December 3, 2018

To quote Hope van Dyne: it's about damn time.

Marvel Studios is plotting its first superhero movie to center around an Asian lead — a film about Shang-Chi, a kung fu master superhero who originated in a 1973 comic, Deadline reports. ScreenCrush describes the character as essentially "Marvel's answer to Bruce Lee." No one has been signed on to helm the film, but Deadline reports that Marvel is looking for an Asian director, and Chinese-American screenwriter Dave Callaham (The Expendables, Wonder Woman 1984) has reportedly been hired for the script.

Earlier this year, Marvel's first film to center around a black lead, Black Panther, was a box office phenomenon, becoming the highest-grossing film of the year and the third-highest grossing film to ever be released in the United States. The studio's first film to center around a female lead, Captain Marvel, hits theaters in March (although Evangeline Lilly's Hope van Dyne was the co-lead of July 2018's Ant-Man and the Wasp).

It's not entirely clear how Shang-Chi will factor into Marvel's broader plans for its ongoing film franchise, which is broken up into different "phases" that each lasts several years. The untitled fourth Avengers film will conclude the third phase in May 2019, with Spider-Man: Far From Home kicking off phase four in July. No other movies have been officially announced for phase four, but Shang-Chi could very well make its way in there, as Deadline reports the studio is "fast-tracking" it. Brendan Morrow

November 25, 2018

The Camp Fire in Northern California's Butte County, which killed at least 85 people and destroyed more than 18,000 buildings, is 100 percent contained, officials said Sunday.

The fire broke out on Nov. 8, sweeping through the town of Paradise. Officials say the blaze scorched more than 153,000 acres and burned down 14,000 homes. It was the deadliest fire in California history, and there are 249 people still missing.

More than 1,000 firefighters are still on site, with most taking part in search and recovery efforts and clearing hazards from roadways. Rain in the area helped extinguish hot spots, and despite the concerns of officials, did not trigger any mudslides. Catherine Garcia

September 5, 2018

After a long wait, the third season of the hit podcast Serial is being released later this month, but it's going to be a bit different from the first two seasons.

Serial first launched in 2014 and was originally conceived as a podcast telling one story over the course of an entire season. Season one focused on the murder of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee. The show earned 40 million downloads in its first two months and became the most popular podcast ever. It also helped kickstart a wave of true crime documentaries and podcasts. The second season came out in 2015 and focused on the Army desertion of Bowe Bergdahl.

In its third season, Serial will tell multiple stories, though they are all set in the Cleveland criminal court system, Entertainment Weekly reports. Sarah Koenig will once again host, with reporter Emmanuel Dzotsi joining her. Some of the stories will only last one episode, while others will go on for several.

Koenig says she expects listeners to be surprised and potentially disturbed by the way the featured cases unfold, telling EW that "for the past year I've had this urgent feeling of wanting to kind of hold open the courthouse door, and wave people inside. Because things are happening — shocking things, fascinating things — in plain sight."

Serial's third season will premiere on Sept. 20. Two episodes will be released that day, and thereafter, new episodes will be available on Thursdays. You can listen to a trailer for the new season here. Brendan Morrow

April 19, 2018

It was the hottest ticket in Saudi Arabia — an invitation to a private screening of Black Panther in Riyadh.

On Wednesday, the first cinema to open in Saudi Arabia in more than 30 years welcomed excited moviegoers. In the 1980s, the kingdom prohibited public movie screenings, due to ultraconservative clerics labeling Western movies as sinful, but Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman lifted the ban amid a series of reforms. By 2030, Saudi Arabia plans on hosting 300 movie theaters with 2,000 screens.

Just two weeks ago, AMC signed a contract to open the inaugural theater, and public screenings are expected to start Friday. Government censors will have the final say on what moviegoers get to see — in Black Panther, a final scene featuring a kiss has been cut — and the theaters will likely be separated with women and related men sitting in the family section and single men in another. "It's a new era, a new age," moviegoer Rahaf Alhendi told The Associated Press. "It's that simple. Things are changing, progress is happening. We're opening up and we're catching up with everything that's happening in the world." Catherine Garcia

February 8, 2018

Twitter on Thursday reported its first quarterly net profit — $91 million — after it slashed expenses and its revenue beat analysts' expectations, Recode reported. The microblogging company's inability to start making money had confounded Wall Street, given its broad reach and popularity among celebrities and power brokers, including President Trump.

The company said it also expected to show profit, using generally accepted accounting principles, for the full year in 2018. Still, Twitter's user growth missed expectations, falling flat for the quarter at 330 million monthly active users, although that marked a 4 percent increase from a year earlier. A change to Apple's Safari web browser cost Twitter about 2 million active users. The company also stepped up efforts to reduce spam and automated or fake accounts, according to Reuters. Twitter shares shot up by 20 percent after the report. Harold Maass

December 13, 2017

President Trump's ex-ghost-hunting federal judicial nominee — deemed "not qualified" by the American Bar Association but nevertheless approved by Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote — will not ultimately "be moving forward" in the appointment process, NPR learned from a Trump administration official Wednesday. Brett Talley, 36, was in line for a lifetime appointment despite having never tried a case in his life, only practicing law for three years, and forgetting to mention his wife is the chief of staff to White House counsel Don McGahn and thus a potential person of interest in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into possible obstruction of justice by Trump.

The head of the judiciary committee, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), urged Trump not to proceed with the nomination of Talley on Tuesday, CNN reports. The top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), weighed in, saying: "I would hope that Chairman Grassley's request that the White House pull these nominations leads him to reconsider the breakneck speed at which the Judiciary Committee has been considering nominees."

The next step in Talley's nomination process would have been a full Senate vote, where it was unclear he had the support to be confirmed. Trump, on the other hand, had earlier directly praised Talley as being an "untold story" that "nobody wants to talk about." Jeva Lange

July 4, 2017

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) late Monday announced a budget deal with Democrats that would end a three-day shutdown of non-essential state government services.

"I'm saddened that it's three days late, but I'll sign the budget tonight," Christie said. The deal hinged on giving the state greater influence over the operation of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, a nonprofit that is the state's largest insurer. The agreement came after Christie faced a backlash over photographs showing him lounging with his family on a beach at a state park he had ordered closed under the shutdown. Christie dismissed the issue as "B.S., gotcha journalism," saying he made no apology for making a brief visit to his family at their summer house between budget meetings back in Trenton. Harold Maass

May 19, 2017

Huma Abedin has filed for divorce from her husband, Anthony Weiner, the New York Daily News reports.

On Friday, Weiner pleaded guilty to a sexting scandal involving a 15-year-old girl. "I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse," he told the court in tears.

After The Daily Mail published the news last year that Weiner exchanged sexually explicit messages with a high school sophomore whom he knew was underage, the FBI got involved, seizing Weiner's laptop. That resulted in the discovery of emails on the laptop from Hillary Clinton to Abedin, a top aide to Clinton, reopening the (ultimately unchanged) FBI investigation into Clinton's handling of classified emails — which Clinton has blamed in part for her election loss.

While Weiner and Abedin, who have a 5-year-old son, have been living separately since the most recent scandal, they were reportedly "working hard" on their marriage as recently as March. Jeva Lange

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