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Entertainment

    An MSNBC spokesman has confirmed a report saying a news channel staffer had been paid and left the job after complaining she was sexually harassed by 'Hardball' host Chris Matthews nearly two decades ago. The spokesman said Sunday the woman approached CNBC executives in 1999 to report Matthews made inappropriate comments about her in front of others. CNBC is a sister company of MSNBC. The company declined to identify the comments, other than to say they were inappropriate and never meant as propositions. The spokesman said Matthews was formally reprimanded at the time. MSNBC said the payment was 'separation-related compensation,' which means the payment was tied to the woman leaving her job. Attempts to reach Matthews on Sunday were unsuccessful. The Daily Caller first reported the allegations.
  • The Force was with theater box offices this weekend, as “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” had the second-biggest opening weekend in North America’s history, CNN reported. >> Read more trending news The eighth installment of the “Star Wars” saga pulled in an estimated $220 million, according to Disney, which released the film. That is second only to the previous “Star Wars” movie, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which raked in $248 million in December 2015, CNN reported. The film has made $450 million worldwide since opening overseas Wednesday. It will premiere in China, the world’s second-biggest film market, on Jan. 5, CNN reported. Critics apparently like the film, too. The film scored 93 percent on the review site Rotten Tomatoes. The film, which opened in more than 4,200 theaters, starred Daisy Ridley as Rey, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa. Fisher filmed her scenes before she died last December.
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi' will happily settle for second.Rian Johnson's second installment in the third 'Star Wars' trilogy rocketed to a debut of $220 million at the North American box office, according to studio estimates Sunday. That gives 'The Last Jedi' the second-best opening ever, slotting in behind only its predecessor, 'The Force Awakens.'The Disney blockbuster became just the fourth film to open above $200 million domestically. Aside from 'The Force Awakens' ($248.8 million), the others are 'The Avengers' ($207.4 million) and 'Jurassic World' ($208.8 million). Accounting for inflation, the debut of 2012's 'The Avengers' would roughly tie with 'The Last Jedi.'The Last Jedi' is off to a similar start overseas, too, with $230 million in international ticket sales, said Disney. That brings its three-day global haul to $450 million.The opening also gave the Walt Disney Co. the opportunity to flex its muscles on the heels of the deal announced Thursday for it to purchase 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion. As part of the deal, Disney will take control of 20th Century Fox, one of Hollywood's six major studios.'The weekend that we're in is a byproduct of the foresight and vision from our CEO Bob Iger to bring Lucasfilm into the fold,' said Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis, alluding to Disney's 2012 purchase of Lucasfilm. 'So as we think about the possibility of other things being added, you can't help but be excited about the possibilities.'Fox, as it happens, was the only studio to open another new wide-release film against 'The Last Jedi.' Its family film, 'Ferdinand,' was essentially stampeded by 'The Last Jedi,' grossing $13.3 million. 'Ferdinand' and other upcoming holiday season releases will look for more room in the coming weeks, once the 'Star Wars' tsunami has waned.While Abrams' reboot capitalized on a decade's hiatus for 'Star Wars,' Johnson's sequel didn't have the same benefit of freshness. It follows not only 'The Force Awakens' (which ultimately grossed $2.1 billion) but last year's spinoff, 'Rogue One.' That release opened with $155.1 million, and grossed in total little more than $1 billion globally.Johnson, who wrote and directed, instead aimed to distinguish 'The Last Jedi' by introducing some new tones to George Lucas' space opera. 'The Last Jedi' is more irreverent than previous chapters. And it has drawn plaudits for its diverse cast, including Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran.'The results speak to the power of representation,' said Hollis. 'The film really reflects our world and beyond. It becomes something people can see themselves in, whether they see themselves in Rey or Finn or Poe or Rose or Captain Phasma. They can relate to all those characters.'Johnson's approach has seemed to work. Critics gave Johnson's film a 93 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences endorsed it, too, with an A CinemaScore, though not all fans are on board with Johnson's innovations. As of Sunday, 'The Last Jedi' has scored a dismal 56 percent rating from some 95,000 Rotten Tomato users.Yet the haul for 'The Last Jedi' dwarfed most all releases in the two years since 'The Force Awakens.' By comparison, it has in three days already bested the five-week gross of Warner Bros.' 'Justice League' ($219.5 million).'Seeing a movie like this in the movie theater, getting the collective goose bumps and having the OMG-moments, that's something you cannot replicate at home on the small screen,' said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. 'Rian Johnson has made a movie that showcases the movie theater experience in a truly brilliant way.'Signaling its faith in Johnson's course for 'Star Wars,' Lucasfilm earlier announced that Johnson will develop the next trilogy for the franchise, the first of which he'll write and direct. Abrams is set to return to direct Episode IX after he was brought in to replace Colin Trevorrow. A separate spinoff centered on a young Han Solo is due out next summer.The massive debut for 'The Last Jedi' singlehandedly brightens what has been a disappointing year for Hollywood. The weekend was far and away the highest grossing of the year. According to comScore, the industry was down about 3.9 percent from last year before this weekend. Now it's 2.9 percent off the 2016 pace. Dergarabedian estimates the year will end about 2 percent down with a little over $11 billion in ticket sales.'The Last Jedi' may be playing the role of savior at the box office, but the news isn't all rosy for exhibitors. Given the demand, Disney put more onerous demands on some theater owners for 'The Last Jedi,' including a higher percentage — 65 percent — of ticket sales. And Disney's acquisition of Fox is seen by analysts as a bid, in part, to strengthen the studio's in-development streaming platform, set to debut in 2019.Disney and Fox combined for five of the top 10 movies on the weekend and together accounted for approximately 90 percent of ticket sales.Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.1. 'The Last Jedi,' $220 million ($230 million international).2. 'Ferdinand,' $13.3 million ($6.2 million international).3. 'Coco,' $10 million ($27.4 million international).4. 'Wonder,' $5.4 million ($9.4 million international).5. 'Justice League,' $4.2 million ($5.3 million international).6. 'Daddy's Home 2,' $3.8 million ($5.8 million international).7. 'Thor: Ragnarok,' $3 million ($1.1 million international).8. 'The Disaster Artist,' $2.6 million.9. 'Murder on the Orient Express,' $2.5 million ($10.8 million international).10. 'Lady Bird,' $2.1 million.___Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:1. 'The Last Jedi,' $230 million.2. 'Youth,' $44 million.3. 'The Thousand Faces of Dunjia,' $27.9 million.4. 'Coco,' $27.4 million.5. 'Steel Rain,' $11.6 million.6. 'Murder on the Orient Express,' $10.8 million.7. 'Paddington 2,' $9.7 million.8. 'Wonder,' $9.4 million.9. 'Ferdinand,' $6.2 million.10. 'Daddy's Home 2,' $5.8 million.___Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP
  • Ralphie Parker still wants that Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. His classmate still gets his tongue stuck to a frozen pole after a “triple dog dare.” And that tacky lamp that looks like a woman’s leg makes another appearance. >> Read more trending news Only this time, it’s live. At 7 p.m. ET, Fox will air “A Christmas Story Live!” It’s a musical adaptation of the 1983 film “A Christmas Story” and the 2012 Broadway musical, “A Christmas Story: The Musical.” The show will be the only live television adaptation of the holiday season, The Los Angeles Times reported. The story plot is the same, as it is based on the short stories of Jean Shepherd. Set in Indiana during the 1940s, 9-year-old Ralphie will be played by Andy Walken. Chris Diamantopoulos and Maya Rudolph are cast as his parents, and Matthew Broderick is the narrator -- the adult version of Ralphie. Other cast members include Ana Gasteyer, David Alan Grier, Ken Jeong and Jane Krakowski. The film remains a cult classic. TBS and TNT have broadcast a 24-hour marathon of the film every Christmas Day since 1997, the Times reported. 'I've watched the movie every single year since I can remember,' Walken, 11, told the Times. “It's the perfect movie in some ways,” Diamantopoulos told the Times. “Because even though it was made in 1983, it captured this little pocket of what our perception of 1940 (wa)] and that story that Jean Shepherd created -- this idea of a kid whose one Christmas wish is a Red Ryder BB gun. It's a great telling of a time gone by and a great reminder of the simple pleasures.” You can bet that Ralphie will hear the admonition “You’ll shoot your eye out!” one more time as he cocks the BB gun and fires.
  • Britain's Prince Harry has interviewed Barack Obama for a radio program in which the former U.S. president shared his memories of the day he left office and his hopes for the future.Kensington Palace said Sunday the interview was recorded in Toronto in September during the Invictus Games, a sports event for injured military personnel that Harry championed.The palace said the conversation featured Obama discussing his plans to cultivate the next generation of leadership through the Obama Foundation.The interview was part of Harry's guest editorship of the BBC's Today program. In a video clip on the BBC website showing Harry and Obama warming up ahead of the chat, Obama joked: 'Do I need a British accent?'The interview will be broadcast on Dec. 27.
  • “War is over, if you want it,” John Lennon sang in “Happy Christmas.” >> Read more trending news Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump character had a new twist to an old song. “The war on Christmas is over,” Baldwin’s character said to open “Saturday Night Live” on NBC. “It will soon be replaced by the war with North Korea.” The crew of SNL continued its biting sarcasm of the president, as Baldwin stood with Cecily Strong, who played Melania Trump.  “It's Christmas time. Soon white Santa will be coming from house to house, taking presents from Muslims and illegals and giving them to American children,” Baldwin said. He then said he was going to decorate his “tree of shame,” with ornaments that depicted this year’s “haters and losers.” White House staffers were invited to trim the tree with ornaments, and Kate McKinnon kicked things off as Kellyanne Conway, who chose former FBI Director James Comey. “Thank you Kellyanne,” Baldwin said. “What would you like to have for Christmas.” “I want out,” she said. Aidy Bryant's, playing White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was next. She hung two ornaments on the tree. One had the face of former Press Secretary Sean Spicer and of former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. She chose them because they were “the mangled corpses” she had to step over to get her job. Scarlett Johansson, playing Ivanka Trump, was asked by Baldwin about the whereabouts of her husband, Jared Kushner. “He's packing a go bag before the FBI arrives,” she said. It’s the most wonderful time of the year for humor.  Here’s the entire sketch:
  • A Prairie Home Companion' has been given a new name — 'Live from Here' — in the wake of creator Garrison Keillor's acrimonious split with Minnesota Public Radio.Chris Thile, the mandolin virtuoso who has hosted the weekly variety show since Keillor's retirement last year, announced the new name Saturday evening as the show opened a live performance in New York City.MPR terminated its contracts with Keillor after it said it had received multiple allegations of improper conduct by Keillor. MPR has declined to give any details except to say the allegations involved treatment of one woman who had worked with Keillor when he was still with the show.Keillor has said he accidentally touched a woman's bare back while trying to console her.
  • The woman who has run HBO's documentary unit for 38 years and has been a key gatekeeper in the making of its nonfiction films says she will be stepping down early next year.Sheila Nevins has worked on productions that have won 32 Emmy Awards, 42 Peabody Awards and 26 Academy Awards.She told The New York Times that she'll be leaving but will continue to work on some leftover projects for HBO.The 78-year-old said she is also considering a radio show and a book.
  • Celebrity chef Mario Batali has issued an apology to his newsletter subscribers for his sexual misconduct against women, but he confounded some by ending his message with a recipe for a 'holiday-inspired breakfast.'Batali was immediately blasted on social media for including in the Friday email the 'Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls' recipe after his apology for making 'many mistakes.'Several women have made allegations that he touched them inappropriately. Batali admitted his behavior and first apologized in a statement Monday.He has stepped down from his restaurant empire and was kicked off the ABC cooking show, 'The Chew.' The Food Network also scrapped plans to air new episodes of his hit '90s cooking show, 'Molto Mario.'An email sent to Batali's media team Saturday seeking comment was not immediately returned.
  • New evacuations were called on Saturday as surging winds drove an enormous wildfire toward a wealthy enclave in the coastal foothills northwest of Los Angeles.The mandatory evacuations around Montecito and neighboring Summerland came as winds that had eased a day earlier raged back at around 30 mph (48 kph) with gusts to about 60 mph (97 kph). A portion of Santa Barbara city also is under mandatory evacuation.The northerly 'sundowner' wind was driving the fire south and west.'When the sundowners surface in that area and the fire starts running down slopes, you are not going to stop it,' Mark Brown with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said at a news conference. 'And we are not going to stand in front of it and put firefighters in untenable situations.'For the 13th straight day, the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning of extreme fire danger because of hot, dry, windy conditions.The 404-square-mile Thomas Fire was moving rapidly westward and crested Montecito Peak, just north of Montecito. Known for its star power, the enclave boasts the mansions of Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and many other celebrities.'It is right above the homes,' fire spokesman Jude Olivas said.Winfrey expressed her dismay at the latest development on her Twitter account.'Still praying for our little town. Winds picked up this morning creating a perfect storm of bad for firefighters,' Winfrey tweeted. It was not clear if the former talk show host was in Montecito.The fire is now the third-largest in California history. It has burned more than 700 homes and killed a state firefighter.Cory Iverson, 32, died Thursday from burns and smoke inhalation, according to autopsy results announced Saturday by the Ventura County medical examiner's office. Details of his death were not released.Since the fire began on Dec. 4, about 95,000 people have been placed under mandatory evacuation. The evacuation zone is now 17 miles long and up to 5 miles wide. It extends from the mountains to the sea.In the Montecito area, freeway off-ramps leading into the community were closed and residents were seen piling into cars and leaving, the Los Angeles Times reported.The Santa Barbara Zoo, which is near the mandatory evacuation zone, announced it was putting some animals in crates to prepare for possible evacuation. The zoo has about 150 species of animals, including a pair of Amur leopards, a critically endangered species.Everything about the fire has been massive, from the sheer scale of destruction that cremated entire neighborhoods to the legions attacking it: about 8,300 firefighters from nearly a dozen states, aided by 78 bulldozers and 29 helicopters.The cause remains under investigation. So far, firefighting costs have surpassed $100 million.