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Walt Disney presents: ‘Avatar,’ ‘The Simpsons,’ ‘Alien’ and ‘Rocky Horror’

As of Thursday morning, the Walt Disney Co. is set to own a large part of the Murdoch family's 21st Century Fox in a $52.4 billion deal. With this merger, the number of major studios in Hollywood will go from six to five, and the combined Disney and Fox assets would have a 39% theatrical market share, according to Variety

>> Read more trending news 

The deal, which some have said will raise red flags among antitrust officials, is still awaiting regulatory approval, which could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months, according to Variety.

This deal is sort of the opposite of the Paramount Case of 1948, when RKO Pictures shuttered, divorcing movie theaters from the ownership of the studios that created the films those theaters were screening

A merger is a wish your boardroom makes, and all that. 

(In other news, the FCC is expected to repeal net neutrality Thursday, so...more great news for big corporations.)

>> Related: MoviePass now officially has some Texas competition 

Most of the chatter around this deal has centered around two things: one is that Disney is becoming a monopoly. Disney already owns Pixar, Marvel and The Studio Formerly Known As Lucasfilm. Disney’s acquiring of Fox isn’t just another merger deal — it’s one of the biggest deals to go down in Hollywood history.

The other talking point is that, well, hey, now that Disney owns Fox properties, that means that a majority of the Marvel properties are now in Disney’s hands. 

This means — as many have pointed out on Twitter — that the X-Men can now theoretically be in “Avengers: Infinity War” and other Marvel films. Ditto Deadpool and the Fantastic Four.

>> Related: Pixar celebrates Day of the Dead, family ties with captivating ‘Coco’

But there’s some other properties that Disney has now acquired that don’t really fit the House of Mouse’s squeaky clean image. Read on to see some of what might be coming to a theater near you under a new Disney banner. 

Comic books

  • X-Men
  • Deadpool
  • Fantastic Four
  • Legion
  • “Kingsman”

All of the above films and characters are either super violent or not very Disney-like, something that “Deadpool” star Ryan Reynolds pointed out on Twitter last week.

The other fun thing to think about here: What if Disney made an Avengers film with Captain America and the Fantastic Four? Chris Evans plays Captain America and also played The Human Torch in Fox’s 2005 bid to make that live-action franchise happen. (If you really want to check out something special, peep this unreleased “Fantastic Four” that Fox made back in 1994 solely to keep the rights to the franchise.)

>> Related: How comic book movies are making comic books worse

Action franchises

  • “Alien”
  • “Avatar”
  • “Die Hard”
  • “Independence Day”
  • “Planet of the Apes”
  • “Predator”

Ho, ho, ho. Now I have a lot of R-rated franchises. Does this mean we’re going to see a “Yippee-ki-yay, Mr. Falcon!” PG-13-ification of some of film’s most enduring action franchises? 

>> Related: ‘The Holiday' is a better Christmas movie than 'Love Actually' and here's why

But, on another note, Disney now owns the “Avatar” franchise, which is reported to have four planned sequels. The first film, released in 2009, brought in almost $3 BILLION worldwide.

Kid’s franchises

  • “Alvin and the Chipmunks”
  • “Doctor Doolittle”
  • “Goosebumps”
  • “Home Alone”
  • “Ice Age”
  • “Night at the Museum”
  • “Rio”

All of these franchises are at least three films in, with the exception of “Goosebumps.” Expect more from the House of Mouse in the coming years.

Straight-up weird properties to now think of as ‘Disney’ properties

  • “Cocoon”
  • “M*A*S*H” (Robert Altman film and the Fox TV series)
  • “The Omen” franchise
  • “Rocky Horror Picture Show”
  • “Romancing the Stone”
  • “The Sound of Music”
  • “X-Files” franchise

All that needs to be said:

Read more here.

Pink joins list of stars performing during Super Bowl week

Pink is joining the list of stars performing in Minneapolis during Super Bowl week.

The singer will perform Friday, Feb. 2, at Nomadic Live! in the refurbished Minneapolis Armory building.

Imagine Dragons will headline the EA Sports Bowl on Thursday, Feb. 1, at the Armory. Jennifer Lopez will also perform in the building near U.S. Bank Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 3.

Super Bowl week will be packed with entertainment. Performers at various venues include The Chainsmokers, Florida Georgia Line and the Dave Matthews Band. A 10-day free concert series features a "Prince night" and local acts such as Soul Asylum and Mint Condition.

Gwen Stefani will close out the week on Sunday, Feb. 4, at Club Nomadic at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel.

___

More AP NFL: http://pro32.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Salma Hayek calls Harvey Weinstein ‘a monster’ in New York Times piece

Salma Hayek has come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against film producer Harvey Weinstein.

In a first-person story written for The New York Times, the actress describes Weinstein as “a passionate cinephile, a risk taker, a patron of talent in film, a loving father and a monster.”

>> Read more trending news 

Hayek, who previously said she was bullied by Weinstein in the wake of initial public sexual misconduct and rape allegations against the producer, is sharing details of sexual harassment on the set of the 2002 movie “Frida,” about the life of famed Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

Hayek said that she knew little of Weinstein and what she did know was from her relationship with director Robert Rodriguez and his then-wife, producer Elizabeth Avellan.

Related: 3 women accuse Harvey Weinstein of rape, report says

“All I knew of Harvey at the time was that he had a remarkable intellect, he was a loyal friend and a family man,” she wrote.

“Knowing what I know now, I wonder if it wasn’t my friendship with them — and Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney — that saved me from being raped.”

Hayek was initially set to work on the movie about the artist with a different company, but said she fought to get the movie back and work with Weinstein on it.

Eventually, she said she turned down multiple advances from Weinstein. Hayek said he showed up unexpectedly at numerous locations and different hotels, asked her to take a shower with him, let him watch her shower, give her a massage and get naked with another woman, among other advances.

“And with every refusal came Harvey’s Machiavellian rage,” Hayek said.

“The range of his persuasion tactics went from sweet-talking me to that one time when, in an attack of fury, he said the terrifying words, ‘I will kill you, don’t think I can’t,’” Hayek said. 

According to the actress, those refusals led Weinstein to offer the role and the script Hayek worked on for years to someone else.

“At that point, I had to resort to using lawyers, not by pursuing a sexual harassment case, but by claiming “bad faith,” as I had worked so hard on a movie that he was not intending to make or sell back to me,” she said. “I tried to get it out of his company.”

Related: Ashley Judd accuses Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment

Hayek said once she was able to retain involvement in the film, she was told the only way people would be interested in it with her as the star is with an element of sex. 

“The only thing he noticed was that I was not sexy in the movie. He made me doubt if I was any good as an actress, but he never succeeded in making me think that the film was not worth making,” she said.

“He offered me one option to continue. He would let me finish the film if I agreed to do a sex scene with another woman. And he demanded full-frontal nudity.”

USA Today reported that Weinstein responded to Hayek with a statement through his spokeswoman Holly Baird.

“Mr. Weinstein regards Salma Hayek as a first-class actress and cast her in several of his movies, among them ‘Once Upon a Time in Mexico,’ ‘Dogma,’ and ‘Studio 54.’ He was very proud of her Best Actress Academy Award nomination for ‘Frida’ and continues to support her work. “While Jennifer Lopez was interested in playing Frida and at the time was a bigger star, Mr. Weinstein overruled other investors to back Salma as the lead. Miramax put up half of the money and all of the P&A; the budget was over 12 million. As in most collaborative projects, there was creative friction on ‘Frida,’ but it served to drive the project to perfection. The movie opened in multiple theaters and was supported by a huge advertising campaign and an enormous Academy Awards budget. “Mr. Weinstein does not recall pressuring Salma to do a gratuitous sex scene with a female costar and he was not there for the filming. However, that was part of the story, as Frida Kahlo was bisexual and the more significant sex scene in the movie was choreographed by Ms. Hayek with Geoffrey Rush. The original uni-brow used was an issue because it diverted attention from the performances. All of the sexual allegations as portrayed by Salma are not accurate and others who witnessed the events have a different account of what transpired. “Ed Norton, who was Ms. Hayek’s boyfriend at the time, (worked with Mr. Weinstein on the rewrite of the script in Mexico) did a brilliant job of rewriting the script and Mr. Weinstein battled the WGA to get him a credit on the film. His effort was unsuccessful to everyone’s disappointment. “By Mr. Weinstein’s own admission, his boorish behavior following a screening of ‘Frida’ was prompted by his disappointment in the cut of the movie—and a reason he took a firm hand in the final edit, alongside the very skilled director Julie Taymor.”

Simmons says he will 'defend' himself following rape claims

Music mogul Russell Simmons said on Instagram that he plans to defend himself a day after a New York Times story published claims by three women saying he raped them.

The allegations in the Times' Wednesday report stem from the 1980s and 1990s. Simmons denied the allegations Wednesday and again on Thursday.

"Today, I begin to properly defend myself. I will prove without any doubt that I am innocent of all rape charges," Simmons wrote Thursday on Instagram.

Simmons posted his words under a photo that read #NotMe, explaining that he isn't trying to going against the anti-harassment movement #MeToo, where millions have shared their stories about being sexually harassed and assaulted.

"My intention is not to diminish the #MeToo movement in any way, but instead hold my accusers accountable," he wrote. "Again, this is not a movement against or even in conjunction with #MeToo. It's just a statement about my innocence."

The allegations in the Times story weren't the first to hit Simmons. Model Keri Claussen Khalighi said Simmons coerced her to perform a sex act and later penetrated her without her consent in 1991. Simmons said the sex with Klalighi was consensual.

"Today, I will focus on 'The Original Sin' (Keri Claussen), the claim that created this insane pile," Simmons wrote on Instagram. "Stay tuned! We'll share information today."

He also said "and tomorrow the case of Jenny Lumet," referring to the screenwriter who said Simmons had sex with her more than two decades ago despite her repeated demands that he stop. Simmons said he had a different memory of the night but apologized. Following Lumet's claims, HBO said it would edit out any link to Simmons in its "All Def Comedy" show.

Simmons founded Def Jam Recordings with mega-producer Rick Rubin in 1984. It made stars of such hip-hop artists as LL Cool J, Slick Rick, The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy.

The Latest: Walmart suspends ties to Tavis Smiley show, tour

The Latest on allegations of sexual misconduct against Tavis Smiley (all times local):

4:20 p.m.

Walmart is suspending its relationship with talk show host Tavis Smiley.

The retail giant says it is "troubled by the recent allegations" facing the TV, radio and book star.

The move comes a day after PBS indefinitely suspended distribution of Smiley's talk show after an independent investigation uncovered "multiple, credible allegations" of sexual misconduct by its host.

Smiley responded that he has never harassed anyone and claimed one relationship the network uncovered was consensual.

Walmart had been a sponsor of Smiley's show and an upcoming touring theatrical show. It says it will be "suspending our relationship with Mr. Smiley, pending the outcome of the PBS investigation."

___

12:15 p.m.

Talk show host Tavis Smiley says PBS "overreacted" when it indefinitely suspended his show after an independent investigation uncovered "multiple, credible allegations" of misconduct by its host.

In a Facebook post, Smiley says he has never harassed anyone and claimed one relationship the network uncovered was consensual.

Smiley also claims PBS "refused to provide me the names of any accusers, refused to speak to my current staff, and refused to provide me any semblance of due process to defend myself against allegations from unknown sources."

His show's page at PBS was scrubbed on Thursday

Smiley has a development deal with Warner Bros. Television and was working with J.J. Abrams to turn his new book about Michael Jackson's last days and death into a limited TV series. Next month he is expected to launch a nationwide 40-city tour of a theatrical production focusing on the last year of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life. "Death of a King: A Live Theatrical Experience" is based on Smiley's 2014 book of the same title and was to start Jan. 15, King's birthday.

___

1 a.m.

PBS says it has indefinitely suspended distribution of Tavis Smiley's talk show after an independent investigation uncovered "multiple, credible allegations" of misconduct by its host.

PBS said Wednesday it had engaged an outside law firm to investigate "troubling allegations" against the host, it said in a statement.

"This investigation included interviews with witnesses as well as with Mr. Smiley," the statement said. "The inquiry uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS, and the totality of this information led to today's decision."

A representative for PBS declined to specify the nature of the allegations against Smiley.

His nightly program has aired on PBS since 2004.

Representatives for Smiley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Retiring New York Times publisher to be replaced by his son

The publisher of The New York Times Co. is stepping down after 25 years and will be succeeded by his 37-year-old son, the Times announced Thursday.

Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. will retire as of Dec. 31 but will remain as chairman of the board of directors, the Times said. His son and current deputy publisher, Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, will take over as publisher.

"It is the greatest honor to serve The Times — and the people who make it what it is — as the next publisher," the younger Sulzberger, known as A.G., said in a staffwide email.

Sulzberger praised his father as "the only publisher of his generation who took the reins of a great news organization and left it even better than he found."

A.G. Sulzberger will be the fifth generation of the Ochs-Sulzberger family to serve as publisher since Adolph Ochs, his great great-grandfather, bought the Times in 1896.

The outgoing publisher, who is 66, took over from his own father, Arthur O. Sulzberger, in 1992 and went on to preside during an era of rapid change brought on by the rise of digital media.

The Times published its first color photo in 1993 and its first web edition in 1996.

The newspaper's 2011 move to charge online readers through a pay wall was watched closely, with some doubting consumers would pay for content they were used to getting for free. The Times now has 3.5 million subscribers, 2.5 million of them paying for digital-only content.

"It has been an extraordinary honor to serve as publisher of The New York Times and I will step down at the end of the year prouder than I have ever been of the strength, independence and integrity of this institution," Sulzberger said in a statement.

The Times won 60 Pulitzer Prizes during Sulzberger's leadership but weathered controversies including a 2003 plagiarism scandal involving reporter Jayson Blair and the 2014 firing of Jill Abramson, the paper's first female executive editor.

The younger Sulzberger headed a team that produced a 2014 "innovation report" that outlined strategies for adapting to the digital era.

The Times has set a goal of bringing in at least $800 million in digital revenue by 2020, double what the company earned in 2014.

The younger Sulzberger joined the Times in 2009 after working as a reporter at the Providence Journal and the Oregonian. He worked as a New York metro reporter and later as the head of the Times' Kansas City bureau, where he wrote about his struggle to survive as a vegetarian in a "Mecca of meat."

After Kansas City, he became an assistant editor and was appointed deputy publisher last year.

Fox looks to wrap up Sky takeover in UK, hand over to Disney

21st Century Fox said Thursday it will still try to complete its 11.7 billion pound ($15.4 billion) takeover offer for Sky, a move that would hand the major European broadcaster over to Disney as it in turn buys most of Fox.

Sky is based in London but has strong news and pay-TV operations across Europe, and is particularly prized for its sports broadcasting operations, including the English Premier League soccer matches.

Fox, controlled by Rupert Murdoch's family, has faced hurdles in trying to buy the 61 percent of Sky it doesn't already own. But it said Thursday that it remains confident that Britain's competition regulator and government will approve the Sky takeover by the expiration of the offer on June 30, 2018.

The takeover values Sky at 18.5 billion pounds.

"Assuming 21st Century Fox completes its acquisition of Sky prior to closing of the transaction, The Walt Disney Company would assume full ownership of Sky, including the assumption of its outstanding debt, upon closing," the companies said in a statement.

Disney is buying much of Fox for about $52.4 billion in stock, including film and television studios and cable and international TV businesses.

Britain's competition regulator is conducting an investigation into whether Fox's bid for Sky would give Murdoch and his family too much control over the country's news media.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley asked the Competition and Markets Authority to evaluate the takeover in September, taking a look at Fox's commitment to broadcasting standards and the deal's impact on media plurality in the U.K.

Her decision touched off a six-month investigation, bringing renewed attention to the mogul's holdings and efforts to consolidate his empire. With Murdoch already owning the Sun and The Times newspapers, there are concerns that he and his company would wield too much power in Britain.

But the regulator will also look at a variety of other issues to determine whether the merged entity would have a "genuine commitment to broadcasting standards objectives." Among these are allegations that 21st Century Fox's board failed to recognize that sexual harassment was a problem until a Fox News anchor took the issue to court, according to a Sept. 12 letter to the company from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which Bradley heads.

One question raised by Disney's takeover of Fox is whether it could make it easier for British regulators to approve the takeover of Sky, knowing that it would not remain within Murdoch's stable of news operations.

Longtime Murdoch critic Tom Watson said Disney had to take care not to let the "toxic corporate culture we have seen in the Murdoch empire to contaminate their business and tarnish their reputation"

"This is the end of an era for the Murdochs who after decades of aggressive empire expansion are now in retreat," he said.

Morgan Spurlock addresses sexual harassment, says he’s ‘part of the problem’

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock is getting honest, saying he is “part of the problem” in Hollywood when it comes to sexual harassment and misconduct.

The “Super Size Me” director, who has not been publicly accused of sexual misconduct, opened up about his own history of sexual harassment in a candid open letter posted on Twitter Wednesday.

>> Read more trending news 

“I’m sure I’m not alone in this thought, but I can’t blindly act as though I didn’t somehow play a part in this, and if I’m going (to) truly represent myself as someone who has built a career on finding the truth, then it’s time for me to be truthful as well,” he wrote. “I am part of the problem.”

“When I was in college, a girl who I hooked up with on a one-night stand accused me of rape. Not outright. There were no charges or investigations, but she wrote about the instance in a short story writing class and called me by name. A female friend who was in the class told me about it afterwards,” he wrote.

“This wasn’t how I remembered it at all. In my mind, we’d been drinking all night and went back to my room. We began fooling around, she pushed me off, then we laid in the bed and talked and laughed some more, and then began fooling around again,” he continued. “We took off our clothes. She said she didn’t want to have sex, so we laid together, and talked, and kissed, and laughed, and then we started having sex.”

Spurlock explained that at one point, the woman started to cry.

“I didn’t know what to do. We stopped having sex and I rolled beside her. I tried to comfort her. To make her feel better. I thought I was doing OK, I believed she was feeling better. She believed she was raped,” he wrote. “That’s why I’m part of the problem.”

He was also candid about a sexual harassment incident he was involved in eight years ago.

“It was verbal, and it was just as bad. I would call my female assistant ‘hot pants’ or ‘sex pants’ when I was yelling to her from the other side of the office. Something I thought was funny at the time, but then realized I had completely demeaned and belittled her to a place of non-existence,” he wrote. “So, when she decided to quit, she came to me and said if I didn’t pay her a settlement, she would tell everyone. Being who I was, it was the last thing I wanted, so of course, I paid. I paid for peace of mind. I paid for her silence and cooperation. Most of all, I paid so I could remain who I was.”

Spurlock rattled off a list of possible explanations for his behavior, questioning if each reason contributed to him being “part of the problem.”

“But why? What caused me to act this way? Is it all ego? Or was it the sexual abuse I suffered as a boy and as a young man in my teens? Abuse that I only ever told to my first wife, for fear of being seen as weak or less than a man?” he questioned. “Or is it because I’ve consistently been drinking since the age of 13? I haven’t been sober for more than a week in 30 years, something our society doesn’t shun or condemn but which only served to fill the emotional hole inside me and the daily depression I coped with. Depression we can’t talk about, because its wrong and makes you less of a person.

“I don’t know. None of these things matter when you chip away at someone and consistently make them feel like less of a person,” he wrote.

He said that he is now seeking help to figure out what caused him to behave this way.

“I will do better. I will be better. I believe we all can. The only individual I have control over is me. So starting today, I’m going to be more honest with you and myself. I’m going to lay it all out in the open. Maybe that will be a start. Who knows. But I do know I’ve talked enough in my life … I’m finally ready to listen,” he said.

Read Spurlock’s full letter here.

What stays, what goes: Disney and Murdoch after the sale

Disney is buying a large part of Fox , but Fox News Channel and other U.S. television businesses are staying with the Murdoch family.

Here's a look at what the Disney and Murdoch empires will look like under The Walt Disney Co.'s $52.4 billion deal for 21st Century Fox:

THE DISNEY BANNER

Besides classics such as Mickey Mouse and Goofy, Disney already owns several iconic franchises, including the Muppets, "Star Wars" and Marvel superhero movies and comics. It operates a major movie studio and several TV networks, including ABC, ESPN, the Disney Channel and Freeform.

With the deal, Disney gets the Fox movie business, including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox 2000. Fox held rights to some Marvel characters; this deal will bring Marvel's X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool under the Disney roof. Disney will also take ownership of the "Avatar" franchise, which has already spawned a Disney theme park ; sequels are on the way.

In terms of television production, Disney will get Twentieth Century Fox Television, FX Productions and Fox21, with shows including "The Simpsons" and "Modern Family."

Disney will get at least a 39 percent stake in European satellite-TV and broadcaster Sky. Fox is hoping to acquire the remainder of Sky before the deal closes, giving Disney full control. Disney is also acquiring Star India, a major media company with dozens of sports and entertainment channels.

Disney, a co-owner of Hulu, will get Fox's share in the streaming company, giving Disney a majority control.

THE MURDOCH FAMILY

Before the sale, Fox will spin off some properties into a separate company, which the Murdoch family will control. Murdoch's new Fox will have the Fox television network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network and the U.S. sports channels FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network. It will also keep the Fox studio lot in Los Angeles and an equity investment in Roku, a maker of TV-streaming devices.

The publishing and newspaper businesses will stay with Murdoch, as those have already been separated into a different company, News Corp. Those businesses include the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Sun and The Times in the U.K., and book publisher HarperCollins.

There's been speculation the Murdoch family will try to combine News Corp. with what's left of Fox, though Rupert Murdoch told investors Thursday, "We haven't thought about combining with News Corp."

Rape case against rapper Nelly dropped after victim fails to cooperate

Washington state prosecutors have determined they cannot proceed with criminal charges against rapper Nelly for allegedly raping a woman while on tour with Florida Georgia Line.

On Wednesday, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office reportedly told TMZ that it’s impossible to move forward with criminal charges against Nelly, whose real name is Cornell Haynes, Jr., for any crimes due to the alleged victim’s refusal to cooperate with authorities. The woman, who claimed he raped her on his tour bus, told police she didn’t want to press charges after coming forward with her story.

>> Read more trending news 

“Police responded to and investigated a sexual assault allegation involving Mr. Haynes," a statement from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, obtained by E! News, read. “However, within days of her initial report to police, the complainant, through her attorney, informed investigators from the Auburn police department that she did not wish to assist in prosecution or the investigation of Mr. Haynes.”

Related: Rapper Nelly accused of rape, arrested after show

The woman’s attorney, Karen Koehler, posted a letter online, saying her client believed the courts would be against her if she pursued a suit.

“Every step of the way, since the time she called 911, she wishes she had not,” the letter read. “Not because what happened didn’t occur exactly the way she described it. Not because she did not want the police to charge the celebrity with alleged rape. She wishes she had not called 911 because she believes the system is going to fail her.”

Related: Rapper Nelly denies rape allegation, says he is ‘completely innocent’

In October, the rapper was arrested for allegedly raping the woman in his tour bus in an Auburn, Washington, Walmart parking lot while he was touring with the country band Florida Georgia Line. She specifically identified Nelly as her attacker and said the incident occurred around 3:48 a.m. Nelly was arrested just over three hours later, booked on second-degree rape charges and later released.

“Let me say that I am beyond shocked that I have been targeted with this false allegation,” Nelly tweeted after his release. “I am completely innocent. I am confident that once the facts are looked at, it will be very clear that I am the victim of a false allegation.”

“I also want to thank my fans for their unwavering support,” he said in another tweet. “They know me. I assure you I will be vindicated. And I assure you, I will pursue every legal option to address this defaming claim.”

Nelly soon responded to the allegations through his attorney, Scott Rosenblum, who said, “Nelly is the victim of a completely fabricated allegation. Our initial investigation, clearly establishes the allegation is devoid of credibility and is motivated by greed and vindictiveness. I am confident, once the scurrilous accusation is thoroughly investigated, there will be no charges. Nelly is prepared to pursue all all legal avenues to redress any damage caused by this clearly false allegation.”

Related: Woman who accused rapper Nelly of rape asks police to stop investigation

“Her reckless accusation, once investigated thoroughly, was exposed for what it was – a fabrication,” Rosenblum said. “A fabrication that has caused Nelly and his family to suffer emotionally and financially.”

Rosenblum indicated that he would like a public apology from he accuser while stating that he would recommend Nelly take legal action against her.

‘The Chew’ deals with allegations against Mario Batali

“The Chew” was forced to address the sexual misconduct allegations that have been brought against chef Mario Batali this week.

Co-hosts Carla Hall, Michael Symon and Clinton Kelly addressed the audience with a statement read on-air on Tuesday. 

>> Read more trending news 

“Yesterday, allegations of past improper behavior surfaced about our own Mario Batali, and ABC asked him to step away from the show while those allegations are reviewed,” Kelly said.

“We want you to know we take these matters very seriously and are committed to a safe work environment,” Symon said.

Hall closed out the statement, saying, “Our commitment to our viewers remains the same, to deliver the entertaining show that you’ve come to expect.”

On Monday, in an article posted on Eater, four women accused the celebrity chef of sexual misconduct spanning “at least two decades.”

Related: Chef Mario Batali leaves ‘The Chew’ amid sexual harassment allegations

In the wake of the allegations, Batali has stepped down from the day-to-day operations of his restaurants, but still remains the owner of many of the establishments. ABC said they asked Batali to step away from “The Chew” as they “review the allegations that have just recently come to (their) attention.”

Related: Anthony Bourdain, Tom Colicchio slam Mario Batali amid allegations

Fellow celebrity chefs Anthony Bourdain and Tom Colicchio were quick to criticize Batali on Monday. 

“It’s Batali. And it’s bad,” Bourdain tweeted Monday. Colicchio retweeted him, adding, “And no one should be surprised.”

Essence magazine to honor Missy Elliott at pre-Grammy event

Essence magazine will honor Missy Elliott at a pre-Grammy Award event next year.

Essence says Thursday that Elliott, a hitmaking rapper, singer, producer and songwriter, will be honored at the magazine's annual "Black Women in Music" event. It will be held Jan. 25 at the Highline Ballroom in New York City.

The 60th annual Grammys will take place three days later at Madison Square Garden.

Elliott has won multiple Grammys and launched many hits since releasing her debut album in 1997. Her well-known songs include "Work It," ''Get Ur Freak On" and "Lose Control."

Elliott, also known for her work with megaproducer Timbaland, has lent her musical talent to other artists, producing songs for Aaliyah, Beyonce, Whitney Houston, Monica, Mary J. Blige, TLC and others.

The Latest: Apprentice star says White House didn't fire her

The Latest on Omarosa Manigault Newman and her departure from the White House staff (all times local):

8:30 a.m.

Former "Apprentice" star Omarosa Manigault Newman denies reports that she was fired from her job in the White House.

Manigault Newman also denies reports that she made a scene while being escorted from the White House grounds. She tells ABC's "Good Morning America" in a Thursday interview the reports are "100 percent false."

Manigault Newman says she resigned after speaking with White House chief of staff John Kelly about some of her concerns. She says she remains on staff until Jan. 20, the administration's one-year mark.

Manigault Newman has known Trump for more than a decade, since she first appeared as a contestant on his reality TV show "The Apprentice."

She says reports that she tried to enter the White House residence are "ridiculous" and "absurd."

___

3:55 a.m.

True to form, former "Apprentice" star Omarosa is ending her time at the White House with a dose of drama.

Omarosa Manigault Newman, one of President Donald Trump's most prominent African-American supporters, was escorted off the White House grounds after resigning her post as a presidential adviser, according to two White House officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that Manigault Newman's resignation is effective Jan. 20, one year after Trump's inauguration. "We wish her the best in future endeavors and are grateful for her service," Sanders said.

The president also bid her farewell, tweeting: "Thank you Omarosa for your service! I wish you continued success."

Manigault Newman was an assistant to the president and director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison, working on outreach to various constituency groups.

George Clooney once gave 14 of his best friends $1 million each, pal reveals

George Clooney is charitable, but one of his pals just revealed it pays to be his friend, too.

Rande Gerber told a never-before-heard story about how the Hollywood heavyweight once gave 14 of his closest pals suitcases filled with $1 million each.

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Gerber — Cindy Crawford’s husband — opened up about his friend’s amazing generosity on a recent episode of MSNBC’s “Headliners.” According to the entertainment executive, in 2013, Clooney invited 14 of his crew — nicknamed “The Boys” — over for dinner where he presented them with the massive payload and a heartfelt message, reported E! News.

“George begins to say, ‘Listen, I want you guys to know how much you’ve meant to me and how much you mean to me in my life. I came to L.A., I slept on your couch,” Gerber related. “I’m so fortunate in my life to have all of you, and I couldn’t be where I am today without all of you.'”

“We’re in shock. Like, what is this? He goes, ‘I know we’ve all been through some hard times, some of you are still going through it. You don’t have to worry about your kids, you don’t have to worry about, you know, school, you don’t have to worry about paying your mortgage.'”

Going above and beyond, Clooney told his inner circle that he’d paid all the taxes on the cash, so each of them had the money — in the form of stacks of $20 bills — free and clear.

Gerber, a co-owner of Clooney’s Casamigos Tequila company and wealthy in his own right, tried to turn down his share of the cash.

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“I pull him aside and said, ‘I absolutely am not taking this million dollars,'” Gerber said. “Immediately George goes, ‘I’m just going to make one announcement. If Rande doesn’t take the million dollars, nobody gets it.'” According to Gerber, he donated his million to charity, but he remains in awe of his friend’s gesture. “One was working at a bar in Texas at the airport, trying just to support his family,” Gerber said. “Rides a bicycle to work every day. I mean these are guys that took care of George, and now he’s giving it all back.”

He continued, “This is who George is. That was Sept. 27, 2013. Now Sept. 27, 2014, he marries Amal. Now that’s good karma right there.”

Considering the Clooneys recently welcomed twins, it looks like the karma is going to keep on coming!

Kim Kardashian West's KKW Beauty open casting call for women sparks criticism

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West's KKW Beauty line sparked criticism this week with a tweet about an open casting call for women in Los Angeles, Teen Vogue reports.

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"Calling all faces!" the ad reads. "We are excited to announce an open model casting call in the LA area for several upcoming KKW beauty campaigns."

The ad continues: "The call is open to all women 18+."

>> See the tweet here

But the tweet didn't fly with everyone. In a now-deleted tweet, beauty blogger James Charles wrote: "Sister @KimKardashian! There are thousands of boys in cosmetics who love you & I'm sure would be honored to slay a photo shoot for you! This is disappointing."

He added that Kardashian West "is a legend" and one of his "role models."

Others made similar comments. Check out some of them below:

Spurlock on sexual harassment: 'I am part of the problem'

Declaring "I am part of the problem," documentarian Morgan Spurlock confessed in an online post to sexual harassment and infidelity, and said a woman accused him of rape in college.

In the post, which he linked to from his verified Twitter account, Spurlock wrote that as he watches other influential men brought down by allegations of sexual misconduct, "I don't sit by and wonder 'who will be next?' I wonder, 'when will they come for me?'"

Spurlock recounted a sexual encounter in college which he said he thought was consensual, but said the woman believed it was rape.

"I tried to comfort her. To make her feel better," Spurlock wrote. "I thought I was doing ok, I believed she was feeling better. She believed she was raped. That's why I'm part of the problem."

Spurlock also said he paid a settlement to a female assistant who worked at his office and whom he called "hot pants" or "sex pants." In the post, Spurlock says he thought the nickname was funny but later realized he was demeaning her.

"So, when she decided to quit, she came to me and said if I didn't pay her a settlement, she would tell everyone," he wrote. "Being who I was, it was the last thing I wanted, so of course, I paid."

Spurlock also wrote that he has "been unfaithful to every wife and girlfriend I have ever had."

"Over the years, I would look each of them in the eye and proclaim my love and then have sex with other people behind their backs," Spurlock wrote.

Spurlock wrote that he will do better and will be more honest with others and with himself. He ends the post by saying: "I've talked enough in my life. ... I'm finally ready to listen."

Spurlock is best known for his Oscar-nominated 2004 documentary "Super Size Me" on the fast-food industry, in which he ate nothing but McDonald's food to show the health effects of the industry. He has produced dozens of other documentaries and TV shows and completed a sequel to "Super Size Me" this year.

Kirsten Dunst and fiancé Jesse Plemons are expecting their first child

Former “Friday Night Lights” star Jesse Plemons and his famous fiancée, Kirsten Dunst, are expecting their first child together, according to a report in Us Weekly.

In 2014, Dunst spoke to the U.K.’s Red Magazine about her desire to have kids soon.

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“I’m in baby mode, because two of my really good friends are pregnant right now. One of them is pretty chilled, and the other’s like, ‘I can’t wait to have a glass of wine!'” Dunst said. “I love it though. We’ve already picked her girl’s name; it’s done! I think 33 is a good age to have your first baby.”

Us Weekly also reports that Dunst, 35, and Plemons, 29 – who began dating after working together on the FX series “Fargo,” in which they played a married couple – will get hitched in Austin, Texas, in the spring of 2018.

“It was a gift,” Plemons said when the pair began working together. “I loved Kirsten’s work for a long time, and I was really excited once I’d met her, and she’s a great person. We’re both actors that just … have fun with the material.”

It was revealed that Dunst and Plemons were dating in May 2016, when paparazzi caught them kissing behind a fence. At the time, Dunst had only recently ended her relationship with long-term partner Garrett Hedlund. The “Bring It On” star had spoken to InStyle UK about her plans to marry Hedlund, but that obviously did not happen.

“I am someone who wants to get married,” she told the magazine.

>> ‘Full House’ star John Stamos announces he’s finally going to be dad in real life

”If it happens in my mid-to-late 30s, it’s going to be intimate. Courthouse, dinner party and DJ with friends and family. I’ll treat it like it would be my 40th birthday.”

Plemons and Dunst aren’t the only expecting celebrity couple. “Full House” star John Stamos recently revealed to People that he and fiancée Caitlin McHugh are expecting a child.

The 54-year-old actor shared that he and his soon-to-be bride had been considering a baby for a while, and the timing was just right.

“We have the same morals and the same values that all clicked nicely. So we said, ‘Oh, well, maybe we should have a family,’” Stamos said.

He revealed that his fiancée jokingly thought they should have a baby before getting married “because [he’s] old.”

Former 'Apprentice' star Omarosa denies White House firing

Former "Apprentice" star Omarosa denies she was fired from her job at the White House — and she's teasing that she has stories to tell about what she's seen and heard there.

In an interview Thursday with ABC's "Good Morning America, Manigault Newman also said reports that she made a scene while being escorted from the White House grounds this week are "100 percent false," and questioned why no photos or video of the alleged ruckus had surfaced.

She said she resigned after a conversation with White House chief of staff John Kelly about some of her concerns. Her White House pass has been cut off, according to the Secret Service, although she will remain on the staff through the administration's one-year mark.

"John Kelly and I had a very straightforward discussion about concerns that I had, issues that I raised and, as a result, I resigned and it will be taking place Jan. 20, when I leave this very interesting administration," Manigault Newman said.

She also denied reports that she tried to enter the White House residence to see President Donald Trump, calling those reports "ridiculous" and "absurd."

The outgoing presidential adviser alluded to seeing and hearing things during her 11 months in the White House that made her unhappy and uncomfortable. She declined to elaborate, citing her continued employment by the White House.

"But when I have a chance to tell my story ... quite a story to tell, as the only African-American woman in this White House, as a senior staff and assistant to the president, I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people," she said. "And when I can tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear."

One of Trump's most prominent African-American supporters, Manigault Newman was an assistant to the president and director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison, working on outreach to various constituency groups.

But the office languished under her watch and Kelly had indicated that changes were forthcoming — including her dismissal, according to two White House officials who insisted on anonymity to discuss personnel matters because they were not authorized to speak publicly about them.

Better known by only her first name, Manigault Newman was escorted from the White House complex Tuesday night but was allowed to offer her resignation, according to the two officials. The U.S. Secret Service, which provides security for the president, tweeted Wednesday that it was not involved in her termination or in her escort from the grounds. Some published reports said Secret Service officers had physically removed Manigault Newman from the complex.

The agency confirmed that a pass granting her access to the complex had been deactivated.

"Our only involvement in this matter was to deactivate the individual's pass which grants access to the complex," the agency tweeted.

Trump bid her farewell in a tweet late Wednesday. "Thank you Omarosa for your service! I wish you continued success."

Her exit comes at the beginning of what's expected to be a wave of departures. Deputy national security adviser Dina Powell is also leaving early next year.

Manigault Newman, who drew a top salary of $179,700, was one of Trump's highest-profile supporters during the campaign. She also worked with Trump's transition team.

A former contestant on the first season of "The Apprentice," Trump's former reality TV show, Manigault Newman had long been unpopular with several senior West Wing officials, including senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Kelly.

Kelly, the retired Marine general who has made it his mission to tighten White House operations and streamline how Trump gets information, has told aides that he wanted to curtail the number of White House officials with ill-defined positions and responsibilities.

Kelly took away Manigault Newman's ability to come and go from the Oval Office as she pleased. During the first months of Trump's administration, aides were known to wander in and out of meetings, a practice Kelly ended across the board. She also drew Kelly's ire by occasionally going around him to slip news articles to the president.

Manigault Newman enjoyed a close relationship with the president despite the fact that he once uttered the famous "You're fired!" line to her before dispatching her from the TV show. She held her April wedding at Trump's hotel blocks from the White House.

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Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire in New York contributed to this report.

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Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

WATCH: Joe Biden puts politics aside on 'The View' in emotional moment with Meghan McCain

Former Vice President Joe Biden set political differences aside on “The View” when he consoled Meghan McCain over the cancer diagnosis of her father, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, telling her that there’s “hope.”

Sen. McCain was recently diagnosed with the glioblastoma, the same cancer that took the life of Biden’s son, Beau, in 2015.

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“The View” co-host brought up her father’s illness while talking with the former vice president on the show Wednesday, saying that she thinks about Beau “almost every day,” but she wasn’t able to talk about it very long before breaking down.

Biden quickly consoled Meghan, telling her “there’s a lot of hope.” He then went on to talk about how Beau and Sen. McCain had become friends years ago and told her how his son talked about her father’s courage.

>> Watch the clip here

The former vice president also talked about how there are cancer therapy breakthroughs every day, but he kept coming back to Sen. McCain’s courage.

“There is hope, and if anybody can make it, your dad [can],” Biden said, before talking about his relationship with John McCain, saying that they were like brothers from “different fathers.”

Biden also joked about his political differences with the ailing senator, but added, “I know if I picked up the phone tonight and called John McCain, and said, ‘John, I’m at Second and Vine in Oshkosh, and I need your help. Come,' he’d get on a plane and come. And I would for him, too.”

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He continued: “Beau insisted on, and your dad’s gonna insist on, you gotta maintain hope. You have to have hope."

Sen. McCain was diagnosed with the deadly form of cancer in July, according to The Hill. He revealed in September that his doctors gave him a “very poor” prognosis, the Arizona Republic reported.

Meghan McCain, who tied the knot last month with Ben Domenech, revealed that she had moved up her wedding because of her father’s diagnosis, saying that she lives from “scan to scan," People reported.

Philip Seymour Hoffman's partner talks about the late actor's 2014 death

Costume designer Mimi O’Donnell shared the story of her late partner Philip Seymour Hoffman’s battle with addiction, in a candid essay for Vogue.

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“From the beginning [of our relationship], Phil was very frank about his addictions,” she wrote. “He told me about his period of heavy drinking and experimenting with heroin in his early 20s, and his first rehab at 22. He was in therapy and AA, and most of his friends were in the program. Being sober and a recovering addict was, along with acting and directing, very much the focus of his life.”

Hoffman, the father of O’Donnell’s three children — Cooper, 14, Tallulah, 11 and Willa, 9 — died from a heroin overdose in early February 2014 at the age of 46.

O’Donnell addresses her late partner’s stints in rehab, and his numerous attempts to get sober to no avail.

“As soon as Phil started using heroin again, I sensed it, terrified,” wrote O’Donnell. “I told him, ‘You’re going to die. That’s what happens with heroin.’ Every day was filled with worry. Every night, when he went out, I wondered: Will I see him again?”

On one occasion, Hoffman returned from rehab and was acting strangely. She encouraged him to stay in a rented apartment so as not to upset their kids. But Hoffman again relapsed and returned to rehab. Which was when she decided it was time to be honest with the children.

“We sat in a common room, and they asked him questions, which he answered with his usual honesty,” she recalled. “He never came out and said, ‘I’m shooting up heroin,’ but he told them enough so that they could get it, and they were just so happy to see him. It was hard when we left, because they all wanted to know why he couldn’t come home with us. But it felt healthy for us to deal with it together, as a family.”

In late 2013 and early 2014, Hoffman was filming “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1” in Atlanta. When he returned home to New York, he relapsed again and died just three days later.

“It happened so quickly. Phil came home from Atlanta, and I called a few people and said that we needed to keep an eye on him. Then he started using again, and three days later he was dead,” she wrote. “I had been expecting him to die since the day he started using again, but when it finally happened it hit me with brutal force. I wasn’t prepared. There was no sense of peace or relief, just ferocious pain and overwhelming loss. The most difficult—the impossible—thing was thinking, How do I tell my kids that their dad just died? What are the words?”

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration‘s national helpline on 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

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