ABC/Paula Lobo(NEW YORK) -- Fifteen years after the groundbreaking original show began, Showtime's sequel series The L Word: Generation Q, debuts Sunday. To show how much things have changed in this country in the years since the show first aired, gay marriage wasn't even legal at that time, and now, queer representation on TV is no longer out of the mainstream.
The show's original cast is back, including Jennifer Beals, who plays Bette. She tells ABC Audio that she and co-stars Katherine Moennig and Leisha Hailey are friends who, "see each other all the time," but she adds, "we don't see each other as 'Bette', 'Shane' and 'Alice', right? So that first day on set was truly surreal."
Beals adds, "[I]t really wasn't until I put my cufflinks on that I really kind of could feel Bette come back."
So what's Bette been up to? "Masking disaster," the former Flashdance actress jokes. "She's had a really challenging past two and a half years."
As the series begins, Bette decides to run for mayor of Los Angeles.
Beals adds that while the original show opened doors, it continues to break down barriers.
"I really love how inclusive the cast is...And, you know, there is a wider embrace to the trans characters and trans characters are played by trans actors," says Beals. "There are some trans actors who play cis characters. And so that's interesting...to me because it makes us all really rethink gender identity."
She comments about the show's return: "While...I'm very, very excited that [the show] gives visibility...to an entire community, I'm also really excited that those people who aren't part of that community get to experience the beauty of that community."
The L Word: Generation Q debuts Sunday at 10 p.m. on Showtime.
Todd Williamson/January Images(NEW YORK) -- Felicity Jones is rising to new heights in the new inspired-by-true-events film, The Aeronauts.
The Oscar-nominated actress plays 19th century balloon pilot Amelia Wren opposite her Theory of Everything co-star Eddie Redmayne, who plays meteorologist James Glaisher. Together, they embark on a dangerous journey to fly higher than anyone in history.
Most of the film takes place within the confines of a gas balloon during its ascent into the clouds. Jones and Redmayne even filmed some scenes thousands of feet in the air in a real balloon, while director Tom Harper watched from a nearby helicopter.
“I was fine before the film and then afterwards... Now I'm not so good with heights,” Jones tells ABC Audio. “It's quite a gradual ascent as you go up…so it doesn't strike you. It's actually coming down in the landing where it…can be a bit more rocky.”
While Amelia is a fictionalized character, she was heavily based on real-life pioneering aeronaut Sophie Blanchard and serves as a role model for young women.
“She was a massive inspiration for Amelia Wren,” Jones says. “It’s so important to have those characters when you're growing up and watching films and go, ‘These things that I'm told might be impossible to do, I can do them if I put my mind to it.’”
Now, Jones is onto her next adventure. Earlier this week, Peopleconfirmed that the actress is expecting her first child with husband Charles Guard.
The Aeronauts hits theaters today and will be available on Amazon Prime Video starting December 20.
20th Century Fox/Eric Charbonneau(LOS ANGELES) -- Maybe it's not surprising considering one of them is Spider-Man, and the other's been an action hero since the Spidey star's been in Underoos, but Tom Holland and Will Smith reportedly crushed an escape room.
The pair can be heard as unlikely partners in the upcoming animated movie Spies in Disguise, but they never met until recently, when they decided to bond in one of those interactive environments.
"We were wanting to figure out if we really could do the stuff that we did as spies," Smith explained to Entertainment Weekly at the premiere of the film. "We got out. It was a 1-hour escape room, and we were out in 24 minutes."
"I think Will got the majority of the clues," Holland confessed to EW. "I've never actually escaped an escape room so the secret of escaping an escape room is do it with Will Smith because he’s really good at it."
In Spies in Disguise, Smith plays a 007-like character who accidentally gets turned into a pigeon while looking for a disguise from his gadget man, voiced by Holland.
For Holland, who in real life is an accomplished acrobat who does most of his Spider-Man flips and falls, voicing an animated character presented him with a challenge.
"[Y]ou can't move from the mark that you're on," he explains. "So Walter will be falling off a building after he’s tried to do some parkour, and I'll be doing all the moves but just not moving. ...[I]t is one of the most tiring things I've ever done. But it's so rewarding and I'm so proud of the movie."
Spies in Disguise, also featuring the voices of Rashida Jones, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel's Rachel Brosnahan, and Avengers and Jumanji veteran Karen Gillan, opens December 25.
ABC/Jeff Niera(NEW YORK) -- Paula Abdul and Green Day are among the artists who'll be ringing in the New Year on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020.
Both acts are performing on the West Coast portion of the annual December 31 special, which will be hosted from Hollywood by pop and R&B star Ciara.
The West Coast celebration also will feature performances from pop singer Dua Lipa, country artists Dan Shay and Kelsea Ballerini, indie-pop group SHAED and rappers Salt-N-Pepa and Megan Thee Stallion, among others. The fun gets underway at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Ryan Seacrest will host additional performances from New York City's Times Square with co-host Lucy Hale, and lead the traditional countdown to the New Year, while Billy Porter will host from New Orleans, and lead the countdown in the Central Time Zone.
Performers for New York and New Orleans will be announced soon.
Annie Leibovitz/ Vogue(NEW YORK) -- Sports IllustratedSwimsuit Issue model and body positivity advocate Ashley Graham is celebrating the new year by appearing on the latest cover of Vogue, cradling her very prominent baby bump in a shimmering copper Oscar de la Renta caftan.
Her January issue cover, shot by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz, is the second powerful female to be featured as part of the magazine's "Vogue Values" issue: Fashion designer Stella McCartney was the first cover revealed, and Little Women director Greta Gerwig will also be featured.
Graham first appeared on American Vogue in 2017, sharing the splash with Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and other top fashion models.
For her part, Graham tells ABC Audio she's stoked she's got the cover to herself...sort of. "It's almost my first solo Vogue cover," she said, laughing heartily -- considering her unborn son with Justin Ervin is also sharing the spotlight.
The honor reminds her, "...anything is possible for those who work hard and ask to get to where they are."
Graham explains that even as someone who knocked down doors for body acceptance, being pregnant meant an attitude shift. "Oh, my gosh, it's so ridiculous. I know, my kid isn't even here yet and I'm already thinking about like, 'What's my body supposed to look like?'"
She adds, "I've been so thankful for the [mommy] community online because...this has not been an easy process for me, watching my body change. And the...mommy community has embraced me so much and I'm so thankful for them, because the tears that I have cried watching new stretch marks form, back fat form....But every mommy has said, 'It's OK, everything's gonna be fine.'"
As for the photos, Ashley admits she's lucky: "I know, my first baby pictures, Annie Liebowitz shot me!"
Amazon Prime(NEW YORK) -- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is taking the show on the road for its third season, as Miriam “Midge” Maisel embarks on her very first comedy tour.
The former housewife, played by Emmy winner Rachel Brosnahan, is continuing to make her stand-up comedy splash -- and is inspiring those around her in the process.
This season, set in the ‘60s, we’ll see Midge's conservative Jewish mother, Rose, played by Marin Hinkle, assert her independence and begin to stand up for herself.
“I feel like we all as audience can go, ‘Look at Rose, following her daughter!’” Hinkle tells ABC Audio. “And then of course, Rose herself would never be able to admit it…I think it's very hard for her at times to admit that she even has vulnerability or that she even learns from others.”
Seeing Midge follow her dreams is even pushing her ex-husband Joel -- played by Michael Zegen -- to be better. This season, he decides to open his own comedy club.
“He has to find a purpose, he has to find a path and clearly comedy wasn't it,” Zegen says. “And then he was working at a plastics company. That wasn't it. He worked for his father. That's not it either. But now with this club, I think he has a purpose and he has this path that will hopefully make him happy.”
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel -- also starring Alex Borstein and Tony Shalhoub -- is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- While the Rockefeller tree lit up the New York City skyline on Wednesday, another large Christmas tree headed to a blissfully unaware Jennifer Garner on the other side of the country.
Garner, who revealed Thursday on Instagram, found out that she made a mistake when she allowed her kids get a bigger Christmas tree this year. It caused quite the shock when the prodigious pine arrived.
"So I told my kids we can go bigger because we're in a rental house and it has a really big foyer," explains Garner in the close up video as she stands next to her tree, as to not give away the surprise. She then holds back a laugh and continues, "But then it was delivered and I'm not sure this was the tree we picked out."
The camera then slowly pans away to show off the colossal tree that dwarfs the 5'8" actress, which could easily be twice her size.
Garner nervously grins up at the new festive addition to the house and marvels, "It's a little aggressive" before the video abruptly ends.
In the caption, the 13 Going on 30 actress writes "Go big or go home," and throws in the telling hashtag "#aggressivechristmas."
Obviously, Garner's celebrity friends found her misfortune a complete riot. Best friend Reese Witherspoon simply wrote "Whoa!!" while Katie Couric joked "OH EM GEE that tree has some serious BTE (big tree energy.)"
As to how the Garner family will decorate their personal Rockefeller-sized tree, or if they even have enough tinsel and ornaments to do it justice, has yet to be seen.
ABC/Lou Rocco(LOS ANGELES) -- Lifetime has released the first trailer for the upcoming film, Robin Roberts Presents: Stolen by My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story.
The film, produced by Roberts' movie and documentary production company, is based on the true story of a young woman who learns at age 18 that she was abducted as a baby and that the family she lives with is not her own.
Nash plays Gloria Williams, the woman who abducts Mosley at a South Carolina hospital shortly after her birth.
Stolen by My Mother premieres on January 18 at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime.
"I got something I need to tell you," says Nash as Williams in the promo. "A long time ago I took you."
The new film is a part of Lifetime's Ripped from the Headlines slate, which are all based on real-life crime stories. It also stars Rayven Symone Ferrell and Ta’Rhonda Jones, and will be followed by a documentary featuring the real-life people depicted in the movie.
STXfilms(NEW YORK) -- Opening nationwide on Friday:
* Playmobil: The Movie -- This animation/live-action film, based on the German toy line stars Gabriel Bateman as Charlie, who gets lost in the animated Playmobil universe. His sister Marla, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, then has to go on a quest to find him and bring him home. Along the way, she gets help from a food truck driver, a secret agent and a fairy godmother -- voiced respectively by Jim Gaffigan, Daniel Radcliffe and Meghan Trainor. Adam Lambert provides the voice of the villainous Emperor Maximus. Rated PG.
Opening in limited release on Friday:
* The Aeronauts -- This thriller, inspired by true events, follows fictional daredevil pilot Amelia Wren and meteorologist James Glaisher, played by Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne, respectively, who find themselves in an epic fight for survival while attempting to make discoveries in a gas balloon. Rated PG-13
* The Wolf Hour – Set during 1977’s “Son of Sam” murders, a once well-known counter-culture figure, played by Naomi Watts, tries to escape the chaos by shutting herself in her grandmother’s New York City apartment. As fear and paranoia take hold, a parade of visitors arrive at her door, and she must figure out whom she can trust and whether she can find a path back to her former self. Rated R.
* Dark Light – Following her mother’s death and a painful divorce, a woman and her daughter, played by Jessica Madsen and Opal Littleton, return to her family home and discover it’s inhabited by monsters. Not rated.
Disney(LOS ANGELES) -- (NOTE CONTENT) For the record, Billy Dee Williams is not "gender fluid." He identifies as a man. A very cute man, he specifies to The Undefeated.
Whether it be wooing Diana Ross in Mahogany, trying to sweet talk Princess Leia in The Empire Strikes Back or implying the skirt-dropping properties of Colt .45 malt liquor on TV, Billy Dee has always been seen as the quintessential ladies' man.
Which is probably why a recent interview withEsquire in which he seemed to imply he was gender fluid went immediately viral. "...And you see I say 'himself' and 'herself,' because I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine," he said.
However, in an interview with The Undefeated, Williams claims to have been misunderstood.
"What the hell is 'gender fluid'?" Williams recalled asking. "What I was talking about was about men getting...in touch with [their] female side...I wasn't talking about sex, I wasn't talking about being gay or straight."
Billy Dee adds, "I'm not gay -- by any stretch of the imagination. Not that I have anything against gay people."
For the record, gender fluidity isn't the same thing as sexuality.
Williams' unintentional "revelation" to Esquire ironically intermingled with Solo: A Star Wars Story screenwriter Jon Kasdan's opinion that Williams' Star Wars character Lando Calrissian was pansexual.
That, too, made headlines, though apart from having a special bond with his droid co-pilot, there was no overt proof of that in Donald Glover's portrayal of the young Lando in the film.
Glover, however, later joked, "How can you not be pansexual in space? There's so many things to have sex with."
Williams will be seen in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker when it debuts December 20 from Disney, the parent company of ABC News.
The movie, which stars Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei, is about a young woman who disguises herself as a man so that she can take the place of her elderly father when he's drafted to join the Chinese military.
The original animated movie, with Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star Ming-Na Wen voicing Mulan, premiered in 1998 and grossed $304 million worldwide.
Disney released a first look at Mulan, the latest live-action "reimagining" of one of its animated classics, last year, when it revealed Liu had been cast following a year-long search.
Other cast members include Jet Li, Gong Li and Donnie Yen.
NBC/Trae Patton(LOS ANGELES) -- Gabrielle Union has met with NBC following the social media firestorm that occurred after she was fired from America's Got Talent over her reported complaints about alleged racism and other troubling behavior on-set.
“We had a lengthy 5-hour, and what I thought to be, productive meeting yesterday," Union told fans on Twitter. “I was able to, again, express my unfiltered truth. I led with transparency and my desire and hope for real change."
A NBC spokesperson also confirmed the meeting in a statement People.
"The initial conversation was candid and productive,” the statement read. “While there will be a further investigation to get a deeper understanding of the facts, we are working with Gabrielle to come to a positive resolution.”
Last week, Variety reported that Union, along with Julianne Hough, were not returning for AGT's upcoming 15th season. Union had reportedly complained to NBC about several problematic situations, and was also told that her frequently-changing hairstyles were said to be “too black” for AGT‘s audience.
Then last weekend, America's Got Talent's producers released a statement about the issue, declaring, "We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture,” and said they're “working with Ms. Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps may be appropriate.”
Additionally, SAG-AFTRA, the union for TV, film and voice performers, says they're investigating Union's claims.
America's Got Talent host Terry Crews, and judges Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel are all expected to return to the show.
Disney(LONDON) -- While taking selfies with fans seems part and parcel of modern-day fame, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker star Daisy Ridley isn't having it.
In an interview with the Times of London, she admits, "I usually say: "I'm really sorry -- not today."
She explained, "I'm not a big photo taker, and I don't want everyone to immediately know where I am. I know people share [their selfies] immediately, so I'm very aware of privacy in that way," she added.
Ridley will make an exception for her younger fans, however. "With kids, they’re not going to put it up somewhere straightaway," she notes.
Ridley, who famously left social media behind years ago for her own mental health following online harassment, tells the Radio Times she sometimes feels the need to "hide away at home." She cited as an example having tickets to a Cirque du Soleil show, but staying home instead.
"I was like, 'Even though people aren't going to look at me, if anyone does, I'm not in the right frame of mind to deal with that.' So I didn't go. It's a shame, but sometimes you have to listen to what your body is telling you."
Back in June, Ridley explained to BuzzFeed News that she "cut off" social media "like a Skywalker limb," adding, "Selena Gomez, she put it better than I did...It's dangerous."
Ridley added of the technology, "It's great in that respect for people who are in serious and dire situations to be able to be communicating, but for the most part I think" 'No, no, no.'"
She added: "[W]hen I want to see what my pals are up to, I can just Google it."
The awards, "celebrate the year's most outstanding achievements in the art of the moving image," according to the AFI webstite. Ten films and 10 television programs were deemed culturally and artistically significant for the 2019 honors.
On the television side, HBO's Chernobyl, Game of Thrones, Succession, Veep and Watchmen won in the TV category, along with with Ava DuVernay's When They See Us, which was named TV program of the year.
Bong Joon Ho's film Parasite and the Amazon Prime Emmy winning series Fleabag each earned special awards.
The AFI Awards will be presented at a luncheon in Los Angeles on January 3.
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