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TRAILER PARK: "THE HOBBIT," "THIS IS 40," "ZERO DARK THIRTY" AND MORE

Another strong week of trailers, including two longer looks at two of this fall's biggest movies; Clint Eastwood chilling out with Justin Timberlake; the indie flick to end all indie flicks; and Ron Perlman as a woman, and a rather ugly one at that. Roll 'em! THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY Release Date: December 14

And so, another, more revealing trailer for one of the year's most anticipated films has emerged from the shire, with the same dazzling imagery as Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy but some stark tonal differences. Witness: the harmonized singing. And the rundown of the wacky supporting characters. And, expectedly, way less action than "The Fellowship of the Ring," but just as much Gandalf greatness and even a sneak peak at a prequel-ready Gollum. Be real, you're gonna see "The Hobbit" when it invades theaters this holiday season, and this new trailer just serves to remind us of the breathtaking worlds that Jackson -- the biggest star of this trailer, despite never appearing onscreen -- can still conjure. TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE Release Date: September 21
Fun fact: this is Clint Eastwood's first starring role in a film he didn't also direct since 1993's "In The Line of Fire." This baseball-themed drama casts Eastwood as a "broken-down old man" (his words, not ours) being called up to scout for the MLB again, all while trying to connect with his crafty daughter -- who, in turn, is working out some abandonment issues while getting cozy with Justin Timberlake. After heavy-handed directorial efforts like "J. Edgar" and "Changeling," it's nice to see Eastwood mix it up with something a bit more family-friendly -- although the clunky dialogue in this trailer ("I didn't want you to have life in the cheap seats, that's all!" Eastwood seethes at his on-screen daughter) might make this one too smarmy even for those who enjoy a good heartstring-pulling. LIBERAL ARTS Release Date: October 5
Judging from this trailer, this indie dramedy about a 35-year-old who visits his old college and falls in love with a sophomore student simply could not look any more like "Garden State 2.0." Seriously: it's a story about a disconnected white guy who travels to familiar surroundings, falls in love with a quirky, whip-smart, beautiful girl (played here by Elizabeth Olsen), clashes with his dad about his choices, and offers sardonic quips f like "I was English [major] with a minor in history, just to make sure I was fully unemployable." It's even written, directed by and starring a TV sitcom veteran, "How I Met Your Mother's" Josh Radnor, in an attempt to spread some hipster fairy dust across awards season. "Liberal Arts" could be charming and grow into a "Juno"-sized crossover hit; just don't be too surprised if you hear a Shins song in there somewhere. THIS IS 40 Release Date: December 21
Judd Apatow's highly anticipated fourth directorial effort receives a new, longer trailer, with less one-liners and more of a focus on longer set pieces (Paul Rudd's fight for freedom on the toilet) and a deeper look into the supporting players (like Albert Brooks as Rudd's father and Melissa McCarthy as the mother of a Tom Petty lookalike). The tagline "This is not just their story... This is everyone's story" is way too presumptuous to swallow, but this sort-of sequel to "Knocked Up" looks like a return to that movie's warped sweetness after the bitter pill that was "Funny People." And another Apatow-helmed, hotel room-set drug freakout can only spell more fun. 3, 2, 1... FRANKIE GO BOOM Release Date: Fall
This dark comedy's first theatrical trailer buries its most unforgettable image -- "Hellboy" star Ron Perlman dressed in drag as a cross-dressing former prisoner named Phyllis -- deep within its two minutes and 22 seconds. It's a smart move. After all, "3, 2, 1... Frankie Go Boom" looks intriguing enough without Perlman's outrageous cameo: Charlie Hunnam is a protagonist perpetually tortured by his big brother ("Bridesmaids" standout Chris O'Dowd), and the mayhem resumes when Big Bro films Frankie's one-night stand with the mysterious Lassie (Lizzy Caplan). There are weird supporting parts -- Chris Noth as Caplan's grizzled dad! Whitney Cummings as someone who's funny! -- everywhere. And if the zig-zagging plot holds together, "Boom" could be dynamite. MUST-SEE TRAILER OF THE WEEK ZERO DARK THIRTY Release Date: December 19
Whoa: the first look at "Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow's chronicle of the hunt for Osama bin Laden is a pulse-pounding teaser that barely shows any actual action. Snippets of actors like Kyle Chandler and Jessica Chastain are shown, and black lines cleverly black out text before coming together into the shape of a pentagonal target. Despite not showing us much, the biggest accomplishment of this trailer is the creation of its puffed-up sense of importance: this is evidently an untold story of a crucial recent historical event, overseen by a gritty director who hit a grand slam with her last effort. Some of the best trailers only slightly tip their hand, and while "Zero Dark Thirty" is over four months away, it's already nestled in the back of our minds as a must-see.

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Jussie Smollett's Potentially Final 'Empire' Episode Draws Low Viewership

It hasn't been revealed whether Empire will return for a sixth season. However, if the show returns, there's no word on if Jussie Smollett will reprise his role as Jamal Lyon.

Regardless of the unknown, it looks like fans weren't all the way tuned-in to what may have very well have been Smollett's last episode on the show. Per Variety, Jamal's groundbreaking wedding episode garnered low ratings for the Fox series.

"The episode, in which Smollett’s character Jamal Lyon tied the knot in TV’s first-ever black, gay wedding, returned a 1.1 rating in the key 18-49 demo and 3.8 million total viewers," reports the site. "Those numbers are a tick up on the 1.07 rating of the previous two weeks, but are still down on the season 5 average, which currently sits at around 1.4."

Smollett's character was written out of the last two episodes of the fifth season, due to his highly-publicized arrest in February for allegedly filing a false police report claiming that he was attacked physically and verbally in Chicago. All 16 charges against him were dropped in March.

Recently, his Empire family penned a letter of support for their cast member, urging the show's producers to allow him to come back for the unannounced sixth season.

"[Smollett] is kind. He is compassionate," the letter says. "He is honest and above all he is filled with integrity. He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped."

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John Singleton In Coma After Suffering Major Stroke

John Singleton is reportedly in a coma after suffering from a major stroke, TMZ reports.

The Boyz N the Hood filmmaker has reportedly been in the ICU since last weekend. According to legal documents obtained by TMZ, Singleton's mother, Sheila Ward, is asking a judge to appoint her temporary conservator of his work because he is "unable to properly provide for his personal needs for physical health, food, clothing, or shelter." Singleton was reportedly working on several projects and preparing to sign a lucrative settlement agreement at the time of his stroke, according to Ward.

As previously reported, Singleton suffered a stroke on April 17, after returning from Costa Rica. After experiencing problems with his legs, he reportedly checked into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles where he suffered a stroke in his hospital room.

This story is developing.

 

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Goodbye Costa Rica... one of my new favorite places in the world.... so much to see so little time...

A post shared by JOHN SINGLETON (@johnsingleton) on Mar 6, 2019 at 1:07pm PST

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'Empire' Makes History By Airing First Black Gay Wedding On Network TV

Wedding bells have just made their way into the history books. Last night (April 25), FOX's Empire became the first network television show to air a black gay wedding. Jamal and his fiancé Kai (Jussie Smollett and Toby Onwumere, respectively) jump the broom and swap vows in the episode titled "Never Doubt I Love."

As an added treat, Empire even tapped the legendary Chaka Khan to perform at the fictional star-studded wedding (Mario and Wood Harris even showed up) which, as evidenced by the episode BTS video, was a moment for everyone right to the stars of the show themselves. “Today’s wedding is special and controversial,” Khan said of using her voice for this particular cameo. “But my answer to all that is just love is love.”

Cast members Taraji P. Henson and Gabourey Sidibe agree that Jamal and Kai's wedding might have just become the best Empire wedding.

While this doesn't necessarily take away from the controversy still surrounding Smollett's case in Chicago, it was a cause for celebration regarding diversity and representation on television nonetheless. As Ms. Khan said, right here and right now, the most important thing to note is that love is love.

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