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ET Obsessions: August Wilson Exposed, ‘The Founder’ and the Return of TGIT

by ETonline Staff 7:30 AM PST, January 23, 2017
Photo: ETONLINE

Here at ET, we’re obsessed with a lot of things -- and for the week of Jan. 23 to Jan. 29, this is what we’re most excited about:

‘Jitney’

On Thursday, Jan. 19, August Wilson’s Jitney, directed by Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson, made its long-awaited debut on Broadway, completing the playwright’s 10-play American Century Cycle on the Broadway stage. With an ensemble cast featuring Moonlight and American Horror Story: Roanoke breakout André Holland, Jitney tells the story of black men trying to eke out a living as unlicensed cab drivers in 1970s Pittsburgh.

The play’s Broadway debut happens to coincide with the theatrical run of Fences, another Wilson play that’s made its way to the screen with Denzel Washington starring and directing and Viola Davis delivering an Oscar-worthy performance. “[Audiences] are being exposed to greatness,” Davis told ET by phone when asked about the significance of Wilson’s two works being produced for stage and screen. “I think the worst thing is to be that great and to live in any sort of obscurity, because I know I've reaped the benefits of the words and that writing and those characters and those narratives and how much it enriched my life. That's the beauty of it. People are being exposed to the effects of that writing.”

“He’s no longer unknown,” she added. “He’s going to be right at the tip of everybody's tongue. It's not going to be ‘August Wilson who?’”

MORE: Denzel Washington on Bringing 'Fences' to the Big Screen

Jitney is now playing at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre in New York City.

‘The Founder’

The new biopic about Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), an ambitious franchise agent who steamrolled brothers Mac and Dick McDonald (John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman) to take over the fast-food chain, is a compelling look at the shrewd business of McDonald’s. While it’s being compared to The Social Network, it doesn’t have David Fincher’s finesse (or Aaron Sorkin’s writing) but it’s still just as compelling. Keaton offers a conflicted portrayal of Kroc, who may be an American hero or just a shrewd businessman. And Lynch tells ET that’s for audiences to decide. “For me, I see him as a success, but I don’t necessarily see him as a good man,” he says, with Offerman adding: “I say only that he is a human being.”

MORE: Michael Keaton Talks Working With New 'Spider-Man' Tom Holland and Impressive 'Marvel Machine'

The Founder is now in theaters.

TGIT

After ABC delayed the return of its TGIT lineup -- Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder -- by a week for inauguration coverage, audiences will finally get to catch up with Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Annalise Keating (Davis) and, after sitting the fall out, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington). Scandal will make its season six debut after going on hiatus so Washington could have her second child. And no, Washington’s real-life pregnancy will not be seen on the show, thanks to strategically placed props. “Flower pots for everyone,” she recently joked with ET about hiding her belly on the show.

MORE: Kerry Washington Says Motherhood Changed Her Approach to Playing Olivia Pope on 'Scandal'

Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder return on Thursday, Jan. 26, starting at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

‘A Walk to Remember’ 

While fans are crying over Mandy Moore’s Golden Globe-nominated performance on NBC’s hit new series This Is Us, it was just 15 years ago that they cried over her performance in the weepy adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ book about a girl with cancer who falls in love with a rebellious classmate. The film, which came out months after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, was more than just a teen movie -- it dealt with faith, humanity and teenage sexuality. “As a teenager -- before everything happened -- I don’t think we were really forced to think about all of that,” Moore told ET back in 2002.

A Walk to Remember was also unafraid to be earnest about the teenage experience. “I think it’s the antithesis to teen movies out there today,” Moore said. “It’s shedding more of a positive light on the typical high school experience, which is something I think I’m even more proud to be a part of.”

MORE: Mandy Moore Completely Slays in Super Sexy Black Dress at Artios Awards

A Walk to Remember debuted in theaters on Jan. 25, 2002. 

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