The It List: New 'Kung Fu' series hopes to be part of anti-Asian racism solution, 'Glee' cast reunites to honor Naya Rivera, Taylor Swift drops 'Fearless (Taylor's Version)' and the best in pop culture the week of April 5, 2021

Yahoo Entertainment Staff
·15 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. During the coronavirus pandemic, when most of us are staying at home, we’re going to spotlight things you can enjoy from your couch, whether solo or in small groups, and leave out the rest. With that in mind, here are our picks for April 5-11, including the best deals we could find for each. (Yahoo Entertainment may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page.)

WATCH IT: The Kung Fu franchise returns to television with a timely feminist and “social justice” twist

The makers of Kung Fu couldn’t have realized how timely a reboot of David Carradine’s 1970s TV series would be when production started last October. But in the wake of rising incidents of violence against Asian Americans — including the horrific shooting in Atlanta, Ga. — the launch of a major network show that features a predominantly Asian cast and creative team matters more than ever. “I think the timing of our show is really impeccable,” star Olivia Liang remarked at a recent press conference. “We Asians need to see ourselves represented on the screens, but we need to be invited into people's homes who don't see us in their everyday life, just to humanize us, normalize seeing us, remind them that we are people just like they are and that we have a place in this world, and hopefully having our show in their homes will expand that worldview for them.”

Developed by Christina M. Kim, the new Kung Fu swaps out Carradine’s wandering monk, Kwai Chang Caine, for Liang’s Nicky Shen, a college dropout from San Francisco who finds a new home at a Shaolin monastery in China that trains its female residents in mastery of the martial arts. But when a mysterious assailant kills her shifu, she returns to the Bay Area and tries to re-establish estranged family ties with her parents (Tzi Ma and Kheng Hua Tan), while also using her new fighting skills to keep the streets safe from local Triad gangs. “In the original series, the lead character was not Asian,” Kim observed at the press day. “For me, it was important that we change that, and for myself as a woman, I really wanted a strong female Asian lead who was kicking butt and was the role model that I wished I had on TV growing up.” Meanwhile, Tan mentioned that the new series would emphasize stories of “social justice” by showing how “characters of all ages and all walks of life trying to work together to do what’s best for the community to help.” Added Ma: “What happened in Atlanta breaks my heart. I’m not sure what the short-term fix is, and I believe we are the long-term solution.” — Ethan Alter

Kung Fu premieres Wednesday, April 7 at 8 p.m. on The CW.

STREAM IT: Jason Momoa’s discovery+ documentary Future People: The Family of Donor 5114 introduces you to a new kind of family

A family documentary eight years in the making, Future People — which was directed by Michael Rothman and executive produced by Jason Momoa — brings together a group of 37 siblings who share the same father… a man they’ve never met. Rothman follows the offspring of one California sperm donor, only identified in the film as Donor 5114 and whose sole recorded message to them is: "I wish them all the luck." The children conceived with his donation grew up in a wide variety of places with a wide variety of parents, and have made a concentrated effort to get to know each other with reunions and extended family trips. This exclusive clip from Future People showcases one such outing: a family visit to the California Cryobank where co-founder, Dr. Cappy Rothman, takes them on a birthday tour of the place and marvels at what the future holds for them. “You’ve become an extended family, and in two or three generations what an extended family you’re going to be,” he says, before showing them their origins in a chilled vat of sperm. Talk about your memorable birthday presents. — E.A.

Future People: The Family of Donor 5114 premieres Saturday, April 10 on discovery+.

WATCH IT: Is Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar already a cult classic?

Usually it takes a few years before we start describing a film as a cult classic, but Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar sure checks a lot of the boxes. Zany, off-kilter characters and general wackadoo sensibilities? Check. Mostly positive reviews, but (probably) not winning any Oscars? Check. But the people who love it really love it? Check. Barely making any money at the box office? Definite check, but then again, what film has this past year? Which is exactly why Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo’s vacation laugher featuring a comedy/musical coming-out tour de force from Fifty Shades star Jamie Dornan has earned “instant cult classic” status. Nothing is normal right now, including a movie’s shelf-life. Speaking of shelves, though, this Blu-ray should be landing on a lot of them with this week’s release. You can sample the extras included with an exclusive clip on Dornan’s much buzzed-about turn as Edgar. — Kevin Polowy

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is available Tuesday, April 6 on digital, Blu-ray on DVD on Amazon.

STREAM IT: See the world in a whole new way with the visually stunning global tour Awaken

Godfrey Reggio and Terrence Malick have individually been responsible for some of the most visually dazzling films ever made. Now the respective directors of Koyaanisqatsi and Days of Heaven join forces to executive produce photographer Tom Lowe’s sophomore feature, Awaken, which traverses the globe at a time when we’re otherwise stuck at home. Armed with 5K cameras, Lowe spent five years visiting over 30 countries to capture many different landscapes — from remote wilderness to densely urban settings — and finding fresh ways to film the routines of daily life. In this exclusive clip, for example, the director uses slow motion to capture a fisherman throwing his net into the ocean, before cutting away to lyrical time-lapse imagery of trees reaching their branches up to meet the sky. Although Liv Tyler contributes occasional narration to the film, Awaken — like Koyaanisqatsi before it — is first and foremost a visual experience that fills your eyes with the splendor of the world around us. — E.A.

Awaken premieres Friday, April 9 on all major VOD platforms including Amazon and Apple TV.

STREAM IT: The cast of Glee reunites at the GLAAD Media Awards

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Niecy Nash hosts this virtual event honoring media that’s provided fair, accurate and inclusive depictions of the LGBTQ community. One of this year’s biggest draws is a reunion of the stars of Glee, as part of a tribute to Santana Lopez, the character of late cast member Naya Rivera, who died suddenly in July 2020. Believe it or not, it’s been 10 years since Lopez came out. Expect to see Amber Riley, Heather Morris, Chris Colfer, Jane Lynch, Darren Criss, Harry Shum Jr. and more, introduced by Demi Lovato, who appeared in several 2013 episodes as Lopez’s girlfriend. The star-studded guest list also includes Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown, Sterling K. Brown, Rebecca Black and Phoebe Bridgers, who’s auctioning off a guitar she smashed on Saturday Night Live in February. (The starting bid was $5,500.) That and other items are up for sale in a fundraiser for the advocacy group through April 11. — Raechal Shewfelt

The GLAAD Media Awards are streaming live Thursday, April 8 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on YouTube. Stream it on demand on Hulu through June.

HEAR IT: Taylor Swift fearlessly reclaims her legacy

Following a protracted, public and acrimonious battle to regain control of her catalog from the Big Machine Label Group’s Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun, Swift finally releases the first in her much-hyped series of re-recorded albums. Recorded between November 2020 and January 2021 with new vocals, Fearless (Taylor’s Version), an update of the record that won Swift her first Album of the Year Grammy in 2010, comprises all 19 songs from 2009’s Platinum Edition release, her Valentine’s Day soundtrack single “Today Was a Fairytale,” six bonus tracks that were scrapped from the original album, and the single “You All Over Me (From the Vault)” featuring Maren Morris. — Lyndsey Parker

Fearless (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift is available Friday, April 9 to download/stream on Apple Music.

WATCH IT: WWE’s biggest event of the year is getting a boost from some of entertainment’s biggest names

WWE’s version of the Super Bowl takes place this Saturday and Sunday as WrestleMania 37 is held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. The event, which has been held annually since 1985, is the culmination of all of the pro wrestling promotion’s biggest storylines. After being moved from its traditional stadium venue last April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WrestleMania 37 marks the first time in more than a year that live fans will be in attendance and is the first major WWE event to be streamed on Peacock after a nearly $1B agreement was made earlier this year.

While WWE stars such as Roman Reigns, Sasha Banks and Shane McMahon will be featured on the two-night card, plenty of eyes will be on Grammy-award winning artist Bad Bunny who will step into the ring against The Miz. Bad Bunny has made regular appearances on WWE programming since January’s Royal Rumble event, where he performed his song “Booker T,” named for the former WWE star who goes by the same name. 

As if Bad Bunny wasn’t enough, internet sensation Logan Paul will likely play a role in the feud between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Paul seemingly confirmed his presence at WrestleMania 37 last Thursday on his podcast before appearing on SmackDown last Friday alongside Zayn. — Anthony Sulla-Heffinger

WrestleMania 37 is exclusively streaming Saturday, April 10 and Sunday, April 11 at 8 p.m. on Peacock.

STREAM IT: Social thriller Them draws comparisons to Jordan Peele’s growing body of acclaimed horror

“Them” could possibly be too vague a word, but it was someone not even involved in the project trending on Twitter recently as the trailer for Amazon’s new limited anthology series hit the interwebs: Jordan Peele. Many a social media user decried that the show that’s first season follows a Black family into a nightmarish white suburbia (pre-integrated Compton, Calif.) was a knock-off of Peele projects like Get Out and Us. To play devil’s advocate here: In a derivative industry where we get at least five middle-aged white-men-seek-bloody-revenge movies a year — surely there’s space for more racially themed social thrillers? If the first episode previewed is any indication, the Little Marvin-created series — which also carries the cred of being executive produced by Lena Waithe — offers enough creepiness and intrigue to give Them/them a chance. — K.P.

Them premieres Friday, April 9 on Amazon Prime.

STREAM IT: Josie and the Pussycats rocks on 20 years after the band’s theatrical bow

Before they rocked the mic on Riverdale, Archie Comics music legends, Josie and the Pussycats, headlined their very own feature film. Dropped in theaters 20 years ago on April 11, 2001, the movie underwhelmed at the box office, slinking off the big screen with only $14 million to its name. But Josie can boast to having — wait for it — a long tail over the past two decades. Rediscovered almost immediately on DVD, the film is now a beloved favorite for its self-aware humor, terrific music and preserving the feelings (and fashions) of early 2001 in a bottle for the rest of time. Rachel Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson and Tara Reid play the central trio, who go from zeros to heroes when Alan Cumming and Parker Posey’s record executives pick them to be the next teen sensation after the hilariously tragic deaths of their blockbuster boy band DuJour. From there, writer/directors Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan expertly fuse A Hard Day’s Night with The Manchurian Candidate, as Josie and the Pussycats deal with the trappings of instant fame, and uncover a satirically sinister mind control plot in the process. Hey, Riverdale writers: time to make the events of this movie canon. — E.A.

Josie and the Pussycats is currently streaming on HBO Max.

STREAM IT: Celebrate Dolly Parton’s iconic catalog

There are so many reasons to celebrate the award-winning singer, including that hefty donation to the creation of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, that sometimes her music gets overshadowed. Not so here. In this concert filmed in 2019, Parton’s extensive philanthropy shares the spotlight with her lengthy catalog, as greats from the world of country music and other genres take the stage. Her goddaughter, Miley Cyrus, performs alongside Willie Nelson, Kacey Mugraves, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, Yolanda Adams and more. Parton herself even takes the mic, while the band Little Big Town hosts and performs. — R.S.

Dolly Parton: A MusiCares Tribute premieres Wednesday, April 7 on Netflix.

READ IT: See Godzilla and Kong’s adventures before their heavyweight match in the prequel comics

While the Godzilla vs. Kong main event unfolded in theaters and on HBO Max last week, Legendary Comics is releasing a slew of tie-in books for MonsterVerse completists. The highlights are the graphic novels Godzilla Dominion and Kingdom Kong, which catch fans up on the twin titans in the lead-up to their ballyhooed bout. Godzilla Dominion finds the lizard king scrapping with a host of new adversaries while sensing the reemergence of an ancient rival, while Kingdom Kong takes us back to Skull Island where researchers and soldiers cross paths with the godly gorilla and other beasties. — Marcus Errico

Godzilla Dominion and Kingdom Kong are available Tuesday, April 6 from Amazon.

WATCH IT: Saturday Night Live alum Nasim Pedrad plays 14-year-old boy in new sitcom Chad

Nasim Pedrad has been working steadily since departing Saturday Night Live after a five-year run in 2014, including co-starring turns in shows like Mulaney and People of Earth and Disney’s live action Aladdin reboot. But with Chad, Pedrad has her most high profile part yet and she plays… a 14-year-old pubescent Persian boy seeking high school popularity? Following in the footsteps of other age-bending comedies like PEN15 and Big Mouth (seriously, this is a subgenre now), Chad will also mark Pedrad’s biggest passion project yet — she not only stars but created the show and writes and directs. Maybe Chad was always the teenage boy she was meant to be. — K.P.

Chad premieres Tuesday, April 6 on TBS.

HEAR IT: Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi bring it on home

Acclaimed American folk artist Giddens and Italian multi-instrumentalist Turrisi — longtime collaborators, and both ex-pats living in Ireland since the start of the coronavirus pandemic — team up for one of the great lockdown albums of the COVID age. Drawing on the musical traditions of their native and adoptive countries, the two recorded Giddens’s latest album They're Calling Me Home in a small studio on a Dublin farm over the course of six days. The result is a rumination on not just the comforts of home but also the allegorical “call home” of death, through original tracks as well as lovely covers of two mortality classics, “O Death” and “Amazing Grace.” — R.S.

They're Calling Me Home by Rhiannon Giddens (with Francesco Turrisi) is available Friday, April 9 to download/stream on Apple Music.

PLAY IT: Fill up your Easter baskets with Disney surprises from Hasbro

Easter baskets aren’t just for eggs… or candy… or candy eggs. The toy giant Hasbro has made basket-sized toys from their popular Star Wars and Disney Princess lines. Padawans can practice their saberplay with kid-friendly lightsabers designed after beloved Rebel and Imperial characters including R2-D2 and Darth Vader, while aspiring pilots can mix and match various Mission Fleet ships and vehicles from multiple galactic eras, from Darth Maul’s probe pursuit to Kylo Ren’s TIE Whisper. While many of those vehicles come with matching Star Wars action figures, you can also let the Disney Princesses take the wheel. Ariel, Moana, Mulan and Tiana are among 3.3”-high fashion dolls that Hasbro is releasing in Easter-ready blind boxes that include multiple outfits and a mirror. — E.A.

Hasbro’s Star Wars and Disney Princess toys are available at most major retailers including Amazon.

READ IT: Marvel Comics: The Variant Covers is a treasure trove for True Believers

(Image: Insight Comics)
(Image: Insight Comics)

As collectors can tell you, sometimes the best comic book covers are the ones you never see on shelves. This jam-packed new compilation from Insight Editions collects three decades’ worth of alternate cover art — more than 400 works by some of the best artists in the biz — starring Marvel’s greatest heroes and villains as breathtaking pop art, photo illustrations, fantasy imagery and mashed-up remixes, as well as riffs on fine art masterpieces and iconic cultural moments. Excelsior! — M.E.

Marvel Comics: The Variant Covers is available at Amazon.

HEAR IT: Cheap Trick’s new album is a real treat

The Rock & Roll Hall of Famers and Rockford’s finest return with their 20th studio LP, helmed by longtime producer and powerpop maestro Julian Raymond. Leonine frontman Robin Zander’s mighty roar and double-necked-axe-brandisher Rick Nielsen’s guitar heroics are as iconic as ever on a dozen stadium-ready originals (including the comeback single “Light Up the Fire”) plus a cover of their idol John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth.” — R.S.

In Another World by Cheap Trick is available Friday, April 9 to download/stream on Apple Music.

— Video produced by Jon San and edited by John Santo