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            Todd Fisher says mom Debbie Reynolds set him up for death

AP Photo/Lennox McLendon, File

Todd Fisher says mom Debbie Reynolds set him up for death

Todd Fisher says his mother, Debbie Reynolds, set him up "for her leaving the planet" the day his sister and Reynolds' daughter, Carrie Fisher, died in December.

The 84-year-old Reynolds suffered a stroke and died one day after her 60-year-old daughter died following a heart attack. Todd Fisher tells Entertainment Tonight that his mother told him she wanted "to go be with Carrie" before she died.

Fisher says he's "really OK" with his mother's death, but "not so OK" with his sister's. He says the revival of the Star Wars films and Fisher's role as Princess Leia meant she was in the middle of what he thought to be "her finest hours."

Fisher and Reynolds will be remembered Saturday at Hollywood memorial service.


            Greta Garbo's former NYC apartment on market for $5.95M

AP Photo/File

Greta Garbo's former NYC apartment on market for $5.95M

Film legend Greta Garbo's former longtime apartment in New York City is up for sale for nearly $6 million.

The New York Times reports (http://nyti.ms/2nFMaXm ) that the Swedish-born star's seven-room Manhattan co-op overlooking the East River is on the market for $5.95 million, with monthly maintenance of nearly $9,100.

The co-op is located on the fifth floor of the 14-story Campanile building, located on East 52nd Street. Garbo lived there from 1954 until her death in 1990 at age 84.

The apartment is being sold by the family of Gray Reisfield, Garbo's niece and sole heir to the actress's estate. Reisfield and her husband occupied the co-op from around 1992 to 2013 before relocating to San Francisco.

Garbo was one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the 1920s and '30s.

___

Information from: The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com

7 things to know now: Trump conversations collected; health care vote; Sweet 16 play; London attack

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now 

1. Trump communications collected: Rep. Devin Nunes, (R-California), announced Wednesday that private conversations between President Donald Trump and his transition team may have been improperly distributed to spy agencies after they were inadvertently collected as part of an intelligence investigation of other targets. Nunes said he was troubled enough by information provided to him about the communications to go to the White House on Wednesday to inform the president in person. Nunes said the information collected had nothing to do with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The FBI said Monday it is investigating any possible connection between the Trump campaign and Russian meddling in the election.

2. Health care vote: A vote on a health care bill that is essential in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – is set to take place Thursday in the House. Trump and leaders in the House have lobbied members to vote for the bill, but as of late Wednesday, they had not locked down enough votes for it to pass. The president has warned those who don’t vote for the bill that they could face consequences come re-election.

3. London attack: A man stabbed a London police officer to death Wednesday after he ran down pedestrians on a bridge near Parliament in a terror attack on the British government. Four people, including the attacker, were killed, and at least 40 others injured. British lawmakers sheltered in place in Parliament for hours after the mid-afternoon attack. One woman was pulled alive from the waters of the Thames after she was either knocked off the Westminster Bridge or jumped to avoid the car. The suspect has not been identified. An early morning raid in the London area Thursday netted seven people suspected of being involved with the attack. 

4. Wisconsin shootings: A Wisconsin police officer and three others were killed Wednesday in what law enforcement officials said was a domestic violence incident that led to three separate shootings. The shootings took place in a bank, at an attorney’s office and in an apartment complex near Everest, Wisconsin, which is about 90 miles west of Green Bay, Wisconsin. 

5. Sweet 16: The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament continues Thursday as the next round of playoffs gets underway. Sixteen teams – the Sweet 16 – will play over the next two days as we make our way to the Elite Eight, then the Final Four. The championship game is set for April 3. 

And one more

Nominations for the Daytime Emmy Awards were announce Wednesday. The CBS daytime drama “Young and the Restless” snagged 25 nominations, with ABC’s “General Hospital” and CBS’ “Bold and the Beautiful” getting 23. NBC’s “Days of Our Lives” got 22 nods.

In case you missed it

George Clooney surprises 87-year-old fan at nursing home for her birthday

Linda Jones/AP

George Clooney surprises 87-year-old fan at nursing home for her birthday

George Clooney went above and beyond to show one of his fans some love on her 87th birthday.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

Photos shared on social media show 87-year-old Pat Adams smiling broadly as Clooney bends down beside her for the photo.

>> Read more trending news

According to the Associated Press, Clooney showed up to the Sunrise of Sonning Retirement and Assisted Living Facility in England with a card and flowers for the elderly resident on her birthday. Clooney received a letter asking if he would make Adams’ dreams come true by paying her a visit.

Linda Jones, who works at the assisted living facility, shared a photo of the encounter on Facebook.

>> See the post here


            'Snooki' inspires bill to cap public university speaker fees

Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, FIle

'Snooki' inspires bill to cap public university speaker fees

Under legislation inspired by former "Jersey Shore" reality TV star Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, no more than $10,000 of state money could go to pay speakers at New Jersey's public universities.

The Democrat-controlled Assembly is scheduled to vote on the bill Thursday. If approved, it will go to Republican Gov. Chris Christie's desk.

Republican Assemblyman John DiMaio says he was inspired to write the measure after Polizzi earned $32,000 to speak at Rutgers' commencement in 2011. He has sponsored the bill each session going back to 2011.

He calls it "ludicrous and wasteful" for state funds to pay for such speakers.

The legislation would cap state spending on public university speakers at $10,000.

Polizzi starred in MTV's "Jersey Shore" from 2009-2012.

She has not responded to a request for comment.

Kristi Yamaguchi tweets at Nancy Kerrigan to ‘break a leg’ on ‘Dancing With the Stars’

Prior to Monday’s premiere of “Dancing with the Stars” Season 24, former figure skater and “DWTS” champion Kristi Yamaguchi took to Twitter to wish fellow former figure skater Nancy Kerrigan good luck in the worst way possible.

>> Read more trending news

Hours before Kerrigan took the stage, Yamaguchi tweeted, “So excited for you @NancyAKerrigan ! Can’t wait to see you grace that ballroom floor, break a leg!”

Yes, that’s right. She told Kerrigan, victim of the famous 1994 attack, in which she was assaulted with a police-style baton to the knee, to “break a leg.” Just before the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit that year, a man, who had been paid by Kerrigan rival Tonya Harding’s ex-husband, struck her on the right knee, injuring her leg. While it wasn’t broken, Kerrigan did suffer cuts, bruises and swelling and walked with a limp.

Twitter responded with generally surprised reactions.

Of course, Yamaguchi was just employing a common -- if ill-fitting, considering Kerrigan’s history -- phrase, but that didn’t stop the internet from freaking out over it.

Yamaguchi has not clarified her comment, nor has she deleted the tweet.


            Onetime defendant in legendary Lufthansa heist is rearrested

AP Photo/Bryan R. Smith, File

Onetime defendant in legendary Lufthansa heist is rearrested

An aging mobster who beat a charge that he took part in a legendary heist retold in the hit film "Goodfellas" was accused Wednesday in a less noteworthy crime — getting a group of gangsters, including John "Dapper Don" Gotti's namesake grandson, to torch a car that cut him off in traffic.

Vincent Asaro, an 82-year-old third-generation member of the secretive Bonanno crime family, was ordered held without bail after pleading not guilty to the 2012 arson in federal court in Brooklyn.

Also pleading not guilty to the same arson and an unrelated bank robbery was John J. Gotti, the 23-year-old grandson of the late Gambino crime family boss John Gotti.

The defendants "are charged with committing an assortment of violent crimes — arson to exact punishment for a perceived slight and robberies to unjustly enrich themselves," acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde said in a statement announcing the arrests.

Outside court, Asaro's lawyer questioned the timing and the point of the government's decision to again go after her client, who was leading a quiet life until FBI agents came to his door Wednesday.

"I think he's frustrated," said the attorney, Elizabeth Macedonio.

The new case was a harsh reversal of fortunes for Asaro, who was last seen at the same courthouse raising his arms and shouting "Free!" after a jury found him not guilty of charges he orchestrated the Lufthansa robbery with James "Jimmy the Gent" Burke, the late Lucchese crime family associate who inspired Robert De Niro's role in the film.

At the time, the heist was called one of the largest cash thefts in American history, with gunmen looting about $5 million in untraceable U.S. currency that was being returned to the United States from Germany, along with about $1 million in jewelry, from the airline's cargo terminal.

Asaro later survived a bloodbath portrayed in "Goodfellas," with De Niro's character going ballistic over fellow mobsters' purchases of flashy cars and furs and, fearing they would attract law enforcement attention, having them whacked. Prosecutors — relying on the testimony of turncoat mobsters that the defense labeled as opportunistic liars — claimed Asaro collected at least $500,000 from the score but had a gambling problem and squandered it away at the racetrack.

Prosecutors now say that three years before his arrest in the Lufthansa case, Asaro ordered the arson to avenge getting cut off by another motorist in the Howard Beach section of Queens. He provided the home address of the driver to a Bonanno associate, who recruited Gotti and another man to douse the motorist's car with gasoline and torch it, court papers said.

The arsonists fled in a Jaguar sedan driven by Gotti that briefly led a police car on a high-speed chase before officers "terminated the pursuit for safety reasons due to Gotti's reckless driving," prosecutors said.

Earlier this month, Gotti was sentenced to eight years in state prison after pleading guilty to selling oxycodone pills. His grandfather died in prison in 2002.

If convicted on the federal charges, Asaro and Gotti face terms of up to 20 years.


            CBS and 'Young and Restless' lead with Daytime Emmy nods

Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File

CBS and 'Young and Restless' lead with Daytime Emmy nods

CBS led with 70 nominations overall while its daytime drama "The Young and the Restless" led with 25 nods when nominations were announced Wednesday for the 44th Annual Daytime Emmy awards.

TV's remaining trio of soap operas, "General Hospital" (23 nominations), "The Bold and the Beautiful" (23 nominations) and "Days of Our Lives" (22 nominations) were the other series with the most potential trophies.

"The Young and the Restless" joined CBS' "The Bold and the Beautiful," NBC's "Days of Our Lives" and ABC's "General Hospital" among nominees for best soap opera.

Best actress nominees for daytime drama were Nancy Lee Grahn and Laura Wright of "General Hospital," Gina Tognoni and Jess Walton of "The Young and the Restless," and Heather Tom of "The Bold and the Beautiful."

Best-actor nominees for a soap were Peter Bergman and Kristoff St. John of "The Young and the Restless," Scott Clifton of "The Bold and the Beautiful," and Billy Flynn and Vincent Irizarry of "Days of Our Lives."

Nominees for supporting actress are Anna Maria Horsford of "The Bold and the Beautiful," Stacy Haiduk and Kelly Sullivan of "The Young and the Restless," Finola Hughes of "General Hospital" and Kate Mansi of "Days of Our Lives."

Supporting actor nominees are Chad Duell and Jeffrey Vincent Parise of "General Hospital," John Aniston and James Reynolds of "Days of Our Lives" and Steve Burton of "The Young and the Restless."

Nominees for best game show were "Celebrity Name Game" (syndicated), "Family Feud" (syndicated), "Jeopardy!" (syndicated), "Let's Make a Deal" (CBS) and "The Price is Right" (CBS).

Nominees for best informative talk show were "The Chew" (ABC), "The Dr. Oz Show" (syndicated), "Steve Harvey" (syndicated), "Larry King Now" (Ora TV) and "The Kitchen" (Food Network).

Nominees for best entertainment talk show were "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" (syndicated), "The Talk" (CBS), "The View" (ABC), "Maury" (NBC) and "Live with Kelly" (syndicated).

The awards ceremony will air April 30 from Pasadena, California.


            'No Scrubs' writers get added to Sheeran hit 'Shape of You'

Photos by Charles Sykes and Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File

'No Scrubs' writers get added to Sheeran hit 'Shape of You'

The songwriters behind TLC's 1999 megahit "No Scrubs" are now listed as co-writers of Ed Sheeran's No. 1 hit "Shape of You."

On the website for performance rights organization ASCAP, Kandi Burruss, Tameka Cottle aka Tiny and Kevin Briggs have been added as co-writers of "Shape of You," co-written by Sheeran, Steve Mac and John McDaid.

"Shape of You" is currently on top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Representatives for Sheeran and ASCAP didn't immediately respond to emails from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Burruss and Tiny were members of the R&B girl group Xscape. Burruss, also a reality star on Bravo's "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," posted about the news Sunday on her Instagram page.

"To be a part of such a great song is a blessing," Tiny, in an email to The Associated Press, said of being added to the "Shape of You" songwriters.

Last year The Chainsmokers' ubiquitous No. 1 hit, the Grammy-nominated "Closer," extended writing to two members of The Fray because of similarities to the band's 2005 hit, "Over My Head (Cable Car)."

In 2015, a jury awarded Marvin Gaye's children $7.4 million after finding Robin Thicke and Pharrell's "Blurred Lines" copied their father's hit "Got to Give It Up." A judge later cut the verdict to $5.3 million.

That was the same year Sam Smith gave Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne writing credit on his Grammy-winning hit "Stay With Me" after some said it sounded like Petty's 1989 song, "I Won't Back Down," and Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, for their worldwide, Grammy-winning "Uptown Funk," extended credit to the five writers of Gap Band's 1979 hit "Oops Upside Your Head."

"Shape of You" has spent almost two months at No. 1 on the Hot 100. The song set the record for the most one-day streams on Spotify with 10,123,630 streams.

"No Scrubs" had a big pop culture moment in the late '90s. It also reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned a Grammy for TLC.

_____

AP Writer Jonathan Landrum Jr. in Atlanta contributed to this report.


            Movie of Vince Flynn's 'American Assassin' to debut Sept. 15

AP Photo/Jim Mone

Movie of Vince Flynn's 'American Assassin' to debut Sept. 15

The late Minnesota author Vince Flynn's counterterrorism operative Mitch Rapp is coming to the big screen in September.

CBS Films and Lionsgate announced Wednesday that "American Assassin," based on Flynn's best-seller, will hit theaters Sept. 15 nationwide and in North America.

"American Assassin" stars Dylan O'Brien as Rapp and Michael Keaton as his mentor, Stan Hurley. Sanaa Lathan plays Deputy CIA Director Irene Kennedy, who pairs Rapp and Hurley on an investigation into attacks on military and civilian targets. That leads to Rapp and Hurley teaming up with a Turkish agent to prevent a world war from erupting in the Middle East.

Michael Cuesta (the film "Kill the Messenger" and Showtime series "Homeland") directs.

Flynn wrote a series of thrillers featuring Rapp. Flynn died in 2013 after battling prostate cancer.


            Breslin celebrated for bringing 'honor' to his press pass

AP Photo/Richard Drew

Breslin celebrated for bringing 'honor' to his press pass

Generations of New York journalists and political leaders joined Jimmy Breslin's family Wednesday in celebrating the life of the pugnacious Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist who championed the downtrodden and battled corrupt public officials for more than five decades.

Breslin, who died Sunday at age 88, was remembered as a peerless prose stylist whether he wrote about sports stars, gangsters or a bit player in a national tragedy.

Michael Daly, the Daily Beast correspondent who like Breslin was a longtime columnist at the Daily News, held up a New York City press pass and said, "Nobody ever brought more honor to this pass than he did."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recalled Breslin's long friendship with Cuomo's late father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, dating to 1969 in Queens. He said that if his father were still alive, "He would say Jimmy was an artist and his pen was to paper what Picasso's brush was to canvas."

Cuomo said that as an 11-year-old boy, he found Breslin "just plain scary," echoing remarks by other speakers who described the gruff demeanor that belied Breslin's deep love for his family.

Breslin's son Kevin Breslin surveyed the packed pews at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament on Manhattan's West Side and said, "Thank you for coming because I'm not sure he would come here for any of us."

Kevin Breslin recalled the time a neighbor came over to wish his father a merry Christmas and his father responded, "Yeah, kid? What's so merry about it?"

Breslin's widow, former City Council member Ronnie Eldridge, described their marriage in the same church 34 years ago as the union between a Jewish widow with three children and an Irish Catholic widower with six children who "just seemed to get each other."

She said Breslin continued to write tirelessly in his later years although he never understood the internet and had trouble pulling up the latest version of a story on his computer.

"He never wanted to let a day go by without working," Eldridge said.

Breslin wrote more than 20 books as well as countless columns for the Daily News and other New York newspapers.

He covered President John F. Kennedy's funeral by interviewing the gravedigger, and he won a 1986 Pulitzer Prize for commentary that included a column that used one man's story to shine a light on the AIDs epidemic.

Other political figures at Breslin's funeral included Former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger.

But Breslin's closest associates included bookies and bail bondsmen .

A young Kevin Breslin was once hustled to criminal court and instructed to sit in the front row at the arraignment of one of his father's friends, Fat Thomas.

"The judge says to Fat Thomas, 'Excuse me, do you have any family members here?'" Kevin Breslin recalled. "Fat says yes. That was my cue. At that point I waved at the judge. Fat Thomas was immediately released, and everybody thought I did a marvelous job."

Breslin became part of a news story in 1977 when he received several letters from serial killer David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz.

Berkowitz said he found Breslin's column "very informative." Breslin called Berkowitz "the only killer I ever knew who knew how to use a semicolon."


            Review: Even 'Middle of the Road' a blast with Eric Gales

Provogue/Mascot via AP

Review: Even 'Middle of the Road' a blast with Eric Gales

There's nothing bland about "Middle of the Road," former teenage prodigy Eric Gales' 15th studio album ripe with funky blues-rock and blazing guitars.

Lyrically rooted in Gales' sobering up, the disc features guest spots by Gary Clark Jr. and older brother Eugene; a songwriting collaboration with Lauryn Hill; and a Freddie King cover.

Gales, whose playing of a right-handed guitar upside down and left-handed has to be seen to be fully appreciated, also performs bass duties, joined by his wife, LaDonna Gales, on soulful backing vocals.

Opener "Good Time" is secular gospel with a magnetic guitar riff, pure energy and passion. His sobriety and new outlook on life are present already in track two, "Change In Me (The Rebirth)," where Gales makes his mea culpa clear — "I got tired of doin' bad, now I'm doin' good."

Clark Jr. joins Gales on "Boogie Man," a song recorded by King, and Gales said Hill's help was crucial with "Been So Long," another of the songs with a positive mindset.

Gales takes Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, a 16-year-old guitarist from Mississippi, under his wings on "Help Yourself," while his own erstwhile mentor, older brother Eugene Gales, wrote and plays guitar on "Repetition."

Instrumental "Swamp" ends the album, a wild guitar tour-de-force that Gales describes as a "jam band, church-oriented sort of song." Even if taken as an expression of diversity in worship, it will sound just as formidable to non-believers.


            Beyond spring cleaning: Tapestries get 16 years of grooming

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Beyond spring cleaning: Tapestries get 16 years of grooming

Think your home furnishings are a dust magnet? New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine just spent 16 years cleaning and conserving its rare, supersize wall hangings.

Now the historic house of worship is inviting the public to enjoy the fruits of its labor — "The Barberini Tapestries, Scenes from the Life of Christ," which once graced the Vatican and European palaces. They were designed by baroque master Giovanni Francesco Romanelli; created by weavers for Francesco Barberini, the nephew of Pope Urban VIII, from 1644 to 1656; and donated to the cathedral in 1891, a year before its cornerstone was laid.

Centuries ago, tapestries were appreciated not only for their beauty but also for being a warm buffer against chilly palace walls.

These days, they're kept well-groomed by experts at the Gothic cathedral's textile conservation laboratory — a labor-intensive process using dental probes, tweezers and a HEPA vacuum with microsuction attachments. There's also a special "bathtub" — measuring 20 by 16 feet (6 by 4.9 meters). In addition to removing the standard dust and dirt, the massive undertaking included work on tapestries that suffered smoke and water damage during a 2001 fire.

Ten tapestries, their images woven with wool and silk yarn in rich earth tones, deep blue, green and russet, are displayed around the cathedral, with a focal point at the Chapels of the Seven Tongues, which honor immigrant populations. They're accompanied by fragments from a severely fire-damaged tapestry of "The Last Supper," as well as before-and-after photos from the blaze.

The works, hung with hand-sewn fabric fastener, are 15½ feet (4.7 meters) high and up to 19 feet (5.8 meters) wide. There's plenty of room, though. The Episcopal cathedral in upper Manhattan is larger than France's Chartres and Notre Dame cathedrals combined.

Rare books, period objects and computer kiosks provide context on the "cultural, dynastic, political and religious worlds of the Barberini family," organizers say.

The exhibit, which also will offer educational activities, runs through June 25. The suggested admission contribution is $10.

The tapestries and artifacts will travel to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum in Eugene, Oregon, in the fall.


            The film is 'CHIPS' and 'CHiPs TV fans are poised to hate it

Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

The film is 'CHIPS' and 'CHiPs TV fans are poised to hate it

Hardcore "CHiPs" fans hate it and the real California Highway Patrol seems not quite sure what to make of it.

But Larry Wilcox, who rode his motorcycle to everlasting fame in the old "CHiPs" TV series, says that for now, he'll give the benefit of the doubt to "CHIPS," the forthcoming film based loosely — very loosely — on the show that made him and Erik Estrada two of the biggest stars of the 1970s and early '80s.

"I have not seen the film but the trailers looked like a soft-porn version of 'Dumb and Dumber,'" Wilcox said recently. "However, I hear the actors are both very talented and funny, so maybe it all works."

Fans of the original "CHiPs," still widely seen in reruns and on DVD, are far less forgiving. They've been posting angry messages all over the internet since the first trailers for the R-rated action comedy emerged, calling it garbage and disrespectful to police officers everywhere.

In a lengthy "open letter" to Dax Shepard, Sue Walsh of New York accuses the film's writer, director and co-star of mocking the original show with a ridiculous remake filled with nudity, penis jokes and raunchy bathroom humor. (She left out big-breasted women but they're in there, too.)

"'CHiPs' was not just a '70s cop show. It wasn't Shakespeare, no, but it did and does mean a whole lot to a whole lot of people," said Walsh, who is organizing a 40th anniversary reunion of the show this fall that most of the original cast is expected to attend.

To understand why fans are so upset, one must remember what a gentle, family-oriented show "CHiPs" was.

CHP Sgt. Jon Baker (played by Wilcox) and his partner, Estrada's Officer Frank "Ponch' Poncherello, were hunky young straight-arrow cops cruising sun-splashed, surprisingly uncrowded LA freeways on their motorcycles when not cracking jokes or flirting harmlessly with cute female sheriff's deputies.

To the thump of a persistent disco track, Baker and Ponch kept busy rescuing people from cars, occasionally solving folks' personal problems and frequently chasing down miscreants before carting them off to jail without ever drawing their weapons.

"I know that there are people that grew up watching 'CHiPs' and that was part of the reason they decided to join the department," said CHP spokeswoman Fran Clader. "I watched it when I was growing up."

In the film version, however, Shepard and Michael Mena's Baker and Ponch are anything but straight arrows. They accidentally destroy vehicles, cause fiery crashes, blow stuff up and sometimes shoot the wrong people.

"I understand it's a broad comedy," said Clader, adding she hasn't seen the film and won't offer an opinion on the trailer.

She said the CHP did grant the producers some technical assistance, for which the agency was reimbursed. But there's also this disclaimer at the beginning of "CHIPS": "This film is not endorsed by the California Highway Patrol. At all." And sharp-eyed fans will notice the title punctuation of "CHIPS" was changed from the original "CHiPs," further distancing the film from the department.

Estrada, who has a cameo, did not respond to multiple phone and email messages. But in a video clip from a recent premiere, he described it as "a movie you have to view with your adult sense of humor."

As for Wilcox, he says he'll probably see it — eventually.

"I think I will wait for the video," he added.


            Butterbeer ice cream hitting shelves for Harry Potter fans

AP Photo/Jason Redmond, File

Butterbeer ice cream hitting shelves for Harry Potter fans

A Pennsylvania ice cream maker is courting Harry Potter fans with a new flavor based on Hogwarts' favorite drink, "butterbeer."

Yuengling's Ice Cream notes that J.K. Rowling once described butterbeer as tasting "a little bit like less sickly butterscotch." With that in mind, Yuengling's says the new butterbeer variety combines buttercream and butterscotch ice cream. Yuengling's says "the result is magical decadence that will transport you to another place and time."

President David Yuengling says the company hopes it made Rowling proud with the flavor.

Butterbeer may be a good fit for Yuengling's. The ice cream company began as an offshoot of the well-known Pennsylvania brewery during the prohibition years. It's now a separate company.


            ABC's Diane Sawyer to interview Caitlyn Jenner again

Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File

ABC's Diane Sawyer to interview Caitlyn Jenner again

ABC News' Diane Sawyer is reprising her interview with Caitlyn Jenner, with the former Olympic gold medalist slated to talk about her first couple of years of life as a woman.

The former Bruce Jenner spoke to Sawyer in a 2015 special that reached 17.1 million viewers and won a DuPont-Columbia journalism award.

Jenner has a book, "The Secrets of My Life," that is to be released four days after her new interview with Sawyer airs. The "20/20" special is scheduled for April 21.

‘Wheel of Fortune’ contestant bombs easiest puzzle ever

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

‘Wheel of Fortune’ contestant bombs easiest puzzle ever

 

In what might be the worst mistake ever on the popular, long-running game show “Wheel of Fortune,” a contestant on Tuesday night’s show blew it, missing one letter left to solve what should have been an obvious puzzle answer.

>> Read more trending news

The answer was “A Streetcar Named Desire,” with just the “m” missing in the word “Named,” but the contestant, Kevin, had other things on his mind. He guessed the letter “k,” making the word “Naked” instead of “Named.” 

The audience gasped and host Pat Sajak appeared shocked as Kevin flubbed the name of the popular Tennessee Williams play after guessing almost the entire puzzle correctly.


            Thomas Keller shows off his sleek new French Laundry remodel

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

Thomas Keller shows off his sleek new French Laundry remodel

On a sunny morning in Napa Valley, America's most celebrated chef is reflecting on his career, the culinary empire it spawned and why he just spent $10 million to upgrade his famed restaurant, the French Laundry.

Thomas Keller describes himself as detail-oriented, a perfectionist and passionate about fine food and design. All of this is apparent in the chef's gleaming new workspace, a 2,000-square-foot state-of-the-art kitchen, which feels more like a sleek, modern art gallery than a cramped, hectic kitchen.

At 61 years old, Keller entertains the thought of slowing down. Just not right now.

He's got a new restaurant project underway at New York City's Hudson Yards. He flew to Hollywood last week for a segment on Jimmy Kimmel Live. And he is clearly mindful of his legacy, which is part of the inspiration for remodeling the revered restaurant he opened in 1994.

Keller says he embarked on the French Laundry's renovation to ensure it thrives for the next 20 years. Aside from the new kitchen, there's a 16,000-bottle wine cellar, extensive solar paneling, a new office annex and 9,000 square feet of new landscape design. The renovation took more than two years and was not stress-free.

"For weeks, I would wake up in the middle of the night and think, 'Oh my God, I ruined the French Laundry,'" said Keller, who holds three coveted Michelin stars for the restaurant, and another three for its New York counterpart Per Se. The distinctions make Keller the only American chef, past or present, with two sets of three-star Michelin ratings.

On a tour of the new kitchen and the French Laundry's lush culinary garden, Keller is vocally enthusiastic about the upgrades. He is also gracious, and humble, when asked about his significance to the culinary world.

"I don't wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and go, 'I'm looking at the greatest chef in America.' It very seldom comes up for me personally," he says. But when the issue is raised, he feels "an enormous amount of responsibility, that burden of responsibility on my shoulders to make sure that I'm trying to exemplify what that chef would be like."

As a measure of his ambition, Keller compares the French Laundry's remodel to the renovation at one of the world's great museums, the Louvre in Paris, citing how I.M. Pei's 1989 addition of the glass pyramid added a modern statement to a historical site.

The Louvre was "iconic. It was historic. Everybody knew it. And the French Laundry kind of represented that for me," said Keller, who even presented his architect with two pictures of the Louvre — one pre-I.M. Pei and one after — to capture the essence of his vision.

Keller teamed up with Snohetta, an architecture and design firm that spearheaded the recent three-year renovation of the San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art. The restaurant stayed open during the construction, but the culinary staff relocated to a temporary kitchen built inside four shipping containers. Final touches on landscaping are wrapping up this summer.

"To actually stand in the new kitchen is the ultimate reward. It's absolutely amazing," says 36-year-old chef de cuisine David Breeden, who has worked for Keller at the French Laundry and Per Se for 12 years.

Gone is the stainless steel austerity of most restaurant kitchens, this one is white, spacious and sunlit by skylights and wraparound windows overlooking a garden. It has swooping vaulted ceilings meant to mimic draped linen.

Keller describes it as "more feminine than most kitchens" because of its soft lines and curves. It was designed with attention to ergonomics, acoustics and ease of cleaning, including all walls and counters made of an anti-microbial material.

The countertops were raised several inches from the standard height to avoid backaches. There's a "ventilated ceiling" that does away with the typical noisy overhead hoods. Now they're embedded in the ceiling with infrared sensors that gauge the appropriate speed, rather than whirring at high all day long.

The attention to detail is typical of Keller, says Breeden. "We call him the omnipresent chef," said Breeden, who described Keller as a master craftsman who guides by example in his "search for that constant improvement, constant refinement and reflection."

Perfectionism comes with a price. The 9-course prix fixe menu, which changes every night, costs $310. But a meal for two with wine and a vintage after-dinner cognac could easily top $1,000.

The 62-seat restaurant is typically booked solid weeks in advance.

Keller has not cooked full-time in years but is still very much the face of the French Laundry, which is inside an old stone cottage in the heart of California wine country. And when he's in town, he's at the restaurant, impeccably dressed in in his custom-made chef jacket, tailored black pants and shiny black clogs.

During the flurry of a recent dinner service, Keller's guiding hand was at work plating caviar, making artful, final touches on dishes, instructing waiters on the details of each course and even helping out in the dishwashing area.

In the span of two decades, Keller has transformed the image of the American chef and the fine dining experience in America with his innovative, playful interpretations of fine French food, says Tim Ryan, president of the Culinary Institute of America.

Ryan describes Keller as a "mixture of humility and ego." Unlike today's celebrity chefs, he had no reality TV shows but earned recognition through hard work in the kitchen, Ryan says, and to this day no one has matched his achievements or influence.

"Thomas Keller is the most important chef in American history. Period. Ever," said Ryan in a telephone interview from New York. "I'm sitting right now in a building filled with 2,000 aspiring chefs. There is no one in the world I could bring here that would generate more excitement among the student body than Thomas."

In the streets of Yountville, Keller is a local celebrity. Tourists stop him in the street to take selfies together, or pose outside the French Laundry sign. His success has spawned a dozen other bistro-style restaurants in New York City, Las Vegas, Beverly Hills and Yountville, where he lives next door to the French Laundry when not traveling.

As he's grown older, Keller said, he's more comfortable with the idea of less running around. Ultimately, he'd like to return full-time to his brand new kitchen.

"One day do I want to come back and solely be here? It's a dream. It gives me great sense of comfort to be here at the French Laundry," said Keller, who has long talked of building an upscale Inn alongside the restaurant. "So we're looking at that."

___

Online: https://www.thomaskeller.com/tfl

___

Follow Jocelyn Gecker on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jgecker


            Chance the Rapper to play Lollapalooza in Chicago hometown

Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File

Chance the Rapper to play Lollapalooza in Chicago hometown

Grammy-winning artist Chance the Rapper is planning a return to his hometown of Chicago this summer to headline the Lollapalooza music festival.

Other headliners announced Wednesday morning on Lollapalooza's website include The Killers, Lorde, Arcade Fire, Muse and blink-182. The four-day festival will run Aug. 3-6 in Chicago's lakefront Grant Park.

Lollapalooza called Chance the Rapper's headlining act a "hero's homecoming." He'll top the festival's Saturday lineup. Muse and Lorde will play Thursday. The Killers will headline Friday and Arcade Fire will close the festival on Sunday. Lollapalooza celebrated its 25th anniversary last year when it expanded from three to four days. It's been held in Chicago since 2005.

The more than 170-act lineup also includes main-stay artists like Spoon, Ryan Adams, Foster the People and Wiz Khalifa.


            Ukraine bans Russia's entry to Eurovision song contest

AP Photo/Ekaterina Lyzlova, File

Ukraine bans Russia's entry to Eurovision song contest

The Eurovision song contest, nominally an apolitical festival of pop music confections and cheerfully tacky costumes, erupted into a political dispute Wednesday after Ukraine banned Russia's contestant from entering the country.

Yulia Samoylova, who was to represent Russia in the May 11-13 contest in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, was banned by Ukraine's security service because she had toured in Crimea after Russia's 2014 annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine.

Ukrainian law allows the banning of anyone who enters Crimea by routes other than over the de-facto border with the Ukrainian mainland. Most Russians go to Crimea by ferry or air.

Ukrainian Security Service spokeswoman Olena Gitlanska said on her Facebook page that the service has banned Samoylova from the country for three years "on the basis of information received about her violation of Ukrainian law."

The reaction from Moscow was swift and furious.

"This is yet another openly cynical and inhuman act by the authorities in Kiev," Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told the state news agency Tass.

"Kiev, apparently, was seriously frightened by a fragile girl," a Foreign Ministry statement said, apparently referring to the 27-year-old being wheelchair-bound.

Tensions between Moscow and Kiev have been high since the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the beginning that year of a Russia-backed separatist insurgency in east Ukraine that has killed nearly 10,000 people.

The Samoylova ban adds fuel to the fire partly because of her disability; she has used a wheelchair since childhood.

"The U.N. Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities should discuss this as it is a violation of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities," Diana Gurtskaya, a blind singer who represented Georgia at Eurovision in 2008, was quoted as saying by Tass.

The European Broadcasting Union, which organizes Eurovision, said in a statement that it would negotiate with Ukraine on Samoylova's entry. "We are deeply disappointed in this decision as we feel it goes against both the spirit of the contest, and the notion of inclusivity that lies at the heart of its values," the statement said.

Eurovision rules proscribe political song lyrics, but the annual contest can carry a strong political message. In 2005, when the finals were held in Kiev, Ukraine's entry performed a song that had become the unofficial anthem of the Orange Revolution protests that overturned a fraudulent 2004 presidential election.

Ukraine won the right to host this year's final when Crimean Tatar singer Jamala won last year's contest with a song about her ancestors' suffering during the deportations of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Many Russians bristled at the song, which they saw as a tacit criticism of Crimea's annexation.

In 2009, the EBU rejected Georgia's entry, a disco-flavored song called "We Don't Wanna Put In," a barely veiled criticism of Russian leader Vladimir Putin in the wake of the previous year's short war between Georgia and Russia.

___

Jamey Keaten in Geneva, Switzerland, contributed to this report.


            Viral video imagines Elmo getting fired over PBS budget cuts

AP Photo/Victoria Will, File

Viral video imagines Elmo getting fired over PBS budget cuts

The video shows an unseen man delivering the news to Elmo in a nondescript room. Elmo doesn't take the news well, complaining that he's worked at "Sesame Street" for 32 years. He also wonders what's going to happen to his medical insurance, given that he has a pre-existing condition.

The man suggests Elmo take pictures with tourists in New York's Times Square for his next job.

Elmo isn't the only "Sesame Street" character laid off in the scenario, the man mentions Cookie Monster and Telly have also been let go.

President Donald Trump's proposed budget seeks to eliminate funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which helps fund PBS.


            Liverpool plans extravaganza for 50 years of 'Sgt. Pepper'

Peter Byrne/PA via AP

Liverpool plans extravaganza for 50 years of 'Sgt. Pepper'

It was 50 years ago today — almost — that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.

The English city of Liverpool is getting set to celebrate the half-centenary of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," one of the most influential albums by local heroes The Beatles.

The city announced Wednesday that it has commissioned 13 artists to create works based on the album's 13 tracks. They include choreographer Mark Morris' dance tribute to the title song, cabaret artist Meow Meow's "outlandish procession" based on "Lovely Rita" and a mural by U.S. artist Judy Chicago inspired by "Fixing a Hole."

There will also be a singalong by 64 choirs of the jaunty "When I'm Sixty-Four."

The works will have their world premieres at venues across Liverpool between May 25 and June 16. On June 1 — the anniversary of the album's release — the city will host a fireworks extravaganza by French pyrotechnic artist Christophe Berthonneau.

By the second half of the 1960s, The Beatles had tired of touring. They played their last live concert in August 1966 and devoted their energies and creativity to the studio. "Sgt. Pepper" was recorded at London's Abbey Road studios over five month in late 1966 and early 1967, and released on June 1, 1967.

Incorporating technological innovation and diverse musical influences — including Indian classical, English music hall and trippy psychedelia — it topped the charts in Britain and the U.S. and was instantly hailed as a rock 'n' roll landmark.

"'Sgt. Pepper' pushed creative boundaries and we want to do exactly the same," said Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson. "This is a festival which brings high-end art into the mainstream and gives it a Liverpool twist which is thought-provoking, sometimes cheeky and always entertaining."


            Chuck Berry's final studio album to be released in June

AP Photo/James A. Finley

Chuck Berry's final studio album to be released in June

Chuck Berry's final studio album will be released on June 16.

The album, titled "CHUCK," was announced in October, five months before the rock pioneer's death on Saturday at the age of 90.

"CHUCK" is Berry's first album since 1979's "Rock It." Dualtone Records says eight of the 10 new recordings were written by Berry, who worked on the album until 2014. Dualtone says he continued to oversee production and enlisted his family and a friend to help complete it.

In addition to Berry's children and grandson, the album features performances by Nathaniel Rateliff and Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello.

The album includes a track titled "Lady B. Goode," described as a spiritual sequel to one of Berry's biggest hits, "Johnny B. Goode."

Fans pay tribute to 'Gong Show' creator Chuck Barris, dead at 87

Bebeto Matthews/AP

Fans pay tribute to 'Gong Show' creator Chuck Barris, dead at 87

"Gong Show" creator and host Chuck Barris, 87, died Tuesday at his Palisades, New York, home, according to The Associated Press.

>> PHOTOS: Notable deaths 2017

Barris' publicist said the game show magnate, who also created "The Dating Game" and "The Newlywed Game," died of "natural causes," the AP reported.

>> Read more trending news

Fans flocked to Twitter to pay tribute to Barris. 

>> Click here or scroll down to see what they were saying


            Australia pair are first foreigners to own US radio stations

AP Photo/Becky Bohrer

Australia pair are first foreigners to own US radio stations

An Australian couple with roots in Alaska has bought more than two dozen radio stations in three states, marking the first time federal regulators have allowed full foreign ownership of U.S. radio stations.

The Federal Communications Commission recently approved a request by Richard and Sharon Burns through their company Frontier Media to increase their interest in 29 radio stations in Alaska, Texas and Arkansas from 20 percent to 100 percent.

The agency long took what some viewed as a hard line in limiting foreign ownership under a 1930s law that harkened to war-time propaganda fears. But in 2013, it acknowledged a willingness to ease up after broadcasters complained the rules were too restrictive of outside investment.

The Burnses are citizens of Australia but have lived and worked in the U.S. since 2006, on special visas offered for Australians.

A family who owned six of the Alaska stations provided the opportunity that brought the couple to the U.S. The family wanted someone with international experience to operate the stations and help move the company forward, Richard Burns said. The stations in the Lower 48 were purchased later.

The Burnses' request to acquire full ownership was unopposed. The acquisition includes AM and FM stations and relay stations known as translators that help provide reception.

Richard Burns said he and his wife consider Alaska home and are pursuing U.S. citizenship.

"Our life is here in Juneau, Alaska, every single day," said Burns, who serves on the board of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce and in 2010 was named its citizen of the year.

Sharon Burns co-hosts a morning show on a Juneau country station the couple owns, and does on-air work for two of their other stations in southeast Alaska and one in Texas, her husband said. Richard Burns is the stations' CEO and a host on their Juneau classic hits station.

The federal law restricting foreign ownership dates to the 1930s and initially was seen as a way to thwart the airing of foreign propaganda during wartime, according to the FCC. It restricts to 25 percent foreign ownership or voting interests in a company that holds a broadcast license when the commission finds that limit is in the public interest.

In 2013, in response to broadcasters, interest groups and others who considered the commission's application of the law too rigid, the FCC clarified it has the authority to review on a case-by-case basis requests exceeding that threshold, and it is open to doing so.

The commission last year adopted rules for publicly traded companies following a case involving Pandora Media and questions about its level of foreign ownership as it pursued acquisition of a South Dakota radio station. Then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the case underscored the need for more clarity for broadcasters and investors in the review process.

It's unclear how many other foreign citizens have a stake in U.S. radio stations. The FCC said it does not keep a comprehensive accounting because stations generally don't have to disclose smaller or nonvoting interest holders.

Lisa Scanlan, deputy chief of the FCC's audio division, said that as part of its public interest analysis, the commission consults with executive branch agencies that do independent reviews on issues including trade and foreign policy, national security and law enforcement.

Jessica Gonzalez is deputy director and senior counsel for the group Free Press, which has concerns about media consolidation. She said she's not opposed to the Burnses' case. But she said the larger the company, the more skeptical she becomes.

"I'm not fond at all of the idea of giant foreign companies or giant domestic companies buying up a bunch of radio stations," she said. "It's problematic."

She said an owner's nationality doesn't make a difference to her. "It's just a matter of whether or not they are actually going to serve their community," she said.

Richard Burns agreed. He said it's critical for radio station owners to be invested in the communities they serve.

He cited his wife, who does her show from Texas when she's there. Around Christmas last year, Sharon Burns delivered cookies to and spent time with first responders.

"If you're a good radio operator, I don't think it matters if you're foreign or not, as long as you engage in the community and you understand it," he said.


            'Fox & Friends' the morning show of choice for Donald Trump

AP Photo/Richard Drew, File

'Fox & Friends' the morning show of choice for Donald Trump

"Fox & Friends" has emerged as the morning television show of choice for President Donald Trump and his fans, although that may have backfired for Fox News Channel this week.

Like many cable news shows in the Trump era, "Fox & Friends" has seen ratings jump, and not just in the White House. Its average February audience of 1.72 million viewers was 49 percent over last year's, the Nielsen company said. The show usually has more viewers than MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and CNN's "New Day" combined.

President Trump's Twitter feed provides ample evidence of his devotion, too.

Like "Morning Joe," the political talk show whose love-hate relationship with Trump is clearly set on hate right now, "Fox & Friends" makes no secret of its opinions. Yet the episode with Fox senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano illustrated how news and opinion aren't always a smooth mix.

Napolitano used "Fox & Friends" as a venue for his discredited report that British authorities helped former President Barack Obama spy on Trump. The White House cited the report to buttress its view that Trump's predecessor was surreptitiously watching him, but after Britain dismissed it as "nonsense" and Fox said it could provide no evidence to back it up, Napolitano has been taken off the air indefinitely.

"Fox & Friends" was a frequent punching bag for Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" and one media critic, Erik Wemple of The Washington Post, called it "easily the worst in all of televised news" following the Napolitano episode.

Watching it, though, the show appears to capture a sense of discontent and patriotism that appeals to many Trump voters, certainly in a way that mainstream journalists, to a large degree, have been unable to grasp. Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said he suspects many people "enjoy watching it for the thrill of outrage."

One day last week, the show had segments on "PC police" who were doing away with the designation of homecoming king and queen at a college, a man whose fiancee was killed by a drunken driver who was living in the country illegally, a congressman who received bureaucratic resistance when he tried to hang a portrait of Trump in a veterans' hospital, and "chaos" on college campuses when conservatives are invited to speak.

Alex French, a 32-year-old working in sales in Charlotte, North Carolina, said he appreciated the show's reporting on veterans and its interest in news away from the nation's coasts.

"They do a good job of trying to reach out to people in the small towns," he said.

Trump, who has declared ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC "the enemy of the American people," told the three "Fox & Friends" hosts that "you have treated me very fairly" during an interview on Feb. 28. He did a weekly call-in to the show from 2011 until he announced his candidacy, but still gave frequent interviews as a candidate.

"Maybe without those call-ins, someone else is sitting here," he said.

Since he's been president, 12 of Trump's tweets reference something that appeared on "Fox & Friends" moments earlier — far more than any other program, according to a compilation by CNN's "Reliable Sources."

After "Fox & Friends" had a segment with Nick Adams, author of "Green Card Warrior," on March 3, Trump tweeted within 25 minutes that the book was a "must read." On Feb. 25, Herman Cain cited statistics comparing changes in the national debt in the first months of Trump and Obama's presidencies; within a half-hour, Trump tweeted that "the media has not reported" the same statistics. Fox's Brian Kilmeade said that Russia "ran right over" Obama for eight years on March 7, and 10 minutes later Trump tweeted the same thing.

"Every minute of the show you can tell they are fully conscious of the fact that they know the president of the United States is one of their fans and is getting a lot of information from them," Syracuse's Thompson said.

Glenn Thrush, a reporter for The New York Times, tweeted recently that he was starting to watch "Fox & Friends" ''so I can get an early sense of White House policy messaging for the day. Not kidding!"

How the knowledge that the president is watching affects people putting together the show is unclear. Fox declined to make any of the show's producers, or hosts Kilmeade, Steve Doocy or Ainsley Earhardt available for interviews.

The morning after FBI Director James Comey told a congressional committee that the bureau was looking into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, "Fox & Friends" mentioned that development in passing. But it also belittled Comey with a rapid-fire clip package showing 20 instances in his testimony where he declined to answer a question.

Kilmeade said the "lack of curiosity" about leaks to reporters "really bothered me."

Doocy previewed that day's Senate confirmation hearing of Trump Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, saying Democrats don't have a prayer of blocking him, "but that doesn't mean they won't try."

Earhardt interviewed the author of a book who said that the media's panic about Trump exposed the bias of many journalists.

"We expect journalists to be fair," Earhardt said. "That's their duty.

"Our duty," she added, quickly correcting herself.

___

This story corrects that Trump's weekly call-in ended with his candidacy, although he still gave frequent interviews with the show while running; corrects to Trump from Obama in 14th paragraph.


            'Gong Show' creator Chuck Barris dies at 87

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File

'Gong Show' creator Chuck Barris dies at 87

Chuck Barris, whose game show empire included "The Dating Game," ''The Newlywed Game" and that infamous factory of cheese, "The Gong Show," has died. He was 87.

Barris died of natural causes Tuesday afternoon at his home in Palisades, New York, according to publicist Paul Shefrin, who announced the death on behalf of Barris' family.

Barris made game show history right off the bat, in 1966, with "The Dating Game," hosted by Jim Lange. The gimmick: a young female questions three males, hidden from her view, to determine which would be the best date. Sometimes the process was switched, with a male questioning three females. But in all cases, the questions were designed by the show's writers to elicit sexy answers.

Celebrities and future celebrities who appeared as contestants included Michael Jackson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Martin and a pre-"Charlie's Angels" Farrah Fawcett, introduced as "an accomplished artist and sculptress" with a dream to open her own gallery.

After the show became a hit on both daytime and nighttime TV, the Barris machine accelerated. New products included "The Newlywed Game," ''The Parent Game," ''The Family Game" and even "The Game Game."

At one point Barris was supplying the television networks with 27 hours of entertainment a week, mostly in five-days-a-week daytime game shows.

The grinning, curly-haired Barris became a familiar face as creator and host of "The Gong Show," which aired from 1976 to 1980.

Patterned after the Major Bowes Amateur Hour show that was a radio hit in the 1930s, the program featured performers who had peculiar talents and, often, no talent at all. When the latter appeared on the show, Barris would strike an oversize gong, the show's equivalent of vaudeville's hook. The victims would then be mercilessly berated by the manic Barris, with a hat often yanked down over his eyes and ears, and a crew of second-tier celebrities.

Occasionally, someone would actually launch a successful career through the show. One example was the late country musician BoxCar Willie, who was a 1977 "Gong Show" winner.

He called himself "The King of Daytime Television," but to critics he was "The King of Schlock" or "The Baron of Bad Taste."

As "The Gong Show" and Barris' other series were slipping, he sold his company for a reported $100 million in 1980 and decided to go into films.

He directed and starred in "The Gong Show Movie," a thundering failure that stayed in theaters only a week.

Afterward, a distraught Barris checked into a New York hotel and wrote his autobiography, "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," in two months. In it, he claimed to have been a CIA assassin.

The book (and the 2002 film based on it, directed by George Clooney) were widely dismissed by disbelievers who said the creator of some of television's most lowbrow game shows had allowed his imagination to run wild when he claimed to have spent his spare time traveling the world, quietly rubbing out enemies of the United States.

"It sounds like he has been standing too close to the gong all those years," quipped CIA spokesman Tom Crispell. "Chuck Barris has never been employed by the CIA and the allegation that he was a hired assassin is absurd," Crispell added.

Barris, who offered no corroboration of his claims, was unmoved.

"Have you ever heard the CIA acknowledge someone was an assassin?" he once asked.

Seeking escape from the Hollywood rat race, he moved to a villa in the south of France in the 1980s with his girlfriend and future second wife, Robin Altman, and made only infrequent returns to his old haunts over the next two decades.

Back in the news in 2002 to help publicize "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," Barris said his shows were a forerunner to today's popular reality TV series.

Born in Philadelphia in 1929, Charles Barris was left destitute, along with his sister and their mother, when his dentist father died of a stroke.

After graduating from the Drexel Institute of Technology in 1953, he took a series of jobs, including book salesman and fight promoter.

After being dropped from a low-level job at NBC, he found work at ABC, where he persuaded his bosses to let him open a Hollywood office, from which he launched his game-show empire. He also had success in the music world. He wrote the 1962 hit record "Palisades Park," which was recorded by Freddy Cannon.

Barris's first marriage, to Lynn Levy, ended in divorce. Their daughter, Della, died of a drug overdose in 1998. He married his third wife, Mary, in 2000.

___

The late Associated Press writer Bob Thomas contributed biographical material to this report.


            For juveniles sentenced to Shakespeare, the world's a stage

AP Photo/Jessica Hill

For juveniles sentenced to Shakespeare, the world's a stage

For some juvenile offenders, their choice is straight out of Hamlet: to act or not to act.

Shakespeare & Company, a theater company in Lenox, Massachusetts, works with the courts to get youngsters who run afoul of the law sentenced to perform works of Shakespeare onstage as an alternative to community service or juvenile detention.

Juveniles sentenced to Shakespeare read the bard's works, take on the role of one or more of his characters, come up with ideas for costumes and sets, memorize their lines, rehearse and then act out their roles for an audience of family, friends and court personnel.

The kids almost always hate the idea of performing Shakespeare at first, but by the end of the six-week program, many say they've found new friends and a new sense of accomplishment.

"Honestly, you would never catch me doing this stuff if I didn't have to, but it's taught me teamwork and to just chill out and listen," said one 17-year-old boy who will play Macbeth in a March 22 production that will include scenes and monologues from various Shakespeare plays.

Similar Shakespeare programs are offered to inmates in prisons around the country as a way of boosting self-confidence and literacy.

For the past 17 years, Shakespeare in the Courts has been used to sentence youths accused of a variety of lower-level crimes, including larceny, assault and battery and vandalism. In 2007, the program won a national "Coming Up Taller" award from the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

The probation officers, teachers and others who work in the program hope it will help the teens respect the feelings of others, fulfill a commitment and foster a sense of pride.

"I never really tried acting or theater, so coming in, it was challenging," said the 17-year-old playing Macbeth, shortly after practicing the famous sword-fighting scene during a recent rehearsal at a Pittsfield church.

The Associated Press is not using the teens' names because they are minors and their identities are protected by the court.

The program was started by Paul Perachi, a former high school principal who recruited the theater company to work with his students. Years later, after he became a judge, Perachi asked the theater group to develop a Shakespeare program for juvenile offenders.

Since then, Kevin Coleman, a founding member of Shakespeare & Company, has worked with more than 300 teenagers, many who have struggled with poverty and family issues.

"We take baby steps into it, because they'd rather go to jail than be involved in this project," Coleman said.

"We get them to work together as a group, getting them to talk about themselves, getting them to name feelings. And then, bit by bit, we start with small bits of text, then larger amounts of text, then individual soliloquies and then group scenes."

During a recent rehearsal, three girls appeared to relish their roles as witches in "Macbeth," creeping and crouching, then leaping around a small table. "Fair is foul, and foul is fair!" they chanted.

Only a handful of teens have refused to participate or dropped out before finishing the program, Coleman said. Those teens have been sent back to the judge to be resentenced to community service or another alternative program.

Juvenile Court Judge Joan McMenemy said the program stems from a rehabilitative approach to juvenile justice.

"This just broadens their horizons beyond what they could have had if they had been sentenced to pick up trash on the side of the road or other community service options," McMenemy said.

The program's success is difficult to measure because the court hears only occasional anecdotal information about what the participants do later in life. But McMenemy said one indicator of success may be the huge smiles on the kids' faces when they stand on stage after their performance and hear applause from their family, friends and teachers.

"I think it gives them confidence to overcome their fears, get up on stage and knock it out of the park," she said.


            Review: So-so 'Power Rangers' reboot is cheesy, self-serious

Kimberly French/Lionsgate via AP

Review: So-so 'Power Rangers' reboot is cheesy, self-serious

There's no right answer. There've been successful versions of both. Irreverent and meta takes on dated or impossible material have worked (usually thanks to Phil Lord and Chris Miller) as have deathly serious interpretations.

In the case of "Power Rangers ," that cheesy Saturday morning show that cobbled together shameless merchandising goals, dubbed Japanese action footage and sanitized high school shenanigans, they went mostly serious. And it might not have been the best call for a story that still involves a villain named Rita Repulsa who wanders around town eating gold. But we'll get to her later.

Even with such campy morsels to play with, the vibe director Dean Israelite seems to be going for is "Friday Night Lights" meets "Fantastic Four," which actually isn't totally awful at the beginning as we meet the five high school students destined to wield their newly found superpowers to save the world.

There's the star football player, Jason (Dacre Montgomery), who's rebelling against his good-boy image; the once-popular girl Kimberly (Naomi Scott, who looks like a combination of Sarah Michelle Gellar and Emma Roberts); the "on-the-spectrum" Billy (RJ Cyler); the mysterious new girl Trini (Becky G.); and the adventurous Zack (Ludi Lin). They're angsty teens with secrets and zero perspective so imagine how weird things get when they all happen to be hanging out one night in a restricted mining area, stumble upon some jewels, get into a would-be fatal car crash and wake up with the ability to crush iPhones and scale mountains.

It's hard to muck up the excitement of testing out your newfound superpowers, but then the ridiculous plot has to kick in (and all the requisite origin story clichés) and you can see the film struggling to maintain its straight face while Bryan Cranston's pin art face bellows at the Rangers and Elizabeth Banks' Rita Repulsa devours every piece of gold she can find.

Banks is actually fairly fun in the part — she snivels and sneers with campy glee under the pounds of zombie makeup as she fiendishly terrorizes some engagement ring shoppers at a jewelry store like she's the only one who understands what movie she's in.

But good lord does this film overstay its very conditional welcome. Israelite, who also made the occasionally riveting found-footage, time-travel pic "Project Almanac," gives the images some grit and visual interest but the story just spends too much time on the maudlin coming-of-age and teambuilding. A little less therapy and a little more action would have gone a long way in the mushy middle section.

By the time the Power Rangers figure out how to morph, you're already looking for a way to morph out of the theater, which is a shame because for whatever it's worth, the cheesiest, most Power Rangers-y moments are saved for the final battle.

Much like the teens at the center, "Power Rangers" goes through some awkward growing pains in real time trying to figure out what movie it wants to be or even should be.

"Power Rangers," a Lionsgate release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for "sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, language, and for some crude humor." Running time: 124 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.

___

MPAA Definition of PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

___

Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

Singer Mel B divorcing husband of nearly 10 years

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Singer Mel B divorcing husband of nearly 10 years

Former Spice Girl singer Mel B has filed for divorce, The Associated Press reported.

The TV personality, birth name Melanie Brown, was married to producer Stephen Belafonte since July 2007. She cited irreconcilable differences. 

>> Read more trending news

According to People, which obtained divorce papers, Brown has Dec. 28 listed as the date of separation. She requested that the court terminate the ability to ask for spousal support.

The couple are parents to 5-year-old Madison Brown Belafonte. The petition is seeking joint legal and physical custody.

People reported that the divorce comes a few years after speculation emerged that Brown may have been physically abused by Belafonte. In December 2014, the singer was on seen on the U.K. version of “The X Factor” with bruises, days after being hospitalized with severe stomach pains. Belafonte addressed the rumors at the time on Twitter, saying they were “quite disgusting” and “untrue.”

In February, Brown posted a photo of herself and Belafonte on Instagram. 

“We have been through everything that would normally tear couples apart and we have come out on the other side stronger,” she wrote in the caption.

Wine, excited dogs send Ellen DeGeneres to hospital with broken finger

Si Rajadhyax/News | WFTV

Wine, excited dogs send Ellen DeGeneres to hospital with broken finger

We’ve all been there, Ellen!

On Tuesday’s “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” the host shared a story about how she accidentally broke the ring finger on her left hand.

“You know how in gymnastics when you do a one-handed cartwheel and you have to spread the weight evenly between all of your fingers?” DeGeneres said. “Well, I had two glasses of wine and fell into a door.”

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The audience roared with laughter as DeGeneres shared details of that night.

DeGeneres and her wife, Portia de Rossi,returned home after a dinner party, and their dogs excitedly greeted them at the door.

“I just caught the lip of the top step. I was just about a foot away from the door and I fell into the door,” she said. “It did something to my finger and I knew something was wrong.”

She shared a nasty picture of her finger post-fall.

“My first thought was no big deal Obamacare will cover this," she joked. “So, Portia drove me to the hospital.”

DeGeneres then shared a photo of her X-ray.

“It turns out I didn’t break it. I dislocated my finger, that’s what they call it,” she said. “Which is an incorrect term. I knew where it was located.”

DeGeneres said that before the doctors snapped her finger back in place, a nurse offered her a shot to numb her finger.

“And, I said, ‘No, I just had two glasses of wine and that’s what got me into this mess in the first place,’” she joked.

After some cursing and pain, her finger was back in place.

“It was a hard weekend for me, and I put on a brave face and I made it through,” she said.

Watch the host discuss her injury in the video below.


            The Latest: Los Angeles sheriff apologizes to Wyclef Jean

Photo by Amy Sussman/Invision/AP, File

The Latest: Los Angeles sheriff apologizes to Wyclef Jean

The Latest on musician Wyclef Jean being detained by authorities in Los Angeles County after being mistaken for a robbery suspect (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

Los Angeles County sheriff's officials are apologizing to Grammy-winning singer Wyclef Jean who was detained after being mistaken for an armed robbery suspect.

Sheriff's officials say in a statement Tuesday afternoon that while they apologize for the inconvenience, Jean was lawfully stopped by deputies looking for a violent armed robber whose victims described a similar vehicle and article of clothing.

Jean posted a video of the encounter on Twitter after he was detained early Tuesday in West Hollywood.

The former Fugees star said he tried to explain that he wasn't the suspect but was ignored and cuffed.

Authorities say Jean was a passenger in a car that was nearly identical to a description given by victims of an armed robbery and was wearing similar clothing to that of the suspect.

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8 a.m.

Grammy-winning musician Wyclef Jean says he was unfairly detained by authorities in Los Angeles County after being mistaken for a robbery suspect.

Jean posted a video Tuesday on Twitter showing himself in handcuffs leaned over a patrol car.

Jean said he was stopped by Los Angeles police, but he was actually detained by sheriff's deputies in neighboring West Hollywood.

The former Fugees star said he tried to explain that he wasn't the suspect but was ignored and cuffed.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Nicole Nishida says Jean's clothing and vehicle matched the description of a suspect in an armed robbery.

She says he was detained for a "short time" and then released. The suspects were later arrested.

Jean said on Twitter that he was "appalled at this behavior."


            'This is Us' finale gets highest viewership of season

Ron Batzdorff/NBC via AP

'This is Us' finale gets highest viewership of season

Those who believe it's impossible for a broadcast network to make new hits anymore probably isn't a fan of "This is Us."

The heartwarming NBC series was second only to CBS' "NCIS" for the most popular show of the week for its debut season finale last week. The show's viewership reached its highest this season with 12.8 million viewers on the night it first aired, with the audience swelling to 16.9 million when people who watched via time delay over three days is added in, the Nielsen company said.

The vast majority of new television series' fail, but "This is Us" also proved that there's still no matching broadcast television when it comes to finding the best chance of reaching the biggest audience.

Add in two editions of "The Voice," and NBC had three of last week's four most popular programs.

CBS still won the week in prime time, averaging 7.2 million viewers. NBC had 6.4 million, ABC had 4.6 million, Fox had 2.6 million, Univision had 1.6 million, Telemundo had 1.33 million, ION Television had 1.29 million and the CW had 1.1 million.

Fox News Channel was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.48 million viewers in prime time. Bolstered by March Madness, TNT was second with 2.42 million, TBS had 1.98 million, MSNBC had 1.72 million and USA had 1.71 million.

ABC's "World News Tonight" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.43 million viewers. NBC's "Nightly News" was second with 8.36 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.8 million viewers.

For the week of March 13-19, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "NCIS," CBS, 14.16 million; "This is Us," NBC, 12.84 million; "The Voice" (Monday), NBC, 12.18 million; "The Voice" (Tuesday), NBC, 11.71 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 10.85 million; "NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 10.43 million; "The Walking Dead," AMC, 10.32 million; "Little Big Shots," NBC, 9.58 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 9.1 million; "The Bachelor," ABC, 8.41 million.

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ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.

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Online:

http://www.nielsen.com