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Elton John and David Furnish Are Married


Jason Kempin/Getty Images for EJAF(LONDON) -- After more than 20 years together, Elton John and his partner David Furnish are married!

The music icon shared the news on Instagram:

 

That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony! #ShareTheLove @DavidFurnish

???? ???????????? Elton John (@eltonjohn) ??? 12, 2014 at 3:20 PST

 

The couple, who have been together since 1993, are already parents to Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, who will be 4 years old this Christmas, and Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John, 23 months.

A law passed earlier this year in England allowing same-sex marriage and the Grammy winner has always been open about his relationship with Furnish, telling Parade magazine in 2010 that he "was attracted to David immediately."

He regaled the magazine on how they met.

“In 1993 I went back to my house in Windsor for a while. I wanted meet new people so I rang up a friend in London and said, ‘Could you please rattle some new people together for dinner here Saturday?’” John told Parade. "[David] was very well dressed, very shy. The next night we had dinner. After it, we consummated our relationship. We fell in love very quickly.”

John added that to keep that spark in their relationship, "Every Saturday for 16 years, we’ve sent each other a card, no matter where we are in the world, to say how much we love each other.”

The couple famously already entered into a civil partnership in 2005.

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"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" Tops Box Office in Opening Weekend


Warner Bros.(LOS ANGELES) -- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies topped the box office in its first weekend.

The latest Lord of the Rings installment brought in $56.22 million between Friday and Sunday. The fantasy film stars Martin Freeman, Orland Bloom, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, and Evangeline Lilly.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which also opened this weekend, came in second earning $17.3 million, while Annie debuted in third with $16.3 million.

Here are the weekend's top films according to boxofficemojo.com:

1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: $56.22 million
2. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb: $17.3 million
3. Annie: $16.3 million
4. Exodus: Gods and Kings: $8.065 million
5. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1: $7.75 million
6. Wild: $4.15 million
7. Top Five: $3.57 million
8. Big Hero 6: $3.563 million
9. Penguins of Madagascar: $3.525 million
10. P.K.:$3.50 million

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Lance Bass Marries Michael Turchin


Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Lance Bass is a married man!

The former 'N Sync star, host and producer, 35, married Michael Turchin in Los Angeles Saturday, People magazine reported.

According to People, the couple married at the Park Plaza Hotel.

Earlier this week, Bass couldn't contain his excitement, tweeting, "Heading to Santa Barbara to do a our walk through of the wedding at the venue!! Ahhhhhh! #LanceLovesMichael."

He added that the rings arrived on Thursday.

 

The rings just arrived!! #LanceLovesMichael 2 more sleeps!!!!! http://t.co/ozNXIp3qBw

— Lance Bass (@LanceBass) December 18, 2014

 

Bass and the artists got engaged last September and shortly after, he spoke to ABC News about what to expect from his grand wedding.

"I love a party. It's going to be nice and big and over the top," he said. "We're wanting all of our guests to come completely over the top, high fashion like you're heading to the MET Ball or the Royal Wedding."

Bass also said the wedding was filmed by E! for a special to air early next year.

"The network is doing the first celebrity, gay wedding, which is such an honor to be a part of," he said. "It's almost 2015, and we are just now having the first gay wedding special on television. As a little kid from Mississippi, I would have loved to have seen something like that go down on TV, so that I knew nothing was wrong with me."

Bass revealed last year the couple hadn't fought once in their years together.

"I think it's just the universe telling me he's the one," he said.

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Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard Welcome Baby Girl


ABC/Rick Rowell(LOS ANGELES) -- Lincoln has a new baby sister.

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard welcomed their second child on Friday.

The couple, who married last October, are already parents to daughter Lincoln, born March 2013.

 

Delta Bell Shepard is here. She doesn't look like either @IMKristenBell or me, but we're gonna keep her anyway. #christmascameearly

— dax shepard (@daxshepard1) December 20, 2014

 

In typical sarcastic fashion, the Veronica Mars star commented on her pregnancy this summer.

"Having a cold while being pregnant is like getting a parking ticket while you’re at the dentist," she tweeted.

When the couple announced they were expecting again this past June, their rep said, "The whole family is beyond excited."

Bell, 34, and Shepard, 39, were married in Beverly Hills in a modest way at the clerk's office on Oct. 17, 2013. The two began dating in 2007.

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Madonna Releases Six Songs from New Album


Jason Merritt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Great ready for some new music from the Material Girl.

Following the unauthorized leak earlier this week of some of her new-- but incomplete tracks-- Madonna has decided to officially release six songs from her upcoming album Rebel Heart.

The songs are available for pre-order at iTunes and other outlets with the purchase of the album, and individually. 

More music is coming February 9, and the entire album will officially arrive the first week of March.

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"The Godfather: Part II": Celebrating the Movie's 40th Anniversary With 8 Little-Known Facts


Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- It has been 40 years since Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather: Part II was released on Dec. 20, 1974 and the movie has had a lasting impact.

Part II was released two years after the The Godfather: Part I and it is widely considered the best sequel of all time. To some, the sequel even surpasses the original. The Godfather: Part III would come in 1990, but the third time was not quite the charm.

The sequel focused on Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, as he attempted to expand his family business into a then-brand new playground called Las Vegas. The film included flashbacks to the early 1900s, showing the rise to power of a young Vito Corleone, played by a little-known actor named Robert De Niro. In Part I, the Vito Corleone character was played by the iconic Marlon Brando.

Here are some fun facts that you may not have known about Part II on its 40th anniversary:

1. De Niro, the Method Actor

To prepare for his role as Vito Corleone, De Niro, lived in Sicily and learned the Italian dialect. Nearly all of De Niro’s dialogue in the film was in Sicilian.

2. De Niro Was Almost Cast in the Original

De Niro auditioned for the role of Sonny Corleone in the original Godfather. De Niro’s audition tape is like watching poetry in motion. Various versions of the audition are on YouTube and worth a watch. The role of Sonny eventually went to James Caan, who made a cameo in a flashback in the final scene of the sequel even though he was killed in the original.

The famous flashback scene at the end of Part II was also supposed to include a small cameo from Brando. Brando didn’t show up on the day of filming because of legal issues and problems between the actor and Paramount.

3. The Brando-De Niro Connection

Brando and De Niro are the only two actors to ever win separate Oscars for playing the same character. Brando won Best Actor for The Godfather while De Niro won Best Supporting Actor in Part II.

4. Sequels Get No Love From Oscar

Speaking of Oscars, Part II is the first sequel to win the Oscar for Best Picture. This feat would not be repeated until 2004 when the award was given to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

5. Martin Scorsese Was This Close to Becoming Director


Coppola originally didn’t want to direct a sequel because of a tenuous relationship with Paramount during the filming of the original, according to the Oscar-winning director. In the commentary for The Godfather DVD Collection, Coppola revealed he recommended Martin Scorsese to direct the film.

6. Offer Pacino Couldn't Refuse

Pacino was paid $600,000 for his role in the sequel. Not bad for the time, but when you consider his salary for Part I -– a measly $35,000 -– it shows you how much Pacino’s stock rose in such a short time.

7. Best Adapted Screenplay?

Part II won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay even though only half the script was actually adapted. The story of Michael Corleone was written specifically for the film while the story of Vito Corleone came from The Godfather novel written by Mario Puzo, which was published in 1969.

8. Part II Got Off to a Rough Start

Coppola later revealed in another documentary that Part II didn't test well in previews leading up to its release. The issue was the cutting back and forth to Michael Corleone’s storyline and the flashback scenes with the young Vito Corleone. Coppola and his editors worked in the cutting room to make the narrative flow better up until the film was released nationwide.

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Stephen Collins Denies He's a Pedophile After Confessing to Sexual Misconduct With 3 Girls


Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  7th Heaven actor Stephen Collins says he is “absolutely not” a pedophile, claiming that the three underage girls he confessed to having sexual misconduct with were isolated incidents.

“I'm absolutely not attracted, physically or sexually attracted to children,” Collins told Yahoo Global Anchor Katie Couric in an exclusive interview that will air on ABC News’ 20/20.

Watch the full interview on ABC News' 20/20 FRIDAY at 10 p.m. ET


Collins also denied that there have been any more victims, saying if more come forward, claiming he had been inappropriate with them, “it would not be the truth.”

“I didn’t white-knuckle this... I’m not fighting. It’s not like if I miss therapy next week something’s going to happen,” he added. “I'm a human being. I have faults, and I've done things that I deeply regret.”

The 67-year-old actor, best known for his role as Pastor Eric Camden, the family patriarch on the TV show, 7th Heaven, confessed this week to sexual misconduct with three underage girls years ago, a shocking revelation that has made him an entertainment industry pariah.

Allegations of Collins’ wrongdoing first surfaced in October when a 2012 audio recording of his confession during a marriage counseling session with his estranged wife, Faye Grant, was released by TMZ. The audio included Collins admitting to the three incidents of sexual misconduct.

Collins said Grant had secretly recorded every disturbing word, and he didn’t know his wife was wearing a wire until she told him after one of those sessions.

“She took me into a stairwell, and she told me there,” Collins said. “She revealed that--she said, ‘I recorded. I was wearing a wire. I recorded that session.’ … and she said, ‘Here's our settlement. You're going to sign it now. Or … that recording is going to find its way to the media.’”

“I've always said this, marriage is absolutely unfathomable,” he added. “You think you understand someone else's marriage, nobody does. Nobody does.”

Grant denies being the source of the leak, and in a statement to ABC News Friday, she said, “Stephen's statements about me are false and appear to be an attempt by him to deflect from his conduct. I sincerely hope Stephen gets the help he needs.”

But the fallout from the leaked audio recordings was fast for Collins. He was dropped from a recurring role on ABC’s Scandal and fired from the soon-to-be-released movie, Ted 2.

In talking with Couric, Collins described an inappropriate encounter with one of the underage girls, saying he knew he had done something “unthinkably wrong” that he couldn't take back.

Collins said there were two times in 1973 where he exposed himself to the “young woman.” He was 25 years old at the time, and she was 10.

According to Collins, the underage girl had come to visit and stay with him and his first wife, and after his wife had gone to sleep, he and the girl were watching TV together.

“And I took her hand and moved it in such a way that she was touching me inappropriately,” he said. “I knew that something unthinkably wrong had just happened that I couldn't take back, And I--I think we both just sat there. We really didn't move a muscle.”

“And after about--what I recall was about 45 seconds, I took her hand and moved it back,” Collins continued. “I waited a couple of minutes, because I just didn't know what to do or say. And then I got up and left the room.”

Collins also confessed to exposing himself to a 13-year-old girl in 1982, the same year he met Grant on the set of Tales of the Gold Monkey, and to a third girl, a 14-year-old, in 1994. But he said “there was no physical contact of any kind with either of them.”

“The look on the one in 1982 was such that it immediately… just stopped everything cold,” he said. “It was clear that she was disoriented and frightened, and that just made me want to stop and cover up, and I did.”

“It was not exciting. It was not gratifying. There was no gratification,” he added.

For the past 20 years, Collins said he has been in intensive therapy, which has included therapeutic workshops, religious counseling and a 12-step program. In discussing his difficult past, Collins speculated that the reason he committed these acts was because of something he experienced in his own childhood.

“The thing that makes the most sense to me, and it's not an excuse, because none of this is an excuse… but I did have someone in my life when I was between the age of about 10 and 15, an older woman, who repeatedly exposed herself to me,” Collins said.

Collins said that older woman would appear in “various states of undress, or complete undress” on several occasions.

“And I think that that distorted my perception in such a way that some part of me thought--because--I never felt like I was molested. Never occurred to me, that word never crossed my mind as a 10- to 15-year-old boy. It was a very intense experience. But I think somewhere in my brain I got the equation of, ‘well, this isn't so terrible. I mean this person who I trust is doing it,’” he said.

“It's not why I did it,” Collins continued. “I’m not blaming her … I'm just saying, I think that's an aspect that went into my own distorted thinking as a young man.”

When asked why he did these things, Collins said, “It was a combination of poor impulse control, arrogance, 25-year-old arrogance.”

“I think it is about power, but not consciously,” he said. “There is a statement that says ‘figuring it out is the booby prize.’ Now that sounds odd. What that means to a lot of people in recovery is you can figure it out, you can intellectually understand it, but what’s important is what your behavior is. I’m still in regular therapy. I always will be out of respect for those women and it’s just not going to happen again and it hasn’t and I feel very confident that it won’t.”

Until now, Collins had kept a low public profile, avoiding questions about the scandal and his nasty divorce to Faye Grant. He said he wanted to do this interview because he hoped it will help him move forward.

“The truth [is] painful and it is less painful than the stuff that was flying around the Internet and some of the rumors, and I feel very, very sure that these things are behind me,” he said.

But Collins said he is constantly atoning for the harm he caused three young girls years ago.

I think of those women--every day,” he said. “And I would say, ‘With all my heart, I am sorry for what I put you through… and I want you to know… that nothing like that will ever happen again.’”

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Stephen Colbert's Portrait to Hang Between Bathrooms at the Smithsonian Once Again


Photo Credit: Scott Gries/PictureGroup/Comedy Central(WASHINGTON) -- Following the end of his nine-year run on Comedy Central, and in advance of his move to CBS to take over The Late Show, Stephen Colbert will have a portrait hung in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery for the second time.

The comedian's eponymous hit show, The Colbert Report, ran from October 2005 through Thursday, capping off a run over more than 1,400 episodes.

The National Portrait Gallery confirmed the second portrait on its blog on Friday. The new portrait, the gallery says, "shows the shameless self-promoter reflected in a mirror." Outdoing Colbert's 2008 portrait -- which featured a three-deep image of the performer -- the new portrait features six images of Colbert, wearing different ties and holding different props from his show, including a pair of Emmy awards and his best-selling book.

The new portrait will grace the same space as Colbert's first -- between the second-floor restrooms.

It will be on display until April 19, 2015.

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Why Natalie Portman Says "Star Wars" Actually Hurt Her Career


Merrick Morton/Lucasflim Ltd.(NEW YORK) -- When Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out in 1999, it became one of the highest grossing movies of all-time, but fans of the Star Wars franchise were torn about the series of new prequels.

Oscar winner Natalie Portman, who starred in all three of the prequels, said playing the female protagonist Padmé in the franchise actually hurt her career.

In an interview with New York magazine, where A-list stars paid tribute to the iconic director Mike Nichols, Portman shared a tale of how the late legend helped get her career back off the ground after Star Wars.

Portman, 33, starred in Nichols' Seagull as part of the NY Shakespeare Festival summer season in 2001. Nichols helped get her into other movies like Cold Mountain in 2003.

"Star Wars had come out around the time of Seagull, and everyone thought I was a horrible actress," she said. "I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade, and no director wanted to work with me. Mike wrote a letter to Anthony Minghella and said, 'Put her in Cold Mountain, I vouch for her.'"

She continued, "And then Anthony passed me on to Tom Tykwer, who passed me on to the Wachowskis. I worked with Milos Forman a few years later. He said, 'Mike saved me. He wrote a letter so that I could get asylum in the U.S.' He did that for 50 people, and it doesn't make any one of us feel less special."

Portman would end up winning the Oscar for her work in Black Swan in 2011.

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Angelina Jolie Opens Up About Directing Brad Pitt in Love Scene


ABC/Rick Rowell(LOS ANGELES) -- Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will be back on screen together in By the Sea, which is set to be released next year and features the famous duo as a couple -- much like their debut movie together in 2005's Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

While promoting her current film Unbroken, Jolie, 39, spoke to MTV news about directing a sex scene with her now husband in the future movie.

"I was the other person in the love scene, so it wasn't that hard," she quipped. "He knows what I need from him. He's always known."

As for people making assumptions of the duo in real life based off what happens in the movie, Jolie said "I haven't thought that way for years. Because then you can't make a creative move if you're conscious of all the different interpretations. We wanted to be free and we wanted to play."

She continued about the film, "It's a very creative film. We wanted to try things, so we intentionally made bold decisions...we just wanted to be artists and play."

By the Sea, set in 1970s France, centers on a couple who travel and write together. Their relationship is falling apart until they happen upon a small town on the water.

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“Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” “Annie” Open Friday; "Wild" Expands


"Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb" - Fox(NEW YORK) — The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies opened on Wednesday, earning an estimated $24.5 million in its first day of release, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

A few more new films join The Hobbit in theaters this weekend. Here's a closer look:

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb -- Ben Stiller's security guard character, Larry Daley, and his historical pals head to London for more museum adventures in the third film in the series. The late Robin Williams reprises his role of Teddy Roosevelt. Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais, Rebel Wilson and Ben Kingsley also star. Rated PG.

Annie -- Young Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhané Wallis plays the titular character in the reboot of the famous musical. Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale also star in the film, which was co-produced by Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith, plus Jay Z. Rated PG.

And expanding to wide release:

Wild -- Reese Witherspoon earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance as an emotionally-confused woman who takes a solo hike of more than a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. The film is based on the book by Cheryl Strayed. Rated R.

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George Clooney Speaks Out About Lack of Sony Support


ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) — In an interview with Deadline published Thursday, George Clooney explained why he feels no one else in the industry stood up for Sony in the wake of the hack attack.

Clooney said Hollywood big shots were all scared that they’d be next on the hackers’ list. They were so fearful, in fact, that they refused to sign a petition that Clooney and his agent, CAA’s Bryan Lourd, passed around in support of Sony. The letter was a call for the major studios to stand together with Sony and back their decision to not give in to the hackers’ demands.

"It was sent to basically the heads of every place,” Clooney said. “They told Bryan Lourd, ‘I can’t sign this.’ What? How can you not sign this? I’m not going to name anyone, that’s not what I’m here to do, but nobody signed the letter.”

Sony ultimately decided to cancel the release of The Interview, the comedy at the center of the controversy for its depiction of North Korea and Kim Jong Un. The hackers had threatened to blow up theaters if the film was released.

“Sony didn’t pull the movie because they were scared; they pulled the movie because all the theaters said they were not going to run it,” Clooney said. “And they said they were not going to run it because they talked to their lawyers and those lawyers said if somebody dies in one of these, then you’re going to be responsible.”

As for where the movie industry goes from here, Clooney says the future remains uncertain. “I’ve seen statements they’ve put out and what the president said and what the response is,” he said. “The truth is, it’s all new territory and nobody knows how to handle it. I don’t think anyone was prepared for it. So now we’ll be prepared for it, hopefully. Everybody was doing their jobs, but somehow, we have allowed North Korea to dictate content, and that is just insane.”

Clooney argues that a "good portion" of the media "abdicated its real duty" in the wake of the hack attack: "There was a real story going on. With just a little bit of work, you could have found out that it wasn’t just probably North Korea; it was North Korea."

A White House spokesperson on Thursday declined to blame North Korea while addressing reporters Thursday, citing ongoing investigations.


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The Colbert Report Signs Off


Comedy Central(NEW YORK) -- After nine years of truthiness, justice, and the American Way, Stephen Colbert signed off as the host of Comedy Central's award winning spoof news show The Colbert Report.

Colbert launched his show on October 17, 2005, after spending several years as a correspondent on another Comedy Central program, The Daily Show. His parody of right-wing TV commentators quickly became a hit."

And no, he didn't break character, even in the finale. 

Let's not pussyfoot around," Colbert said in his last "Word" segment. 

"I have had a huge impact. Need more evidence? Maybe you should ask Saginaw Spirit's mini mascot Steagle Colbeagle The Eagle," which was obviously named in his honor. "I don't remember Cronkite ever having a mascot!" Colbert trumpeted.

While Colbert's only official guest was occasional guest Grimmy AKA The Grim Reaper -- who, after a struggle Colbert shot to death, therefore insuring the host's immortality -- the host was accompanied in studio by dozens of celebrities to sing the WWII standard "We'll Meet Again."

The star singers included Bryan Cranston, George Lucas, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Katie Couric, James Franco, New Jersey senator Cory Booker, disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, Elijah Wood, Cindy Lauper, Michael Stipe, Alan Alda, Patrick Stewart, Willie Nelson, Mark Cuban, Mike Huckabee, Henry Kissinger, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tom Broakaw, Yo Yo Ma, Cyndi Lauper, Rod Stewart, Smaug, Tim Meadows, Keith Olbermann, and Sam Waterston.

Other guests chimed in via video, including J.J. Abrams (appropriately backed with a Star Wars "crawl" reading the song's lyrics), Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan (still chained in front of his computer in Colbert's basement, as in a previous episode that had the host forcing him to make more episodes of the AMC drama), troops in Afghanistan, an astronaut running on the C.O.L.B.E.R.T. treadmill in space, and former President Bill Clinton (tweeting using the account Colbert created for him on the air).

Later on, Colbert got more serious, saying, "We finally come to the end of the Colbert Report. Nine great years, 1,447 wonderful episodes," expressing he just has, "so many people to thank," including, "everybody who works so hard every day to make something special," as well as, "all the friends and family for putting up with our long hours, the network for giving us the chance to begin with -- and of course all the guests...thousands of them--too many to thank. So... I'll just thank Mavis Staples. So Mavis, if you can just call everybody tomorrow, that would be great."

The host then addressed the fans by saying, "you, the Colbert Nation: we couldn't have done it without you."

The show ended with more guests, however, notably Santa Claus, who arrived via sled on the roof of Colbert's studio with none other than Abraham Lincoln -- who revealed himself to be at least part unicorn -- and "the man with all the answers," Jeopardy's Alex Trebek in tow. "So I guess I'll be gone forever?" Colbert asked. "Oh no, no no," Trebek assured him. "We'll always be there for the American people when they need us the most."

"But aren't you Canadian?" Colbert countered, expressing that Trebek's "dual citizenship since 1998" really is, "not the same." And with that, Santa's sleigh took off, with the host, who will start as David Letterman's replacement on CBS' Late Show next September.

After a few weeks of @Midnight airing in the Report's 11:30  time slot, Comedy Central will replace it with The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, premiering January 19.

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Movie Review: “Annie” (Rated PG)


"Annie" - Sony/Columbia(NEW YORK) — An updated musical that already feels dated.
 
Sony’s terrible week is probably about to get worse, because given the train wreck that is its new movie, Annie, I can’t imagine people will be flocking to theaters to catch this updated musical. I’ll skip the jokes about how the hackers should have tried to get Annie pulled, not The Interview, because you can’t go three seconds on Twitter without a similar punchline popping up in your feed. But yeah, Annie’s pretty bad.
 
And it’s bad from the start. The opening musical number, in which our title character (played by youngest Oscar-nominee ever, Quvenzhane Wallis) tries to coax her classroom into clapping to the beat while she sings a school report, is one of those moments that just feels so forced, you’re embarrassed watching it. When people say they don’t like musicals because they feel it’s unnatural and uncomfortable when characters break into song, they’re talking about scenes like this. And it only gets better from there. And by better, I mean worse.
 
In this version, Annie isn’t stuck in an orphanage. Instead, she lives in a pretty nice apartment in Harlem with four other foster kids. They all share one big room with bunk beds, and it kind of seems like every night is a sleep-over party. Through a series of contrived events that just don’t matter, Annie meets billionaire businessman Will Stacks (Jaime Foxx), who decides having Annie live with him would help his mayoral campaign. So the two team up.
 
Wallis, of whom I was a big fan in Beasts of the Southern Wild, seems to have one gear for most of this movie: “charmingly optimistic.” Nothing fazes her version of Annie, to the point where you almost want to grab her and say, “Hey kid, it’s OK to be depressed. You’re an orphan stuck being raised by a witch. Your life kind of sucks.” Her singing is decent, though, and she and Jaime Foxx have good chemistry. I can’t wait to see them together again -- just hopefully not in the sequel of this movie.
 
In fact, it’s the middle of the movie, where Annie and Will Stacks are building their bond, that’s the most enjoyable. There are some fun exchanges between the two, and a very funny satire on the Twilight franchise (yes, you read that right) that’s so good it almost seems out of place. Bonding along with them is Rose Byrne (Neighbors, Bridesmaids), who plays Stacks’ right-hand-gal, Grace, and when she, Wallis and Foxx are on screen in any combination there does tend to be a lot of charm. Another bright spot is Stephanie Kurtzuba (The Wolf of Wall Street). Here she plays an Eastern European social worker and steals every scene.
 
But sadly, those are the only bright spots amid 118 minutes of darkness. Early on in the film, Ms. Hannigan, played by Cameron Diaz, tells one of her foster kids, “Take it down a notch, no one’s going to believe you.” That’s the perfect line to sum up her performance as an alcoholic, washed-up singer who takes in kids just for the government checks. Diaz is so over the top, you have to wonder if director Will Gluck was maybe on a coffee break during her scenes, or perhaps he just didn’t feel comfortable telling the star to tone it down.
 
The acting is hardly the main problem with Annie, though. Most of the blame has to go to the script. In a good musical, songs enter the scene organically – here, they almost always feel crow-barred in. The tone is all over the place: sometimes it’s an over-the-top farce, sometimes it’s a movie of the week, and somehow, it all devolves into an action flick. Also, the updated references take a timeless story and turn it into a dated mess. Sure, the Twilight bit works, but a joke about 1990s dance-pop group C C Music Factory just tries way too hard. This Annie is trying to be cool, and if you’re trying to be cool, you’re probably not.
 
That said, Annie isn’t aimed at me, a single guy in his mid-30s. It’s aimed at kids and their parents, and in my screening, there were plenty of those.  The kids did seem to laugh in the right spots, though they never joined in singing the songs. Afterward, one of those kids was debating her movie score with her mom, deciding between a seven and an eight. So if you have to go see Annie, chances are your kids will be entertained, even if you’re not.
 
Two out of five stars.

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Craig Ferguson to Host Final "Late Late Show" Friday Night


Monty Brinton/CBS(LOS ANGELES) — Craig Ferguson is saying his final farewell to CBS' The Late Late Show Friday night, after 10 years at the helm.

The 52-year-old Scotsman took over hosting duties from Craig Kilborn in January 2005 and immediately shook up the traditional late-show format. For one thing, his producers never predetermined the topics he would talk about with guests, making for looser, more off-the-cuff interviews.

“All I was trying to do with any guest, particularly guests who are very inside the Hollywood machine, was to humanize them…make them loosen up a little bit, to relax, and to have a good time,” Ferguson said in an interview with People. “It's about no-harm TV.”

He was also known for being the only late-night host with a robot skeleton -- named Geoff Peterson -- as a sidekick, and a pantomime horse named Secretariat.

Ferguson’s proudest moments on the show include when he refused to gossip about Britney Spears’ breakdown, when he had Desmond Tutu on the program, and when he won a Peabody Award in 2010. “Also, reintroducing pantomime horses to American television was a big moment for me,” he added.

So why leave now? It was just the right time, he said. “It began to feel repetitive,” he told People. “I will have done more than 2,000 shows by the time I'm done. That's a lot of shows. It's time for a change. I don't know what's next, really, and that feels better. That kind of uncertainty feels quite refreshing after 10 years."

Ferguson's last episode will air at 12:35 a.m. ET, with Jay Leno as the final guest, a man who knows a thing or two about retiring from late-night TV. Just don’t expect Ferguson to get teary-eyed.

“James Joyce said that sentimentality is unearned emotion, and the media is awash with it,” Ferguson said. “I'm a man who tells jokes. I will continue to do so. I'm very grateful to the people that watch the show, don't get me wrong, and they'll continue to watch it. But you know, it's okay. We're not breaking up. This is not me dumping you. We're just changing our paths."

British comedian James Corden will succeed him as host beginning March 23, 2015.

Ferguson will continue to host the syndicated game show Celebrity Name Game.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


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