway production. I have seen composers studying where Grande takes a breath in her version of “No One Mourns the Wicked,” compared to where Chenoweth would. I have seen people channeling the greatest early explorers in mapping out aerial shots of the whimsical-looking Oz set. There has been ugly discourse—like the one surrounding Grande’s body—and silly observations, like the ones comparing her movement while performing to that of a Disney World animatronic.

Some of the excitement, I think, stems from the astonishment that any of this content exists at all. It’s not normal for there to be this much footage coming from the set of a major production. There is clear footage of Grande performing the show’s opening number, along with previews of the ensemble dancing and what looks to be a major bit of stagecraft. That’s unprecedented.

The conspiracy theorist in me laughs at this: Director Jon M. Chu released official first-look photos of Grande and co-star Cynthia Erivo that are so dark, they might as well not exist, and he was ripped to shreds for it. Days later, all this clear, bright footage from the set hits the internet. Coincidence? Either way, I’m full of gratitution.

A Great Solution to a Problem That Shouldn’t Exist

The scariest thing in my house is my television. God forbid, I try to spend a cozy night in, watching the latest blockbuster that’s available to stream.

I’ll turn on a movie, realize that I can’t hear what the actors are saying, and turn up the volume. I’ll go back to my standard movie-watching habit—scrolling through Instagram, with occasional glances back up at the TV—and then, suddenly, an action sequence starts. A boom comes through the speakers with the magnitude of a plane crashing directly into my couch. I shriek, as my soul and seven-to-10 years of my life leave my body.

The “why is the music and action so loud, when the dialogue is so soft” question has become one of the most pressing issues of our time. If we’re all being honest with ourselves, we’d admit that is not hyperbole. And so it is a thrill to learn that Amazon’s Prime Video just debuted a new feature called Dialogue Boost, which allows users to increase the volume of dialogue to match the louder elements of what they’re watching.

It’s a godsend. I’m so thankful for it. BUT WHY DOES IT HAVE TO EXIST? I have a revolutionary solution: When making movies, maybe stop making this a problem in the first place? Hollywood, I accept checks and am on Venmo.

Fans Continue to Be Outrageous

There is a clip of Jodie Comer, the Emmy-winning former star of Killing Eve, doing the stage door after a recent performance of Prima Facie, the Broadway play she’s starring in. The stage door is a generous thing that actors participate in with gratitude for fans, who wait for them to come out after a performance to sign autographs, take photos, and chat. It’s intended as an act of mutual appreciation. But fans, as they are wont to do, have completely poisoned it.

In a video that went viral this week, Comer is seen interacting with someone who tells her, “I really didn’t like the ending.” “Of the play?” Comer asks. It’s an absurd thing to say to someone who just got off stage, but there is a world in which an artist would appreciate an opportunity to engage thoughtfully about a piece with an audience member. “No, Killing Eve,” the person says. “It was awful.” WHAT?!

Watch the interaction here.

I don’t often feel bad for actors, but the brazen entitlement with which people have started to be cruel to them continues to blow my mind. This may not be the most egregious example, but it’s certainly emblematic.

The Most Annoying TV of the Week

If you have watched the recent season of The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip, which wrapped its third season this week on Peacock, then this makes perfect sense to you, and you will applaud in agreement. If you haven’t, well… just trust me.

This damn tequila bottle is the worst character of TV I have had to suffer through watching in years.

What to watch this week:

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret: Judy Blume resisted a movie adaptation for decades. It was worth the wait. (Now in theaters)

Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant: We celebrate any time that Jake Gyllenhaal is in a good movie. (Now in theaters)

The Diplomat: Netflix finally has another drama series that’s actually worth watching. (Now on Netflix)

Somebody Somewhere: This show warms your soul, breaks your heart, and heals you all over again. (Sun. on HBO)

What to skip this week:

Ghosted: But enjoy reading all the deliciously negative reviews! (Now on Apple TV+)

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