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ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) -- During an interview on Joe Rogan's podcast, Robert Downey, Jr. claimed that his controversial blackface role in Tropic Thunder was apparently a fan favorite among his "black friends."

In the 2008 film, Downey Jr. dresses up in blackface to portray Kirk Lazarus, an Australian method actor who undergoes a pigmentation procedure that allows him to play a black character in a war movie. Directed by Ben Stiller, Downey's portrayal was ultimately praised by critics and earned him multiple nominations, including Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars.

The Iron Man actor admits he was at first hesitant to take on the role, which he reveals "horrified" his mother.  But after careful thought, he decided to look at the positive.

"I get to be black for a summer in my mind, so there’s something in it for me," Downey said. "The other thing is, I get to hold up to nature the insane self-involved hypocrisy of artists and what they think they’re allowed to do on occasion, just my opinion.”

If that wasn't enough, Downey said he felt even better after he got some additional feedback.

"Ninety percent of my black friends were like, 'Dude, that was great,'" he said. "I can't disagree with [the other 10 percent], but I know where my heart lies. I think that it's never an excuse to do something that's out of place and out of its time, but to me, it blasted the cap on [the issue]. I think having a moral psychology is job one."

Now, looking back, Downey does acknowledge the major issues with his role.

"Sometimes, you just gotta go, 'Yeah I effed up,' he said. "In my defense, Tropic Thunder is about how wrong [blackface] is, so I take exception."

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Lucasfilm(LOS ANGELES) -- For Star Wars fans, the announcement that Star Wars: The Clone Wars would be resurrected on Disney rocked last summer's San Diego Comic Con. 

Now, Disney has dropped a brand-new trailer, revealing the seventh season of the Emmy-winning animated series will debut on the streaming service February 21.  ABC Audio has learned there will be twelve episodes in all, one premiering each week.

Created by George Lucas and The Mandalorian co-creator Dave Filoni, the series is set before the events of 2005's Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. It originally aired on Cartoon Network, until the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm led to its cancellation in 2013.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

 

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Photo courtesy MullenLowe(NEW YORK) -- Actress Ellie Kemper is best known as the the eternally sunny Erin on The Office and the title character of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, so she seems like the perfect person to take in a very famous sunrise. 

That's exactly what she did Wednesday morning in New York City, watching a 'Manhattanhenge' sunrise. The phenomenon happens, generally, only four times a year -- two sunrises and two sunsets -- in which the sun rises or sets while being framed perfectly between NYC's skyscrapers. 

Kemper was on hand as part of Tropicana's new "Sip Your Sunshine," ad campaign, but she tells ABC Audio she was wowed.

"I was so thrilled when Tropicana came to me with this idea because I have lived in New York for years. I've never actually witnessed Manhattanhenge and it's the perfect way to celebrate a moment of brightness," Kemper said.

She added, "Seeing the sunrise, it was really powerful, it's really magical. And it was just such a special way, I think, to celebrate a moment of brightness and and hope and feeling positive about everything."

Speaking of feeling positive, Kemper dropped a few hints about the upcoming Kimmy Schmidt Interactive Special, set to run on Netflix later this year. "I haven't seen it yet, so I'm excited to see it myself, and for fans to see it," she admits.

"Basically, it's a Choose Your Own Adventure. So every few moments are given a chance to choose what you want the characters to do, and the viewer has all the control. So I think it was a lot of fun to film."  

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ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) -- No, Henry Winkler hasn't held a grudge against Tom Hanks since the first Bush Administration. That's he word from the former Happy Days star-turned Barry Emmy winner to TMZ

At issue with this long-running Hollywood myth about the bad blood between Fonzie and Woody is apparently Winkler's firing as the director of Hanks' cop-meets-dog comedy, Turner & Hooch

Winkler didn't exactly throw cold water on the rumor when he appeared on Watch What's Happening Live! last year, commenting, only "I got along great...with that dog."

To TMZ, however, he just said, "I don't have a feud with Tom Hanks," adding, "What everybody says and what is true is two different things." He goes on to say he saw Hanks at SAG Awards last week, and they even snapped a picture with each other at a Bruno Mars concert.

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Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images(LOS ANGELES) -- While Jessica Simpson has generally enjoyed a squeaky-clean image, she admits in a new memoir that her real life was anything but. 

She tells People she'd been approached to write a "living your best life" type of book, but said she couldn't bring herself to do it. "I'm a horrible liar," Simpson said.

Instead, her new memoir, Open Book, details for the first time that she'd been sexually abused by the daughter of a family friend when the singer, actress and entrepreneur-to-be was just six years old.

Jessica didn't tell her parents what happened until she was 12. Even then, she explained, "Dad...said nothing. We never stayed at my parents' friends house again but we also didn't talk about what I had said."

As she grew up, Simpson says she self-medicated to dull the pain of the abuse, as well as the stress of fame. 

"I was killing myself with all the drinking and pills," she admitted, explaining she got clean and sober in 2017 and never looked back. 

But Jess had to hit bottom first -- and that came after a Halloween party at her house that year, when she realized, "I need to stop. Something's got to stop. And if it’s the alcohol that's doing this, and making things worse, then I quit."

She added, "Giving up the alcohol was easy," she says. "I was mad at that bottle. At how it allowed me to stay complacent and numb."

Simpson also talks about her three-year marriage to Nick Lachey, and her life now with her "soul mate," Eric Johnson, whom she married in 2014. The pair have three kids: 7-year-old daughter Maxwell, a six-year-old son Ace, 6, and baby girl Birdie, who's 10 months old.

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Netflix/Katalin Vermes(NEW YORK) -- Netflix unveiled a new ratings method on Tuesday, and claimed that by using the new approach, its original series The Witcher scored its best numbers for a first-season original TV series, according to Variety

Instead of its murky previous method, "reporting households viewing a title based on 70 percent of a single episode of a series or of an entire film," the streamer is, "now reporting on households (accounts) that chose to watch a given title," the trade reports.  

Based on the new system, 76 million member households viewed The Witcher over its first four weeks of release.

Additionally, 54 member households watched the psychological thriller You, and over 21 million households tuned into season three of The Crown

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Rami Malek -- ABC/Eric McCandless(LOS ANGELES) -- Oscar winners Mahershala Ali, Olivia Colman, Regina King and Rami Malek were announced as presenters at the 92nd Oscars, show producers Lynette Howell Taylor and Stephanie Allain announced on Tuesday. 

Ali, Coleman, King and Malek were Oscar winners in their respective acting categories last year: Ali won his second Academy Award, this one for his supporting work in the Best Picture winner Green Book; King snagged the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for If Beale Street Could Talk; Coleman won the Best Actress trophy for The Favourite, and Malek the Best Actor prize for Bohemian Rhapsody.

The Oscars will air live February 9, on ABC. More presenters will be revealed as the show draws closer, but once again, the telecast will go host-free.

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Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival(LONDON) Terry Jones, who as a founding member of the British comedy troupe Monty Python’s Flying Circus left an indelible mark on film and TV comedy, has died at 77.

The BBC quotes Jones' agent as saying the entertainer "passed away on the evening of 21 January 2020 at the age of 77 with his wife Anna Söderström by his side after a long, extremely brave but always good humoured battle with a rare form of dementia, FTD [frontotemporal dementia]."

Jones revealed in late September 2016 that he’d been diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia, a form of dementia that by then had already affected his ability to speak to the extent he was no longer giving interviews. 

Born in Wales, Jones had already worked in TV comedy in the U.K. with fellow Pythons Eric Idle and Michael Palin before they joined Graham Chapman, John Cleese and American-born Terry Gilliam in 1969 to form the comedy troupe Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  Their TV series of the same name aired on the BBC through 1974, an inspired combination of surrealist silliness and bawdy British dance hall humor so unique, the adjective Pythonesque was coined to describe it.

In addition to co-writing and performing in Monty Python, Jones also co-directed the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Terry Gilliam, and directed the subsequent Python films Life of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, in which he also memorably played the grossly obese Mr. Creosote.  He remained a member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus until his death, joining his fellow members in their many appearances and endeavors.

Outside of Python, Jones was a prolific writer of comedy, screenplays and even children’s books, and was also an expert on British medieval history, publishing several books and hosting television documentaries on the topic.  His last screenplay was for the 2015 Simon Pegg film comedy Absolutely Anything, which also featured Robin Williams’ final film performance.

Jones is survived by his wife, Anna Söderström, and their daughter, as well as two adult children from his first marriage.

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Michael Tran/FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) -- Sometimes, the best ideas come to you late at night while you're lying in bed.  That happened to Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. 

While lying in bed next to husband Joe Jonas on Monday, Turner began mulling about the recently announced Lizzie McGuire reboot that's in a bit of turmoil.

The show's original creator Terri Minsky exited as showrunner after filming two episodes of the new Disney series earlier this month.  The show now appears to be in limbo.

"The Lizzie McGuire show has been put on hold. I'm obviously devastated like the rest of us," Turner mumbled in a series of Instagram Stories.  

However, the Dark Phoenix star offered a potential solution to salvage the show.  "Like, is Miranda appearing in this season because...I'm here. I'm available," the 23-year-old mused while zooming in to her face.  

Miranda played the titular character's best friend on the show.

However, there has been no news if the original Miranda, played by Lalaine Vergara-Paras, will appear in the reboot.  Fans believe her return is unlikely as Miranda's role was diminished in the final season of Lizzie McGuire and didn't appear at all in the 2003 Lizzie McGuire Movie.

"I am your new Miranda," deadpanned Turner, "Lizzie McGuire people, please reach out to me at 3—"  the video cuts away before she reveals her phone number.

Whether or not the new Disney series has room for Turner to play Miranda or even a new BFF for Lizzie has yet to be seen.

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Vladislav Zolotov/iStock(LOS ANGELES) --For those dying to see what could possibly be going on behind the scenes for the Royal Family are in luck.  Family Guy producer Gary Janetti is launching a new animated satirical comedy about them, which has been ordered by streamer HBO Max.

The series, simply entitled The Prince, was inspired by Janetti's Instagram that parodies what six-year-old Prince George could possibly be thinking about current events, from the critically panned CATS movie to "spilling tea" on #Megxit.

Playing George will be Janetti himself.  As for the rest of the cast, the series already picked up several A-listers.  According to Deadline, Orlando Bloom will play the embattled Prince Harry, who recently stepped away from his royal duties last week. 

Playing opposite of Bloom will be Billions actress Condola Rashad, voicing the Duke of Sussex's wife Meghan Markle.

Lucy Punch will play George's mother Kate Middleton while Game of Thrones star Iwan Rheon will voice Prince William.

Other confirmed cast members list Tom Hollander playing double duty by voicing George's grandpa and great granddad, Prince Charles and Prince Philip, respectively, while Frances De La Tour will play family matriarch Queen Elizabeth II.

In addition, Alan Cumming has been tapped to play George's fictional butler Owen.

Janetti revealed the upcoming project on Instagram on Tuesday by posting a promotional image of The Prince while writing a succinct, "George is pleased."  The announcement drew immediate response from celebrities such as Elizabeth Banks and Kelly Ripa, who applauded the news.  

"Well played Gary" joked Banks while the LIVE with Kelly and Ryan host lauded, "Brilliant news! (Said w/ British accent whilst curtsying)." 

In response to Ripa, Janetti hilariously retorted, "George wants to cohost when Ryan’s on vacation."

It hasn't been announced when The Prince will be available for streaming on HBO Max.

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Kevin Kane/Getty Images for BSB(NEW YORK) -- Jennifer Lopez's new partnership with Coach created a major splash on social media thanks to an unexpected shout out from Barbra Streisand.

Lopez, who was recently named the new face of Coach, released a series of promotional photos on Tuesday announcing the official launch of the "Originals Go Their Own Way" Spring/Summer 2020 line.  One photo of JLo's in particular, however, caught Streisand's eye.  And for good reason.

One of the sweaters Lopez wears just so happens to have the Funny Girl actress' face emblazoned on the front.  

"Love this! Hi @jlo — nice to see you wearing my face!," Streisand hilariously tweeted on Tuesday and enclosed the shout out with golden heart and razzing face emojis.  She also included the photo in question, which shows a carefree Lopez wearing three of her new purses while soaking in the New York City sun.

Obviously, not wanting to leave the Broadway legend hanging, the "On The Floor" singer immediately wrote back, "OMG!!!!! Love youuuuu" along with big red heart emoji.

The comedic exchange has since fueled fans' hopes that, perhaps, a musical collaboration between the two could be in the potential future.

For now, however, Lopez seems to be focusing on her current collab with Coach.  Her new campaign, which also features Michael B. Jordan and Koki, is available now. 

The fashion company said Tuesday on Facebook that the line captures "the spirit of the new season and the energy of NYC" and "celebrates individuality, optimism and self-expression."  

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©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Re served.

(LOS ANGELES) -- Oprah Winfrey is clarifying her decision to step away from the On the Record doc, which centers on sexual harassment in the music industry, including the women who have accused mogul Russell Simmons of misconduct.

After announcing she would no longer serve as an executive producer on the project because she felt there was "still work to be done on the film," Winfrey tells CBS This Morning that she didn't pull out of the project because of Simmons' reported intimidation. "I just care about getting it right, and I think there are some inconsistencies in the stories that we need to look at," Winfrey said.

Oprah, who's also a victim of sexual assault, admits it wasn't an easy decision to back out of the doc because of how people might perceive it as a win for Simmons. The music mogul has been critical of Winfrey's involvement in the project, even going as far as calling her out on social media.

"This is not a victory for Russell, and I unequivocally say that I did not pull out because of Russell," Winfrey said. "This is not a victory lap for him. I cannot be silenced by Russell Simmons after all I’ve been through."

Ultimately, Winfrey said, the decision she had to make was, "What is the right thing to do?"

"[It’s] ridiculous to think I could be intimidated by Russell Simmons," she added.

Simmons has vehemently denied all sexual misconduct allegations.

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Eric Charbonneau/Universal Pictures(LOS ANGELES) -- Stuntman turned director David Leitch, who called the shots on the first John Wick with Chad Stahelski before tackling the hits Deadpool 2 and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw on his own, is on a vintage martial arts kick -- pardon the pun.

Leitch, who will reportedly direct a remake of the Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon for Warner Bros., has just signed on to also direct a big-screen version of the 1972 TV series Kung Fu for Universal.

The series, which ran until 1975, featured Kill Bill star David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine, a Chinese Shaolin monk and martial arts master trying to stay on the peaceful path as he wandered the American Old West.  But of course, every week there would be some excuse for him to fight someone.

Ironically, Bruce Lee was passed over for the role of Caine in the series in favor of the non-Asian Carradine.  It's also been asserted that Lee himself developed the idea for Kung Fu, which was then appropriated by the show's producers.

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Peters and Anderson in 1989/ Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- It's said that love waits for no one, but if you're veteran producer Jon Peters, it does.  The Hollywood Reporter notes he tied the knot with Pamela Anderson in a private ceremony in Malibu on Jan. 20 -- some 30 years after they first dated.

It is the fifth marriage for both the former Baywatch star and the producer of movies including Batman and two versions of A Star Is Born -- the earlier incarnation of which starred his former flame, Barbra Streisand.

"There are beautiful girls everywhere. I could have my pick, but -- for 35 years -- I’ve only wanted Pamela," the 74-year-old filmmaker notes, recalling that when they first met, Anderson, now 52, was 19. "In 30 years, our age difference won't mean so much," he said he told her at the time. 

"Pamela has never seen her full potential as an artist," he gushed to the trade. "She has yet to shine in a real way. There is much more to her than meets the eye, or I wouldn't love her so much."

For her part, Anderson literally waxed poetic about their relationship. "He's been there all along/Never failed me/I’m ready now and he’s ready too," in her poem she sent to the trade about the "original 'bad boy'" of Hollywood. "I'm a lucky woman/Proof God has a plan," she concluded.

Anderson was previously married to Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee -- he of their infamous sex tape -- with whom she has two adult sons. She was also married to Kid Rock and producer Rick Salomon, whom she married twice.

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ABC/Craig Sjodin(LOS ANGELES) --  After his directorial debut, A Star Is Born, was nominated for seven Oscars, fans have been wondering what Bradley Cooper would be up to next behind the camera.

Now Variety reports Netflix is betting Cooper's next directorial effort, a drama about famed composer Leonard Bernstein, could be on next year's Oscars short list.

The trade notes that the project will stream on Netflix but also hit theaters, in an attempt to make it eligible for awards season.  Netflix's The Irishman, The Two Popes, and Marriage Story are all nominated for Academy Awards this year.

By the way, Cooper's also headed to the Oscars again next month: he's one of the producers of the Oscar-nominated Joker.

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