Robert Downey Jr was ‘den mother’ to Avengers

Plus: tributes to renowned Egyptian poet; Cruise unveils Mission: Impossible clips; Jon Stewart sets Daily Show finale; Netflix confirms Full House revival; and Cannes jury members announced.

Robert Downey Jr. Stefan Wermuth / Reuters
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Robert Downey Jr says he was a stabilising force amid the ever-growing cast of superheroes during the filming of Avengers: Age of Ultron. "I am an assistant den mother for [director Joss Whedon] – we're more contemporaries," Downey, 50, said at the film's London premiere on Tuesday. The actor, who returns as Iron Man in the film, was accompanied by many of his co-stars, including Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/the Hulk). "With some younger talent, they're very exuberant – I remember when I was that way," said Downey. "I kind of feel like I'm the assistant principal." This will be Whedon's final Avengers movie – at least for now. He'll hand over the reins to Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo for the two-part Avengers: Infinity War, due out in 2018 and 2019. "Yeah, it's sort of like sending your kid off to college, it's like, 'Wow, they really don't need me anymore, do they?'" Whedon said. "At the same time it's like, 'My kid's gone, party all night!'" – AP

Tributes to renowned Egyptian poet

The Egyptian poet Abdel Rahman Al-Abnudi, widely acclaimed for his revolutionary verse and known for his criticism of two toppled presidents, died on Tuesday at the age of 76. Al Abnudi, who had brain surgery at a Cairo hospital just days earlier, rose to prominence in the 1960s for his poems, some of which were performed by the legendary Arab singer Abdel Halim Hafez. In a career spanning four decades, Al Abnudi, known for his leftist views, published several volumes of medieval poems on the Arab hero Abu Zeid Al Hilali and his tribe, which travelled through the Middle East and North Africa. Born in 1939, Al Abdnudi was called “uncle” by his affectionate fans. Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah El Sisi and prime minister Ibrahim Mahlab offered their condolences to his family. “Egypt and the Arab world have lost a great poet ... his contributions to poetry will remain a national and Arab symbol,” El Sisi’s office said. In recent years, Al Abnudi openly criticised former presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohammed Morsi, who were both toppled after mass uprisings. Al Abnudi’s wife, Nehal Kamal, said her husband was buried in the canal city of Ismailiya later on Tuesday. –AFP

Cruise unveils Mission Impossible clips

Tom Cruise made a surprise appearance at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Tuesday to promote the fifth instalment in his Mission: Impossible series. The actor said the film, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, features action, intrigue and twists. He showed two new clips from the film, which is set to open in the US on July 31, which featured an impossible escape, martial arts fighting and a comedic car chase. Cruise was joined on stage by co-stars Rebecca Ferguson and Simon Pegg. – AP

Jon Stewart sets Daily Show finale

Jon Stewart has announced that his last night hosting Comedy Central's The Daily Show will be on August 6. He revealed the date in the closing moments of Monday's edition of the satirical news show. With tongue in cheek, he promised to wear a suit for the finale and to shower beforehand. Then he changed his mind, saying he would be clad in overalls and skip the shower. The network said The Daily Show would then go on hiatus for the rest of the summer. Stewart's finale will end a 16-year reign of sharp satire and ample silliness. He revealed in February that he was calling it a day. His successor will be South African comedian Trevor Noah, a recent addition to the stable of Daily Show correspondents. A date for his first show has yet to be announced. –AP

Netflix confirms Full House revival

Netflix on Tuesday confirmed long-standing rumours that it is bringing back the hit TV show Full House, a family sitcom that captivated millions of viewers in the 1980s and 1990s. The video-streaming company has commissioned 13 episodes of a reboot called Fuller House, which will be broadcast next year and focus on the family of DJ Tanner, one of the children in the original series. The original version, which told the story of widower Danny Tanner who was raising three daughters with the help of his best friend and brother-in-law, ran from 1987 to 1995. The actor John Stamos, who will produce and guest star as Uncle Jesse in the new version, announced the reboot on Monday on the American late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live. Candace Cameron-Bure, who played D J Tanner, Jodie Sweetin, who played her sister Stephanie, and Andrea Barber, who played their eccentric neighbour Kimmy, will take leading roles in the revival. Netflix is negotiating with other original cast members including Bob Saget, Dave Coulier, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. – AFP

Cannes jury members announced

Prizewinners at the Cannes Film Festival will be chosen by a jury that includes the American actor Jake Gyllenhaal, Mexican director Guillermo del Toro and Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan. The Malian musician Rokia Traore is also on the panel, along with the British actress Sienna Miller, French performer Sophie Marceau and Spanish actress Rossy de Palma. The jury will be led by filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen. The French Riviera film extravaganza opens on May 13 and runs until May 24. – AP