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The Classy Reason Why Reba McEntire Turned Down Titanic

Reba McEntire may have first gained fame for being a country music star, but she has proven a multi-talented entertainer, carving out a separate career as an actress in both film and television. The singer/actress did have to miss out on one huge movie role in James Cameron’s Titanic. Why would anyone turn down Titanic you may ask, well Reba McEntire actually had a really classy reason for doing so, as she explained:

As is seemingly so often the case in this industry, packed schedules and obligations mean that some actors have to pass on exciting projects and that was what happened here. Reba McEntire was offered the role of Molly Brown in Titanic and had her schedule blocked out for a specific time to film the movie. When the production was delayed and moved to a time when she was going to be on tour, she had to make a choice.

There was no way for her to reschedule the tour and all the logistics of the venues to accommodate Titanic’s new production period as she told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live. It sounds like she would have had to cancel the tour entirely basically just to be in Titanic.

That would have not only affected her but all the people that were set to work on the tour with her. Knowing how many people were committed to her tour and were counting on those jobs, she made the classy decision to turn down Titanic.

It is unfortunate for her that the change meant Titanic would be filming during her tour, but bowing out was definitely the right thing to do and a classy move. If she had decided to do Titanic no matter what it would have been only about her. Titanic could recast the role and did with actress Kathy Bates, but the tour was entirely dependent on her involvement.

Of course, while it was the right move it had to sting a little bit after Titanic became (at that time) the most successful movie of all time. Reba McEntire admits as much, while still standing by the decision:

As Dumbledore once said, you have to choose between what is right and what is easy. And although it would have been easy to choose to be a part of a big movie, it was right to take care of her crew. Reba McEntire would have been a fun choice for the sassy and outspoken Southerner Molly Brown, but Kathy Bates killed it in the role. We can add Reba McEntire’s name alongside Matthew McConaughey’s to the Titanic that might have been.

Like the ‘Unsinkable Molly Brown’ she almost played, Reba McEntire just keeps on going. The country artist releases her next album Stronger than the Truth on April 5. For all the big movies you can look forward to this year, check out our 2019 Release Schedule.

The Sports Cliche Fighting With My Family Tried To Avoid, But Had To Include

Biopics, especially ones that deal with the subject of sports, have certain sign posts that must be approached carefully. Those moments, when used incorrectly, can be clichés. However, if used properly, they can be significant touchstones that really tie the film together. One such concept that writer/director Stephen Merchant originally wanted to avoid using in Fighting With My Family was that of the training montage. But, as he explains below, that device basically cried out to be used in the telling of WWE Superstar Paige’s road to glory. Merchant explained this thusly:

The montage is something that has been mocked so often in parodies and comedies throughout history that it’s kind of hard to take it seriously. Perhaps the apex of poking fun at this practice was the song from Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s Team America: World Police, as they admitted in one the film’s songs that “you’ve gotta have a montage.”

So it’s certainly easy to write off the practice of showing a period of time in quick, but progressive narrative succession as something that’s earn an eye roll or a derisive chuckle. But, as Stephen Merchant himself admitted, that moment is sometimes necessary for the audience to view the journey of films such as Fighting With My Family as a satisfying and serious enterprise.

In particular, he described his feelings about the training montage in Fighting With My Family through remarks below, obtained throughout our talk with him during the press day for his latest film.

Fighting With My Family certainly uses its montage to the best advantage, as it shows Paige’s journey starting to pay off after the earlier difficulties and doubts that she faced in the earlier acts. Which is perhaps the key to determining whether or not your sports film should have a montage.

If you have enough of an underdog that the crowd can root for, then the basic rule of thumb is that they’ve earned the right to use the montage. It certainly feels like Stephen Merchant understands that concept, as you can see below in the footage from this discussion about the art of using this unfairly maligned mechanic.

Yes, the montage has been used often enough that people might still laugh at it, but if you’re using it right, then you shouldn’t even have a doubt that the audience will take it seriously. But don’t take our word for it, as Fighting With My Family is in theaters now for you the eager audience to enjoy at your earliest convenience. In the meantime, keep watching us here at CinemaBlend, as we’ll have more coverage from our experiences with the talent behind this wrestling crowd-pleaser.

Best Spring 2019 Shoe Trends To Shop

There will come a time in the season when you’ll get tired of your cowboy boots. (It’s hard to imagine right now, but trust—it’ll happen.) With every passing day, we’re nearing the point where spring shoes—namely, sandals—will finally feel weather-appropriate. There are a few styles that always make the rounds, like the Phoebe Philo-approved Birkenstocks. For Spring 2019, though, you might see more Tevas, as shoppers get reacquainted with the brand that’s now Chloe x Halle-approved. If you’re looking for an alternative to the fan-favorite, orthopedic-like sandals, you can look to the runways for options like seashell-embellished heels, wedges, even flip flops. There are a lot of trends out there, just waiting for you to test out when you’re ready to retire your favorite pair of boots. Shop some of the best shoe styles for spring right here.

Kevin Feige Clarifies James Gunn’s Influence On Phase 4 And His Guardians 3 Script

Around this time last year, it was looking like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 could be one of the the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to be released during Phase 4, but now that James Gunn has been fired from Marvel, it’s unclear when that threequel will arrive. However, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has clarified to CinemaBlend that Gunn’s influence will still be felt in the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 script, though not necessarily throughout other areas of Phase 4. In Feige’s words:

The latter half of Kevin Feige’s comment to our own Eric Eisenberg refers to back in 2017, when James Gunn stated that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 would help launch a new era of cosmic MCU stories, and that he would help Feige and the other creative minds involved with these stories and ensure that the cosmic side of the MCU “is as special and authentic and magical as what we have created so far.” Obviously that’s no longer going to happen, but Feige has now made sure that people know that the plan wasn’t for Feige to be the master architect of all things MCU cosmic, including the The Eternals and, assuming the first movie does well, a Captain Marvel sequel.

In terms of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 script, though, Kevin Feige confirmed that James Gunn’s draft will still be used, which Star-Lord actor Chris Pratt said earlier this month. Needless to say that although several Guardians of the Galaxy teams already existed in the comics, Gunn’s ‘voice’ was definitely felt in the first two Guardians of the Galaxy movies, and was undoubtedly part of the reason these characters became so popular to the general public. That’s also why he contributed to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, since the Guardians finally got to interact with other Marvel heroes. So it sounds like we don’t need to worry about Gunn’s ‘voice’ being completely wiped away from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. although I do wonder how much of his script will be altered once a new director is hired.

As for James Gunn’s future, while he’s no longer working in the MCU, he is lending his talents to a different comic book franchise. It was confirmed earlier this month that in addition to writing The Suicide Squad, he will also direct the DC Extended Universe feature. It’s been said that The Suicide Squad will be less of a direct sequel and more of a relaunch for the anti-hero property, although there’s word that Margot Robbie will be back as Harley Quinn. That movie comes out on August 6, 2021.

Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates on what’s happening with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. For now, you can look through our Marvel movies guide to find out what else is coming out during Phase 4.

A Slightly Surreal Floral Arrangement Inspired by Joan Miró

THE ARRANGEMENT Long stems of ranunculus mimic the whimsical lines in Joan Miró’s ‘The Hunter, Catalan Landscape’ (1924). Near left: Ikebana Vessel, $225,; others, stylist’s own.
THE ARRANGEMENT Long stems of ranunculus mimic the whimsical lines in Joan Miró’s ‘The Hunter, Catalan Landscape’ (1924). Near left: Ikebana Vessel, $225,; others, stylist’s own. Photo: Stephen Kent Johnson for The Wall Street Journal, Floral Styling by Lindsey Taylor, Prop Styling by Carla Gonzalez-Hart

At first glance, Joan Miró’s “The Hunter, Catalan Landscape” (1924) appears purely abstract, all squiggles and blobs. But a closer look at the piece—part of “Birth of the World,” an exhibit dedicated to the Spanish surrealist (1893-1983) that runs until June 15 at New York’s Museum of Modern Art—reveals elements of a classic scenic tableau, complete with bisecting shoreline or horizon. To the left, a stick figure likely representing the hunter smokes a pipe and holds a dead rabbit in one hand, his gun in the other. Various other country critters of Catalan, the artist’s childhood home, populate the scene.

THE INSPIRATION Photo: © 2018 Successió Miró/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York /ADAGP, Paris

I zoomed in on a lineup of ceramic vessels rather than one alone. Their irregular dark clay forms echoed Miro’s playful, gestural lines as did stems of ranunculus (some in bud), eucalyptus and white tallow berry gone to seed. Blooms from the ranunculus, some from daffodils, an anemone dyed salmon and a broken stem of a blue delphinium pick up the colors and bigger shapes. Cutting the stems at different heights helped fill my imaginary canvas—but not too much. I like to show how few flowers one needs to make an impact.

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Appeared in the February 23, 2019, print edition as ‘Miró, Miró Off the Wall.’

James Bay And Julia Michaels’s ‘Peer Pressure’ Is For Anyone Too Guarded To Fall In Love

Just when you thought Julia Michaels‘s single with Niall Horan, “What A Time,” would be her most emotional duet of the year, she’s managed to one-up herself. The collaboration queen — who’s also teamed up with Selena Gomez and 5 Seconds of Summer recently — has lent her signature flair to “Peer Pressure,” a tender new tune from James Bay.

Beginning as an acoustic ballad before building into a pounding, passionate anthem, “Peer Pressure” is all about allowing yourself to fall for someone new, impenetrable defenses be damned. “Put your hands on my body just like you think you know me,” Bay and Michaels sing on the chorus. “Want your heart beating on me, don’t leave me hot and lonely / I don’t usually give in to peer pressure / But I’ll give in to yours.”

In a statement about the new song, Bay said, “I think it can be easy to stay very guarded in life, and not let anybody in, past your personal armor. These guards we all put up every day for different reasons. In writing ‘Peer Pressure,’ Julia and I wanted to talk about how, when the right person comes along, they can break through any armor and with love, get straight to you. It’s about that person who, no matter how much of a guard you hold up, finds their way through to you.”

Michaels added, “Writing ‘Peer Pressure’ was a great collaborative experience because we had so much fun in the studio and the song came from a place we could both relate to. I love the song so much and I hope fans connect to it as much as we do.”

Both singer-songwriters kick off their respective U.S. headlining treks in March, with each one also opening on high-profile world tours later this year — Bay on Ed Sheeran’s, and Michaels on P!nk’s. Here’s hoping their busy touring schedules overlap at some point or another for the first joint live performance of “Peer Pressure.”

New Star Wars Video Shows Every Time The Force Is Mentioned, And It’s A Lot

It’s no secret that “the Force” is an important element of the Star Wars movies. Back in 1977, Obi-Wan famously told a young Luke “it surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” Word of the Force certainly didn’t stop there and certainly binds the franchise together given how many times it’s been mentioned in all the movies. Check out just many times it’s said below:

Wow, that got a bit intense! While it’s not surprising the Force is a habitual phrase in Star Wars, I certainly wasn’t expecting the whopping 161 mentions throughout the franchise. The Star Wars By The Numbers episode has numerous characters from nearly all the movies taking turn uttering the words, so much so that it’s almost exhausting.

Some of the times when “the Force” was mentioned are certainly some of the most iconic moments in the franchise and often empowered the Star Wars characters at their most trying times. As the almost 3-minute video chugs along with every “Force” reference to date, it starts to become both hilarious and ridiculous about just how much it’s said!

At the end of the video, it actually breaks down how much each movie mentions the mystical energy field with a pie chart. Rogue One is unquestionably the franchise’s first-line offender since it’s said 46 times, which takes up over a third of the overall mentions. This is due to Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Îmwe frequent saying “I am one with the Force and the Force is with me,” which he tirelessly repeats throughout the film.

Second up is A New Hope with 22 mentions, which makes a lot of sense because the movie introduced to concept to audiences for the first time, along with the world as a whole. Revenge of the Sith comes in third with 20 mentions as Anakin makes his transition to Darth Vader in the final prequel installment.

Attack of the Clones says it the least… wait, can the quality of a Star Wars film be measured by the amount of “Force” talk alone? One film notably missing from the video is Solo: A Star Wars Story. It looks like the recent spinoff doesn’t mention the Force at all!

This count of 161 certainly won’t be the last we see of “the Force” with Star Wars: Episode IX soon on the way. The J.J. Abrams film that recently wrapped filming ahead of its December 2019 release will close out the Skywalker Saga and presumably conclude the stories of new characters Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren.

There is also a Rogue One spinoff series starring Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor coming from Disney’s new streaming service Disney+ and a new trilogy coming from Rian Johnson. The Force is certainly strong with the Star Wars franchise, and may the Force be with you. Force. Force. Force!

Secret Safaris: Little-Known National Parks in Africa

Zakouma National Park in Chad, one of the 15 parks and reserves currently managed by African Parks.
Zakouma National Park in Chad, one of the 15 parks and reserves currently managed by African Parks. Photo: African Parks/Marcus Westberg

MOST PEOPLE ON their first great African safari tend to flock to South Africa, Kenya and increasingly Botswana. Chad and the Central African Republic aren’t usually the first stop, or even the fourth. But African Parks, a Johannesburg-based nonprofit, is endeavoring to attract more daring wildlife lovers to lesser-known pockets of the continent.

Founded in 2000, the NGO has been tasked by nine African countries to take over existing national parks and protected areas that have been ravaged by poaching and deforestation. The group, which currently manages 15 parks, has brought back to life roughly 40,000 square miles of land in places as varied as Benin, Chad, Congo, Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia. African Parks staff and partners fly in animals from other parts of Africa to repopulate species, cordon off areas so grasses can grow back and train locals in military tactics to deal with poachers. In an effort to make the parks self-sustaining, African Parks CEO Peter Fearnhead says the group takes a business approach to conservation. It builds lodges and campsites and invites high-end operators like Wilderness Safaris and Robin Pope Safaris to create their own facilities. It even has the Windsor House stamp of approval—Britain’s Prince Harry has served as African Parks president since 2017.

The Next Safari Spots

A few of the national parks and reserves—from Malawi to Chad—in the Africa Parks portfolio

Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi, which African Parks has managed since 2003.
African Parks/Marcus Westberg

Michael Lorentz, founder of Passage to Africa, takes tourists to Zakouma National Park in Chad, one of the parks in the African Parks portfolio. He has worked with the organization since 2011 and says the NGO’s top-to-tail approach has changed the conservation game. “So much of Africa is going the wrong way in terms of conservation,” said Mr. Lorentz. “But African Parks has created some good stories.”

African Parks demands complete control over the park, from staff and ranger training to how the money generated is used—it must be reinvested back into the park. Mr. Fearnhead said the cause of protecting animals and protecting people are closely intertwined. He noted that in Zakouma, Janjaweed militia would raid the park for ivory, upending crops with their horses and preying on village women. The park lost all but 400 elephants who were chronically miscarrying due to stress. The African Parks ranger force beat back the raiders and both the park and villagers live in a more secure environment, said Mr. Fearnhead. The elephant population has since risen to 600. Tourists are coming to the park, though their numbers remain small.

Some places are harder to resuscitate. The Central African Republic has struggled for years under a civil war. But African Parks is laying the groundwork to open the Chinko Nature Reserve—one of the few places in Africa where savannah and jungle animal share the landscape—to tourism. Mr. Fearnhead said the commercial future of the reserve lies in extreme fishing. In the Chinko River, avid sportsman can battle the goliath tigerfish, a vicious freshwater fish that can grow to 5 feet in length and have been known to attack humans. For those with a taste for adventure, but perhaps not that much adventure, here are three other rehabilitated parks that welcome visitors.

Camp Nomade at Zakouma National Park.
Camp Nomade at Zakouma National Park. Photo: African Parks/Kyle de Nobrega


Zakouma National Park

Unchecked poaching and a rebel insurgency between 2005 and 2010 reduced the park’s elephant population by 90%. Now the park has about 600 elephants and 50% of the existing Kordofan giraffe population (some 1,000 animals). Last year six black rhinos from South Africa were reintroduced. Zakouma, once an animal desert, is now known for its abundance.Visitors can stay at Camp Nomade, an upscale tented camp that operators set up in various places within the reserve depending on the time of year. Passage to Africa runs seven-day excursions (

Akagera National Park in Rwanda.
Akagera National Park in Rwanda. Photo: African Parks/Scott Ramsay


Akagera National Park

The 433-square-mile park sits in eastern Rwanda abutting the plains of Tanzania. After years of neglect and rampant poaching, the park was short of wildlife. In 2010, African Parks took over the management. In 2015, the park reintroduced lions and in 2017, the rare East black rhinoceros. Now the park hosts the big five, a sign of its ecological health. Ruzizi Tented Lodge offers nine tents with en-suite bathrooms (from $195 per person per night, In late spring, luxury outfit Wilderness Safaris will open its Magashi camp (from $470 a night,


Bangweulu Wetlands
A shoebill stork in Zambia’s Bangweulu Wetlands.
A shoebill stork in Zambia’s Bangweulu Wetlands. Photo: African Parks/Mana Meadows

One of Africa’s greatest wetlands, Bangweulu offers a welcome alternative to the typical grassland safari. Overfishing and deforestation severely threatened the fish and bird population. When African Parks took over in 2008, they scaled back fishing and introduced a three-month ban to get stocks back to healthy levels. The shoebill stork population—the impressively leggy birds can stand 4 feet high—continues to expand, with 10 nests protected by community guards. The nicest accommodations, Shoebill Island Camp, opened last year with four comfortably furnished tents overlooking the vast plains and waterways (from $650 per person per night, Steppes Travel also organizes custom trips to Bangweulu (

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Annette Bening Finally Talks Captain Marvel Role

One of the biggest mysteries surrounding Captain Marvel, alongside Jude Law’s role, has been the question of who four-time Academy Award nominee Annette Bening is playing in the film. She has been an enigmatic figure in the trailers, clearly playing an important role, but not definitively one character or another. Now that the film has screened, the secrecy has loosened just a bit and Annette Bening can spill some of the beans. She said:

Like Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen rattling off her many titles to intimidating effect, Annette Bening’s announcement of who her Captain Marvel character is on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert was an impressive summary and quite a mouthful. Her description is meant to inspire awe and grandeur, and it is right to do so because Annette Bening is playing the Kree Supreme Intelligence.

It was rumored that Annette Bening might be playing Carol Danvers’ mother in the film, but one of the trailers showed that she was in fact a Kree. She appeared to be a high-ranking military officer, but we now know, as many have suspected, that Annette Bening is playing the Kree Supreme Intelligence, though one that looks quite different than its comic book counterpart.

In the comics, the Kree Supreme Intelligence is all of those things that Annette Bening said: a God-like being, the leader of the Kree and an A.I. made up of the greatest minds of the Kree race. However, in the comics it is basically just a giant floating green head. See below:

So the Supreme Intelligence is getting a new look for this film and a much more pleasant and friendly face. In the comics, the Kree Supreme Intelligence is a cold entity, concerned only with the survival and advancement of the Kree race. It is the one who assembles and commands the Starforce during the Kree-Shi’ar War, even acting as a member itself through the android Supremor.

I suspect that the Kree-Skrull War may be standing in for the Shi’ar conflict in Captain Marvel, which would perhaps portend an important role for Annette Bening’s Supreme Intelligence.

It’s definitely a cool role for Annette Bening to play. She is an acclaimed actress who can bring the necessary gravitas to a character that is both wise and calculating. Although Annette Bening admits, she needed a little help understanding her story in the film. Take a look at the video of her Late Show appearance below to hear who she enlisted to help her and a clip of the Supreme Intelligence from the film.

Captain Marvel blasts into theaters on March 8 with a potentially big opening if tracking and pre-sales are any indication. Check out our guide for all the biggest movies headed to theaters this year, and for more examples of supreme intelligence, follow all the writers here at CinemaBlend.

What If The Oscar Ratings Get Worse Again This Year?

The Oscars have a serious problem. For the last several years, the ratings for the broadcast have been pretty bad. Last year, the ratings were as low as they’ve ever been, and while the Academy was ready to try numerous things to remedy the problem, it has since gone back on pretty much all of those changes. However, the fact that it did could spell potential disaster for the future of the awards show, as another bad showing in the ratings this weekend will almost certainly mean massive changes next year.

The Academy announced a number of potential changes and goals several months ago following the abysmal performance in the Oscars ratings last year. One of the major items was the creation of a new award that would somehow focus on blockbuster movies, a way to make sure that the films that fill the most seats at the theaters actually got recognized at the Oscars.

There was never much explanation as to how such an award would work and what the criteria would be, and the response was instantly negative. The feeling was that it would create a second tier Best Picture, and if a movie was good enough to be recognized at all, it could be done within the existing awards. Eventually, it was decided that the award would not be presented this year, though the door is still open for it to show up in the future.

One of the other major goals for this year’s show was that the telecast should be limited to three hours. In order to help reach that goal, it was reported that only two of the five songs nominated for Best Original Song would be performed. This also received strong backlash and it was eventually announced that all five songs would be performed (though the word is that “All the Stars” from Black Panther will not be performed by Kendrick Lamar and SZA due to scheduling issues), though not in their entirety, and most not by the artists that performed them in the films.

The next idea was that not all awards would actually be given live, and that some would be presented during commercials. This was also met with an expected backlash, especially since two of the awards that were going to be given during breaks were to be for Best Editing and Cinematography, two pretty key aspects of film making. The Academy has since reversed this decision as well.

While the reversing of these decisions is best for the Academy Awards as a respectable awards show, it’s unclear what sort of an impact they will have on the telecast of those awards.

It’s possible that with all of the attention that the Oscars have received this year, the televised ceremony could see a ratings uptick, if only because people are curious just how the show will progress. Will the show be better without a host or will it be an absolute train wreck? People who might otherwise not bother might check out the show just to see if it works.

What’s more likely, however, is that ratings will fall someplace close to where they did last year. Maybe they’ll be up slightly, but not by a lot. They could just as easily dip even lower.

Save the fact that the show will have no host this year, this year’s show will likely look a lot like last year’s show, which means that if ratings don’t improve, there’s a good chance the lack of changes this year will be used to justify major changes in the future.

The argument is pretty simple. We tried it your way, it didn’t work. Now we’re doing it our way.

The Academy wanted to make numerous changes and it was talked out of that, implying that a lot of people cared. But in the end, nothing changed on the viewership side. That means, at least according to this logic, that for viewership to change, the broadcast will have to do things differently.

One of the things the Academy is really working on doing is shrinking the length of the show. If this year’s show is another four-hour marathon, then the possibility that awards could be handed out during commercials in 2020 will be back, and it will be less likely the Academy will back down if it see the ratings as supporting the decision.

The Oscars are going to see changes; nothing goes on forever without changing. What I’m really afraid of is that the longer we wait to see anything change, the more drastic those changes will be when they actually come. Everything that the Oscars went back on will return to the table, and there’s no reason to believe those will be the only proposed changes. Entirely new bad ideas will be proposed.

And let’s be honest, the ratings at the Oscars are unlikely to change, even with the changes that are being proposed. Black Panther‘s Best Picture nomination notwithstanding, the movies nominated for awards this year are still not the movies that draw crowds to theaters. The average moviegoer doesn’t care about them. People might tune in to watch Queen open the show, but I’m not sure anybody will hang around afterward that wasn’t going to watch the show anyway.

I almost wish the Academy had just gone ahead with some of their terrible ideas, because the ratings wouldn’t have improved and at least once these ideas are tried and fail, then the powers that be would understand they’re on the wrong track.

A small change like not having all the Best Original Song nominees perform can be fixed the next year without much of a problem. Larger changes however, once they happen, they could very easily become permanent, even if they don’t actually fix the ratings problem. A badly thought-out Best Blockbuster Film award is unlikely to happen one year and then disappear forever. If it ever shows up, it’s going to be around for a while.

The battle over the Oscars and its television ratings may not have resulted in any major changes this year, but this battle isn’t over yet. Unless a lot of people decide to sit through the entire show just to see if Black Panther wins Best Picture, ratings aren’t going to see a major improvement, and if things don’t change we’ll be right back here in about 11 months. And next time, whatever changes are proposed will be much more likely to actually happen.

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