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Crime thriller reflects global politics

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You can add “Cold Courage” to the crowded genre of “Nordic crime thrillers,” but this one has a twist: it’s set in London.

The eight-episode series, which premiered last May on the Nordic streaming network Viaplay, is adapted from Pekka Hiltunen’s series of crime novels and debuts March 11 on AMC+. It takes some time to hit its stride but, once it does, “Cold Courage” presents an intriguing story of two Finnish women fighting for a common cause — while dealing with a myriad of personal issues woven throughout the multi-layered storyline.

As the series opens we meet Lia (Sofia Pekkari), who arrived penniless in England from Finland several years before and now works as a graphic designer for New Level, a left-wing British magazine (she has no political interests but it pays the bills). To earn extra money, Lia is designing leaflets, on the sly, for Arthur Fried (John Simm), a bombastic, agitating far-right politician who heads the nationalistic Fair Rule party (its rallying cry: “Putting the Great Back in Great Britain”). It’s a scenario familiar to political climates here and abroad.

Pihla Viitala as Mari and Sofia Pekkari as Lia in "Cold Courage."
Mari (Pihla Viitala, left) and Lia (Sofia Pekkari) join forces to take down a politician and solve a murder.
Bernard Walsh/AMC

As “Cold Courage” opens in London, it’s six weeks before the national elections. Fried stages a fiery campaign rally directly across from a Muslim community center, resulting in violence and leaving a young Muslim boy critically injured. It also draws Lia, unwittingly, into “The Studio,” a shadowy, rogue organization fighting for the disenfranchised. Its main priority: topple Fried. The Studio is headed by Finnish-born Mira (Pihla Viitala), a psychologist who’s burdened with some heavy emotional baggage and has a remarkable ability to “read people.” Meanwhile, Lia’s best friend, Nina (Toni O’Rourke), disappears; when a horribly mangled, disfigured body is discovered shortly thereafter, she’s the suspected victim (dubbed “The Faceless Woman” by the British press).

If this all sounds a bit complicated, it is — and that’s only the tip of the dramatic iceberg. As Lia, working with The Studio, embeds herself in Fried’s campaign, we learn more about her back story, which includes an abusive stalker (Elmer Black) and flashbacks to her relationship with Nina. Mira’s past is also explored, most notably in her ties to her father and brother back home in Finland.

“Cold Courage” has a Nordic pedigree but the dialogue is mostly in English (there are subtitles when/where necessary). It features a solid behind-the-scenes lineup including its co-writers — BAFTA-nominated David Joss Buckley and Brendan Foley — and directors Agneta Fagerstrom-Olsson (“Wallander”) and Kadir Ferati Balci (“A Good Year”) — and was shot on location in London, Antwerp, Dublin, Helsinki and Finland, lending an air of authenticity to a series with an international flavor.

Pikkari and Viitala turn in strong performances, both adding fine nuance and shading to Lia and Mira, and the series’ political backdrop provides a “deja vu all over again” feeling — with action, tension and an air of mystery providing the key ingredients needed to season this dependable thriller.

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‘Brokeback Mountain’ screenwriter Larry McMurtry dead at 84

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Larry McMurtry, the prolific novelist and screenwriter who won a Pulitzer Prize and an Academy Award for his work, died Thursday at 84.

Amanda Lundberg, a spokesperson for the family, confirmed McMurtry’s death in an obituary published Friday by the New York Times. Lundberg did not respond to The Post’s request for confirmation.

Neither the cause of death, nor where McMurtry passed away, are known.

McMurtry was best known for his anti-Western work, or stories that focused on demythologizing the romanticism of the American West.

“I’m a critic of the myth of the cowboy,’’ the native Texan said in an 1988 interview. “I don’t feel that it’s a myth that pertains, and since it’s a part of my heritage I feel it’s a legitimate task to criticize it.’’

Often cited as his most memorable work, his coming-of-age book “The Last Picture Show” sold over 9 million copies and was adapted into a film starring Cybill Shepherd, Jeff Bridges and Cloris Leachman.

McMurtry was not only respected for his 843-page novel “Lonesome Dove,” which won him the Pulitzer and was made into a mini-series for television, but also for the screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain,” a 2005 romantic drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger. Co-written with his housemate and collaborator Diana Ossana, the pair won the Academy Award in 2006 for that film, which focused on the romantic relationship between the two men, one a ranch hand and the other a cowboy.

McMurtry co-wrote the screenplay for "Brokeback Mountain," which won him an Academy Award in 2006.
McMurtry co-wrote the screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain,” which won him an Academy Award in 2006.
©Focus Films/Courtesy Everett C

Over the course of more than 50 years, McMurtry wrote more than 30 novels, more than 30 screenplays — and published other works of memoir, history and essays. One book, “Horseman, Pass By,” was made into the film “Hud,” starring Paul Newman. The film version of his novel “Terms of Endearment” won the Best Picture Oscar in 1984.

McMurtry was born the son of a rancher in Wichita Falls, Texas, in 1936. He studied at North Texas State, Rice and Stanford universities. He taught English at the university level, but ditched teaching in his younger years. For about a half-century, McMurtry was also a bookseller. His store Booked Up, in Archer City, Texas, is one of the largest in the nation, according to the Times.

Archer City, where he was raised, served as a model for the town of Thalia, which appeared in his works of fiction.

It’s not clear who survives McMurtry, but he most recently married the widow of his friend Ken Kesey, Faye, in 2011.

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Truth of Pink, Christina Aguilera ‘Lady Marmalade’ feud revealed

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Gitchie-gitchie yourself a load of this juicy drama. 

Sex, divas and shade, honey! Those were the makings of music producer Missy Elliott’s masterful 2001 “Lady Marmalade” remix — which celebrates its 20th anniversary next month. 

While the Grammy Award-winning track — with lusty vocal contributions from pop powerhouse Christina Aguilera, rock ‘n’ roll fireball Pink, R&B dynamo Mya and hip-hop heroine Lil’ Kim — starts off with a sultry salute to “all the soul sistas,” the vibe between the singers was anything but sisterly. 

“I think it’s pretty public knowledge that there was tension between Christina and Pink,” Tina Landon, who served as lead choreographer on the music video for the chart-topping jam, told Cosmopolitan.  

Landon, Missy, Mya and Aguilera all recently revisited the sweet beats and sour notes of working together on the colorful collaborative piece that had almost every millennial sing-screaming “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?” with the radio volume on full blast. 

“It got a little hairy at one point,” the choreographer said of the unharmonious energy between Aguilera and Pink. 

Their bad blood boiled over on March 17, 2001, during the two-day video shoot in Los Angeles. 

“They were all sitting there watching each other work. Paul Hunter, the director, was trying to give Christina direction and she couldn’t hear him,” Landon said. 

“She said, ‘What did you say?’ And Pink reiterated what Paul had said. Christina did the thing: ‘I was talking to Paul.’ I just sank down in my chair going, ‘Oh, God, please don’t let this get worse.’ And it didn’t!”

Although the dance pro remembers the on-set edginess, Pink, 41, said the beef between her and XTina ignited well before a single “Lady Marmalade” lyric was ever sung. 

“[Aguilera’s label executive] Ron Fair walked in and didn’t say hello to any of us,” Pink said of one of the formative meetings she had with her would-be collaborators. She recounted the incident during her feature on VH1’s “Behind the Music” in 2009. 

“He said, ‘What’s the high part? What’s the most singing part? Christina’s going to take that part,’ ” she recalled. 

“And I stood up and said, ‘Hi. How are you? So nice of you to introduce yourself. I’m Pink. She will not be taking that part. I think that’s what the f – – king meeting is about.”

From there, “I just became the a – – hole,” Pink added. 

Pink, Christina Aguilera and Mya celebrate their Grammy win.
Pink, Christina Aguilera and Mya celebrate their Grammy win.
WireImage

But after years of exchanging thinly veiled barbs, unmistakable side-eye glares and nearly resorting to fisticuffs during a heated exchange at a club, the “So What” superstar said she’s made amends with her “Fighter” singing rival. 

“She’s so talented and, deep down, I’ve had bad days, too. She’s a really sweet person. We made up on ‘The Voice,’ ” Pink told Andy Cohen on “Watch What Happens Live” in 2017. 

Aguilera, 40, echoed Pink’s illustration of their newfound friendship to Cosmo. 

“She’s such a powerhouse and definitely paved the way, setting the precedent of pushing back if something didn’t feel right,” she said. 

‘She’s so talented and, deep down, I’ve had bad days, too.’

Pink

Decades-old shadiness aside, Mya, 41, praised “Lady Marmalade” — a remake of Patti LaBelle’s 1974 tune — as the women’s empowerment anthem of the day. 

“It was truly about coming together, being women, being slightly over the top, expressing ourselves, and exuding our bold approach to being sexual beings,” the singer insisted. 

Producer Elliott, 49, reimagined LaBelle’s original version of the song to be used as a seductive hymn for director Baz Luhrmann’s blockbuster “Moulin Rouge!” The ornate film earned Oscar and Golden Globe accolades in 2002. 

Although La Belle, 76, gladly belted out the hit alongside Pink, Mya, Aguilera and Lil’ Kim — all of whom she lovingly refers to as her “little girls” — at the 2002 Grammys, the music legend still demands the world’s respect as the “Lady Marmalade” originator. 

“People loved it and still do today,” the Philadelphia native told Cosmo. 

“When I do it onstage, I have to say to the audience, ‘I did this 100 years ago. These little heifers, they did it 20 years ago and it’s a hit.’ I have to remind them that I did it first. Isn’t that something?”

Pink, Mya, Lil' Kim and Christina Aguilera perform with Patti LaBelle at the 2002 Grammy Awards.
Pink, Mya, Lil’ Kim and Christina Aguilera perform with Patti LaBelle at the 2002 Grammy Awards.
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Jay Baruchel on his starring role in sitcom ‘The Moodys’

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When Jay Baruchel took his starring role in Fox sitcom “The Moodys,” he enlisted his wife’s help. 

“I got sent the script about a month before I was about to get married. If I took the gig, it would mean starting a day or two after our wedding . So of course I had to ask my — at that time — fiancee what she thought,” he said, referring to Canadian model Rebecca-Jo Dunham Baruchel, who he married in 2019. 

“We each cracked open our laptops and sat on either side of the kitchen table and read them simultaneously and were both laughing a whole bunch. That made it easy.”

Season 2 of “The Moodys” premieres Thursday, April 1 (9 p.m.). Baruchael returns as Sean Moody Jr., one of the three adult Moody children. Other members of the close yet dysfunctional family include his brother Dan (Francois Arnaud), sister Bridget (Chelsea Frei) and his cantankerous parents, Ann (Elizabeth Perkins) and Sean Sr (Denis Leary).

“We all get on like a house on fire,” he said. “[Perkins and Leary] are both just so good at what they do, it makes me better, being around them. It’s been wonderful getting to be their fake son.”

Jay Baruchel and Rebecca-Jo Dunham Baruchel at the 2020 Oscars.
Jay Baruchel and Rebecca-Jo Dunham Baruchel at the 2020 Oscars.
Getty Images

Season 1 revolved around the Moody family reuniting at Christmas when each had their own struggles and self-destructive behaviors: Dan got into a messy love triangle with his cousin’s girlfriend while Sean Jr. was still living with his parents and working at an ice rink. Bridget, meanwhile, was a high-powered lawyer who had recently cheated on her husband. 

Season 2 sees Dan continuing to have love troubles, Bridget getting divorced, parents Ann and Sean Sr. contemplating a road trip, and Sean Jr. chasing “get rich quick” schemes such as a funeral business involving fireworks (to “revolutionize the grieving industry”).

“I am incredibly fortunate that I found a career in acting, because basically if I didn’t get on TV and movies, there’s a very good chance that I am Sean Jr,” said Baruchel. “We’re wired very similarly in that we’re chronic daydreamers — as passionate about the stuff we dig as we are absolutely incapable of doing anything else, to our respective detriments. There’s a lot of me in him and vice versa. But the biggest thing is that I was lucky enough to trick people into giving me a career in movies and stuff.”

Baruchel, who grew up in Montreal and is now based in Toronto, is known for a slew of movie and TV roles, including “Knocked Up,” “Tropic Thunder,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” and “Undeclared.” As high-profile as many of his projects are, fans often approach him about one that’s much more obscure. 

Jay Baruchael returns as Sean Moody Jr. for Season 2 of “The Moodys.”
Jay Baruchael returns as Sean Moody Jr. for Season 2 of “The Moodys.”
philippebosse.com

“Actually I think the one I get recognized for the most is one a lot of people in the States have no idea was a thing. When I was 15, I co-hosted an educational show called ‘Popular Mechanics for Kids.’ It was on all the time up here [in Canada], so it’s like a whole generation of kids that ate cereal every day watching me teach them about centrifugal force. That’s probably the one I get the most love for still, to this day.”

While he was tight-lipped about Season 2 of “The Moodys,” he had a cryptic teaser. 

“It’s pretty crazy. Sean is a very ambitious lad, and he maybe doesn’t always think everything through as well as he should, so I’ll say this: there are monks involved. What would make people interested that wouldn’t give anything away? Monks.”



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