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Friday, April 13, 2018

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

Khloe Kardashian Gives Birth to Her First Child With Tristan Thompson. Khloe Kardashian is officially a mom! The 33-year-old Keeping Up With the Kardashians star gave birth to a baby girl, her first child with Cleveland Cavaliers player Tristan Thompson, a source confirmed to E! News on Thursday. No other details were immediately available. As fans will recall, sources revealed in September 2017 that Khloe was pregnant, but it wasn't until almost six months along her journey to baby that the 33-year-old finally announced the couple of more than a year was expecting. Kardashian shared a photo of her growing baby bump with an emotional message to her fans, calling the major life milestone her "greatest dream realized." "I am so thankful, excited, nervous, eager, overjoyed and scared all in one! But it's the best bundle of feelings I've ever felt in my life!" she penned at the time. Despite keeping a low-profile throughout the first stretch of her pregnancy with baggy ensembles and expertly-placed handbags, Khloe couldn't help but share special moments from the final few months as a mom-to-be with fans. The Good American designer's baby bump made a sparkly appearance at Kris Jenner's annual Christmas Eve bash alongside her pregnant sister, Kylie Jenner, and she continued to document her usual workout routines with Kourtney Kardashian. And in early March, Khloe was treated to a star-studded baby shower where her family and closest friends celebrated at the Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles. "My baby shower was unbelievable, magical, everything I could have dreamed of and more!!!" Khloe shared on her website. "We felt so much LOVE from everyone and it is a day I know Tristan and I will never forget. I'm still dreaming." The road to baby was not without a major bump, however, as Kardashian gave birth to her little one on the heels of an alleged cheating scandal surrounding her longtime beau. The Kardashian-Jenner family had KoKo's back as mama Kris Jenner flew to Cleveland to be there for her daughter in her time of need. Khloe's famous sisters are also expected to make the trip. An insider previously told E! News, "The whole family is especially happy for Khloe's pregnancy." And of course, Khloe's felt the love from fellow moms Kourtney and Kim Kardashian. Another source said her sisters "have been giving her a lot of pregnancy tips and Khloe calls them for every little question she has. She is really relying on her sisters through this pregnancy. Kourtney always shares her health tips." On an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Khloe touched on her years-long desire to start a family of her own and revealed she had stopped taking birth control. Soon after learning on the show that she was expecting a baby girl, Khloe expressed all her hopes for her daughter. When asked to share the trait she hopes her baby inherits from the Kardashian side of the family, Khloe responded "loyalty and family unity!" And if her baby could excel in one area of life, the reality star answered with "self-love." Congratulations to the new mom and dad! (Eonline)

Jamie Lynn Spears Gives Birth to Baby No. 2: It's a Girl! There's another little girl in Jamie Lynn Spears' life. Britney Spears' famous younger sister has given birth to her second child, she confirmed on social media Thursday. The baby girl is her first little one with husband of four years, Jamie Watson. According to People, the couple welcomed their newborn in Covington, Louisiana, where she joined the world weighing 7 lbs., 8 oz and 191/2 inches long, according to the magazine. As for her special moniker, the proud parents named their daughter Ivey Joan, her middle name in tribute to Spears' late aunt who passed away from ovarian cancer 10 years ago, she told the magazine. Little Ivey joins big sister Maddie Briann Aldridge, 9. Spears first revealed the news of her pregnancy on Christmas Eve in 2017. "Looks like we are starting off 2018 with another big milestone...sooo happy to announce that Maddie is FINALLY going to be a big sister," she wrote to fans at the time. In announcing the big news, the star also looked forward to all that was in store for her in the new year, especially after a trying 2017. "2017 was filled with some of the biggest challenges of my life, as well as some of the biggest blessings, so I made a choice to lay low this year to focus on truly becoming my best self as a person and as an artist," she explained to her followers. "During that time, I continued working on my music and telling my story, which has created some of my most honest work and I CANT wait to share that with you all very soon." As she concluded, "2018 is going to be filled with many milestones both personally and professionally. I appreciate each of you for your patience and support through it -- all. 2018 has a lot coming, so GET READY........" One milestone complete! Welcome to the world, Ivey! People was first to report the baby news. (Eonline)

Disney Star Tiffany Thornton Is Pregnant With Her Third Child. There's a baby on the way! Former Disney darling Tiffany Thornton just announced that she's expecting her third child. The actress and husband Josiah Capaci are gearing up to welcome their first child together. The devout star, best known for her role as Tawni Hart on Sonny With a Chance and its spinoff, So Random!, posted a sweet photo of her two sons, Kenneth James Carney and Bentley Cash Carney, from her marriage to reality star Chris Carney, who was killed in a tragic car crash in 2015. In the baby announcement photo, the two little boys hold up a sign over a DockATot baby lounger that said, "New best friend coming Nov. 2018." Along with the too cute photo, Tiffany, who has married to Josiah since 2017, added a bible verse, "'For this child I have prayed, and the Lord has granted the desires of my heart.' 1 Samuel 1:27." On Dec. 4, 2015, Chris was killed in a car crash on Dec. 4, 2015, along with one of his childhood friends. Chris was a probation officer and former lead singer of the band The Prom Kings. In February 2016, on the eve of Bentley's second birthday, Tiffany wrote on Instagram that she was heartbroken after realizing her "husband/love of my life/best friend in the whole world/confidant/encourager won't be there with us." She wrote on Instagram, "I know God is the supplier of peace in the midst of storms and I draw all my strength from my belief in Him, but some days are just harder than others and today was one of those days." Luckily a couple of years later, things have changed for the better... Congrats Tiffany and Josiah! (Eonline)

Sophie Turner Still Can't Believe She's Engaged to Joe Jonas. It's been about six months since Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas announced their engagement, but the Game of Thrones star still hasn't fully grasped her new relationship status. "I'm still like, Holy sh-t! I'm engaged," the 22-year-old actress told Marie Claire for the May "Fresh Faces" issue. While the Sansa Stark star said being engaged is "lovely," she doesn't equate it to the thrill she gets when she reaches a major milestone in her career. "There's this weird misconception that being married is the greatest thing that'll ever happen to you. But I've always found that my career is something I work for, and when I achieve something, there's a sense that this is the greatest thing I'll do in my life," she told the magazine. "It's lovely to be engaged. Not like I achieved anything, but I found my person, like I'd find a house that I love and want to stay in forever. There's a sense of peace that comes with finding your person. But there's a drive that comes with your career." The DNCE singer proposed to Turner in October 2017. "She said yes," Jonas wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of Turner's pear-shaped diamond sparkler. The actress shared the same photo and wrote, "I said yes." The two have already checked a few items off of their wedding planning to-do list. For instance, they've selected members of their bridal party. Maisie Williams confirmed she'll be a bridesmaid in her co-star's wedding. The couple also celebrated their upcoming nuptials with a star-studded engagement party in November. The groom's band members Cole Whittle and JinJoo Lee attended the New York bash as did his brothers Nick Jonas, Frankie Jonas and Kevin Jonas. The couple has been together since 2016. In fact, Hailee Steinfeld encouraged the romance from early on. "I mean, I will say, I did get that text from Sophie being like, 'So tell me about Joe,' and I was like, 'Go for it,'" Steinfeld said during an interview with Nova 96.9's Smallzy in January. Still, the actress said dating in the public eye hasn't always been easy. "You do feel like you're living in a fishbowl," she told Marie Claire in 2017. "It's frustrating [that] it's the most mundane things that make the news -- how boring!" To read more about Turner, as well as the other women in the issue, check out Marie Claire. (Eonline)


Charlize Theron Admits Her Kids Can Be "A--holes," but She Has "Bad Days," Too. Charlize Theron is technically a single mom -- but she doesn't see herself that way. "I knew that I would have to have my mom help me if I was going to do this as a single parent," Theron, who adopted children in 2012 and 2015, says in ELLE. "To not acknowledge her in co-parenting my children would be a lie. She has jokingly said, 'Being a grandparent is what I was born to do.' I was like, 'Yo, bitch! What about me? Was it not to raise me? I'm your kid!' But I'm so lucky to have that. I would feel pretty alone if I didn't have a partner in crime in all of this." When the 42-year-old Tully actress first became a parent, she pressured herself to be a supermom. "In the beginning, I wanted to do it all and didn't reach out for as much help as I actually needed. I felt, 'If I don't do all of this, then maybe I am a bad parent,'" she says in the May issue. "The second time, I realized I am happier and my kids are happier if I ask for more help. People think I have a staff of 40, but I don't. I have one nanny and my mom up the street and amazing friends and family. I call them my village. But I've learned to balance things out more. I look at my fuel gauge and think, 'Is it full or is it empty?' Then it's up to me to decide how to fill that tank back up or just remain empty. But what can you do on an empty tank?" Long before she welcomed a son and a daughter, Theron knew she would adopt her children. "When I first filed, my mom showed me a letter I'd written when I was little; I asked if we could go to the orphanage. In South Africa, orphanages were everywhere, and I wanted a brother or sister. I was always aware that there are so many children in this world who don't have families. Adoption is a very personal thing -- I know people whom I love dearly who don't feel that they could raise another child as their own. I respect that. But for me -- and I can't be the only person out there -- I never saw a difference in raising an adopted child versus my own biological child. I don't feel like I'm missing out on something. This was always my first choice, even when I was in a relationship. I was very honest with my partners that I was open to having my own biological kids but that adoption had to be a part of my life," Theron reveals. "I felt that strongly about it." When Theron was in a relationship with Stuart Townsend, she was up front about her desire to start a family one day. "My twenties were everything I wanted them to be. I had a partner. He was an adventurer, and I was an adventurer. We would pack backpacks, go to a country for five weeks, climb mountains, stay in people's homes. I partied. I did it all. We didn't have a care in the world. Then, when I ended that relationship, I had a strong need to be a mom. It was all-consuming," the actress recalls. "I didn't need to travel or go out constantly or drink anymore." "But I struggled mentally through the adoption process," the actress tells ELLE. "Some of the lowest points in my life were dealing with the first time I filed; it really took an emotional toll. There were many situations that didn't work out, and you'd get attached and have all your hopes up and then just get crushed. So I was in a different mind space. I had different needs." Now, life is nearly perfect. "I have never loved an age more than my forties. Forty to me feels like Goldilocks," she admits. "Like I've finally found the perfect-size bed, the perfect-size mug..." Becoming a mom has given Theron "perspective," she adds. "I just see things clearer. A child in my twenties was the scariest idea I could think of. When I got to my thirties, I was so ready. But there's a moment where you're like, 'Oh God, I hope once I have my kids, I'm still going to want to be a parent this much.' I have bad days. I make mistakes. Going through the tantrum stages when they're such little a--holes. And they choose the worst moments. It's a lot for one person. But after six years of having my two nuggets, there's not a day when I wish I hadn't done this." Theron doesn't presume to have all the answers, but she's doing the best she can. "I've had a lot of moms come up to me and tell me I'm screwing everything up. Both my kids grew up on formula, and I remember a mom saying to me, 'You should really buy breast milk.' And I was like, 'What?!' That's a line you just don't cross. My oldest just started big school. She's not even there a full year. So I've not gotten into the whole [judgmental moms at] school thing yet," Theron tells the magazine. "The good thing about me is, I've never given a s--t about what people think. That's the only quality I have that has probably helped me in being a mother." For more from Theron, pick up the May issue of ELLE, on newsstands Apr. 24. (Eonline)

When Lady Antebellum hits the road starting this July for their Summer Plays on Tour, one familiar face will be absent -- but for an important reason. In this week's issue of PEOPLE, Hillary Scott reveals that husband Chris Tyrrell, the band's drummer, will "be holding it down as Dad, hero" at home "for the time being" while she performs with bandmates Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley. "We feel at complete peace with the decision," says Scott, who welcomed identical twin girls Betsy Mack and Emory JoAnn on Jan. 29 and also shares 41/2-year-old daughter Eisele Kaye with Tyrrell. "We're both equipping each other to do exactly what we're supposed to be doing right now," adds the 32-year-old singer. "We just came to that agreement together. It was one of the easiest decisions we've ever made and the peace that we've felt since we made it has just been continual proof of it being the right call." "It'll hopefully be restful and efficient -- I'm thinking about when we have writers out on the road to write for the next record," she continues, admitting it will "be an adjustment" but she's "hoping to enjoy" the experience. "I'll be able to be fully present and focused and hopefully get a lot of fun writing done." Tyrrell, 31, tells PEOPLE he's "looking forward to it. I've been a bandmate, employee, husband and dad, so I'm okay removing a hat." He jokingly adds, "Besides, when you looked at whether the band could do without me or her, there wasn't much question!" Scott explains that as working parents who are on the road at specific points, she and her husband knew they "had a window" to have more children. "I remember telling my bandmates towards the end of that summer of '16 -- we were talking about making the record Heart Break," she says. "And I just said, 'I'm really committed to making and touring this album, but then we're going to start trying again.' " "We felt at peace with that timing of, 'Make the record, tour the record, and then we want to be expanding our family,'" Scott continues. "Knowing all the while that when the tour started we would start trying, just because the slower times in what we do are fall and winter. So we started trying then, and it really -- by the grace of God -- was not a long process. I mean, it happened quick." After becoming pregnant with her twins following a miscarriage she suffered previously, the "Need You Now" singer recalls that she "slept a lot" and had "double the fatigue" of when she was pregnant before. "I was sick in the beginning and it was always right around showtime so I had to take anti-nausea medicine that my doctor prescribed me, which thank the Lord for that stuff," she jokes. Adds Scott of her performances during the band's 2017 You Look Good Tour to support Heart Break, "I didn't know if I would've been able to make a handful of shows because there just were some close calls." Self-admittedly "fiercely independent," Scott tells PEOPLE one big lesson she has learned in being a mom of three is how to ask for help without feeling bad about it. "We just needed a village, and I've had a postpartum doula since the girls were 2 weeks old. She's been an absolute godsend, and then night nurses who, literally, it's like they've become a part of our family," she raves. "[I] just want to advocate for women who are embarking on motherhood, whether it be the first time or the second time and they get two and three at once... " "To be able to feel equipped and to feel like they have that support," says Scott. "Not just the emotional support of a text from a friend going, 'You got this, mom,' but the physical, 'I'm in your house; I know I can't help you nurse your baby but what can I do otherwise?' That's one thing that I feel is just this really unhealthy, unrealistic level of pressure we are put [under]." (People)

Gwyneth Paltrow has said she's looking forward to her "first" wedding to producer Brad Falchuk, because she eloped with ex-husband, rocker Chris Martin. And it seems it will include a wild VIP bachelorette party this weekend in Mexico. Sources exclusively told Page Six on Wednesday that Paltrow's pals -- including Cameron Diaz and designer Stella McCartney -- were headed south of the border for the bash before Paltrow and Falchuck get hitched. A source said that Diaz booked a private jet for 12 guests to head down to the party. (We can only imagine the activities, as Paltrow's site Goop is famous for suggesting vagina steams and sex-boosting jade eggs.) Earlier this year, Paltrow told People of the nuptials: "I'm excited about everything! I've never had a wedding before .?.?. So even though I'm 45, I sort of feel like a 21-year-old." She added of the planning: "It's kind of fun to talk about with my girlfriends. They send me pictures of dresses -- they're as excited about it as I am." Paltrow's famous friends include Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore, Beyonce and Kate Hudson. Reps did not get back to us. Paltrow and Falchuck announced that they were engaged in a "Sex & Love" issue of her Goop magazine. (Page Six)

Bella Thorne Says She Can Earn $65,000 Per Instagram Post. Ka-Ching! That was the sound of Bella Thorne earning more than twice the national median salary by posting on Instagram. In recent years, more and more celebs have been making serious money by promoting brands on social media. In the short documentary Inside the Life of Bella Thorne, produced for Vogue and Broadly, the 20-year-old actress and former Disney Channel star reveals what she can earn for a single post. 'For grid posting, it's 65 grand a post," Thorne says, appearing to reference the Instagram grid, or feed. "For story posting, it's anywhere from 10 to 20K, and for Snapchat, it's the same as Insta-Story." "Instagram is 100 percent a job to me," Thorne continues. "I started out at 18 with literally $200 in my bank account and I bought this house a year later, a year and a half. That's all from social media." In 2016, at age 19, Thorne bought a lavish home in the Los Angeles area for more than $2 million. "Facebook has around 10 million followers, but that's one that if you wanted to do a deal where you're like, 'Hey give us less here and we'll pay you more for this post and then also on Facebook,' you know, I'm down to do something like that too," Thorne says. Thorne has more than 17.3 million followers on Instagram, more than 9.8 million in Facebook and almost 7 million on Twitter. Thorne was 16 when the Disney Channel series Shake It Up!, the show that made her famous, ended its three-season run. She continued her acting career and currently had a lead role on the Freeform series Famous in Love. (Eonline)

Khloe Kardashian Probably Won't Leave Tristan Thompson, Source Says: 'She's a Hopeless Romantic'. As they prepare to welcome a child together in the wake of ongoing cheating allegations, Khloe Kardashian and Tristan Thompson's future together is unclear. "This is supposed to be the most joyous time in her life and it's been ruined and that's probably what hurts most of all," a family source tells PEOPLE about Kardashian, 33, who is due with her first child -- a daughter -- with Thompson, 27, any day now. On Tuesday, photos and videos surfaced of the NBA player allegedly getting close to an unidentified woman at an N.Y.C. lounge over the weekend. TMZ also posted footage recorded in October 2017 allegedly depicting Thompson kissing one woman while a different woman groped him at the Darna hookah lounge outside of Washington D.C. Despite the allegations of infidelity -- a source previously told PEOPLE that Thompson is "a serial cheater" -- the insider says the mother-to-be is likely to stay with Thompson. "She's a hopeless romantic and she'll try to make this work. She tried forever to make it work with Lamar [Odom]. She's having a child with Tristan, and she's going to try to rebuild this," the source says. Adds the source: "Khloe could probably convince herself to get over the fact that he maybe, kind of, sort of, hooked up with some groupie while out on the road. But being so indiscreet about it and letting it get splashed all over the place and having it humiliate her? That's actually even worse." Prior to meeting Thompson, Kardashian was in a nearly eight-year relationship with ex-husband Odom. They wed on Sept. 27, 2009 -- one month to the day after they met (and nine days after getting engaged) -- but the marriage fell apart after the former basketball player's cheating scandal and drug relapse, which led Kardashian to file for divorce in 2013. "Khloe spent so much time with Lamar just excusing away the obvious, turning a blind eye to what was so clearly happening, that it would be impossible for her not to feel like a fool if she made the same sort of mistakes again and just ignored that N.Y.C footage [of Thompson[. That's not the way a man deeply in love with the mother of his child behaves. It's just not. And Khloe can't lie to herself and tell herself otherwise," the source says. "The thing about Khloe, though, is she's a big believer in knowing someone's back story and understanding how it motivates them. With Lamar, her heart broke for everything he'd been through in the past, losing his mom and his grandma and his baby boy, and she used that as a justification for why he struggled so much with addiction and cheating. She's got a big heart -- too big sometimes," the source shares. Thompson and Kardashian began dating in September 2016, when his ex-girlfriend Jordan Craig was still pregnant with Thompson's first child, 16-month-old son Prince Oliver. Neither has addressed whether he met Kardashian while still in a relationship with Craig. (People)

Khloe Kardashian won't let Tristan Thompson's cheating ways deny him of the opportunity to witness the birth of his daughter ... TMZ has learned. Sources familiar with the situation tell us Khloe's devastated by the recent revelations but understands the importance of the birth in the lives of everyone involved. We're told Khloe doesn't want her personal feelings to ruin one of the most important moments in a person's life ... the birth of a child. We're told Khloe's putting her feelings on hold, realizing for better or worse Tristan is the father of their child and knowing a bond between father and child can be cemented in the delivery room. What we don't know ... if Tristan is game to participate or if any new allegations or actions may surface to sway Khloe's opinion. TMZ broke the story ... Khloe started having early contractions Wednesday just hours after videos surfaced of Tristan hooking up with other women. As we reported, Kris flew to Cleveland early Wednesday morning to support Khloe, and Kim and other family and friends plan to be there by Friday. (TMZ)

Roseanne Star Emma Kenney Enters Treatment for Personal ''Battles.'' Emma Kenney is taking back control of her health. The 18-year-old actress, who currently stars on the reboot of Roseanne, tells E! News she is seeking professional help for issues related to personal "battles." As she describes, "I was running with a really fast crowd. I was being naive and very immature, and I was doing things I should not be doing because it was illegal and I'm not 21." "It wasn't healthy, and it was making me feel even worse -- anxious and depressed," Kenney explains. "It was just a slippery slope that I did not want to go down. And I knew that I needed to stop it." Despite not explicitly disclosing what she'll receive treatment for, the teen is hopeful for a brighter future. "I want to be the healthiest, best Emma that I can be, and I know that by going to treatment that's what's going to happen, and I'm going to continue on that positive road," Kenney adds. "I just want to send a message to my fans saying that it's OK to admit that you need help, and it doesn't make you weak. I'm going to come out on the other side, the True Emma that I've always been." In a tweet posted Monday, the young starlet said she was taking a break from social media and Los Angeles "for a minute." She added, "This sounds so cliche but this town/industry can really get to you. going to re-find my peace happiness." Emma is expected to start filming the next season of Shameless in May, followed by the second season of the Roseanne revival. (Eonline)

Stan Lee is mad as hell over reports he's being abused and taken advantage of, because he says they're completely untrue ... and he's going to do whatever it takes to set the record straight. The legendary Marvel creator tells TMZ ... material recently published about him and his friends -- specifically Keya Morgan -- is nothing but slander. Lee says the claims are "hateful and harmful" and he can't even believe some of the accusations. Stan's adamant he's not being mistreated and suggests someone might have a personal vendetta. In any event, he's ready to take legal action against any media outlets wrongly trashing him. As we've reported ... Lee's endured several rough months. He's been dealing with a bizarre blood heist, millions of dollars disappearing, pneumonia, and the death of his wife. The man's fed up. 'Nuff said. (TMZ)

Demi Lovato Responds to Fan Who Questioned Her 6-Year Sobriety. Demi Lovato is putting any and all speculation to rest. Just last week, the "Sorry Not Sorry" singer enjoyed an evening out in Hollywood to celebrate Hayley Kiyoko's new album being released. Joined by fellow Disney Channel stars Cole Sprouse, Matthew Scott Montgomery, Debby Ryan and Alyson Stoner, the reunion quickly went viral with fans celebrating the Hollywood actors all together again. Soon after, however, some began to examine the reunion photos with some questioning what Demi was holding -- and drinking -- during the celebration. In screenshots first obtained by BuzzFeed, one follower started questioning what was really in Demi's glass. "@DDLovato Bishh I'm not hating on you or tryna put you on blast but frs frs can you at least explain this lmaooo," she wrote. "Also at all of you who will prolly get defensive and pissed, I'm not tryna question Demi's sobriety bc I have a lot of respect for her. It's just it seems weird." Demi would reply, "I don't have to defend anything but it was red bull." Case closed folks! Just last month, the Grammy nominee marked six years of sobriety. She was able to celebrate the milestone during the Tell Me You Love Me tour with DJ Khaled. "Yesterday was a really big day for me," Demi told the sold-out New York City crowd. "Yesterday, six years ago, I was drinking vodka out of a Sprite bottle at nine in the morning, throwing up in the car and I just remember thinking, 'This is no longer cute. This is no longer fun. And I'm just like my dad.' So I made changes in my life." She continued, "The reason why I became so open about my story is because I know that there are people here tonight that need to ask for help and I want them to know that it's OK. Mental health is something that we all need to talk about and we need to take the stigma away from it. So let's raise the awareness. Let's let everybody know it's OK to have a mental illness and addiction problem." (Eonline)

CW Star Caity Lotz Fights Back at Online Body Shamers With Empowering Message. Listen up because Caity Lotz has something to say. The CW star had a message to deliver to her more than 1 million social media followers on Wednesday. Posing in a green bikini top and sarong, Lotz snapped a selfie and posted it online along with a lengthy caption aimed at digital body critics. "Some people think my body is too muscular, too skinny, too boyish. Some people will think it's beautiful, powerful, sexy. Do I struggle with accepting my body type? Umm yes," she explained. "Would I like having curves like @sofiavergara? Umm yes, but if we all looked the same that would be boring. Like painting the sunset all in one color." Instead, the 31-year-old star used the metaphor to prove there is no such thing as one way to look nor one body to have. "All the 'right' curves in all the 'right' places? There is no right and wrong when it comes to the body God has given you," she continued. "I see a lot of online body shaming, if someone's body is not to your liking...keep it to yourself. It's not your body and making people feel insecure won't help them and it definitely won't help you." This isn't the first time Lotz has tackled the subject. Last year, she showed off her strong physique while giving a digital middle finger to her childhood bullies. "When I was young I used to get called a boy & made fun of for being so muscular. It made me feel insecure about my body. Now I get to be like I'm a superhero," she tweeted at the time, referencing her role as The White Canary. "Every1 has different body types the goal of working out isn't 2b something ur not, it's to feel good & be healthy." (Eonline)

Alex Rodriguez Fiercely Denies Threatening to Cut Child Support Payments. According to Alex Rodriguez, his daughters are his number one priority "and always will be." The former baseball star drove the point home while responding to a recent report from The New York Daily News claiming he has been threatening to cut his monthly child support payments for his two daughters to "send a message" to his ex-brother-in-law in their ongoing legal battle. Rodriguez shares two daughters, Natasha, 13, and Ella, 9, with ex-wife Cynthia Scurtis. Several years ago, Cynthia's younger brother, Constantine Scurtis, filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the baseball pro to accuse Rodriguez of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, civil conspiracy among other claims involving their once-shared real estate company. "I have an email from [Rodriguez] telling me that he's basically making me pay for not stopping you and [not] telling you that I hate you," Cynthia allegedly texted to her brother, according to the new New York Daily News report. In a statement to E! News, Rodriguez hit back against the allegations. "I have always paid far more than the maximum in child support and that will never change. My daughters are my number 1 priority and always will be," he said. "It's highly offensive to me that my former brother in law, who has been trying to pursue a frivolous case against me for 4 years and has gotten absolutely nowhere with it in court, is misrepresenting my relationship with my daughters to manipulate the public's opinion. This is a classic tale of somebody trying to use the media against me for their own gain." "I may have not been perfect in the past, but I am very proud of who I am, and how I live my life now and it is important to me that my daughters feel the same way," he continued in the statement. "I wouldn't even respond to these false accusations if not for my daughters, because I would never want them to think this is true." As the sports broadcaster concluded, "Unfortunately, however, there are some people who would do anything for money, except work." (Eonline)

Jesse Williams's estranged wife has gone to court asking for more money to support their 2 kids ... TMZ has learned. Aryn Drake-Lee filed docs claiming the $50,695 per month Jesse's been ordered to fork over in spousal support falls way short of covering expenses for their kids, ages 4 and 2. In the docs, Aryn says she's paying 100% of the kids' bills right now ... including clothes, food, traveling outside L.A. to visit family, swimming and dance lessons, child care and tuition. Aryn says that pushes expenses to $73,369 per month. Aryn claims Jesse can afford it since he makes at least $250k per "Grey's Anatomy" episode, so she wants to be reimbursed for what she's had to cover so far. On top of that ... Aryn wants $200k to cover her legal fees. We broke the story, Jesse agreed to front her $60k for her lawyer's fees ... but clearly that ain't cutting it for Aryn. (TMZ)

As reported last November, following several sexual harassment allegations against filmmaker and producer Brett Ratner, Warner Bros. is no longer in business with his co-financing entity RatPac-Dune Entertainment, which co-financed more than 70 titles amounting to a reported $450 million in funding across such movies as "The Lego Movie," "Gravity," "American Sniper," "Batman v. Superman" and more. New Line's "Rampage," opening Friday, is the last of those titles being co-financed by RatPac per the news six months ago. The passive slate financing deal was scheduled to end in March, and it was promptly decided that Ratner's first look deal would not be renewed. Ratner started RatPac with James Packer, the latter of whom exited after a bad run at Warner Bros., and was replaced by Len Blavatnik. We're informed that the new financing entity under Blavatnik will no longer be involved with Warner Bros. moving forward. Whether another slate co-financier is needed at the studio will be determined should the AT&T and Time Warner merger occur. Following the accusations last fall, Ratner said, "In light of the allegations being made, I am choosing to personally step away from all Warner Bros.-related activities. I don't want to have any possible negative impact to the studio until these personal issues are resolved." Ratner moved off the studio lot, and his producing credit on the upcoming "Goldfinch" project was also scrubbed. (Page Six)

THE OTHER STUFF . . .

Neil Patrick Harris Spends $172,500 on Disneyland Haunted Mansion Painting. Neil Patrick Harris outed himself as a big spender Wednesday night. In 2016, Van Eaton Galleries' "Souvenirs of Disneyland" auction raked in $1.2 million -- $172,500 of which came from Harris, who bid on an original stretching portrait from the park's Haunted Mansion attraction. The actor appeared on The Late Late Show, where he admitted to being a major memorabilia collector. "I love stuff from the Haunted Mansion. The Haunted Mansion in Disney is, like, my favorite thing ever," said Harris, who was on the show to promote Season 2 of A Series of Unfortunate Events. "It just fits into my Scooby-Doo/Murder Mystery wheelhouse. And so I try and acquire as many things that are from the actual Haunted Mansion as possible." "There was an auction in L.A. a couple years ago, and I bid on -- and won -- one of those Haunted Mansion stretching portraits. You know in the first room when you go in and they say, 'Is this haunted room actually stretching or is it your imagination?' I got one of the original stretching portraits. It's a bearded guy and he's in boxer shorts and he's standing on a TNT barrel!" he said. "I just wanted to get it and I spent way too much money on it, because I was just bidding on an app. I won't say how much, but it was way too much." (Unbeknownst to Harris, The Chicago Tribune reported on the auction in 2016, so...his secret is out.) "My friend Chris Hardwick -- he's amazing! -- texted me the next day and said, 'Dude, you got the Haunted Mansion stretching portrait? That's amazing. I was bidding against you.' I said, 'Really? You were?' He said, 'Yeah, but I stopped because it was getting crazy expensive.' It turns out I was bidding against one of the wealthiest people in the world -- and I still wanted it bad enough that I ended up getting it." Harris declined to name the other bidder, but he implied it was Amazon's Jeff Bezos. "I don't want to say his name," he explained, "because I still want free two-day Prime shipping when boxes come to my house." Moreover, he insisted, "I don't want to get in a fight with anybody!" Coincidentally, Hardwick got his own stretching portrait and posted about it on Instagram earlier in the day. "To say this was a bucket list item is an understatement. If you know what this is, the answer is yes, it's real. Disneyland's Haunted Mansion opened in 1969 and for the first few years, the paintings in the first 'is this haunted room actually STRETCHING' room were hand painted. After a while, though, they realized that the roller marks from the stretching gag were doing considerable damage to the paintings so in 1972 they started screen printing them instead. A handful of these original painted ones pop up at auction now and then and they always get snatched up quickly for unhealthy amounts of money. Fortunately, a dealer I get a lot of Disney stuff from got his hands on one and I was able to get it. It is in PRISTINE condition. I'm going to frame it with UV coated museum quality non-reflective glass, because now I need to protect it!!! Even though it looks like I'm leaning on the painting, I'm holding my shoulders off our floor and I have nitrile gloves on behind my head. I just wanted to give you an idea of the size of it, so in this case I'm a human banana for scale. I love this piece so damn much," he said. "The Jack Skellington pj pants were a happy bonus. Yes, I wear them to bed almost every night." Hardwick also spoke about his stretching portrait on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Wednesday. "My wife and I love Disney stuff, and this is one of the original Disney Haunted Mansion paintings -- like hand-painted!" Hardwick joked he "knows a guy" who hooked him up. "There's a guy who goes in the back alley and opens his coat." He insisted it wasn't stolen from the park in Anaheim, Calif., promising Jimmy Kimmel, "They weren't going to use it for anything, so I had to have it!" Finding the stretching portrait was like finding the "holy grail," Hardwick added. (Eonline)

The recipe for Alessandra Ambrosio's perfect birthday? Cake, candles and cuddles from her two children. The Victoria's Secret Angel -- who announced that she would be permanently taking off her wings after the brand's 2017 runway show -- shared an adorable photo with daughter Anja, 9, and son Noah, 5, on her 37th birthday, Wednesday. "Celebrating with my loves ?????," Ambrosio captioned the shot, in which she held her son while her daughter showed off a sparkler to the camera. The model shares her children with businessman Jamie Mazur, who also posted a birthday tribute featuring the little ones. "Happy birthday to the love of my life who gave me the two best gifts a man can ever dream of," Mazur captioned a shot of the trio with their arms outspread on the beach. "May all your dreams come true and more. ? FOREVER" Ambrosio recently took her kids on the ultimate spring break in Hawaii, documenting their tropical vacation from sunsets on the beach to snacking on ice cream. The model is a pro at balancing motherhood with her high-profile career, but she says being a parent is always her top priority. "[My kids] always come first, so I try to spend as much time as possible with them," she told Glamour in 2015. "Sometimes that means rearranging my schedule or bringing them on set." (People)

A 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl's video appeal to stop bullying is getting support from around the world, including from "The Wolverine" actor Hugh Jackman. The video first appeared on Cassidy Warner's Facebook page last month, when the fourth-grader held up signs describing her experience at her elementary school. Cassidy says she's been bullied since first grade. She says she's been spat on, been hit and had her hair pulled. She says whenever she sits at a lunch table other kids leave. Jackman on Wednesday posted a supportive message to Cassidy, saying he wants her to know she's "loved, special and smart." Cassidy's mother reposted the video after her Facebook account was shut down this month. Her father tells the Scranton Times-Tribune that John Adams Elementary School has changed her lunch period and recess in response. (Page Six)

Hollywood Medium Tyler Henry WARNED Khloe Kardashian About Tristan Thompson Ahead Of Cheating Allegations! Khloe Kardashian was WARNED about Tristan Thompson. And, no, we're not talking about the up with another NBA baller. Rather, we're referring to the daunting message the KUWTK starlet got from the beyond. Lost?? In case you missed it, back in June, Miz Kardashian sat down with clairvoyant Tyler Henry and discussed everything from cancer scares to her love life. At the time of the reading, Khloe was happily dating Tristan, but the Hollywood Medium kept picking up on messages about the Revenge Body host's "next boyfriend." Specifically, Tyler advised Khloe that a suitor with an unusual "M" name should be avoided at all costs. He explained: "I don't care for [them]. This person is going to be romantically interested. Just say no, that's a big red X." Hmmm, sounds like Mr. Henry was on to something!! Amid all of the cheating allegations against Tristan, French Montana started following Khloe on Instagram. Oh snap!! We'd confidently categorize French Montana as having an unusual "M" name!! However, Tyler didn't stop there with warnings about Khloe's romantic life. When asked by Kris Jenner's daughter to zero in on Thompson, Tyler may not have given the answer the 33-year-old was looking for. The spiritualist continued: "I really feel like love life is not in an area that's in its peak [right now]. Career life is at its peak. Two people's schedules would not be ideal for a relationship... I see a lot of travel to an excessive extent. So long as we can make sure distance is not an issue, perfect. I'm not seeing anything that I'm immediately concerned about." Distance clearly became an issue for Tristan and Khloe, as the Cleveland Cavaliers player was allegedly caught with side chicks all over the country. Tsk, tsk! (Perez Hilton)

Tristan Thompson Returns to Basketball Amid Khloe Kardashian Drama. The game must go on. After Tristan Thompson faced allegations and reports of being unfaithful to Khloe Kardashian, the Cleveland Cavaliers player got to work Wednesday night on the basketball court. When the clock struck 8 p.m. EST, the athlete and his team faced the New York Knicks in their final home game of the regular season. As the game broadcast on FOX Sports Ohio, fans were able to celebrate Viewer Appreciation Night where they just so happened to have the chance to win a basketball signed by Tristan. As for those wondering if all the drama affected his play, it's too early to tell. As of halftime, Cleveland was losing 57-37 even after Tristan played for much of the second quarter. According to multiple attendees, however, Tristan was booed when shown on the big screen. The game must go on. After Tristan Thompson faced allegations and reports of being unfaithful to Khloe Kardashian, the Cleveland Cavaliers player got to work Wednesday night on the basketball court. When the clock struck 8 p.m. EST, the athlete and his team faced the New York Knicks in their final home game of the regular season. As the game broadcast on FOX Sports Ohio, fans were able to celebrate Viewer Appreciation Night where they just so happened to have the chance to win a basketball signed by Tristan. As for those wondering if all the drama affected his play, it's too early to tell. As of halftime, Cleveland was losing 57-37 even after Tristan played for much of the second quarter. According to multiple attendees, however, Tristan was booed when shown on the big screen. UPDATE: After the final buzzer, Cleveland ended up losing to New York with a score of 110-98. No word on if the booing or signs in support of Khloe Kardashian affected Tristan Thompson's play. (Eonline)

Tristan Thompson avoided major backlash from fans for cheating on Khloe Kardashian by checking into Wednesday night's Cavs game under the radar ... but he got a fair share of boos later. The power forward checked in off the bench near the end of the 1st quarter during a timeout ... so he was able to take the court without the PA announcer saying his name. Good start for Tristan. However, our sources at the game say boos rained down later when he was shown on screen, and more came when he got called for a couple personal fouls. And, as if Tristan's first game in wake of his cheating scandal isn't awkward enough ... the Cavs also reportedly gave away a basketball signed by Thompson for fan appreciation night. We broke the story ... Tristan was caught on surveillance video cheating on Khloe with 2 chicks at a hookah lounge near D.C. back in October -- making out, motorboating, and getting his junk grabbed. Khloe was 3 months pregnant at the time, and we had just broken news of her being pregnant with Tristan's baby about a week before. Clearly, some fans in The Land aren't down with their player's behavior. (TMZ)

Why Sharon Osbourne didn't get along with Ashton Kutcher. Sharon Osbourne has revealed which Hollywood A-lister she "didn't get on with at all." The 65-year-old has met many of the world's biggest stars thanks to her role on "The Talk," a show she's been appearing on since it started back in 2010. But as she told Larry King, there's one celebrity in particular who came on the show and left a very bad impression. "We've had a couple of meanies," she told King. "Everybody's take is different. Somebody can come in and I can go, 'That was amazing,' and the other girls will go, 'Do you think?' "But I didn't get on with one guy, that Ashton Kutcher. Didn't get on with him at all." When asked why she clashed with Kutcher, Osbourne admitted that she was partly to blame because she mispronounced the actor's name during his introduction. "Bad attitude, for me," she said about the star. "Because I got his name wrong so he was pissed. And he comes on with an attitude. "He goes, 'What have you done in this industry?' And I was like, 'Kid, don't start with me because I'm going to eat you up, st you out.' I was just like, 'You don't know what you're dealing with kid.'" In case Kutcher ever reads this, Osbourne's had a long and distinguished showbiz career that started with her managing musicians including Ozzy Osbourne and The Smashing Pumpkins. She went on to negotiate and star in the hugely successful reality show, "The Osbournes," from 2002 onwards and has had a steady TV career ever since. (PageSix)

Famed gamer stripped of 'Donkey Kong' records over cheating. Famed high-score gamer Billy Mitchell, best known for his leading role in "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters" documentary, was officially stripped of his Donkey Kong and other video game high scores and banned from submitting scores to the world's largest tracker of video game world records following a decision that he cheated, Twin Galaxies announced. "With this ruling, Twin Galaxies can no longer recognize Billy Mitchell as the first million point 'Donkey Kong' record holder," the group wrote in its announcement. "According to our findings, Steve Wiebe would be the official 1st million point record holder." Variety has reached out to Mitchell and Wiebe for comment and Guinness to see if his record there will stand. The decision comes after months of research by the administrators of Twin Galaxies, which tracks world gaming records and helps the Guinness Book of World Records validate gaming scores, according to a statement released by the group Thursday morning. The group writes in a statement released Thursday that Mitchell's famous Donkey Kong score of 1,047,200 was not achieved on an arcade machine -- a requirement for Twin Galaxies and Guinness -- but rather through the use of emulation software. "The rules for submitting scores for the original arcade 'Donkey Kong' competitive leaderboards requires the use of original arcade hardware only," according to the group. "The use of MAME or any other emulation software for submission to these leaderboards is strictly forbidden." In investigating the allegations against Mitchell, first brought up when Jeremy Young filed a dispute in February, the group "meticulously tested and investigated the dispute case assertions as well as a number of relevant contingent factors." They also say that at least two different third parties conducted their own explorations and came to identical conclusions. "Additionally," according to the statement, "during the evidence gathering period of this dispute, numerous experts, hobbyists, and casual observers participated and contributed to this investigation. "Based on the complete body of evidence presented in this official dispute thread, Twin Galaxies administrative staff has unanimously decided to remove all of Billy Mitchell's' scores as well as ban him from participating in our competitive leaderboards," the group wrote. "We have notified Guinness World Records of our decision." Mitchell first came to a broader sort of fame when he appeared as one of the central figures in the 2007 documentary "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters." In the film, which was directed by Seth Gordon, Wiebe attempts to wrest the world high score for the Donkey Kong arcade game from Mitchell, who comes across as the bad guy. (PageSix)

Music

How Carrie Underwood Set the Bar High for Any and All ACM Awards Attendees. From the red carpet to the center stage, Carrie Underwood can put on a show. Twelve years ago, the American Idol winner received her very first Academy of Country Music Awards nomination. Since then, the "Before He Cheats" singer has made the annual show a place to showcase her talents and celebrate her accomplishments with fans and peers alike. While details of Carrie's performance for this Sunday's show at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas remain secret, one thing is certain. The Female Vocalist of the Year nominee has set the bar high for fellow artists who take to the stage at the live television event. Just last year, Carrie helped open the show with Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Keith Urban. While rocking a metallic dress, the singer showcased her signature voice and brought some serious girl power to the Las Vegas stage. Even when she was on the younger side of her career, there was something about Carrie's performances that always grabbed the attention of viewers. In 2009, Carrie proved she was maturing into one of country music's biggest stars when she performed a rendition of Randy Travis' 1988 single "I Told You So." Two years later and the country singer brought some rock n' roll to her performance when she collaborated with Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler on his big hit "Walk This Way." And when some thought Carrie wouldn't play instruments on stage, they were quickly silenced when the singer performed "Church Bells" and made some silver drums her best friend during her 2017 appearance. Yes, that opening number really was that good. But perhaps what stands out above the rest is the Oklahoma native's impressive voice. Rewind to 2006 when the artist showcased her Christian faith in a powerful performance of "Jesus Take the Wheel." Fair to say some viewers went to church after watching that performance. With more than 10 ACM Awards under her belt in the past decade, Carrie has certainly earned her spot at any music-themed award show. And whether she wins or loses Sunday night, perhaps other country music artists will ask themselves: What would Carrie do? Leave us blown away, of course! The 2018 ACM Awards air Sunday night at 8 p.m. only on CBS. (Eonline)

Harry Styles Honors Manchester Bombing Victims With Ariana Grande Cover. It's been 11 months since 22 people were killed after an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. On Monday, British singer Harry Styles hit the stage at the Manchester Arena and made sure to tribute those who were lost in the deadly explosion with a heartfelt cover of Ariana's popular ballad "Just a Little Bit of Your Heart." Harry, who grew up outside of Manchester, said to the crowd, "The next song that we're going to play, I wrote a few years ago, and I gave it to a singer called Ariana Grande. She sang it a few times, and now we're going to do our version of it for you. And if you can find some way to join in, please do so. I stand with you, Manchester...and I thank you for spending some time with us." The One Direction member then performed a stripped-down version of the hit tune. Entertainment Weekly reports that the "Sign of the Times" singer has been covering the chart-topper through his solo tour, but the choice to perform it at the show was certainly a meaningful one given the circumstances. On May 22, 2017, there was a terrorist attack shortly after Grande's concert that left 22 people dead and at least 50 more suffered injuries. In a statement released by Greater Manchester Police at the time, officials shared, "This is currently being treated as a terrorist attack until police know otherwise." In February, Ariana Grande's manager Scooter Braun admitted that the singer was so traumatized he wasn't sure she could ever sing her songs again. "When she found out fans of hers had died, she was so sad," Braun recalled. "I mean, she cried for days. There was nothing that could stop us. She felt every pain. Every face that they announced, every name -- she wore it on her sleeve, like every bit of emotion, because that's who she is." While Braun may have been worried she couldn't go on, go on is just what the singer did. Ariana headlined the One Love benefit concert for the victims and she also refused to cancel her tour. She said pulling out wasn't an option. "I don't think I've been through anything as traumatic as [what] we've been through. So... [the tour] can be a lot," she said of the tour. "Calling it off and going home was not an option. The message of the show was too important. For the crew and everyone involved, it's become more than just a show for us. We are really grateful to be here and really grateful for this show." (Eonline)

Zayn is an International Man of Mystery in Epic 'Let Me' Video. Zayn Malik is mixed up with some seriously bad hombres in the action thriller video for "Let Me," the first single from the singer's upcoming second album. The high-production clip for the sensual R&B track dropped Thursday morning (Apr. 12) and it's the latest mini-thriller to drop Malik into an action scenario, in this case one seemingly inspired by the original narcotrafficers series Miami Vice. The glossy visual -- a sequel to the equally dramatic "Dusk Til Dawn" video -- was developed by Zayn in collaboration with director/producer Jose Padilha (appropriately of Narcos fame) and it features iconic bad guy actor Steven Bauer (Scarface) as a kingpin trying to keep Zayn under his thumb. It opens with Malik visiting the Bauer's palatial apartment to drop off a black briefcase, with the singer openly ogling the boss' girlfriend. After a midnight bag drop to some armed thugs, cut to a club where Zayn makes a delivery to Bauer and dream-like images of the singer hooking up with the mystery woman. Or was it a dream? Sensing sexual tension in the club, Bauer sic's his henchmen on Zayn, who dispatches them with easy thanks to his killer fighting chops. All along, spare, earworm track bubbles under as Zayn works his magic in his signature falsetto. "Baby let me be your man/ So I can love you/ And if you let me be your man/ Then I'll take care of you, you," he sings in the chorus. The cliff-hanger video ends with a simple acoustic guitar strum and the repeated phrase "Ror the rest of my life, for the rest of yours/ For the rest of ours," as the new couple jet off into the sunset in a giant cigarette boat. The slinky song was produced by Zayn and MYKL (the British production team that worked with the singer on his Pillowtalk single) and according to a press release it was written and recorded at Jimi Hendrix's iconic Electric Lady Studios in New York. The single is the first song from Zayn's as-yet-untitled sophomore album, the follow up to his 2016 solo debut, Mind of Mine. (Billboard)

Dire Straits Guitarist John Illsley on Mark Knopfler's No-Show for Rock Hall Induction: 'He Just Didn't Feel Like Coming'. Dire Straits co-founder John Illsley isn't planning to let the absence of frontman Mark Knopfler and other band members sour his time at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions this week in Cleveland. "I'm excited, yes. We're going to have a good time," Illsley tell Billboard just before he and keyboardist Guy Fletcher boarded a flight to the U.S. on Thursday morning (Apr. 12). "I mean, some people play and some people don't. Some people turn up and some people don't, it seems. We've got a combination of all that." Illsley did reveal that keyboardist Alan Clark's web site post that he, Illsley and Fletcher would perform "an unplugged version of 'Telegraph Road'" was not, in fact, true. "That's not going to happen," Illsley said. "That's Alan having a bit of fun. I was hoping people weren't going to take it too seriously. I wouldn't perform without Mark there, so it's as simple as that, really. If Mark's not there, there's no point." Dire Straits has been dormant since 1992, after touring to promote its 1991 album On Every Street. So why is Knopfler -- whose brother and fellow guitarist David Knopfler also isn't coming -- a no-show? "He just didn't feel like coming, it's as simple as that," says Illsley, who co-owns the Dire Straits band name with Knopfler. "It just didn't appeal to him, and I appealed to him on several occasions. I said, 'Look, I'd love you to get your head around this.' He said, 'Look, I just can't do it, John. I'm really sorry. It's a great honor for us and all the rest of it, and I just can't get my head around it,' so I've just got to respect it. He's got his reasons, which he really doesn't want to share with me which is unusual because we've shared most things over the years." Illsley adds that a Dire Straits performance during Saturday's (Apr. 14) ceremony "would've been quite complicated. When you look at the structure of the band over the last 40 years it's been quite a mixed bag of musicians and people involved, and just trying to sort that out and make sense of it... (Knopfler) said, 'Look, I just can't deal with it. I don't really want to deal with it.' So I said, 'OK, I'll go over, accept the award on your behalf and all the rest of the guys that aren't there and that'll be it. So that's what's happening." Illsley noted that he does have "room in the case" to bring Knopfler's induction trophy back to England. He's also starting to accumulate items for the Rock Hall to exhibit in Cleveland, and he plans to make the best of the induction weekend. "I'm very proud of being inducted," he says. "I think it's fantastic for the band. I think it's fantastic for all the musicians who have worked with us over the years, who have been part of the journey... and all the producers and engineers we worked with over the years. And I think it's wonderful for all the people who bought the music and came to see the concerts and stuck with the band all these years. That to me is the most important side of it, so that's what I would like to acknowledge when I get there is the fans. They make everything happen." (Billboard)

Snoop Dogg Teams With NHL to Host Hilarious YouTube Series 'Hockey 101 With Snoop Dogg'. Is there anything Snoop Dogg can't do? The rapper, who just released a gospel album and currently hosts the 1970's reboot of the game show Joker's Wild, showed a vastly different side of himself for NHL on Thursday morning (Apr. 12). As it turns out, Snoop loves hockey too, so to help kick off the Stanley Cup playoffs, the NHL partnered with the rapper to produce a video series called Hockey 101 With Snoop Dogg. Snoop, who goes by Dog Cherry in the series -- a reference to Canadian Hockey Legend Don Cherry -- offers commentary on the history and rules of the game. In the series' debut episode Snoop discusses the Stanley Cup's history. "If [teams] win it, they don't just get to touch it, they can take pictures with it," Snoop says sarcastically. He then dives into the history of player Wayne Gretzky, and how he was the one that actually started the tradition of taking a photo with the sought-after trophy in 1988. Snoop continues to talk about how Boston was once engraved on the trophy with two Q's, as well as how a player once tried to add his father's name to the cup. The details Snoop recalls are one that only a true Hockey fan would know, so as you can imagine the result are truly hilarious. (Billboard)

Movies

Sandra Bullock Plots Met Gala Heist in New Ocean's 8 Trailer. The new trailer for the upcoming Ocean's 8 movie has arrived! Warner Bros. released the latest sneak peek from the highly-anticipated spin-off on Thursday, showing Sandra Bullock setting up a plan with a fierce group of women to pull off a heist at the Met Gala. Bullock plays Debbie Ocean in the movie, the sister of Danny Ocean (George Clooney). "So you wanna hit a jewelry store?" Lou (Cate Blanchett) asks Debbie in the trailer. "Not exactly," Debbie replies. "In three and a half weeks, the Met will be hosting its annual Ball...and we are going to rob it," Debbie tells her heist crew, which includes Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson and Awkwafina. We also see Kaling's character, Amita, ask Debbie how long it took her to figure all of this out. "Five years, eight months and twelve days," Debbie replies. At the beginning of the trailer, James Corden's character is questioning Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) about the identity of the heist crew. (Eonline)

Box-Office Milestone: 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle' Becomes Biggest-Ever Sony Title in U.S. The movie, which is all but done with its run in theaters, has narrowly passed up 'Spider-Man' at the domestic box office. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has become Sony's top-grossing title in history at the domestic box office, not adjusted for inflation. The movie accomplished the milestone this week after narrowly passing up the original Spider-Man, which grossed $403.7 million at the box office in 2002. The Jumanji reboot, released on Dec. 20, finished Tuesday with a domestic total of $403.71. The film is all but done with its theatrical run after coming out on DVD earlier this month. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has been a massive gift-giver for Sony, earning $950.8 million globally to rank as the top-grossing title in the studio's history for a wholly-owned Sony title. James Bond pic Spectre is the top-grossing title ever released by Sony, but Sony distributed that film on behalf of MGM. Jumanji had remarkable staying power at the box office. It topped the chart for four weekends in total, including three consecutive weekends, and became the first December wide release since Titanic to top the chart in February. It is also the highest-grossing film for stars Dwayne Johnson (who returns to theaters this weekend in Rampage), Jack Black and Kevin Hart. "Given the length of Columbia Pictures' esteemed history, this is a cool milestone," Tom Rothman, Sony Motion Picture Group chairman, said in a statement. "It gives us a grand target to shoot for with the next one." Adjusted for inflation, Spider-Man's domestic haul is $638 million. (Hollywood Reporter)

'Super Troopers' Crowdfunded Sequel Draws Fans (and Fake Mustaches) to Hollywood Premiere. The film is coming out 17 years after the original thanks to a crowdfunding campaign that raised $4.4 million. Enthusiastic Super Troopers fans flocked the ArcLight Hollywood on Wednesday night to see the sequel to the 2001 cult hit, which raised $4.4 million in a 30-day crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in 2016. The film's biggest aficionados, many of whom paid upwards of $1,200 to view the Broken Lizard troupe in an advanced screening, donned fake mustaches and carried snacks like cotton candy and maple syrup. "You hear a lot of rock stars or musicians say they couldn't have done it without their fans, and that is true, but this took it to a different level. I don't think they ever had fans finance their album. In this case, I think the studio, respectfully, lost faith that the fan base was out there, so when we did the crowdfunding [campaign] and 54,000 people donated, it actually showed the studio and financers it was out there," said writer and star Paul Soter. The film's producer, Richard Perello, said, "When we did our crowdfunding, we were like, 'Should we do a $500,000 goal?' We didn't not want to make our goal -- and then the folks we were doing it with said, 'Let's try $2 million,' and we hit that within the first 24 hours." The campaign met the goal within a day and ultimately raised $4,425,495 for production funds, which made it the second-largest crowdfunding for a film behind Veronica Mars. For fans who shelled out $20,000, the incentive included "The Best Man," which offers all five members of Broken Lizard as your groomsmen or bridesmaids for your wedding. Returning for the second film are all the original castmembers of the Broken Lizard troupe: Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Soter and Erik Stolhanske. Chandrasekhar once again sits in the director's chair for the upcoming film. Fox Searchlight's upcoming film focuses on a French-Canadian area on the Vermont border that technically falls under United States jurisdiction, putting the troopers in direct conflict with the resident Mounties of the Great White North. Joining the Broken Lizard gang for the latest adventure are Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter, Rob Lowe (using a Canadian accent) and Emmanuelle Chriqui. (Hollywood Reporter)

Donald Glover Celebrated Getting Lando Role Like a True 'Star Wars' Fan. "I like seeing Han and Lando beforehand because it allows you know to that, yeah, people aren't perfect. People have to grow," the actor, set to appear in the 'Solo' standalone film, says. You truly belong here with us among the clouds. Donald Glover celebrated landing the role of Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story by doing pretty much what any other Star Wars fan would have done in the same situation: "I bought a whole pizza and went home and watched The Empire Strikes Back, he told Star Wars News. To discover the character -- made famous by Billy Dee Williams -- Glover said he watched a lot of films from the 1970s "that I thought would be his kind of style." Glover said he enjoyed working on Solo because it gives better insight into Lando and Han as young men. "I like seeing Han and Lando beforehand because it allows you know to that, yeah, people aren't perfect. People have to grow," he said. Solo: A Star Wars Story is due out May 25. (Hollywood Reporter)

Box-Office Preview: 'Rampage' Aims to Cause Havoc for 'Quiet Place,' 'Truth or Dare'. The monster movie is set to be the latest title from Dwayne Johnson to land $35 million-$40 million in its U.S. debut. Fresh off the box-office success of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Dwayne Johnson is back in theaters this weekend in Rampage, playing a primatologist whose beloved pal -- a silverback gorilla -- is transformed into a giant menace as the result of a genetic experiment. Rampage, from New Line and Warner Bros., should top the U.S. chart with $35 million-$40 million, enough to fend off holdover A Quiet Place and the new horror film, Truth or Dare. Paramount's A Quiet Place is something of a wild card after opening to a rousing $50 million last weekend and could earn as much as $25 million-$30 million in its second weekend. The film has done brisk midweek business, grossing nearly $60 million through Tuesday. A Quiet Place cost a modest $17 million to produce, while Rampage cost at least $115 million-$120 million. New Line is counting on Rampage, an adaptation of the videogame of the same name, to be a formidable player overseas, where it opens in almost every major market timed to its U.S. launch, including China. Rampage reunites Johnson with his San Andreas director, Brad Peyton. The story follows Johnson's character as he teams with a discredited genetic engineer (Naomie Harris) to stop the gorilla, along with a mutated wolf and crocodile, from destroying the U.S. The movie currently shows a 45 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A Quiet Place, a high-concept horror pic directed by John Krasinski, poses direct competition for Truth or Dare, the latest mirco-budgeted collaboration from Universal and Blumhouse. Tracking suggests the film will open in the mid-teens. The supernatural thriller -- hitting theaters on Friday the 13th -- revolves around a group of spring breakers who play an innocent game of "Truth or Dare" that turns deadly. Directed by Jeff Wadlow, the film stars Lucy Hale and Tyler Posey. Universal and Blumhouse screened the film on some 50 college campuses across the country and used its television spots to target younger females. The film's Rotten Tomatoes score currently rests at 30 percent. The indie animated film Sgt Stubby: An American Hero also opens nationwide this weekend, but expectations for the film are nominal and it may not clear more than a few million dollars. New offerings at the specialty box office include the Neon's tennis biographical drama Borg vs. McEnroe, starring Shia LeBeouf as bad-boy tennis champ John McEnroe, and Sony Classic Pictures' The Rider. Elsewhere, Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs expands nationwide in its third weekend (the Fox Searchlight title has grossed roughly $13 million to date). (Hollywood Reporter)

TV

Dancing With the Stars: Athletes' Professional Dancers Revealed: Who's Missing? Ready to return to the ballroom? Ahead of Dancing With the Stars: Athletes' big cast reveal on Good Morning America on Friday (April 13), the ABC reality hit revealed its line-up of professional dancers on Twitter on Thursday. Among the 10 pros? Newlyweds Sasha Farber and Emma Slater, who got married on March 25. Hey, what better way to celebrate than by competing against each other?! Also set to return for another season are returning champion Lindsay Arnold, Witney Carson and Artem Chigvintsev. However, some fan-favorites are missing from the roster, including Mark Ballas, Val Chmerkovskiy, Maks Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd. Here's the full list of professional dancers set to compete on DWTS: Athletes: [* Lindsay Arnold

Alan Bersten

Sharna Burgess

Witney Carson

Artem Chigvintsev

Sasha Farber

Jenna Johnson (making her debut as a pro after several seasons in the troupe)

Keo Motsepe

Gleb Savchenko ]* Emma Slater

Judges Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli are all set to wield the paddles again, with Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews serving as hosts. The all-athlete line-up will be revealed on Good Morning America tomorrow morning (April 13), while season 26 premieres Monday, April 30 at 8 p.m. on ABC. (Eonline)

Dietland, Julianna Margulies' Return to TV, Looks Fierce. Julianna Margulies has a new TV show -- and a new wig. Margulies is returning to TV in her first series regular TV role since she hung up her Alicia Florrick wig on The Good Wife and stars in Dietland, Marti Noxon's new AMC series premiering Monday, June 4. E! News has a sneak peek at what's ahead on what the network is calling a "wickedly funny satire." The series stars Margulies as Kitty Montgomery, a powerful magazine editor, playing opposite Joy Nash as Plum Kettle, a ghostwriter at the magazine dealing with self-image issues. Plum sets out on down a path to self-acceptance in the 10-episode series filmed in New York City. While Plum is looking inward, the rest of the city is buzzing over reports about the disappearance of men who are accused of sexual abuse and assault. The men wind up meeting violent deaths. Look for the series from Noxon, whose previous credits include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mad Men and UnREAL, to tackle issues women face today, including patriarchy, misogyny, rape culture and unrealistic beauty standards. "Dietland focuses on some of the important issues and conversations happening today and offers a witty and insightful look at the war of the sexes," David Madden, president of original programming for AMC, SundanceTV and AMC Studios, said in a statement. "I'm beyond thrilled to welcome powerhouse executive producer, writer and director Marti Noxon back to the AMC family and can't wait for audiences to see her passion come to life, notably through the dynamic and nuanced performances from rising star Joy Nash and the incomparable Julianna Margulies." Dietland premieres Monday, June 4 at 9 p.m. on AMC. (Eonline)

Claws Season 2 Sneak Peek Has Everything: Russians, Niecy Nash Kicking Ass, a Premiere Date Reveal. "We took a tiny break from filming to let you guys know that we're back!" That's right -- the return of TNT's hit series Claws is nearly upon us. And E! News has an exclusive look at the second season of the pitch-black dramedy that not only gives us a look at what's to come, but finally fills us in on when, exactly, it'll be coming. As Niecy Nash and her girls Carrie Preston, Karrueche Tran, Judy Reyes, and Jenn Lyon gather to celebrate the show's highly-anticipated return for a quick moment before the clip heads into the actual sneak peek, she breaks the news: Season two will premiere on Sunday, June 10! Lest you forget what went down at the end of season one, Desna (Nash) made the hard decision to stay put at Nail Artisans of Manatee County and continue laundering money for the Russians, with Jenn (Lyon) and the rest of the crew giving up the dream of the new salon to stay with her. And as the sneak peek proves, they don't seem to regret it all that much. Yet. "We're criminals," Desna says over images of the group celebrating with champagne. "And we are good at it." Of course, with the insane criminal underworld of Manatee County closing in on Desna, Uncle Daddy (Dean Norris) and the rest, it won't stay too celebratory for long. And when Desna finds out that her new boo Dr. Gregory Ruval (Jimmy Jean-Louis) is involved with the Haitian mafia, well, the party might just stop all together. But get ready for Desna to truly take charge. "You've been wanting to take the Russians out? That's exactly what we gonna do," she says as we watch her throw a Molotov cocktail at a house. "But we gonna do it my way. I'm the boss now." YAS, QUEEN. Claws returns Sunday, June 10 at 9 p.m. on TNT. (Eonline)

There will be millions of people watching Prince Harry and Meghan Markle celebrate their May 19 wedding -- but only a select few will be lucky enough to be in Windsor for the legendary event. NBC announced on Wednesday, April 11, that Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Megyn Kelly and Kathie Lee Gifford will be broadcasting their respective shows from a location overlooking Windsor Castle the day before the royal wedding. Additionally, Kotb and Guthrie will host TODAY at the Royal Wedding alongside Kelly, Gifford, Al Roker and Sheinelle Jones. There will be a team of NBC News correspondents on hand to provide commentary to viewers watching at home. The network also shared that Guthrie and the I've Loved You Since Forever author also will host a primetime special called Inside the Royal Wedding: Harry and Meghan on Wednesday, May 16, which will give fans a glimpse into the wedding of the year. The royal wedding has become the hottest ticket in town. The former Army helicopter pilot, 33, and Markle, 36, will marry at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in England, and will be followed by two receptions -- including an intimate, private celebration hosted by Harry's father, Prince Charles. As previously reported, Donald Trump and Barack Obama are not on the guest list. And as Us Weekly exclusively revealed, Markle's mom, Doria Ragland, "will be returning to work immediately" after taking eight days off for the wedding. (US Weekly)

Netflix's New Lost in Space Is All About the Badass Ladies. The women of Netflix's reboot of Lost in Space are here to kick some ass. In the featurette, exclusive to E! News, stars Parker Posey, Molly Parker, Mina Sundwall, and Taylor Russell introduce some of the new characters you're about to meet when the show makes its debut this week. We've got a rocket scientist, an 18-year-old doctor, a "gritty survivor," and a writer in the Robinson family, and that's just the ladies. "Lost in Space proves that there's nothing stopping you," Sundwall says. "You can do whatever you want, you can be whatever you want." The show, which is based on the 1965 series of the same name, follows the Robinsons, a family of space colonists whose spaceship veers off course and crashes on an unknown planet (hence the title, Lost in Space). They're led by Maureen (Parker), the head of the family and a "literal rocket scientist," and her husband John (Toby Stephens). Russell plays oldest daughter Judy, Sundwall plays middle child Penny, and Maxwell Jenkins plays youngest kid Will Robinson (Danger!). Parker Posey steps in as Dr. Smith, who in the original series was the reason the ship veered off course in the first place. "It's great to be able to play someone who survives by her own wits and takes chances," Posey says. Lost in Space debuts Friday, April 13 on Netflix. (Eonline)

A Frantic Kyle West Pulls a Gun on Terence in This Crazy Flashback on The Arrangement. We've been thrown hints that Kyle West (Josh Henderson) had a dark past, but this flashback confirms it. Kyle recounts the moments after Lisbeth (Ashley Grace) left him and the breakdown that had him pointing a gun at Terence (Michael Vartan) in the clip from Sunday's all-new The Arrangement. "Hey man," Terence says. "You shouldn't be here," Kyle snaps back. With tears in his eyes, Kyle blames Terence for ruining his relationship with Lisbeth. "I should've never told her. I should've never told her. It ruined everything. It ruined everything. She couldn't get past it and now she's gone because I am a piece of s--t!" Kyle yells. And if you think Kyle is about to let Terence get away with it, then you've got another thing coming. "You are not going to decide this," Kyle tell him before pointing a gun in Terence's face. Brand new episode of The Arrangement Sunday at 9 p.m., on E! (Eonline)

Survivor: Ghost Island Finally Merged in Its Most Exciting Episode Yet. Now this is the Survivor: Ghost Island we've been waiting for. This season has been fine so far and there have been a couple of very fun blindsides, but Wednesday night's merge really got things going in a way that made us inexplicably nervous...and then truly, truly delighted. The main beef was between male model Chris and construction Dom, who finally saw this as their moment to get rid of one or the other. Dom had both an idol and a legacy advantage, and Chris was unarmed...until he happened to pick up a new buff with a note in it. The note invited him to take a boat ride in the middle of the night to Ghost Island (the only appropriate time to go to Ghost Island, tbh), where he would get to play a game. The game gave him an idol to use just at the next tribal, unless he opened bamboo tubes that gave the idol more power. He extended the shelf life by one tribal before he opened a tube that took away his vote, and then he crept back to camp with no one having any idea that he had gone anywhere. Chris was just sure that he had everyone ready to get rid of Dom or Wendell, so when everyone got to tribal, Dom used his legacy advantage and Chris kept his mouth shut. So of course, there were zero votes for Dom and a whole bunch for Chris. Bye bye, self-described charming male model/"rapper." We will not miss you! We might miss everyone's eye rolls whenever Chris opened his mouth, but you couldn't pay us to miss the man himself. As right as that result was, we're also happy that Ghost Island is finally doing something. Chris' little midnight boat trip was exactly the kind of shenanigan we were hoping to see from this mysterious gimmick, even if we have a hard time believing that not a single one of those 12 other people on that beach noticed him leaving. More creepy invitations! More things happening at midnight! And would it kill you to add in a few spooky ghost noises? We just do not feel that the show has leaned hard enough into the spookiness we were promised, and we need more. Survivor: Ghost Island airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS. (Eonline)

T.I. to premiere business competition series this summer. BET Networks has partnered with Grand Hustle Productions on "The Grand Hustle," from Grammy-winning rapper, actor and entrepreneur Tip "T.I." Harris for a July premiere. Set in Atlanta, the 12-episode hourlong series features 16 business-minded men and women vying for a coveted position with a six-figure salary within Tip's multimillion-dollar Grand Hustle business empire. "The Grand Hustle" competition series will premiere Thursday, July 19 at 10 p.m. ET. "The Grand Hustle Empire is always expanding so therefore we needed to add a very talented, highly skilled executive to our team," said Harris. "It doesn't matter if you got your hustle at Harvard or the hood, The Grand Hustle is about how you handle business and what you can do for the brand so I wanted to create a show that offers an equal playing field." "Tip is one of the smartest most impressive businessmen I have ever met," said EP Brian Sher. "His business acumen is second to none, and his entrepreneurial spirit is unmatched. I'm excited for the world to get a window into how Tip thinks and operates." Harris and Sher executive produce with Christian Sarabia and Johnny Petillo, who also serves as showrunner. "The Grand Hustle" is produced by 51 Minds Entertainment. (PageSix)

PBS to air five-part royal wedding special. The time is upon us: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are about to make it official with the wedding of the year. PBS is ramping up for this global event with "Royal Wedding Watch," a five-part nightly series starting May 14 which will culminate in the live broadcast of the wedding of the prince and the actress on May 19. The series will be hosted by Meredith Vieira and British television presenter Matt Baker. For five days, the two will keep royal wedding fanatics updated on the fancy preparations for the event before Harry and Meghan are joined in matrimony at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. Throughout the week, the hosts will be joined in studio by experts, commentators and special guests. BBC presenter and host Anita Rani will report live from Windsor Castle each night, and English historian Lucy Worsley, joint chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces, will give the audience all we need to know about the pageantry, pomp and protocol surrounding the royal couple's nuptials. "Royal Wedding Watch" will be produced by BBC Studios' Topical and Live Unit and will come nightly from London. The series will air May 14-17 at 10 p.m. ET and May 18, 10:30 p.m. ET. The royal wedding will air on Saturday morning, May 19 on PBS. (PageSix)

James Corden Parodies 'A Quiet Place' on 'The Late Late Show'. After the horror film opened to astounding numbers at the box office, Corden evoked fear as the co-worker from hell in a spoof on his late-night show. James Corden parodied John Krasinski and Emily Blunt's horror film, A Quiet Place, during a Wednesday night sketch on The Late Late Show. In A Quiet Late Late, Corden plays an annoying co-worker who will barge in on group activities if he hears the slightest sound. "If he hears you, he will join you," the trailer warns. Indeed, when Corden hears the sound of a Late Late Show employee biting into a chip in the breakroom, he joins his colleagues for lunch, much to their dismay. Not only does Corden steal their fries, but he incites major eye rolls when he gleefully shows off his new fidget-spinner. Later, things get a bit more intense when his co-workers play a silent game of Monopoly -- directly referencing a scene from A Quiet Place -- and an employee can't help but cheer out loud when he wins the game. "Maybe he didn't hear," another player whispers in fear, just before Corden pops up out of nowhere. "You guys playing Monopoly? I love Monopoly!" he says, completely unaware of how unwanted his presence is. "I'll be the thimble. You guys here the whole time? I didn't even hear you." At the end of the clip, a co-worker's phone rings and it only takes seconds before Corden finds him. That's when the employee discovers Corden's weakness: physical exertion. "He will force you to include him," states the trailer. "Unless you run away." After a short sprint, Corden gives up, saying, "I'll catch up with you later. We had fun! That's a fun game." Corden's take on A Quiet Place comes after the movie made more than $50 million over the weekend. In the film, which has earned rave reviews, Krasinski and his wife, Blunt, play a couple who live in isolation with their two children. In order to avoid being killed by spider-like monsters who are acutely attracted to sound, they make a concerted attempt to never make any noise. The project marks Krasinski's first screenplay and his third directorial effort since he and Blunt got married in 2010. The Paramount Pictures feature was recently cleared by China's censors and secured a release date (May 18), which is rare for a horror film in the communist country. (Hollywood Reporter)

Disney's Streaming Future Begins With Modest ESPN+ Launch. The $5-per-month streaming service will not offer premiere games from the NFL and NBA, instead focusing on niche sports and underserved fanbases. ESPN is finally making its digital play. The Disney-owned sports giant on Thursday launched a redesigned app that also serves as the home for a new streaming service, ESPN+. The offering, one of two planned over-the-top products currently being developed within Disney, is ESPN's answer to the growing audience for streaming content and a declining base of subscribers to its linear television offerings. "We consider this the beginning of a new era of innovation at ESPN," newly named ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro told reporters at an intimate gathering held April 10 at the network's Los Angeles outpost. "This really is the next phase for us. Quite simply, it's an opportunity for us to serve sports fans in a way that no one else really can and at the same time to expand our audience, expand our reach and expand our engagement." But ESPN delivered over the internet, this is not. Programming found on ESPN or one of the company's other seven networks will largely not be available to stream live on ESPN+ due to the costly and complex web of live television rights for big-ticket games from the premiere leagues like the NFL and NBA. Instead, ESPN+ is being marketed as a complementary offering for three distinct audience segments: hardcore sports fans, people who follow niche sports in the U.S. like cricket or rugby, and college sports fans underserved by existing linear offerings (think water polo supporters or alumni of schools in smaller athletic conferences). At launch, ESPN+ has the rights to offer some 10,000 live events, and ESPN dealmakers are hard at work negotiating for more competitions to add to the service as the weeks go on. Among the offerings are daily MLB and NHL games, MLS out-of-market matches, live events from 20 college conferences, hundreds of Top Rank boxing matches, 20 PGA tour events, matches from three of the four Grand Slam Tennis tournaments, international cricket matches, nearly 200 Canadian Football League games and around 200 English Football League matches. The service will also offer a lineup of studio-produced series including basketball analysis show Detail hosted by Kobe Bryant, originals including Draft Academy and Quest for the Stanley Cup and a library of on-demand content including the entire 30 for 30 archive. ESPN+ is also launching as the exclusive home to new 30 for 30 documentary The Last Days of Knight. Sure, there won't be Monday Night Football in the fall or spring NBA match-ups, but at $5 a month, Pitaro contends that ESPN+ is a good deal given its lineup. The service, he said, "from our perspective presents a very strong value proposition to existing customers and new customers." The nearly 40-year-old ESPN has long been a cash cow for Disney, contributing significantly to the $6.9 billion in operating profit that the Disney Media Networks division reported at the end of its 2017 fiscal year. But declining ratings and an increase in cord cutting have hurt the live sports business, once thought impervious to such problems, too. ESPN has made streaming bets before, launching ESPN360 (later ESPN3) as an online offering for live streams and replays. But ESPN+ will be the first subscription product that is designed to truly complement the existing linear broadcasts. "This service will be complementary and additive to our existing business mode," noted Pitaro. "We will continue to invest in and drive value from that multi-channel business, which has served us quite well over the years and we expect will continue to do so. In parallel, we now have additional ways to serve the sports fan." Launching a brand new streaming service is no easy feat. It requires millions of dollars in investment to build a technologically-sound product with enough content to keep viewers coming back day-after-day. Disney jumped some of the hurdles when it acquired a majority ownership stake in MLB's BamTech for nearly $2.6 billion. The company, led by Michael Paull, had already been used to power HBO Now and the WWE Network. Its technology now powers the new ESPN app and ESPN+. It will also be used to launch a Disney-branded service next year. When it comes to building an audience for the streaming service, ESPN is focusing its marketing campaign on downloading the ESPN app, which Pitaro called "the front door of all things ESPN." The newly redesigned product offers a mix of editorial content, game highlights and scores. People with existing ESPN subscriptions can authenticate via their cable provider and watch live streams of whatever is airing on the network. Inside that experience will be heavy promotion for ESPN+ (denoted by a gold flag in the corner of videos that are exclusive to the service). Signing up for ESPN+ will take only a few clicks. "While complementary to the main ESPN channel, we do expect [ESPN+] to get broad resonance in the marketplace," Kevin Mayer, the chairman of Disney's newly established Direct to Consumer and International division, told reporters on Tuesday. He did not offer projections on how many subscribers Disney expects ESPN+ to amass but acknowledged that the size of the membership base is "how we will measure the success" of the service. Mayer also signaled Disney's commitment to growing the digital business, explaining that the company will be in investment mode on the service for an unspecified number of years. Disney has already signed American Express as the ESPN+ launch partner. Disney is introducing ESPN+ and the forthcoming family-friendly streaming service amid seismic shifts in the entertainment industry spurred on by the rise of streaming services like Netflix and growing competition for ad dollars from digital behemoths Facebook and Google. The services, Mayer explained, are part of "a long running strategy to get closer to the consumer and be a direct-to-consumer business." Having that relationship with audiences, he added, "puts us in a new part of the value chain." (Hollywood Reporter)

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