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  • Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019
This March 3, 2018 photo released by NBC shows Leslie Jones, center, flanked by ice hockey Olympian Hilary Knight, left, and Colin Jost during the "Weekend Update" segment on "Saturday Night Live," in New York. (Will Heath/NBC via AP)

"Saturday Night Live" cast member Leslie Jones is leaving the NBC show after five seasons, while Kate McKinnon is sticking around.

Jones' departure was confirmed by a person familiar with the change who spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss Jones' status with the long-running sketch series.

The exit comes as Jones is branching out into other projects.

McKinnon will return for her eighth season with the show, the person said. McKinnon's portrayals of political figures including Hillary Clinton and Jeff Sessions have become a "SNL" staple.

Whether departures or additions, cast changes have become a part of the comic institution's ritual as it gets ready for another season, this time around No. 45 starting Sept. 28.

Earlier this month, Jones announced she's doing a Netflix stand-up special. In an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel's late-night show, the "Ghostbusters" star More

  • Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019
Jay Rowe, SVP of production, HBO

The speaker lineup for AFCI’s first Cineposium conference in Russia (September 13 – 16 in Saint Petersburg) continues to expand with top-level experts. Added to the lineup are:

--Asad Qizilbash – Head of PlayStation Productions (making his first international speaking appearance since becoming head of production).

--Iain Smith, OBE - Producer of “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Children of Men,” “Spy Game” and “The Killing Fields.”

--Jay Rowe – SVP of production at HBO

--Cristen Carr Strubbe, SVP of physical production at Universal Pictures (“Jurassic World” and “Fifty Shades” franchises).

--Ashley Rice, EVP of physical production at Legendary Television & Digital Media (“Lost in Space,” “Carnival Row,” “The Looming Tower,” “Paper Girls,” and “Console Wars”). 

--Jeanette Volturno – Head of production at Blumhouse (the company behind iconic horror and drama films including “The Purge” franchise, “Get Out” and “ More

  • Monday, Aug. 26, 2019
This combination photo shows actress Viola Davis at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards in New York on Nov. 12, 2018, left, and former first lady Michelle Obama on NBC's "Today" show in New York on Oct. 11, 2018. Davis is set to portray Obama in a Showtime series about America's first ladies. Davis also is an executive producer on the project, which is still in development. (Photos by Evan Agostini, left, and Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Viola Davis is set to portray Michelle Obama in a Showtime series under development about America's first ladies.

Davis also is an executive producer on the project, which Showtime said Monday will "peel back the curtain" on the lives of presidential spouses.

The first season will focus on Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford and Obama.

Showtime said it's committed to three scripts for the proposed series. There is no air date since the series has yet to be ordered.

Former President Barack Obama and his wife launched their own production company in 2018, and have announced deals with Netflix and Spotify.

  • Monday, Aug. 26, 2019
Jerry Bender editing at WPIX- TV in 1953 (photo courtesy of the Bender family)

Charles “Jerry” Bender, a Madison Avenue film editor and industry pioneer, died peacefully at his home recently at the age of 89.

A founding member of Film Editors Guild, Local 771, Bender entered the film industry as a can carrier at WPIX-TV after high school graduation in 1948 and became an assistant editor in 1949. By 1951 Bender was cutting news and specials at CBS where he worked with Edward R. Murrow, Charles Collingwood, Andy Rooney, John Houseman and Walter Cronkite on the Peabody Award winning show, You Are There. After CBS, Bender freelanced at Screen Gems. 

In 1972 Bender opened his own shop, Bender Editorial, with successful ad campaigns for Eastern Airlines, Pan Am, Merrill Lynch, KFC, Volvo, Hyundai, Coca Cola, and the famous Dr. Pepper “Godzilla” spot. In October of 1983 Bender edited the music video “Say, Say, Say” featuring Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson. 

As the owner and operator of Bender Editorial, More

  • Monday, Aug. 26, 2019
Harvey Weinstein arrives in court, Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty to a new indictment Monday that includes revised charges of predatory sexual assault, a development that caused the judge to delay the start of his trial until early next year.

The change to the case was intended to open the door for an actress to testify against Weinstein in a rape and sexual assault trial that had been scheduled to start on Sept. 9.

Weinstein mostly kept quiet during a brief appearance in a Manhattan courtroom aside from some exchanges with Judge James Burke, who at one point scolded him for pulling out his cell phone during the proceeding.

After the judge agreed with defense lawyers that the trial needed to be put off so they could have time to respond to the revised charges, he told them the new trial date of Jan. 6 was firm. To make the point, he stared at the defendant and asked, "Mr. Weinstein, do you want to go to trial?"

"Not really," Weinstein quipped More

  • Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019
Neri dos Santos Silva, center, watches an encroaching fire threat after digging trenches to keep the flames from spreading to the farm he works on, in the Nova Santa Helena municipality, in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 23, 2019. Under increasing international pressure to contain fires sweeping parts of the Amazon, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday authorized use of the military to battle the massive blazes. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A new environmental foundation backed by Leonardo DiCaprio is pledging $5 million in aid to the Amazon, which has been swept by wildfires .

Earth Alliance was created last month by DiCaprio and philanthropists Laurene Powell Jobs and Brian Sheth. On Sunday, it launched the Amazon Forest Fund in an announcement on their website. The alliance is also seeking donations to help repair the Brazilian rainforest, called the "lungs of the planet."

Brazilian federal experts reported a record number of wildfires across the country this year, up 84% over the same period in 2018.

The funds will be distributed to five local groups working to combat the problem: Instituto Associacao Floresta Protegida, Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon, Instituto Kabu, Instituto Raoni, and Instituto Socioambiental.

  • Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019
Actor Robert Downey Jr. poses during his handprint ceremony at the Disney Legends press line during the 2019 D23 Expo, Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- 

Robert Downey Jr. says he had a wild Disneyland ride in his younger days.

The "Iron Man" and "Avengers: Endgame" star, among those honored Friday as Disney Legends, said his first visit to the Southern California resort included a brief detention for "smoking pot in a gondola."

"I was brought to a surprisingly friendly processing center, given a stern warning and returned to, if memory serves, one very disappointed group chaperone," Downey said.

He turned serious when he spoke about the Marvel movies.

"I get to remain a fan of the first inclusive and evolving cinematic universe ever so far," said Downey, whose character meets a dark fate in "Avengers: Endgame."

Disney CEO Robert Iger presented the Legends trophy to the actor at the D23 Expo Disney fan event. The company said it honors those who have made remarkable contributions to the Disney legacy.

Singer Christina Aguilera, actress Ming-Na Wen, journalists More

  • Friday, Aug. 23, 2019
In this March 26, 2019, file photo, actor Jussie Smollett smiles and waves to supporters before leaving Cook County Court after his charges were dropped in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)

A judge appointed a special prosecutor Friday to look into why Chicago's state's attorney abruptly dropped the case against Jussie Smollett, leaving open the possibility that the former "Empire" actor could yet face charges in what police say was a phony attack he staged to get attention.

Smollett, who is black and gay, maintains that he was the target of a racist and homophobic attack in January. But if the special prosecutor, former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb, determines that the charges shouldn't have been dropped, he could recommend that they be reinstated or that new charges be brought.

Webb, who was appointed by Cook County Judge Michael Toomin during a Friday hearing, told reporters afterward that he would move the investigation along as quickly as possible. Such probes typically include impaneling a special grand jury, issuing subpoenas, taking witness statements and a final report.

"I intend to expedite everything. But the More

  • Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019
In this Oct. 11, 2018, file photo, Harvey Weinstein enters State Supreme Court in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Prosecutors are bringing a new indictment against Harvey Weinstein in an attempt to bolster their case with testimony from an actress who says he raped her in 1993 .

The disgraced movie mogul is set to be arraigned Monday on the revised charges, which Weinstein's lawyers called an unfair ploy to smear him during his upcoming trial with allegations too old to be prosecuted under New York law.

Prosecutors have said that the new indictment is meant to fix a technical problem with the existing indictment and won't result in additional charges. Nor should it delay Weinstein's trial, which is scheduled to start Sept. 9, they said.

Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he raped a woman in 2013 and performed a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006.

The legal maneuvering has to do with charges accusing Weinstein of predatory sexual assault, which requires prosecutors to show he had a history of past sex crimes More

  • Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019
In this April 27, 2018 file photo, a woman reacts to a Peppa Pig mascot during the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Beijing, China. Hasbro is going whole hog on Peppa Pig. The maker of Monopoly and GI Joe will pay about $4 billion to buy Entertainment One Ltd, a British entertainment company that produces "Peppa Pig," "PJ Masks" and other animated shows for preschoolers. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan. File)

Hasbro is going whole hog on Peppa Pig.

The maker of Monopoly and GI Joe will pay about $4 billion to buy Entertainment One Ltd., a British entertainment company that produces "Peppa Pig," ''PJ Masks" and other animated shows for preschoolers.

"Peppa Pig," which stars a pink cartoon pig with a British accent, airs worldwide and is translated into over 40 languages.

Hasbro Inc., based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, says the deal will help it turn more of its toy brands into shows or movies. Many of its brands, including My Little Pony and Transformers, already appear in TV shows and movies.

The deal is expected to close before the end of the year.

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