'The Grinch' tops this week's new releases

Universal(LOS ANGELES) -- Here are the films opening nationwide on Friday:

The Grinch -- Benedict Cumberbatch voices the titular character in this CGI-animated adaptation of Dr. Seuss' classic 1957 book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, about the hairy, green humanoid who plots to ruin Christmas for the village of Whoville. Additional voice cast includes Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, and Angela Lansbury. Rated PG.

Girl in the Spider's Web -- This sequel to David Fincher's 2011 crime thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo stars The Crown's Claire Foy as a computer hacker who gets caught up in a web of spies, cybercriminals and government corruption. Rated R.

* Overlord -- J.J. Abrams' horror film, set during World War II, follows a group of American soldiers sent to destroy a Nazi radio tower and discover secret Nazi experiments. The Leftovers' Jovan Adepo, Carol's John Magaro and Game of Thrones' Pilou Asbæk also star. Rated R.

Beautiful Boy -- Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet star in this film -- based on the memoirs by David and Nic Sheff -- chronicling the struggle between a father and his drug-addicted son. Also starring Maura Tierney and Amy Ryan. Rated R.

Opened in limited release on Tuesday:

The Front Runner -- Hugh Jackman stars as 1987 presidential candidate Gary Hart, whose political dreams were derailed after allegations surfaced about an extramarital affair. Vera Farmiga, J. K. Simmons, and Alfred Molina also star. Rated R.

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Comic Katherine Ryan scores new Netflix series & stand-up special

Carla Guler/Netflix(LOS ANGELES) -- If you're a fan of Katherine Ryan's 2017 Netflix comedy special, In Trouble, you'll be thrilled to know there are more laughs in store.

The London-based Canadian comedian's just scored her own scripted comedy series.  Titled The Duchess, the six-episode series will follow Ryan's character, a "fashionably disruptive" single mom of a young daughter living in London who's debating whether to have a second child with her ex.  We can't vouch for whether that last part's true but the rest of it sounds pretty much autobiographical.

Ryan's also locked in a second stand-up special for Netflix.  Glitter Room is the same stand-up act she's toured before sold-out crowds in the U.K. this year.  The Netflix version will be recorded in Los Angeles December 11 and will air next year.

You'll also be able to see Ryan with fellow comics D.L. Hughley and Jimmy Carr on the forthcoming previously announced Netflix panel show, The Fix.

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Santanic Panic: The Satanic Temple sues Netflix over "Sabrina" statue


(NEW YORK) -- The Satanic Temple -- yes, that's a thing -- has made good on its earlier threat to sue Netflix and Warner Brothers, Variety reports.  At issue is the new Netflix series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which the Temple claims has ripped off their statue of the goat-headed deity, Baphomet.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in New York, claims that a statue of Baphomet that can be seen in the show looks exactly like the Temple's statue, which was unveiled in Detroit in 2015 and has been publicly displayed in various cities.

In The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a statue featuring a goat-headed man, flanked by two children looking up at him, can be see in the rotunda of the Academy of the Unseen Arts, the school attended by the half-mortal, half-witch Sabrina.  The Temple's statue also features a goat-headed man flanked by two children gazing up at him.

The Temple admits that its statue, created between 2013 and 2014, is based on iconography that dates back to the 19th century, but also claims it contains elements that make it an "original expression" and therefore subject to copyright.

According to the suit, the Temple maintains its copyrighted statue has been "hijacked in service of a stereotypically evil representation."  Apparently, to the Temple, Baphomet isn't inherently evil.  In the TV show, however, the school is presented as an evil place, where all students are expected to pledge themselves to Satan, the Dark Lord.

Warner Bros. and Netflix have declined to comment, According to Variety.

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M-A-R-R-Y in the U.S.A. : Meg Ryan and John Mellencamp are engaged

James Devaney/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Congratulations to rocker John Mellencamp and his longtime girlfriend, actress Meg Ryan, who are engaged to be married. Ryan shared the news via her Instagram, posting a goofy line drawing of herself and Mellencamp, along with a caption that reads, "ENGAGED!"

A rep for Mellencamp confirmed the engagement to ABC Radio.

The 67-year-old Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and the 56-year-old When Harry Met Sally star have had an on-again off-again romance. After initially dating from 2011 through 2014, the couple rekindled their relationship last year.

In March of 2018, the Page Six gossip column reported that Mellencamp and Ryan were scoping out sites for a wedding on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, where the Indiana rocker owns a mansion.

Mellencamp has been married three times before, most recently to fashion model Elaine Irwin, whom he divorced in 2011 after 18 years of marriage. Ryan was previously married to fellow actor Dennis Quaid from 1991 to 2001.

John has five children: daughter Michelle with first wife Priscilla Esterline; daughters Teddi Jo and Justice with second wife Victoria Granucci; and sons Hud and Speck with Irwin.

Ryan has a son named Jack with Quaid, as well as a daughter, Daisy, whom she adopted after her divorce.

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Want to visit 'House of Cards' President Frank Underwood's grave?

Netflix(NEW YORK) -- Want to visit the late President Francis J. Underwood's grave?  Just take a trip to Gaffney, South Carolina.

If you're a fan of the Netflix political drama House of Cards, you know that's where the fictional former chief executive was born.  And that really is where the character is buried, complete with headstone, in the town's Oakland Cemetery.  It's been there for about a week now, apparently, part of a cross-promotional marketing ploy with Netflix and the town of just under 13,000 people.

There's even a photo of the headstone on the Gaffney Visitors Center and Art Gallery Facebook page, along with a message encouraging fans to come visit.  It's the same headstone we see in a House of Cards promo released in September that shows actress Robin Wright as Underwood's widow, Claire Underwood, speaking to her dead husband as she stands over his grave.

"Francis J. Underwood, 1959-2017," the headstone inscription reads.  "46th President of the United States of America."

If you find the whole thing a little, well, odd, you're not alone, judging by many of the comments on the Gaffney Visitors Center and Art Gallery Facebook page.  Some find the mix of fiction, promotion and real graves to be inappropriate, while others also note the reason Underwood's character was killed off -- namely, actor Kevin Spacey's several sexual assault allegations -- makes the whole thing even more questionable.

The final season of House of Cards is on Netflix now.

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First look: Netflix debuts trailer for 'Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle'

Netflix(NEW YORK) -- So far, there have been at least nine film adaptations of the 124-year-old Rudyard Kipling classic story The Jungle Book, the first in 1942.  Now Netflix is giving us the first look at the latest.

The first trailer for Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, directed by Andy Serkis, stars Rohan Chand as Mowgli, the young boy raised by wolves in the jungles of India and who befriends all of the jungle animals, while feeling the increasing pull toward the world of the humans he watches from afar.

The live-action adaptation also stars the voices of Serkis, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Freida Pinto, Matthew Rhys and Naomie Harris.  It debuts on Netflix December 7.

Unlike other Netflix films, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle will also enjoy a limited theatrical release, beginning November 29 in New York, LA, San Francisco and London.  It'll expand to other U.S. and U.K. theaters after its Netflix debut.

The most recent film adaptation of The Jungle Book was Disney's 2016 live-action movie, directed by Jon Favreau and starring Neel Sethi as Mowgli, and featuring the voices of Lupita Nyong'o, Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson,  Ben Kingsley and Christopher Walken.  It earned $364 million domestically and $966.5 billion dollars globally.  A sequel's currently in production.

Disney's the parent company of ABC News.

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Giants of rock, pop, R&B and country nominated for Songwriters Hall of Fame

Songwriters Hall of Fame(NEW YORK) -- Artists behind many of the classic songs we love and know by heart are among the nominees this year to the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The nominees are split between so-called Performing Songwriters and behind-the-scenes Songwriters.  Included in the former are pop diva Mariah Carey, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, and Cat Stevens, today known as Yusuf Islam.

Other Performing Songwriter nominees are Missy Elliott -- the first female rapper to be nominated for induction -- as well as rock outfit The Pretenders' frontwoman Chrissie Hynde, country star Vince Gill, reggae star Jimmy Cliff, Tommy James of "I Think We're Alone Now" fame, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, Electric Light Orchestra's Jeff Lynne, Americana singer/songwriter John Prine, and R&B star Lloyd Price.

On the Songwriter side, nominees include the talented folks behind hits like The Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville," Tony Orlando and Dawn's "Tie a Yellow Ribbon," Gary Puckett's "Young Girl," The Carpenters' "Rainy Days and Mondays," Deniece Williams' "Let's Hear It for the Boy," Kenny Loggins' "Footloose," The Eagles' "Already Gone" and "Peaceful Easy Feeling," and Glenn Frey's "You Belong to the City."

Voting for Songwriters Hall of Fame induction will continue through December 17.  Finalists will be inducted during a gala ceremony June 13 of next year.

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Watch the first trailer for 'The Secret Life of Pets 2'

Illumination(NEW YORK) -- Illumination released the first trailer for The Secret Life of Pets 2, the followup to the 2016 blockbuster.

The clip, or "character trailer" as the studio's calling it, finds Max the dog -- now voiced by Patton Oswalt, replacing Louis C.K., who was fired from the project following sexual misconduct allegations -- going for what turns into a harrowing trip to the vet.  While there, he encounters other seemingly normal pets, some of whom appear to be more than just a little bit off.

Harrison Ford, Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll and Pete Holmes also provide additional new voices, joining returning voice cast Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Eric Stonestreet, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress and Bobby Moynihan.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 opens nationwide June 7, 2019.

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Gabrielle Union to produce and star in rom-com 'The Perfect Find'

ABC Image Group LA(LOS ANGELES) -- Gabrielle Union is gearing up to pull double duty on her next project.

Variety has learned that Union is set to produce and star in the upcoming romantic comedy The Perfect Find.

The film, which will be produced through Union's I'll Have Another banner, is an adaptation of author/beauty expert Tia Williams’ 2016 novel with the same name. It will star Union as Jenna Jones, a former New York it-girl and fashion editor who returns to the city to redeem herself.

This is the latest project for Union whose film credits include Think Like A Man, Think Like A Man Too, and Breaking In.

The Perfect Find begins shooting in 2019.

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Megan Fox hosting new Travel Channel series, 'Legends of the Lost' 

Burak Akay/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Megan Fox is setting off on a new adventure.

The actress is set to host a new Travel Channel series, Legends of the Lost with Megan Fox, which will feature her traveling to different locations to delve into some of the world’s most famous legends and myths.

“All across the world, our ancient ancestors left behind towering mysteries and enchanting myths,” Fox says in a statement. “As an actress, I’ve been lucky enough to peek behind the curtain at some of these ancient sites, and it has ignited an insatiable curiosity in me to learn more about these lost worlds that are deep in our distant past.”

In the series premiere, she’ll travel to Scandinavia and England to investigate whether some Viking warriors were actually women. Other episodes will include “Stonehenge: The Healing Stone,” “America’s Lost Civilization,” and “The Trojan War: Myth or Truth?”

There are four hour-long episodes in all, which will air Tuesdays on the Travel Channel at 8 p.m. ET/PT beginning December 4.

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