Melvin Van Peebles, the groundbreaking filmmaker, playwright and musician whose work ushered in the “blaxploitation” wave of the 1970s and influenced filmmakers long after, has died. He was 89.
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A Los Angeles jury convicted Robert Durst on Friday of murdering his best friend 20 years ago, a case that took on new life after the New York real estate heir participated in a documentary that connected him to the slaying that was linked to his wife’s 1982 disappearance.
Robert Downey Jr. is paying tribute to his father, Robert Downey Sr., who died Tuesday. He was 85.
Robert Downey Jr. is paying tribute to his father, Robert Downey Sr., who died Tuesday. He was 85.
Veteran filmmaker and TV director Richard Donner has died. He was 91.Donner died on Monday, according to multiplereports. His death was confirmed to Variety by his production company, although no cause of death was released.Donner was born on April 24, 1930, in the Bronx. He began his career with hopes of becoming an actor, but soon found work directing commercials before moving on to direct TV shows.He helmed episodes of several iconic Western series, before directing six episodes of The Twilight Zone in 1963-64, including arguably the series' most famous episode, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet."After helming a few small films, Donner's break-through into directing for the big screen came in 1976 when he helmed the iconic horror film The Omen, which utilized a $2 million budget but went on to become one of the highest grossing films of the year.Donner then went on to change the face of cinema permanently in 1978 when he directed one of the first big-budget super hero tentpole films, Superman, starring Christopher Reeves as the famous Man of Steel. The acclaimed filmmaker went on to direct many films that have earned classic and cult classic status, including 1987's Lethal Weapon -- as well as all three of the Lethal Weapon sequels -- as well as The Goonies, Scrooged, and Maverick, among several others.Upon news of Donner's death, both Lethal Weapon co-stars Danny Glover and Mel Gibson released tributes expressing their condolences and appreciation for the legendary filmmaker."My heart is broken," Glover said in a statement published by Deadline. "Working with Dick Donner, Mel Gibson and the Lethal Weapon team was one of the proudest moments of my career.""I will forever be grateful to him for that Dick genuinely cared about me, my life and my family," continued Glover, who played Sergeant Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon series -- a role Glover is perhaps best known for in his career. "We were friends and loved each other far beyond collaborating for the screen and the success that the Lethal Weapon franchise brought us. I will so greatly miss him."Gibson -- who starred in the franchise as Murtaugh's partner Martin Riggs -- recalled the director in a statement to Deadline, sharing, "Donner! My friend, my mentor. Oh, the things I learned from him! He undercut his own talent and greatness with a huge chunk of humility referring to himself as ‘merely a traffic cop.’ He left his ego at the door and required that of others.""He was magnanimous of heart and soul, which he liberally gave to all who knew him. If we piled up all the good deeds he did, it would stretch to some uncharted place in the firmament," Gibson added. "I will sorely miss him, with all his mischievous wit and wisdom."Fellow director Steven Spielberg remembered Donner in a touching tribute, sharing, "Dick had such a powerful command of his movies, and was so gifted across so many genres.""Being in his circle was akin to hanging out with your favorite coach, smartest professor, fiercest motivator, most endearing friend, staunchest ally, and — of course — the greatest Goonie of all," Spielberg said in a statement to Variety. "He was all kid. All heart. All the time. I can’t believe he’s gone, but his husky, hearty laugh will stay with me always."Donner is survived by his wife of 35 years, Lauren Shuler Donner.RELATED CONTENT:Joy Vogelsang, Dancer and Nicolas Cage's Mother, Dead at 85Frank Bonner, 'WKRP in Cincinnati' Actor and TV Director, Dead at 79Lisa Banes, 'Gone Girl' Actress, Dead at 65Ned Beatty, 'Network' and 'Deliverance' Star, Dead at 83
Disney+ is hoping to diversify your streaming queue with Launchpad, a collection of live-action shorts from an array of filmmakers who represent underrepresented backgrounds. Chosen for their undeniable raw talent and mentored by execs from the various studios, each of the program's initial six directors created unique, moving mini-movies around the theme "Discover.""Launchpad, at its core, is about giving access and opportunity to those who have historically not had it before in Hollywood," Mahin Ibrahim, director of Disney's Diversity & Inclusion, tells ET. "And what we realized was that we really could leverage the power of a global platform like Disney+ to speak to the child within all of us who haven't seen themselves onscreen growing up."Senior Manager Phillip Yaw Domfeh adds, "I'm really grateful that I have the opportunity to help create the future of the industry and the industry that I want to be in." So, what does the future of Launchpad look like? "I've been saying, 'Launchpad to the moon.' We want it to go all the way!""We take it seriously and we say, 'We really want to be lifting up the next generation of Disney storytellers,'" Domfeh explains. "But the hope for this program -- the hope for empowering underrepresented filmmakers -- at the end of the day is to change the industry at large. So, if we are setting an example for what's possible, if we are uplifting voices that are going to be the storytellers of tomorrow, then our work isn't done, but it's in the right direction."Season 1's shorts include American Eid from writer-director Aqsa Altaf, Dinner Is Served from Hao Zheng, Growing Fangs from Ann Marie Pace, Let's Be Tigers from Stefanie Abel Horowitz, The Last of the Chupacabras from Jessica Mendez Siqueiros and The Little Prince(ss) by Moxie Peng. ET spoke with each filmmaker about the inspiration for their short and rewriting the future of Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and beyond.American EidAmeena, a Muslim Pakistani immigrant, wakes up on Eid to find out that she has to go to school. Homesick and heartbroken, she goes on a mission to make Eid a public-school holiday, and in the process, reconnects with her older sister, and embraces her new home, while her new home embraces her.What was the initial idea that became your short? And what was the most important thing for you to accomplish with it?Aqsa Altaf: I immigrated here myself when I was around 22 and I immigrated alone -- I didn't have any family here -- so I didn't have a community when I first moved here. And every Eid that came along, because we didn't get days off, I couldn't go back home. I was all alone on a holiday that meant so much to me and nobody around me even knew what it was. I talked to a lot of immigrant children that have immigrated here at a young age and they all said the same thing: They wake up on Eid, they find out they have to go to school and all of a sudden this is their new home and you have to embrace it for what it is. I just wanted to tell a story where the new home embraces you for who you are as well, because I think an immigrant story goes two ways. It's about you embracing a new home, but your new home embracing you.Now that you're in the Disney family, what is your dream Disney gig, whether it's in the world of Marvel or Star Wars or Pixar or what have you?So many! Star Wars, I would say. The universe of Star Wars is so flexible in terms of bringing in new voices. I just read the George Lucas biography, and he said that when he gave off Star Wars to the world, he hoped that when new filmmakers came on board, they brought something to it that was prevalent to their generation, like it was to his. And I hope that one of these days I can bring something to that universe that's prevalent to our generation and add to the legacy that was created by George Lucas. That's the dream!American Eid may have the first Disney Universe's first shout to Ms. Marvel. [Ameena has a Ms. Marvel poster hanging in her bedroom.] How did that come about?I was so happy that I got the permission to use the poster. I was screaming right off the bat. It was important to me to include Ms. Marvel because when I read the comics, I just felt so seen. All of a sudden, I felt like, "Wow, my culture and religion is cool. It matters! It's a Marvel superhero!" So, I wanted to include that poster because I believe my character, Ameena, would be a huge Ms. Marvel fan, and I also wanted to add that because I believe that we all have the superpower in us to do good and to bring about change. We just have to embrace it.Ms. Marvel is getting her own series on Disney+ this year. What is your biggest hope for that series?I'm going to, first of all, cry watching it. I don't think I'm mentally and emotionally ready for it, but I think it's going to be huge. Everything we have seen in Western media about Muslim women being oppressed and not being empowered is going to get broken. All of those stereotypes are going to get shattered, because if anything, our culture and our religion does empower women at every level. I think Ms. Marvel is going to show that, and I'm so happy for little Muslim girls to see themselves as superheroes on the big screen.Dinner Is ServedA Chinese student at an elite U.S. boarding school realizes excellence is not enough when he tries out for a leadership position no international student has ever applied for.What was the initial idea that became your short? And what was the most important thing for you to accomplish with it?Hao Zheng: When I first came to the States when I was 15, I was a junior in a boarding high school in New York. And especially coming as a junior, everyone there already knew each other, and nobody understood me. To all of them, I'm a total stranger. So, I was desperately trying to find a way for them to recognize me, to see me. I applied for every position I could on campus, but then, I failed, like, one after and other, and the only thing left was this maître d role in the dining room. I thought that was a perfect position for me and people would see me. But I didn't realize how hard that would. I practiced really hard, but still on my trial day, I was very nervous and I felt like I was going to fail again. At one point, I don't know why, I was so desperate and I ran up to the front of the stage and then I started singing this Chinese song in Mandarin. It was so awkward. It's one of the most awkward moments in my life.But for some reason I felt really happy during that moment. I felt like I didn't care about whether I got the position or not anymore. And obviously, everyone saw me now. That was the [story] behind this short film. I grew up always moving and I always felt lost. Especially when people ask me, "Where are you from? And where's home?" For me, I really don't know how to answer that question, because I was born in a place, I was raised in a place, and then I come to the States. I'm just hoping that I get to share my story and those other kids like me who are still figuring out our own identity, who are trying to fit in the world or trying to be seen, feel that they're not alone. And they're heard.What would it have meant to you to see a Disney film like the one you made when you were young?I grew up watching a lot of Disney movies, but they were all like Lion King or different princes and princesses and magical worlds -- all those are very inspiring and are very magical and very happy -- but I've never really seen myself as an international student coming from a foreign country being represented on the big screen in mainstream Hollywood. So, for me, if I were a kid seeing this film, I would feel like I'm seeing myself. I would feel that I'm not alone.Now that you're in the Disney family, what is your dream Disney gig?I would love, love, love, love to do a superhero movie. Because as a kid, I always dreamt about myself becoming a superhero. It's an escape but it's also really empowering. I can imagine what that would be if I get to do one.Growing FangsVal Garcia, a Mexican-American teen who is half human/half vampire, has had to keep her identity a secret from both worlds. But when her human best friend shows up at her monster-infested school, she has to confront her truth, her identity, and herself.What was the initial idea that became your short? And what was the most important thing for you to accomplish with it?Ann Marie Pace: The short is about a girl who's struggling with being half human and half vampire, and I think in my own life, something I struggled a lot with was being Mexican-American and bisexual and feeling like I had a foot in either world and not quite knowing where I belong or what my identity was fully. Something I had to learn in life is that if you are from multiple identities, it doesn't mean you're any less of that identity. It all makes you fully who you are. So, with Val, I wanted her to find that message and that reality but in a way that still celebrates the fact that she's Mexican and she's queer and those elements don't become the conflict. Instead, the conflict is this monster element. Growing up, I always really related to monster stories, as being an outsider story of someone who's scared or misunderstood and I think anyone who's ever felt like an outsider can really relate to that.What would it have meant to you to see a Disney film like the one you made when you were young?It would have been everything. I didn't see Mexican representation or queer representation growing up and even from a young age, I was able to internalize that and think that what that meant was those parts of myself weren't important. And I would then try to hide those parts of myself for many years of my life. So, I think seeing yourself onscreen just tells you that your story is worthwhile and you are important, and I hope that kids and adults alike will feel that after seeing all of our films together.I love the world-building of Growing Fangs. Could you see yourself returning to these characters or this world to tell more stories, whether in a feature or series or another short?Oh, absolutely. I'd love to continue expanding this world. There's so much more for Val to discover and the magic within the high school would be really fun to continue to explore and figure out how classes work there. Like, they probably wouldn't take Driver's Ed, they'd learn how to turn into bats. I think it would be so fun to do. And I think there's a lot of fun to be had with bringing in cultural elements partnered with the sort of eerie monster element. We could really find a lot of interesting stories with that.Now that you're in the Disney family, what is your dream Disney gig?I think it would be so cool to tell a Disney story -- whether it be a Disney princess story or whatever -- of a queer character. I've always wanted to see that. I think we're ready for that and I'd be so excited to dive into something like that.The Last of the ChupacabrasIn a world where culture has nearly ceased to exist, one lone Mexican-American struggling to carry on her traditions unknowingly summons a dark and ancient creature to protect her.What was the initial idea that became your short? And what was the most important thing for you to accomplish with it?Jessica Mendez Siqueiros: The Last of the Chupacabras was inspired by a longing that I've been exploring for some time to rekindle my own relationship with my heritage. My family has lived in what is now known as Tucson, Arizona, and the surrounding areas down into current-day Mexico for so many generations -- but that land has gone through so many identities over the past several hundred years. When you are indigenous to land that was once yours, then Mexico, and now finds itself in America, you go through so many cultural identity shifts that feel out of your control. It wasn't until my great-grandmother passed away that it became really apparent that it was in no way out of my control. The opposite, it was my responsibility to preserve our story. Because all of those generations fighting to maintain our culture would slip away with my generation if we let it. It was on me to educate myself, to become a steward of my own heritage, and to not let anyone take that celebration away from me. That's what I hope people take from the film: the courage to own their stories, to celebrate them, to ask the questions of their elders that will keep traditions going for generations to come.The little Chupacabra in your film is so uniquely designed and truly adorable. How did you land on its look for the short?We had incredible designers involved in the process, including Willie Real and Paul Andrejco, both incredibly storied designers and in Paul's case, puppet builders. From the beginning, I knew that I wanted something that felt very handmade. There was never any desire to hide the fact that this creature is a puppet, because I grew up visiting Mexico and buying small wooden trinkets of all kinds -- not just alebrijes, but all manners of small handmade toys. They lived in our house with us growing up and simply felt like home for me. I wanted the Chupacabra to feel like home for her in the same way. And with that, our incredible artists brought that to life.What would it have meant to you to see a Disney film like the one you made when you were young?You know, so many of the beautiful Launchpad films are a celebration for kids seeing themselves for the first time onscreen. But rather than think of my younger self, I really think of what it would have meant to my grandmother, what it means to my family now, what it will mean to myself when I reach my older years. Because representation isn't just important for young children, it matters for the older generations who didn't get to see themselves and now are. That means the world to me, because everyone still has that child inside longing to see themselves represented in the world.Now that you're in the Disney family, what is your dream Disney gig?There's so many parts of this company that would be a dream to work with! But having been a kid that grew up watching Vault Disney and so many of the early live-action films like The Love Bug, a part of me longs to work with the Disney Live Action team to create love-letter films to that era. An era when Disney still walked the lot, but to make them for an audience that is inclusive, that represents the makeup of the world. There are so many Easter eggs in my film that allude to that time. It's the Disney my dad grew up with, and to continue that sort of legacy into today would be my dream.Let's Be TigersAvalon’s not ready to process the loss of her mother, but when she’s put in charge of a 4-year-old for one night, she finds more comfort than she ever could have expected.What was the initial idea that became your short? And what was the most important thing for you to accomplish with it?Stefanie Abel Horowitz: I was a babysitter in my early 20s and I babysat this little 4-year-old who was really smart and really loving, but one day he wanted to shoot me dead with his little finger gun. And I said, "Do you know what that means?" And he didn't. And I said, "Well, if I was dead, I wouldn't be here anymore. I wouldn't be able to take care of you. We wouldn't get to play," and he got really sad, of course, because who wouldn't get sad at that? And I thought this is sort of the ultimate tragedy -- that we will all die, that everyone in our life will die, and that we will go through sadness and loss of some kind over and over and over again. And so how do we talk about that in our culture? How do we share it and how do we talk to other children about it? I'm the daughter of a therapist and I'm great at listening, but I'm not so good at being vulnerable, and so I think the film is really about making that brave step of sharing the things that are hard, which I think so many filmmakers in this program did. And what a beautiful thing, because you create community, because you get to be reminded of life and friendship and that you're not alone in the world.Dash McCloud is maybe the most adorable kid I've ever seen on film. How did you find this little man?He's incredible! Luckily, I got to work with Disney casting and they're also incredible, but I knew he was the one in his first tape. He was really little and really young, and he was doing the lines and he took his whole fist and he stuffed it in his whole mouth and he just kept doing the scene. I thought, if this kid can do lines and be that much himself, we're going to make a good movie. And I think we did.What would it have meant to you to see a Disney film like the one you made when you were young?It's kind of a sad film, isn't it? I mean, listen, I'm not good at sharing, so I wonder if I could have been taught to share more. I wonder if I could have felt braver about sadness. I think I really do push it away. So, I wonder if it would've changed things. And I think in the Disney canon, sad things happen all the time. People lose parents at the beginning of these films, almost always, but it's not talked about. We create empathy and we move on so I hope that people feel like they can have hard conversations after this.Now that you're in the Disney family, what is your dream Disney gig?I love to tell stories about people and love and when they come together. I like stories of people learning how to relate to one another. I think to me, that has to be at the core. But the wonderful thing about Disney films is they always have that, otherwise it's not that good. I would love to make any big movie with Disney, are you kidding? Already being here feels like this is way beyond what you could expect. If I could do anything else with Disney, I'd be over the moon. So, listen Disney, you tell me what you want, I'm there!The Little Prince(ss)When Gabriel, a 7-year-old Chinese kid who loves ballet, becomes friends with Rob, another Chinese kid from school, Rob’s dad gets suspicious about Gabriel's feminine behavior and decides to intervene.What was the initial idea that became your short? And what was the most important thing for you to accomplish with it?Moxie Peng: The story is based on something that happened to me when I was a child. I was like Gabriel, I was a little bit more feminine, I liked books and art and princesses. I didn't like to, like, go outside. And I became friends with this other kid who was running around and doing sports. His dad started to have a problem with me because he thought I was a bad influence. So, he came over to our dinner table and he told my dad that I was not normal and I need to be fixed. I felt heartbroken and I felt like I let my parents down and I started crying. My dad stood up for me and told him that he loved me for who I am, and if I liked books or art or princesses, it's OK. The message that my dad showed me that day was very clear, that I'm allowed to be exploring and to not know where I'm going to land. I think that's something precious and that's something I want to show the future generation.What would it have meant to you to see a Disney film like the one you made when you were young?I'm still processing. I think I grew up watching Disney movies -- I watched Lion King and Cinderella -- and those stories really inspired me. I think Disney has a tradition of nurturing and cultivating storytellers, and I just can't believe that I'm part of that. I just feel so honored to bring that queer and trans kid representation to screen and be able to contribute to the Disney legacy, and more so, to pass this legacy of storytelling to other kids who are still growing, for them to feel seen, for them to see the possibilities of them telling their stories in the future. It's really amazing. I feel like I'm opening up possibilities for some other kids.The characters in the short, Gabriel and Rob, are so sweet. Could you imagine telling more stories with them, whether in a feature or a Disney+ series or another short?Yeah. I did do a lot of character studies, and I actually really know Gabriel and Rob's family very well and what you see in this short is, like, the tip of the iceberg. I think it can be expanded to a feature, although I'm also someone who is always more into new stuff, so I don't know. Unless someone pinned me down and was like, "We want you to make it into a feature," I'll probably be like, "I want to make something new!" But I can see it.Now that you're in the Disney family, what is your dream Disney gig?I definitely want to make a Marvel film. I like Hulk and I like Iron Man. Iron Man is so funny. And a Pixar film. I also want to make a film for Searchlight, they're owned by Disney now. I want to make a film for each studio!All six Launchpad short films are now streaming on Disney+.RELATED CONTENT:Watch an Exclusive Clip From Disney and Pixar's 'Luca' (Exclusive)The Magical Story Behind Disney Animation's 'Us Again' (Exclusive)The Best Movies to Watch on Disney+'Luca': Exclusive Clip From Disney and Pixar's Sea Monster MovieThis video is unavailable because we were unable to load a message from our sponsors.If you are using ad-blocking software, please disable it and reload the page.
Award-winning actor Tom Hanks has urged filmmakers to tackle racism more often, suggesting that Black history and the societal impact of racism is underrepresented in the entertainment industry and the American education system.
Award-winning actor Tom Hanks has urged filmmakers to tackle racism more often, suggesting that Black history and the societal impact of racis…
It's not Hong Kong in 1988. It's New York City in 2021. But the light from the movie projector was coaxing me into believing the opposite.
John Krasinski is a big fan of Emily Blunt. The actor and filmmaker directed his wife for a second time in A Quiet Place Part II, and he has not been shy about how much he appreciated her performance and her commanding presence.Krasinski spoke with ET's Rachel Smith at an AMC movie theater New York City -- where he came to surprise an audience at a screening of his long-awaited horror sequel -- and he opened up about working with his wife on the exciting project."I mean, the truth is she's the greatest collaborator I've ever worked with," Krasinski shared.The actor-turned-director said that when he worked with Blunt on the first A Quiet Place, they were both "really nervous" about working alongside one another in that capacity."There's a lot of unknowns. We've never worked together, even though we're in the same business," he shared. "This business is a bit like being on separate islands. She goes to do a movie and I never really meet that crew or see her performance."Because of that, Krasinski said he'd never actually gotten a chance to see her perform on set before they worked together -- and he's glad he's gotten the chance now to see it twice."To actually be there when she's doing what she's doing, I was just blown away and in awe," Krasinski shared. "So in the second movie it was no more nerves. It was just all celebration.""She's the type of actress who can deliver that intensive performance and then ask you what they have at the [craft services table]," he added. "If you're able, and if you're talented enough to switch it on and off like that, you make my job easy."The cute couple have been married for nearly 11 years, and share two daughters -- 7-year-old Hazel and 4-year-old Violet.Krasinski has often said that the first film in this horror saga was a "love letter to his children," about the implicit promise a parent makes to always be there for their kids. With the sequel, the message and meaning behind the film has evolved."If the first movie is about the promise that we all make as parents to our kids and we say we'll always be there for you, it's a promise we know will inevitably be broken and I think the second movie is about that promise being broken, because I think that's what growing up really is," Krasinski shared. "I think when your kids realize that you're not going to be there for them every step of the way, then they have to take on the world themselves and it's a really scary thing.""But it's also the birthplace of such courage and such bravery and such change," he added.At last year's premiere for the sequel -- which was originally supposed to hit theaters in March 2020 -- Krasinski shared similar sentiments about his wife, calling her "the most tremendous actress of our time.""She is the most incredible partner in writing and directing and set designs. She just has such good ideas. So I actually felt like I had my partner in all things on set, not just the best actress in the world," he shared. "Anything I can think of, she makes 10 times better so that's a pretty good weapon to have on set."Check out the video below to hear more.A Quiet Place Part II hits theaters May 28.John Krasinski Gushes Over Wife Emily Blunt, Calls Her The 'Best Actress in the World' (Exclusive)This video is unavailable because we were unable to load a message from our sponsors.If you are using ad-blocking software, please disable it and reload the page.RELATED CONTENT:Stephen Colbert Can't Handle His First In-Person Guest John KrasinskiJohn Krasinski Surprises Fans at Screening of 'A Quiet Place Part II'John Krasinski Gives Shout-Out to His Kids During 'SNL' DebutEmily Blunt Says Her and John Krasinski's Kids Have British AccentsEmily Blunt on Bringing 'Ferocity' to 'A Quiet Place Part II' (Exclusive)