"Saturday Night Live" closes best season in 23 years with highest rated finale in 6

NBC/Will Heath(NEW YORK) -- It's been a great year for Saturday Night Live.

The late-night sketch comedy show ended its season last Saturday night with its highest-rated season finale in six years, NBC proclaimed.  The episode -- with host Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and musical guest Katy Perry -- averaged 8.272 million viewers Saturday night.

Most importantly to the network, the episode was the top show through Saturday night, in any timeslot, among audiences that advertisers love most -- adults 18-49.

According to NBC, the just-ended SNL season is the most-watched season for the show in 23 years -- based on live viewers and viewers who watch the show on their DVRs within a week, with an average audience of more than 10.8 million viewers.

No doubt topical humor -- including Alec Baldwin's recurring portrayal of Donald Trump and Melissa McCarthy's of White House press secretary Sean Spicer -- helped deliver renewed ratings life for the 42 year old franchise that debuted during the administration of Gerald Ford.

The show certainly will look a little different next year. Long time cast member Bobby Moynihan announced before the season finale that he'd be departing for a CBS primetime sitcom.  Vanessa Bayer, who had been with the show for seven seasons, announced just before Saturday's finale that she'd be leaving.  And, according to Entertainment Tonight, Sasheer Zamata, known for her impressions of Michelle Obama, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, among others, is leaving.

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"Alien: Covenant" edges "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" at weekend box office

© 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Mark Rogers(LOS ANGELES) -- It was a real squeaker at the box office this weekend, as Alien: Covenant edged out Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, according to Box Office Mojo.

Ridley Scott's latest Alien exploit, which stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston and Billy Crudup, took in an estimated $36 million -- a substantial drop from the $51 million its predecessor, Prometheus, earned its opening weekend, but good enough to overtake Guardians for the top spot. It tacked on an additional $30.3 million overseas.

Guardians was close behind with just over $35 million in its third week of release, bringing its total here in the states to over $300 million, and $732.6 globally. Marvel, like ABC News, is owned by Disney.

The second of this week's new releases, Everything, Everything, starring Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson, had an impressive debut, bowing in third place with a $12 million haul. Snatched took fourth place, earning upwards of $7 million.

Rounding out the top five was the weekend's third newcomer, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. The fourth movie in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise, disappointed, managing just a little over $7 million.

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

1. Alien: Covenant, $36 million
2. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, $35.1 million
3. Everything, Everything, $12 million.
4. Snatched, $7.6 million
5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, $7.2 million
6. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, $6.85 million
7. The Fate of the Furious, $3.2 million
8. The Boss Baby, $2.8 million
9. Beauty and the Beast, $2.4 million
10. How to Be a Latin Lover, $2.2 million


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Tom Hardy cast as "Spider-Man" baddie Venom

Getty Images/Jason LaVeris(LOS ANGELES) -- Tom Hardy has gone from playing Bane in The Dark Knight Rises to portraying another superhero baddie: Spider-Man's shape-shifting nemesis Venom. 

"Tom Hardy is Eddie Brock," reads the announcement made Friday by Sony Pictures, naming the character's human alter-ego. The post featured a menacing picture of the Mad Max actor wearing a Venom shirt.

The character of Brock is a disgraced journalist who comes into contact with a black, gooey alien organism that covers his body and gives him fearsome powers...which he uses to try to take down Spidey.

Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland, will be seen next on July 7 in Spider-Man: Homecoming -- officially, at least, there's no mention yet if he'll appear in Venom.

Venom is slated for an October, 2018 release.

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"Zardu Hasselfrau" speaks: David Hasselhoff on his work in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" 

ABC/Heidi Gutman(NEW YORK) -- While it was all but certain fans would see him in the upcoming remake of Baywatch, Guardians of the Galaxy fans weren't expecting David Hasselhoff to appear -- in word, deed, and song -- in that blockbuster.

Turns out Guardians writer/director James Gunn was a huge Knight Rider fan, which is why, according to the movie, Chris Pratt's Peter Quill/Star-Lord would tell his teasing classmates that Hasselhoff was his missing father. The brave exploits of Michael Knight -- and Quill's childhood cover story -- were celebrated by Zoe Saldana's alien Gamora, who incorrectly identifies the actor as "Zardu Hasselfrau."

In real life, Pratt was also fanboy, "The Hoff" told ABC Radio.

"He was such a huge Knight Rider fan. I brought some t-shirts, and I thought, 'I dunno, maybe someone would want these -- I hope.' It says, 'Don't Hassle the Hoff.' And he goes, 'I'm putting mine on right now!'" Hasselhoff recalled. "And the next thing I know, the entire crew was lined up."

Hasselhoff, a successful recording artist in Germany, was also tapped to sing on "Guardians Inferno," a disco-themed version of the Guardians of the Galaxy theme in the vein of Meco Monardo's 1977 disco version of the Star Wars soundtrack. "I thought, oh, I've hit, I've hit big," Hasselhoff said, adding, "I get the demo, and it's rap. And I said, 'It's rap. Of course it's rap.' You know, 'How do I do this?!' So I figured it out, and it seems to work."

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is owned by Disney, parent company of ABC News.

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Sticky-fingered "Pirates of the Caribbean" stars admit they're pirates at heart

Disney - 2017(LOS ANGELES) -- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, the fifth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, had its Hollywood premiere Thursday night, and two of its stars -- Geoffrey Rush and Kaya Scodelario -- confessed to a little plundering of their own while making the movie.

While walking the aqua carpet on Thursday, Oscar winner Rush, who has played Captain Hector Barbossa in all five Pirates of the Caribbean films, copped to stealing some gold coins from the set of the first movie, figuring, "Well, I won't be back, they'll never catch me." He got away with it, and swiped some fake gems this time around.

"I stole some of the kind of Perspexy, chunky diamonds that are on that black island that the ship gets wrecked on," he told ABC Radio.

Scodelario, who plays the the young ingenue Carina Smyth this time around, admitted that she's pirated stuff from ALL her movies.

"I always take little souvenirs," she says. "I take like bits of rope, I take sea shells, I get sea shells from everywhere in the world and I also of the costume rings that had a pirate skull on it."

Co-director Espen Sandberg was above swiping things from the set, although there was one item he did kind of have his eye on: "I think uh, the compass. I think it would be good to have something that could help you know what you really, really want."

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, also starring Johnny Depp, opens nationwide on May 26.

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Judge rules Prince's six siblings are legal heirs to his estate 

Theo Wargo/WireImage(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Over a year after Prince died, a Minnesota judge has ruled that the late musician's six siblings are the legal heirs to his estate.

The ruling came Friday in Carver County, MI, where Prince lived and worked on his Paisley Park estate. Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide declared that Prince's sister, Tyka Nelson, and Prince's five half-siblings are his heirs: Omarr Baker, Alfred Jackson, Sharon Nelson, Norrine Nelson, and John R. Nelson.

Prince, born Prince Rogers Nelson, died without leaving a will -- or at least, none that's so far been found.  Beginning in the weeks after his death, an assortment of people have come forward, claiming to either be related to Prince or to have some other legal claim to the estate.  Although Judge Eide rejected those other claims, he acknowledged some are under appeal, and said he'd reconsider them pending any appellate court ruling. 

Eide also said none of Prince's assets can be distributed without a court order, nor in any way that might adversely affect any of the appeals.

Prince died April 21 of last year at age 57 of an accidental overdose of the painkiller fentanyl.

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"Scandal" Double Recap: "Transfer of Power," and "Tick, Tock"

ABC/Richard Cartwright(LOS ANGELES) -- Scandal's season finale was a two-part, two hour send-off. Here are the recaps of both episodes, "Transfer of Power" and "Tick, Tock"

"Transfer of Power"

On Thursday's Scandal episode "Transfer of Power," Maya removes her tracker and escapes the authorities trailing her.

Back at the White House, Fitz tries to talk Mellie out of getting publicly inaugurated. Mellie, doubles up on security, but decides to goes through with it. Fitz, meanwhile, greenlights B-16.

At the inauguration, Maya takes out one of the snipers and sets up to take a shot, but before she can shoot, Eli finds her and takes her down. Liv, who was on the phone with her mother before she was taken out, learns that Maya wasn't looking to kill Mellie.

Liv questions Fitz' decision to have her mother shot. He defends his stance, but makes Liv suspicious when he goes into a private meeting with Rosen. After some digging, Liv finds out that Fitz plans to run a reinstated B-16.

Fitz tells Liv he cannot stay and is leaving D.C. They say their goodbyes, with Liv tearful. She runs out to meet him and they publicly kiss on the front lawn with the cameras following their every move.

Meanwhile, Liv heads to Quinn's office to try to figure out who Maya was trying to shoot. After recreating Frankie Vargas' assassination, they discover Luna Vargas was the one that Maya was trying to assassinate.

Liv finds Luna and confronts her, but Luna -- now officially vice president -- tells Liv there is nothing she can do about it.

Liv confides in Jake who tells her they will figure it out. Liv seems doubtful saying that there can be no mistakes with the first woman president. Liv later visits her mother in the hospital and tells her she knows it was Luna. Maya, who can see Liv is defeated, tells her to go get back her White House.

Meanwhile, Abby tells Quinn she wants to work with her and the gladiators again. Quinn, who's happy with Abby's decision, decides to tell Charlie she's pregnant.

After Mellie takes a moment to enjoy her the Oval Office, she visits Cyrus at home and asks him to be her date to the inaugural ball.

Later, Liv tells Jake she has a plan to get rid of Luna.

After being confronted by Olivia and Jake, Luna confesses she paid someone to kill her husband because she wanted to go down in history. She begs for Olivia to not kill her. Liv tells Luna to instead kill herself by taking some pills. If not, Jake would kill her, put her in a ditch and reveal she's a murder to the world. Luna agrees to take the pills while Jake waits until she dies.

Liv later gets Mellie to sign off on B-16 without knowing. Now in command, Liv tells her father she is now running B-16, wants Sunday dinners with him and to not get on her bad side or face the consequences.

After getting everything in order, Liv tells Cyrus everything. However she soon learns that Cyrus was the one planting the evil seed in Luna's head while personally eyeing the vice presidency.

Realizing his motives, Liv decides to give Cyrus what he wants -- the vice presidency -- while she remains the most powerful woman in the world -- the woman running the president.

"Tick, Tock"

On Thursday's Scandal episode "Tick, Tock," Olivia, Eli Pope and Fitz try to find Olivia's mother Maya who they realize is looking to assassinate the new president, Mellie.

After a failed effort, Olivia, tells Mellie she's in jeopardy and tells her a public inauguration may be out of the question. Meanwhile the new gladiator squad -- Quinn, Charlie and Huck -- also are on the lookout for Liv's mother. 

Jack, Eli and David find out that Liv's mother is looking to meet with a new contact from the CIA. Jack traces her to the contact's hotel and arrests her.

In an interrogation room, Maya tells Eli she came to D.C. to protect her daughter. She then goes on a rant about Eli and tries to belittle him as he watches her through the glass of the interrogation room.

Liv finds the gladiators back at her old offices -- which Quinn now runs -- and hires them to find out if someone is trying to kill her, like her mother claims.

Back at the interrogation room, Eli patiently watches Maya as she continues to rant. Eventually she breaks down. He then turns to Liv and tells her he's now ready to go in and talk to her.

Eli asks Maya what her plans are and if she was behind Peus and plans to kill Mellie.

Maya denies that she has done anything wrong. She accuses him of not protecting Olivia. They argue about not being good parents to their daughter. Eli tries to break Maya, but she stands firm and says it's not she who played him. He seems to believe her. He exits the room and gives Liv a stare as if they both know that she might be telling the truth.

At his dinosaur lab, Liv confronts her father about not wanting to interrogate her mother. Liv realizes that her dad might actually believe her mother and does not have the gumption to break her down. Eli tells Liv to have Mellie do the inauguration underground to avoid any danger.

Meanwhile, Fitz recounts the time he was shot and tells Mellie to deter her from doing a public inauguration. 

Abby, who was enlisted by Quinn to find Maya's connection, discovers that Maya wasn't the one who orchestrated everything - she was just a hired assassin. Liv tries to get her mother to confess, but her mother sees right through her. Liv chokes her, but is pulled back by Jake.

Back at the White House, Mellie talks to Liv. Liv apologizes for losing control over her mother and not finding out truth. Mellie still refuses to give up the inauguration. They later both agree that the inauguration should go on. 

Liv tells Fitz that they should let May go so they can find out who she is working for - but Fitz says no. Jake, however, decides to go with Liv's plan and they implant her with a tracking device.   

In a conversation with Abby, Quinn reveals she is pregnant, but is scared she is not fit to be a mother. 

Eli, later finds out Maya is free and asks Fitz to reinstate B16 as his last act of power. Liv, meanwhile, tells Mellie that she is now making major decisions for her presidency.

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"Bachelorette" Rachel Lindsay says she's engaged

ABC/Paul Hebert(LOS ANGELES) -- Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay is off the market.

The star of the upcoming season told reporters Thursday she's engaged, though she could not specify to whom.

However, Lindsay, a Dallas-based lawyer, said that if she had a list of qualities she'd want in a husband, "He would check everything off -- check it twice!"

"Every morning I wake up and pinch myself and I keep asking myself if this is really happening," she said. "It's crazy at times. I feel like I don't even deserve this. I feel like I'm getting everything that I want and I am getting my happy ending." 

Lindsay first appeared on Nick Viall's season of The Bachelor, and in February, before her elimination was aired, ABC revealed that she would star in the new season of The Bachelorette. Now happily engaged, she's looking forward to reuniting with her dog, getting back to practicing law -- "I actually talked to my boss this morning," she said -- and going public with her relationship.

"It's hard when you're so excited about something and you can't share it with everyone," she said, "but we make sure that we communicate with each other all the time, and that's really all you can do."

She's not using her time until the season finale to plan a wedding. Lindsay said that she and her new beau want to spend time together without TV cameras present before they set a date.

"I'm trying to take things one step at a time," she said. "I just want to get to know my fiance to the fullest before I even start thinking about a wedding."

The Bachelorette premieres Monday, May 22, on ABC.

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Chris Cornell's family says prescription drug may have prompted apparent suicide

Buda Mendes/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- Chris Cornell's wife doesn't believe her husband intentionally took his own life, and feels the prescription drug Ativan may have played a role in his death.

A joint statement issued Friday by Vicky Cornell and family attorney Kirk Pasich -- the first lengthy family statement since rock singer Cornell, 52, was found dead in his Detroit hotel room Wednesday night -- notes that the Soundgarden frontman was "a recovering addict," and "had a prescription for Ativan and may have taken more Ativan than recommended dosages."

Ativan, the brand name for the medication lorazepam, has a number of therapeutic uses, but is commonly used for the treatment of anxiety.

"Without the results of toxicology tests, we do not know what was going on with Chris -- or if any substances contributed to his demise," says Pasich.

The statement goes on: "The family believes that if Chris took his life, he did not know what he was doing, and that drugs or other substances may have affected his actions."

The Wayne County, MI, Medical Examiners Office on Thursday declared Cornell's cause of death as suicide by hanging. 

Vicky Cornell says she and her husband spoke before his Wednesday night show in Detroit and "discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do.  When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different.  When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him." 

She continues: "What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details.  I know that [Chris] loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life."

The statement ends with Vicky Cornell saying, "The outpouring of love and support from his fans, friends and family means so much more to us than anyone can know.  Thank you for that, and for understanding how difficult this is for us."

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"Alien: Covenant" and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul" among this week's new releases

20th Century Fox - 2017(LOS ANGELES) -- Here's a look at the new movies opening nationwide Friday:

Alien: Covenant -- Ridley Scott's sequel to 2012's Prometheus, and the second chapter in the Alien prequel series, follows the crew of a colony ship to a remote planet, believed to be an uncharted paradise. However, it turns into a nightmare when they discover a deadly alien life-form. Starring Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Demian Bichir and Danny McBride. Rated R.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul -- This comedy is the fourth installment of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, though it features none of the original cast. A family road trip to attend their grandmother's 90th birthday party takes an unexpected turn when their son -- played by Every Which Way's Jason Drucker -- hatches a plot to go to a video gaming convention instead. Tom Everett Scott and Alicia Silverstone also star. Rated PG.

Everything, Everything -- Amandla Stenberg plays a teenager unable to leave her home because of an illness, who falls for a the boy next door-- played by Melissa & Joey's Nick Robinson. The two risk everything to be together. PG-13.

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