Eva Green in “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”; Jay Maidment/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation(NEW YORK) -- I don’t know whose idea it was to have director Tim Burton adapt Ransom Riggs’ 2011 novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, but I do know I’d like to buy that person a drink. The idea was like matching Burton with Johnny Depp. Perfect.
Asa Butterfield stars as Jake, an ordinary – maybe less than ordinary – teenager living in South Florida, whose grandfather, Abe (Terence Stamp), is killed. Everybody else thinks Abe died of natural cause, but Jake, who witnessed Abe’s death, saw a monster not far from where he found his grandfather, though nobody believes him. Furthermore, before Abe passes, he utters some sort of riddle to Jake about an island, a loop, a bird and 1943. I won’t give you the direct quote because it’s best to hear the amazing Mr. Stamp say it.
Abe’s death hits Jake hard – he was closer to his grandfather than he is to his own father. Abe would spend countless hours regaling Jake with stories of his own childhood, one spent on a British island in a special home run by a Miss Peregrine (Eva Green). Jake’s therapist (Allison Janney) suggests Jake’s family take him to the island where Miss Peregrine’s home supposedly is. When they get there, Jake learns the home was destroyed by a Nazi bomber in 1943. And that’s when the children of Miss Peregrine’s home discover Jake.
The children, led by Emma Bloom (Ella Purnell), were sent to the future by Miss Peregrine to bring back Jake. As it turns out, Miss Peregrine is what’s known as an Ymbryne, a woman who can create time loops – making the same day recur over and over – for the sole purpose of protecting “peculiar” children, who are a lot like the mutants we’ve become accustomed to from the X-Men series.
Instead of “mutant powers,” these kids have “peculiarities.” For instance, Emma is light as air. One of the little girls is as strong as ten men, while another has a mouth in the back of her head. There’s an invisible boy, another who has bees in his body, and another who can project his dreams through his eyes, just like a movie projector.
As it happens, Miss Peregrine’s powers, and those of every other Ymbryne, are an issue because several former peculiar children, led by Dr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson), have been attempting to harness the Ymbrynes' powers to achieve immortality. And some of those former children are now monsters whose only way to survive is by eating human eyeballs. Yummy!
Tim Burton pulls off a neat trick here. The story, which deviates slightly from the book, sticks to a familiar formula, and everything here is derivative of Harry Potter, X-Men, and Hot Tub Time Machine. Ok, it’s not remotely derivative of Hot Tub Time Machine, but it’s clearly derivative of the rest. But even so, this film feels completely original and, most importantly, like a Tim Burton film. It’s gorgeous, it’s creepy, it’s mystical, it’s engrossing and enchanting.
The movie fan in me loves Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The movie critic in me found a few flaws, but forgivable ones.
Mark Wahlberg in “Deepwater Horizon”; Lionsgate(NEW YORK) -- Deepwater Horizon reunites director Peter Berg with Mark Wahlberg after a successful collaboration on 2013’s Lone Survivor. Wahlberg’s acting continues to improve with age but Lone Survivor, it could be argued then, may have been his best performance to date. Berg, an actor himself, is terrific at capturing special performances. And Wahlberg is pretty special here.
Wahlberg plays Mike Williams, an engineer on the Deepwater Horizon, the offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico that exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 rig workers and causing the worst oil spill in U.S. History. But it’s the characters, not the action, that win us over here.
Wahlberg’s turned his cloying earnestness into a real strength, and immediately wins points when we see Mike on shore bonding with his young daughter, Sydney (Stella Allen), and his wife, Felicia, played by Kate Hudson. Their love is palpable. Berg excels at building relationships and making characters three-dimensional, and it works here not only with Wahlberg’s character, but with virtually everybody who walks on screen. That includes Kurt Russell, who plays Jimmy Harrell, the rig’s captain, to everybody from oil company BP, who puts pressure on Harrell to pump oil from a well that’s unstable at best, which leads to the catastrophe.
There’s conflict in almost every moment of this movie, which speaks not only to Berg and his cast, but also the brilliant screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand. Berg turns the story of the Deepwater Horizon into a nail-biting thriller, while balancing the humanity of a tragic event in an evocative and cathartic way.
Courtesy of Gaga/NFL/Pepsi(NEW YORK) -- Lady Gaga is headed back to the Super Bowl, this time as the headliner of the halftime show.
The pop star and the NFL confirmed Thursday night that she will perform during the halftime show of Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, on February 5, 2017. The big game will be broadcast on Fox.
Gaga, referring to her new single "Perfect Illusion," tweeted, "It's not an illusion. The rumors are true. This year the SUPER BOWL goes GAGA!"
She'll appear on the Fox NFL Sunday Pregame Show this Sunday to discuss the gig.
Gaga sang the national anthem at Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, California, last February. Coldplay, joined by Beyonce and Bruno Mars, took the halftime stage during that game.
Gaga is scheduled to release her new album, Joanne, on October 21.
Photo: David Lee(NEW YORK) -- Director Peter Berg's new drama Deepwater Horizon tests the box office waters Friday. Critical reaction to the film that depicts the lives of those who lived and worked -- and the 11 who died -- aboard the doomed BP oil rig has been positive.
For the stars of the film, including Mark Wahlberg, who portrays Mike Williams, the last person to evacuate the rig, and Kate Hudson, who plays his wife Felicia, the best reviews they've gotten have been from those who were really there during the 2010 disaster, and their families who anxiously awaited news of the fate of their loved ones.
Hudson told Good Morning America that cast and crew felt the added pressure of telling a true story. “You have this sort of extra, added thing in the back of your head...There’s no carelessness going into making a film like that when you know that the families are watching.”
Hudson told GMA After Hours that, "seeing the families' reaction to it has been a very, very special thing to be a part of."
For his part, Wahlberg said of Mr. Williams to ABC's Robin Roberts, "He's somebody that I admire for many reasons, but he hates the term 'hero.' He says, 'I was just doing my job, and I was doing what any of my other brothers would have done.' But he's a pretty remarkable guy," adding, "I asked him to come and consult on the movie because we wanted to make it accurate and authentic, and we wanted to make sure he was there to make sure we were getting it right."
Deepwater Horizon also stars John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez, and Hudson's real-life stepdad Kurt Russell.
Funko - 2016(NEW YORK) -- As it is every year, next week's New York Comic Con is famous for its exclusive products -- that is, toys and other items that you can only buy there, which in turn causes massive lines of fans waiting to get their hands on them.
This year, however, the company Funko is releasing action figures of four unlikely heroines that will have geeks clamoring: Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sofia. Yes -- the Golden Girls.
The four-day annual nerd mecca, which takes place October 6–9 at the Jacob K. Javits Center in Manhattan, will be the only place to buy the special four-pack, which fans can use to recreate their favorite adventures from the beloved '80s sitcom.
"The response to our Golden Girls products has been wild," Mark Robben, Director of Marketing at Funko, tells ABC Radio. "We almost weren't prepared for the excitement. We created these as a passion project initially, and were blown away when it started trending on social media."
He adds of Golden Girls, "The show was ahead of its time and it clearly resonates today. I expect long lines at NYCC for Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia."
For the record, Funko will also have other exclusives at the event, including new additions to its popular, bobble-headed Pop! series, featuring characters from properties like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World andThe Walking Dead.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- To Bostonians like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is as close to a deity as one can be on this spiritual plane. Now a new charity experience from Omaze.comwill let one lucky fan find out which film star Brady likes more -- which for Pats fans is akin to learning the secret of life itself.
In a video debuting exclusively on Good Morning America Thursday to promote the campaign, Affleck and Damon have an "argument" over which of them the NFL quarterback likes better.
The argument -- conducted over video call -- is interrupted when Brady himself calls in.
The Omaze campaign offers one person and a guest the chance to win a night out in Boston with Brady, Affleck and Damon for as little as $10. The funds raised will support the stars’ individual charity initiatives: Affleck's Eastern Congo Initiative, Damon's Water.org, and Tom Brady's TB12 Foundation.
At the end of the video, Brady invites people to visit Omaze.com/Boston to enter, then adds: “I can’t wait to meet you and tell you which one of these guys I actually like better."
Mariska Hargitay and Vice President Joe Biden on "Law & Order: SVU"; Michael Parmelee/NBC(NEW YORK) -- Wednesday night's episode of the NBC drama Law & Order: SVU included a special guest appearance byVice President Joe Biden.
Biden was featured in a scene in which he praised Mariska Hargitay's Lt. Olivia Benson and others at a press conference for addressing the national rape kit backlog.
"My dad used to have an expression. He said, 'The greatest sin any person can commit is the abuse of power.' And the great abuse of power was rape," he began.
"It takes women a long time to heal. When the victim isn't believed, when she goes through the invasive process of having a rape kit put together, and then it's stuck on a shelf somewhere, and then the rape kit is never, ever tested, we fail. We fail her. We fail so many women."
In real life, Biden has been an advocate for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, and was honored by Hargitay's Joyful Heart Foundation in May for his commitment to the issue.
Biden taped his appearance on Law & Order: SVU in July.
Monty Brinton/CBS(LOS ANGELES) -- Gary Glasberg, an executive producer of NCIS and the creator of the spin-off NCIS: New Orleans, died in his sleep Wednesday in Los Angeles, CBS has announced. He was 50.
Glasberg joined NCIS as a co-executive producer and writer in 2009, and became showrunner of the hit drama in 2011. He created NCIS: New Orleans in 2014.
A statement from the NCIS cast and crew reads, "Gary was our rock, our cheerleader, our team captain. He inspired us with his leadership, his creative instincts and keen insight. NCIS will not be the same without him, and each of us will miss his smiling face and unwavering humor, which lifted us every day."
Glasberg's other credits included the TV series The Mentalist and Bones.
He is survived by his wife, TV producer and screenwriter Mimi Schmir, their two sons, his father, and his sister.
ABC/Justin Jay(NEW YORK) -- Saturday Night Live has elected Alec Baldwin to play Donald Trump.
The show returns for its 42nd season this weekend, and on Wednesday it released a teaser promoting a face-off between Baldwin as the Republican presidential nominee and cast member Kate McKinnon as Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
We see both Baldwin and McKinnon in costume in the brief clip, but neither of them speak.
In the past, Trump has been portrayed on the show by SNL announcer Darrell Hammond and former cast member Taran Killam, who left the show this summer.
Baldwin is no stranger to SNL, having hosted the NBC sketch-comedy series more than any other celebrity -- 16 times.
The season premiere of SNL this Saturday will be hosted by Suicide Squad star Margot Robbie, with musical guest The Weeknd.
Larry Busacca/Getty Images Portrait for Tony Awards Productions(NEW YORK) -- Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony-winning creator of Hamilton, will be the guest on the second installment of Saturday Night Live's 42nd season. The musical guest, it was also announced Wednesday, will beTwenty One Pilots.
As soon as it was announced, Miranda -- who nerded out with Weird Al Yankovic last Saturday evening at a concert at Radio City Music Hall -- had an equally geeky reaction to the SNL news. "My favorite SNL episode: @thefredsavage, musical guest Technotronic. Couldn't believe a kid my age was on SNL. And SO GOOD. 1990."
Saturday's season debut will star Suicide Squad's Margot Robbie and The Weeknd will be the musical guest.
Myles Aronowitz/Netflix(NEW YORK) -- Friday, Netflix releases Luke Cage, the third in its acclaimed Marvel superhero series.
Mike Colter reprises his Jessica Jones role as Cage, a wrongly-accused fugitive left super-strong and unbreakable after a sabotaged experiment.
The series will see Luke relocating uptown from Jones' and Daredevil's home turf of Hell's Kitchen to Harlem, where the reluctant street-level hero will take on criminal kingpin Cottonmouth Stokes, played by Mahershala Ali, who's terrorizing Harlem.
Colter says when we catch up with Cage, he's trying to find himself. "Luke Cage really hasn't figured out what he's doing. And for good reason: he's a fugitive, we know that he has skeletons in his closets and he's trying to basically stay off the radar." That's not easy, though -- says Colter, "the people he hangs around [with] sometimes, they're in need. He'd rather be left alone, but...because he's equipped to deal with certain things, he does step up."
"Sometimes we just... sit on our hands...and say, 'Hey, it's not my problem.' Well, you can't say that when you're a superhero," says Colter.
The Luke Cage cast also includes Rosario Dawson, reprising her Daredevil and Jessica Jones role as nurse Claire Temple, and acclaimed actress Alfre Woodard, who plays a local politician related to Stokes.
Marvel is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC News.
Photo by Isaac Brekken/via WireImage/ABC via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Agnes Nixon, a legend in the TV soap opera world who created One Life to Live and All My Children, has passed away.
Nixon's daughter, Cathy Chicos, has confirmed to ABC Radio that the writer and producer died Wednesday morning as a result of her battle with Parkinson’s disease and a recent stroke. She was 93.
One Life to Live and All My Children, both set in fictional Pennsylvania suburbs, enjoyed lengthy runs on ABC. One Life to Live, which revolved in part around the Lord family, aired from 1968-2012. All My Children, which famously starred Susan Lucci as Erica Kane, aired from 1970-2011. Both were later revived as online series.
Nixon's daytime writing credits also included CBS' Guiding Light and NBC's Another World. She received a Daytime Emmy for lifetime achievement in 2010.
Nixon had just finished writing a memoir, My Life to Live, which is scheduled to be released in January.
Lucci posted a photo of herself with Nixon on Instagram Wednesday, writing, "I am devastated to learn that we have lost Agnes. I adored her and admired her -- and I am forever grateful to her! May this liveliest and loveliest of women rest in peace."
Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC, said in a statement, “It is with a heavy heart I mourn the passing of television pioneer Agnes Nixon, someone I was proud to call a friend. Agnes’ impact on daytime television and pop culture is undeniable. She was the first to champion socially relevant topics, and the towns and characters Agnes brought to life leave an indelible imprint on television that will be remembered forever. On behalf of Walt Disney and ABC, I want to extend our deepest condolences to her family.”
The project is in good hands: director Jon Favreau, who not only called the shots with the Jungle Book, which made more than $960 million worldwide, but also the blockbusters Iron Man and Iron Man 2.
The filmmaker tweeted his feelings earlier Wednesday morning, with a simple: "Excited about my next project," followed with a lion and a crown emoji. Minutes later, however, the actor-director-writer deleted the post, perhaps having realizing he'd jumped the gun with the official press release on the film.
He later re-posted it.
There's no release date yet for The Lion King, but Disney's next live-action adaptation, Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson as Belle, hits theaters March 17, 2017. Favreau is also working on a sequel to The Jungle Book.