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Angelica Ross makes history with her ‘American Horror Story’ role

Michael Parmelee/FX(LOS ANGELES) — (NOTE: POSE SPOILER ALERT)  Pose actress Angelica Ross is taking Hollywood by storm and making history while she’s doing it.

After her abrupt departure from Ryan Murphy’s hit FX show on Tuesday, Ross announced on Wednesday that she’s already landed her next role on Murphy’s other hit show, American Horror Story: 1984.

“I am ELATED to make history as the first trans actor to secure 2 series regular roles, leaping from #PoseFX to #AHS1984,” she tweeted. “Thank you @MrRPMurphy for the gift of playing Candy & creating my newest role on American Horror Story! I’m so honored & excited to join the @AHSFX family!!!”

Ross has been cast as a series regular on the upcoming season, which is set to pay homage to 1980s slasher films.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ross touched on how Candy’s violent death is an all-to-real scenario for trans women of color.

“It’s one of those things that I feel like, as soon as I heard the information, [I] was devastated and wanted to first ask, ‘Why? Why me? Why Candy?’” she said. “It was just such an echo of the same sentiment to any black trans woman that’s been passing week after week. Why them?”

American Horror Story: 1984 will premiere Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 10 p.m. ET on FX.

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Disney’s newest Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge ride will make its debut this winter

Disney(ORLANDO) — Disney has announced opening dates for its newest Star Wars attraction.

The new ride, called “Rise of the Resistance,” will open at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida on December 5, which just so happens to be Walt Disney’s birthday. It will be part of Hollywood Studios’ brand new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge section, set to open on August 29.

It will later launch at Disneyland’s own recently opened Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Anaheim, California on January 17. So far, Disneyland’s Galaxy Edge only has one ride: “Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.”

According to the official Disney Parks blog, “Rise of the Resistance” will “blur the lines between fantasy and reality.” It begins with guests joining Rey and General Organa at a secret base. Along the way, they will be captured by a First Order Star Destroyer.  The two will then have to break out, avoid Kylo Ren and protect the secret base.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

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Harvey Weinstein’s new lawyer says he was “railroaded” by #MeToo movement

Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A new attorney for Harvey Weinstein says the movie mogul was “railroaded” by the #MeToo movement.

Weinstein appeared in a New York court Thursday morning to petition a judge to approve his newly retained lawyers, Donna Rotunno and Damon Cheronis.

The award-winning film producer faces five sexual misconduct charges involving the accusations of two women, but Rotunno insisted the relationships Weinstein had with his accusers were consensual.

Rotunno said the facts revealed to date do not represent the whole story.

“Emotion of this case has taken over,” Rotunno told reporters outside the courthouse. “There is a truth you have not reported on.”

Claiming that Weinstein has been “railroaded” by #MeToo, Rotunno said that “movements allow emotion to take over.”

Rotunno also said that, as a woman, she would be able to more effectively cross-examine a female witness.

She added that she and Cheronis are “honored to represent Mr Weinstein.”

Weinstein is on his third set of criminal defense attorneys. Earlier this year he let go celebrity attorney Benjamin Brafman and turned to Jose Baez, known for representing high-profile clients, including Casey Anthony.

Baez, however, said that he and Weinstein developed “fundamental disagreements” about his representation, and at Thursday’s court appearance, Baez asked the judge for permission to leave the case.

Weinstein’s new team of Rotunno and Cheronis are well-known criminal defense lawyers in Chicago, but have never tried a case in New York.

Weinstein has been free on $1 million bail pending trial. Separate attorneys have been working on a settlement in bankruptcy court with dozens of women who have accused him of sexual misconduct.

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‘How to Get Away with Murder’ to end with upcoming sixth season

ABC/Bob D’Amico(LOS ANGELES) — How to Get Away with Murder is officially plotting its final season.

ABC has announced that the Viola Davis-starring drama’s upcoming sixth season will be its last. The series’ final run of 15 episodes will kick off Thursday, September 26 at 10:00 p.m. ET.

This season will follow Davis’ Professor Annalise Keating guiding her class through their final semester of law school. According to the network, “The deception, fear and guilt binding Professor Keating to her students prove deadlier than ever.”

Series creator Pete Nowalk says in a statement that deciding to end the series was a “brutal decision” but noted that Keating’s journey “has always had a clear ending.”

“Knowing I have 15 episodes left to finish her story, and the chance to give all the characters their own killer endings, is a gift rarely given to a series creator and I’m grateful to ABC and ABC Studios for the opportunity and creative freedom,” he says.

The show earned Davis a 2015 Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, making her the first woman of color to win an Emmy in that category. In addition to the Emmy, Davis has won two SAG Awards, a People’s Choice Award and an NAACP Image Award for the role.

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‘Stranger Things’ star Millie Bobby Brown launches collection of customizable Converse sneakers

Matt Winkelmeyer/FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) — Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown wants you to walk a mile in her shoes.

The 15-year-old actress has just launched a new line of fun, customizable Converse sneakers called “Millie By You,” which highlights her love of whales and the ocean, as well as DIY fashion.

“The coolest part is YOU get to customize and create your own unique pair of Chucks with prints, colors and materials chosen by ME!” Brown writes on Instagram. “Go design your pair now!!!!”

The sneakers, including both high top and low top Chuck Taylors, run for $85. You can put your personal touch on them by choosing from “youthful orca or wave prints, a sunset-inspired color palette and matching sea-worthy ankle patches.”

The collab is available now on Converse.com.

Stranger Things season three is on Netflix now.

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Matt Lauer’s wife files for divorce after 20 years of marriage

Jemal Countess/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Matt Lauer and his wife Annette Roque’s 20-year marriage is over.

Roque filed for divorce Tuesday, two years after splitting with the disgraced former Today show co-host.   Lucian Chalfen, director of public information for the New York State Unified Court System, confirmed the news to People magazine.

“The case, which is an uncontested matrimonial, was filed on July 9th in State Supreme Court in Suffolk County, New York and is awaiting judicial review of the agreement,” says Chalfen. “Upon a judge’s signature, it will be sent to the court clerk’s office to be entered. The process could take up to a few months.”

“The matter has been settled,” Roque’s attorney, John Teitler, told the magazine.

Lauer, 61, and Roque, a 52-year-old a former Dutch model, tied the knot in 1998. They share three children, two boys and a girl, ages 18 to 12.

Lauer was previously married to television producer Nancy Alspaugh from 1981-88.

A fixture on the Today show for two decades, Lauer was abruptly fired by NBC News in November of 2017 for alleged inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.

Following the termination, Lauer expressed his regret in a statement, saying in part, “Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed.”

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‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’ actress Denise ‘Violet’ Nickerson dies at 62

Denise Nickerson in 2014; Steve Granitz/WireImageDenise Nickerson, the actress best known for playing Violet Beauregard in the 1971 version of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, died late Wednesday night after being taken off life support, her family announced on Facebook. She was 62 years old.

Nickerson suffered a stroke in June of 2018, landing her in the ICU. Despite a stint in a rehab facility later that year, her health continued to deteriorate.

“They just took off all the equipment. None of it was helping, but making her only more uncomfortable.  We’re telling her it’s okay to let go,” her son, Josh Nickerson, announced early Wednesday on Facebook.

Josh and his wife, Jasmine, created a GoFundMe page on Wednesday, where they explained that after Denise “got into her medicines and took as much as she could,” Josh stopped her and rushed her to the ER, where she suffered a massive seizure, later entering a “coma-like” state.

Josh and Jasmine started the page to raise money for “after death expenses. As of 3:30 a.m ET on Thursday, they’d raised over $11,000 surpassing their $10,000 goal. 

Before playing the gum-chewing Violet, who turns into a giant blueberry in the classic film opposite Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka, Nickerson appeared on the PBS series The Electric Company as Alison, and on the daytime drama Dark Shadows, where she played Amy Jennings from 1968-70.

Nickerson also appeared in soap opera Search for Tomorrow, in addition to several other small film roles, before giving up acting to become a nurse when she was 21.

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The Duffer Brothers say ‘Stranger Things’ season four will expand outside Hawkins

Netflix(LOS ANGELES) — Stranger Things has yet to get the official green light from Netflix for a season four, but the show’s creators Ross and Matt Duffer already have an idea of where the next season would go.

The Duffer Brothers tell Entertainment Weekly that season four is “going to feel very different than this season.”

“I think the biggest thing that’s going to happen is it’s going to open up a little bit, not necessarily in terms of scale, in terms of special effects, but open up in terms of allowing plot lines into areas outside of Hawkins,” Matt says.

Ross adds that the post-credits scene we see at the end of season three will “play a huge role in a potential season four.”

Executive producer Shawn Levy says, “Certainly season three ends with several plot strands that are separate from each other. And should there be a season four, I think we’ll see them all explored.”

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Regina King to direct adaptation of play about Muhammad Ali, Sam Cooke, Malcolm X and Jim Brown

Credit: ABC/Rick Rowell(LOS ANGELES) — Regina King is taking her directing talents to the big screen.

According to Deadline, the Oscar-winner has been tapped to direct a film adaptation of One Night in Miami, based on Kemp Powers’ stage play of the same name. The film will mark King’s first major theatrical directorial debut; she previously directed the BET film Let The Church Say Amen. 

Like the play, the film will follow a fictional account of a real-life incident in which Muhammad Ali — then known then as Cassius Clay — spent an evening hanging out with football star Jim Brown, activist Malcolm X and singer Sam Cooke.

Set on February 25, 1964, the film follows Clay as he leaves the Miami Beach Convention Center as the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion after defeating Sonny Liston. However, he can’t party in Miami Beach because of Jim Crow-era segregation laws, so he ends up spending his night at the Hampton House Motel in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood celebrating with three pals:  Cooke, Brown and Malcolm X.

After their night out, according to Deadline, the men emerge the next morning “determined to define a new world.”

The film will also feature the music of Cooke, including his iconic song, “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

This is the latest project for King, who will soon been seen in HBO’s Watchmen series.

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Oprah Winfrey, Kanye West, Denzel Washington make the list of notable Hollywood philanthropists

ABC/Heidi Gutman(LOS ANGELES) — Oprah Winfrey, Kanye West, and Denzel Washington are showing what it means to give back.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the three powerhouses gave back in a major way during the 2018-19 year, donated millions to some of their favorite charities and organizations.

Winfrey topped the short list with a $22.5M donation of her Weight Watchers company stock to her Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation. Her charity supports her Leadership Academy in South Africa and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Meanwhile, Kanye West pledged $10 million to the Turrell Art Foundation to build exploratory spaces in the Roden Crater. Artist James Turrell has already been working on the spaces, which consist of a series of rooms and tunnels inside the crater, an extinct volcano in Arizona’s Painted Desert.

As for Denzel, the Oscar-winner decided to give back to a familiar organization. The actor made his second million-dollar pledge in support Wiley College’s debate team, the inspiration behind his 2007 film The Great Debaters.

In addition to giving back, Washington is set to return to his Glory days later this month.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Washington’s 1989 award-winning movie, for which he received his first Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, will hit theaters on Sunday, July 21 and Wednesday, July 24 .

The film, starring Washington as Pvt. Trip — a former slave who volunteers to be part of the 54th Massachusetts, a Union regiment made up of black soldiers — will be released in more than 600 theaters nationwide to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary.

For more information and a list of participating theaters and tickets, go to FathomEvents.com

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