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"Focus," "The Lazarus Effect" Open in Theaters Friday

Frank Masi/Warner Bros. Entertainment(NEW YORK) -- Here’s a look at the new movies opening nationwide Friday:

* Focus  -- Will Smith plays a con man, Nicky, who teaches his tricks to a woman with whom he’s romantically involved, Margot Robbie’s Jess.  A few years later, after they’ve split, Jess causes problems for a scheme being carried out by Nicky. The film is screening in IMAX theaters. Rated R.

* The Lazarus Effect -- A group of researchers, including a man and his fiancée, figure out a way to bring the dead back to life. The results are terrifying. Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde, Evan Peters, Donald Glover and Sarah Bolger star. Rated PG-13.

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Benedict Cumberbatch Writes Touching Letter for Teen Fan Following Her Death

ADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Benedict Cumberbatch wrote a touching letter for a 14-year-old fan who died suddenly earlier this month and whose funeral was held Monday in Warrington, U.K.

The letter was read aloud during the funeral for Eve Shepherd, a fan of Cumberbatch's TV series Sherlock, according to the Warrington Guardian. The Oscar-nominated actor wrote:

"I send my deepest sympathies to Eve’s family. To lose someone so young who fought for her health all her life must be beyond endurance. I hope they can take solace from the fact that she was clearly much loved and her support of our show is hugely appreciated and shall be remembered. I wish I could be there but sadly am filming the show she loved. God rest her soul. With all my love and sympathies, Benedict xxx."

Eve's father, Mark, tells the Warrington Guardian, "Eve would find this funny as she was a big TV and film fan. She would be giggling her head off at the thought she was in the newspaper. But she would be so happy about the letter from Benedict -- she was a huge fan. "

Eve led a difficult life after being born at 28 weeks in 2000. She underwent more than 200 operations after needing a tracheostomy at just three months old, according to the newspaper.

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Movie Review: "Focus" (Rated R)

Frank Masi/Warner Bros. Entertainment(NEW YORK) -- From the directors and writers of Crazy, Stupid, Love. comes the con-job romantic dramedy, Focus.

Nicky (Will Smith) is drinking, alone, in a posh New York City hotel restaurant when a gorgeous blonde, Jess, (The Wolf of Wall Street’s Margot Robbie) begins having some trouble with a gentleman at the bar. She approaches Nicky and asks if he’d mind pretending to be her boyfriend, which is kind of like asking anyone with a pulse -- man or woman, gay or straight -- if they’d mind pretending to be Margot Robbie’s boyfriend.

Robbie is gorgeous, and her chemistry with Smith is palpable. Small talk leads to flirtation, which leads to Jess’ hotel room, which leads to her “husband” bursting through the door and threatening Nicky’s life at gunpoint -- at which point Nicky insists that the jealous husband shoot him. The husband, perplexed, doesn’t know how to handle the situation. Turns out, Nicky has known all along he was being conned -- because he’s a con man, too.

Nicky points out the flaws in Jess’ con, gives a few tips, and leaves.  It’s a telling scene, because it telegraphs what the rest of the movie will be: enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing, but just a little too cute and convenient.

Nicky isn’t just a con man -- he runs a multi-million-dollar network of cons. He employs freelancers to work major events, like the Super Bowl, and Jess wants a piece of the action. She also wants a piece of Nicky. And off we go. 

These two like each other, but their lack of morality is this story’s major flaw. As great as Focus is to look at and as charming as Smith and Robbie are, it was difficult to fully invest in either of them because, at their core, Nicky and Jess are despicably selfish people. 

There’s also a wild card here, and that’s Adrian Martinez. The journeyman actor, probably best-known to most as the Cheesehead fan from the State Farm insurance commercials starring Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, steals scenes in Focus as Farhad, Nicky’s right-hand man and good friend. Martinez is flat out, R-rated funny. 

Focus is, overall, entertaining and surprisingly unpredictable. Though when I say unpredictable, what I mean is some of the twists are imaginative -- and when I say imaginative, I mean impossible.  Even so, Focus provides some fun moments, though that lack of empathy for the main players ultimately makes it a less than satisfying experience.

Three out of five stars.

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Ivanka Trump Opens Up About Converting to Orthodox Judaism

Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism after getting together with her husband, Jared Kushner, though she rarely discusses it.

For the businesswoman, the subject is "such a personal thing."

“We’re pretty observant, more than some, less than others. I just feel like it’s such an intimate thing for us," she told Vogue. "It’s been such a great life decision for me. I am very modern, but I’m also a very traditional person, and I think that’s an interesting juxtaposition in how I was raised as well. I really find that with Judaism, it creates an amazing blueprint for family connectivity."

Trump, 33, and Kushner, 34, who have been married since 2009 and are now parents to two small children, keep kosher and observe the Sabbath. From Friday night until sundown on Saturday, they disconnect from the rest of the world and enjoy time with their family.

"We don’t do anything but hang out with one another. We don’t make phone calls," she said. "It’s an amazing thing when you’re so connected to really sign off. And for [my three-year-old] Arabella to know that she has me, undivided, one day a week? We don’t do anything except play with each other, hang out with one another, go on walks together. Pure family."

It's nice for Kushner too. His wife, he said, has really embraced the ritual, and even learned to cook as a result of it.

"Ivanka’s such a type A,” he said. “She just gets it done. But she said, ‘If we’re going to do Shabbos, I’m going to cook.’ She never cooked before in her life, and became a great cook. So for Friday, she’ll make dinner for just the two of us, and we turn our phones off for 25 hours. Putting aside the religious aspect of it; we live in such a fast-paced world.”

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“House of Cards” Season 3 on Netflix: A Season 2 Refresher

David Giesbrecht for Netflix(NEW YORK) -- So, House of Cards season 3 is just hours away (3 a.m. to be exact), but before you get cozy in bed, or set up your favorite snack by the couch and clear your schedule for the next 10 hours, here's a quick-and-dirty rundown of season 2:

To kick off the season, the sexiest reporter in D.C. -- Zoe Barnes -- was killed by Frank Underwood, who pushed her in front of a train.

After spending most of season 1 vying for the vice presidency, Underwood stepped things up and set up the president for a big fall, just so he could take the top spot.

Meanwhile, Underwood and his wife Claire had an affair with a Secret Service agent -- at the same time. Frank also had a season-long battle with billionaire Raymond Tusk, who had been very close to the president. We found out about Claire's past as a victim of sexual abuse and also her affair with a famous photographer.

A prostitute keeping a secret that could ruin Frank is sent away and watched over by Underwood's friend Doug, but then she kills him. The season ends with Frank taking over the presidency.

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Beyonce Shows Off Her Fierce Workout Routine

@beyonce/Instagram(NEW YORK) -- Beyonce works hard for that flawless figure.

The 33-year-old singer showed off some of her fierce workout moves in a new video posted on Instagram Wednesday.

Queen Bey is the latest celebrity to accept first lady Michelle Obama's challenge to show off five ways to stay healthy.

FLOTUS issued the challenge, dubbed #Gimme5, on Monday in honor of the fifth anniversary of her "Let's Move" fitness campaign.

"I want kids, parents, maybe even a few celebrities, to give me five ways to be healthy," Obama said in a promotional video that features a cameo from President Obama.

Beyonce responded with her own sped-up video in which she shows off an impressive set of squats, crunches, lunges and punches to the tune of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger."

"Celebrating the 5th anniversary of Let's Move! #GimmeFive @michelleobama," she captioned the video, in which she appears in a black T-shirt and black-and-white, striped leggings.

The first lady re-posted the video on her Instagram, writing, "Double tap if you're ready to work out with @Beyonce! #GimmeFive of your workout drills (or you'll disappoint the Beygency)."

Check out Beyonce's video below, along with a couple others from celebs who have accepted the challenge.

 

Celebrating the 5th anniversary of Let's Move! #GimmeFive @michelleobama ????

A video posted by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on Feb 25, 2015 at 1:52pm PST

 

 

Hey @FLOTUS, I see your #GimmeFive challenge and pass it on to @NickJonas! #LetsMove https://t.co/lFgGqOd77q

— Ryan Seacrest (@RyanSeacrest) February 24, 2015

 

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Mirjana Puhar: Tyra Banks 'Deeply Saddened' by Death of "ANTM" Contestant

Amanda Edwards/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Tyra Banks, the executive producer of America's Next Top Model, expressed her deep sorrow over the death of one of the show's former contestants, Mirjana Puhar.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic news about Mirjana Puhar," Banks and fellow executive producer Ken Mok wrote in a statement to ABC News. "She was a vivacious and promising young woman. Our hearts and prayers go out to her loved ones."

Puhar, 19, was found dead, along with Jonathan Cosme Alvarado and Jusmar Isiah Gonzaga-Garcia, Tuesday in a home in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Police have not said how or when the three were killed, but have arrested and charged 19-year-old Emmanuel Rangel in the killings, according to The Charlotte Observer. Rangel remains in custody and has not yet appeared in court to enter a plea.

Puhar appeared on the 21st cycle of America's Next Top Model, which premiered in August. At the time of filming, she was 18 and introduced as the youngest of the show's 14 contestants.

She was eliminated in the 10th episode of the season.

As word spread of Puhar's death, people connected with ANTM responded on social media.

Judge Miss J Alexander took to Twitter to mourn:

 

Saddened to learn about #ANTM Cycle 21 contestant Mirjana Puhar's murder. Remembering her fondly. RIP pic.twitter.com/gHj7WMZEcY

— Miss J Alexander (@MissJAlexander) February 25, 2015

 

Fellow contestant Will Jardell posted several remembrances on his Instagram, including a photo with Puhar. "You are one of the kindest most passionate people I know and I am at a loss knowing that you are gone," Jardell wrote. "Reality TV may have painted you one way but make no mistake you are an incredible and loving person that the world will truly miss."



Jardell also posted a video of Puhar.

 

 

A video posted by Will Jardell (@williamjardell) on Feb 25, 2015 at 12:36pm PST

 

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Lupita Nyong'o's Pearl Oscars Dress Stolen, Police Say

A.M.P.A.S.(r)/Michael Yada(LOS ANGELES) -- Did Lupita Nyong'o's Oscar night gown -- a custom Calvin Klein collection dress that reportedly featured over 6,000 white Akoya pearls -- get stolen straight out of her hotel room?

Deputies in West Hollywood tell ABC News that's exactly what happened to the Oscar winner. The dress, worth $150,000, was swiped from the actress' room Wednesday at The London West Hollywood while the 12 Years a Slave star was out.

Investigators were on the scene Thursday morning and have obtained hotel security footage in hopes of identifying the thief.

The dress, designed by Francisco Costa along with Nyong'o, took months to create. Costa told Vogue he created "a series of textures with intricate placements of a variety of different-sized pearls."  He added, "We looked at a variety of different pearls -- South Sea, iridescent, and natural -- and decided that the natural pearls looked the most beautiful."

Nyong'o's publicist had no comment, while a rep for Calvin Klein has not yet responded to requests for comment.

Nyong'o, 31, won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar last year and presented at this year's awards, wearing the custom dress that was designed for her by Francisco Costa.

 

 

 

All in the details. #Oscars #calvinkleinlive

A photo posted by Calvin Klein (@calvinklein) on Feb 22, 2015 at 3:05pm PST

 

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Madonna Falls During BRIT Awards Performance

Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage(LONDON) -- While performing at the BRIT awards on Wednesday night, Madonna fell, landing on her side and worrying her legions of fans.

Fortunately, she fell down just a few stairs, and was able to get up and complete her song.

She posted to her Instagram account later on Wednesday that her wardrobe had caused the accident, but that she was feeling "fine."



Wednesday was the first time in 20 years that the star took the stage at the BRIT awards -- the U.K.'s version of the Grammys.

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Zendaya Accepts Guiliana Rancic's Apology for "Fashion Police" Joke

ABC/Rick Rowell(NEW YORK) -- Zendaya has accepted Guiliana Rancic's apology for making fun of the Disney star's appearance on the Oscars red carpet with a questionable joke.

Rancic attempted to poke fun at Zendaya's dreadlocked hair when she commented Monday night on her E! series Fashion Police, "I feel like she smells like patchouli oil. Or weed. Maybe weed." She apologized the next night on E! News after Zendaya, 18, called the comment "outrageously offensive" in a lengthy Instagram post.

In another message published on her Instagram page Wednesday, Zendaya tells Rancic she appreciates the apology, adding, "I’m glad it was a learning experience for you and for the network. I hope that others negatively affected by her words can also find it in their hearts to accept her apology as well."

 

A photo posted by Zendaya (@zendaya) on Feb 25, 2015 at 11:22am PST



She then shared a famous quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Rancic's Fashion Police co-host, Kelly Osbourne, has remained quiet on Twitter since she wrote Tuesday that she does not condone racism and that she was seriously questioning her role on the show in light of the controversy.

 

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Lindsay Lohan Ordered to Do Additional 125 Hours of Community Service

ABC/Randy Holmes(LOS ANGELES) -- Lindsay Lohan will have to work overtime on community service following a decision by a Los Angeles judge on Wednesday.

Judge Mark Young ordered the Mean Girls star to perform an additional 125 hours of community service in connection with her reckless driving case, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Last month, a prosecutor questioned whether Lohan had completed the terms of her community service. She had received credit for young people shadowing her while in London working on her play, Speed-the-Plow.

Her attorney, Shawn Holley, said Wednesday that the court and prosecutors "had a problem with some of the work shadowing."

A hearing is scheduled for March 12 to determine how Lohan can perform her remaining hours of community service before late May.

Lohan, who currently lives in the U.K., was ordered to perform community service as part of her sentence for the 2012 case involving her crash with a truck on the Pacific Coast Highway.

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Justin Bieber Roast: Kevin Hart Reveals What to Expect

Comedy Central(NEW YORK) -- We are just a month away from the Justin Bieber "Roast" on Comedy Central and the roastmaster himself, Kevin Hart, is dishing on what to expect.

"He'll be fine, that's a great friend of mine. I'm not going to be malicious, we'll throw a couple jabs here and there, but it's all about setting the tone," Hart told MTV News over the weekend. "It's all in fun."

Hart added that he's not trying to make the pop singer cry on his 21st birthday on March 30.

"We don't," he said. "[Almost crying] where his face shakes. I don't want to make him cry, I just want to make his face shake. Then go 'I'm kidding Bieb.'"

Check it out.

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Lady Gaga Is Heading to “American Horror Story: Hotel”

A.M.P.A.S.(r)/Michael Yada(NEW YORK) -- Lady Gaga is heading to American Horror Story.

The singer announced Wendesday on Twitter that she will appear in season five of the FX show, which will be dubbed American Horror Story: Hotel.

"Make your reservation now," she wrote.

 

Make your reservation now. #GagaAHSHotel https://t.co/o9ixi5TaFy

— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) February 25, 2015

 

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How "Modern Family's" Groundbreaking Episode Was Made

ABC(NEW YORK) -- Modern Family has always lived up to its name with its depiction of modern, 21st-century family life, but now the show is breaking new ground by depicting that family interacting with 21st-century technology.

Wednesday night’s episode of the TV comedy was shot using only mobile devices, an idea that grew from a real-life conversation on a mobile device.

“The whole thing began when I was FaceTiming with my daughter, who’s at college,” the show’s co-creator, Steve Levitan, told ABC News. “There were some emails that were open, some Web sites I’d been on and maybe a script I was working on at the time.”

From that experience came Wednesday night’s episode, which takes place entirely on the Mac laptop of Julie Bowen's character, Claire Dunphy, as she waits for a plane and FaceTimes with the rest of her family on their phones.

“We have 11 or 12 characters that all appear this way,” said Levitan. “I think people were somewhat cautious about it in the beginning, shall we say.”

Actor Rico Rodriguez, who plays Manny Delgado in the show, calls the concept “amazing” and “so different.”

“At first, whenever they told us how we were going to do it, holding the cameras, we’re not going to be holding the cameras but we will, the whole thing about iPhones, filming it on iPhones, was kind of mind-boggling,” he said Wednesday on ABC's Good Morning America. “But we all got the hang of it pretty fast.”

The episode was filmed in two days -- a “pretty amazing” amount of time, according to Rodriguez -- and got the thumbs-up from the actor.

“Last week all the cast and crew went and screened it and it was a pretty amazing episode,” Rodriguez said. “I got lost in the story even though I knew exactly what was going to happen.”

“I was like, ‘Whoa, this is crazy,’” he said.

Modern Family airs Wednesday night at 9 p.m. Eastern/8 p.m. Central on ABC.

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Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke Head to Court over Marvin Gaye Copyright-Infringement Claims

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams are in court to face the family of Marvin Gaye.

Thicke, Williams and Clifford Harris Jr. (aka, T.I.) defended themselves in a lawsuit filed in 2013 against accusations made by Gaye's loved ones that the singers stole parts of the 1977 Gaye song, "Got to Give It Up," for their hit, "Blurred Lines."

However, in October, a judge sided with the Gaye family, ruling that their musicological experts had given enough evidence to allow it to go to trial.

Thicke and Williams are expected to take the stand in the two-week trial, during which a jury of five women and three men will listen to the composition and melody of "Got to Give It Up" to determine if there was a copyright infringement. The trial began Tuesday and continues Wednesday.

They'll also watch past interviews that Thicke gave, including one with VH1 in which he admitted that "Got to Give It Up" was one of his favorite songs of all time. However, he has since said that he lied during that interview, and wasn't in his right mind when it was conducted.

Some experts believe that this case could have a resounding effect throughout the music industry.

"Artists have drawn upon the inspiration for their songs, listening to other songs," legal expert Alison Triessl told Good Morning America. "They may not be able to do that anymore."

Lawyers for both parties would not comment.

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42nd “So Rare” Antique Show and Sale

The show features dealers from Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.  Items for sale include antique furniture, oriental rugs, china, crystal, Victorian and depression glassware, pottery, estate and vintage jewelry, silver, textiles, linens, tapestries, artwork, lamps, tools and war memorabilia. 

 

A glass grinding vendor will also be on hand to repair chipped crystal and glassware.

 

42nd “So Rare” Antique Show and Sale

February 20, 21, 22, 2015

Friday – Saturday: 10am – 6pm / Sunday: 11am – 4pm

Pineville Country Inn & Suites Convention Center


 

 

 

 

 



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