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Terry Crews insists ‘America’s Got Talent’ is “the most diverse place” he’s ever worked

NBC/Trae Patton(NEW YORK) — America’s Got Talent host Terry Crews apparently had a very different experience on the set of NBC’s variety series.

Amid the network’s investigation into Gabrielle Union’s departure from the show following claims of a toxic culture, Crews tells NBC’s Today that he begs to differ.

“First of all, I can’t speak for sexism because I’m not a woman, but I can speak on behalf of any racism comments. That was never my experience,” he said. “In fact, it was the most diverse place I have ever been in my 20 years of entertainment.”

“The Top 10 acts were Asian, women, older, younger, black, white, it was everything in the gamut,” he continued, defending the shows’ diversity.

Crews went on to say that he even sought out the advice of his wife, actress Rebecca King-Crews, and her thoughts on what she should do in the wake of Union’s claims.

“She was like, ‘first of all, if it’s coming from an unnamed source – because Gabrielle Union has not made any statement to this day about any of these allegations publicly …if she hasn’t made a statement, why would you?'”

When asked if he’s spoken to Union, beyond his tweet in December where he told Union she “will be missed,” Crews replied, “I haven’t reached out, but I haven’t heard anything,” he said.

As previously reported, Union was fired from America’s Got Talent following her reported complaints about the allegedly racially insensitive work environment on set. Following the immense backlash about her firing, Union confirmed that she met with NBC to discuss her complaints and “express [her] unfiltered truth.”

Crews, Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel are all expected to return to AGT for its next season.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

After getting jacked for ‘Marvel’s The Eternals’, Kumail Nanjiani gets treated to junk food by Jimmy Kimmel

ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) — Around the holidays, if you recall, actor Kumail Nanjiani found himself an unlikely viral star, when he posted a snap of his ripped body, which he whipped into shape for Marvel’s The Eternals.

He talked about the situation with Jimmy Kimmel Thursday night, explaining he loved the attention — particularly from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who gave him a thumbs-up online. 

The visit to Kimmel was just two days after Nanjiani’s final day on the set, adding that his strict diet continued.

“I have not had pizza or a donut in over a year!” he declared. “I have had no refined sugar in a year. I’ve had almost no carbs at all.”

For his part, Kimmel, who’s a foodie, surprised the actor with a mobile full of desserts, which descended from the ceiling to come to rest around Nanjiani’s head.  Kimmel also offered Nanjiani a pizza, courtesy of Jimmy’s sidekick, Guillermo.

The 41-year-old Silicon Valley alum freaked out, exclaiming, “I’m literally gonna cry right now. I’m not joking.” He took a bite of pizza and his ecstasy was evident: “Oh my God. I’m shaking. Hey, pizza’s really good!”

After breaking for a commercial, the actor was still working over various desserts while trying to promote his Apple TV Plus show, Little America. “What were we talking about again?” he asked, mouth full.

Marvel’s The Eternals is set for release on November 6 from Disney, the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘Joker’ director Todd Phillips says “intense” Joaquin Phoenix was “kind of light” on set

L-R Phoenix, Phillips/Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures(LOS ANGELES) — Oscar-nominated Hollywood filmmaker Todd Phillips has worked on a range of movie genres, but his latest hit, Joker, broke a box office record and set a high bar for awards season.

Phillips, who directed, co-wrote and produced the Batman villain origin story, told Good Morning America that despite early criticisms, fans flocked to the film that now leads the Academy Awards with 11 nominations, including best picture.

Joaquin Phoenix, who stars as the disturbed comedian Arthur Fleck in the film, is an “intense” actor, but “kind of light” on set, Phillips found. 

“To inhabit the character of Arthur slash Joker in the movie, he had to go to some dark places…[But] we would say ‘Cut!’ and we’d be off to the side joking around or laughing about something and then we’d get back into it.”

Joker set the record as the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time with over $1 billion at the box office.

“This movie has been a wild ride for sure,” said Phillips.  “Ultimately, when I look back at it I’m not surprised that a movie called Joker made so many people crazy.  It got painted very early with a brush that the violence in it was irresponsible and we felt differently. We thought we could show real-world implications on violence and that seems responsible to me, as opposed to celebrating violence in movies.”

Phillips added that, “ultimately it was the audience [who] turned up and it became their movie.”

The 92nd Oscars air Sunday Feb. 9 on ABC.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Move over, Kristin Bell: Brad Pitt might take your man to the Oscars

Photo by Michael Tran/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — As we learned recently, Brad Pitt is on Tinder, but he already might have locked in a date for the Oscars: Dax Shepard.

Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood nominee Pitt received the Maltin Modern Masters Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Wednesday night, when he joked to E! that Shepard could walk the red carpet with him. 

Truth be told, Dax started this back-and-forth, when he revealed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that he had a crush on Pitt. Pitt returned the compliment at one point last year, and Shepard flipped.

Dax and Brad told Ellen that they recently went riding their motorcycles together, during a day that also included a helicopter ride. “I went on a date with him,” Dax joked.

Shepard, who’s married to Frozen and The Good Place star Kristen Bell, said, “I felt like Pretty Woman.” 

To this, Pitt laughed to E!, “He’s a funny fella.” When asked if he’d consider Dax as his Oscars date, Pitt responded, “Yeah, yeah that’s a great idea.”

Pitt was still in a joking mood when he accepted his award, from his Se7en and Fight Club director David Fincher. Now 56, Pitt said, “I can’t do night shoots anymore,” and added at his age, “I no longer remember the first rule of Fight Club.”

For the record, it’s the same as the second rule: You do not talk about Fight Club.

The 92nd Academy Awards telecast airs Sunday, Feb. 9 at 8p.m. Eastern on ABC.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Experts say China’s coronavirus could make Hollywood’s bottom line sick

iStock/jarun011(LOS ANGELES) — The potentially deadly coronavirus has led Chinese health officials to quarantine people and cancel many public activities — and some of those will hurt Hollywood’s bottom line.

Deadline reports amid the outbreak, all local film releases scheduled for the highly lucrative Chinese New Year period have been canceled, and theaters closed.  And that could spell a one-billion-dollar blow to global box office, or more.

The Chinese New Year period — the New Year itself begins Saturday — is huge for movies in China, which is the globe’s second-biggest moviegoing market.

What’s at stake is not only the box office receipts for Chinese-made films, but for Hollywood movies for which the Middle Kingdom’s audience normally has a healthy appetite.

Indeed, many films that were considered bombs in the U.S. became hits thanks to audiences in China and throughout Asia.

As for the coronavirus’ impact, an industry insider tells Deadline, “Moviegoing is so concentrated during this period, even with later releases, it will be impossible to overcome the massive loss.”

How concentrated? Chinese box office receipts tallied $1.6 billion bucks by February’s end in 2019.

China has also extended its severe travel ban to additional cities, cutting off travel for 20 million people during a time when millions are expected to be traveling for the holiday.

The quarantine began Thursday in Wuhan, the city at the center of the coronavirus outbreak. Authorities shut down transportation in the 11 million person city, prohibiting people from using buses, trains or ferries, and canceling flights and trains leaving Wuhan.

Those travel restrictions have since been extended to the nearby cities of Huanggang and Ezhou, both in China’s Hubei province.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Necessary Ruff-ness: Animal Planet releases lineup for ‘Puppy Bowl XVI’

Animal Planet(NEW YORK) — Some people watch the Super Bowl for the game, Others watch it for the commercials or halftime show, and some choose to forgo the entire event to watch Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl instead.

Well, for fans of the latter, the entire starting lineup is out and its chock-full of adoptable puppies from all over the country who will wag their way across the end zone on February 2.

This year, Animal Planet will feature a variety of rescue puppies of all sizes and breeds, from the massive Great Dane to the tiniest chihuahua.

The 42 adoptable pups have already been divided into their respective teams, Team Ruff and Team Fluff.

Here are some of the adorably named pups who are repping Team Ruff: Aspen (Australian cattle dog), Cafecito (crested Yorkshire terrier), Crumpet (American Staffordshire terrier), Filbert (Sheltie/border collie mix), Linus (Pomeranian), Rhubarb (mini schnauzer/Shih Tzu mix), and Starla (cocker spaniel/Siberian husky mix.)

As for some of Team Fluff’s 2020 lineup: Bert (Great Pyrenees/Weimaraner mix), Duncan (rough collie), Granny Smith (Catahoula/pit bull mix), Killian (Great Dane), Papaya (Lab/border collie mix), Rocky Road (German Shepherd/Samoyed mix), and Strudel (miniature pinscher/toy poodle mix). 

To see the complete lineup and to read each individual player’s incredibly adorable bio, including where they are available for adoption, head on over to Animal Planet’s website

The Puppy Bowl and the kitten halftime show, which has been entertaining dog and cat lovers alike since 2005, airs Sunday, February 2, at 3 p.m. ET on Animal Planet.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Ewan McGregor says Disney+’s pausing ‘Kenobi’ series “isn’t as dramatic as it sounds”

ABC/Randy Holmes(NEW YORK) — (NOTE LANGUAGE) “Ah, ‘The Negotiator!'” Ewan McGregor is living up to his character Obi-Wan Kenobi’s flair for diplomacy, putting a positive spin on a much-hyped pause in production of his Disney+ Kenobi series.

An online firestorm erupted after news broke Thursday that script issues forced a halt in production on the series, which takes place before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.

However, at a Los Angeles press event promoting his upcoming film Birds of Prey Thursday evening, McGregor told The Wrap that the hype was overblown. “We just pushed the shoot to the beginning of next year,” he explained. “The scripts are really good. I saw 90% of the writing and I really liked it.” 

McGregor added, “All this bulls*** about creative differences and all that stuff is, none of it true.”

Instead, website insists, McGregor seemed to suggest that the replacing of the series’ writer Hossein Amini could have something to do with fan reaction to the last Star Wars film, The Rise of Skywalker. “…Episode IX came out, everyone had more time to read the stuff that had been written, and they felt that they wanted to do more work on [Kenobi],” the actor noted. “So they slid the shoot. It’s not nearly as dramatic as it sounds online.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Fetch is back. Tiny Fey announces movie plans for ‘Mean Girls’ the musical

Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) — Tina Fey is making fetch happen all over again.  After her smash 2004 comedy Mean Girls was turned into a Broadway musical in 2017, Fey is bringing her beloved brainchild into the new century by turning the musical adaption… back into a movie.

Fey announced in a statement Thursday obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, “I’m very excited to bring Mean Girls back to the big screen.  It’s been incredibly gratifying to see how much the movie and the musical have meant to audiences.”

Added the 30 Rock star, “I’ve spent 16 years with these characters now. They are my Marvel Universe and I love them dearly.”

Mean Girls follows the story of 16-year-old Cady Heron, who moves back to America after being raised by her zoologist parents in Africa.  Cady soon learns how high school differs from the animal kingdom once she’s absorbed by The Plastics — a popular girl clique — and falls in love with the ex-boyfriend of Regina George, the ringleader of the group of said mean girls.

The 2004 cult classic, which starred Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams, earned $129 million in the box office while the Mean Girls Broadway musical has earned $118 to date.

 Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘The Gentlemen’ tops this week’s new releases

Christopher Raphael(NEW YORK) — Opening nationwide on Friday:

The Gentlemen — Guy Ritchie’s action comedy stars Matthew McConaughey as a drug lord with a profitable empire in London.  His efforts to cash out of the business leads to bribery and blackmail schemes in an attempt to steal his business out from under him.  Jeremy Strong, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Eddie Marsan, Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant round out the all-star cast.  Rated R.

The Turning – This modern take on Henry James’ novella The Turn of the Screw centers on a young nanny, played by Mackenzie Davis, charged with caring for two disturbed orphans – played by Brooklynn Prince and Finn Wolfhard – both of whom, along with the house, harbor dark secrets.  Joely Richardson also stars.  Rated PG-13.

Opening in limited release on Friday:

The Last Full Measure – This drama tells the true-life story of Vietnam War hero William H. Pitsenbarger, Jr., whose courageous acts weren’t recognized until 32 years later, when a Pentagon staffer, played by Captain America’s Sebastian Stan, investigates a Congressional Medal of Honor request for Pitsenbarger made by his best friend  — and PJ partner on the mission — and his parents, played respectively by William Hurt, Christopher Plummer and Diane Ladd, which uncovers a high-level conspiracy behind the decades-long denial of the medal.  Also starring Ed Harris, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Irvine and Peter Fonda in his final film role.  Rated R.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘Bachelorette’ alum Ali Fedotowsky urges fans to get checked after revealing skin cancer diagnosis

Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) — Ali Fedotowsky, star of 2010’s The Bachelorette, is urging fans to get themselves checked after opening up about her battle with skin cancer.

“GET YOUR SKIN CHECKED. A couple weeks ago I found out I have skin cancer,” The 35-year-old revealed Thursday on Instagram. “When my dermatologist used the c-word, I just about fainted in his office.”

The mother of two is remaining positive about her diagnosis and encouraged fans, “Thankfully, the type of skin cancer I have is rarely fatal and really never fatal when you catch it early.”

Fedotowsky went on to explain that she’s been diagnosed with Basal cell carcinoma and urged fans to look at what her mole looked like before the biopsy, so they “know what to look for.”

After vowing to never expose “my stomach to sun without sunscreen again,” the former Bachelorette used her platform to educate fans about her diagnosis and what they can do to prevent it.

“Basal cell carcinoma is super common. The most common skin cancer. You probably know someone who has it. So it’s no big deal,” She revealed. “But what IS a big deal is not treating it and treating it early. That is why going to a dermatologist and getting your skin checked every year is SO important.”

She also urged fans to be “rigorous about applying sunscreen” and be mindful what products they use on their skin.

Fedotowsky competed on 2010’s The Bachelor but left after receiving an ultimatum from Facebook, where she was employed.  She returned as The Bachelorette later that year and became engaged to Roberto Martinez, but broke up a year later. 

After meeting TV host Kevin Manno in 2013, the two became engaged and later wed in 2017.  They have two kids together, Molly and Riley.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.