The It List: Bear Grylls hosts ‘World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji,’ Selena Gomez gets her own cooking show, pandemic thriller ‘Before the Fire’ debuts and the best in pop culture the week of Aug. 10, 2020

The It List: Bear Grylls hosts ‘World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji,’ Selena Gomez gets her own cooking show, pandemic thriller ‘Before the Fire’ debuts and the best in pop culture the week of Aug. 10, 2020

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 Aug. 10-16, 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: Bear Grylls runs wild as the host of Amazon Prime’s World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji

He’s eaten bear-chewed salmon with President Barack Obama, ran from crocodiles alongside Brie Larson and narrowly escaped death by bee stings. For his latest adventure, famed survivalist Bear Grylls is hosting the world’s toughest race: Eco-Challenge Fiji. The latest installment of the long-running competition — started by reality TV pioneer, Mark Burnett, in the early ‘90s — makes its Amazon Prime debut and the drama is intense from the jump. Filmed last fall before the pandemic put the world on lockdown, Eco-Challenge Fiji sends 66 teams from 30 countries on an 11-day, 400-mile journey through the Fijian wilderness. One character stands out from the crowded pack: Mark Macy, a veteran Eco-Challenger who is running this edition with his son Travis, despite having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He discloses that fact midway through the series premiere — an emotional moment that’s nearly topped by Travis’s tearful interview about being by his father’s side. Here’s how you know that Eco-Challenge Fiji will put you through the wringer: Even tough guy Grylls has ‘fessed up to tearing up while watching the race unfold. — Ethan Alter

World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji premieres Friday, Aug. 14 on Amazon Prime.

STREAM IT: Pandemic thriller Before the Fire feels all too real (plus exclusive clip)

Given the uptick in streams for films like Contagion and Outbreak, Americans have proven the coronavirus hasn’t exactly sent them searching for escapist entertainment in recent months. That bodes well for Before the Fire, a new pandemic thriller directed by Charlie Buhler and written by Jenna Lyng Adams (The Kominsky Method), who also stars. Adams plays — appropriately — a rising TV star forced to flee Los Angeles when a devastating disease rips through the city and return to her rural hometown. OK, yeah, that might feel too real for some. — Kevin Polowy

Before the Fire is available on demand Friday, Aug. 14 on FandangoNOW.

STREAM IT: Vote for the Earth issues a call to action

With the country in turmoil and the presidential election less than three months away, there’s a lot on the line. In an effort to show up for Planet Earth and mobilize young Black and indigenous voters, Future Coalition has teamed up with Earth Guardians, We Stand United, Hip Hop Caucus and the International Indigenous Youth Council for Vote for the Earth, a three-part event being live-streamed on Future Live, Twitch, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Featuring musical performances and appearances from the likes of “frontliners, movement builders and artists” like Jaden Smith and CNN’s Van Jones, the series aims to help get out the vote by encouraging registration and absentee ballots among young people of color. As its name suggests, the event will also serve as a platform for the diverse voices advocating for sustainability and environmental reform — because protecting “communities from systemic racism and violence, and the climate emergency go hand in hand.” — Erin Donnelly

The first Vote for the Earth livestream series kicks off Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 8 p.m.; sign up here to view. More livestreams will follow on Sept. 16 and Oct. 14.

STREAM IT: Host makes quarantine Zoom meetings even more terrifying

The idea of an unseen, yet terrifying presence stalking a group of friends forced to socially distance due to the pandemic might be a tad on the nose, but the execution is spot-on in the first horror movie inspired by the coronavirus crisis. Host, available on the streaming horror service Shudder, features a group of friends (played by newcomers using their real names to contribute to the cinéma vérité vibe) connecting over Zoom for a séance session to break up the boredom of quarantine. Unfortunately, one of the participants decides to mock the astral realm and things get freaky from there. According to Shudder, the actors shot all the footage themselves, including stunts and practical effects, with filmmaker Rob Savage directing everything remotely. The conceit works perfectly — the entire movie plays out on digital screens (à la Unfriended and Searching) featuring appropriately janky A/V from spotty WiFi, natch, with the runtime limited to a single Zoom session (the free 40-minute variety). Be warned: If you didn’t find teleconferences scary already, after watching Host, you might have second thoughts about ever Zoom-ing in again. — Marcus Errico

Host is available on the subscription streaming service Shudder, which offers a free seven-day trial.

WATCH IT: Lovecraft Country combines producer superpowers on HBO

You had us at Jordan Peele meets J.J. Abrams. The Get Out and Lost visionaries combined forces to co-produce this highly anticipated drama horror series created by Misha Green (Underground) and based on the 2016 novel of the same name by Matt Ruff. The story follows Atticus Black (Jonathan Majors, excellent recently in The Last Black Man in San Francisco and Da 5 Bloods) as he road trips across the 1950s Jim Crow South along with his uncle (Courtney B. Vance) and a friend (Jurnee Smollett-Bell). So, sort of like Green Book but without the uh, heartwarming tale of a racist’s redemption, and plus the socially penetrating chills of a Peele project and mystical intrigue of an Abrams vehicle. We’re in to ride along. — K.P.

Lovecraft Country premieres Sunday, Aug. 16 on HBO.

STREAM IT: Selena Gomez spices things up in new cooking show

Selena Gomez fans would watch her do anything — and next up is cooking. Selena + Chef, her new HBO Max show with 10 unscripted episodes, came about during quarantine when she was forced to do her own meal prep, along with her quaranteam. The catch is she’s not exactly a Michelin star chef, but that’s what makes it all so adorable. Each episode sees the fan fave — along with whoever is in her house that day (grandparents, friends, dogs), paired up with a different master chef for a cooking lesson. And, well, what could go wrong? A lot — fires! handling hearts! slicing an octopus! — but all in a charming way. (“I did sign up to look like a fool,” Gomez quips in the promo.) Each episode also has a charity component, so Gomez fans can feel even better about inevitably tuning in. — Suzy Byrne

Selena + Chef premieres Thursday, Aug. 13 on HBO Max.

STREAM IT: Boys State is worth your support

In times like these, even teens forming a mock government can’t get along. As the audience sees in this Sundance darling, which trails participants at the 2019 edition of Boys State — the American Legion program held annually across the country for representatives from various high schools — the younger generation has picked up on the political style they’ve observed. “A message of unity, as good as it sounds and as good as it ultimately is for our country, is not winning anyone any elections,” one candidate for governor says in an aside. “You have to use personal attacks and you have to find divisive issues in order to differentiate yourself at all.” Another participant admits to flat-out lying about his stance on abortion in a speech, because, according to him, his true feelings would hurt him politically with the “very, very conservative” electorate. “That’s politics, I think,” he says, noting that he’s actually pro-choice. While the movie can be heartbreaking at times, it also offers glimmers of hope, particularly in the form of one honest and unabashedly earnest son of a Mexican immigrant. — Raechal Shewfelt

Boys State premieres Friday, Aug. 14 on Apple TV+.

HEAR IT: Gloria Estefan whisks us away to Brazil

Brazil305, the Latin pop icon’s first album in seven years, is a concept record, boasting four new tracks plus 11 remixes of Estefan classics that have been completely re-recorded with Brazilian musicians and producers. Some of those hits getting a Brazilian makeover are “Conga” (as “Samba”), “Cuts Both Ways,” “Don’t Wanna Lose You,” “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” “Mi Tierra” and “Get on Your Feet.” — Lyndsey Parker

Download/stream Brazil305 on Apple Music.

STREAM IT: Jason Sudeikis bends it like Beckham in the new Apple TV+ sports comedy, Ted Lasso

Back in 2013, recent Saturday Night Live retiree, Jason Sudeikis, debuted the character of Ted Lasso, an American college soccer coach who gets a major upgrade to U.K. football team manager, for a series of NBC Sports commercials. Now, Lasso gets his own 10-episode series developed by Scrubs mastermind, Bill Lawrence. Like the original ads, the show follows good ol’ Ted as he’s improbably hired to run the AFC Richmond squad. Behind the scenes, he’s been brought aboard by conniving owner, Rebecca — played in a brilliant bit of casting by Hannah Waddingham, better known as Game of Thrones’s “Shame, shame” nun — as a way to tank the team for good. But back on the pitch, a blissfully unaware Lasso works to overcome his overwhelming lack of Premier League knowledge and forge a bond with his players. Sudeikis’s good-natured star turn keeps this fish out of water comedy swimming along nicely. — E.A.

Ted Lasso premieres Friday, Aug. 14 on Apple TV+.

WEAR IT: Venus Williams wants to make you feel like Wonder Woman

(Photo: EleVen by Venus Williams)

The tennis star has created a special collection of looks inspired by the superhero, as part of her EleVen activewear line. It launches on the heels of collections from brands Lauren Ralph Lauren, Miu Miu, Swarovski and more. The barrage of merchandise dedicated to Diana Prince’s alter ego is arriving online ahead of Wonder Woman 1984, which is set to hit theaters Oct. 2. Williams’s looks include a retro T-shirt with the iconic logo and a starry tennis skirt. Superpowers are not included, but the cool looks are guaranteed to give the wearer a confidence boost. — R.S.

The EleVen by Venus Williams x Wonder Woman Collection is available Thursday, Aug. 13 at 9 a.m. at EleVenByVenusWilliams.com.

HEAR IT: Masked singer Orville Peck rides again

The queer Americana mystery man — imagine a gothic Chris Isaak, a country Morrissey or a gay Johnny Cash — returns with his Show Pony EP, which sounds like the lost soundtrack to a David Lynch-directed spaghetti western. Highlights include a duet with none other than Shania Twain on “Legends Never Die” and a gender-flipped cover of the Reba McEntire-popularized Bobbie Gentry classic “Fancy.” — L.P.

Download/stream Show Pony on Apple Music.

STREAM IT: Star Trek boldly goes back into the animated realm with Lower Decks

In between the end of Star Trek: The Original Series in 1969 and the launch of the big-screen franchise in 1979, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise explored new worlds and sought out new life and new civilizations in cartoon form via Star Trek: The Animated Series. Flash-forward to the 21st century, and Star Trek is getting animated again: The new CBS All Access cartoon series, Star Trek: Lower Decks, seeks to marry space-faring adventure with Rick and Morty-esque zany comedy. (Appropriately enough, the series was created by Rick and Morty veteran, Mike McMahon.) It’s a mostly successful union thanks to a strong vocal cast — anchored by Tawny Newsome and Jack Quaid — and the central comic conceit of focusing on the antics of lower-ranking officers as opposed to those elite types serving on the bridge. Animation also allows for wilder flights of fancy than you’d see in a live-action Trek. The series premiere, for example, depicts the crew of the U.S.S. Cerritos transforming into aggressive zombies, with all the over-the-top blood and gore that entails. Ever wanted to see The Walking Dead on a starship? Lower Decks makes it so. — E.A.

Star Trek: Lower Decks is currently streaming on CBS All Access.

PLAY IT: Crown yourself “King of the World” in Titanic: The Game

Near, far, wherever you are, we believe your heart will leap at the sight of Titanic: The Game. The tabletop version of James Cameron’s eternally popular blockbuster lets you play as DiCaprio, Winslet, Zane, Fisher — and even Garber! — as their alter egos try to survive the sinking of the titular ship. Over the course of nine rounds, scour the Titanic’s multiple decks and weigh gathering supplies to ensure your own safety against rescuing passengers to up your hero points. Once you have Titanic: The Game on your game shelf, you’ll never let go. — E.A.

Titanic: The Game is available at Walmart.

WATCH IT: The final stretch of the 2020 election comes to The Circus

The name of this series documenting American politics is especially appropriate right now. The most recent episodes, which aired in the spring until the coronavirus pandemic erupted, focused on the Democratic Party primary and the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. The new batch of them, filmed after Vice President Joe Biden became Trump’s sole opponent in the upcoming presidential election, will follow political reporters John Heilemann, Alex Wagner and Mark McKinnon as they cover the final months of it through behind-the-scenes moments, interviews and their own analyses. — R.S.

The Circus: Inside the Craziest Political Campaign on Earth Season 5 returns Sunday, Aug. 16 at 8 p.m on Showtime.

WATCH IT: Take a deep dive into the work of Agnès Varda with a complete Criterion Collection box set

(Image: Criterion Collection)
(Image: Criterion Collection)

World cinema lost a giant when Agnès Varda passed away last year, but leave it to the Criterion Collection to honor her legacy in the best way possible. Varda’s pioneering multi-decade career is collected in a 15-disc box set that encompasses 39 feature films spanning 1955’s La Pointe Courte through 2019’s Varda by Agnès. Criterion’s typically bountiful crop of bonus features includes archival interviews with Varda and her collaborators, a 200-page book of new essays by noted film scholars, behind-the-scenes footage from her sets and a plethora of programs about Varda and her work. — E.A.

The Complete Films of Agnès Varda is available Tuesday, Aug. 11 on Amazon.

HEAR IT: Biffy Clyro gives Anglophiles a reason to celebrate

The Scottish alt-rock stadium heroes have described their ninth studio album, A Celebration of Endings, as a “rocking opus” and “overyielding beast.” So make sure to crank this one loud to create, as one of its tracks says, some “Tiny Indoor Fireworks.” — L.P.

Download/stream A Celebration of Endings on Apple Music.

— Video produced by Gisselle Bances


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