Aretha Franklin responds to death rumors, says ‘I’m doing well’

Aretha Franklin responds to death rumors, says ‘I’m doing well’

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The Queen of Soul says she’s doing just fine.

Aretha Franklin was recently forced to respond to rumors of her death, which ran rampant on social media on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. “I’m doing well generally, all test[s] have come back good,” the 75-year-old told Us Weekly in an exclusive statement. “I’ve lost a lot of weight due to side effects of medicine, it affects your weight…Thanxxxx for your concern.”

Early Tuesday morning, a fake Twitter account falsely reported that the “Respect” singer had passed away. “It Is With Sad News That We Announce the Passing Of The ‘Queen Of Soul’ Aretha Franklin 1942-2017,” the tweet read. Fans assumed the post, which garnered over 15,000 mentions, was true, and the hashtag #RIPArethaFranklin soon began trending.

It Is With Sad News That We Announce The Passing Of The Queen Of Soul Aretha Franklin

— Aretha Franklin (@ArethaFrankIinn) November 21, 2017

Franklin’s rep and longtime friend, Shaun Robinson, was quick to dismiss the rumor and tweeted an update on the legendary singer’s health. “Good Morning, Everyone. I just spoke to one of Ms. Franklin’s family friends in my hometown Detroit,” the Access Hollywood host wrote. “They spoke to Aretha moments ago and asked me to tell you please don’t believe this news that was trending. Have a good day.”

Good Morning, Everyone. I just spoke to one of Ms. Franklin’s family friends in my hometown Detroit. They spoke to Aretha moments ago and asked me to tell you please don’t believe this news that was trending. Have a good day.

— Shaun Robinson (@shaunrobinson) November 21, 2017

This is not the first time Franklin has addressed public concerns for her health. According to Us Weekly, rumors that she was fighting pancreatic cancer surfaced in 2011. “I don’t know where ‘pancreatic cancer’ came from,” the 18-time Grammy winner told Robinson on Access Hollywood at the time. “I was sitting there reading the newspaper and it was saying someone in my family said that. No one in my family ever said that to anybody.”

Franklin, who made headlines earlier this year when she reignited her longtime feud with Dionne Warwick, announced her retirement in February 2017. “I must tell you, I am retiring this year,” she said during an interview with WDIV Local 4 in Detroit. “I feel very, very enriched and satisfied with respect to where my career came from and where it is now. I’ll be pretty much satisfied, but I’m not going to go anywhere and just sit down and do nothing. That wouldn’t be good either.” The “Think” singer later announced that her post-retirement plans include opening a nightclub.

Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas accuses team doctor of sexual abuse

Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas accuses team doctor of sexual abuse

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The gold medalist is speaking out about the inappropriate behavior of USA gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar.

Following some controversial comments she made regarding teammate Aly Raisman’s claims that she’d been abused by Nassar, Gabby Douglas took to Instagram on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. In a long text post, the 21-year-old apologized for how she’d responded to Raisman’s allegations, which many perceived as an example of victim blaming.

“I didn’t view my comments as victim shaming because I know that no matter what you wear, it NEVER gives anyone the right to harass or abuse you. It would be like saying that because of the leotards we wore, it was our fault that we were abused by Larry Nassar,” she stated. “I didn’t publicly share my experiences as well as many other things because for years we were conditioned to stay silent and honestly some things were extremely painful. I wholeheartedly support my teammates for coming forward with what happened to them.”

She continued, “I understand that many of you didn’t know what I was dealing with, but it is important that you at least know this. I do not advocate victim shaming/blaming in any way, shape or form! I will also never support attacking or bullying anyone on social media or anywhere else.”

Douglas concluded, “Please forgive me for not being more responsible with how I handled the situation.”

USA Today confirmed that Douglas accused Nassar of sexual abuse.

According to The Washington Post, Nassar, who’s been accused of sexually abusing over 130 women, pleaded guilty to seven counts of sexual assault in a Michigan courtroom on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. He’ll likely be spending at least 25 years behind bars, though he could be facing a much longer prison sentence, as he faces additional accusations.

Wendy Williams reveals her worst guest, recalls groping incident

Wendy Williams reveals her worst guest, recalls groping incident

The talk host just opened up about the worst person she’s ever interviewed.

On Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, Wendy Williams touched upon the ongoing Charlie Rose scandal, which has seen the former 60 Minutes host accused of sexual misconduct. And Williams revealed that she’d previously been the victim of sexual harassment on her own show, The Wendy Williams Show—as it aired live.

“My worst guest? I’m not going to name, but I can tell you this—it had to do with some groping, and you all saw it but didn’t say a word. And I felt it and I didn’t say a word,” the 53-year-old told audience members and at-home viewers. “My staff saw it and that guest will never be here anymore. He’s not relevant anyway.”

She went on to describe how, during her second or third season, a comedian, who she called a “little man,” came on her show and touched her without her consent. “You know I hug my guests—he hugs me but lays in my breasts inappropriately, and I didn’t know what to do because I’m brand new on TV, whereas now I would definitely push somebody through a glass coffee table.”

She said she went along with the hug, laughing and smiling, because she wasn’t sure how to respond. After the hug, she claimed that the man looked up at her and said, in a very distinct voice, “Oh, you’re not Oprah!”

“I didn’t know how to take that,” she recalled. “And the whole interview was just weird, and I just would never have him here again. And I am two seconds away from saying his name, but it’s not worth it.”

While Williams never named the rude guest, internet sleuths were quick to determine that comedian Gilbert Gottfried was the man in question (via E! News). Not only does his iconic voice match Williams’ description but he also appeared on Williams’ show in 2011, where he apparently placed his face on the host’s chest.

In case anyone is wondering this who @WendyWilliams was talking about…. Gilbert Gottfried

— Camille Beckham (@The_Glam_Guru) November 21, 2017

Regarding the alleged incident, Gottfried told Inside Edition that he didn’t remember the show. When asked if he was indeed banned from the talk show, he replied, “Not that I’m aware of.”

Kristen Bell, Henry Winkler, and more star in Sia’s ‘Santa’s Coming For Us’ video

Kristen Bell, Henry Winkler, and more star in Sia’s ‘Santa’s Coming For Us’ video

Who doesn’t love seeing their favorite celebrities spend the holidays together?

On Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017, Sia (full name Sia Furler) debuted her music video for “Santa’s Coming For Us,” a track from her recently released Christmas album, Everyday Is Christmas. And, in true Sia fashion, the pop star is nowhere to be seen throughout the entire video! Instead, Sia enlisted in a number of celebrities to star in the music video in her place, including Kristen Bell and husband Dax Shepard, Henry Winkler, Susan Lucci, and J.B. Smoove.

Shepard and Bell portray a husband and wife hosting a dinner party for their family, as their three children—portrayed by Stranger Things actor Caleb McLaughlin and It stars Sophia Lillis and Wyatt Oleff—wrap presents. Winkler and Lucci, playing the children’s grandparents, soon join the group.

Smoove, known for his role in Curb Your Enthusiasm, later enters via the chimney, dressed as Santa Clause.

Sia dropped Everyday Is Christmas on Friday, Nov. 17, gifting fans everywhere with new holiday songs. As to why she decided to produce a holiday record, Sia told Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe, “I thought we had a bit of a shortage of good Christmas music. There’s obviously the classics and stuff, but anything new, I wasn’t vibing that much on it” (via Billboard).

She also revealed that working on the album was so “easy and fun” that she finished making it in two weeks, noting that she “ended up with an original album by accident.”

No matter how Sia came to write and record Everyday Is Christmas, we’re sure glad she did.

The untold truth of David Cassidy

The untold truth of David Cassidy

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David Cassidy passed away on Nov. 21, 2017 after a brief hospitalization for organ failure. Best known for playing Keith Partridge, the heartthrob lead singer and guitar player for the fictional family band, The Partridge Family, Cassidy went on to a colorful entertainment career that included successful runs on Broadway, television, and as a touring musician.

But like many longtime entertainers, Cassidy also battled demons in his life: strained family relationships, failed marriages, substance abuse, and crippling health problems. You already know that Keith Partridge became a real-life teen pop sensation, but this is the story of the man behind the gloriously feathered hair and sequined jumpsuits. It’s the untold truth of David Cassidy.

He had a complicated relationship with his daughter

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Although today’s generation may not have grown up on The Partridge Family, they might have known Cassidy through his daughter, Katie Cassidy, an up-and-coming actress who’s appeared on popular TV shows Gossip Girl and Arrow.

As Katie rose to fame, the father-daughter duo appeared to have an amiable relationship, as evident by this joint interview from People in 2009. However, by February 2017, David had completely changed his tune, alleging to People that he “never had a relationship” with his only daughter. “I wasn’t her father. I was her biological father but I didn’t raise her,” he said. Katie grew up with Cassidy’s ex-girlfriend, Sherry Williams, and stepfather. “She has a completely different life.”

In a separate article, also published in February 2017, People reported that Katie had become estranged from her father after a falling out.

He had dementia

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David Cassidy spent the last part of his life battling dementia, a diagnosis he revealed to People in February 2017. “I was in denial, but a part of me always knew this was coming,” said Cassidy, whose grandfather and mother also battled the disease.

The revelation came about a day after TMZ obtained footage of Cassidy performing at a concert. In the video, he’s seen slurring, falling down, and forgetting his lyrics. The footage led some to wonder if Cassidy had relapsed after a years-long battle with alcoholism (more on that one in a moment,) something the former Partridge Family star was well aware of. “I was concerned people would mistake my alcoholism with my diagnosis,” he told People. “It’s a tricky business.”

After revealing his diagnosis to People, Cassidy said he was stepping away from the stage to focus on his health. “I want to focus on what I am, who I am and how I’ve been without any distractions,” he said. “I want to love. I want to enjoy life.”

He claimed he was very close with his son

Despite the tough relationship with his daughter, Cassidy told People in February 2017 that he had a strong relationship with his only son, Beau Cassidy, whom he had with his third ex-wife, Sue Shifrin.

“He’s just one of the best people you’ll ever meet in your life and it’s that that I’m proud of,” David told the magazine. Addressing his dementia diagnosis, David said his son “knows that I’m just a little off. Sometimes he cocks his head at me a little bit and goes, ‘Dad do you remember?’ and I say, ‘No, I know I do, I remember.’ He’ll give me reminders once in awhile.” David added, “He just turned 26. He’s such a beautiful person.”

In a touching remembrance post on Instagram, Beau simply captioned a playful photo of him and his dad with, “I’ll always, always love you.”

He was an alcoholic

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In the handful of years prior to his dementia diagnosis, David Cassidy made multiple headlines for his ongoing battle with alcohol. According to People, he was arrested for DUI in 2010, then again in 2013 and 2014. Shorly after his third DUI arrested, Cassidy—who had been in and out of rehab—confessed to being an alcoholic.

“If I take another drink, I’m going to die, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I’m dead,” Cassidy told CNN‘s Piers Morgan in March 2014. “You know, they say it’s a slippery slope… It’s not a slippery slope. It’s from 12:00 to 6:00 on the clock and the whole face is ice. One sip, one drink, because there is no such a thing, not to an alcoholic. You have one and you’re—you’re done. I’d be done.”

A woman claims she is his illegitimate love child

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Shelly Wright came forward to Radar Online in 2013, claiming to be Cassidy’s love child from a one-night stand he supposedly had with her mother, Donna G. Wallace, who claimed to have hooked up with Cassidy while she was separated from her husband, “famed Nashville songwriter, James Bohon” in 1973. Wright claims that she went public after getting “the run around” from Cassidy’s publicist, who allegedly went so far as to send her a fake hair for a DNA test.

“I just want him to finally acknowledge me. I’m not getting any younger and I just want some closure. I want to meet my dad,” said Wright, who also insists she’s not looking for any kind of payout. Eventually, she reportedly touched base with Cassidy’s son, Beau, who agreed to help but failed to follow through.

In a last ditch effort, Wright wrote an open letter to Cassidy in 2014, published by Express, which read, in part: “This is not a gimmick. It’s not a game. I’m frustrated and desperate, and I just want David to know that I’ve been trying to contact him…From the bottom of my heart, I’m begging David Cassidy–the man that I believe is my father–to agree to a DNA test. Then, and only then, will I find the truth.”

As of this writing, it’s unclear if Wright got the closure she sought.

He was married three times

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In 1977, Cassidy met Kay Lenz on a blind date. Two and a half months later, they were married, according to People, though the “whirlwind romance” would only last four years. In retrospect, Lenz told People that she wasn’t equipped to handle the fame that came along with marrying a teen idol and that there was no single thing that broke them up. She was just “unhappy,” although she wasn’t sure why.

Just as Cassidy’s marriage to Lenz was winding down, he reconnected with an old acquaintance that he knew through a shared passion for horse breeding, Meryl Tanz. After a chance meeting with the South African horse breeder at a race in Illinois, Cassidy fell head over heels. “We haven’t been apart since. In his rock days, he was remote. Now he has time for me,” she told People. But again, the romance wouldn’t last. Cassidy and Tanz split just two years later in 1986.

Cassidy’s third marriage would be his longest. He wed Sue Shifrin-Cassidy in 1991. Though they went strong for more than two decades, they split in 2015 in what turned into an ugly, albeit secretive settlement that resulted in Cassidy declaring bankruptcy and selling his South Florida home, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Shirley Jones was his stepmom in real life

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Though they played blood relatives on The Partridge Family, Shirley Jones and David Cassidy actually shared a connection via marriage in real life. Shirley got hitched to Cassidy’s dad, actor Jack Cassidy, when David was 3-years-old, but according to a 2006 UK Sunday Express interview, it was nothing like their TV family.

“[Jack] was jealous of Shirley, who was a big star at 21, and then he was jealous of me,” David told the paper, claiming his father was “a manic depressive and an alcoholic” who was “consumed with Irish Catholic guilt.”

Jack and Shirley split up in 1974 after a chaotic several decades together, according to HuffPost. Despite his dad and stepmom’s marital struggles, David maintained affection for Shirley, confessing to the UK Sunday Express, “I don’t see her often, but I love her. She was a good role model and friend. She taught me a lot about dealing with fame.”

Unfortunately, that seems to have changed over time. According to Shirley, who spoke with Closer Weekly in 2015, “David has not had a relationship with anyone in the family for years. We are sick over it.”

He had beef with Don Johnson

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In Cassidy’s heyday, he was as big a celebrity as one could become. He once told EW that his “fanzine” publisher received up to 25,000 letters from adoring fans per day. Naturally, Cassidy rubbed shoulders with some other huge stars of the era, including Don Johnson of Miami Vice.

Cassidy wasn’t impressed with the ’80’s TV icon. In his book, C’Mon, Get Happy…Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus,” Cassidy describes Johnson as “a blatantly rude egomaniac, who snubbed him badly at a party.” Cassidy later told the StarTribune, “I was more than kind to him in the book. I don’t call him every name I could.” He added, “If I saw him today, he’d probably apologize. He needs friends, because he doesn’t have many. In Hollywood you hear Don Johnson stories. You never hear David Cassidy stories.”

Shots. Fired.

He didn't love his teen idol image

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Cassidy also revealed to the StarTribune that despite achieving dizzying fame as a pop sensation, he would have rather been known for his more serious artistic work.

“I had everything I wanted–except creative expression,” Cassidy said. “I created this total airhead. He was a bimbo, and people thought that was me. They don’t take you seriously if you appeal to young people, like it’s less important.”

Cassidy said he has no regrets about walking away from that character, even if it temporarily damaged his marketability in Hollywood. “It’s inevitable that I went out of fashion,” he said. “I walked away from it with my integrity, because I didn’t want to end up being some tragic clown, sitting in some hotel lounge.”

But he’s not entirely bitter about the experience. In fact, in 2012, Cassidy kicked off a nostalgia tour which covered his four-decade career, and he happily included those bubblegum tracks that elevated him to stardom. “I do the songs people expect to hear whether they’ve seen me a hundred times or one time they won’t be disappointed, he told the Phoenix New Times. “Of course I do the hits.”

He was a legit musician

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Cassidy is, of course, known for the classic track from The Patridge Family, “I Think I Love You,” as well as his own subsequent chart-toppers, such as “Cherish,” “How Can I Be Sure,” and “Lyin’ to Myself.” But the former teen idol wasn’t just a pretty face playing pretend with a guitar. Long before he ever dreamed of being a TV star, Cassidy was playing in garage bands and honing the musical talents that kept him on the scene long after the teenyboppers lost interest.

According to Rolling Stone, this translated to Cassidy collaborating with The Beach Boys and George Michael, and even becoming pals with a certain legendary member of The Beatles. “John [Lennon] and I became good friends when he was recording Rock and Roll so I was able to come down to the studio a couple of times and if you could imagine Phil Spector walking around with a f***ing gun… It was nuts,” Cassidy told the magazine.

Cassidy also wrote, “I Write the Songs,” which, according to the StarTribune, eventually became Barry Manilow’s “signature song.” He also penned and performed The John Larroquette Show theme under the pseudonym, Blind Lemon Jackson.

In other words: Cassidy could have easily made a living performing under the disguise of Keith Partridge, but he chose to do it his own way, and it was through the creation of that fictional musical hero that Cassidy actually became one in his own right.

Pink debuts ’50s-themed ‘Beautiful Trauma’ video starring Channing Tatum

Pink debuts ’50s-themed ‘Beautiful Trauma’ video starring Channing Tatum

Channing Tatum showed off his dance moves in Pink’s latest music video.

On Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, Pink (real name Alecia Moore) released a video for her hit song “Beautiful Trauma.” The 1950s-themed video presents Pink and Tatum as a married couple—each with their own, shall we say, quirks. While Pink’s character has taken to pill popping, Tatum’s video persona finds himself with a BDSM fetish and a penchant for donning dresses in secret. Both characters can also appreciate a good drink—or, really, any drink.

Pink, 38, and Tatum, 37, dance together throughout the video in several choreography routines.

Towards the end of the video, as the credits roll, it’s revealed that Pink and Tatum were playing Fred Hart and Ginger Hart, a likely reference to 1930s silver screen legends Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Hart, of course, is a reference to Pink’s real-life husband, Carey Hart.

Pink previously teased the video’s release on social media on Sunday, Nov. 19, the same day she performed the song live while scaling the side of a building.

While we wait for Pink’s next music video, read up on all the strange things about the singer’s marriage.

Armie Hammer Is Already A Winner On The ‘Call Me By Your Name’ Tour [Interview]

Armie Hammer is searching the eighth floor of the Beverly Wilshire hotel looking for his publicist. He’s wearing a sharp pseudo-Hawaiian inspired print shirt that screams Ted Baker (even if it isn’t) with a sleek cut cut blue blazer and pants. Following our interview I’d told him the shirt was great while omitting the fact I have a thing for flowered print t-shirts. His publicist, on the other hand, thinks Hammer’s ensemble is a mistake. She’s clearly wrong and Hammer playfully wants my testimony to validate his fashion choice (or that of his stylist). It’s actually a familiar scenario for the 31-year-old actor who finally knows what he wants.

After some misadventures in Hollywood studio flicks such as “The Lone Ranger” and the underrated “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” Hammer made the decision to focus on films that allowed him to explore the art form he learned to love during acting classes oh so many years ago. He didn’t have to wait long for Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name” to emerge as the stepping stone to that artistic fulfillment he’d been searching for. It’s probably an overreaction to say “Call Me” has changed everything for Hammer, but it’s provided an unexpected comeback for an actor who probably didn’t even care that someone somewhere thought he needed one.

The conversation with Hammer that day was quick. We discussed his preference for films in the vein of “Call Me” or the upcoming indie “Sorry to Bother You” and “On the Basis of Sex” rather than the commercial tentpoles that left him creatively unsatisfied . He revealed, much to my amazement, that Guadagnino cast both himself and co-star Timothée Chalamet not only without having them test together, but neither had to audition either. He contrasted the emotional reception for “Call Me,” an expected Best Picture nominee that debuted at Sundance, to the euphoric reaction to “Birth of A Nation,” another expected Best Picture nominee that debuted at Sundance and shockingly became a publicity nightmare for all involved.

“After Sundance I don’t think our feet hit the ground,” I recall Hammer saying about everyone involved in “Birth.” After rape charges against director Nate Parker and his co-screenwriter resurfaced that made the film’s crash in the pop culture context that much harder to take. “Call Me” was a much different experience with Hammer saying his satisfaction came first and foremost from shooting the film. Anything else that happens during its release or this current awards season is simply a bonus.

You might have noticed I used the phrase “I recall.” There’s a disheartening reason for that. Somewhere between reassuring Hammer’s publicist her client’s outfit was on point and recording another interview the following day our interview was deleted from my phone (and, yes, that’s a painful reminder to really make sure your automatic backup is working on your iPhone).

Don’t despair though because I didn’t.

‘Coco’ Directors Bask In The Glow Of Mexico’s Love

Imagine three weeks ago. To say it was a different time is something of an understatement. Walt Disney Studios was basking the glow of not only a gigantic haul and critical acclaim for Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok, but a soon to be record box office tally for Pixar’s “Coco” in Mexico.

The Mexican set tale centers on Miguel (voiced by youngster Anthony Gonzalez), a 12-year old boy who has been forced to keep his guitar playing and singing skills a secret from his family. His grandmother (Renée Victor) insists on now music in the family’s life after a dramatic incident happened to his great, great, great grandmother so many years ago. On Día de Muertos he steals a guitar that is connect to his relatives and finds himself transported to the Land of the Dead where his relatives try to convince him to stop his musical ambitions and family secrets are finally revealed.

Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3,” “Finding Nemo”) and co-directed by newcomer Adrian Molina, the film has already been embraced in Mexico with a stunning $43 million to date making it the highest grossing film in that nation’s history. For Unkirch, Molina and producer Darla K. Anderson it’s a warmer response than they could have dreamed of.

“It’s enormously gratifying to us that people have been responding as well as they have,” Unkrich says.

Molina adds, “Yeah, you know so much of this story is inspired by Mexico, by the people we met and to see that it is received with the exact same intention that we tried to create it? It feels like all of that work, all of those meeting [mattered].”

“There’s no way to guarantee it,” Unkrich says. “As hard as we worked on it, it could have just easily been dismissed as a film made by outsiders about their culture and they may not have accepted it, but exact opposite has happened. It’s just been thoroughly embraced.”

“Yeah, and its so emotionally gratifying, and I think overwhelming, honestly, to feel how strongly [Mexican audiences love it],” Anderson says.

Coco, Pixar, Best-Animated-Feature

Of course, that might not have always been the case. In 2014 Jorge R. Gutiérrez‘s critically underrated “Book of Life” arrived in theaters with an all-star vocal cast including Zoe Saldana and Channing Tatum. Produced by Guillermo del Toro, it also featured a story that centered on a young boy traveling to the Land of the Dead on Día de Muertos. Did its arrival ever give the “Coco” filmmakers pause?

“Well, first of all, we were already several years into it,” Anderson starts.

“Yeah, we had been working on our story for a while when we found out that that was being made. Honestly, it was a little disheartening, initially, just because I felt like we were doing something really unique, and I knew that with them coming out there would be inevitable comparisons, and that’s happened,” Unkrich says. “At the end of the day, we loved the story that we were telling and when ‘Book of Life’ came out we all went to see it and we were very relieved to find that Jorge was telling a very different story than we were still set against the same culture. So, I’m glad we forged ahead because we’re all really proud of ‘Coco’ and I’m glad it’s in the world and I would hate to have it not in the world just because another movie came out.”

“Coco,” in fact, has been in the works since at least 2010 when Unkirch pitched it after the success of “Toy Story 3.” He notes it was “a whole different story” back then.

“We worked on that for almost a year, I think,” Unkrich says. “Then after about a year we changed directions and came up with just the initial building blocks of what became ‘Coco, but that still was a multi-year journey.”

“That version, the first screening that we had and showed to the studio, it had a lot of [the elements in the movie now],” Molina says. “It had the kid who wanted to play music, the family who disapproved and this journey into The Land of the Dead to meet this person who could help him find his way.”

Molina, who previously worked as a storyboard artist on both “Toy Story 3” and “Monster’s University” started working on “Coco’s” screenplay a year and a half after Unkrich had dived into the project.

“Knowing what the themes and the subject matter of the film were I was very excited and I asked if I could be part of it,” Molina says. “So, I started as a story artist and just fell so in love with the representation of the culture, with the family, these themes of an artist and the struggles against tradition that I would take these story problems home. We had a lot of problems that we were beating our heads against the wall trying to figure out and sometimes that meant story boarding a sequence, sometimes that meant writing pages and pitching ideas for how to solve stuff like ‘How does Miguel get back home?’ I presented those ideas to Lee and Darla and they really responded to the enthusiasm and that developed into actually writing a whole draft of the film and then developing that further.”

Coco, Pixar, Best-Animated-Feature

The Land of the Dead is one of the most beautifully designed and lit worlds in any Pixar movie (and, yes, that’s a high compliment). Unkrich says their initial inspiration was the city of Guanajuato.

“It’s this city that’s kind of built into a bowl-shaped valley and all of the buildings in the town are painted from this set color palette,” Unkrich says. “So, they’re very colorful and they’re all kind of encrusted into the hillside. I always imagined a Land of the Dead that was always under construction and always being added onto willy-nilly and so Guanajuato inspired a lot of the look. Philosophically, one of the artists whose work has best come to exemplify Dia de los Muertos, is this artist named José Guadalupe Posada who did a lot of wood cut engravings at the turn of the century. So, the famous Katrina and a lot of the skeletal imagery that we associate with Dia de los Muertos now came from him.”

The design of the Land of the Dead was also heavily influenced by the architecture of Posada’s era and the fact so much of Dia de los Muertos art in general is inspired by that Victorian world.

“A lot of that came from other places that we visited in Mexico, as well,” Unkrich says. “There’s a lot of architecture in Mexico City of that era that’s really ornate and beautiful. So, we knew we had to create and imagine this whole imaginary place, but I wanted it to still, ultimately, feel very rooted in its own Mexican-ness.”

“Coco” is now in theaters nationwide.

‘Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool’ Trailer: Love Blooms Between Annette Bening & Jamie Bell

There are a lot of movies trying to elbow into the awards race, and Sony Pictures Classics is hoping voters will remember “Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool.” While it doesn’t have the same buzz as the studio’s other major contender — “Call Me By Your Name” — it does have a big, secret weapon: the legendary Annette Bening.

The actress leads the movie as Hollywood star Gloria Grahame, in this based on a true story tale about the actresses’ late life relationship and romance with a much younger lover. Here’s the official synopsis:

Based on Peter Turner’s memoir, the film follows the playful but passionate relationship between Turner (Bell) and the eccentric Academy Award®-winning actress Gloria Grahame (Bening) in 1978 Liverpool. What starts as a vibrant affair between a legendary femme fatale and her young lover quickly grows into a deeper relationship, with Turner being the person Gloria turns to for comfort. Their passion and lust for life is tested to the limits by events beyond their control.

Directed by Paul McGuigan, and co-starring Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, and Vanessa Redgrave and featuring an original song by Elvis Costello, “Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool” opens on December 29th.

’12 Strong’ Trailer: Chris Hemsworth Wins The First Victory In The War On Terror

So, “12 Strong: The Declassified True Story Of The Horse Soldiers” (my god, that title) is now billing itself as “The true story of the first victory in the war on terror.” Honestly, I’m not sure I’m ready to process of all that, but nonetheless, flag waving marketing probably finds an audience.

Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña, Trevante Rhodes, Geoff Stults, Thad Luckinbill, Austin Stowell, Ben O’Toole, Austin Hebert, Kenneth Miller, Kenny Sheard, Jack Kesy, Navid Negahban, Laith Nakli, Fahim Fazli, Numan Acar, Elsa Pataky, William Fichtner and Rob Riggle, the war drama follows a U.S. Special Forces team who use the rudimentary tactics of the Afghan horse soldiers in their fight against the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. Here’s the official synopsis:

“12 Strong” is set in the harrowing days following 9/11 when a U.S. Special Forces team, led by their new Captain, Mitch Nelson (Hemsworth), is chosen to be the first U.S. troops sent into Afghanistan for an extremely dangerous mission. There, in the rugged mountains, they must convince Northern Alliance General Dostum (Navid Negahban) to join forces with them to fight their common adversary: the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. In addition to overcoming mutual distrust and a vast cultural divide, the Americans—accustomed to state-of-the-art warfare—must adopt the rudimentary tactics of the Afghan horse soldiers. But despite their uneasy bond, the new allies face overwhelming odds: outnumbered and outgunned by a ruthless enemy that does not take prisoners.

Directed by Nicolai Fuglsig, “12 Strong: The Declassified True Story Of The Horse Soldiers” opens on January 19, 2018.