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Woody Harrelson goes live from London, talks 'Star Wars'

Woody Harrelson is trying to do something that's never been done before, although he's starting to realize why his feat would be a first.

The American actor plans to spend the early hours of Friday shooting a full-length film, called "Lost In London LIVE," which will be broadcast as it happens in over 550 U.S. theaters.

"Someone was asking me earlier, 'Do you think that people will start doing this now? Filming a movie and live-streaming it at the same time?' And I said, 'Well, not if they speak to me first.' This is some harrowing stuff," he laughs.

Based on a relentlessly awful night out he really had in the British capital, Harrelson wrote and is directing the film that combines comedy and drama.

Talking on the movie's set in the streets of London's theatre district, where rehearsals are happening during the day and at night, Harrelson says he could do with three more weeks of preparation before the action unfolds in real time.

Harrelson, 55, was arrested in London after a night out in 2002. He declined to say whether "Lost in London" is based on events from that night, but the set includes a recreation of the club he visited before his arrest.

"Lost In London LIVE" is an attempt to merge his two loves, film and theater. And even though audiences will be watching on the other side of the pond when it's Thursday evening, Harrelson is convinced the event's live-streamed nature will add an electrifying element.

"Will it mess up the performance? That's the question. Will the fear be too high to eke out a performance? I don't know," he said.

Harrelson's co-stars are musician Willie Nelson and actor Owen Wilson, a close friend who also helped refine the script.

"Owen Wilson is my best buddy. Now, that doesn't mean I'm his best buddy, but he's my best buddy and he is a tremendous asset because not only is he just so great on screen, and he's great as an actor and he's great to work with," he said.

Harrelson's breakthrough as an actor came on the 1980s television sitcom "Cheers." He's since starred in a number of critically acclaimed TV shows and movies, from "Natural Born Killers" and "No Country For Old Men" to "True Detective" and "The Hunger Games" films.

Harrelson next will be joining the "Star Wars" universe, with a part in the spin-off movie about a young Han Solo. Describing his character as a criminal and a mentor, he says he's delighted to be joining that "amazing world."

"All you want is to make good movies, because eventually I'll be gone and those will still be here," he said. "You know what I mean?"

DuVernay talks with Winfrey about Trump, race, her new film

Ava DuVernay doesn't want to talk about Donald Trump's election. Her feelings are still too raw.

But because Oprah Winfrey asked about it, the filmmaker opened up: Trump "represents violence," DuVernay said, and she doesn't have much empathy for those who supported him.

She made the remarks Sunday during a discussion about "13th," her documentary about the prison industrial complex and the disproportionately high number of black men behind bars.

Winfrey moderated an hourlong conversation between DuVernay and political commentator Van Jones at the home of Netflix chief Ted Sarandos, who hosted the event with wife Nicole Avant under two tennis-court-sized tents in their backyard.

Guests at the invitation-only affair were mostly industry insiders, including Quincy Jones, Rob Reiner, Laura Dern, Mira Sorvino, Courtney B. Vance and Chelsea Handler. Winfrey was a winning moderator, quipping to the crowd but mostly quiet, keeping the spotlight on her subjects.

A few moments recalled her old talk show.

The first thing she did was move her chair closer to DuVernay and Jones. In a long slate dress and black stilettos, Winfrey scooted the rattan seat over herself. Sarandos quietly hustled onto the stage to move a small coffee table that was in her way. Later, when the conversation about Trump got particularly animated, Winfrey deadpanned to the audience: "We should be televising this."

Footage from Trump's campaign rallies appears in "13th," which connects the criminalization and jailing of black men in jail to a provision of the 13th Amendment that prohibits slavery except as a punishment for crime. Available now on Netflix, the film is among 15 documentaries shortlisted for Oscar nominations, which will be announced Jan. 24.

DuVernay said she feared the police as a child growing up in Compton, California. As a student at UCLA, she studied American history, justice and institutionalized racism.

In researching the documentary, DuVernay said she was most surprised to learn about the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group that proposes policies and legislation based on the corporate interests it represents.

The film also shows how political rhetoric about being "tough on crime" has historically translated to more policing in communities of color.

Jones, who also appears in "13th," said, "You can't talk about the history of black America without talking about mass incarceration."

DuVernay and Jones agree that the recent police shootings of black men are part of a long history of criminalization of black people by politicians and police. They also agree that the prison problem isn't quickly or easily solved.

"It's not a one-answer question," DuVernay said, adding that she doesn't expect the issue to be remedied during her lifetime.

But she and Jones disagree on the best approach for dealing with the impending Trump administration.

Jones said he wants to connect with Trump voters who find the president-elect distasteful but supported him because they felt overlooked by other candidates.

DuVernay said she has no time for that. Racism and sexism are distractions, she said, "to my humanity and what I'm doing."

"Distraction is if I stop and try to talk to folks who have clearly demonstrated that they're not open to hearing that," she said. "What they will hear is what I do: How I move forward, the art that I make, the energy that I put out into the world."

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy.

'Hidden Figures' keeps orbit at top; Affleck, Scorsese flop

Labors of love, one from Martin Scorsese, the other from Ben Affleck, proved costly at a casualty strewn weekend box office where the uplifting NASA drama "Hidden Figures" stayed on top for the second straight week.

"Hidden Figures," about African-American mathematicians in the 1960s space race, sold a leading $20.5 million in tickets in North American theaters over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend, according to estimates Sunday. Fox anticipates the film, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae, will make $25.3 million when Monday is included, bringing its cumulative total to about $60 million.

The weekend was more remarkable for what didn't work than what did. Both Affleck's period gangster thriller "Live by Night" and Scorsese's Christian epic "Silence" bombed in their wide-release debuts. Warner Bros.' "Live by Night," adapted from Dennis Lehane's novel, earned a mere $5.4 million in 2,471 theaters. Paramount's "Silence," from Susaku Endo's novel of 17th century Jesuit priests in Japan, took in $1.9 million in 747 theaters.

Both were high-profile projects that each filmmaker used their considerable sway to get made.

"Live by Night" was Affleck's directorial follow-up to the best-picture winning "Argo." Written, directed and starring Affleck, it cost $90 million to make, though rebates and tax incentives lowered its budget to $65 million. But critics said "Live by Night" was a step backward for Affleck, who spent much of his publicity campaign fending off questions about his plans to direct a stand-alone Batman film for Warner Bros. The studio, which declined to comment Sunday, estimates "Live by Night" will make $6.7 million over the four-day weekend.

The epitome of a passion project, "Silence," which Scorsese contemplated for nearly three decades, represents a culmination of the director's investigations into the nature of faith. While the film, starring Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson, earned considerable respect from some critics, it failed to catch on in Hollywood's awards season.

"It's gotten great reviews and it's Marty's passion project, so we're proud to be a part of it, and we're going to keep putting it out there in front of audiences," said Kyle Davies, Paramount's domestic distribution chief.

"Silence," never conceived as a particularly commercial release, cost about $50 million to make. The studio expects it to earn $2.3 million over the four-day weekend.

The most costly flop may have been Paramount's family film "Monster Trucks." It earned $10.5 million over the three-day weekend. Viacom took a $115 million write-down late last year on the movie, which cost $125 million to make. It was a rare admission, well before its release, that "Monster Trucks" would bomb.

It was an especially crowded weekend. "La La Land," the Oscar favorite, danced into second place with $14.5 million. Damien Chazelle's musical, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, saw a considerable boost from last Sunday's Golden Globes, where it landed a record seven awards. It has made $74.1 million domestically in six weeks. It's also doing well internationally, earning more than $50 million.

The surprise success was the supernatural thriller "The Bye Bye Man," from STX Entertainment. With some help from Friday the 13th on the calendar, the low-budget horror flick made $13.4 million.

Peter Berg's Boston Marathon bombing docudrama, "Patriots Day," took in a so-so $12 million in its first week of nationwide wide release. The CBS Films and Lionsgate joint release cost about $40 million to produce. But the film, starring Mark Wahlberg, earned an A-plus CinemaScore from audiences, suggesting it could have legs in the coming weeks.

Open Road's "Sleepless," a vigilante revenge thriller starring Jamie Foxx, failed to make much of a dent. It opened with $8.5 million.

Disney's "Rogue One" added an additional $13.8 million to its coffers. The film is now poised to cross $1 billion shortly, with $980 million globally to date.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore, said audiences were inundated with too many films, some of which struggled to keep attention as they went from limited to nationwide release. "Hidden Figures," ''La La Land," ''Patriots Day," ''Silence" and "Live by Night" all premiered in December before expanding in January.

"It really is the tale of the holdovers. We've yet to, at this point, have a breakout newcomer from 2017," Dergarabedian said. "When you have so many platforming releases, aside from the top-performing ones, 'Hidden Figures' and 'La La Land,' the others have had a tough time getting traction or getting noticed within this sea of movies."

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers are also included. Final four-day domestic figures will be released Tuesday.

1. "Hidden Figures," $20.5 million.

2. "La La Land," $14.5 million ($17.8 million international).

3. "Sing," $13.8 million ($13.2 million international).

4. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," $13.8 million ($21.9 million international).

5. "The Bye Bye Man," $13.4 million ($1.3 million international).

6. "Patriots Day," $12 million ($1.3 million international).

7. "Monster Trucks," $10.5 million ($4 million international).

8. "Sleepless," $8.5 million.

9. "Underworld: Blood Wars," $5.8 million ($1.4 million international).

10. "Passengers," $5.6 million ($32.5 million international).

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Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:

1. "Passengers," $32.5 million.

2. "Assassin's Creed," $23.1 million.

3. "Rogue One, A Star Wars Story," $21.9 million.

4. "La La Land," $17.8 million.

5. "Moana," $16.9 million.

6. "Sing," $13.2 million.

7. "The Great Wall," $10 million.

8. "Why Him?" $9.1 million.

9. "Allied," $8.4 million

10. "Some Like it Hot," $7.4 million.

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Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP .

With no action heroes, Madoff movie landed at HBO

Makers of an upcoming HBO movie on Bernard Madoff initially wanted to make a feature film for theaters but quickly realized that today's movie industry had little interest in an intricate tale about a financial swindle.

Major studios have their sights set on action heroes or comic books. An independent studio would have required a time-consuming effort to raise money and less exposure, said Jane Rosenthal, executive producer of "The Wizard of Lies," on Saturday. The film, with Robert DeNiro in the starring role, debuts in May.

"As screens are all blurring and ... the business is so radically changing, this was the best place to make the film and to ensure that we would have an amazing audience for it," she said.

The film is based on a book by the same title by Diana Henriques, who advised HBO. Filmmakers said it differs from other projects on the Madoff case, like an ABC miniseries, in that it delves more into what happened with his family.

"What he did is beyond my comprehension," DeNiro said. "So there's a disconnect somehow in him that I still would like to understand. I did the best I could, but I don't understand ... The only things I do feel strongly about is that he didn't tell his kids and he didn't tell his wife. But everyone around him probably had an idea. They just didn't want to look too deeply because they knew something wasn't quite right."

Henriques, a financial reporter, had used Madoff as a source in the years before his Ponzi scheme was uncovered, and trusted him back then.

She said it was a strange experience seeing DeNiro totally inhabit the character. At one point, director Barry Levinson thought of having Henriques, who had conducted jailhouse interviews with Madoff, improvise by interviewing DeNiro as if he were Madoff. Some of that ended up in the film.

The performance was so effective, she said, that "I made the vow right then and there never to take investment advice from Bob DeNiro."

Lotter challenging Nebraska 3-judge method on death penalty

A man convicted in the murder case that inspired the 1999 movie "Boys Don't Cry" has joined a fellow death row inmate in challenging Nebraska's three-judge method for determining death sentences.

Attorneys for John Lotter argue that he had a right to have jurors, not judges, weigh his fate when he was sentenced to death in 1996, the Omaha World-Herald reports (http://bit.ly/2iTAHhd ). The attorneys cite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that struck down Florida's death penalty process, saying it gave too much power to judges to make the ultimate decision. After that ruling, Delaware's high court followed suit and threw out that state's death penalty-determining method.

Lotter was condemned for his role in the 1993 killings of Teena Brandon, a 21-year-old woman who lived briefly as a man, and two witnesses, Lisa Lambert and Philip DeVine, at a rural Humboldt, Nebraska, farmhouse.

A similar appeal has been filed on behalf of Jeffrey Hessler, convicted in the 2003 rape and murder of 15-year-old Gering, Nebraska, newspaper carrier Heather Guerrero.

The Nebraska attorney general's office has filed motions arguing that Nebraska's sentencing scheme allows jury participation and is not identical to the one struck down in Florida.

In Nebraska when a defendant is convicted in a death penalty case, the jury that decided guilt also decides whether aggravating factors exist to justify the defendant's execution. If the jury finds such, a three-judge panel is convened to determine whether the aggravating factors outweigh any mitigating factors in the defendant's favor. The three judges also must determine if the death sentence is warranted and, if so, whether it is proportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases.

The three judges ultimately determine whether the defendant gets death or life in prison.

Attorney Jerry Soucie, who has represented several Nebraska death row inmates, said Friday that he expects the state's other eight death row inmates to challenge Nebraska's method, too.

"This issue has been floating around a long time," Soucie said.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

Kidman says comments about Trump support weren't endorsement

Nicole Kidman says her comments that Americans should support President-elect Donald Trump were merely a statement of her belief in democracy, not an endorsement of the incoming president.

The Oscar-winning actress's earlier remarks sparked both criticism and praise online after they were aired by the BBC earlier this week.

Kidman tells Access Hollywood that her comments were misconstrued. She says, "I was trying to stress that I believe in democracy and the American Constitution, and it was that simple."

When an interviewer pressed her for more details, Kidman threw up her hands and said she was done commenting on the topic.

Kidman was born in Hawaii to Australian parents and holds dual citizenship in Australia and the U.S.

Kidman won an Oscar for 2002's "The Hours" and currently stars in "Lion."

Brie Larson and Jennifer Hudson to announce Oscar nominees

Oscar winners Brie Larson and Jennifer Hudson will help announce this year's Academy Award nominees.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Friday revealed the actresses will be among those who announce nominees in 24 categories on Jan. 24. Also presenting will be Oscar nominees Jason Reitman and Ken Watanabe and Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki.

In a departure from previous years, the academy is ditching a live audience for the nomination announcements and will livestream them on its website, Oscars.org . Some of the presentation will also air on "Good Morning America."

Jimmy Kimmel is hosting this year's ceremony, which will air on Feb. 26 on ABC.

Larson won the best actress award last year for "Room," and Hudson won the supporting actress award in 2007 for "Dreamgirls."

Uma Thurman, ex-boyfriend face off at custody trial

Uma Thurman and ex-boyfriend Arpad Busson are facing off in a New York City court over their 4-year-old daughter.

The Oscar-nominated actress and the financier were in court Friday for the start of their custody trial. It concerns visits and other issues.

Thurman and Busson dated for several years and were engaged for a time. Their daughter, Luna, was born in 2012.

A court-appointed psychologist testified Friday that the parents now have an acrimonious relationship.

Thurman has two children with ex-husband and fellow actor Ethan Hawke. Busson, nicknamed "Arki," has two children with model Elle Macpherson.

The custody trial continues next week.

Thurman was nominated for an Oscar in 1994 for best supporting actress in "Pulp Fiction." She's starred in the "Kill Bill" films.

No plans to digitize Fisher in future 'Star Wars' films

The makers of "Star Wars" have put a quick end to rumors that while Carrie Fisher has died, her Princess Leia may live on.

Making a rare foray into the sprawling world of "Star Wars" speculation, Lucasfilm said Friday night that there are no plans to digitally recreate Fisher to appear in future episodes of the movie saga.

"There is a rumor circulating that we would like to address," a company statement said. "We want to assure our fans that Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher's performance as Princess or General Leia Organa."

Fisher, who reprised her role as Leia in 2015's "Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens," had finished shooting "Star Wars: Episode VIII," due out next December, when she died Dec. 27 of cardiac arrest at age 60. Her mother Debbie Reynolds died the next day.

But Fisher had also been slated to appear in "Episode IX," scheduled for release in 2019. That film is still being scripted, and the writers are deciding how to handle her death.

Adding to the speculation was the brief appearance of a digitized 1977-era Fisher in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," which was released last month.

That film also had a much larger role for a digitized version of the late Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin.

The renderings of Fisher and Cushing, who died in 1994, were embraced by many fans but hated by just as many, who thought the characters looked cartoonish, distracting, or even spooky.

John Knoll, the effects guru who came up with the idea of the revitalized characters, told Yahoo Movies on Friday that Fisher "loved" her appearance in "Rogue One," which consists of one short-but-significant shot, and a single word of dialogue.

"She was very much in favor of it," Knoll said.

But Lucasfilm insists "Episode VIII" will be Fisher's last.

"Carrie Fisher was, is, and always will be a part of the Lucasfilm family," the company's statement said. "She was our princess, our general, and more importantly, our friend. We are still hurting from her loss. We cherish her memory and legacy as Princess Leia, and will always strive to honor everything she gave to "Star Wars.'"

2 years after the hack, Sony CEO Lynton exits for Snap Inc.

Two years after guiding the company through an unprecedented email hack, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton is leaving the company to become the chairman of the board for Snap Inc., the company behind Snapchat.

Sony said Friday that Lynton, a 13-year Sony veteran who led both the music and entertainment group, will stay on for six months to ensure a smooth transition as Sony Corp. President and CEO Kazuo Hirai looks for a replacement.

In a statement, Lynton said he had been involved with Snapchat since its early days and is choosing to focus on that company given its recent growth.

Lynton started with Sony in 2004 as chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment and in 2012 was named CEO of Sony Entertainment.

Sony Pictures Entertainment and its various film divisions have been struggling of late at the box office with underwhelming performances from higher budget fare such as "Ghostbusters," ''Inferno" and "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk."

Lynton's highest-profile moments during his tenure came in the aftermath of the devastating November 2014 hack involving the leak of proprietary information, employee Social Security numbers and embarrassing emails from top executives such as Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal.

Five Sony-produced movies, including the unreleased "Annie," appeared on file-sharing websites. The hack hindered Sony's business operations, including the release of the James Franco and Seth Rogen film "The Interview," and led to the departure of Pascal only three months later.

"The whole series of events, not just for myself, but for everybody in the company, had so many twists and turns to it that every time you thought you were going down a path, every time people thought we got this in hand, the next thing you knew we'd have another threatening email come through two days later or another series of events," Lynton told The Associated Press at the time.

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