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Jared Leto’s creepy Joker in ‘Justice League’

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Jared Leto's creepy Joker in 'Justice League'

He’s no joke.

In the first images of Jared Leto’s Joker for the 2021 extended cut of “Justice League,” he looks absolutely terrifying.

“It was always my intention to bring Joker into that world,” the DC flick’s director, Zack Snyder, told Vanity Fair, which first published the photos of Leto’s new look this week. Leto later tweeted the eerie movie stills.

Gone are the full-body tattoos and coiffed emerald-green hair of Leto’s Clown Prince of Crime from the critically panned “Suicide Squad.” Instead, the “Snyder Cut” jester’s new look includes a hospital gown, surgical mask and a grimy black mane reminiscent of Heath Ledger’s iconic Joker in “The Dark Knight.”

If that wasn’t terrifying enough, Snyder claimed that the Batman nemesis also wears a bulletproof vest studded with stolen cop badges like macabre medals of honor, Vanity Fair reported.

The 49-year-old actor’s re-imagined Joker will reportedly appear during a dream sequence set on Earth after an alien invasion that is experienced by Bruce Wayne, played by Ben Affleck.

The cameo also allows Leto’s Joker and Batfleck to talk face-to-face, if only in the latter’s dreams.

“That’s the thing I also felt like fans deserved from the DC Universe,” said Snyder, 54. “That is to say, the Jared Leto Joker and the Ben Affleck Batman, they never really got together.”

Most importantly, the Joker’s appearance will answer the much-asked question of why Batman had a Joker card taped to his gun in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” The 2016 film indicated that the Joker had killed the caped crusader’s partner Robin, a backstory that will reportedly be elaborated upon in the “Snyder Cut” scene, an expansion of the director’s 2017 “Justice League.”

“Zack Snyder’s Justice League” premieres March 18 on HBO Max.

Here’s hoping that Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t pressure Warner Bros to kill the film as revenge for Leto’s assassination attempt on his “Joker” movie in 2019.

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Lee Daniels on ‘The United States vs. Billie Holiday’

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Lee Daniels on 'The United States vs. Billie Holiday'

At the intersection of artistry and addiction, director Lee Daniels found his connection with late blues icon Billie Holiday. 

“I had to tell her story because it lived in me on so many different levels,” Daniels told The Post. “Not just as an artist, but as an artist who also struggled with addiction.”

Daniels, 61, pulls back the curtain on the troubled 1940s jazz singer’s simultaneous battles with substance abuse and the federal government in his new film, “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” out Friday on Hulu. The movie stars Andra Day as Billie Holiday, who has already been nominated for two Golden Globes for the performance.

The harrowing tale of Holiday’s traumatic childhood and tumultuous life in the spotlight has been famously recounted in the 1972 classic “Lady Sings the Blues,” starring Diana Ross, and on Broadway in the musical “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” led by Audra McDonald in 2014.

But in his tribute to the legendary songstress, Daniels chose to focus less on Holiday’s troubled past, and more on her ill-fated relationship with federal agent Jimmy Fletcher.

“It’s not a biopic,” Daniels said. “It’s really an espionage love story.”

The affair started when Fletcher was tapped by openly racist Federal Bureau of Narcotics Chief Harry Anslinger to take Holiday down for her heroin use. 

But Anslinger’s true motive for targeting Holiday was to stop her from singing her anti-lynching anthem “Strange Fruit.”

‘She called out social injustice when no one else would.’

Lee Daniels

“I get chills thinking about those lyrics,” Daniels said. “They’re so powerful because she called out social injustice when no one else would.”

“Strange Fruit” was originally a poem written by Jewish high school teacher and civil rights activist Abel Meeropol in 1937. The Bronx native penned the verse after seeing a haunting picture of a double lynching, and set the words to music for Holiday to begin performing at racially integrated New York City nightclubs in 1939.

The protest song infamously exposed the violence committed by white people who murdered black Americans by hanging them from trees in the segregated South. 

Amid the spectacle of Holiday’s opioid abuse, extramarital liaisons — including an intimate relationship with actress Tallulah Bankhead — and repeated stints in jail on drug charges, the movie reaches a climax: a lynching scene, in which Holiday stumbles on a terrible crime. 

“[The lynching scene] was the hardest thing I’ve ever shot before in my life.”

Lee Daniels

“That was the hardest thing I’ve ever shot before in my life,” said Daniels, who also directed the Hollywood blockbusters “Precious” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”

In the scene, Holiday wanders off of her tour bus and sees children crying in front of a burning cross, a signature of the Ku Klux Klan. Their father helplessly tries rescuing their mother as her limp body hangs from a branch. 

At that moment, Holiday vows to continue performing “Strange Fruit,” despite the FBI’s attempts to silence her. 

“She didn’t want to be a hero,” Daniels said. “She would not think of herself as a civil rights leader even though she was one. She just knew she had to sing this song.”

Daniels and Pulitzer Prize-winning screenwriter Suzan-Lori Parks wrapped the film before the nationwide demand for social justice, spurred by the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, in 2020. Daniels said he hopes the movie inspires the Senate to pass the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, legislation that would officially designate lynching a hate crime. 

‘I want this film to open up conversations that promote change.’

Lee Daniels

“I want this film to open up conversations that promote change,” Daniels said. “If we are doing the work to address systemic racism, I think we will have a better America.”

Holiday’s call for change, “Strange Fruit,” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1978, declared the “Song of the Century,” by Time in 1999 and added into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2002.

As for Daniels’ homage to the late Lady Day, who died of cirrhosis handcuffed to a hospital bed a few months before he was born in 1959, the filmmaker says she approved of the film. 

“On the last day of shooting, I dreamt I saw Ms. Holiday sitting in a 1950s car,” Daniels said. 

“I asked her, ‘Is it okay that I’m doing your movie?’ 

She said, ‘Are you going to do me right?,’ and I said, ‘I think so.’ Then she smiled.”

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Senior citizen ‘Granfluencers’ are making it rain on Instagram

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Senior citizen 'Granfluencers' are making it rain on Instagram

They’re Instagrannies.

Shilling on social media is no longer just a young person’s game.

Web-savvy seniors called granfluencers are racking up thousands, even millions, of Instagram followers — along with mountains of money — by posting pics of themselves in scintillating outfits and other celeb-worthy snaps.

Glam-mother

“Been stealing your man since 1928,” reads the tag line for the Instagram page of 92-year-old Helen Ruth Elam of Knoxville, Kentucky — known as baddiewinkle on the platform. In lieu of the usual knit sweaters and drab white Skechers, this glamorous grandma rocks an arsenal of flamboyant feather boas, bombastic sunglasses and other couture too colorful for an Andy Warhol painting.

First hitting the internet’s radar at the ripe old age of 85, the mother of one currently boasts 3.6 million Instagram followers and sponsorships that net her up to $9,815 per promo, the Daily Front Row reported.

Elam’s past sponsorships have included Amazon Echo Show 8, Svedka Vodka, LG, Canada Dry, Aussie, My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream, Jack in the Box, Fashion Nova, Lisa Frank, INC.redible Cosmetics and many more, Daily Mail reported.

Model teacher

Not to be outdone, 67-year-old Lyn Slater boasts almost 800,000 gawkers on the ‘Gram. The associate law professor at New York’s Fordham University achieved internet fame accidentally (hence her ‘Gram handle “accidental icon”) when photographers mistook her for a fashionista at a fashion event, AARP Disrupt Aging reported.

Today, Slater’s sponsored posts rake in almost $3K each, proving that while age is just a number, cash most certainly is not.

The sartorially minded sexagenarian has also been featured in countless international fashion magazines and even landed a contract with Elite Models London. Not bad along with reportedly holding a master’s in criminal justice and PhD in social welfare.

Most importantly, however, the inadvertent Insta-influencer wanted to become an example of aging gracefully.

“I think that as women get older, there is a difference in the kind of attention that you may receive,” Slater told AARP Disrupt Aging. “So I started paying more attention to the kinds of clothes I was wearing.

The Granfluencer concluded, “I always had a good personal style, but I began to use my clothes as more of a creative act as a way to express myself creatively in the world. I am in my 60s, and I am the most visible I have ever been in my entire life.”

Bicep-tuagenarian

Not all the golden girls of Instagram flaunt glitz and glamour. Swoll senior Joan MacDonald, 74, amassed 1.1. million Instagram followers — as well as oodles of workout gear and supplement sponsorships — by documenting her active lifestyle.

The inspiring content includes a clip of the the geriatric gym shark dead-lifting 175 pounds. Meanwhile, a mind-boggling before-and-after pic showcases how the fitness freak went from overweight to boasting the same weight and muscular physique as her daughter, who is a fitfluencer herself.

Many might be surprised that MacDonald never picked up a weight until a few years ago — which the Granfluencer credits to the fact that married women were discouraged from pumping iron until fairly recently.

“People think, ‘Oh, Grandma, what does she know?’” MacDonald told Glamour. “But you’d be amazed at what Grandma can do.”

Mr. Steal Your Grandma

Not one to let the ladies hog the social media spotlight, 59-year-old educator Irvin Randle generates upward of $1,000 for his swagtastic ‘Gram promos. Randle — aka Mr. Steal Your Grandma — was even featured on “The Wendy Williams Show.”

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Ronald Pickup, ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ star, dead at 80

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Ronald Pickup, 'Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' star, dead at 80

Ronald Pickup, a UK actor best known for his roles in “The Crown” and “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” died Wednesday. He was 80.

Pickup’s agent told the BBC that the thespian “passed away peacefully yesterday after a long illness surrounded by his wife and family. He will be deeply missed.”

The Chester native’s big break occurred in 1964 when he played an unnamed physician in “Doctor Who” episode “The Tyrant Of France.”

From there, Pickup went on to appear in a smorgasbord of films, including “The Day of the Jackal” (1973), the Bond flick “Never Say Never Again” (1982), and “The Mission” (1986). The Sony Award winner most notably played Neville Chamberlain in Winston Churchill biopic “Darkest Hour (2017)” and bachelor Norman Cousins in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012),” alongside dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench. He reprised the role for the 2015 sequel.

On TV, Pickup memorably portrayed George Orwell in “Orwell On Jura” — his favorite part — and Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher in the acclaimed Netflix drama “The Crown.”

Pickup’s performances weren’t relegated to the big screen. The Shakespearean dramatist trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), of which he later became an associate member, and worked with Laurence Olivier at the National Theatre for seven years.

Pickup is survived by his wife Lans Traverse, whom he first met at RADA, as well as his daughter, Rachel, and son, Simon.

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