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WIRE Buzz: Disney’s Pinocchio storytime with Jeff Goldblum; Levar Burton reads Neil Gaiman & more

By Benjamin Bullard
Jeff Goldblum reads Pinocchio at home

Of all the celebrities we want reading us fully-voiced stories from Disney’s playbook of classics, Jeff Goldblum has to rate near the top of the wish list. So in these days when studio cameras are momentarily switched off to give a wide berth to the coronavirus pandemic, we might as well settle in and enjoy the only Goldblum we can get for now: at home, on the couch, and purring through a Disney tale the way only Goldblum can.

Disney put a printed selection from Pinocchio in Goldblum’s hands and tweeted out the result, sharing a slice of the classic story while the kids (and a good doggo) cuddle up. Check it out:

Goldblum the storyteller doesn’t pull any punches with the voice acting. It’s a hoot to hear him ease in and out of character voices for Geppetto, Jiminy Cricket, and Pinocchio himself. The story comes from Disney’s 365 Bedtime Stories, bite-sized reading vignettes, one for every day of the year, featuring tales drawn from Disney’s vast treasure trove of tales. The unspoken message here seems to be that you can still have fun while staying distanced at home — especially if, like Goldblum, you’re willing to put a little extra character oomph into your storytelling.

While we’re on the subject of reading, LeVar Burton is hitting the books once again, this time to help lighten our stay-at-home mood. Depending on your exposure (and perhaps your age), you either know Burton as the Reading Rainbow host from PBS days past, or as Geordi La Forge — Star Trek: The Next Generation’s eye visor-wearing, Enterprise-D engineer. Either way, you probably also know he has a dulcet set of pipes.

About a week ago, Burton tweeted that he was on the hunt for some rights-cleared reading material for a livestreaming version of his “LeVar Burton Reads” podcast — and almost immediately, none other than Neil Gaiman tweeted back his “blanket permission” to borrow liberally from Gaiman’s sci-fi catalog of stories. Talk about good vibes all around:

Via The Hill, publisher HarperCollins also pitched in, granting Burton permission to livestream readings from its library of kids’ books for the next two months. Before you know it, everything had come together, and Burton announced the project would begin starting Friday, April 3.

Burton says Gaiman’s work will be featured this week during the “for adults” portion of the livestream that kicks off at 9 p.m. ET (there’ll also be sessions for children on Mondays, as well as for young adults on Wednesdays.) Burton hasn’t said what Gaiman material he’s chosen, but hey — that’s just part of the fun. Plus, it’s just a cool and nostalgic way to entertain everyone who grew up with Burton on TNG, Reading Rainbow — or both.

Turning the page from books to music, it’s not every day that you get a song written in your honor — even if you happen to be one of the original astronauts from the Apollo 11 mission that put humanity’s first footprints on the moon.

Guess we’ll have to ask Apollo 11 command module pilot Michael Collins what it feels like, now that he knows. This week, Weezer co-founder Matt Sharp and his current band, The Rentals, debuted a tune commemorating Collins as the guy who touched down on the lunar surface but stayed behind in the lander while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin got to plant the flag and bounce around having all that low-gravity fun.

Via Ars Technica, Sharp said the song, “Forgotten Astronaut,” came from his reading of Collins’ Flying to the Moon memoir, along with the frustrating realization that Collins hasn’t always gotten the same recognition as his crew mates. “When friends would ask if I had read anything good recently,” said Sharp, “I would tell them I was reading about Michael’s extraordinary life and whomever I was talking with would simply ask, 'Who is Michael Collins?’"

Get this song stuck in your head and you likely won’t forget. It’s a small but cool tribute to the astronaut — now 89 years old — who didn’t mind holding down the fort back in 1969, so mankind could finally take its first giant space leap.