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Friday
Aug262016

Viola Davis Remembers Her Youth As "the Hungry Kid" 

ABC/Bob D’Amico(LOS ANGELES) -- Viola Davis took time out of her busy schedule Thursday to talk about a mission that is near and dear to her heart: Hunger Is, her charity that aims to fight childhood hunger in America.

"We are launching a new fundraising in September," Davis told ABC News of her charity. "We're trying to get five million more breakfasts out there. We are doing in-store, online fundraising to get these breakfasts into schools."

Davis said that in the last three years alone, her organization has raised $12.5 million.

"It's so important to me because I was the hungry kid," she said. "I grew up in poverty, but it's not just poor kids that suffer from food-poor households. It's middle class. It's working class...and when you're hungry, you cannot function."

Davis also spoke about the "shame" of being hungry, she said.

"If I were to look at my entire childhood, if someone had thrown me a rope of just a meal, especially at the beginning of the day, it would have been my lifeline," she said. "I can't tell you how hard it is to talk about the fact that you were a kid that was hungry because it was like your big secret."

Davis also spoke about her acclaimed show, How to Get Away with Murder, and said simply, "OMG" when talking about the upcoming season.

"It warrants it," she said. "When you look at every script, every episode, you automatically channel the audience and you know how they are gonna respond. So, I say, 'OMG!'"

She added, "A new mystery is going to be revealed and I'm telling you, I'm not just saying it to hook you...[even] we haven't been able to figure it out as a cast."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug262016

"I'm with You": Leslie Jones Gets Support from Hillary Clinton

ABC/Heidi Gutman(NEW YORK) -- In the wake of recent online trolling and attacks on her website, Saturday Night Live star Leslie Jones is getting the support of a powerful political friend: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

"@Lesdoggg, no one deserves this--least of all someone who brings us so much joy. I'm with you. -H," Clinton tweeted at Jones Thursday.  The 'H' on the end signifies it was tweeted by Clinton herself.

Jones was the target of several vicious racist attacks on Twitter, and earlier this week, her personal website -- JustLeslie.com, which remains down -- was hacked and personal information and photos leaked.  ABC News Radio confirmed the cyber attack is currently being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security.

Clinton, who's certainly experienced public attacks online and was the victim of a server hack, is one the latest celebrities to join in and show their support for Jones.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug262016

"Days of Our Lives" Actress Kassie DePaiva Reveals She Has Leukemia 

Paul Archuleta/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Days of Our Lives actress Kassie DePaiva has revealed she's battling leukemia.  

Thursday, the 55-year-old posted on her website that she has been "quiet lately" because she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in July.

DePaiva wrote, "I know that I have been quiet lately and I want to let you know what's been going on in my life. I was asked back to play Eve on Days and had begun my exciting return. During the 3-week July hiatus I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and have spent 6 of the last 9 weeks in the hospital. I will continue treatment over the next 3 months."

She added, "My prognosis is good, I will not likely need a stem cell/bone marrow transplant, and we expect a complete cure."

Despite the circumstances, DePaiva remains positive.  She explained, "I consider this just a bump in the road. I have amazing prayer warriors, family, and friends that have been extremely supportive and life affirming throughout this."

DePaiva said that her goal is to be back "stirring up trouble" in Salem soon, and she asked her fans to keep her in their thoughts and prayers.

Her most recent appearance on Days of Our Lives as Eve Donovan aired last February.

Days of our Lives airs weekdays on NBC.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug262016

Taylor Swift Gives $50,000 to Baton Rouge Food Bank 

ABC/Ida Mae Astute(NEW YORK) -- Taylor Swift has already donated a million dollars to Louisiana flood relief.  Now the pop superstar’s opened her checkbook once more to help out the residents of Baton Rouge.

The Baton Rouge Food Bank posted a photo on their Instagram Thursday showing the staff holding a sign that reads “Thanks, Taylor!”

“@taylorswift donated $50,000 to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank!” the photo’s caption reads. “The #laflood destroyed our warehouse but we are going to shake it off!”

The Salvation Army thanked Taylor as well, tweeting, “Thank you @taylorswift13 for helping us serve the #LouisianaFlood survivors by donating to our relief efforts! #DoingTheMostGood.”

In a statement to ABC Radio last week via her rep, Swift noted that Louisiana residents "made us feel completely at home" when she and her touring crew launched the U.S. leg of her 1989 World Tour in the state last year.

Swift added that it’s "heartbreaking" to watch people be forced out of their homes, and encourages people to "help out and send your love and prayers" to flood victims.

The widespread flooding killed at least 11 people and damaged over 40,000 homes.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug262016

Amber Heard Feuding with Johnny Depp over Charity Donation 

Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Art of Elysium(LOS ANGELES) -- Despite their recently announced divorce settlement, Amber Heard and Johnny Depp are still at odds with one another.

Heard said last week she was going to donate the seven-million-dollar settlement to the American Civil Liberties Union -- with a particular focus to stop violence against women -- and the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, for whom she volunteers.

However, Depp's spokesperson released a statement Thursday saying that the actor would donate the money directly to the two charities in several installments, reports People. The ACLU and CHLA have already received the first installments from Depp.

But the actress was quick to claim that since the donation is now coming directly from Depp, he will be able to use it as a tax deduction.

A spokesperson for Heard released a statement on Thursday saying that the actress "appreciates Johnny Depp's novel interest in supporting two of her favorite charities." She even called it "great and unexpected news," but maintains that Depp is changing the terms of their settlement for his benefit, and that he should pay a larger lump sum rather than installments.

The statement says, "If Johnny wishes to change the settlement agreement, we must insist that he honor the full amount by donating $14M to charity, which, after accounting for his tax deduction, is equal to his $7M payment obligation to Amber."

It continues, "Anything less would be a transparent attempt by Johnny's counsel, Laura Wasser and Patti Glaser, to reduce their client's true payment by half under the guise of newfound concern for charities that he has never previously supported." 

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug262016

Tika Sumpter Pulls Double Duty on Obama First Date Movie, "Southside with You"

Matt Dinerstein/Courtesy of Miramax and Roadside Attractions(NEW YORK) -- Tika Sumpter is pulling double-duty as producer and star in Southside with You, inspired by the first date between Barack Obama and his future wife, Michelle Robinson.

Sumpter, who plays the young Michelle Robinson in the summer of 1989, says she and co-star Parker Sawyers, who plays a young Barack, were "really excited" to play the first family and not stressed as you might believe.

"We were just in the moment," Sumpter tells ABC News Radio. "And it is also when they were 25 and 28, so the pressure was just taken off -- it's not the Obamas of it all."

Sumpter, who was instrumental in bringing the film to life with writer-director Richard Tanne, says her role as co-producer wasn't easy, but it eventually clicked once the film was cast.

"It was challenging because you have to put the pieces together in order for you to even be on set...but...once we found our Barack in Parker, it was great. We were on a roll," she says.

The former Gossip Girl actress admits she was a bit insecure about playing Michelle -- specifically, sounding like her. Sumpter tells ABC Radio, "I got a dialect coach and really worked on that. And it was important for people if they closed their eyes they could really hear her and that is what was important to me."

In the end, says Sumpter, Southside with You is a first date love story that anyone can identify with: "Both of the characters are humanized, you're going to see Barak smoke, you're going to see the car. You're going to see them banter back and forth, challenge each other... I think it's a great date movie." 

Southside with You opens nationally today.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug262016

Barbra Streisand Sings with "Donald Trump" on "The Tonight Show"

Andrew Lipovsky/NBC(NEW YORK) -- Barbra Streisand stopped by The Tonight Show last night to plug her new Broadway tribute album, Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway. and while there, she joined "Donald Trump" -- played by host Jimmy Fallon-- for a duet on "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better."

Fallon, in character as the Republican presidential nominee, opened the song by promising that he and Streisand will "make duets great again." In one verse, Jimmy's Trump crows, "Any wall you can build, I can build better."

In another verse, 74-year-old Streisand sang, "I can vote for Hillary," adding, "She's going to win huge."

"That is really, really low," the fake Trump responded, to which Barbra countered, "Are you talking about me, or your latest poll numbers?"

During an interview later, Streisand told Fallon that after 50 years in show business, people still mispronounce her last name -- the second "s" is soft. After learning that Siri -- Apple's computerized personal assistant -- also got it wrong, Barbra explained she went straight to the head of Apple, Tim Cook, and asked him to take care of it. He agreed, and Streisand said the pronunciation will be changed with the next update, on September 30. 

Afterwards, Streisand was joined by one of her duet partners on the album -- and Fallon's other guest on the show, former 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin -- for a performance of "The Best Thing that Has Happened."

Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway is out today.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug262016

"Don't Breathe" and "Mechanic: Resurrection" Among Weekend's New Films 

Stephen Lang in “Don’t Breathe”; image courtesy Screen Gems/Sony(NEW YORK) -- Here's a look at the new movies opening nationwide Friday:

* Don't Breathe -- Three thieves attempt to rob a blind man in his home, but it doesn't go according to plan. Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto and Stephen Lang star in the thriller. Rated R.

* Mechanic: Resurrection -- Jason Statham reprises his role of hit man Arthur Bishop from the 2011 original. He's out to complete a list of assassinations. Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones and Michelle Yeoh also star. Rated R.

* Hands of Stone -- The film tells the story of boxer Roberto Duran and his famous matches in 1980 with Sugar Ray Leonard, including the "no mas" fight. Robert De Niro, Edgar Ramirez, Usher Raymond IV, Ana de Armas, Ellen Barkin and John Turturro also star. Rated R.

* Southside with You -- Parker Sawyers plays Barack Obama and Tika Sumpter portrays Michelle Obama in a film inspired by the president and the first lady's first date in 1989 Chicago. Rated PG-13.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug262016

Review: “Don’t Breathe” (R)

L-R: Dylan Minnette and Stephen Lang in “Don’t Breathe”; image courtesy Screen Gems/Sony(NEW YORK) -- The world should’ve known writer/director Fede Alvarez would give us something like Don’t Breathe when he successfully remade Evil Dead three years ago. There was a reason Evil Dead creator Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell picked Alvarez for that task.

But it’s one thing to have a template for a film and successfully adapt it for fans and a new audience.  It’s another to create an original horror story that’s a near masterpiece.

Don’t Breathe is about three terrible people who like to rob homes. Rooting for any of them is, essentially, picking your poison. There’s Rocky (Jane Levy, who also worked with Alvarez in Evil Dead), a broke, single mother who lives with her strung-out mom in a trailer; Alex (Dylan Minnette), the son of a security company owner who gives the group access to the homes because of his access to his father’s keys; and their ringleader, Money (Daniel Zovatto), Rocky’s morally bankrupt, moronic boyfriend.

Alvarez and co-writer Rodo Sayagues give Rocky and Alex some likable traits, lest we not be completely turned off, because we need some reason to eventually root for them. Rocky, for instance, just wants a better life for her daughter, and is in a situation that’s for the most part beyond her control. Rocky’s dream is to save up enough money to leave Detroit and move to California, and Alex – who clearly feels guilty about what he’s doing – has a crush on Rocky and hopes to follow her.

They may get their chance when Money’s given a tip about a secluded Iraqi war veteran who may have at least 300 grand in his house, a settlement he won after his daughter was killed by reckless driver.

Turns out the war vet (Stephen Lang) is blind. He also lives in an abandoned neighborhood and owns a very scary dog. Money, of course, thinks this is going to be a piece of cake; the guy can’t see, nobody else is around. Even the least experienced horror fan knows all of this spells trouble, but in Alvarez’s hands, it’s the type of twisted, unpredictable, heart-pounding trouble that will endear this particular filmmaker to  fans forever.

While some of the decisions the characters make defy logic, we stay with this story in part because on any given day, the news or your social media feeds have a story about dumb criminals, which is what these three are. The negative is accepting some of the more gross and abhorrent behavior toward women depicted in this film.  Within the context of the story, it makes sense but it’s still uncomfortable to watch and not entirely necessary.  Fans may argue it’s just a movie and all in good fun, but depicting graphic, over-the-top violence against women, even if they’ve broken into your home and done you wrong, can be avoided. I’m hoping Mr. Alvarez’s fertile creative imagination can do so in the future.

Stephen Lang, as the suffering, blind shut-in, is probably one of the best-cast roles of the year. What he executes in this film shouldn’t be believable, but his collaboration with Mr. Alvarez and company produces a man who is very real.

Issues aside, Don’t Breathe is sure to become a horror classic.

Four out of five stars.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug262016

Review: “Hands of Stone” (R)

L-R: Edgar Ramirez, Robert De Niro & Ruben Blades in “Hands of Stone”; Rico Torres/The Weinstein Company(NEW YORK) -- Roberto Duran, hands down, was one of the greatest boxers of all time. Suffice it to say, a great boxer deserves a great biopic.  Hands of Stone is not that, but it’s not bad, either.

The movie’s biggest problem is it sometimes feels like a biopic of Duran’s trainer, Ray Arcel, played by Robert De Niro in what I would consider one of his better performances in recent years. Arcel, like Duran, is a legend. He also narrates the movie, but because of the way the script is constructed, he occasionally upstages the film’s protagonist.

Writer and director Jonathan Jakubowicz employs a number of flashbacks to tell his story. We first meet Duran as an adult (played by Edgar Ramirez) as he fights at New York’s Madison Square Garden. After the fight, his manager arranges for him to meet Arcel. Years earlier, Arcel promised the mob he’d no longer work in boxing (it’s complicated), but he agrees to train Duran for free. In the context of the story, the scene feels a bit disjointed -- and later, it seems incongruous with the story’s chronology. And Incongruity is a problem with Jakubowicz’s script.

Jakubowicz also takes us back to Duran’s childhood in Panama, where he takes some historic license with Duran’s family history and entry into boxing, but he still gives us the basics.  Duran is a product of Panama’s tense relationship with the U.S. His father was a U.S. soldier who abandoned him at a young age, and he was raised on the streets, stealing food to feed his family and friends. Eventually, the young man convinces a trainer at a local gym to school him, and Duran soon becomes the best boxer in Panama.

Historically, Duran’s defining moments are his two fights with Sugar Ray Leonard (played by Usher Raymond, better known as the singer, Usher).  Both fights are depicted in the movie, but the build-up to the first was so bad, I didn’t realize it was about to happen. While the fight choreography is well done, the production values felt and looked cheap. Still, Ramirez’s humanity and machismo carries the day here.

Hands of Stone’s screenplay has some valiant moments, but a weak structure mostly undermines Duran’s terrific story. What saves this movie are the superlative performances from Ramirez, De Niro, and Ana de Armas, who plays Duran’s wife, Felicidad.

Three out of five stars.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.







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