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Nia Long, Idina Menzel celebrate women's bonds in 'Beaches'

For Idina Menzel and Nia Long, director Garry Marshall's 1988 melodrama "Beaches," starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, is a four-hankie treat.

So why do a remake?

"Why not?" replied Long ("The Best Man Holiday"), pointing to the story's timeless elements. "It really is a film about friendship and girl power and just living your truth."

"Beaches" airs Saturday on Lifetime (8 p.m. EST). Based on the 1985 novel by Iris Rainer Dart, it's the story of childhood friends who have a falling out and are later reunited by tragedy.

Menzel ("Frozen") said re-recording the original soundtrack's "Wind Beneath My Wings" — which won Midler a Grammy for record of the year — was challenging.

"So much of it was daunting," Menzel said. "I was excited, I think, just because I have sung the song my whole life. I was a wedding/ bar mitzvah singer. I had to sing that song to every 13-year-old boy who was dancing with his mom."

While the 1988 "Beaches" was a musical with drama that focused on Midler's self-absorbed singer character, the remake from director Allison Anders ("Ring of Fire") is more of a drama with music. Long gets more time to flesh out her character than Hershey did, though the essential element of the characters' bond remains the same: Each is seriously flawed, with each making up for the other's shortcomings.

"Even in the original, their flaws were interesting to me and kind of shocking," Anders said. "Here, we could just be a little more raw with the messiness of their relationship, but also with the kind of beauty of it, too."

This is a story of sisterhood — for better or worse. But men are invited to a night at the beach, too: an invitation they may want to take seriously. "They will, if they want to keep their wives," Long said with a smile.

Added Menzel: "I think that men who are attracted to very strong, powerful women ... and are not threatened by that (will like the film). And I'll just say that with a little wink, especially the day after the inauguration."

___

Online:

http://www.mylifetime.com/movies

___

Follow AP Entertainment Writer Mike Cidoni Lennox on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CidoniLennox .

On Inauguration Day, 'House of Cards' announces May return

"House of Cards" will return in May for a fifth season.

The show's Twitter account posted a video on Inauguration Day featuring an upside-down U.S. flag in front of the U.S. Capitol. The video ends with the date May 30. An upside-down flag is a signal of distress.

The show stars Kevin Spacey as President Frank Underwood and Robin Wright as his wife, first lady Claire Underwood.

The upcoming season will be the first under new co-showrunners Melissa James Gibson and Frank Pugliese. Former showrunner Beau Willimon stepped away from the role after last season.

Review: 'Slenderman' explores online craze, attempted murder

The Slender Man craze swept the younger digerati while their unwitting elders occupied themselves online with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Only in May 2014 did the general public hear of Slender Man when news erupted that two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls had lured a friend into the woods and stabbed her 19 times.

Three years after the attack, the girls are set to be tried as adults for attempted murder.

Why did they do it? Turns out, to appease and curry favor with this Slender Man character.

Slender Man, it turned out, was all the rage for youngsters worldwide. "He" was born with an online post in June 2009 as a mysterious specter photo-shopped into everyday images of children at play. From that tantalizing start, Slender Man (also known as Slenderman or just Slender) exploded as a crowdsourced canon of belief and fantasy.

Slender Man was typically depicted as a spidery figure in a black suit with a featureless white face. He was regarded by his devotees as alternately a sinister force and an avenging angel. He flourished as a communal boogeyman and, at the same time, an abiding savior who found global expression in fan fiction, artwork and videos.

Trevor J. Blank, a digital folklorist, declares in the film, "If there's one thing the cult of Slender Man is about, it's about making it all believable, especially by remaining unverifiable. And that's really how folk belief works. Because you can't prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Slender Man is fake or real."

A film that explores the Slender Man effect, for both better and worse, would have been valuable for all non-initiates and, especially, parents.

HBO's "Beware the Slenderman" isn't that film. Airing Monday at 10 p.m. EST, it promises to examine "how an urban myth could take root in impressionable young minds, leading to an unspeakable act." But its would-be murderers are not your everyday impressionable youths. One, Anissa Weier, is found to have a delusional disorder. The other, Morgan Geyser, is diagnosed with early childhood schizophrenia.

As such, the case of Morgan and Anissa hardly seems representative of anything beyond a pair of already troubled young people who spun out tragically. For them, Slender Man just seems to have been the last straw.

The film boasts of its access to these girls, their families and abundant home video, as well as courtroom testimony and interrogation footage, all of which grinds on for the film's two bloated hours.

So sharply focused on the perpetrators is the film that it scarcely even acknowledges the victim, Payton Leutner, Morgan's friend since kindergarten, who, apart from her role as attackee, seems extraneous to the film's intended narrative. (Only late in the film are viewers even tipped to Payton's present-day condition: She did recover — physically, at least. But we learn nothing more about her.)

The film tries, but fails, to put the crime in a cultural context. Experts and other talking heads weigh in on the larger implications of the Slender Man mania. But the film prefers to savor more than probe, as if having fallen under Slender Man's spell. Not satisfied to provide an instructive sample of online Slender Man imagery, it becomes an exercise in macabre excess. Basking in Slender Man visuals and a creepy musical score, the documentary seems out to be its own horror flick.

As for the current status of Slender Man among global youth (has the craze mushroomed further or leveled off — or is it soooo over?) the viewer is told nothing.

Instead, the film festishizes a single ghastly crime for which it seems to hold Slender Man accountable.

Morgan's mother, like the girls' other parents, seeks refuge in her happy recollections. Struggling to see her daughter in the best light possible, she recalls that Morgan "has always marched to the beat of her own drum."

But is it really hers? Or was it Slender Man's? Expect no answers in this dreary documentary.

_____

EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore@ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories are available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore

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Online:

http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/beware-the-slenderman

'NCIS: Los Angeles' star Miguel Ferrer dies at 61

Miguel Ferrer, who brought stern authority to his featured role on CBS' hit "NCIS: Los Angeles" and, before that, to NBC crime drama "Crossing Jordan," has died.

           CBS said Ferrer died Thursday of cancer at his Los Angeles home. He was 61.

           He had played assistant director Owen Granger on "NCIS: Los Angeles" since 2012. Before that, he played the chief medical examiner and gruff-but-supportive boss to series star Jill Hennessy for the six seasons of "Crossing Jordan."

          A native of Santa Monica, California, Ferrer was the son of Academy Award-winning actor Jose Ferrer and singer-actress Rosemary Clooney, and a cousin of George Clooney, who issued a statement Thursday afternoon.

"Today, history will mark giant changes in our world," Clooney said, "and lost to most will be that on the same day Miguel Ferrer lost his battle to throat cancer.  But not lost to his family. Miguel made the world brighter and funnier and his passing is felt so deeply in our family that events of the day ... pale in comparison. We love you Miguel. We always will."

            In his own statement, "NCIS: Los Angeles" showrunner R. Scott Gemmill called Ferrer "a man of tremendous talent who had a powerful dramatic presence onscreen, a wicked sense of humor and a huge heart."

         Ferrer began his career in the early 1980s with guest shots on many TV series. In 1990 he scored a signature role as FBI Agent Albert Rosenfield on David Lynch's smash series "Twin Peaks." He reprised that character for the 1992 movie "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me."

He will encore yet again as Agent Rosenfield for Showtime's "Twin Peaks" revival airing this spring.

          Along with TV, Ferrer appeared in more than 40 movies, including "RoboCop," where he played the villainous Bob Morton, designer of the title character, "Iron Man 3 ," where he portrayed the vice president, and "Traffic."

Voiceover credits include "Superman: The Animated Series," ''Robot Chicken" and "American Dad!"

           Before becoming an actor, he was a successful studio musician who played drums in a variety of bands, and toured with his mother and Bing Crosby.

             Survivors include his wife Lori and sons Lukas and Rafi, in addition to brothers Gabriel and Rafael and sisters Maria and Monsita, and sister-in-law and singer Debby Boone.

Who won big at the 2017 People's Choice Awards? See the winners list

Big names from television, movies and music took the spotlight Wednesday at the 2017 People's Choice Awards in Los Angeles. 

>> PHOTOS: People's Choice Awards red carpet

>> PHOTOS: People's Choice Awards show

>> Read more trending stories

Check out the full list of winners below:

Movies

  • Favorite movie: "Finding Dory"
  • Favorite movie actor: Ryan Reynolds
  • Favorite movie actress: Jennifer Lawrence
  • Favorite action movie: "Deadpool"
  • Favorite action movie actor: Robert Downey Jr.
  • Favorite action movie actress: Margot Robbie
  • Favorite animated movie voice: Ellen DeGeneres, "Finding Dory"
  • Favorite comedic movie: "Bad Moms"
  • Favorite comedic movie actor: Kevin Hart
  • Favorite comedic movie actress: Melissa McCarthy
  • Favorite dramatic movie: "Me Before You"
  • Favorite dramatic movie actor: Tom Hanks
  • Favorite dramatic movie actress: Blake Lively
  • Favorite family movie: "Finding Dory"
  • Favorite thriller movie: "The Girl on the Train"
  • Favorite movie icon: Johnny Depp
  • Favorite year-end blockbuster: "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"

Television

  • Favorite TV show: "Outlander"
  • Favorite network TV comedy: "The Big Bang Theory"
  • Favorite comedic TV actor: Jim Parsons
  • Favorite comedic TV actress: Sofia Vergara
  • Favorite network TV drama: "Grey's Anatomy"
  • Favorite dramatic TV actor: Justin Chambers
  • Favorite dramatic TV actress: Priyanka Chopra
  • Favorite cable TV comedy: "Baby Daddy"
  • Favorite cable TV drama: "Bates Motel"
  • Favorite cable TV actor: Freddie Highmore
  • Favorite cable TV actress: Vera Farmiga
  • Favorite TV crime drama: "Criminal Minds"
  • Favorite TV crime drama actor: Mark Harmon
  • Favorite TV crime drama actress: Jennifer Lopez
  • Favorite premium drama series: "Orange Is the New Black"
  • Favorite premium comedy series: "Fuller House"
  • Favorite premium series actor: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
  • Favorite premium series actress: Sarah Jessica Parker
  • Favorite network sci-fi/fantasy TV show: "Supernatural"
  • Favorite cable sci-fi/fantasy TV show: "The Walking Dead"
  • Favorite premium sci-fi/fantasy series: "Outlander"
  • Favorite sci-fi/fantasy TV actor: Sam Heughan
  • Favorite sci-fi fantasy TV actress: Caitriona Balfe
  • Favorite competition TV show: "The Voice"
  • Favorite daytime TV host: Ellen DeGeneres
  • Favorite daytime TV hosting team: "Good Morning America"
  • Favorite late-night talk show host: Jimmy Fallon
  • Favorite animated TV show: "The Simpsons"
  • Favorite actor in a new TV series: Matt LeBlanc
  • Favorite actress in a new TV series: Kristen Bell
  • Favorite new TV comedy: "Man With a Plan"
  • Favorite new TV drama: "This Is Us"

Music

  • Favorite male artist: Justin Timberlake
  • Favorite female artist: Britney Spears
  • Favorite group: Fifth Harmony
  • Favorite breakout artist: Niall Horan
  • Favorite male country artist: Blake Shelton
  • Favorite female country artist: Carrie Underwood
  • Favorite country group: Little Big Town
  • Favorite pop artist: Britney Spears
  • Favorite hip-hop artist: G-Eazy
  • Favorite R&B artist: Rihanna
  • Favorite album: "If I'm Honest," Blake Shelton
  • Favorite song: "Can't Stop the Feeling," Justin Timberlake

Digital

  • Favorite social media celebrity: Britney Spears
  • Favorite social media star: Cameron Dallas
  • Favorite YouTube star: Lilly Singh
  • Favorite comedic collaboration: Ellen DeGeneres and Britney Spears' "Mall Mischief"
  • Favorite digital obsession: Mannequin Challenge

Nicole Richie is new kid on block in Tina Fey TV comedy

Nicole Richie is the new kid on the comedy block in an upcoming NBC workplace comedy from Tina Fey.

The reality star and jewelry designer co-stars with Andrea Martin and Horatio Sanz of "Saturday Night Live" fame in "Great News," set in a television newsroom. The show debuts April 25.

"I auditioned a few times. I had no idea what I was walking into," Richie told a TV critics gathering on Wednesday. "They all kind of knew each other and I was the new kid on the block. They welcomed me with open arms."

Fey, who serves as executive producer along with her former "30 Rock" cohorts Robert Carlock and Jack Burditt, was supportive of Richie, having watched her years ago on the reality show "The Simple Life" with her childhood friend Paris Hilton.

"She has an instant likeability," Fey said. "The kind of instincts she has you cannot teach."

Most of Richie's scenes are with John Michael Higgins. She is 35; he is 53.

"The cool part about our characters is there's such a generational gap," Richie said. "We celebrate it off-screen but it's still very much there because you are old."

Higgins responded, "It's not just that I'm old, but I'm seriously out of touch. I'm always turning to Nicole and saying, 'Here's a joke these idiots wrote and what does it mean?'"

Jennifer Lopez: NBC's 'Bye Bye Birdie' evokes stage roots

Jennifer Lopez says NBC's version of "Bye Bye Birdie" will bring the musical back to its stage roots.

The story was somewhat "watered down" in the 1963 movie in which Janet Leigh played the role originated by Chita Rivera on Broadway in 1960, Lopez told a TV critics' meeting Wednesday.

In the play, Rivera's Rose encounters resistance from her boyfriend's mother because she doesn't want her son marrying someone with Puerto Rican roots, Lopez said.

That dynamic will be part of the live TV musical airing later this year, Lopez said. So will her character's assertiveness about trying to steer her partner toward marriage, the actress said.

Lopez, who's called "Bye Bye Birdie" a childhood favorite, said it's a "great part for me to do. So here we go."

She's a busy woman, both on and off camera. Lopez stars in and is a producer for NBC's police drama "Shades of Blue" and is a producer-judge on the network's upcoming competition series, "World of Dance."

"Bye Bye Birdie Live!" is the latest in what has become an annual live-musical holiday tradition for NBC, with last December's "Hairspray Live!" the most recent production.

"Birdie" is an homage to circa-1950s rock 'n' roll mania and centers on the character Conrad Birdie, who is reminiscent of a young Elvis Presley. He was played on stage by Dick Gautier, who died last week at age 85.

ABC aired a 1995 TV-movie version starring Jason Alexander and Vanessa Williams.

Ray Liotta finds career on upswing with TV police series

Ray Liotta knows that he's firmly cemented in the public's mind as the real-life mobster he played in the 1990 movie "Goodfellas."

Even if the 62-year-old actor has moved on, working steadily over the years, he found out not everyone else has done so. "I've done a lot of independent movies that I thought were very good, but it's hard to get people to see them," he told a TV critics gathering on Wednesday.

Liotta has found his profile rising again with his role as a dirty cop opposite Jennifer Lopez on NBC's drama "Shades of Blue," which returns for its second season on March 5. It's the first extended TV role of his career.

"It reminded people that I know how to do this," Liotta said. "I've definitely had an up-and-down career, and this has definitely put me back in the public eye."

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