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The “stage mom” trope is familiar to many in the entertainment world, but behind the Shaggs, what some considered the worst band of all time—or the best, depending on who you ask—there stood a domineering patriarch. Profiled in a New Yorker article by Susan Orlean and portrayed in an Off-Broadway musical by Joy Gregory is the story of musically misguided sisters who were, allegedly, destined for a life onstage. It’s the story of a controlling father, Austin Wiggin, who believed his daughters were born to fulfill a prophecy his mother received from a palm reader. He disrupted their childhoods by relentlessly pushing them toward his goal of making them musical superstars, despite their lack of apparent talent or conviction to become musicians. He pulled the girls from school, forbade them from having friends outside the family, and banned any music, except their own, from playing in the home. Having no life experience and named after the haircut, which was popular when the band formed in 1968, the Shaggs would go on to write songs such as “My Pal Foot Foot” and “Who Are Parents?” that let listeners into their cloistered lives. The group disbanded after the death of their father in the mid-1970s. The film, which seemed stuck in development for several years, has already started to cast with Barden/Schnee, attaching Elsie Fisher in late 2018 as, presumably, one of the sisters. Production has been delayed but is expected to start at the end of the year in an unannounced location in the United States.
Unfortunately for one former Marine, the elite branch of service doesn’t currently have a medal for trying to combat an invisible invasion. In this film, another father who’s not winning any prizes for his parenting takes his beliefs to the limit when he kidnaps and goes on the run with his two young sons. Spurred on by their dad’s fear of an alien parasite that he thinks is taking over the planet, the boys must grow up quickly and face the harsh realities of their situation, discovering the truth and motivations behind the anticipated attack. Octavia Spencer and Riz Ahmed are currently attached to the project, which Avy Kaufman is casting. While production on the Michael Pearce–directed sci-fi thriller is currently on pause due to safety concerns, the film is likely to try starting up again in the fall. When cameras do eventually start rolling on the Amazon feature, they will do so in the U.K.
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This story originally appeared in the Aug. 6 issue of Backstage Magazine. Subscribe here.