Compiled by Tony Hicks
If the 40-year relationship of Bert and Ernie wasn't enough to convince you, know that the Muppets are officially supporting gay marriage.
In the wake of Chick-fil-A declaring its opposition to same sex marriage, Kermit and the gang are the latest in a growing list of Hollywood stars, including "The Office" actor Ed Helms, who are now boycotting the fast food chain.
Chick-fil-A had recently joined forces with the Jim Henson Company to offer five customizable puppet toys from Jim Henson's Creature Shop in children's meals.
But after the Atlanta-based family-owned business made headlines when its president, Dan Cathy, told the Baptist Press recently that the company was "guilty as charged" when it came to not supporting marriage equality and standing by biblical family values, the Henson Company decided to end the partnership.
So the folks behind the Muppets decided to cite its own values established by the Muppets late creator, Jim Henson, and fire back.
"The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors," the Jim Henson Company wrote on its Facebook page on Friday. "Lisa Henson, our CEO, is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to
Reps for Chick-fil-A haven't commented publicly on the move.
The company did issue a statement last week saying it would "leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena" and refrain from "proactively" engaging in the subject.
Just wondering how they feel about same sex relationships among chickens?
The Muppets announcement comes five days after Helms tweeted he would no longer be dining at Chick-fil-A restaurants after hearing about its anti-gay position.
"Chick-fil-A doesn't like gay people?" the actor tweeted Wednesday. "So lame. Hate to think what they do to the gay chickens! Lost a loyal fan."
In agreement was also Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who's sworn to do his utmost to prevent Chick-fil-A from opening up franchises in his city, per the Boston Herald.
One person who is sticking up for the chicken shop is former Arkansas Governor and onetime Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee, who's staging a "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" on Aug. 1, per his Facebook page.
Yes, that's right. He's staging a "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day." Life must be slow these days in Arkansas.
The Fox News host no doubt hoped to head off a "National Same-Sex Kiss Day" set for two days later in which same-sex couples will smooch in various Chick-fil-A locations around the country. The event, organized by the LGBT community, is quickly gathering steam online.
'DARK KNIGHT' HAS STRONG OPENING WEEKEND: The mass shooting at a Colorado movie theater on Friday may have dampened ticket sales for "The Dark Knight Rises," but not by much.
The film, the third and final installment in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, took in about $162 million over the weekend in North America, according to the New York Times.
That total was below the predicted $190 million, an indication that some moviegoers were either not in the mood to watch a violent comic book caper or worried about theater safety after the carnage in Aurora, Colo.
Still, "Dark Knight Rises" managed one of the best opening weekends in box office history. "Marvel's The Avengers" took in $207.4 million over its first three days, and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," opened with $169.2 million in ticket sales.
Hollywood was publicly silent about box-office results on Sunday. Studios, citing respect for the 12 people killed on Friday at a midnight viewing of "The Dark Knight Rises," declined to report totals. Rentrak, which collects the data from theaters and provides them to studios, and other aggregators, like Hollywood.com, also declined to report figures.
The movie's distributor, Warner Bros., did have the benefit of strong advance ticket sales; many shows for Friday night sold out long before the killings, and there were reports of ticket scalpers, a rarity for the movies.
"The Dark Knight Rises" also benefited from a bit of luck -- well-behaved patrons and sensible theater managers. After the shootings, studio executives were concerned about potential copycats or sensitive theater managers evacuating auditoriums and prompting media coverage. Security was increased dramatically at many theaters, and there appeared to be no major incidents.
Warner officials had no comment on Sunday. The studio and its production and financing partner, Legendary Entertainment, spent an estimated $250 million to make "The Dark Knight Rises," with marketing costs pushing the total cost of this PG-13 movie over $400 million.
It's not unreasonable to expect record-breaking second and third weeks.
The New York Times reported that the film's sales total, which included exceptionally strong results at Imax theaters, came from 4,404 locations in North America, or about 80 percent of the available theaters. Second place for the weekend went to "Ice Age: Continental Drift" (20th Century Fox), which took in a solid $21 million, for a two-week total of about $90 million, according to multiple studio officials with access to box-office data.
"The Amazing Spider-Man" (Sony Pictures Entertainment) was third, selling about $11 million in tickets and lifting its three-week total to about $229 million. The comedy "Ted" (Universal Pictures) finished in fourth place, with an estimated $10 million, for a four-week total of $180 million. Disney-Pixar's "Brave" was fifth in its fifth week, selling about $6 million in tickets, for a new total of $209 million.
"The Dark Knight Rises," which stars Christian Bale in the title role and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, inspired a sense of awe in many reviewers, who found its nearly three hours a worthy conclusion to this three-film cycle; Hathaway's saucy performance in particular won rave reviews. (Bale released a statement on Saturday about the killings, reading, in part, "Words cannot express the horror that I feel.")
Exit polls indicated strong word-of-mouth may help ticket sales in the weeks ahead. But like many movies in this Hollywood age, the film's ultimate fortunes rest with overseas audiences, and there was no information available on Sunday about how it was performing there. The Colorado shootings, which left more than 50 injured, generated global headlines, and Warner canceled a planned red carpet premiere in Paris for Friday night.
About 47 percent of the $1 billion in global ticket sales for "The Dark Knight" in 2008 came from international theaters, but "Rises" was expected to do much better, partly because of interest in expanding markets like Russia.
Warner has already been working to re-imagine Batman for another film series, although a reboot would not come before 2015 at the earliest, given the production cycle these kinds of effects-driven movies require. Nolan has said he would not be involved, and The Los Angeles Times recently reported that he declined a Warner overture to be involved with the studio's "Avengers"-style "Justice League" project.
Next summer Warner will release "Man of Steel," featuring an updated version of Superman and produced by Nolan. But beyond Batman the studio has been unable to figure out lately how to successfully bring its stable of DC Comics superheroes to theaters, even as the rival Marvel -- now owned by the Walt Disney Co. -- has scored over and over.
That helps to explain why Warner -- privately -- was exhaling deeply on Sunday.
JACKSON FAMILY 'LOSES' MOTHER: I can't believe I'm actually advocating for the creation of another reality show, but it will be a crime against humanity if someone doesn't get a dozen cameramen surrounding the entire Jackson family, pronto.
The drama over the late Michael Jackson's mother and all his unbalanced siblings intensified over the weekend, as Katherine Jackson went missing, causing hysteria within the family until someone found her in Arizona.
Authorities said Sunday they believe Katherine Jackson, the guardian of Michael's three minor children, is safe in Arizona with family members after she was reported missing.
The disclosure came after another concerned family member officially reported her missing Saturday night amid a dispute over the estate of her superstar son, according to the Associated Press.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department was still trying to speak with Katherine Jackson but said she reportedly is with other relatives.
Paris Jackson, the 14-year-old daughter of the late legend, tweeted early Sunday that her grandmother was missing.
"I haven't spoken with her in a week I want her home now," she posted from her Twitter account. She also tweeted a number for people to contact in case they saw the 82-year-old matriarch of the famous singing clan.
The family drama unfolded days after it was revealed that some of Katherine Jackson's children had written a letter to the executors of Michael Jackson's estate, alleging his will, which left his fortune to his children, his mother and charity, was a fake.
Duh Duh DUHHHHHHHH!
The undated letter, signed by Janet, Randy, Tito, Rebbie and Jermaine Jackson, claimed Katherine Jackson was being manipulated by the executors, John Branca and John McClain, her health had been affected, and she suffered a mini-stroke.
The legitimacy of the letter was confirmed by Randy Jackson on Twitter, and Janet Jackson retweeted his post.
Of course, the estate has denied the accusations. And Paris Jackson -- who's really shaping up to be the family spark plug at a relatively young age --lashed out at her uncle Randy Jackson on Twitter, saying her grandmother was fine.
"I will defend my beloved family member with all I have, even if it means from other family members," the tweet said.
That's right, Uncle Randy. You'd better account for all the kitchen knives.
She later apologized, saying she just wanted to let people know that her grandmother did not have a stroke.
Katherine Jackson's attorney Perry Sanders Jr. said Friday that his client did not have a stroke, according to his interactions with her and with her relatives. Sanders could not immediately be reached Sunday for comment.
On Friday, Jermaine Jackson tweeted that his mother was resting on the orders of a doctor in Arizona.
"This is our mother and her health is paramount. We are not inventing or plotting anything," he posted. "We are following doctor's advice. Period.—
Conrad Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the June 2009 propofol overdose death of Jackson at age 50.
Katherine Jackson has been caring for Paris, Prince Michael and Blanket Jackson since their father's death. It was unclear who is taking care of the children in her absence. Though it sounds like Paris should be running the whole show.
Attorneys handling Jackson's estate and financial matters are routinely in court, but a hearing on the guardianship hasn't been held since December. That hearing was a routine session to approve attorneys' fees and there are no future hearings currently scheduled.
Caity Cudworth, a representative for the Jackson brothers Jermaine, Jackie, Tito and Marlon, who are on a nationwide tour, did not immediately respond to an early Sunday morning request for comment, nor did Danielle Marie Owens, a representative for Janet Jackson.
It certainly doesn't sound like the estate is being mismanaged. Jackson's estate recently filed court records indicating it had generated gross earnings of $475 million and successfully handled hundreds of millions of dollars in debts the singer had accrued.
Sanders filed a request to audit the estate's financial records and said Friday he made the routine request three weeks ago and it was not prompted by the Jackson siblings' letter.
Sanders said he did not think the estate had done anything wrong, but Katherine Jackson's team should be provided with detailed records of the estate's finances.
"I think it's part of appropriate due diligence," he said of the audit.
The agency says another family member reported her missing Saturday night because he couldn't speak with her and was concerned. The sheriff's department says deputies are trying to reach Jackson and are asking her to contact them.
MINKA KELLY SEX TAPE ON MARKET: Apparently there's a line in everyone's contract once they get their first job in Hollywood that stipulates that person has to make a sex tape that will eventually get leaked on the Internet.
Minka Kelly is the latest celeb to apparently have a sex tape being sold to the highest bidder, according to TMZ. But in this case there could be a complication, as it's possible she was a minor when it was shot.
The 30-minute long tape was allegedly shot in New Mexico and features Minka with an ex-boyfriend.
TMZ alleges the tape was shot in a semiprofessional manner. The camera is secured by a tripod and hooked up to a TV monitor, so both Kelly and the boyfriend can watch the action they create. Kelly is supposedly very aware of the camera.
Well, she is an actress, after all ...
It's unclear how old Minka was when the tape was shot. Two songs from Brandy's second album, "Never Say Never," play in the background. The album was released on June 8, 1998 -- 16 days before Minka's 18th birthday.
Which only makes sense if you believe that Hollywood stars only listen to new records within 16 days of their release.
Kelly's rep hasn't returned TMZ's calls.
POLICE LOOKING AT USHER'S STEPSON'S DEATH: Authorities are investigating the death of Usher's 11-year-old stepson, who passed Sunday from injuries suffered in a July 6 Jet Ski accident.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division told TMZ on Monday that their investigation into the accident that killed Kyle Glover is going forward.
According to TMZ's sources, Kyle's death could lead to more serious charges against the driver of the jet ski, Jeffrey Hubbard. Authorities will now take the boy's death into account when making a recommendation to the district attorney.
The report is allegedly still being compiled and there's no timetable as to when the investigation will be completed.
JULY 24 IN HISTORY
Tuesday is July 24, the 206th day of 2012. There are 160 days left in the year.
1847: Mormon leader Brigham Young and his followers arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley in present-day Utah.
1862: Martin Van Buren, the eighth president of the United States, and the first to have been born a U.S. citizen, died at age 79 in Kinderhook, N.Y., the town where he was born in 1782.
1866: Tennessee became the first state to be readmitted to the Union after the Civil War.
1911: Yale University history professor Hiram Bingham III found the "Lost City of the Incas," Machu Picchu, in Peru.
1923: The Treaty of Lausanne, which settled the boundaries of modern Turkey, was concluded in Switzerland.
1937: The state of Alabama dropped charges against four of the nine young black men accused of raping two white women in the "Scottsboro Case."
1952: President Harry S. Truman announced a settlement in a 53-day steel strike.
1959: During a visit to Moscow, Vice President Richard Nixon engaged in his famous "Kitchen Debate" with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.
1969: The Apollo 11 astronauts -- two of whom had been the first men to set foot on the moon -- splashed down safely in the Pacific.
1974: The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that President Richard Nixon had to turn over subpoenaed White House tape recordings to the Watergate special prosecutor.
1983: A two-run homer by George Brett of the Kansas City Royals was disallowed after New York Yankees manager Billy Martin pointed out there was too much pine tar on Brett's bat. However, American League president Lee MacPhail reinstated the home run. (The game was completed Aug. 18, 1983 with the Royals beating the Yankees, 5-4.)
1987: Hulda Crooks, a 91-year-old mountaineer from California, became the oldest woman to conquer Mount Fuji, Japan's highest peak.
2002: Nine coal miners became trapped in a flooded tunnel of the Quecreek Mine in western Pennsylvania; the story ended happily 77 hours later with the rescue of all nine. The House, by a vote of 420-1, expelled Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, who had been convicted of bribery, racketeering and tax evasion; it was only the second time a sitting member had been banished since the Civil War.
2007: President George W. Bush, speaking at Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina, sought to justify the Iraq War by citing intelligence reports he said showed a link between al-Qaida's operation in Iraq and the terror group that attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. A grand jury in New Orleans refused to indict Dr. Anna Pou, who was accused of murdering four seriously ill hospital patients with drug injections during the desperate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor, sentenced to life in prison in Libya for allegedly infecting children with HIV, were released after 8½ years behind bars. The U.S. minimum wage rose 70 cents to $5.85 an hour, the first increase in a decade.
2011: Thousands of protesters angry about Spain's brutal economic woes once again filled Madrid's downtown Sol square after many had spent weeks marching hundreds of miles from far-flung cities across the country. Cadel Evans won the Tour de France, becoming the first Australian champion in cycling's greatest race.
Actor John Aniston (TV: "Days of Our Lives") (79), comedian Ruth Buzzi (76), actor Chris Sarandon (70), comedian Gallagher (66), actor Robert Hays (65), actor Michael Richards (63), actress Lynda Carter (61), movie director Gus Van Sant (60), country singer Pam Tillis (55), actress-singer Kristin Chenoweth (44), actress-singer Jennifer Lopez (43), basketball player-turned-actor Rick Fox (43), actress Rose Byrne (33), actress Elisabeth Moss (30), actress Anna Paquin (30), TV personality Bindi Irwin (14).