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Cole Sprouse Reflects on 100 Episodes of ‘Riverdale’, and the Show’s “Home Stretch”




Cole Sprouse Reflects on 100 Episodes of ‘Riverdale’, and the Show’s “Home Stretch”

On Tuesday, December 14, The CW’s hit Riverdale will celebrate one hundred episodes. And front and center in that celebration is Cole Sprouse’s Jughead Jones. Unlike other members of the cast, Sprouse was already a name actor by the time he joined Riverdale, with hundreds of episodes of Disney Channel shows and network series under his belt. But even with that experience, for Sprouse there was still that sense of uncertainty signing on to the dark Archie Comics reboot.

“It’s lucky, man,” Sprouse told Decider. “We’re actors, so especially when it comes to network television, you sort of sign the contract and you don’t really know how long it can run for, or how people are going to take to the program. But I feel blessed. I mean, I’m not necessarily a religious person, but I feel like we’ve gotten very lucky with this show, and people have stuck around, and it’s had some sort of cultural current that has stayed relatively consistent.”

It’s appropriate that Sprouse is waxing poetic on the eve of “Chapter One Hundred: The Jughead Paradox”. The fifth part of a five part event titled “Rivervale”, which finds the characters that have lived in Riverdale for the past five seasons now trapped in a strange, dark, alternate universe where characters regularly die or turn into supernatural beings, is a tribute to 100 episodes of the series, as well as the Archie Comics source material that spawned the show. In the episode, Jughead starts to realize something is very wrong with their town, and is taken on a wild journey that wraps up the event, while also flashing back to the very first episode, and sees the actors dressed in their iconic comics looks. It’s a lot to take in, but Riverdale is always a lot to take in. And given the hoops the show needed to jump through to even exist, it’s a wonder it got this far.

The development process for Riverdale was even longer and more circuitous than a regular plot of an episode of the series. It started as far back as when future showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa mounted a production called Archie’s Weird Fantasy, featuring the title character realizing he was gay and moving to New York, in 2003. That production was shut down after legal action by Archie Comics, but a decade later Aguirre-Sacasa would write the comics that helped rejuvenate the company, with horror books like Afterlife with Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Around the same time, Aguirre-Sacasa and company began pitching the feature film that would eventually become Riverdale. At times, it involved time travel. Others, Louis C.K. was potentially cast as an older Archie Andrews. It jumped from a feature at Warner Bros., to a TV show at Fox, before it moved to The CW in 2015. A year and change later, the network greenlit a pilot, and on February 9, 2016, Sprouse was announced as playing Jughead, along with Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper. Filming of the pilot occurred in Vancouver throughout March of that year, and after The CW officially picked up the series, season one was filmed starting in September, with the first episode finally hitting the air on January 26, 2017.

“I still will always have a fondness for season one, if I’m being honest,” Sprouse said. “The whole season was finished before the show came out, and so none of us really knew how people were going to receive it. We were just leaning in with no consciousness, just really leaning into what they were given.”

Photo: The CW

Those early times, as Sprouse tells it, were his favorite on the show. Though he noted that he’ll always be “proud of season one,” it was more about the relationships developed over the course of shooting that will stick with him, versus specific plot points.

“I always get a little bit sappy when we get to this point, but in terms of favorites, when it comes to actual content, those aren’t really the things that I remember,” Sprouse continued. “It’s the moments that we all spent outside of the production, getting closer, or the get togethers that we all had in the earlier seasons when we were all still learning about each other, and learning about the city of Vancouver, and some of us working for the first time on a production of the scale that really stick out to me the most. It’s the people that we met, and the people who left us or continued with us. That’s the stuff that sticks through the most.”

As mentioned earlier, this is far from the first time Sprouse has been on a long-running series. His career started as a baby, switching with his brother Dylan on the sitcom Grace Under Fire, which ran from 1993-1998. A recurring role as Ben Geller on Friends led to an even longer running role of Cody Martin on Disney’s The Suite Life series, spinoffs and crossovers. Though none of those series individually lasted as long as Riverdale, Sprouse did hit 100 episodes with Episode 13 of The Suite Life on Deck, titled “Maddie on Deck”.

“When I was on Disney, we did a lot of episodes, but that was 30 minutes,” Sprouse recalled. “So we were cranking those out a lot quicker, and this has been a long journey, but a beautiful journey, and we’ve all grown up alongside each other and really watched one another grow and creatively spread our wings. So it’s been a really beautiful and powerful experience through all of our twenties.”

As with any marathon, there comes a point when you start thinking less about the sprint, than the finish line, and it seems that’s where Sprouse’s mind is heading as the show films the rest of Season 6, which will return to The CW on March 6, 2022. “I don’t know how much of the show is left,” Sprouse noted. “We’re definitely on the home stretch in terms of, just speaking frankly, contractually, we’re all sort of walking towards the end of those seven years.”

Though contract dealings, by their nature, are not usually public knowledge, an interview with KJ Apa, who plays Archie Andrews, revealed that the star had been contracted for the “next three years” back in March of 2020. That, however, was not directly quoted, so was left unclear exactly whether Apa meant three seasons, three calendar years, three financial years, or otherwise. However, during an Instagram Live chat on November 30, Reinhart seemed to back up this reporting, off-handedly mentioning that while she was hoping for a seventh season of the series, that would “probably be the last one.”

Sprouse, for his part, also seems to confirm that’s where his head is at in terms of finishing the series with Season 7… Though perhaps important to note that Apa, Reinhart and Sprouse are all not producers on the show. It is not out of the realm of possibility for those seven season contracts to be re-upped for an additional year or two, if all parties involved are interested and willing, including the creative staff of Riverdale, Warner Bros. TV, and The CW.

Whenever Riverdale ends, though, Sprouse is hopeful that beyond the memes, and the ‘shippers, and the frenzied Comic-Con signings, the series will looked at in a very different way.

“I have this funny feeling, like most cult programs, that the show in some years time, when people already know what it is and what it was, that I hope that it has this second life where people can watch it with a more passive perspective and go, ‘Wow, this was really a wild, wild ride.’” Sprouse said. “Most of us have been through the majority of our twenties on this show now, and it’s been beautiful watching all of us grow even as professionals, and seeing where everyone’s career is headed is really beautiful. We did the same thing on The Suite Life, and I’m doing the same thing now.”

Riverdale‘s hundredth episode airs Tuesday, December 14 at 9/8c.

Where to watch Riverdale


Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death




Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence




Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers




Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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