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

Posted on: December 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

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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Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard Welcome Baby Girl

Posted on: December 20th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

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

Posted on: December 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

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

Posted on: December 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

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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’19 Kids and Counting’s’ Jill Duggar Dillard Looks Ready to Pop

Posted on: December 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Jill Dillard announced in August she and husband Derick Dillard were expecting their first child, affectionately hastagged “babydilly.”

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

Posted on: December 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

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

Posted on: December 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

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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George Clooney Blames Hollywood Amid Sony Hack Attack

Posted on: December 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

George Clooney blasted North Korea in a new interview, criticizing the country following the cyberhacking attack that drove Sony to pull ???the Interview??? from theaters.

Angelina Jolie Opens Up About Directing Brad Pitt in Sex Scene

Posted on: December 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

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.

George Clooney Speaks Out About Lack of Sony Support

Posted on: December 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

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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Movie Review: “Annie” (Rated PG)

Posted on: December 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

“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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The Colbert Report Signs Off

Posted on: December 19th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

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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Cosby Lawyer Says Comedian’s Comments ‘Continue to Be Misconstrued’

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC(NEW YORK) — An attorney for Bill Cosby on Thursday criticized freelance journalist Stacy Brown on a Friday article in the New York Post in which Cosby’s comments “continue to be misconstrued in a way that can only call into question the fair-mindedness of certain commentators.”

In that article, Brown quoted Cosby as saying, “I only expect our black media to uphold the standards of excellent journalism…and when you do that, you go in with a neutral mind.” Cosby’s attorney, John P. Schmitt, said that Cosby “did not ask for special treatment from the African-American media.”

Instead, Schmitt says, “he asked that they adhere to journalistic standards and approach the story in a neutral manner — without a predisposition on either side of the story.” That expectation applies to all media, he noted.

Schmitt also noted the “mean-spirited and reckless rhetoric” spouted by MSNBC commentator and Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson. Dyson’s comments called Cosby’s request for neutrality the comedian’s “rape [of the] entire black community.”

Cosby has been accused by several women in recent weeks of sexual abuse. Earlier this month, a woman named Judy Huth sued Cosby, alleging he molested her in the Playboy Mansion in 1974, when she was 15 years old.

Last month, Cosby denied the allegations made against him through his attorney.

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Mistrial Declared in Case Against Man Accused of Stalking R&B Singer Ashanti

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC/Lou Rocco(NEW YORK) — A New York criminal court judge on Thursday declared a mistrial in the case against Devar Hurd, the man accused of stalking R&B singer Ashanti.

The mistrial was declared because one of the jurors was too sick to come in for deliberation. Hurd, who represented himself while facing charges of stalking and aggravated harassment, will return to jail and be retried as soon as next month.

Between September 2012 and July 2013, Hurd allegedly sent over 100 messages to the singer on Twitter. Some of the messages were sexual in nature, and prosecutors said those messages caused harm to her “mental and emotional health.” Hurd also allegedly approached Ashanti’s sister, a violation of an order of protection requiring him to stay away.

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Theaters Now Pull "Team America" Movie One Day After "The Interview"

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Kevin Winter/Getty Images(DALLAS) — After a few theaters tried to replace The Interview with another movie highlighting North Korea, Team America has also been pulled from theaters.

Paramount Pictures, the studios behind Team America, did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment, but the theaters said the company yanked the film only hours after the independent theaters said they would show the 2004 movie in place of the James Franco and Seth Rogen satire.

“Due to circumstances beyond our control, the TEAM AMERICA 12/27 screening has been cancelled. We apologize & will provide refunds today,” the Alamo Drafthouse in Dallas-Fort Worth tweeted Thursday afternoon.

Two other theaters — Capitol Theater in Cleveland and Plaza Atlanta — did the same, saying Paramount canceled the showings.

Please note: Our Late Shift screening of Team America: World Police has been canceled by Paramount Pictures. pic.twitter.com/TlPVzIeICW

— Capitol Theatre (@CapitolW65th) December 18, 2014

Team America is the second movie pulled from theaters in two days after cyberhackers threatened theaters that planned to show Sony’s The Interview.

Alamo Drafthouse Wednesday was the first to post the planned replacement movie, written by the creators of South Park.

On its Facebook page, the theater wrote, “For the record, our plan was to still show The Interview … unfortunately these decisions aren’t always ours to make. But in light of these recent events, we only have one thing to say: ‘AMERICA F*** YEAH!’ … Join us for a special showing of the TEAM AMERICA QUOTE-ALONG” with subtitles for the film’s songs on Dec. 27 at 7 p.m.

“This show is FREE, because you can’t spell ‘FREEDOM’ without ‘FREE,’” the theater added.

Now, that planned has been shelved.

For those who have never seen the decade-old movie, Team America’s plot involves Kim Jong-il, the late father of current North Korea Leader Kim Jong-un. It’s another satire much like The Interview, but more violent as American forces battle terrorists led by the World Police. But it’s filmed using puppets.

“We’re just trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation,” James Wallace, creative manager and programmer for the Texas theater, told The Hollywood Reporter about the plan to swap out the films.

The Alamo Drafthouse did not return ABC News’ request for comment.

As for The Interview, Sony pulled the plug on the release date of Dec. 25 after major movie chains like AMC and Regal all chose not to show the movie because of hacker threats.

“In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release,” Sony said in a statement. “We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.”

The company added that it stands by the filmmakers and “their right to free expression.”

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Jennifer Aniston Reveals Downside to Letting Herself Go for "Cake"

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC/Randy Holmes(NEW YORK) — Jennifer Aniston is getting some serious Oscar buzz for her role in Cake, but the actress recently said letting herself go for the acclaimed role did come with some negative side effects.

On an episode of the Dr. Oz Show that aired on Thursday, Aniston, 45, talked about playing a character — Claire Simmons — in the movie, that deals with chronic pain and how she had to stop working out for a while to make the part convincing to the audience.

This lack of exercise really affected her in the real world.

“It really was interesting when you stop working out how you just…my serotonin levels went down. My stamina was shot. I was cranky. I was irritable,” she said on the show in a clip obtained by US Weekly. “I found myself short. I was hungry like crazy.”

She said the role made her realize how important fitness is in her life.

“[It's] important to our soul, not just being able to fit into skinny jeans,” she added. “Just your state of mind, your soul, all of that.”

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Jennifer Aniston Reveals Downside to Letting Herself Go for ‘Cake’

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Jennifer Aniston is getting some serious Oscar buzz for her role in “Cake,” but the actress recently said letting herself go for the acclaimed role did come with some neg

Stephen Collins Describes ‘Unthinkably Wrong’ Encounter with Girl

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Actor Stephen Collins’ confession of sexual misconduct with three underage girls in the past has made him an entertainment industry pariah.

In an exclusive interview with Yahoo News’ Global Anchor Katie Couric, the man who played a virtuous father and pastor on the hit TV show 7th Heaven, described an inappropriate encounter with one of the girls, saying he knew he had done something “unthinkably wrong” that he couldn’t take back.

Collins, 67, said there were two times in 1973 where he exposed himself to the “young woman.”

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.”

Collins also confessed to exposing himself to a teenage girl in 1982 and again in 1994.

The actor told Couric that after extensive therapy and religious consultation, he has not had an impulse to act out in such a way since 1994.

“I’m a flawed person,” Collins said. “And in the church, it’s actually one of the things I love about the church…it’s really one of the main things about the Christian faith, is you know, Christ said in so many ways, ‘bring me that…which about you is broken, bring it,’ and most people are broken in some way.”

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 the gossip website TMZ.

Collins has lost acting jobs as a result of the revelations and 7th Heaven has been pulled from syndication. He also resigned from national board of SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents people who work in television and radio.

In a previous statement to People magazine, Collins had said the marriage counseling sessions were recorded without his or his therapist’s knowledge or consent.

“This came out. I didn’t choose this to come out,” Collins told Couric. “I didn’t want to have to deal with these things publicly.”

“I had dealt with them very, very strongly, and committedly, in my private life, but I think, I’m a human being with flaws and I’ve done everything to address it,” he said.

In a statement issued to ABC News in response to the new interview, Collins’ estranged wife, Grant, wrote, “I sincerely hope Steven gets the help he needs.”

The couple’s divorce proceedings have been moved to next year.

Watch more of Katie Couric’s interview with Stephen Collins on
20/20, Friday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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Jamie Foxx Shares Incredible Karaoke Story Singing With Whitney Houston

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Jamie Foxx is an Oscar winner and an accomplished singer in his own right, but he once got to sing karaoke with the legendary Whitney Houston before she died.

Texas Theater Showing "Team America" After Sony Pulls "The Interview"

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Kevin Winter/Getty Images(DALLAS) — What do you do when threats force Sony and all the major movie chains across the country to pull the movie The Interview?

One theater in Texas knows just what to do: show 2004′s Team America, another satire involving North Korea, written by the creators of South Park.

On the Facebook page for the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Dallas-Fort Worth, the message reads, “For the record, our plan was to still show The Interview…unfortunately these decisions aren’t always ours to make. But in light of these recent events, we only have one thing to say: ‘AMERICA F*** YEAH!’”

The “America…Yeah!” statement refers to the theme song of the old film.

It continues, “Join us for a special showing of the TEAM AMERICA QUOTE-ALONG” with subtitles for the film’s songs on Dec. 27 at 7 p.m.”

“This show is FREE, because you can’t spell ‘FREEDOM’ without ‘FREE,’” the message concludes.

For those who have never seen the decade-old movie, Team America’s plot involves Kim Jong-il, the late father of current North Korea Leader Kim Jong-un. It’s another satire much like The Interview, but more violent as American forces battle terrorists led by the World Police. It’s also filmed using puppets.

The IMDB summary reads, “Popular Broadway actor Gary Johnston is recruited by the elite counter-terrorism organization Team America: World Police. As the world begins to crumble around him, he must battle with terrorists, celebrities and falling in love.”

Franco and Rogen’s The Interview is based on their characters trying to take out the current North Korea leader.

“We’re just trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation,” James Wallace, creative manager and programmer for the Texas theater, told The Hollywood Reporter about swapping out the films.

The Alamo Drafthouse did not immediately return ABC News’ request for comment.

Sony pulled the plug on The Interview release date of Dec. 25 after major movie chains like AMC and Regal all chose not to show the movie because of hacker threats.

“In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release,” Sony said in a statement Wednesday. “We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.”

The company added that it stands by the filmmakers and “their right to free expression.”

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Why Drew Barrymore Waited 8 Months to Lose the Baby Weight

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Drew Barrymore and her husband Will Kopelman welcomed their second child, a daughter Frankie, this past April and only now is she starting to worry about shedding the ext

North Korea-Set Thriller Starring Steve Carell Cancelled

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

NBC Photo: Mitchell Haaseth(LOS ANGELES) — The hack attack on Sony not only altered plans for its comedy The Interview, it also resulted in the cancellation of a movie from a different company that was to have starred Steve Carell.

Deadline reports New Regency has pulled the plug on the untitled thriller, which would have been set in North Korea and helmed by Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski. Production would have started in March.

Fox had declined to distribute the film, and Deadline’s sources say that given the current situation with Sony, it didn’t make sense to move forward with it.

Verbinski reacted with a statement to Deadline that reads in part, “My thoughts: I find it ironic that fear is eliminating the possibility to tell stories that depict our ability to overcome fear.”

Sony Pictures announced Wednesday it has cancelled the Christmas Day release date of The Interview, after hackers threatened theaters that planned to show the film. Several movie chains pulled The Interview from its schedule prior to Sony’s decision.  

Carell tweeted on Wednesday that it was a “sad day for creative expression.”

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Angelina Jolie on Bucking the Hollywood Establishment: ‘I Do What I Want to Do’

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC/Lorenzo Bevilaqua(NEW YORK) — Angelina Jolie has never played by Hollywood’s rules, and she doesn’t plan on changing that anytime soon

“I never had a plan in my life,” the 39-year-old actress-turned-director tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I do what I want to do. And if suddenly tomorrow I couldn’t do anything, I could deal with that.”

“I’d be happy at home being a mom,” she adds.

These days, Jolie is most interested in directing, and so far she seems to be one of the few women to earn a place among the A-list stars who have made the transition.

Her third directorial effort, By the Sea, seems a bit of an odd choice for the Maleficent star. The film, which she also wrote and stars in with husband Brad Pitt was shot in Malta, right after the famous couple tied the knot. It centers around a husband and wife trying to rekindle their dying marriage during a trip to Europe.

“Yes, we spent our honeymoon playing two people in a terrible marriage,” Jolie tells the industry trade publication, admitting, “I’m sure a therapist would have a field day analyzing the films I choose to do.”

“But it’s been 10 years since Brad and I have worked together, she explains. “It felt like it was time.”

By the Sea is expected to hit theaters in 2015.  Jolie’s directing credits also include the documentary A Place in Time, the 2011 film In the Land of Blood and Honey and her latest, Unbroken, which opens Christmas Day.

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Stephen Colbert Says Goodbye to “The Colbert Report” Thursday Night

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Comedy Central(NEW YORK) — After nine years as host of The Colbert Report, and with a new gig as David Letterman’s replacement on the horizon, Stephen Colbert will sign off from his Comedy Central late-night show on Thursday night.

Colbert launched his show on Oct. 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, as he popularized terms such as “truthiness.”

Colbert’s highlights during his run include hosting the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2006, launching a fake run for president in 2007, and hosting a handful of episodes of his show from Iraq in 2009.

Colbert faced controversy earlier this year, when the Twitter account for his show posted a tweet that was intended to mock Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder for the way he handled the complaints regarding his team’s nickname, but which some deemed insensitive to the Asian community. The tweet inspired a social media campaign calling for his show to be cancelled. For his part, Colbert said he did not write the tweet.

Colbert’s guest on The Colbert Report finale, airing at 11:30 p.m. Eastern time, will be Grimmy, a.k.a. The Grim Reaper.

Colbert will take over CBS’ Late Show from Letterman next September. Comedy Central will fill his current time slot with The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, premiering Jan. 19.

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Charlie Sheen to Reprise “Ferris Bueller” Role for “The Goldbergs”

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Frank Ockenfels/FX(NEW YORK) — Charlie Sheen will reprise one of his early roles for a guest appearance on ABC’s 1980s-centric comedy The Goldbergs.

The Anger Management star will channel his Ferris Bueller’s Day Off character — the unnamed bad boy in the police station — for an episode airing in early 2015, according to People magazine.

Sheen’s character in the 1986 movie had a flirtatious conversation with Jennifer Grey’s Jeanie, the sister of Ferris Bueller. In the episode of The Goldbergs featuring Sheen, Hayley Orrantia’s Erica will essentially fill the Jeanie role.

There’s been speculation that Sheen will return to the CBS sitcom from which he was fired a few years ago, Two and a Half Men, for its series finale on Feb. 19, but nothing’s been confirmed.

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“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Opens One Year from Today

Posted on: December 18th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

LucasFilm(NEW YORK) — Dec. 18, 2015 — one year from today — will be a day long remembered for Star Wars fans: it’s when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters. The film, the first Star Wars movie released since ABC’s parent company Disney purchased George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away, is the first chapter in a new trilogy.

For now, not much is known about the plot of J.J. Abrams’ film, so fans the world over have resorted to poring over every frame of the 88-second teaser that was released on Black Friday.

Dan Casey, associate editor of the geek culture website Nerdist, says fans are excited about the fact that Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, the stars of the original Star Wars films, are returning for this one.

“I think that people were honestly…quite surprised that the original cast was going to be returning, because it didn’t seem like something they wanted to do,” he said. “It felt like something that they were trying to distance themselves from, actually. So…that was just sort of like icing on the cake. It was — you know, if people were excited at ten, that kicked it up to eleven.”

Aside from the returning cast — which also includes Anthony Daniels as finicky protocol droid C-3PO, Kenny Baker as R2-D2, and Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca — The Force Awakens also stars series newcomers Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, Daisy Ridley as Rey, and John Boyega as Finn.

The new character names were recently revealed by Abrams, who didn’t elaborate more about the newcomers’ roles. He was also mum about who Lupita Nyong’o, Gwendoline Christie, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will be playing.  

While some Star Wars fans were disappointed by the three prequel films, Casey insists the movie from lifelong Star Wars fan Abrams seems specifically designed to make disgruntled fans say, “All is forgiven.”

“Everything I’ve seen so far has just been like a “Hey, come back to the fold,” Casey tells ABC News Radio. “It’s sort of like that ‘come to Jesus’ moment where they recognize some of the faults with the prequel trilogy and they’re trying to course correct and from everything I’ve seen so far, just judging by that trailer, it sounds like they have their heart in the right place.”

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Norman Bridwell, Creator of "Clifford the Big Red Dog," Dead at 86

Posted on: December 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The author and illustrator of the Clifford the Big Red Dog series of children’s books has died.

Norman Bridwell died on Martha’s Vineyard, off the Massachusetts coast, on Friday, according to the publisher of his series, Scholastic. He was 86.

Bridwell created Clifford the Big Red Dog in 1963, and the character was featured in dozens of books. Two new books, Clifford Goes to Kindergarten and Clifford Celebrates Hanukkah, will be released in 2015.

The character also inspired a PBS animated series of the same name.

Bridwell is survived by his wife, Norma; a daughter, Emily Elizabeth; a son, Timothy; and three grandchildren.

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Sony Pulls the Plug on Dec. 25 Release of "The Interview" After Threats

Posted on: December 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Sony(NEW YORK) — As major movie chains moved to pull The Interview from their holiday lineup after threats from the Sony Corp. hackers, Sony has decided to shelve the film.

“In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release,” the company said in a statement to ABC News. “We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.”

This decision came after all the biggest chains, including AMC and Regal, announced Wednesday they wouldn’t show the film. On Tuesday, Sony Corp. hackers warned of an impending attack on theaters that showed the film, which depicts the planned assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“Due to the wavering support of the film The Interview by Sony Pictures, as well as the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats, Regal Entertainment Group has decided to delay the opening of the film in our theatres,” Regal, which has nearly 600 theaters in 44 states, said in a statement Wednesday.

AMC followed suit, also stating the chain’s holiday lineup would move forward “without The Interview.”

Earlier, the Bow Tie chain released a statement pulling the film, saying the company is “saddened and angered by recent threats of terrorism” and that its mission is “to ensure the safety and comfort of our guests and employees.” Cineplex Entertainment, which has 162 theaters, also said Wednesday that it will “postpone” showing of the film.

The moves came shortly after Sony told theaters they do not have to show The Interview, after the group claiming responsibility for stealing troves of Sony executives’ emails posted a message on Pastebin apparently threatening attacks on the theaters where the movie will be played, sources said.

Actors James Franco and Seth Rogen also canceled all press appearances in light of the threats, a representative for Rogen said.

The Department of Homeland Security said the threat is not backed up by any “credible intelligence,” but sources told ABC News that the Sony hack and matters tied to it are being investigated not just as a criminal cyber matter but as a national security matter by the nation’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

A prime suspect is the North Korean regime, and sources say this hack has shown an unprecedented capacity and ability to directly harm a major corporation.

Last week, the FBI held a private meeting in New York with reps from across the entertainment industry to brief them on cyber-related threats against them. The Sony hack was not the only topic discussed, but it was a major one, sources said.

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Stephen Collins Admits He ‘Did Something Terribly Wrong’

Posted on: December 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Stephen Collins has been keeping a low profile since news broke last November that he’d sexually molested more than one female minor in the past.  Now the actor, famous for his role as Reverend Eric Camden on the long-running TV drama 7th Heaven, has released a statement detailing how he had inappropriate contact with what he says are three women decades ago.

Collins tells People magazine that there were three victims from 1973 to 1994 and he’s “not had an impulse to act out in any such way” since then.

“Forty years ago, I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret. I have been working to atone for it ever since. I’ve decided to address these issues publicly because two months ago, various news organizations published a recording made by my then-wife, Faye Grant, during a confidential marriage therapy session in January 2012. This session was recorded without the therapist’s or my knowledge or consent.”

Collins is referring to when TMZ posted audio of him allegedly confessing to sexual abuse during a therapy session with his now-estranged wife, Faye Grant. Grant referenced the allegations in court papers related to their ongoing divorce.

Continuing, Collins says: “On the recording, I described events that took place 20, 32, and 40 years ago. The publication of the recording has resulted in assumptions and innuendos about what I did that go far beyond what actually occurred. As difficult as this is, I want people to know the truth.”

The actor said he hasn’t apologized to all of the women he victimized, but did have “an opportunity to do so with one of the women, 15 years later.”

“I apologized and she was extraordinarily gracious,” Collins added. “But after I learned in the course of my treatment that my being direct about such matters could actually make things worse for them by opening old wounds, I have not approached the other two women, one of whom is now in her 50s and the other in her 30s.”

Collins’ full statement is on People.  He’ll also sit down with Katie Couric for an in-depth interview to stream on Yahoo! that will also air Friday on ABC’s 20/20.

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Stephen Collins Breaks Silence Amid Reports of Sexual Abuse

Posted on: December 17th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Months after reports first surfaced that “7th Heaven” star Stephen Collins had sexually abused minor children years ago, the actor is breaking his silence and admits wron