Lupita Nyong'o signs on to 'Star Wars'

Posted: June 04, 2014

 L UPITA NYONG'O has a follow-up to "12 Years a Slave."

It's a little indie film called "Star Wars: Episode VII."

Also added to the cast was Gwendoline Christie, best known for playing the hulking Brienne of Tarth on HBO's "Game of Thrones."

Who's she going to play, Tarth Vader?

Actually, there's no word on the new stars' new characters.

"I could not be more excited about Lupita and Gwendoline joining the cast of Episode VII," Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in a news release. "It's thrilling to see this extraordinarily talented ensemble taking shape."

Production is underway for the movie, which is being directed by J.J. Abrams. It's slated to open in December 2015.

Egyptians no longer get with 'The Program'

Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef, considered by some the Jon Stewart of Egypt, said yesterday he has canceled his landmark TV show, which broke ground by lambasting the nation's politicians and elites and mocking the pro-military fervor of the past year. Youssef said the atmosphere in the country no longer allows for political satire.

Youssef told a news conference that Saudi-based MBC-Misr TV, which had been carrying his show, had come under pressure to halt it, though he would not say from whom.

Since the military's ouster last summer of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, Egypt has seen a surge in nationalism that tolerates little criticism of the army or its former chief, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who will now be president after winning last week's election in a landslide. Youssef has come under heavy denunciations from backers of the military for his often biting satires of the fervor.

"I'm not a revolutionary and I'm not a warrior," Youssef told reporters. "I was expressing my views once a week. The present climate in Egypt is not suitable for a political satire program. I'm tired of struggling and worrying about my safety and that of my family."

Jesus, take the wheel

Texas pastor Joel Osteen is getting his own channel on SiriusXM satellite radio, which will air his sermon at Yankee Stadium this Saturday live nationally.

Osteen, who preaches to 40,000 people each week at Houston's Lakewood megachurch, already shows his messages on the Trinity religious TV network and other television stations across the country. The new SiriusXM channel will feature live call-in shows hosted by Osteen and his wife, fellow Lakewood pastor Victoria Osteen, along with rebroadcasts of Osteen's past sermons.

"It's another way to get our message out," Osteen said.

Scott Greenstein, president of SiriusXM, said that people who aren't inclined to watch one of Osteen's television broadcasts may like the opportunity to check him out on their car radio.

TATTBITS

* Dey Street Books announced yesterday that actor/comedian David Spade is working on a memoir scheduled to come out in fall 2015. No title yet.

According to Dey Street, an imprint of HarperCollins, Spade will write about everything from his childhood in Arizona to his friendship with the late comedian Chris Farley.

Spade plans to cover his years on "Saturday Night Live," such films as "Tommy Boy" and his TV series "Just Shoot Me" and "Rules of Engagement." He will even, apparently, relate what he calls his "epic tale" of losing his virginity.

In a statement issued through Dey Street, Spade offers a self-review for his book: It's a "must" buy and a "maybe" read.

Chris Brown was released early Monday from a Los Angeles County jail, authorities said.

He had been in custody since mid-March, when he was arrested after being expelled from a court-ordered rehab sentence for violating its rules.

* Fort Lee, the northern New Jersey town that suffered traffic jams when lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge were closed, turned itself into Fort Courage on Sunday, when it named "F Troop" actor Larry Storch mayor for a day.

The Manhattan resident, 91, played Cpl. Randolph Agarn in the 1960s TV comedy.

The Record newspaper reports that Cultural and Heritage Affairs administrator Tom Myers told a crowd that Storch vowed to mount his horse and charge to the bridge if anyone messes with the lanes.

Oliver Stone will write and direct a film about Edward Snowden, one of two high-profile films in the works about the National Security Agency leaker.

Stone announced yesterday that he plans to adapt The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man, a book by Guardian journalist Luke Harding. The project combines one of cinema's most controversial directors with one of the most explosive news events in recent years - one that is ongoing.

Sony Pictures purchased the big-screen rights last month to Glenn Greenwald's No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the U.S. Surveillance State.

Two movies on Snowden? Did anyone see the box-office reports for "The Fifth Estate," the movie about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange?

* A new study from the Annenberg Public Policy Center shows that the "Colbert Report" was more effective in teaching people about campaign finance than CNN, MSNBC or Fox.

Is this because people more interested in politics watch "Colbert," or because those news networks just suck?

- Daily News wire services contributed to this report.


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