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Entertainment News Archives for 2016-05

'Mary Poppins' Sequel Adds Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emily Blunt to Cast


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Move over, Julie Andrews, there's a new Mary Poppins in town.


Mary Popins


Walt Disney Studios announced Tuesday that "Into the Woods" star Emily Blunt would be taking over the part of the P.L. Travers-created nanny in a sequel to the 1964 classic, with "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda joining as a new character, Jack, the street lamplighter.


The film, entitled "Mary Poppins Returns," will center on a now-grown Michael Banks and his three children in the aftermath of a tragedy and the help they get from Mary Poppins and Jack in Depression-era London.


Rob Marshall is set to direct off of a script from "Finding Neverland" writer David Magee.


The film is scheduled to hit theaters on Dec. 25, 2018.




Tony Presenters will Include Oprah Winfrey, Cate Blanchett


NEW YORK (AP) — James Corden will have some big names helping him hand out Tony Awards: Oprah Winfrey, Cate Blanchett, Carole King, Audra McDonald, Saoirse Ronan, Patina Miller and Nathan Lane have signed up to help present.


Tony 2016


Corden, a Tony-winner and the host of CBS's "The Late Late Show" will make his debut as the emcee June 12 at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. It will be televised on CBS.


Comedy god Steve Martin and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Edie Brickell will also help present. The pair is up for a Tony as the writers of the musical "Bright Star," a complex love story set against the American South.




Depp Asks Court to Rule he Should Not Pay Spousal Support


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Johnny Depp has asked a court to determine that he should not pay spousal support to his estranged wife Amber Heard, who filed for divorce after 15 months of marriage.




Court records show Depp filed the response Wednesday to Heard's divorce petition.


His response also requests that Heard, also an actor, pay her own attorney fees. It does not list a date of separation.

Heard filed for divorce on Monday and stated the couple separated the day before. Both actors cited irreconcilable differences for the breakup.


The actors married in February 2014. They have no children together, and the divorce filings do not indicate they have a prenuptial agreement.



Memorable Moments from the National Spelling Bee


OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — The 284 kids competing in this year's Scripps National Spelling Bee got their first opportunity to approach the microphone on Wednesday — and to hear the dreaded bell that signals an incorrect spelling. At the end of Wednesday's onstage rounds, the field was cut to 45 spellers for Thursday's finals.


Spelling Bee


Here are some highlights from the preliminary rounds, which featured more difficult words than in past years — a trend that will continue into the finals. Scripps changed the rules to make the bee more difficult after the competition ended in a tie for two straight years.




Speller No. 1 this year was Erin Howard, which meant all eyes — and extra pressure — were on her when the bee began. Scripps showed it meant business by launching the bee with "abecedarius," which she got right. She also spelled "tulipomania" correctly to open the second onstage round.

Erin, 11, knew there was a chance she'd be batting leadoff because she's from Huntsville, Alabama, and the spellers are organized in alphabetical order by state.

"I was hoping they would mess up and put Alaska first," Erin said. "But no! Had to do it right!"

She didn't have time to settle her nerves before she was asked to approach the microphone.

"It's kind of abrupt," said Erin, who was among the finalists. "Oh, it's my turn! OK!"




Six-year-old Akash Vukoti of San Angelo, Texas, was 1 ½ when his uncle asked him to spell the word "spoon" during a trip to his parents' native India. He got it right.

A year later, his parents drove six hours from Cleveland to northern Virginia so he could compete in his first spelling bee — while still in diapers.

On Wednesday, Akash bounded up to the National Spelling Bee stage and reached well above his head to try to bend down the microphone. At one point, he tried to unscrew it.

His word was "inviscate," and when it became clear the kid would get it right, a wry smile broke across the face of veteran speller Jairam Hathwar, sitting nearby. Akash briefly put his hands over his ears when the crowd broke out into applause.

In the afternoon, Akash got a standing ovation after he was eliminated on "bacteriolytic," which he missed by a single letter.

Akash, who has also appeared on "Little Big Shots" with Steve Harvey and dreams of becoming an actor, said he knew every word during the first onstage round.

"All of those words came from the list that everybody studied," he said.

His other passion: corporate logos.

"You can show me any logo and I can tell you what company it is," Akash said.

Akash's mother, Kala Vukoti, a former engineer, home-schools him. His father, Krishna, is a pharmacist.

"He needs to be home-schooled," Krishna said. "He's very advanced. He's like five, six, seven grades higher" than his peers.




Spellers from Ghana, Jamaica, and South Korea were among the 45 finalists. The last international winner of the bee was Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica in 1998.

While Jamaica has produced dozens of strong spellers, the performance of Afua Ansah of Ghana caught observers by surprise. She had the second-highest score on the written test, missing a perfect score by just one point.

"It was easier than I thought," said Afua, 14.

While many spellers say the pressure is off once they make it to the final day of the bee, Afua said she's under more stress now. Her goal is to make the top 10.

"A heavy weight on my shoulders," she said. "I want to prove that I can actually make it."

Afua isn't sure what career she wants to pursue — neurosurgeon, lawyer and accountant are all possibilities. The only African speller in the bee, she wore a jacket with a kente pattern as a symbol of national pride.

The best part of the bee, she said, has been bonding with her spellers, "and to be able to share our anxieties."




For years, spellers have come up with clever greetings for pronouncer Jacques Bailly. This year, the goal for many was to stump him by saying hello in a foreign language he didn't know.

But 10-year-old J.J. Chen of Bethesda, Maryland, took Adele as his inspiration for the drollest greeting of the day.

"Hello," J.J. said.

"Hello," Bailly said.

"It's me," J.J. deadpanned.

Later, J.J. said he came up with the idea when he was bored onstage waiting for his turn to spell. The first round was dull, he said, because he'd memorized all the words on the list.

"In the morning, I counted the number of times I clapped," he said. "This afternoon, since they were surprise words, it was more interesting."

J.J.'s parents, James and Yuesha Chen, said their son showed a gift for language at an early age and could spell "transportation" at age 3.

"At daycare, (when) his friends had trouble reading things, they went to J.J.," James said.

J.J. made the finals, the youngest speller to do so.




Last year, only four spellers got words wrong during the first onstage round. The words used during that round came from a list that spellers were able to study for months while preparing for their regional bees.

This year, spellers only got the opening-round list about 50 days in advance, and the bell rang for 33 spellers. Among the words that were misspelled: chanoyu, scarlatina, tilleul, preterition, quadrumanous and octateuch.

"This year, we upped the challenge," said Paige Kimble, the bee's executive director.

In the afternoon, it got even tougher. The bell rang for 80 spellers. But as Kimble predicted, many of the words sounded easier to the adults in the audience. The afternoon round illustrated the difference between spellers who memorize words and those who have a deeper understanding of roots and language patterns.

The list for the morning round had 400 words. For the afternoon, the only list was Webster's Third New International Dictionary, which has 476,000 words. Misspelled words included: fraudulent, illegitimate, crotchety and curmudgeon.




Arushi Kalpande is in her third straight National Spelling Bee, and she's perfected a technique that many successful spellers have used in the past. Every time she asks pronouncer Jacques Bailly about the word, she repeats it, almost like a mantra. The technique has both practical and emotional benefits.

"When you repeat the word, the judges know if you're pronouncing the word right," said Arushi, 14, of Billerica, Massachusetts, who made it to the finals. "It helps you to focus on the word."

Even if she knows a word, the more she says it, the more her confidence grows.

"It calms you down," Arushi said. "It's always been my habit."




Before Mira Dedhia of Western Springs, Illinois, made it to the national bee, she would watch the ESPN broadcast with her father. But her mother, Lakshmi Nair, had a hard time even staying in the room when the bee was on.

The reason: Nair made it to the bee three times, from 1988-1990, and watching it brings back uncomfortable emotions.

"I'm so nervous. I feel like I'm 13 years old all over again," Nair said. "I can barely stomach it. It's nerve-wracking."

While some families have created semi-dynasties with siblings competing in the bee — last year, Vanya Shivashankar became the first sibling of a past champion to win — kids following their parents into the bee have been less common. Nair said she took a hands-off approach.

"I know firsthand how much pressure it was. Once she started winning bees, I was happy to help her," Nair said. "It's so much work that you can't push your kid to do it."




Cosby Lawyers Outline Defense as Case Heads to Trial


NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Bill Cosby's lawyers have outlined the tough questions the accuser likely will face now that their client is heading to trial in a criminal sexual-assault case.


Bill Cosby


The lawyers in a suburban Philadelphia court on Tuesday asked why accuser Andrea Constand stayed in touch with Cosby in the year after the 2004 encounter.


They suggested that she was instead in a consensual relationship with the man she considered a "trusted" friend and mentor.


The questions are similar to those raised by a former prosecutor who declined to arrest Cosby a decade ago.

Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele believes there's new evidence to strengthen his case.


Cosby does not yet have a trial date. The 78-year-old faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of aggravated sexual assault.




Broadway's Attendance Up, but Box Office Doesn't Keep Pace


NEW YORK (AP) — Broadway's attendance figures hit a record high this season, but box office revenue ticked upward only slightly.


Broadway Box Office


The Broadway League said Monday that box offices reported a record total gross of $1.37 billion — up 0.6 percent from the previous season. The trade association for theater owners, operators and producers said attendance was up 1.6 percent to 13.3 million ticket buyers.


The number of playing weeks — Broadway's occupancy rate — was up 1.4 percent from last season's to end at 1,648. There is a total of 2,080 total playing weeks available each year.


A total of 39 shows opened during the season, which began May 31, 2015, and ended Sunday. There were 16 musicals, 20 plays and three special events.




Madonna Responds to Critics of Her Prince Tribute


Madonna has responded to critics of her tribute to Prince at the Billboard Music Awards.


Madonna Billboard


A day after her performance of "Nothing Compares 2 U" and duet with Stevie Wonder on "Purple Rain," the pop singer took to social media Monday and posted a picture of herself in a purple boa with a flower in her teeth.


She wrote that anyone who wants to do a tribute to Prince is welcome to, "whatever your age gender or skin color. If you loved him and he inspired you then show it!!! I love Prince 4 ever." She later posed a video of her dancing with a caption that indicated the criticism didn't bother her.





Fox Baseball Drama Goes to Bat This Fall; 'Bones' Delayed


NEW YORK (AP) — Just days after unveiling its Fall 2016 schedule, the Fox network is swapping two of its shows.

Veteran series "Bones," originally set for a fall return, will instead be shelved until midseason, when this lighthearted whodunit will conclude its 12-season run.


Pitch Trailer


In its place Thursday at 9 p.m. Eastern, a new baseball drama, "Pitch," is being called up from midseason for a fall premiere.


"Pitch" is the story of Ginny Baker, who becomes the first woman to play Major League baseball under the glare of doubting fans and a media spotlight. It stars Kylie Bunbury ("Under the Dome"), along with Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Ali Larter, Mark Consuelos and Dan Lauria.




Eiffel Tower to be Turned into a Euro 2016 Rental Apartment


PARIS (AP) — Four lucky competition winners are set to be the first people in history to use the Eiffel Tower as a vacation home next month.


Eiffel Tower


Rental company HomeAway is taking over part of the first floor of the iconic 300-meter (yard) landmark for the duration of the UEFA Euro 2016 soccer tournament in Paris, and transforming it into Hausmannian-style living quarters.


The competition opens Thursday for the chance to stay in the famous monument, which provides panoramic views onto the Arc de Triomphe, the Sacre Coeur and the Seine river.


Brian Sharples, HomeAway CEO, called the move "unprecedented" and said it was "guaranteed to provide the most epic vacation memories of a lifetime."




Video Game Tetris to Become a China-US Co-Produced Movie


BEIJING (AP) — Chinese and U.S. producers say they plan to make an $80 million live-action sci-fi thriller based on the popular 1980s building block computer game Tetris.




The movie will begin shooting next year. It is the first project from the newly formed Threshold Global Studios, a joint venture between Chinese entertainment investor Bruno Wu's Seven Star Works and producer Larry Kasanoff's California-based Threshold Entertainment Group.


The pair said in a statement Tuesday that the joint venture "will make cross-cultural movies for the global market." Kasanoff added that the 32-year-old video game Tetris "is a perfect first project for this strategy."


The announcement said financing for the co-production is complete. There are plans to film the movie in China and it will feature Chinese actors.




ABC Renews Jimmy Kimmel Show for 3 More Years, to Fall 2019


LOS ANGELES (AP) — It's no prank: ABC says it has renewed late-night host Jimmy Kimmel's contract for three years.




The deal will keep "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" on the air through fall 2019, the network said Tuesday.


Kimmel's show is now in its 14th season, which makes him the longest-running host among the competitors that include NBC's Jimmy Fallon and CBS' Stephen Colbert.


Kimmel is known for pranks, including a staged twerking accident, and for encouraging others to follow suit. That includes parents who pretend they've eaten their kids' Halloween candy stash and tape the reaction for "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" to air.


Such comedy has proved a big internet draw and encouraged other hosts, including CBS' James Corden, to create skits aimed at an online afterlife.




Former NFL All-Pro LB and Ohio State Player Chris Spielman Joining Fox as Analyst


NEW YORK (AP) — Former NFL All-Pro linebacker Chris Spielman is joining Fox as an NFL and college football analyst.


Chris Spielman


Spielman had worked at ESPN since 2001. His broadcast partner for Saturday afternoon college football games on ABC, Sean McDonough, is leaving that booth for "Monday Night Football."


The 50-year-old Spielman played eight of his 11 NFL seasons in Detroit, making four Pro Bowls. He was a two-time All-American at Ohio State.


After he retired in 1999, he started his broadcasting career with Fox Sports Net.


Fox said Tuesday that Spielman will be a game analyst for its NFL broadcasts next season.





Channing Tatum is bringing his 'Magic Mike' act to Las Vegas


LAS VEGAS (AP) — Channing Tatum is bringing his "Magic Mike" act to Las Vegas.


Magic Mike


The 36-year-old actor has announced that he's directing "Magic Mike Live Las Vegas." It's billed as a live male strip revue based on the movie "Magic Mike" and a sequel, "Magic Mike XXL."


Tatum starred as the title character in the films and is a former stripper himself, but he says he won't be taking the stage for the live show. Alison Faulk did choreography for the movies and will also choreograph the live act.


"Magic Mike Live Las Vegas" is scheduled to begin previews at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in March 2017.




At Tony Award Nominations, 'Hamilton' is a Safe Bet


NEW YORK (AP) — Expect another glorious day for "Hamilton" as Tony Award nominations are announced.


Lin-Manuel Miranda's hip-hop-flavored musical about the first U.S. treasury secretary is expected to earn a clutch of Tony nominations Tuesday.


Just how many is the big question.


"The Producers" and "Billy Elliot" share the record for the most Tony nominations, with 15 each. The megahit "Hamilton" could very well shatter the record in the 13 categories that a new musical is eligible.


"Hamilton" has burst through the Broadway bubble like few shows. Bloomingdale's now sells "Hamilton" merchandise, U.S. presidential candidates have tweeted about it, it's entered the debate over the nation's currency and the show has been referenced on "Saturday Night Live" and "Inside Amy Schumer."




Elephants Give Final Ringling Bros. Performance


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Latest on elephants performing for the last time at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (all times local):


9:15 p.m.

Elephants have delivered their final performance for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.




Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson closed Sunday's performance in Providence, Rhode Island, by calling the animals beloved members of the circus family and thanking them for more than 100 years of service.


He called them American icons and thanked them for so many years of joy.


Animal-rights activists have been calling for an end to elephant performances for years. The Humane Society says more than a dozen other circuses continue with elephant acts, but none tour as widely or are as well-known as Ringling Bros.



7:00 p.m.


An elephant carrying a performer holding an American flag has kicked off the fin



Sunday's performance in Providence, Rhode Island, closes the circus' chapter on a practice that has entertained audiences since circuses began in the U.S. two centuries ago but that has in recent years been challenged by animal rights activists.


Sunday's show continued with six Asian elephants parading around the ring, each holding the tail of the one in front of her. The animals will retire to Ringling's 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida.


The Humane Society says more than a dozen other circuses continue with elephant acts, but none tour as widely or are as well-known as Ringling Bros.



12 p.m.


Elephants will perform for the last time at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus on Sunday.


The move closes the circus' chapter on a controversial practice that has entertained audiences since circuses began in America two centuries ago.


Six Asian elephants will deliver their final performances in Providence, Rhode Island, and five will perform in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, during several shows on Sunday.


The last Providence show will stream live on Facebook and at Ringling.com at 7:45 p.m.


The Humane Society says more than a dozen other circuses continue with elephant acts, but none tour as widely or are as well-known as Ringling Bros.


The animals will retire to Ringling's 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida.





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