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‘Watchmen’ director on the show’s “truly radical” casting — and the actor she “couldn’t believe” she got to work with

Mark Hill/HBO(NEW YORK) — Director Nicole Kassell is no stranger to high-profile TV projects: After all, she’s a veteran of shows ranging from Claws to Breaking Bad. And now her handiwork can be seen on HBO’s new hit Watchmen, the small-screen sequel to the landmark graphic novel from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. 

The show boasts a stellar cast, including Oscar-winners Louis Gossett Jr. and Regina King, the latter of whom Kassell worked with on American Crime, a series that earned King an Emmy.

The show centers on King’s character, a law enforcement officer named Angela Abar, who also works undercover as a masked vigilante called Sister Night. Having her friend King in the lead was a major draw, Kassell tells ABC Audio.

“[T]hat’s a huge part of why I wanted to do this…was to have — you know, you see it on the poster — it’s truly radical to have an African-American woman lead in a show of this size, in this kind of character.” 

That being said, Kassell admits that the presence of former Miami Vice heartthrob Don Johnson, who plays Abar’s close friend, Chief Judd Crawford, on the show, made her feel like a kid again.

The filmmaker giggles, “I’ve had this a handful of times where someone was such a part of my childhood and living room, [that] when they walk on set and I’m directing the scene and I just can’t believe it.”

“You know, I’ve had it three times now,” she laughs. “Don was definitely the most significant! I did not have the [Don Johnson] poster on my wall, but all my friends did!”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘Mr. Robot’s’ new favorite villain Ashlie Atkinson talks playing a “joyous psychopath”

Jacqueline Patton Photography(NEW YORK) — It may be the final season of USA Network hacker drama Mr. Robot, but the show still had time to introduce one last baddie. Ashlie Atkinson plays the show’s new favorite villain, Dark Army operative Janice – and she’s having a blast scaring the crap out of fans.

“I just really loved the idea of someone who was an ‘order muppet,’ who is really into control and order but was a really joyous person — but a complete psychopath,” Atkinson tells ABC Audio. “I really liked that about her.”

Atkinson, who was a huge fan of Mr. Robot before joining the show as a series regular, says she loves to see fans’ reactions to Janice online. Her favorite was the fan who dubbed Janice the scariest Mr. Robot villain after spotting her on another TV show.

“Someone said, ‘Ashlie Atkinson was on Emergence and when I saw her face I straight up jumped out of my chair,’” she recalls with a laugh. “And I was like, ‘Oh good. People are afraid of me on other shows now when I’m playing like moms or neighbors.”

As for what’s coming up in the final few episodes of the season, Atkinson teases it’s “only going to get crazier from here on out.” 

Mr. Robot – also starring Oscar winner Rami Malek, Christian Slater and Grace Gummer – airs Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on USA.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Wayne Brady is not here for your ‘Chappelle’s Show’ references: “I don’t rest on past laurels”

Courtesy of Wayne Brady(NEW YORK) — Wayne Brady wants you to know that he’s accomplished a lot in his career. From being a staple on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, to hosting his own variety show and CBS’ Let’s Make a Deal, Brady has effortlessly conquered whatever he’s set his mind to in television, film, and on Broadway.

However, with all of his past accomplishments, the Emmy Award winner will admit it’s a bit frustrating when fans only remember one thing when they see him: his 2004 Chappelle’s Show appearance.

“They’re like, ‘Hey man, I love that thing!'” Brady tells ABC Audio of those who come up to him reciting his infamous lines from the role.

In the episode, Brady plays a drug-dealing, pimping, and murdering caricature of himself who basically wreaks havoc with Chappelle during a joy ride. The episode sparked such classic catchphrases as “Is Wayne going to have to choke a b****?”

“Well, I’m glad you love that thing, but I have all of this,” Brady continues, sharing his response to those fans.

“So the way you drive yourself crazy is caring what people think too much,” he says. “So, to anyone that loves that, I’m so glad because I had a ball doing it and I loved what it represented…it was dope. But…I have a life…I’ve got a couple more little bumps in the road like that people can pay attention to.”

Although Brady isn’t truly upset with the constant Chappelle’s Show fandom — he calls it an “amazing sketch” and says “it’s great to be a part of Americana” — he adds that his resume includes way more than that.

“I don’t rest on past laurels,” he says. “I know how much I do. The average person sometimes may not know that you’ve done X, Y and Z.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Love Hallmark Christmas movies? Get paid $1,000 bucks for simply watching them

iStock/dszc(LOS ANGELES) — Remember that Halloween contest that tasked one person to sit through the entirety of Stephen King movies for a wad of cash?  Well, that contest just got a Christmas update.

On Thursday, Internet service provider CenturyLink launched their own contest tasking one individual to binge 24 Hallmark Christmas movies. They’ll pay that person $1,000 — as if you needed an incentive.

“We’re looking for a lover of all things Christmas, G-Rated romcoms, and too-close-to-home family dramas to watch 24 Hallmark Christmas movies in 12 days. If you think that’s you, we’ll give you $1,000 to critique a lineup of festive guilty pleasures,” The company advertises.  

However, you get to watch the movies on your own time over the 12-day span. CenturyLink clarifies, “The best part? We don’t care where you do it. Watch it from the couch or stay under the covers and stream from bed. (Just don’t spill any spoilers.)”

The lucky winner will also score a streaming subscription, hot chocolate, festive Christmas cookies, and an abundance of holiday decorations.

You just have to be 18 and a U.S. citizen with a passion for Christmas to officially throw your hat into the ring.

So, if you want to watch the same plot two dozen times of a woman falling in love with a small town banker in a small hokey town and breaking off her engagement with her unloving Wall Street fiance, apply to CenturyLink by December 6.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Dwayne Johnson teases “one of a kind” ‘Black Adam’; says release date is December, 2021

ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) — It’s official: the long-teased Black Adam, which stars Dwayne Johnson as the titular DC Comics character, will hit movie theaters on December 22, 2021. 

The WWE wrestler-turned-actor revealed the news, along with a new image of him in the role on Thursday via Instagram. “BLACK ADAM is blessed by magic with the powers equal to SUPERMAN, but the difference is he doesn’t toe the mark or walk the line,” Johnson wrote in the lengthy post. “He’s a rebellious, one of a kind superhero, who’ll always do what’s right for the people – but he does it his way. Truth and justice – the BLACK ADAM way,” the latter a take-off on Superman’s code “Truth, Justice, and the American way.” 

With respect to Johnson, Adam, who was created in 1945, isn’t a superhero, but a supervillian — and one of the most powerful ones in the DC Universe at that; the dark to Shazam’s light.

However, plot details have yet to be released for the Warner Bros./New Line project, so it remains to be seen how the character will be presented.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Second chapter of ‘The Mandalorian’, “The Child,” is now available for screening

Disney+(NEW YORK) — The second episode of the new Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian had fans staying up late — or rising early Friday morning — as it debuted at midnight.

Unlike other streaming shows that drop full seasons at a clip, show creator Jon Favreau specifically wanted one episode to be released at a time, he explained at this week’s launch event in Los Angeles. “I think it’s great to have a serialized show like this because I feel like it really taps into what George Lucas was originally inspired by: the films like Flash Gordon, that he grew up with. The serialized shows that they would show one reel at a time to audiences on Saturdays.”

He adds, “And there’s a fun sense of adventure, and fun and excitement and room for cliffhangers and twists and reveals. And I think that’s really the spirit of the Star Wars that I grew up with.”

Directed by Dope and The Chi‘s Rick Famuyiwa, “Chapter 2: The Child” picks up moments after the pilot ends. Pedro Pascal’s title character has found his quarry, a baby of an alien race that’s intimately familiar yet so mysterious to Star Wars fans. While the baby is the same species as a classic character, only Lucas himself knows what exactly that species is and from what planet it hails.

That being said, The Child is certainly sought-after, as the Mando finds his trip to return the quarry to his client interrupted by alien bounty hunters, and a clan of those scavengers of the Star Wars universe known as Jawas. The bounty hunter also comes to learn the child in the floating, pod-like bassinet has incredible power.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘Ford v Ferrari’ and ‘Charlie’s Angels’ top this week’s new releases

© 2019 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.(NEW YORK) — Opening nationwide on Friday:

* Ford v Ferrari — This sports drama is based on the true story of engineer Carroll Shelby and race car driver Ken Miles, played respectively by Matt Damon and Christian Bale, who teamed up to build a car that could beat Ferrari for Ford Motor Company in 1966.  Tracy Letts, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Remo Girone and Ray McKinnon also star.  Rated PG-13.

* Charlie’s Angels — The latest film adaptation of the classic 1970s TV series, co-written and directed by Pitch Perfect‘s Elizabeth Banks, stars Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska as part of a new global generation of Angels working for Charlie Townshend, the never-seen owner of a private detective agency. This time, the girls risk their lives to protect the world from a dangerous new technology. The new take will feature multiple Bosleys, played by Banks, Djimon Hounsou and Patrick Stewart.  Robert Clotworthy stars as the voice of Charlie.  Sam Claflin and Noah Centineo appear in supporting roles.  Rated PG-13.

* The Good Liar — This crime thriller, based on Nicholas Searle’s novel of the same name, stars Ian McKellen as a career con-artist who meets a wealthy widow, played by Helen Mirren, and plans steal her fortune.  What should be a simple hustle turns into a high stakes game of cat-and-mouse. Rated R.

Opening in limited release on Friday:

* Waves — This drama follows “the epic emotional journey of a suburban African-American family” as they “navigate love, forgiveness and coming together in the aftermath of a loss.”  It stars Kelvin Harrison Jr., Lucas Hedges, Taylor Russell, Alexa Demie, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Sterling K. Brown.  Rated R.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

 

Vivica A. Fox says she’s not interested in Issa Rae’s ‘Set It Off’ remake

ABC/Eric McCandless(LOS ANGELES) — Vivica A. Fox is offering her thoughts on the reported Set It Off remake that Insecure creator Issa Rae is currently developing. According to Fox, Rae needs to “leave it alone.”

“It’s a classic, leave it alone,” Fox told Entertainment Tonight bluntly, while making a dissatisfied face. “There’s absolutely no reason to try to redo it. It’s been done, and we did it so well, that people are absolutely going to compare it to that and I think that’s her taking on a tremendous chore because that film has become a cult classic and some things are just better left.”

In the 1996 crime drama, directed by F. Gary Gray, Fox starred alongside Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and Kimberly Elise as a group of friends who, for different reasons, began robbing banks. They decision to rob ultimately led to their demise.

“Like, create your own franchise,” Fox continued. “If you want to do a new film of girls robbing banks, create your own thing. You can make it up to date. We did that film in 1996. We are in 2019, going into 2020. So, create your own thing because people are absolutely going to compare it to it, and she’ll probably, if it’s not good, they’re going to slay her for it.”

As previously reported, Rae is currently working on reimagining the classic film and could potentially star in it.

However, there is no word on who else would potentially star in the film.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Creator Jon Favreau, star Pedro Pascal unveil new episodes of ‘The Mandalorian’ at “really awesome” fan event

Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney(LOS ANGELES) — In Los Angeles Tuesday night, Disney+ held a red carpet event for The Mandalorian, the brand-new streaming service’s Star Wars spin-off, created by Iron Man director Jon Favreau and co-produced by he and Star Wars: The Clone Wars Emmy-winner Dave Filoni.

The first three episodes of the already-acclaimed show were screened at the event, which also attracted the show’s lead, Pedro Pascal, as well as co-stars Carl Weathers, Gina Carano, and Werner Herzog.

Also on hand were lots and lots of Star Wars fans. “I got to see, before anything, all of the fans,” Pascal said on the red carpet. “And it just makes me understand the beauty of creating something like this for people like them.”

He adds of the eight-episode show, “I think its heart is with the people that love Star Wars and love these stories. And so to manifest that so completely for people that love it is really beautiful…very inspiring.”

Favreau, thanks to his roles both behind and in front of the camera — he plays Happy Hogan in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — is no stranger to glitzy premieres. But this one was different, he noted. “The premiere is usually before the movie comes out. Now people have seen the first episode….[W]e already know what people’s reaction is. So this feels more like a party.”

He added, “You know, it’s fun on social media to see the reaction, but to actually see with a group of people, is really awesome.”

A similar three-episode screening was held in New York City Wednesday night — minus the red carpet.

On Friday, the second episode of The Mandalorian debuts on Disney+.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

350th ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ episode airs tonight; co-star Kevin McKidd calls it “intense”

ABC/Christopher Willard(NEW YORK) — (NOTE LANGUAGE) After numerous medical emergencies, doctor hook-ups and break-ups, and devastating character deaths, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy is marking a very special milestone tonight: its 350th episode.

In tonight’s installment, Ellen Pompeo’s Dr. Meredith Grey has to face off against the medical board, with the future of her long career hanging in the balance. And, while her future is uncertain, her past comes into play as well, ABC teases.

Actor Kevin McKidd appeared on Live with Kelly and Ryan Thursday, to preview the “intense” episode, and to marvel at Grey‘s longevity.

“It’s such a blessing,” McKidd, who plays Dr. Owen Hunt, joked.  “I started just as we’d done a hundred episodes and back then, people were like, ‘We’ve maybe got two more seasons.'”

Grey’s Anatomy, from creator Shonda Rhimes, debuted on March 27, 2005, and over the year’s it’s earned 39 Emmy nominations and five wins, including an Outstanding Supporting Actress trophy for Kathrine Heigl. But Heigel famously flamed out on the show — and eventually Hollywood’s A-List — when she took her name out of contention in the 2008 Emmy race, saying she didn’t think the material Rhimes gave her was good enough “to warrant an Emmy nomination.”

Meanwhile, Pompeo, 49, has become the highest-paid actress on television, with a salary of $20 million a year, plus other lucrative perks. She told The Hollywood Reporter last year, “I’ve finally gotten to the place where I’m OK asking for what I deserve, which is something that comes only with age…Because I’m not the most ‘relevant’ actress out there.”

“I know that’s the industry perception because I’ve been this character for 14 years,” she added. “But the truth is, anybody can be good on a show season one and two. Can you be good 14 years later? Now, that’s a f***n’ skill.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.