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Zombieland 2 is officially happening

Ruben Fleischer’s 2009 zombie film Zombieland is officially getting a sequel, with the director and original cast set to return, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The movie is expected to begin production in January, and hit theaters in October 2019.

Zombieland 2 will reunite Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin, and will reportedly take the group “from the White House to the American heartland as they face off against new kinds of zombies that have evolved since the first movie, as well as some new human survivors.”

The 2009 film was Fleischer’s first, following Columbus (played by Jesse Eisenberg) — the survivors have taken on the names of cities to avoid becoming attached to one another — as he traveled from his college dorm room in Texas to Columbus, Ohio to see if his family was still alive. Along the way, he meets a man calling himself Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), and accompanies him north.

The two then meet Wichita (Emma Stone) and her sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), and despite their initial distrust of one another, end up going to California to Pacific Playland in Los Angeles, which is supposedly free of the undead.

The film was successful when it hit theaters a decade ago, and at the time, the creators indicated that they had wanted to do a sequel of some sort, but moved on to other projects.

Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick went on to write Deadpool and Deadpool 2 while director Ruben Fleischer helmed the soon-to-be-released Venom.

Sony Pictures planned a television adaptation in 2011 that never materialized, while Amazon Studios developed and released a pilot for the show, but never picked it up for a full series.

Behold, America by Sarah Churchwell review – the underside of the 'American dream'

Book of the dayPolitics books

This timely survey traces the political roots of the current ‘America First’ movement back to the early 20th century

A Ku Klux Klan parade in Binghamton, New York, in the 1920s.Photograph: Bettmann Archive

In its initial incarnation, the Ku Klux Klan was a southern organisation born of denial: Klansmen rejected the obvious consequences of Confederate defeat for the racial character and social structure of the South. Although the Klan had been suppressed by the turn of the century, it was reincarnated in 1915, and soon spread far beyond the southern states, becoming a national phenomenon. Black Americans remained a target, but its demonology extended to encompass other presences unwelcome to white Anglo-Saxon Protestant America: Jews and Catholics, southern and eastern Europeans.

On Monday 30 May 1927 there were violent scuffles at New York’s Memorial Day parades, when protesters confronted Klan marchers. In Queens there were seven arrests: five “avowed Klansmen”; a sixth person arrested by mistake and immediately released; and – mysteriously – a 20-year-old German-American by the name of Fred Trump. Sarah Churchwell’s book serves as a reminder that the version of American values espoused by Fred Trump’s son Donald and the hate-filled racism of last year’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville are not aberrant blips.

Rather, racism, nativism and the quasi-fascistic call of “America first” are part of the warp and woof of the modern American experience. Far from being an ephemeral spasm of protest against globalisation, Trump-style American nationalism has long been integral to American political life, though usually marginalised or tamed by the leadership of both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Black Lives Matter counter-protesters at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Photograph: The Washington Post/Getty Images

Despite her tour of America’s dark undergrowth, Churchwell’s book is not unremittingly depressing, because she also charts the early 20th-century meanings of “the American dream”, and in the process recovers a pervasive social democratic sensibility.

At bottom then, Behold, America, like so much of the best historical enquiry, is rooted in an acute sensitivity to language. Churchwell’s primary concern is to unpack, from a trawl of the press, political speeches and literary works, what early 20th-century Americans meant by the common expressions “America first” and “the American dream”. But the book is much more than a study of these catchphrases, and she deftly relates them to wider social, political and cultural developments.

“America first” – which is now firmly associated with the campaign led by the aviator and fascist fellow-traveller Charles Lindbergh to keep the US out of the second world war – had, it transpires, a much longer pedigree in mainstream politics. In the 1916 presidential election the rival candidates pitched near-identical formulae at the electorate: the Republican Charles Evans Hughes advocated “America first and America efficient”, while Woodrow Wilson for the Democrats went for just “America first”. But beneath the banality of phrase, early 20th century America was a country haunted by anxiety about the purity of its ethnic stock; a land, too, of public lynchings where, as photographs show, families with children in tow went to see blacks hanged or burned alive.

By the 1930s there were local imitations of European fascism, including the Silver Shirt Legion, the Crusader White Shirts and the German-American Bund, but in many respects American fascism was native and organic, the bitter fruit of the obsession with “America first”. The expression “American dream” also bears responsibility for some unattractive outcomes. But back in the early 20th century when the phrase first crept into common currency, the American dream was conceived in terms of social and economic equality, not of the opportunities open to individuals to rise from rags to riches.

It functioned as a “corrective, not as an incentive”, transmitting “moral disquiet” about the dangers of runaway capitalist excess. The rise of a plutocrat class founded on vast concentrations of wealth was deemed to be un-American, because it threatened the cherished American dream of equality and social justice. Over the course of the 20th century, however, the notion was turned inside out, becoming instead the anaesthetising fantasy which douses socialist aspiration in the underclass.

Now a racist parody-billionaire occupies the White House. The toxicity of current American politics owes much to the quiet dogma among illiberal whites that his predecessor – a black man with a Muslim-sounding name – was prima facie unAmerican and unqualified for the presidency. But in today’s America it is, or was, impolitic to say that out loud.

Hence the resort to oblique challenges to Barack Obama’s legitimacy. In particular, Trump led the “birther” movement that questioned whether Obama met the constitutional requirement that the president be a “natural-born citizen”. In an ironic counterpoint to this tawdry tale, Churchwell reminds us that a not dissimilar smear was deployed against Warren Harding, the successful Republican candidate in the 1920 election.

The allegation was that far from being an unalloyed Anglo-Saxon, he had a black grandmother. His defenders retorted that Harding was “100% American”, insisting he had in his veins only “the pure blood of the white man”. A century later, in the era of Oprah and Obama, this easy equation of white and American seems risibly archaic, but also – since Trump’s election and the events of Charlottesville – sinister, menacing and apparently indelible.

o Behold, America: A History of America First and the American Dream is published by Bloomsbury. To order a copy for GBP17 (RRP GBP20) go to or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over GBP10, online orders only.

Phone orders min p&p of GBP1.99.

Scarlett Johansson pulls out of Rub & Tug

What a fortnight it’s been for Scarjo! From the jump it was off to a rocky start, when it was announced that she would star as Dante “Tex” Gill, a trans man, in a new biopic about the massage parlor mogul called Rub & Tug. It was not good. There were memes.

Then earlier this week, news broke that after years of speculation, Marvel was indeed moving forward on a standalone Black Widow film. Finally, today, it ends with a denouement: Johansson released an exclusive statement to Out magazine saying she’d dropped out of her casting as Gill. Her words, in full:

In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project.

Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive. I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues. According to GLAAD, LGBTQ+ characters dropped 40% in 2017 from the previous year, with no representation of trans characters in any major studio release.

While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person, and I am thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film. I believe that all artists should be considered equally and fairly. My production company, These Pictures, actively pursues projects that both entertain and push boundaries.

We look forward to working with every community to bring these most poignant and important stories to audiences worldwide.

It’s a sight better than Johansson’s initial, dismissive-as-heck response to the very public, very negative reaction to her decision to play Gill. (In case you don’t remember, she said, via her rep: “Tell them they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” Not great!)

Credit where it’s due, though: shouts to celebs who acknowledge their mistakes when people call them out on them, and good on ScarJo for doing the right thing — even if it may have been under public duress.

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