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‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ stars post heartfelt message calling for ousted director James Gunn to be reinstated

Marvel Studios(LOS ANGELES) — In a unified message posted to their social media pages, the stars of Guardians of the Galaxy — Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Pom Klementieff and brother Sean Gunn — have rallied in support of their ousted director James Gunn.

The filmmaker behind the first two blockbuster Guardians movies was recently fired from Volume 3 by Marvel Studios parent company Disney, after offensive old tweets of his were unearthed.

The firing sent shockwaves through Hollywood, and fans started a petition to ask Disney — Marvel and ABC News’ parent company — to reinstate him.

This newest posting from the film’s stars begins, “To our friends and fans: We fully support James Gunn.”

The lengthy message continued, in part: “We were all shocked by his abrupt firing last week and have intentionally waited these days to respond in order to think, pray, listen, and discuss.”

They say “being in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies has been a great honor in each of our lives. We cannot let this moment pass without expressing our love, support, and gratitude for James.”

“We are not here to defend his jokes of many years ago, but, they add, “The character he has shown in the wake of his firing is consistent with the man he was every day on set, and his apology, now and from years ago when first addressing these remarks, we believe is from the heart, a heart we all know, trust, and love,” the letter states.

“We believe the [movie’s] theme of redemption has never been more relevant than now.”

The message concluded with a hope that, “what has transpired can serve as an example for all of us to realize the enormous responsibility we have to ourselves and to each other regarding the use of our written words.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘The Big Bang Theory’ creator Chuck Lorre’s thoughts on CBS CEO Les Moonves allegations: “Workplace needs to be safe”

Art Streiber/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. ©2015 — WBEI/Bill Inoshita/CBS 2013 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.(LOS ANGELES) — Chuck Lorre, creator of CBS TV’s biggest shows, including The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon and Mom, has worked closely with CBS President and CEO Les Moonves — the latest entertainment figure to face allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior.  So it’s not surprising Lorre was asked to give his thoughts on the accusations at this weekend’s Television Critics Association press tour over the weekend.

Lorre avoided giving direct answers, saying he didn’t consider his panel the “proper venue” to discuss the allegations but stressed the workplace needs to be safe.

“You can’t do good work in an unsafe environment,” said Lorre. “It has to be made safe for everyone…Why would anyone want to go to work in an environment that’s not nurturing. You certainly can’t do comedy if you’re frightened.”

Lorre went on: “I can’t believe we actually have that conversation. That just goes without saying. That’s that’s common courtesy and decency to take care of each other.”

He also drew laughs when he added, “I have been in some unsafe work environments in television.  You can read about them.”  Lorre was notoriously fired from the original Roseanne after butting heads with Roseanne Barr, and also endured very public insults from Charlie Sheen after firing him from Two and a Half Men, which Lorre created and produced, due to his drug and alcohol abuse.

An article published in The New Yorker last week alleges Moonves engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior, including unwanted kissing and touching that occurred over 20 years ago.

Moonves has denied the allegations, but acknowledges there were times “decades ago” when he “may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances.” He adds, “Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Will “fat shaming” petition take a bite out of Netflix’s ‘Insatiable’?

Tina Rowden/Netflix(LOS ANGELES) — A Change.org petition is demanding Netflix cancel its original series Insatiable, before it even airs. The petition had more than 204,000 signatures as of Sunday night from people accusing the series — about a formerly overweight high school girl who takes revenge on the kids who bullied her — of “fat-shaming,” based on the trailer released Thursday.

Netflix defended the show at the TCA press tour, saying, “The creator [Lauren Gussis] felt very strongly about exploring these issues based on her own experiences, but satirically.”

In a Twitter post captioned “My Truth,” Gussis writes, in part, “When I was 13, I was suicidal. My best friends dumped me, and I wanted revenge.”  She adds, “This show is a cautionary tale about how damaging it can be to believe the outsides are more important — to judge without going deeper.  Please give the show a chance…”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘Mission: Impossible’ star Ving Rhames says police held him at gunpoint after neighbor reported “large black man” breaking into home

© 2018 Paramount Pictures(LOS ANGELES) — Mission: Impossible — Fallout star Ving Rhames is speaking out about a time he had to deal with racism, on his own front doorstep. 

In an interview Friday with Clay Cane on SiriusXM, the 59-year-old actor explained that he was held at gunpoint in his Santa Monica home after a neighbor called police to report there was a “large black man” breaking into his house. 

“This happened this year,” Rhames recalled. “I open the door and there is a red dot pointed at my face from a 9mm, and they say, ‘Put up your hands.’ Literally.”

Rhames went on to explain that he was wearing just basketball shorts when he was greeted by officers and a police dog at his door. Fortunately, said Rhames, one of the officers immediately recognized him because their children often play sports together and quickly deescalated the situation. The officers explained that they received a call from one of his neighbors that there was a “large black man breaking into the house.”

Rhames said he and the officers went to that neighbor’s house across the street but they denied ever making the call.

Though the situation ended quickly, Rhames said he understands the significance of the situation. 

“What if it was my son and he had a video game remote or something and you thought it was a gun? I don’t know, just like Trayvon [Martin] had a bag of Skittles,” Rhames said, referring to the unarmed black Florida teen who was shot and killed in 2012 after being confronted by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

Mission: Impossible — Fallout debuted in first place over the weekend with a franchise-best $61.5 million domestically and $153.5 million globally.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Adam Rippon, Val Chmerkovskiy and choreographer Mandy Moore to judge ‘Dancing With the Stars: Juniors’

ABC(NEW YORK) — Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon, two-time Mirror Ball champ Val Chmerkovsky and La La Land choreographer Mandy Moore will be judges for the upcoming spin-off series, Dancing With the Stars: Juniors.

The judges for the highly-anticipated new competition that pairs celebrity kids with professional, pint-sized, ballroom dancers were revealed on Good Morning America today.

Moore is an Emmy Award-winning choreographer who is most known as the dancing genius behind some of the most famous musical numbers in the smash-hit La La Land.

Rippon is the reigning Mirror Ball champion, and an Olympic medalist who stole America’s hearts during the past Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Chmerkovskiy is a longtime DWTS pro and two-time Mirror Ball champion.

Dancing With the Stars: Juniors will premiere on Sunday, Oct. 7 on ABC. Plus, season 27 of the original Dancing With the Stars will return on Monday, Sept. 24.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘Mission: Impossible — Fallout’ tops the box office with franchise-best debut

L-R: Henry Cavill, Tom Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson in “Mission: Impossible — Fallout”; Chiabella James/© 2018 Paramount Pictures(NEW YORK) — Paramount’s Mission: Impossible — Fallout topped the weekend box office, earning an estimated $61.5 million — the largest three-day opening in the history of the franchise, topping Mission: Impossible II‘s $57.8 million debut back in 2000.

It also marks Paramount’s largest opening since 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles‘ $65.5 million, and the second-largest opening weekend for Fallout‘s star, Tom Cruise.  His best opening remains 2005’s War of the Worlds, which debuted with $64.8 million domestically.

Overseas, Mission: Impossible — Fallout delivered an estimated $92 million — 19 percent better than Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, making it also the biggest international opening in the franchise’s history.

Mama Mia! Here We Go Again finished in second place it’s second week out with an estimated $15 million, followed by The Equalizer 2, dropping from first to third in week two with an estimated $14 million.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation landed in fourth place, earning an estimated $12.3 million, bringing its total stateside to just under $20 million in its third week of release.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies was a no-go in its opening weekend. DC Comics’ animated superhero comedy featuring the voices of Nicolas Cage, Will Arnett and Kristen Bell rounds out the top five with a much lower-than-expected $10.5 million.

Here are the top 10 movies from Friday through Sunday, with estimated box office:

1. Mission: Impossible, Fallout, $61.5 million
2. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, $15 million
3. The Equalizer 2, $14 million
4. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, $12.3 million
5. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, $10.5 million
6. Ant-Man and the Wasp 2, $8.4 million
7. Incredibles 2, $7.157 million
8. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, $6.775 million
9. Skyscraper, $5.4 million
10. The First Purge, $2.2 million

 Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

“Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris leaving ABC Studios: “It has been an incredible ride”

ABC/Rick Rowell(HOLLYWOOD) — Kenya Barris, creator, producer and showrunner of ABC’s Black-ish and Freeform’s Grown-ish, is leaving ABC Studios, Variety reports.  His current deal wasn’t set to expire until 2021.

While Barris will remain an executive producer of his shows Black-ish will now have two new co-showrunners, both of whom have deals with ABC Studios.

Earlier this year, there were reports that Netflix was looking to hire Barris, but as Variety noted, he couldn’t move to the streaming service without negotiating some sort of exit from ABC.

Last year, Shonda Rhimes left ABC Studios for a nine-figure deal with Netflix.

Variety reports that in a statement, Barris said, “It has been an incredible ride including a Peabody and Golden Globe win, Emmy nominations, and many other accolades. But most importantly, [ABC Studios has] allowed me to realize my dream of creating my own shows and I’m so proud of the work we’ve done together.”

He added, “No matter what, the studio has never wavered in their support of my creative vision. Leaving is bittersweet, but between my series on the air and projects currently in development, I know I’ll continue to work with ABC Studios for a long time.”

In March, Variety reported that ABC had shelved a Black-ish episode which Barris had written and directed, which dealt with current events such as athletes taking a knee during the anthem.  At the time, Barris told Variety, “Given our creative differences, neither ABC nor I were happy with the direction of the episode and mutually agreed not to air it.”

In June, Barris said that he was prepared to quit ABC after Roseanne Barr’s controversial tweet about former Obama administration adviser Valerie Jarrett.  But when ABC canceled Barr’s sitcom, he decided to stay.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Omari Hardwick explains why this season of ‘Power’ has been the most “challenging” and “difficult” for him

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Omari Hardwick – ABC/Fred Lee(NEW YORK) — Omari Hardwick has played a lot of intense characters during his career, but the Sorry to Bother You star says playing the gritty “calm, cool collected” and “uber-bright” character of James “Ghost” St. Patrick on Starz’ Power  has been the most challenging for him as an actor.

“[He’s] a character we don’t really get to see a lot,” Hardwick tells ABC Radio, after listing Ghost’s qualities. “I know a lot of those colors are in Omari otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten the part, but this season, out of all the seasons, definitely was the most difficult for me to play that guy every single week.”

Understandably, this season of Power has been more demanding for Hardwick than the last. In season four, Hardwick says he specifically, “asked the writers room and Courtney [Kemp]” to allow him to “method” act and let his “eyes to do the talking.” However, for this season, that just wasn’t possible.

“But this season there’s more than his eyes doing the talking because of the loss of his daughter, he’s unraveling before our very eyes,” he explains.

For Omari, this season also hit close to home.

“I think it challenged me differently in the sense that I’m not just an empathizer, I’m an actual father,” he says. “So, as a parent you get to a place where it becomes a lot more than empathy. And I’m also sort of a father after five seasons too, to Donshea’s Raina. How could I not be?”

Omari continues, “And as much as people on the streets want me to knock Tariq upside his head…those two are my definite subjugated kids outside of Brave and Nova being my real kids.” 

Power airs Sunday nights at 8:00 ET on Starz.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Daveed Diggs & Rafeal Casal discuss their Oakland-based drama, ‘Blindspotting’; want to tell more hometown stories

Photo Credit: Ariel Nava(NEW YORK) — Real-life friends and Oakland natives Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal have teamed up for their Oakland based drama, Blindspotting.

The film centers on Diggs’ character, Collin, and the complicated relationship he has with his best friend, Miles. Casal, who plays Miles, says they wanted to make the film to authentically showcase their city.

“We really tried to rely on making the film come across as intimately as it was made,” Casal tells ABC Radio. “And so, there were these crossroads, where it was like, ‘Oh well, you know, we could ask so-and-so big-name person to be in it and that would give us a little candy coat here.’ [But] we really just leaned into telling the story in the way that felt the most sincere to the place and the people.”

For former Hamilton star Diggs, it’s been somewhat of a surreal experience to see so many support his indie project, which he reveals was shot in only 22 days. 

“So like as grateful as we are to the reviewers who have been highly positive about it, who have really been pushing people to go see, this is an indie,” Diggs says. “There’s not a ton of budget behind it.”

Even with Blindspotting just being a “small film,” Casal knows what a big response at the box office would mean for them.

“It would mean that we get to make more films,” he says. “It would mean that there’s more exciting stories that we can both tell ourselves and create opportunities for other people in our community to tell those stories. The Bay Area is having some kind of moment that people are interested in, which is beautiful. Let’s just keep that going.”

Blindspotting opens nationwide today.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams & the late Carrie Fisher will all appear in “Star Wars: Episode IX”

Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney(HOLLYWOOD) — Carrie Fisher may have left us, but General Leia Organa lives on.

Despite denials last year that the late actress would appear in Star Wars: Episode IX, Disney announced Friday that Fisher’s Leia Organa will indeed be present in the film, “using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Director J.J. Abrams says in a statement, “We desperately loved Carrie Fisher. Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast, or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie [Lourd], we have found a way to honor Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”

In addition to Fisher, Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, will be back for the new movie, despite the fact that he appeared to die…er…become one with The Force at the end of The Last Jedi.  Not only that, but Billy Dee Williams is also slated to appear, reprising his role as Lando Calrissian.

Also returning are Anthony Daniels, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Kelly Marie Tran and Domhall Gleesan, as well as Joonas Sutamo as Chewbacca.  Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd is also a returning cast member.

Composer John Williams, who has scored every Star Wars movie since 1977, will do the honors again for Episode IX.

Star Wars: Episode IX is scheduled to be released in December of 2019.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.