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Book to stage, stage to book: Harper Lee and J.K. Rowling

Harper Lee's classic novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" will become a Broadway play next year.

Associated Press photo

Harper Lee's classic novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" will become a Broadway play next year.

For an 89-year-old who lives in a nursing home, does no interviews and hasn't written a book in decades, Harper Lee generates an astonishing amount of news.

The latest, announced Wednesday: a Broadway version of To Kill a Mockingbird, coming in 2017. Lee's beloved 1960 novel is in star-studded hands. Stage and screen superproducer and EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winner) Scott Rudin acquired the rights to develop the play and hired Bartlett Sher (one Tony win, six nominations, most recently for South Pacific) as director and Oscar- and Emmy-winner Aaron Sorkin to write the play.

There is already a stage adapation of Mockingbird, produced every year in Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Ala., and in high schools around the country, but this will be a new play that, Sorkin told the New York Times, will likely feature new scenes and other changes.

No casting news yet, nor any word about what Lee thinks. (Don't hold your breath on the latter.) …

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The Bachelor, Season 20, Episode 6: Finding sense in the senseless

This is the face of the betrayed. We hated Olivia but even we agree this was random.

Screenshot

This is the face of the betrayed. We hated Olivia but even we agree this was random.

What are the rules to this game, Ben?

I'm asking because, as the officiant, you've been sort of arbitrary lately. 

This week's four eliminations make perfect sense and no sense at all if you measure them against everything that happened up to this point. 

Jennifer got cut because she hadn't spent enough time with Ben, but Leah, who'd never had a one-on-one date remained. Leah got cut because she spent her precious time with Ben ragging on Lauren B. instead of making her case, but Emily, who started the Olivia witch hunt, got to stay. Olivia got cut because she said she was in love with Ben and he couldn't reciprocate, but every girl has said this in some form for the past two weeks and most of them got another shot. And Lauren H. got eliminated for reasons unknown because Ben couldn't even dignify her with a cocktail party or proper explanation as he walked her to the car. 

It was all very dramatic and anti-climatic at once. The longer the show goes on the more the editing betrays who has got Ben in the bag and who is just hanging around for the craft services spread and free vacations. …

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Super Bowl halftime show: Colorful Coldplay can't compete with Beyonce, Bruno Mars

Associated Press

All throughout Super Bowl 50, CBS hyped the halftime show with Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars as “a musical celebration of past, present and future” – as if we somehow weren’t watching a collection of artists between the ages of 30 and 38.

By the end, you could see what they were going for, as the halftime show made numerous references to halftime performers and performances past, from Michael Jackson and U2 to Whitney Houston and Bruce Springsteen, both at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. The NFL does tend to love paying homage to itself at every conceivable turn. And apart from a little spotty audio here and there, they got exactly what they wanted.

Of course, the only thing almost everyone ELSE wanted to see was Beyonce and the live premiere of her 100-emoji new single Formation.Full Story

Beyonce drops 'Formation': Four amazing things about her new pre-Super Bowl single

Beyonce on Saturday released a surprise new single, Formation, a thumping, righteous, provocative banger that broke the Internet's brains, and which she will reportedly perform live during halftime of Sunday's Super Bowl 50.

For the Beyhive, this is a lot to process.

It'll take a few trips to Red Lobster before we can fully wrap our minds around everything this new song represents, but for now, here are four of the most amazing things about Beyonce's Formation.

1. It exists.

Well, yeah, anytime one of the world's biggest pop stars releases a new single, it's big news. There are plenty of Beyonce hallmarks -- defensiveness toward "haters" and paparazzi, a call to arms for her fellow ladies to "get in formation" and "slay," the notion that she "just might be a black Bill Gates in the making." And there's no doubt producer Mike Will Made It crafted that beat with only Beyonce in mind -- no other singer could handle it. …

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Winner and loser of the week in pop culture ft. 'Grease: Live' and O.J. Simpson

Julianne Hough, Aaron Tveit and Vanessa Hudgens killed it.

Fox

Julianne Hough, Aaron Tveit and Vanessa Hudgens killed it.

Winner
Grease: Live: The Fox musical was a smashing success, generating rave reviews and drawing 12 million-plus viewers, handily topping NBC’s The Wiz and its mess of a flop, Peter Pan. The joyful celebration of youth and music was dedicated to the late father of Vanessa Hudgens, who gutted through the role of Rizzo just one day after her dad died of cancer — and nailed it, by the way. Grease: Live suspended, if just for one night, the tradition of hate-Tweeting live musicals, instead impressing studio and TV audiences with its masterful use of elaborate sets, even pulling off the final carnival scene outdoors. The network’s next effort, Rocky Horror Picture Show, has a lot to live up to. …

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'Orange Is the New Black' star Laverne Cox cancels University of South Florida lecture

Laverne Cox

Getty Images

Laverne Cox

Maybe all the critical raves racked up by Fox's Grease Live have spurred producers of the network's upcoming take on Rocky Horror Picture Show to step up their game. Because one of the production's stars has canceled an upcoming appearance in Tampa, and rehearsals for Rocky Horror are to blame.

Orange Is the New Black star Laverne Cox has canceled a March 21 lecture at the University of South Florida "due to the taping schedule for Fox's Rocky Horror Picture Show," the school said in a statement. Because the event was free and first-come, first-served, there are no tickets to refund. The school said the student-run University Lecture Series is currently looking for a replacement speaker.

Still, losing Laverne is a bummer. The Emmy-nominated actress surely would've had plenty to say about the state of transgender politics in Hollywood and America at large. …

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Emperor Palpatine and Joffrey Baratheon to bring their reigns of terror to Tampa Bay Comic Con in August

Jack Gleeson as Joffrey.

HBO

Jack Gleeson as Joffrey.

It’s still seven months away and already Tampa Bay Comic Con is announcing some big guests including Emperor Palpatine and King Joffrey Baratheon.

Ian McDiarmid and Jack Gleeson will make their appearances at the Tampa Convention Center, 333 S. Franklin St., on August 6 and 7, the convention announced.

Scottish actor McDiarmid is most famous for his time at the Sith Lord Darth Sidious in the Star Wars franchise though he’s been in more than 40 films since starting his career in 1976. Gleeson, who played Joffrey on Game of Thrones, considers himself a retired actor at the ripe old age of 23.

Both men will be signing autographs and posing for fan photos for $75 and $50, respectively. Comic Con encourages fans to bring plenty of cash because fan photos and autographs are cash only.

Comic and cartoon artists Bob Camp, Steve McNiven, Don Rosa and Dan Veesenmeyer will also be in artist’s alley at the event.

Tickets for Comic Con August 5-7 are now $60 for 3-day admission or Friday single day tickets at $30, Saturday at $40 and Sunday at $30. For more info or to buy tickets, visit tampabaycomiccon.com.

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'The Bachelor,' Season 20, Episode 5: Everybody hates Olivia

IT'S OLIVIA.

Screen grab

IT'S OLIVIA.

Everyone on the show seems to be crazy town, but none more so than Ben Higgins himself for expecting to meet someone genuine in this pressure cooker of expectations.

He eliminated Jubilee in the middle of a group date because she had withdrawn considerably in the past two weeks. Jubes started as outgoing and bubbly – the way all the girls are expected to be – but her early one-on-one date got her invested in a possible relationship with Ben. She said it got harder to watch him go on dates and make out with others. Outside of Olivia, she seemed like the only other girl deeply invested in relationship with Ben. Not a relationship with The Bachelor, but one with Ben Higgins.

Because who would really be comfortable with watching the guy they like make out with someone else and then jumping in his lap to make out with him five seconds later?

If no one else understands Jubilee, I sure did. It doesn’t mean anything to stand in front of a Spanish class holding Ben’s hands while he says, “Te amo,” if you’re the fifth person he’s said it to. It’s always fun and games until someone catches feelings.  That’s a genuine reaction, Ben. You’ll realize that once you’re dating in real life again. …

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'The X-Files,' Season 10, Episode 3: Best quotes from 'Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster'

Scully and Mulder search for a creature believed to have attacked several people in this week's hilarious episode.

Fox

Scully and Mulder search for a creature believed to have attacked several people in this week's hilarious episode.

I tried to write a real recap of this episode. I tried to recount how Mulder and Scully switched roles, as they sometimes do, with Mulder playing the tired skeptic while Scully presses him toward the truth (also, Scully says the "I Want to Believe" poster is hers!). About how the werelizard turns out to be not a werelizard, per se, at all but a regular old lizard-creature who has been bitten and turned into an actually harmless werehuman. About how the stoners from Season 3 are still stoners but Mulder has tried to master smartphones and wears some bright red briefs.

But really, anything I could write couldn't help you appreciate this episode's utterly zany sense of humor, delivered in fine absurdist form by writer Darin Morgan (who also wrote, among others, "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" and "Humbug"). And what I kept coming back to were the quotes because by Guy Mann the lizard man there are some doozies.

Herewith, some beautiful quotes (and GIFs!) from "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster."

 

Mulder: "Since we've been away, most of the unexplained has been explained."

 …

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Why was 'Grease Live' so good? Here are three reasons

Hough and Tveit as Sandy and Danny.

Los Angeles Times

Hough and Tveit as Sandy and Danny.

There is a reason every high school on the planet stages Grease the Musical. The Broadway show created in 1971 that later became the John Travolta-Olivia Newton John movie you know and love contains intensely likeable material, simple yet subversive stuff that when executed properly can send beams of joy out into the audience. Such it was with Sunday night's production of Grease Live, Fox's first foray into the live TV musical field.

It was a seamless, vibrant, energizing hit.

The Twitterverse in particular was full of praise for the three-hour production, which is saying something in the age of unlimited snark that has turned on other TV musicals like NBC's rather terrible Peter Pan Live! in 2014. As someone who credits the 1978 movie and soundtrack (both on loop during my formative elementary school years) with my deep love for musical theater, Grease Live made me giddy and excited in a way most TV (and, really, all media) does not. I think a lot of people watching at home felt the same way. Here's why. …

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Harry Potter fans descend on Universal Orlando for a weekend of wizarding featuring Ron Weasley and Dumbledore's Army

Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), Katie Leung (Cho Chang, and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) sit for a media Q&A Friday night at Universal Orlando's A Celebration of Harry Potter weekend. The theme park event and expo runs through Sunday.

Robbyn Mitchell/Times

Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), Katie Leung (Cho Chang, and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) sit for a media Q&A Friday night at Universal Orlando's A Celebration of Harry Potter weekend. The theme park event and expo runs through Sunday.

There's not much new at this year's A Celebration of Harry Potter weekend at Universal Studios Orlando.

Organizers spent the third year fine tuning the three-day fan expo and drawing big name talent from the films to the theme park.

Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) and Katie Leung (Cho Chang) will take part in Q&A panels at Universal Studio's Music Plaza stage at 4:15 p.m. today and 4 p.m. Sunday-- and boy do they have some stories to tell. 

"I took the new Pottermore quiz and I got Gryffindor again," said Lynch, who is attending the three-day celebration for the third time. 

"I got Hufflepuff. I kind of want a recount, I think," laughed Grint. 

The Hogwarts alums have the easy rapport of former schoolmates -- taking simple questions of fun turns with their banter.

"There was a scene we filmed in the room of requirement and Rupert got the giggles and everyone just started laughing," Lynch recalled. "We were all having a blast and crew was so angry. The walls were all mirrored so we'd settle down and then you'd see in the mirror his shoulders would start moving and it would start again." …

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Neville, Ron and Ginny, Oh My: Follow us at the Celebration of Harry Potter

Fans pouring into the #HarryPotter expo at Universal Studios. The first treat is a paper school tie complete with house crest.

Robbyn Mitchell

Fans pouring into the #HarryPotter expo at Universal Studios. The first treat is a paper school tie complete with house crest.

Muggles, line up! Dumbledore's finest are descending on Universal Orlando as we speak for the third annual Celebration of Harry Potter, running through Sunday. Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) and Katie Leung (Cho Chang) are in Orlando for a behind the scenes film talent panel discussion as a part of the event.

It's the first appearance at the fan experience event for Grint, Wright and Leung. Lewis and Lynch have been it attendance at both of the previous celebrations. This weekend, fans will be able to take a course from wand combat choreographer, Paul Harris, and hear from the movies' head prop maker, Pierre Bohanna. universalorlando.com.

Follow reporter Robbyn Mitchell as she sends dispatches from the event on Twitter and Instagram. Robbyn will be joining other journalists to interview the stars on a panel starting at 6 p.m.

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Winner and loser of the week in pop culture ft. Neil deGrasse Tyson and B.o.B.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is bae.

Times files

Neil deGrasse Tyson is bae.

Neil deGrasse Tyson. The Harvard-educated astrophysicist, cosmologist and multi-multi-multi-hyphenate shut down B.o.B. in a social-turned-mass-media feud that began when the rapper ranted to his 2 million Twitter followers that Earth is flat and anyone who disagrees is a blind sheep who’s been fooled by what is clearly a NASA conspiracy. DeGrasse Tyson responded to the rapper’s diatribe with scientific proof and just for kicks added this gem: “Duude — to be clear: Being five centuries regressed in your reasoning doesn’t mean we all can’t still like your music.” Zing! B.o.B. answered by releasing a diss track called Flatline, presumably to keep the free-publicity train in motion, and deGrasse Tyson’s nephew replied with his own diss track called Flat to Fact, which includes loads of scientific fact and doubles as a remix of Drake’s diss of Meek Mill. DeGrasse Tyson then appeared on The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore to end things with an exclamation point, quoting Isaac Newton, laying down expletives — “The world isn't f---ing flat!” — and pointing out that spreading false information from such a giant platform is reckless. The geek god’s closer: “By the way, this is gravity,” before throwing down the greatest mic drop we've ever seen.  …

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Shows you should be watching: Currently on air

It's time to stop binge-watching -- only for a moment -- and take a look at what's currently on air.

TV press sites

It's time to stop binge-watching -- only for a moment -- and take a look at what's currently on air.

Guys, we need to go on a diet. And I'm not talking about food. We're obsessively watching everything TV and streaming channels have to offer, constantly trying to find the next best binge. But what comes of losing an entire weekend to Amazon's The Man in the High Castle or Netflix's Bloodline? Just because you have a large cheese pizza in front of you doesn't mean you should eat it all at once. Woof. Also, there's something to be said about sharing and deciphering shows with other viewers (and not just the ones in your computer). It can be lonely watching an entire series by yourself. …

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St. Petersburg's Kerry Courtney ousted from 'American Idol,' but Tampa's Shevonne Philidor still has a chance

Shevonne Philidor

Shevonne Philidor

This is Hollywood Week on the final season of American Idol. And while Wednesday's episode marked the end of the line for one hopeful contestant from Tampa Bay, another still has a shot to bring home the crown.

First, the bad news: St. Petersburg singer-songwriter Kerry Courtney, known locally for the rock band Goodnight Neverland, was ousted from Hollywood last night in a montage near the end of the episode.

"Some people that did really great on the road are having a little trouble here," Jennifer Lopez said before Courtney appeared on screen.

"I'm really bummed," Courtney said, "but my mother would be proud of me. And that thought just make sme feel warm."

But Hollywood Week continues at 8 p.m. tonight on Fox -- and that's where we might see another local singer shine.

Singer-guitarist Shevonne Philidor -- who, like Courtney, auditioned in Denver -- also made the cut in Idol's opening rounds,

Philidor was not featured on Wednesday's episode, though you can see her in the background in a few shots. And while her exact fate remains unclear, it does look like she's excited and celebrating in one shot. …

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