HGTV star Christina Haack’s recipe for love apparently involves toad venom

Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

HGTV star Christina Haack may not have kissed a frog to find a prince, but she came pretty close.

On Instagram, Haack discusses her new relationship with Joshua Hall, but her story about how she found love the same year her short-lived marriage to second husband Ant Anstead ended is turning some heads.

That’s where the amphibian comes in.

“I met Josh when I wasn’t in a state of fear or fight-or-flight,” Haack says, explaining, “I had taken time off social [media], hired a spiritual coach and smoked a Bufo toad (which basically reset my brain and kicked out years of anxiety in 15 mins).”

The venom of the Bufo toad, a substance scientifically known as substance 5-MeO-DMT, can produce psychedelic effects, but a recent European study noted that it also produced “sustained enhancement of satisfaction with life, and easing of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”

Haack doesn’t elaborate on the substance’s effects, but she’s apparently more comfortable in her skin, so she’s shaking off headlines about her new man.

“I didn’t ever want to see him stress over the media stalking him and his family,” she writes, adding that it’s “already begun to a uncomfortable degree.”

Haack adds of the media, “That’s partly why there is so many failed celeb relationships, they turn new relationships into a circus.”

She concludes, “[Y]es ‘another relationship’ and guess what. I’m 38 — I’ll do what I want.”

Haack, who formerly co-starred with first ex-husband Tarek El Moussa in Flip or Flop, currently stars in her own design show called Christina on the Coast

Apparently, the home decor celeb is setting another trend: The question “How do you smoke a bufo toad?” currently is a leading search on Google, producing some 328,000 results.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Robert Redford, George R.R. Martin producing Navajo murder thriller series ‘Dark Winds’ for AMC

L-R McClarnon, Gordon — AMC

Screen legend Robert Redford and Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin have teamed up to bring the work of one of their favorite authors to the small screen, in the AMC drama Dark Winds.

Based on author Tony Hillerman‘s “Leaphorn and Chee” book series, the 1970s-set Dark Winds follows two Navajo police officers investigating a series of grisly murders. AMC notes, “the case forces them to challenge their own spiritual beliefs and come to terms with the trauma of their pasts.”

The show’s writers room is comprised of Native American writers, and its two leads, Westworld‘s Zahn McClarnon and The Red Road‘s Kiowa Gordon, who play the investigators, share Native American ancestry. 

In a statement, Martin said, “Down here in the Southwest, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee are as iconic as Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Philip Marlowe, and Travis McGee.” Martin adds he “could not agree fast enough” to help adapt Hillerman’s work.

Redford added, “I read my first Tony Hillerman novel in 1986 while filming in New Mexico and was immediately hooked,” calling the author, “a master storyteller.” The multiple Oscar winner added, “I am happy to partner with George…and AMC on this project, and am especially grateful for the collaboration with President Nez and The Navajo Nation.” 

Season one of Dark Winds will include six episodes and is expected to premiere on AMC+ and AMC in 2022.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Just like old times? ‘Black Widow’ sneak previews score pandemic-best $13.9 million

Marvel Studios

While it remains to be seen if the trend continues through the weekend, it seems movie audiences are eager for an opening night experience like the pre-pandemic days. Sneak previews of Marvel Studios’ Black Widow earned nearly $14 million nationwide on Thursday.

The figure bests sneaks for the first big hits of the pandemic era: A Quiet Place Part II earned $4.8 million in its preview debut back in May, and Fast 9 — the most successful movie of the year to date — made $7.1 million on its Thursday opening a month later.

Black Widow, the standalone prequel adventure of star and executive producer Scarlett Johansson‘s Avenger, has already made more than $22 million from 30 overseas markets. Stateside, it’s been buoyed by solid reviews: aggregator Rotten Tomatoes has it “Certified Fresh” with a score of 81%.

Black Widow is also available to watch via Disney+ Premier Access.

Marvel Studios is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Could Reese Witherspoon be the next media billionaire?


With the seemingly endless need for content in the age of streaming, there are reports that Reese Witherspoon is about to cash in. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Legally Blonde star and her Hello Sunshine production company — which produces Reese’s Emmy-nominated hits The Morning Show for Apple TV+ and Little Fires Everywhere for Hulu, as well as HBO’s Emmy-winning Big Little Lies — is “exploring” a sale, and that the asking price could hit a billion bucks.

Reese’s company also produces a podcast, and is home to Reese’s Book Club.

Dedicated to “shining a light on female authorship and agency,” Hello Sunshine — which Witherspoon runs with her husband, former Hollywood agent Jim Toth, and venture capitalist Seth Rodsky — has developed into a lifestyle brand to boot. Its current successes and potential for churning out new content have attracted Apple as a potential buyer, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Elle Woods would be proud.


Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘SpongeBob Squarepants’ spin-off ‘The Patrick Star Show’ debuts today


Fans of SpongeBob Squarepants, rejoice: The Patrick Star Show debuts today on Paramount+. 

Bill Fagerbakke [FOG-ger-bahk] reprises his voice role as the titular pink starfish. The show also features Tom Wilson voicing Patrick’s dad, Cecil Star, and Cree Summer as Patrick’s oddball mom, Bunny. There’s also Patrick’s genius grandfather, GrandPat, voiced by Dana Snyder, and Patrick’s kid sister Squidina, who’s played by Jill Talley.

Patrick and Bunny gave ABC Audio a hint about the new series, which has him becoming a TV personality.

Patrick says, “Well, I just like to do whatever my bossy little sister tells me what to do, because she gets so mad, so we do a show every night! And we have fun…And my mom gives me sandwiches, and there are these two old guys in the house that I always forget who they are.”

Bunny interjects, “That’s your dad and your grandfather, dear. But I understand they’re hard to recognize — they change their clothes.”

Fagerbakke has voiced Patrick Star since SpongeBob Squarepants launched on Nickelodeon in 1999. He tells ABC Audio it’s “beautiful” to have had the job for this long.

“To be able to have something with such continuity and to have personal relationships with people you work with for over 20 years. That’s something one never expects,” says Fagerbakke. “And man, do I appreciate it.”

Summer adds, “This SpongeBob universe is so beloved that it…just keeps going and keeps growing. And so to be a part of something that is loved this deeply is just an honor.”  

Other members of the SpongeBob Squarepants gang also appear in the new series, the second small-screen spin-off from the flagship show created by the late Stephen Hillenburg, who died of ALS at age 57 in 2018. 


Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jennifer Coolidge reflects on ‘Legally Blonde”s 20th anniversary, teases third film

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Jennifer Coolidge has a lot to say about Legally Blonde‘s 20th anniversary, which is July 13.  The actress, who played the lovable and hilarious Paulette Bonafonté, has some thoughts on how the movie should celebrate its milestone.

“I’m curious if there will be fireworks,” Coolidge, 59, joked to Entertainment Tonight. “I don’t know what they will do. I feel like it will be a big deal.”

The actress continued, “It’s going to be like a giant jet ride to somewhere really far away and I think there must be a party in some big castle or something… At least that’s what I will be hoping for.”

As for how she feels about Legally Blonde turning 20, Coolidge quipped, “All I had to do was age 20 years and I am at the anniversary. I mean, I didn’t even have to work for this. Twenty years went by and then you get credit for being alive and making it to 20.”

“You see, all of the other girls when we made Legally Blonde were, like, 11,” she teased. “My journey was much harder.”

Coolidge was also asked about the upcoming third Legally Blonde movie, but refused to reveal anything.

“I have not seen the script,” Coolidge confessed. “I am told Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon are talking about it and I hear it is going to be finished soon.  I heard it is close but I haven’t seen it, I really haven’t,” then joked, “I hope I am alive by then.”

Legally Blonde is set to arrive in theaters in 2022, a little under 20 years since the franchise’s second installment — Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde — hit the box office.

Legally Blonde, also starring Witherspoon, Luke Wilson and Selma Blair, hit theaters on July 13, 2001.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘Black Widow’ debuts: The cast talks about the “raw” fights, Natasha’s sacrifice, and more

Marvel Studios

For Marvel movie fans, the wait is finally over: Black Widow swings into theaters today.

The movie is set before Natasha Romanoff’s heroic sacrifice in Avengers: EndgameScarlett Johansson‘s character returns to her past, teaming up with her adoptive “family” of spies, including Florence Pugh as Ylena, and their “parents,” Rachel Weisz as Melina and David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov, AKA the Red Guardian, Russia’s answer to Captain America.

The film has the re-assembled team taking on the cruel “Black Widow program” that turns girls into assassins.

They also face off with a baddie known as Taskmaster, who can mimic any opponent he faces. For director Cate Shortland, the order of the day was to make the fights feel real. “The character can do what [Natasha] can do, basically, so she can’t…use those skills,” the filmmaker explained at a recent press conference.

“[The] fights became messy and raw and that was really fun,” she said, adding the goal was, “watching humans fight, not superheroes.”

Johansson explained her character’s eventual sacrifice weighed on her prequel’s performance: “We knew that in this film she had to evolve into a place [where] she had resolved the trauma from her past…that she felt like a different person moving forward…”

Stranger Things veteran Harbour gets big laughs as his past-his-prime Red Guardian. The actor said he’d love to face off with the current Captain America: “I love Anthony Mackie just as an actor, too, and now…whoever wears the suit…Alexei hates that guy and who he represents.”

Harbour adds, “Some of the funniest stuff to me is where [Alexei] is like, ‘[Cap] actually was a colleague of mine…We had a lot of respect for each other.’ I just think that that dynamic would be really fun to see…”

Marvel Studios is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Aisling Bea reveals what it was like writing the next season of ‘This Way Up’ during the global pandemic

Courtesy of Channel 4

While the world seemingly slowed to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic, Irish comedian Aisling Bea spent lockdown hard at work writing the next season of This Way Up.

Bea, 37, spoke with ABC Audio about her critically acclaimed comedy series that she wrote and stars in, which airs its second season tonight on Hulu.  The stand-up comedian said writing the next installment during the early days of lockdown allowed her to explore more than just her emotions, but understand what the world was experiencing.

“If the theme of the first series is loneliness, the second one is words and communication, and how we miss each other,” said Bea. “And what we don’t know that one person might say and how you read it and how that affects relationships.”

Beyond writing the second season during a global pandemic, the actress confessed it wasn’t easy to shoot, either.  She said a good chunk of their budget and time was eaten up by necessary COVID protocols, which meant the crew had less to spend on filming.

“Sometimes in a day I would do scenes where there might be a suicide scene, Aine being the funniest in the world, and a sex scene… All in one day,” she recalled. “There’s no processing time… And from a creative point of view, I got through it. But it wasn’t pleasant.”

While unable to tease too much about This Way Up‘s second season, Bea revealed what she focused on when writing the series.

“Don’t make it a TED talk. I love TED talks, but there’s moments I realize ‘Ooh… I’ve accidentally made this a TED talk,'” she remarked, adding that, despite the upcoming serious moments, season two will be “entertaining.”

This Way Up season 2 is streaming now on Hulu.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Shonda Rhimes expands deal with Netflix to include feature films, gaming and virtual reality content

ABC/Image Group LA

Shonda Rhimes isn’t leaving Netflix anytime soon.

According to Variety, Rhimes, who initially signed a multimillion-dollar TV deal with the streamer in 2017, has now extended her partnership to include feature films, gaming and virtual reality content. As part of the deal, Netflix will support and invest in Shondaland’s mission to “create DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility) programs that can increase industry workplace representation for underrepresented groups both domestically and in the UK.”

The robust deal comes after the global success of Rhimes’ Regency-era romance Bridgerton. The Regé-Jean Page-led show became one of the most viewed series on the streamer, with 82 million households watching during its first 28 days on the service. Not surprisingly, Bridgerton, which currently is in production for season two, has already been renewed for seasons three and four.

In a statement, Rhimes says moving Shondaland to Netflix was “taking a leap into the unknown” that paid off.

“Today, Shondaland at Netflix is creatively thriving, profitable as an asset and engaging audiences around the world with stories that fearlessly challenge viewers and keep them highly entertained all at once,” she adds. “The entire team at Netflix have been tremendous partners during every step of the process, supporting my creative vision and showing a continued dedication to the innovation that has made Netflix such a powerhouse. The Shondaland team and I are thrilled and excited to be expanding our relationship with our content partners at Netflix.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Naya Rivera’s family reflects on her life and legacy on the one-year anniversary of her death

ABC’s “Good Morning America”

Naya Rivera‘s family is honoring her memory, and who she was as a daughter, sister, mother and artist, on the one-year anniversary of the Glee star’s tragic death.

Naya’s mother, Yolanda Previtire, told ABC News’ Juju Chang and Good Morning America the sadness associated with losing her daughter often becomes too much for her and her family to deal with.

“Sometimes we’re afraid of the sorrow being so heavy that we’re afraid for our own self, ’cause this is hard. There are no words to describe what we’re going through,” Yolanda said. “All we know is we have each other.”

Yolanda also noted that the family is in therapy to help with the shared trauma.

Naya’s younger sister, Nickayla Rivera, told GMA that what keeps them going is “taking that one day at a time and living it to the fullest, loving each other to the fullest, and not regretting anything. Because I know if we could go back, we’d hug a little bit harder.”

Yolanda added, “I feel Naya’s energy constantly telling me, ‘Mom, be happy. Don’t cry. I’m OK. Go get Josey. Have fun.’ And I feel that it’s coming from her.”

Naya Rivera went missing on July 8, 2020, at California’s Lake Piru, where she’d spent the day with her son, Josey Hollis Dorsey, who was four at the time and will be six in September. After failing to return the boat they had rented for the day, a search began for Naya and Josey. The child was found, wearing a life jacket, alone in the vessel, with Naya nowhere in sight.

Naya’s body was found five days after she went missing. The actress’ death was ruled an accidental drowning and she was laid to rest on July 24, 2020. She was 33.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.