New York, July 23 (AP/UNB) - Marvel’s push for more women and people of color in its immensely popular film franchise is extending to behind the camera as it launches its next round of films after the massive success of Avengers: Endgame. Of the five films the superhero studio announced at Comic-Con on Saturday, only one is set to be directed by a white man.
“It’s about fresh voices and new voices and great filmmakers who can continue to steer the (Marvel Cinematic Universe) into new places,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said in an interview after the studio’s explosive Hall H panel. “And I am as proud of that lineup of directors as you saw today as any.”
In addition to a slew of women and people of color at the helm of the upcoming Marvel films, the weekend’s announcements promised more diversity on screen.
Johansson said the search for Black Widow director Cate Shortland wasn’t easy.
“It’s really interesting because when we were looking for a director, you start to see some of the systemic problems,” Johansson said. “Even looking for a female director who has had enough experience — who has had the opportunity to have the experience to sit at the helm of something huge like this, you know, choices are limited because of that. And it sucks.”
The actress added that she was proud to see the diversity on stage during Marvel’s Hall H panel.
“Looking out on that stage tonight, it was incredible. It was really moving, also just to see how incredibly diverse the universe is — and reflects what we see all around us. It’s incredible,” she said.
First up for release is the long-awaited solo film starring Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, the lethal assassin she has played for nearly a decade. The film is set for release in May 2020.
In terms of more diversity, Black Widow is just the beginning.
The Eternals will feature a cast full of actors of color, including Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, and Salma Hayek. Simu Liu will become Marvel’s first big screen Asian American superhero when Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is released in February 2021. Natalie Portman will play a female Thor in the new Thor: Love and Thunder, which will also feature Tessa Thompson’s character, Valkyrie, as the MCU’s first LGBTQ superhero.
“First of all, as new King (of Asgard), she needs to find her queen, so that will be her first order of business. She has some ideas. Keep you posted,” Thompson said during the panel. Feige later confirmed the news in an interview with the website io9.
The studio is also reviving one of Marvel’s most iconic black characters, Blade (previously played by Wesley Snipes), with the help of Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali. Feige told The Associated Press that right after winning his second Academy Award for Green Book earlier this year, Ali set up a meeting.
“Within 10 minutes, he basically was like, ‘What’s happening with Blade? I want to do it.′ And we went, that’s what happening with Blade. Let’s do it,” Feige said.
Captain Marvel, released in March, was the first of Marvel Studios film to be centered entirely on a female character. It earned $427 million domestically, and along with the DC Comics film Wonder Woman has created momentum for more films with female heroes leading the way.
“Marvel is really focused on having very strong female characters at the forefront of their stories,” said actress Rachel Weisz, who also stars in Black Widow. ″And I think that’s great. This film has got three. It’s Scarlett, Florence Pugh, myself. So I think yeah, they are doing wonderful work to represent women, people of color, and tell different kinds of stories.”
The sliver of Hollywood still on the outside of the Marvel’s cinematic empire was paying close attention to the news.
Actress, writer and director Lena Waithe tweeted Sunday: “Captain America is black. Thor is a woman. the new Blade got two Oscars. 007 is a black woman. And The Little Mermaid bout to have locs. (Expletive). Just. Got. Real.”
New York, Jul 23 (AP/UNB) — Prosecutors have asked a New York judge to prevent the con artist Anna Sorokin from cashing in on a Netflix production expected to highlight the extravagant ruse that landed the woman who posed as a German heiress in state prison.
The New York Attorney General's Office recently challenged the contract Sorokin signed last year for the rights to her now-infamous life story, invoking a state law that bans criminals from profiting off their own notoriety.
State prosecutors wrote in court filings that the $70,000 and royalties Sorokin is owed from her Netflix deal should be awarded as restitution to the Manhattan banks and hotels she defrauded by providing phony financial records and a forged identity.
The court filings, first reported by The New York Post, show Sorokin received an initial $30,000 from Netflix that went to her defense attorney, Todd Spodek.
Spodek didn't immediately return messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Sorokin passed herself off as a wealthy heiress known as Anna Delvey, convincing banks and celebrities that she had a fortune of $67 million (60 million euros) overseas that could cover her jet-setting lifestyle.
Following a trial that drew international media attention, she was convicted of grand larceny and theft of services and sentenced in May to four to 12 years in prison. She faces deportation to Germany following her release.
Prosecutors said Sorokin "had not a cent to her name when she was taken into custody." But a judge ordered her to pay nearly $200,000 restitution following her conviction, including a $100,000 loan she failed to repay to City National Bank.
New York's so-called Son of Sam law derives its name from the nickname given to David Berkowitz, a serial killer who fatally shot six people and wounded seven others in New York City in the 1970s. New York was the first state to enact such a law following his capture.
New York, Jul 23 (AP/UNB) — Lil Nas X has taken his horse to the old town road and ridden it to the top of the Billboard charts for 16 weeks, tying a record set by Mariah Carey and Luis Fonsi.
"Old Town Road" logs its 16th week at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart this week, matching the success that Carey and Boyz II Men's "One Sweet Day" achieved in 1995-1996. Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber's "Despacito" accomplished the feat in 2017.
No song has spent more than 16 weeks at No. 1 on the all-genre Hot 100 chart in the 61-year history of the Billboard charts.
The country-rap "Old Town Road" was originally a solo song, but 20-year-old Lil Nas X added Billy Ray Cyrus to the track and it topped the charts, achieving most of its success through audio streaming.
Lil Nas X is looking forward to setting a new Billboard record next week. He posted a video Monday on social media of the "SpongeBob SquarePants" character Squidward Tentacles saying, "Please stream 'Old Town Road.'"
"Me on the internet this whole week tryna break the billboard record," he wrote in the caption.
"Old Town Road" initially was in a bit of controversy in March when Billboard removed it from its country charts, deeming it not country enough (it peaked at No. 19 on the country charts). But the drama didn't hurt the song; it only propelled it.
"This song has been a uniter not a divider," Cyrus said in a statement Monday. "I'm giving God the glory now for allowing me the gift to be part of such a special song. It's a unique moment in time where people from all over the world and all walks of life find they have more in common than they do different. It's a moment we've all shared and I'm grateful for it."
"Old Town Road" appears on Lil Nas X's debut EP "7," which peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's 200 albums chart earlier this month. The EP also features the Top 40 hits "Panini" and "Rodeo" with Cardi B.
"Old Town Road" is also spending its 16th week on top of both the R&B/Hip-Hop and rap songs charts. The song has several versions, including remixes featuring Diplo, Young Thug and Mason Ramsey; Billboard counts the original song and its remix versions as one when calculating chart position, thus helping "Old Town Road" stay on top.
A number of songs have debuted at No. 2 on the Hot 100 chart, unable to push "Old Town Road" out of its top position, including two tunes from Taylor Swift ("You Need to Calm Down," ''ME!"); Ed Sheeran and Bieber's "I Don't Care"; and two songs from Shawn Mendes ("If I Can't Have You," ''Senorita" with Camila Cabello).
Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do" stopped "Despacito" from reaching a 17th week at No. 1 when the pop smash jumped from No. 77 to No. 1 in 2017. Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me" ended Carey and Boyz II Men's epic run in 1996.
Freehold, July 22 (AP/UNB) — A man has been indicted in the home invasion of a former "Real Housewives of New Jersey" cast member.
James Mainello also faces robbery, aggravated assault and other charges in the indictment handed up Monday by a Monmouth County grand jury.
Prosecutors say the 51-year-old Bayonne resident and another man were waiting when Dina Manzo and her then-fiancé David Cantin entered their Holmdel home in May 2017.
Cantin was beaten with a baseball bat, and Manzo was repeatedly kicked. They were bound with zip ties before the intruders made off with Manzo's engagement ring and cash.
Prosecutors say DNA on a zip tie matched Mainello's. Mainello's lawyer says he denies the charges.
Manzo and Cantin have since married.
Dhaka, July 22 (UNB) - The 39-year-old former first daughter and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, welcomed a baby boy on Monday, and broke the news on Twitter.
"This morning we welcomed our son, Jasper Clinton Mezvinsky," read the tweet. "We are overflowing with love and gratitude and can’t wait to introduce him to his big sister and brother."
The little one joins big sister Charlotte, 4, and brother Aidan, 3.
Clinton announced her pregnancy in January, sharing how excited the couple were to expand their family this summer, reports Yahoo.
“Marc and I have loved watching Charlotte be such a wonderful big sister and we’re excited to watch Aidan become a big brother!” she wrote on Twitter. “We cannot wait to meet our newest addition later this summer.”
She then responded to a fan, saying that her parents, Bill and Hillary Clinton, were excited to become grandparents to another baby.
Clinton spoke to ET in 2016 about how her mom had influenced her parenting.
“My daughter, I find myself giving her ridiculous praise for doing things like putting the top back on the cereal container. I'm like, 'Oh Charlotte, that was so good. Thank you for putting the top back on,'” she said. “And she beams at me and I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, I'm just like my mother.'"