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‘The Connors’ takes on the New Hampshire primary in first live show

ABC/Eric McCandless(NEW YORK) — “Let’s get political” was the overarching theme of The Conners live show that aired Tuesday night on ABC.

The episode, which was performed live twice for different time zones, aired at the same time as the New Hampshire primaries. This allowed the show to incorporate live updates of the primary and also insert some not-so-subtle jabs at the current Democratic candidates during the half-hour long sitcom.

The story line followed Darlene’s children, Mark (Ames McNamara) and Harris (Emma Kenney), who are watching news reports on the primary. Mark has been assigned a school report on it, while Harris plays the cynical observer who considers the influence of money in politics a blockade to change.

As results were pouring in, McNamara calmly broke the news that entrepreneur Andrew Yang had pulled out of the race while joking that previews for The Bachelor were blocking the bottom half of the screen.

Other family members circulate through the room and spout off their opinions, such as proclaiming that the results would be “a lot more fair” if all the candidates got into “a rap battle at the local club.” 

The episode also focuses on the relationship between John Goodman’s Dan Conner and Louise (guest star Katey Sagal).

In addition to the political updates, The Connors aired a live commercial during the broadcast which took a moment to encourage people to go out and vote.

“You can’t make people feel stupid about their choice unless you vote,” Darlene quipped.

 Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Catherine Zeta-Jones adds adorable new puppy to the family

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) — A week after the tragic passing of her father-in-law Kirk Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones is focusing on the positive in her life.  Most notably, her adorable new puppy named Taylor.

The Oscar winner introduced fans to her new furbaby on Tuesday with a sweet video of her creeping up to Taylor’s crate as “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic” plays in the background.

As The Legend of Zorro star tiptoes closer, the camera focuses in on little Taylor curled up and snoozing soundly on his bed.  After a few glamour shots of the sleepy puppy, the video ends with the two bonding over a game of fetch.  

“Introducing Taylor Douglas to the world,” Zeta-Jones gushes in the video’s caption.  She also revealed in a subsequent comment that her new puppy is a maltipoo, a crossbreed between a toy poodle and maltese.  

Last Wednesday, the Chicago star and husband Michael Douglas announced the passing of Kirk Douglas, who died at the age of 103.

Zeta-Jones mourned her father-in-law’s death by posting a black and white photo of her kissing him on the cheek.  “To my darling Kirk,” wrote the actress, “I shall love you for the rest of my life. I miss you already. Sleep tight…”

The elder Douglas was laid to rest on Friday in a private ceremony. 

 

‘Cinderella’ movie adds Missy Elliott, James Corden and John Mulaney to its star-studded cast

ABC/Image Group LA

(NEW YORK) — If you need another reason to watch the Camila Cabello-led Cinderella remake, wait until you hear who else has been added to the star-studded cast list.

Deadline reports that rapper Missy Elliott, comedian John Mulaney, and late night talk show host James Corden have all signed on to the movie.  Elliott will reportedly play the Town Crier while Mulaney and Corden will star alongside stand-up comic Romesh Ranganathan as Cinderella’s mice sidekicks.  

Cinderella will be Elliott’s third movie. The five-time Grammy winner was previously cast in the films Pootie Tang and Shark Tale – along with being cast as herself for four other projects.

As for Mulaney, he’s still on the animal-kick for his second movie role, as he previously lent his voice to play Spider-Ham in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

On the other hand, Corden — who has starred in several movie musicals from Trolls to Into the Woods — is the one who “cracked the idea” of this reimagined version of Cinderella. Because of this, he will also be given credit as one of the film’s producers.

The movie also added Minnie Driver to play the mother of Cinderella’s love interest, Prince Robert — played by British actor Nicolas Galitzine.

The cast already boasts several A-listers, such as Frozen 2 star Idina Menzel playing opposite of Cabello as the evil stepmother while Pose star Billy Porter will come to the “Havana” singer’s rescue as her fairy godmother.

In addition, Pierce Brosnan will take on the role as the King, while Maddie Baillio and Charlotte Spencer will play Cabello’s wicked stepsisters. 

Cinderella will hit theaters February 5, 2021.  While Disney may have recently come out with a live-action remake of its classic animated film, the fairy tale itself is in the public domain.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Taryn Manning says she is “worried” about Britney Spears

Paramount/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Taryn Manning broke her silence about her old Crossroads co-star Britney Spears.

According to the Orange Is the New Black actress, she’s “worried.”

Posting a black and white screen cap of the critically-panned 2002 movie on Tuesday, Manning started off with a disclaimer that she is “not trying to get likes I could care less” before getting candid about Britney.

“I am worried about my friend and co-star,” Continues the concerned Boomkat vocalist, “Too many times we let one go a-stray and never bother to poke our heads around.  ‘Not my chair, not my problem.'”

Manning didn’t delve into details as to why she opened up about her former co-star, but vowed that Spears “is my focus.”  She also encouraged her followers to speak up in defense of Britney, writing “We care. Voice away angels this is your playground.”

Manning played Britney’s best friend Mimi — alongside Zoe Saldana as the Grammy winner’s other BFF Kit —  in the Crossroads movie.

The post reinvigorated the #FreeBritney hashtag, which first exploded in April 2019 when fans petitioned to have the “Toxic” singer freed from her conservatorship from father Jamie Spears.  Fans claimed the pop singer was being held against her will by her family. 

Shortly after, the hashtag grew in popularity when Britney checked herself into a mental health facility.

In September, the Spears patriarch was removed by a judge as his daughter’s conservator after requesting to step down amid his health battles.

However, he hand-picked Britney’s care manager, Jodi Montgomery, to take over for him until he’s healthy enough to resume his role.

Britney hasn’t made mention what is going on behind-the-scenes in her life, as she’s busy promoting her recently opened The Zone pop-up experience in Los Angeles, which runs through April.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

The claws come out: Visual effects artists aren’t laughing at the Oscars’ ‘CATS’ gag

Universal Pictures(LOS ANGELES) — One of the biggest laughs of Sunday night’s Oscars telecast was when Rebel Wilson and her CATS co-star, James Corden, came out in furry feline outfits to present the nominees for Outstanding Visual Effects.

“As cast members of the motion picture CATS, nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects,” the pair said on the Oscars stage, to laughs.  The bit was the actors’ obvious swipe at their own movie, the visual effects for which were flamed online even before CATS‘ inglorious debut.

However, visual effects artists on that film and others aren’t laughing.

In response to Corden and Wilson’s catty comments, the Visual Effects Society released a statement to industry trades, including Variety, saying, “…the producers chose to make visual effects the punchline, and suggested that bad VFX were to blame for the poor performance of the movie CATS. The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly.”

The statement continued, “On a night that is all about honoring the work of talented artists, it is immensely disappointing that The Academy made visual effects the butt of a joke. It demeaned the global community of expert VFX practitioners doing outstanding, challenging and visually stunning work to achieve the filmmakers’ vision.”

The statement added, “Our artists, technicians and innovators deserve respect for their remarkable contributions to filmed entertainment, and should not be presented as the all-too-convenient scapegoat in service for a laugh.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Macaulay Culkin defends Michael Jackson: “He never did anything to me”

Photo by Kevin Kane/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) — Last year, the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland once again raised the question of whether Michael Jackson was guilty of sexual abuse. But a star who was very close with the King of Pop during the ’90s tells Esquire magazine that he never saw any evidence of that.

Macaulay Culkin, who shot to fame as a child star in 1990’s Home Alone, was a good friend of Michael Jackson’s, and even appeared in his video for “Black or White.” He even testified in MJ’s defense during his 2005 abuse trial, at which Jackson was acquitted. Now, in a cover story, Culkin insists to Esquire that he has nothing bad to say about the late legend.

“I’m gonna begin with the line — it’s not a line, it’s the truth: He never did anything to me. I never saw him do anything. And especially at this flash point in time, I’d have no reason to hold anything back,” Culkin tells Esquire.

“The guy has passed on. If anything — I’m not gonna say it would be stylish or anything like that, but right now is a good time to speak up. And if I had something to speak up about, I would totally do it. But no, I never saw anything, he never did anything.”

Culkin then relates a story about running into James Franco on a plane.  He says Franco, referring to Leaving Neverland, said to him, “So, that documentary…what do you think?”

“I turned to him and I go, ‘Do you wanna talk about your dead friend?'” Culkin recalls. “And he sheepishly went, ‘No, I don’t.’ So I said, ‘Cool, man, it was nice to see you.'”

By the way, Culkin is godfather to MJ’s daughter Paris, and they’re close to this day — they even have matching tattoos.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘For Life’: 50 Cent, Isaac Wright Jr. and cast dish on the new ABC legal drama and its impact

L-R, Jackson, Pinnock, Wright — ABC/Arturo Holmes(NEW YORK) — Tonight, ABC premiers the new legal drama For Life, inspired by the true story of Isaac Wright Jr., a wrongfully imprisoned man, who, while incarcerated becomes a licensed attorney and steps in as a legal defense for his fellow inmates.

Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, who serves as executive producer on the series, says that when Wright told him about his journey and eventual exoneration, he immediately knew it should made into a series.

“I felt like that two hours wouldn’t do [his] story justice,” Jackson told ABC Audio. “I said, ‘Nah it’s a TV show.'”

Wright, who says he was content with the “most important parts of [his] story [being] told,” confirms 50 was the one who envisioned the series, adding, “this is something that people are going to want to hear and see every week.”

50 also had a vision for the show’s cast. Joy Bryant, who plays the estranged wife of the wrongly imprisoned Aaron Wallace, had previously starred alongside 50 in his 2005 loosely based biopic, Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Bryant says working with 50 again was definitely a “no brainer.”

“I’m very proud of how far he’s come and he’s killing it,” Bryant says of 50. “I think the fact that he recognized this amazing story and felt the need to help bring it to the world is extraordinary and a testament to his growth as not just an actor, really, but as a producer and a content creator.”

Nicholas Pinnock, who plays Aaron, adds the series “goes beyond” Isaac’s story.

“Even if you haven’t been through any of these things any of these people have been through, there are strands of loss, injustice, fighting for something that you can identify with,” he says.

For Life premieres at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘Outlander’ lead Caitriona Balfe calls first Oscars “wild”; touts success of Ford vs. Ferrari

20th Century Fox(LOS ANGELES) — For Outlander star Caitriona Balfe [Katrina BAL-fee], this is a big week. Not only did she just attend her first Oscars, at which her film Ford vs. Ferrari was nominated for Best Picture and won two trophies, but her beloved STARZ show, Outlander, launches its fifth season on Saturday.

James Mangold’s film saw Matt Damon and Christian Bale playing, respectively, American car designer Carroll Shelby and British-born driver Ken Miles, who in 1966 were tasked with the seemingly impossible mission of building a race car for Ford that could compete, and beat, Italian automaker Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans road race in France.

Balfe played Miles’ strong, spitfire of a wife, Mollie.

“It was wild,” Balfe explained to ABC Audio about attending Hollywood’s biggest night, “and very overwhelming.  It was just…amazing. I mean, it’s a very special night and it was just very cool to be there.”

Balfe added, “Our movie won two Oscars, and congratulations to Mike and Don and Andrew,” referring to winning film editors Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland, and winning sound editor Don Sylvester. “That was really awesome.”

Ford vs. Ferrari had a respectable box office opening in November but buoyed by great reviews, it consistently made money. Its take now stands at nearly $224 million worldwide.

Balfe says, “I think on the surface, people maybe, you know, underestimated it and kind of wrote it off as just this ‘car movie’, but really it’s…an amazing family film and and it’s just got so much heart to it. And it’s about friendship and teamwork and love and all those things. And, you know, it really gets under your skin, which I think is a good thing.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

“Nervous!” The cast of ‘The Conners’ sound off about tonight’s live show

ABC/Adam Rose(LOS ANGELES) — The Conners is going live!

While the show is filmed live in front of a studio audience on the regular, the sitcom is going live on both coasts tonight, in an episode that will incorporate the news of the day — which includes the Democratic primary in New Hampshire.

“Nervous!” is how Laurie Metcalf and her co-star and producer, Sara Gilbert, described to ABC Audio their feelings about the special show.

Metcalf is no stranger to performing live, as she’s a Tony-winning, veteran stage actress, but the episode is different.

Yes, theater is live, but you’ve rehearsed for four weeks and you know what you’re doing and and it’s not being recorded for posterity,” Metcalf laughed.

“Yeah, no one can play back your mistakes, right?” Gilbert added.

The actresses explained how different the usual live recording of The Conners is compared to tonight’s show. “Well, we we do each scene at least two times, maybe three. But this [episode] won’t,” said Mecalf.

Gilbert comments that flubs on a recorded show are common, and, “it’s like not a big deal really. If you make a mistake — like you try not to — but mistakes happen, almost every scene!”

She adds, “This is different. I’m going to be drilling my lines.”

As for tonight’s episode, the plot details are still under wraps. “I do know,” producer Gilbert hints, “but I don’t know how much of that I’m allowed to say. But with all I can say is we, you know, at least one of the characters is following the primary.”

The Conners airs at 8 p.m. on ABC; the episode will be performed live twice, to take into account viewers on the East and West Coasts.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

After disappointing debut, Warner Bros. changes ‘Birds of Prey’ title to spotlight Harley Quinn

Warner Bros.(NEW YORK) — What’s in a name? Ask Warner Bros. After a its new movie Birds of Prey failed to slay at the box office over the weekend, the studio is reportedly switching things up to spotlight its star, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn.

Meet Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.

While the official title has always been Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), that’s not fitting on any marquee, so Birds of Prey was chosen instead — however, the studio apparently feels that created some confusion with some moviegoers, who didn’t realize the film was the spin-off of Robbie’s character, who many saw as the highlight of the commercially successful but critically drubbed Suicide Squad.

Birds of Prey scored well with fans and critics, which is what’s likely behind WB giving the movie a fresh coat of paint.

Purists also sniffed that Birds of Prey was a DC Comics series that didn’t have anything to do with Harley, and instead centered on the characters Huntress, Black Canary, and Detective Renee Montoya, who were more part of Harley’s squad as presented in the movie. They were played, respectively by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and Rosie Perez.

Incidentally, this re-titling is reminscent of 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow being quickly re-launched as Live, Die, Repeat, when some thought the Tom Cruise sci-fi film sounded more like a romantic movie a la The Notebook, and not the time-skipping action thriller it actually was.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.