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Why Natalie Portman Says “Star Wars” Actually Hurt Her Career

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in Entertainment News

Merrick Morton/Lucasflim Ltd.(NEW YORK) — When Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out in 1999, it became one of the highest grossing movies of all-time, but fans of the Star Wars franchise were torn about the series of new prequels.

Oscar winner Natalie Portman, who starred in all three of the prequels, said playing the female protagonist Padmé in the franchise actually hurt her career.

In an interview with New York magazine, where A-list stars paid tribute to the iconic director Mike Nichols, Portman shared a tale of how the late legend helped get her career back off the ground after Star Wars.

Portman, 33, starred in Nichols’ Seagull as part of the NY Shakespeare Festival summer season in 2001. Nichols helped get her into other movies like Cold Mountain in 2003.

Star Wars had come out around the time of Seagull, and everyone thought I was a horrible actress,” she said. “I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade, and no director wanted to work with me. Mike wrote a letter to Anthony Minghella and said, ‘Put her in Cold Mountain, I vouch for her.'”

She continued, “And then Anthony passed me on to Tom Tykwer, who passed me on to the Wachowskis. I worked with Milos Forman a few years later. He said, ‘Mike saved me. He wrote a letter so that I could get asylum in the U.S.’ He did that for 50 people, and it doesn’t make any one of us feel less special.”

Portman would end up winning the Oscar for her work in Black Swan in 2011.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Nugget of Knowldege

Angelina Jolie Opens Up About Directing Brad Pitt in Love Scene

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in Entertainment News

ABC/Rick Rowell(LOS ANGELES) — Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will be back on screen together in By the Sea, which is set to be released next year and features the famous duo as a couple — much like their debut movie together in 2005’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

While promoting her current film Unbroken, Jolie, 39, spoke to MTV news about directing a sex scene with her now husband in the future movie.

“I was the other person in the love scene, so it wasn’t that hard,” she quipped. “He knows what I need from him. He’s always known.”

As for people making assumptions of the duo in real life based off what happens in the movie, Jolie said “I haven’t thought that way for years. Because then you can’t make a creative move if you’re conscious of all the different interpretations. We wanted to be free and we wanted to play.”

She continued about the film, “It’s a very creative film. We wanted to try things, so we intentionally made bold decisions…we just wanted to be artists and play.”

By the Sea, set in 1970s France, centers on a couple who travel and write together. Their relationship is falling apart until they happen upon a small town on the water.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

George Clooney Speaks Out About Lack of Sony Support

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in Entertainment News

ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) — In an interview with Deadline published Thursday, George Clooney explained why he feels no one else in the industry stood up for Sony in the wake of the hack attack.

Clooney said Hollywood big shots were all scared that they’d be next on the hackers’ list. They were so fearful, in fact, that they refused to sign a petition that Clooney and his agent, CAA’s Bryan Lourd, passed around in support of Sony. The letter was a call for the major studios to stand together with Sony and back their decision to not give in to the hackers’ demands.

“It was sent to basically the heads of every place,” Clooney said. “They told Bryan Lourd, ‘I can’t sign this.’ What? How can you not sign this? I’m not going to name anyone, that’s not what I’m here to do, but nobody signed the letter.”

Sony ultimately decided to cancel the release of The Interview, the comedy at the center of the controversy for its depiction of North Korea and Kim Jong Un. The hackers had threatened to blow up theaters if the film was released.

“Sony didn’t pull the movie because they were scared; they pulled the movie because all the theaters said they were not going to run it,” Clooney said. “And they said they were not going to run it because they talked to their lawyers and those lawyers said if somebody dies in one of these, then you’re going to be responsible.”

As for where the movie industry goes from here, Clooney says the future remains uncertain. “I’ve seen statements they’ve put out and what the president said and what the response is,” he said. “The truth is, it’s all new territory and nobody knows how to handle it. I don’t think anyone was prepared for it. So now we’ll be prepared for it, hopefully. Everybody was doing their jobs, but somehow, we have allowed North Korea to dictate content, and that is just insane.”

Clooney argues that a “good portion” of the media “abdicated its real duty” in the wake of the hack attack: “There was a real story going on. With just a little bit of work, you could have found out that it wasn’t just probably North Korea; it was North Korea.”

A White House spokesperson on Thursday declined to blame North Korea while addressing reporters Thursday, citing ongoing investigations.

More ABC News Videos | ABC World News

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Pet of the Week

“Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” “Annie” Open Friday; “Wild” Expands

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in Entertainment News

“Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” – Fox(NEW YORK) — The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies opened on Wednesday, earning an estimated $24.5 million in its first day of release, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

A few more new films join The Hobbit in theaters this weekend. Here’s a closer look:

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb — Ben Stiller’s security guard character, Larry Daley, and his historical pals head to London for more museum adventures in the third film in the series. The late Robin Williams reprises his role of Teddy Roosevelt. Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais, Rebel Wilson and Ben Kingsley also star. Rated PG.

Annie – Young Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhané Wallis plays the titular character in the reboot of the famous musical. Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale also star in the film, which was co-produced by Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith, plus Jay Z. Rated PG.

And expanding to wide release:

Wild — Reese Witherspoon earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance as an emotionally-confused woman who takes a solo hike of more than a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. The film is based on the book by Cheryl Strayed. Rated R.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Craig Ferguson to Host Final “Late Late Show” Friday Night

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in Entertainment News

Monty Brinton/CBS(LOS ANGELES) — Craig Ferguson is saying his final farewell to CBS’ The Late Late Show Friday night, after 10 years at the helm.

The 52-year-old Scotsman took over hosting duties from Craig Kilborn in January 2005 and immediately shook up the traditional late-show format. For one thing, his producers never predetermined the topics he would talk about with guests, making for looser, more off-the-cuff interviews.

“All I was trying to do with any guest, particularly guests who are very inside the Hollywood machine, was to humanize them…make them loosen up a little bit, to relax, and to have a good time,” Ferguson said in an interview with People. “It’s about no-harm TV.”

He was also known for being the only late-night host with a robot skeleton — named Geoff Peterson — as a sidekick, and a pantomime horse named Secretariat.

Ferguson’s proudest moments on the show include when he refused to gossip about Britney Spears’ breakdown, when he had Desmond Tutu on the program, and when he won a Peabody Award in 2010. “Also, reintroducing pantomime horses to American television was a big moment for me,” he added.

So why leave now? It was just the right time, he said. “It began to feel repetitive,” he told People. “I will have done more than 2,000 shows by the time I’m done. That’s a lot of shows. It’s time for a change. I don’t know what’s next, really, and that feels better. That kind of uncertainty feels quite refreshing after 10 years.”

Ferguson’s last episode will air at 12:35 a.m. ET, with Jay Leno as the final guest, a man who knows a thing or two about retiring from late-night TV. Just don’t expect Ferguson to get teary-eyed.

“James Joyce said that sentimentality is unearned emotion, and the media is awash with it,” Ferguson said. “I’m a man who tells jokes. I will continue to do so. I’m very grateful to the people that watch the show, don’t get me wrong, and they’ll continue to watch it. But you know, it’s okay. We’re not breaking up. This is not me dumping you. We’re just changing our paths.”

British comedian James Corden will succeed him as host beginning March 23, 2015.

Ferguson will continue to host the syndicated game show Celebrity Name Game.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Crusin In Cruces

Jennifer Aniston Among the Winners at the First “People” Magazine Awards

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in Entertainment News

ABC/Image Group LA(LOS ANGELES) — The first-ever People Magazine Awards, which took a look back at the year in pop culture, aired live from the Beverly Hilton on NBC Thursday.

The two-hour special was hosted by Nick Cannon, who briefly addressed his split from Mariah Carey by joking, “I’ve been told that I’ve graced People from time to time….It’s not like anything interesting has happened in my life in 2014.”

Some of the celebrity honorees included Jennifer Aniston and Michael Keaton, who took home Movie Performance of the Year honors for their roles in Cake and Birdman, respectively.

Kevin Hart won for Comedy Star of the Year, Kate Hudson was named Celebrity Role Model of the Year and Jennifer Lopez won the Triple Threat award.

Presenters included Jeff Bridges, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Josh Groban, Sean Hayes, John Krasinski, Nicole Richie and Melissa Rivers.

The evening also included music performances from Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams, 5 Seconds of Summer and Maroon 5.

Here’s the complete list of winners:

Comedy Star of the Year

Kevin Hart

TV Performance of the Year-Actress

Lisa Kudrow

Model of the Year

Karlie Kloss

Next Generation Star

Chloe Grace Moretz

TV Performance of the Year-Actor

Jon Hamm

Celebrity Role Model of the Year

Kate Hudson

Sexiest Woman

Kate Upton

Talk Show Host of the Year

Jimmy Fallon

Movie Performance of the Year-Actress

Jennifer Aniston

Style Icon of the Year

Gwen Stefani

Breakout Star of the Year

Billy Eichner

TV Couple of the Year

Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina

Hero of the Year

Nora Sandigo

Triple Threat

Jennifer Lopez

Movie Performance of the Year-Actor

Michael Keaton

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Movie Review: “Annie” (Rated PG)

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in Entertainment News

“Annie” – Sony/Columbia(NEW YORK) — An updated musical that already feels dated.
Sony’s terrible week is probably about to get worse, because given the train wreck that is its new movie, Annie, I can’t imagine people will be flocking to theaters to catch this updated musical. I’ll skip the jokes about how the hackers should have tried to get Annie pulled, not The Interview, because you can’t go three seconds on Twitter without a similar punchline popping up in your feed. But yeah, Annie’s pretty bad.
And it’s bad from the start. The opening musical number, in which our title character (played by youngest Oscar-nominee ever, Quvenzhane Wallis) tries to coax her classroom into clapping to the beat while she sings a school report, is one of those moments that just feels so forced, you’re embarrassed watching it. When people say they don’t like musicals because they feel it’s unnatural and uncomfortable when characters break into song, they’re talking about scenes like this. And it only gets better from there. And by better, I mean worse.
In this version, Annie isn’t stuck in an orphanage. Instead, she lives in a pretty nice apartment in Harlem with four other foster kids. They all share one big room with bunk beds, and it kind of seems like every night is a sleep-over party. Through a series of contrived events that just don’t matter, Annie meets billionaire businessman Will Stacks (Jaime Foxx), who decides having Annie live with him would help his mayoral campaign. So the two team up.
Wallis, of whom I was a big fan in Beasts of the Southern Wild, seems to have one gear for most of this movie: “charmingly optimistic.” Nothing fazes her version of Annie, to the point where you almost want to grab her and say, “Hey kid, it’s OK to be depressed. You’re an orphan stuck being raised by a witch. Your life kind of sucks.” Her singing is decent, though, and she and Jaime Foxx have good chemistry. I can’t wait to see them together again — just hopefully not in the sequel of this movie.
In fact, it’s the middle of the movie, where Annie and Will Stacks are building their bond, that’s the most enjoyable. There are some fun exchanges between the two, and a very funny satire on the Twilight franchise (yes, you read that right) that’s so good it almost seems out of place. Bonding along with them is Rose Byrne (Neighbors, Bridesmaids), who plays Stacks’ right-hand-gal, Grace, and when she, Wallis and Foxx are on screen in any combination there does tend to be a lot of charm. Another bright spot is Stephanie Kurtzuba (The Wolf of Wall Street). Here she plays an Eastern European social worker and steals every scene.
But sadly, those are the only bright spots amid 118 minutes of darkness. Early on in the film, Ms. Hannigan, played by Cameron Diaz, tells one of her foster kids, “Take it down a notch, no one’s going to believe you.” That’s the perfect line to sum up her performance as an alcoholic, washed-up singer who takes in kids just for the government checks. Diaz is so over the top, you have to wonder if director Will Gluck was maybe on a coffee break during her scenes, or perhaps he just didn’t feel comfortable telling the star to tone it down.
The acting is hardly the main problem with Annie, though. Most of the blame has to go to the script. In a good musical, songs enter the scene organically – here, they almost always feel crow-barred in. The tone is all over the place: sometimes it’s an over-the-top farce, sometimes it’s a movie of the week, and somehow, it all devolves into an action flick. Also, the updated references take a timeless story and turn it into a dated mess. Sure, the Twilight bit works, but a joke about 1990s dance-pop group C+C Music Factory just tries way too hard. This Annie is trying to be cool, and if you’re trying to be cool, you’re probably not.
That said, Annie isn’t aimed at me, a single guy in his mid-30s. It’s aimed at kids and their parents, and in my screening, there were plenty of those.  The kids did seem to laugh in the right spots, though they never joined in singing the songs. Afterward, one of those kids was debating her movie score with her mom, deciding between a seven and an eight. So if you have to go see Annie, chances are your kids will be entertained, even if you’re not.
Two out of five stars.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Double Your Dollars

The Colbert Report Signs Off

Friday, December 19th, 2014 by

Posted in Entertainment News

Comedy Central(NEW YORK) — After nine years of truthiness, justice, and the American Way, Stephen Colbert signed off as the host of Comedy Central’s award winning spoof news show The Colbert Report.

Colbert launched his show on October 17, 2005, after spending several years as a correspondent on another Comedy Central program, The Daily Show. His parody of right-wing TV commentators quickly became a hit.

And no, he didn’t break character, even in the finale. 

Let’s not pussyfoot around,” Colbert said in his last “Word” segment. 

“I have had a huge impact. Need more evidence? Maybe you should ask Saginaw Spirit’s mini mascot Steagle Colbeagle The Eagle,” which was obviously named in his honor. “I don’t remember Cronkite ever having a mascot!” Colbert trumpeted.

While Colbert’s only official guest was occasional guest Grimmy AKA The Grim Reaper — who, after a struggle Colbert shot to death, therefore insuring the host’s immortality — the host was accompanied in studio by dozens of celebrities to sing the WWII standard “We’ll Meet Again.”

The star singers included Bryan Cranston, George Lucas, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Katie Couric, James Franco, New Jersey senator Cory Booker, disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, Elijah Wood, Cindy Lauper, Michael Stipe, Alan Alda, Patrick Stewart, Willie Nelson, Mark Cuban, Mike Huckabee, Henry Kissinger, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tom Broakaw, Yo Yo Ma, Cyndi Lauper, Rod Stewart, Smaug, Tim Meadows, Keith Olbermann, and Sam Waterston.

Other guests chimed in via video, including J.J. Abrams (appropriately backed with a Star Wars “crawl” reading the song’s lyrics), Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan (still chained in front of his computer in Colbert’s basement, as in a previous episode that had the host forcing him to make more episodes of the AMC drama), troops in Afghanistan, an astronaut running on the C.O.L.B.E.R.T. treadmill in space, and former President Bill Clinton (tweeting using the account Colbert created for him on the air).

Later on, Colbert got more serious, saying, “We finally come to the end of the Colbert Report. Nine great years, 1,447 wonderful episodes,” expressing he just has, “so many people to thank,” including, “everybody who works so hard every day to make something special,” as well as, “all the friends and family for putting up with our long hours, the network for giving us the chance to begin with — and of course all the guests…thousands of them–too many to thank. So… I’ll just thank Mavis Staples. So Mavis, if you can just call everybody tomorrow, that would be great.”

The host then addressed the fans by saying, “you, the Colbert Nation: we couldn’t have done it without you.”

The show ended with more guests, however, notably Santa Claus, who arrived via sled on the roof of Colbert’s studio with none other than Abraham Lincoln — who revealed himself to be at least part unicorn — and “the man with all the answers,” Jeopardy‘s Alex Trebek in tow. “So I guess I’ll be gone forever?” Colbert asked. “Oh no, no no,” Trebek assured him. “We’ll always be there for the American people when they need us the most.”

“But aren’t you Canadian?” Colbert countered, expressing that Trebek’s “dual citizenship since 1998″ really is, “not the same.” And with that, Santa’s sleigh took off, with the host, who will start as David Letterman’s replacement on CBS’ Late Show next September.

After a few weeks of @Midnight airing in the Report’s 11:30  time slot, Comedy Central will replace it with The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, premiering January 19.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Cosby Lawyer Says Comedian’s Comments ‘Continue to Be Misconstrued’

Thursday, December 18th, 2014 by

Posted in Entertainment News

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC(NEW YORK) — An attorney for Bill Cosby on Thursday criticized freelance journalist Stacy Brown on a Friday article in the New York Post in which Cosby’s comments “continue to be misconstrued in a way that can only call into question the fair-mindedness of certain commentators.”

In that article, Brown quoted Cosby as saying, “I only expect our black media to uphold the standards of excellent journalism…and when you do that, you go in with a neutral mind.” Cosby’s attorney, John P. Schmitt, said that Cosby “did not ask for special treatment from the African-American media.”

Instead, Schmitt says, “he asked that they adhere to journalistic standards and approach the story in a neutral manner — without a predisposition on either side of the story.” That expectation applies to all media, he noted.

Schmitt also noted the “mean-spirited and reckless rhetoric” spouted by MSNBC commentator and Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson. Dyson’s comments called Cosby’s request for neutrality the comedian’s “rape [of the] entire black community.”

Cosby has been accused by several women in recent weeks of sexual abuse. Earlier this month, a woman named Judy Huth sued Cosby, alleging he molested her in the Playboy Mansion in 1974, when she was 15 years old.

Last month, Cosby denied the allegations made against him through his attorney.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Hometown Headlines w/ Brad Barrett

Mistrial Declared in Case Against Man Accused of Stalking R&B Singer Ashanti

Thursday, December 18th, 2014 by

Posted in Entertainment News

ABC/Lou Rocco(NEW YORK) — A New York criminal court judge on Thursday declared a mistrial in the case against Devar Hurd, the man accused of stalking R&B singer Ashanti.

The mistrial was declared because one of the jurors was too sick to come in for deliberation. Hurd, who represented himself while facing charges of stalking and aggravated harassment, will return to jail and be retried as soon as next month.

Between September 2012 and July 2013, Hurd allegedly sent over 100 messages to the singer on Twitter. Some of the messages were sexual in nature, and prosecutors said those messages caused harm to her “mental and emotional health.” Hurd also allegedly approached Ashanti’s sister, a violation of an order of protection requiring him to stay away.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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