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"Hercules," "Lucy," "And So It Goes" Open Friday


Paramount(NEW YORK) -- Here's a look at the new movies opening nationwide Friday:

Hercules -- Dwayne Johnson is the second actor this year to take on the role of the Greek hero, after Kellan Lutz in The Legend of Hercules. Johnson's Hercules goes to battle in a civil war to return the rightful king to his throne. Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes and Irina Shayk also star in the Brett Ratner-directed film. Rated PG-13.

Lucy -- Scarlett Johansson is a woman who gains great power, thanks to her ability to utilize more of her brain's capacity than the average human. Morgan Freeman also stars. Rated R.

And So It Goes -- Michael Douglas plays Oren, a man who suddenly has to care for the nine-year-old granddaughter he didn't know existed. Diane Keaton co-stars in the Rob Reiner-directed film as Oren's neighbor. Rated PG-13.

And opening in limited release:

Magic in the Moonlight -- In Woody Allen's 50th film as a director, Colin Firth plays a magician who tries to expose a psychic -- Emma Stone's character -- as a fake in 1920s France. Eileen Atkins, Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater, Simon McBurney and Jacki Weaver also star in the romantic comedy. Rated PG-13.

The Fluffy Movie --
Stand-up comedian Gabriel Iglesias performs during his Unity Through Laughter tour. Rated PG-13.

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San Diego Comic-Con Roundup: A Look at Thursday's Highlights


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey made an unannounced landing Thursday at Comic-Con in San Diego along with Dark Knight trilogy director Christopher Nolan to promote their upcoming film, Interstellar.

It was both celebrities' first appearance at the annual geek mecca -- surprising considering Nolan's filmography. The director told the crowd, "I thought I'd see what the fuss was about" this time around.

McConaughey recalled the first time he met Nolan, describing a meeting at Nolan's home. "He doesn't say one word about any new film or me being in a role in it, it was just he and I talking," the actor says. "So I remember leaving there going, 'What the hell was that about? I'm not sure.' Anyway, evidently...he liked me," McConaughey said to laughs.

As for the film -- about space travel to find a new planet for mankind to live, according to the trailers -- neither man said much about the hush-hush plot.

Nolan spoke about his admiration for the spirit of exploration in the early days of the space program. McConaughey offered, "It's by far the most ambitious film that Mr. Nolan's ever directed. When you see it you'll see why."

Incidentally, Jeff Bridges isn't into spoilers, either. He was on hand to promote his own sci-fi movie, The Giver, to an audience of people who haven't seen it. "Going to the movies myself, I like to know as little as possible," Bridges said. "So it's tough....For me, it's challenging to try to entice people in without telling them too much."

[PHOTOS: Day 1 at Comic Con 2014]

Other Comic-Con highlights from Thursday included:

  • Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson making his way through an adoring crowd to promote his upcoming Hercules -- for which he apparently bought hundreds of tickets so Comic-Con attendees could go, The Hollywood Reporter notes.
  • A close-up of Ben Affleck in Batman's cowl was tweeted by Zack Snyder ahead of the Saturday panel for his upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Oddly, considering Superman is a Warner Bros. -- not a Lucasfilm/Disney -- property, Snyder also made waves when he posted a picture of his Man of Steel, Henry Cavill, dressed as a Jedi. Given the Dark Side influence of the picture -- as evidenced by the red lightsaber -- some fans thought it could be a reference to the DC villain Darkseid.
  • Speaking of Star Wars, at a panel for Disney's upcoming animated series Star Wars: Rebels, an all-new trailer was released.
  • Marvel released a pre-production concept art poster for its upcoming Ant-Man specifically created for San Diego Comic-Con. In addition to teasing the hero's size-changing powers, the poster features the faces of Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd, who will play Dr. Hank Pym and Scott Lang -- the scientist who created the technology that gives Ant-Man his power, and the thief he taps to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. Marvel's panel -- always a must-see -- is Saturday.


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Movie Review: “Lucy” (Rated R)


Universal(NEW YORK) -- According to writer/director Luc Besson’s Lucy, if we were able to use 100 percent of our brains, we’d become Neo and the world would be our Matrix.  We’d be able to manipulate time, control people and change the configuration of our very cells.  Scarlett Johansson, as the title character, is able to do all of that and more, after she’s abducted, knocked out and wakes up with a bag of CPH4 surgically implanted in her stomach, which she’s forced to smuggle for some very nasty men.  The blue synthetic drug emulates a substance produced in the womb that gives a fetus the energy to survive.  When the bag breaks, the drug leaks into Lucy’s system, instantly endowing her with super powers -- or just a better brain.
 
Enter Morgan Freeman’s Professor Norman, a neuroscientist with lots of theories about how much, or really how little, we use of our brains.  While Lucy is being turned into an unwilling drug mule, Norman is lecturing at a Paris university about our untapped brain potential.  If we only use 10 percent of our brains, he says, what might we be able to do if we could access the remaining 90 percent?
 
Lucy is suddenly using more than 20 percent of her brain, enough to give her the ability to escape her captors and expertly handle a gun.  Her next move: go to a hospital and have a surgeon remove the bag of drugs from her belly, something she’s able to endure without anesthesia.  She then calls in a tip to a French police officer about the other drug mules, and which countries they will be entering.  Because Lucy wants the rest of the drugs for herself.
 
What does Professor Norman have to do with all this?  His research and theories serve as Lucy’s hypothetical blueprint for her transformation, and she needs his help.  I think.  It’s not really all that clear why she needs Norman and his colleagues -- since she’s becoming so intellectually superior to pretty much everyone, Lucy should be able to execute her plan without anyone’s help.  It’s a major flaw in a story I was absolutely rooting for, but I eventually realized I was rooting for a losing team.
 
Johansson uses 100 percent of her acting ability to breathe life into a character that deserved better treatment.  Lead roles for women in action movies are scarce, so kudos to Besson and company for trying to create something unique for one of Hollywood’s best -- but jeers to Besson and company as well for not allowing Lucy, a woman, to resolve this story without the help of men.  That would’ve been a nice statement.
 
Ultimately, Lucy devolves into something that doesn’t make much sense.  The good news is it starts out well and since it’s less than 90 minutes long, you won’t feel like you’ve wasted your time on a mindless second and third act.
 
Three out of five stars.

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Tara Reid Really Believes a ‘Sharknado’ Could Happen


Paul Drinkwater/NBC(NEW YORK) -- Think Sharknado is just a fun, summer B-movie? Think again.

“You know, it actually can happen,” one of the stars, Tara Reid, who returns for Sharknado 2: The Second One, told GQ recently. “I mean, the chances of it happening are very rare, but it can happen, actually. Which is crazy. Not that it -- The chances of it are, like, you know, it’s like probably ‘pigs could fly.’ Like, I don’t think pigs could fly, but actually sharks could be stuck in tornados. There could be a sharknado.”

Whether or not you believe an actual shark storm could hit, SyFy drew about two million viewers last summer for its first made-for-TV schlock fest about sharks inside a tornado attacking Los Angeles.

The feeding frenzy returns July 30 with 90210 heartthrob Ian Ziering and a whole new cast of celebrity chum, including Vivica A. Fox, Mark McGrath, and Kari Wuhrer. This time, sharks attack New York City.

Just in case Reid is right, her celebrity co-stars chimed in with what to do in the case of an actual sharknado.

“The most terrifying tornado would be probably be full of lawyers,” Ziering told GQ, while recommending in that case the biggest, “chainsaw you can find and hope for the best.”

Fox, who wishes for an assist from Samuel L. Jackson because, “he’s been up with some snakes on a plane,” told GQ, ”Definitely go to the top of a roof, get some bombs, and make sure you have on an awesome, powerful wetsuit.”

McGrath’s advice: ”You have to stay calm, OK? Because everybody else is freaking out. And you have to be good friends with Ian Ziering. If you’re part of Ian’s group, you got a 50/50 chance of survival.”

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Inside the University of Virginia's "Game of Thrones" English Course


Helen Sloan/HBO (CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- Games of Thrones fans at the University of Virginia were given the opportunity to take the class of a lifetime.

An English class, which met five days each week for 2 hours and 15 minutes, focused on the George R.R. Martin series. It was offered as a four-week summer course.

"This class will use the work of Martin (one novel and many episodes of the HBO series) to explore the notions of literary and visual representation (How does a character in the text come to life on screen?), racialism (Is Martin’s view of race and region indebted to Tolkien’s or does it exceed it?), fan fiction (Why were so many viewers outraged by The Red Wedding? Why does the series prompt such loyalty?), and gendered dimensions of power (How do women in the series exert control over their own lives and the lives of others?)," the class syllabus read. "This course will carefully assess one of Martin’s written works, while paying close attention to the strategies HBO uses to bring it to a mass audience."

Twenty-four "serious and engaged" students took the seminar and did well, associate professor Lisa Woolfork, who taught the course, told ABC News.

She provided them with a chart to ensure that they read the episodes carefully, "using similar protocols for studying literature," and at the end of the four-week course, she challenged them do complete group projects analyzing the series and its rabid audience.

"We were engaged with the questions generated by carefully reading the first book, then using that as a basis for exploring the connections between the first three seasons of the TV series," she said.

"We spent a lot of time discussing the ways that Martin's narrative broke genre limitations and the phenomena that Game of Thrones has been become within and beyond its book and TV depictions. We also considered the motivations and consequences for significant changes made on TV show."

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Ariana Grande's Heart 'Beyond Broken' over Grandfather's Death


ABC/Richard Harbaugh(NEW YORK) -- Ariana Grande tweeted photos of her grandfather, Frank Grande, who died earlier this week, and said she started crying when she watched her brother, Frankie Grande, receive the grim news live while he was on the reality show Big Brother.

"[T]hank you for your continuous love & light over the past few weeks... we did lose my favorite person to ever exist yesterday, my grandpa :'(" Grande wrote. "if only y'all knew how amazing he was.. my [heart] hurts so much. It's beyond broken :'( but I got to hold his hand and watch him find his peace."

The singer, 21, added some throwback photos of her late grandfather on Twitter.

Grande had to watch her brother read the news on Wednesday night in a letter from the family. Frankie Grande, who was filming Big Brother, couldn't visit his grandfather before his death.

"[W]atching @frankiejgrande talk abt grandps after reading our letter on the live feed. sobbing / laughing hysterically. love u frankie so much," Ariana Grande wrote.

Earlier, Grande thanked all her friends who came to her side, posting, "thaaaanks to my best friends who stayed up with me all night talking and helped me pull myself together temporarily this am," she posted Wednesday.

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First Trailer for "Fifty Shades of Grey" Debuts


Focus Features/Universal Pictures(NEW YORK) -- The first official trailer for the highly-anticipated film Fifty Shades of Grey was released on Thursday.

The trailer follows Dakota Johnson, portraying college student Anastasia Steele, as she interviews billionaire Christian Grey, played by Jamie Dornan. If you've read E.L. James' erotic novel, on which the film is based, you'll recognize many scenes from the book.

The trailer then fast-forwards, showing Anastasia and Christian's whirlwind romance as they fly in helicopters, attend fancy dinners and make out in elevators -- not to mention blindfolding one another while they're doing you know what.

"I'm incapable of leaving you alone," Christian tells Anastasia in the trailer.

"Then don't," she replies.

Grey then unlocks a door to show Anastasia his so-called Red Room of Pain.

The trailer also features a slowed-down version of Beyonce's 2003 hit, "Crazy in Love."

Fifty Shades of Grey
steams up theaters Feb. 13, 2015.

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Kelsey Grammer Welcomes Newborn Son Gabriel


Peter Kramer/NBC(LOS ANGELES) -- At age 59, Kelsey Grammer is a father again.

The actor and his wife, Kayte Grammer, 33, welcomed son Gabriel on July 22 at 8:28 a.m.

The baby weighed in at 8 pounds, 2 ounces, ABC News has confirmed through Kelsey Grammer's rep.

"We are blessed and excited to have this lovely young man join our family -- he is magnificent!" Grammer said in a statement. "Our son will be called Gabriel as there is a tradition in our family of going by our middle names."

Gabriel's full name is Kelsey Gabriel Elias Grammer.  His famous father's full name is Allen Kelsey Grammer.

Grammer and his wife, who married in 2011, are already parents to daughter Faith, 2.

Grammer was previously married to Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Camille Grammer. The pair had two children together, both born to a surrogate mother.

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Movie Review: “And So It Goes” (Rated PG-13)


Clarius Entertainment(NEW YORK) -- Michael Douglas’ Oren Little is very focused on...Oren Little. He is, or at least at one time was, a very successful realtor. These days, he’s close to retirement: all he has to do is sell his sprawling ocean-side mansion.  But he’s having a tough time -- he’s unwilling to negotiate the asking price, and this old rich white dude also has trouble relating to several potential buyers who aren’t white dudes.  There’s also his sentimental attachment to the home he shared with his late wife, who died of cancer.
 
Oren is also a terrible neighbor, which is a precarious situation for the inhabitants of the apartment complex in which he lives.  That’s because he also owns the place, a fact of which all of his tenants are apparently completely unaware: that the cantankerous old man who yells at their kids and won’t move his car so a very pregnant woman can park in front of the building, is their landlord.  The only person who appears to get along with Oren is his next-door neighbor, Leah (Diane Keaton), a widow and aspiring lounge singer.  Even so, Oren is as nice to Leah as an alligator is to a turtle.
 
Just when you think writer Mark Andrus and director Rob Reiner couldn’t make Oren less likable, he refuses to take care of his 10-year-old granddaughter, Sarah, who has no place to go because her father, Oren’s son and a former drug addict, is going to prison for nine months.  Oren, by his own admission, was a terrible father who did little to help his son when he needed Oren most.  So it’s Leah who takes in Sarah and becomes the young girl’s de facto grandmother.
 
Of course, Oren and Leah are destined to fall for one another.  Indeed, their relationship is so predictable, it’s the only thing Nostradamus didn’t foresee: “In the year 2014, Michael Douglas’ Owen and Diane Keaton’s Leah will clumsily hook up, break up and get back together again in a Rob Reiner film written by Mark Andrus.  Love, Nostradamus.”
 
Michael Douglas takes pride in his ability to play unlikeable characters who win the audience over by movie’s end, and he’ll no doubt win over many people with his performance here.  But no matter how great Douglas is, it’s hard to feel bad for Owen because he’s so difficult for the average person to relate to.  Even when you finally believe he has a heart of gold, Oren and his sprawling ocean-side mansion are still obnoxious.
 
Despite its predictability and a script that feels out of touch, Douglas certainly does charm in And So It Goes, and he has excellent chemistry with Diane Keaton, who is as Diane Keaton-ish as Diane Keaton gets.  For many, that never gets old.  And so it goes.
 
Three out of five stars.

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Adele's Son Wins Five-Figure Sum in Paparazzi Case


Cliff Lipson/CBS(LONDON) -- Adele's son is only two years old, but he's already well on his way to being rich like his mom. The BBC reports that lawyers for the boy, referred to as Angelo Adkins, despite Adele never publicly revealing his name, have accepted a five-figure sum in damages to settle a case over paparazzi photos.

Adele, who was born Adele Adkins, and her partner Simon Konecki, Angelo's father, sued a photo agency for taking photos of Angelo's "milestone moments" between June and November of 2013, and then selling them to the British press.

A lawyer for Adele told a High Court in London that she doesn't want her son to be thought of as "public property," and added, "It is a matter of profound sadness that many of his milestone moments, such as his first family outing and his first trip to playgroup, were photographed and published worldwide expressly against his family's wishes."

Added the lawyer, "These images were taken during private, recreational time unconnected with professional or public engagements. They represent a clear infringement of our client's right to privacy."

The photo agency agreed to pay damages and legal costs, and has also agreed not to re-use the photos.

Adele's lawyer said that the singer and Konecki would "continue to do all they can to protect Angelo's rights in relation to the paparazzi, including taking legal action where necessary."  The lawyer noted that Adele helped fund a similar campaign in California to create stricter laws regarding the photographing of children of celebrities.

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Robert Downey Jr. on "Iron Man:" 'Why Give Up the Belt…?'


ABC/Ida Mae Astute(NEW YORK) -- In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, it seems that Robert Downey Jr. would certainly be up for a fourth Iron Man film.

On the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Forbes' highest-earning actor in Hollywood -- thanks in no small part to his multi-million-dollar Marvel deal that kept him playing Tony Stark through that sequel -- Downey said, "Why give up the belt when it feels like you can barely get jabbed?" He then added, however, “Most people are saying that right when they get knocked out."

The actor had expressed that as any actor's price tag rises as a long-running series continues, so does the specter of the role being recast, though in the past he's admitted, "I would really hate for someone else to think they could step into my shoes."

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has said he sees Iron Man as on par with James Bond or Batman -- an iconic character that will live on onscreen for years, and thus would logically have to be recast at some point.

Luckily for Downey, most Marvel fans worldwide agree -- and the box office bears it out -- that his red-and-gold iron boots would be tough to fill, as the actor is now synonymous with the billionaire, genius, playboy philanthropist he brought to life onscreen.

Even comic book legend Stan Lee, co-creator of Tony Stark/Iron Man, agrees. He recently told ABC News Radio, "I think that Robert Downey Jr. thinks he is Tony Stark...Nobody can play the role better than him. He is Tony Stark."

For now, it seems Downey is optimistic he'll get a shot at an Iron Man 4, telling EW, "It's down to Kevin and [Marvel Entertainment CEO] Ike [Perlmutter] and Disney to come to us with what the proposal is, and that’s on us to agree or disagree," allowing, "When things are going great, there's a lot of agreement."

Falling into the "great" category, no doubt, is the fact that every Iron Man movie has out-grossed its predecessor, leading up to the staggering 1.3-billion-dollar take of the last installment.

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"Better Call Saul" Billboard Spotted in Albuquerque


Ursula Coyote/AMC(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) -- Better Call Saul has yet to air, but the Breaking Bad spin-off already has a leg up on viral marketing thanks to an attention-getting new billboard in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

An eagle-eyed Instagram user first pointed out the billboard, which features a photo of the fictional lawyer and the name he used before becoming sleazy Saul Goodman: James M. McGill. The sign also includes a phone number that leads to an active line.

“Hello, you’ve reached the law office of James M. McGill esquire, a lawyer you can trust," says a voice that sounds like star Bob Odenkirk. "Kindly leave your information at the tone and Mr. McGill will phone you promptly.”

The billboard is apparently being used in an episode of the AMC series, which recently started shooting in Albuquerque and is set to air in early 2015. The spin-off is set to pick up before the events of Breaking Bad.

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Russell Simmons Explains Why He's Honoring Ex-Wife


Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Russell Simmons is set to honor his ex-wife, Kimora Lee Simmons, among others at the 15th annual Art for Life Benefit in Bridgehampton, New York, on July 26, which will benefit his Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. Although it may raise eyebrows for some, the rap and media mogul tells ABC News Radio that in fact, Kimora and her husband, investment banker Tim Leissner, are huge supporters of the foundation and are expected to announce a "huge number" donation that evening, marking the "biggest donation we ever received."

So how do the two exes remain friends after splitting in 2009?  "How is that possible that you could love somebody so much and then create something so beautiful as your children and not share that bond and appreciate the process?" Simmons asks rhetorically.

"No matter what your differences are you should have something much greater than those differences in your children," he adds. "And I think it seems to me elementary but, you know, surprising to some other people."

Russell and Kimora Lee Simmons are parent to two daughters, Ming Lee and Aoki Lee. Kimora also has a son, Kenzo, with her ex-boyfriend, actor Djimon Hounsou.

With the help of Kimora's donation, the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation will continue to expose the arts to inner city youth in New York City. Russell said he started the foundation with his brothers, rapper/minister Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons and Danny Simmons, because it was instilled in them at an early age that arts and creativity were important.

"My mother was a painter. My father was a poet. My brother is a painter. My other brother is a poet. I'm a producer of creative projects and a writer of creative projects. And so I realized that the outward expression and everything you do is informed by some creativity, some imagination," Simmons explains. "It's very important to cultivate the imagination."

Music lovers may want to check out the "Art for Life" auction on Charitybuzz, in which proceeds will also go to the foundation. The auction includes the opportunity to meet LL Cool J, meet Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and attend their Sept. 13 concert in Las Vegas, hang out with John Legend while he's on the road or meet Will Smith and attend the red carpet premiere of his upcoming film, Focus, in 2015. Bidding is open for those prizes until Aug. 7.

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San Diego Comic-Con 2014: Celebrities, Costumes and Zombies, Oh My!


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- Comic-Con International: San Diego officially starts Thursday, and among the almost 130 thousand attendees packing the San Diego Convention Center are stars of the big and small screen -- and more costumed fans than you can shake a lightsaber, magic wand or sonic screwdriver at.

Former WWE champ Dave Bautista, one of the stars of the upcoming Marvel blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy, has been coming for the past four years. He tells ABC News Radio, "It's such a geekfest man, it's incredible, like the energy there. People are so excited and it's all just kind of for their love of comics and sci-fi and geekdom and...it's awesome."

Bautista knows a thing or two about costuming, seeing as he had to be made up head-to-toe in grey body makeup and tattoos to play the towering Marvel hero Drax. He tells ABC News Radio that even he is floored by the costumers on hand at the event. "I think just all the cosplay, seeing all the costumes and stuff, just crazy," Bautista said. "I mean people spend their whole year planning it, and it's very obvious when you see some of the costumes, they're just insane."

However, that costuming could be a little intense for some of the younger attendees -- a lesson Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star Ming-Na Wen told ABC News Radio she learned last year. "There were a lot more zombies than I anticipated," she laughed, "and it scared the crap out of my seven-year-old. I was like, 'No this isn't the normal Comic-Con, I don't think.'"

The annual event is expected to break news not only in the world of Marvel, but also for upcoming movies like Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and TV shows from The Simpsons to True Blood to The Walking Dead and everything in between. Also on hand will be countless celebrities, and the cutting edge of gadgets, collectibles and video games.

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CBS' "Late Show" to Remain in New York City When Colbert Replaces Letterman


Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS (NEW YORK) -- The Late Show will stay in New York's historic Ed Sullivan Theatre after Stephen Colbert takes over for David Letterman, officials announced Wednesday.

The decision is in line with a commitment by CBS for approximately 200 local jobs to support the daily program's schedule.

"New York has long been an international entertainment leader, and with this commitment from CBS we are beginning the next chapter in that proud history,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday.

David Letterman is set to pass down the show to Colbert in 2015 after a 21-year run. The late-night host announced his retirement during an April 3 broadcast.

"David Letterman has graced this hall and city with comedy and entertainment that defined a generation," said Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corporation. "When Dave decides to pass the baton next year, we look forward to welcoming Stephen Colbert, one of the most innovative and respected forces on TV, to this storied television theater. I would also like to applaud Gov. Cuomo for all that he has done to keep New York a vibrant and attractive location for all forms of television production. We’re excited to be here in late night for many years to come."

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