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Movie Review: “Get Hard” (Rated R)

"Get Hard" - Warner Bros.(NEW YORK) — Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell are two of the funniest people on the planet.  So how did they end up making such an unfunny movie?
 
Ferrell plays James, a wealthy banker who lives in a wealthy Los Angeles neighborhood and is engaged to a gorgeous, spoiled woman (Community’s Alison Brie) who’s also his boss’s daughter.
 
Next thing we know, James is arrested for fraud and sentenced to ten years in prison -- hard time, at San Quentin.  That’s when he turns to Kevin Hart’s Darnell, the owner of the car wash in the building where James works, offering to pay Darnell to teach him how to survive in prison.  Darnell needs $30,000 to buy a house, move his family to a better neighborhood and send his daughter to a school without metal detectors, so he accepts James’ offer.
 
It’s a major plot point, and one of several that some are calling offensive: James assumes that because Darnell’s black, he must have been to prison.  The humor isn’t meant to be racist, but rather intended to highlight the fact James is such an idiot, he actually believes it.  It doesn’t matter -- either way, it’s not funny.
 
But the problem here isn’t offensive humor.  The problem is a premise that isn’t strong enough to carry a feature-length film. Get Hard might have been a hilarious 10-minute short.  Instead, the jokes become forced, repetitive and, in some cases, just plain stupid.
 
Speaking of which: Ferrell unquestionably deserves the many accolades he’s received for what’s been a terrific career, but it’s becoming clear he’s gotten a little too comfortable with the formula his films follow.  First, he plays an idiot who says ridiculous things with a straight face.  Then there’s the predictable slapstick, in which his character sustains a grotesque or unimaginably painful injury, the best being the tranquilizer dart in 2003’s Old School.  Here, it’s a shiv to the forehead -- amusing, but again, we’ve seen it before.  Yawn.
 
Sure, you’ll get a few laughs because you can’t stop Hart and Ferrell from being funny, no matter how bad the script is.  But Get Hard is an example of two very funny people coming together to make a movie that in the end is only mildly amusing, at best.
 
Two out of five stars.

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Josh Peck Recommends John Stamos to Replace Zayn Malik in One Direction

ABC/Randy Holmes(NEW YORK) --  When it comes to music, John Stamos is no slouch.

Not only did the 51-year-old play a musician in Full House, he's toured with the legendary Beach Boys.

So, when Zayn Malik, 22, quit One Direction Wednesday, actor Josh Peck, who plays Stamos' son in an upcoming show, took to Vine to recommend a replacement.

".@onedirection FANS. Don't worry guys, I found ZAYN's replacement!! @JohnStamos," Peck wrote on Twitter, coupled with a Vine video.

 

.@onedirection FANS. Don't worry guys, I found ZAYN's replacement!! @JohnStamos https://t.co/CB8ApFoHDf

— Josh Peck (@PortableShua) March 25, 2015



The video is amazing and features Stamos singing One Direction's song "You Don't Know You're Beautiful."

Stamos also posted his own message about the audition.

"The day I've been waiting for!#Zaynmalik #OneDirection #Stamostime @shuapeck," he wrote.

 

 

The day I've been waiting for!#Zaynmalik #OneDirection #Stamostime @portableshua https://t.co/cYkGQAu5er

— John Stamos (@JohnStamos) March 25, 2015

 

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Kerry Washington Reveals She Live Tweeted 'Scandal' While in Labor

ABC/Adam Taylor(NEW YORK) -- Kerry Washington is super dedicated to her role as the star of Scandal and live tweets every episode of the hit ABC series.

In fact, the Emmy Award-nominated actress live tweeted while she was in labor last year.

"Every Thursday within three weeks of my [daughter’s] due date, I loaded up pre-tweets based on the episodes and what I would want to say. I tweeted in the very early stages of my labor," she told Net-A-Porter's The Edit magazine. "I figured that if I went completely silent on social media, then people would know I was in the hospital!"

Washington and her husband, former NFL player Nnamdi Asomugha, welcomed their first child, Isabelle Amarachi, in April 2014.

It almost sounds like something her character Olivia Pope might do as a political fixer. Still, Washington said the two have one big difference.

"A lot of therapy!" she quipped.

"In some ways, she's so aspirational -- you want to walk like her, dress like her, command attention like her and control a situation like her. In other ways, she's a warning of what not to be," Washington continued. "Not to say that I have it all together, but I think I have a little bit more awareness about my behavior patterns and I do the work it takes to get out of them."

Scandal airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

ABC and ABCNews.com are owned by The Walt Disney Co.

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"Furious 7" Features Touching Tribute to Paul Walker

Photo by William Volcov/BrazilPhotoPress/LatinContent/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Fast & Furious fans should prepare to break out the Kleenex when the latest installment in the franchise, Furious 7, opens next Friday.

Tyrese Gibson, one of the film's stars, said the film will end with a touching tribute to the late Paul Walker, who died off the set in a single-car accident in 2013 in the middle of filming.

"The tribute at the end is the most beautiful thing you’ll ever see," the actor told HuffPost Live Wednesday. "All the things you love about Fast & Furious are in there, but this tribute is so touching, and necessary. The fans are really going to appreciate it."

Star Vin Diesel, speaking to Variety earlier this week, said fans will be surprised by just how "emotionally powerful" the film is.

"We were successful in one-upping the action sequences, and adding an interesting dynamic to the world," Diesel said. "But what the world won’t anticipate is how emotionally powerful the movie is."

Diesel even went so far as to make a prediction: "Universal is going to have the biggest movie in history with this movie. It will probably win best picture at the Oscars, unless the Oscars don’t want to be relevant ever."

Repeating his prediction, he added, "There is nothing that will ever come close to the power of this thing."

After Walker's tragic death, production halted for four months and resumed with Walker's look-alike brothers Cody and Caleb helping to complete some of his scenes.

"Our first instinct was to quit and let it go," Gibson told HuffPost Live, "but when his family said they were in support of us finishing the movie, we made everything about [Paul]. We finished it for our brother, and now it's about celebrating his life."

Furious 7 hits theaters April 3.

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"Downton Abbey" Will End After Next Season

ITV(NEW YORK) -- It appears the rumors are true. Popular PBS drama Downton Abbey will end after its sixth season.

Series executive producer Gareth Neame announced the news Thursday. In a statement, he says: "Millions of people around the world have followed the journey of the Crawley family and those who serve them for the last five years. Inevitably there comes a time when all shows should end andDownton is no exception."

"We wanted to close the doors of Downton Abbey when it felt right and natural for the story lines to come together and when the show was still being enjoyed so much by its fans," the statement continues. "We can promise a final season full of all the usual drama and intrigue, but with the added excitement of discovering how and where they all end up."

"We, like the fans, simply cannot wait to see what will happen to the Crawley family and their beloved staff as this incredible series culminates in Season 6," PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger said in a staement. "The series has enjoyed such success over the past five seasons and we’ll certainly be working alongside Carnival, Masterpiece and PBS member stations to make Season 6 the biggest yet. Until then, Sunday nights on PBS continue to offer fans a full slate of ‘must view’ British and, soon, American historical drama."

Season five of Downton Abbey just ended in the U.S. on PBS. The cast is currently filming the show's sixth season.

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One Direction Bandmates Post Emotional Messages Following Zayn Malik's Departure

Eric McCandless / ABC(NEW YORK) — One Direction bandmates Harry Styles and Liam Payne posted emotional messages to Twitter hours after Zayn Malik announced he would be leaving the band.

"My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined," Malik, 22, said in a statement posted to the group's official Facebook page on Wednesday. "But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band."

Fans quickly responded on social media with heartbroken messages. Numerous hashtags -- like #ByeZayn -- were quickly trending.

Harry Styles and Liam Payne posted on their personal Twitter accounts just hours after the Malik's departure -- but did not refer to the departure directly.

"All the love always. H," said Harry Styles, 21. 

All the love as always. H

— Harry Styles. (@Harry_Styles) March 26, 2015

"So glad to be in bed after a long and strange 24 hours," bandmate Liam Payne said. 

So glad to be in bed after a long and strange 24 hours

— Liam (@Real_Liam_Payne) March 26, 2015

A few hours after his other bandmates, Louis Tomlison tweeted about One Direction's future.

"Been a crazy couple of days but know that we are going to work harder than ever to deliver the best album we've ever made for you guys," he tweeted. 

Been a crazy couple of days but know that we are going to work harder than ever to deliver the best album we've ever made for you guys !

— Louis Tomlinson (@Louis_Tomlinson) March 26, 2015

As part of the statement posted to the group's official Facebook page, the band said, "We're really sad to see Zayn go, but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future. The past five years have been beyond amazing, we've gone through so much together, so we will always be friends. The four of us will now continue. We're looking forward to recording the new album and seeing all the fans on the next stage of the world tour."

Malik said he was leaving the band because he wants to be "a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight."


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Jon Hamm Addresses His Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Carin Baer/AMC(NEW YORK) — Following the revelation earlier this week that he recently completed treatment for alcohol addiction, Jon Hamm says he feels fortunate to have the support of his family and friends.

In an interview with the Australian magazine TV Week, the Mad Men star said the 24-hour period after the news broke was tough on him. He's quoted as saying, "Life throws a lot at you sometimes and you have to deal with it as much as you can."

"That’s why you have family and friends and co-workers to help you with that," he added.

Hamm chose not to draw a comparison between his personal woes and those of his Mad Men character, the troubled ad exec Don Draper. He said, "Obviously there can be a lot of discussion about how much of this is related to that and honestly I don’t have much to say about that either. I’ve said in varying ways that acting can be a difficult endeavour, certainly not as difficult as the recent example I used of being a baby heart surgeon. But, it does present its own challenges and so does life."

On Tuesday, Hamm's rep released a statement that read, "With the support of his longtime partner Jennifer Westfeldt, Jon Hamm recently completed treatment for his struggle with alcohol addiction. They have asked for privacy and sensitivity going forward."

AMC will begin airing the final episodes of Mad Men on April 5.

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“Game of Thrones’” Emilia Clarke Explains Why She Turned Down Lead Role in “Fifty Shades of Grey”

Helen Sloan/HBO(NEW YORK) — Can you imagine Game of Thrones actress Emilia Clarke as the naive college student Anastasia Steele in the movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey? It almost happened.

The starlet met twice with the film's director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, but decided to turn the role down.

As for why she said no, Clarke tells The Hollywood Reporter, "I'd done nudity before and was concerned with being labeled for doing it again." Clarke says she has "no regrets."

Clarke still has nude scenes on Game of Thrones, which returns to HBO April 12, but not as many as in past seasons. "There are other women who remove items of clothing on our show, so they've kind of got my nipple count down now," she quips.

The hit film's sequel, Fifty Shades Darker, with Dakota Johnson starring as Steele, is reportedly slated to hit theaters in late 2016 or early 2017.

Meanwhile, Game of Thrones has become the most successful show in HBO's history. "Never in a million years did I think Game of Thrones was going to take off like it did," says Clarke. "It's taken me five years to catch up with it. I'm still not sure I'm there."

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“Fifty Shades of Grey” Director Not Returning for Sequel

"Fifty Shades of Grey" - Focus Features(NEW YORK) — Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson will not return for the sequel. She made the announcement via a statement released to Deadline on Wednesday.

She said, "Directing Fifty Shades of Grey has been an intense and incredible journey for which I am hugely grateful. I have Universal to thank for that."

Referring to her Fifty Shades stars, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, she continued, "I forged close and lasting relationships with the cast, producers and crew and most especially, with Dakota and Jamie."

Taylor-Johnson concluded her statement by wishing success to "whosoever takes on the exciting challenges of films two and three."

It's been reported in the past that Taylor-Johnson and Fifty Shades author E.L. James had creative differences, but it's unclear how much that played a role in her decision.

Johnson and Dornan are under contract for the sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.

Fifty Shades of Grey has made $164 million at the domestic box office and $558 million worldwide since its release in February.

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Jon Hamm Recalls Emotional Final Day of Shooting for "Mad Men"

Frank Ockenfels/AMC(LOS ANGELES) — The Mad Men cast gathered in Los Angeles Wednesday night for a premiere of their show's final episodes.

Jon Hamm was on the red carpet just 24 hours after his rep revealed that the actor recently completed a stint in rehab for alcohol addiction. 

Hamm, who plays Don Draper on the AMC drama, recalled the final day of shooting during a conversation with ABC Radio. He said, "It was the end of an emotional week, and it was the end of an emotional day, and it was the end of an emotional nine-year ride, eight-year ride. It was a lot."

Series creator Matthew Weiner said he didn't let himself become overwhelmed with emotion as he directed the final two episodes. He explained to ABC Radio, "I held my stuff together because somebody had to."

The final season of Mad Men, which was split in half, resumes on AMC on April 5.

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Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart Attend Get Hard Premiere in LA

"Get Hard" - Warner Bros.(LOS ANGELES) — Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart hit the red carpet in Los Angeles Wednesday night for the premiere of their new comedy Get Hard.

Ferrell plays a millionaire convicted of fraud who is given 30 days to get his affairs in order before he heads to prison. He hires a guy he wrongly assumes is an ex-convict to prepare him for life behind bars. Hart plays the guy given the task of toughening up Ferrell's character.

“You're not going to find this type of funny anywhere else. This is Will Ferrell times Kevin Hart. This is a dream, a match made in heaven,” Hart said.

Ferrell admits the comedy is outlandish and they pushed the limits. “We used every stitch of the R-Rating in this movie. So if you’re looking for a comedy, you know, that doesn’t hold back, this is the one for you,” Ferrell said.

Get Hard opens nationwide Friday.

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Movie Review: “Home” (Rated PG)

"Home" - Fox(NEW YORK) — Dreamworks’ newest animated feature, Home, isn’t exactly a world-beater, but it is does revolve around a world invasion. Our world, to be exact.
 
The Boov are intergalactic nomads, who look like the Scrubbing Bubbles and Despicable Me’s Minions procreated. They speak English but the way in which they arrange their sentences is ridiculous.  The silly Boov leader, Captain Smek, voiced by Steve Martin, is great at one thing: running away!  When we first meet him, the Boov are running away from their mortal enemy --  to Earth, a planet they’ll take over by moving all humans to Australia.
 
One Boov in particular is excited about the their new beginning. That’s Oh, voiced by Jim Parsons, whose voice is perfect for any animated character. Oh’s issue is the rest of the Boov don’t like him, but since he’s blissfully unaware of how he’s perceived, he continues to try to ingratiate himself the rest of the Boov. Then he makes a major mistake that could put every Boov in peril, and finds himself on the run.
 
That’s when he meets a young girl named Tip, who has a lovely singing voice. OK, we don’t really hear her sing, but since her voice is supplied by Rihanna, let’s just assume she sings like Rihanna. Tip agrees to help hide Oh, and Oh agrees to help Tip find her mother.
 
On the heels of Disney’s Frozen, Tip is another strong, young, intelligent female character. Making her even more compelling and important is she’s black.  I don’t think I need to tell you about the lack of young, black female characters in animated movies, because there pretty much are none.
 
Your kids will likely enjoy Home from beginning to end.  For adults, however, Home feels like two different movies. The first 45 minutes are almost intolerable: the writing isn’t particularly strong, and the story isn’t particularly compelling -- it’s annoying, and the chemistry between Tip and Oh is awful. You stick with it, though, because there’s something inherently good about both characters.
 
Thankfully, your patience is rewarded. The second half of Home works with a solid and emotionally-satisfying ending. If only the whole movie was that way.
 
Three-and-a-half out of five stars.

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HarperCollins Reveals "Go Set a Watchman" Cover Design

Harper Collins(NEW YORK) -- Publisher HarperCollins revealed the cover art for author Harper Lee's upcoming novel Go Set a Watchman, the follow-up to her beloved book To Kill a Mockingbird.

The cover, visible on the HarperCollins website, features an oak tree in the foreground with a set of train tracks and on oncoming locomotive in the background. Go Set a Watchman was originally written in the 1950s, the publisher says, and though it was submitted to publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird, it was later presumed lost and manuscripts were only discovered in 2014.

HarperCollins also notes that the novel will feature many of the characters from Lee's most famous novel, and will involve Scout Finch returning to Alabama 20 years after the events of Mockingbird.

The book's on-sale date is listed as July 14.

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Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent Welcome a Daughter

D Dipasupil/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It's a girl for Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent!

The couple welcomed a daughter via a surrogate on March 23, Berkus announced on Facebook Wednesday.

"Jeremiah & I are thrilled to announce the arrival of our daughter, Poppy Brent-Berkus, born via surrogate on March 23, 2015," he wrote. "We are so excited to finally be a family of 3!"

The interior designer, 43, and Brent, a designer and TV personality, announced last September that they were expecting a baby. Four months before that, they were married in New York City.

"As anyone with a newborn knows, we have our work cut out for us but couldn't be happier to be embarking on this life changing journey that is parenthood," the couple added. "Thank you all for your well wishes and support."

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Zayn Malik Is Leaving One Direction

Eric McCandless / ABC(NEW YORK) -- Zayn Malik is leaving One Direction.

The singer said on Facebook that the decision was a personal one, and apologized to fans who may be disappointed by his choice.

"My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined. But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band," he wrote. "I have to do what feels right in my heart. I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight."

"I know I have four friends for life in Louis [Tomlinson], Liam [Payne], Harry [Styles] and Niall [Horan]," he continued. "I know they will continue to be the best band in the world."

Malik announced last week that he was leaving the group's tour to "recuperate" at home in the U.K. At the time, there were reports that his relationship with his fiancée, Little Mix's Perrie Edwards, was strained.

"We're really sad to see Zayn go, but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future. The past five years have been beyond amazing, we've gone through so much together, so we will always be friends," Malik's bandmates said in a statement. "The four of us will now continue. We're looking forward to recording the new album and seeing all the fans on the next stage of the world tour."

Added Simon Cowell, who assembled the band: "I would like to say thank you to Zayn for everything he has done for One Direction. Since I first met Zayn in 2010, I have grown very, very fond -- and immensely proud -- of him. I have seen him grow in confidence and I am truly sorry to see him leave. As for One Direction, fans can rest assured that Niall, Liam, Harry and Louis are hugely excited about the future of the band."

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