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E!'s 'The Arrangement' evokes Cruise and Holmes comparisons

"The Arrangement" may remind viewers of rumors about the effect of Scientology on the marriage of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

The drama series, which airs Sunday on E! Entertainment, stars Christine Evangelista as Megan Morrison, an up-and-coming actress who meets A-list actor Kyle West (Josh Henderson) on an audition. He's instantly smitten, and a lunch date leads to an overnight in Mexico.

Everything seems to be progressing until Kyle offers Megan a marriage contract arranged by his self-help group, The Institute of the Higher Mind. She's offered an Insta-relationship and the money and perks of being with one of Hollywood's biggest stars.

"When I first read the script I was very intrigued by the premise and it caused me to ask myself what I would do and I found that to be interesting," Evangelista said.

"I also liked how this young girl, her life, changes overnight and she's faced with situations and decisions and tests and is she able to endure them, and I think it posed a lot of moral questions ... for her and I thought that was very interesting. In one way her life changes in a very exciting way overnight. With the other it's like at what cost? What's the expense? And it definitely comes at a price."

That price includes the glare of the spotlight, jealous friends and a loss of freedom, thanks to Kyle's self-help group.

"The Institute helps "people find what's been holding them back, search for their own happiness," Evangelista said. "How they go about that is in a very manipulative way. It sort of makes people almost ... a prisoner to them."

Evangelista, who appeared on "The Walking Dead," is aware of comparisons to Scientology and Cruise and Holmes, who divorced in 2012 after five years of marriage, but emphasizes that the show is fiction.

"Of course we want people to be intrigued by what we're doing, but The Institute is a totally fictionalized group," she said. "These are fictional characters. Megan is a waitress when we meet her. You know that's not really like anyone we know.

"People want to know what happens behind closed doors and behind the curtain in Hollywood and it's intriguing."

And Henderson, who plays West, fits the bill of a charming, complex mega-star.

"He is a wonderful guy, very charismatic and I think that's what Megan sees," Evangelista said. "They have this undeniable chemistry between the two of them and I think that's what she's looking at."

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Online:

http://www.eonline.com/shows/the_arrangement

Hamas TV channel builds Jerusalem set in Gaza

Quiet on the set! Surrounded by militant training sites on uprooted Jewish settlement lands, the first movie set in the Gaza Strip is growing, depicting the history-rich, volatile alleyways of Jerusalem's Old City.

The set is the latest effort by the al-Aqsa channel, run by Gaza's Islamic militant Hamas rulers, to kick-start its drama production in the territory and release another series slated to air in the month of Ramadan.

In Gaza, filming footage of Jerusalem and other central locations from the conflict is a challenge.

Gaza's population of about 2 million live in mostly cramped conditions in the coastal sandy territory compared to the rugged mountain terrain of the West Bank, so crews have struggled to film the twisting ancient alleyways of Jerusalem's Old City. And that is how the idea to create a set depicting Jerusalem was born.

The fate of Jerusalem is an emotional issue at the heart of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel captured east Jerusalem, home to the Old City with its holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, in the 1967 war. Palestinians want the territory for their future state.

Much of the wave of Palestinian attacks that erupted in 2015 originated from tensions surrounding the most sensitive holy site in Jerusalem's Old City.

The hilltop compound is revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, where the two biblical Jewish Temples stood and is the most sacred place in Judaism. It is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the gold-topped Dome of the Rock, the third-holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

Mohammed Thoraya, the channel's manager, described how the Old City was depicted on set. "We brought something simple of the wall decorations there and — thank God — we could simulate something small of what is there," he said.

On a recent day, actors divided into two groups. One portraying ultra-Orthodox Jews and the other Arab residents of Jerusalem trying to prevent the Jews from entering the holy site compound that is still under construction.

Clashes were staged, and actors playing Israeli policemen in riot gear and wielding M16 assault rifles struggled with those depicting the Arabs. Occasionally, an actor would smile or forget their lines, prompting the director to reshoot the scene, sometimes over 10 times. Actors are paid between $US 4 and $US 9 a day.

The series being filmed is set to be aired in the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which begins in late May this year. It's the fifth such production by the al-Aqsa channel. Some watchdogs have considered previous productions of the channel anti-Semitic. Hamas is sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state. After winning the 2006 legislative elections, Hamas seized Gaza from forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in bloody street battles in 2007, and has since fought three wars with Israel.

The series, Heaven's Gate, shows "the steadfastness of Jerusalemites and their sticking to their land and properties in the face of Zionist settlement," said the director, Zouhir al-Efrengi.

Most of the film crew has never been to Jerusalem. They secured footage of Jerusalem and the West Bank separately.

The location features an alleyway, cafe and homes with green doors. Boards painted brown simulate the ancient stone of Jerusalem's Old City's walls.

Thoraya, the manager, said an expansion of the location would see building al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. It will also be open for visitors "and those who long for Jerusalem."

For three months, the crew has been spending 15 to 18 hours daily shooting. "I cried when I first came here and saw it," said Ali Nasman, 32, an actor in the film "It ignited the nostalgia of Jerusalem from when I was a child."

Producers would not reveal production costs, but cranes and some expensive state-of-the-art cameras were deployed.

'Love Connection' to reconnect with viewers as Fox revival

"Love Connection" is reconnecting with viewers. A new version of the match-making game show will air on Fox starting May 25, the network announced.

The one-hour series will amp up the original dating show for today's audiences, featuring single men and women looking for romance. Its host is Andy Cohen, of Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live," who will bring his personal brand of audacious fun to the series, Fox said on Wednesday.

This edition revives one of TV's most popular syndicated game-show hits. The original "Love Connection" aired from 1983 to 1994, with Chuck Woolery hosting.

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This story has been corrected to show the announcement was made Wednesday, not Thursday.

HGTV to air 'Fixer Upper' and 'Flip or Flop' spin-off shows

HGTV fans, get ready for more “Fixer Upper” and “Flip or Flop.”

>> Read more trending news

Joanna Gaines, star of hit show “Fixer Upper,” is getting her own spin-off show on HGTV.

In her new show, Gaines will bring viewers a behind-the-scenes look at her creative process when designing a home. The show will be called, “Fixer Upper: Behind the Design” and is set to premiere on March 28 after the season finale of “Fixer Upper.”

HGTV has also announced it will produce several spin-offs of “Flip or Flop” set in various cities outside of Tarek and Christina El Moussa’s native in Orange Country, California. “Flip or Flop” remains one of the most popular series on the network despite the stars’ very public divorce.

“The tremendous, consistent ratings success of the original ‘Flip or Flop’ with Tarek and Christina El Moussa inspired us to take a new look at house flipping programming,” said Scripps’ U.S. programming and development GM Allison Page, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “We saw an opportunity to highlight what works in other regions by featuring successful couples that had mastered the art of flipping in their town.”

The series spin-offs will be set in Las Vegas, Nevada; Fort Worth, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; and Chicago, Illinois.

'Love Connection' to reconnect with viewers as Fox revival

"Love Connection" is reconnecting with viewers. A new version of the match-making game show will air on Fox starting May 25, the network announced Thursday.

The one-hour series will amp up the original dating show for today's audiences, featuring single men and women looking for romance. Its host is Andy Cohen, of Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live," who will bring his personal brand of audacious fun to the series, Fox said.

This edition revives one of TV's most popular syndicated game-show hits. The original "Love Connection" aired from 1983 to 1994, with Chuck Woolery hosting.

James Corden felt a 'long way from home' amid London attack

James Corden has taken a moment to pay respects to his native London following a deadly attack there.

The British host of CBS' "Late Late Show" said on Wednesday's show that he "felt a really long, long way from home" while watching news reports of the attack that left four people dead, including the attacker. He says he wished he could "be there with loved ones to stand alongside them."

Corden calls London a "diverse and proud and brilliant city."

He says if the Wednesday attack was meant to divide its residents, it will only "bring them closer together as one."

CBS renewing 18 series for fall, including 5 freshman shows

     CBS says it's bringing back 18 of its current series for the 2017-2018 season.

    Announced Thursday, those pickups include six comedies, nine dramas, the reality series "Survivor," and newsmagazines "60 Minutes" and "48 Hours."

         Returning scripted shows include "The Big Bang Theory," ''Blue Bloods," ''Hawaii Five-O," ''Life in Pieces," ''Madam Secretary," ''Mom," ''Scorpion" and all three editions of "NCIS" — Los Angeles, New Orleans and the original.

        In addition, five freshman series made the cut. They include "Bull," ''Kevin Can Wait," ''MacGyver," ''Man with a Plan" and "Superior Donuts."

            The network's full 2017-18 schedule will be unveiled in May. CBS is on pace to finish the season as the most-watched network for the 14th time in 15 years.

Feast for the soul: Jim Harrison on wine and food

In 2004, Jim Harrison wrote an article for The New Yorker about a 37-course lunch he ate in France "that likely cost as much as a new Volvo station wagon." Fully expecting to be criticized, he offered a defense at the outset. "My response ... is that none of us 12 disciples of gourmandise wanted a new Volvo. We wanted only lunch and since lunch lasted approximately 11 hours we saved money by not having to buy dinner."

Absurd? Yes, but also funny and true and typical of Harrison, whose dry wit and mordant insight are on glorious display in this new collection of essays published a year after his death. Harrison, a prolific poet and novelist best known for "Legends of the Fall," died of a heart attack at age 78.

While nominally about wine and food — his friend Mario Batali wrote the introduction — what distinguishes the essays are Harrison's poetic sensibility, metaphysical musings and moral outrage at the state of our nation. Several were written around the invasion of Iraq, which left him seething.

"Maybe the rage comes from the fact that our body politic ... has been fed by Chef Bush a fresh skunk hacked up with an ax ..." he writes in 2003's "Eat or Die." Later that year, in "Paris Rebellion," he wonders, "Has my country become a pack of wild hogs bent on eating the world?"

Faced with such dispiriting questions, Harrison inevitably turns to food, wine and poetry — and also hunting, fishing, dogs, birds and the great outdoors.

Nearly every piece, except perhaps the recipe for bear posole, first published in "The Montana Writers' Cookbook," has a saying wise enough to carry in your wallet. Some will flat out break your heart.

Consider this: "A several-hour walk in the forest heals more wounds than any doctor of my experience." ''Many people think a Ferrari is beautiful but it isn't if you compare it to a horse." ''We all need to eat well in order to dig the graves of stockbrokers."

And just in case you wondered, he has no regrets about that 37-course meal.

"No question looms larger on a daily basis for many of us than 'What's for lunch?' and, when that has been resolved, 'What's for dinner?' There have been mutterings that the whole food thing has gone too far in America, but I think not. Good food is a benign weapon against the sodden way we live."

Addams family actor lends voice to fracking opposition

The actor who played the patriarch of the Addams Family says the gas drilling process known as fracking is no joke.

John Astin, a Baltimore native and comedian who played Gomez Addams, is the voice of a radio ad that supporters of a ban are broadcasting Thursday morning.

Astin says in the ad there's nothing funny about poisoning drinking water and the air we breathe. Food & Water Watch paid for the ad.

A measure to ban fracking in Maryland is advancing in the Legislature. A bill to ban the practice already has passed the House of Delegates. A Senate panel passed the bill on Wednesday, and Gov. Larry Hogan says he supports it.

Fracking isn't being done in Maryland now, but a moratorium on issuing permits ends in October.

Addams Family actor lends voice to fracking opposition

The actor who played the patriarch of the Addams Family says the gas drilling process known as fracking is no joke.

John Astin, a Baltimore native and comedian who played Gomez Addams, is the voice of a radio ad that supporters of a ban are broadcasting Thursday morning.

Astin says in the ad there's nothing funny about poisoning drinking water and the air we breathe.

A measure to ban fracking in Maryland is advancing in the legislature. A bill to ban the practice already has passed the House of Delegates. A Senate panel passed the bill on Wednesday, and Gov. Larry Hogan says he supports it.

Fracking isn't being done in Maryland now, but a moratorium on issuing permits ends in October.

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