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Saturday
Jun252016

"The Omen" Turns 40 Today

20th Century Fox/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- You have been warned: It's the 40th anniversary of The Omen today.

The classic horror film, starring Gregory Peck, Lee Remick and Harvey Stephens, tells the tale of a U.S. ambassador who adopts a newborn child after his wife suffers a stillbirth, only to discover that it may be the Antichrist.

The Richard Donner-directed flick made more than 60 million dollars at the box office following its release on June 25, 1976, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com. It earned two Oscar nominations, winning for best original score.

The Omen spawned a few sequels, plus a remake in 2006 and the recently cancelled A&E series Damien.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. 

Friday
Jun242016

Sylvester Stallone Sued Over Reality TV Show 

L-R: “Strong” exec. prod. David Broome, host Gabrielle Reece, exec. prod. Sylvester Stallone; Trae Patton/NBCUniversal(NEW YORK) -- Sylvester Stallone is being accused of throwing a sucker punch to a personal trainer who's suing the Rocky star for allegedly ripping off his idea for a reality TV show.

Rob Fletcher claims Stallone, 69, lifted the idea for a show he pitched called America's Next Great Trainer, and used it for the NBC series he executive produced earlier this year called Strong, Westchester, NY's The Journal News reports.  The show's first season concluded June 2.

Fletcher describes his show as a competition that would partner six to 10 contestants with personal trainers. The teams would compete in a variety of categories, and one would be eliminated each week. He claims he enlisted California celebrity trainer Todd Durkin as the show’s front man and got him to sign a confidentiality agreement in 2014.

"Think of it as American Idol for fitness trainers," Fletcher told the newspaper in 2015.

That same year, he says learned through through a fellow trainer that Stallone’s show had been green-lighted. Fletcher soon discovered the show would feature 10 female contestants paired up with trainers -- one of whom was Durkin.

NBC, Durkin and Strong producer David Broome were also mentioned in the lawsuit, but as of early Thursday, only Durkin and NBC reportedly had been served with legal papers.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. 

Friday
Jun242016

Vivica A. Fox Says She's "Thrilled" and No Longer "Stripping for Tips" in "Independence Day" Sequel 

Vivica A. Fox in “Independence Day: Resurgence”; Claudette Barius/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.(NEW YORK) -- It's been 20 years since the original film debuted, but Vivica A. Fox is still excited when talking about her role in Independence Day: Resurgence.

"I was thrilled. I felt like that same young girl who twenty years ago got that call that I was going to be in one of the biggest summer blockbuster movies -- those same feelings came flooding back again," Fox tells ABC Radio.

The movie, the sequel to 1996's Independence Day, features a few returning cast members, with a few additions and minus Will Smith. Their goal -- to once again save Earth from invading aliens. Fox admits she was disappointed after hearing Smith wasn't taking part in the long-awaited film.

"There has been talks about doing the sequel for the last five years. The fans have literally been requesting this sequel for 15 years. So for five years you hear it's going to happen, it's gonna happen, it's not going to happen, it's going to happen, it's not going to happen and then I heard it's gonna happen and then I heard 'oh my gosh' I don't think Will Smith is going to do it. And I was like, sorry, selfish actor, damn, there goes my story line," the actress tells ABC Radio.

But even without Smith, Fox says she's happy with the result and her role as Jasmine Dubrow-Hiller, mother to Dylan Hiller, who was only a boy in the original movie.  Now, he's a fighter pilot.

"Dylan has now grown up and so have I," says Fox. "My character is no longer working the pole, which is a beautiful thing. She's going to be a hospital administrator, so she's not stripping for tips. OK, so you guys will be happy to hear that. So she's a hospital administrator and she's in there saving lives, and doing good things." 

Independence Day: Resurgence is in theaters now. 

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jun242016

Alec Baldwin Takes the Long, Skinny Mic on "Match Game"

ABC/Heidi Gutman(NEW YORK) -- This Sunday night 10:00 ET, ABC is re-launching a classic game show with Match Game -- part of the network's Sunday Fun & Games block along with a Steve Harvey-fronted Celebrity Family Feud at 8 p.m., and Michael Strahan's new $100,000 Pyramid at 9 p.m.

Match Game, which debuted in 1962 and resurfaced on other networks in the years since, poses "fill-in-the-blanks" questions to a panel of celebrities.  The questions were deliberately loaded with double entendres, and more often than not, the "blanks" became bawdy.

For ABC's 10-episode incarnation, Alec Baldwin tosses the questions at a rolling roster of stars, including Will & Grace's Debra Messing, Rosie O'Donnell, Curb Your Enthusiam's JB Smoove, and others. 

Baldwin, incidentally armed with a '70s-era game show host's skinny microphone, has reportedly donated the proceeds for the hosting gig to various arts-related charities via his AB Foundation.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jun242016

Viola Davis Nearly Pepper-Sprayed Jared Leto After "Suicide Squad" Prank

L-R: Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Jared Leto as The Joker in “Suicide Squad”; Clay Enos/ TM & © DC Comics(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to the highly anticipated superhero film Suicide Squad, things seem to be getting just as intense off screen as they are expected to be on screen.

In an interview with E! News, actress Viola Davis, who plays Amanda Waller in the film, even admitted to having heart palpitations on set. What’s more, co-star Jared Leto, who plays the Joker, was so committed to his role, he sent members of the cast boxes of bullets -- a stunt, Davis admitted, that was a bit scary.

The actress added that, despite being on set with him, she met the real Leto for the first time at a Glamour magazine event.

“I met him really for the first time because before that I was only introduced to the Joker,” Davis told E! News. “And there was a part of me that, you know, I almost had my pepper spray out.”

Davis said the whole cast, which includes Margot Robbie, Will Smith and Cara Delevingne, got to show their crazy.

"Every single person in it gets to be completely insane because all the characters are insane," Davis said. "They're bad guys. We're all bad guys."

Suicide Squad hits theaters on August 5.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jun242016

Katherine Heigl Pregnant with Baby Boy 

Katherine Heigl and husband Josh Kelley; JB Lacroix/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Katherine Heigl is going to be a mom again.

The former Grey’s Anatomy actress announced the news on her blog.  In a post on Thursday, she wrote, "We are expecting a third addition to our tribe! It was totally unexpected but thrilling nonetheless."

The actress promised to share the details of her preganacy on the blog, and she got started right away posting pictures of her self in the doctor's office being scanned by an ultrasound.  She even posted the ultrasound image.

The baby is due in January.

This will be the third child for Heigl and her husband of eight years, Josh Kelley, though it is Heigl’s first pregnancy.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jun242016

"Independence Day" Sequel Highlights the Weekend's New Movies 

Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.(NEW YORK) -- Here's a look at the new movies opening nationwide today:

* Independence Day: Resurgence -- Twenty years after the original, the aliens are back to attack us again. Sorry, no Will Smith to save the world this time. Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman star. Rated PG-13.

* Free State of Jones -- Matthew McConaughey plays a Southern farmer who leads a rebellion against the Confederacy during the Civil War. Rated R.

* The Neon Demon -- Elle Fanning is an aspiring model who moves to Los Angeles and is surrounded by other, jealous models. Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks and Jena Malone also star. Rated R.

* The Shallows -- Blake Lively is stranded off the shore of a beach after she's attacked by a great white shark. Rated PG-13.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jun242016

Review: “Free State of Jones” (R)

© 2015 STX Productions, LLC(NEW YORK) -- Based on actual events, Free State of Jones stars Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight, a Civil War nurse for the Confederacy who deserts and heads home to Mississippi, where he raises a very small guerrilla army comprised of other deserters, former slaves, women and children and rebels against the Confederacy.

Director Gary Ross starts out strong, immersing us in a realistic Civil War battle, from the Confederate perspective. It’s graphic, filled with brutal details that remind us how awful war is, and yet laced with humanity, a projection of our hero’s heart.  Too bad the rest of the movie lacks the intensity, grittiness and intelligence of these opening moments.

The violence already has Knight disillusioned with war, but a new law allowing men from families who own at least 20 slaves to be exempt from service really shakes his confidence in the cause. That confidence is broken when a young family friend -- who was, in essence, kidnapped and forced to fight in the war -- is killed while Knight’s trying to get him back home.

Knight returns home to his wife (Keri Russell) and young son, where he learns local soldiers have been pillaging his neighbors’ property for food, clothes and ammunition. It isn’t long before Knight, in his efforts to protect a neighbor, is discovered by Confederate soldiers.  It’s time for him to hide, with the help of a slave named Rachel, played by future Oscar-winner Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

As talented as McConaughey and Mbatha-Raw are, Ross mishandles the relationship between their characters.  It just never feels real.  Indeed, outside of the opening moments, nothing else in this film rings true.  That’s disappointing, considering Ross’ previous work as a director – including The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit and Pleasantville – is, for the most part, terrific. I’d blame the writer, but Ross wrote the screenplay, too.

At its very best, Free State of Jones is an amazing history lesson with admirable performances. At its worst, it’s a poorly-paced, unrealistic, unfocused narrative that takes historical license with one of the Civil War’s more compelling stories that had, until now, been relegated to mainstream obscurity.

Two-and-a-half out of five stars.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jun242016

Review: “The Shallows” (PG-13)

Blake Lively in "The Shallows"; Vince Valitutti/Sony Pictures Entertainment(NEW YORK) -- Forty-one years ago, Steven Spielberg scared an entire planet with Jaws. It’s a great movie that, to this day, has me leery of swimming in the ocean.  But enough about my personal phobias.

I consider every single movie about sharks, piranhas, gators or anything else that can attack you while enjoying a glorious day at a beach or resort to be a rip-off of Jaws. So when director Jaume Collet-Serra’s The Shallows begins with Blake Lively’s Nancy hitching a ride to a “secret beach,” in memory of her late mother, I admit I rolled my eyes a bit, because I knew what was coming.  Or at least, I thought I did.

Furthermore, when Nancy engages with two other surfers I knew would likely meet their end in the jaws of a great white, I was left thinking, “This is going to be predictable and full of gratuitous violence.”  But Collet-Serra has proven in the past that he can make predictable interesting, so maybe he’ll surprise me.  And he did.

Nancy encounters the great white fairly early in the film. She survives the attack, and as a medical student, she’s able to, painfully, sew her gaping leg wound closed with a necklace.  And again, I was left thinking Collet-Serra really painted himself into a corner, because watching Lively try to fend off this shark for the next hour will continue to be predictable, so he might as well just cut to the climax. I’m glad he didn’t.

Lively has shown flashes of being a world-class actress in previous films, but I would say she’s now arrived. She has to carry this film -- her only scene partner, for the most part, is Collet-Serra behind the camera, and a seagull (the seagull is quite funny).  It’s a physically demanding role that required Lively to conjure up a lot of emotion and more heart than most actors display throughout an entire career.

The Shallows isn’t complicated or complex.  It’s good old-fashioned suspense featuring a career-defining performance, terrific cinematography, and excellent sound and color.   At 87 minutes, it almost feels too short but it is, more or less, perfect.

Four out of five stars.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jun242016

Review: “Independence Day: Resurgence” (PG-13)

Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.(NEW YORK) -- Director Roland Emmerich has finally given us a sequel to the 1996 summer blockbuster Independence Day -- Independence Day: Resurgence.  And it’s as visually spectacular, and as vacuous, as you might expect.

Twenty years after the first alien attack, the world has united, harvesting alien technology to make the planet a better place, including building a planetary defense force. We learn Captain Steven Hiller, the character played by Will Smith in the original, has died but his son, Dylan (Jessie T. Usher), is now a fighter pilot. Patricia (Maika Monroe), daughter of former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman), is a speechwriter for the current president (Sela Ward) and is engaged to cocky pilot Jake, played by Liam Hemsworth, who’s stationed on the moon.

As for Jeff Goldblum’s David Levinson, he’s now a high-ranking government official who finds his way to Africa, where a warlord and his troops have been minding the only alien ship that landed on Earth during the 1996 invasion.  That ships lights have suddenly turned on -- indicating the aliens might be coming back.

We learn a little more about the aliens and their motivation, but there’s nothing terribly original here. The joy of Independence Day: Resurgence is the visual spectacle. I saw it in Imax 3D and it was aesthetically pleasing, to say the least.  While not fully satisfying, Emmerich’s talent for disaster porn is unrivaled here, and the aliens are fantastic and a lot of fun to look at.

The film’s attempts at substance, though, are trite at best. The new characters are poorly developed, clichéd archetypes delivering zero emotional impact. The first movie was considerably funnier and while Independence Day: Resurgence has its share of camp, that camp’s on par with the last Sharknado TV movie.

Three out five stars.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.







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