The It List: New true-crime series revolves around dark side of the Chippendales, 'The Wonder Years' reboot features a Black family, Ariana Grande joins 'The Voice' and the best in pop culture the week of Sept. 20, 2021

·19 min read

The It List is Yahoo's weekly look at the best in pop culture, including movies, music, TV, streaming, games, books, podcasts and more. Here are our picks for Sept. 20-26, including the best deals we could find for each. (Yahoo Entertainment may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page.)

STREAM IT: Curse of the Chippendales tells the phenomenon’s tales from the dark side

The story of Chippendales — the popular male strip shows — even began badly, as the audience learns in the first episode of discovery+’s four-part docuseries that’s packed with previously unseen photos and video footage, as well as interviews with the players. Bruce Nahin, the former lawyer for the show — who explains how he became involved in the exclusive clip above — recalls in the first episode that the act was the idea of Canadian businessman Paul Snider. You might recognize the latter as the man who would soon infamously kill himself and Dorothy Stratten, his estranged wife and the 1980 Playboy Playmate of the Year. “He pitched us the idea of having a strip show,” Nahin said of Snider, “because he had gone to a male strip show in Canada somewhere.” Snider was even responsible for the dancers wearing cuffs and collars. He was inspired by Hugh Hefner's bunnies. While Chippendales did take off, everything did not go smoothly, beginning with the company’s relationship with Snider. He soon became “intolerable,” as Nahin puts it: “He was drinking, he was arrogant, he was doing too many drugs. He really thought that he was Chippendales.” Official co-founder Steve Banerjee soon parted ways with Snider, but, tragically, the world would hear about him again. “At the time,” Nahin said, “I had no idea that this was only the beginning of a series of tragic misfortunes that would come into our lives.” — Raechal Shewfelt

Curse of the Chippendales is available Friday, Sept. 24 on discovery+.

STREAM IT: See Michael Keaton get back into Batman shape for the action thriller The Protégé

Before returning to the Batcave in next year’s eagerly anticipated Flash movie, Michael Keaton got back in fighting shape for The Protégé, the latest slam-bang action movie from 007 and Zorro veteran, Martin Campbell. The once and future Dark Knight plays a lethal enforcer who tangles with another top assassin (played by Maggie Q) pursuing her own mission of righteous vengeance. Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Patrick join in the globetrotting action, which hops, skips and jumps around various picturesque European locations. Even at 70 years old, Keaton’s still in fine fighting form. Check out this exclusive clip from a behind-the-scenes featurette that shows the actor’s intense training regimen to be able to do a lot of his stunts himself. “He really went for it,” marvels Campbell. “He worked very, very hard… when we filmed it so when we put it together, we’d have the maximum amount of damage.” Gotham City’s criminals had better beware — Batman’s back! — Ethan Alter

The Protégé premieres Tuesday, Sept. 21 on most digital services including Amazon, and arrives on Blu-ray and DVD in October.

STREAM IT: Witness an even greater escape in Escape Room: Tournament of Champions

The inevitable 2019 horror film Escape Room proved a sleeper hit, stacking up $155 million in cash at the global box office. Director Adam Robitel and stars Taylor Russell and Logan Miller returned for July’s just-as-inevitable sequel Tournament of Champions, which follows a group of six people trying to survive a new series of even crazier, even deadlier new escape rooms. Landing this time during a pandemic, the sequel wasn’t quite as much a box office triumph as Part 1, but fans who had no intention of escaping to theaters can now watch it from the safety of their own living rooms. Check out an exclusive clip — the alternate opening of the film’s extended cut — from this week’s digital release above. — Kevin Polowy

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions premieres on digital Tuesday, Sept. 21 and Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 5. Buy it on Amazon.

WATCH IT: Country crooner Trace Adkins isn’t alone on the range in his latest Old West yarn, Apache Junction

When he’s not recording chart-topping country albums like his 25th anniversary record, The Way I Wanna Go, Trace Adkins is home on the range in big-screen Westerns. The singer and actor’s latest trip back to the Old West is Apache Junction from writer/director Justin Lee, which unfolds in the titular frontier town that’s populated by miscreants and murderers. The latest visitor to Apache Junction is Scout-Taylor Compton’s enterprising journalist Annabelle Angel, who arrives with plans to write the tell-all expose that will make the place infamous. She doesn’t find a lot of help from the resident lawman, Captain Hensley (Adkins), who is more than happy with the current criminal population. When her reporting lands her in hot water, she finds aid in the unlikely form of gunslinger, Jericho Ford (Stuart Townsend), which puts a target on both their backs. Adkins holds court in this exclusive clip from the film, which finds him issuing a “Wanted Dead or Alive” proclamation against Ford. — E.A.

Apache Junction premieres Friday, Sept. 24 in theaters and digital and VOD services including Apple TV.

HEAR IT: Audible’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman returns with fresh episodes

Re-enter Sandman. Audible’s all-star adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s beloved comic book series (which will soon get a live-action version courtesy of Netflix) is back for another round of episodes that transport listeners to the Dreaming and back again. The Sandman: Act II brings to life one of the best volumes from the original run, Season of Mists, which finds Morpheus (voiced by James McAvoy) unexpectedly becoming the ruler of Hell when Lucifer (Michael Sheen) vacates his throne. Also covered in this second act are A Game of You and the various stories collected in the Fables & Reflections anthology. Listen in on this exclusive clip featuring Sheen’s devilishly good performance as the original fallen angel. — E.A.

The Sandman: Act II premieres Wednesday, Sept. 22 on Audible.

WATCH IT: The Wonder Years reboot captures the ‘60s through the eyes of a Black preteen

The first episode of this long-awaited series tells you that it’s going to simultaneously be very much the same and quite different from its original incarnation, which aired from 1988 to 1993. Starring the impressive Elisha Williams in the central role of 12-year-old Dean Williams — in lieu of Kevin Arnold, played by Fred Savage, who works as a producer here — the sitcom tackles problems in Dean’s world both big, such as racism, integration and the Vietnam War, and small, like his parents repeatedly telling him to “Stay out of grown folks’ business.” He contends with bullies, the scary experience of finding a seat on the bus and generally finding his place in the world. The plot of the pilot has Dean attempting to organize an integrated baseball game just as he experiences his first heartbreak and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated. “A Change Is Gonna Come” plays in the background, as Oscar-nominated actor Don Cheadle, who narrates as the older Dean, sums it up beautifully: “Everybody in my family plays that day over and over in their minds, but for different reasons. For each of us, it felt like the world around us had changed forever. But, thankfully, for each of us, the world on the inside hadn’t.” — R.S.

The Wonder Years premieres Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.

WATCH IT: The Voice welcomes the voice of a generation

Perhaps not since Miley Cyrus joined The Voice cast in 2016 has the panel featured such an of-the-moment pop star as Ariana Grande. For the singing competition’s 21st season, Ariana, one of the biggest divas in modern music, will take her red seat next to Blake Shelton, John Legend and fellow powerhouse vocalist Kelly Clarkson. We’re sincerely hoping that when she doesn’t want to turn for a contestant — or when a contestant opts not to join Team Grande — that her catchphrase will be “thank you, next.” — Lyndsey Parker

The Voice premieres Monday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. on NBC.

STREAM IT: Dear White People adds a musical twist for its final season.

Dear White People: Volume 4 is sure to deliver all the goods for its fourth and final season. The best part? It’s a musical season, which only means one thing: grab the popcorn, your pretend microphone and join the fun. The show — which is based on the film of the same name — highlights identity politics mainly through the experience of Black students navigating campus culture at Winchester. The highly talked about show has broken barriers since its initial release due to its gritty, unapologetic views on progressive society. Starring Antoinette Robertson, Brandon P. Bell, DeRon Horton, John Patrick Amedori and Ashley Blaine Featherson, Dear White People: Volume 4 is serving all the highs and lows we want and more. While previous seasons have dealt with issues like police brutality, systemic abuse and corruption, adding a musical touch is the perfect button we need after a dark year of doomscrolling in lockdown. — David Artavia

Dear White People premieres Wednesday, Sept. 22 on Netflix.

WATCH IT: See a different side of the far, far away galaxy in the Disney+ anime series, Star Wars: Visions

Star Wars creator George Lucas famously found the inspiration for his industry-transforming blockbuster in the works of Japanese cinema legend Akira Kurosawa. Now the animated anthology series Star Wars: Visions returns the franchise to those roots. Disney and Lucasfilm invited some of Japan’s top anime houses to make their own one-shot stories inspired by Lucas’s universe. The first episode directly links master and apprentice, merging Star Wars and The Seven Samurai into one thrilling 14-minute black-and-white siege story. Future installments follow Tatooine’s top J-Pop band as they prepare to play a gig for Jabba the Hutt, and an alien rabbit (no, not that one) whose family is torn apart by the Empire. Expect to hear some familiar voices (including Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lucy Liu, who are among the cast for the English-language versions) and see some familiar characters. But don’t burst your brain trying to fit these stories into your handy Holocron: Visions is its own distinct vision of Star Wars lore. — E.A.

Star Wars: Visions premieres Sept. 22 on Disney+.

WATCH IT: Hamsters and Caterpillars and Dalmatians, oh my! The Masked Singer returns

America’s most bonkers TV guessing game is back for Season 6, and this time not only will the latest cast of mystery celebrity cosplayers (including the Baby, Dalmatian, Cupcake, Hamster, Mallard, Queen of Hearts, Bull, Beach Ball, Banana Split, Pepper, Caterpillar, Skunk, Octopus, Jester and Mother Nature) be unveiled over a two-night premiere, but there’s also a new twist: the Take It Off Buzzer. If one of the judges (most likely two-time Golden Ear Trophy winner Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg, and least likely Ken “I Know Exactly Who This Is” Jeong) is 100 percent sure that they know a contestant’s identity, they can hit the buzzer at any time and make their guess. And if that judge is correct, then the contestant must unmask and leave the competition immediately! We advise Ken to use the Take It Off Buzzer sparingly. — L.P.

The Masked Singer premieres Wednesday, Sept. 22 and Thursday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. on Fox.

WATCH IT: M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable is unbeatable in UHD

(Disney Home Entertainment)
(Disney Home Entertainment)

How do you possibly follow up a box office sensation and cultural phenomenon like The Sixth Sense? M. Night Shyamalan did not do half-bad with 2000’s Unbreakable — a twisty (of course) low-key superhero thriller about a security guard (Bruce Willis) who survives a horrific trainwreck with no injury and who forms a relationship with a sinister comic book store proprietor (Samuel L. Jackson). Shyamalan’s sophomore hit now crashes home entertainment with a new 4K Ultra HD release. Beyond upgraded quality and sound, the Blu-ray comes with extras including deleted scenes, featurettes and animated storyboards. — K.P.

Unbreakable releases on 4K UHD Tuesday, Sept. 21. Buy it from Best Buy.

PLAY IT: Marvel Countercade brings the classic arcade brawler home

"Marvel Super Heroes" Countercade (Photos: Arcade1Up)
"Marvel Super Heroes" Countercade (Photos: Arcade1Up)

It’s clobbering time! Marvel fans will relish the chance to literally disassemble Avengers, X-Men and more iconic heroes and villains in this retro head-to-head smackdown. Arcade1Up, which specializes in making home-friendly versions of classic 1980s and ’90s arcade games, is now offering a line of “countercade” consoles for those without the room or budget for a full-scale cabinet. In addition to Marvel Super Heroes, this two-player countercade console ($229) contains old-school brawlers X-Men vs. Streetfighter, The Punisher and Marvel vs. Capcom. Other countercades, due in the wild next month, feature Mortal Kombat, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, NBA Jam and Pong. — Marcus Errico

Marvel Super Heroes Countercade is available for pre-order at Arcade1Up’s website.

WATCH IT: The 59th New York Film Festival kicks off with Joel Coen's adaptation of Shakespeare's Scottish play

Denzel Washington and Frances McDorman star in Joel Coen's The Tragedy of Macbeth (Photo courtesy of Apple/A24/NYFF)
Denzel Washington and Frances McDorman star in Joel Coen's The Tragedy of Macbeth. (Photo: Apple/A24/NYFF)

September kicked off with the powerhouse film festival trio of Telluride, Venice and Toronto, and here comes New York to close out the month in style. The 59th edition of the festival opens with the world premiere of Joel Coen's highly-anticipated The Tragedy of Macbeth, which stars Oscar royalty Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand as Shakespeare's tragic power-hungry couple. NYFF's lineup also boasts some other festival standouts — and likely awards contenders — including Jane Campion's The Power of the Dog, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst; Denis Villeneuve's Dune with Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya; and Mike Mills's C'mon C'mon featuring Joaquin Phoenix in his first post-Joker role. Look for a bevy of international favorites as well, among them the Cannes-winning Titane and the Romanian drama Întregalde. — E.A.

The New York Film Festival runs from Sept. 24-Oct. 10; visit the official site for showtime and ticket information.

WATCH IT: Alter Ego may forever alter the singing-show universe

The Masked Singer may not be America’s most bonkers guessing game for long, actually. Also premiering on Fox his week is Alter Ego, a new avatar singing competition that will feature human contestants transforming into digital dream pop stars. And the bizarre program’s judges include Alanis Morissette, will.iam, Grimes and reigning Masked Singer champ Nick “The Piglet” Lachey. Talk about an altered state of mind! — L.P.

Alter Ego premieres Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 9 p.m. on Fox.

HEAR IT: Burt Sugarman’s The Soul of the Midnight Special makes it a fall of soul

(Time Life)
(Time Life)

If Questlove’s Summer of Soul or the new Aretha Franklin biopic Respect has you nostalgic for the sounds of classic American soul, Time Life has your medicine. The 130 greatest soul performances from The Midnight Special, Burt Sugarman’s long-running '70s variety show, get packaged into an incredible 10-disc set featuring Franklin, James Brown, Bill Withers, Barry White, Earth, Wind & Fire, Natalie Cole, Isaac Hayes, Sly & the Family Stone and believe us when we say the list goes on and on. Sure, it’s straight from a late-night infomercial, but this is must-have material for classic soul fans. — K.P.

The Soul of The Midnight Special is now available. Buy it from Time Life.

WATCH IT: The war for Selena Quintanilla's estate is spotlighted Selena: Life, Death & Money

(Bill Davila/Retna Ltd./MediaPunch)
(Photo: Bill Davila/Retna Ltd./MediaPunch)

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 30 years since Selena Quintanilla was tragically killed at only 23 years old. Known as the Queen of Tejano music, the young star was just hitting her stride in the industry as she was gearing up for her first English language album when her life was cut short by a jealous friend and employee, Yolanda Saldívar, who shot and killed the singer in a motel room in 1995. Though her diehard fans will always know her as the celebrated artist she was, Selena: Life, Death & Money shows a different side. Having died without a will, before her death she’d signed over her image rights directly to her father and manager, Abraham Quintanilla, which meant that he alone had the ability to control the future earnings made from her image. When Selena’s widower, Chris Perez, decided to release an autobiography, To Selena With Love, which was optioned to become a TV series, his father-in-law sued him for $1 million. Unbeknownst to the public, the war over her estate was as dramatic and emotional as her death. The subsequent legal battle is at the center of Selena: Life, Death & Money, raising the question about who exactly has the right to tell Selena’s story. And most importantly, who stands to profit? — D.A.

Selena: Life, Death & Money premieres Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 10 p.m. on Reelz.

BUY IT: Fast and Furious is back from space, now has UHD director’s cut Blu-ray

(Universal Home Entertainment)
(Universal Home Entertainment)

Just when you think the Fast and Furious saga has gone as far over the top as humanly possible… they push that top even higher and go over that, too. Case in point — and this no spoiler by now: They literally go to space in F9, turning what was long an internet joke no one ever thought would actually happen into reality. The fan service hardly stops there, too, with the return of Sung Kang — not in flashback form! — as the series resurrects Han and serves Twitter’s #JusticeForHan movement all they ever wanted. Helen Mirren, meanwhile, finally gets her wish to drive a car (very fast, obviously). And somehow, none of these are even the craziest plot points in the ninth installment. That would actually be the revelation that, nine movies in, it turns out Dom has a brother! And he looks just like John Cena. But guess what? There’s even more. F9 lands on home entertainment this week with an extended director’s cut and special features including a gag reel, making-of specials and a commentary track from filmmaker Justin Lin. — K.P.

F9 releases on Ultra HD Blu-ray Tuesday, Sept. 21. Buy it on Amazon.

WATCH IT: Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman helps survivors of sexual abuse in new special Darkness to Light

Days after testifying before a Senate committee on the sexual abuse she endured at the hands of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, Raisman is looking decisively forward in this new special. The emotional watch features the 27-year-old reaching out to other survivors to help stop the suffering. “I just wanna make sure I’m giving them whatever they need,” Raisman says in the trailer. She also underscores that her medals don’t “take away the pain of what happened.” At the Capitol Hill hearing, Raisman explained to lawmakers that she had a real fear that she would be unable to walk out of the room, because talking about her abuse previously left her so upset that she couldn’t pick herself up off the floor. She had to be hospitalized in some cases. Still, she wanted to — and did — speak out to protect others. — R.S.

Aly Raisman: Darkness to Light premieres Friday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. on Lifetime.

HEAR IT: New Velvet Underground tribute is perfect Sunday morning listening

The Velvet Underground are having a new moment, with Todd Haynes’s acclaimed documentary on the seminal proto-punk art band set for wide release in October. And now R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, Iggy Pop, St. Vincent, Kurt Vile, Courtney Barnett, the National’s Matt Berninger, Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie, Fontaines D.C. and more appear on I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico. The album was executive-produced by the late, great Hal Willner, as the last project he worked on before his death from COVID in 2020. — L.P.

I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico is available Friday, Sept. 24 to download/stream on Apple Music.

PLAY IT: World War Z: Aftermath continues the zombie carnage that began in Brad Pitt’s 2013 blockbuster

Despite Brad Pitt’s best efforts — including trying to enlist his Fight Club director, David Fincher — it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing a World War Z sequel at the multiplex anytime soon. But the franchise continues on gaming consoles with World War Z: Aftermath, a sequel built on the foundation of both the 2013 film and its 2019 video game predecessor. Choose from six different character classes, from gunslinger to medic, and take on the zombie armies that are swarming Vatican City and Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula. And remember, the dead in World War Z don’t walk — they run. — E.A.

World War Z: Aftermath is available Tuesday, Sept. 21 on PS4 and Xbox One at Walmart, and for PC on Steam.

HEAR IT: Let Elmo, LeVar Burton and Mickey Mouse entertain your toddler with Tonies

Elmo is one of the Tonies you can buy for your Toniebox (Photo: Tonies)
Elmo is one of the Tonies you can buy for your Toniebox. (Photo: Tonies)

You don't have to turn on the television for your toddler to get some Elmo time. Sesame Street's cuddliest monster is now coming to a Toniebox near you. These soft, shockproof speaker cubes act as amplifiers for a wide collection of Tonies collectibles. Put a figure — be it LeVar Burton or Peppa Pig — on top of the Toniebox and they'll regale kids with stories, music and more. The all-new Elmo Tonie, for example, leads young listeners on a guided tour of various musical instruments, while his Cookie Monster counterpart offers advice about healthier eating habits. Look for Mickey and Minnie Mouse and the Paw Patrol to join the Tonie family over the next few months. — E.A. 

Tonies starter sets and additional figures are available on Amazon and the official Tonies site.

— Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by Jimmie Rhee

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