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'Thor: Ragnarok' director Taika Waititi to receive the first Ebert Director Award at Toronto Film Festival

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Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney(TORONTO) — New Zealand-born director Taika Waititi will be honored with the inaugural Ebert Director Award at this year’s inaugural Toronto Film Festival, named after late, legendary movie critic Roger Ebert.

Organizers of the event, which runs from September 5 to September 15, have previously honored filmmakers — including Martin Scorsese and Ava DuVernay — under the prize’s former name: The Roger Ebert Golden Thumb Award.

Waititi shook up the Marvel Cinematic Universe with his blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok, and will work on a follow-up, Thor: Love and Thunder, which opens in 2021.

Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, a satire that has him playing Adolf Hitler, who in the film is the imaginary friend of a boy in Nazi Germany, will have its world premiere at the festival. Oscar-winner Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, and Scarlett Johansson also star.

“Taika Waititi is the rock star cinema needs right now,” festival co-head Cameron Bailey said in a statement. “His films are full of razor-sharp humor, faultless style, and boundless generosity.” 

Taika’s prize will be handed out to him on September 9, during the inaugural Tribute Gala, a fundraiser for the organization that will also bestow the first Tribute Actor award on Oscar-winner Meryl Streep.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

For 'Hobbs & Shaw' star Vanessa Kirby, working with Helen Mirren was a big draw

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Photo Credit: Daniel Smith/Universal Pictures(NEW YORK) — While Fast and the Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is built around the two titular tough guys — played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham — there’s a pair of very strong women at its core: Helen Mirren and Vanessa Kirby.

Oscar-winner Mirren plays tough-as-nails matriarch Magdalene Shaw, the mother of both Deckard and Owen Shaw, as well as her super-spy daughter Hattie, who makes her debut in Hobbs & Shaw.

Hattie is played by The Crown‘s Vanessa Kirby, and when asked whether getting the chance to act with Mirren was a major selling point for joining the cast, she told ABC Radio, “Yes! Totally!”

“I always wanted to work with her…When I was little I used to watch on stage all the time,” Kirby adds. “And you know, she’s so part of our history — and suddenly she’s playing my mom!”

It’s not lost on the pair that it took a Fast and the Furious film to bring together the actresses, considering they came to fame in British dramas like The Queen and The Crown.

“We were both like: ‘In this?! This is crazy!’ Like, that’s the last thing we expected,” Kirby told ABC Radio. 

Hobbs & Shaw is currently the number one movie in America.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tyrese Gibson shades The Rock's 'Fast & Furious' spinoff box office numbers

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ABC/Paula Lobo(LOS ANGELES) — Tyrese Gibson has a clear message for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Fast & Furious spinoff Hobbs & Shaw: Your film’s “NOT a win.”

In a now-deleted Instagram post captured by The Shade Room, Gibson shared a screenshot of a headline that read,Hobbs and Shaw Has Lowest Fast & Furious Box Office Opening Since Tokyo Drift.”  In a lengthy caption, Gibson continued to shade his F&F co-star’s box office numbers.

“I have to show my respects for one thing. [Dwayne] tried,” Tyrese wrote. “Folks called me a hater. And attacked me for speaking out.”

“Breaking up the family clearly doesn’t have the value that one would assume it does,” he continued. “You know what maybe just maybe The Rock and the crew will come dance with us again for #Fast10. We can all hug it out and get back to giving the true fans who have supported this franchise for 20 years WHAT they want.”

He added, “Not hating, I’m just pointing out the facts.”

Even though Gibson downplayed The Rock’s ability to bring in big numbers by himself, the singer did acknowledge that his co-staris still one of the biggest movie stars in the world and he’s not hurting for work.”

“I have 2 franchise films and he has at least 15 so there won’t be any tears on his pillow tonight,” he added, but then noted, “[A] 180 million dollar global opening on Hobbs and Shaw is NOT a win.”

Despite reading The Rock for filth, Tyrese says his comments came from a place of love.

“The Rock comes from wrestling and he knows all about smack-talking and friendly competition so love is love,” he concluded.

Hobbs & Shaw brought in an estimated $120 million over the weekend, for a $180 million worldwide debut.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ABC TV head teases female-led Marvel series

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Marvel Studios(LOS ANGELES) — Prior to this year’s big-screen blockbuster Captain Marvel, female superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe had been relegated to supporting roles, but ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke told Deadline on Monday that the network and the studio are in “active talks” to develop a female-led series to fill the void left by Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which will end its run with season seven.

Burke was short on details, except that the character would be “something brand-new, mostly” and that the series would fit in with its strategy of female-focused superheroes.

Other upcoming female-centric Marvel projects include the previously announced Black Widow stand-alone film, as well as Thor: Love and Thunder, starring Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster character from the Thor films taking over as the God of Thunder.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., notable for its cast of strong female heroines played by Ming Na, Chloe Bennet, Elizabeth Henstridge, and Natalia Cordova-Buckley, just wrapped production on its final season, which will air next year on ABC.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Toni Morrison, Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize-winning author of 'Beloved', dead at 88

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Photo: © Michael Lionstar(NEW YORK) — Toni Morrison, the famed author whose book Beloved won her the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, died on Monday night at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.  She was 88.

In a statement, her family said, “It is with profound sadness we share that, following a short illness, our adored mother and grandmother, Toni Morrison, passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends.  She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends.  The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing.” 

“Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well-lived life,” the statement continued, ending with a request for privacy and a promise to share information about how Morrison’s “incredible life” will be celebrated.

Morrison, born Chloe Ardella Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, attended Howard University and Cornell University, and later taught at Texas Southern University and at Howard.  She then worked as an editor, eventually becoming the first black female senior editor in the fiction department of Random House, where she helped to bring black literature into the mainstream. Her first book, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970.

Her second novel, Sula, was nominated for the National Book Award, and her 1977 work Song of Solomon finally brought her national attention.  It was a main selection of the Book of the Month club — the first one by a black writer to be chosen since 1940 — and won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

In 1987, Morrison’s best-known novel Beloved, based on the true story of a slave named Margaret Garner, was a huge success and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.  It was followed by two other novels in what was called the Beloved trilogy: Jazz and Paradise.  In 1997, prior to the release of Paradise, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first black woman to be so honored.

In 1998, Beloved became a movie starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover.  Oprah had selected four of Morrison’s novels over six years for her Book Club, boosting their sales immensely.

Morrison went on to write four additional novels after Paradise; her most recent one was 2015’s God Help the Child.

In 2012 President Barack Obama awarded Morrison the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  In 2019, a documentary, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, featuring interviews with Oprah, Angela Davis and Walter Mosley.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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