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Will Heath/NBC(NEW YORK) -- Alec Baldwin's absence on this weekend's Saturday Night Live didn't stop Beck Bennett's Vladimir Putin and Kate McKinnon's Kellyanne Conway from skewering all things Donald Trump -- particularly the number of attendees at Friday's inauguration, and Putin's alleged involvement in Trump's win.

The cold open began with Bennett's Putin -- shirtless, of course -- noting, "Today many of you are scared, and marching in the streets. You are worried your country is in the hands of this unpredictable man.

"Relax, I've got this," he assures. "I promise that we will take of America.  It's the most expensive thing we've ever bought!"

Bennett's Putin then says, "I'm glad to see so many people showed up to your inauguration," as a photo of a sea of people appears on the screen. "Oh, wait," he says, "That's the Women's March.

"So why are American women protesting? Bennett's Putin asks. "In Russia, women have no reason to protest." McKinnon then enters as a Russian woman.  "I am so happy," she declares.  "Each day, I wake up with big smile on my face...I sleep in bed, not in carcass of dog. My president is number-one hottie for all time."

Bennett's Putin then gives her a fish, to which she responds, "Ah, my pension!"

 

 

Later in the show, McKinnon's Kellyanne Conway return in a sketch in which she's being interviewed by CNN's Jake Tapper, also played by Bennett. When he asks her, incredulous, "What do you get out of this?" Conway breaks out into a Chicago-style song and dance routine about her desire to be a celebrity.

 

 

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Universal(NEW YORK) -- The Sixth Sense writer/director M. Night Shyamalan has another hit on his hands his latest thriller, Split, topping the box office this weekend with an estimated $40.18 million haul. The film, starring X-Men's James McAvoy, is currently the fourth-largest January opening of all time, according to Box Office Mojo.

The Vin Diesel action flick, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, grabbed the number-two spot with an estimated $20 million, while Hidden Figures, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe, held tough in third place with $16.25 million.

Rounding out the top five were the animated musical Sing in fourth with a $9 million take, and La La Land, starring starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, bringing in an estimated $8.35 million.

With $7 million at this weekend's domestic box office and additional $9 million internationally, Disney's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, became the 28th film to top $1 billion worldwide. Star Wars is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC News.

The Founder, starring Michael Keaton, debuted in ninth place with an estimated $3.75 million, while 20th Century Women, starring Annette Bening, failed to debut in the top 10, earning just $1.4 million. Martin Scorsese's Silence, which stars Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield, had another disappointing weekend, bringing in just $1.5 million for a 10th-place finish.

Here are the top 10 movies from Friday through Sunday, with estimated weekend gross ticket sales:

1. Split, $40.18 million
2. xXx: Return of Xander Cage, $20 million
3. Hidden Figures, $16.25 million
4. Sing, $9 million
5. La La Land, $8.35 million
6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, $7 million
7. Monster Trucks, $7 million
8. Patriots Day, $6 million
9. The Founder, $3.75 million
10. Sleepless, $3.7 million

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ABC/Jonathan Wenk(NEW YORK) -- Actor Blair Underwood, Priyanka Chopra and the rest of the cast returns to the twisty spy thriller Quantico on Monday night, in a move to a 10 p.m. time slot for the ABC drama.

"I'm really excited about the fact that we're moving to Monday nights," Underwood told ABC News, "excited about the lead-in we have with The Bachelor, which is a huge audience -- you know, lead-ins help! Otherwise you're kind of an island onto yourself, hoping people kind of tune in."

In the show, the actor plays Lead CIA instructor Owen Hall, and Underwood explains the first show out of the gate starts to "pull back the layers" about the character. "You start to see some of his vulnerability. You know, whether its his daughter or -- he's no less of a great teacher, but you see the human behind the character."

The actor agrees that working as a pretend spy has influenced his view of current political events, "Oh, very much so! I mean, come on: you turn on the news now, and it's all about the CIA and the intelligence community. Absolutely, with a different perspective of...learning about this world...and the amount of regard and respect we must have for this intelligence community, is definitely bolstered by playing a character set in the intelligence community.

Earlier this week, Chopra suffered a concussion on the show's New York set. After taking some doctor-required time off to rest, she recovered quickly enough to fly to Los Angeles and accept a People's Choice Award Wednesday night for her portrayal of CIA agent Alex Parrish.

Quantico returns Monday, January 23, at 10 p.m. Eastern time on ABC.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- Those who didn't vote for President Donald Trump may joke that he reminds them of a comic book villain -- but he's not helping matters by directly quoting one in his inauguration speech.

Fans of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises thought Trump's speech sounded a bit familiar -- well, at least the part where he said, "Today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people."

In The Dark Knight Rises, the villain Bane, played by Tom Hardy, tells the residents of Gotham City, "We take Gotham from the corrupt! The rich! The oppressors of generations who have kept you down with myths of opportunity, and we give it back to you, the people.”

Of course, it didn't take long for someone to make a mashup of Trump's speech and the movie clip.

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— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 20, 2017

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David Giesbrecht/Netflix(LOS ANGELES) -- On the day of the inauguration, the award-winning Netflix hit show House of Cards dropped a chilling season 5 teaser on Twitter with the caption, "We make the terror."

The show has made no connection to the big day or to the new president, but the during the 30-second clip, the camera pulls back on an image of the Stars and Stripes, and we hear the sound of kids reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

While the kids speak, it's revealed the American flag is waving in a grey sky -- but the flag, in front of the White House -- is upside down, a universal signal of distress.   

The release date for season five is also revealed: May 30.

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ABC/Byron Cohen(LOS ANGELES) -- Kerry Washington will not be silenced when it comes to her political views -- especially with the inauguration today of Donald Trump. According to the Scandal actress, it's her duty to hold elected officials accountable, even if those candidates weren't necessarily her choice.

"This is my country -- regardless of whether or not of my candidate won -- this is my country and that person's job is to represent all of us," Washington tells ABC Radio of the presidency. "It's my job to hold them accountable. We have to remember that the people who are in elected offices are there because we put them there. They work for us, their salaries come from our dollars."

Washington, who was prominently seen on the Hillary Clinton campaign trail, says her desire to speak out doesn't stem from her celebrity, but rather her humanity.

"I know when I speak out, I'm not speaking out as an actor, I'm speaking out as an American," she explains.

Although the Confirmation actress admits she, "can't quite wrap [her] head around the fact" that the Obamas are leaving office, she is motivated now more than ever to speak out on important things affecting the country.

"We live in a democracy were it only works if every single one of us has our voice," she says. "And so, actually I'm speaking out because it's important that I don't silence myself because I'm an artist."

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ABC/Bob D’Amico(LOS ANGELES) -- Yara Shahidi, the beautiful actress who plays Zoey, the eldest daughter of Anthony Anderson's and Tracey Ellis-Ross' characters on black-ish, could be getting her own spin-off.

According to Deadline, the ABC sitcom's creator, Kenya Barris, and its showrunner, Larry Wilmore, are working on a comedy that would focus on Zoey's life as she heads off to college.

The publication reports the concept will be introduced as a "backdoor pilot episode" -- meaning it would be a regular episode of the show -- to air in the spring.

If the show become a reality, it would be the first series to be spun off from the acclaimed ABC comedy, which has earned a Golden Globe for Ellis-Ross, and an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series.

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Universal Pictures - 2017(LOS ANGELES) -- Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment have canceled the Los Angeles premiere of A Dog's Purpose this weekend amid threats of a boycott by PETA, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The controversy stems from a video that surfaced Wednesday showing a frightened German Shepherd being forced to perform in a pool of water intended to simulate river rapids.

Universal and Amblin relesed a statement on Thursday that read, "Because Amblin's review into the edited video released [Wednesday] is still ongoing, distributor Universal Pictures has decided it is in the best interest of A Dog's Purpose to cancel this weekend's premiere and press junket. Amblin and Universal do not want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between humans and animals."

"Since the emergence of the footage, Amblin has engaged with many associated with the production of the film, including safety personnel, trainers and stunt coordinators as part of their in-depth review," the statement continues. "While we are all disheartened by the appearance of an animal in distress, everyone has assured us that Hercules the German Shepherd was not harmed throughout the filmmaking."

In addition to the boycott, PETA is calling on the film's director, Lasse Hallstrom, and producer Gavin Polone to pledge never to use animals in films again and to rescue the dogs from Birds & Animals Unlimited, the training and handling facility which reportedly supplied the animals.

A Dog’s Purpose is scheduled for wide release on January 27.

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Getty Images via ABCStarring in the remake of a beloved movie is hard enough, but what if you also had to record your own version of that movie's #1 Grammy-winning hit?

No wonder Idina Menzel says she was "terrified" to star in Lifetime's reboot of the 1988 Bette Midler/Barbara Hershey film Beaches, debuting this weekend.

"I was terrified to do it at first...I think it's a beautiful, beautiful movie," said Idina. "And both those women...especially Bette Midler, for me, was an idol my whole life."

"It's a daunting task," she continued. "But as a performer, you look at a role, and you see where you can learn and...exercise your talents and your craft...and so, after saying no to myself 12 times, I finally gave into it!"

But what about remaking "Wind Beneath My Wings," the smash Bette Midler song from the original film? How many takes did Idina do of her version until she felt she'd done the original justice? "Well, I'm a perfectionist, so I did it a bunch of times...I tried all the different things," she told reporters.

"And then, like, five times in, I felt like I was hitting things I really wanted to hit." It helped, Idina says, that she'd sung the song countless times while working as a wedding and bar mitzvah singer.

"Every 13-year-old boy danced with his mother to 'Wind Beneath My Wings,' she laughs. "I'm well rehearsed. It was just was trying to find my own spin on it...my amazing producer found a different underpinning for it, so that it could sort of bring out new, modern sounds, and it was actually enjoyable."

Idina plays Midler's role of singer C.C. in the Beaches remake, while Nia Long takes on Hershey's role as Hillary, an heiress and lawyer. It debuts Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET.




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Robert De Niro addresses the crowd at the United We Stand Rally in New York City; Bobby Bank/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- Come noon today, President-elect Donald Trump will be President Donald Trump, when he’s sworn in as our nation’s 45th president.  And as you may have heard, not everyone’s happy about it.

Thursday night in New York, thousands of people gathered in New York City outside of Trump International Hotel for a "United We Stand NYC Rally" to protest Trump and his policies.  In addition to regular New Yorkers, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, organizer and filmmaker Michael Moore was there, along with co-organizer Mark Ruffalo, as well as celebs including Cher, Robert De Niro, Julianne Moore, and Alec Baldwin, the latter of whom obliged the crowd by performing his now-familiar Donald Trump impression -- with a clear reference to the unsubstantiated stories about a certain encounter Trump is said to have enjoyed in Russia.

“I'm going to a function at the Russian consulate tonight, I'm going to hold it in until I get there,” Baldwin said.  “And then when I get to the Russian Consulate I'm going to have a really, really long pee. The biggest pee I've ever had of my lifetime.”

Robert De Niro took a more serious tone, declaring, “We're all rooting for the new administration of course, to abandon the divisive, racist, misogynist, ignorant plans its trumpeting and lead us.. with intelligence and compassion.”

Cher, who’s never made a secret of her dislike of Trump, was more direct: “I'm seventy years old, I've lived through 12 presidents. And never once did I dream that there would be one through arrogance, and ignorance who could change our world, who could change the face of our world.”

Organizers urged protestors to offer 100 days of resistance to Trump’s first 100 days in office.  As for Trump himself, he was in Washington, D.C., having arrived there earlier Thursday.

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Vin Diesel as Xander Cage in “xXx: Return of Xander Cage/Paramount Pictures and Revolution Studios(NEW YORK) -- Here's a look at the new movies opening nationwide Friday:

* Split -- The latest thriller from writer/director M. Night Shyamalan stars X Men's James McAvoy as man with multiple personalities who kidnaps three girls. Their only escape it to find some of the personalities, while avoiding the others. Rated PG-13.

* xXx: The Return of Xander Cage -- The third chapter in the xXx series finds Vin Diesel's Xander Cage secretly back in action, this time in search of a device that has the capability of controlling every military satellite. Toni Collette, Nina Dobrev and Samuel L. Jackson co-star. Rated PG-13.

The Founder -- Michael Keaton stars in this true story of Ray Kroc, a struggling salesman who turned McDonald's, a California burger store run by two brothers -- played by Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch -- into a multi-billion-dollar empire. Also starring Linda Cardellini, Laura Dern and Patrick Wilson. Rated PG-13.

* 20th Century Woman -- Annette Bening plays a middle-aged single mother who enlists the help of two younger women --  Elle Fanning and Greta Gerwig -- to help her raise her adolescent son during the late 1970s. Billy Crudup also stars. Rated R.

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Vin Diesel and Deepika Padukone/Paramount Pictures and Revolution Studios(NEW YORK) -- Vin Diesel continues his climb back to past glory, reprising another role that helped turn him into, at one time, the world’s biggest action star.  Fifteen years after first playing Xander Cage in xXx, he reprises his role as X-games-type super-agent Xander Cage.

Only this time, Cage is no longer a government agent. Instead, presumed dead, he’s stealing transmitters from tall towers, skiing down a mountain of shrubbery, then skateboarding the rest of of the way while being chased by soldiers, all in an effort to allow a small village to be able to watch a soccer game. He’s a man of and for the people!

But the government comes calling when a group of lethal assassins, with a skill set not seen since Xander and his crew last worked for the government, infiltrates a top-secret meeting in an impossible-kind-of way, stealing a device that can activate any one of the thousands of orbiting satellites and turn them, essentially, into guided missiles, pointed at Earth.

Xander’s mission is to find the crew that hit the meeting and retrieve the device. Lending some acting gravitas to the film is Toni Collette, who plays the CIA agent in charge of getting Xander back in the game and, essentially, running the mission. She also introduces Xander to his team, which consists of military operatives, including a solider played by former NFL great Tony Gonzalez. This doesn’t sit well with Xander , who naturally replaces the soldiers with his own team.

This could’ve been a predictable story about Xander’s crew taking on a crew of equal, if not superior, skill. Instead, writers Rich Wilkes and F. Scott Frazier and director D.J. Caruso do an admirable job of kicking the story up a notch to something that is, at the very least, less predictable and mildly interesting.  Caruso also does a nice job of using the action as a character in itself, displaying a deft hand with the thrilling and creative action sequences.

Make no mistake, though: like the first two films in this franchise, this one’s replete with fits of utter stupidity, as well as being exploitative and misogynist.  We see plenty of handsome, chiseled men, but the camera doesn’t linger on their physiques nearly as much as it does on those of Deepika Padukone, Hermione Corfield, Ruby Rose and Nina Dobrev. These women are also formidable and smart, but apparently not enough to avoid the gratuitous way they’re depicted.

But that’s exactly what the audience for xXx: The Return of Xander Cage wants, and that’s exactly what they get: a stylish, fun, sexy movie that simultaneously manages to be exploitative and kind of dumb.

Three out of five stars.

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Universal(NEW YORK) -- M. Night Shyamalan is back! At one time the most promising filmmaker in the world, Mr. Shyamalan seemed to peak with the film that got him noticed, 1999’s The Sixth Sense -- one of my favorites and a technical masterpiece, from top to bottom. Then came the admirable Unbreakable, the respectable Signs and, finally, what would be his last compelling and memorable film for 13 years, The Village.

As far as I’m concerned, The Sixth Sense alone gave Shyamalan a free pass to try anything he wanted for the rest of his days.  But a decade-plus of sanctimonious narratives (The Happening), well-meaning but overzealous fairytales (The Lady in the Water), uninspired adaptations (The Last Airbender) and stunt-casting sci-fi (After Earth) wore thin on the patience of even this Shyamalan fan and apologist.

Then two years ago, M. Night gave us the horror film The Visit. Shot on a small budget, it included no major stars, simple set pieces and the best special effect of all: a great story.

With Split, Shyamalan is once again keeping it relatively low-budget.  Except this time, he’s got James McAvoy and Betty Buckley, as well as three young actresses -- perhaps most notably Anya Taylor-Joy --  who are all going to have great careers.

Split is an abduction tale, but the abductor in this case, Kevin (McAvoy), has a severe case of multiple personality disorder, with 23 different personalities inhabiting his body. Buckley plays Dr. Fletcher, his psychiatrist, who’s out to prove to the psychiatric community that those personalities are so powerful and real, not only do Kevin’s voice, accent and handwriting change for each, but so does his metabolism and physiology.  Fletcher believes studying Kevin’s condition will lead to unlocking the true power and potential of the brain.

Kevin’s personalities also have their own agenda.  They work in concert to abduct high school students Claire (Haley Lu Richardson), Marcia (Jessica Sula) and Casey (Taylor-Joy) from a mall parking lot. Claire and Marcia are besties, part of the popular crowd, while Casey is an outcast who, we quickly learn, spends most of her time in detention and has a habit of running away from home.

The three girls wake up in a subterranean room with three cots and a surprisingly pleasant-looking bathroom.  They’re greeted by Dennis, Kevin’s anal-retentive and tough personality who is, sort of, the driving force behind the abduction. Not long after that, the girls are visited by Patricia -- Kevin in a dress and with a British accent -- and then by Hedwig, Kevin’s 9-year-old precocious personality.

The girls have very different opinions on how they should handle the situation. Claire thinks her six months of martial arts training will help save the day, while Casey, who keeps having emotional flashbacks to her childhood, when her father taught her about hunting, thinks a more patient approach is the key to escape.

In the meantime, Kevin’s personality Barry, a budding fashion designer, keeps scheduling impromptu appointments with Dr. Fletcher, showing up at her office. Dr. Fletcher suspects something’s wrong with Kevin and his multiple personalities, but can’t get Barry to spill the beans.

This is simply M. Night’s most evocative work since The Sixth Sense. His use of close-ups is intimate and, at times, claustrophobic -- particularly when we’re face-to-face with McAvoy and his many personalities, an acting challenge McAvoy absolutely nails.  He’s so good, had this film been Shyamalan’s follow-up to The Sixth Sense, it would’ve been released in time for awards season consideration.  Equally up to task is 20-year-old Anya Taylor-Joy, who is simply the truth.

Welcome back M. Night Shyamalan. With Split, you’re on top of your game, and I cant wait to see what you do next.

Four out of five stars.

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Universal Pictures - 2017(LOS ANGELES) -- After TMZ obtained and posted a video allegedly taken on the set of A Dog's Purpose, animal advocate group People for the Ethical Treatment of Anmials has called for a boycott of the movie -- and now its star and director are speaking out, too. 

The movie, which hits theaters next week, details the relationship between dogs and their owners.

The video, which was released yesterday, appears to show a German shepherd named Hercules fighting his handler, who is trying to lower him into a pool of turbulent water for one of the film's planned scenes.

"[The] footage shows a terrified dog who is forced into churning water on set," PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange told ABC News in a statement. "PETA is calling on dog lovers to boycott the film in order to send the message that dogs and other animals should be treated humanely, not as movie props."

The film's producer, Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, and the studio distributing the movie, Universal Pictures, told ABC News in a statement that the recording and the incident's circumstances are being reviewed.

"Amblin is confident that great care and concern was shown for the German shepherd Hercules throughout the production of the film," it read in part.

Amblin added that the scene in question was scrapped because the dog was not comfortable.

"Hercules is happy and healthy today," the statement said in closing.

Actor Josh Gad, who is the voice of the dog in the film, issued a statement calling the video "disturbing." In a long Twitter post, the actor wrote that he signed on to the movie because he saw it as "one of the most beautiful love letters to animals I have ever seen."

"While I do not know all the details and cannot speak to the level of care and caution that went into this moment [in the video], I am shaken and sad to see any animal put in a situation against its will," he continued. "I have reached out to the production team and studio to ask for an explanation for these disturbing images."

The movie's director, Lasse Hallstrom, a "lifelong animal lover," also tweeted, stating in part, "I have been promised that a thorough investigation into this situation is underway and that any wrongdoing will be reported and punished."

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(NEW YORK) -- Miguel Ferrer, star of shows like NCIS: Los Angeles and Crossing Jordan, has died of cancer, according to a statement from CBS.  He was 61.

The actor was the son of Oscar-winning actor Jose Ferrer and legendary singer and actress Rosemary Clooney, and was George Clooney's first cousin.  His breakout role was as Bob Morton, the man who designed the experimental RoboCop cyborg, in 1987's RoboCop.

In addition to playing Dr. Garret Macy on Crossing Jordan and Assistant Director Owen Granger on NCIS: Los Angeles, he played Vice President Rodriguez in Iron Man 3 and FBI forensic pathologist Albert Rosenfield in Twin Peaks.  He will appear in that role in this year's reboot of the show.

Ferrer also lent his voice to characters in movies like Mulan, Rio 2 and The Lion King II, as well as Superman: The Animated Series.  Before his acting career, Ferrer worked as a studio musician, playing drums behind Bing Crosby, among others.

NCIS: Los Angeles showrunner R. Scott Gemmill issued a statement that said, "Today, [we] lost a beloved family member. Miguel was a man of tremendous talent who had a powerful dramatic presence on screen, a wicked sense of humor, and a huge heart.”

Ferrer is surrvived by his wife Lori, and sons Lukas and Rafi.

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