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Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"; Lucasfilm, 2016(LOS ANGELES) -- Amid complaints from actresses like Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence over pay inequality between them and their male co-stars, there's now a bright spot for women in Hollywood -- we're seeing more women as protagonists in big-screen productions.

Recent hit films films like ArrivalRogue One: A Star Wars StoryMoanaHidden FiguresBad Moms, and The Girl on the Train are proving that female characters can also equal big box office bucks.

Variety cites a new study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University that finds women accounted for 29 percent of protagonists in the 100 highest-grossing films of 2016 -- a seven-percent rise from 2015 and what Variety calls a "recent historical high."

Females also hit historical highs in ensemble casts, making up 37 percent of major characters in the most popular films -- a three-percentage point jump from the previous year, according to the study. Female protagonists were most likely to appear in comedies, dramas, horror films, animated features and science fiction films. They were least likely to show up in action films.

Even so, the percentage of female characters in speaking roles remained virtually the same, and males still dominate the big screen by a two-to-one margin. The trend also didn't help female filmmakers, who comprised just seven percent of all directors working on the 250 highest-grossing domestic releases in 2016.  That's actually down slightly from the levels achieved in 2015 and in 1998.

Likewise, the numbers didn't translate into more racial diversity, with roles for black and Asian female characters up just slightly, and Latina character dipping in 2016.

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ABC/Randy Holmes(NEW YORK) -- Moonlight goes into Sunday's Oscars tied for the second-highest number of nominations, with eight -- including one for Naomie Harris. The British actress is up for best supporting actress for her portrayal of the main character Chiron's mother, but she'll be walking the red carpet with her own mom. 

"She has always been my champion," Harris tells ABC News. "She has always believed in me more than I've ever believed in myself. She's always said that I could do, have, and be anything that I want to be. And that is an incredibly powerful message to give a child."

Harris will have some stiff competition in her category, including Viola Davis, the favorite to win for Fences.  Though it may be cliché, Harris says she feels like she's already won.

"Just to be included, you know to be included amongst these extraordinary talented individuals, and so many of them that I've admired for decades and looked up and seen their work and there I am standing alongside them," she says. 

The Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, air Sunday night on ABC.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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ABC/Jeff Lipsky(LOS ANGELES) -- Right now, Jimmy Kimmel is focused on hosting the Academy Awards on Sunday night, but he also has his sights on 2019, when his late-night TV hosting contract is up.  That might spell the end of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, according to the host.

Speaking to Variety, the comedian says he's considered retiring from his show when his contract is finished, adding, “I want to go out on my own terms. If we ever feel like we’re repeating ourselves, I think it’s a good indication that it’s time.”

Variety notes that the landscape has changed in the 14 years he's spent on late-night TV, with growing competition from Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert making it a dog-eat-dog world during the late-night hours.

But if Kimmel does retire, what would he do with his time?  "I like to draw. I like to make sculptures," he tells Variety. "I’d like to write a book at some point. Doing the show every day doesn’t leave time for that.”

As for whether or not he'd host the Oscars again, he notes, "I’m just going to focus on the one and see how it goes. It’s funny, because part of the reason I was asked to do this is because the Emmys went well. If I do really well, I’m just going to have to do it again.”

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ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) -- Oscar Sunday is just a few days away, and a couple of favorites to walk home with statuettes are Fences director and star Denzel Washington and La La Land director Damien Chazelle.  While directing any feature film is a challenge, Chazelle tells ABC News he faced a six-year battle just trying to get La La Land made, a struggle that even had him second-guessing himself.

 "I had just been hearing the word ‘no.' No, no one wants to see that, no one would ever go pay for that, why do you want to make this, this is a waste of time,’" Best Director nominee Chazelle recalls. "So I think those phrases were still circling through my mind even when the movie was done."

However, the movie's 14 Oscar nods proved what Chazelle had suspected all along: "Actually I think musicals are more universal than we think...But they've gotten on, like there's a reputation, or preconception about musicals that I wanted to try and shoot down with this movie."

Fences is a Best Picture contender, but Washington -- a two-time Oscar-winning for acting -- tells ABC that he wasn't sure about making the movie until he did the play, explaining, "We had the most nominations, I think, in the history of the Tony Awards for a play, obviously great success, Viola [Davis] won, I won, best revival all that. So I knew OK, it works.  Now, can I work as its director is the question."

To that end, Washington says he was helped by the talented directors with whom he's worked in the past. "I've learned from Jonathan Demme and Norman Jewison, Richard Attenborough, Ridley Scott," Washington says.  "I've learned taken and stolen from everybody. The greatest directors." 

The 89th Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, air Sunday, February 26 at 7 p.m. ET on ABC.

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David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Netflix(PARIS) -- George Clooney is opening up about becoming a first-time dad.

Speaking to the French publication Paris Match, the 55-year-old actor says expecting twins with wife Amal Clooney is both exciting and nerve-wracking.

“How could I not be anxious when facing this huge responsibility? Having a baby… And actually two!” he says. “We are very happy, very excited, but also a bit nervous. It’s normal.”

He also comments on reports about the gender of the twins, saying they’re actually keeping that a surprise.

“There are rumors that we are going to have a boy and a girl; I don’t know where this is coming from,” he says. “We don’t know yet and we don’t want to know.”

Clooney also appeared on the French TV program Recontres de Cinema, where he called impending fatherhood “an adventure” that he’s embracing “with arms wide open.”

He says after he informed his friends -- who all have grown children -- that Amal was expecting twins, they teased him a bit.

“[It] got really quiet, and they all just started making baby crying noises,” he says. “And the whole table just busted up laughing.”

George is receiving an honorary award at the Cesar Awards, France’s equivalent of the Oscars, on February 24.

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Courtesy Disney/LucasfilmToday, Star Wars shared the first official cast shot from as-of-yet-untitled Han Solo movie, set for release in 2018.

The picture features Alden Ehrenreich, who will play Solo; Donald Glover, set to play a young Lando Calrissian; Woody Harrelson as Garris Shrike; and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca. Emilia Clarke and others are also in the shot, but their roles in the film are not yet clear.

 

Not present is Westworld actress Thandie Newton, who has also been cast, but her role remains under wraps as well.

"The movie will explore the duo’s [Han and Chewbacca] adventures before the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, including their early encounters with that other card-playing rogue from a galaxy far, far away, Lando Calrissian," an official release for the film states.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from The Lego Movie fame are directing the standalone film. It follows in the footsteps of the first Star Wars standalone movie, Rogue One, which was released this past December.

The untitled Han Solo film is set to hit theaters on May 25, 2018.

ABC News and Lucasfilm are both part of parent company Disney.

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David BornfriendThe 69th annual Writers Guild Awards took place at simultaneous ceremonies in New York and Los Angeles on Sunday night, with Moonlight and Arrival taking top film honors, and The Americans, Saturday Night Live, Last Week With John Oliver and Atlanta winning on the TV side.

Moonlight's Barry Jenkins and Tarell McCraney took the Original Screenplay honor, while Eric Heisserer won the trophy for Adapted Screenplay, for Arrival.

TV Awards went to FX’s The Americans for Drama Series, while HBO’s Atlanta received Comedy Series and New Comedy Series wins. Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schnidt grabbed the Episodic Comedy honor and NBC's This Is Us won for Episodic Drama.

HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver won best Comedy/Variety Talk Series and NBC's Saturday Night Live won Comedy/Variety Sketch Series.

Here are the winners in the film and TV categories:

FILM
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Moonlight

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Arrival

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY
Author: The JT LeRoy Story

TV
DRAMA SERIES

The Americans

COMEDY SERIES
Atlanta

NEW SERIES
Atlanta

LONG-FORM ORIGINAL
Confirmation

LONG-FORM ADAPTED
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

EPISODIC DRAMA
This Is Us

EPISODIC COMEDY
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

COMEDY/VARIETY (INCLUDING TALK) -- SERIES
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

COMEDY/VARIETY SKETCH SERIES
Saturday Night Live

COMEDY/VARIETY – MUSIC, AWARDS, TRIBUTES -- SPECIALS
Triumph’s Election Special

QUIZ AND AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION
Hollywood Game Night

DAYTIME DRAMA
General Hospital

CHILDREN’S EPISODIC
Mel vs. The Night Mare of Normal Street

CHILDREN’S LONG FORM
Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas

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Angelina Jolie during a press conference in Cambodia for her new film “First They Killed My Father”; TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Angelina Jolie has kept a low profile the past several months, in the wake of her split from husband Brad Pitt.  But Saturday, she made a public appearance in Cambodia for the world premiere of her latest Netflix film, First They Killed My Father. And during an interview with ABC News partners the BBC, the 41-year-old actress and filmmaker also discussed her highly-publicized divorce.

“I don’t want to say very much about that, except to say that it was a very difficult time,” said Jolie. “And we will get through this time and hopefully be a stronger family for it.”

Jolie noted that she's coping with the divorce by focusing on her children, explaining, “We are and forever will be a family," adding that she's "finding a way through to make sure this somehow makes us stronger and closer.”

As for the future, Jolie says, “In five years’ time, I would like to be traveling around the world visiting my children, hoping that they’re just happy and doing really interesting things, I imagine, in many different parts of the world. And I’ll be supporting them.”

Pitt, 53, and Jolie reached a child custody agreement last fall that entitles Jolie oversight of their six children –- Maddox, 15, Pax, 13, Zahara, 12, Shiloh, 10, and eight-year-old twins Knox and Vivienne.

Jolie’s First They Killed My Father, about the Khmer Rouge’s genocide, is set to premiere later this year on Netflix.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Bobby Bank/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- One-time Partridge Family star and 1970s pop idol David Cassidy has revealed to People that he's battling dementia. The 66-year-old entertainer, whose grandfather and mother also were stricken with the memory-loss disease, tells the magazine of his diagnosis, "I was in denial, but a part of me always knew this was coming."

Earlier this month, Cassidy announced via his official website that he planned to retire from touring at the end of this year.

He tells People that he now has come to accept his illness.  Moving forward, he says "I want to focus on what I am, who I am and how I've been without any distractions. I want to love. I want to enjoy life."

Cassidy was one of the biggest pop stars in the world in the 1970s, selling around arenas around the globe, his success driven by his role as singing teen Keith Partridge on the TV series The Partridge Family. He's had a rocky time during the last several years, having been arrested for driving under the influence in 2010, 2013 and 2014, and filing for bankruptcy in 2015. That same year, he was charged in a hit-and-run accident. David also made news this past weekend when fan-shot video surfaced of him slurring his words and struggling to remember lyrics during a concert in Agoura Hills, California.

Cassidy has three confirmed shows on his upcoming schedule -- March 3 in Greenwich, Rhode Island; March 4 in New York City; and June 11 in Mentor, Ohio.

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Warner Bros.(NEW YORK) -- The LEGO Batman Movie zapped the competition to top the weekend box office for the second straight week, raking in an estimated $34.2 million in the U.S., and raising its two week total to $98.7 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The film is expected to top $43 million for the four-day holiday weekend, pushing it over the $100 million mark.

The animated comedy, featuring the voice of Will Arnett as Batman, plus, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes and Zack Galifianakis, pulled in another $37 million overseas, raising its worldwide total to over $170 million.  "It's a character that's very easy to make fun of, because he's a guy that's just very angsty. He's just a moody guy," Michael Cera tells ABC Radio about Batman.

Cera, who plays Robin in the film, says, "I was a big fan of the first LEGO Movie, which I saw just on a whim. It was playing in my neighborhood, and I went and saw it not knowing at all what to expect and had such a fun time, so I was a big fan."  He says he ended up in the current one when he got an email "out of the blue" from Arnett -- who Cera describes as "a hero of mine."

Fifty Shades Darker, starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, finished in second place with an estimated $20.9 million. The sequel to 2015's Fifty Shades of Grey is likely to tack on another $4 million Monday. One of this weekend's new releases, The Great Wall, starring Matt Damon, did better than expected, hauling in $18.1 million for a third place finish.

John Wick: Chapter 2, starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne, took fourth place with an estimated $16.5 million Friday through Sunday, and is expected to deliver an estimated $19.5 million for the four-day weekend.

Another new release, Fist Fight, rounds out the top five with $12 million. The comedy, starring Charlie Day, Ice Cube and Tracy Morgan, also performed better than expected and should finish the four-day weekend with just over $13 million.

Oscar contender La La Land continued to dance its way into the hearts of theatergoers, adding another $4.5 million this weekend, pushing its domestic total to over $133 million.

The third of this weekend's new releases, the horror flick A Cure for Wellness, starring The Amazing Spider-Man 2's Dane DeHaan, finished in a disappointing 10th place with $4.2 million.

Here are the top 10 movies from Friday through Sunday, with estimated weekend gross ticket sales: 

1. The LEGO Batman Movie, $34.2 million
2. Fifty Shades Darker, $20.9 million
3. The Great Wall, $18.1 million
4. John Wick: Chapter 2, $16.5 million
5. Fist Fight, $12 million
6. Hidden Figures, $7.2 million
7. Split, $7.1 million
8. A Dog's Purpose, $5.69 million
9. La La Land, $4.5 million
10. A Cure for Wellness, $4.2 million

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. 

"It's a character that's very easy to make fun of, because he's a guy that's just very angsty. He's just a moody guy," Michael Cera tells ABC Radio about Batman.

Cera, who plays Robin in the film, says, "I was a big fan of the first LEGO Movie, which I saw just on a whim. It was playing in my neighborhood, and I went and saw it not knowing at all what to expect and had such a fun time, so I was a big fan."  He says he ended up in the current one when he got an email "out of the blue" from Arnett -- who Cera describes as "a hero of mine."

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Nick and Raven; ABC/Drew Cason(NEW YORK) -- On Monday’s new episode of The Bachelor on ABC, hometown dates left three of the women feeling confident about their relationships with Nick Viall, while another came back with serious doubts.

Raven returned home to Hoxie, Arkansas to show Nick how to ride ATVs, get ridiculously muddy, and climb a grain bin. Nick was caught off guard when the local authorities pulled up after the two had scaled a grain silo, but Raven had the last laugh when the officer turned out to be her older brother.

The dark-haired beauty’s trip home was highlighted by the happy news that her dad is cancer-free, and he gave Nick the green light to marry his daughter. Raven, however, worried because she hasn’t told Nick she loves him.

Rachel kicked off Nick’s visit to Dallas by taking him to a service at her church.  Race took center stage during his time with her family, as Rachel revealed that her sister is part of an interracial couple as well. Nick failed to meet Rachel’s father, since he was out of town on business.

In Miami, Corinne wanted to take Nick on a date that showed her truest self, so she treated him to an extravagant shopping spree, which culminated with her proclaiming her love for him. The day of fun continued as Corinne finally got to introduce Nick to her beloved nanny Raquel. Even though it initially seemed her father might be a hold-out, Nick eventually won him over.

Things got complicated as Nick traveled to Montreal to meet Vanessa’s family. The date got off to a great start, as the special needs teacher took Nick to meet her students. Vanessa was pleased as Nick bonded with her charges as they made a scrapbook of the couple’s time together.

Since Vanessa’s parents are divorced, Nick met her mom’s side of the family first. Both her mom and her sister were very concerned that Nick and Vanessa didn’t seem to have discussed where they'll live if their relationship continues.

When Nick met Vanessa’s father, he was rather confused by the fact that Nick was asking for his blessing to marry his daughter -- even though Nick admitted he’d done the same with the other girl's dads. While Vanessa was initially excited when her father told her about Nick’s request , she was devastated to learn he’d asked the same of the other parents.

With four hometown dates done, Nick and the women traveled to New York City for the rose ceremony, where one will be sent home. But before that could happen, former Bachelorette Andi Dorfman showed up at Nick’s door for a chat.

Find out what happens next when The Bachelor returns Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Disney/Lucasfilm(NEW YORK) -- When Disney announced that the title of the next Star Wars movie was The Last Jedi, there was a lot of speculation as to its meaning.  Sure, it sounds like it's talking about one person -- presumably Luke Skywalker -- but as geeks everywhere have pointed out, the word "Jedi" is also plural, so it could be referring to more than one "Jedi" -- both Luke and Rey, for example.  Well, stop speculating: we've now got proof that it's plural.

As Mashable points out, the official Star Wars Twitter accounts for Italy, France and Spain all feature the movie's title translated into Italian, French and Spanish.  None of those three languages have a single version of the definite article, "the" -- it changes based on how many of something you're talking about.  And all three Twitter accounts use the plural version of the word "the" in the title.

In French, for example, the title is translated to Les Derniers Jedi, which means "The Last Jedi," plural.  Same in Spanish: the title is Los Últimos Jedi -- again, the "los" indicates that it's plural.  In Italian, it's Gli Ultimi Jedi, with "gli" indicating plural.

So who are The Last Jedi -- plural?  We'll find out December 17 when Episode VIII arrives in theaters.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. 

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ABC/Randy Holmes(NEW YORK) -- In a new Oscars promo, Morgan Freeman offers Jimmy Kimmel a much-needed pep talk before he hosts the Oscars for the first time next Sunday. Unfortunately, Freeman's advice isn't quite what the late-night host expects.

In the promo, Kimmel is seen looking in the mirror as he prepares himself for the Academy Awards. As Kimmel adjusts his clothing, Oscar-winner Freeman is heard giving what's meant to be an empowering speech. But after a few positive moments about Kimmel's big night, Freeman changes his tune.

"James 'Jimmy' Kimmel, a man on the precipice of hosting the Oscars," Freeman intones. "An opportunity to be the toast of the town -- or a chance to bomb so fantastically, everywhere he goes, people will say, 'Look at Sucky Sucko. He had his shot, but man, did he blow it in front of billions.'"

Kimmel then tells Freeman he's "not really helping," to which Freeman responds, "Fine, do your own damn pep talk!"

This year's Academy Awards air Sunday, February 26 at 7 p.m. ET on ABC.

 

.@JimmyKimmel's personal #Oscars pep talk includes a very special cameo. pic.twitter.com/Qwa9QEUXi8

— The Academy (@TheAcademy) February 16, 2017

 

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Patrick Wymore/Netflix(NEW YORK) -- The second season of Chelsea Handler's Netflix talk show has a premiere date -- and a change of schedule.

Handler posted a video on social media, revealing that her Netflix talk show will be moving to a weekly format when season two launches on April 14.

Chelsea, which aired three nights a week on Netflix, will now air once a week on Fridays at 12:01 a.m. ET.  The new episodes will run an hour long instead of the 20 and 40 minute episodes in season one.

Season two also will feature international travel, more in-depth interviews, more field pieces and dinner parties.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/courtesy of HBO(NEW YORK) -- Nicole Kidman sure knows how to bury the lead.

The Australian actress revealed in a new profile that she was once engaged to former beau Lenny Kravitz.

Kidman was discussing her new HBO series, Big Little Lies, and working with the only child, Zoe Kravitz, of her former flame.

"Well, I knew Zoe because I was engaged to her father. It's all in the family," she told Net-a-Porter's weekly digital magazine The Edit.

"I love Lenny. He's a great guy," she added.

In 2007 she referred to an engagement after her divorce from Tom Cruise and before her marriage to Keith Urban, telling Vanity Fair, "I got engaged to somebody ... but it just wasn't right. I wasn't ready. We weren't ready." But she didn't name the person at the time.

She married Urban in 2006, and they have two daughters.

Kidman, an Oscar winner nominated again this year for her supporting role in Lion, said Urban was there for her after she shot violent scenes in Big Little Lies.

"I was quite traumatized after [filming]," she said. "I was emotionally and physically traumatized. I'd come back, and I'd need Keith to hold me, just to feel soothed."

She explained, "I think it worked on my psyche in a way that I didn't quite realize. As an actress, I don't clock in and out. It does bleed in, and sometimes it's hard to process."

Kidman and Kravitz had a whirlwind romance in the early 2000s. But not until now has Kidman said that the couple got engaged.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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