NEW YORK (AP) – Kevin Hart may not be hosting the Oscars this year. But is starring in a new number one movie. “The Upside” has surpassed expectations to become the nation’s top box office hit. The movie, co-starring Bryan Cranston, took in $19.6 million in ticket sales over the weekend. And it pushes “Aquaman” to second after three weeks at the top. Aquaman took in $17.3 million over the weekend and in the process, passed the $1 billion mark internationally. The Upside’s debut comes amid some Oscar-related drama over Hart. Last month, he withdrew from hosting the Academy Awards, two days after being named to the job.
“GAME OF THRONES” – FINAL SEASON TIMETABLE IS SET
NEW YORK (AP) – TV fans who have been wondering where their next “Game of Thrones” fix is coming from – need wonder no more. HBO has announced the date for the start of the eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones.” It will begin April 14. The network announced the timetable last night with the release of a one-minute, 44 second teaser, showing several of the show’s main characters traipsing among the crypts of Winterfell. Season 7 of Game of Thrones ended in August, 2017. Fans have been clamoring for news about the six-episode season that will bring the popular series to a conclusion.
R. KELLY – ATTORNEY
CHICAGO (AP) – An attorney for R. Kelly says the embattled R&B star is the victim of a TV hit piece. Steve Greenberg is stepping to the defense of the singer in the wake of renewed allegations that he has been sexually abusing young women and girls. Greenberg says R. Kelly denies the allegations against him – although he says neither he nor the singer has watched the entire series “Surviving R. Kelly.” The Lifetime project resurrected past claims of misconduct – and brought up new ones.
R. KELLY – CONCERT CANCELED
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – The fallout over the R. Kelly situation continues to spread. Officials say a concert he was to host in Springfield, Illinois has been canceled over the renewal of new sexual misconduct allegations against the singer. The state agriculture department says the application for the Spring Break Jam in April was denied last week. Authorities say they decided to pull the permit in the wake of protests outside of Kelly’s studio in Chicago last week. Kelly has been under fire since the recent airing of the Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly.” He has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls.
SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SHOW SET
NEW YORK (AP) – Just as the field of Super Bowl contenders is narrowed to four, the field of Super Bowl halftime acts has been finalized at three. The NFL says Big Boi and Travis Scott will join Maroon 5 on the halftime gig. There’s been talk that Maroon 5 was going to do the show since September and the NFL has now confirmed that. Several big-name acts have shunned requests to do halftime in support of Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players who protest during the national anthem against racial injustice. There’s an online petition urging Maroon 5 to withdraw from the gig.
BROADWAY FANS TREATED TO CAROLE KING SIGHTING
NEW YORK (AP) – Some theater fans over the weekend got to see not only the Broadway play celebrating the life of musician Carole King – but also got to see King herself. She took to the stage to do the closing song of “Beautiful” Saturday night. She has sung onstage during curtain calls during the show’s long run but has never appeared in the show itself, as she did the other night.
MEGHAN MARKLE’S HALF BROTHER ARRESTED IN OREGON
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) – There’s more drama with Meghan Markle’s kin. The half brother of the Duchess of Sussex is facing a drunken-driving charge. Police in Oregon say Thomas Wayne Markle Jr. was visibly intoxicated when he was pulled over early Friday. Authorities say his blood-alcohol content was 0.11 percent; the state limit is 0.8. Meghan Markle, a former actress, married Prince Harry last May and they are expecting their first child. Her dad says she is estranged from her family.
“90-DAY FINANCE” CONTESTANT IS ARRESTED
LAS VEGAS (AP) – One of the women featured on “90 Day Fiance” is in trouble with the law. Police in Las Vegas say Larissa Dos Santos Lima was arrested and charged with attacking her husband, Colt Johnson. Police say she was busted Friday on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge after an altercation at a home near the Vegas Strip. Police say she said her husband attacked her – but police determined she was the aggressor, Court records show Dos Santos Lima had been busted twice in Vegas, in June and November. Both cases were dismissed. TLC’s “90 Day Finance” features couples who bring potential spouses to the U.S. on visas with the aim of marrying them in three months or sending them back home.
NBC PARTS WAYS WITH MEGYN KELLY
NEW YORK (AP) – Megyn Kelly was last on the air at NBC News in October – when she created a racial stir by saying she felt it was OK for whites to wear blackface on Halloween. Now, it’s official: she won’t be back. NBC has cut ties with Kelly, in effect acknowledging its effort to convert her from a Fox News star to a morning network anchor has failed. Terms of the split weren’t announced. Kelly was in the second year of a three-year deal said to be worth more than $20 million a year.
“BIG BROTHER: CELEBRITY EDITION”
LOS ANGELES (AP) – O.J. Simpson’s former houseguest is on a show where he and others will live in a house where their every move is recorded. Kato Kaelin is in the cast of season-two of “Big Brother: Celebrity Edition.” Also aboard are Olympic champion swimmer Ryan Lochte, ex-NFL star Ricky Williams and Olympian Lolo Jones. Others cast members include Tamar Braxton, Tom Green, Lindsay Lohan’s mother Dina and ex-White House communications chief Anthony Scaramucci. The new season starts Jan. 21 and 22. Julie Chen Moonves returns as host.
JO ANDRES – OBIT
UNDATED (AP) – Filmmaker and choreographer Jo Andres has died. She was 64 and a rep for her husband, actor Steve Buscemi, confirms her death. The rep didn’t respond to questions about the date or cause of her death. Andres was married to Buscemi for more than three decades. She was best known for the 1996 short film “Black Kites,” which won several film festival awards.
by Oscar Wells Gabriel II
Follow Oscar Wells Gabriel II on Twitter at https://twitter.com/OWGabriel2