‘Upside-Down Magic’: How The World Of The New DCOM Was Created — Watch

The newest DCOM ‘Upside-Down Magic’ makes its highly-anticipated debut on July 31. HollywoodLife has an EXCLUSIVE behind-the-scenes look at how the magical world came to be.

“So when we set out to make the movie, we knew that Sage Academy had to be really special,” director Joe Nussbaum says in our EXCLUSIVE video. “And what we embraced was the elemental, organic nature of so much of this magic. Turning into animals, talking to animals, creating fire, flying through the air all have to do with nature and elements.”

Upside-Down Magic follows best friends Nory and Reina as they begin their journey at Sage Academy for Magical Studies. Reina’s ability to harness the power of fire lands her at the top of her class of Flares, but Nory’s wonky magic and proclivity for turning into herself into a “Dritten” — a half-kitten, half-dragon — lands her in a class for those with upside-down magic.

Siena Agudong Izabela Rose
Nory and Reina head to Sage Academy in ‘Upside-Down Magic.’ (Disney Channel)

Production designer Bill Boes revealed what influenced the design of the school. “We started off saying these are the rules. There’s no stainless steel. There’s only natural things like bark and wood. We wanted to say nature influenced the design of the school,” he said.

From just the trailers alone, Upside-Down Magic is truly embracing magic and nature. “I think that kids and familiars are going to go bananas for the magic aspect of this film because the effects are insane,” Vicki Lewis, who plays Headmaster Knightslinger, said. 

Kyle Howard
Kyle Howard as Budd Skriff in a scene from the DCOM. (Disney Channel)

The cast and crew went above and beyond with the special effects. Siena Agudong, who plays Reina, dished about how one particular aspect of Reina’s powers was created. “I had to have like a sparkle fireball, and so they put wires through my jacket and then they taped it to my hands,” Siena revealed. “Having to look down and pretend like there was something growing in your hand was incredible.”

Bill has received two Art Directors Guild Awards for Excellence in Production Design for his work on A Series of Unfortunate Events and Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow. His other production design credits include The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline, and more. Joe has directed feature films like Sleepover, Sydney White, and Disney’s Prom. He also serves as the executive producer of Disney Channel’s Gabby Duran & The Unsittables.

Siena Agudong
Siena Agudong on the set of ‘Upside-Down Magic.’ (Disney Channel)

Upside-Down Magic also stars Izabela Rose as Nory Boxwood Horace, Kyle Howard as Budd Skriff, Max Torina as Andres Padillo, Elie Samouhi as Elliot Cohen, and Alison Fernandez as Pepper Paloma. The Disney Channel Original Movie will premiere July 31 at 8 p.m. ET.

‘The Politician’s Laura Dreyfuss Reveals McAfee’s Style Inspo & Breaks Down Her ‘Ambition’

Few things shine brighter in Netflix’s ‘The Politician’ then McAfee Westbrook’s suits. Laura Dreyfuss dished on her character’s style inspo & her fierce loyalty to Payton.

McAfee Westbrook’s colorful and oversized suits are staples on Netflix’s The Politician, and in the recent season 2, they were as extra as ever. Who can forget the bubblegum pink ASOS double-breasted suit with her retro aviator glasses? Or her yellow oversized Acne Studios blur striped blazer and trousers? But of course, there’s the fan-favorite neon green Rachel Comey suit from Season 1 that cemented McAfee as a style icon.

Laura Dreyfuss as McAfee Westbrook. (Courtesy of Netflix)

When speaking to HollywoodLife.com, actress Laura Dreyfuss revealed that McAfee’s style inspiration comes from both her personal expression and political icon Gloria Steinem. “I think her style says a lot about who she is. I always envisioned her having an entire closet full of perfect suits,” Laura admitted in an EXCLUSIVE interview with HL. “They’re not even tailored, which is really fun. I would have some suits where they would measure the wrist length and then most of the time the costume designers Claire and Lily would say they don’t want to do too much with it because McAfee just kind of goes and throws things on, and there’s a carelessness about it.”

She continued, “I love how her hair is always messy, but at the same time, everything’s very monochromatic and there’s a uniform to it. It really speaks to how hard she works. She doesn’t have the time to be thinking about assembling a dress and and I love that there’s femininity in the power of a power suit.”

McAfee’s work ethic and ambition does resemble the other style icon Laura referred to, which is a young Gloria Steinem. “The long hair, the suits, the like pastels, I think that McAfee emulates that style, but also her drive. The drive of being a woman in politics and trying to create a better world and knowing her lane, knowing where she fits and really staying there and going for it,” she said.

Laura Dreyfuss as McAfee Westbrook. (Courtesy of Netflix)

When it comes to her unrelenting focus and loyalty to Payton (Ben Platt), Laura said she believes McAfee is the most loyal member of the young politician’s troupe. “I think she’s the most ambitious and most focused,” she revealed. “She’s very willing to take any risk to get to that goal. She is hyper-focused on that goal. I think that ambition linked with that intense hyper-focus is definitely one of the unique qualities that separates her from the rest.”

That drive will certainly come in handy as the gang makes their way to Washington, DC in what will hopefully be a season 3 of Ryan Murphy‘s The Politician! Be sure to binge watch season 1 and season 2 on Netflix if you haven’t already!

Christopher Meloni Teases Stabler’s Big ‘Challenge’ In Spinoff & How He’s ‘Evolved’ Since ‘SVU’

Elliot Stabler is starting a new chapter in ‘Law & Order: Organized Crime.’ Christopher Meloni reveals how Stabler’s changed and the major ‘challenge’ the character will be facing in the ‘SVU’ spinoff.

Almost a decade after he left Law & Order: SVU, Christopher Meloni is bringing Elliot Stabler back to New York City in Law & Order: Organized Crime. Stabler was last seen in the season 12 finale, and it was revealed that Stabler retired from the police force the next season. The 59-year-old spilled some Law & Order: Organized Crime scoop during an interview on SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show.

Stabler will be a changed man when we meet him again in the SVU spinoff. He said that there will be a “mellowing” in how Stabler does his job. “I think he’s in a good place now with his family,” the actor continued. “I think he’s at a much better place with himself vis-à-vis the world. I think where we’re going to find him though, however, because he hasn’t been working in New York, NYPD in New York, I think he’s going to be coming back into a world that, I think as we’re all experiencing right now, has really changed with policing and the citizenry. It’s a new day and there are new ways of going about things. I think those are all issues to address in the show and I think it’s going to be a challenge for Elliot, one that I think he’ll meet.”

Law & Order SVU
Christopher Meloni appeared on ‘SVU’ for 12 seasons. (NBC)

When asked whether or not Elliot has grown or regressed since fans last saw him, Christopher said, “Regression I don’t find particularly interesting. I always thought of Elliot, as flawed as he may have been, I think his heart was always in the right place. I think it was his sense of injustice that brought out the worst aspects of him.”

With Christopher back in the Law & Order universe, a reunion between Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) is inevitable. The actor is set to appear in the Law & Order: SVU season 22 premiere before branching off into his own show. He’ll still be in New York City, but he’ll be leading an NYPD organized crime unit.

Christopher Meloni
Christopher Meloni is currently starring in the HBO Max series ‘Maxxx.’

NBC’s official description revealed that Stabler returns to the NYPD after a “devastating personal loss. However, the city and police department have changed dramatically in the decade he’s been away, and he must adapt to a criminal justice system in the midst of its own moment of reckoning. Throughout the series, we will follow Stabler’s journey to find absolution and rebuild his life, while leading a new elite task force that is taking apart the city’s most powerful criminal syndicates one by one.”

During his interview The Jess Cagle ShowChristopher revealed that he hadn’t started filming yet due to coronavirus pandemic. He hasn’t seen a script yet, but he knows the writers are currently working on scripts. Law & Order: Organized Crime is set to premiere in fall 2020.

Jasmine Thompson Reveals How She and Zedd Connected To Make Their New Song ‘Funny’

Out of a bad breakup, comes some beautiful music – and a hilarious video! Jasmine Thompson shares EXCLUSIVELY with HL how her and Zedd’s song ‘Funny’ came about, and what she thinks of THAT Lewis Capaldi cameo.

It’s incredible how people are connecting these days. Take Jasmine Thompson and Zedd. As seen in the new video for “Funny,” all it took was a random message from the DJ/producer to the singer-songwriter for them to collaborate….sorta. “I mean, it’s not the exact story, but it is very close,” she explains to HollywoodLife in an EXCLUSIVE Interview. “We met through these producers who we both work with. They thought that Zedd would love our song ‘Funny’ and sent it to him. He immediately wanted to collaborate on it.”

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story, and a good story lies at the heart of both the song and video for “Funny.” In the video, the modern creative process is put on display, with Jasmine’s heartbreak being turned into a new bop (with a surprise cameo from Lewis Capaldi and…is that a YouTube comment from Shaq?). The song — an irresistible slice of pop that will curl around your heart and wraps itself up in your ear – takes the saying of “living well is the best revenge” and transforms it into your new favorite pop jam.

Jasmine talked with HollywoodLife about the making of the video, what she thought when she first heard the final product, if she’s still the biggest Florence + The Machine fan, and more.

HollywoodLife: Was that your actual computer in the video? (and whose idea was it to do a video like this? It’s kind of a smart take on the current crop of DIY/quarantine shot videos.)

Jasmine Thompson: It was based on my actual desktop screen. All of the photos and names are my close friends and people that you would find on my computer. I have to give all of the credit to the director Jack Karaszewski, he came up with the whole idea of making this world of how me and Zedd met.  It was really fun, he made the whole video so random and had such great ideas to make it memorable during the quarantine.

Zedd and Jasmine Thompson bring you the ‘Funny’ (Nick Walker/Andrew Hobbs)

Is that how you and Zedd actually connected on this track? Also, did you just share his actual number in this?

I mean, it’s not the exact story, but it is very close. We met through these producers who we both work with. They thought that Zedd would love our song Funny and sent it to him. He immediately wanted to collaborate on it. And no, it’s not his real number!  I think he would be very angry at me if I posted his actual number.

What was your first thought when you heard the final version?

I was so overjoyed and happy, also surprised because originally, it was a piano song, so to hear it with Zedd’s unique touch and production was just wonderful. He turned it into such a hopeful song, and it was an incredible moment.

Similarly, what was your first thought of seeing that Lewis Capaldi cameo?  

I was so shocked! I’m such a huge fan, so it was a dream come true seeing him eat those crisps in our music video! I laughed so much!

The song depicts the classic story of “the ex who dumps you comes back in your life, only for you to have the last laugh.” Was there any specific moment that inspired these lyrics? Like, is this secretly a subtweet of a former love of yours?

I can’t say that it was about one ex in particular, but I’ve been through it a lot when someone starts giving you attention when it’s way too late. It feels nice to have a song that hits the nail on the head when it’s over, it’s over. Hard to draw that line when a relationship ends.

When you chatted with HollywoodLife in 2019, you said that it was imperative for you to express yourself on instruments. Have you picked up a new instrument as of late? If you could pick a musical instrument that has really captured your “quarantine vibe,” which would you choose? Like, do you think your mood is more an oboe, or is it more percussive?

[Laughs] It’s good that you are holding me to my word. Sadly I have failed miserably at picking up a new instrument, although that was a goal of mine at the beginning of lockdown. I’m still playing away at the piano, but I’ve fallen in love with the saxophone… such a joy to listen to, but definitely very hard to learn.

“It was really fun,” Jasmine Thompson said about her song with Zedd (Nick Walker/Andrew Hobbs)

Speaking of which, have you made any “quarantine discoveries” — a book, a musical artist, a movie/TV series that has really been a mental/spiritual lifesaver — during these past few months?

I think a spiritual lifesaver for me is food. I can’t say that I’m a wonderful cook, but I find cooking so peaceful and fun. I’m constantly watching cooking videos on YouTube, it’s definitely my favourite thing at the moment.

You also told us in 2019 that Florence and the Machine was your dream collaborator. What’s the status on that? Are you all BFFs, or are you still working on that?

Florence is still my dream and always will be… but to be honest, I think I would faint if I met her, so I probably can’t collaborate on a song while being unconscious! I have since last talking to you, gotten a tattoo of her, though. [laughs] I feel like a crazy stalker, but too late now!

“Funny” is out now.

‘AGT’ Recap: First Round Of Judge Cuts Lead To Heartbreaking Eliminations

‘America’s Got Talent’ returned for judge cuts, and this edition of judge cuts is unlike anything we’ve seen in ‘AGT’ history. Despite great performances, not every act got to move on to the live shows.

During judge cuts in seasons past, the acts would come face-to-face with the judges once again to perform. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the AGT season 15 judge cuts are looking very different. Simon Cowell, Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum, and Howie Mandel reunite for the next round of the show (while properly social distanced) and face the acts on a huge screen.

The judges put 100 acts through initially, and now they have to make some tough cuts. After sending select contestants through, the judges will watch 10 acts perform one more time and send 5 to the live shows. The acts sent to the live shows right away are Celina, Malik DOPE, Alan Silva, Brett Loudermilk, and Archie Williams.

Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell during the season 15 judge cuts. (NBC)

The first of the 10 acts to perform is salsa dance duo Simon and Maria. These two adorable dancers bring so much energy in their performance, even if they’re doing it from home. Simon raves that Simon and Maria had a much “better routine” the second time around.” Their energy and their music really made me happy.” Sofia called the duo “perfect.”

Next up is hula hooper Craig Reid, who submitted his audition online. He rocks out with his hula hoop to Lady Gaga’s “Stupid Love.” It’s fun but nothing crazy. Magician Max Major performs his next act at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Even though he’s not literally right in front of the judges, he still puts on one hell of an act. Simon is absolutely stunned by the end of the performance and high-fives him through the screen. He says Max’s act was “one of the astonishing things I’ve ever seen.” Howie believes Max totally deserves to go forward.

Singer Shaquira McGrath performs a gorgeous slowed-down rendition of Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.” Heidi raves that the performance was “amazing.” Sofia adds, “Your voice was breathtaking.” Comedian Ty Barnett does a stand-up act in front of his garage. While Heidi found him “very likable” and “funny,” Sofia says she laughed more during the first audition. Simon agrees but likes Ty, so he wants to fight for him.

Shaquira McGrath
Shaquira McGrath performs during the judge cuts. (NBC)

Harmonica duo act Brothers Gage really bring it with their next performance. They perform (with their harmonicas, of course) LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” out in the middle of nowhere. It’s a really fun vibe, and the brothers are clearly very talented. They’re just 15 and 17 years old. They have so much potential. The judges like the performance, but it’s not like they were blown away.

Singer Nolan Neal stuns with a performance of “You’ve Got The Love.” He puts his own spin on the song, which Simon notices. There’s no doubt that this guy has some serious talent. Magician Ryan Tricks brings in Alesha Dixon for help with his act. He wows the judges yet again. “That was truly amazing,” Howie tells him. Simon loves the mysteriousness of Ryan Tricks and says his “showmanship was superb.”

The Ninja Twins take their craziness to a whole new level with their next performance. They take on Justin Bieber’s “Yummy” and certainly make their performance memorable. Sofia calls the performance “super entertaining.” Simon admits that he liked it! “It was so bonkers, so crazy, I actually liked that,” he says.

Jonathan Goodwin
Jonathan Goodwin blows the judges away with his performance. (NBC)

The final act of the night is danger act Jonathan Goodwin. He confesses that this is “the most dangerous and scariest thing I’ve ever performed.” The only he’s going to be concentrating on is surviving. He sets up loaded crossbows that will be fired at him while he’s blindfolded. He manages to survive, and he has the judges on the edge of their seats. Simon goes as far as to say that this was one of the “craziest” acts ever on AGT.

After the 10 acts perform, only 5 can move on. The acts heading to the live shows are: Simon and Maria, Jonathan Goodwin, Shaquira McGrath, Max Major, and Nolan Neal!