Stars on screen

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STARS ON SCREEN - By Andrew War­ren

Mak­ing a mock­ery: With the world’s most rec­og­nized and most pres­ti­gious cy­cling event, the Tour de France, cur­rently un­der­way in Europe, it’s a per­fect time to look back at one of the sport’s big­gest scan­dals — even if that scan­dal is en­tirely made up.

At least, that seems to be the think­ing be­hind HBO’s new mock­u­men­tary, “Tour de Phar­macy,” pre­mier­ing Satur­day, July 8. In a sport that’s had more than its fair share of dop­ing scan­dals, it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore the quick wit of a co­me­dian was brought to bear against it.

The co­me­dian in this case is “Brook­lyn Nine-Nine” star Andy Sam­berg.The hi­lar­i­ous wise guy both stars in the spe­cial and serves as an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer for the not-at-all-se­ri­ous look at a fic­ti­tious dop­ing scan­dal that sup­pos­edly en­gulfed the cy­cling world in 1982.

This is the sec­ond sports mock­u­men­tary that Sam­berg has cre­ated for HBO, af­ter 2015’s ten­nis-fo­cused “7 Days in Hell.” For “Tour de Phar­macy,” the for­mer “SNL” star landed some se­ri­ous tal­ent.

Among those who join Sam­berg on screen are pro wrestler John Cena (“Train­wreck,” 2015), Or­lando Bloom (“Pi­rates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” 2017), Fred­die High­more (“Bates Mo­tel”), Danny Glover (“Lethal Weapon,” 1987), Jeff Gold­blum (“Juras­sic Park,” 1993), Ju­lia Or­mond (“The Cu­ri­ous Case of Ben­jamin But­ton,” 2008), James Mars­den (“West­world”), Kevin Ba­con (“Mys­tic River,” 2003), Maya Ru­dolph (“Brides­maids,” 2011), Daveed Diggs (“The Get Down”) and many oth­ers.

The spe­cific dop­ing scan­dal ex­am­ined in “Tour de Phar­macy” may be en­tirely made up, but in a sport that’s had its share of con­tro­versy, even the sil­li­est scenes don’t seem far from the truth. The new mock­u­men­tary from the mind of Andy Sam­berg is off to the races Satur­day, July 8, on HBO.

Get rich quick: Most of us could use a bit more money, but get­ting too much ex­tra moolah can be life-al­ter­ing, and not nec­es­sar­ily in good ways.AMC’s new sum­mer se­ries “Loaded,” pre­mier­ing Mon­day, July 17, is a look at just how life-chang­ing a huge wind­fall can be.

The com­edy-drama is an im­port from the U.K.’s Chan­nel 4 and is based on Is­raeli se­ries “Me­su­darim.” The Daily Tele­graph called “Loaded” a “brasher and more blokey ver­sion of [HBO’s] ‘Sil­i­con Val­ley,’” and the sim­i­lar­i­ties are def­i­nitely there — both are come­dies about a group of young techies try­ing to nav­i­gate the high-stakes world of busi­ness.

In “Loaded,” four friends and busi­ness part­ners — played by Jim How­ick (“Hell­boy,” 2004), Sa­muel An­der­son (“Doc­tor Who”), Nick Helm (“Un­cle”) and Jonny Sweet (“Baby­lon”) — sell their gam­ing com­pany for an as­tound­ing amount of money.They be­come mul­ti­mil­lion­aires overnight and strug­gle to adapt their new life­styles, with hi­lar­i­ous re­sults.

Of course, noth­ing is ever that easy. Their com­pany, which they’re still associated with, is soon tar­geted by a law­suit, which al­leges that their hit game was based on a con­cept stolen from their old drug dealer.

Aimee-Ffion Ed­wards (“Peaky Blin­ders”), Mary McCor­mack (“K-PAX,” 2001), Scar­lett Alice John­son (“EastEnders”) and Lolly Ade­fope (“Rovers”) help round out the cast in this story of am­bi­tion and glut­tony, and play a part in the trans­for­ma­tion of four “guys who play games” into “peo­ple who play THE game.”

All the money, greed and guilt that any video game maker could ask for comes to AMC in “Loaded,” pre­mier­ing Mon­day, July 17.

Amer­ica, cel­e­brated: One day each year, Amer­i­cans across the na­tion and around the world gather to cel­e­brate the land of the free and the home of the brave. While ev­ery fam­ily and so­cial group has its own In­de­pen­dence Day tra­di­tions, there’s one that’s been bring­ing all sorts of peo­ple to­gether since 1979.

As it has for decades, PBS brings the magic of the na­tion’s an­nual live pa­tri­otic con­cert into homes across the coun­try with “A Capi­tol Fourth.” The an­nual event at­tracts over half a mil­lion vis­i­tors to the west lawn of the U.S. Capi­tol ev­ery July 4, and mil­lions more tune in around the globe.

While the great­est fire­works show in the United States pro­vides a spec­tac­u­lar back­drop, at­ten­dees and view­ers are treated to a glo­ri­ous spec­ta­cle of mu­sic. As is tra­di­tion, the Na­tional Sym­phony Or­ches­tra, the U.S. Army Her­ald Trum­pets, the Choral Arts So­ci­ety of Wash­ing­ton and the U.S. Army Cer­e­mo­nial Band all pro­vide pa­tri­otic tunes, and, as usual, they’re joined by a num­ber of big-ticket mu­si­cal acts.

Emmy-nom­i­nated ac­tor John Sta­mos (“Fuller House”) serves as this year’s host, with iconic band the Beach Boys, “The Voice” win­ner Chris Blue, the Four Tops, the Blues Brothers, Nashville icon Trace Ad­kins, “Hamil­ton” star Phillipa Soo, singer and “De­scen­dants” (2015) star Sofia Car­son and con­duc­tor Jack Everly all per­form­ing dur­ing the Fourth of July cel­e­bra­tion on Capi­tol Hill, broad­cast live on PBS.

Daveed Diggs, Or­lando Bloom, Andy Sam­berg, John Cena and Fred­die High­more in “Tour de Phar­macy”

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