ACTOR IAN HOLM DIES
LONDON (AP) — Versatile British actor Ian Holm has died. Holm appeared in scores of movies big and small, from costume dramas to fantasy epics. A generation of moviegoers knows him as Bilbo Baggins in “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies. He won a British Academy Film Award and gained a supporting-actor Oscar nomination for portraying pioneering athletics coach Sam Mussabini in the hit 1982 film “Chariots of Fire.” His other movie roles included Father Cornelius in “The Fifth Element,” android Ash in “Alien,” a smooth-talking lawyer in “The Sweet Hereafter,’’ Napoleon Bonaparte in “Time Bandits,’’ writer Lewis Carroll in ”Dreamchild” and a royal physician in “The Madness of King George.’’ He was also a charismatic theater actor who won a Tony Award for best featured actor as Lenny in Harold Pinter’s play “The Homecoming” in 1967. His agent says Holm died Friday of an illness related to Parkinson’s disease. He was 88.
AMC THEATERS REVERSES COURSE ON MASKS AFTER BACKLASH
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The nation’s largest movie theater chain changed its position on mask-wearing less than a day after the company became a target on social media for saying it would defer to local governments on the issue. AMC Theaters CEO Adam Aron said Friday that its theaters will require patrons to wear masks upon reopening, which will begin in mid-July. AMC Theaters wasn’t the first to say it would defer to officials on the mask issue — the Cinemark and Regal chains had already stated similar plans. But it hit a nerve for many on Thursday and #boycottAMC quickly became a trending topic on Twitter. The outrage was further flamed by one of Aron’s comments in an interview with the Hollywood trade Variety that implied that taking a hard stance on mask-wearing was a political matter. Aron told Variety: “We did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” and said, “We thought it might be counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly that it is not necessary.”
HARRY CONNICK JR. HONORS WORKERS DURING PANDEMIC ROAD TRIP
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Harry Connick Jr. has taken a pandemic road trip to visit essential workers around the country. And his filmmaker daughter went along. Over the course of about 12 days, Georgia Connick filmed her father on handheld cameras or GoPros as he drove a recreational vehicle to see how the coronavirus was affecting workers in public transportation, grocery stores, health care and more. Their journey to New Orleans is the subject of a TV special airing Sunday on CBS. “United We Sing” highlights everyday heroes with special shout-outs from his celeb pals Brad Pitt, Oprah Winfrey, Sandra Bullock and Renee Zellweger. Connick said he wanted to highlight the “silver linings” during the pandemic. The show also features musical performances from Jamie Foxx, Cyndi Lauper, Branford and Wynton Marsalis, Dave Matthews, Tim McGraw, Irma Thomas and more.
NEW SOLO VERSION OF ARETHA FRANKLIN SONG RELEASED
NEW YORK (AP) — A never-before-heard solo version of Aretha Franklin’s powerful collaboration with Mary J. Blige, “Never Gonna Break My Faith,” has been released on Juneteenth. Sony’s RCA Records, RCA Inspiration and Legacy Recordings released the song to mark the holiday celebrating the day in 1865 that all enslaved black people learned they had been freed from bondage. Franklin’s friend and collaborator Clive Davis, who is Sony Music’s chief creative officer, calls Franklin’s performance “chilling.” He said the song’s lyrics and relevance “will shake every fiber in your body.” “Never Gonna Break My Faith” won best gospel performance at the 50th Grammy Awards in 2008, marking Franklin’s 18th and final Grammy win. She died in 2018 at age 76. The song was originally featured in the film “Bobby,” about U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 assassination.