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North Korea-Set Thriller Starring Steve Carell Cancelled


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’


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


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”


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


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


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


Sony(NEW YORK) --  As major movie chains moved to pull The Interview from their holiday lineups 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. "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."

"Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film," a Sony spokesperson said when asked about a digital or video on demand release.

The decision by Sony 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 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 comedy-horror film was set for a Dec. 25 release.

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.

"Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like," Sony said in its statement.

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Stephen Collins Admits He 'Did Something Terribly Wrong'


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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Robin Williams' Son Zak Opens Up About His Lingering Grief


Jemal Countess/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Zak Williams says he is still grieving over the death of his iconic father, Robin Williams, earlier this summer.

"I miss him all the time," he told People magazine. "Often I see something or if I'm watching a film, I think, 'Oh, man, he would have appreciated this' or, 'He would have gotten a laugh out of this.' "

Williams died of an apparent suicide from asphyxia at age 63 in early August.

Zak Williams, 31, along with his sister, Zelda, 25, and his brother, Cody, 23, have been open about their grief since their dad’s death.

"There's not a day that goes by that we don't think about our dad," Williams told the magazine, adding that by helping others, he's now begun to heal.

At the time of his death, the actor's rep released a statement to ABC News, saying, "Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss."

Williams' wife, Susan Schneider, later revealed he was also in the early stages of Parkinson's disease.

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Brad and Angelina Have a Cyber Security Team to Monitor Their Kids’ Online Activities


GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images(NEW YORK) — Most child experts agree that parents should monitor what their kids do online and Angelina Jolie is one of them. 

However, she admits there’s one difference between her and most moms when it comes to supervising Internet activities. “We have someone who monitors that,” Jolie shares with People magazine.

The magazine reports Jolie and hubby Brad Pitt have hired a cyber security team to keep an eye on the online activities of their six children, who range in age from six to 13.

Jolie admits she needs a team to monitor the kids’ Internet activities because she doesn’t use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

“It’s so beyond what we understand,” Jolie admits, adding, “We wouldn’t even know what to look for.”

“It’s a scary new world,” says Jolie.

The star also admits she’s relieved the technology wasn’t around when she was growing up. “I got in enough trouble. It just would have been very documented,” she says.

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Movie Review: "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" (Rated PG-13)


"The Hobbit" - Warner Bros.(NEW YORK) -- The title kind of says it all: this is a movie about a battle, there are five armies involved, and it’s all pretty darn spectacular. Director Peter Jackson has crafted an epic ending to his Hobbit trilogy worth all the gold in Erebor, and then some. It may not be Oscar-worthy in terms of complexity, but it’s the best popcorn flick in theaters since Guardians of the Galaxy.
 
The film begins where last year’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug left off: the dragon Smaug has left his jeweled lair and descended on Lake Town, burning with murderous rage. We’re immediately thrown into the action -- there’s no “previously, on The Hobbit” to set things up -- so if you’re like me and you tend to forget what happened on the Homeland episode you just watched a week ago, you’ll need to read a little reminder of last year’s Hobbit film before you get to the theater.
 
Before long we’re back on the Misty Mountain, with everyone from dwarves to elves to orcs plotting a path to the vast riches there previously guarded by Smaug. Allegiances are tested, tempers flare, and armies are preparing for war. In all the bluster, though, Jackson and the writers find plenty of time for comedy and heart. Because while all of this stuff is serious, come on, we’re still in fantasy land.
 
I have to say I was a little apprehensive going into this film, because there’s nothing that bores me more than huge battle scenes. Too often it’s just a mess of fast camera cuts that are too close-up for audiences to be able to tell what’s happening, or someone miraculously defeats 12 attackers while barely getting scratched; it’s usually just a confusing jumbled mess we must endure, rather than enjoy. But this is where the skill of Peter Jackson as a director truly shines, because he doesn’t get bogged down in spectacle over story. The second half of the movie isn’t just an hour of armies battling to the bloody death: it’s a supremely intricate, choreographed dance of chaos that manages to dazzle with special effects while deepening the development of the characters. Is there too much focus on the fighting? Perhaps. But it never feels boring or repetitive.
 
And thankfully, Jackson never forgets that the name of the franchise is The Hobbit, not The Elf or The Dwarf King. In a movie that’s mostly about an epic battle, there are far sexier warriors to focus on than Bilbo Baggins, and the film does, from time to time. But it always comes back to our star, played by Martin Freeman, the emotional heart of the story.
 
Sure, the movie devolves here and there into movie battle clichés: legions of orcs are killed by glancing blows while our heroes take serious punishment and fight on, no problem. And there are those scenes where someone impossibly fights more people than should be possible and comes out a winner. But these brief transgressions are forgivable in the face of all that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies gets right.
 
True fans of the franchise will want to see the film on the big screen, in 3D. In the hands of many directors, the format is often just a gimmick that boosts ticket prices, but here it helps render these beautifully-constructed sets into fully realized worlds. And I swear at one point, I actually jumped when something, perhaps an arrow, appeared to fly out of the screen and past my head. But it’s not just the 3D: all of the special effects here are top notch.
 
In the end, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will leave fans with a huge smile on their faces, and even skeptics should be impressed by the visuals and directing. Sure, it may not be much more than a Hollywood blockbuster when it comes to plot and complexity, but more movies should be this fun.
 
Four out of five stars.

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Final “Hobbit” Film Opens Nationwide Wednesday


"The Hobbit" - Warner Bros.(NEW YORK) — The third and final film in The Hobbit series opens nationwide on Wednesday.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is the last chapter in director Peter Jackson's adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien novel that preceded The Lord of the Rings.

Martin Freeman reprises his role of Bilbo Baggins, who concludes his journey and is involved in an epic battle that will decide the future of Middle-earth.

Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch and Lee Pace also star in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which is screening in 3D and IMAX 3D. It's rated PG-13.

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"The Talk's" Sharon Osbourne Pulls Out Her Own Tooth on National TV


James White/CBS(LOS ANGELES) — Sharon Osbourne isn't easily embarrassed, and not even losing a tooth during an installment of her TV show, The Talk, was enough to make her blush.

The 62-year-old co-host was interviewing Jamie Dornan, star of the upcoming movie Fifty Shades of Grey, when she felt one of her dental implants come loose.

Moments later, Osbourne started jiggling the tooth on camera and declared, "It's an implant, and I spent a bloody fortune on this f**king thing."

The mishap drew a mixed reaction from her co-hosts. Sheryl Underwood seemed to cringe while Sara Gilbert couldn't stop laughing, wiping tears from her eyes at one point.

Osbourne, convinced there was nothing else to do, yanked out the tooth, before proudly displaying the obvious gap in her otherwise perfect smile.

Osbourne managed to temporarily fix the problem during a commercial break, only to come across another one. She said the "sticky thing" she used to put the implant back in place had also stuck to her lip, making it difficult for her to talk.

Co-host Julie Chen then noted that the secret to mimicking a British accent was to "act like your lip is glued to your tooth."

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“Willy Wonka,” “Ferris Bueller's Day Off,” “Saving Private Ryan” Added to National Film Registry


Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The children's classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the John Hughes-directed comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Steven Spielberg's World War Two drama Saving Private Ryan are among the 25 motion pictures that have been selected this year to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress annually announces a list of films that are added to the registry for preservation. The registry includes familiar movies as well as documentaries, silent films, student films and other projects.

This year's selections also include the Coen brothers' popular movie The Big Lebowski; the horror films Rosemary's Baby and House of Wax; and Little Big Man, a Western that starred Dustin Hoffman.

Here are the films that have just been selected for the National Film Registry, along with their release dates:

  • Bert Williams Lime Kiln Club Field Day, 1913
  • The Big Lebowski, 1998
  • Down Argentine Way, 1940
  • The Dragon Painter, 1919
  • Felicia, 1965
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986
  • The Gang’s All Here, 1943
  • House of Wax, 1953
  • Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport, 2000
  • Little Big Man, 1970
  • Luxo Jr., 1986
  • Moon Breath Beat, 1980
  • Please Don’t Bury Me Alive!, 1976
  • The Power and the Glory, 1933
  • Rio Bravo, 1959
  • Rosemary’s Baby, 1968
  • Ruggles of Red Gap, 1935
  • Saving Private Ryan, 1998
  • Shoes, 1916
  • State Fair, 1933
  • 13 Lakes, 2004
  • Unmasked, 1917
  • V-E Day 1, 1945
  • The Way of Peace, 1947
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1971

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D'oh! 25 Years Ago Today, “The Simpsons” Made Its Debut


FOX (NEW YORK) — This is a very special holiday season for The Simpsons, because the long-running Fox animated comedy is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

The first full-length episode of The Simpsons premiered on Dec. 17, 1989. It followed a series of Simpsons shorts that aired in previous years on another Fox comedy, The Tracey Ullman Show.  

Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson have noticeably evolved since the episode, titled "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire," hit the TV. The animation was less polished back then, and the characters sounded different. However, Bart was every bit the troublemaker then as he is now.

In the episode, Bart gets a tattoo without his parents' permission, and Marge spends the family's Christmas money to have it removed. Homer tries to replenish their holiday fund by first working as a shopping mall Santa, and then visiting the dog racing track. He places a bet on a loser of a pooch named Santa's Little Helper, who ends up joining the Simpsons' household.

"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" was nominated for a couple of Emmy Awards. The rest, as they say, is history. The Simpsons is the longest-running primetime scripted series in U.S. TV history; it's currently in its 26th season. It also spawned a hit movie in 2007.

The Simpsons has inspired many comedies since its debut, including the animated series created by Seth MacFarlane for Fox, such as Family Guy. He tells ABC News Radio, "The Simpsons is part of that exclusive club that All in the Family belongs to, of shows that utterly transformed their genre."

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