"Roots" Remake to Air Memorial Day Weekend

HISTORY(NEW YORK) -- The remake of the landmark television miniseries Roots will premiere on the HISTORY channel starting May 30. The four-night, eight-hour television event will air over four consecutive nights.

Billed as "a historical portrait of American slavery recounting one family and their will to survive," the new version of Roots will also be simulcast on the A&E and Lifetime networks.

Based on the Alex Haley novel, the remake will feature a stellar cast, including Academy Award winners Forest Whitaker and Anna Paquin.  The film also features Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anika Noni Rose and rapper T.I.   Mekhi Phifer and Emayatzy Corinealdi will also appear in the film, which will introduce newcomers Rege-Jean Page in the role of Chicken George and Malachi Kirby as Kunta Kinte.

“Roots will allow new audiences to experience this epic family saga with a new vision that is both incredibly inspiring and tremendously entertaining,” said A&E and HISTORY president Paul Buccieri.  “We are proud that HISTORY will be able to bring new life to this incredible story that remains as important today as it did when the original ‘Roots’ first premiered.”

LeVar Burton, who launched his career with the breakout role of Kunta Kinte in the original 1977 ABC miniseries, serves as co-executive producer of the new Roots.  “I am incredibly proud to be a part of this new retelling and start the dialogue again, at a time when it is needed more than ever," he said.

Ride Along producer Will Packer is also an executive producer, while Questlove is the executive music producer. Mario Van Peebles is one of the directors. 

The original version of Roots premiered on ABC on January 23, 1977.  The mini-series, which also starred Cicely Tyson, Maya Angelou, Lou Gossett, Jr., Madge Sinclair, Leslie Uggams, John Amos, Sandy Duncan, Ben Vereen and Lloyd Bridges, broke Nielsen ratings and received 27 Emmy Award nominations. 

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Dakota Johnson on Working with “Ridiculous” Rebel Wilson in “How to Be Single”

Berry Wetcher/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.(NEW YORK) -- Dakota Johnson said she could often be found crying off set while filming How to Be Single because her co-star, Rebel Wilson, is so funny.

“Rebel is ridiculous,” Johnson, 26, said in an interview that aired today on Good Morning America. “There was a lot of improvising. There was a lot of, you know, she would go on runs and rants and I would just be like giggling, crying off camera.”

Johnson, the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, plays a newly-single woman who meets a brash new co-worker, played by Wilson.

Johnson said the movie, which hits theaters today, has an important message, particularly for its young female viewers.

“I think it’s about taking the time to just be yourself and, especially for young women, to figure out who you are and what you like,” Johnson said. “And go and do whatever you want all the time.”

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"Deadpool," "Zoolander 2," More Open Today

"Deadpool" image; courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation(NEW YORK) -- Here's a look at the new movies opening nationwide Friday:

* Deadpool -- Ryan Reynolds plays Wade Wilson, who undergoes an experimental procedure that gives him healing powers and turns him into the snarky Marvel superhero Deadpool. Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller and Gina Carano also star. Rated R. 

* Zoolander 2 -- Ben Stiller reprises the role of the titular, dimwitted model. Derek Zoolander, along with Owen Wilson's Hansel, are pulled into an investigation into the assassinations of celebrities, who make Zoolander's signature Blue Steel face -- a.k.a. the duck face -- on social media before their deaths. Penelope Cruz and Will Ferrell also star. Rated PG-13.   

* How to Be Single -- Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie and Leslie Mann are single women in New York City. Rated R.         

* Where to Invade Next -- In Michael Moore's latest documentary, he visits various countries to learn how the U.S. can solve its problems. Rated R.

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"American Idol" Recap: Five Hopefuls Are Sent Home, Seven Advance

Michael Becker/FOX(NEW YORK) -- On Thursday night’s edition of American Idol, the twelve contestants who performed on Wednesday were paired with Idol favorites Fantasia, Ruben Studdard, Nick Fradiani, Caleb Johnson, Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery. Each former Idol was paired with two contestants. After they all performed, the judges deliberated. Seven contestants made it through and five singers were sent home.

La’Porsha Renae, Sonika Vaid, Avalon Young, Gianna Isabella, Thomas Stringfellow, Mackenzie Bourg and Janeve Rose Mitchell move on to the next round.

It was the end of the road for Emily Brooke, Stephany Negrete, Jenna Renae, James VIII and Jordan Sasser.

Here are Wednesday’s highlights:

Lauren Alaina and Emily Brooke were both 15 years old when they auditioned and both were from Nashville, so they already had a lot in common when they teamed up for Carrie Underwood’s “Flat on the Floor.” Harry thought the song suited Lauren more than Emily and suggested she go for something more “under-produced,” although he thought Brooke held her own against the more experienced former Idol. Keith agreed and Jennifer added that Brooke had the makings of someone who could eventually turn into another Lauren Alaina. Unfortunately, the performance wasn’t strong enough to keep Brooke in the competition.

Nick Fradiani and Thomas Stringfellow paired for Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” Urban felt Thomas struggled with the song. Lopez and Connick agreed, but Harry offered some hope to Stringfellow by noting that Tuesday’s performance impressed the judges enough to make them overlook this one. Stringfellow advanced to the next round.

Next up, were Ruben Studdard and Stephany Negrete, who collaborated on “Superstar” by the Carpenters. Jennifer thought they blended well and sounded “super beautiful” together. Harry felt that there were some pitch issues, but it was an emotional performance, which “trumps” that every time. Keith was also impressed, adding that Ruben brought out the best in Stephany. In spite of the positive feedback, Negrete was sent packing.

Caleb Johnson and Sonika Vaid killed it with their version of Adele’s “Skyfall,” the theme from the James Bond movie of the same name. Connick sensed Sonika was nervous throughout the song, but thought it was “adorable.” He also thought she held her own against Caleb’s powerful voice and high notes. Lopez told Vaid she needed to “loosen up,” but added that with a voice like hers, “the sky’s the limit.” Vaid moves on to the next round.

Fellow country singers and North Carolina natives, Scotty McCreery and Jenna Renae were the next duo. They sang Scotty’s “See You Tonight,” which seemed to be out of Jenna’s ballpark, but Keith praised her for doing a good job on the song anyway. Jennifer thought the song was well suited to them and also felt Renae did a good job on it, although not good enough to earn her a spot in the next round.

Fantasia and La’Porsha Renea sang Ella Fitzgerald’s version of the standard “Summertime,” bringing down the house. Jennifer declared the performance “mind-blowing.” Harry dubbed it “a battle of runs” and said both artists “killed it.” Keith called the pairing “a beautiful match.” La’Porsha advanced to the next round.

Alaina returned, performing with Mackenzie Bourg this time on Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance.” Connick called it a “sweet…nice duet,” but was thankful for Bourg’s strong performance on Tuesday to help save him from elimination. Lopez thought it felt “mismatched,” but “nice together” nonetheless. Bourd earned a spot in the next round of competition.

Fradiani returned with Gianna Isabella, who sang Nick’s Idol finale song “Beautiful Life.” Keith and Jennifer thought it was the perfect song for the two. Harry also noted that Gianna has a special gift. The daughter of dance pop diva Brenda K. Starr moves on in the competition.

Studdard and Avalon Young performed a song Ruben sang on Idol’s season-two finale, “Flying Without Wings.” Lopez declared the performance “incredible,” adding that it was the first real duet with the two “singing and feeling it together.” Urban was impressed with how Young didn’t look intimidated singing alongside Studdard. Young gets another chance to impress the judges in the next round.

Johnson and James VIII joined forces for an R&B-infused version of The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.” Harry and Keith both thought James did a great job “hanging with the big dog.” Urban was also impressed with James’ stage presence. Unfortunately, it wasn’t strong enough for him to advance in the competition.

McCreery dueted with Jeneve Rose Mitchell on the Montgomery Gentry tune “Gone.” Urban dubbed the performance “bizarre.” J-Lo also thought it was “out there,” but also noted that Jeneve’s voice was “really special” and joined the other judges in voting her on to the next round.

Finally, Fantasia returned to trade vocal licks with Jordan Sasser on her finale song, “I Believe.” Lopez felt Jordan held his own, which was no easy task in her opinion. Connick warned him about upstaging the person with whom he’s performing. Urban also thought Sassar tried a little too hard to go toe-to-toe with the Idol alum. He was sent home at the end of the night.

American Idol continues Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

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Review: “Zoolander 2” (PG-13)

Wilson Webb/Paramount Pictures(NEW YORK) -- I thought 2001’s Zoolander was OK. I’ve met people who can quote lines from it with a passion, like they were quoting from a religious text, or a Shakespearean sonnet. These are the people that will be thrilled with Zoolander 2, and stars Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell’s ability to say the most ridiculous things while staying in character. It’s what great comic actors do. Here, however, it’s not always funny.

Minor spoiler alert: Justin Bieber shows up and immediately dies. It’s in the trailer, it’s in the commercials, it’s been discussed publicly. I really wish it hadn’t been. It’s a terrific joke, one that helps drive the movie, and they gave it away for free. Bad form.

When Bieber dies, Valentina Valencia (Penelope Cruz), an agent for Interpol’s Global Fashion Division, takes it upon herself to figure out who’s killing the world’s beautiful pop stars. In the meantime, our hero, Stiller’s male model Derek Zoolander, has been in self-imposed exile in “deep Northern New Jersey.”  He’s been there since child services took away his son after a video of Derek being a terrible father went viral.  Derek was tasked with raising little Derek after accidentally (sort of) killing his wife, Matilda. Her death is part of a solid joke I don’t want to give away here.

Hansel (Owen Wilson) is also in exile, but he’s in a relationship with quite a few people. This is another of the movie’s more effective jokes I choose not to spoil.  Ultimately, they’ll join forces with Valencia, and Derek, once again, will have to find a way to become self-actualized, forgive himself, and be who he was always meant to be.  I guess. Does it really matter?

Will Ferrell returns as the villain Mugatu and neither hurts or adds to the movie. In fact, by the time he shows up, most of the best jokes have been executed. But he’s Will Ferrell and, inevitably, his level of commitment practically forces you to laugh -- especially when he’s in a scene with Kristen Wiig, who plays Alexanya Atoz, one of the world’s greatest fashion designers, a character clearly inspired by Donatella Versace.

Many of the cameos are terrific, while some of them elicit almost no reaction. Kiefer Sutherland’s turn here was, by far, my favorite.

The strength of Zoolander 2 is when a joke hits, it hits hard. The weakness is when a joke misses, it bombs badly.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of misses, but enough hits to make it worth your time.

Three out of five stars.

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"Grey's Anatomy" Actress Says Cast Was "Starstruck" by Denzel Washington as Director 

ABC/Bob D’Amico(NEW YORK) -- Grey's Anatomy resumes its 12th season Thursday night on ABC, and the latest episode was directed by an Oscar winner.

Denzel Washington was behind the cameras for the episode, and according to cast member Sarah Drew, she and her colleagues were "pretty starstruck."

Drew, who plays Dr. April Kepner, tells ABC Radio, "He's a powerhouse, and it was really exciting to get the chance and opportunity to work with him."

Despite his credentials, Washington wasn't an intimidating figure to work with, says Drew's co-star Jason George.

George, a.k.a. Dr. Ben Warren, notes, "[H]e shows up and he's just a funny, great guy and a really great director. And it was reassuring to be like, okay, he puts you at ease, and that was great."

You can watch Grey's Anatomy at 8 p.m. Eastern time on ABC.

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Leonardo DiCaprio Is the Reason Kate Winslet Will Attend the Oscars

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Turne(LONDON) -- Kate Winslet said she will be at the Oscars this year because she hopes to see her "closest friend" Leonardo DiCaprio finally win.

Winslet and DiCaprio, who is nominated for his role in The Revenant, appeared together in Titanic and Revolutionary Road. Although he's been nominated for an Oscar six times, DiCaprio has never won.

Winslet, who was nominated for her role in Steve Jobs, said she would attend the awards show despite the lack of diversity in this year's nominees.

"To be honest with you, it has been such an extraordinary year for women. I'd feel like I was letting my side down if I didn't go," Winslet told the BBC at the launch of her latest film, Triple 9. "And also I feel very strongly that it may possibly be Leo's year. And he is my closest friend in the world and I just couldn't imagine not being there to support him. And I think those are reasons enough really to show my face."

Will Smith, his wife Jada Pinkett Smith and director Spike Lee have all said they would boycott the Oscars this year.

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"How to Get Away with Murder" Returns Tonight

ABC/Bob D’Amico(NEW YORK) -- The dark and gritty legal mystery drama How to Get Away with Murder, starring Viola Davis as the diabolical diva lawyer Annalise Keating, returns to airwaves Thursday.  And the last image that has racked viewers’ minds for the past couple of months is the one of the Emmy Award-winning actress lying on the floor with blood oozing out of her chest  -- after being shot by one of her legal students.

In the cliffhanging final scene, it was revealed that her mentee Wes Gibbins, played by Alfred Enoch, was the shooter.

ABC Radio caught up to the former Harry Potter star to ask him the deal on what viewers can expect this season.

“Yeah so Wes, in the mid-season finale, shoots Annalise Keating, which ya know probably about time someone did that because she's going around doing lots of crazy things,” he confessed. “So the second half of the season sort of explores the consequences of that and you see a bit more of what happened that night and how the characters sort of immediately deal with that kind of fallout and then in sort of a wider sense of the season, that's kind of tricky to shoot your boss and you have to go back to work. So that gets explored.”

Billy Brown, who plays Annalise’s hunky estranged lover, Detective Nate Lahey, told ABC Radio that this season will get “deeper” and “twisted.”

"We've got six more episodes I believe, so everything that you've learned about the Hapstalls and what you think is going on with Annalise and the students and that kind of treachery and then Lahey, it gets deeper. Ya know, it gets twisted. But Pete and the writers are bringing in more character development than they did in the first season.  So it's not just plot, plot, plot.  You're getting some real character insight.”

The current season of How to Get Away with Murder resumes tonight 10:00 ET on ABC.

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Final "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" Trailer Ramps Up the Action

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures(NEW YORK) -- We’ve already had two trailers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  Now with just over a month to go before the movie’s release, we’ve been treated to a third, final one, and the emphasis this time is clearly on action.

Set to a guitar-driven rock soundtrack, the first thirty seconds of footage features Ben Affleck’s Batman leaping from a jet – remotely controlled by his butler, Alfred, played by Jeremy Irons – crashing through a second-story window, then smashing through the floor above to single-handedly beat down what appears to be a dozen armed thugs.

The rest of the footage we’ve pretty much already seen, though there are some new moments, including a few of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.  There are also more flashes of Batman in his armored suit, duking it out with Henry Cavill’s Superman, including a final shot where Batman stops one of Superman’s punches cold – much to Superman’s surprise.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, also starring Amy Adams and Jesse Eisenberg, opens nationwide March 25.

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See the New "House of Cards" Trailer Now

David Giesbrecht/Netflix(NEW YORK) -- Netflix has released a new trailer for the fourth season of their hit political drama, House of Cards.

The one-minute visual packs in dozens of glimpes of what Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood has in store for viewers.

The new season of House of Cards, also starring Robin Wright, debuts March 4.

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