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Jeff Daniels on seeing a more flawed side to Atticus Finch in Broadway’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for ‘To Kill A Mockingbird”(NEW YORK) — Since it debuted on Broadway in December, To Kill a Mockingbird has pulled in historic box office numbers and enthralled audiences with its updated take on Harper Lee’s classic 1960 novel.

Adapted for the stage by Aaron Sorkin, the play stars Jeff Daniels as small town Southern lawyer Atticus Finch and Gbenga Akinnagbe as the wrongly-accused man he defends in court, Tom Robinson. The play shows us a more flawed version of the heroic Atticus than we’ve come to know.

“We aren’t playing the white savior on the white horse…which is what Atticus has become,” Daniels explains to ABC Radio. “You don’t start as the great Atticus Finch, and that was our choice early on.”

Daniel explains as Atticus goes through Tom’s trial the experience changes him: “You just don’t go back to your porch and have a bourbon [after that],” he says.

The play also chose to use adult actors to portray the children, Scout, Jem and Dill, as well as give more insight into what Tom is going through. Akinnagbe says the injustice Tom faces is still very much relevant today.

“There were some things I related very well to Tom with,” Akinnagbe says. “It wasn’t that strange to me. Growing up in a country that is prejudice, that has a legal system that is prejudice and with the power dynamics, class and patriarchy being so out of whack, those things are still very much as they were in 1934, where the play is set.”

In addition to its Broadway run, the play will begin a two-year national tour, launching at the Kennedy Center in August 2020.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

HBO isn’t happy about President Trump’s ‘Game of Thrones’-themed “No Collusion” tweet

HBO(NEW YORK) — As Attorney General William Barr delivered The Mueller Report Thursday, President Trump reacted with a Game Of Thrones-themed tweet — and HBO, which airs the wildly popular series, isn’t thrilled about that.

The president tweeted a smoke-filled picture that shows Trump looking away from the camera, and the words “No collusion. No obstruction. For the haters and the radical left Democrats – Game Over.”  Those last two words were written in Game of Thrones‘ signature font.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, HBO released a statement saying, “Though we can understand the enthusiasm for Game of Thrones now that the final season has arrived, we still prefer our intellectual property not be used for political purposes.” 

This isn’t the first time Trump’s borrowed the font, either.  Last year, he tweeted a meme in the same font, along with the phrase, “Sanctions are coming,” a parody of the show’s famous “Winter is coming” line, referring to sanctions on Iran.

At the time, HBO told the Hollywood Reporter, “We were not aware of this messaging and would prefer our trademark not be misappropriated for political purposes.”

However, the cable channel hasn’t taken any legal action to dissuade Trump from continuing to use the show’s imagery or fonts.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Helicopters, hakas, and “Black Superman”: The new ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ trailer has it all

Universal Pictures(LOS ANGELES) — It’s hard to remember that the Fast & Furious series started nearly 20 years ago as a movie about street racing culture in Los Angeles. It’s especially hard to remember that fact when you get to the part in the new trailer for Hobbs & Shaw — a spin-off from the franchise — where Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is reeling in an attack helicopter like a hooked tuna.

And strangely, that’s not even the craziest part.

The franchise has now entered the superhero genre as Johnson’s Luke Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw become unlikely allies in a mission to stop a genetically-modified terrorist named Brixton, played by Idris Elba.

“I’m black Superman!” Brixton boasts, as he simultaneously fights Hobbs and Shaw as a Cold War-era missile silo crashes down around them.

Realizing they can’t beat Brixton when it comes to tech, Hobbs, Shaw, and Shaw’s sister, played by Vanessa Kirby, “go old school,” traveling to Hobbs’ Pacific Island home, which apparently has little access to technology.

There, Hobbs gathers an army of his islander family members, leading them in a “haka,” or war dance, before they go into battle with Brixton’s mercenary army. 

Dame Helen Mirren reappears as Shaw’s incarcerated mum, and actress Eiza González also stars.

The Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, directed by stuntman-turned Deadpool 2 director David Leitch, opens August 2.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Fox cancels Lil Rel-starring comedy ‘Rel’ after one season

ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) — The freshman Fox comedy Lil Rel has officially been cancelled.

According to Deadline, Fox has decided to the end the Lil Rel Howery-starring series after only one season. The show, loosely based on the life of Howery, was executive-produced by comic and writer Jerrod Carmichael, who starred with Rel on the now defunct NBC series The Carmichael Show.

It followed Rel as an arrogant, successful man who believed that “great things will come” if you believe in yourself. However, his ideology was put to the test after he learned his wife cheated on him with his barber.

The series also starred comedian-actor Sinbad as Lil Rel’s father, as well as social media star Jessica “Jess Hilarious” Moore, and Jordan L. Jones.

Rel took to Instagram to share the news and thank fans for their support.

“I want to thank all the loyal 2 million plus people that tuned in every week to my show… I’m so proud of what we did and it was a dream come true,” he wrote, captioning an image of the Deadline article.

“I got a chance to not only create a show based off my material and some real life events, I got to work and create magic with my friends… God is so good and I’m truly blessed.”

He continued, “Thanks again for the huge opportunity and it’s on to the next one… I learned a lot and it’s still a huge accomplishment for me to pull this off… I wanted to make a dramatic comedy with heart and I did that… I know I made you proud Mom!!!!!! #REL.”

20th Century Fox – which produced Rel – is now a part of Disney, ABC’s parent company.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Judge rules ‘Stranger Things’ plagiarism suit can head to trial

Netflix(LOS ANGELES) — Lawsuits leveled at popular TV shows or movies claiming they were ripped off from somebody else’s idea spring up all the time in Hollywood, and are generally dismissed just as quickly.  However, a lawsuit against Matt and Ross Duffer, the creators of Netflix’s Stranger Things, is actually headed to trial, Billboard reports.

The plaintiff, Charlie Kessler, claims he was chatting with the Duffers, who were then unknown, at a Tribeca Film Festival party back in 2014. Kessler alleges he told them about a script he was working on called The Montauk Project, about the paranormal goings on at a former military base.  Kessler claims the brothers ripped off his ideas to create their own paranormal hit.  

While Netflix’s legal eagles call the lawsuit “without merit,” according to Billboard, a judge in Los Angeles on Wednesday denied a summary judgment that would have put the matter to bed for the brothers.

According to Billboard, Michael Kernan, attorney for Kessler, has issued a statement saying, in part, “We can now dispense with the nonsense promoted by the Duffers and Netflix that this lawsuit has no merit, and that they had ‘proof’ that they created the show. If the lawsuit had no merit, or if they actually had the ‘proof’ they created it, then their summary judgment would have won. They lost.”
Furthermore, Kessler’s attorney is claiming Kessler had an “implied contract” with the brothers — something they denied — and should get a third of whatever they earned from writing and producing the series.

If the case goes to trial — as opposed to being settled out of court — the proceedings are expected to start next month.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Watch now: New ‘Child’s Play’ trailer shows the deadly side of connected living

Orion Pictures(LOS ANGELES) — Technology has come a long way since 1988’s Child’s Play, so it’s makes sense that for the upcoming reboot of the classic horror flick, the murderous doll Chucky has gotten a major upgrade.

The second trailer for the June 21 release shows that Chucky has been reborn as Buddi, a “smart toy” made by a huge technology company.  Like many connected devices, he’s wired into an app, but unfortunately, he’s also wired into just about every other “smart” device, from home heating systems to appliances to cars.

As you can imagine, that makes him much more dangerous than his previous incarnations.

In this retelling, Aubrey Plaza plays a single mother who gifts a Buddi doll to her son, played by Gabriel Bateman, to keep the kid company when they move to a new city. They don’t hit it off, to say the least.

“Something’s wrong with Chucky!” the kid says, in the understatement of the year.

Mark Hamill voices the doll this time around, replacing Brad Douriff in the role.  In the new clip, we hear Hamill for the first time, whispering menacingly to the boy, “Goodnight, Andy!”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Oprah Winfrey gets candid about her first Mother’s Day without her mother Vernita Lee

(NEW YORK) — CBS Photo Archive / ContributorOprah Winfrey is opening up about Mother’s Day and what it means to her now that her mother Vernita Lee has gone home.

This will be my first Mother’s Day on earth without a mother,” she writes in the May issue of O Magazine. “Many of you already know what that feels like. It’s a reckoning with your own mortality. For me it’s neither lonely nor sad – just an undeniable marker of the passage of time. Time spent. Time remaining. And how precious every moment is.”

Lee died at her home in Milwaukee on Thanksgiving at 83. Winfrey says even now she can still distinctly remember the last words she spoke to her mother before she passed. 

“I know it must have been hard for you as a 17-year-old pregnant, scared girl in Mississippi,” Winfrey recalls. “Many people no doubt told you to get rid of that baby. To have an abortion or give me away. But you didn’t. And for that I thank you. I know you did the best you could with what you had. And for that I thank you. And look how it all turned out.”

Winfrey says that even with the “complicated relationship” she had with her mother, she’s thankful for their relationship and acknowledges just how important it was to her development as an adult.

“Of the many relationships we have in life, few make as profound an impact as the one we share with our mother,” she writes. “That connection, whether strong or strained, influences who we become in countless ways. It teaches us how to be — or how not to be — adults, partners and parents to our own children.”

The May issue of O, The Oprah Magazine hits newsstands nationwide on April 23.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

‘Game of Thrones’ star Isaac Hempstead Wright talks about that Night King theory on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’

ABC(LOS ANGELES) — Who is the Night King? It’s one of fans biggest obsessions about HBO’s Game of Thrones, now in its final season — but if Thrones star Isaac Hempstead Wright knows the answer, he’s not letting it spill.

On Wednesday night’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, Wright, who plays the Three-Eyed Raven Bran Stark, was asked about a popular online theory that posits his character is actually the leader of the evil White Walkers.

“Can neither confirm nor deny,” said Isaac. The 20-year-old actor did allow that Bran “fights on the side of the living,” but when Kimmel pressed him about it, that fighting on the side of the living suggests, actually, that Bran isn’t the Night King, Isaac was cagey.

“Who says the Night King’s dead?” he responded rhetorically before laughing off his own answer. “I don’t know. Help me HBO!”

Isaac also gave the acting secret behind Bran’s meme-worthy thousand-yard stare. During filming, Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark, told him his stare was like “staring into my soul.” That’s because Isaac acts almost completely blind, without the aid of contact lenses. “I can’t see you,” was his response.

The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights on HBO.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Graeme Thomas King on whether you can trust his ‘The Perfectionists’ character: “The guy’s got a lot to hide”

Freeform/Kurt Iswarienko(NEW YORK) — Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists hits the halfway mark in its debut 10-episode season tonight — and secrets are slowly coming to the surface.

If the original PLL series taught fans anything, it’s that they shouldn’t overlook secondary characters, because they may have the biggest secrets of all.  

Graeme Thomas King, who plays Caitlin’s British scientist boyfriend, Jeremy, promises you’ll discover more about his character in the coming episodes — and maybe even find out what’s in the mysterious briefcase he always carries.

“Coming up you’re gonna learn what he actually does ’cause that’s not been that clear of who he actually works for and what does he actually do,” King tells ABC Radio. “I mean, the guy’s got a lot to hide and that’s coming out.”

He adds, “Can you trust him? You can’t trust anyone really because everyone lies. It’s amazing. Everyone lies about something.”

Fan theories are already running wild. So which one is King’s favorite?

“Somebody said, I think it was on Twitter, they said, ‘What do you think about the theory that Caitlin’s imagining you as a boyfriend?'” he says. “I was like, ‘Wow. I hadn’t thought about that before. That’s really interesting. I quite like that one.'”

Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET on Freeform.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Disneynature’s new documentary, ‘Penguins’, hits theaters, with help from Ed Helms and Dr. Jane Goodall

DisneyNature(NEW YORK) — Ever wonder what the day-to-day life of a penguin is like? Disneynature’s new documentary, Penguins, aims to give you some insight.

The film, shot over the course of three years in Antarctica, follows the coming-of-age story of an Adélie penguin named Steve as he finds a life partner and starts a family.

The penguin’s bumpy journey is made even more relatable thanks to Ed Helms, who provides both the narration and Steve’s hilarious voiceover. Helms tells ABC Radio that recording Steve’s “inner voice” was a “very playful and improvisational process.”

“You can’t help smiling at them,” famed scientist and Disneynature ambassador Dr. Jane Goodall says of Steve and his penguin pals.

“People say, ‘Oh Disney gives them personality,’ Disney doesn’t give them a personality. Disney reveals their personality to us,” Goodall adds.

To capture the penguins in their element, Helms explains, “[Filmmakers] spent three years [in Antarctica], just shooting all this footage and it’s one of the harshest environments on the planet.”

“I spent eight hours in the voiceover booth and it was a little over-air conditioned. So I think I had a similar experience to them,” he jokes.

Penguins hits theaters today, ahead of Earth Day on April 22. A portion of the proceeds from the first week of ticket sales goes to the Wildlife Conversation Center to help protect penguins across the southern hemisphere.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.