Entertainment

Tom Hanks, Michael B. Jordan, Chris Pine and more hail the grads Sunday with YouTube's 'Dear Class of 2020'

iStock/sdominic(LOS ANGELES) -- The class of 2020 has seen their real-life graduation ceremonies canceled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but really, would dozens of stars have shown up to their event without it? 

That's the idea behind the YouTube Originals event Dear Class of 2020, an online, all-star commencement extravaganza now taking place Sunday, June 7 at 3 p.m. ET. The event, which will unite dozens of stars from the world of movies, music, and TV, was bumped a day out of respect of the memorial for George Floyd, which will happen Saturday.

Dear Class of 2020 will see this year's graduating class honored by the casts of The Simpsons and HBO's Euphoria, as well as by Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, Michael B. Jordan, Chris Pine, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Michael B Jordan, Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, Kerry Washington, and Jake Gyllenhaal, among many others. 

Katy Perry will also send her best wishes, as will Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. There also will be musical performances from Coldplay's Chris Martin, and Lizzo.

Musicians who will make appearances include Billie Eilish, Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift, Snoop Dogg, and Justin Timberlake.

By Stephen Iervolino and Andrea Dresdale
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Cate Blanchett avoids serious chainsaw accident, finds quarantine homeschooling more stressful

ABC/Fred Lee(LONDON) -- In Thor: Ragnarok, Oscar winner Cate Blanchett played a baddie so powerful that she smashed Thor's hammer with her bare hand. 

In real life, she's pretty tough, too: She's admitted that while in lockdown in England, she cut herself in the head with a chainsaw, and lived to laugh about it.

Page Six reports the Aussie star of Mrs. America joked about the mishap on a podcast with Julia Gillard, the former prime minister of Australia. 

"I had a bit of a chainsaw accident yesterday which sounds very, very exciting but it wasn't," the 51-year-old star laughed. "Apart from the little nick to my head, we're fine."

The former PM advised, "Be very careful with that chainsaw. You've got a very famous head. I don't think they will want to see any nicks taken out of it."

Blanchett laughed in response, "I know, I want to keep it on my shoulders!"

Potentially head-removing injuries aside, Blanchett says what she's really stressing about in lockdown is homeschooling her kids. 

She admits the 18-year-old son -- whom she took a year off to help while his school was closed -- "doesn't want really to have anything to do with me."  Plus, she says, instructing her five-year-old has given her "huge" respect for teachers, who Blanchett says should be paid "the same as lawyers and doctors." 

The actress says, "I hope out of this, that teachers’ wages will be increased and their respect will be amplified by COVID-19."

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


It takes a (COVID-19-free) village: Tom Cruise reportedly creating isolated base for 'Mission: Impossible 7'

Paramount Pictures(LONDON) -- Tom Cruise and Paramount are apparently sparing no expense to get the COVID-19-delayed Mission: Impossible 7 movie back on track -- including transforming an old British military base into an isolated community for cast and crew. 

The Sun reports the abandoned RAF site in Oxfordshire will shelter the movie's cast, who will reportedly be staying in VIP trailers and interacting only with each other so they can rehearse without fear of outside contamination from the virus. 

A source tells the publication, "The film has already been heavily delayed and there’s no sign of things going totally back to normal any time soon, so this is a way to try to get things up and moving again quickly and safely." 

Production had begun in February in Venice, Italy, until the virus began to take hold. A hasty retreat to Rome proved short-lived, and production was soon shuttered altogether. 

The move to the U.K. airbase has another advantage, according to the insider, who claims, "It's also tough to get hotel rooms at the moment as most of them are shut for the foreseeable future, so it was this or delay things for even longer. It will mean some of the world's biggest stars all living together in a posh campsite while working alongside the rest of the team."

Mission: Impossible 7 reunites Cruise's Ethan Hunt with returning players Vanessa Kirby, Ving Rhames, Angela Bassett, Simon Pegg and Henry Czerny, with series newcomers Esai Morales and Marvel movie alumna Hayley Atwell and Pom Klementieff.

The source adds, "It's pricey but Tom always does things bigger and better than anyone, and there's a hell of a lot riding on this film."

Mission: Impossible 7 production is expected to resume in September.

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


"The Force is strong with you": Mark Hamill surprises Jimmy Kimmel's latest Healthcare Hero

Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- It will be a day long remembered for San Diego nurse and Star Wars fan Chloé Ducos, who was hailed by Jimmy Kimmel -- and Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill -- on Thursday night's show. 

The late-night host announced Ducos as his latest #HealthCareHero, working on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19, administering tests for the disease. 

When getting to know Kimmel via video, Ducos admitted she's a massive Star Wars fan who's seen the movies more than ten times each. 

As she discussed her fandom, the Star Wars theme began to play, and Kimmel was replaced by a cloaked figure, who pulled his hood down to reveal Hamill. "Oh my God! Hi!" a shocked Ducos responded to Hamill, her eyes welling with tears of joy. 

"Chloé..." Hamill replied, "The Force is strong with you."

The actor thanked her for her service, and added, "I applaud you for having seen the Star Wars movies more than I have."

"I've been reading about all you've done, six years as a nurse, teaching at night, you're in the tents," Hamill said. "I mean, that's so great, I mean to me, I'm a pretend hero, you're the real life hero." 

Overwhelmed, Ducos said, "I'm having palpitations and I'm crying!"

Kimmel also told the healthcare worker that she'll be getting $10,000 from PayPal's PayPalItForward program, which will also provide vouchers to her co-workers.

For his part, Hamill also announced he'd autograph a lightsaber and send it to Ducos, advising her to use it wisely and not to take it with her to any protests.

"Star Wars fans are more than just fans, they're family," Hamill said, before leaving Ducos with, "May the Force be with you."

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Two former 'Glee' co-stars come forward to defend Lea Michele

ABC/Ron Tom(LOS ANGELES) -- Days after being dragged online for her treatment of co-stars on the set of Glee -- and her subsequent apology for her behavior at the time -- two of Lea Michele's former co-stars have come to her defense. 

Both Iqbal Theba, who played Principal Figgins on the Fox musical dramedy, and Dean Geyer, who played her on-screen boyfriend, Brody, on the show, are speaking out in support of her. 

In a tweet, Theba noted, "Lot of people r assuming that @LeaMichele mistreated me. Let me state it clearly that I was never mistreated by her. And if some of the cast were treated badly then she has apologized for it which is wonderful."

The 56-year-old actor added, "But being called a racist is too heavy & unfair a burden 4 most ... of us, specially in these troubled times. So, please be compassionate, careful & responsible before we accuse anyone of this horrible thing called racism. I love each & everyone of my fellow cast members from our great show @OfficialGLEEtv."

For his part, Geyer told the Daily Mail, "Lea is still one of my favorite costars that I have had the pleasure of working with," calling her, "extremely hard working and super fun to be around."

Their feelings certainly differs from those expressed by fellow Glee alum Samantha Marie Ware, who made racial allegations against Michele, accusing her of making her "first television gig...a living hell."

Heather Morris also dinged Michele on social media, tweeting in part, "Was she unpleasant to work with?  Very much so; for Lea to treat others with the disrespect that she did for as long as she did, I believe she SHOULD be called out."

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Oprah Winfrey announces 'OWN Spotlight: Where Do We Go from Here?' 2-night special amid civil unrest

Photo by Tom Cooper/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Oprah Winfrey, along with the Oprah Winfrey Network, will host a global 2-night special OWN Spotlight: Where Do We Go From Here? in response to the country's current state of civil unrest following the death of Geroge Floyd. 

The special hopes to shed some light and "offer insight" through discussions on how the country can move forward. Winfrey and some of her A-list colleagues will provide "tangible plans" to answer questions like "What matters now?" and "What matters next?"

In a statement, Winfrey explained how the idea for the special came about saying, "I’ve been having private conversations with friends and thought leaders about what’s next and where we go from here. I thought it would be both of interest and service to bring their ideas, concerns and comments into a national spotlight."

Joining the longtime talk show host for the powerful conversations including politician Stacey Abrams, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Award-winning director Ava DuVernay, and NAACP national board member Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. 

Part 1 of the OWN Spotlight: Where Do We Go From Here? special will air on Tuesday, June 9 with Part 2 following on Wednesday, June 10. It will air on the Oprah Winfrey Network, all of Discovery's channels, as well as online via OWN’s YoutubeFacebook and Instagram pages. 

By Danielle Long
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


With criminal justice donations, Leonardo DiCaprio shares commitment to “listen, learn and take action”

ABC/Eric McCandless(LOS ANGELES) -- Leonardo DiCaprio took to his official Instagram page on Thursday night to announce that he would make donations to four organizations committed to criminal justice reform following the death of George Floyd while in custody.

“I commit to listen, learn and take action,” read a graphic in white lettering over a black box.

Next to it, DiCaprio wrote, “I am dedicated to end the disenfranchisement of Black America, that has been present for too long.”

“I will support those individuals, organizations and coalitions that are committed to bring about long-term change,” he added.

The 45-year-old actor then announced he would be making donations to the following organizations: Color of Change, Fair Fight Action, the NAACP and Equal Justice Initiative.

He closed by urging people to join him in “following and learning from the organizations.”

By George Costantino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Angelina Jolie donates $200K to NAACP Legal Defense Fund to correct “deep structural wrongs”

Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Angelina Jolie has donated $200,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to help correct what she calls, “deep structural wrongs,” following the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others.

“Rights don’t belong to anyone group to give to another.  Discrimination and impunity cannot be tolerated, explained away or justified," the actress-director who turned 45 on Thursday said in a statement obtained by Entertainment Tonight Canada.

“I hope we can come together as Americans to address the deep structural wrongs in our society.  I stand with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in their fight for racial equality, social justice, and their call for urgent legislative reform,” added Jolie.

A source tells ET that on her 45th birthday, Jolie’s thoughts "have been with the families of Floyd, Taylor and Arbery, and those who are struggling amid these tough times."

Angelina has spent two decades defending the rights of refugees and other people displaced by conflict and persecution worldwide, while serving as Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Jolie spent her birthday quarantining with her six kids: Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh, Knox and Viviennea, adds the insider.

By George Costantino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Gabrielle Union files discrimination complaint against NBC and 'America's Got Talent'

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- On Thursday, Gabrielle Union filed a harassment lawsuit against NBC and the production behind America's Got Talent.

A statement from the actress' attorney, Bryan Freedman, explained why she is suing the Comcast-owned network, along with Freemantle Productions, Simon Cowell and his entertainment company Syco. 

The statement begins, "When Gabrielle Union informed NBC of racially offensive conduct during the taping of America’s Got Talent, NBC did not 'stand' with her in 'outrage at acts of racism.' Instead, NBC did not care enough to either promptly investigate Ms. Union’s complaints or even ask HR to get involved."

"Rather, NBC stood against her and directed its 'outrage' at Ms. Union for whistleblowing about the racially offensive conduct she experienced while working for NBC on America’s Got Talent," the statement continued. 

"In sharp contrast to NBC’s recent statement on race, what was truly an 'outrage' was the fact that Paul Telegdy, Chairman of NBC Entertainment, actually threatened Ms. Union in an attempt to silence her from telling the truth about racist actions that took place on the show. There is no place for this type of racial bullying in the workplace, and it is going to take more than a Tweet from NBC to demonstrate that NB intends to create an environment free from racism," the statement concluded.

One day prior to Union's filing, NBC denied any wrong-doing against the former America's Got Talent judge. 

"The allegation that anyone involved in this process threatened Ms. Union is categorically untrue," the network said in a statement on Wednesday. 

Union was a judge on America's Got Talent for its fourteenth season. The show did not ask her to return for another season, which Union claims is due to her speaking up about racism. 

By Danielle Long
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


"Where are you?" In viral post, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson calls for leadership after George Floyd's death

Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) -- While he doesn't mention President Donald Trump by name, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, is calling out the president, looking for leadership in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of cops in Minneapolis. 

"Where is our leader at this time when our country is down on its knees, begging, pleading, hurt, angry, frustrated, in pain with its arms out, just wanting to be heard?" he asks

"Where is our compassionate leader who's going to step up to our country who's down on its knees, and extend a hand and say, 'You stand up, stand up with me because I got you. I hear you, I'm listening to you. And you have my word that I’m going to do everything in my power, until my dying day, my last breath, to do everything I can to create the change that is needed, to normalize equality because Black Lives Matter?'"

"Where are you?"

The box office star adds, "Of course, all lives matter, but in this moment right now -- this defining, pivotal, explosive moment where our country is down on its knees --…we must say the words: Black Lives Matter."

Johnson, who has flirted with the idea of someday running for public office, offers, "We must become the leaders we are looking for...I’ll tell you what, we're here. We’re all here. The process to change has already begun. You can feel it across our country."

"Change is happening...We’re going to get beat up. We’re going to take our lumps. There’s going to be blood, but the process of change has already begun."

He concludes, "You would be surprised at how people in pain would respond when you say to them, 'I care about you...I'm listening to you. Together we're going to make that change.'"

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


So why was everybody making bread during lockdown? Celeb baker Chris Tucker knows

Chris Tucker(LOS ANGELES) -- It seems like just about everybody has been baking while under COVID-19 lockdown, at least according to countless social media posts of freshly-made sourdough and banana bread. 

A recent study found that online searches for banana bread recipes topped 2.7 million in April -- a nearly 590% increase from April of 2019. 

So what's up with that?

"I think everybody was just looking for something to do with all of their nervous energy," Chris Tucker, the owner of Betta with Butta and a veteran of The Great American Baking Show, tells ABC Audio. "Everyone's cooped up inside. People that are used to being artistic out of the house, they found themselves trapped inside the house. And so now they're like, 'Well, what can I do artistically from home?'"

To help, Tucker's Betta with Butta started selling pre-packaged baking kits that can be shipped to your door.  He says, "We just knew that we had to start something that was going to allow people to do their celebrations at home, allow people to get those indulgences at home."

A portion of the proceeds from the kits benefit the COVID Relief Fund.

Tucker adds, "We just want people to get in the kitchen. We wanted people to experiment...to just satisfy those cravings, that we're going to make them smile from their stomachs and just have some type of relief from everything that's going on in the world."

Tucker thinks the at-home cooking trend will continue post-pandemic. "It's probably showing a lot of people that they, too, can be a baker," he says. "They, too, can be a chef. And I think it's going to really inspire people to start doing more at home even when our food industry does get back up and running."

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Patrick Warburton on suiting up for 'Space Force', and finding his inner Puddy amid COVID-19

Aaron Epstein/NETFLIX(LOS ANGELES) -- In the role of Elaine's sleepy-eyed, face-painting, on-again-off-again boyfriend David Puddy, Patrick Warburton only appeared in nine regular season episodes of Seinfeld -- but his character left an impression strong enough that even die-hard fans swear he was in more. 

Now the star, who is also a regular voice on Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy, can be seen in Space Force, Steve Carell's new Netflix workplace comedy.

"That was a lot of fun to just to get invited to the party there. I play the head of the Marines, Warburton tells ABC Audio. "That was a great opportunity...to get to work with Steve, who's an awesome dude and [I've] always been a big fan of his."

Space Force is about the team tasked with establishing the United States Space Force, and Warburton says he's surprised that critics "were a little rough on" the comedy.

"This is a whole different animal...because even though it's Steve Carell with the creators of The Office, it's not The Office," he points out. "It's a different type of show, I think, with elements of that type of humor...I find it enjoyable to watch."

As for his Seinfeld alter-ego, Warburton says he's found himself thinking of Puddy while in lockdown.

"Sometimes you just find him sitting on the couch, staring out from the distance. When he's flying on the plane with Elaine, just staring at the back seat, didn't need a magazine," he recalls.

"And I thought, 'You know what? That's the personality you really need during a pandemic because, after a while, you just can't watch any more shows or play online backgammon."

"He seems to be just fine in the empty space in his head," Warburton jokes. "He's not stupid, just meditative. He's a deep, deep guy."

Warburton can also be seen in the twisty thriller Inheritance, opposite Simon Pegg and Lily Collins. It's now available on demand.

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


LEGO pulled ads for police-related sets in wake of George Floyd death, protests

Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The industry trade The Toybook has reported that building toy giant LEGO requested that its marketers pull online ads "ASAP" for building sets regarding police, in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of now-terminated Minneapolis cops.

Floyd's death May 25 sparked ongoing protests worldwide as well as looting in major cities, including a LEGO Store in Lower Manhattan.

Some 30 building sets, including a White House set, as well as police-themed mini-figures and accessories are reportedly among the toys in question. 

The products -- which include police station houses, patrol cars, fire stations, and even a donut shop that featured police figures -- are still available for sale, but they won't be advertised, according to the trade. 

In a statement to The Toybook, a rep for LEGO explained, "We requested that our affiliate partners refrain from posting promotional LEGO content as part of our decision to respect #BlackOutTuesday and pause posting content on our social media channels in response to the tragic events in the US. We regret any misunderstanding and will ensure that we are clearer about our intentions in the future."

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


In 2020 graduation message, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, speaks about George Floyd's death

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, delivered a powerful speech to the 2020 graduates of Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles, her alma mater, urging them to "lead with love," "lead with compassion," and to "use your voice."

Her video, shared Wednesday evening for the class of 2020's virtual graduation, begins with Markle telling the all-girls school she was "really nervous" to address the "absolutely devastating" times we're living in until coming to an important realization: "I realized the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing."

Meghan continued by stating that "George Floyd's life mattered," as do the lives of, "so many other people whose names we know and whose names we do not know."

Floyd, a black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer put his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd's death sparked protests across the globe.

Meghan said she experienced the LA riots during her youth, an event she noted was "also triggered by a senseless act of racism" in the police beating of Rodney King.

"I'm so sorry that you have to grow up in a world where this is still present," the former Suits actress said.  "Now you get to be part of rebuilding," adding, "when the foundation is broken, so are we."

The Duchess signed off with the grads: "You are equipped, you are ready, we need you and you are prepared...Please know that I am cheering you on all along the way, I am exceptionally proud of you and I'm wishing you a huge congratulations on today, the start of all the impact you're going to make in the world as the leaders that we all so deeply crave. Congratulations, ladies, and thank you in advance."

By Carson Blackwelder and Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Richard Schiff hints at a 'West Wing' reunion to benefit Black Lives Matter

"The West Wing" cast -- Photo by: James Sorensen/NBCU Photo Bank(LOS ANGELES) -- Richard Schiff is hinting that a reunion of the cast of the Emmy-winning NBC drama The West Wing could be in the works, and like those that brought the casts of shows like Community back together, a charity component would be involved. 

Schiff had been posting photos on his Twitter showing he was a part of the protests over George Floyd, who died May 25 while in police custody when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck. The incident led to ongoing worldwide protests. 

Schiff was asked by a fan whether his current show, ABC's The Good Doctor, would somehow address the Black Lives Matter movement, and if he'd heard about how the cast of Brooklyn Nine-Nine had donated $100,000 to the Bail Relief Fund for those arrested during the protests. 

While Schiff said it wasn't his place to speak for The Good Doctor's producers, he noted, "I am working with my cast mates from The West Wing for these purposes. Including a cast reunion and reading coming soon. Good for Brooklyn 99. I hope it makes a difference."

Schiff won an Emmy for his role as White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler on The West Wing, which starred actors whose activism remains a big part of their off-screen lives, including Martin Sheen, Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, Dulé Hill, and Rob Lowe.

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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