Carrie Fisher Won’t Be In ‘Star Wars: Episode IX

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There is something about using actors posthumously in movies they never shot that just doesn’t sit right.

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy dropped a bombshell on Star Wars fans Friday when she announced Carrie Fisher would not appear in Episode IX.

Todd Fisher, the brother of the late actress, previously suggested his sister’s image would used in the 2019 Star Wars installment, but Kennedy said he was “confused.” It’s a no-go.

There is something about using actors posthumously through CGI that just doesn’t sit right with me.

I know this is not a new debate. The issue was brought up when Rogue One was released, and viewers discovered Peter Cushing had been brought back to life onscreen in his role as Grand Moff Tarkin using visual effects.

It was scary how good the character looked. Too scary. And I think that is the issue.

There is just something about it that seems disrespectful to me. Now, I know the Cushing estate gave Disney its permission and blessing to move forward, but it felt off. And because it felt off, it took me out of the movie when he was onscreen.

Even if recent, never-used footage of Fisher were cobbled together for Episode IX — as Todd Fisher seemed to be suggesting was the case — there’s still no way that could do the character, or the actress, justice. Kennedy and director Rian Johnson have been praising Carrie Fisher’s performance in The Last Jedi, and it seems only fitting that this movie should stand as her final appearance as the character.

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Chelsea Handler’s Netflix Talk Show Moves To Weekly Format

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Chelsea Handler’s Netflix talk show is undergoing a revamp for season two.

Chelsea, which formerly aired three nights a week on the streaming giant, will now air once a week on Fridays at 12:01 a.m., starting April 14.

The new episodes will each run an hour long, an increase from season-one episodes, which ran between 20 and 40 minutes. Season two will feature more in-depth interviews, bigger field pieces and dinner parties. The format change will also see Handler venture outside the studio more, with travel planned to India, Europe, Montana and Washington, D.C., among other locations.

Season two will stream for 30 weeks, meaning 30 hours of content has been produced for Chelsea — a fall from the original 45 hours (90 half-hour episodes) Netflix ordered when the series was renewed in July.

Handler made the announcement Thursday on her Twitter account.

The changes follow a rough first season for Chelsea, the first show of its kind for Netflix. Despite big buzz for the former E! talk-show host, Handler’s show quietly launched last May to lackluster reviews. Showrunner Bill Wolff (The View) exited just three weeks in, with Handler announcing she would run the series alone.

Handler opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about the “rocky start” for Chelsea in July at the Democratic National Convention. “There were a couple weeks where I was like, ‘What the f-— am I doing?'” she said. “Then I made the adjustment and was up and running and got the train on the track. And now it’s great. It’s exactly what I wanted to do. I get to talk about all different topics. I get to interview people I’m interested in.”

The format change is reminiscent of the docuseries Handler produced for Netflix before her eponymous talk show launched. Titled Chelsea Does, the four-part series saw her tackling subjects such as drugs, racism and marriage in-depth.

Netflix has recently pushed further into the talk-show genre. Bill Nye is set to launch his own science-themed talk show, Bill Nye saves the World, on April 21. Other unscripted projects for the streamer include its first reality competition series, The Ultimate Beastmaster, which will be released worldwide on Feb. 24.

Handler joins a growing group of late-night hosts who have embraced a weekly format, among them Samantha Bee on TBS and John Oliver for HBO.

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Howard Stern: Sean Spicer Speaks ‘Fluent Moron’

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Sean Spicer isn’t getting much love from Howard Stern after claiming Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons while speaking during a recent press conference.

Stern said Wednesday on his Sirius XM radio show that Trump’s press secretary speaks “fluent moron” and is “embarrassing” the president.

Stern said Wednesday on his Sirius XM radio show that Trump’s press secretary speaks “fluent moron” and is “embarrassing” the president.

“When I heard [the Hitler comments], I was like, Trump’s got to fire this guy, I think,” Stern said.

The 63-year-old shock jock said Spicer managed to achieve a difficult goal: Make Syrian president Bashar Assad “look good” by comparison.

According to Stern, Spicer’s stupidity shifted the conversation from Assad’s atrocities against his own people to the question of how Spicer could “not know that Hitler marched his own people … to concentration camps and turned on chemical gas.”

“It was somewhat remarkable that a guy this high up in the administration wouldn’t know this,” Stern said. “The guy’s just not informed, and it’s kind of embarrassing ― it’s just embarrassing.”

Stern quickly added: “But it’s entertaining as hell.”

Later, Stern invited staffer Sal Governale on the mic, asking him how he’d compare to the current press secretary. “You speak fluent moron, and so does Sean Spicer,” Stern concluded.

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Grab Your Alien Receiving Antenna, Scientology Launches Tom TV!

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Scientology’s poster boy Tom Cruise and devout follower Kirstie Alley are gearing up to battle actress Leah Remini‘s trashing of their space-alien cult — with the church’s own cable TV channel! has learned Tom and Kirstie will lend their Hollywood clout and power to recruit followers by using the church’s new 24/7 cable station that kicks off this summer.

On March 18, Kirstie even tweeted she’ll soon have a new platform — and it wouldn’t be on current TV networks or cable channels.

“Lord people I’ve been a Scientologist for 39 years!” she wrote. “Soon you will hear from me. Definitely won’t be on network TV. They’ve never invited a REAL 1.”

Says an insider: “Tom and Kirstie have helped the church build a giant production studio complex in Hollywood and secure a channel with Charter Spectrum cable company.

“Kirstie is talking about her own program, and Tom is being singled out to host a variety-type show that will lure more members to the cult.

The channel is part of a plot to torpedo Leah’s cult-bashing A&E series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, and other films that expose the cult’s terrorizing tactics.

“Tom and Kirstie are being used to help Scientology get its revenge on ‘suppressed persons’ and other people considered to be enemies of the church,” notes the insider.

Scientology Media Productions took over the old KCET facilities in Hollywood and celebrated its grand opening in 2016.

The planned TV line-up includes What is Scientology, Drug Free World, Youth for Human Rights and The Hubbard ElectroMeter.

The company is also working on a show for Tom, who is best friends with church leader David Miscavige.

“Tom is obviously fired up about a new cable show, and don’t be surprised if you see some major couch-jumping like he did on Oprah’s show,” adds the insider.

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Bette Midler Charging For Seats At Own Broadway Show!

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Bette Midler may be the new queen of Broadway, but don’t expect a free ride!

The Divine Miss M is starring in a wildly popular revival of the musical “Hello, Dolly!”

But so many friends are clamoring for seats for the hot-ticket show that Bette’s begun charging them!

“Bette has six house seats to every show. They are reserved for her to buy.

If she doesn’t want them, then they are released 24 hours before her performance,” a show insider told Radar.

“Tons of friends have been begging her to get them tickets, but what they don’t realize is Bette has to pay $209 for each of her reserved seats, and she isn’t willing to eat the expense.

If you ask for tickets, you better be prepared to write a check — although cash is also accepted.”

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Monkees: Mike Nesmith Reveals All

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Michael Nesmith has done far more than just Monkee around. Famed as one-quarter of the legendary television/music/live performance project in the late 1960s, Nesmith shared highlights of his unusual life in a new memoir, Infinite Tuesday. In it, he talks of his high-flying days in the Monkees, personal and financial struggles following their dissolution, and the shocking mysterious illness that nearly left him paralyzed.

The Monkees were designed as television’s answer to the Beatles, and their instant success soon brought them into upper echelon of fame alongside the real Fab Four. Nesmith stuck up a friendship with John Lennon, staying at his house in the London suburb of Weybridge, and even attending sessions for the Beatles’ landmark 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

He also hung out other music legends, including Johnny Cash and Jimi Hendrix, but his real kinship was with a struggling actor by the name  of Jack Nicholson.

“I met Jack through Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, the producers of The Monkees,” he writes. “We became friends and steady companions right away. Jack was still bombing around the streets of LA in his yellow VW convertible looking for work as an actor-writer-director, and he was good company.”

The pair quickly became inseparable. “When Jack came on the scene of The Monkees’ TV production, he was not yet famous and was one of the few people I met who seemed self-aware and grounded. At the same time his demeanor and sense of humor was exceptional and like catnip for me. I thought he was the coolest guy, and since this was long before the term bromance entered the US lexicon, some people in my crowd of friends thought my fascination with him was beyond the pale.”

Nicholson would co-write the band’s 1968 feature film, Head, which inadvertently served as the band’s undoing. Produced amid a haze of drugs, the rambling non sequitur storyline alienated their teenybopper fanbase and infuriated critics. It was a massive commercial failure, and the Monkees disintegrated soon after.

“[After] the end of the TV show and the unsuccessful release of Head, I was left to fly on my own, and things of the most mundane type took horrifying turns,” he writes of this troubling time. “The IRS, which I had ignored for several years, showed up with a huge bill for unpaid taxes and started seizing property.” The government would ultimately leave him “essentially penniless.”

But it would get worse. Songs he recorded with his new group failed to sell, his decade-long marriage to college sweetheart Phyllis imploded, and he “ran off” with the wife of a close friend. He sunk what little money he had into constructing a country music studio for a record company, but the plans were ultimately yielded nothing.

“I found myself in free-fall,” he writes. “Every seem in the sack of my life started to split and all the contents started leaking out. My affair with my friend’s wife became even more horrible to me, but I didn’t know how to retreat….I had no opportunities as an actor, a player, a singer, a songwriter, or a producer.”

Nesmith spent most of the ’70s trying to piece together his post-Monkees life by following a series of gurus and experimenting with the psychedelic, LSD. “Once I took it I could see how different life looked,” he says of the experience. He tripped only a handful of times (“Enough to get a good feel for the drug.”) describing the sensation as “pleasant” but ultimately unfulfilling. “The message was, ‘You don’t need drugs to reach this space,’” he admits.

He would ultimately find renewed purpose by drawing on his Monkees past and filming an imaginative promotional video for his 1979 song, “Rio.” Intrigued by this new “music video” concept, he set about laying the groundwork for the network that would become MTV.

His mother, the inventor of Liquid Paper (a.k.a. White Out) left Nesmith a multi-million dollar inheritance upon her death in 1980, putting an end to any money worries. Still, the loss devastated him, and the sudden wealth left him confused. Nesmith described the windfall as “like a cross between a tsunami and a Category 5 hurricane” and recalls phone calls from friends offering an awkward mix of condolences and congratulations.

He would spend the next few decades exploring the nascent home video market, writing two novels, and producing films, including the sci-fi comedy Repo Man. But Nesmith endured more tragedy in 2007 when an unidentified illness left him unable to walk. “I was essentially helpless, a captive in my home,” he says. Visits to a variety of specialists were not helpful, in his eyes: “Each doctor I went to had diagnoses that were variations of the same story. While they did not think it was fatal in the near term, because they didn’t really know what it was, they thought it might be incurable.”

He began to embrace the Christian Science faith, which he had been exposed to since his youth and it appeared to succeed where modern medicine had failed. “I spent hours daily in painless study and prayer and contemplation. Slowly I saw some normalcy return, and as I got my movement back in my hand, I was able to get up and move around.”

While something a miracle, Nesmith takes a fairly level-headed approach to the recovery. “I felt confident it wasn’t supernatural in any sense, just natural good taking care of her own, replacing the beliefs of a mortal with the facts and forces of the supremely natural world.”

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‘Norman’ Review: Richard Gere’s Political Fixer – Career High

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The subtitle for this compulsively watchable film is The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer. It’s a mouthful. But Norman, written and directed by American-born Israeli Joseph Cedar (Footnote) in his first English-language film, is a spellbinder that features Richard Gere in one of his best performances ever.

The actor talks about experiencing first-hand what it feels like to be homeless for his new drama ‘Time Out of Mind’

The American Gigolo star alters his movie-star looks to play Norman Oppenheimer, a schlubby loser who’s termed a “generous Jew” by the people he helps. Roaming the streets of New York in the same cap and ratty camel-coat (he doesn’t seem to live anywhere), Norman offers to connect people. He lives to do them favors – but what’s he after? Cedar forcefully rejects the grasping, anti-Semitic stereotypes represented by Shakespeare’s Shylock and Dickens’ Fagin. The character is a liar, a manipulator and often a pain in the ass. He’s described as “a drowning man trying to wave at an ocean liner.” But his desire to belong is as genuine as his loneliness.

Norman sees his way in when he befriends Israeli politician Micha Eshel (the outstanding Lior Ashkenazi) by buying him an expensive pair of shoes while the dignitary is visiting New York. Three years later, Eshel is elected Prime Minister; waiting in a receiving line, the makeshift macher waits for a few heart-poundingly suspenseful minutes to see if the great man remembers him. When he does, Norman suddenly earns his place at the table. A whole cast of characters – an ambitious nephew (Michael Sheen), a rabbi (Steve Buscemi), a tycoon (Harris Yulin), his assistant (Dan Stevens) and an embassy official (Charlotte Gainsbourg) – are suddenly interested in connecting with the mover and shaker. And just in case you think Gere’s hustling rung-climber is the only “Norman” in the world, Cedar introduces Hank Azaria as another street-level fixer on the streets.

Then the movie blows it, courtesy of a clumsy plot twist involving a political scandal and an act of desperation that has no place in a movie this savvy, this close to the bone. The spell is broken. Gere, however, never makes a false move. Cedar has said that he cast the star because he wanted “to see the character with fresh eyes,” and Gere responds with a revelatory portrayal of inner anguish and Chaplinesque poignance. For the actor, Norman is a personal triumph.

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John Cleese To Star In BBC Comedy ‘Edith’

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John Cleese is set for a return to BBC sitcom for the first time since “Fawlty Towers,” it was revealed Tuesday. The “Monty Python” legend will co-star in new six-part comedy series “Edith” alongside Alison Steadman, which has been commissioned for BBC One.

Created and written by Charles McKeown, who was Oscar-nominated for 1985’s “Brazil” directed by Cleese’s fellow Python Terry Gilliam, “Edith” will also star Jason Watkins, Jessica Hynes, Anne Reid, Rosie Cavaliero, James Cosmo and Peter Egan. The show reteams Cleese and Steadman who played husband and wife in Christopher Morahan’s 1986 film “Clockwise.”

“If you had carte blanche on your fantasy BBC One comedy cast then you’d not be far off the “Edith” line-up,” said Shane Allen, controller of comedy commissioning at the BBC. “It’s also a huge pleasure to welcome John Cleese back to the land of BBC sitcom – his last one did alright.”

Cleese’s last BBC sitcom was “Fawlty Towers,” which he co-created with former partner Connie Booth. “Fawlty Towers” originally ran for just two seasons in 1975 and 1979 and has since become a comedy classic.

“These are the most enjoyable scripts I’ve been sent in the last 100 years,” Cleese said of “Edith.” “It will also be particularly nice to work with Alison again since we joined forces in “Clockwise” all that time ago.”

Steadman stars as the eponymous “Edith,” a widow who enjoys daily visits from an old boyfriend, Phil (Cleese), who now lives across the street. Just as Phil finally convinces Edith to marry him and move abroad to a sunnier climate her 50-year-old son (Watkins) announces he’s moving home having left his job and family, putting Edith and Phil’s dreams on hold.

A BBC Studios productions, “Edith” was commissioned by Allen and Charlotte Moore, director of BBC Content. Sandy Johnson will direct the six-part series, which is produced by Humphrey Barclay. Moira Williams and Chris Sussman will serve as executive producers.

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Sean Penn Confirms Steve Bannon Was A ‘Bitter Hollywood Wannabe’

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Steve Bannon doesn’t seem to be having a great week. Along with losing his spot on the National Security Council and feuding with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the White House chief strategist now has Sean Penn attacking him.

Penn worked with Bannon for the actor’s directorial debut, “The Indian Runner” in 1991. Bannon served as the executive producer and was still early in his career of bankrolling movies after leaving Goldman Sachs.

Toward the end of Bannon’s bad past few days, Death and Taxes was able to reach Penn for a comment about his time working with Bannon. Penn didn’t have nice things to say.

Bannon was then, as he is now, simply another bitter Hollywood wannabe who went rogue by way of toxic narcissistic iconoclasm. But, deep in his heart, he’s just a conniving hateful bloated punk who despises mankind. And then there are also the bad things about him…

“The Indian Runner” had a budget around $9 million, but made less than $200,000 at the box office, despite good reviews.

Despite this potential monetary hit, Bannon also partially financed “Seinfeld,” likely earning him millions on the investment. He also still seems to like a good Hollywood reference as shortly after Trump’s election, he told The Hollywood Reporter, “Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power.”

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Cher Is In A Spiral

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Cher is being pushed to the brink by the looming deaths of her beloved mother, Georgia Holt, and her ex-hubby, rocker Gregg Allman, and pals fear she’s on the verge of going to pieces.

“Cher probably wishes she could ‘turn back time’ now because the thought of losing both her mom and Gregg is breaking her heart,” a source confides to “She just wants to be there for them both in what could be the last days of their lives.

“She knows she has to be strong. She’s trying to hold it together.”

The double health crisis forced the 70-year-old Beat Goes On singer to cancel a cherished film project because Georgia, 90, and Gregg, 69 — who was diagnosed with hepatitis C and underwent liver transplant surgery seven years ago — have both tragically taken a turn for the worse.

“Georgia is living with Cher at her Malibu mansion,” notes the source. “She’s got the best care that money can buy, and she’s comfortable. Cher’s always been very close to her mom, so this is very difficult.”

Meanwhile Gregg, father of Cher’s son Elijah, 40, canceled all of his shows this year because of “serious health concerns.”

“Cher’s been told that he’s dying and doesn’t have long to go,” confesses the source. “They’ve had some rocky times, and he put her through hell during their marriage. But she’s forgiven him everything.”

As Radar reported previously, Cher and Elijah have feuded in the past, so the insider says Cher wants to be as supportive as possible for both men.

“It’s all water under the bridge. Now she’s got to be strong for their son, Elijah.”

Cher also still mourns the ski-accident death of first hubby Sonny Bono in 1998. Sonny masterminded their rise to stardom as pop duo Sonny & Cher before becoming a congressman and was the father of her other child, daughter Chastity, who underwent sex-swap treatments and now is a 48-year-old man named Chaz.

“She lost Sonny a few years back, and she and Chaz still grieve,” says the source. “Now she’s in fear of losing Gregg and her mom. All her loved ones are leaving her. It’s really sad.”

The family death spiral forced Cher to pull out of Flint, a Lifetime movie about the water poisoning crisis in Flint, Mich.

The movie starts shooting in April in Toronto, Canada. Cher was the star and a producer. The film will delve into the scandal and cover-up and was a passion project for her.

Her role as a Flint resident was written specifically for her, but “she didn’t want to be shooting a film while all this is going on,” says the source.

“She feels very strongly about the subject matter. So she hated having to let it go, but she’s needed here at home now. She wants to be there for her loved ones.”

Cher describes the film as a “project so near and dear to my heart … I was truly looking forward to helping tell this story.

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