Kevin Hart is set to play Arnold Jackson in an ABC special which will recreate episodes of the iconic sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes.”
The network will air the 90-minute program, titled “Live in Front of a Studio Audience,” on Dec. 7. The news was announced in a press release issued on Thursday.
John Lithgow is set to star as Mr. Drummond, while Damon Wayans will play Willis Jackson and Ann Dowd will play Mrs. Garrett.
However, it’s Hart’s casting as Arnold that is attracting the most buzz on Twitter.
Several pundits wondered how Hart, 42, would be able to effectively embody the character of Arnold, who was originally played by Gary Coleman when he was a tween.
“Why would you hire @KevinHart4real to play a child when you could have maybe given a chance to an actual child to do something historical?” one fan asked on Twitter.
Another chimed in claiming that pint-sized Hart — who is 5-foot-4 and frequently pokes fun at his own height — was the same size as Coleman was on the show.
“Good choice on @KevinHart4real. Can use Gary’s wardrobe,” the Twitter user quipped.
Hart himself has not announced the news to his 36.8 million Twitter followers.
Meanwhile, the 90-minute “Live in Front of a Studio Audience” will also feature a recreation of a re-enactment episode from “The Facts of Life” — the “Diff’rent Strokes” spin-off that ran on ABC for 9 seasons.
The casting for that recreation has not yet been announced.
“Diff’rent Strokes” originally aired from 1978 to 1986, while “The Facts of Life” aired from 1979 from 1988.
The new ABC special will be executive produced by sitcom legend Norman Lear. Will Ferrell, Jimmy Kimmel, Justin Theroux and Kerry Washington have also been named as executive producers.
Previous installments of the “Live in Front of a Studio Audience” series have included “All in the Family” and “Good Times,” as well as “The Jeffersons.”
Kathy Griffin joked about being “un-cancelled” as she chatted with Jimmy Kimmel Monday.
The comedian, who is recovering from lung cancer surgery she had in August, referenced that 2017 Donald Trump controversy, in which she faced backlash after she posed with a bloody replica of the then-U.S. president’s severed head.
Griffin shared, “So you guys know I’m cancelled, right? Like, I was like, cancelled cancelled.
“And so I’m very slowly getting un-cancelled. And what I think is funny is that people are kinda like afraid of me now and all that stuff. And you know that guy Paul Gosar made a video, and I was back in the news again? So anyway, so I think I’m gonna get un-cancelled. I think I’m an actress again, guys.”
Kathy Griffin: Donald Trump Should Inject A ‘Syringe With Nothing But Air’
Griffin is now starring in the new season of HBO Max’s dark comedy “Search Party”, with Griffin joking of it having a younger audience: “Apparently, the young kids don’t know that I’m a ‘terrorist’.
“You know the MAGAs think I’m a terrorist. They don’t even know that stuff, they watch the TikTak.”
Kathy Griffin Shares Support For Comedian After ‘Karen’ Heckler Storms The Stage During His Show
Griffin also thanked Kimmel for always standing by her.
She told the host, “By the way, you are really, really, [one] of the people I can count on one hand that rejected my cancellation.”
The Omicron variant of Covid-19 was present in Europe at least 10 days ago, before South African health experts alerted the world to their concerns around the transmissibility of the newly identified variant.
The Dutch health authority said it had found the Omicron variant in two local cases going back 11 days, showing it was already in western Europe’s heartland before the reports came out of South Africa on 24 November.
The RIVM health institute said it found Omicron in samples dating from 19 and 23 November. Those findings predate the positive cases found in passengers returning from South Africa last Friday and tested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.
Despite the global worry, doctors in South Africa are reporting patients are suffering mostly mild symptoms so far, but warn that it is early. Also, most of the new cases are in people in their 20s and 30s who generally do not get as sick from Covid-19 as older patients.
As countries around the world disclosed scattered instances of Omicron, from Scotland to Hong Kong, Japan and France, the behaviour of the variant appeared to be following previous patterns of dispersal and identification that have seen health authorities race to play catchup, with most cases related to travel to southern Africa.
The disclosure of the presence of Omicron in Europe earlier than previously believed came as the European Union’s medical agency chief said on Tuesday it was ready to deal with the Omicron variant, and that it would take two weeks to have an indication whether the current Covid-19 vaccines would be able to deal with it.
Emer Cooke, the executive director of the European Medicines Agency, said if it did require a new vaccine to counter Omicron, it would take up to four months to have it approved for use in the 27-nation bloc.
“We are prepared,” Cooke told EU lawmakers, adding that cooperation with the medical industry was already ongoing to prepare for such an eventuality. “We know that at some stage there will be a mutation that means we have to change the current approach.”
The emergence of the variant, which features an unusually large number of mutations on its spike protein, has prompted travel bans and new restrictions in a number of countries, as others – including the UK – moved to accelerate vaccination programmes.
While the overwhelming majority of current coronavirus cases behind the winter surge in infections across Europe remain the Delta variant, some experts fear Omicron could escape the protections of vaccines and compete with Delta for dominance.
As of Tuesday, 42 cases of the Omicron variant have been identified in 10 European countries, according to the head of the EU’s public health agency.
Authorities in the bloc were analysing another six “probable” cases, Andrea Ammon, who chairs the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), told an online conference, adding the confirmed cases were mild or without symptoms, although in younger age groups.
“For the assessment whether [Omicron] escapes immunity, we still have to wait until the investigations in the laboratories with sera from people who have recovered have been carried out. These are expected in a couple of weeks,” she said.
The variant has been detected in two Israeli doctors, one of whom returned from a conference in London in the past week. The physician who had returned from Britain had probably infected his colleague, a spokesperson for Sheba Medical Centre near Tel Aviv said, adding that the pair had received three doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and so far had shown mild symptoms.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned the global risk from the Omicron variant is “very high” based on early evidence, saying it could lead to surges with “severe consequences”.
Japan confirmed its first case on Tuesday, in a visitor who recently arrived from Namibia, a day after banning all foreign visitors as an emergency precaution against the variant.
A government spokesperson said the patient, a man in his 30s, tested positive upon arrival at Tokyo’s Narita airport on Sunday. He was isolated and is being treated at a hospital.
The new variant was first identified last week by researchers in South Africa.
WHO said there are “considerable uncertainties” about the Omicron variant. But it said preliminary evidence raised the possibility that the variant had mutations that could help it both evade an immune system response and boost its ability to spread from one person to another.
WHO stressed that while scientists were hunting for evidence to better understand the variant, countries should accelerate vaccinations as quickly as possible.
A crisis between Ukraine and Russia, which has loomed since 2014, continues to escalate. Two separate incidents—an escalation of Russian troops near Ukraine and a coup plot against Ukraine—came to light throughout November. How did these countries get here?
For several weeks in November, the United States, NATO, and Ukraine have reported an unusual spike in Russian troops near the Ukrainian border. Additionally, Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Friday that two Russians were caught on tape plotting to enroll Ukraine’s richest businessman, Rinat Akhmetov, in a coup to overthrow the Ukrainian government. The Kremlin has dismissed both claims.
Relations between Ukraine and Russia have diminished since 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. In his video series A History of Eastern Europe, Dr. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, Lindsay Young Professor of History at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, explained the extraordinary lead-up to this event.
A Nation in Flux
According to Dr. Liulevicius, between world wars, Ukrainians found themselves divided by borders. Most lived in the Soviet Union, with others in Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia. The Soviet Union brought the Terror Famine, or Holodomor, to Ukraine in the 1930s, cracking down on its cultural leaders and bringing mass murders. Ukraine didn’t fully gain independence until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Unfortunately, its government got off to a rocky start. Corruption and an energy dependence on Russia didn’t help.
“Over time, disappointment with insider politics as usual produced a popular movement called the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004,” Dr. Liulevicius said.
Fueled by the political campaign of Viktor Yushchenko, who ran as an opposition candidate to the government, the Orange Revolution boiled over when Yushchenko was poisoned and nearly killed. The government returned fraudulent election results declaring his loss.
“One in every five Ukrainians went out in protest in the Orange Revolution, but there were contrasts; there was [a] divide between east and west,” Dr. Liulevicius said. “One in three people in the west protested, but fewer than one in 20 in the eastern part of the country.”
Part of this divide was because the western part of the country had been more recently “Sovietized” and could remember a past without the heavy influence of Russia. Their spirit of a solely-Ukrainian identity inspired them. However, little progress was made during Yushchenko’s time in office.
Russia Re-Enters the Picture
“In 2010, Viktor Yanukovych was elected president, with most of his support based in the eastern regions, and also with the support of Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin,” Dr. Liulevicius said. ” Yanukovych also jailed his opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko, a co-leader of the Orange Revolution and a former prime minister, accusing her of corruption in office.
“At the end of 2013, when Yanukovych bizarrely first negotiated and then refused to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union, again mass protests erupted in Kiev, Lviv, and other cities.”
The government tried to quell the protests, but by February 2014, Yanukovych believed his power was crumbling and he fled to Russia. Putin declared his ouster and the subsequent change of government illegitimate, while Russian media called the protesters neofascists and Nazis.
“Russian forces moved into Crimea,” Dr. Liulevicius said. However, Russia denied the unknown troops were Russian, refusing to take responsibility for them or the violence they exacted on those who opposed annexation.
“Russia then annexed Crimea officially, over international protests. Later, in March 2015, Putin proudly admitted openly what his government had earlier denied—that he had masterminded the annexation of Crimea from the start. It was not a spontaneous response to calls for help from locals, but a plan, and the annexation in fact had been ordered weeks before the referendum was staged under the watchful eyes of gunmen.”
Since then, Russia’s influence in and around Ukraine has only increased.
Edited by Angela Shoemaker, The Great Courses Daily