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Entertainment

    Actor Wilson Cruz says a new documentary on the evolution of LGBTQ depictions on television is a “love letter” to the medium’s power. It’s also a testament to how LGBTQ people and their allies harnessed TV to tell the community’s stories, said Cruz, who along with actor-comedian Wanda Sykes was an executive producer for “Visible: Out on Television.” The five-part documentary will be released Feb. 14 on the new Apple TV Plus streaming service. “It's through television that we got to tell the entire society and our own culture what our lives are really like. Because of that amount of authenticity, we were able to move the needle to acceptance.' said Cruz, whose TV roles include Dr. Hugh Culber in “Star Trek: Discovery” and Dennis in “13 Reasons Why.” “Visible: Out on Television” includes an interview with Ellen DeGeneres about coming out as gay along with her sitcom character, and Adam Lambert discussing his experience as an “American Idol” contestant. The narrators include Janet Mock, Margaret Cho, Asia Kate Dillon, Neil Patrick Harris and Lena Waithe. Making the documentary gave him a sense of how far the medium and society has come, from invisibility to depictions across a wide number of TV programs, Cruz told a TV critics meeting Sunday. The next step toward progress is getting additional LGBTQ creators behind the camera as writers, directors and producers, he said. He also called for less violence toward LGBTQ characters and more fully dimensional transgender characters that add to what's portrayed on FX’s “Pose,” which stars Emmy-winner Billy Porter. Cruz was asked why depictions of LGBTQ people of color lagged. “I don’t know why it took so long, but I’m sure it had something to do with racism,” he said, dryly. “It’s a hunch.” Before openly LGBTQ characters came to TV, Sykes said, she tried to guess at possibilities. “Pretty sure Roz is gay,' she said of a character on the 1986-92 sitcom “Night Court.' She reeled off a few other hunches, including Mary Ann from the 1960s sitcom “Gilligan’s Island” and housekeeper Alice on “The Brady Bunch.” “Sam who?” Sykes said skeptically, a reference to Alice’s long-time boyfriend and eventual husband on the sitcom that debuted in 1969.
  • Two 'Bad Boys” were too good for one “Dolittle” at the box office. “Bad Boys for Life” starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence brought in $59 million in the U.S. and Canada to score a No. 1 debut entering the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. The action-packed, buddy comedy returned for the franchise's third installment after a 17-year hiatus with popular demand to outlast “Dolittle,” starring Robert Downey Jr., which opened at second with a mediocre $22.5 million. Sony Pictures predicted that “Bad Boys” will make around $68 million over the four-day weekend. The film exceeded expectations, building momentum with favorable reviews including an A Cinema Score and a 76% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “It’s a great brand with two terrific stars, a beloved franchise and it feels like summertime in January,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. He said it was a smart move by Sony Pictures to release the film during January, an unusual month for blockbusters releases but it ultimately “reaped huge benefits.” “Dolittle” barely topped the World War I film “1917,” which claimed the top spot last week. The Sam Mendes-directed war film continues to hold strong with $22.1 million this weekend after going from 11 screens in its first weeks to more than 3,600. The Oscar-nominated epic wartime film has gained popularity after it won Golden Globes for best director and drama film a couple weeks ago. Saturday night, it won an award for theatrical motion picture at the Producers Guild Awards, which has gone on to win best picture Oscar 21 out of 30 times, including the past two years. “'1917’ is really taking a lot of the oxygen and taking on a life of its own since the Oscar nominations and all of these awards,” Dergarabedian said. “If you haven’t seen ‘1917,’ you’re totally out of the loop for awards season.” Along with “Bad Boys,” Sony Pictures has two other films in the top 10 at the domestic box office including Oscar-contender “Little Women” and “Jumanji: The Next Level,” which crossed $700 million worldwide. In another blockbuster, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” topped $1 billion globally after five weeks. The Disney’s film focusing on the final chapter of the Luke Skywalker saga has also earned more than $492 million domestically. 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. “Bad Boys for Life,” $59.1 million, ($38.6 million international). 2. “Dolittle,” $22.5 million, ($17.2 million international). 3. “1917,” $22.1 million, ($26.1 million international). 4. “Jumanji: The Next Level,” $9.5 million, ($17 million international). 5. “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker,” $8.3 million, ($10.9 million international). 6. “Just Mercy,” $6 million, ($1.3 million international). 7. “Little Women,” $5.9 million, ($6.2 million international). 8. “Knives Out,” $4.3 million, ($3.1 million international). 9. “Like A Boss,” $3.8 million. 10. “Frozen 2,” $3.7 million, ($12 million international). ___ Follow AP Entertainment Writer Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MrLandrum31
  • On the final day of menswear shows in the French capital, Lanvin put on an ode to contrasting styles, while British designers reigned supreme. London designer Craig Green decamped to Paris for his first major show outside of his homeland and British fashion icon Paul Smith showcased his latest designs. Here are some highlights of Sunday's fall-winter 2020-2021 menswear designs. LANVIN STRIKES DISCORD Dramatic jagged lighting panels were used as decor on the Lanvin show venue's Brutalist architecture. In more ways than one, this season was about contrasts. It infused all aspects of the unisex menswear collection: Each ensemble had a striking contrast in color, motif or style. A loose navy jacket sat against a white undergarment and shiny vermilion boots. While, voluminous white sheer sleeves with a historic-feel were twinned with an intentionally-clashing check skirt. A pared down or minimalist mood pervaded the 56 looks — in keeping with the direction the brand has moved as a whole since general changes last year that saw Bruno Sialelli named creative director. The house continues to capitalize on their “come back” after several years of creative turbulence. CRAIG GREEN DEBUTS IN PARIS In his first ever Paris show — and his first calendar show outside of London — British designer Craig Green made a splash. There was much anticipation on the move from his homeland, especially as British Vogue has deemed him one of the most important current London-based designers. Green developed a cutting-edge aesthetic after internships with fashion forward names Walter van Beirendonck and Henrik Vibskov that led to collaborations with Moncler. On Sunday, straps, long banding and geometric padding were dominant features in the designs that seemed fused with the show's bags. Long straps, tassels and abstract paneling came on the collection's rather statement geometric bags in brooding colors such as dark gunmetal, eggshell and silver. A transgressive, even aggressive, feeling appeared at times when the padding on the clothes and bags resembled army flaks. Green is a designer to watch. PAUL SMITH British fashion legend Paul Smith carried out a stylish collection — spanning from traditional statement coats, polka dots to total look denim. Varied themes defined the show. The Smith signature of loosely proportioned suits came in beautifully selected hues of dark pastel red, cadmium blue, copper red and vermilion among others this season. On coats, lapels were sometimes slightly jagged — a small flash of detail on the largely understated and pared-down designs. Total look denim might sound like a simplistic thought, but Smith's masterful use of extra thick fabric gave jackets a nice, armor-like feel.
  • Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, have made their choice: a radical break from palace protocol, constant press intrusion and a lavishly funded lifestyle. In exchange, they get personal freedom — the opportunity to start fresh in Canada without the perquisites and burden of their status as royal highnesses. There's a price for this liberty. Harry and Meghan will no longer be able to officially represent his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, at events throughout the world. They also have agreed to repay taxpayer funds that were used to renovate their house near Windsor Castle and to pay rent on the property. The contours of this rupture are clear, but the path Harry and Meghan will choose is still to be determined. Some possible options for the now-not-so-royal couple. CHARITY WORK, PRIVATE BUSINESS, THE ARTS The agreement announced by Buckingham Palace and accompanied by a warm note from the queen does not limit the kinds of activities Harry and Meghan can pursue. The agreement does say the couple has “made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty.” Those values are not spelled out, but it suggests the queen would not take a tolerant view if Harry and Meghan tried to cash in on their global fame in a crude way, or published a tell-all book about the royal family. That still leaves a lot of options. They could launch a for-profit business since they are not receiving taxpayer funds. They could follow through on plans to start a major charity to emphasize issues they have focused on, including the empowerment of women, improvement of mental health care and protection of international wildlife. The couple could even move into a new field like TV or movie production. Meghan is also free to resume her acting career, which was going strong when she met Harry nearly four years ago. A PRODUCT LINE, LIKE THAT OF PRINCE CHARLES Prince Charles, Harry's father, started marketing organic food products in 1990 under the name Duchy Originals. The product was clearly linked to Charles but the proceeds go to charity, like the successful salad dressing sold by actor Paul Newman. In 2010, the expanding brand formed a partnership with the upscale Waitrose supermarket chain. The brand has royal cachet but is not seen to be exploitative. Harry and Meghan could try something similar, perhaps coming up with a product tied to wildlife conservation or helping women in developing countries find productive jobs. In a case like that, they could probably market something that capitalized on their fame, provided the money helped support their causes. A LEGAL STATUS IN CANADA The couple intend to spend much of their time in Canada, where Meghan worked for seven years filming the TV series “Suits.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spoken warmly about Harry and Meghan but said there are questions to be addressed. It is not clear who would pay for their personal security, or what their immigration and tax status would be. There are other issues as well. Canada is a Commonwealth country where Harry’s grandmother, the queen, is head of state. The country’s leading newspaper, The Globe and Mail, wrote in an editorial six days ago that senior royals were welcome to visit Canada but should not stay. “A royal living in this country does not accord with the longstanding nature of the relationship between Canada and Britain, and Canada and the Crown,” it said, suggesting that Harry’s extended presence would break an “unspoken constitutional taboo.” It’s likely that the couple's subsequent decision to cease all royal duties would salve most of these concerns. NEW RELATIONS WITH MEDIA Meghan enjoyed good relations with the press during her acting career, and breaking free from the Palace media organization will give her much more control over access. She and Harry will be able to pick and choose media opportunities on a strategic basic and won’t have to participate in events covered by the U.K.’s royal reporters. A BREAK FROM THE PUBLIC EYE Both have spoken repeatedly about a desire to have a more normal life as they raise 8-month-old Archie. Given the whirlwind since their wedding in 2018, Harry and Meghan could decide to take time off. Taking a breather might help them carve out the private space they need so that they can literally take a walk in the park with Archie without being trailed by 20 photographers. A RETURN? The new agreement follows a “never say never” model. It does not take away their status, it simply puts the titles “his royal highness” and “her royal highness” on hold with the couple’s agreement not to use them once the new rules take effect this spring. Likewise, the couple is retaining access to the ample house that is their British base. The agreement made public does not address the possibility of a change of heart, but it does say it will be reviewed next year by senior family members. The door seems open for Harry and Meghan to return at some future date despite the recent strain on his relationship with his older brother, Prince William. It’s possible -- irony alert -- that they might miss the spotlight.
  • Queen Elizabeth II was all smiles as she made her way to church Sunday after a momentous announcement that Prince Harry and wife Meghan would cut almost all of their ties to the royal family in favor of a more private life. She was greeted by royal supporters as she entered the church near her Sandringham House estate with her son Prince Andrew. Elizabeth, 93, has been managing a family crisis caused by Harry and Meghan's determination to spend most of their time in Canada and to completely alter their relationship with the rest of the royals. In a statement released Saturday evening, she put the best possible face on events by saying: “I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family.” Harry and Meghan haven't yet commented on the new relationship expected to begin this spring. His father Prince Charles and brother Prince William have also been silent. Harry and Meghan will stop using their “royal highness” titles and will lose all access to public funds when they stop carrying out official functions. The news has been greeted with dismay in the Sandringham area, where the queen and her family are familiar figures. Royal watcher Rosie Viles, who waited for a glimpse of the queen, said she wasn't shocked by the decision but was upset. “It’s very sad that he feels that he’s got to stand away from royal duties but he’s obviously made that decision and I think part of that might have been to do with his mum, Princess Diana,” she said, referring to the Diana's death in 1997 when she being hounded by the press. “I’m sad but it’s his decision at the end of the day and obviously the queen has sorted it all out.' ___ Gregory Katz reported from London. ___ Follow full AP coverage at https://www.apnews.com/PrinceHarry
  • Scarlett Johansson and Nicole Kidman will have two chances to win Sunday night at the 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards, but the award show's ability to forecast the Oscars looks cloudy. Among the films vying for the screen actors’ top honor, best ensemble, are Oscar heavyweights “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” and “The Irishman.” They are competing with “Parasite” (only the second foreign language nominee after “Life Is Beautiful,' which received a nod in 1999), “Jojo Rabbit” and “Bombshell.” Because actors make up the largest percentage of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, their picks are closely watched. But the last two years, the SAG ensemble winner has not gone on to win best picture: “Black Panther” last year and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” in 2018. Two of this year’s top best-picture contenders at the Oscars — “Joker,” more of a one-man show, and “1917,” more acclaimed for its technical acumen — weren’t nominated for best ensemble. On Saturday, “1917” won top honors at the highly predictive Producers Guild Awards, which 21 of the last 30 years has lined up with the eventual best picture winner. The Screen Actors Guild Awards will begin at 8 p.m. EST and be broadcast live on TNT and TBS from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Coming three weeks ahead of the Oscars, it will be an early test for the chances of the Academy Awards front-runners, among them Renée Zellweger, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt and Laura Dern. Johansson is a nominee for both “Marriage Story” and “Jojo Rabbit,” as is Kidman for “Bombshell” and the HBO series “Big Little Lies.” That show is one of the nominees for best drama series ensemble, along with “The Crown,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Stranger Things.” Up for comedy series ensemble are “Barry,” “Fleabag,” “The Kominsky Method,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Schitt’s Creek.” Apple TV Plus’ “The Morning Show” also landed three nominations, for Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell and Billy Crudup.
  • If the Producers Guild Awards are a true predictor of the Oscars' best film category, then the World War I film “1917” is poised to come away with the top honor in a few weeks. The Sam Mendes film won the award for theatrical motion picture at the untelevised ceremony Saturday night at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles. Many in the crowd seemed stunned after Reese Witherspoon announced the winner of the Darryl F. Zanuck Award, which has gone on to win the best picture Oscar 21 out of 30 times — including the past two years, with “Green Book” and “The Shape of Water.” “This film was inspired by my grandfather, Alfred Mendes, and my hope was to honor his experience,” said Mendes, who co-produced and directed the project. He also said it was his first time attending the awards, and thanked the guild for recognizing his film. “This was best experience of my professional life,” he added. Released late last month, “1917” has made a splash during awards season, including another surprise victory in the best drama picture category at the Golden Globes. At the PGA awards, the war film bested other contenders like “Ford v Ferrari,” “The Irishman,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Joker,” “Knives Out,” “Little Women,” “Marriage Story,” “Parasite” and “Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood.” “1917' has now built strong momentum heading into the Academy Awards on Feb. 9. In other categories, “Toy Story 4” took home the animation award, “Fleabag” won the episodic comedy television award and “Chernobyl” collected best limited series. “Producing a movie takes a village,' said “Toy Story 4' co-producer Mark Nielsen, while fellow producer Jonas Rivera stood beside him. Multiple special honors were given out throughout the evening for production work including to Octavia Spencer, Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos, “Friends” co-creator Marta Kauffman, the film “Bombshell,' and Plan B Entertainment's Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner. “When I started off as an actor, I wondered about producers, ‘What the (expletive) do they do?’” Pitt jokingly said after accepting the David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures. Plan B has been behind “Moonlight' and “12 Years a Slave.' “I’m now painfully aware of what you do,' he said. “I commend you all. Our job as producers are protectors, stewards. ... Stewards of the story and protectors of the storytellers. And I find that to be an awesome responsibility.” Spencer received the Visionary Award, struggling to deliver her acceptance speech through tears. The actress who starred in “The Help' and “Hidden Figures' said acting was her backup plan to being a producer, which was “the dream' for her. “As an actor, I learned that my job was to find the truth in every scene and bring humanity to the characters I portray,” said Spencer, who runs the production company Orit Entertainment with Brian Clisham. Their company has produced the Apple TV Plus drama series “Truth Be Told,' and Spencer is starring in and producing an upcoming Netflix limited series about Madam C.J. Walker. “Now as a producer, I understand that Brian and I must maintain that insight with the movie and television series we develop,' she continued. “We look forward to adding fresh perspectives from diverse storytellers who enlighten, uplift and most importantly entertain.” ___ This version corrects the spelling of Kauffman's first name to Marta instead of Martha.
  • Kim Kardashian West is a step closer to becoming a lawyer, having finished her first year of study as an apprentice. She told The Associated Press on Saturday that her next step is taking the “baby bar,” so-called because it's a one-day exam. If she passes, she plans to study for another three years and then take the California bar exam. “I'm super-motivated, and I really want to see it through,' she said in an interview after promoting a television documentary on criminal justice reform. “There's obviously times where I'm overwhelmed and stressed and feel like I have a lot on my plate. My kids know that I'm in school just like they are. It's 20 hours a week, so it is a lot of my time.” “Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project” airs April 5 on Oxygen. The two-hour documentary shows her being visibly moved by prison inmates recounting their stories of landing behind bars. She talks to their families and friends, lobbies public officials and consults with their attorneys as well as her own. It features four cases, including a sex trafficking victim and a woman who murdered the family member who molested her. Each of them believe they received unfair sentences; two of them end up being released. “Once you hear the circumstances that led them to make those decisions, your heart would completely open up,” Kardashian West told the AP. “I hope that this is a step to opening up people's hearts and minds. And then hopefully they can help with changing some actual laws that really do have to be changed.” Vince DiPersio, an executive producer of 'The Justice Project,' said Kardashian West was taking on a 'fair amount of risk' by advocating for the release of prisoners. 'She is a nationally known figure, and she has a big brand. God forbid someone gets out and does something terrible, but Kim is willing to take that risk,' he said. Kardashian West said that no one she's helped has tried to exploit her entertainment industry ties for additional assistance. At the same time, the 39-year-old reality star and beauty and fashion mogul refers them to organizations that help them find jobs. “I love seeing the choices that they make in the exciting projects that they're working on outside,” she said. Kardashian West began advocating for criminal justice reform after helping Alice Marie Johnson, a great-grandmother serving a life plus 25-year sentence as a first-time non-violent drug offender. Kardashian West took Johnson's case all the way to a White House meeting with President Donald Trump, who granted Johnson clemency in 2018. “I'm raising four black children that could face a situation like any of the people that I help,” Kardashian West said. “So just to know that I could make a difference in my children's lives and their friends' lives and their children's lives by helping to fix such a broken system, that is just so motivating for me. I'm not doing it for publicity. I really do care.”
  • Hank Azaria says he has no plans to continue voicing the character of Apu on “The Simpsons,” according to an industry blog. But that isn't to say the Indian immigrant convenience store owner Azaria brought alive for 30 years won't live on. Producers and Fox Broadcasting Co. wouldn't confirm to The Associated Press Azaria's exit or an end to Apu, a recurring character that has drawn criticism for reinforcing racial stereotypes. There was no immediate reply Saturday from Azaria’s publicist. The actor, who is white, indicated Friday to slashfilm.com that there was no resistance to phasing out his voice. 'We all made the decision together,” Azaria said. “We all agreed on it. We all feel like it’s the right thing and (feel) good about it.” Apu Nahasapeemapetilon runs the Kwik-E-Mart, a popular convenience store in the animated sitcom's Springfield. Apu is known for his catchphrase, “Thank you, come again.” Azaria's first turn as Apu came in the first season's episode “The Telltale Head” in 1990. Azaria speculated that among options going forward is transitioning Apu's voice to an Indian actor. In 2017, comedian Hari Kondabolu put out a documentary, “The Problem with Apu,” that examined the character's cultural impact. Asked in the film's aftermath if he had watched the documentary, Azaria said: “Thank you for asking me. Yes, of course, I did see it, and let me see if I can tell you how I feel about that. The idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased or worse based on the character of Apu on ‘The Simpsons,’ the voice or any other tropes of the character is distressing,” he said. 'And especially in post-9/11 America, the idea that anybody was marginalized based on it or had a hard time was very upsetting to me personally and professionally.”
  • Having thrown her life open for years, it's hard to believe there isn't much the public doesn't know about Paris Hilton. But wait, there is. The 38-year-old socialite often described as famous for being famous reveals a private side of herself in “This is Paris,” a YouTube Originals documentary premiering in May. “It's very emotional this movie, it's very raw, it's very authentic,” an unusually somber and admittedly nervous Hilton told a TV critics meeting on Saturday. “It's basically my entire life.” In the documentary, she speaks publicly for the first time about incidents from her past and pivotal moments in her life. Emmy-winning director Alexandra Dean ('Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story') initially turned down the project, having gotten her fill of seeing Hilton on countless magazine covers while living in Europe. Dean changed her mind after hearing a particular story described as “heartbreaking trauma” involving Hilton that is revealed in the film. Hilton herself was reluctant to take a meeting about the project “because I wasn't ready to show myself.” Eventually, she agreed and the film crew followed her around the world for a year. “I talk about things that are very hard to talk about,” Hilton said. “It was an amazing experience, but also very scary. Watching the film for the first time, I was like, ‘Can we cut that out?’ I was freaking out but they have total control over the whole film.” The documentary addresses the time a teen-aged Hilton spent at a residential treatment center for emotionally and behaviorally troubled youth in Utah. Hilton's only sister, Nicky Rothschild, rarely gives interviews but agreed to participate. Their mother, Kathy Hilton, also appears. “There's so many `yes' people around and Nicky always tells me the truth,” Hilton said. “She's my best friend and my other half.” At times, Hilton comes off as lonely in private even as her public image portrays her as the life of every party and club she works as a DJ. She also describes herself as shy “which most people won't believe either,” she said. “Growing up in Hollywood, it's very hard to trust people because you don't know what their intentions are,” she said. “I've definitely been betrayed many times in my life. Going through so much, it's made me the strong person I am today. I don't know that I'll fully trust, but I'm really lucky in my life that I now have people in my circle that I really do.” Hilton still feels the effects of the dumb blonde persona she employed in “The Simple Life,” the reality show that shot her and Nicole Richie to fame starting in 2003. “I was in on the joke. People thought that's who I really was,” Hilton said. “I've been judged on a character that I created at the beginning of my career and now I feel like it's really time that people see who the real Paris is.”