Vanessa Williams and John Stamos host a socially-distanced 40th Anniversary of 'A Capitol Fourth' for PBS

PBS(NEW YORK) -- For many people in the post-pandemic world, this will be quite a different Fourth of July; in many areas, gatherings of large groups are still forbidden, and so even backyard Independence Day parties have been dashed. 

The same social distancing rules apply for PBS' annual star-studded salute to the country, A Capitol Fourth. This year's 40th annual event will be hosted by Vanessa Williams and John Stamos, and all the performances were pre-shot remotely. Live fireworks from Washington D.C. will be added when the show airs on July 4. 

"It's not on the West Lawn this year," Williams tells ABC Audio. "John Stamos and I shot across the street, so the Capitol was behind us, but we were on the top. We socially distanced."

Williams herself will perform two songs, which she chose specifically. "We can't ignore what's going on in the United States at this point," she noted. "There's been a tipping point and everyone feels very deeply at the moment. So I did a song that I dedicated to all the mothers, 'Not While I'm Around,' which basically is, 'No one's gonna hurt you. Not while I'm around.' ...And it's segues into 'Somewhere,' which is [from] my very favorite musical of all time, West Side Story. It addresses the heartache. It addresses the issue. And it also addresses the message of hope and unity, which we're all feeling now."  

This year's festivities will also feature a tribute to our nation’s workers on the frontlines in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a salute to contributions of African American heroes from our nation’s past and present, presented by Williams. 

A Capitol Fourth starts at 8 p.m. ET, Saturday night on PBS.

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Danny Glover says a fifth 'Lethal Weapon' could reflect what's happening in the real world today

Photo by Warner Brothers/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In an extensive interview with Variety, actor and activist Danny Glover confirmed that a fifth Lethal Weapon movie could still happen -- even in a country still wracked with protests over police brutality. 

While Glover's by-the-books LAPD Detective Roger Murtaugh and his wildcard partner, Mel Gibson's Martin Riggs, certainly bent the rules over the four previous Lethal Weapon films, Glover insists the series has always had a political message. 

"That’s basically what [series director] Richard Donner and the creators of Lethal Weapon did. One was about drug proliferation; one was about arms proliferation. One focused on South Africa."

The fourth film in the series dealt with human trafficking, in the form of illegal immigrants smuggled from China.  As for a fifth installment, Glover says it would also have something to say.

"[In] the script that I read...I found the plot had very strong relevance to some of things that are happening today. I can say that. But that was in January," the actor admits. "History changes so fast."

Glover adds, "I can only tell you, if it does happen…It would be interesting to do. It would be interesting to see how we take this within the political framework we are in, the economic framework that we are in. And especially that framework as opposed to the communities that have been affected by the kind of police violence, the kind of police standards, and the power that they exert as well." 

He says, "And what would be interesting from that vantage point is what that attempt could be like at this particular moment. And maybe it will attempt to confront the issue head on, within whatever script comes out."

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Brie Larson marvels at YouTube creators with her brand-new channel

ABC/Craig Sjodin(LOS ANGELES) -- Like many people during the pandemic, Oscar-winner Brie Larson is looking to connect.  To that end, the Captain Marvel star has created her own YouTube channel, as a way to give back to that community and let people know who she really is.

"YouTube has been a place where I have learned so much," she says in her first post. "Whether it's been how to use my printer or it's been watching how to be a considerate activist, this is the place to talk about things that are important and that matter."

She adds of her channel, "It doesn't mean that there isn't also silly content...but there will also be deep conversations, anti-racist rhetoric [and] inclusive content."

Brie tells People, "For so long the internet perception of me has been through this carefully curated lens of a press day pegged to a specific project I am promoting. I’ve been hesitant to reveal too much about myself, partly out of fear of the unknown, but also because I had this idea that people wouldn’t be able to believe me as other characters. I see my channel as a way to break away from this line of thought and become more vulnerable and open about my flaws, what I am passionate about and who I actually am."

Larson's first post teases chats with YouTube stars like Justine Ezarik, make-up artist Nina Park, First We Feast's Sean Evans, members of her family and more.

And yes, for those trolls who say Brie Larson never smiles, the giggly video proves she does -- a lot.


By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Former '20/20' host Hugh Downs dead at 99

Steve Fenn/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images(ARIZONA) -- Hugh Downs, who had a broadcast career that spanned more than 50 years, has died, his family has confirmed.

Downs, who was perhaps best known as the co-host of ABC's 20/20 with Barbara Walters, died of a heart-related condition at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, notes The Hollywood Reporter.

He was 99. 

In addition to his time at ABC News, two-time Emmy winner Downs hosted NBC's Today show, which is where he discovered Walters as a writer, and later saw her promoted to co-host. He was also Jack Paar's sidekick on The Tonight Show, and hosted the game show Concentration.

For years, Hugh Downs held the record for the most-ever hours on broadcast TV with 10,000, until Regis Philbin bested the record in 2004. 

In fact, one of Downs' books was a memoir called On Camera: My 10,000 Hours on Television.

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

The "Amazing" Rest: Reality show host Phil Keoghan talks life after being grounded by COVID-19

Michael Yarish/CBS 2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved(NEW YORK) -- Arguably the most well-traveled TV personality on the planet, The Amazing Race's host, Phil Keoghan has been grounded. 

Production on The Amazing Race was suspended back in February due to the spreading COVID-19 pandemic, so like millions of people the world over, the multiple-Emmy winner is staying home.

Keoghan explained to ABC Audio that while it's strange not to have his usual globe-trotting work commute, not hustling in and out of airports from Maine to Marrakesh has its advantages. 

"This is the longest that I've been in one place my entire career," he says.  "So I've had more sleep than I've ever had, which I'm really treasuring. I realize now, you know, what all the fuss is about with sleep. It's amazing."

Other perks from his Amazing Race schedule? Working out every day, and spending downtime with family.

"Just connecting with people I'm close with on a different level," Keoghan says. "I've spent a lot more time with my wife and producing partner and a lot more time with my daughter."

Though he does admit, "I am missing getting out into the world, I have to be honest."

Keoghan says of the pandemic, "I do hope this ends soon. But I'm trying to do my part by staying inside and wearing a mask. Please, people. Can you wear a mask? That would be really helpful. Just saying."  

Keoghan may be working from home, but he's hard at work preparing for next week's launch of the reality show Tough As Nails. The series salutes everyday heroes, from fishermen to firefighters, by having them compete in a series of real-world physical, mental and skills challenges. It launches with a two-hour premiere July 8 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Chris Pratt confirms he's back at work on 'Jurassic World: Dominion'

Rich Fury/Universal Studios Hollywood(LONDON) -- Chris Pratt is back in London filming Jurassic World: Dominion.

Pratt confirmed the news while video-chatting with Terry, a winner of the 41-year-old actor’s All In Challenge, which included the one-on-one chat and a role in Dominion, in where he’ll be "destroyed in the jaws of an animated dinosaur."

"It's been an honor to be part of the #AllInChallenge which has raised over $59 MILLION to help feed the hungry during this global crisis! Congrats Terry!! The world can't wait to see you get eaten by a dinosaur!" Pratt captioned the video, posted to his official Twitter page.

The All In Challenge was organized by Michael Rubin, the founder of Fanatics and co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, and gives fans a chance to both win and bid on one-of-a-kind experiences and items.

Meanwhile, Universal Studios, which is producing Dominion, is following strict safety protocols, including testing the entire cast and crew before returning to set, with regular testing to take place for the duration of filming, according to Deadline.

The movie’s main cast, including Pratt and co-star Bryce Dallas Howard, reportedly carried out a two-week quarantine upon arriving in England from the U.S., per new government regulations, and do the same before traveling back to the States as well.

Jurassic World: Dominion is slated to open June 11, 2021.

By George Costantino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Aaron Sorkin's star-studded "Chicago 7" will premiere on Netflix due to COVID

Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Another day, another cinematic casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, originally slated for a theatrical release, has landed at Netflix, according to Deadline

West Wing creator Sorkin wrote and directed the film, which chronicles a peaceful protest at the 1968 Democratic Convention that turned into a violent clash with police and the National Guard.  Seven people -- including Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden and Bobby Seale -- were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot, leading to a trial that would grip the nation. 

The cast includes Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Alex Sharp, Mark Rylance, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella and John Carroll Lynch.

By George Costantino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Lionsgate confirms it will not pull 'Mad Men' episode containing blackface

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- As television series revisit problematic content and remove instances of material deemed racist, Lionsgate has announced that it will not delete an episode of Mad Men that contains blackface.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the season three episode "My Old Kentucky Home" will remain available for viewing in its entirety because of the historical context behind it. 

Instead of editing out the scene where John Slattery's Roger Sterling smears black shoe polish on his face in an attempt to score romantic points with Peyton List's Jane at a country club Derby party, the episode will contain a disclaimer.

"This episode contains disturbing images related to race in America," the intro card will read. "One of the characters is shown in blackface as part of an episode that shows how commonplace racism was in America in 1963."

Lionsgate issued a statement regarding its decision, saying, "In its reliance on historical authenticity, the series producers are committed to exposing the injustices and inequities within our society that continue to this day so we can examine even the most painful parts of our history in order to reflect on who we are today and who we want to become. We are therefore presenting the original episode in its entirety."

Other series have opted to edit out scenes or remove episodes containing blackface, such as The Golden Girls, Scrubs, Community and others.

As previously reported, Mad Men has left Netflix and will now be shown on Amazon-owned IMDb TV starting July 15. The series will then move to the AMC in the fall.

Mad Men aired its final episode in 2015 after a seven season run.  The series collected 16 Emmys, four of which were consecutive best drama series wins.

By Megan Stone
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tom Hanks calls out people who won't wear a mask, "My Lord, it’s common sense"

ABC/Ida Mae Astute(LOS ANGELES) -- (NOTE LANGUAGE) -- Tom Hanks is calling out people who aren't doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

According to People, while promoting his upcoming Apple TV movie Greyhound, the 63-year-old actor explained, "There's really only three things we can do in order to get to tomorrow: Wear a mask, social distance, wash our hands." 

"Those things are so simple, so easy, if anybody cannot find it in themselves to practice those three very basic things – I just think shame on you," he added. "Don’t be a p***y, get on with it, do your part. It’s very basic... My Lord, it’s common sense."

Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, were two of the first celebrities to announce that they tested positive for the coronavirus back in March. Now, months later and fully recovered from the illness, the Forrest Gump alum gave an update on how they are doing. 

"... we are fine," he affirmed. "We had about 10 days of very uncomfortable symptoms. Not life-threatening, we’re happy to say."

"I guess we were model recoverers from COVID-19, but we were also isolated so that we would not give it to anybody else that we came in contact with," he continued. "And since then have been doing the same isolating, social distancing that is being asked of the world so, we are fine."

By Danielle Long
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

'Hamilton' Disney+ arrival doesn't mark the end of theater says Bobby and Kristen Anderson-Lopez

Courtesy of Disney (NEW YORK) -- Friday marks a big day for Hamilton fans.  Anyone with a Disney account will be able to watch the 11-time Tony Award-winning musical from the comfort of their home.

A filmed version of the stage show arrives July 3, giving fans who hadn't seen Hamilton on Broadway the chance to finally experience it.

As for those who had the pleasure of watching the critically acclaimed musical, they're just as excited about the big news.

Two such people are Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, co-writers of all of the Frozen songs and Broadway buffs who know a thing or two about the Great White Way. 

When it was first announced that Hamilton would be hitting the streaming service, concerns flared that it marked the end of live theater performances.  However, Kristen believes the opposite will happen.

"I don't think [theater is] ever gonna go away," she tells ABC Audio. "I think it's only going to be enhanced by spreading the word that these musical stories are really magical.  You should come experience them yourself without a fever."

Not only that, Kristen thinks adding Hamilton to Disney  will usher in a brand new era for musicals. 

"Tommy Kail directed it himself so that you're getting sort of a hybrid between live theater and the musicals that come to you live from L.A. that are specially geared toward camera," He explained. "I think it's gonna be really a thrilling new beginning of something."

Her husband Bobby furthered, "It's a wonderful way to experience it if you don't have the money to go see it or whatever," adding that Disney will now allow even more people to support Hamilton and experience its culture.  "So I think it's important." 

By Megan Stone and Jason Nathanson
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Check out the first three minutes of 'The Boys' season 2

Amazon PrimeDuring a chat with the extensive cast of Netflix's skewed-view superhero show The Boys, host -- and apparent season 2 guest player -- Patton Oswalt along with showrunner Erik Kripke, showed off the first three minutes of the series' sophomore season.

Set to The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil," the spoiler-heavy segment shows that a major component of season one has happened: the military-industrial-entertainment complex's folding the super-flawed superhero squad into the U.S. military. 

Interspersed with a low-level staffer handing out ordered lunches, higher ups at Vought International discuss terms and conditions between military brass and with Vought's star clients, the super-enhanced The Seven, as they're let loose on America's enemies.

At the helm, replacing Elisabeth Shue's character from season one, is Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul's Giancarlo Esposito, who brings the menace he brought in those shows and The Mandalorian to the boardroom. 

Meanwhile, Seven member Black Noir stalks through a terrorist training camp, on the hunt for last season's enhanced baddie who can burst anything into flames. 

The snippet is very spoiler-heavy, but very much in the bloody, clever spirit of the first season, and the Garth Ennis comic on which it's based. 

The Boys, from producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, stars Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Chace Crawford, Laz Alonso, and Jessie T. Usher.  It returns September 4 on Amazon Prime.

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

'Justice League''s Ray Fisher slams director Joss Whedon for alleged "gross, abusive" on-set behavior

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- His character Victor Stone/Cyborg reportedly got the short shrift after writer-director Joss Whedon swooped in to re-edit Justice League, but with the original Zack Snyder cut on the horizon, actor Ray Fisher isn't holding back. 

In a tweet, Fisher called out Whedon, who took over for Snyder after the latter left the project in the wake of his daughter's suicide.  Whedon ended up re-shooting much of the film and re-editing it at the studio's request.  The result was a disappointment with both fans and at the box office. 

"Joss Wheadon's [sic] on-set treatment of the cast and crew of Justice League was gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable," Fisher posted about the re-shoots, also blaming two Warner Bros. executives whom he said "enabled, in many ways" Whedon's unspecified behavior. Fisher ended the tweet with "Accountability>Entertainment."

On June 6, Fisher posted support for Snyder and the movie's screenwriters, saying, "I don't praise [writer] Chris Terrio and @ZackSnyder for simply putting me in Justice League. I praise them for EMPOWERING me (a black man with no film credits to his name) with a seat at the creative table and input on the framing of the Stones before there was even a script!"

Then last week, Fisher posted a video of him praising Whedon a Comic Con appearance promoting the film, with the comment, "I’d like to take a moment to forcefully retract every bit of this statement."

Again, there aren't any specifics yet about Fisher's accusations, which have sent the geek universe buzzing.

Whedon, who directed the blockbusters The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, was accused in 2017 by his ex-wife of being a hypocrite for embracing feminism during a 16-year-marriage she claims was rocked by his infidelity.

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

"THIS ROCKS! THIS ROCKS!" Beavis and Butt-Head to return with reboot from creator Mike Judge

"Beavis and Butt-Head Do America"/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Beavis and Butt-Head is coming back.

"It seemed like the time was right to get stupid again."  That's the word from Mike Judge, the guy who shot to fame with the MTV animated phenomenon about two dopey, titular high school buds, before going on to create King of the Hill, the beloved live action cult classics Office Space and Idiocracy, and the acclaimed HBO hit Silicon Valley.

Judge inked a deal with Comedy Central to write, produce and, of course, voice the new B&B, this time for Comedy Central. 

Beavis and Butt-Head launched on MTV in 1993 with a series of janky-looking animated shorts -- the likes of which would never pass in today's society, like Frog Baseball -- before the series took on a life of its own, interspersed with the boys making fun of music videos. Because those were still a thing in 1993.

Beavis and Butt-Head spawned a hit movie, with the 1996 road trip flick Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, which spawned a hit soundtrack, to boot.  

The culture clash of then and now appears central to the "reimagined" show, according to Comedy Central, which teases, "In this new iteration, Beavis and Butt-Head are entering a whole new Gen Z world." 

Adds Chris McCarthy, president of Entertainment & Youth Group at Comedy Central, "Beavis and Butt-Head were a defining voice of a generation, and we can't wait to watch as they navigate the treacherous waters of a world light-years from their own."

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

In now-viral post, TikTok user shows how 'Glee' crowds were filled with dummies -- literally

iStock/Mlenny(LOS ANGELES) -- Fans of the hit Fox show Glee were dummies -- literally. 

More specifically, a TikTok user named Kelly Sipos was re-watching the show when she spotted something weird: lifeless "fans" used to fill in crowd scenes. 

"I noticed...there are dummies in the crowd," Sipos said, showing video proof of the multiple mannequins, which were dressed -- and wigged -- to look sort of like the kind of humans that would rock out to those kids from William McKinley High School.

Sipos giggled as she looks through the crowd, which was from an episode called "Thanksgiving."  She joked, "I feel like I’m in the House of Wax."

The video has seen more than 500,000 times since she posted it.

The simulated seat fillers were being used to "pad" the size of the crowd, obviously, but why nobody noticed them before is likely because of the high-definition TVs that weren't around when Glee was on the air: simply put, the higher the resolution -- and the wider the screen -- the easier it is to pick up on things the producers didn't want you to see. 

Incidentally, when Friends came to DVD, something similar happened: fans were able to spot stand-ins for Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston that they never noticed when the episodes ran on TV previously.

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

'Unsolved Mysteries' is back with six baffling new cases on Netflix

Netflix(LOS ANGELES) -- Cue the creepy theme music: The iconic series Unsolved Mysteries is back, debuting July 1 with six all-new episodes on Netflix. Prepare to be baffled as you try to wrap your head around each unexplained case -- from missing persons to the paranormal.

According to the show’s co-creator and longtime executive producer, Terry Dunn Meurer, the first episode of this season has one of the most haunting cases the show has ever done.

“I think ‘Mystery on the Rooftop,’ which is the first episode, is probably one of the most mysterious cases that we have ever covered,” she tells ABC Audio. “And we have produced over 1,300 cases and mysteries. And this one is just baffling.”

It involves a man who was found dead after falling through the roof of a building, with seemingly no scientific explanation for how he got there.

Other chilling cases this season include a mass UFO sighting in Massachusetts, a senseless death that may have been a hate crime, and a fugitive French father apparently responsible for the deaths of his whole family.

Meurer says the most satisfying cases for her have been the ones they’ve been able to solve -- over 260 of them out of 1,300 so far. She hopes that with Netflix’s global reach, they can solve these six cases as well.

“I wish we could solve every case that we haven't solved,” she says. “...The premise of the show is ‘Someone, somewhere knows the truth. Perhaps you can help solve the mystery.’ We believe that very, very strongly.” 

Six additional episodes of Unsolved Mysteries are expected to debut on Netflix later this year.


By Andrea Tuccillo
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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