People: Bryan Singer, James Franco, George Stephanopoulos and Marc Anthony

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From Web and wire reports

“X-Men” director Bryan Singer is speaking out about allegations he forced a teenage boy into sex, blasting the claims as a “sick twisted shakedown,” People reports.

Singer, 48, broke his silence Thursday and said he won’t participate in the promotional tour for his latest movie.

“I do not want these fictitious claims to divert ANY attention from ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past.’ This fantastic film is a labor of love and one of the greatest experiences of my career,” he says in a statement. “So, out of respect to all of the extraordinary contributions from the incredibly talented actors and crew involved, I’ve decided not to participate in the upcoming media events for the film.”

The controversy began when Michael Egan sued Singer for sexual assault last week. Egan, now 31, claims the director abused him during parties in the 1990s, when he was a young aspiring actor caught in a Hollywood sex ring.

Egan has since filed suit against three more entertainment executives: Garth Ancier, Gary Goddard and David Neuman. But Singer, who first gained fame directing “The Usual Suspects” in 1995, staunchly denies Egan’s story.

“I promise when this situation is over, the facts will show this to be the sick twisted shakedown it is,” his statement continued. “I want to thank fans, friends and family for all their amazing and overwhelming support.”

“X-Men: Days of Future Past” hits theaters May 23.

James Franco says his recent Instagram postings of him in bed — alone or not — are his way of sharing a “very kind of intimate portrait” of himself and to get people talking, The Associated Press reports.

“It’s not like I’m exposing myself or anything,” he said in an interview Thursday.

Franco calls selfies and Instagram phenomena “that I am just playing around with like everybody else” to see what kind of reaction it evokes. He says when he takes pictures of himself, “It’s almost like it’s connected to you” and that by putting “that intimate space out there it’s kind of this new thing that we’re all getting used to.”

He also says that it “obviously causes a lot of stir,” noting that he was being asked about the photos by reporters.

The actor, author and director wrote in a New York Times essay last December titled “The Meanings of the Selfie” that he has “become increasingly addicted to Instagram” and acknowledged that he has “been accused of posting too many of them.”

Franco was recently caught trying to pick up a Scottish teenage girl on the photo-sharing app. He later apologized on the morning talk show “Live With Kelly and Michael,” saying he used “bad judgment” and “learned my lesson.”

Lately the actor, who stars in Broadway’s “Of Mice and Men,” has been posting shirtless photos of himself in bed. He even posted one this week showing him in bed with one of the stars of “Pretty Little Liars” with the caption, “BED SELFIE WITH KEEGAN ALLEN!!!!! TIME TO GO NUTS!!!!” Another selfie Allen posted showed Franco smiling and that Allen was wearing pants under their blanket.

Allen has worked with Franco on three recent films: “The Sound and the Fury,” “Bukowski” and “Palo Alto,” which Franco was promoting in the interview and will be released May 9.

ABC News has signed George Stephanopoulos to a contract extension, the last member of its “Good Morning America” team to agree to a new deal.

ABC News said Thursday that Stephanopoulos will remain as Robin Roberts’ chief partner on the top-rated morning show and will continue as host on the Sunday morning show “This Week.” Terms were not disclosed.

Roberts also recently signed a contract extension. “Good Morning America” has not been entirely successful in keeping together the team that toppled NBC’s “Today” show: Sam Champion left for a job at The Weather Channel and Josh Elliott is now at NBC Sports. In recent months, the show replaced Champion with Ginger Zee and Elliott with Amy Robach, promoted Lara Spencer and added Michael Strahan as a contributor.

Marc Anthony’s latest Spanish-language album, “3.0,” is a hit, and his single “Vivir mi vida” topped the charts for 18 weeks. But Anthony isn’t satisfied. He wants to reconquer a broader market with a new project in English, the AP reports.

Anthony announced at the 25th Billboard Latin Music Conference in Miami on Wednesday that he is working on a pop album. The conference culminates with its awards show Thursday. Anthony is nominated in 15 categories.

Anthony says he doesn’t have a release date or a record label yet. Sony Music Latin has the exclusive rights only to his Spanish-language music.

The “Nuyorican” salsa singer has produced two albums in English, but much of his fame and success has come from his Spanish-language songs.


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