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September 24, 2019

President Trump says the transcript of his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to be released tomorrow amid growing Democratic calls for impeachment.

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that he has "authorized the release tomorrow of the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript" of his phone conversation with Zelensky, on which The Wall Street Journal reports he pushed for Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son about eight times.

Trump has admitted he did bring up Biden's son on this call, but in his tweet, he insisted the call was "totally appropriate" and that there was "NO quid pro quo!" About a week before the call, Trump had ordered military aid to Ukraine be withheld, and Democrats have accused Trump of doing so in order to a secure an investigation that would damage his potential 2020 election opponent.

Democrats had called for the release of the transcript of Trump's call, but they've also been looking to see the full complaint filed by a whistleblower about Trump's foreign communications. This complaint has been withheld from Congress, and Trump made no mention of its potential release Wednesday. The Washington Post's Phillip Bump notes that "reporting suggests that the call was only part of the pattern cited by the whistleblower" and so "releasing just this doesn't give a full picture."

August 26, 2019

Viola Davis is preparing to go high, not low, for her next TV performance.

The award-winning actress will portray former first lady Michelle Obama in the new Showtime anthology series First Ladies, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter report. This upcoming show is set to follow the lives of several first ladies, with other episodes focusing on Eleanor Roosevelt and Betty Ford. It doesn't yet have a series order, with Showtime having committed to three scripts.

Davis will be the most high-profile actress to have portrayed Michelle Obama on screen, though the former first lady was played by Tika Sumpter in the 2016 drama Southside with You, which followed Barack and Michelle Obama on their first date. Variety reports that no actress has previously played Michelle Obama on television. Earlier this year, Davis praised Obama, who she has met at the White House, calling her "the Queen" and "my image of grace and beauty and intelligence."

First Ladies will be written by Aaron Cooley and comes from Lionsgate. It doesn't yet have a premiere date. Brendan Morrow

June 19, 2019

Not one but two original animated films from Pixar will be hitting theaters within four months of one another next year.

Pixar on Wednesday announced its new animated film Soul from Up and Inside Out director Pete Docter. An official description for the film per The Hollywood Reporter reads, "Ever wonder where your passion, your dreams and your interests come from? What is it that makes you...YOU? In 2020, Pixar Animation Studios takes you on a journey from the streets of New York City to the cosmic realms to discover the answers to life's most important questions."

The animation studio also revealed the film's official logo on its Twitter account exactly one year ahead of the film's release. Disney had previously slated an untitled Pixar film for June 2019.

In recent years, Pixar has faced some criticism for its reliance on sequels over original properties. Since 2010, the studio has produced seven sequels, the most recent of which, Toy Story 4, hits theaters this weekend. Prior to 2010, Pixar had only produced a single sequel: Toy Story 2.

But the studio has still been producing plenty of original properties in recent years like Coco, and they'll follow up the latest Toy Story with two non-sequels next year. Before Soul will be Onward, which hits theaters in March; it takes place in a suburban fantasy world and follows two elf brothers, voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt. Pixar hasn't announced any movies after Soul, but producer Mark Nielsen recently told The Hollywood Reporter that following Toy Story 4, the studio's slate is currently "all original films."

Brendan Morrow

June 10, 2019

Canada is looking to follow the European Union's lead by banning single-use plastics as soon as 2021.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made this announcement on Monday, saying the government will conduct a scientific analysis to determine what "harmful" plastic products the ban should apply to, The New York Times reports.

The European Parliament last year banned 10 single-use plastics, including straws and cutlery, by 2021 in an attempt to fight pollution, CNN reports. Trudeau said Canada's actions will "closely mirror" the European Union's, and although a list of affected products wasn't provided, Trudeau cited water bottles, plastic bags, and straws as being potentially on the table, The Hill reports. An announcement on the prime minister's website also mentioned cutlery, plates, and stir sticks. CBC, which reported on the single-use plastic ban ahead of Trudeau's announcement, additionally mentions cotton swabs and balloon sticks as being affected by the ban.

Trudeau in his announcement said this move will both be good for the planet and also "result in huge economic gains," noting Canadians throw away $8 billion worth of plastic material each year.

BBC notes that some parts of Canada have already pursued plastic bans, but Trudeau on Monday argued that a "a real solution needs to be nation-wide."

“People have had enough of seeing their parks and beaches covered with plastic,” Trudeau also said. “As parents we're at a point when we take our kids to the beach and we have to search out a patch of sand that isn't littered with straws, Styrofoam or bottles. That's a problem, one that we have to do something about." Brendan Morrow

March 29, 2019

The Mueller report will be ready for release in just a few weeks, Attorney General William Barr says.

Barr in a letter to lawmakers on Friday said that he anticipates a redacted version of the Mueller report, which is "nearly 400 pages," will be released "by mid-April, if not sooner." Barr released a summary of the report's findings on Sunday, saying they showed Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not establish that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia and did not make a determination about whether Trump obstructed justice.

Barr says that he shares lawmakers' desire to make the report public and that "everyone will soon be able to read it on their own." He also says that his letter to Congress on Sunday was never meant to be an exhaustive summary of the entire report and that it was simply a summary of its principal conclusions. "I do not believe it would be in the public's interest for me to attempt to summarize the full report or to release it in serial or piecemeal fashion," he wrote.

This new letter confirms that the Mueller report will not be sent to the White House for Trump to invoke executive privilege before its public release. Read the full letter below. Brendan Morrow

March 26, 2019

Following Attorney General William Barr's summary, a version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report is expected to be made public in a few weeks.

The Justice Department expects the Mueller report on Russian interference in the 2016 election to be publicly available in "weeks, not months," CNN and NBC reported on Tuesday. Barr reportedly provided this timeline to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), per Fox News' Jake Gibson.

Barr on Sunday released his summary of Mueller's report, saying it showed that the special counsel found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. He also said Mueller did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice, but Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined there was insufficient evidence that the president did so.

Since then, Trump has celebrated the findings, while Democrats have demanded to see the full report, with committee chairs having demanded it by April 2, per NBC. CNN's Manu Raju reports the DOJ hasn't said whether it will make that deadline.

As far as whether the Justice Department will send the report to the White House before its release, CNN and NBC both report there are "no plans" to do so. Brendan Morrow

January 25, 2019

Director Joe Berlinger is about to premiere his second piece of Ted Bundy content in a single week.

Voltage Pictures on Friday released the first trailer for Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, Berlinger's new film in which Zac Efron plays the infamous serial killer. Efron stars alongside Lily Collins, who plays his girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer. For a film about a man who murdered dozens of people, it's a surprisingly lively trailer with a tone much closer in line with something like The Wolf of Wall Street than something like Se7en, and Efron's Bundy even winks at the camera at one point.

Based on the trailer, Bundy's trial, and his continued insistence of his innocence even as the audience witnesses his murders, looks to be the main focus of the film.

This trailer is being released just one day after Netflix dropped the new documentary Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, which was also directed by Berlinger and which includes previously unheard interviews with Bundy himself.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile is set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 26. No theatrical release date has been set. Check out the trailer below. Brendan Morrow

September 27, 2018

Big changes are on the horizon for the X-Men franchise.

Fox just released the first trailer for Dark Phoenix, the latest installment in the X-Men series in which the team of mutants must save one of their own, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), who is corrupted after gaining terrifying new powers. It's based on the popular Dark Phoenix Saga, a comic storyline from 1980. The cast from the previous three films returns, with Jessica Chastain also joining as a shapeshifter who serves as a mentor to Jean.

Dark Phoenix has had a bumpy road to the big screen, as it was originally set to release in November 2018 but was pushed back to go through reshoots in response to test screening feedback, per Collider.

This sequel is likely to be the conclusion of this iteration of the X-Men, even if it wasn't originally intended to be. After all, the movie franchise is currently owned by 20th Century Fox, but when the Disney purchase of Fox is finalized, these characters will be incorporated into Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe. At that point, a full reboot, complete with the recasting of every character and a reset in continuity, will almost surely be required.

It remains to be seen how conclusive Dark Phoenix itself is, seeing as it was mostly written and shot before the Disney purchase was announced, but the trailer does open with a telling song lyric: "This is the end."

Dark Phoenix hits theaters on Feb. 14, 2019. Watch the trailer below. Brendan Morrow

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