RIGHT NOW WITH RUSSELL: Your source for pop culture news

Dear reader, whenever pop culture pops I want you to know about it — right now.

Welcome to my new column devoted to keeping you informed every Friday about what’s going in the whirlwind landscape of pop culture. From the latest in film, music, books and TV to the buzz of awards season and other hot button topics, the goal is to fill you in on what’s new in order to satisfy your entertainment cravings.

Here’s what you need to know right now:

Beyoncé's “Renaissance” film has arrived

The 32-time Grammy winner’s highly anticipated concert film is an entertaining, surprisingly revealing love letter to her craft, ballroom culture and devoted Beyhive. Clocking in at 2 hours and 48 minutes, the film spotlights the pop icon’s “Renaissance World Tour” from its inception and including its opening in Stockholm, Sweden. It also pinpoints how 11-year-old Blue Ivy, Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s eldest, Grammy-winning daughter, joined the lineup of fantastic dancers after only initially appearing one time. Other highlights: “Cuff It” featuring a dazzling array of outfits; the humorous mute challenge; cameos by Megan Thee Stallion, Kendrick Lamar and Diana Ross; and Beyoncé's poignant Houston homecoming and home videos, including rare footage of her two youngest children, Rumi and Sir.



“Drag Queen Christmas” delivers festive fun

Dayton made the yuletide gay with “A Drag Queen Christmas” Nov. 29 at the Schuster Center. Featuring seven pop, film and Broadway-savvy alums of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” along with showstopping special guest Todrick Hall, the holiday extravaganza-eleganza ran the gamut. Standouts included delightful hostess Miz Cracker, the over-the-top physicality of the hilarious Jimbo, the old-school finesse of Alyssa Edwards, and the strikingly poised and seductive Marcia Marcia Marcia whose superb lip sync to “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” leapt forth as a divinely nostalgic throwback. The high energy tour conceived with equal doses of naughty and nice also featured a surprise, in-the-audience appearance by Heidi N Closet. Overall, and based on the enthusiastic response from the jam-packed crowd, the high art of drag and its mainstream attachment to “RuPaul’s Drag Race” isn’t sashaying away anytime soon — especially in Dayton.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

One of the best films of 2023: “The Holdovers”

Director Ridley Scott is no stranger to epics, but he misses the mark with “Napoleon,” a bloated, boring tale of the infamous military leader featuring an oddly uninterested Joaquin Phoenix. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you’re better off catching Alexander Payne’s outstanding dramedy “The Holdovers,” a fascinating, intimate and perfectly cast account of family, friendship, love, race and forgiveness set in 1970 at a New England boarding school. Paul Giamatti is a lock for a Best Actor Oscar nomination as Paul Hunham, a curmudgeonly history teacher responsible for looking after a handful of students unable to be with their families during Christmas break. Delightfully agitated Dominic Sessa as frustrated student Angus Tully and funny, touching Da’Vine Joy Randolph as grieving cafeteria worker Mary Lamb are equally winning in one of the best films of the year. “The Holdovers” notably continues this weekend at The Neon.

Oscars score earlier timeslot in 2024

The Oscars are notoriously fickle but here’s one thing you can count on next year: the show will end before midnight. For the first time ever, the ceremony, slated Sunday, March 10, 2024, will air at 7 p.m., an earlier timeslot that should’ve been routine decades ago. A pre-show will air at 6:30 p.m. Also, Emmy-winning late-night talk show host and producer Jimmy Kimmel will return to host the show for the fourth time. Immediately following the 96th Oscars, ABC will air an original episode of the Emmy-winning sitcom “Abbott Elementary.”

Credit: Kevin Winter

Credit: Kevin Winter

“Big Little Lies” eyeing return to HBO

The ladies of Monterey may be returning for a third season of the HBO hit “Big Little Lies.” Nicole Kidman, who won two Emmys in 2017 as executive producer and for her marvelous portrayal of abused housewife Celeste Wright, recently revealed the news during a Q&A at the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida. According to Deadline, Kidman said “I loved ‘Big Little Lies.’ We will be bringing you a third one, just FYI.” Time will tell if Kidman’s tease comes into fruition, but it would be great to see the ladies reunited in drama and sisterhood. The stellar cast includes Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern and Zoë Kravitz. Season 1 aired in February 2017 and Season 2 in June 2019. Both seasons contained seven episodes.

Emotional “Golden Bachelor” finale

It was decision time last night for 72-year-old widower Gerry Turner a.k.a. ABC’s “Golden Bachelor.” In somewhat of a surprise, the Hudson, Indiana resident chose Theresa Nist, 70, of Shrewsbury, New Jersey. Nist, who had been married for 42 years and connected with Turner in their shared grief, can be perceived as a safe choice compared to the more outgoing, free-spirited, twice-married Leslie Fhima, 64, of Minneapolis. Even so Fhima was totally blindsided, and her heartbreak was valid and visceral. She also thanked Turner for saving her the embarrassment of a podium rejection while wearing a “$60,000 dress.” I have a feeling Fhima will be a top choice if ABC opts for its first “Golden Bachelorette.” As for Turner and Nist, the couple will marry live on ABC in “The Golden Wedding” Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024.

If you have story ideas, e-mail me at Russell.Florence@coxinc.com.

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