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I am speechless about this shocking, sad news. May he Rest In Peace.

Ric Ocasek, Cars Singer Who Fused Pop and New Wave, Dead at 75

Ric Ocasek, the idiosyncratic singer and guitarist for the Cars and hit-making album producer, died on Sunday in his New York City apartment. He was 75. A rep for the NYPD confirmed the singer’s death to Rolling Stone.

At approximately 3 p.m. ET, police officers responded to a 911 call at Ocasek’s home at 140 E. 19th Street, the rep said. Officers discovered Ocasek unconscious and unresponsive. He was later pronounced dead at the scene, though no cause of death has been revealed. A rep for the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Beginning with the Cars self-titled debut in 1978, Ocasek established himself as a stoic frontman with a sense of humor and melodrama on songs like “My Best Friend’s Girl,” “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight,” and “Good Times Roll.” As a member of the Cars, Ocasek helped kickstart the new-wave movement by pinning his disaffected vocals against herky-jerky rhythm guitar, dense keyboards and dancefloor-ready beats, and as one of the group’s lead vocalists, alongside bassist Benjamin Orr, he sang the hits “Shake It Up” and “You Might Think.” With the exception of only a couple of songs, Ocasek wrote every tune the Cars recorded. After the band broke up in 1988, Ocasek recorded as a solo artist and worked as a producer, helping sculpt blockbuster hits like Weezer’s Blue Album and Green Album and cult favorites like Bad Brains’ Rock for Light.

casek was born to a Polish Catholic family in Baltimore. His father was a computer systems analyst, and he was sent to a parochial elementary school, where he was kicked out in the fifth grade. He told Rolling Stone in a 1979 profile that he couldn’t remember why he’d been expelled, though he said he aspired to be what he called a “drake,” a tough kid. He fell in love with the Crickets’ “That’ll Be the Day” when he was 10, prompting his grandmother to give him a guitar, though he didn’t take to it immediately. He became a rebel in his teen years, running away for weeks at a time to the beach town of Ocean City, Maryland.

His family relocated to Cleveland when he was 16, and he decided to shape up and get good grades so he could attend a good college, but he ended up dropping out anyway and became interested again in guitar. This time it stuck, and he started writing tunes regularly. “After I started writing songs, I figured it would be good to start a band,” he told Rolling Stone. “Sometimes I’d put together a band just to hear my songs. If a person couldn’t play that well, there’d be fewer outside ideas to incorporate.” One of the musicians Ocasek drafted was Benjamin Orzechowski (later changing his last name to Orr); he helped record one of the demos.

Ocasek and Orr relocated to New York City, Woodstock and Ann Arbor, Michigan, singing Buddy Holly songs as a duo or playing hard rock so they could open for the MC5. Eventually, they settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts and formed a folk trio called Milkwood, releasing an album in 1972. They both struggled financially — Ocasek worked in clothing stores to keep his family fed — and eventually they met the musicians who would form the rest of the Cars and the group gelled in the winter of 1976. Ocasek wrote all the songs and acted as a benevolent dictator.

“The way it worked was, it would either be on a cassette, or Ric would pick up his guitar and perform the song for us,” Cars guitarist Elliott Easton told Rolling Stone. “We’d all watch his hands and listen to the lyrics and talk about it. We knew enough about music, so we just built the songs up. When there was a space for a hook or a line — or a sinker — we put it in.”

The Cars’ self-titled album, which Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker helmed, came out on June 6th, 1978 and became a Top 20 hit in the U.S. It was later certified sextuple platinum on the strength of the hits “Just What I Needed” (sung by Orr), “My Best Friend’s Girl,” and “Good Times Roll.” The record is also home to a couple of songs that became hits later, including “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” and (with some thanks due to it soundtracking a pivotal scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High), “Moving in Stereo.”

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Very cool!!

Bradley Whitford Wins 2019 Guest Drama Actor Emmy

Bradley Whitford won the 2019 guest drama actor Emmy for his role of Commander Joseph Lawrence on Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Whitford joined the cast of the streaming dystopian series at the end of its second season, in episodes that were released after the close of the 2018 Emmy eligibility window. The Television Academy agreed they could be submitted this year, and that decision now sees him picking up his third total trophy from the group. He previously won the supporting drama actor statue in 2001 for his work on “The West Wing” and the guest comedy actor one in 2015 for his turn on “Transparent.”

He was nominated alongside Michael McKean (“Better Call Saul”), Kumail Nanjiani (“The Twilight Zone”), Glynn Turman (“How To Get Away With Murder”) and both Michael Angarano and Ron Cephas Jones from “This Is Us.”

Whitford also made Emmy history by becoming the first performer to have won the guest actor Emmy for both comedy and drama, having previously won in comedy for “Transparent.” “It’s an honor to do that, it means a lot,” he said backstage.

Whitford gave off a long-list of thank yous and noted: “Award shows are not arenas of justice. We know that because the Hot Priest did not get nominated,” he said, citing the popular “Fleabag” character.

“I want to thank Margaret Atwood for giving us perspective in this disorienting moment as we are inundated and undermined by a misogynistic, radical, right-wing ideology.

“Despair is not an option. Our children can’t afford it. Action is the antidote to despair. Our future is an act of our creation.”

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The Simpsons Win Again!!! Plus, even though Bruce Didn’t Win, Springsteen On Broadway did!!!

Creative Arts Emmys: ‘Free Solo,’ ‘Queer Eye’ Among Big Winners on Night One

“Free Solo,” “Queer Eye,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Saturday Night Live” were among the big winners Saturday after the first night of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.

“Free Solo,” the National Geographic feature documentary that already claimed the Oscar earlier this year, lead the field on the night largely devoted to unscripted programming with seven big wins. On Sunday, the remaining Creative Arts Emmys will be handed out for shows largely in the scripted genre.

RuPaul earned his fourth consecutive trophy as reality host for his work out front on VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Netflix’s “Queer Eye” nabbed four wins, including its second consecutive trophy for structured reality program. “The Simpsons” added more hardware to its trophy case with the win for animated program. And the late Anthony Bourdain earned two more Emmys for his CNN series “Parts Unknown,” which won for informational series and also for writing.

TV legend Norman Lear picked up another Emmy, a win that makes him the oldest person to win an Emmy (at 97) in the variety special (live) category for ABC’s “Live in Front of a Studio Audience” special featuring new stagings of episodes from “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons,” produced by Jimmy Kimmel. Lear wasn’t the only nonagenarian to pick up a win on Saturday; Sir David Attenborough, 93, won for narration for Netflix’s “Our Planet.”

When pressed backstage about the live special connected with such a large audience, Lear said that the family and relationship subjects that he probed in the 1970s are still relevant today. “The shows reflect our common humanity. And that hasn’t changed. We are as misguided today as we were then in certain ways,” Lear said.

“Carpool Karaoke” had a good night, winning short form variety series for the Apple incarnation of the franchise that began on CBS’ “The Late Late Show with James Corden.” Last year, Corden delivered a special extra-long edition with Paul McCartney” that became an hourlong CBS primetime special “Carpool Karaoke: When Corden Met McCartney Live From Liverpool,” which took home the win for variety special (recorded).

Corden was effusive backstage about the privilege of working in American television in a big way, as he has since landing on “Late Late Show” in 2015. “We just want to be a place people go to have a really nice time before or, let’s be honest, while they fall asleep,” Corden said of the show.

CNN’s “United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell” prevailed once again for unstructured reality program, picking up its third consecutive trophy. Bell used his moment on stage to call on the industry to embrace diversity and inclusion at every level of the industry.

“I’ve thanked my wife and my kids and the people I work with enough,” Bell told reporters backstage. “I not only have to call my team out, but I have to call the industry out. I feel like if I’m going to be about it I have to talk about it.”

Fox’s staging of “Rent” earned two trophies, for lighting design and production design.

HBO’s “Leaving Neverland” documentary was recognized for documentary special. CNN’s “RBG” and HBO’s “The Sentence” earned exceptional merit in documentary filmmaking honors.

Among networks, Netflix emerged with 15 wins (including a number of animation wins that were previously announced), followed by National Geographic with eight; CNN and NBC with five apiece; and Fox, HBO and YouTube with four apiece.

Saturday’s full list of winners:

Variety special (live): “Live In Front Of A Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All In The Family’ And ‘The Jeffersons’” (ABC)

Variety special (pre-recorded): “Carpool Karaoke: When Corden Met McCartney Live From Liverpool” (CBS)

Choreography for variety or reality programming: Tessandra Chavez, “World of Dance” (NBC)

Production design for a variety special: “Rent” (Fox)

Production design for a variety, reality or competition series: “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

Structured reality program: “Queer Eye” (Netflix)

Short form variety series: “Carpool Karaoke: the Series” (Apple)

Short form animated program: “Love, Death & Robots” (Netflix)

Picture editing for a nonfiction program: Bob Eisenhardt, “Free Solo” (National Geographic)

Narrator: Sir David Attenborough, “Our Planet” (Netflix)

Music composition for a documentary series or special (original dramatic score): Marco Beltrami, Brandon Roberts, “Free Solo” (National Geographic)

Music direction: Alex Lacamoire, “Fosse/Verdon” (FX)

Original music and lyrics: Adam Schlesinger, Rachel Bloom, Jack Dolgen, “Antidepressants Are So Not a Big Deal,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (CW)

Creative achievement in interactive media within an unscripted program: “Free Solo” (National Geographic)

Interactive program: “NASA and SpaceX: The Interactive Demo-1 Launch” (YouTube)

Technical direction, camerawork, video control for a special: “Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special 2019” (CBS)

Technical direction, camerawork, video control for a series: “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” (HBO)

Short form nonfiction or reality series: “Creating Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

Writing for a variety special: Hannah Gadsby, “Nanette” (Netflix)

Writing for a nonfiction program: Anthony Bourdain, “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown” (CNN)

Motion design: “Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj” (Netflix)

Exceptional merit in documentary filmmaking: (tie) “RBG” (CNN); “The Sentence” (HBO)

Informational series or special: “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown” (CNN)

Documentary or nonfiction special: “Leaving Neverland” (HBO)

Documentary or nonfiction series: “Our Planet” (Netflix)

Makeup for a multi-camera series or special (non-prosthetic): “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

Hairstyling for a multi-camera series or special: Hector Pocasangre, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1)

Costumes for variety, nonfiction or reality programming: Zaldy Goco, Art Conn, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1)

Directing for a reality program: Hisham Abed, “Queer Eye” (Netflix)

Casting for a reality program: “Queer Eye” (Netflix)

Directing for a documentary/nonfiction program: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, “Free Solo” (National Geographic)

Directing for a variety special: Thom Zimny, “Springsteen on Broadway” (Netflix)

Animated program: “The Simpsons” (Fox)

Character voice-over performance: Seth MacFarlane, “Family Guy” (Fox)

Picture editing for variety programming: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)

PIcture editing for an unstructured reality program: “United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell” (CNN)

Picture editing for a structured reality or competition program: “Queer Eye” (Netflix)

Sound mixing for a variety series or special: “Aretha! A Grammy Celebration for the Queen of Soul” (CBS)

Sound mixing for a nonfiction program (single or multi-camera): “Free Solo” (National Geographic)

Sound editing for a nonfiction program (single or multi-camera): “Free Solo” (National Geographic)

Lighting design/direction for a variety special: “Rent” (Fox)

Lighting design/direction for a variety series: “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

Host for a reality or competition program: RuPaul, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1)

Unstructured reality program: “United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell” (CNN)

Cinematography for a nonfiction program: “Free Solo” (National Geographic TV)

Cinematography for a reality program: “Life Below Zero” (National Geographic TV)

Saturday’s award categories are primarily for unscripted programs: reality, variety special, documentaries, animated program and short form animation, choreography for variety or reality programs, and interactive program.

Sunday’s awards will focus on scripted programs: short form drama and comedy series, casting, cinematography, and guest performers in comedy and drama series.

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Congratulations, Mr. Lear!!

Norman Lear Breaks an Emmy Record, Becomes the Oldest Winner Ever

Norman Lear was already one of the most-honored people in television history, but now he has another distinction to add to his long career: At 97 years and 49 days, he’s the oldest person ever to win an Emmy Award.

Asked about the achievement, he said backstage at the Creative Arts Emmys on Saturday: “I don’t think about it a lot,” and quipped, “I like waking up in the morning.”

Lear set the record on Saturday as one of the producers of “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons.’” The ABC program, which included live performances of episodes from two of Lear’s seminal 1970s comedies, won in the Outstanding Variety Special (Live) category.

Jimmy Kimmel, who produced the show with Lear, was asked what it was like to make a show with the TV legend.

“It’s the greatest thing you could ever imagine. It’s like dancing with Fred Astaire,” Kimmel said.

“That makes me Ginger Rogers,” Lear quipped.

Lear and Kimmel also announced that they are planning another live special later in the year, but declined to provide details.

Lear was also asked how he had written to many African American characters embraced by black viewers, especially on “The Jeffersons.” He had another quick joke: “Evidently you haven’t noticed that I’m black.”

He went on to add that he tries to focus on the universal similarities between all people.

The previous record-holder as the oldest winner was David Attenborough, who set a new record on Saturday night about half an hour before Lear won. Attenborough, who is 93, won for narrating “Our Planet.”

With his nomination for “Live in Front of a Studio Audience,” Lear had already topped Carl Reiner to become the oldest Emmy nominee ever.

Lear’s win comes 48 years after he won the Emmy in the Outstanding Series – Comedy category for “All in the Family.” He would go on to win four Emmys for that show, and to be inducted into the Emmy Hall of Fame in 1984. He has also won two Peabody Awards, the Kennedy Center Honor, the Woody Guthrie Prize and the National Medal of Arts.

The award was announced at Saturday’s Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony, the first of two non-televised ceremonies that will precede the Sept. 22 Primetime Emmy Awards telecast. The ceremony took place at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.

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I will listen to and love his music as long as I live. It truly is classic rock.

Baby Hold On: Why Eddie Money Was the Patron Saint of Rock Uncool

As he himself would have admitted, Eddie Money was no one’s idea of a conventional rock star. His stage moves were always a little gawky and spasmodic, his borderline hoarse voice in need of a lozenge or two. Emerging during the punk era though never part of it, he preferred the stadium-friendly shout-along choruses of mainstream rock and adopted the suit-and-tie New Wave look while keeping his hair unfashionably long. He was even an NYPD cop — a career move that, while utterly honorable, didn’t jibe with the traditional, anti-establishment rock & roll handbook.

For decades, we’ve been taught that pop stars, especially rock stars, are supposed to embody a certain type of cool. But the accidental genius of Money, who died Friday of heart valve complications at 70, was that he almost never was. Throughout pretty much his entire career, he was rock’s endearing every-palooka, a clumsy, somewhat overwrought guy who was one of rock’s most relatable acts and, during a 45-year career, stumbled onto some of the most enduring radio hits of his era.

From the start, Money seemed out of step. His first album arrived in 1977, the same year that gave us the debuts of the Clash and Elvis Costello, yet Money preferred his rock & roll almost proudly, unabashedly generic. This was the dawn of what came to be known as corporate rock, and so many of Money’s early hits, like “Baby Hold On,” “Gimme Some Water” (“cause I shot a man on the Mexican border”?), and especially “Two Tickets to Paradise,” conformed to many of that genre’s trademarks: big, brawny guitars, a certain vacuum-sealed sound, the music-school guitar solo.

But riding over all of it was that husky, immediately recognizable voice. Money threw himself into songs the way he threw himself into stage shows: with a sloppy passion. Rock lyrics don’t get any more generic than those in the frisky “Think I’m in Love” or his first hit “Baby Hold On” — “the future is ours to see/when you hold on to me” — but Money sang them, and other songs, as if he believed fully in every single word and that his life depended on conveying them with as much intensity as he could.

This was also the era of the pillow-soft sound now called Yacht Rock, a fairly loathsome term dripping with ironic appreciation for the likes of Christopher Cross and Rupert Holmes. But again, Money was never quite right for that moment, either. Hardly a suave crooner, he stood in for every person who was all sputtery emotions, bereft of the polished or articulate gene. As seen repeatedly in his videos, he couldn’t quite pull off the glam-sultry look either, even when he was pretending to be a vampire (“Think I’m in Love”).

Five minutes of bleating desperation, “Take Me Home Tonight,” the 1986 hit that put him back on the charts after a dry spell, remains a wondrous record. As always, he sang it as if his world was falling apart and there was nothing he could do about it — a tension only released when Ronnie Spector emerged to pay homage to her Ronettes hit “Be My Baby” in what may have been the first “live sample” in pop, not cribbing from an old record but actually using the original singer to recreate the part.

That song inaugurated what was Money’s golden era. It’s hard to think of any other Seventies rocker who adapted so well to the sound of the following decade, but Money and his various producers and co-songwriters managed to modernize him while never forgetting his big, over-the-top emotions. “I Wanna Go Back” hit the rock-klutz paydirt, as did “We Should Be Sleeping.” There was nothing remotely subtle about any of those songs or their arrangements, but Money made you root for him, especially since so many of his songs amounted to confessions about how much he’d screwed up in one way or another. And while Money’s discography isn’t exactly filled with buried treasures, plenty of deep cuts are worthy revisiting: the punchy “Trinidad” (especially the live, acoustic version on his Unplug It In EP) and “Another Nice Day in L.A.,” co-written with original Heartbreakers drummer Stan Lynch.

Then there’s “Walk on Water,” which may well be his masterpiece. Again, it’s laden with every sonic bell and whistle from the Eighties: the amped-synth arrangement, the chanting “na-na-na-na” chorus, the extremely intrusive drums. But even as it elbows its way into the room or the radio, it’s an undeniably poignant song. When he hits the word “believe” in the chorus (“If I could walk on water/would you … believe in me … my love is so true!”), he sounds so desperate to save another failed relationship that you can’t help but side with him. Pop was growing increasingly mechanized, but Money, in his heartfelt, let-it-hang-out way, raged against the machine.

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May He Rest In Peace.

Eddie Money, veteran rock singer dead at 70

Eddie Money the veteran rock musician best known for hits including Baby Hold On”, “Two Tickets to Paradise”, and “Take Me Home Tonight”, has died at the age of 70.

Last month, Money revealed that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer. Money “passed away peacefully early this morning (September 13th),” according to a statement from his family.
“It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to our loving husband and father. We cannot imagine our world without him,” the statement adds. “We are grateful that he will live on forever through his music.”

A frequent presence on rock radio throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Money had 11 Top 40 hits to his name. His first two singles, “Baby Hold On” and “Two Tickets to Paradise”, each cracked the top 25 in 1978. A year later, he dropped “Maybe I’m a Fool”, which peaked at No. 22.

Money’s dominance continued into the 1980s with songs like “Think I’m in Love”, “Walk on Water”, and “Take Me Home Tonight”. The latter, a duet with Ronnie Spektor, proved to be his most successful single, hitting No. 1 on the US rock charts and earning him a Grammy nomination for Best Male Rock Performance.

Since 2018, Money and his family were the subject of a reality TV series called Real Money on AXS TV. Money revealed his cancer diagnosis in a recent episode of the show. “I thought I was going in for a check-up and [the doctor] told me I have cancer,” he explained. “We found out that I had cancer and that it was stage 4 and that it was in my liver and my lymph nodes and a little bit in my stomach… It hit me really, really hard.”

“What I don’t want to do is I don’t want to keep the fact that I have cancer from everybody,” Money added. “It’s not honest. I want to be honest with everybody. I want people to know that cancer [treatment] has come a long way and not everybody dies from cancer like they did in the Fifties and Sixties. Am I going to live a long time? Who knows? It’s in God’s hands.”

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Sadly, IT: CHAPTER TWO is a less than engaging sequel to an amazing film. I was quite bored at times. Hopefully CHAPTER THREE will be as entertaining as CHAPTER ONE was…and it was entertaining!!

It: Chapter Two scares up massive $91 million opening weekend

You’ll float to the top of the box office too.

It: Chapter Two has scored an estimated $91 million opening weekend, making it the second-highest opening from a horror movie ever behind the first film, 2017’s It. The flick also boasts the highest R-rated debut of the year ahead of other box office winners like Us and Good Boys. It: Chapter Two marked the only buzzy new release of the weekend (and the only one to crack the top 10), while holdovers dominated the rest of the box office chart.

Two-time box office winner Angel Has Fallen falls to second place with an estimated $6 million in ticket sales in its third weekend of release. Third place goes to Universal comedy Good Boys, which boasts an estimated $5.4 million in ticket sales across 3,193 theaters.

It: Chapter Two is a box office victory for Warner Bros. despite not managing to match the opening numbers of 2017’s It, which opened to $123.4 million back in 2017. Still, as the second biggest horror debut ever, the second-biggest September debut ever (also behind It), and the best R-rating opening of the year, the film has plenty to celebrate.

The horror sequel follows the grown-up versions of the Losers Club, reunited 27 years after they first battled terrifying clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard). It marks the conclusion of a two-part adaptation of Stephen King’s beloved novel It. This follow-up boasts an impressive cast, including James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, and stand-outs James Ransone and Jay Ryan. Original cast members from the younger iterations of the Losers Club, including Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Jaedan Martell also return to reprise their roles. Andy Muschietti, who directed the first hit installment, also returns to helm the film.

It: Chapter Two also performed well overseas, resulting in a global opening total of $185 million. The sequel isn’t earning quite the same love as its predecessor, garnering middling reviews and a fair B+ CinemaScore. It’s lower opening numbers might be in part thanks to its running time — at two hours and 49 minutes, it’s 35 minutes longer than the first film. As the widest release of September in 4,570 theaters and the only major studio release of the weekend, it easily floated to the top spot and kicked off the month with a scary good return after a lackluster August at the movies.

Summer box office winners continue to round out the rest of the returns as we prepare to kick into high-gear of fall movie season. Disney’s The Lion King is still in the top five after 8 weeks in theaters. It claims the fourth spot with an estimated $4.2 million in ticket sales across 2,610 theaters. It’s now up to $1.6 billion globally and holding steady as the seventh highest-grossing film of all time. Faith-based flick Overcomer scores the fifth-place spot again in its third week of release with an estimated $3.8 million in ticket sales.

Overall box office is down 6.1 percent to date, according to Comscore, a slight improvement thanks to a bump from It: Chapter Two’s impressive debut. Check out the Sept. 6-8 numbers below.

1. It: Chapter Two— $91 million
2. Angel Has Fallen— $6 million
3. Good Boys— $5.4 million
4. The Lion King— $4.2 million
5. Overcomer— $3.8 million
6. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw— $3.7 million
7. Peanut Butter Falcon— $2.3 million
8. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark— $2.3 million
9. Ready or Not— $2.2 million
10. Dora and the Lost City of Gold — $2.2 million

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No movies in the theatre this weekend – even though they were all priced at $6.99 – I watched The Dark Crystal on Netflix!!

Box Office: ‘Angel Has Fallen’ Sears Competition Over Labor Day Weekend

Lionsgate and Millennium’s “Angel Has Fallen” ruled the box office during an expectedly quiet Labor Day weekend. The third entry in the action franchise generated $11.5 million over the weekend and should close out the holiday with $14.4 million.

Without any new nationwide offerings from a major Hollywood studio, those ticket sales were enough to maintain first place on domestic box office charts. After two weekends in theaters, the Gerard Butler-led “Angel Has Fallen” has earned $43.6 million.

With Labor Day comes the close of summer. The four month stretch between May and August had its share of hits (“The Lion King,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” “Toy Story 4” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” to name a few), but overall, popcorn season receipts only came in at $4.3 billion, a 2% decline from last year. That pushed the year-to-date box office down 6.3%, according to Comscore.

Blumhouse Tilt and OTL took on the last weekend of summer with “Don’t Let Go.” However, the supernatural thriller couldn’t crack the top 10 and debuted at No. 14 with $2.4 million from 920 North American theaters. The movie, which is expected to finish the holiday weekend with $3 million, stars David Oyelowo as a detective working to solve the murder of his niece (portrayed by Storm Reid) when he surprisingly gets a phone call from her. “Don’t Let Go” premiered at Sundance under the name “Relive.”

The final movie to launch this summer is Forrest Film’s drama “Bennett’s War,” which is hoping to hit half a million in box office receipts through Monday. Over the weekend, the movie arrived outside of the top 20 on box office charts, collecting $445,151 from 970 locations.

Labor Day weekend isn’t usually a busy time of year for moviegoing, so holdovers including Universal’s “Good Boys” and “Hobbs & Shaw” and Disney’s “The Lion King” rounded out box office charts.

Universal’s “Good Boys” held steady at No. 2, pocketing $9.1 million over the weekend for an estimated $11.5 million Labor Day weekend. After three weeks in theaters, the R-rated comedy has picked up a solid $58 million.

Disney’s “The Lion King” nabbed third place, earning $6.7 million during its seventh outing and eyeing $9.2 million through the four-day weekend. Through Sunday, the photorealistic remake has earned $521 million in North America. “The Lion King” is now the seventh-biggest movie in history with $1.562 billion globally, passing “Furious 7” ($1.516 billion) and “The Avengers ($1.519 billion).

In fourth, Universal’s “Hobbs & Shaw” generated $6.2 million over the weekend and should finish the holiday with $8 million. The “Fast & Furious” spinoff, starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, has made $158.86 million at the domestic box office and $684.2 million worldwide.

Sony’s “Overcomer” amassed $5.7 million for a fifth-place finish. The faith-based film looks to end Monday with $7.8 million, which would bring North American ticket sales to $19.4 million.

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This one feels personal. Rest in peace, Valerie. I love you!!

Actress Valerie Harper, of Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda fame, dead at 80

Valerie Harper, who scored guffaws and stole hearts as Rhoda Morgenstern on back-to-back hit sitcoms in the 1970s, has died. She was 80.

Longtime family friend Dan Watt confirmed Harper died Friday, adding the family wasn’t immediately releasing any further details.

Harper was a breakout star playing the lovable sidekick on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, then as the funny leading lady of the spinoff series, Rhoda.

She won three consecutive Emmys (1971-73) as supporting actress on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and another for outstanding lead actress for Rhoda, which ran from 1974-78. Beyond awards, she was immortalized — and typecast — for playing one of television’s most beloved characters, a best friend the equal of Ethel Mertz and Ed Norton in TV’s sidekick pantheon.

Fans had long feared the news of her passing. In 2013, she first revealed that she had been diagnosed with brain cancer and had been told by her doctors she had as little as three months to live. Some responded as if a family member were in peril.

But she refused to despair. “I’m not dying until I do,” Harper said in an interview on NBC’s Today show. “I promise I won’t.” Harper did outlive her famous co-star: Mary Tyler Moore died in January 2017. Ed Asner, Cloris Leachman and Betty White are among the former cast members who survive her.

In recent years, Harper’s other appearances included American Dad!, The Simpsons and Two Broke Girls.

Harper was a chorus dancer on Broadway as a teen before moving into comedy and improv when, in 1970, she auditioned for the part of a Bronx-born Jewish girl who would be a neighbour and pal of Minneapolis news producer Mary Richards on a new sitcom for CBS.

It seemed a long shot for the young, unknown actress. As she recalled, “I’m not Jewish, not from New York, and I have a small, shiksa nose.” And she had almost no TV experience.

But Harper, who arrived for her audition some 20 pounds overweight, may have clinched the role when she blurted out in admiration to the show’s tall, slender star: “Look at you in white pants without a long jacket to cover your behind!”

It was exactly the sort of thing Rhoda would say to “Mar,” as Harper recalled in her 2013 memoir, I, Rhoda. Harper was signed without a screen test.

Of course, if CBS had gotten its way, Rhoda might have been a very different character with a much different actress in place. As The Mary Tyler Moore Show was being developed, its producers were battling a four-point decree from the network, which insisted that the nation’s TV viewers would not accept series characters who were (1) divorced, (2) from New York, (3) Jewish or (4) have mustaches.

The producers lost on having Mary Richards divorced — instead, she had been dumped by her long-time boyfriend — but with Rhoda they overrode the network on two other counts.

The show that resulted was a groundbreaking hit, with comically relatable Rhoda one big reason.

“Women really identified with Rhoda because her problems and fears were theirs,” Harper theorized in her book. “Despite the fact that she was the butt of most of her own jokes, so to speak … her confident swagger masked her insecurity. Rhoda never gave up.”

Neither did Harper, who confronted her own insecurities with similar moxie.

“I was always a little overweight,” she once told The Associated Press. “I’d say, ‘Hello, I’m Valerie Harper and I’m overweight.’ I’d say it quickly before they could … I always got called chubby, my nose was too wide, my hair was too kinky.”

But as The Mary Tyler Moore Show evolved, so did Rhoda. Rhoda trimmed down and glammed up, while never losing her comic step. The audience loved her more than ever.

A spinoff seemed inevitable. In 1974, Rhoda was dispatched from Minneapolis back home to New York City, where she was reunited with her parents and younger sister in a new sitcom that costarred Nancy Walker, Harold Gould and Julie Kavner.

She also met and fell in love with the hunky owner of a demolition firm.

The premiere of Rhoda that September was the week’s top-rated show, getting a 42 per cent share of audience against competition including Monday Night Football on ABC. And a few weeks later, when Rhoda and her fiance, Joe, were wed in a one-hour special episode, more than 52 million people — half of the U.S. viewing audience — tuned in.

But Rhoda couldn’t maintain those comic or popular heights. A domesticated, lucky-in-love Rhoda wasn’t a funny Rhoda. By the end of the third season, the writers had taken a desperate step: Rhoda divorced Joe. Thus had Rhoda (and Harper) defied a third CBS taboo.

The series ended in 1978 with Harper having played Rhoda for a total of nine seasons.

She had captured the character by studying her Italian stepmother. But Harper’s own ethnicity — neither Jewish nor Italian — was summed up in a New York Times profile as “an exotic mixture of Spanish-English-Scotch-Irish-Welsh-French-Canadian.”

And she was not a Gothamite. Born in Suffern, N.Y., into a family headed by a peripatetic sales executive, she spent her early years in Oregon, Michigan and California before settling in Jersey City, N.J.

By high school, she was taking dance lessons in Manhattan several times a week. By age 15, she was dancing specialty numbers at Radio City Music Hall. By 18, she was in the chorus of the Broadway musical Li’l Abner (then appeared in the film adaptation a year later). She also danced in the musicals Take Me Along (starring Jackie Gleason) and Wildcat (starring Lucille Ball).

She found comedy when she fell in with a group of Second City players from Chicago who had taken up residence in Greenwich Village. One of these improv players was Richard Schaal, whom she wed in 1964. (They divorced in 1978.)

Harper and Schaal moved to Los Angeles in 1968. Two years later, in a theater production, she was spotted by a casting agent for the role of Rhoda.

During The Mary Tyler Moore, Harper appeared in her first major film, the comedy Freebie and the Bean, and later was cast in Blame It on Rio and an adaptation of Neil Simon’s play Chapter Two.

In 1986, she returned to series TV with a family sitcom called Valerie. While not matching her past critical successes, the show proved popular. But in the summer of 1987, Harper and her manager, Tony Cacciotti, whom she had married a few months earlier, were embroiled in a highly publicized feud with Lorimar Telepictures, the show’s production company, and its network, NBC.

In a dispute over salary demands, Harper had refused to report for work, missing one episode. The episode was filmed without her. She was back on duty the following week, only to be abruptly dumped and replaced by actress Sandy Duncan. The show was renamed Valerie’s Family and then The Hogan Family.

Meanwhile, lawsuits and countersuits flew. In September 1988, a jury decided that Harper was wrongfully fired. She was awarded $1.4 million US compensation plus profit participation in the show (which continued without Harper until 1991).

“I felt vindicated,” Harper wrote in her memoir. “I had beaten Lorimar and reclaimed my reputation.”

During the 1990s, Harper starred in a pair of short-lived sitcoms (one of which, City, was created by future Oscar-winner Paul Haggis) and made guest appearances on series including Melrose Place, Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives.

She reunited with Moore in a 2000 TV film, Mary and Rhoda. In 2013, there was an even grander reunion: Harper and Moore were back together along with fellow MTM alumnae Leachman, White and Georgia Engel to tape an episode of White’s hit comedy, Hot in Cleveland. It was the ensemble’s first acting job together in more than 30 years and during a news conference Harper cited a valuable lesson: The character of Rhoda, she said, pointing to Moore, “taught me to thank your lucky stars for a fabulous friend.”

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Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!! This makes me sooooo happy!!! If only Jost and Che would leave next!!!!! Woooooooooooo!!!!!!!

Comedian Leslie Jones leaving Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live cast member Leslie Jones is leaving the NBC show after five seasons, while Kate McKinnon is sticking around.

Jones’ departure was confirmed by a person familiar with the change who spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss Jones’ status with the long-running sketch series.

The departure comes as Jones is branching out into other projects.

The person also said McKinnon will return for her eighth season with the show. McKinnon’s portrayals of political figures including Hillary Clinton and Jeff Sessions have become an SNL staple.

The news came one day after the show announced Eddie Murphy will be returning to the place that helped launch his career.

The comedian will host the show Dec. 21, marking the former cast member’s first hosting appearance since 1984.

Murphy was a cast member from 1980 to 1984, starring in such landmark sketches as “Mr. Robinson’s Neighbourhood” and as Gumby, Buckwheat and Stevie Wonder.

He went on to star in numerous films, including The Nutty Professor, Bowfinger, Beverly Hills Cop and Coming to America.

Saturday Night Live, which is celebrating its 45th season, returns Sept. 28 with host Woody Harrelson and Billie Eilish as the musical guest.

Other planned guests this season include Fleabag actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge, singer Taylor Swift, Stranger Things actor David Harbour, singer Camila Cabello and actor Kristen Stewart.

Earlier this month, Jones announced she’s doing a Netflix stand-up special. Appearing on Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night show, Jones said it’s great to be an actress but that she’s really a “hardcore” stand-up comedian.

But she hasn’t abandoned acting: Jones is part of the voice cast of the recently released The Angry Birds Movie 2 and reportedly has been in discussions to join Murphy’s announced Coming to America sequel.

Her tenure on SNL was marked by an exuberant style and portrayal of celebrities including Whoopi Goldberg, whom Jones has called an inspiration.

She started with SNL as a writer, hired after the show was criticized in 2013 for a lack of diversity, particularly the absence of an African American woman among 16 regular or featured players. Cast members Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah, who has since left the show, commented publicly about it and refused to dress in drag to portray black women.

Jones was promoted to cast member early in the 2014-15 season and received three Emmy nominations for her work. Her representatives did not return a message seeking comment Tuesday.