'The Meg' devours devours the weekend box office with $44.5 million debut

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures(NEW YORK) -- The Meg showed some teeth over the weekend, topping the box office with an estimated $44.5 million debut. That's some 60% more than the $18-20 million the film was expected to earn in its opening weekend. The sci-fi horror flick, starring Jason Statham as a rescue diver who joins a group of scientists trying to stop a giant, prehistoric megalodon shark from terrorizing a beach, earned an estimated $96.8 million overseas.

Mission: Impossible -- Fallout took second place, delivering an estimated $20 million and bringing its earnings stateside to around $162 million. The film has grabbed an estimated $275.6 overseas, bringing its worldwide totals to around $437.6 million in its third week of release.

Landing in third place was Disney's live-action/CGI-animated Christopher Robin with an estimated $12.4 million, followed in fourth place by another of the weekend's debuts, the horror film Slender Man, with an estimated $11.3 million.

Rounding out the top five was Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman, delivering an estimated $10.799 million in its opening weekend. The film, produced by Jordan Peele and starring John David Washington and Adam Driver, marks Lee's best opening in over a decade.

The weekend's other new wide release, the feel-good comedy Dog Days, debuted in disappointing 12th place, with $2.6 million.

Here are the top 10 movies from Friday through Sunday, with estimated box office earnings:

1. The Meg, $44.5 million
2. Mission: Impossible -- Fallout, $20 million
3. Christopher Robin, $12.4 million
4. Slender Man, $11.3 million
5. BlacKkKlansman, $10.799 million
6. The Spy Who Dumped Me, $6.6 million
7. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, $5.8 million
8. The Equalizer 2, $5.5 million
9. Hotel Transylvania 3, $5.1 million
10. Ant-Man and The Wasp, $4 million

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Jay Ellis shares his thoughts on the third season of 'Insecure' without his character, Lawrence

Anne Marie Fox/HBO(NEW YORK) -- On Sunday night's return of the hit HBO series Insecure, one of the show's central characters will be noticeably absent. Jay Ellis, who's played Lawrence Walker and Issa Rae's boyfriend on the series, will not be returning for season three.

Ellis tells ABC Radio that after last season, there really wasn't much to his character's story.

"At the end of season two we see Lawrence and Issa come full circle and have closure and say goodbye to each other," he says. "And so from there, I don't know what Lawrence's story is. I wish I did. I wish I had something better for you."

While Ellis has accepted his departure on the show, his exit does come with some drawbacks. Last month, fans of the show launched a petition at for Ellis to return to the series.  The link includes a sign-up form for a Care2 petition that at last check was just a few dozen signatures shy of its 11,000 signature goal.

Ellis, however, seems unaffected by the attention. Instead, he offers his hopes for his character's journey, regardless of where it is.

"Wherever he goes in life or whatever he ends up doing in life, I hope he finds happiness," Ellis says. "I hope that that was a moment for him where he actually really learned something and is able to use it to grow. And he's going to stumble, I'm sure -- but hopefully he uses it to grow." 

Insecure returns Sunday at 10:30 p.m. ET on HBO.

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Denzel Washington beams over son & 'BlacKkKlansman' star John David's rise as an actor: "I knew he was talented's happening"

Marion Curtis/StarPix for Focus Features(NEW YORK) -- Denzel Washington is one proud papa. With the release of BlacKkKlansman, in which his eldest son, John David Washington, takes on the lead role of real-life detective Ron Stallworth -- a black police officer who infiltrated the KKK-- Denzel is more than ready to support his son's meteoric rise. 

"Yeah, they said that they had his billboard next to mine," Denzel tells ABC Radio, recalling the moment when he first learned that his son's BlacKkKlansman billboard was next to his own of Equalizer 2. "Imagine that. He showed it me the other day... I knew he was talented's happening."

Thinking back to his early days as an actor, Denzel knew his son had potential. In fact, he even brags that John David had some early red carpet training.

"John David went to his first... red carpet at two years old," Washington says. "I think three years old maybe? My wife said he was three or four or whatever it was. And he was talking about, 'My Daddy's in Cry Freedom.'

Laughing, Denzel continues, "You've got to find that footage. We gotta find that. But he wants to be good. And he's doing it the right way and studying and just trying to grow as an actor."

Of course, even with his son's time as a NFL player for the St. Louis Rams, and now an actor, Washington believes John David will never lose his sense of humility.

"Some kids' lifetime dream [is] to play in the NFL. Some kids, their lifetime dream is to do what he's doing now. He's done both. That's rare," Washington says. "He's a good kid. And my wife has done a great job making sure he's humble. She'll still slap him upside the head." 

BlacKkKlansman opens Friday.

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'Freaky Friday' gets musical makeover tonight on the Disney Channel

Disney Channel/David Bukach(NEW YORK) -- Tonight, the Disney Channel airs the fifth re-telling of the mom/daughter body-swap comedy Freaky Friday -- but the first-ever as movie musical.

This time 'round, Broadway star Heidi Blickenstaff and actress and musician Cozi Zuehlsdorff [ZoolzDorf], respectively, play a busy mom and a 'tude-filled high school-aged daughter magically swapping bodies.

Blickenstaff actually played the same role on stage, and she tells ABC Radio how she had to change her performance from stage to the small screen. "I definitely need needed to learn how to turn it down because in theater you play to the back row. And...a lot of the roles that I have played in my career are sort of larger than life: I played Ursula the Sea Witch [from The Little Mermaid] on Broadway know, having that be in Freaky Friday would make people turn the channel," Heidi laughs.

To convincingly swap places, the two actresses studied each other. "[T]o this day I'll still move my hands like her, like, gesticulate just as she does," laughs Cozi, who noticed her onscreen mom stole her moves, too: "[W]hen I watched the movie I go, 'Oh my gosh that's, that's me right there! That's crazy!'"

With this 2018 update, there were some things that had to change -- even from the 2003 Lindsay Lohan/Jamie Lee Curtis permutation: cellphones. That brought a different acting challenge for the 20-year-old: "When I was texting in the movie as Katherine in Ellie's body, they actually had to tell me, 'Slow down, because you're not a millennial. You're not as good with a phone.'"

Freaky Friday airs tonight at 8 p.m. on the Disney Channel, which is owned by ABC News' parent company, Disney.

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'Leading Lady Parts': 'Game of Thrones' Lena Headey, 'Rogue One' lead Felicity Jones, Tom Hiddleston spoof sexist, racist casting process

Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images(LONDON) -- The BBC has united an impressive group of gifted actresses in a comedy short called Lady Parts, which spoofs the often sexist -- and sometimes overtly racist -- casting process in the film industry. It's now on YouTube.

The film is part of the BBC's Hear Her campaign, which "aims to give free reign and the opportunity for normally unheard women from across the U.K. to tell their stories and give their opinions on all matters 'women.'"

The plot has a trio of casting agents -- two of whom are played by The Office vet Catherine Tate and former Bond girl Gemma Arterton -- auditioning some of the U.K.'s most talented actresses vying for a plum part.

Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke joins her Game of Thrones castmate Lena Headey to audition for the role -- a strong, complex doctor -- as does Star Wars: Rogue One's Felicity Jones, Humans' Gemma Chan, and others.

"Can you do it more 'smiley'? Tate asks Clarke, regarding a scene she's performing. Clarke insists that the role is "tragic," and she might try crying. "Not ugly crying," Arterton says. "Sexy crying, like in a shower."

Heady is dismissed outright for looking "like a mum," while Katie Leung is dismissed because she's Asian. Similarly, Chan, who is also of Asian descent, is asked if she could be "more white."

Jones, who is dressed modestly, is asked to "lose the [sweater]," with the casting agents telling her she should shed her clothes because the hospital in which she works is "hot."

"Hot?" Jones cautiously questions. "In South London?"

In the end, Tom Hiddleston comes out, with the Marvel movie star "reading for the part of the 'Leading Lady.'"

He immediately snags the part. 

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Could Idris Elba be closer to slipping into James Bond's tux?

CHRIS RADBURN/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Consider us both shaken AND stirred.

Luther and Marvel movie star Idris Elba could be one step closer to slipping into the tux of 007. A report in the U.K. publication the Daily Star claims that Bond movie boss Barbara Broccoli has talked to Equalizer series director Antoine Fuqua about who should inherit the super-spy's role when Daniel Craig hands over the keys to the Aston Martin.

Elba's name as Craig's possible successor has been floating around since Sony Pictures execs' emails were brought to light as a result of a 2014 hack -- and the thought of the suave, sexy Brit playing the part sent shivers of the literal and figurative variety through many movie fans. 

According to the Daily Star, at a launch event of his new business venture SoundFi, Fuqua told reporters that Broccoli said "it is time" for a black actor to play James Bond, and added that she said that it "will happen eventually."

Fuqua added, "Idris could do it if he was in shape. You need a guy with physically strong presence. Idris has that."

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No charges filed in Ryan Seacrest sexual misconduct case

ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) -- The Los Angeles Police Department has decided not to file charges against Ryan Seacrest, stemming from sexual misconduct charges filed against him by his former stylist.

The LAPD told ABC News Thursday that the department "did look into allegations of sexual battery against Seacrest. No charges were filed. And the case is closed."

The allegation against the Live with Kelly and Ryan co-host, filed by former E! stylist Suzie Hardy, first surfaced in November. Seacrest, who formerly worked for the network, immediately issued a denial in which he revealed the accuser to be his former stylist and declared her allegation was "reckless."

In May of this year, Hardy wrote an op-ed column in The Hollywood Reporter stating that she'd filed a report with the LAPD concerning her allegations. The department confirmed at the time that a report had been filed but provided no further details.

At the time, E! News launched an investigation -- conducted by outside counsel -- into the allegation, telling ABC News in a statement back in February that there was "insufficient evidence" to support any claims of wrongdoing by Seacrest.

As Seacrest's personal stylist, Hardy said she not only helped select his clothes for E! but also styled him for Fox's American Idol, Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve and his red carpet shows. She claimed the job required her to travel with him and make "late-night runs" to his home.

Live with Kelly and Ryan is produced by WABC-TV, which is owned and operated by Disney, ABC News’ parent company. He's also the host of ABC's American Idol.

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Anthony Anderson, Steven Seagal and Harvey Weinstein sexual assault cases sent to LA DA's office

Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Three separate sexual assault cases involving Anthony Anderson, Steven Seagal and Harvey Weinstein were presented by police to the LA DA’s office Wednesday.

The cases will now be reviewed by the DA’s task force working on entertainment industry cases.

A sexual assault case was presented by the Los Angeles Police Department involving Seagal, the former action film star who'as been accused of sexual harassment and assault by multiple women, including Jenny McCarthy and Inside Edition correspondent Lisa Guerrero.  Arrested Development's Portia de Rossi and The Good Wife star Julianna Margulies have accused Seagal of sexual misconduct as well. The complaints remain under review.

The Beverly Hills Police Department presented a third sex assault case involving Weinstein in June. That case, along with two others presented by BHPD and three presented by LAPD involving the disgraced Hollywood mogul remain under review.

Seagal and Weinstein have denied the allegations.

Also, the LAPD presented a sexual assault case involving ABC black-ish star Anderson. The details about that case haven't been revealed; it also remains under review. 

The Los Angeles Times reports Anderson's rep said in a statement that the actor “unequivocally disputes the claim," nor has he been contacted about it.  The newspaper also quotes a law enforcement source as saying a woman alleged this year that Anderson assaulted her last year.

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'The Meg,' 'BlacKkKlansman,' 'Slender Man' top this week's new releases

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures(NEW YORK) -- Here are the movies opening nationwide Friday:

* The Meg -- This sci-fi horror film stars Jason Statham as a rescue diver who joins a group of scientists trying to stop a giant, prehistoric Megalodon shark from terrorizing a beach. Also starring Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao and Cliff Curtis. Rated PG-13.

* BlacKkKlansman -- Jordan Peele produced and Spike Lee directed and co-wrote this film that's already generating Oscar buzz, based on the true story of a black police officer, played by John David Washington, who infiltrated the Klu Klux Klan in the 1970s. Adam Driver, Laura Harrier and Topher Grace also star. Rated R.

* Slender Man -- This supernatural horror film follows a group of teenaged Massachusetts girls who try to debunk the mystery of the supernatural internet meme Slender Man, only to become haunted by the creature themselves. Starring Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair and Annalise Basso, with Javier Botet as the title character. Rated PG-13.

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Ariana Grande reveals her 'Late Late Show' Carpool Karaoke episode will air next week

Photo: Terence Patrick/CBS ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved(LOS ANGELES) -- We won’t have to wait too long to see Ariana Grande’s Carpool Karaoke with James Corden.

The singer announced on social media that her episode will be airing on CBS' The Late Late Show Wednesday, August 15.

So far, all we know about their sing-along session is that James had been practicing the lyrics to “No Tears Left to Cry” and “God Is a Woman,” and that Ariana injured her hand at some point during their journey.

Despite her injury, Ariana says she had the "best day ever" shooting the episode. She also added that she "loves" her bandage.

Ariana’s album, Sweetener, comes out August 17.

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