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'Downton Abbey' beats Rambo, ruling the weekend box office with $31 million debut

Jaap Buitendijk / © 2019 Focus Features, LLC(LOS ANGELES) -- Downton Abbey grabbed an estimated $31 million, propelling it to number one at the box office and giving Focus Films its biggest opening weekend ever. It surpassed the studio's previous champ, Insidious Chapter 3, which collected $22.7 million in 2015.

Overseas, the film, a continuation of the popular British series that aired on PBS from 2011-2016 and featuring original stars Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern and Maggie Smith, among others, took in an estimated $10 million.

Second place is still too close to call, with the Brad Pitt-led Ad Astra narrowly leading Rambo: Last Blood, which features Sylvester Stallone returning as the titular character. The former earned an estimated $19.2 million, while the latter opened with an estimated $19 million.

It: Chapter Two, in its third week of release, dropped to fourth place. Its totals stateside now stand at upwards of $179 million, making it the third-largest R-rated horror of all-time. Overseas, the film added an estimated $21.3 million, bringing its tally to over $205 million and more than $385 million worldwide.

Rounding out the top five was Hustlers, bringing in an estimated $17 million in its second week of release.

Here are the top 10 movies Friday through Sunday, with estimated domestic box office earnings:

1. Downton Abbey, $31 million
2. Ad Astra, $19.2 million
3. Rambo: Last Blood, $19 million
4. It: Chapter Two, $17.2 million
5. Hustlers, $17 million
6. The Lion King, $2.57 million
7. Good Boys, $2.5 million
8. Angel Has Fallen, $2.4 million
9. Overcomer, $1.5 million
10. Fast & Furious: Presents Hobbs & Shaw, $1.46 million

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

'Game of Thrones,' 'Fleabag,' 'Chernobyl' the big winners at hostless 71st Emmy Awards

The "Game of Thrones" cast and producers take the stage for a final bow; FOX(LOS ANGELES) -- "It's reassuring that a dirty, pervy, messed-up woman can make it to the Emmys!"

That's what Fleabag creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge said on the first of her three trips to the podium at Sunday night's 71st Emmy Awards.  The British actress and her Amazon show about a sexually voracious woman were the big winners in the comedy categories, taking home the trophies for Outstanding Comedy Series, Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and Writing and Directing for a comedy series.

Another surprise: Pose star Billy Porter won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, beating out the likes of This Is Us stars Milo Ventimiglia and Sterling K. Brown, Better Call Saul's Bob Odenkirk, Game of Thrones' Kit Harington and Ozark's Jason Bateman.  Porter is now the first openly gay black man ever to win in that category.

"The category is LOVE, ya'll!" shouted the always stylish Porter after taking the stage, and sporting a giant cowboy hat and sequined black and silver suit. "I am so overwhelmed and I am so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day,” he declared, and exhorted the room full of creatives, "Please don’t ever stop telling the truth!”

Porter is now an Oscar away from an EGOT, having already won an Grammy and a Tony.

More surprises came when -- despite five combined nods in the Outstanding Lead and Supporting Actress categories for Game of Thrones' female stars -- it was Jodie Comer of Killing Eve and Julia Garner of Ozark, respectively, who took home the gold. 

However, Peter Dinklage did win Outstanding Supporting Actor for his role in the HBO smash. It was his fourth win in that category, an Emmy record.  "I count myself so fortunate to be a member of a community that is nothing but all about tolerance and diversity. Because no other place could I be standing on a stage like this,” said the actor.

Game of Thrones, as expected, was also named Outstanding Drama Series. Out of its record-setting 32 nominations, it won 12, helping HBO top all networks with a total of 34 Emmys overall.

In the Outstanding Limited Series cateory, Ava DuVernay's When They See Us went in as the favorite, but HBO's Chernobyl was the big winner However, When They See Us star Jharrel Jerome was named Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series, and earned a standing ovation as he shouted out the names of the "Exonerated Five": the men who were wrongly convicted in the notorious Central Park Jogger case.

Other notable speeches:

-- Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy winner Alex Borstein, who plays Susie in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, dedicated her win to her mother and grandmother.

"They are immigrants, they are Holocaust survivors,” said Borstein. "My grandmother was in line to be shot into a pit. She said, ‘What happens if I step out of line?’ [The guard] said, ‘I don’t have the heart to shoot you, but somebody will,’ and she stepped out of line. For that, I am here and my children are here. So step out of line, ladies. Step out of line!”

-- After winning Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series for Fosse/Verdon, Michelle Williams used her speech to call for pay equity. "Thank you so much to FX and Fox 21 studios for supporting me and paying me equally, because they understood that when you put value into a person, it empowers that person to get in touch with their own inherent value. Where do they put that value? They put it into their work,” she said.

“The next time a woman -- and especially a woman of color, because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterparts -- tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her, believe her," Williams added. "Because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing her to succeed because of her workplace environment and not in spite of it.”

-- After winning Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series for The Act, Patricia Arquette said, "I just have to say I'm grateful to be working. I'm grateful at 50 to be getting the best parts of my life...but in my heart, I’m so sad I lost my sister, Alexis, and that trans people are still being persecuted.”

Alexis, an actor and transgender activist, transitioned in the early 2000s. She died in 2016 of cardiac arrest while battling HIV. 

Patricia continued, "I'm in mourning, Alexis, and I will be the rest of my life for you until we change the world, until trans people are not persecuted. And give them jobs! They're human beings, let's give them jobs. Let’s get rid of this bias that we have everywhere.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. 

Fox's hostless Emmys end on time, but show's creative choices fall flat

Homer Simpson opens the Emmy Awards; FOX(LOS ANGELES) -- Not having a host worked for the Oscars earlier this year, but Fox's attempt at a host-less Emmys telecast wasn't nearly as successful.

While the Sunday night show did end on time, many comedy bits fell flat.  Some presenters, like Maya Rudolph or Amy Poehler, were able to pull off funny intros and bits, while others stumbled. 

Among the failures: a intro featuring Homer Simpson being crushed by a piano, leaving a frantic Anthony Anderson to "save" the Emmys by sending Bryan Cranston out in Homer's place; and a musical number featuring a lip-syncing Adam Devine singing about variety shows while dancing with the Masked Singer contestants.

Ben Stiller and Bob Newhart, on the other hand, got laughs when Stiller placed Newhart in a row of life-sized wax figures of comedy legends Lucille Ball and George Burns, seemingly unaware that Newhart isn't dead.  "This legend is gonna kick your a**,” said Newhart. "That way you’ll know I’m alive.”

The show's decision to bid a fond farewell to shows that ended this year was also somewhat random.  While the entire casts of Game of Thrones and Veep came out onstage to present awards, and were honored with lengthy montages, a montage of other shows that ended -- Gotham, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Jane the Virgin, Broad City and The Big Bang Theory -- felt like an afterthought.

The show's decision to have comic actor and writer Thomas Lennon deliver either nonsensical or fake facts after each win, and make snarky comments going into commercials, was another misstep.  After one bad joke while heading into a commercial, Lennon actually said, "This is why no one wants to do this: It sucks."

The most eyebrow-raising thing Lennon did, though, was take a cheap shot at Emmy-winner Felicity Huffman, who was recently sentenced to 14 days in prison for her involvement in the Varsity Blues college admission scandal.

"The producers have asked me to give a special shout-out to any of our previous lead actress winners who are watching tonight from prison,” said Lennon, prior to an earlier commercial break.  "Hopefully those two weeks are gonna fly right by. Keep your chin up.”

Also of note: The show dispensed with having an orchestra playing TV show themes as presenters and winners took the stage.  Instead, well-known soul, pop and rock hits -- everything from Miley Cyrus to David Bowie -- were played, but at times, the songs chosen seemed random and jarring.  One notable example: The producers of the somber drama Chernobyl took the stage to accept Outstanding Limited Series while Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" blared.

Speaking of music, for the In Memoriam segment, Halsey sang Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Primetime Emmys 2019 -- The winners

"Fleabag" star and creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge; FOX(LOS ANGELES) -- Here's the complete list of winners from the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, presented Sunday night at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles:

Outstanding Comedy Series
Fleabag (Amazon)

Outstanding Drama Series
Game of Thrones (HBO)

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)

Writing for a Comedy Series
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag (Amazon)

Director for a Comedy Series
Harry Bradbeer, Fleabag (Amazon)

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Bill Hader, Barry (HBO)

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag (Amazon)

Outstanding Reality Competition Series
RuPaul's Drag Race (VH1)

Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Patricia Arquette, The Act (Hulu)

Directing for a Limited Series
Johan Renck, Chernobyl (HBO)

Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Ben Whishaw, A Very English Scandal (Amazon)

Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Drama
Craig Mazin, Chernobyl (HBO)

Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Jharrel Jerome, When They See Us (Netflix)

Outstanding Television Movie
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (Netflix)

Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Michelle Williams, Fosse/Verdon (FX)

Outstanding Limited Series
Chernobyl (HBO)

Writing for a Variety Series
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Director for a Variety Series
Don Roy King, Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Outstanding Variety Talk Series
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones (HBO)

Writing for a Drama Series
Jesse Armstrong, Succession (HBO)

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Julia Garner, Ozark (Netflix)

Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Billy Porter, Pose (FX)

Directing for Drama Series
Jason Bateman, Ozark (Netflix)

Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Jodie ComerKilling Eve (BBC)

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. 

Ahead of the Emmys on Sunday, 'Pose' stars explain why ground-breaking series "cannot be measured by an award"

Indya Moore - Eric Liebowitz/FX(LOS ANGELES) -- Ahead of the 71st Emmy Awards on Sunday night, Pose stars Dominique Jackson and Indya Moore are sharing their thoughts on what winning the Emmy for Outstanding Drama series would mean to them.

When the series was first announced in 2017, it made history by casting five transgender actors in series regular roles. It also also had the largest LGBTQ presence on a prime time series.

"At this point in time, in our existence, if Pose were to receive an Emmy, that would be global validation," Jackson, who plays Elektra, says. "Even if it's just in the U.S."

However, in deeper thought, Dominique says a win would actually be more than just validation.

"You're saying to people that we recognize this story. We recognize and we acknowledge and we uplift," she says. "Because... we don't need validation."

She continues, "We need you to see that we're here, we need you to see that our stories are truth. And we're going to need you to get off those stories and start helping to be able to live in spaces where we don't have to fear for our lives."

Her co-star Indya Moore, who plays Angel, agrees and adds that Pose's significance goes beyond the idea of winning an award.

"Just to imagine how Pose influenced the way that people raise their children...or changing the ways they love their kids," they say. "And that literally changes the future of your child's life. The way that you love them, the way you make space for them. And to know something like Pose influences people and their hearts and their family dynamics this way. I mean it's just something that cannot be measured by an award." 

The 71st Emmy Awards will air this Sunday night on FOX.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Will the Emmys crown 'Game of Thrones' this Sunday night?

Helen Sloan/HBO(LOS ANGELES) -- The 71st Emmy Awards will air this Sunday night on FOX, live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Despite its controversial final season, HBO's Game of Thrones still leads all nominees with a record 32 nods, including Outstanding Drama Series.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon's award-winning comedy series, is a distant second with 20 nominations, followed by HBO's Chernobyl with 19. 

Saturday Night Live scored 18 nominations, one more than former cast member Bill Hader's Barry, which earned 17, including an Outstanding Comedy Actor nod for Hader himself. 

While there's no host this year, there will obviously be no shortage of star power at the podium. Anthony Anderson, Bill Hader, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Ben Stiller have been tapped to present, as have Cedric the Entertainer, Max Greenfield, Gwyneth Paltrow, RuPaul, Lilly Singh, Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and the cast of Keeping Up with the Kardashians

Here is the list of nominees in the major categories. The full list can be found here.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson - Black-ish
Don Cheadle - Black Monday
Ted Danson - The Good Place
Michael Douglas - The Kominsky Method
Bill Hader - Barry
Eugene Levy - Schitt’s Creek

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Christina Applegate - Dead to Me
Rachel Brosnahan - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep
Natasha Lyonne - Russian Doll
Catherine O’Hara - Schitt’s Creek
Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Emilia Clarke - Game of Thrones
Jodie Comer - Killing Eve
Viola Davis - How to Get Away with Murder
Laura Linney - Ozark
Mandy Moore -  This Is Us
Sandra Oh - Killing Eve
Robin Wright - House of Cards

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Jason Bateman - Ozark
Sterling K. Brown - This Is Us
Kit Harington - Game of Thrones
Bob Odenkirk - Better Call Saul
Billy Porter - Pose
Milo Ventimiglia - This Is Us

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series
Amy Adams - Sharp Objects
Patricia Arquette - Escape at Dannemora
Connie Britton - Dirty John
Aunjanue Ellis - When They See Us
Joey King - The Act
Niecy Nash - When They See Us
Michelle Williams - Fosse/Verdon 

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series
Mahershala Ali - True Detective
Benicio del Toro - Escape at Dannemora
Hugh Grant - A Very English Scandal
Jared Harris - Chernobyl
Jharrel Jerome - When They See Us
Sam Rockwell - Fosse/Verdon

Outstanding Drama Series
Better Call Saul
Game of Thrones
Killing Eve
This Is Us

Outstanding Comedy Series
The Good Place
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Russian Doll
Schitt’s Creek

Outstanding Limited Series
Escape at Dannemora
Sharp Objects
When They See Us

Outstanding TV Movie
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Deadwood: The Movie
King Lear
My Dinner with Hervé

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

As 'Fosse/Verdon' heads to the Emmys, co-star Jake Lacy looks back: "That's as good as it gets"

Michael Parmalee/FX(NEW YORK) -- The 71st Emmy Awards will air this Sunday night on Fox, and in the running in multiple categories is FX's limited series Fosse/Verdon, starring Oscar winner Sam Rockwell and Oscar nominee Michelle Williams.

The series portrayed the tumultuous personal and professional relationship between legendary choreographer Bob Fosse and performer Gwen Verdon. Both Rockwell and Williams are nominated for playing the lead roles, and the show is nominated for an Outstanding Limited Series Emmy.

The Office alum Jake Lacy appears in Fosse/Verdon as Verdon's boyfriend Ron.

"Man: the best!" Lacy said, summing up the experience for ABC Radio. "Sam -- and Michelle as well. Just...warm and welcoming and talented for days and cool and chill and collaborative."

He explained he came in halfway through the shoot, and credited the cast and crew with helping him "catch on and hang on" to the "moving train."

"It's just made all that easier when you have leads, and producers, and writers, and collaborators who are thoughtful...they're just the coolest, man."

Thanks to the nature of the relationship of Fosse and Verdon, Lacy got into some intense situations with Rockwell onscreen, but offscreen, Lacy says, he and Rockwell bonded.

"[There's] this thing that's like, 'Don't meet your heroes.' And then, in the off chance that you...meet your hero and he's actually the coolest guy -- it like doesn't get much better than that."

"To just be like -- they call 'cut' and [we're] watching dumb YouTube videos, and Sam is trying to lasso a folding chair -- it's just the greatest, man...that's as good as it gets."  

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Seacrest in! 'American Idol' host to return for show's new season

ABC/Craig Sjodin(LOS ANGELES) -- We already knew that American Idol's new season on ABC would feature returning judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, but host Ryan Seacrest was still a question mark. Now, that question has been answered...in the affirmative.

Seacrest will return as host when the new season of the show starts on ABC next year.  He's been hosting the show since it first started in 2002.  In a statement, he says, "American Idol has been my home for 17 seasons and I can’t wait to return to the stage."

He adds, "It’s the greatest gift to be able to play a part in discovering new talent with a franchise that has been such a relevant part of American culture for so many years.”

Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, says of Seacrest, "The energy and enthusiasm he brings to the show after 17 seasons are remarkable." 

American Idol executive producer Trish Kinane adds, "His passion for the show is evident, and we couldn’t imagine searching for the next generation of superstars without him.”

The American Idol nationwide audition tour wraps up this Saturday in Chicago, IL.  You can also submit audition videos online or via social media using the hashtag #TheNextIdol.  Visit americanidol.com/auditions for more details.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

"One just has to get on with it": The Queen, and the world, have changed in teaser for 'The Crown' Season 3

Netflix(LOS ANGELES) -- The tantalizing teaser for the third season of The Crown shows Oscar-winner Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II, approving an official photo of herself -- and apparently, she's not pleased at how much she's changed since her previous one.

As Colman refers to herself as an "old bat," an underling tries to make her feel better by calling her "a settled sovereign."

"A great many changes," she sniffs, scanning the "before and after" photos. "Nothing one can do about it -- one just has to get on with it."

Season three sees the Queen's kingdom rapidly changing as well: from the Cold War through the Space Age, and into the challenges of the '60s and '70s.

As Colman replaces Claire Foy as Elizabeth, Helena Bonham Carter now plays Princess Margaret, replacing Vanessa Kirby in the role.

This season also stars Tobias Menzies as Prince Phillip, Erin Doherty as Princess Anne; Josh O'Connor as Prince Charles; Ben Daniels as Lord Snowdon; Jason Watkins as Prime Minister Harold Wilson and Charles Dance as Lord Mountbatten.

Emma Corrin has been cast as Princess Diana, but she won't be introduced until season four.

The Crown Season 3 launches globally on Sunday, November 17 on Netflix.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

'The West Wing' turns 20

iStock/izanoza(LOS ANGELES) -- Twenty years ago Sunday, America witnessed the start of the Bartlet administration as The West Wing debuted on NBC September 22, 1999.

Created by Aaron Sorkin and written almost exclusively by him for the first four of the show's seven seasons, The West Wing followed the two-term presidency of the fictional Democratic President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, and the lives and duties of the staffers who served with him in the White House.

The ensemble drama also starred John Spencer and Chief of Staff Leo McGarry; Bradley Whitford as McGarry's deputy, Josh Lyman; Allison Janney as press secretary C.J. Cregg; Richard Schiff as Communications Director Toby Ziegler and Rob Lowe as his deputy, Sam Seaborn; Dulé Hill as presidential aide Charlie Young; Janel Moloney as Donna Moss, Josh Lyman's assistant; and Stockard Channing as first lady Dr. Abby Bartlet.

Debuting during the final year of the Clinton administration and with the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal still in full swing, The West Wing arguably presented an idealized view of a liberal, Democratic White House, with Bartlet depicted as a highly-educated, Bible-quoting devout Catholic, loyal husband and loving father. 

Ensuing seasons showed the West Wing staff dealing with real-world political hot-button issues, from government shutdowns over budget deadlocks, to terrorism, separation of church and state, campaign finance and even an assassination attempt on Bartlet's life.  It also demonstrated the toll public service exacted on the personal lives of its characters, with everything secondary to their service.

The final two seasons of The West Wing dealt with the impending end of the Bartlet administration and the election of a new president, with Jimmy Smits playing congressman and eventual Democratic nominee Matt Santos, and Leo McGarry stepping up as his vice-presidential running mate. 

During the seventh season, however, actor John Spencer died of a heart attack, echoing a heart attack his character had during a prior season.  Spencer's death was written into the show.  Alan Alda played against type as Santos' Republican opponent, Senator Arnold Vinick, who ultimately lost the race to Santos -- only to have Santos offer him secretary of state in a final moment of wishful bipartisanship lacking in real-world politics.

Despite frequent criticism from conservatives, who felt the show demonized them, and even some drubbing from liberals for what some said was its unapologetic left-wing bias and sometimes over-the-top idealism, The West Wing was widely hailed by real-life politicos for its realism, and for its showcasing of public service as a noble calling. 

The West Wing was a commercial and critical hit.  It won nine Emmy Awards its first season alone, the most ever won by a show in its inaugural outing.  By the time the final episode aired May 14, 2006, The West Wing had won 26 Emmys and two Peabody Awards. 

In the years since, The West Wing continues to earn critical praise and find new fans on streaming platforms, and is often cited as one of the greatest TV shows ever made.  Richard Schiff, who played Toby Ziegler, feels that's a telling reflection of the times.

"It's increasing in its intensity, especially because of the current state of our nation," Schiff tells ABC Radio.  "It's a refuge for people to go and remember what the country was supposed to be."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

'Big Bang' co-stars Mayim Bialik and Jim Parsons back together for 'Carla'

Michael Yarish/CBS ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved(LOS ANGELES) -- That didn't take long! The Big Bang Theory's Mayim Bialik is reuniting with her former onscreen love interest Jim Parsons, barely four months after their sitcom's finale.

The two will co-executive produce the new Fox comedy Carla, in which Bialik is also attached to star, according to Variety.

Bialik will play the titular character, "a 39-year-old woman who struggles every day against society and her mother to prove that you cannot have everything you want and still be happy," according to the industry trade. She attempts to prove that by spending "the money her parents set aside for her wedding to open a Cat Café in Louisville, Kentucky."

Carla is slated to launch in 2020

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

'Rambo: Last Blood,' 'Downton Abbey,' 'Ad Astra' hit theaters this weekend

Sylvester Stallone in "Rambo: Last Blood"; Yana Blajeva/Lionsgate(NEW YORK) -- Opening nationwide on Friday:

* Rambo: Last Blood -- The fifth and final chapter of the 37-year-old Rambo franchise, once again starring Sylvester Stallone as the title character, finds a still-troubled Rambo coming out of retirement to cross the Mexican border and face one of the country's most violent drug cartels, to save the daughter of a friend. Also starring Paz Vega.  Rated R.

* Downton Abbey -- The Crawleys and their intrepid staff are back in this continuation of the popular British series that aired on PBS from 2011-2016. The film sees the Crawleys preparing for "the most important moment of their lives: a royal visit from the King and Queen of England which will "unleash scandal, romance and intrigue that will leave the future of Downton hanging in the balance," according to the movie's official description. The original principal cast, including Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith, Laura Carmichael and Allen Leech returns, along with new cast members Imelda Staunton, Geraldine James, Simon Jones, David Haig, Tuppence Middleton, Kate Phillips, and Stephen Campbell Moore. Rated PG.

* Ad Astra -- This space adventure stars Brad Pitt as an astronaut whose dad, played by Tommy Lee Jones, vanishes during a mission.  Decades later, Pitt follows in his father's footsteps, and learns that not only is his father still alive, but that his survival has world-changing implications.  Also starring Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler and Donald Sutherland. Rated PG-13.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. 

Oh. My. Gawd: 'Friends turns 25' this Sunday. Could we be any more nostalgic?

NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- On September 22, 1994, NBC aired the pilot episode of a sitcom about six twentysomethings living in New York City -- which makes this Sunday the 25th anniversary of Friends. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer, Friends aired on NBC from 1994-2004.

While the series had the early benefit of following Seinfeld, the anchor of NBC's legendary "Must-See TV" line-up, it soon attracted a rabid fanbase of its own. It inspired a hairstyle -- Aniston's "The Rachel" -- and spun off a hit single: The Rembrandts' "I'll Be There For You." It also made its stars the highest-paid cast on TV at the time, each earning a million bucks an episode.

The series was nominated for 62 Emmy Awards; in 2002, it was named Outstanding Comedy Series. Aniston and Kudrow snagged an Emmy each during the show's run.  The series finale on May 6, 2004 was watched by 52.5 million viewers: The fifth most-watched series finale in television history. 

These days, a whole new generation loves Friends, thanks to its streaming run on Netflix.  Maggie Wheeler, who played Chandler's nasal-voiced girlfriend Janice, tells ABC Radio she loves that younger viewers are tuning in.

"There's this young generation that lives with phones in their hands, that communicates with their friends by text...and here they have...this show...and there are no phones and nobody is looking down and everybody's talking to each other," she notes."And I just think how exciting that they get to see what that looked like."
James Michael Tyler, who played Central Perk barista Gunther, adds, "I think it's a testament just to the great writing and the great acting...It's kind of timeless. The wardrobes' dated, the hairstyles are dated, but the storylines aren't." 

In honor of the show's 25th anniversary, Cox, Kudrow, Schwimmer and Le Blanc each posted messages on their respective Instagram accounts, along with the same cast photo and the opening: “Celebrating a Thursday night 25 years ago,” before adding their own personal message.

“Thank you to all of our loyal fans across the world. You’ve certainly been there for us! I love these guys!” wrote Cox.

Kudrow noted that she and her cast members “might be in different places but we are connected.”

Schwimmer shared, “Celebrating a Thursday night 25 years ago… THANK YOU to all the fans out there!! We couldn’t have done it without you.”

And finally, Le Blanc added, “Seems like yesterday. Thanks to all the fans for watching.”

Aniston and Perry aren't on Instagram and so didn't participate in the tribute.

Here's each cast member's favorite episode, courtesy of People:

Matt LeBlanc (Joey) -- "The One with the Embryos"
Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe) -- "The One Hundredth"
Matthew Perry (Chandler) -- "The One with the Blackout"
Jennifer Aniston (Rachel) -- "The One Where Rachel Has a Baby (Parts I and II)"
David Schwimmer (Ross) -- "The One with the Prom Video"
Courteney Cox (Monica) -- "The One with the Embryos"

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. 

Tyler Perry writes open letter to his five-year-old self: "I love you. We made it."

/Ida Mae Astute(ATLANTA) -- After recently celebrating his 50th birthday, Tyler Perry has been taking the time to reflect, not only on his life, but on who he was as a boy.

In an Instagram post on Thursday, Perry wrote a open letter to his five-year-old self, where he thanks him for laying the foundation for who he is today.

"Dear 5 year old me," Perry begins. "May I just say, 'Thank you' to the little boy that I was. Thank you for all you went through to allow me to be the man I am today. I love you, and I am so thankful to God that you survived."

He continued, "Even when I didn’t want to, your pureness and innocence ushered me here. Thank you for these 50 years. I love you. We made it."

Perry then poses the question to others: "What would you say to your younger self?"

"This is just one paragraph of many pages that I've written to my younger self over the years," he reveals. "I often tell friends to write a letter to their younger self. I promise you, it will change your life."

Perry says the process of writing to your younger self "can be so healing."

Meanwhile, as Perry celebrates what he calls "a very young 50," the director-producer and studio owner is also celebrating the launch of BET's new streaming service, BET , which will house many of his new projects.

"Well this is finally a dream come true," he wrote on Instagram, sharing a hilarious promo in which he explains BET to his Madea character.

"I’ve partnered with @BET to launch @BETplus. It’s easy to operate just like Netflix," he added. "And we have tons of content. I’m working on new shows and movies for it right now. Get @BETplus. You’re gonna love it!"

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Check out the trailer for Michael B. Jordan's superhero series 'Raising Dion'

Netflix(LOS ANGELES) -- Netflix has unveiled the first trailer for its Michael B. Jordan co-produced superhero drama Raising Dion.

Based on Dennis Liu's short film and comic book of the same name, the series follows a recently widowed mother who discovers her young son, Dion, has supernatural abilities.

Jordan produced the project through his Outlier Society production company, and also appears as Dion's dead father via video flashbacks left for his "special little man."

Newcomer Ja’Siah Young plays the boy, who has a curious control of the weather, and an ability to teleport.  His abilities make him the target of government agents who want to study supers like him.

Alisha Wainwright plays his mom, who will do anything to save her super-powered son. In the clip, she's seen tangling with some kind of weather monster.

Raising Dion also stars Jason Ritter and Jazmyn Simon.

The series, consisting of nine one-hour episodes, will launch on October 4 on Netflix.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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