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Grab your chest — ‘Alien’ turns 40 Saturday

Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of the release of director Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi film classic, Alien.

The film, about a blue-collar crew aboard a deep space mining vessel who answer a distress call on a derelict planet and inadvertently bring aboard a killer alien, was a box office smash. It earned $80.9 million domestically — that’s nearly $285 million in 2019 dollars — against a budget of $11 million, and was the fifth-highest-grossing film of the year. 

Alien also made an unlikely action star out of 29-year-old actress Sigourney Weaver.  Her portrayal of the steely, resourceful Ellen Ripley proved a woman could be an action hero, and set the stage for subsequent films featuring strong female leads, most recently Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel

Weaver starred in Alien alongside Tom Skerritt, Harry Dean Stanton, Yaphet Kotto, Veronica Cartwright, Ian Holm and John Hurt — the latter of whom who unwillingly and fatally “birthed” the alien as it burst out of his chest in a shower of blood.  The surprise on the cast’s faces was real: they intentionally hadn’t been told specifically what to expect in the scene, which remains one of cinema’s most memorable.

The acid-bleeding alien quickly grows and eliminates the entire crew, save for Ripley.  In the end, she alone is left to kill the nearly indestructible beast.

Alien spawned three sequels, including director James Cameron’s Aliens in 1986, as well as two spinoffs and two prequels, the most recent 2017’s Alien: Covenant.  Earlier this year, New Jersey’s North Bergen High School staged a charming DIY stage adaptation that drew praise from Ridley Scott and Sigourney Weaver herself, who even attended a performance.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

After fan backlash, Paramount delays ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ to give character a makeover

Courtesy Paramount Pictures and Sega of America(LOS ANGELES) — After disastrous fan reaction to its first trailer, Paramount Pictures has bumped back the release date of its Sonic The Hedgehog movie.

Set to open November 8, the movie, which stars Jim Carrey and James Marsden, has now been moved to February 14, 2020.

Voiced by Ben Schwartz, the first appearance of the computer-created character launched a thousand memes — and none of them flattering. Fans of the SEGA videogame star lamented how little Sonic the Hedgehog actually looked like Sonic the Hedgehog.

The word “creepy” was a common descriptive, particularly relating to the little blue character’s human-looking legs and teeth.

As the AV Club put it plainly, “…the anthropomorphism of this blue cartoon hedgehog suggests things that only the darkest reaches of Tumblr might consider, like ‘Does Sonic also have…junk?'”

Director Jeff Fowler took to Twitter earlier this month to hit the pause button: “Thank you for the support. And the criticism. The message is loud and clear… you aren’t happy with the design & you want changes. It’s going to happen.”

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A Whole New World: Disney’s live-action ‘Aladdin’ hits theaters today

Disney(NEW YORK) — Disney’s live action Aladdin hits theaters today and its star, Mena Massoud, hopes it opens up “A Whole New World” for a new generation of viewers.

Massoud, who was born in Egypt and raised in Canada, says the 1992 animated version of Aladdin was one of the only movies he and his family could relate to at the time. He says it was “incredibly important” for him to have ethnic representation in this film.

“Growing up as a young North African, Middle Eastern man, I rarely saw people who looked like me and that affected me,” he tells ABC Radio. “So I want to change that for the younger generation. I want them to grow up…and see people that look like them so they can feel empowered.”

The film also stars Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine and Will Smith as the Genie. Massoud says it was particularly fun getting to improvise with Smith.

“[Director] Guy Ritchie kinda let us play a little bit in this one scene in this film and we kind of just started riffing and it was a really fun day,” he says. “It’s become the infamous ‘jam scene,’ that’s what we call it, so you’ll know it when you see it in the film.”

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

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Spike Lee premieres ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ season two in Brooklyn

L-R – Anthony Ramos, Spike Lee — David Lee/Netflix(NEW YORK) — Spike Lee returned home to Brooklyn, New York Thursday night for the red carpet premiere of season two of his She’s Gotta Have It series, based on his 1986 film.

The Oscar winner for BlacKkKlansman was joined by his wife and co-executive producer, Tonya Lewis Lee, and cast members DeWanda Wise, Anthony Ramos, Fat Joe, Chyna Layne, Margot Bingham, Ilfenesh Hadera, De’Adre Aziz, Cleo Anthony, and Lyriq Bent. The screening was held at the Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn, followed by an after party at Gotham Market at The Ashland.

Spike celebrates Prince’s birthday on June 7 with an annual outdoor party in Brooklyn, and he’s showing his love of Prince in the new season of She’s Gotta Have It. He revealed on Instagram that episode five will feature eleven Prince songs, including “Kiss,” “Sign O’ the Times,” and “U Got the Look.”

Music from Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Erykah Badu and more will also be featured throughout the new season.  

She’s Gotta Have It season two debuts Friday on Netflix. 

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“I miss him” — Harrison Ford remembers Peter “Chewbacca” Mayhew

NBC/Andrew Lipovsky(NEW YORK) — Harrison Ford remembered his former Star Wars series co-star, Peter Mayhew, on Thursday night’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Mayhew, who of course played Chewbacca, the Wookiee co-pilot to Ford’s Han Solo in the film series, died April 30, just days short of his 75th birthday.

Ford, who was on Fallon to plug his upcoming animated film The Secret Life of Pets, was emotional talking about his co-star, calling him, “a really sweet man, a nice man.”

Referring to the health issues the seven foot, two-inch tall Mayhew had, Ford explained to the audience, “He had a hard time physically It was really hard for him to do what he did for all of us, and he did it with dignity.”

Ford said, “He was a really neat guy,” adding “I miss him.”

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Report: ABC considering bringing back ‘Whiskey Cavalier’

ABC/Nick Ray (LOS ANGELES) — The mission may yet not be over for ABC’s sexy spy action-comedy show Whiskey Cavalier.

ABC is reportedly reconsidering its decision earlier this month to cancel the show, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

The ratings-challenged freshman series, starring Scandal alum Scott Foley and The Walking Dead‘s Lauren Cohan, saw its rating among viewers aged 18-49 more than double with a week of delayed viewing, and Wednesday’s season finale jumped even further, helped out by its lead-in, Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons.

The initial decision to pull the plug on the show was met by fan outcry, which likely led producers to consider shopping the show to another network at the time.

A decision on Whiskey Cavalier‘s fate is expected soon.

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Mario Batali pleads not guilty to sexual misconduct charge

Scott Eisen/Getty Images(BOSTON) — Celebrity chef Mario Batali stood before a judge in Boston Friday morning and entered a not guilty plea to a charge of indecent assault.

Clad in a black jacket, purple sweater and looking thinner than he has in previous public appearances, Batali, 58, was released on his own recognizance and was ordered to stay away from the alleged victim unless he’s called for a deposition in her civil lawsuit against him.

Batali is accused of forcibly kissing and groping Natali Tene, 28, at a Boston, Massachusetts restaurant on March 31, 2017.  Batali denies the charges, and declared earlier this week via his attorney that the charges “are without merit,” and that he “intends to fight the allegations vigorously.”

Batali’s case returns to court July 12 but he doesn’t have to attend.  The judge warned Friday to him “stay out of trouble.”

This is the first criminal charge Batali has faced regarding alleged inappropriate sexual misconduct. Police in New York investigated the chef but ultimately did not charge him.

Batali announced in March that he was stepping away from his restaurant empire amid accusations from several women of inappropriate behavior toward them.  Batali was fired from ABC’s The Chew in December, 2017 following an investigation into the reports.

In a statement released at the time, Batali said, in part, “I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt…much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family.”

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Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, ‘Booksmart’, gives a lesson in teen comedies

Nicholas Hunt/Staff(LOS ANGELES) — Olivia Wilde is ready to school everyone with her directorial debut, Booksmart, an edgy coming of age comedy opening nationwide this weekend.

Raunchy R-rated comedies have typically been the domain of men, and even fewer teen comedies have been led by women, but in Booksmart, Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever star as a couple of best friends who focused more on studying than partying in high school, and decide to go wild the night before graduation.

Wilde tells ABC Radio she hopes the movie serves as a sort of Bridesmaids for teens.

“Teenage girls hadn’t been given a movie that was about that kind of deep friendship between women, and so they were looking to a great example in Bridesmaids,” she says. “But I thought can we create that at a younger stage, when for me, that was a profound time to rely on my female friendships.”

Wilde, best known for playing Dr. Remy “Thirteen” Hadley in the TV series House from 2007- 2012, wanted her first time behind the camera for a feature film to feel like her favorite teen comedies.

Says Wilde, “I was thinking of The Breakfast Club…Sixteen CandlesFast Times at Ridgemont HighDazed and ConfusedSay Anything, Ferris Buellers Day Off [and] Clueless.”

Directing a feature film had been on Wilde’s to-do list for years, but it’s taken a while for the 35-year-old actress to find a project that would send the right message, something that showed women are “funny and smart and complex in a way…that I don’t feel we’ve been allowed to be on film.”

Booksmart also stars Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow and Jason Sudeikis.

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Mario Batali’s accuser is “grateful” sexual assault case is moving forward

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Food Bank of New York City(BOSTON) — A woman who accused Mario Batali of sexually assaulting her in 2017 says she is “grateful” the disgraced celebrity chef is being charged for the incident.

In a statement on Thursday, the attorney for Natali Tene’s said she’s “grateful that the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office in Boston has chosen to go forward in prosecuting Mario Batali on criminal charges of sexually assaulting her. In doing so, the DA’s Office has taken a strong stance in advocating on behalf of our client.”

Tene’s lawyer adds that Batali abused his celebrity status by convincing Natali to take a ‘selfie’ with him in a Boston restaurant, during which the TV personality kissed and groped her against her will.

“The criminal charges brought against him are independent of the ongoing civil lawsuit,” the statement continues. “Mr. Batali must be held accountable criminally and civilly for his despicable acts.”

Batali will face arraignment in Boston Municipal Court on Friday on a charge of indecent assault and battery.

In August, Tene, 28, claimed Batali forcibly kissed and groped her at a Boston restaurant in April 2017.

This will be the first criminal charge he has faced. Police in New York investigated Batali, but ultimately did not charge him.

Batali announced in March that he was stepping away from his restaurant empire amid several accusations from women.

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‘Aladdin’ leads new Memorial Day Weekend movie releases

Disney(LOS ANGELES) — Opening nationwide in theaters Friday:

* Aladdin — Director Guy Ritchie’s live-action adaptation of the 1992 Disney animated classic about the titular character — played by Mena Massoud — a street urchin who finds a magic lamp and must use it to win over Princess Jasmine and defeat the evil sorcerer Jafar — portrayed respectively by Naomi Scott and Marwan Kenzari. Will Smith stars as the Genie, the role made famous by Robin Williams in the original. Rated PG.

* Brightburn — James Gunn’s superhero horror movie flips the Superman story on its head: an alien falls to earth as a baby, and is raised by human parents — played by Elizabeth Banks and David Denman. But instead of growing up to fight for truth, justice, and the American way, this kid — portrayed by Jackson A. Dunn — uses his superpowers for evil. Rated R.

* Booksmart — Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever star in this raunchy coming of age comedy about a couple of best friends who focused more on studying than partying in high school, and decide to cut loose the night before graduation. Olivia Wilde makes her directorial debut. Will Forte, Lisa Kudrow, and Wilde’s partner Jason Sudeikis also star. Rated R.

opened in limited release on Wednesday:

* The Tomorrow Man — John Lithgow and Blythe Danner star in this quirky dramedy about a divorced retiree who spends his time preparing for the apocalypse. Then he meets and falls in love with a woman who’s a shopaholic and hoarder who lives in the moment. Rated PG-13.

(“Booksmart” trailer contains uncensored profanity.)


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