Here's what's new and interesting in entertainment and the arts:


DeMario Jackson gives his take on what happened at the 'Bachelor in Paradise' pool

Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson of "Bachelor in Paradise." (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images; Craig Sjodin / ABC)
Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson of "Bachelor in Paradise." (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images; Craig Sjodin / ABC)

DeMario Jackson, whose name was caught up in the alleged-misconduct brouhaha that brought "Bachelor in Paradise" production to a halt two weeks ago, is starting to talk about what happened on the set of the love-in-paradise reality show. 

The first night of "Paradise" filming "was probably one of the wildest nights of my entire life," he told E! News in an exclusive interview broadcast Monday night.  "Like, we went for it."

After meeting at the bar, where they wound up having a number of drinks, he and Corinne Olympios "were just complimenting each other on being villains. I was like, 'Look, I've accepted this role.'"

Olympios was portrayed as a villain on Nick Viall's season as "The Bachelor," while Jackson was booted by Rachel Lindsay on the current "Bachelorette" season after a woman who said she was Jackson's girlfriend showed up to confront him. 

He and Olympios "were kind of just laughing, like, 'Oh, we're about to dominate 'Paradise'! Like homie stuff, like really, really like friends." 

The two wound up making out in the pool, he said, but then it got wild, with "her being the aggressor, which was, like, sexy." He got out and sat on the edge of the pool, dangling his legs in the water, and then, he said, "She gets up out of the pool and puts her lady parts in my face. Like, right on my face." 

Did we mention that they'd gotten naked in the pool? Yeah, he vouched for that. 

The full interview was airing Monday and Tuesday nights on E!

Jackson also talked about how hard it was while Warner Bros.' investigation was going on, and he was accused of sexual behavior without consent. 

"My dad, he kept me extremely strong and kept me grounded and humble but having your mom cry every day for something that you know you didn't do," he said

Olympios has said she doesn't remember much from the first night of filming, and her attorney said that her team was continuing to investigate what happened, despite the studio's determination that there was no misconduct and its announcement that it had updated its policies in some areas. 

One alleged update: When "Bachelor in Paradise" restarted production over the weekend, its contestants faced a new drill when it came the show's drug policy, according to TMZ

In an email sent by producers and obtained by the website, cast members were advised that their bags would be "inventoried" for all drugs, legal and illegal, including prescription drugs not prescribed specifically to the contestant. 

"All drugs, over the counter and prescribed, must be submitted to the Nurse to keep and dispense accordingly for your stay in Mexico," the email reportedly said. The illegal stuff would be confiscated. 

Other than those statements from her and her lawyer last week — including one in which attorney Martin Singer said he wanted to make it "crystal clear" that his client had nothing to do with the allegations of misconduct — Olympios has yet to speak up in any detail about events in "Paradise." 

But her boyfriend, Jordan Gielchinsky, told E! News last week that whether it's as her friend or boyfriend, she'd continue to get his "unwavering loyalty and support until I decide that there is a legitimate reason not to give it. "Gielchinsky and Olympios have known each other for 10 years, he said


Celebrating #HarryPotter20: How Harry Potter and his blockbuster films came of age on screen

 (Peter Mountain / Warner Bros.)
(Peter Mountain / Warner Bros.)

The Boy Who Lived has cast his spell on the box office since "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," the first film in Warner Bros.' blockbuster franchise, hit theaters in 2001.

The bestselling, seven-book series was adapted into eight record-breaking films -- and a two-part play -- as the boy wizard ventured through Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and the wizarding world with his pals Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, taking on the enigmatic Lord Voldemort and his magical henchmen each school year.

As J.K. Rowling's debut novel "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" -- the first of the books from which the decade-spanning films were adapted -- marks its 20th anniversary, here's a reminder of how Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan reviewed the "Harry Potter" films. (Spoiler alert: He didn't always like them.)

1. 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' film is imaginative and faithful but shuns any risk-taking (2001)

As his 11th birthday approaches, orphan Harry Potter learns that he's a wizard and enrolls at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where his reputation as the Boy Who Lived precedes him during his magical training.

"The result is a remarkably faithful copy of the book that treats the text like holy writ (hence its 2-hour-and-33-minute length)," wrote The Times' film critic Kenneth Turan. "From the gold in Gringotts, the safe-as-houses goblin-run bank, to the centaur lurking in the forbidden forest that adjoins Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, so much is presented just as written that 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' starts to resemble one of those fiendishly exact replicas of great works of art that Sunday painters can be seen working on in galleries of museums."

In their second year at Hogwarts, Harry and his pals Ron and Hermione contend with a celebrity author professor and a well-meaning house elf named Dobby who thwart the trio in unexpected ways.

"The darkness that invades 'Chamber of Secrets' underlines how well the books managed to exactly balance good and evil, dark and light, so that within their pages you seemed to be experiencing both at the same time. Not so here," Turan wrote. "Because 'Chamber of Secrets' can't seem to get the balance right, it ends up broadly overdoing things on both ends of the spectrum. The film's scary moments are too monstrous and its happy times have too much idiotic beaming, making the film feel like the illegitimate offspring of 'Alien' and 'The Absent-Minded Professor.'"

3. 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' film comes close to capturing the essence of the books (2004)

The wizarding world gets markedly darker as convicted murderer Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), who is believed to have killed Harry's parents, escapes from the Azkaban prison and the soul-sucking Dementors are loosed to chase him down. Director Alfonso Cuarón takes the helm from Chris Columbus, who directed the two previous films.

"[T]he final hour of the two-hour-and-21-minute 'Azkaban' is the closest any of the films has gotten to capturing the enormously pleasing essence of the Potter books," wrote Turan, adding, "Those three leads (Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Emma Watson as Hermione, Rupert Grint as Ron) play characters who are now 13, an age when anger and frustration are more publicly expressed. One of the benefits of Cuarón's direction, his expertise with younger actors, means that the constant determination and occasional fury exhibited by the characters, especially Harry and Hermione, are completely convincing."

4. 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' finally gets Harry Potter right (2005)

Harry's surprising inclusion in the prestigious Triwizard Tournament, as a fourth-year student, raises concerns and brings danger to the Hogwarts castle.

"It's taken them long enough, but the movies have finally gotten Harry Potter right," wrote Turan. "It has fallen to the veteran [director] Mike Newell, eager, in his own words, 'to break out of this goody-two-shoes feel,' to make the first Harry Potter film to be wire-to-wire satisfying.

"Though memorable acting is neither called for nor delivered on the part of 'Goblet's' collection of juveniles, Radcliffe's Harry does get one thing exactly right. Watching him face myriad challenges, we're convinced that Harry's heart will lead him to do the right thing. He does good in the most natural way and, like so much of 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,' that's just how it should be."

5. 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' can't shake an episodic feeling (2007)

With the Ministry of Magic refusing to acknowledge Lord Voldemort's (Ralph Fiennes) return, fifth-year Harry is brooding at school as he contends with spooky visions and Ministry transplant Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). His knowledge of the dark magic-fighting organization, the Order of the Phoenix, and a prophecy further complicate matters.

"[Director David] Yates and his team handle the film's visuals well, including the impressive sets for the atrium of the Ministry of Magic and its Hall of Prophecy, as well as fine flying sequences involving either broomsticks or equine creatures called Thestrals," Turan wrote. "The director also works well with the film's juvenile leads, which is important, because these are the raging hormone years at Hogwarts School, and that is especially true where Harry is concerned. Looking so disgruntled in his gray hoodie that you fear he might start rapping, Harry comes off as more Grumpy Potter than the bright light of the wizarding world."

6. 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' is well-crafted but sometimes hard to endure (2009)

As dark magic spills into the Muggle world, Harry's mentor, Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), tasks him with bringing down Lord Voldemort. But Harry's discovery of an old textbook teaches him more than he expected about his past.

"Now in its sixth episode shot over an eight-year span, with two more features still to come, this one-of-a-kind film cycle has become as comfortable and reliable as an old shoe, providing a degree of dependability that's becoming increasingly rare, Turan wrote. "As directed by David Yates, who did the previous film and is on tap for the final two, 'Half-Blood Prince' demonstrates the ways that the Potter pictures have become the modern exemplars of establishment moviemaking. We don't turn to these films for thrilling or original cinema, we look for a level of craft, consistency and, most of all, fidelity to the originals -- all of which we get."

7. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 1" (2010)

The penultimate film sees Harry, Hermione and Ron venturing out into the real world to locate and destroy Lord Voldemort's soul-encapsulating Horcruxes as Hogwarts and the wizarding world fall to He Who Must Not Be Named.

"Much of the plot of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' involves the attempt to find and destroy a series of Horcruxes, and if you haven't a clue about what they are or why they're important, you might as well stay home," Turan wrote. "There is something different, however, about this Potter movie, and that is the words 'Part 1' that end the title. Understandably distraught about 'Hallows' being the last of the phenomenally popular J.K. Rowling novels, Warner Bros. has split the final effort into two films and is likely kicking itself for not having thought of that with the earlier books." 

(It should be noted that the studio reboots the wizarding world with the forthcoming "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" series. The first film hit theaters in 2016.)

8. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" (2011)

Harry goes wand-to-wand with Lord Voldemort, concluding Harry's final year at the wizarding school with the epic Battle of Hogwarts.

"In a classic storybook finish, however, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2' turns out to be more than the last of its kind. Almost magically, it ends up being one of the best of the series as well," Turan wrote. "The Harry Potter films, like the boy wizard himself, have had their creative ups and downs, so it's especially satisfying that this final film, ungainly title and all, has been worth the wait. Though no expense has been spared in its production, it succeeds because it brings us back to the combination of magic, adventure and emotion that created the books' popularity in the first place."

For more of The Times' "Harry Potter" anniversary coverage, go here.


Harry Potter concerts return to Hollywood Bowl with 'Chamber of Secrets,' 'Prisoner of Azkaban' screenings

The L.A. Philharmonic gives a live performance of John Williams' music for "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" during a screening of the film at the Hollywood Bowl on July 6, 2016. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The L.A. Philharmonic gives a live performance of John Williams' music for "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" during a screening of the film at the Hollywood Bowl on July 6, 2016. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Harry Potter and friends are coming back to the Hollywood Bowl this summer, with the L.A. Philharmonic gearing up for live performances of music from the second and third movies in the franchise. 

"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" will screen July 6, followed by "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" July 7-8. Justin Freer will conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic both nights as the orchestra performs John Williams' scores while the movies roll. 

The Harry Potter Film Concert Series kicked off in June 2016 and brought a sold-out, philharmonic-accompanied "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" screening to the Hollywood Bowl on July 6, 2016.

"It is with great pleasure that we are bringing back this opportunity to experience the award-winning music scores played live by a symphony orchestra, all while the beloved films are simultaneously projected onto the big screen. This will be another unforgettable event," Freer said in a statement Monday. 

The announcement coincides with Monday's 20th anniversary of the debut of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series.

Tickets available on the Hollywood Bowl website Monday afternoon ranged from $14 to $147 for the July 6 "Chamber of Secrets" show and the July 7 "Azkaban" screening, and from $17 to $165 for "Azkaban" on July 8. They can be purchased online, by phone or in person at the Hollywood Bowl box office.

Here's a look at how Harry Potter came of age on screen, and for more of The Times' "Harry Potter" anniversary coverage, go here.


Documentary 'The Pulitzer at 100' to premiere July 21 in NYC

First Run Features has announced the premiere date for director Kirk Simon's documentary examining the 100-year history of the Pulitzer Prize.

"The Pulitzer at 100" will bow at Lincoln Plaza Cinema July 21 in New York City, with more cities to follow. 

The film explores the effect the Pulitzers have had on the country's culture in the century since their inception by way of interviews with previous winners, including authors, journalists, playwrights and musicians, as well as The Times' own Mary McNamara, who won the 2015 Pulitzer for criticism. (She's featured at the start of the trailer above.)

The interviews appear interspersed with an examination of Joseph Pulitzer, whose funds founded Columbia University's School of Journalism in 1912 and established the prizes that bear his name in 1917. 

Also featured in the film are readings of Pulitzer-winning works as presented by some of Hollywood's brightest stars, including Natalie Portman, Helen Mirren and Martin Scorsese.


Jackie Chan goes dark in new trailer for action thriller 'The Foreigner'

 (STX Entertainment)
(STX Entertainment)

It's Jackie Chan like you've never seen him before: in full-on dangerous dad form, out for justice in London against the terrorists who killed his daughter. 

The new trailer for the upcoming action thriller "The Foreigner" teases a surprise for fans of the 63-year-old "Rumble in the Bronx" and "Rush Hour" star who has played countless upbeat heros over the course of an eclectic, five-decade career.

The man brought two adorable stuffed pandas to the Oscars, for goodness sake! But seldom has he gone as dark as he does in STX Entertainment's Oct. 13 release, which he also produced.

"Casino Royale" helmer Martin Campbell directs Chan in "The Foreigner" as a London businessman who taps into his own brutal past when his daughter is killed in a fiery terrorist blast.

Pierce Brosnan is the government official he's convinced can lead him to those responsible. Along the way, carnage follows as Chan stalks his prey looking haggard and haunted, putting his particular set of skills to use. 

"The Foreigner" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. (How Londoners will feel about its terrorism plot given the city's recent tragedies remains to be seen.) But hey, it's an improvement on the title of the 1992 Stephen Leather novel it's based on: "The Chinaman."


Chance the Rapper, Solange Knowles and five must-see BET Awards moments

Chance the Rapper lights it up at the 2017 BET Awards. (Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
Chance the Rapper lights it up at the 2017 BET Awards. (Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Sunday night's BET Awards weren't exactly a perfect viewing experience, but that doesn't mean the show didn't feature several moments of absolute perfection. Here are five moments even the most casual fans of music and pop culture can (and should) enjoy. 

Featuring Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar spit flames during his featured verse in Future’s “Mask Off (Remix),” breathing much-needed life into the ceremony. Lamar is a consistent MVP at the BET Awards, even when he’s not the star of the show, as seen in his supporting role in Beyoncé’s “Freedom” performance last year.

Solange gets a seat at the table

Speaking of Beyoncé, Queen Bey was absent from the ceremony, having purportedly given birth to twins recently, but sister Solange Knowles was more than ready to step up, taking home her first BET Award.

“My armpits are sweating so much right now,” Knowles announced after being presented the Centric Award for "Cranes in the Sky."

Armpits aside, Knowles went on to credit BET for all the strong women of color it introduced into her life when she was young. 

"I just want to thank BET for my teenage years, giving me images of queens like Missy Elliott and Lil' Kim and Aaliyah and Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill and Kelis and Res, and the list goes on, and showing me those images and letting me know the sky's the limit," she said.

Toni who?

Sisters were doing it for themselves at Sunday night’s ceremony, with Tamar Braxton — younger sister of R&B luminary Toni — tearing the house down with her performance of “My Man.”

“She called me 'bout her man,” Braxton crooned, “Well, I didn't understand, she was talkin' 'bout my man (heifer).” It’s really the heifer aside that seals the deal in the fiery torch song about a man who done her wrong.

Former FLOTUS praises Chance

Michelle Obama scored some of the evening's biggest applause when she appeared in a video to praise Chance the Rapper, who was honored for his humanitarian work. 

“We have known Chance and his family since he was a wee little baby rapper,” the former first lady said, going on to celebrate Chance for his contributions in both word and deed to lifting up young people in their hometown of Chicago. 

Among the rapper’s humanitarian efforts are a $1-million contribution to Chicago’s public school system, as well as founding the New Chance Arts and Literature Fund.

Best fashion faux pas ever

Normally it would be a fashion nightmare to show up at an awards show in the same outfit as a fellow attendee, but not for rapper Gucci Mane.

A photo featured on the Instagram page of DJ Khaled’s infant son revealed that Mane and Asahd Tuck Khaled just happened to arrive at the BET Awards wearing the same Gucci suit, though in slightly different sizes. 


Harry Potter turns 20. Here's how J.K. Rowling and Twitter are celebrating

You're a wizard, Harry!

Twenty years ago today, British publisher Bloomsbury released J.K. Rowling's debut novel, "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," the first in the seven-book series about a boy wizard that went on to become a global phenomenon.

The outspoken billionaire author, who was living in relative poverty when she first completed her manuscript, took to Twitter on Monday to celebrate the milestone.

Also marking the occasion was Twitter, which teamed up with Bloomsbury and the series' digital hub Pottermore to release a custom Harry Potter emoji featuring the boy wizard's iconic lightning scar and glasses. The emoji automatically generates with the bespoke hashtag #HarryPotter20.

Those using the hashtag could have their tweets and photos displayed at the King's Cross train station in London, where the 11-year-old wizard memorably began his sojourn to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. (The station has boasted an honorary Platform 9 3/4 for years.)

"Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," the book's original title, was first published on June 26, 1997, by Bloomsbury. The initial hardback print run was only 500 copies; however, the complete seven-book series went on to sell more than 450 million copies.

The title "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" was used for U.S. audiences when Scholastic published the novel stateside in 1998. The books have also have been translated into 79 languages, including Welsh, Latin and Ancient Greek, according to data released by Bloomsbury.

The best-selling tomes have been adapted into eight blockbuster films, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and a who's who of British acting talent over the years. Rowling is continuing work on Warner Bros.' "Fantastic Beasts" prequel films, while Harry's own story continued in the "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" plays that debuted in 2016.


John Oliver takes a shot at the anti-vaccine movement and the 'opportunistic quacks' behind it

 (Eric Liebowitz / HBO)
(Eric Liebowitz / HBO)

On Sunday's "Last Week Tonight," John Oliver became the latest late-night personality to take aim at the anti-vaccine movement.

Oliver devoted nearly a half-hour to debunking the various fears surrounding childhood immunizations, which he described as "one of humanity’s most incredible accomplishments."

As seemingly everything is these days, the segment was inspired by President Trump, who has stoked unfounded fears about vaccine safety on both the debate stage and social media.

But, as Oliver noted, Trump is hardly alone in buying into these baseless theories. He’s joined by prominent figures from across the political spectrum including Alex Jones, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and, um, Rob Schneider. Not to mention parents in 11 states where the unvaccinated rate continues to climb.

As Oliver explained, many of these fears stem from a study that suggested a link between autism and the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). The study has since been retracted and its author, Andrew Wakefield, has had his license revoked and been accused of distorting his findings.

“He’s basically the Lance Armstrong of doctors,” said Oliver.

And yet Wakefield still gives talks around the world, including in Minneapolis, where the plummeting vaccination rate among the Somali community has led to a major outbreak of measles, a disease Oliver described as “infectious as ‘Happy’ by Pharrell.” (He also cited an outbreak in France where 15,000 people became ill and six died.) 

Though numerous subsequent studies have failed to find a link between vaccines and autism, the fear persists, leading to lower vaccination and also taking away resources “from studying actual causes and treatments,” Oliver noted.

The host also had some harsh words for Dr. Bob Sears, the Orange County physician who’s built an empire based on vaccine skepticism, while admitting that his alternative vaccination schedule is not based on any peer-reviewed studies.

“Your job is to make sure children don’t get deadly diseases, not to make parents feel comfortable,” he said. “You’re a pediatrician, not a flask of whiskey tucked into a Baby Bjorn.”

Oliver argued that Sears likes to have it both ways, seeming to support science-based medicine while once in a while saying things like “vaccines don’t cause autism except when they do.”

The line inspired Oliver to fire back with this: “Don’t worry, opportunist quacks writing books that fan the flames of people’s unfounded fears don’t cause a legitimate public health hazard, except when they do.”

Oliver ended the segment on a personal note, acknowledging that parenting can be “terrifying” and that his natural inclination is to be afraid of everything — including, as he put it, “the dark, the light, heights, depths, confined spaces, wide-open spaces, intimacy, spiders and a sudden and mysterious lack of spiders.”

But as Oliver explained, he is also a parent whose 19-month-old son was born prematurely.  

“I’ve worried about his health, and I still worry about his health a lot," Oliver said. "We are vaccinating him fully and on schedule, and if I can overcome the temptation to listen to the irrational shouting of my terrified lizard brain, then I believe that everyone can.”

While Hollywood has a reputation as a bastion of "anti-vaxx" sentiment, Oliver seems to be among the majority in late-night TV in siding with the scientific community. Several other shows — including “The Colbert Report,”The Daily Show,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live" and "Conan" — have also mocked vaccine critics.

You can watch Oliver's segment here.


MAD magazine appoints new editor, plans move to Burbank

The face of fictitious mascot and cover boy Alfred E. Neuman shines through in a compilation of MAD magazine covers. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
The face of fictitious mascot and cover boy Alfred E. Neuman shines through in a compilation of MAD magazine covers. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

MAD magazine is shaking things up. The 65-year-old humor and satire publication is getting a new editor -- the fifth in its history -- and relocating from New York City to Burbank.

Illustrator Bill Morrison will take the helm as executive editor of the DC Entertainment magazine, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

"I don't know anyone who loves and respects MAD as much as I do," Morrison said in a statement to THR. "I'll definitely have my work cut out for me, but I'm dedicated to upholding the high standards of absurd and irreverent humor that the public has come to expect from MAD. I've been asked if I will continue to include artist Al Jaffee in the magazine; as soon as I find out who he is, I'll let everyone know,"

Morrison, who was a Disney illustrator for a time, co-created Bongo Comics with Matt Groening of "The Simpsons" and served as the art director for "Futurama." He is also president of the National Cartoonists Society. 

The Eisner-winning illustrator will be entrusted with furthering the magazine's absurdist vision in an era saturated with satire and spoofs online and in television. He'll be directing day-to-day operations, overseeing the editorial staff for MAD magazine and MAD books and managing the annual publishing schedule. He'll report to Hank Kanalz, senior vice-president of editorial strategy and administration.

"The combination of his pedigree as an editor, writer and artist and his crazy sense of humor makes him the ideal person going forward to maintain MAD magazine's leading-edge position when it comes to what’s funny in the world today," Kanalz said a statement.

John Ficarra, the magazine's current editor, is stepping down but will stay with MAD through the end of the year serving as a consultant to assist with the transition and the publication's move to DC's headquarters in Burbank. Ficarra co-ran the magazine with Nick Meglin from 1984 to 2004 and shepherded its transition to color in the early 2000s. He has been running it solo since Meglin retired in 2004.


A Star Is Born: Aubrey Plaza turns 33 today

 (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

I'm still trying to get parts that I'm getting rejected for. Like, I want to do a romantic comedy where I'm the lead and not a freak. That'd be good.

Aubrey Plaza, 2013

Leslie Jones warns her 1994 self to stay off Twitter in BET Awards sketch

BET Awards host Leslie Jones at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday.. (Matt Sayles / Invision / Associated Press)
BET Awards host Leslie Jones at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday.. (Matt Sayles / Invision / Associated Press)

Twitter was not kind Sunday night during Leslie Jones' first gig as an awards show host -- specifically, the BET Awards in Los Angeles. But we thought she had strong moments, including this prerecorded bit where she meets her 1994 self behind a local Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles.

That's where she used to waitress while she was trying to make it as a comedian and when she appeared on BET's "Comic View."  

Jones says she'd sometimes have Roscoe's customers who would recognize her from "Comic View," after which she'd acknowledge their praise but quickly follow up with "Breast and wing or leg and a thigh?"

"I used to give away so much chicken," Jones confessed to the audience. "You always got two extra wings with me, but I always expected a $5 tip."

As 2017 Jones told 1994 Jones about the future -- including the wonders of pot dispensaries and legal weed -- she said, "One day you're going to host the BET Awards.

"The what awards?" her 1994 self asked.

"That's like the black Oscars," explained 2017 Jones, who went on to tell her younger self, "You're in movies now. and you're on 'Saturday Night Live.'"

"Ah," said her 1994 self, "the white people's 'In Living Color.'"

Then, in a not-so-veiled reference to social media trolls, the hacking of her Twitter account and the leaking of her personal nude photos, 2017 Jones had some final advice for her 1994 self: "Don't get on Twitter, and stop taking those naked pictures!"

Watch the sketch here.


Chance the Rapper, in impassioned BET Awards speech, asks judges for convictions

 (Richard Shotwell / Invision / Associated Press)
(Richard Shotwell / Invision / Associated Press)

Chicago's Chance the Rapper gave a fiery, seemingly off-the-cuff speech at the BET Awards on Sunday night in which he chastised the legal system, Chicago Public Schools and U.S. government. 

Chance was receiving the gala's humanitarian award, an acknowledgement of the funds he has raised and donated for Chicago schools. When the artist born Chancelor Bennett took the stage at downtown's Microsoft Theater, he said he hadn't prepared a speech. Still, he rattled off a few talking points, all of them to rapturous applause. 

He said he wanted to "tell everybody in this government that y'all need to let everybody out of jail for selling weed before y'all start making it legal," and then added, "I was going to tell the Chicago public school system to not take out a loan from Chase Bank when they know that our schools are planning on failing in our district."

Next, the artist singled out the criminal justice system, alluding no doubt to the lack of punishments given out in instances of alleged police brutality. "I was going to tell those judges that we just need a conviction," he said.

Chance stated that at age 24 it "feels a little early to get something like this," adding, "my God doesn't make mistakes, and I like to think that he's putting this enormous pressure on me to see how I react." He pledged to be a better person and father and to help those beyond his community.

Chance's speech was preceded by a clip of former first lady Michelle Obama.

Said Obama, "We are so incredibly proud of you, Chance. We have known Chance and his family since he was a wee little baby rapper. It has been a thrill watching him come into his own in so many ways. In addition to making some really amazing music, Chance has been taking that big, bright spotlight that follows him around and he's shining it on young people in our hometown of Chicago."

Watch the speech here.


Netflix cancels 'Girlboss' after one season and Sophia Amoruso reacts on Instagram

Britt Robertson starred in the Netflix series "Girlboss." (Netflix)
Britt Robertson starred in the Netflix series "Girlboss." (Netflix)

Netflix's latest cancelation victim: 'Girlboss."

The streaming service will not move forward with another season of the comedy, The Times has confirmed. 

The series, which was helmed by "Pitch Perfect" screenwriter Kay Cannon and starred Britt Robertson, was an adaptation of Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso's memoir-self-help book that documented her rise from shoplifter to e-commerce fashion maven.

Amoruso reflected on the news in an Instagram post Saturday night: "So that Netflix series about my life got canceled," she wrote. "While I'm proud of the work we did, I'm looking forward to controlling my narrative from here on out."

"It was a good show," she continued, "and I was privileged to work with incredible talent, but living my life as a caricature was hard even if only for two months. ... It will be nice to someday tell the story of what's happened in the last few years. Ppl read the headline, not the correction, I've learned."

"Girlboss" is the latest series to reach its end on Netflix. Baz Luhrman's "The Get Down" and the Wachowski sisters'  "Sense8" were also canceled by the streamer in recent months.

In discussing the cancelation of those shows while at the PGA's Produced By conference earlier this month, Netflix's chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, offered this reasoning: 

"Relative to what you spent, are people watching it?... A big expensive show for a huge audience is great. A big, expensive show for a tiny audience is hard even in our model to make that work very long."

Away from the bands, it's the kids who make a racket at Pasadena's Arroyo Seco Weekend

 (Rich Fury / Getty Images)
(Rich Fury / Getty Images)

Amid the many practiced rhythms and melodies that echoed across the valley during the first Arroyo Seco Weekend in Pasadena, a curiously delicate,  improvised jam session occurred in a little tent set to the side. 

There, inside the shaded Kidspace area, a so-called musical petting zoo served to fill the air with the glorious, if disorganized, din of a dozen kids playing -- or playing with -- instruments. 

The Rose Bowl-adjacent Arroyo Seco Weekend was billed as a family friendly event, and on Saturday afternoon, the free-form recital, to say nothing of the number of moms and dads carrying worn-out kids, suggested a bunch of parents took the bait. 

Was it noisy in the Kidspace area? Sure, but beautifully so.

The organization, which is based in Pasadena, emphasizes interactive learning. A girl clanged bells, another drummed on a tambourine. On a long table, kids strummed a banjo and banged on a bass. An electronic theremin whinnied and moaned. A boy on a drum kit raged. 

As soloists, none of the children showed much so-called promise, but as an ensemble, they crafted a work that showed an unwavering confidence. 

At another table, kids were busy making punk-style pendants. Elsewhere, others decorated wooden toy instruments.  

At sundown, Kidspace closed for the day and the budding talent fanned out, hearty moms and dads in tow, to further explore the grounds. 

Many of the toddlers and tykes were new to the fest scene, however, and didn't know to pace themselves. Smiles turned to frowns. At least one kid whined to his brother, "It's not funny -- you hurt me!" Elsewhere, tantrums erupted. 

In the distance, the Alabama Shakes delivered a blistering rendition of "Don't Wanna Fight," one if its best known songs: "Don't wanna fight no more," bellowed singer Brittany Howard. 

She didn't know the half of it. 


A Star Is Born: Ricky Gervais turns 56 today

 (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

The point of any art, even one as lowly as TV comedy or stand-up, the point is to make a connection with a stranger. For me it's the size of that connection, not how many people it slightly connects with. When I did 'The Office,' I said I'd rather this was a million people's favorite show of the year than 10 million people's 10th favorite show. I'm still very conscious of that. Originality is very important to me.

Ricky Gervais, 2010

Stephen Colbert announces on Russian TV he's considering running for president in 2020

Brace yourselves, America: Stephen Colbert is contemplating another run for the White House. Or so he says. 

The host of CBS' “The Late Show” announced his plans in a way that would make his satirical alter-ego proud: on Russian television.

“I am considering a run for president in 2020 and I thought it would be better to cut out the middleman and just tell the Russians myself,” Colbert said in a vodka-soaked appearance on “Evening Urgant,” a talk show inspired by American late night TV and hosted by Ivan Urgant. “If anyone would like to work on my campaign in an unofficial capacity, just let me know.”

The announcement came near the end of a modified version of Russian roulette in which he and Urgant traded taking shots of vodka from a revolving platter.

"Listen, many things are happening between our two countries," Urgant said, "but we ought to be friends with each other." 

Colbert was game -- if a little confused by a game in which there could only be one outcome. 

“Is this all vodka?" he asked, pointing to the spinning tray. "Then why do we spin it? So every single one of them’s a bullet?”

"Yes," Urgant replied. "Welcome to Russia." (Also baffling to Colbert: the bowl of pickles, served as chasers to the vodka shots.)

For his first shot, Colbert toasted “the beautiful and friendly" people of Russia. “I don’t understand why no members of the Trump administration can remember meeting you,” he joked.

When it was his turn, Urgant raised a glass to the United States, "which invented the Internet, thanks to which we are able to influence the presidential election." He also made a promise to Colbert that "we will do all we can to ensure that you become president." 

In his final toast, Colbert struck a more sincere tone: “A strong America! A strong Russia!”

The “Evening Urgant” visit at least partially solves the mystery of Colbert’s mission to Russia, which he made public on Thursday via Twitter. As for the equally pressing question of whether he’s being serious about 2020, consider that Colbert has already attempted to run for president. Twice. 

Staff writer Ann Simmons provided additional reporting and translation.


A Star Is Born: Mindy Kaling turns 38 today

 (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

The fact is, I am so proud to be an Asian American and part of the Asian American community. My connection with that community is so strong. It struck me that the show is being characterized as not celebrating that richness. I take that more personally than other things.

Mindy Kaling on her show, 'The Mindy Project,' 2014

Hogwarts Castle gets light show; Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff fans go wild

The Nighttime Lights spectacle at Hogwarts Castle officially debuts Friday night at Universal Studios. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
The Nighttime Lights spectacle at Hogwarts Castle officially debuts Friday night at Universal Studios. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

The most surprising thing about a recent sneak preview of Universal Studios' new Wizarding World light show, Nighttime Lights, was not the astonishingly non-pyrotechnic glory of Hogwarts Castle awash in imagery from the four houses of Hogwarts Academy of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Last year's opening-night festivities had ended with something similar (albeit to the accompaniment of John Williams, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and fireworks), and, at the time, it seemed unthinkable that some version of it would not become a permanent, or at least seasonal attraction. Magic is no longer the exclusive property of that other park, after all. 

What was surprising was the crowd's reaction, particularly when the colors and icons for Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff shot across the walls and ramparts.

For too long the female-founded houses have played second fiddle to the battle between the lion and the snake. But no more. Cheers and applause for the raven and the badger rose at near Gryffindor levels (obviously, no one cheered for Slytherin) from groups of visitors.

Playing several times each day after the summer sun goes down, Nighttime Lights, which officially debuts Friday night, is not an exact replica of the opening-night ceremonies. There are no fireworks, or L.A. Phil, but Williams' score is omnipresent, immersing the crowd in strings as the Sorting Hat explains the possibilities and reminds visitors that "there is nothing I can't see."

Including, apparently, the long-awaited rise of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff.


Janet Jackson is 'so happy' amid divorce proceedings, producer Jimmy Jam says

 (Karim Sahib / AFP/Getty Images)
(Karim Sahib / AFP/Getty Images)

Apparently it doesn't really matter what's going on in the courtroom because Janet Jackson is doing just fine.

The pop diva, who welcomed son Eissa in January with estranged husband Wissam Al Mana, is embroiled in a costly divorce with the wealthy Qatar businessman. But, according to longtime producer Jimmy Jam, the first-time mom is "so happy."

The producer behind several Jackson hits has been keeping up with the 51-year-old singer and her 5-month-old son via text message and video chats.

"I get FaceTime [calls] at like 2 in the morning, usually when I'm wrapping up in the studio," Jam told Entertainment Tonight on Thursday. "It's always just Eissa [on FaceTime], she's in the background somewhere. He's the cutest baby in the history of babies."

Jam noted that the Grammy winner is working on new music as she gears up for her State of the World tour in September. (Jackson abruptly truncated her Unbreakable tour in April for family-planning purposes and hasn't returned to the stage since.)

"She said she's excited to go back to her day job, and her day job is making music and getting off and touring," he said during the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards ceremony Thursday in Beverly Hills, where he and business partner Terry Lewis were honored.

Still, Miss Jackson has to contend with the issues in her personal life. She and Al Mana — her third husband, to whom she was married for about five years — called it quits in April, reportedly over disputes about how they wanted to raise their son.

They began divorce proceedings last week in London, where Jackson resides, and she's said to be fighting for sole custody of Eissa, planning to take him on tour. Depending on their pre-nup, the split is expected to be quite profitable for the singer because the luxury Al Mana Group heir is reportedly worth an estimated $1 billion, according to the Daily Beast.

In comparison, Jackson's estimated worth is a meager $174 million.

Dammn, baby.


Johnny Depp apologizes for assassination joke while Donald Trump Jr. invokes Amber Heard

Johnny Depp went from snarky to sorry after joking in Britain about assassinating President Trump.

The White House was rote in its response Friday to comments the actor made Thursday night at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts in Somerset, England. 

"President Trump has condemned violence in all forms and its sad that others like Johnny Depp have not followed his lead," the White House said in a statement obtained by ABC News and others. "I hope that some of Mr. Depp's colleagues will speak out against this type of rhetoric as strongly as they would if this was directed towards a democrat elected official."

Depp apologized via a statement to People on Friday afternoon, saying he was sorry for "the bad joke I attempted last night in poor taste about President Trump." He said it didn't come out right. 

"I intended no malice. I was only trying to amuse, not to harm anyone," the actor said. 

The Secret Service told the Associated Press that it was aware of the comments in question. "For security reasons, we cannot discuss specifically nor in general terms the means and methods of how we perform our protective responsibilities," it said. 

Friday morning on Twitter, the president was ignoring Depp's remarks, choosing instead to focus on his regulation reductions and signed bills.

However, Donald J. Trump Jr. — who served as an attack dog during the dust-up over an image of Kathy Griffin holding a fake bloody, decapitated head in the likeness of his father — took a shot. 

"Ha, Depp wants to make social commentary: Johnny Depp's team knew of alleged abuse of Amber Heard," the younger Trump tweeted Friday, invoking the rocky end of the actor's marriage to his "Rum Diary" co-star and including a link to a Daily Mail story referencing court documents related to the actor's lawsuit against his former managers.

On Thursday night, while introducing a screening of his 2004 film "The Libertine" and fielding fan questions at Glastonbury, Depp elicited boos when, according to People, he asked the crowd, "Can you bring Trump here?" 

He then pivoted: "No, no, no, you misunderstood completely. I think he needs help and there are a lot of wonderful dark, dark places he could go."

The boos turned to cheers, according to the Guardian

"It is just a question — I'm not insinuating anything," Depp said. "By the way, this is going to be in the press. It will be horrible. I like that you are all a part of it."

He continued: “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?" referencing the death of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth in 1865.

“I want to clarify, I am not an actor. I lie for a living," the "Pirates of the Caribbean" star said. "However, it has been a while and maybe it is time."

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