Stargazing

Monday Mixer: Missouri-set crime series ‘Ozark’ debuts this week on Netflix

Laura Linney and Jason Bateman play a couple whose family escapes to the Ozarks to avoid a drug cartel in “Ozark,” debuting July 21 on Netflix. The series was partially filmed in Missouri.
Laura Linney and Jason Bateman play a couple whose family escapes to the Ozarks to avoid a drug cartel in “Ozark,” debuting July 21 on Netflix. The series was partially filmed in Missouri.

The Lake of the Ozarks may not exactly scream “crime drama setting” to Hollywood types, but that’s what came to mind for Missouri screenwriter Bill Dubuque.

“When you hear the word ‘Ozark,’ there’s this immediate perception of what you’re dealing with,” Dubuque tells the New York Times. “But to make it interesting, you’ve got to stand that on its head.”

“Ozark” is the title and backdrop for Netflix’s latest high-profile series, which arrives early Friday. Jason Bateman plays a drug cartel money launderer who has to escape to the Show-Me State hinterlands with his family and wife, played by Laura Linney.

Most of the series was shot in Georgia, but some of it was shot at the lake. Bateman directed some episodes, and he and producers and writers all visited Missouri in 2016, according to the Kansas City Film Office. The annual summer influx of tourist dollars makes it an intriguing setting for a story about money laundering.

Dubuque, who grew up in and still lives outside St. Louis, spent many summers at the Lake of the Ozarks, a 54,000-acre man-made reservoir with 1,150 miles of coast line.

He told the Times he remains fascinated by the area’s contradictions. It’s a place of pristine natural beauty better known for revelry – the Times once described Party Cove as “the oldest established permanent floating bacchanal in the country” — where expansive waterfront mansions sit within a few miles of trailer parks.

“Here’s an area you just don’t see on television,” he said. But “the one thing I stressed was, ‘You can’t make these people stereotypes.”

“Ozark” will be available through the streaming service at midnight Friday.

▪ Hammer time: Kansas City-based comic writer Jason Aaron tells Nerdist he’s been truly touched by the positive response he’s received for his work on Marvel Comics’ Thor.

Sure, there was a minority of readers — and a handful of people who didn’t read the books — who voiced extreme displeasure at Aaron’s decision to give Thor’s hammer, power and name to Jane Foster, the original hero’s earthly love interest and current cancer patient. But that’s not important.

“The negativity has just been noise,” Aaron said. “It hasn’t changed the story we’re telling, not in any way whatsoever. And it’s all been drowned out by the flip-side of that, by the response of people who’ve been truly touched or affected by Jane’s story. I’d never cried at a signing before I started writing ‘Thor.’ Now it happens quite a bit.”

As Aaron approaches the series’ landmark 700th issue, the question now arises: Will Jane Foster/Thor survive?

“I will just say that I’ve always been telling a very specific story with Jane, and I’ve known for a while where that was headed,” he said.

▪ From there to here: Set your DVRs — ballet superstar and KC native Misty Copeland is a celebrity judge on Tuesday’s “World of Dance” on NBC.

Copeland, the first African-American principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre, also is scheduled to be in KC next week. She’ll discuss and sign her latest book, “Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger, and More Graceful You,” on July 31 at Unity Temple on the Plaza.

Admission package is $30 for up to two people and includes one autographed copy of the book.

The event is presented by Rainy Day Books and Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey. More at RainyDayBooks.com.

▪ Rudd and Jenkins: In a recent interview with Parade, actress Connie Nielsen talks about her work with two KC filmmakers.

Nielsen is in “The Catcher Was a Spy,” which features KC’s Paul Rudd as MLB catcher and spy Moe Berg (yep, true story).

“ ‘Catcher’ has an ensemble cast of awesome actors I was delighted to work with — Mark Strong, Tom Wilkinson and many others —surrounding Paul Rudd’s character, a famous baseball player with autism who is asked to gather intelligence during World War II about Germany’s ability to assemble an atomic bomb,” she said.

Nielsen also starred as Princess Diana’s mother, Hyppolyta, in the mega-hit “Wonder Woman,” which was directed by Lawrence-raised Patty Jenkins.

“She is a strong director—communicative and open, yet with specific ideas about her vision,” Nielsen said. “She is up for anything you want to try, but will tell you what she is looking for, too.”

▪ More on Jenkins: Meanwhile, Screen Rant is reporting that Jenkins is working on the next chapter in Wonder Woman’s film story. The site said the film would take place in the Cold War of the 1980s, and Steve Trevor could return. Those who have seen the movie might wonder exactly how, but we’ll say no more.

Wonder Woman will return in “Justice League,” due in theaters in November.

▪ More on Rudd: At the D23 Disney expo over the weekend in Anaheim, Calif., fans glimpsed Evangeline Lily’s Wasp costume from the upcoming “Ant-Man and the Wasp.”

The sequel to Marvel’s “Ant-Man,” which stars Kansas City’s Paul Rudd as the titular hero and KC’s David Dastmalchian as one of his sidekicks, is due in theaters next summer.

Meanwhile, a trailer for the Rudd-produced “Fun Mom Dinner” dropped last week. The film was written by his wife, Julie. Cast members include Toni Collette, Molly Shannon, Adam Scott and Katie Aselton.

Rudd also is featured briefly in the film as co-owner of a weed dispensary alongside David Wain, who was a hit when he joined Rudd and company at Big Slick Celebrity Weekend in June. Wain directed Rudd in “Wet Hot American Summer,” which has a second sequel, “10 Years Later,” due on Netflix in August.

Stuff to do

▪  Comedian Jim Gaffigan performs Thursday at Starlight Theatre. Tickets are $35-$85 through kcstarlight.com.

▪  KC Fringe Festival starts Thursday at multiple venues and runs through July 30. Prices vary at kcfringe.org.

▪  The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art hosts Kansas City’s Big Picnic Sunday at Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park and Theis Park. The event is free. More at kcparks.org.

On the way

▪  Matthew Sweet performs Tuesday at Knuckleheads. Tickets are $18.50 through knuckleheadskc.com.

▪  Blondie and Garbage perform Tuesday at the Kauffman Center. Tickets are $79-$149 through kauffmancenter.org.

▪  Steve Miller and Peter Frampton perform Wednesday at Starlight. Tickets are $35-$149 through kcstarlight.com.

▪  Luke Bryan performs Friday at Sprint Center. $49.75-$75 through sprintcenter.com.

▪  Steve Martin and Martin Short perform Friday at Starlight. Tickets are $45.95-$198.95 through kcstarlight.com.

New this week

▪ Books: Michael Connelly, “The Late Show”; Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen, “Look Behind You”; Ace Atkins, “The Fallen”; Jason Aaron, “Star Wars: Vol. 5 — Yoda’s Secret War”; here.

▪ Music: Sara Evans, “Words”; Chris Robinson Brotherhood, “Barefoot in the Head”; Meek Mill, “Wins & Losses”; Lana Del Rey, “Lust for Life”; I Set My Friends on Fire, “Caterpillar Sex”; Foster the People, “Sacred Hearts Club”; Tyler, the Creator, “Scum (Expletive) Flower Boy.” More here.

▪ Movies: “Dunkirk”; “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”; “Girls Trip”; “Maudie”; “Score: A Film Music Documentary.”

▪ Video: “Kong: Skull Island”; “The Promise”; “Free Fire.” More here.

David Frese: 816-234-4463, @DavidFrese

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