Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The author and illustrator of the Clifford the Big Red Dog series of children's books has died.
Norman Bridwell died on Martha's Vineyard, off the Massachusetts coast, on Friday, according to the publisher of his series, Scholastic. He was 86.
Bridwell created Clifford the Big Red Dog in 1963, and the character was featured in dozens of books. Two new books, Clifford Goes to Kindergarten and Clifford Celebrates Hanukkah, will be released in 2015.
The character also inspired a PBS animated series of the same name.
Bridwell is survived by his wife, Norma; a daughter, Emily Elizabeth; a son, Timothy; and three grandchildren.
Sony(NEW YORK) -- As major movie chains moved to pull The Interview from their holiday lineups after threats from the Sony Corp. hackers, Sony has decided to shelve the film.
"In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release," the company said in a statement. "We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers."
The company added that it stands by the filmmakers and "their right to free expression."
"Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film," a Sony spokesperson said when asked about a digital or video on demand release.
The decision by Sony came after all the biggest chains including AMC and Regal announced Wednesday they wouldn't show the film. On Tuesday, Sony Corp. hackers warned of an impending attack on theaters that showed the film, which depicts the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
"Due to the wavering support of the film The Interview by Sony Pictures, as well as the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats, Regal Entertainment Group has decided to delay the opening of the film in our theatres," Regal, which has nearly 600 theaters in 44 states, said in a statement Wednesday.
AMC followed suit, also stating the chain's holiday lineup would move forward "without The Interview."
Earlier, the Bow Tie chain released a statement pulling the film, saying the company is "saddened and angered by recent threats of terrorism" and that its mission is "to ensure the safety and comfort of our guests and employees." Cineplex Entertainment, which has 162 theaters, also said Wednesday that it will “postpone” showing of the film.
The comedy-horror film was set for a Dec. 25 release.
The moves came shortly after Sony told theaters they do not have to show The Interview, after the group claiming responsibility for stealing troves of Sony executives' emails posted a message on Pastebin apparently threatening attacks on the theaters where the movie will be played, sources said.
Actors James Franco and Seth Rogen also canceled all press appearances in light of the threats, a representative for Rogen said.
The Department of Homeland Security said the threat is not backed up by any "credible intelligence," but sources told ABC News that the Sony hack and matters tied to it are being investigated not just as a criminal cyber matter but as a national security matter by the nation's law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
A prime suspect is the North Korean regime, and sources say this hack has shown an unprecedented capacity and ability to directly harm a major corporation.
Last week, the FBI held a private meeting in New York with reps from across the entertainment industry to brief them on cyber-related threats against them. The Sony hack was not the only topic discussed, but it was a major one, sources said.
"Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like," Sony said in its statement.
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Stephen Collins has been keeping a low profile since news broke last November that he'd sexually molested more than one female minor in the past. Now the actor, famous for his role as Reverend Eric Camden on the long-running TV drama 7th Heaven, has released a statement detailing how he had inappropriate contact with what he says are three women decades ago.
Collins tells People magazine that there were three victims from 1973 to 1994 and he's "not had an impulse to act out in any such way" since then.
"Forty years ago, I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret. I have been working to atone for it ever since. I've decided to address these issues publicly because two months ago, various news organizations published a recording made by my then-wife, Faye Grant, during a confidential marriage therapy session in January 2012. This session was recorded without the therapist's or my knowledge or consent."
Collins is referring to when TMZ posted audio of him allegedly confessing to sexual abuse during a therapy session with his now-estranged wife, Faye Grant. Grant referenced the allegations in court papers related to their ongoing divorce.
Continuing, Collins says: "On the recording, I described events that took place 20, 32, and 40 years ago. The publication of the recording has resulted in assumptions and innuendos about what I did that go far beyond what actually occurred. As difficult as this is, I want people to know the truth."
The actor said he hasn't apologized to all of the women he victimized, but did have "an opportunity to do so with one of the women, 15 years later."
"I apologized and she was extraordinarily gracious," Collins added. "But after I learned in the course of my treatment that my being direct about such matters could actually make things worse for them by opening old wounds, I have not approached the other two women, one of whom is now in her 50s and the other in her 30s."
Collins' full statement is on People. He'll also sit down with Katie Couric for an in-depth interview to stream on Yahoo! that will also air Friday on ABC's 20/20.
Jemal Countess/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Zak Williams says he is still grieving over the death of his iconic father, Robin Williams, earlier this summer.
"I miss him all the time," he told People magazine. "Often I see something or if I'm watching a film, I think, 'Oh, man, he would have appreciated this' or, 'He would have gotten a laugh out of this.' "
Williams died of an apparent suicide from asphyxia at age 63 in early August.
Zak Williams, 31, along with his sister, Zelda, 25, and his brother, Cody, 23, have been open about their grief since their dad’s death.
"There's not a day that goes by that we don't think about our dad," Williams told the magazine, adding that by helping others, he's now begun to heal.
At the time of his death, the actor's rep released a statement to ABC News, saying, "Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss."
Williams' wife, Susan Schneider, later revealed he was also in the early stages of Parkinson's disease.
"The Hobbit" - Warner Bros.(NEW YORK) -- The title kind of says it all: this is a movie about a battle, there are five armies involved, and it’s all pretty darn spectacular. Director Peter Jackson has crafted an epic ending to his Hobbit trilogy worth all the gold in Erebor, and then some. It may not be Oscar-worthy in terms of complexity, but it’s the best popcorn flick in theaters since Guardians of the Galaxy.
The film begins where last year’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug left off: the dragon Smaug has left his jeweled lair and descended on Lake Town, burning with murderous rage. We’re immediately thrown into the action -- there’s no “previously, on The Hobbit” to set things up -- so if you’re like me and you tend to forget what happened on the Homeland episode you just watched a week ago, you’ll need to read a little reminder of last year’s Hobbit film before you get to the theater.
Before long we’re back on the Misty Mountain, with everyone from dwarves to elves to orcs plotting a path to the vast riches there previously guarded by Smaug. Allegiances are tested, tempers flare, and armies are preparing for war. In all the bluster, though, Jackson and the writers find plenty of time for comedy and heart. Because while all of this stuff is serious, come on, we’re still in fantasy land.
I have to say I was a little apprehensive going into this film, because there’s nothing that bores me more than huge battle scenes. Too often it’s just a mess of fast camera cuts that are too close-up for audiences to be able to tell what’s happening, or someone miraculously defeats 12 attackers while barely getting scratched; it’s usually just a confusing jumbled mess we must endure, rather than enjoy. But this is where the skill of Peter Jackson as a director truly shines, because he doesn’t get bogged down in spectacle over story. The second half of the movie isn’t just an hour of armies battling to the bloody death: it’s a supremely intricate, choreographed dance of chaos that manages to dazzle with special effects while deepening the development of the characters. Is there too much focus on the fighting? Perhaps. But it never feels boring or repetitive.
And thankfully, Jackson never forgets that the name of the franchise is The Hobbit, not The Elf or The Dwarf King. In a movie that’s mostly about an epic battle, there are far sexier warriors to focus on than Bilbo Baggins, and the film does, from time to time. But it always comes back to our star, played by Martin Freeman, the emotional heart of the story.
Sure, the movie devolves here and there into movie battle clichés: legions of orcs are killed by glancing blows while our heroes take serious punishment and fight on, no problem. And there are those scenes where someone impossibly fights more people than should be possible and comes out a winner. But these brief transgressions are forgivable in the face of all that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies gets right.
True fans of the franchise will want to see the film on the big screen, in 3D. In the hands of many directors, the format is often just a gimmick that boosts ticket prices, but here it helps render these beautifully-constructed sets into fully realized worlds. And I swear at one point, I actually jumped when something, perhaps an arrow, appeared to fly out of the screen and past my head. But it’s not just the 3D: all of the special effects here are top notch.
In the end, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will leave fans with a huge smile on their faces, and even skeptics should be impressed by the visuals and directing. Sure, it may not be much more than a Hollywood blockbuster when it comes to plot and complexity, but more movies should be this fun.
Martin Freeman reprises his role of Bilbo Baggins, who concludes his journey and is involved in an epic battle that will decide the future of Middle-earth.
Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch and Lee Pace also star in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which is screening in 3D and IMAX 3D. It's rated PG-13.
James White/CBS(LOS ANGELES) — Sharon Osbourne isn't easily embarrassed, and not even losing a tooth during an installment of her TV show, The Talk, was enough to make her blush.
The 62-year-old co-host was interviewing Jamie Dornan, star of the upcoming movie Fifty Shades of Grey, when she felt one of her dental implants come loose.
Moments later, Osbourne started jiggling the tooth on camera and declared, "It's an implant, and I spent a bloody fortune on this f**king thing."
The mishap drew a mixed reaction from her co-hosts. Sheryl Underwood seemed to cringe while Sara Gilbert couldn't stop laughing, wiping tears from her eyes at one point.
Osbourne, convinced there was nothing else to do, yanked out the tooth, before proudly displaying the obvious gap in her otherwise perfect smile.
Osbourne managed to temporarily fix the problem during a commercial break, only to come across another one. She said the "sticky thing" she used to put the implant back in place had also stuck to her lip, making it difficult for her to talk.
Co-host Julie Chen then noted that the secret to mimicking a British accent was to "act like your lip is glued to your tooth."
Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The children's classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the John Hughes-directed comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Steven Spielberg's World War Two drama Saving Private Ryan are among the 25 motion pictures that have been selected this year to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress annually announces a list of films that are added to the registry for preservation. The registry includes familiar movies as well as documentaries, silent films, student films and other projects.
This year's selections also include the Coen brothers' popular movie The Big Lebowski; the horror films Rosemary's Baby and House of Wax; and Little Big Man, a Western that starred Dustin Hoffman.
Here are the films that have just been selected for the National Film Registry, along with their release dates:
Bert Williams Lime Kiln Club Field Day, 1913
The Big Lebowski, 1998
Down Argentine Way, 1940
The Dragon Painter, 1919
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986
The Gang’s All Here, 1943
House of Wax, 1953
Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport, 2000
FOX (NEW YORK) — This is a very special holiday season for The Simpsons, because the long-running Fox animated comedy is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
The first full-length episode of The Simpsons premiered on Dec. 17, 1989. It followed a series of Simpsons shorts that aired in previous years on another Fox comedy, The Tracey Ullman Show.
Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson have noticeably evolved since the episode, titled "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire," hit the TV. The animation was less polished back then, and the characters sounded different. However, Bart was every bit the troublemaker then as he is now.
In the episode, Bart gets a tattoo without his parents' permission, and Marge spends the family's Christmas money to have it removed. Homer tries to replenish their holiday fund by first working as a shopping mall Santa, and then visiting the dog racing track. He places a bet on a loser of a pooch named Santa's Little Helper, who ends up joining the Simpsons' household.
"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" was nominated for a couple of Emmy Awards. The rest, as they say, is history. The Simpsons is the longest-running primetime scripted series in U.S. TV history; it's currently in its 26th season. It also spawned a hit movie in 2007.
The Simpsons has inspired many comedies since its debut, including the animated series created by Seth MacFarlane for Fox, such as Family Guy. He tells ABC News Radio, "The Simpsons is part of that exclusive club that All in the Family belongs to, of shows that utterly transformed their genre."
iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Los Angeles prosecutors on Tuesday declined to file charges against Bill Cosby in connection with a sexual assault claim made against him by a woman who is suing him.
Prosecutors cited the statute of limitations in declining to pursue the case.
The embattled comedian was sued early this month by Judy Huth, who alleges he molested her in the Playboy Mansion in 1974, when she was 15 years old. Huth and high-profile attorney Gloria Allred met with Los Angeles Police Department detectives on December 5 to discuss her allegations.
Cosby has claimed in his own court documents that Huth sued him after failing to extort money from him.
Cosby has faced sexual assault claims from several accusers in recent weeks. He has not been criminally charged in connection with any of the allegations, and his attorneys recently denied many of the accusations.
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The clinic on Manhattan's Upper East Side where Joan Rivers went into cardiac arrest has agreed to take corrective steps to maintain its accreditation with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
CMS has confirmed to ABC News the plan of action is acceptable and that if Yorkville Endoscopy passes an unannounced inspection in the coming days it will not lose its certification on Jan. 7.
Rivers went into cardiac arrest after undergoing a procedure at the Manhattan medical clinic, and died a few days later. The New York State Health Department found Yorkville deficient in four categories during a routine investigation a few days later. Then, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found as part of their own investigation that staff members photographed Rivers with a cellphone while she was sedated, improperly documented how much of the sedative propofol was used, and "failed to identify deteriorating vital signs and provide timely intervention during the procedure."
"The Center has been working collaboratively with appropriate government regulatory agencies to ensure complete compliance with all regulations," a spokesperson for the clinic told ABC News in a statement at the time. "The Center remains open and will continue to collaborate with all accreditation and government regulatory agencies to ensure quality care."
As part of their new plan, Yorkville Endoscopy has agreed to make sure “all individuals in the clinical areas have appropriate name tags” after the unauthorized presence of Dr. Gwen Korovin when Rivers was sedated. The clinic agreed to follow appropriate surgical protocols that were not followed in the case of Rivers and document a “photo/filming policy.” The clinic also outlined new guidelines for the use of propofol.
Rivers' daughter, Melissa Rivers, has hired a personal injury law firm to lay the groundwork for a lawsuit against Yorkville.
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Bill Cosby's family is rallying around him.
The comedian's daughter, Evin, released a statement Tuesday comparing her father to his wholesome Cosby Show character, Cliff Huxtable.
"He is the FATHER you thought you knew," she told Access Hollywood. "The Cosby Show was my today's TV reality show. Thank you. That's all I would like to say :)"
Evin, 38, is the latest person close to the embattled comedian to come out in support of him. On Monday, Cosby's wife, Camille, suggested that the media has published unvetted accusations about her husband and slammed reports in which he has been accused of sexual misconduct.
"The man I met, and fell in love with, and whom I continue to love, is the man you all knew through his work. He is a kind man, a generous man, a funny man, and a wonderful husband, father and friend," she said. "He is the man you thought you knew."
At least 19 women have come forward publicly to accuse Cosby of sexual assault. Cosby, 77, himself has yet to speak out directly about the allegations, though his lawyer has called them "unsubstantiated, fantastical stories."
However, speaking to freelance journalist Stacy Brown on Friday for an article published over the weekend in The Washington Informer and also the New York Post, Cosby declined to directly address the allegations, but when asked about his wife of more than 50 years, Camille Cosby, he became sentimental.
Asked how his wife has been holding up, he said, "Love and the strength of womanhood. Let me say it again, love and the strength of womanhood. And, you could reverse it, the strength of womanhood and love."
Cosby told Brown that he hoped at least the black media would be impartial about the allegations.
"I only expect our black media to uphold the standards of excellent journalism," he told Brown in an audio recording of the conversation. "And when you do that, you go in with a neutral mind."
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Standing in for wife Angelina Jolie at the premiere of her film, Unbroken, Brad Pitt told reporters that his wife is doing great despite battling chicken pox.
"Her spirits are high," Pitt told E! News at Monday's premiere in Hollywood. "A little spotted and a little itchy, but her spirits are high."
Pitt brought along kids Maddox, 13, Pax, 11, and Shiloh, 8, to represent their mom on the red carpet. His parents, Bill and Jane Pitt, also came to support their daughter-in-law, who directed the film.
"We all miss her," the film's star, Garrett Hedlund, told People at the premiere. "I'm sure she wants to be here really bad."
Jolie announced on Friday that she was pulling out of all her appearances for Unbroken because of her illness.
"I just wanted to be clear and honest about why I will be missing the 'Unbroken events' in the next few days, which is that I found out last night that I have chickenpox," Jolie said in a video released on Universal Pictures' Facebook page. "So, I will be home itching and missing everyone, and I can't believe it, because this film means so much to me. I just can't believe it. But such is life, there it is. And send everyone my love, and hope everything goes well."
Unbroken, which recently scored four nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, including best picture and best director, arrives in theaters on Christmas Day.
Warner Bros/American Roadshow(NEW YORK) — On Monday night at New York City's Lincoln Center, the cast of American Sniper hit the red carpet to attend the film’s premiere. The movie centers on the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history, who served four tours during the Iraq War.
Star Bradley Cooper gained over 40 pounds for the role, and had to do extensive training.
"It was a journey and it took a lot of focus, but it pales in comparison to what the men and women do in our Armed Forces," Cooper said of his preparation for the film. "But it was a little glimmer of the sacrifice that helped me sort of get my way into Chris' shoes."
Cooper said the most emotional moment during filming was "probably when the vets came on set and it all made it very immediate. But I have to say the whole thing was pretty emotional; the whole thing."
Cooper discovered the story of Kyle through his friend, screenwriter Jason Hall. The Oscar-nominated actor immediately got on board, and after a reported 20 months, convinced Kyle's family to support the project. It was especially hard since Kyle was shot dead at a Texas shooting range by a former Marine suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I mean it's something to tell a man's story and he was murdered Feb. 2, 2013 -- I mean it was just a second ago," Cooper said Monday. "And to sit and talk to his parents and try to really have them put the trust in you that you're going to do his son proud it was a responsibility and it was emotional."
Sienna Miller portrays Kyle's wife Taya. Their marriage is depicted as being full of challenges as Taya tries to deal with Chris' changes when he returns from combat. Miller said the real-life Taya made it easy to play her on the big screen.
"Well you try and be as honest as possible. Taya was very open. She gave us access to all of their email correspondence," Miller explained. "She said, 'I know it's difficult to talk about this, but let's talk about everything.' I mean she very easy to investigate. And I love her, so it was not hard to do. She's amazing."
Director Clint Eastwood told ABC News Radio the film is important for the U.S. right now. "American society doesn't really understand the war and they don't understand where we are," he said. "As is stated in the film, half of the country doesn't even know there is a war going on."
American Sniper hits theaters on Christmas Day, opening nationally on Jan. 16.