(L-R) "Alita" star Rosa Salazar, director Robert Rodriguez/Courtesy 20th Century Fox(NEW YORK) -- Director Robert Rodriguez got his start literally bleeding for his art, undergoing medical tests to raise the $6,000 to make his debut film, the action movie El Mariachi. But when director James Cameron approached Rodriguez to take over for him on his pet project Alita: Battle Angel, the guy who once described himself as "El Cheapo Productions" found himself overseeing a $200 million project.
Regardless of the budget, Rodriguez told ABC Radio he's always had one goal: "Keep that spirit, that independent spirit no matter what you do."
He said of Cameron, who got his start as a special effects guy on low-budget horror films, "Jim's from that world, you know...scrappy do-it-yourself. And that's why he knows every job [on a movie set] so well."
Rodriguez said working with Cameron and producer Jon Landau was a dream come true.
"I had the support team that you could only dream about because it's the guys that they've vetted and worked with for all these years on cutting-edge technology and cutting-edge movies," he told ABC Radio.
"And it's always...story first, character first. It's got the heart and mind in the right place, so I was blessed to be in the right situation."
Based on the beloved graphic novel series, the sci-fi film is currently the number one movie in America.
Alita: Battle Angel has made $94.3 million worldwide since its release last week.
Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images(PARIS) -- Karl Lagerfeld has died. Considered by many to be the most prolific designer of the 20th and 21st centuries -- at the same time a self-described "caricature" and the groundbreaking creative force behind luxury fashion labels Chanel and Fendi for decades -- would have been 85 in September.
The outspoken designer, who also created his own eponymous fashion label, was as famous for look -- pitch-black shades, starched white shirts, black jeans and white ponytail -- as for his contributions to the runway world.
On Tuesday morning, twitter feed showed a picture of the designer, who dressed celebrities like Princess Diana, Oscar winners like Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett and Madonna, along with the memorial caption, "Rest in peace, Karl. Love forever from your TeamKarl family."
ABC/Randy Holmes(LONDON) -- J.J. Abrams hit up Twitter on Friday to announce the completion of principal photography on Star Wars IX.
The film is said to be the final installment of the Skywalker family saga, which launched in 1977. The movie stars series newcomers Keri Russell, Naomi Ackie, and Richard E. Grant, along with he main cast from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, led by Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, and Joonas Suotamo.
Original trilogy cast members Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams also return, as does Carrie Fisher, who will appear posthumously using previously unreleased footage from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Star Wars IX, due out in December from Lucasfilm, is still untitled.
Lucasfilm is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC News.
AMC/Gene Page(NEW YORK) -- (SPOILERS AHEAD) Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead kicked off with a flashback to 23 days since the walker outbreak began. A father, mother, and their little girl are hunkered down in a basement with some others while emergency broadcasts blare and hell breaks out outdoors.
Back in the present, we learn the little girl grew up to be Lydia, the Whisperer whom Daryl locked up. She and Henry keep chatting while Daryl eavesdrops from outside. Lydia makes plain that her mom, one of the Whisperers, is someone you don't mess with.
Meanwhile, Tara and some of the Hilltoppers search for Luke and Alden, who were taken by Whisperers. Along the way, they come upon a band of walkers, and after confirming they're actually the undead and not humans in disguise, Tara tells the group to fall back to Hilltop for safety.
In the prison, Henry keeps chatting with Lydia, until he breaches security by talking about the Kingdom. Daryl bursts in and marches him out, revealing that he and the others have been using him to get info from her. Eventually, Daryl comes into the cell and questions her about her mom.
In the flashback, we see one of the survivors panic and try to escape their shelter. Lydia's mom tries to quiet him down, and eventually breaks his neck to protect the survivors. In a role reversal, her shocked dad tries to comfort the little girl.
In the cell, Lydia has been recounting that story to Daryl: "Your mom did what she had to." He offers her medicine for an ear infection and some water, and she promptly tries to grab him through the bars instead. He notices her forearms are scarred from abuse. Daryl tries to bond with Lydia over their shared experience of being victims of parental abuse. "What my mom does she does for a reason," she says of her scars. "When you stay soft, people die."
She flashes back again, and we see her mom, her hair now cut short, as the survivors decide they need to dispose of the guy she killed. Little Lydia wakes up, and so does the dead guy. She screams and her dad tries to protect her. Instead, he got bit. In the present, she resents her loving dad for being soft.
Back at Hilltop, Yumiko and the other newcomers vote to sneak out to find their comrade Luke.The newbie Hilltoppers sneak out on their rescue mission.
Henry lets Lydia out of her cell so she can see Hilltop is "a good place with good people." She eventually freaks out, thinking about what she's been through, and asks to get put back.
The next morning, Lydia is presented with food and asks for the medicine she previously turned down. She explains how her clan works, and that her mom wouldn't come looking for her. She also admits that her mom lied about their family. Her mom had programmed in her for years that it was the little girl's fault her dad was bitten and killed. In fact, he wasn't bit at all, her mom killed him when he refused to join her in fleeing that basement.
"Some people ain't meant to be parents," Daryl later tells Henry, who's surprised Daryl offers to let her stay.
Back at Hilltop, the newbies try sneaking back in, but Tara lets Yumiko know she was well aware her group tried to sneak off. Just then, a group of Whisperers approach Hilltop. A bald woman walks through them.
"I am Alpha," she says. "And we only want one thing from you: my daughter." It's Lydia's mom.
The Walking Dead returns Sunday, February 24 on AMC.
ABC(CHICAGO) -- The two brothers who were interrogated by police investigating the alleged attack on actor Jussie Smollett claim they helped him concoct the assault after he became upset that a now-suspicious letter threatening him, sent to Empire's studio, did not get enough attention, sources told ABC News on Monday.
Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo also told investigators that Smollett paid them to help him orchestrate and stage the January 29 attack that he said occurred near his Chicago apartment, sources said.
A letter threatening Smollett was sent January 22 to the studio in Chicago where Empire is filmed, police said. The letter contained threatening language and was laced with a powdery substance investigators believe was likely crushed-up Tylenol.
Detectives are actively investigating the account of Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, but thus far police have not independently verified the allegations, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told ABC News.
The Osundairo brothers agreed to cooperate with authorities after detectives confronted them with evidence that they bought the rope -- allegedly used in an attack that Smollett described to police as laced with racial and homophobic slurs -- at a Chicago hardware store, sources said.
Smollett also claimed the attackers shouted "MAGA country," an apparent reference to President Donald Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again."
"We are not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens," Osundairo brothers said in a statement to CBS Chicago affiliate WBBM which has been confirmed by ABC News.
Detectives have now shifted the investigation towards determining whether Smollett made up the entire story, sources said.
ABC/Craig Sjodin(NEW YORK) -- On Monday’s episode of The Bachelor, Colton Underwood hoped to gain some clarity after rumors involving two of the women had him conflicted over what to believe.
The first one-on-one date featured Colton showing Tayshia the sights of his hometown of Denver. The date took a serious turn when Tayshia told Colton she believed Cassie and Caelynn were the women to whom Katie, Sydney and Demi were referring last week when they warned him that he was being deceived. Tayshia and Colton also discussed their expectations for the upcoming hometown visit, in which she warned him that he might not get a warm reception from her father, in light of her of her previous failed marriage. The meeting will take place regardless after Colton offered her the date rose.
The next one-on-one date went to Caelynn, who hit the slopes for a snowboarding lesson from the Bachelor. Things got heavy, though, when Colton confronted her about Tayshia’s accusations about not being ready and, in particular, the suggestion that Caelynn was only interested in being the next Bachelorette. Caelynn assured him that she was “100 percent ready to be engaged.” Over dinner, Colton told her that he couldn’t meet her family until he was absolutely sure of his feelings for her. After she once again assured him that her intentions were true, he handed her the rose. The date ended with a private concert from country star Brett Young, who performed his hit “Here Tonight.”
Hannah B. won the next one-on-one date with Colton, but not before a little drama took place back at the mansion between Caelynn and Tayshia. Tayshia assured Caelynn that she wasn’t trying to throw the former Miss North Carolina under the bus, insisting that Colton simply asked for her opinion and she gave it to him straight.
Meanwhile, Hannah B. was in for a surprise when her one-on-one date with Colton included a stop to meet his parents. During a private conversation with his dad, Colton confessed that despite Hannah's declaration of love for him, he was "not quite there yet" with her. His father advised him not to second-guess himself, and to trust his gut. The remainder of the date did little to change Colton's feelings, and she was the first woman sent packing.
Next, Hannah G., Kirpa,Cassie and Heather were invited on group date card that included an ominous message: “Saying goodbye is never easy.” A cozy rest stop provided a scenic backdrop for what turned into a stressful day for Colton and the women, as they tried to alleviate any doubts about each other before he meets their families next week. Heather made the job easier by telling Colton that she couldn’t bring him home if she wasn’t absolutely certain that he was the one, and so she left the competition.
During their private chat, Colton confronted Cassie with the rumors of her insincerity, which she tearfully denied. Her response came off as genuine and seemed to satisfy him, until Kirpa once again insisted that Cassie and Caelynn were not looking for a husband. That led to a heated confrontation between Kirpa and Cassie, which Cassie characterized as a “desperation move.” At the end of the day, Colton said he was no closer to a decision than he had been earlier.
Back at the mansion, however, Colton revealed that he was clear on at least one choice, and immediately gave Hannah G. the first rose. That left just Cassie and Kirpa vying for the last remaining spot. When Caelynn learned of this, she decided to take action.
"If Cassie goes home due to gossip and rumors and lies being spread, I would feel for Cassie the way that I would feel that I went home," she said addressing the camera. "So if she's going home because [Underwood] was fed false information, I won't be OK with that."
Caelynn then paid Colton a surprise visit to make sure he had "all the facts.” The camera cut away from them, and the next thing we saw was Cassie and Kirpa watching Caelynn walk out the door. When Colton joined the two, he handed Cassie the rose, and Kirpa was sent home.
The four remaining women are:
Caelynn, 23, Miss North Carolina 2018 from Charlotte, North Carolina Cassie, 23, a speech pathologist from Huntington Beach, California Hannah G., 23, a content creator from Birmingham, Alabama Tayshia, 28, a phlebotomist from Corona Del Mar, California
Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox(LOS ANGELES) -- There was good new and bad news for James Cameron's sci-fi adventure film, Alita: Battle Angel, which topped what will go down as the worst three-day President's Day box office weekend since since 2004.
The film, starring actress Rosa Salazar as the title character in a CGI-enhanced motion-capture performance, beat expectations by delivering $27.8 million from Friday-Sunday, with expected earnings to reach about $33 million through Tuesday. That would bring the five-day totals for Alita, which opened on Thursday, to over $40 million -- about $10 million more than anticipated. The film earned estimated $56.1 million overseas, bringing its worldwide tally to $94.3 million.
The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part dropped to second place in its second week of release, grabbing $21.2 million and upward of $27 million for the long weekend.
The weekend's second debut, Rebel Wilson's comedy Isn't It Romantic, took third place with an estimated $14.2 million from Friday-Sunday and $16.5 million through Monday. That adds up to a $22-23 million six-day haul for movie, which opened on Wednesday.
What Men Want landed in fourth place, earning an estimated $10.9 million for the three-day and around $12 million for the long President's Day weekend.
Happy Death Day 2U, this week's third and final debut, collected an estimated $9.8 million for the three-day, with expectations of gobbling up just over $11 million for the four-day period. The sequel to 2017 slasher dark comedy, which bowed on Wednesday, should rack up a total of $15 million-plus in its first six days, about $5 million shy of expectations.
Fighting with My Family, produced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who also makes an appearance in the film, had an impressive debut in limited release, delivering and estimated $131,625 from four theaters. It expands nationwide next weekend.
Here are the top 10 movies from Friday through Sunday, with estimated domestic box office earnings:
1. Alita: Battle Angel, $27.8 million 2. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, $21.2 million 3. Isn’t It Romantic, $14.2 million 4. What Men Want, $10.9 million 5. Happy Death Day 2U, $9.8 million 6. Cold Pursuit, $5.965 million 7. The Upside, $5.48 million 8. Glass, $3.9 million 9. The Prodigy, $3.16 million 10. Green Book, $2.85 million
Steve Granitz/WireImage(HOLLYWOOD) -- The "special surprise guest" who will be performing the nominated song from Mary Poppins Returns at the Academy Awards is none other than Bette Midler.
The entertainment legend tweeted the news on Saturday, writing, "So, (drum roll) Ladies and Gentlemen, I will be chanteusing (that's singing) on the Oscars on Feb 24...the nominated song from Mary Poppins...'The Place Where Lost Things Go'...so excited!!"
The song, written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, was performed by Emily Blunt in the movie.
Singer and Oscar-nominated actress Midler has recorded several hit songs that have appeared in movies, such as "The Rose" and "The Wind Beneath My Wings."
As previously reported, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper will perform "Shallow" from A Star Is Born at the February 24 ceremony; Jennifer Hudson will perform "I'll Fight," from the documentary RBG. Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings will perform "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings," from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
It's not clear who will perform the final Best Original Song nominee, "All the Stars," from Black Panther.
Photo: Sean Mcglynn(NEW YORK) -- X-Files actor, director, and author David Duchovny recently released his second album, Every Third Thought, and is currently on tour overseas in support of it.
After dates in the States, he and his band played Moscow, St. Petersburg, Bucharest, Budapest, and Vienna last week.
Duchovny plays Poland tonight, followed by a Saturday night show in Berlin, and dates follow next week in the Netherlands, Manchester, and Dublin.
Duchovny tells ABC Radio of overseas audiences, "Somehow they're just really receptive. Not that they're not receptive here. But I think the mere fact that you've loaded up your gear and humped across the ocean, and came to their home to play for them -- there's a certain kind of appreciation for that."
"I never thought I'd perform for anybody, let alone record," admits the actor about exploring his musical side later in life. "So I felt no pressure at all...It was just like a dare to myself, to try to write a song, you know?"
Duchovny noted that there's a, "double edged sword," when it comes to actors trying to stretch their musical muscles.
"Without my notoriety in other fields, there's no way that I could play the size of the rooms [that I play] -- or even play at all, and I realize that," he says. However, he allows, "In many ways it doesn't bother me at all that -- let's say half the people came out because they wanted to see, you know, an actor that they like up there. I'm pretty confident that the music stands on its own....You know, it's either going to sit in your ear in a nice way or it's not." Duchovny and company wrap things up next Friday night, February 22, at London's O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire concert hall.
(L-R) Sadie Stanley, Sean Giambrone -- Disney Channel/Jeff Weddell (LOS ANGELES) -- Call me, beep me, if ya wanna reach me: Kim Possible is back!
The beloved Disney animated series is getting the live action treatment with a brand new movie premiering tonight on the Disney Channel.
Newcomer Sadie Stanley steps into the role of Kim, a young teen living a double life as a spy, and even sings a new version of the iconic theme song. In this iteration of the series, we see Kim starting high school with her best pal Ron Stoppable, played by The Goldbergs’ Sean Giambrone.
“[In] the cartoon, they're very strategic about when you see Kim struggle or see her not as perfect,” Stanley tells ABC Radio. “But in this movie, we actually do get to see her more vulnerable side. We see her struggle with her identity and she has these inner demons that she's working on and, you know, she's having a really hard time and she's not really used to that.”
Add to the mix a couple of old familiar foes and a new friend named Athena, played by Ciara Riley Wilson, who might just be a better spy than Kim, and you have a whole lot of drama for someone who is “so not the drama.”
The role of Kim Possible was originally voiced by Christy Carlson Romano, who makes a cameo appearance in the film as pop star Poppy Blu. Stanley says it was great having her on set.
“The thing that I really appreciated about her was that she never made me feel any sort of pressure, she never made me feel I needed to portray Kim in any sort of way,” Stanley says.
Kim Possible debuts tonight on the Disney Channel at 8 p.m. Disney is the parent company of ABC News.
Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox(LOS ANGELES) -- The new sci-fi movie Alita: Battle Angel takes place in the year 2563 -- indeed, the opening shot cheekily transforms the familiar 20th Century Fox logo into 26th Century Fox -- but director Robert Rodriguez kept it real.
That is to say, even though the movie takes place in a post-apocalyptic locale called Iron City, and centers on a fully computer generated heroine, Rodriguez, along with producer James Cameron and his Oscar winning Lightstorm Entertainment partner Jon Landau, strove to keep the set as real as possible.
Rather than relying on greenscreen, as many sci-fi or fantasy movie-makers do, Rodriguez looked to his lower-budget expertise, and had his crew to build actual "practical" sets and props his actors could reach out and touch.
For Rosa Salazar, who realized her character of Alita thanks to cutting-edge performance capture technology like the kind that translated Andy Serkis' performance into Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies, this on-set realism made all the difference.
"We actually did only one day of greenscreen work," she tells ABC Radio. "Every other day was done in the practical environment with practical people and practical props."
Landau tells ABC Radio, "Walking onto the streets of Iron City, where you feel it you feel the people and that energy. We wanted that to come across in the performances. And we also wanted to...allow Rosa to play scenes right there with Christoph Waltz, with Ed Skrein, with Mahershala Ali -- [to] let technology be an enabler not something that prohibits."
Incidentally, the filmmakers have created a companion exhibit called Passport to Iron City, stationed in Los Angeles, New York, and Austin, Texas. It's a fully immersive interactive experience set in Alita's world that lets fans experience the city's sights first-hand.
ABC/Paula Lobo(NEW YORK) -- Ahead of the 91st annual Academy Awards, Regina King is talking about her Oscar-nominated performance in Barry Jenkins' If Beale Street Could Talk.
While preparing for the critically-acclaimed role, King tells ABC Radio she channeled her grandmother Loretta, who King says helped her to play the loving and strong character of Sharon.
"Overall, the biggest inspiration for me for playing Sharon is my grandmother," King says. "Because she was the matriarch of our family. She was the woman that always made you feel-- no matter if you were a family member or friend-- like everything was going to be OK."
In the Oscar-nominated drama, adapted from the James Baldwin novel of the same name, King portrays the fierce and protective mother of Tish, a young woman determined to prove the innocence of her fiancé, Fonny, who's been accused of rape.
King, who also received a Golden Globe for the role, says in addition to being a wise matriarch, her grandmother was also a loving caretaker.
"When people were sick she was the one that would cook something and bring it to you, you know?" she continues. "And [I'm] just trying to embody that spirit."
The 91st Academy Awards air Sunday, February 24 at 8am ET on ABC.
Disney(LOS ANGELES) -- When it comes to their excitement over the Disney's upcoming Frozen 2, fans just can't seem to "Let It Go."
The teaser for the sequel to Disney's 2013 blockbuster attracted 116.4 million views in its first 24 hours, making it the most watched animated trailer of all time.
The studio announced the news in a message posted to the movie's official Twitter page on Thursday.
As for live-action trailer record holders, Disney/Marvel's Avengers: Endgame, which logged 289 million views in a single day back in December. It's followed by Avengers: Infinity War with 238 million hits, and Disney's The Lion King, which drew 224.6 million views.
To be fair though, the Frozen 2 trailer -- like many other movie teasers -- got a little help from the autoplay feature built into social media platforms like Facebook, which means a video will play automatically when users log onto the website.
Frozen 2, which once again features the voice talents of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad -- along with the new voices of Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown -- glides into theaters on November 22.
Disney, which also owns Marvel Studios, is the parent company of ABC News.
ABC Radio(NEW YORK) -- Harvey Weinstein's new legal team will reportedly seek a delay in the start date for his upcoming rape trial, according to Deadline.
A month after taking over as Weinstein's attorneys Ronald Sullivan, Duncan Levin, Pam Mackey and Jose Baez -- ex-lawyer for one-time Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan -- are said to be leaning toward asking New York Supreme Court Justice James Burke for more time, either just before a previously scheduled March 8 hearing, or in the courtroom itself, sources tell the entertainment website.
It's believed that prosecutors will be agreeable to putting the trial off a few weeks, to give themselves time to get up to speed, according to Deadline. The assumption is that a short delay would be preferable to risking a possible appeal from Weinstein on the grounds he had inadequate representation or ineffective assistance of counsel, should he be convicted.
The disgraced movie mogul is facing five criminal counts in New York of rape and sexual assault, all of which he's denied. A sixth count against the film producer was dismissed in October after prosecutors revealed to the defense that they'd discovered a written account from his accuser that suggested the encounter that prompted the count against him was consensual.
ABC/Lorenzo Bevilaqua(CHICAGO) -- Thursday was a big day for developments in the Jussie Smollett attack investigation, including a denial by police in Chicago of media reports that they believed the Empire star staged the whole thing.
“Media reports about the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives," a Chicago PD spokesperson said in a tweet Thursday night. "Supt Eddie Johnson has contacted @ABC7Chicago to state on the record that we have no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate.”
Some media outlets also reported that Smollett staged the attack to raise his profile because he believed he was being written off of Empire. FOX responded to that claim with a statement declaring "The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of EMPIRE is patently ridiculous. He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”
As for the investigation itself, police say two persons of interest -- one of whom has appeared on Empire -- were questioned Thursday for several hours after their homes were raided by police searching for possible evidence. Police retrieved shoes, electronic devices and other items they believe could help them determine whether the two people played any role in the assault. Neither of the persons has been charged.
The two people questioned are the same who appeared in the surveillance images that were released January 30, whom police have since identified. They're said to be U.S. citizens of Nigerian descent who recently returned to the U.S. from abroad. Gloria Schmidt, attorney for the pair, said they were detained by customs at O'Hare International Airport late Wednesday afternoon and "had no idea what was going on," including no knowledge of the attack on Smollett.
“When they first learned what happened to him they were horrified," Schmidt said. "This is someone that they know, this is someone that they work with, so they don’t want to see somebody go through that.” The attorney added that her clients were "baffled" by why they're persons of interest.
"It’s an awful thing what happened to Jussie, but it’s not my guys,” Schmidt insisted.
Smollett was also questioned again by police Thursday, with what his rep called "routine follow-up questions," adding that Smollett "continues to cooperate."
Smollett was allegedly attacked in Chicago January 29 in what police are calling a hate crime. The actor and singer says he was assaulted by two men using racial and homophobic slurs, who then poured an unknown liquid on him and placed a noose around his neck.