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Rita Wilson celebrates "beauty…blessings" and being a cancer and COVID-19 survivor

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ABC/Rick Rowell(LOS ANGELES) — Sunday, March 29 is a significant date in Rita Wilson’s life, one on which she commemorated being a “COVID-19 Survivor” and “Five Years Cancer Free.” 

The actress, who is home in Los Angeles after undergoing two weeks of quarantine in Australia with her husband, Tom Hanks, when the pair was diagnosed with the disease, looked back on her Instagram in a lengthy, grateful post. 

“This date, March 29, represents a time of great happiness,” Wilson begins her post, which features a throwback photo of her and Larry David. “I was on Broadway starring with Larry David in his play Fish In The Dark before finding out I had been diagnosed with breast cancer. March 29 also marks five years of being cancer free after having had a bilateral mastectomy.”

She thanked her doctors and other health care workers who got her through that, as well as her fans and some divine intervention. “You, online friends, also need to be thanked because your prayers and optimism were felt deeply. And, so thankful for the blessings God has bestowed on me, then and now.”

Of her most recent March 29 observance, Wilson writes, “I am celebrating the beauty of this life, the blessings God has given, and my continued good health, even now as a COVID 19 survivor. Please take a moment today to acknowledge the amazing creation your bodies are and to thank it for doing so much.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

'X-Men' star James McAvoy donates over $340K for PPE

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ABC/Heidi Gutman(LONDON) — X-Men movie series star James McAvoy has donated over $340,000 to “Masks for NHS Heroes,” a crowdfunding campaign set up to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and hospital staff in London, England, according to The Guardian.

The Scottish Split veteran also posted a video message to his Instagram account, saying in part, “Money donated today will save lives…Help us to help the government to help the NHS.” He also included a link to “Masks for NHS Heroes.”

As of Sunday night, the campaign, whose goal was to raise nearly 250,000 U.S. dollars, has already shattered the $1 million mark.

One of the medics behind the project, Dr. Salaj Masand, tells the newspaper, “We are overwhelmed and speechless at the trust and faith people have put into us to deliver this. The number of very generous donations from everyone doubled our target within three days.”

Masand says McAvoy’s “mindblowing” donation means an order for 75,000 masks and 75,000 visors can be placed immediately, rather than having to wait for enough donations to filter through.

There are currently more than 19,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 In the U.K., and at least 1,228 people, who have tested positive for the virus, have died.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

"American Idol" recap: Aloha, it's judgement day

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ABC/Karen Neal(KAPOLEI, Hawaii) — Aloha Hawaii!

American Idol changed up the scenery and headed to beautiful Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa on Sunday to narrow down the Top 40. The contestants and judges — Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan — got a chance to soak up some fun in the sun before it’s back to business. 

Each American Idol hopeful performed in front of a live audience and the judges in one last performance that ultimately determined if they would make to the Top 20 where America will take over and decide their fate. 

Nick Merico was first up on the chopping block. This soon-to-be heartthrob serenaded the ladies in the audience with his performance of “If I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars. Afterward, Nick was reminded that Lionel wasn’t a fan of his in the beginning but oh how things have changed. Lionel delivered the great news that he’s moving on into the Top 20. 

Next up, Makayla Brownlee. After a health scare almost took her out of the competition last week, she’s back more determined than ever. Taking a risk, she puts her spin on Ingrid Andress’ “More Hearts Than Mine.” Unfortunately, this wasn’t a risk that would pay off in the end and she’s the first to be eliminated.

Dewayne Crocker Jr. brought the party to Hawaii with his reggae twist of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X, a performance that ended up being one of Katy, Lionel, and Luke’s favorites of the night — they were even up on their feet dancing. His country-rap performance earned him a trip back to Hollywood for a chance to win over America. 

The next three contestants — Devon Alexander, Jordan Jones, Geena — were grouped together in a little montage of singers who were good, but not quite good enough and were sent home.  

Louis Knight’s performance of “Castle On The Hill” by Ed Sheeran was almost categorized under that same umbrella but his past performances and his potential were enough to push him through. 

It was a different story for Francisco Martin, who had previously choked during a duet performance with Louis. He shined the brightest that he’s ever with a performance that exuded confidence, a huge improvement from prior auditions which was noticed by Luke who jumped for joy in his seat (think Tom Cruise on Oprah’s couch-style). His next challenge is to see if he can get America to have the same reaction when he heads back to Hollywood. 

Taking the stage next were Jovin Webb & Faith Becnel. They were partners during the duets round and they have stayed consistent for the most part throughout their time on American Idol so far, which is why it was easy for them to slide right into the Top 20. 

That wasn’t quite the case when it came to Amber Fiedler, who showed up to her initial audition pregnant but had given birth by the time Hollywood week rolled around. She delivered a fun rendition of Lake Street Dive’s “Good Kisser” but it wasn’t Top 20 worthy. 

One contestant who has repeatedly shown she is Top 20 worthy was Just Sam. Taking on a more “feminine” and “beautiful” look, Katy described the performance as a metamorphosis. Just Sam stunned everyone with her song choice of “Como La Flor” by Selena, a song which is completely in Spanish, a language she doesn’t fluently know. 

Jonny West took the Hawaiian stage next for his first performance without his girlfriend Margie Mays in the competition with him. She was there to show her support though as he performed “You Found Me” by The Fray. She was also there to hear the good news that he made it to the next step of the competition — one step past where Margie made it during a previous season.

Rounding out the night was Dillon James but fans will have to wait until Monday to find out his fate and if he fills on of the last 11 open slots where plenty more American Idol hopefuls remaining to battle it out for their futures. 

Eliminated: Makayla Brownlee, Devon Alexander, Jordan Jones, Geena, Camryn Leigh Smith, and Amber Fiedler

Top 20 bound: Nick Merico, Dewayne Crocker, Jr., Louis Knight, Francisco Martin, Jovin Webb, Faith Becnel, Just Sam, and Jonny West

American Idol returns Monday, March 30 at 8 p.m. ET.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Elton John bands together with artists like Mariah Carey and Backstreet Boys for 'iHeart Living Room Concert for America'

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Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Harlequins(LOS ANGELES) — As America grapples with the rising COVID-19 pandemic, Elton John teamed up with an array of artists on Sunday night to “lift your spirits” for the first ever iHeart Living Room Concert for America that aired on Fox.

The concert not only served as means to comfort those worried about the outbreak, but it also helped raise money for two critical charities: First Responders Children Foundation and Feeding America.  It was later revealed by comedian Ken Jeong that Fox was matching donations.

“We hope this bit of entertainment can feed and fuel your soul,” said Sir Elton, who also comedically revealed that he was quarantined in his only house that doesn’t have a piano.

Thankfully, no piano was required for his hosting duties: The performances fell to the artists who lent their vocal talents to entertain America from their homes.  However, at the end of the concert, he did manage to get his hands on a keyboard so he could close with a special performance of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”

First up was Alicia Keys, who opened with an encouraging, “my hope is that we remember how resident we are and how we defy the odds” as she delicately played her piano.  She then dedicated her performance of “Underdog” to the “first responders and medical professionals that are risking their lives to keep us safe.”

Following Alicia, the Backstreet Boys took the living room stage with Brian Littrell greeting fans from the comfort and safety of his house. He joked that he and his band was “bringing our living room to yours” before shouting out frontline responders who are “putting themselves in harm’s way” to keep the globe safe. 

The gang sang “I Want It That Way” and even broke out some lighthearted dance moves to elicit some much-needed smiles.  Kevin Richardson and Nick Carter even got their kids involved, from playing instruments to dancing around the backyard.

Up next was Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters who dedicated his performance of “My Hero” to all those on the  front lines.

Billie Eilish and Finneas followed Grohl with an acoustic rendition of “bad guy” from their couch.  Billie revealed she wanted “to be some sort of comfort in this crazy time” before urging “Let’s stay strong together.”  

Up next was Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello who flirted a bit before introducing the song “My Oh My”  with Camila on vocals and Shawn on guitar.  More adorable than the lovebirds was their dog in the background who excitedly tried to steal the spotlight in the beginning.

Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day, who took over for Cabello and Mendes, also showed off his canine companion as he sang “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”  

While Lady Gaga didn’t perform, she reached out to fans with an empathetic, “I know what’s going on in the world is terrifying” and that “my heart goes out to people who lost loved ones.”  She used her time to touch upon mental health, encouraging those to communicate with friends and family to combat the feeling of isolation and anxiety.  She concluded, “Be kind to yourselves.” 

Lizzo and Elton also discussed mental health and the negative emotions COVID-19 is stoking.  As the friends live chatted on Zoom, Lizzo brought up that “it’s important to remember that music brings people together” and praised everyone involved for coming together during such an uncertain time.  “We cannot let this tear us apart,” she said in closing. “We can’t let the fear spread faster than the virus.”  

Following such a serious discussion, Tim McGraw took the stage next to perform a lighthearted “Something like That” while sitting on his diving board as his band played live from their respective houses.  His spot ended with him thanking his daughter Maggie for holding the camera and sweetly blew her a kiss.

Demi Lovato took the majority of her slot to urge those viewing to donate and “do what you can to lift [people] up.”  She closed with a brief piano rendition of “Skyscraper.”

Last up was Mariah Carey who put her heart into “Always Be My Baby” and made sure to prove she is the queen of the whistle register by spending the last moments of the song hitting a series of high notes.  She concluded with an adorable anecdote that after she leaves the studio, she’s going to put her gloves back on “even in my own home.”

Other performers helping to spread positivity were H.E.R. and Sam Smith.

Thanking first responders was a unifying theme during Sunday night’s concert.   The show offered numerous first-hand accounts from EMTs, doctors and nurses about how they’re battling against the pandemic.  One nurse, named Melissa, who is working at a COVID-19 ICU at her hospital tearfully revealed that she feels like she’s “working in a war zone.”

Talk show host Ellen Degeneres also shouted out essential workers, namely those who work at grocery stores, making sure people are still able to eat by keeping the shelves stocked. 

As the concert wrapped up, Sir Elton urged the audience to continue giving to First Responders Children Foundation and Feeding America before thanking everyone for coming together to promote positivity.

 Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Matt Damon and the 'Contagion' cast reunite "virtually" for COVID PSA

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Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) — Life has unfortunately imitated art for cast of the 2011 film Contagion, which has seen an uptick in streaming since the real-life COVID-19 coronavirus began spreading.

That’s why scientists from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health tapped the stars of the film —  Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, and Kate Winslet — to dispense some real-life advice on how to fight the disease.

“In the movie, I played a guy who was immune to the hypothetical virus that was spreading around the world,” Damon says.  “That was a movie. This is real life.”

“I have no reason to believe I’m immune to COVID-19 and neither do you, no matter how young you are,” he adds. “This is a new virus. It’s gonna take some time for our bodies and our doctors to understand it and understand new ways to protect us.”

Damon was joined by fellow Oscar-winner Kate Winslet, who played an epidemiologist in the film.

“To prepare for the role, I spent time with some of the best public health professionals in the world,” she says.  “And what was one of the most important things they taught me? Wash your hands like your life depends on it because right now, in particular, it just might.”

Touting the importance of social distancing, Damon also said, “We can all do this together just by staying apart. Please do your part.”

Similarly, Fishburne talked about the danger of the traditional handshake, noting it was based on showing someone you weren’t carrying a weapon.

“Now we may be carrying one, and not even know it,” he intoned.

Dr. Ian Lipkin, the director of Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity — who was a consultant on the film — revealed this week that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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