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Monday
May212018

Celebrities sign letter imploring Indonesian president to stop dog meat trade

DMFI - 2018(LONDON) -- A letter signed by dozens of celebrities -- from Ricky Gervais and Ricky Martin to Oscar-winners Hunt Hunt and Dame Judy Dench and Emmy-winner Ellen DeGeneres -- is urging Indonesian President Joko Widodo to stop the slaughter of millions of dogs and cats for food.

In a haunting video from the Dog Meat-Free Indonesia coalition, celebrities claim they "didn't know" about the horrors of the dog meat trade, which includes not only the stealing of family pets, but the slaughter of the animals for their meat.

The dogs are piled into cages only to be killed brutally, including using a blowtorch to remove the fur from live animals.

In addition to the inhumane treatment of the animals, the stars, 90 of them in all, claim the trade is also causing the spread of rabies to people and cutting into Indonesia's tourism trade due to outraged pet lovers the world over.

The stars are imploring the country to join the "growing number of countries across Asia" that have banned the practice.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Monday
May212018

Commander in Stream: Barack and Michelle Obama turn producers in Netflix partnership

Joe Pugliese/Netflix(NEW YORK) -- Barack Obama has gone from president to producer in a deal with Netflix that will have him and former first lady Michelle creating programming for Netflix.

Confirming news that first broke last March, the streaming giant announced the couple will produce "a diverse mix of content, including the potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features" for Netflix's 125 million member households. 

"One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience," Obama said in a statement. "That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix -- we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world."

"Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others," Mrs. Obama adds. "Netflix’s unparalleled service is a natural fit for the kinds of stories we want to share, and we look forward to starting this exciting new partnership."

The pair's newly minted Higher Ground production company will shepherd the projects.

Calling the couple, "among the world’s most respected and highly-recognized public figures," an "incredibly proud" Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said the Obamas "are uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better."  

The former president appeared in January on David Letterman's Netflix talk show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May212018

"Veep" Emmy winner Tony Hale says Julia Louis-Dreyfus "doing great" post cancer treatment; shooting to resume soon

HBO/Justin M. Lubin(NEW YORK) -- While promoting the return of his beloved show Arrested Development, the fifth season of which hits Netflix next week, ABC Radio asked Tony Hale about his other show, HBO's Veep, and the awaited return of his fellow Emmy-winning star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. 

Last September, Louis-Dreyfus revealed she'd been diagnosed with breast cancer and would be undergoing treatment.  She's bouncing back, Hale says.

"Julia's doing great. She's getting stronger and stronger, so we'll ... be ready [to start shooting] by the end of the summer," the actor shared.  "You know, she's amazing," he added. "She's amazing." 

In a post to fans earlier this year, the actress noted she'd finished chemotherapy and surgery to fight the disease.

"Hoorah! Great doctors, great results, feeling happy and ready to rock after surgery," she captioned the shot. "Hey cancer, 'F*** you!'"

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May212018

Famed chef Mario Batali investigated for sexual assault by NYPD

ABC/Lorenzo Bevilaqua(NEW YORK) -- Beleaguered chef Mario Batali is being investigated by the New York Police Department for sexual assault allegations raised in a 60 Minutes report that aired Sunday, as well as a second allegation.

The NYPD told ABC News that the second allegation was brought to the NYPD's attention late last year, soon after the #MeToo movement was born out of the Harvey Weinstein matter, and dates to 2004.  That case remains open.

The allegation is similar to the incident detailed on 60 Minutes in that it involves a a woman who alleges she was assaulted while unconscious.  The woman alleges that she was at one of Batali's restaurants, Babbo, in January 2004, lost consciousness, and found Batali on top of her when she awoke.

The 60 Minutes report featured an unidentified former employee of Batali's who spoke out about the 57-year-old chef and former TV star, saying he drugged and assaulted her at a popular New York City restaurant more than a decade ago.

"I remember a moment where I was on his lap, kissing him. Like, he was kissing me," she said on the program. "And then I remember throwing up in a toilet. And that is all. I woke up by myself on the floor. The first thing I think is I've been drugged....I've been assaulted," she said.

The woman added that she spoke to police after the alleged incident but did not file a report.

A request for comment from Batali's rep wasn't immediately returned to ABC News, but the chef "vehemently" denied the assault to 60 Minutes.  Batali says much the same in a statement to ABC News, declaring: "I vehemently deny any allegations of sexual assault. My past behavior has been deeply inappropriate and I am sincerely remorseful for my actions."

Last December, four women came forward and told the website Eater that Batali had sexually harassed them.

"I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt," Batali said in part at the time. "That behavior was wrong, and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family."

After the Eater piece, Batali was asked to leave ABC's The Chew and he offered to step away from the day-to-day operations of his restaurant group, the Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group.

A rep told 60 Minutes that it finds the allegations "deeply disturbing" and that "our partnership with Mr. Batali is ending..."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May212018

Karrueche Tran dishes on how she met her new beau, former NFL player Victor Cruz

Photo by Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Karrueche Tran is focused on living her best life.

With the recent release of her headlining feature in the Zoe Saldana-produced comedy The Honor List, and her upcoming return as Virginia on season two of Claws, Tran has transformed herself from Internet personality to full-fledged actress.

With a seemingly bright future ahead of her, Tran has also gained a new relationship -- with her now boyfriend, former NFL player Victor Cruz -- which she is excited to talk about.

"I mean we've known each other for a while, but he was in a relationship before -- which I totally respected," Tran tells ABC Radio, dishing on how the two first met. "And that up until recently, you know, he was single and I was like, 'Are you sure, you're single...? I had to, you know, confirm all that."

The two, who were first spotted in December 2017 simply holding hands while walking in L.A., have upgraded their public displays of affection to now kissing and hanging out on vacation together.

According to Tran, their relationship has been both "real" and authentic.

"And then so we just started like hanging out, and getting to know each other," she says. "And it's just very, like, genuine and real. We have a good time together, we have fun. And that's all that matters."

The Honor List, which also stars Meghan RienksSasha Pieterse and Arden Cho, is now available on digital, Blu-ray, DVD and on demand. Tran's comedy Claws returns Sunday, June 10 at 9 p.m. on TNT.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May212018

"SNL" ends season with star-studded finale and a "Sopranos"-themed cold open

Photo by: Will Heath/NBC(NEW YORK) -- On its season finale, Saturday Night Live celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Robert Mueller investigation with a parody of the final scene of The Sopranos -- complete with a diner and, yes, even Journey.

The show opened with Alec Baldwin's Trump playing the role of Tony Soprano in a diner waiting on his "family" to show up for dinner. But instead of Carmela, A.J. and Meadow showing up, it was Rudy Giuliani, Michael Cohen and Donald Trump Jr.

As usual, Giuliani was played by Kate McKinnon, Michael Cohen was Ben Stiller and Mikey Day played the role of Trump Jr.

"So Rudy did you go on Fox News last night?" Trump asked.

"Twenty times," he responded over Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'." "I said you colluded with Russia, but then I ended with, 'So what?'"

Host Tina Fey followed up the star-studded cold open with a monologue, joking that A-list celebrities were stealing time from the series' cast.

Of course, she then proceeded to take questions from the audience, comprised of Jerry Seinfeld, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Rock, De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Fred Armisen, Donald Glover -- who hosted two weeks ago and said he left his hat -- and Tracy Morgan. Not to mention superstar Nicki Minaj was the musical guest. 

Later in the show, Fey made a return to her iconic impression of Sarah Palin to highlight all the people the Trump administration has scorned. 

"Take it from me. Politics is a wild ride. One minute you're on top and then you're gone in the blink of a Scaramucci," she jokes in Palin's signature accent, closing the season with one of the show's signature political jokes.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May212018

"Deadpool 2" dethrones "Avengers: Infinity War" at the box office with $125 million weekend

20th Century Fox(LOS ANGELES) -- Deadpool 2 ended Avengers: Infinity War's three-week reign at the box office, nabbing an estimated $125 million in its opening weekend. However, it failed to deliver the record opening for an R-rated film, as many predicted, falling short of the $132.4 million debut of the original Deadpool.

The film, starring Ryan Reynolds and Josh Brolin, did manage to set a record for 20th Century Fox, posting the studio's best overseas debut with an estimated $176.3 million, topping the $174 million for 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past. In total, Deadpool 2's worldwide take stands at $301.3 million.

Dropping to second place is Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War, with an estimated $28.7 million, bringing its totals stateside to over $595 million and making it the eighth largest domestic release of all-time. 
It also tacked on an estimated $84 million overseas, and it now ranks as the third largest worldwide release with roughly $1.81 billion. Disney is the parent company of Marvel and ABC.

Book Club -- starring Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen -- bows in third place with an estimated $12.5 million, ahead of Life of the Party, which drops from second to fourth place with an estimated $7.7 million.

Rounding out the top five is Breaking In, collecting an estimated $6.47 million in its second week of release.

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

1. Deadpool 2, $125 million
2. Avengers: Infinity War, $28.7 million
3. Book Club, $12.5 million
4. Life of the Party, $7.7 million
5. Breaking In, $6.47 million
6. Show Dogs, $6 million
7. Overboard, $4.7 million
8. A Quiet Place, $4 million
9. Rampage, $1.5 million
10. I Feel Pretty, $1.28 million

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Friday
May182018

Tina Fey and Nicki Minaj get "lit" in "Saturday Night Live" season finale promos 

Rosalind O'Connor/NBC(NEW YORK) -- Nicki Minaj is headed back to Saturday Night Live  tomorrow as the show's season finale musical guest. The long-running sketch comedy series announced the rapper's appearance back in April via Twitter.  

Three promos for the episode, starring Minaj and scheduled guest host and former SNL cast member and head writer Tina Fey have also been released. One shows Tina trying desperately to appear cool enough to use the word "lit," and another has her trying to pitch a sketch to Nicki, which she rejects only to agree to turn it into a feature film.

This will be Nicki's fifth time gracing the SNL stage to perform. She was a musical guest in 2011 and 2014 and made cameo appearances for Drake and The Weeknd's sets in 2011 and 2015, respectively. 

She also announced the June 15 arrival of her forthcoming album, Queen, on the Met Gala red carpet in early May. Queen is Nicki's follow-up to her disc The Pinkprint, which was released in 2014. 

Saturday Night Live begins airing at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC. 

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Friday
May182018

"13 Reasons Why" event canceled in wake of Santa Fe school shooting

Interscope Records(LOS ANGELES) -- An event in Los Angeles to mark the season two premiere of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why has been canceled in the wake of Friday's shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas.

“Our hearts are with the victims of the Santa Fe High School shooting, and with all victims of gun violence. In light of today’s tragedy, we are cancelling the 13 Reasons Why S2 premiere event tonight,” reads a Netflix statement provided to ABC News.

13 Reasons Why centers on a high school student's suicide, and the 13 cassette tape recordings she leaves behind for various former classmates, whom she blames in part for her decision to take her own life. The show has been both praised and criticized for the way in which it explores topics of teen suicide, bullying, sexual abuse and more.  Season two of the show just premiered Friday on Netflix.

Ten people were killed and ten wounded in the shooting late Friday morning in the Santa Fe shooting.  Dimitrios Pagourtzis, a 17-year-old junior at Santa Fe High School, has been arrested and charged in connection with the shooting.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
May182018

Ahead of "American Idol" finale, Ryan Seacrest says votes are "tight" as judges offer advice

ABC/Craig Sjodin(LOS ANGELES) -- The American Idol two-night finale begins Sunday night, as Gabby Barrett, Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Maddie Poppe face off against each other for the crown.  Host Ryan Seacrest says right now, it's hard to predict who'll win because the voting is extremely close.

"I looked at the votes, it's very tight," Seacrest tells ABC Radio. "We haven't really talked much about that. But during that last episode on Sunday, it was going back and forth between the finalists that had made it."

But does Ryan think America picked the right final three?  He admits, "I was sad to see some of them leave, especially Michael J. Woodard. I loved him, a lot of people loved him...but they've picked three great contestants who have their own style, who deserve to be there...each of 'em wants to be the one that wins."

O.K., so how can Gabby, Caleb and Maddie go about being the winner?  Judge Katy Perry tells ABC Radio, "In the top three, there are some people that are better at performance, some people are better at their artistic delivery, some people that are original tones. And so they just gotta know what their strong suits are and play those cards right."

Luke Bryan agrees, saying that what the contestants need to do to win is "stick with what got 'em here."  But while he believes America "might know what they're already gonna do," he still thinks the contestants have to "keep turning it up."   

As previously reported, all three judges will perform on the finale, as will Bebe Rexha, Patti LaBelle, Hootie & the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker, Yolanda Adams, guitarist Gary Clark Jr., and Kermit the Frog.

The American Idol finale begins Sunday night at 8 p.m. and concludes Monday night at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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