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Entertainment

    W.E.B. Griffin, the prolific and best-selling author of military novels, has died at age 89. Griffin, whose real name was William E. Butterworth III, died Feb. 12. His death was confirmed Monday by his publisher, Putnam, which did not immediately provide additional details. Himself a military veteran who enlisted in the Army when he was just shy of 17 and later served in the Korean War, he wrote more than 200 books under W.E.B. Griffin and various other names and sold millions of copies. His many popular series included 'Badge of Honor,' ''Clandestine Operations' and 'Presidential Agent.' More than 20 novels, including the upcoming 'The Attack,' were written with his son, William E. Butterworth IV. Under his own name, he helped write several sequels in the 1970s to the Richard Hooker novel 'M(asterisk)A(asterisk)S(asterisk)H,' the basis for the hit movie and television show about a U.S. medical unit in Korea. A Newark, New Jersey native, Griffin started using other names on for his books in the 1960s because he worried that libraries wouldn't accept multiple works by the same author in a given year. His pen names included Alex Baldwin, Webb Beech and Walter E. Blake. He thought of Griffin as a pen name in the 1980s, noting on his web site that Griffin was 'the mythical creature with the wings of an eagle and the loins of a lion . which of course is how most colonels think of themselves.' Griffin's wife, the dancer and author, Emma Macalik Butterworth, died in 2003. He is survived by four children.
  • Lisa Borders says she has resigned as president and CEO of Time's Up, the gender equality initiative formed last year in response to sexual misconduct allegations in Hollywood. Borders says in statement Monday that she is stepping aside 'with deep regret' due to family issues. She didn't elaborate. Chief Operating Officer Rebecca Goldman will serve as interim CEO while the organization conducts an executive search. Borders, former president of the WNBA, was named head of Time's Up last year. The organization was formed in January 2018 in response to sexual misconduct allegations leveled against powerful men in the entertainment industry including Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey.
  • The final full day of London Fashion Week featured a stellar show by Christopher Kane, who embraced his favorite theme — sensuality. Pringle of Scotland returned to the London stage with its signature luxury knitwear, while Erdem showed dramatic, full-length dresses and shorter cape outfits. The fashion crowd recovered from a late-night party David and Victoria Beckham threw to celebrate her new collection. The soiree featured a Spice Girls tribute band in drag paying homage to the designer's pop star past. CHRISTOPHER KANE FINDS SOLACE IN SEXUAL THEMES Last season's theme was 'sexual cannibalism'; on Monday, Christopher Kane made the 'rubberist' fetish a focal point of his new collection. It's best not to ask too many questions of the cheerful, increasingly popular designer, who earlier built a show around 'The Joy of Sex', a book first published in 1972 that is illustrated with graphic drawings. The Monday show was eclectic in the extreme. Many models wore what Kane called 'large cupcake skirts.' They were short and somewhat structured and paired with low-cut tops or partially sheer body suits. The pieces were imaginative and revealing: a sweater dress that transitioned into a gauzy fabric as it neared the waist; a lime-green feathery mini-dress; and a regal, dark blue dress with metallic neck decorations that looked like something Cleopatra might have worn. Kane likes to pair elegant, well-made dresses with slouchy items like tee shirts, in this show often emblazoned with a red 'Rubberist' logo. 'This show is called 'liquid ladies,'' Kane told the Associated Press. 'It's all about the essence of women, of strong women, the fluidity of women. For me, I've been around these liquid ladies my whole life. Strength, character. They aren't really empowered, they're empowered by themselves.' He said the show was also about human sexuality and the obsessions that go with it; hence, the rubber fetish wear theme. 'Sex is fun and it should be,' Kane said. 'And people find rubber sexual. That's OK, too.' ___ ERDEM MAKES SPLASH WITH DRAMATIC DRESSES, CAPES Canada-born designer Erdem Moralioglu used his runway extravaganza Monday to transform London's venerable National Portrait Gallery into a Roman palace, seeking to use his dramatic full-length dresses and shorter cape outfits to capture the mood of 1960s Rome. The designer wanted to illuminate the moment when liberation movements of all kinds collided with the entrenched, conservative culture of the Italian capital's upper classes. The show drew a celebrity crowd that included American Vogue editor Anna Wintour, designer and model Alexa Chung and married actors Damian Lewis — dressed in a bright blue suit that lit up the front row — and Helen McCrory. Some of the elaborate dresses were masterful and complex, the product of painstaking attention to detail and untold hours of labor. The color mix was striking: a red and black floral blouse, for example, mixed with a purple and black skirt. ___ PRINGLE OF SCOTLAND OFFERS TIMELESS GOOD TASTE Pringle of Scotland is more than two centuries old, but the collection unveiled Monday shows carefully made luxury knitwear never goes out of style. After a series of runway shows filled with razzle-dazzle and a 'Can you top this?' approach, Pringle offered an oasis of calm and good taste with its beautifully crafted outfits. Many of the new outfits feature a single color — white or beige or grey — for the trousers, the top, and a hat. Sometimes the boots match, too. Each outfit has a refreshing coherence and simplicity to the design, even if it's hard to execute. But the show planners were nearly undone by their failure to anticipate the ice sculptures placed on the runways for dramatic effect would slowly melt, leaving puddles where the models were supposed to walk. As the show's start time came and went, a man in a white Pringle lab coat came out with paper towels to mop up the puddles as best he could. The models were told to swerve to avoid the wet spots. Only one slipped, and she regained her balance before she tumbled.
  • Attorneys for 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett say there are no plans for him to meet with Chicago detectives Monday for a follow-up interview about his reported assault. Anne Kavanagh is a spokeswoman for Smollett's lawyers. She says in an emailed statement that his lawyers 'will keep an active dialogue with Chicago police on his behalf.' Smollett reported last month that he was physically attacked by two men who yelled homophobic and racial slurs. He said they also yelled he was in 'MAGA Country,' an apparent reference to President Donald Trump's campaign slogan. Police said Saturday that the investigation had 'shifted' after detectives questioned two brothers about the attack and released them without charges. Police say they've requested a follow-up interview with Smollett. Smollett's lawyers say the actor feels 'victimized' by reports that he played a role in the assault. ___ Check out the AP's complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.
  • A complex of ancient temples in Rome that are linked to the scene of Julius Caesar's murder will be opened to the public. The below-street-level temple ruins at Largo Argentina in downtown Rome is visible to pedestrians peering from above but closed to visitors. For decades, access was enjoyed only by a colony of cats, the cadre of volunteers fed them and, occasionally, archaeologists. But Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi announced Monday that by late 2021, walkways will be built inside the site so tourists can stroll through the ruins. Luxury Bulgari jewelry-maker, which also funded the restoration of Rome's Spanish Steps, is sponsoring the work. The ruins include a stone pedestal from the Curia of Pompey, the meeting place of senators, where Caesar was slain in 44 B.C.
  • Refusing to back down amid a mounting battle over Venezuela's humanitarian crisis, the government of President Nicolas Maduro announced Monday that it will hold its own huge concert to rival one being organized by billionaire Richard Branson, a backer of opposition leader Juan Guaido. Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said the government will throw a concert Saturday and Sunday on Venezuela's side of the border — opposite one in Colombia being spearheaded by Branson, the wealthy British adventurer and founder of the Virgin Group. Stepping up the standoff, Rodriguez also promised to deliver 20,000 boxes of government-subsidized food to the poor in the Colombian border city of Cucuta, where tons of aid from the United States is now sitting earmarked for struggling Venezuelans. Maduro is vowing not to let the U.S. aid enter Venezuela, and he announced on state television Monday evening that his government would import 300 tons of aid from Russia that he said will arrive soon. He said Venezuela paid for the Russian goods and isn't a country of beggars, lashing out at President Donald Trump for thinking he can force in unwanted assistance. 'They want to enslave us,' Maduro said. 'That's the truth.' The rival bids for aid and concerts to shore up support are part of a tense bid by both Maduro and the opposition to break a monthlong stalemate over power in Venezuela. Maduro is holding on with the military's backing and relying on powerful allies like Russia in a conflict with increasingly Cold War-like dimensions. Guaido, meanwhile, is relying on the support of the international community, including the United States, and powerful cultural allies, like Branson. In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Branson said Monday that he hopes the concert he is throwing will save lives by raising money for 'much-needed medical help' for crisis-torn Venezuela, which is suffering from hyperinflation and widespread shortages of food and medicine. He said he is aiming to raise $100 million for suffering Venezuelans and open the borders to emergency aid. Up to 300,000 people are expected to attend Friday's concert featuring Spanish-French singer Manu Chao, Mexican band Mana, Spanish singer-songwriter Alejandro Sanz and Dominican artist Juan Luis Guerra. Branson said that it is not funded by any government and that all the artists are performing for free. The plan is to raise donations from viewers watching the concert on a livestream over the internet. 'Venezuela sadly has not become the utopia that the current administration of Venezuela or the past administration were hoping for, and that has resulted in a lot of people literally dying from lack of medical help,' Branson told AP in a telephone interview from Necker, his private island in the British Virgin Islands. 'I think it will draw attention to the problem on a global basis.' The concert is being held in Cucuta, a city of some 700,000 people that has been swollen by hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who have fled hardships in their homeland. Branson said he hopes that Venezuela's armed forces, until now loyal to Maduro, will allow the aid to reach Venezuelans. 'We want to make it a joyous occasion,' Branson said in his first interview since he announced the concert on a brief video posted online last week. 'And we're hoping that sense prevails and that the military allows the bridge to be open so that much-needed supplies can be sent across.' He said he opposes trying to carry the aid in by force, but clearly favors Guaido in his standoff with Maduro. 'I don't personally feel that force should be used at all by either side,' he said. 'If they (Venezuelan troops) stop the aid coming through and there are pictures of hundreds of thousands of people wanting to come through from both sides, that will send out a potent message, a very powerful message to Venezuela, to everybody, that there is aid that is trying to get across, but the army is stopping it,' Branson said. 'That hopefully will mean that Juan Guaido and his people will have a better chance to have another election where sense can prevail.' Guaido, who heads Venezuela's opposition-controlled congress, declared himself interim president Jan. 23 with the backing of the United States and most South American and European nations, which argue that Maduro's re-election last May was fraudulent. Guaido has announced that humanitarian aid will enter Venezuela on Saturday, the day after Branson's concert. Branson said the initiative follows his involvement with Live Aid and years of work with 'The Elders,' a group of elder statesmen and political leaders that he helped establish to avoid conflict and assist in humanitarian situations. 'I talked to Juan Guaido, and the team, the people around him, to see what could be most helpful,' Branson said. 'And they said that the thing that Venezuela needed the most was medical help in particular, money to be raised to try to keep doctors and nurses in Venezuela, not leaving Venezuela, and just basic medical help.' Meanwhile, Guaido said the move by Maduro's government to put on a rival concert was 'desperate.' 'They're debating whether the aid should come in or not ... They don't know what to do,' Guaido said Monday. 'They're now making up a concert. How many concerts are they going to stage?' ___ Associated Press writers Christine Armario, Jorge Rueda, Scott Smith and Joshua Goodman contributed to this report. ___ Luis Andres Henao on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LuisAndresHenao
  • Glance around the 'Jeopardy!' set during rehearsals for its first-ever team championship and it's easy to be intimidated by the assembled brain power. There's Brad Rutter, whose overall 'Jeopardy!' haul, $4.3 million, is the most won on any game show. And Ken Jennings, a 74-game winner and top moneymaker, with $2.5 million, in non-tournament 'Jeopardy!' competition. And Buzzy Cohen, the reigning Tournament of Champions winner. They're among the six captains who will join their teams in competing for a top $1 million prize in a series of 10 episodes that begin airing Wednesday and conclude March 5. The other three captains: Julia Collins, No. 2 in overall winnings on the show; Colby Burnett, a Teachers Tournament and Tournament of Champions victor, and Austin Rogers, No. 5 in games and money won. 'It's like the Mount Rushmore of 'Jeopardy!'' observed Jimmy McGuire, part of the traveling 'clue crew' that poses video answers from distant spots. The 18 contestants were chosen primarily on the basis of their previous success, with an edge going to fan favorites as determined by social media, said Harry Friedman, executive producer of the syndicated show hosted by Alex Trebek and featuring announcer Johnny Gilbert. Can 'Jeopardy!' soloists work together? 'We're going to find out,' Trebek said. The captains, who will also play, built their three-person teams from among the remaining 12 contestants. The full teams won't play directly against each other, with one person from each team designated to compete in a game's first round, another to play double 'Jeopardy!' and the third to play the final round. The winning teammates will get equal shares of the top prize, about $330,000 each, said Friedman. The second- and third-place prizes to be split are $300,000 and $100,000. Players are working hard for the money, in the strategy sessions held at the beginning of each game and, more importantly, in the cramming that Friedman metaphorically termed 'test prep on steroids.' Exhibit A — as in type A — is Cohen, who created mental and physical training drills to prepare for his previous 'Jeopardy!' appearances and resumed them for the tournament with teammates Alex Jacob and Jennifer Giles. 'I would go the gym, hang from a bar and have my trainer quiz me to try to recreate the stress' of being in the thick of the game, Cohen said. This time around, he added NFL reaction-time drills — to sharpen his skills with the buzzer that gives players a chance to score — along with 'deep secrets' he gleaned from Jacob. Rogers, whose team includes Roger Craig and Leonard Cooper ('I drafted up,' Rogers said of his picks, both educated and working in the sciences) said he's so comfortable on the 'Jeopardy!' set that it feels like home. But he admits to some anxiety. 'I do not care if I fail. But if I fail other people on something that I should know, that I should have memorized ... like a world capital or an Oscar year, and I'm letting someone else down, that's not cool,' he said. Collins said she enjoyed taking a cooperative approach to a game that's typically an individual experience, beyond splitting the workload. 'It is very solitary to be on the show in the normal format and compete alone, which is what you'd expect. But you go through the whole experience of the show by yourself, so it's nice to have your teammates who are sharing that experience with you,' she said. Burnett, who picked Pam Mueller and Alan Lin for his team, was eager to compete but said his work as a college counselor came first. 'Even if I were to win the grand prize, it's not as if I would or could retire. But I'm putting my best foot forward,' he said. The other matchups are Jennings with Matt Jackson and Monica Thieu; Collins with Ingram and Wilson; Rutter with Larissa Kelly and David Madden. There's something else unprecedented besides the team format, producer Friedman said. 'We do a nice little opening interview piece at the beginning of the first episode with the six captains, and you'll see some fun, good-natured trash talk,' Friedman said. But Rogers, pointing to the other contestants on the set, said restraint was in order. 'Look at them,' he said playfully. 'It's not fair to beat up on nerds.' ___ Lynn Elber can be reached at lelber@ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber .
  • A French judge refused Monday to block the release this week in French cinemas of a movie based on a Catholic sex scandal. French director Francois Ozon's film 'Grace a Dieu' ('By the Grace of God') won the Berlin Film Festival's jury grand prize on Saturday. The movie, which opens Wednesday, portrays French priest Bernard Preynat, who has been accused of molesting dozens of boys during the 1980s and '90s. Preynat's lawyers said the picture depicted allegations against their client as facts and should have been blocked because it does not respect the presumption of innocence. Preynat has been handed preliminary charges of sexual assaults on minors and prosecutors are determining whether he will be brought to trial. Preynat has confessed to abusing Boy Scouts and his victims say church hierarchy covered up for him for years, allowing him to work with children right up until his 2015 retirement. His lawyer, Emmanuel Mercinier, told The Associated Press the judge ruled Monday that messages in the film noting that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty were enough to guarantee Preynat's rights. 'I'm bitterly ruing this decision. To depict a man as guilty for two hours, while he has not been convicted, infringes the presumption of innocence. That can't obviously be erased by writing the opposite for two seconds,' Mercinier said. Preynat could go on trial in for sexual violence against multiple children. So far, 13 victims are involved in that case, but he is accused of having abused as many as 70 children. Preynat hasn't publicly spoken about the allegations but he has written letters to some families confessing to abuse. The victims have accused Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who became archbishop of Lyon in 2002, of having allowed Preynat to continue serving as a priest and having contact with children despite years of rumors about his actions. Barbarin, 68, went on trial last month and testified that he was unjustly accused. Because of lack of proof, or the statute of limitations that has had expired on charges of failing to help a person in danger, even the prosecutor has argued against convicting him and other church officials, saying there were no grounds to prove legal wrongdoing. A verdict is expected on March 7. Ozon's movie title comes from a press conference in Lourdes in 2016 when Barbarin, asked about the abuses by Preynat, said 'most of the facts, by the grace of God, fell outside the statute of limitations.
  • Actress Julia Roberts will be this year's recipient of the George Eastman Award, given to honor contributions to the art of cinema. The George Eastman Museum in Rochester says it will honor the 'Pretty Woman' and 'Steel Magnolias' actress on May 2. Past recipients include Lauren Bacall, Charlie Chaplin, Gary Cooper and Meryl Streep. Museum director Bruce Barnes cites the breadth of Roberts' career and roles over the past 30 years. She has earned a best actress Academy Award and three Golden Globes, along with more than a dozen other nominations. The museum says it established the George Eastman Award in 1955 as the first retrospective award to honor film work of enduring artistic value. Tickets for the May ceremony go on sale March 18.
  • The national outrage that simmered after actor Jussie Smollett said he was attacked by people shouting racial and anti-gay slurs was fueled in part by celebrities who spoke out loud and strong on social media. But the outrage has now been replaced by surprise, doubt and bafflement as the singers, actors and politicians who came out in support of the 'Empire' star struggle to digest the strange twists the case has taken. Some conservative pundits, meanwhile, have gleefully seized on the moment. The narrative that just a week ago seemed cut-and-dry has become messy and divisive — and it's all playing out again on social media. Smollett, who is black and gay, said he was physically attacked last month by two masked men shouting racial and anti-gay slurs and 'This is MAGA country!'— a reference to the Make America Great Again slogan used in President Donald Trump's election campaign. Smollett said the attackers looped a rope around his neck before running away as he was out getting food at a Subway restaurant. Celebrities including Ariana Grande, Zendaya, Kerry Washington, Shonda Rhimes and Andy Cohen rallied behind Smollett immediately. They focused on the alleged hate crime as a microcosm for the ills of America in 2019 and how intolerance can lead to violent acts. Smollett's own celebrity and activism for the rights of the LGBTQ community helped raise the profile of the case even more. But then published reports emerged that police believe Smollett may have staged the attack — something the actor has vehemently denied through his lawyers — or that a grand jury may hear evidence in the case. The reports cited unidentified police sources. On Saturday, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the trajectory of the case had 'shifted' — that two brothers who had been questioned had been released without charges and investigators wanted to speak to Smollett again . Guglielmi did not elaborate. On Sunday, he issued a statement saying that police 'are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what's been unofficially released.' Smollett's attorneys said Saturday that he would continue to cooperate with police but that he felt victimized by the suggestion he played a role in his attack. Skeptics, including conservative pundits Dinesh D'Souza and Tomi Lahren, seized on the doubts that have arisen. 'And Libs wonder why we don't believe their BS stories,' Lahren tweeted Saturday. On Sunday, she criticized those who used social media after the attack to push 'the narrative (that) Trump supporters are racist homophobes.' The response from Smollett's celebrity supporters has ranged from silence to confusion and disbelief. Author Roxane Gay tweeted Saturday that she doesn't know what to say, but that the situation is a 'mess' and a 'travesty.' 'I genuinely thought no one, and especially no one that famous, could make something like that up,' Gay wrote. 'The lie is so damaging. The time the CPD has spent/wasted on this. The people who supported him.' GLAAD, a nongovernmental media-monitoring organization founded by LGBT members of the media, on Thursday reiterated its support for Smollett. The group said in a statement that the actor had been doubly victimized: first by the attack and then by the doubts cast around it. When Smollett first reported that he was assaulted, Democratic New Jersey senator and presidential candidate Cory Booker called it a 'modern-day lynching.' On Sunday, he said he would reserve judgment 'until all the information actually comes out from on-the-record sources.' Filmmaker Ava DuVernay said she is waiting for more information too. She tweeted on Sunday that she 'can't blindly believe' the Chicago Police Department. But if there is a consensus among those who very vocally supported Smollett from the outset, it's that no matter what happens in this case, they will still believe victims. DuVernay said: 'Whatever the outcome, this won't stop me from believing others. It can't.' Gay echoed her sentiments, tweeting that she does not regret believing Smollett. 'I'm not going to stop believing people who say they have suffered,' Gay wrote. 'Because more often than not they are telling the truth.' ___ Associated Press writer Elana Schor in Washington contributed to this report.