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'Strangers Things' creators announce upcoming TV spinoff, plus Upside Down-set stage play


Matt and Ross Duffer, the sibling creators of the phenomenon Stranger Things, are staying with Netflix in a big way.

Long story short, if you love Stranger Things, you're in luck.

On Wednesday, the Duffer Brothers, as they're professionally known, launched Upside Down Pictures, through which they'll create film and TV projects. Included will be a live-action Stranger Things spinoff series, and a stage play set in the hit show's universe, produced and directed by Billy Elliot veteran Stephen Daldry.

Also in the mix is a live-action TV adaptation of the hit anime series Death Note, and a series adaptation of Stephen King and Peter Straub‘s book The Talisman.

In a statement, the pair said they "aim to create the kind of stories that inspired the Duffers growing up - stories that take place at that beautiful crossroads where the ordinary meets the extraordinary, where big spectacle co-exists with intimate character work, where heart wins out over cynicism."

As reported, Stranger Things' just-wrapped fourth season racked up 1.15 billion hours viewed in its first 28 days -- only the second show to do so, behind only the Korean-language smash Squid Game.

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'Thor: Love and Thunder''s Taika Waititi "forgot" co-star Natalie Portman was in 'Star Wars'

Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman in "Star Wars: Episode II" -- Lucasfilm

With an Oscar under his belt, a blockbuster in Thor: Ragnarok and another likely on its way with Thor: Love and Thunder, pretty much everybody wants to work with writer-director Taika Waititi.

So when it came to writing his anticipated Star Wars project, he figured he'd swing for the fences: He tells Rolling Stone he asked his fellow Academy Award winner and Thor sequel lead Natalie Portman if she wanted in.

"I said, 'I'm trying to work on a Star Wars thing. Have you ever wanted to be in a Star Wars movie?'" Watititi recalled.

You might have noticed a problem with that, but Waititi apparently didn't.

"She said, 'I've been in Star Wars movies.' I forgot about those ones," Waititi admitted.

"Those ones" to which Waititi was referring -- possibly sarcastically -- are the Star Wars prequels, 1999's Episode I - The Phantom Menace, 2002's Attack of the Clones and 2005's Revenge of the Sith. Portman played Padmé Amidala -- the eventual wife of Anakin Skywalker, and mom to Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa.

Not exactly a bit part.

By and large, the films were met with a lukewarm critical reception at the time, but have since warmed in the hearts of Star Wars fans.

Lest the filmmaker's faux pas be too concerning to fans of that galaxy far, far, away, he also told the magazine of the forthcoming project, "I don't want to rush."

"It's something I wouldn't want to just leap into and not feel that 'it's unique, it's my film and it makes sense.' Because that would be a disaster. So I'm gonna do my best to come up with an idea that everyone loves."

Thor: Love and Thunder hits theaters Friday from Marvel Studios, which is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC News.

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"I don't fault Joey for a second" - Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest's female champ Miko Sudo on onstage scuffle

Bobby Bank/Getty Images

Miki Sudo is the #1-ranked female competitive eater in the world, and she proved it again on July 4 by returning from maternity leave to capture her eighth Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Championship belt. 

Downing 40 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes wasn't her personal best, but she told ABC Audio she was just happy to be back in the action on July 4. "I wanted to do better, but I mean, it's just good to just go out there and be back, and to be at Surf and Stillwell [in Coney Island]."

"You know, during [the] pandemic we didn't have a crowd," Miki said. "It was still televised, but yeah, it's just, it's so different not having that crowd screaming for you."

Not only did she compete this year, but her husband, fellow eater Nick Wehry, was there; he placed third, matching her 40 dogs -- and they brought along their baby, Max.

"It was an awesome experience, to be there with family and everything," she adds.

This year's contest was momentarily interrupted when an anti-meat protester wearing a Darth Vader mask jumped in front of eventual repeat champ Joey Chestnut. Barely breaking his winning pace, Joey put the guy in a headlock and the intruder was tackled by security. 

"I was probably no more than 4 feet away from them and Nick was right next to Joey," Miki recalls. 

"So I'm cheering for Nick, but at that moment, I wanted to join the Chestnut camp for a brief second. I mean, obviously Joey had to do what he had to do because you don't know what level of crazy you're dealing with." 

She adds, "When somebody physically touches you and is acting erratic in Darth Vader mask. I mean, you don't know if he has a weapon. I don't fault Joey for a second." (AUDIO IS ABC 1-ON-1)

At a slim 5 feet, 4 inches tall, one wonders where she stores it all -- among her other records, she's also the world record ice cream eating champ, having scarfed down 16 1/2 pints in six minutes back in 2017.

Apart from the gluttonous nature of her sport, she says she stays in top shape. "I feel [I] fluctuate like everybody else. Like if you're going to do like 12, 15 competitions a year you really need the other 350 days a year to be pretty disciplined ... you know, eating well, exercising a lot. There's no secret to it."

As for her baby, he was born on the small side, she says, but "he caught up pretty quick." Considering the 1-year-old's genes, that's not a surprise. "He's got a good appetite," she laughs.

Despite little Max's lineage, however, Miki says, "I hope he doesn't ... try his hand at competitive eating. No bodybuilding. No competitive eating, you know, I've seen both ... up way too [close]. You know, the good, the bad and the ugly."


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"A sequel? What am I a hack?": Kevin Smith drops celeb-packed trailer to, yes, the sequel 'Clerks III'

ABC/Eric McCandless

On Wednesday, Kevin Smith dropped the trailer to his third Clerks movie, and as he'd promised, it reflects the filmmaker's real life in more ways than one.

The writer-director and podcaster maxed out his credit cards and shot the original 1994 indie film himself. Set primarily at the New Jersey convenience store where he worked, the movie launched his career.

The new threequel has Jeff Anderson's Randall back behind the counter with his buddy Dante, played again by Brian O'Halloran, but a brush with death -- in the form of a massive heart attack -- leads movie fan Randall to make the most out of life by shooting his own film...set in the convenience store where he works.

In 2018, Smith himself suffered a near-fatal heart attack, and the subsequent soul-searching led him back to where it all began.

Oh, and admitted post-coronary guilt trip calls to his now-famous old friends, like Ben Affleck, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Rosario Dawson, ensured they would play roles.

The meta script has Smith reprising his role as Silent Bob, the R2-D2 to the C-3PO of Jason Mewes' fellow stoner Jay. Randall decides the pair have to be in his movie, too.

Comparing the pair to the Star Wars characters, Randall says, "They've been here since the first movie, which was the last time they were cool, but they've been with the franchise so long they still...put them on the lunchboxes."

The trailer is replete with references to the first comedy, including a wisely deleted scene in which Dante's character was shot by a robber. "What if there's a sequel?!" he protests. "A sequel? What am I, a hack?" Randall replies.

Clerks III hits theaters this fall.

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"We fight or we die": Viola Davis reigns in new trailer to 'The Woman King'

Sony Pictures

Oscar and Emmy winner Viola Davis plays General Nanisca in the fact-based epic The Woman King, and the new trailer shows she's not taking any prisoners.

According to Sony Pictures, "The Woman King is the remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and a fierceness unlike anything the world has ever seen."

John Boyega plays a king forced to deploy his trusted general "as she trains the next generation of recruits and readies them for battle against an enemy determined to destroy their way of life."

She pleads with the ruler, "The Europeans wish to conquer us...We must fight back for our people."

His character replies, "You are asking me to take them to war!"

"Some things are worth fighting for," Davis' character insists.

Among the new recruits is No Time to Die and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' Lashana Lynch.

"We fear no one," Davis' character tells her charges. "I offer you a choice: We fight or we die."

The movie hits theaters September 16.

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The first trailer for 'Amsterdam', starring Taylor Swift, is here

Walt Disney Studios

We finally have our first look at the upcoming movie Amsterdam, which stars Taylor Swift.

The first trailer dropped Wednesday.  According the press release, the "original crime epic" takes place in the 30s and centers on three characters, played by Christian BaleJohn David Washington and Margot Robbie, who "find themselves at the center of one of the most shocking secret plots in American history."

The group forges a bond to protect each other as they get swept up in a conspiracy in which they're falsely accused of murdering an important individual. As the trailer promises, you find out how they "altered the course of American history," as the trailer teases.

While Taylor isn't shown much in the first Amsterdam trailer, we do get a brief glimpse of her. The Grammy winner is seen toward the end of the two-minute clip -- her richly dressed character looks distraught.

This marks Taylor's first big-screen role following 2019's critically panned movie musical, CATS.

Amsterdam, also starring Robert De NiroMike MyersAnya Taylor-JoyChris RockRami Malek and Zoe Saldaña, arrives exclusively in theaters on November 4.

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"Everyone is fascinated with bad guys": Christian Bale goes from Batman to "butcher" in 'Thor: Love and Thunder'

Marvel Studios

Thor: Love and Thunder hits theaters this weekend, and for Christian Bale, the film gave him a chance to pivot from playing a beloved hero, Batman, in Chris Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, to this film's heavy: Gorr the God Butcher.

The character begins as a devout man, whose god failed him and his people -- particularly his daughter -- and he gets the chance to get even. Soon, he begins a galaxy-wide vendetta against all gods, including, of course, Chris Hemsworth's titular god of Thunder.

"It's a lot easier to play a villain than it is to play a hero," Bale enthused at a recent press event. "Everyone is fascinated with bad guys immediately, and then the beauty of it is that Taika can make it bloody hilarious and really moving as well," referring to writer-director Taika Waititi.

Bale adds, "I don't know if it's pushing it too much to say 'sympathy', but certainly you sort of understand maybe why this guy is making awful decisions, you know -- and he is a monster and he is a butcher -- but yeah, there's possibly a little understanding of why he came to be that way."

Thor: Love and Thunder also stars Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Russell Crowe, and Chris Pratt and his Guardians of the Galaxy pals. It opens nationwide July 8.

Marvel Studios is owned by Disney, parent company of ABC News.

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Hayden Panettiere opens up about struggle with alcoholism, postpartum depression

Good Morning America

After four years away from the Hollywood spotlight , actress Hayden Panettiere is opening up for the first time about the challenges she's faced that nearly destroyed her career.

In a People and Good Morning America exclusive interview, the 32-year-old said that she'd been "struggling for a long time."

"I didn't know where the alcoholism was ending and the postpartum was beginning. And I ran myself pretty ragged," she said.

Since her hit show Nashville ended in 2018, Panettiere said the years that followed have "been difficult."

"I just needed a break," she said.

Shortly after the birth of her daughter in 2014, Panettiere was overcome with postpartum depression. She told ABC News' Kaylee Hartung she turned to "the bottom of a bottle" for support.

"I didn't have any negative feelings towards my child," she said. "I just knew I was deeply depressed," like she "was in...this haze that just wasn't me."

"People around me were more concerned about my usage of alcohol than they ever were about the postpartum depression," the actress admitted.

They thought she was "being a crazy woman" or "an overly emotional female," but Panetierre said, "it was so out of my control."

"I felt like I was walking blind," Hayden expressed. "And I don't like to ask for help either. I wanna be that strong, stoic woman. But, I mean, when you see a happy-go-lucky girl for years suddenly on the floor in a puddle of mess and alcohol, you gotta know something is wrong."

Eventually, Panettiere sought out the treatment she needed, which included making friends who could understand her struggles.

Panettiere says she is now sober and is taking things one day at a time.

"It's an everyday battle," she said, adding, I'm grateful to say that I'm sober today."

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In Brief: Chris Evans, Emily Blunt prep for 'Pain', and more

Chris Evans has joined Emily Blunt in the cast of Netflix's Pain Hustlers, according to Variety. Blunt plays a high school dropout "dreaming of a better life for her and her young daughter" who "lands a job with a failing pharmaceutical start-up in a yellowing strip mall in Central Florida," per the streaming service. Her "charm, guts and drive catapult the company and her into the high life, where she soon finds herself at the center of a criminal conspiracy with deadly consequences.” Evans' role has not been revealed. The Captain America star will next be seen in Netflix's The Gray Man, alongside Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas...

The CW has announced the fall premiere dates for its primetime lineup on Monday. Stargirl provides a teaser of sorts, with an August 31 launch. Then the 2022-23 season opens in earnest on October 2 with the premieres of Family Law and Coroner. Kung Fu kicks off its new season October 5, followed by Walker and Walker: Independence on October 6. All American and All American: Homecoming debut October 10, then it's The Winchesters and Professionals on October 11. October 14 kicks off the new seasons of Penn & Teller: Fool Us and Whose Line Is It Anyway. Finally it's, Criss Angel's Magic with the Stars and World's Funniest Animals on October 22...

HBO Max on Tuesday released the official trailer its upcoming Issa Rae-directed comedy series, Rap S***. The show centers on two Miami-based rappers -- Shawna, played by Aida Osman, and Mia, played by KaMillion -- who try to find success in the music industry. The series will debut on July 21, with the first two episodes premiering as a special event. The eight-episode season will then air one episode per week, wrapping up on September 1... (Trailer contains uncensored profanity.)

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'Bachelorette's Michelle Young says split with Nayte Olukoya "not something I foresaw"

Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images

The Bachelorette alum Michelle Young is finally shedding some light on her breakup with season 18 winner Nayte Olukoya, a turn of events that left her blindsided.

“I will say this is not something that I foresaw and I'll leave it there,” Michelle said during an appearance on Ben Higgins and Ashley Iaconetti's Almost Famous podcast on Tuesday, adding that she has “good days” and “bad days” and is “leaning on...friends [and] family for support” as she navigates the breakup.

“Breakups suck. Breakups are awful,” she explaining that “what's so difficult is that it sometimes feels like it's not in your control. You wake up and you some days you just feel like, ‘OK, I just have to...give it time."

"But it is this situation where I'm like, ‘This is not how the story ends for me.’ Where I'm at right now emotionally, mentally, like, how my heart feels -- this is not how the story ends and I deserve to really make it to that point where I get those things.”

Nayte, meanwhile, has denied allegations that he was cheating on her, writing on his Instagram stories, “Not every breakup needs to have someone to blame. Yes, many of you seem to paint me as a red flag/ f*** boy … But I’m actually a decent guy, and I only want to continue getting better. As we should all want for ourselves,” according to Us Weekly.

Young and Olukoya, who got engaged during the December 2021 finale of The Bachelorette, announced their decision to end their relationship in respective statements on June 17.

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Reimagining of 'Beauty and the Beast' coming to ABC December 15


To celebrate the milestone anniversary of the Oscar-winning animated film, ABC and Disney are teaming up for a "one-night only" event called Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration.

Airing on December 15 at 8 p.m. ET, the two-hour animated and live-action "reimagination" will pay tribute to the original 1991 film and its legacy "by showcasing the fan-favorite movie, along with new memorable musical performances, taking viewers on a magical adventure through the eyes of Belle," according to a press release.

The live-action performers will be announced at a later date, but John M. Chu, the director of the hit Crazy Rich Asians and the musical movie In The Heights, is producing. British director Hamish Hamilton, a veteran of the Super Bowl halftime show who has worked with the likes of Eminem and Madonna, will be calling the shots.

The original Beauty and the Beast was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Picture category and took home a Best Music trophy for composer Alan Menken.

The movie was remade into a hit live-action adaptation starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as Adam/The Beast. It also featured performances from Josh Gad as LeFou, Luke Evans as Gaston, and featured the voices of Ewan McGregor as Lumière and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

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'Stranger Things' finale helps series cross billion-hours-viewed mark


Stranger Things brought the fireworks for Netflix over the weekend. 

For the first time since the global phenomenon Squid Game, viewership for Stranger Things surpassed 1.15 billion hours on the streaming service following the drop of season 4, volume 2 on July 1. That's a record for an English-language show on the streamer.

The show's fourth season made up for more than 301 million hours of that staggering total for the week spanning June 27-July 3, landing it on the top 10 for English language TV shows in 93 countries.

The previous Stranger Things seasons also landed on the list in that period: Its first season ranked #3; season 2 #6; and season 3 came in at #5. 

The Korean import Squid Game holds the Netflix record for the most-viewed series overall, with 1.65 billion total viewing hours worldwide.

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James Cameron dishes on 'Avatar' sequels, disses series' "trolls"

Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Thanks to a 2021 rerelease that nudged it past Avengers: Endgame, 2009's Avatar remains the highest grossing movie of all time.

Its haul -- before a September re-rerelease -- stands at $2.8 billion.

That said, there are many who wonder how Avatar got there in the first place. Director James Cameron has heard those gripes; in true James Cameron form, the man working on four sequels to the original doesn't hold back.

"The trolls will have it that nobody gives a sh** and they can't remember the characters' names or one damn thing that happened in the movie," he grouses to Empire magazine. "Then they see the movie again and go, 'Oh, OK, excuse me, let me just shut the f*** up right now.'"

He's also not worried about the run time of December's sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water which -- as of now -- is around three hours.

"I don't want anybody whining about length when they sit and binge-watch [TV] for eight hours," Cameron says. "I can almost write this part of the review. 'The agonizingly long three-hour movie …' It's like, give me a f***ing break ..."

He adds, "Here's the big social paradigm shift that has to happen: it's OK to get up and go pee."

As for its three sequels, which will roll out through 2028, the Titanic Oscar winner explains, "I think eventually ... after [Avatar] three or after four -- I’ll want to pass the baton to a director that I trust to take over," he mused, adding, "Or maybe not. I don't know."

Cameron says the third Avatar movie is in the can, having shot concurrently with the second, which adds Kate Winslet to its original cast, which includes Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldaña and Sam Worthington.

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Not very gentlemanly: Theaters cracking down as "gentleminions" trend helps push 'Minions' prequel to box office record

Universal Pictures

Viral trends might seem a little peculiar to those technically too old to be a part of them, but enjoying things ironically is a key element to the TikTok generation.

And a new trend helped propel Minions: The Rise of Gru to a July 4 box office record.

Even before the social media platform was a thing, Gen Y used Instagram to meme Shrek -- and with it, Smashmouth's "All Star" -- back into the public consciousness, and now Gen Z has set its sights on Minions.

To that end, droves of mostly male teens, who are technically out of the kids movie's demographic, have been showing up to theaters all over the world.

Wearing business attire in tribute to the series' supervillian Gru, voiced by Steve Carrell, the Gentleminions, as they've dubbed themselves, have been posting their en masse movements into movie houses, where they watch with synchronized tented fingers -- again, a la Gru.

Some bring bananas, the little yellow critters' favorite snack.

Hey, we said it's peculiar -- but it's still more wholesome than the Tide Pod challenge.

After millions and millions of viral views, some movie chains have had enough. They're banning the suited teens from theaters after some acted rowdy -- and yes, some bananas were thrown.

A theater chain in the U.K. even complained about "massive" financial losses from having to refund other patrons' tickets because of the Gentleminions' ungentlemanly behavior.

That said, Universal Pictures couldn't be more pleased. "to everyone showing up to @Minions in suits: we see you and we love you," the studio tweeted. To boot, the movie's official account also posted a montage of the Gentleminions to -- where else -- TikTok.

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Quentin Tarantino and wife Daniela welcome second child

Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Oscar winner Quentin Tarantino and his wife, Daniela, had an extra special fourth of July this year: They welcomed a baby daughter on July 2.

The filmmaker, 59, and his actress, model, and singer wife, 38, broke the happy news to People in a statement.

The pair met in 2009, and got engaged in June 2017. They married the following year, and welcomed their first child, son Leo, in February of 2020, after Daniela appeared in the director's 2019 film Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood.

Speaking of, Tarantino once told Jimmy Kimmel that Leo wasn't named after that film's star, Leonardo DiCaprio, explaining, "We almost didn't name him that because people would assume I named him after Leonardo DiCaprio -- which, nothing wrong with that, but I didn't." Tarantino said the boy was named after his wife's grandfather, and also because "in our hearts, he's our little lion."

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