Billie Eilish, Back to Black, Black Twitter with Prentice Penny | Crooked Media
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May 22, 2024
Keep It
Billie Eilish, Back to Black, Black Twitter with Prentice Penny

In This Episode

Ira and Louis discuss Billie Eilish’s new album Hit Me Hard and Soft, Amy Winehouse biopic Back to Black, RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 9, and Diddy’s unwanted apology video. Prentice Penny joins to discuss directing and producing the Hulu doc Black Twitter: A People’s History.

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


Louis Virtel I’m Louis for tell, and I’m so pleased to report that someone finally matched my freak. I cannot get that song out of my head. Last week we brought up Tinashe’s new song, and how, you know, it’s probably going to chart and it’s going to be a big moment for her. Anyway, in the song Nasty and by the way, we celebrate the history of nasty on record, from Janet Jackson to Vanity, sexy on back forward and to the future.


Ira Madison III Oh of course.


Louis Virtel But anyway, the, is someone going to match my freak lyric and is so hitting me hard it’s so robotically delivered and yet precisely in a pop music melodic, brain wormy way now sort of a force to be reckoned with for the summer. And I say this because I believe I have overplayed espresso. Yeah.


Ira Madison III I feel like we were maybe a bit too optimistic last week, with espresso dominating the entire summer because it has significantly dropped on my on repeat on Spotify. Because and I say significantly like it’s it’s number five. Okay. Underneath the stereophonic soundtrack, two songs from that bodyguard from Beyoncé still up there. 360 by Charli XCX and also nasty. But nasty has held its place at number three for weeks. It was number one at one point, but it keeps bouncing out there. I love I’m talking like on the charts.


Louis Virtel Like you’re Ryan Seacrest. Yeah, the top 40 are Dick Clark or something. Yeah.


Ira Madison III I think we neglected to, really dive into how fantastic this Tinashe song is last week, and it’s truly one of her best songs in recent memory. And it is so. Hypnotic and so, like, it gets stuck in your eye. Just like. Just like the whole chorus. I’ve been a nasty girl. Like it’s just in my head all day.


Louis Virtel No. Right. And I mean, it’s delivered hypnotically. Like it’s almost like. Like the pendulum on a clock swinging back and forth as she just sort of drums this into you. It’s like a post story, really. I don’t know, but I’m psyched for Tinashe again. My theory was she was trapped at we Hope, right? And actually couldn’t find her way out from out the stage.


Ira Madison III Sort of like M Night Shyamalan’s new movie trap starring Josh Hartnett, which I cannot wait to see, even though I feel like we got the entire movie in the trailer.


Louis Virtel Right? Yeah. Oh, you know, like Jasmine in the hourglass in Aladdin. And that was sort of her, except she was next to, like, her, the Mountain Dew fag stage at. And we tried.


Ira Madison III Wearing the same outfit as Jasmine. Yeah, right. Well, yeah.


Louis Virtel By the way, your first taste in that scene, spicy. I enjoyed. He was like, she’s going to be a whore today.


Ira Madison III Well, speaking of WeHo pride, there’s no bigger sign that Jafar is, fagot coated like most of Disney’s villains. Hello, scar. Then the fact that Jasmine is wearing that outfit while trapped in the hourglass is. Give her. Okay. Jasmine’s your pop diva. No. Right.


Louis Virtel We did it. Nicole Scherzinger of the house.


Ira Madison III Damn boats. Yeah, I honestly, I would love a Jafar origin story about his conflicted sexuality. That’s something that’s actually interesting. A prequel we want.


Louis Virtel Yeah, that’s what I would say. Guys, you’re going to give us every other prequel. I’m sure we’re going to learn, like, you know, where Iago and his cage free eggs came from? I have no idea. But like Jafar, that.


Ira Madison III Would be fascinating. What got out? Those, black crows from Dumbo came from shucking and jiving.


Louis Virtel Dumbo is just one of the most troubling experiences ever. I mean, it’s an amazing movie. And also just the nerve center.


Ira Madison III Also, the bitch barely flies, right?


Louis Virtel Oh, no, he’s not that good a flying elephant, I’ll say it. Yeah.


Ira Madison III There was also a tweet someone had recently about, about those haters in Dumbo. What did they. The other elephants or something? They’re nasty. You go to Dumbo. Smother. Like, actually, the thing about Dumbo is every character that Dumbo encounters in that movie is a [Unrecognized].


Louis Virtel Which they don’t get into in the live action version that had fucking Danny DeVito in it. We just back up the money train to these character actors house and they’re like, can you just be animated with this fucking elephant for a little while, please?


Ira Madison III It was very Greatest Showman. Coat it. Yeah. If I focus much more on the circus and these human characters than Dumbo. But how do you get into the interiority of a CGI elephant.


Louis Virtel When we hack that one day? I mean, I hope Disney stabs us on this.


Ira Madison III Yeah. I also want to say something about last week I was recording, and, there was there was a lot of, there’s a lot of chatter, a lot of yeehaw going on outside my apartment. The police were outside and I could see, like, a growing police population outside my apartment. And, I was wondering, am I going to be here next week? But I went downstairs after we finished recording to smoke a cigaret. I could not get out of my apartment. It was. There was a barricade in front of my apartment door. And I’m thinking, this girl’s face running around like, well, what is happening? And where are your.


Louis Virtel Takes to hot, right. There’s lots of lots of suspicion in the air.


Ira Madison III But my neighbor was downstairs way too. She was like, well, I can’t get to work today. And I was like, well, what’s going on? And she said, Kamala Harris is eating across the street at a restaurant. Now, I’m not going to mention the name of the restaurant because we’re talking about the Billie Eilish album this week, and she has a song about a stalker. And if I tell you the name of this restaurant, you will know exactly where I live. So I will not. But it’s a bad restaurant.


Louis Virtel Interesting.


Ira Madison III And I was concerned for the VP.


Louis Virtel I was concerned for you because in order to get to work, you almost had to climb out a window and literally fall out of a coconut tree to get into your place.


Ira Madison III I would love for someone to actually fall out of a coconut tree in front of her.


Louis Virtel Wouldn’t that be so adorable? And like a, sonny from Cocoa Puffs kind of way? You know, like a real partner. Now, I’ve met.


Ira Madison III Her at a Cocoa Puffs commercial. Okay, that’s what I. That’s what I really want from Kamala Harris. This whole running the country ship for her. I don’t think her heart’s in it. Our heart’s not in it. Give her a talk show. Right. Okay. She’s like, let her be Drew Barrymore, don’t you? Don’t you want to see Kamala interviewing people, just chuckling it up on a couch every day?


Louis Virtel You don’t want to see more of Drew Barrymore. Like feeling her up. Like I was like a game of blind man’s bluff. Because that was just shocking. Like every part of that pantsuit was touched.


Ira Madison III Intimate apparel. Yeah. Honestly, what Michelle Bhutto said last week, though, about drew. Of for. By the way, this is a woman who grew up in the industry from a child, and we know all of the dark things that Jrue went through.


Louis Virtel Oh yeah, it’s well chronicler.


Ira Madison III Out of print memoir. But her on her show plus the all the videos of her in the rain and being excited by it and the TikToks, things like that. You have to imagine that, yes, she has reverted to the childhood that she’s never had. And if you think about Drew Barrymore in that respect, then it all makes.


Louis Virtel Sense, right? No, I applaud her for having an indomitable spirit. But sometimes spirits should be dominant and you should come back.


Ira Madison III Where are the Ghostbusters? Yeah, right.


Louis Virtel Oh my God. We did a sketch on Kimmel last week that ended with a Ghostbusters button and gizmo like, collects the ghost and what? Whatever those things are called in Ghostbusters. And then he goes bust and makes me feel good. Which is, of course, a lyric in the Ray Parker Junior song. What fucking planet? Where we on? Where bustin makes me feel good. Got to exist. Were there any adults on this picture?


Ira Madison III Well, first of all, you did not have a Ghostbusters trap as a kid.


Louis Virtel I did, I just don’t know what the thing is called. I know it has like, the black and yellow lines on it. Do not put this in the comments. I am not interested in the discussion.


Ira Madison III I want to say the actor one but isn’t that the name of the car?


Louis Virtel Yes. Right, right. Something. Plasma girl I’m not going there. I know it’s in this age of pop culture jeopardy. I should have that at the tip of my tongue, but I don’t.


Ira Madison III I used to love hitting that button like it’s a stamp of your foot on it to open it up, imagining ghosts were there as a kid. The Ghostbusters is a lot of toys. We’ve talked about it on the show before, but they were they were top tier. That trap.


Louis Virtel Yeah.


Ira Madison III The car, the, firehouse, which had, holes at the top so you could pour goo down it, which came out after Ghostbusters to the whole Viggo thing. Love those toys.


Louis Virtel Oh, yeah. No, I mean to say nothing of the fact that you could get all the boy toys and then, you know, secretly to fill out the collection in case you were maybe interested. You could also get the Janine Annie Potts toy, and I would, you know, maybe cherish that toy a little bit more than the others. And, you know, now I don’t have to buy the Barbies. I have a Janine toy, so she’s sort of like an even better Barbie. But no one knows that I’m playing with Barbies in the middle of the boy toys. I have a lot of unrealized trauma. If I want to talk about this, that’s your.


Ira Madison III What was I made for? Yes. Right. Yeah.


Louis Virtel Me touching the anti parts toy and being like me.


Ira Madison III Yeah. You know who gets to visit the Ghostbusters firehouse a lot? April from Teenage Ninja Turtle.


Louis Virtel Oh, she absolutely had the time. They became fast.


Ira Madison III Friends.


Louis Virtel Please. They’re like, should we go to lunch?


Ira Madison III Yeah. Well, speaking of toys and Barbie, Billie Eilish, because album came out this week and I’m excited to talk about it.


Louis Virtel Me too. I don’t, of course, with her. She’s such a gifted artist and yet also seemingly has a signature sound. I didn’t know if she’d be straying from that at all. How new? This thing would be very thrilled to get into it.


Ira Madison III And also. Back to Black came out this week, the Amy Winehouse biopic. And I will be, looking to Louis for guidance on this, because I fell asleep in that movie.


Louis Virtel Oh my God. You’ll never make it in the Ebert business.


Ira Madison III I saw the last show last night.


Louis Virtel Oh, yeah, and it probably was the last showing, so there you go.


Ira Madison III And I definitely passed out. The credits were playing, after I saw about the first 15 minutes or so. I didn’t even know I was that fucking tired. But I also looked up screenings tomorrow and there are less screenings. And there were this weekend. Let’s just put that out there.


Louis Virtel That does seem correct. I will be comprehensive in my analysis.


Ira Madison III I was the only one in there.


Louis Virtel Yeah, there weren’t many in mine either. And I was at the Grove where people, I think just live, so I don’t they had the time.


Ira Madison III Yeah. So we will get to that and back to Black Twitter. We will go across Prentice Penny, who directed Black Twitter A People’s History, the Hulu documentary, which was just recently released, which I am a talking head in, I think psycho killer.


Louis Virtel I’m I was so thrilled. When you’re giving everybody insight, I’m sure that’s very helpful to all involved.


Ira Madison III I’m a talking head every week or this.


Louis Virtel Yapping had actually.


Ira Madison III But I was actually thinking about when we start it. Right. And for those who remember the early days of Keep It, we used to record video before, but it was Spotify. I used to come in and record video of us, and it felt weird to be recording it because it only appeared on like the Spotify app. If you went and looked at our video there. But now it is so commonplace for every single podcast to be recorded by people just watching little talk shows. Yeah, every day now, you.


Louis Virtel Know, and also, by the way, like hot ones, that interview show is eligible now for, I believe the real Emmy for. So it’s like everything’s bleeding together now. It’s getting a little amorphous out there.


Ira Madison III I did not know that. That’s interesting.


Louis Virtel I want to say that on SNL, there was a parody of, Hot ones recently where, Maya Rudolph played Beyonce. They did not nail the impression of that guy. That guy has a real cadence they could have gotten into. I’m a little disappointed. Nothing off of that.


Ira Madison III Oh.


Louis Virtel You seem bummed too.


Ira Madison III Well, it’s over for the season so they won’t see your letter.


Louis Virtel Jake Gyllenhaal was great. What a fabulous performance he gave.


Ira Madison III Him back on Broadway.


Louis Virtel Yeah, also, what a handsome man. He’s a handsome devil.


Ira Madison III Yeah. All right, we ready to start this show?


Louis Virtel All right. Whatever.


Ira Madison III Yeah, we’ll be right back with more. Keep it. You already know the stakes of the 2024 election. And they’re medium rare. So if you want to get involved but don’t know where to start, Joint Vote Save America 2024 organize. Or else I.


Louis Virtel Have to reorganize my brain after that. Okay, all you have to do is sign up, be assigned a team, and get matched with opportunities tailored to you and the causes you care about. Vote Save America will track how many calls you’ve made, texts you’ve sent, doors you’ve knocked, and shifts you’ve filled as your team pursues the biggest prize of all the continuation of American democracy. Head to Vote Save 24 now and get ready to organize or else.


Ira Madison III This message has been paid for by Vote Save America. You can learn more at Vote Save And this ad has not been authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. Billie Eilish. Billie dropped her third album, Hit Me Hard and Soft, last weekend. There’s a lot to get into here, but the headline is she’s been fucking yeah, man. She might be the only person who could convince Gen Z that having sex does not make you an instrument of Satan.


Louis Virtel I have to say they are deeply puritanical. I mean, they’re flying right out of the Westboro Baptist Church. These sex scenes aren’t necessary, they said.


Ira Madison III Right. They saw a goody. I was eating that girl for lunch. And maybe. Maybe they’ll change some things up now. This album is it’s interesting that this album appears sort of in the vein of how albums have been being released by Beyoncé and, sort of Taylor recently, and that it arrived without any lead single. Yeah, no, it just sort of dropped. And so we did not know what to expect from this era like you brought up. We were like, what? She got to switch up the sound. Was it going to be different? But now it’s just her and Phineas back in the stew. So it is her signature sound.


Louis Virtel Keeping it moody?


Ira Madison III Yeah, keeping it moody. Keeping it. You’re listening to a song, and then all of a sudden, there’s a completely different beat happening, and the song goes in a different direction. I really like this album, and I think that it is her best work.


Louis Virtel I think it’s an album of the year winner. I’m worried for Cowboy Carter. I’m of course, not worried for the tortured poets. I hope they enjoy their time in English one day or whatever class they’re in. But this album is phenomenal. I mean, like, she’s always been good with lyrics. The lyrics to me took three steps up here. Like, the narratives of each song are so interesting. I mean, Let’s Talk About Lunch, which did become the first single. First of all, I really enjoy the video, which is the sort of blurry 90s ish thing that Billie herself directed. She’s always been so esthetically realized, like nothing about her has ever been half assed in terms of how she looks, which obviously looks are not the most important thing about a musical artist, but it’s like to see someone so assured and what they are delivering and also so not contrived. Great. It’s just like, oh, you’re a fully formed artist. It’s not like we’re waiting for you to evolve into some artists, like you’re already there, you already have the two fucking Oscars. It’s actually frightened how accomplished she is. But this lunch.


Ira Madison III Song. Yeah, I.


Louis Virtel Think it is, a little bit of a musical departure for them that it sounds to me a little bit like Gorillaz. You know, it’s got that kind of. Yeah, that thump to it, that’s, you know, which obviously I sound like bad Guy has to, but to me, this has a little bit more of like a, a groove within the thump that, is just fabulous. And the lyrics are so good.


Ira Madison III Well, that actually reminds me that Billie did feel good inc with the Gorillaz at Coachella. Yeah, I believe 2022 and her album Happier Than Ever came out in 2021. And so I feel like we have not seen a lot of Billie, actually, since then. She popped up for the Barbie song, and some other things, but she sort of drops that does the promo for it, gets the Oscar and then leaves. You know, we had no idea what she was sort of working on. And now seeing, that the song sounds very Gorillaz ish. You know, maybe she was influenced a bit by that. I like where her sound is going. I like seeing her and Finneas sort of develop, new ways to tell their same stories. And you’re absolutely right. How realize she is as an artist. Only in the sense that. When she first started out and she comments on it, you know, to see in the song, skinny, talks about how she like the old self, but she’s skinnier now. Do you do you like me now that like, I sort of look, quote unquote prettier? But when she first started out, she was obviously wearing sort of like, the baggy clothes, and she had a whole commentary on how she wanted people to perceive her. But then we’ve seen her sexy and glam on magazine cover since that. And then there was the whole sort of, 50s Hollywood glam look. And, what was I made for video and sort of those performances, and now she’s back to this sort of, swag. I’m going to the walk to get swag. You know, she’s always had a swag about her, to be honest. Like, she just seems cool and interesting. And I don’t know if she’s one of my favorite pop stars, to be honest. And I just love how assured she is on this album. I love the lyrics. I love the narratives. When specifically when you talk about the narratives on each song, they don’t sound muddled, they don’t sound repetitive, they sound they’re interesting things that she’s singing about. I love the song wildflower, where she is talking about consoling a girl, because she’s breaking up with, man. And then now she’s dating this man and she can’t stop thinking about, you know, the other girl crying on the shoulder. Like, even a story like that is interesting. I love her stalker song at the end of the album, The Diner. Every just. I can’t pinpoint which one I like the best because I just really love this album, and I love how it feels like a full album. She talked about how she wanted to make a album album sort of like Coldplay’s Viva la Vida, or Vince Staples Big Fish, and, it feels like an album. You start this album and you want to listen to the entire thing. It doesn’t feel like they’re it’s a random collection of songs.


Louis Virtel I also feel like I think we’re used to thinking of Billie Eilish as somebody who her for, or her music has a transformative quality where it’s like, oh, music is changing and this is the future I like on this album the song birds of a feather, where I would almost call it like a conventional pop song in certain ways. Like even the lyrics I would even say are kind of Taylor ish, you know? But I like hearing her do something conventional because she is not conventional. So to hear her sing a traditional pop song is still something we haven’t heard before, because her version of vocals and by the way, I also love how she’s slow rolled us and how good a vocalist she is. Not that she was ever hiding it, but of course the murmuring, the, the kind of sinister vibe she was going for. It was never about on purpose. Like she was going for a different sonic quality. But now, like the soaring melody on birds of a feather in the way she can kind of sing it and release a different emotional quality in her music. It’s just cool. It’s like she keeps revealing talents in a way. There are certain people who, when they release a new album, I don’t know how they’re going to sound vocally, like they specifically change it up. Somebody I think of in this way, and I’ve never thought to compare her to Billie before, is PJ Harvey. When PJ Harvey comes out with an album, sometimes you get The howling PJ Harvey, sometimes you get the, the murmuring, like, I’m in the attic and I’m wearing a crinoline gown and it’s Victorian era and I have a dead child, you know, there’s lots of different versions of her voice. She does, but you never know. And that’s part of the artistry is not just what can I do sonically with instruments to make this sound different, but I can be different. I can be a different performer and have a different persona even.


Ira Madison III It’s sort of why you like artists in general, right? You know, actors do this all the time, and specifically directors and writers. You think of someone like a Martin Scorsese, right, who’s known for his, gangster crime films, etc. but then when he does a film like Age of Innocence or he does something like Condon or silence it, it informs that story because you already know who he is as well. Right? And I do like the work that he’s done with videos on this. It feels, I want to say not a criticism of the album, but sort of, hope for the future. It feels like she’s reached a pinnacle with Phineas. Yeah. With this album, it feels like her best album, their most fully realized sound and their POV. And now I’m interested in seeing what another producer could pull out of her, because, I mean, I think the Pitchfork review, which I hate it, but it did bring up an interesting point, about the albums that she said she was sort of emulating, like making an album. Album? Coldplay’s Viva la Vida was very much them switching up their sound and working with Brian Eno and, Vince Staples, Big Fish working with SoFi, you know? And so I would love to see just what another producer could get out of Billie besides just videos, because I know we it’s interesting. We know what he sounds like without her, right? Yes. With his he had his album and I interested in him sort of developing that sound. A bit more too, because it wasn’t a successful to me as them working together. But it sounds a little pro though. I don’t say this derogatory tively because I love Glee, but Glee, but a little bit like Ben Platt, a little bit musical theater. And I think that I would love to see him explore that as an artist. And I would love to see her explore her vocal ability, working with another producer, lest we have a sort of. Taylor Swift. Working with Jack Antonoff thing all the time, you know, two or even sort of like a Charli X working with AG Cook all the time, which I’ve started to feel a bit on this album. Brat, which I also think feels like it’s going to be a pinnacle of her work with AG, just sort of their partnership. And I’m really sort of, sort of interested in people switching it up and moving on to other producers. And that takes me back to what you said about Cowboy Carter, right? I was texting, my friend Carter, this weekend, and I said, fuck no, Beyoncé would want to be in her shoes right now.


Louis Virtel They’re boots.


Ira Madison III That’s right, they’re boots. And she is probably the one stalking Bayley at the diner, in her ominous cowboy hat. But to be honest.


Louis Virtel Saloon doors swinging up.


Ira Madison III And yeah, it is going to be interesting to think about the upcoming Grammy battle, because it is sort of a battle of two things that I feel like Grammy voters fight about. I think that Beyonce’s album is so interesting because of the blend of American sounds and genres and the different producers that she worked with. That’s the same reason why I thought Renaissance was so successful. The amount of producers and samples and influences brought in versus this album, where it’s really just her and Finneas in the studio and it’s a singular vision, you know? It’s it’s so it’s so annoying, actually. And I feel like suffocating the way that there’s always this commentary on, well, it has to be one way for it to be real art, you know? And I like both versions.


Louis Virtel I mean, it’s so hard to compare musics and it’s saying like one is better or whatever, but the situation with Beyonce is so fraught. And so we clearly think most Grammy categories are bullshit. You know, like we’re like, okay, that’s so nice that she got these like other ones, these bronze colored Grammys that are off to the side. But we want her to get this one gold one. And so it’s like, I feel bad that she will be up against Billie Eilish because it’s like they are in comparable albums. When we talked about, Amy Winehouse later, why did Back to Black not win album of the year? And it’s because it lost to River the Joni Letters by Herbie Hancock. Now Herbie Hancock is a genius. We all know Rockit by Herbie Hancock with that weird video with the robots and the new jazz crazy sounds. I don’t know if he needed album of the year for this. I feel like Back to Black was the definitive landmark album of that year.


Ira Madison III Yeah, Herbie was not fully loaded. No. Okay, so.


Louis Virtel Not at that time. Not at that time.


Ira Madison III No.


Louis Virtel This wasn’t rocket era Herbie Hancock. But, no, I, I feel bad for Billie Eilish, in fact, that she will be up against Beyonce because that’s just not a narrative I’m sure she cares to be a part of in that way. And she, of course, already has an album of the year win, which makes it like a Taylor situation or like an Adele situation where these people who are, up against Beyoncé and in fact have already taken this crown, are at it again.


Ira Madison III And let’s not forget that Billie had her own a dull moment at the Grammys before where she shouted out Megan Thee Stallion.


Louis Virtel Right? Yes, yes, yes. Was that was one of those weird quarantine Grammys, wasn’t it?


Ira Madison III Yeah, yeah, I hated that Grammys, although it did look nice. It was on the roof.


Louis Virtel Yes, but it did feel like you were at somebody’s wedding.


Ira Madison III Yeah.


Louis Virtel Like I can see too many people shuffling around. It feels like. It’s like there’s too much sunlight on this. Like that won Oscars where it was at a train station. If we got dark. Actually, entertainment may have been the darkest part of the pandemic, I’m sorry to say. Stay home. Yeah, right. Cheese. Excuse me. I worked on a talk show during that time when we filmed interviews over zoom from home off. Oh my God. Whoa. So shocking to watch back.


Ira Madison III Every single, Bravo show that film during the pandemic, reality shows like watching housewives. You sometimes you see flashbacks to these clips, them wearing their masks or not wearing a mask, and but them not wearing them. And all the workers at a restaurant wearing the mask around them. It’s it’s dark.


Louis Virtel Oh, it’s so unwatchable. It’s so something you would never watch again. Anyway, that’s something I think about the legacy of the past three years and how we just simply won’t think of them for the rest of time. Anyway. The song The Greatest also fabulous. I also love the amount of sarcasm in her voice on this album, because something that bothers me about Adele is that her music, while of course emotional, rarely has as much personality as she does like. It rarely gets into like the funny like that taupe humor she has, whereas Billy gets into that here. And I really love people who can get funny into the lyrics, because I feel like that has a different kind of resonance when you’re pairing it with emotional music. It just it’s a, it’s a, it’s a way of truth telling that I think is memorable.


Ira Madison III Yeah. And obviously I really like, Shakira, which is inspired by, the name of a character from Spirited Away, which I think we’ve set this on the show before. We need to eventually do it before the end of the year. Probably. But, I still need to watch all the Studio Ghibli with because I have not watched any of them.


Louis Virtel And it’s a it’s a blind spot for me, too. Yeah.


Ira Madison III And one of my best friends, Doug, keeps reminding me every week. It’s like, when are we having our Miyazaki marathon? And I’m like, okay, well, we’re going to have one. And I feel like Billy is like, bitch, you better watch something. So I think I’m going to start with those, and then we will finally give the listeners the. Miyazaki episodes that they’ve been begging for.


Louis Virtel Okay, well, I have to stop watching these Barbara Stanwyck movies, so you have to actually come and try them out of my cold, dead hands if I’m going to.


Ira Madison III What are you watching now?


Louis Virtel So I’m in the middle of the 40s. I’m doing a whole bunch. Just. I just rewatched Double Indemnity. There’s a lot going on with me. Sorry. Wrong number. Not a great movie.


Ira Madison III Honestly, I’d love to see Billy in a film like that.


Louis Virtel We talked about her on that show swarm. Right? Excuse me. That was not a normal performance. She was extremely good, a very I’m really excited to see her act more.


Ira Madison III I mean, she might get an Oscar and not just for a song.


Louis Virtel Again. You know my theory that she is like Diane Warren, except she can’t stop winning Oscars. She’s got to have, like, 17 in her hands and be like, please, please leave me alone. I have a child. I want to go to grad school.


Ira Madison III Who are the people who have Oscars? Who would be comparable to her?


Louis Virtel Barbra Streisand and then Cynthia Erivo was nominated twice in one year for, her song from, Harriet and the movie Harriet. And I believe that also happened to Mary J. Blige, too. Remember we nominated her for an acting Oscar?


Ira Madison III Yes. Sharon’s what an actor Oscar for Moonstruck. But has she won a song?


Louis Virtel No, she’s never been an Oscar girl. Cher is not writing a song. Picture Cher shares. Like holding a pen. She’s like, I don’t know what this is. I’m going to bed. You wake me.


Ira Madison III When you’re ready. Yeah. They were walking in Memphis as she took a. She took a car? Yeah. She took an Uber. She met them at the destination. Tell me, tell me about your walk. Right. I’ll think about.


Louis Virtel It. And then, of course, a lot of singers who are nominated for, you know, like Peggy Lee once upon a time, Bobby Darin. But then those people typically aren’t nominated for songwriting, too.


Ira Madison III All right. Wow, I fucking love this album.


Louis Virtel She nailed it. I love this album. It’s an A from Sam.


Ira Madison III Absolutely. The best, album that we’ve heard from her so far. So, that’s jumping to the top of the Irish charts.


Louis Virtel Oh my God, you releasing your own chart every week? It’s demented, but I think you should do it.


Ira Madison III Okay, I think I should do that also. And should I release a bubbling under.


Louis Virtel Yeah. Oh my God. Oh, yeah. Every shady.


Ira Madison III Chart to.


Louis Virtel The top 100. Not even close.


Ira Madison III Speaking of Bubbling Under, Dua Lipa hit number one on the Bubbling Under the charts. A single of hers did. It really did. I got big shady. No. But I do want to say the album, though. Remember when we presupposed that she was just making music for the UK? Would it just ignore the US for the rest of her career? I don’t know, it seems likely because this album was her biggest debut in the UK, and it went and it debuted at number one, sold more than Future Nostalgia did.


Louis Virtel Right? No. And look, Kylie stays over there, generally speaking, for a reason. Like they like to have a good time and dance around, whereas here we, you know, find that suspicious.


Ira Madison III So listen, it is exactly what you said about the Billboard charts last week. We were talking about song of the Summer. Right? When you go to if you go to sort of a straight leaning bar or any sort of public space in the U.S, the songs that you’re hearing, it’s a mix mass of genres is very annoying. When you are in the UK and someone is playing pop music, you’re going to be hearing bops.


Louis Virtel Oh yeah. No, it’s everything is. If not Girls Aloud, people who tried to write for Girls Aloud.


Ira Madison III Yeah. Which is to say that I’ve actually been listening to Radical Optimism on repeat as well. Lately, the album has dug its nails into me, so it was definitely a grower. For me, and I kind of really love it. And I think I would upgrade the album to a beat.


Louis Virtel I like the swimming nautical vibes of it, but I would say I’m like a nautical pessimist about that album as as far as playing it again and again goes.


Ira Madison III Okay, you’re trying it in Maritime Court. Yes.


Louis Virtel That’s right, that’s right.


Ira Madison III All right. When we are back, we will be joined by Prentice Penny.


Ira Madison III [AD]


Ira Madison III I’d call this guest the head of Hollywood’s Cookout, so to speak, from Showrunning HBO s iconic series insecure to helming projects like Uncorked and Paws with Sam Jay to also writing on girlfriends back in the day. And today, he’s here to talk about his new Hulu docu series, Black Twitter A People’s History, based on Jason Palm’s original wired article A People’s History of Black Twitter. Part one. Please welcome to Keep It. Prentice Penny.


Prentice Penny Hey. How you guys doing?


Ira Madison III Good.


Louis Virtel Amazing. And I have to say about this project, the idea of putting this together feels unbelievably daunting to me. Because how many voices can you possibly add in one documentary? First of all. And then also, just thinking about Twitter historically feels like a migraine immediately. So I want to that you would even broach it feels very crazy. Is it was it as daunting to you to begin this project?


Prentice Penny Yes. And, my my wife was like, it’s one of those things where it’s like, it’s a thankless kind of a thankless thing because there’s no way you can satisfy, obviously, everybody’s appetite for what they feel black Twitter is and obviously in nor can we. We’re not a monolith. Right. So, it’s such a dense subject matter that trying to get everything in there. That’s why this we try to say this isn’t like a definitive doc, it’s just a doc. And hopefully there will be more and talking because you can talk about so many different subject matters. Just in Black Twitter, you could talk about political things. You can talk about pop culture, things you can talk about, you know, societal things. You can talk about tech. There’s so many things, that black talk touches on. So trying to get everything is almost impossible.


Ira Madison III You know what’s so interesting about this project? Being involved in it and then also, you know, seeing it er, and seeing the response to it, it’s sort of like you said, it’s, you can’t really get into, how everyone feels. Black Twitter is every person who’s ever been a part of it and obviously black people not being a monolith. You know, you just sort of tell the story that you’re specifically trying to tell with the people who are available to you. And I have to wonder, that’s a thing that I feel like you’ve probably encountered within your career so many times. I mean, I can think back to insecure, the conversations that would happen about that show every week online. And then even, something like girlfriends, you know, I wonder what that was like. In the day, as it was airing, you know, there wasn’t the internet and black Twitter, but were you also conscious of how people, specifically black women, were responding to that show each week? And how did that also inform how you wrote stories then?


Prentice Penny It didn’t really inform how we wrote stories, but definitely once people found out I wrote for the show, oh, it was lots of thoughts and opinions. A ton of them. So yeah, but it was just a real time. It wasn’t like, you know, the endless scroll of, you know, a ton of opinions. You were just like, oh, if you hurt someone’s hurt somebody. Somebody found this out. Then that would be a one thing, you know what I mean? But yeah, but definitely lots of even now, people still have lots of positive opinions like, you know, and I’m like, that was 20 years ago, but yeah.


Louis Virtel Well, speaking of insecure, I mean, like the reactions to that show, I mean, it felt like Twitter possessed that show in a way, after a while, like, like half of half of the show was you watched the show and then you had to see what everybody was saying about it online. Even though you’re the showrunner and you know you’re on one side of the TV where their opinions you read that you could not shake, that were still on your mind as you were creating the show specific tweets that would pop off or anything to you?


Prentice Penny No. You know, so funny is like when you’re, you know, when we first were making the show and Issa, I think it’s a specific kind of person because she is of that generation where like, you know, being like social media was such an important part and such an important part of growing her brand of awkward black girl and people weighing in on that on YouTube and growing that. So there’s a part of it that I think, the show just naturally had associations with based on the previous incarnation of what the show was. Right. But when we were making the show, you’re the first season, nobody knew what we were. Nobody knew what we were going to be. Nobody knew who the cast was, really, besides Issa. So we were kind of like in a little bubble, like doing our own little thing, like playing with our toys in a corner. And then obviously it’s successful, but we just kind of kept saying, let’s just keep playing with our toys in the corner, and hopefully people will like the things we’re doing. When you start to, like, kind of chase the tail. I think that was like a weird way. The only time we would ever like look to that is if something didn’t feel clear. Like I remember the most times that we said that we could do about it. Now the show is already done, but the most things that we would do would be like, oh, we didn’t. We weren’t super clear if he was in an open marriage, or we could have been more just precise about this, but not like altering stories, just more. So, we didn’t give the audience enough information about something.


Ira Madison III And then I have to wonder, though, in conceiving Black Twitter, the documentary, were there any inclinations or ideas you had about presenting this that you had to throw out? And didn’t really work once you were producing it or things that you maybe had to shift from how you thought the narrative was going to be before you even sat down to edit it, because I remember, you know, sitting down for an interview for it, like a year ago, you know, end of last year. And, so much has changed about I mean, it’s not even called Twitter anymore, you know? So there’s that too.


Prentice Penny Yeah. I mean, a lot of things changed that weren’t in their original thing. The one thing that I will say is, as we were adapting it from Jason’s article, which which in some ways gave us, I feel, a really good foundational place to start, you know, I mean, as opposed to like, kind of taking it out of thin air and being like, oh, we’re going to just make this be a dog. It gave us I feel it gave us a foundation. A lot of things. One. It gave us an Act structure because his article has three, has three parts to it. Right. Which helped me as a narrative filmmaker be like, oh, stories. A classic story has three acts. So this gives me something to kind of work with. It gave us people to talk to initially without kind of having to be like, oh my God, where do we even remotely start from? But he had done. Jason had done so much work. And as as I’m trying to find for me it was I didn’t know what the story was, right, which is different than just taking an article. I didn’t really know. I was like, if you can just Google it, that’s not an interesting story. That’s just a fact. But that’s not anything that I’m giving you extra past just again, reading the article. So for me, it was talking to Jason having so much information and and as I was putting it through a narrative filter, I kept thinking, oh, this was like a coming of age story where like in a typical coming of age story, if you think about Star Wars or Stand By Me or any movie where it’s like a young person, it’s it’s new figuring it out, it all feels fun, it all feels interesting. And folks like, what is this? And then something dark happens that becomes like a more grown up theme that now the hero has to deal with, right? Like in Star Wars, it’s like Luke learns Obi Wan is killed and now he has to, like, take a darker turn into a journey of becoming a Jedi. And what does that mean? Right. And you’re just dealing with more adult themes and ideas, right? And that’s what it was for black Twitter was like reading his article. The first the first act of the article was like the fun and the live tweeting and the means and the gifts, and it’s like all fun. And then Trayvon is sort of the first thing that, like, takes it into a darker place. And now what is our hero if our hero is Black Twitter, what is Black Twitter going to do in the face of OscarsSoWhite in the face of, a president like Donald Trump in the face of a pandemic, what is it going to do in these moments? Is it going to is it going to shrink? Is it going to rise? And that became kind of the journey that and then the other thing that happened obviously is Elon buying the platform and that, you know, it didn’t it. Actually I feel sad for the platform. Good for the story. One, it gave us a villain as opposed to like in the dark. Right now there’s lots of things that are kind of forces, right? It’s like the alt right. Trump is a forest. There’s a lot of different things. But somebody who’s coming in literally trying to destroy the platform in which all this social change is happening on and all this community is happening. On if it’s Star Wars, you’re like, oh, that’s the Emperor. That’s the final boss, essentially, right? And it just was Jason’s instinct to write the article more prophetic because he was like, so many things are here today, gone tomorrow. And then it is gone as gone as we know it.


Louis Virtel You even just revisiting these like 4 or 5 like landmark horrifying moments on Twitter, it’s like, I congratulate you for making this because even thinking about I’m like, oh my God, it was so bracing to just see people commenting on it, etc.. Were there any moments of pure pleasure revisiting the hilarity within the community of Black Twitter that you most cherished working on this?


Prentice Penny Yes, a ton. And that was the that was the fun thing is like, you know, black culture is always, I think recalcitrance is always kind of having two conversations. Right? There’s the there’s the obvious conversation we’re having if it’s about Trayvon or a subject matter or something serious. But then there’s the way that we’ve used we’ve had to use humor to cope with those things. Right. Then there’s the other, the underside of that. Right. So then there is the comedy, we had like a longer segment about Rachel Dolezal and appropriation. We had fun. Obviously, this stuff about like, demeans and gives us fun, but even like the [Unrecognized] navy stuff was so fun to revisit the verses by just remembering all the verses, jokes that were happening, all the pandemic jokes that were happening, like even in the face of like watching something that’s just still triggering. That’s just four years ago. It’s still like mad. We were. We’re so funny. Like, I really wanted to get that thing about the, that that, DJ Marquese who did the coronavirus, like, I was like, that’s how we cope with that. We were. And so revisiting that and getting those things was so much fun just to remember. Yeah. Even in the midst of all that, we were still finding ways to laugh and and have fun and have community.


Ira Madison III How do you sort of respond, I guess, to, even the overwhelming sense that, you know, the narrative obviously is about how black Twitter, if this the protagonist of this story, how it’s responding to these, various things that’s happening throughout history leading up to Elon Musk, being, you know, sort of the final boss. But, you know, when you’re watching the documentary, you are seeing people, you know, sort of like myself or, you know, like, you know, other people who have sort of been able to gain, I guess, a sense of, notoriety, even from the website, or are able to gain careers or be able to have their voices pushed out further. And do you feel like that gives a sense of the idea of like, Black Twitter being successful, even though it feels almost like, there’s so many people within Black Twitter who I guess don’t get the opportunity to, you know, change their voice online into a career. You know, I feel like it’s a super. Small group of people. So did you feel like you I don’t know, you were telling sort of like a journalist slash comedians like. Or actors like Story of Black Twitter versus, I guess, sort of like someone in their home in Ohio. You know.


Prentice Penny I think those are synonymous in lots of ways. Right? Like, I don’t like to me like someone like Keyshawn Thompson, who is someone who’s like someone in Ohio was just like tweeted black girl magic. It’s like she’s not reaping the financial benefit of creating something that is now something that’s on t shirts and all those other things. But her platform and activism is huge, right? Somebody like April. So Ryan is saying OscarsSoWhite is changing movements and then and then and then as a result, there’s like secondarily, impact that comes from that. Right. And resonance that comes from that. So I view everything that happened on Black Twitter that is positive like that as a success. Right. Because I read that I was like, well, the level of galvanization I don’t know what percentage that is, right? But I know we weren’t at where we were pre black Twitter. Right. And so when I think about all the things that did come out of that, are the connections that were made or the impact that was made, whether it’s comedic, whether it’s serious, all those things I think are they didn’t exist before. And I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to be like, am I making something better than when I got there? Right? And that’s how I view success, right? It doesn’t always it’s I don’t know if it’s 1%, 2%, but if it’s better than where it was, then that’s a win. And so I feel like the world is better, post black Twitter than when it got there. Right? And so I just think that’s a win. And I was saying this earlier, I was like, you know, my kids are TikTok kids. They’re they’ve never been on Twitter. They’re 16. They’re 14. They’re never going to they’re not even going to be literally on Twitter. Right. So but they move in the world with like black Twitter energy, right? Because they’ve only grown up hearing phrases like Black Lives Matter, black girl magic, black boy joy, right. So they they are just used to hearing that as a mantra. I didn’t hear that growing up. Right. A lot of my stuff was my grandparents telling me, obviously you have to do, you know, twice as good as anybody else, but also like, you got to play the game, you got to do this. And there’s always a part of that in black culture in America, for sure. But there was I think when I was coming up, there was much more like you got to assimilate and like, and kids are, they’re like, no, I’m, I wear my hair, I want to wear my hair or I’m going to I’m not going to. If I want braids, I’m gonna get braids. I’m not going to have to worry. Like, how was that going to look in a white corporate, you know what I mean? Where those were real things for a long time. I’m like, they just move unapologetically black. And I 100% know that’s because of the things that were happening on Black Twitter.


Louis Virtel Now, you mentioned TikTok, which you know, would be the next maybe evolution of this. But in this world where Twitter or whatever it’s called now is so treacherous and led by, you know, Bowser himself, if it just imploded and stopped working tomorrow, would you feel optimistic about this, for lack of a better term community moving to something like TikTok? What would be lost specifically if there wasn’t Twitter?


Prentice Penny I mean, I still think we would lose something. I don’t think that. I don’t think like nothing would be lost. And I don’t think it’s a natural migration to just be like, oh, we’re we’re are but a TikTok because there’s certain people like, I’m not I look at things on TikTok, but I’m not like on it like that at my I’m 50. So I’m not just like on it like that in the way that like somebody in their 20s or teens or whatever, it’s going to be on the, on the platform. And I don’t think it’s as simple as just social media. Social media app. A everybody migrates there. I think the, I think the, I guess I feel like I’m seeing a lot more black Twitter energy in real life, in terms of just how we call out institutions or how we stand up or how we’re like, not we’re not going for that. Or like even recently, even over the weekend with Congresswoman Crockett and, Marjorie Taylor Greene going at it right in the thing. It’s like she brought black Twitter energy. Like it wasn’t like Black Twitter commented on the Marjorie Taylor Greene thing. She commented on that energy in real time. Then Black Twitter took it making beats, making songs. Now more detail agreed. Is posting her working out in her garage, talking about, I’m just trying to be a good American. I’m like, you just saw, you know, Bernie Taylor Greene came into Congress one way. She left a different way. Right? And I feel like that’s when I see, like, oh, you’re seeing black Twitter energy in real life. And then Black Twitter responds, but if that’s five years ago, that would be black. Twitter would be like getting the jokes off, you know what I mean? So that’s what I mean, what I’m saying. So I don’t I think something would be lost for sure because we still are gathering on the platform. But I don’t know if like because black people weren’t looking for Twitter, it was like the, the, the mash up of it just worked, because of what the platform allowed. And there’s lots of reasons why I think that happened, but I don’t, I think, I don’t know, it could be 30 something years that something else happens that we don’t even know exist yet. Right? Because we didn’t know that was going to be the thing that was going to like, galvanize in this community. Things were going to happen here. So I think it’ll be something we don’t even know yet. Or see it.


Ira Madison III While she is selling those shirts down. So she did learn from black girl magic. I guess so get her check. So, I want, I want to ask, lastly, you’ve had, you know, the pleasure of working and showrunning, you know, shows with, black creatives, black actors, you know, amazing people like Issa Rae, Sam, Jay, and seeing them get to get their have their stories, sort of told, you know, in a way that you haven’t been able to. I mean, when you were working with Mara, obviously on girlfriends, you were able to see some of that, too. But were there any positive experiences that you remember, you know, when you were, I want to say, in the trenches jokingly, you know, on shows like Happy Endings or Scrubs or, you know, you’re in, rooms that are not largely black. Were there any moments from shows like that where you, like, felt like you were heard as a black person, or you were able to, positively sort of, change something about black characters, within the show that people did not see before, but they listened to you and you felt like, oh, I have a place within this industry.


Prentice Penny Yeah. I mean, I would say and I’ve been very blessed, in terms of the writers, the showrunners that I work with that were in non black rooms, which was pretty much all of my career except girlfriends and, you know, working on Scrubs and Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Happy Endings and shows like that. That was that was most of it. But I had friends of mine that were on other shows that were basically told, you’re here to be a number and kind of keep quiet, but that was never, that was never my experience on any of those shows. Not once. I mean, now now the room that reflected that, but in terms of certainly, I never had to feel like I had to like, defend what a black character would do or why it was. I just think, like, I don’t know, maybe I was there. And so they just they knew me and they were just like, we’re not even. But the people weren’t even like that, and you know what I mean? So I never had those kind of moments. It was, but it was always like, here’s the nuance of this, or here’s a nuance of that. You know, Brooklyn was one of the was one of the best ones. I had, such a great time because that cast was so diverse. That was the first time I had worked primarily with, I was saying an all white writers room, with the exception of a few people, where the cast, though, was reflective of that. Right. Because like when I was on scrubs, Donald Faison was the only black person in the Happy Endings. Damon Wayans Junior was the only black person. But on Brooklyn, it was Terry Crews, Andre Braugher, Melissa Fumero as a as a lot next, Stephanie Beatriz, obviously. So, you know, four of the seven main cast members were people of color, right? So, that just and obviously Andre Brown was there. He not playing with no foolishness. So Andre did a lot of heavy lifting I have to do. But no, I never had anything like that. To me, it was just always finding the nuances of stuff that would be like, oh, but he he might say it like this, or he might do it like this, or this might be the thought process, not the thought process from where you’re thinking of. But but never but I never I was again really blessed. But a lot of those things is when I learned to that like, you know, you got to play in those sandboxes too, because that’s where the big deals were happening. Like, had I not gotten on Brooklyn Nine-Nine? That’s where I met, David Miner, who was a producer and was the manager for, Mike Shaw, was at a company called three Arts, and that’s where Lisa’s managers were at, which is Three Arts. And so, again, I could I could see David Minor every day and say, hey, do you mind putting in a word with me, with your business partner to get on this other show as a show writer? And he was like, of course. And he made that call, like immediately. And I got an interview the next day and they got the job, you know, I said, I mean, I still had to do the job and do the interview. Yeah, but it makes a difference when you’re like, you know, I mean, where it’s like, oh, you can pick up the phone and call your best friend and give me an interview. You know, I mean, like, that’s what I’ve learned. Like, okay, there’s a different now and then, you know, you just learn that there’s just a, there’s just a bigger ecosystem. And you’re like, how do I stop now playing that ecosystem? Because that’s where the all the things are moving. And then again, you can extrapolate that to business. You can extrapolate that to all of these things. Right. And so that’s when you go like that’s the real discrepancy I think sometimes we often think about wealth, which is obviously a big one. But opportunity discrepancies are huge. Then I just got to see I just got to see what it was really like on the inside. What I’ll say, I.


Louis Virtel Don’t think we’ve done a full emotional debriefing on Andre Brower not being here anymore. What an incredible performance on that show. It was hilarious. And then like the shock moments of gravitas on that show, too. So good, so well placed.


Prentice Penny Yeah, he was awesome and just a good dude. I think AJ Brower was a brother. Like, like there were times where he would just want to make, like, crew members uncomfortable as just a joke. It was just the funniest. I was like. People saw that. Andre Brower it was like, this is not, I say Bodger per hour of who he’s playing as whole. I was like, he’s more like the Andre Brower and get on the bus where he’s like giving everybody a hard time. That was more of the Andre Brower that I was surprised to see and be like, oh, he from the South Side, Chicago. Oh, that makes sense.


Ira Madison III Well, thank you so much for being here. And thank you for, of course, involving me, and even a small part of the documentary, I’ve gotten a lot of texts from people who have been like, what the hell are you doing in this? So that’s always fun to get.


That’s like, that’s as a good thing. Or as a, like, why are you in this?


Ira Madison III No. It’s a good thing.


Louis Virtel Like, I mean, I have my questions, but yeah it’s been nice. Yeah.


Ira Madison III So thank you for being here.


Prentice Penny Of course. I mean, you close the documentary out.


Ira Madison III I did. Yes. The final word like Jerry Springer. You know, Louis knows I love having the last word.


Louis Virtel Oh, sure. Yeah. Love that final thought from you. I need it to sleep.




Ira Madison III Back to Black, the Amy Winehouse biopic that no one was excited for, debuted last weekend and it flopped. So I guess Valerie ain’t coming on over.


Louis Virtel Valerie is like, my conditions are this. I’m only if it makes 50 mil.


Ira Madison III Yeah. Well, as I stated in the intro for this movie, put me to sleep. Yeah. Okay. Yeah.


Louis Virtel I did stay up through it. Here’s what I’ll say about this. There are problems with this movie, which is I don’t think it establishes what the X Factor of Amy Winehouse was. You don’t come away with the feel of Amy Winehouse. Marissa Abella, who we know from, industry where she is fabulous on that show, plays Amy Winehouse here and. She takes a real workmanlike approach to figuring out this role, which is I think she does a pretty good job with the speaking voice of Amy Winehouse. Like, you can kind of hear the contrivance, like getting into that really garbled weird, the, super British, Amy Winehouse voice. But you accept it eventually. You know, I would compare it maybe to Jessie Mueller as Carole King on Broadway. It’s like they don’t really sound alike, but now I’m buying it eventually. The look obviously she doesn’t like, really resemble her from the side. I think the producers were a little bit romanced by how she appears in certain profile, but to me, what she is missing from Amy Winehouse. And I think maybe the reason you would make this movie all together is the energy of Amy Winehouse. Like, she doesn’t have the kind of dangerous, kooky, very acerbic vibe that Amy Winehouse. When you watch an Amy Winehouse interview, she’ll like toss off a one liner and roll her eyes in a way where it’s like, wow, this chick is dark and also like, fuck you like doesn’t have to say fuck you. She’s like stumbling over and like mumbling, fuck you to no one in particular. So I think they didn’t really get to the heart of just the weirdness of her as a celebrity to emerge so quickly, and I also didn’t think they really explained why she became such a paparazzi figure so quickly. Like she just went from, obscurity to famous, and people are following her all the time.


Ira Madison III Yeah, I think that, obviously there’s a lot of talk about, how the film doesn’t really explain who she is as an artist, to be honest. And I feel like was a, was a movie at least showing her working on music or a lot of the reviews that I saw were mostly focused on it deals with her as an addict.


Louis Virtel Yeah, or it’s like it tells you she’s an addict, but then like how she really falls into addiction with Blake, who I think gives a pretty good performance in this movie, too. And by the way, her mother is played by, excuse me, Lesley Manville. When she showed up on screen, I said, what? Mrs. Harris goes here.


Ira Madison III What? Yeah. Well, so you didn’t find this movie entirely successful?


Louis Virtel No. I mean, like, I didn’t find it offensive. Like I thought she gave, like, a good college try is Amy Winehouse. But it’s that thing where basically you don’t have a reason to make a biopic sometimes. Unless what you’re delivering first and foremost is truly an Oscar winning performance. You know, like, there’s no reason to make La Vie En Rose unless you’re going to deliver such a jarring recollection of Edith Piaf that it feels like, oh, we are experiencing this artist live. And so to get something less than that, you know, like a B performance, which is what I think we get in this movie, you know, that is not enough to compensate for the fact that it’s a standard biopic in other ways. You know, like here she is getting famous. She performs at the Grammys. Things get worse for her. Her dad is worried. You know, it’s just like it’s not even as dynamic as a movie like the Rose, where you get, you know, Bette Midler with these convulsive performances. That’s convulsive stage energy. You just get this sort of meager and very safe interpretation of Amy Winehouse.


Ira Madison III What would you say are some of your favorite ones that you feel like? Get it? You know, I obviously probably the Coal Miner’s Daughter, for Loretta Lynn. I’m not there.


Louis Virtel I’m not there. I hate, but I at least they work with something new, you know what I mean? Like, here’s all these different people’s interpretations of it and Cate Blanchett getting to put on, you know, menswear, which is, you know, a quarter of her thing. I mean I guess I would say all that jazz, you know, where you have Roy Scheider playing, Bob Fosse in a movie he’s directing about himself, and it’s this kooky, dreamlike, tumultuous view inside an artist that it’s extremely self indulgent. But you are very enamored of the self-indulgence while you’re in that movie. And you also get Ann Reinking, kicking her leg well above her head and into the rafters. So I think I would probably say that. What would you say is your favorite musical biopic?


Ira Madison III I really like Selena.


Louis Virtel Oh, that’s.


Ira Madison III A good one. No. And I love What’s Love Got to do with that hard watch.


Louis Virtel Yeah. Don’t need to see it again.


Ira Madison III I would also say Behind the Candelabra was really good to me.


Louis Virtel We were just talking about, Rob Lowe, who was the host of, The Floor, and he is in that movie. And let’s just talk about what kind of Rick Baker makeup as shit had to go in his face to achieve that. I mean, it’s like modern art. What his face looks like in Behind the Candelabra.


Ira Madison III A little underrated, I would say, is The Doors. To be honest, we don’t talk about Oliver Stone that much on the show, but I mean, either like him or you don’t. I don’t like his 911 movie, but I like The Doors.


Louis Virtel And I know you don’t like the movie, Priscilla, but I like that approach to a biopic, which is obviously it’s more about Priscilla than Elvis, but like, it’s a view into a major celebrity that comes in askew again, another movie where I love the idea of it, even though it’s not a great movie. It’s My Week with Marilyn. You get an abbreviated time with a very famous person coming from one particular. Perspective that is unique, and we get maybe an insight into this celebrity just by, you know, sheer virtue of being with them for a few days at a time. That’s another problem I have with this movie. It doesn’t really have a take on Amy Winehouse. It’s kind of just saying, well, isn’t it sad? It’s like, well, yeah, I knew that already. Like, you’re not you’re not explaining that addiction is, you know, horrifying or that, they don’t add any context to her that makes it any different. And by the way, you know, for like a movie like Judy with Renée Zellweger, she came alive playing the musical sequences in that movie. Really the most impressive part of the movie here when she does musical sequences as Amy Winehouse. You could not be further from Amy Winehouse, the performer. You’re not getting any of that, like, kind of gritty, determined, and also animalistic thing that Amy Winehouse had going on it. It felt like in the years after Amy Winehouse got famous on American Idol, there were several like eighth or ninth place contestants who kind of had a rasp in their voice imitating her. And that’s what it feels like you’re getting here. And I don’t mean any shade to season eight’s Megan Corkery or season Nines Judy Ben-Ami, but that’s what I felt like you were getting in this movie as opposed to Amy Winehouse.


Ira Madison III They all can’t be Nikki McKibbin.


Louis Virtel Oh, may she rest.


Ira Madison III Yeah.


Louis Virtel On the edge of 17 forever.


Ira Madison III Honestly, I want to say what really works. I feel like it’s kind of when you don’t know the subject.


Louis Virtel Yeah, totally.


Ira Madison III People forget that The Pianist is a biopic of a musician, right? You know, like a person who really existed. And that’s a great film. Polanski and Adrien Brody film. He won for that. And, it brings me to I, a musical biopic that I did see this weekend. It was on stage, though. I saw Lempicka on Broadway.


Louis Virtel Oh, but she just did its last weekend. Yes.


Ira Madison III Yeah, it closed early. I saw the final performance. It’s electric and sort of sad and despondent to be in a theater knowing that. So show was closing earlier, having fans out there watching it, people on stage knowing that they’re delivering a final performance. But it’s not a triumph. It’s more of a disappointment because it’s being, shuttered early. I enjoyed it.


Louis Virtel Eden Espinosa plays the lead and nominated for a Tony, etc..


Ira Madison III Yeah, she plays Olympique, who is a art deco artist. You may recognize some of her, paintings of sexy women who are sort of machine like. You’ve definitely seen a pink, drawing before. If you go on Google Olympique, you will know her work. The problem was that the creators of this were very interested in Lempicka as, queer story. You know, obviously she was married. She and her husband were nobility. They fled, Poland, because of the Bolsheviks. And she sort of had to, get her husband out of prison so that they could escape to Paris. And then she became an artist. And we don’t know much about her relationship with Rafael, the muse for seven of her paintings, but they are very sexy. Very nude. So this woman that she had an affair with. And they focus a lot on, you know, this queer story, the queer, bilious nature of these women. You meet someone who owns a jazz bar, named Sue, who was, creating a place for femmes and non-binary people, you know, queer people to sort of be themselves, etcetera, you know, very cabaret esque. But I went home and look this up and it turns out that bitch was a Nazi.


Louis Virtel Oh, okay, we got that out. Oops.


Ira Madison III And there’s other aspects of Rebecca where, she was kind of a [Unrecognized] to her daughter. And she really sort of was a machine and creating art. And she cared about art more than people. And I don’t know, I think that a lot of her was sanitized to tell this sort of, glad, approved story. There are people in the audience waving pride flags. You know, I think it was made a feel good queer story for women, which I’m not opposed to. But if you’re telling the life of a woman that really existed who was a complicated woman, I know the producers. The director talked a lot about how Broadway wasn’t ready for a story about complicated women, and queer love stories, in their speeches at the end. And I don’t know when you find out that the woman was a lot more complicated than you chose to depict on stage. I don’t know if I exactly believe you. Yeah. You know. Right. Right, right.


Louis Virtel Also, it just like, what’s the danger of making it even more interesting? The true history of it is probably the most fascinating part of it.


Ira Madison III And it’s more interesting to get you to care about a character who isn’t completely likable all the time. So I think there was this story about a woman who was messy and complicated and treated the people in her life sort of horribly, but was devoted to her art. And I think that’s a much more interesting story. And I think the same thing sort of happens when you do biopics of people like an. Amy Winehouse or something, right? They are people who had issues and problems within their life and real sort of dark struggles that people just kind of don’t want to depict when they make these biopics, because they want them to be feel good. They want them to appeal to every demographic coming to see this film.


Louis Virtel Right? It just has to be sanitized ultimately, as opposed to, you know, not everything can be, really real and, three hours long or something. So I’m sympathetic to the idea that they have to make, like, a salable narrative anyway. But it’s just if we’re talking about Amy Winehouse, I just think there are lots of character shades there that were totally missed. That made her interesting immediately when you saw her.


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


Louis Virtel Yes.


Ira Madison III What’s yours?


Louis Virtel My keep it is to, a television series I like, which is RuPaul’s Drag Race. We’re in the All Stars season. 77. I don’t know if you know this. There’s actually more All-Stars than cast members now. I don’t know how it’s done. Congrats to them. My keep it is to the fact that, the show, which is enjoyable and I’m loving everybody on it. I’m currently rooting for Plastique Tiara, who has. You can’t stop watching her. She’s unbelievable looking and has fabulous moves in. Fabulous drag queen. Unfortunately, this is a format where they’re playing for charity and so like a certain previous installments, nobody’s getting eliminated on this version of All Stars. They play every week and everybody’s eligible to win every challenge. But what this also means is that the judges sitting at the panel, for whatever reason, we don’t hear them criticize them. It’s just pure compliments from the entire panel.


Ira Madison III Get out of here, girl.


Louis Virtel This is like my favorite part of the episode. Like, I can’t just be watching people compliment other people. It’s not good TV. Who wants to see that? Like Michelle Visage feels totally defanged. If she can’t be, you know, even evenly spit critical. You know, the hilarious Ross Matthews is a little less hilarious if he can’t be insulting. Just a big part of the show is the shady feel you get from the judges and I. It makes me want to fast forward through that entire part of the episode. And like, there’s almost you don’t even need to watch Beyond the Runway, really, because it doesn’t really matter who wins.


Ira Madison III Maybe because he’s not being critical of the Queens is why he’s been critical of Palestine. Protesters of the race, you know.


Louis Virtel He’s like, oh, that’s right this way.


Ira Madison III Yeah. It is annoying. And I’ve heard the tea on this season two. And this is the problem with listening to people who are drag queens and who are joining a reality show. Right? The tea is. None of these girls wanted to be sent home. All right. If they’re coming back for All-Stars, they don’t want their camera time diminished and they don’t want the critiques of them. But then it’s sort of like, well, bitch, why are you doing the show? Yeah, right. I know you’re doing it so that you can get more fans again, have people talking about you online, sold some merch, booked some gigs, etcetera. But I don’t know, it’s just all very lame.


Louis Virtel Yeah. It’s just not in the spirit of drag to me, you know, it’s like if you walk in looking fabulous and sensational stage presence and you jump into a perfect split, whatever, I will still find something mean to say about you. Watch me. That is the thrill of being alive.


Ira Madison III Maybe Roxie Andrews was telling us the theme of the season when she said, baby, you can’t read the doll. No.


Louis Virtel It’s in the contract. You actually can’t read the dolls. You’ll be sent to Guantanamo.


Ira Madison III Clause 32. Yeah, yeah, I have to get into this season still, but that’s disappointing to hear, you know, because that’s the whole point of drag, which is to say, maybe this will be one of the first seasons where I’m actually tuned into pit Stop.


Louis Virtel Yes.


Ira Madison III Each week where some other previous Queens critique the series. I know Violet is doing today’s episode, and, I’m sure she’s going to have some shit to say.


Louis Virtel By the way, I was at a party over the weekend like a warehouse party, and Violet broski was there out of drag. I’m sorry this is such an elementary observation. I just cannot believe these people are regular gay dudes. You just like. Like it? Yeah. In some other version of the world, you’re like, share. And then, like, I see you in person and you’re like, Queen in exactly my jeans. It’s just like you. You can’t be a human being, too. It just doesn’t work out in my head. I’m not. I’m never there.


Ira Madison III Yeah. Violet Choshu was in drag with Gottmik last week, when I was out with aquaria. Paul’s baby grand in New York. So it’s fun to see that switch up. Back to back and forth. It’s sort of a good part of fame. Maybe you can sort of vanish unless people recognize you. I don’t know. I was at Louvain once, and Jada, as a tall was walking by and I clocked that it was her. And I was like, hey, Milwaukee girl.


Louis Virtel oh. Yeah. You’re at the inside edge on that one.


Ira Madison III Yeah, but not every one of these queens is instantly recognizable out of their drag, especially once their season isn’t currently airing, you know?


Louis Virtel Right, right. By the way, gottmik also look fabulous that episode. I do not mean to dismiss the talents of Gottmik, who was sensational. IRA, what is your carpet trick?


Ira Madison III My. Keep it this week. We haven’t really talked about this on the show because, I mean, it’s dark as hell. But. Keep it to steady this week.


Louis Virtel As if we needed to say that. Jesus Christ.


Ira Madison III I know comments are on YouTube or just online saying why haven’t you how to keep it to daddy yet? I mean, did did you think we were progeny? It’s.


Louis Virtel A it’s an absurd idea. Ever since he did a Godzilla song with the LED Zeppelin riff, I knew something was up.


Ira Madison III Do you think that Bad Boy for life is ranking so high on the Irish charts that I was like, you know what? Maybe we gotta give him another chance. You know, the only thing I’ve actually been sad about is how he besmirch his, songs by female artists that I love. You know, I want to listen to Come to Me, featuring him and Nicole Scherzinger. I want to listen to his Christina Aguilera song. I want to listen to his Keyshia Cole song. You know, that’s why women should always drop solo versions of songs that they do with men.


Louis Virtel Know and or release a version with another woman, as, Lady Gaga did with Christina Aguilera. Brilliantly. Brilliantly. Yes.


Ira Madison III Yeah, I still miss that original song.


Louis Virtel I know, I mean, unfortunately, he did kill that verse. Yeah.


Ira Madison III Yeah. And I well, unfortunately, it just it’s it’s slimy. The whole era of that and Artpop was slimy and gross. And then it’s just a completely different song with Christina Aguilera. You know, I mean, and I say that because it wasn’t. She suited what Terry Richardson meant to. Right, right, right. The whole Artpop era was just a commentary on art and pop and fame, and, I don’t know, she was probably high as hell during the entire production of that album. Yeah, right. Anyway. But. Yeah, it’s a lost era of time, to be honest.


Louis Virtel To get back to daddy. The idea that he would then emerge with an apology video. Excuse me? Like you think you needed a comment. Excuse me?


Ira Madison III That’s what the keypad is to the keep this to his apology video. Where? It’s. Where the fuck is this nigga Bali or something?


Louis Virtel Yeah, it’s not giving. It’s not giving this hemisphere. It’s giving wherever the movie Glass Onion is.


Ira Madison III Janelle Monet going to set his house on fire.


Louis Virtel No, she’s like, we hope she’s she’s she’s too busy.


Ira Madison III Yeah, she switched places with Tennessee.


Louis Virtel Right? She has the code to the basement. She lets her in and out.


Ira Madison III Yeah, yeah. An apology video while you’re on vacation. Come on.


Louis Virtel Not very convincing. Yeah, it’s in the world of the, like, Kevin Spacey apology statements and two creepy Christmas videos where it’s just. Oh, you think us seeing your face will help out right now? Because I’m telling you, I’m already having trouble sleeping, thinking of you. Let alone with your fucking creepy visage in my life.


Ira Madison III Shout out to the people who were recently saying that Kevin Spacey, the industry needs him. Sharon Stone, Liam Neeson and some other bitches.


Louis Virtel I’m sure your basic instincts are off. Your total recall of events relating to the traumas of Kevin Spacey is not there.


Ira Madison III But also Shia LaBeouf is at Cannes, so.


Louis Virtel Who I believe has yet to stand trial for the FKA twigs situation.


Ira Madison III Yeah, it’s this year, so, I don’t know. There’s a lot of that going on. And to get back to the diddy of it all, this apology video obviously came because we saw a video. While some people saw it, I purposefully avoided the video of him.


Louis Virtel Oh, I saw it. Yeah.


Ira Madison III Beating up Cassie, in a hotel hallway. It was all over the timeline, and I was like, I don’t need everybody retweeting this. A lot of people were. I just turned off the internet that day, but obviously this video came after there was irrefutable proof that he did, beat up Cassie. And this was in public, by the way. So, not even to say what happened, you know, behind closed doors in their home.


Louis Virtel Yeah, it’s surveillance footage.


Ira Madison III Yeah, it’s surveillance footage. So it sounds very. Okay. Well, now, I’m sorry about it. And before you claimed it didn’t happen, so.


Louis Virtel Yeah, you never would have cop to it otherwise. I mean, it just. I mean, it’s it’s such a first thought thing that it feels like it shouldn’t even need to be said, but, like, clearly, like, where would she even be if this video hadn’t been produced? Which, by the way, is another layer of trauma that we’re seeing. This happened to her. It’s so fucking horrible.


Ira Madison III Yeah. Anyway, it’s a very sad situation all around. And I don’t know, I hope Cassie is doing well, I love her.


Louis Virtel I imagine what that year would have been like without me. And, you know. Excuse me, I believe that was a course I took in college. It was like an entire semester of my life at the University of Iowa.


Ira Madison III Long way to go. I mean, the way my friends in college that I used to say that line in the song, try to take me out to dinner. I can’t sleep all the time. Perfect song. Yeah. Perfect line.


Louis Virtel We celebrate her discography. We will be coming back to it.


Ira Madison III Yeah, I think that’s our show this week, Wolf.


Louis Virtel We covered a lot. I’m frankly exhausted.


Ira Madison III I’m not. You know, I got a good nothin’s going back to black. No.


Louis Virtel Yeah, right. You’ve never been better. You’re downright refreshed.


Ira Madison III Haha. I am going to watch the film eventually and share some thoughts on it, I’m sure on this podcast at some point, but I will be waiting for it to go to streaming. Okay.


Louis Virtel And in the meantime, look up the hits of Lesley Manville. Get back to the Phantom Thread.


Ira Madison III Oh, I am always watching The Phantom Thread.


Louis Virtel A short movie, delicious movie. Fuck yes. Phantom Thread.


Ira Madison III Yeah, and honestly, there’s a bunch of other Lesley Manville films and I feel like I probably haven’t seen before another year.


Louis Virtel Oh my God, she’s sensational. She’s sensational. Yeah.


Ira Madison III I’m also always rewatching Secrets of Lies, and I’m probably due for a rewatch soon, so.


Louis Virtel She has a bit part in that. But Secrets and Lies, one of the great. That’s one. We used to have Best Picture nominees that were like, fuck yes, once upon a time. 1986 Brenda Blethyn, Marianne Jean-Baptiste one of our favorites. That’s like one of the In the Eve’s Bayou category of keep it favorites. Like, we’ll be mentioning it forever.


Ira Madison III Yeah. All right. Thank you to Prentice Penny for joining us. And we will see you next week. Don’t forget to follow Crooked media on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.


Louis Virtel 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.


Ira Madison III Keep it is a Crooked Media production. Our producers are CJ “Seige” Polkinghorne and Chris Lord, and our associate producer is Kennedy Hill. Our executive producers are Ira Madison III, Louis Virtel, and Kendra James.


Louis Virtel Our digital team is Megan Patsel, Claudia Shang, and Rachel Gaieski. 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.