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Scholastic/Annabelle Helms(NEW YORK) -- Joanna Cole, former librarian who created the bestselling book-turned TV series The Magic School Bus, has died at 75. Her publisher, Scholastic, says the author succumbed to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Cole's 1986 creation became a hit animated series, and recently it was announced that Elizabeth Banks would play the bus' time-and-space-travelling teacher, Mrs. Frizzle, in a live-action movie based on the beloved book series. 

The series also spawned a Netflix show in 2017 called The Magic School Bus: Rides Again, with the voice of SNL cast member Kate McKinnon as Ms. Frizzle's sister, Fiona.

"Joanna Cole had the perfect touch for blending science and story," said Scholastic Chairman and CEO Dick Robinson said in a statement. "[Her] books, packed with equal parts humor and information, made science both easy to understand and fun for the hundreds of millions of children around the world who read her books and watched the award-winning television series."

The publisher noted there were more than 93 million copies of the award-winning Magic School Bus series in print in 13 countries.

Prior to her death, Joanna Cole and longtime illustrator Bruce Degen completed The Magic School Bus Explores Human Evolution, which is slated for publication in the spring of 2021.

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images(LONDON) -- Amber Heard’s former personal assistant testified at Johnny Depp’s libel trial against British tabloid The Sun that a story she told in confidence to the Aquaman actress regarding a violent sexual assault she endured was twisted by Heard for her own use.

Kate James, who worked for Heard from 2012-2015, claimed she had told Heard that she was raped at machete-point in Brazil about 25 years ago, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Speaking via video link, James said Heard had taken the incident and “twisted it into her own story and she used it for her own use.”

"I am a sexual violence survivor and that's very, very serious to take that stance if you are not one," she condemned.

Heard is due to give evidence in the case later this week.

Depp is suing News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, and the paper's executive editor, Dan Wootton, over a 2018 article that called Depp a "wife-beater."  The Pirates of the Caribbean star denies abusing Heard.

The Sun's lawyer, Sasha Wass, suggested that James had colluded with Depp to tell lies that made Heard look bad.

James insists the accusation is "simply not true."

By George Costanino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Michael Becker / FOX. © 2020 FOX MEDIA LLC(LOS ANGELES) -- Fox announced on Wednesday that it is sticking with Nick Cannon as the host of its popular reality competition series The Masked Singer, following his apology on Facebook earlier in the day.

“When we were made aware of Nick Cannon’s interview with Richard Griffin on YouTube, we immediately began a dialogue with Nick,” the network said in a statement obtained by Variety. “He is clear and remorseful that his words were wrong and lacked both understanding and context, and inadvertently promoted hate.  This was important for us to observe.  Nick has sincerely apologized, and quickly taken steps to educate himself and make amends.”

“On that basis and given a belief that this moment calls for dialogue, we will move forward with Nick and help him advance this important conversation, broadly,” the statement continues.  “Fox condemns all forms of hate directed toward any community and we will combat bigotry of any kind.”

“It’s never hate speech, you can’t be anti-Semitic when we are the Semitic people,” Cannon said on the podcast. “When we are the same people who they want to be. That’s our birthright.  We are the true Hebrews.”

In his apology, posted on Wednesday evening, Cannon said he now feels “ashamed” for those statements.

Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury hasn’t hasn’t commented yet on whether or not it plans to move forward with its new daytime talk show Nick Cannon, set to launch September 21.

Cannon also produces and appears in E!’s new reality show, Celebrity Call Center.

By George Costantino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Gotham/GC Images(LOS ANGELES) -- If you can't see Chrissy Teigen's tweets on your Twitter feed, that's because, in a surprising move on Wednesday, she made her account private.

The development came after the Bring the Funny host blocked over a million Twitter accounts propagating a conspiracy theory that she is linked to Jeffrey Epstein because she allegedly flew on one of his private jets -- which she vehemently denies. The machinations have since led to other accusations against the Chrissy's Court star.

"I have block chained over one million people, ONE MILLION people today and I am still flooded with sick psychopaths," the mother of two tweeted Wednesday.  "So, please, spare me the 'just ignore them they're just trolls.'"

The former swimsuit model also removed over 60,000 of her own tweets in response to the incessant attacks, saying she now worries for her family.

"If twitter doesn't do something about this *actually scary* harassment, I am gonna have to go," she threatened in a following tweet

Going private seems to be Teigen's last step before she abandons the platform, along with her 13 million followers, for good.

"Went private!  welcome to my club," the Cravings author congratulated late Wednesday, showing off a lock next to her verified checkmark. 

Despite privatizing her account, she's well aware that she's still under surveillance -- which she finds not that all concerning.

"There's a def few in here that I've locked in who are gonna be quiet and thing they're soooo CIA, reporting anything I say to their reddit [boards,]" She wrote in a follow up tweet. "Let them pretend to be doing something.  We all need purpose."

Teigen also mused that she would rather annoy the conspiracy theorists than leave social media, because it "is way more fun than being sad."

By Megan Stone
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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NBC/Photo Bank via Getty Images, Getty Images/Getty Images for EIF & XQ(LOS ANGELES) -- What do Kim Kardashian, former President Barack Obama, Kanye West, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates all have in common? They were just a handful of the celebrities whose Twitter accounts were hacked by Bitcoin scammers.

It went down on Wednesday when the celebrity accounts all tweeted some variation of a statement that urged followers to donate money.

On Obama's account, the since-deleted tweet contained a link to a Bitcoin wallet and read, "I am giving back to my community due to Covid-19! All Bitcoin sent to my address below will be sent back doubled. If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000! Only doing this for the next 30 minutes! Enjoy."

Not only were high profile individual accounts targeted, but so were companies like Apple, CashApp, and Uber.

Taking note of the strange posts Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warned people to "be vigilant." 

"Hey everyone - there seems to be a large Twitter attack right now targeting large accounts," she wrote. "Please be vigilant about any bitcoins scams and do NOT click on any suspicious links. Just in case, if my account tweets any bizarre links related to cryptocurrency, do NOT click on it."

As of Wednesday evening, the hackers had received over $100,000 from roughly 320 people. 

Following the incident, a Twitter spokesperson said, "We are aware of a security incident impacting accounts on Twitter. We are investigating and taking steps to fix it. We will update everyone shortly."

They later added that they believed the hackers gained access to the accounts by targeting employees with "access to internal systems" and they have taken steps to help mitigate any future risk.  

The government also issued the statement: "The U.S. Secret Service is aware of a suspected hacking incident related to social media accounts. As a matter of practice, the Secret Service does not confirm the existence or absence of ongoing investigations."

We detected what we believe to be a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 16, 2020
By Danielle Long
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Amanda Edwards/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Nick Cannon is speaking up after he was fired from ViacomCBS over his alleged "anti-Semitic" and "hateful" speech on his YouTube podcast

On Wednesday, Cannon addressed the termination in a lengthy statement on his Facebook page, while making a few claims about the "deceptive" media company that owns MTV. 

"I am deeply saddened in a moment so close to reconciliation that the powers that be, misused an important moment for us to all grow closer together and learn more about one another," he wrote.

"Instead the moment was stolen and highjacked [sic] to make an example of an outspoken black man. I am disappointed that Viacom does not understand or respect the power of the black community."

The Masked Singer host added, "They have been mistreating and robbing our community for years, underpaying talent on their biggest brands like Love & Hip Hop, all of BET programming and of course, Wild 'N Out."

In a statement to Deadline on Tuesday, ViacomCBS announced it was cutting ties with Cannon over what he described as "uncomfortable conversations" with ex-Public Enemy rapper Richard "Professor Griff" Griffin about "anti-Semitic conspiracy theories."

Nick claimed that ViacomCBS "chose to recently ban all advertisements that supported George Floyd and Breonna Taylor who we are all still seeking justice for," and said his request "to have a conversation of reconciliation and actually apologize received no response."

"But like the great Shirley Chisholm, 'I am unbossed and unbought and unbothered.'" 

Along with an apology, Nick demanded full ownership of the "billion-dollar Wild ‘N Out brand that [he] created" and calls for an end to "the hate and back-door bullying."

Meanwhile on Instagram, Diddy invited Cannon to come on over to his "Black-owned company," RevoltTV, writing, "We are for our people first! For us! By Us! Let's go!"

By Rachel George
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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iStock/LeoPatrizi(NEW YORK) -- The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into movie and TV production all over the world.  But as productions are starting to resume in places like Los Angeles and Atlanta -- with new safety measures in place -- shooting in one of the virus' hardest-hit cities, New York, has still been dark for the most part.

However, Anne del Castillo, commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, says that could change next month. 

"August is a safe bet," she tells Deadline. "I think people will really understand the need to protect crews. To shoot in a more controlled environment to begin with..."

She adds, "We have been looking for guidance from state and city health officials," noting, "It's interesting … there was this big push [initially]. 'We are going to come back.' [But] I’ve consistently told people it will have to start small, and that has been born out."

Del Castillo explained that a "mixed bag" of shooting permits have been issued to very small productions, commercials and the like, with film crews limited to around 10 people.  The city's upcoming Phase 4 COVID plan will allow for larger productions, but while it doesn't set a specific limit on the numbers of people allowed on set, the rule will be for the numbers to be 50% of what they were pre-pandemic.

Prior to the shutdown, del Castillo mentioned there were 80 shows and 300 films shooting in and around the Big Apple. Things will ramp up much more slowly this time, she allows: "No one wants to get sick no one wants to shut down so they will be pretty strict about their own guidelines when get back. They know the world is watching."

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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ABC(LOS ANGELES) -- Mad Men veteran John Hamm will be stretching his comedy chops once again, taking over Chevy Chase's role in a reboot of the Fletch movie comedy.

Based on Gregory McDonald's series of novels, the 1985 original saw Chase playing the titular role, Irwin M. "Fletch" Fletcher, an investigative reporter who constantly donned a series of disguises -- some, it should be said, that would never pass in today's politically-correct world -- to unravel the mystery surrounding a millionaire's offer to have someone kill the mogul.

Fletch was a box office hit and grossed $50.6 million domestically -- with inflation, the equivalent of just over $121 million today.  The film spawned a 1989 sequel, Fletch Lives., which earned $35.1 million, or about $73 million today.

Variety reports the Hamm film is based on the second book in McDonald's series, Confess Fletch. That adventure sees the intrepid reporter the prime suspect in a series of murders, and at the center of a cache of stolen art, and a possible kidnapping.

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Isa Foltin/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Justin Timberlake’s new movie, Palmer, is heading to Apple TV .

Apple announced Wednesday that the movie, directed by Fisher Stevens, will be joining its expanding lineup of original films.

Palmer tells the story of a former college football star named Eddie Palmer, played by Justin, who returns to his hometown after serving time in prison. Not only is he working to get his life back on track and deal with the consequences of his past, but he finds himself in charge of a young boy who’s been abandoned by his mother.

The film also stars Juno Temple, June Squibb, Alisha Wainright and Ryder Allen.

Palmer joins other recent Apple acquisitions, including Snow Blind -- with Jake Gyllenhaal attached to star -- Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, and Antoine Fuqua’s Emancipation, starring and produced by Will Smith.

A release date for Palmer has not yet been announced.

By Andrea Tuccillo
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Photo by Vestron/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey is teaming up with Lionsgate for a new dance movie, and Deadline reports “rumblings” that it could be a new film based on the 1987 classic.

Lionsgate holds distribution rights to the Dirty Dancing films, in which Grey played Frances "Baby" Houseman, a young girl who falls for her Catskills resort dance instructor, Johnny Castle, played by the late Patrick Swayze.

Dirty Dancing grossed just shy of $64 million domestically in 19 weeks, plus another $150 million globally.

A short-lived TV series of the same name followed in 1988, and a follow-up film that recycled the plot of the original movie, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, was released in 2004.

A remake of the original, directed by Kenny Ortega of the High School Musical films, aired on ABC in 2017, starring Abigail Breslin in Grey's role.

Details on the upcoming film are being kept quiet, but Deadline says sources are neither confirming nor denying the rumors.

By George Costantino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Like the casts of other classic TV shows and movies, the cast of 1993's beloved coming-of-age baseball movie The Sandlot has gotten back together via Zoom for a good cause. 

For the film's 25th anniversary, co-star Patrick Renna has re-assembled the cast, along with host and Los Angeles Dodger Justin Turner, as well as other MLB stars including former Dodgers Enrique Hernandez and Andre Ethier. Together, they talk about the making of the movie, and its impact.

And in true Sandlot fashion, there's no shortage of trash talk, to boot.

Renna, who played lovable loudmouth Ham Porter, tells ABC Audio, "[T]here's no way that we knew it would become what it's meant to so many people...[K]ind of at when the 20th anniversary hit and then the 25th, kind of took on a life of its own. It just went even more crazy, you know?"

Unlike many of his then-kid co-stars, Renna is still recognizable as his Sandlot character, and he's fine with that. "I think it's because I can't grow a beard. That's my my big problem," he jokes. "I think it's great...it's a icebreaker because there's not many people who don't like the movie. And if they don't like the movie, then I know I am. So it's perfect."

The reunion, which goes live today on Renna's YouTube channel, You're Killing Me, is raising money for the Justin Turner Foundation, which has pivoted to feeding families in the COVID-19 crisis.

Renna adds, "It's just a great way to get the guys together, have fun with MLB and also do it for a good cause. Because anything you can do these days to help people, you know?"


By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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ABC/Tyler Golden(LOS ANGELES) -- Chrissy Teigen has had enough of internet trolls, so much so that she deleted 60,000 tweets and is concerned for the safety of her family. 

The 34-year-old model recently came under fire after internet sleuths accused her of being involved in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. One Twitter user even provided a screenshot of Twitter stats which showed the steep decline in how many tweets Teigen has.

The user wrote, "Some celebrities have been VERY busy since [Ghislaine Maxwell] was arrested. @chrissyteigen why did you delete over 28,000 tweets yesterday??!! #chrissyteigen was ON the #EpsteinFlightLogs."  

Fed up with the accusations the mother of two clapped back, "I actually deleted 60,000 tweets because I cannot f**king STAND you idiots anymore and I’m worried for my family."

She continued, "Finding me talking about toddlers and tiaras in 2013 and thinking you’re some sort of f**king operative."

Teigen's response seemingly did nothing except fuel the fire because social media users kept at it and claimed that her defending herself was even more reason to believe she was guilty, which baffled the Cravings author. 

"This I don’t get. everyone thinking I’m guilty because I’m defensive," she tweeted. "You understand you are calling me a pedophile, correct?"

"If twitter doesn't do something about this *actually scary* harassment, I am gonna have to go," she threatened in a following tweet

By Danielle Long
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli are hoping a judge reconsiders their $1 million bond.  The two, who pleaded guilty for their role in the Varsity Blues college admissions cheating scheme, are requesting a reduction.

Us Weekly, who obtained the court documents filed Monday, says the married couple petitioned federal judge Nathaniel Gorton to consider "releasing their $1,000,000 bonds secured by their property, reducing their bail from $1,000,000 to $100,000, and removing the requirement that the $100,000 bonds be secured by money or property."

The couple argues that they sold their Bel Air home for $18 million and that the lien placed on their property could complicate the sale to Tinder cofounder Justin Mateen.

Loughlin and Giannulli's attorney also told the judge "there is no indication that Defendants will flee rather than face sentencing" should bond be reduced.

The legal team also claims Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen has sided with the couple over the proposal of reducing their bond from a million to $100,000.

As previously reported, both Loughlin, 55, and Giannulli, 57, were named in an ongoing admissions scandal dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues," and pleaded guilty to paying $500,000 to a sham charity enacted by William "Rick" Singer to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as rowing team recruits despite them never participating in the sport. 

The couple argued the money was a charitable donation, but have since accepted a plea deal.

Loughlin faces two months and her husband five months in jail.  Judge Gorton will either accept or reject the plea deal at their separate sentencing hearings in Boston, both set for Friday, August 21.

Giannulli will be sentenced first at 11 a.m. ET while Loughlin will stand before Judge Gorton at 2:30 p.m. ET.

By Megan Stone
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) -- Actress Naya Rivera, best known for playing Santana Lopez on the hit musical comedy Glee, accidentally drowned while swimming in Lake Piru in Southern California on July 8, the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed Tuesday.

"The circumstances and visual characteristics all indicated that the body was that of Naya Rivera and the identity has been confirmed by dental records," the medical examiner said in a statement Tuesday. "There is no indication from the investigation or examination that drugs or alcohol played a role in the decedent's death, but specimens will be submitted for toxicology testing."

The body of the 33-year-old actress was recovered in the Southern California lake Monday following a five-day search.  Rivera went missing last Wednesday after swimming in Lake Piru and never resurfacing.  She was accompanied by her 4-year-old son, who was found asleep in their rented pontoon boat.

By George Costantino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Amy Sussman/Getty Images for ABA(LOS ANGELES) -- A major shakeup is happening on Dancing with the Stars with a brand new host taking the reins from Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews, who exited the series on Monday.  

Tyra Banks will now take over their hosting duties when the series embarks on its 29th season later this year. 

The former America's Next Top Model host will help usher in a new era for DWTS by also serving as the show's executive producer in tandem with her hosting duties.

The 46-year-old says she is definitely up for the challenge and is honored to be a part of the reality dancing competition's next phase.

"I’ve been a fan of DWTS since its beginning," Banks gushed. "The fun mixed with raw emotion, seeing celebrities push past their comfort zones, the sizzling dance performances ... it’s always transported me to my days of turning it up 10 notches on the catwalk."

The supermodel credited Bergeron for helping DWTS become a juggernaut reality series and is looking forward to kicking things up a notch.

"Tom has set a powerful stage," Banks continued. "I’m excited to continue the legacy and put on my executive producer and hosting hats."

Bergeron hosted DWTS since its start in 2005 and shared cohosting duties with Andrews when she joined in 2010.

When it was announced the two would be leaving the show, ABC and BBC Studios issued a joint statement that read, "Tom Bergeron will forever be part of the Dancing with the Stars family. As we embark on a new creative direction, he departs the show with our sincerest thanks and gratitude for his trademark wit and charm that helped make this show a success."

By Megan Stone
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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