TIME Television

Aaliyah Biopic Gets New Star

The British Academy Children's Awards - Arrivals
Alexandra Shipp arrives at the British Academy Children's Awards at the London Hilton on November 25, 2012 in London, England. Dave M. Benett—Getty Images

Alexandra Shipp will play the slain R&B singer in the Lifetime biopic due out later this year

Nickelodeon star Alexandra Shipp is set to play the R&B legend Aaliyah in an upcoming Lifetime biopic scheduled to premier this fall, according to talk show host Wendy Williams, who is an executive producer on the project. Shipp takes on the role after Disney Channel star Zendaya Coleman opted out in June.

Williams tweeted news of the the cast change on Friday:

The film, Aaliyah: Princess of R&B, will portray the life of the beloved singer who’s music topped the pop charts from 1994 until her untimely death in a 2001 plane crash at 22. The TV movie will be based on the biography, Aaliyah: More Than a Woman, by former TIME editor Christopher John Farley.

The singer died in a plane crash in 2001 at the age of 22 after filming a music video in the Bahamas. Eight others died in the accident.

TIME film

Transformers Writer Will Pen Live-Action Dumbo Remake

Kevin Jonas Visits Disneyland
Kevin Jonas, eldest of the musical Jonas Brothers, took his wife Danielle for a ride on Dumbo the Flying Elephant at Disneyland Getty Images

Elephants. Will. Fly.

Get your Kleenex ready. Disney is planning to remake Dumbo into a live action feature, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

But don’t expect a rerun of the quiet, 64-minute original. Ehren Kruger, who wrote Transformers, has signed on to do the animal flick’s screenplay. He will produce along with Justin Springer, who worked on Oblivion and Tron: Legacy.

THR reports that CG developments might even allow the elephants to actually fly. Just when you think you’ve seen ’bout everything…

[THR]

TIME movies

Don’t Be Bewitched by Rumors of Tina Fey’s Hocus Pocus Sequel

Tina Fey arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Muppets Most Wanted' at the El Capitan Theatre on March 11, 2014 in Hollywood.
Tina Fey arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Muppets Most Wanted' at the El Capitan Theatre on March 11, 2014 in Hollywood. Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images

The 30 Rock star is making a witch movie, but the supposed sequel to the 1993 Disney film is apparently all talk

There were rumors going around over the weekend linking a possible sequel to Hocus Pocus, the 1993 Disney movie that’s since gained something of a cult following, and Tina Fey, who was said to be both producing and starring in it.

To quickly correct the record: Fey is indeed involved in the making of a family-safe movie about witches, but it won’t be Hocus Pocus 2, which according to Deadline isn’t even a thing, at least yet.

Hocus Pocus, if you’ll recall, was the first in Disney’s string of attempts throughout the ’90s to perfect a horror film with just enough levity and innocence to make it marketable to kids. These movies — Don’t Look Under the Bed, Halloweentown, etc. — invariably aired on the Disney Channel sometime in October and gave some big names an unlikely start. (Before Sarah Jessica Parker was Carrie Bradshaw, she was a witch with an appetite for the souls of children in Hocus Pocus; 15-year-old Kirsten Dunst, meanwhile, was in Tower of Terror.)

We don’t know much about Fey’s endeavor, other than that she’s in on it with Allison Shearmur, who was an executive producer on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

TIME Television

Once Upon a Time Casts Its Elsa

The popular snow queen is coming to TV

Georgina Haig will play the role of Elsa—as in, Frozen‘s snow queen—in the upcoming season of Once Upon a Time, ABC said Thursday.

Haig has previously appeared in the movie The Sapphires and, as Etta, in the TV show Fringe.


The news that Elsa would appear in the fairytale-centric show made a splash in May when a suspiciously similar looking woman appeared in the show’s season finale. At the time, executive producer Edward Kitsis told TIME the mysterious new character was definitely Elsa but that the actress who would play the newly-beloved Disney character had not yet been cast. The idea to include the character had been brewing for months, as it became clear that popular love for Frozen was not just a passing fad.

Frozen characters Anna and Kristoff will be played by Elizabeth Lail and Scott Michael Foster.

Read More: How the Producers of Once Upon a Time Kept That Frozen Shocker a Secret

TIME movies

Disney Is Making an Enchanted Sequel

Enchanted Amy Adams Patrick Dempsey
Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey in Enchanted, 2007. Buena Vista Pictures/Disney

No word yet on which stars will return

Seven years after Amy Adams charmed Patrick Dempsey and audiences alike with her live-action princess routine, Enchanted is back for a second adventure, Deadline reports.

Disney has hired J. David Stem and David N. Weiss, who co-wrote Shrek 2 and The Smurfs, to pen the sequel, according to Deadline. Anne Fletcher (The Proposal and The Guilt Trip) will direct the movie.

There doesn’t seem to be any word yet on whether Adams, Dempsey, James Marsden, Idina Menzel, Susan Sarandon or any of the other original stars will return this time. But with Menzel’s surge in popularity from Frozen, you can bet Disney is hoping she’ll be involved.

While Disney has not released plot details, the first movie closed with a fairly straightforward “happily ever after,” so the sequel will likely have a totally new storyline. The long gap between the original movie and this one could allow for Robert’s (Dempsey) daughter to be Disney princess-aged, which might give the filmmakers a fun plot to follow.

[Deadline]

TIME Theater

Newsies Is Leaving Broadway for a National Tour

The musical has fared better at the box office than the movie

The film flop turned Broadway hit Newsies will be ending its two-year run this summer, producers said Sunday, and will launch a national tour in the fall.

“Our last Broadway performance will be Aug 24,” said a post on the show’s Twitter feed. “Thank you for all the love & we hope to see you once more before we begin our tour this fall!”

Though the 1992 film flamed out at the box office, the musical has been a surprising success. It won Tony Awards for best choreography and best score in 2012, and has raked in a whopping $100 million so far. More than one million people have seen the show, the New York Times reports. The national tour that starts in October will take the show to 25 cities in 43 weeks, Entertainment Weekly reports.

“From our first performance, we have been humbled by the spontaneous and genuine outpouring of affection from fans and the theatre community alike,” Disney Theatrical Productions head Thomas Schumacher said in a statement. “When our tour launches in October, I’m thrilled that audiences across North America will be able to experience the adrenaline rush that is Newsies.”

TIME movies

Disney Snips Into the Woods’ Naughty Bits

Stephen Sondheim recently told a group of educators Disney had some objections to the musical's more risque scenes and relationships

Stephen Sondheim made waves in the theater world when he revealed in a recent profile that the film adaptation of one of his crowning achievements, Into the Woods, has cut out some significant pieces of the plot.

When the New Yorker trailed the composer and playwright to an event at Sardi’s in New York City, he unveiled less-than-ideal details about Disney’s upcoming version of the darkly comic musical about what befalls fairy-tale characters after the “happily ever after” ending, which features an all-star cast including Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep and Anna Kendrick.

In the sit-down talk with a group of high school drama teachers, Sondheim told the educators — who expressed concerns about having students perform some of the more racy scenes, including the Big Bad Wolf singing “Hello, Little Girl” to Little Red Riding Hood (lyrics include, “Think of that scrumptious carnality”) — that Disney “had the same objections.”

Warning: Spoilers on an almost 30-year-old play, below.

The Disney film team has evidently chopped down a few knobby branches of Woods. In the version due out Dec. 25 on big screens, Rapunzel doesn’t get killed and the fleeting affair between Cinderella’s Prince Charming and the Baker’s Wife is also out. And we can all forget about the aforementioned “Hello, Little Girl,” which is also being nixed — particularly the Wolf’s predatory libido.

Though the Internet was outraged in the wake of this disclosure, in his conversation with the educators, according to Entertainment Weekly, Sondheim was a bit more accepting of Disney’s heavy-handedness with his material.

“Censorship is part of our puritanical ethics, and it’s something that [students are] going to have to deal with,” said Sondheim. “There has to be a point at which you don’t compromise anymore, but that may mean that you won’t get anyone to sell your painting or perform your musical.”

TIME Toys

You’ll Never Believe How Many Lightsabers Disney Sells Every Year

Star Wars Fans Train As Jedis In Lightsaber Class In San Francisco
Students perform combat moves using lightsabers during a Golden Gate Knights class in saber choreography on February 24, 2013 in San Francisco. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

An elegant weapon for a more civilized age

Even though the next Star Wars film is still more than a year away, Disney is already reaping some healthy rewards from its $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm: The media giant told Variety that it now sells 10 million lightsabers per year.

The multi-colored energy swords, a staple of the Star Wars universe, are sold as tiny keychains and as high-end full-size collectibles.

Expect to see more lightsabers out in the wild as Disney begins flooding the market with more Star Wars content. In addition to the upcoming film trilogy, the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars was recently revived on Netflix, a new cartoon series called Star Wars: Rebels is slated to launch on cable later this year and the action game Star Wars: Battlefront is currently in development for the Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

Star Wars merchandise helped Disney boost its overall retail sales to $40.9 billion in 2013, up from $39.4 billion the previous year.

MONEY Tourism

Why You Should Postpone That Trip to Disney World

140611_EM_NoDisney_1
Summer never fails to attract big crowds to Walt Disney World in Orlando. Peter Ptschelinzew—Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

After crunching the numbers, researchers concluded that the most expensive weekend of the summer in Orlando is just about here.

Specifically, the last weekend of June. As for the cheapest time of the summer in theme park central, that supposedly takes place on the second-to-last weekend in August—in other words, the weekend before Labor Day.

This is all according to the folks at dealnews, who asked Priceline to dig into its reams of data and figure out when families would get the best deals on hotels in Orlando for a summer vacation. Based on 2013 numbers, Priceline determined that Orlando hotels cost an average of $93.54 on the last weekend of June, compared to $82.08 on the second-to-last weekend of August. When looking strictly at three-star hotels, the differential was bigger: $94 at the end of June, versus $76 for the August weekend.

The main reason given for the price differential is that by late August, many kids are either already back in school, or their families are in the throws of hectic back-to-school preparations, so it’s not an ideal time to haul the brood to Orlando for a big vacation. The July issue of MONEY backs this theory up, in an article quoting Robert Niles of Theme Park Insider, who says that crowds thin out and on-site hotel prices dip 25% to 35% in mid to late August.

The end of June, by contrast, is when most kids are freshly released from the clutches of teachers and principals—the perfect time to reward kids for all their work in school, and also for moms and dads to make their case as Best Parents Ever.

Just be aware that you’ll pay a hefty price for visiting Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and the rest of Orlando anytime from the end of June through early August. This is peak summer season in Orlando, and while the hotel rate premium indicated above may not seem like all that big of a deal, lodging is but one vacation cost.

Arguably far bigger “costs” are the ones that don’t technically cost you anything out of pocket: weather and crowds. The Disney fanatics over at MouseSavers.com are among the many theme park enthusiasts who list the peak summer season (end of June to mid-August) as one of the worst times of year to hit Walt Disney World. “Expect it to be very busy and extremely hot, with heavy humidity,” the site warns. Likewise, Frommer’s cautions, “Summer is when the masses throng to the parks. It’s also very humid and hot, Hot, HOT.”

On the other hand, Mouse Savers names the period of late August through September as among the very best times for families going to Orlando, in particular because of “rock-bottom deals” at off-site (non-Disney) hotels and lodging packages that include “free” meals for guests staying at Disney properties.

Many news outlets jumped on the hotel pricing data released by dealnews and Priceline and announced that August was the least expensive and overall best time for visiting Orlando. But that’s misleading. The second-to-last weekend in August isn’t the cheapest time of year in central Florida. It’s just the cheapest weekend in the summer. And hey, based on the hotel rates listed, it’s not all that much cheaper than the most expensive weekend of the summer.

There are generally much better deals to be had—in terms of lodging, as well as lodging-meals-and-pass packages—during the off-season periods of late fall (with the exception of Thanksgiving weekend) and just after New Year’s (with the exception of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend). By visiting during one of these periods, you’ll not only save on lodging and other expenses, you’ll also avoid the end-of-summer hurricane season, when torrential downpours and lightning (if not worse) are to be expected.

Yes, we know that summer is when kids are out of school, and that’s when you want to take the family to the famously family-friendly destination that is Orlando. But there’s so much upside to hitting Disney and the rest in the true off season, it’s worth considering taking the kids out of school for a visit in, say, early December. That’ll make it even easier to stake your claim to the title of Best Parent Ever.

TIME movies

This Girl Looks Exactly Like Elsa From Frozen

Though to be fair, you throw any pretty blonde girl into a light blue dress and you'll get a decent Elsa

Eighteen-year-old Anna Faith from Florida looks so much like everyone’s favorite Disney snow queen that she’s making money off the resemblance. Behold:

Faith has become something of an entrepreneur by starting her own Elsa lookalike business. She even recruited a friend to dress up as Elsa’s younger sister, Anna, and the two make appearances at schools and birthday parties:

Here they are singing Let It Go, obviously:

Faith even went to her prom as Elsa, because why not:

Now, yes, you might be thinking that Elsa is generic-looking enough that any pretty blonde with flowing locks could call herself a lookalike. The key is in the eyebrow, though, and Faith’s arch game is on point:

(h/t Jezebel)

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