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The Free Press WV

►  ‘It’ edges out Tom Cruise’s ‘American Made’ to take No. 1

After dipping to No. 2 last weekend, “It” has regained control of the North American box office in its fourth weekend in theaters.

The movie beat out the new Tom Cruise film “American Made” and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” but it was a close race that could shift when studios report weekend actuals on Monday.

According to studio estimates on Sunday, the Stephen King adaptation and box office juggernaut added $17.3 million to take the top spot. The film now boasts $291.2 million in domestic grosses.

“It” edged out last weekend’s box office champ, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” and newcomer “American Made,” which essentially tied for second with $17 million apiece. Estimates have “American Made” taking a slight advantage, with around $16,000 more than the “Kingsman” sequel.

Directed by Doug Liman, “American Made” is earning Cruise strong praise for his portrayal of the real life TWA pilot turned drug smuggler and CIA operative, but it’s also a somewhat lukewarm North American debut for the star. Liman also directed Cruise in “Edge of Tomorrow,” which opened to $28.8 million in June of 2014.

“Tom Cruise has set the bar so high for himself that anything less than No. 1 feels like a comedown. That’s the conundrum he’s in,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for comScore. “Cruise will always be measured against his unprecedented bar-raising string of hits from 1992 to 2006 that generated twelve $100 million plus earners at the North American box office.”

The film, which cost a reported $50 million to make, got a few weeks head start internationally, however, and has already raked in $81.7 million worldwide to date.

Nick Carpou, who heads up distribution for Universal Pictures which is handling worldwide distribution for “American Made,” said this debut is “the beginning of what will be a long playout and a successful one.”

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” fell about $56 percent in its second weekend in theaters, bringing its domestic total to $66.7 million.

“The Lego Ninjango Movie” took fourth place with $12 million, while the “Flatliners” remake opened to a cold $6.7 million for a fifth place start.

The weekend closes out what is looking to be a record-breaking September at the box office, although the year is still down about 4.7 percent from 2016.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore.

1. “It,” $17.3 million.

2.“American Made,” $17 million.

3.“Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” $17 million.

4.“The Lego Ninjango Movie,” $12 million.

5.“Flatliners,” $6.7 million.

6.“Battle of the Sexes,” $3.4 million.

7.“American Assassin,” $3.3 million.

8.“Home Again,” $1.8 million.

9.“Til Death Do Us Part,” $1.5 million.

10.“mother!” $1.5 million.

___

Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.


►  Video games in the Olympics? Here’s how it might work

The future of the Olympics may just be in a basement in Turkmenistan.

With leading Olympic figures considering a possible role for competitive computer games — known as esports — at the 2024 Games in Paris, a pan-Asian competition in the ex-Soviet state offers a possible vision of the future.

Including esports could give the Olympics a younger audience and a huge revenue boost from a rapidly growing market, but would be deeply controversial.

The Olympic Council of Asia included esports as an official demonstration event at its Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games this week, with teams from China and nine other nations battling in four games ranging from space combat in “StarCraft II” to card-game strategy in “Hearthstone.”

Supporters of esports in the Olympics say their event is a real sporting contest, one which prizes strategy and lightning reactions over physical agility.

“It needs different skillsets from different people,” competitor Jess Joaustine Tamboboy from the Philippines told The Associated Press. “It doesn’t really have a physical requirement because you can see around us the players are short and tall, maybe a little bit thin, maybe a little bit fat. But all they have in order to qualify to play for these types of titles are just their cognitive or mind skills.”

Esports aren’t a natural fit for Turkmenistan, one of the poorer ex-Soviet nations, though one where internet access is growing rapidly.

The rules weren’t explained in the local language, but that didn’t turn off the crowd of up to 200 in the windowless basement of a sports arena from cheering and whooping at a particularly spectacular kill or skillful strategy.

Still, the attendance was tiny compared to big pro esports events, which can pack thousands into traditional sports arenas, and it didn’t make much of a splash online. Fewer than 50 viewers at a time watched some opening-round matches Monday on Twitch, a leading game streaming service that regularly attracts tens of thousands of concurrent viewers to its more popular streams.

If esports make it to the Paris Olympics, it would redefine what Olympic sport is meant to be.

The International Olympic Committee has previously resisted calls to add “mind sports” like chess that don’t involve physical exertion, or events where machines are key, like auto racing.

Deciding which games to pick is fraught, too. The IOC has a sponsorship deal with Chinese company Alibaba, which has major esports interests, but rival firms have their own popular brands.

The IOC also fears violent games would hurt the Olympics’ image.

IOC president Thomas Bach told the South China Morning Post, an Alibaba-owned newspaper, earlier this month that he’d prefer sports simulations.

“We want to promote non-discrimination, non-violence, and peace among people. This doesn’t match with video games, which are about violence, explosions and killing. And there we have to draw a clear line,” he said.

All four of the games on the program this week in Turkmenistan featured some form of combat, though in fantasy settings with cartoon-style animation techniques. There weren’t any realistic military-themed shooting games on the program.

Bach also said esports needs a firmer structure. The IOC is used to dealing with a single governing body for each sport, like FIFA for soccer or the International Gymnastics Federation. Esports has its own international federation, but with limited influence over a web of private interests including games publishers, competition organizers and players’ teams.

The event in Turkmenistan showed how that system doesn’t yet fit smoothly with the Olympic movement.

IOC sponsor Alibaba’s Alisports division was in charge of the event, and used an open online qualifying system. That prompted federations from Australia and South Korea to boycott, saying athletes should have been picked by their national Olympic committees in the manner of a traditional sport.

If esports make it to the Olympics, other potential problems for the IOC include criticism it’s moving away from promoting a healthy lifestyle, and that it’s ignoring poorer countries where fast computers and brand-new games are unaffordable.

Esports would also mean the IOC allowing private companies to set the rules of its competitions.

Most traditional sports treat the rules with reverence, only occasionally tinkering around the edges. Not so for games publishers, who routinely mix things up to attract new players and keep things fresh.

Adding just one new character can reshape the whole “meta” — the game’s constantly evolving web of tactics and counter-tactics.

Senior figures in the IOC and the esports world have publicly doubted esports will be ready for an Olympic debut in seven years’ time.

“We are still some way away from our vision and we need to start on the right foot,” Asian Esports Federation president Kenneth Fok said last week. “For esports to develop in a positive banner, we need the full support of each and every NOC, their government, and more importantly the general public to have a positive perception of electronic sports.”


►  New season of ‘SNL’ roars back by mocking Donald Trump early

The new season of “Saturday Night Live” wasted no time getting topical — or mocking Donald Trump — with an opening sketch that featured Alec Baldwin skewering the president for his response to the hurricane that devastated Puerto Rico, threatening Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ job and mentioning his stand-off with the NFL.

“It’s all part of the plan. The more chaos I cause, the less people can focus,” Baldwin joked as Trump, wearing golf clothes in the Oval Office. “Let’s keep the chaos coming.”

In the sketch, Baldwin’s Trump was unclear that Puerto Rico was an American territory, hung up on the mayor of San Juan, put Sessions playfully on his lap and admitted he liked football. “People say I remind them of an NFL player because I’m combative, I like to win and I might have a degenerative brain disease,” Baldwin said. His Trump said he rewards loyalty but then ends the sketch palling around with U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.

Trump was also a target on the show’s “Weekend Update,” with Colin Jost pointing out that hip-hop artist Pitbull was sending a private plane to help victims in Puerto Rico. “How is the president of the United States worse at humanitarian aid than Pitbull?”

Michael Che also got into the act: “This isn’t that complicated, man. It’s hurricane relief. These people need help. You just did this for white people twice. Do the same thing. Tell Melania to put on her flood heels.”

Musical guest Jay-Z had his own political statement when he wore Colin Kaepernick’s jersey number, a nod to the football player’s decision to kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner” last season.

The comedy show hopes to build off one of its most-watched seasons in more than two decades thanks to Baldwin and Melissa McCarthy’s appearance as former White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Both actors recently won Emmys for their work, as did Kate McKinnon, who played Hillary Clinton on the show, and on Saturday played Sessions and Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany.

Ryan Gosling was the host and in his opening monologue, which Emma Stone joined, made fun of himself as the guy “who saved jazz,” riffing off his role in “La La Land.” Gosling featured in some bizarre sketches, including romancing a chicken, overreacting to a restaurant menu switch, playing a flute player in a bar and a man obsessed with the font on the “Avatar” poster.

In the offseason, “Saturday Night Live” saw the departure of cast members Vanessa Bayer, Bobby Moynihan and Sasheer Zamata. Those remaining also include Cecily Strong, Beck Bennett, Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson, Kyle Mooney, Leslie Jones and Kenan Thompson.

Arts & Entertainment News

The Free Press WV

►  ‘Daily Show’ host Noah lands new deal as Trump bits lift ratings

Two years after replacing Jon Stewart as host of “The Daily Show,“ Trevor Noah is riding high, attracting the largest audiences of his career and getting a long contract extension.

Comedy Central, owned by Viacom, said Thursday it extended Noah’s run as host of the late-night program through 2022. The company also asked the 33-year-old South African native to take on year-end specials and has made him an executive producer of the forthcoming late show “The Opposition.“

“We never had any doubts or lack of confidence, but as he’s done the job he just keeps elevating,“ Comedy Central President Kent Alterman said in an interview.

That success is welcome relief for a network that’s struggled in recent years. Like MTV and BET, two other Viacom networks, Comedy Central has lost viewers to online competitors Netflix and YouTube, and its prime-time ratings continue to suffer. The parent company, which has undergone its own management upheavals in the past couple years, recently pulled Comedy Central shows from Hulu.

A relative newcomer to “The Daily Show” who wasn’t all that well known to U.S. viewers, Noah was a controversial choice to succeed Stewart two years ago. More-popular “Daily Show” disciples – Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee and John Oliver – left to host programs on other networks. Another, Larry Wilmore, didn’t last as successor to Colbert at Comedy Central.

While Noah struggled at first, he gained traction with viewers by blending his sharp, worldly sense of humor with repeated attacks on a ripe target for many comedians: Donald Trump. In the past couple months, Noah taped segments titled “Trump Has No Idea How to Handle North Korea,“ “Trump: America’s S**ttiest Miss America” and “Ivanka Trump’s Fake Feminism.“

The audience for “The Daily Show” has grown 14 percent in the past year and 6 percent among viewers ages 18 to 49, a demographic advertisers favor. None of Noah’s late-night competitors – even the surging Colbert at CBS – have managed both feats. On a nightly basis, he’s averaging 1.51 million total viewers and 672,000 in the 18-to-49 group, according to the network.

Meanwhile Comedy Central’s prime-time ratings have slumped about 6 percent. The network is hoping the return of “South Park” and “Broad City,“ as well as new programs like “The President Show” will reverse that trend. It’s also discussing fresh ideas with Noah.

“Trevor is just a prolific brain,“ Alterman said. “He’s always spinning ideas.“


►  Character actor Harry Dean Stanton dies at age 91

Harry Dean Stanton, the shambling, craggy-face character actor with the deadpan voice who became a cult favorite through his memorable turns in “Paris, Texas,” ″Repo Man” and many other films and TV shows, died Friday at age 91.

Stanton died of natural causes at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his agent, John S. Kelly, told The Associated Press. Kelly gave no further details on the cause.

Never mistaken for a leading man, Stanton was an unforgettable presence to moviegoers, fellow actors and directors, who recognized that his quirky characterizations could lift even the most ordinary script. Roger Ebert once observed that no movie with Stanton in a supporting role “can be altogether bad.”

He was widely loved around Hollywood, a drinker and smoker and straight talker with a million stories who palled around with Jack Nicholson and Kris Kristofferson among others and was a hero to such younger stars and brothers-in-partying as Rob Lowe and Emilio Estevez. “I don’t act like their father, I act like their friend,” he once told New York magazine.

Nicholson so liked Stanton’s name that he would find a way to work his initials, HDS, into a camera shot.

Almost always cast as a crook, a codger, an eccentric or a loser, he appeared in more than 200 movies and TV shows in a career dating to the mid-1950s. A cult-favorite since the ’70s with roles in “Cockfighter,” ″Two-Lane Blacktop” and “Cisco Pike,” his more famous credits ranged from the Oscar-winning epic “The Godfather Part II” to the sci-fi classic “Alien” to the teen flick “Pretty in Pink,” in which he played Molly Ringwald’s father. He also guest starred on such TV shows as “Laverne & Shirley,” ″Adam-12” and “Gunsmoke.” He had a cameo on “Two and a Half Men,” which featured “Pretty in Pink” star Jon Cryer, and appeared in such movies as “The Avengers” and “The Last Stand.”

While fringe roles and films were a specialty, he also ended up in the work of many of the 20th century’s master auteurs, even Alfred Hitchcock in the director’s serial TV show.

“I worked with the best directors,” Stanton told the AP in a 2013 interview, given while chain-smoking in pajamas and a robe. “Martin Scorsese, John Huston, David Lynch, Alfred Hitchcock. Alfred Hitchcock was great.”

He said he could have been a director himself but “it was too much work.”

Fitting for a character actor, he only became famous in late middle age. In Wim Wenders’ 1984 rural drama “Paris, Texas,” he earned acclaim for his subtle and affecting portrayal of a man so deeply haunted by something in his past that he abandons his young son and society to wander silently in the desert.

Wiry and sad, Stanton’s near-wordless performance is laced with moments of humor and poignancy. His heartbreakingly stoic delivery of a monologue of repentance to his wife, played by Nastassja Kinski, through a one-way mirror has become the defining moment in his career, in a role he said was his favorite.

“‘Paris, Texas’ gave me a chance to play compassion,” Stanton told an interviewer, “and I’m spelling that with a capital C.”

The film won the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival and provided the actor with his first star billing, at age 58.

“Repo Man,” released that same year, became another signature film: Stanton starred as the world-weary boss of an auto repossession firm who instructs Estevez in the tricks of the hazardous trade.

His legend would only grow. By his mid-80s, the Lexington Film League in his native Kentucky had founded the Harry Dean Stanton Fest and filmmaker Sophie Huber had made the documentary “Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction,” which included commentary from Wenders, Sam Shepard and Kristofferson.

More recently he reunited with director David Lynch on Showtime’s “Twin Peaks: The Return” where he reprised his role as the cranky trailer park owner Carl from “Fire Walk With Me.” He also stars with Lynch in the upcoming film “Lucky,” the directorial debut of actor John Carroll Lynch, which has been described as a love letter to Stanton’s life and career.

Last year, Lynch presented Stanton with the “Harry Dean Stanton Award” — the inaugural award from the Los Angeles video store Vidiots presented first to its namesake.

“As a person, Harry Dean is just so beautiful. He’s got this easygoing nature. It’s so great just to sit beside Harry Dean and observe,” Lynch said at the show. “He’s got a great inner peace. As a musician, he can sing so beautifully tears just flow out of your eyes. And as an actor, I think all actors will agree, no one gives a more honest, natural, truer performance than Harry Dean Stanton.”

Lynch also directed Stanton in “Wild at Heart” and “The Straight Story.”

Stanton, who early in his career used the name Dean Stanton to avoid confusion with another actor, grew up in West Irvine, Kentucky and said he began singing when he was a year old.

Later, he used music as an escape from his parents’ quarreling and the sometimes brutal treatment he was subjected to by his father. As an adult, he fronted his own band for years, playing western, Mexican, rock and pop standards in small venues around Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. He also sang and played guitar and harmonica in impromptu sessions with friends, performed a song in “Paris, Texas” and once recorded a duet with Bob Dylan.

Stanton, who never lost his Kentucky accent, said his interest in movies was piqued as a child when he would walk out of every theater “thinking I was Humphrey Bogart.”

After Navy service in the Pacific during World War II, he spent three years at the University of Kentucky and appeared in several plays. Determined to make it in Hollywood, he picked tobacco to earn his fare west.

Three years at the Pasadena Playhouse prepared him for television and movies.

For decades Stanton lived in a small, disheveled house overlooking the San Fernando Valley, and was a fixture at the West Hollywood landmark Dan Tana’s. He was attacked in his home in 1996 by two robbers who forced their way in, tied him up at gunpoint, beat him, ransacked the house and fled in his Lexus. He was not seriously hurt, and the two, who were captured, were sentenced to prison.

Stanton never married, although he had a long relationship with actress Rebecca De Mornay, 35 years his junior. “She left me for Tom Cruise,” Stanton said often.

“I might have had two or three (kids) out of marriage,” he once recalled. “But that’s another story.”


►  Rihanna, Dave Chappelle team up to raise money for charity

At a Rihanna charity event, she will encourage you to drink heavily — so that you donate generously.

The pop star played the role of slick bartender at her third Diamond Ball on Thursday night in New York City, encouraging the audience to drink up and donate money to her foundation at the same time.

“The more you drink, the more inspired you’ll be to donate money ... and help kids around the world,” said Rihanna, the founder of the Clara Lionel Foundation, which promotes education and arts globally.

The benefit raised more than $5 million.

Dave Chappelle worked as Rihanna’s right-hand man. He first told jokes and later joined the auctioneer onstage, even purchasing a Retna art piece for $180,000.

“I have the perfect wall for this,” he said.

When selling two tickets to the Obama Foundation Fall Summit in Chicago, Chappelle said he would throw in his pocket square. It jumped from $200,000 to $201,000.

It eventually sold for $275,000.

Jay-Z, Beyonce, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx and Trevor Noah were some of the A-listers who attended the black-tie event, which included a video message from former President Barack Obama. He thanked Rihanna “for the great work” she’s doing with her foundation.

“You’ve become a powerful force,” Obama said, in helping people find “hope” and “dignity.”

Rihanna launched the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012 and named it after her grandparents Clara and Lionel Braithwaite. Many of her family members attended the event and posed for photos on the red carpet with the Grammy-winning singer.

The foundation said at the event they were among the first responders to assist those affected by Hurricane Harvey, and that they’re currently strategizing how best to support victims of Hurricane Irma. The organization has a scholarship program and an oncology and nuclear medicine center in Barbados, where Rihanna was born and raised.

“It’s exciting to come to New York for the first time. It’s the first Diamond Ball on the East Coast, and we’ve been dying to do something like this for a few years,” Rihanna said in an interview at Cipriani Wall Street. “Now is the perfect time. September is Fashion Week. Everybody is here. And we hope that they are in the mood to give back.”

Kendrick Lamar’s performance went into Friday morning, as he worked the stage excitedly with hits like “Humble,” ″Alright” and “Loyalty,” which features Rihanna (she danced in the audience). Calvin Harris, who worked with Rihanna on the hits “We Found Love” and “This Is What You Came For,” followed with a fun DJ set.

NFL player Victor Cruz, Latin singer Romeo Santos, entertainer La La Anthony and rappers Lil Kim, Cardi B., Future, Fabolous and Young Thug also attended the event.

From the auction held Friday night, Rihanna’s organization raised $840,000.

A necklace, featuring 16-carats of white diamonds set in 18-karat white gold, went for $130,000; a visit and tasting for four at the Petrus wine estate, along with lunch at the family’s private mansion in France, sold for $80,000; and a trip for 12 in the Maldives went for $100,000.


►  Alec Baldwin, Sterling K. Brown, more kick off Emmys weekend

Actor Sterling K. Brown is taking Emmys weekend one day at a time.

The “This is Us” star and nominee is juggling a jam-packed schedule of call times and parties in the lead up to the awards ceremony Sunday, where he’s nominated for lead actor in a drama series.

“It’s a gauntlet,” Brown said Thursday at The Hollywood Reporter and SAG-AFTRA Emmy Nominees Night party. “I’ve got work tomorrow, then there’re three parties tomorrow and two parties on Saturday and then Sunday. And then I have to be at work Monday at 6 a.m., so I’m memorizing lines. But I’m having a good time and I’m just trying to enjoy each moment as it comes.”

Brown and fellow nominees and industry peers gathered for drinks and treats, like uni toast and truffle pizza, at Jean-Georges at the Waldorf Astoria before Emmys weekend kicks into full gear.

Attendees like Alec Baldwin and his wife Hilaria Baldwin held court with the likes of Matthew Modine, Anne Heche, William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman, as Bob Odenkirk chatted off to the side and Geoffrey Rush introduced his son around the party.

Modine, deep in conversation with Baldwin, paused to give his young “Stranger Things” co-star Gaten Matarazzo a hug as he walked by, bee-lining to the booth in the back of the restaurant where Natalia Dyer and Finn Wolfhard were hanging out.

“I got to meet Alec Baldwin. That was cool,” Matarazzo said later.

Huffman broke away to grab a drink at the bar. She laughed that her Emmys prep includes going on a diet two weeks ago and then breaking it a day later.

On Sunday she hopes there’s a focus on the work.

“I don’t think it should be a political show. I don’t think people look to awards shows to either be confirmed in their politics or challenged in their politics,” Huffman said. “I think it’s a misuse of power. It’s not what we’re there to do.”

“Billy on the Street” star Billy Eichner thinks that a little politics is inevitable.

“What else are you going to talk about?” he said.

SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris wants there to be a spotlight on inclusion and diversity.

“I really want to see it pushing forward so it doesn’t just become the flavor of the year,” she said.

“We’re celebrating the work of our members tonight,” Carteris added. “This is one of the most exciting times in our history, in television, in film. The lines have been blurred. You can see great performances, great shows, no matter what size of the screen.”


►  At more U.S. colleges, video gamers get the varsity treatment

In some ways, they’re like typical college athletes. They’re on varsity teams. They train for hours between classes. Some get hefty scholarships. But instead of playing sports, they’re playing video games.

Varsity gaming teams with all the trappings of sports teams are becoming increasingly common as colleges tap into the rising popularity of competitive gaming. After initially keeping its distance, even the NCAA is now considering whether it should play a role.

Fifty U.S. colleges have established varsity gaming teams over the past three years, often offering at least partial scholarships and backed by coaches and game analysts, much like any other college team.

“We’re talking to at least three or four new schools every single day. We did not expect this type of reaction,” said Michael Brooks, executive director of the National Association of Collegiate eSports, a group that represents more than 40 schools with varsity gaming teams. “It caught us a little off guard.”

Competitive gaming, often called esports, has become a booming entertainment industry over the past decade, with flashy professional events that fill sports arenas and draw millions of online viewers.

The biggest tournaments offer prize pools upward of $20 million, attracting elite gamers who wage battle in popular video games such as “League of Legends” and “Overwatch.”

Until recently, most colleges were slow to meet demand for a collegiate version, experts say, but interest has come in a flurry over the past year as more schools see a chance to benefit from the industry’s growth.

Smaller private schools in particular have been quick to create varsity programs as a way to boost enrollment numbers, although so far it has brought mixed results. Among several starting new teams this year is the College of St. Joseph, a school of about 260 students in Vermont.

“Strategically, we knew that it would give us more cache with students,” said Jeff Brown, the school’s senior vice president and athletic director. “We’re all looking for a way to bring more kids in.”

Many colleges hope to replicate the success they’ve seen at Robert Morris University in Illinois, a small school that launched the country’s first varsity team in 2014 and has since become a national powerhouse.

But it’s also catching on at some bigger schools, including the University of Utah, which says its new varsity teams are the first at any school in the five major athletics conferences.

Although most collegiate tournaments are now organized by third-party gaming leagues or video-game companies, the rapid expansion has caught the attention of the NCAA. The league’s board of governors announced in August that it will discuss its “potential role” in esports at an October meeting, noting the “prevalence of organized gaming competitions” on college campuses.

Supporters of collegiate gaming say varsity teams can bring national exposure to colleges at a relatively low cost, with the potential to land sponsorships that bring costs even lower.

The University of California, Irvine, opened a new $250,000 “eSports arena” last year with financial backing from sponsors including a computer company and Riot Games, a video-game maker that organizes collegiate tournaments.

Other sponsors of the 3,500-square-foot arena provided 80 high-end computers, specialized gaming chairs and other equipment, university officials said.

“Compared to traditional sports programs, it’s more affordable,” said Brooks, of the collegiate esports association. “At the end of day all we’re talking about is a souped-up computer lab.”

Students who represent their schools say it teaches them lessons in strategy, teamwork and time management, and it offers camaraderie with other gamers on campus.

“It really builds a sense of community,” said Griffin Williams, a senior at UC Irvine who captains a team for the game “Super Smash Bros. Melee.” ″I actually feel more school pride than I would have had otherwise.”

Other schools have brought esports into the classroom as students pursue careers in the business side of gaming. Boston’s Emerson College is offering a new course on esports this year and eventually hopes to offer a minor degree.

“It’s becoming a vast piece of everybody’s world,” said Gregory Payne, the head of communication studies at Emerson. “We have to be open to what new generations are dealing with.”

Still, some have been reluctant to embrace what is sometimes seen as a slacker’s pastime. Administrators on many campuses leave gamers to compete through unofficial clubs rather than varsity teams.

But that hasn’t stopped others who expect collegiate gaming to keep growing. After announcing its first varsity team in April, Utah has already added teams for three more games and eventually hopes to offer full scholarships to gamers.

At the College of St. Joseph, Brown said demand for the school’s two new teams is already overflowing. By next year, he expects the school to add several more.

“We’re getting a tremendous amount of interest,” he said. “Nearly every kid on campus wants to be a part of this.”

Arts & Entertainment News

The Free Press WV

►  National Gallery of Art dispatched a team on a secret mission 50 years ago

In the winter of 1967, a customer walked into a luggage store in Pittsburgh in search of a bag of a certain size and composition. The suitcase was destined for a transatlantic flight, but before that flight, it had to be altered to accommodate a specially built device designed to serve a special passenger.

Ginevra de’ Benci was born in 1457 in Florence and was known for her beauty and her poetry. Her admirers included the Venetian ambassador. Some said Ginevra broke his heart and it was he who commissioned the striking portrait of her, her smooth face inscrutable, her body turned just so. Or perhaps the oil painting was commissioned by Luigi de Bernardo Niccolini, a wedding present from the man she married at the age of 16.

The word “Liechtenstein” means “light stone” and comes from the composition of the original home of the European country’s ruling family: a limestone castle built in the 12th century. That castle is not in Liechtenstein, but in what is today Austria. The Liechtenstein we know dates its formation to the 18th century. It is tiny and landlocked, bordered by Austria and Switzerland. Population: 37,000.

It was vital that from the outside the suitcase appear unremarkable, the sort of thing a typical businessman would carry. The Pittsburgh customer selected a gray, hard-sided American Tourister case known as a “3-suiter” and examined it carefully. It would do quite nicely.

The bag was purchased for $52.95 and then taken to a laboratory just north of Pittsburgh’s botanical gardens where the retrofitting would begin.

Ginevra and Niccolini were members of the Florentine elite, a group that included bankers, traders and merchants. And yet by 1480, Niccolini was in debt. Ginevra, he said, had repeatedly been “in the hands of the doctors.“ He died in 1505. His widow died about 1520. They had no children. The portrait seemed to disappear.

The princes of Liechtenstein continued to live in their Austrian castle. They filled it with artwork: masterpieces by Rubens, Van Dyck and others. To show ownership, the backs of works were imprinted with a red wax seal bearing the House of Liechtenstein’s coat of arms: a complicated design including a crowned eagle, a black eagle with the head of a woman and a hunting horn. By 1733, the seal had been applied to the back of a poplar panel about 15 inches square. It was the portrait of Ginevra.

From Pittsburgh, the American Tourister suitcase traveled to Zurich and then to Liechtenstein. The turmoil of the Second World War had robbed the prince of Liechtenstein of much of the family’s territory and much of its wealth. A painting, however, could be worth its weight in gold.

Ginevra had been through so much. She had been spirited across Europe, from Vienna to Salzburg to a monastery in the foothills of the Austrian Alps. To keep her out of the hands of the Nazis, the aristocratic Ginevra had been described in one bill of lading as “household goods.“

Eventually, the treasures from the House of Liechtenstein were moved from Austria to the family castle in Vaduz, the capital of the tiny country. And there, in a stone wine cellar accessible via a trap door set in the floor, Ginevra waited, hanging from a nail in the wall. She captivated her occasional visitors. Wrote one: “Her pallid beauty seemed to irradiate the dusty room with a strange lunar light.“

Through the trapdoor and down the stairs went the man with the American Tourister suitcase. The lining of the valise had been replaced with Styrofoam designed to act like a Thermos, safeguarding whatever was inside from the atmospheric conditions outside. The suitcase was fitted with a gauge that showed the temperature and humidity.

The suitcase was opened. Ginevra went inside. The suitcase was clicked shut.

Secrecy was paramount, and for several days in a row, three first-class seats had been booked on Swissair Flight 100 from Zurich to New York – one seat for Ginevra, two for her traveling partners. With the painting finally in hand, a cryptic cable was sent from Switzerland to Washington: “Bird flies.“

The announcement on February 20, 1967, was front-page news around the world: The National Gallery of Art in Washington was the new owner of “Ginevra de’ Benci,“ the masterpiece by the painter of the Mona Lisa and now the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci outside of Europe.

In deference to Prince Franz Josef II, the price was never officially revealed. But word soon spread that it had cost the National Gallery $5 million, at the time the most ever paid for a work of art.

American Tourister took out an ad in the New York Times that read: “This $5,000,000 da Vinci masterpiece flew the Atlantic in American Tourister luggage. Isn’t this the kind of luggage you should travel with?“

You can visit Ginevra in Gallery 6 on the main floor of the West Building. It won’t cost you a penny.


►  ‘Star Wars’ unveils augmented-reality game

If it can work for Pokémon, then why not for the world of Obi-Wan?

An augmented-reality experience as real-world physical hunt is being rolled out next month by another global entertainment franchise, with the next “Star Wars” film, “The Last Jedi,“ on the near horizon.

Last summer, as the AR scavenger hunt from Pikachu’s universe exploded - spurring a $7.5 billion market-value surge for maker Nintendo - The Washington Post asked: “Now, what’s to keep the Comcasts and Apples and Amazons and Disneys of the world from making our naturally 3-D world the exciting new area of augmented exploration on a scale as massive as Pokémon Go?“

The short answer from Disney, one year later: Apparently nothing. Because the Mouse House is unveiling its promotional stunt of a free “treasure hunt” on a rather massive scale, the company announced early Thursday.

The campaign’s basics, by the numbers: As the first wave of “Last Jedi” merchandise lands September 1 (aka “Force Friday II”), the “Find the Force” AR game - involving about 20,000 stores in 30 countries - will let participants hunt down 15 “Star Wars” characters, two are which are new. (Is that the Admiral Ackbar you’re looking for?)

To play, fans will download the “Star Wars” smartphone app, head to one of a fleet of participating stores (full list here) and uncover potentially talking virtual characters by pointing the phone at the “Find the Force” placard. The app encourages social-media sharing of your character experiences, with the big carrot urging that you share being a sweepstakes contest that closes September 3.

“We are excited that augmented reality will allow fans to experience the universe in a whole new way,“ Kathleen Kennedy, president of Disney-owned Lucasfilm, said in a statement Thursday.

The original “Star Wars,“ of course, birthed the entire modern era of movie tie-in merchandise four decades ago, so it’s only apt that this franchise is aiming to push the AR promotional game to a new level.

Plus, after the “Force Awakens” merchandising success of adorable new droid BB-8, Disney/Lucasfilm is now poised to capitalize on the introduction of furry new “Last Jedi” characters the Porgs - wet-eyed space puffins from Planet Ahch-To that appear Imagineered to be an ideal stocking stuffer.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” opens December 15, and some stores will participate in the game till then.


►  Antonoff staying mum about Taylor Swift’s target in new song

Look at what you won’t make him do: Producer Jack Antonoff is keeping quiet about who Taylor Swift is singing about in her new song.

Antonoff co-wrote and co-produced “Look What You Made Me Do,” Swift’s upbeat new song that is rumored to be about Kanye West. Some even felt the song’s lyrics referenced former friend Katy Perry.

When asked who Swift is referring to, Antonoff told The Associated Press: “That’s for her to tell you.”

“Look What You Made Me Do” quickly set two records after its release last week: The song has the most streams in a single day on Spotify with 10,129,087 plays, and its lyric video was viewed more than 19 million times on its first day. The official video debuted Sunday at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Antonoff, who is the guitarist in the band fun. and has a one-man band called Bleachers, has worked with Swift numerous times. He produced three songs on her “1989” album, which earned him a Grammy; he co-wrote Swift and Zayn’s hit song, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever”; and he shared a Golden Globe nomination with Swift for her 2013 track, “Sweeter than Fiction.”

“I love working with her,” 33-year-old Antonoff said of Swift. “It’s funny, I grew up just only writing my own songs and having bands ... (but) between Taylor and Lorde and Carly Rae (Jepsen), I’ve gotten to work with so many brilliant artists lately, and it means a lot.”

Hit songs Antonoff has worked on include Sara Bareilles’ “Brave,” Lorde’s “Green Light” and Rachel Platten’s “Stand By You.”

“You learn a lot from the people you work with,” he said.

With the band fun., Antonoff won the song of the year and best new artist Grammys. In June, he released Bleachers’ sophomore album, “Gone Now.”

Swift’s new album, “reputation,” will drop on November 10.


►  Fall Movie Preview: Hollywood confronts the Trump era

FBI battles with the White House. Revelatory government leaks on the front page. Soldiers haunted by unwinnable wars. Courtroom clashes over civil rights.

Movies take years to make, but many of this fall’s films may feel almost preternaturally programmed for the Trump era. Some have been in development for more than a decade, others have been fast-tracked since the election. But moviegoers will soon have no shortage of films offering timely reflections on America and the policies of its president.

The fall movie season has much more than politics on its mind. There are a string of major releases — “Blade Runner 2049” (October 6), “Thor: Ragnarok” (November 3), “Justice League” (November 17), “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (December 15) — that many expect will reverse the brutal summer box-office slide. And of course, many Oscar contenders are also lined up, including festival hits “Call Me By Your Name” (November 24), “The Florida Project” (October 5) and “Mudbound” (November 17).

But even the typically all-consuming Oscar horse race might be secondary this fall — and not just because “Dunkirk,” ″Get Out” and “Wonder Woman” have already emerged as potential awards contenders. Instead, one of the fall’s most captivating dramas might be between Hollywood and the White House.

Writer-director Peter Landesman (“Concussion”) found himself making a film about the FBI battling White House interference while a curiously similar conflict played out between Trump, James Comey and the FBI. His movie, “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” tells the story of Felt (played by Liam Neeson), the legendary Watergate source known as Deep Throat, who was the No. 2 official at the FBI during the scandal. It’s been in the works since 2005.

“This movie could have been made ten years ago or five years ago. The fact that it’s coming out this year has a supernatural relevance,” said Landesman.

The film, which Sony Pictures Classics will release September 29, gives a close-up to the man previously seen — in the movies — as the shadowy figure in the parking garage of “All the President’s Men.” ″Mark Felt just wanted to be left alone to do his job, however it turned out,” said Landesman. “Jim Comey wanted to do the same thing.”

Similar parallels may also follow Steven Spielberg’s keenly awaited “The Post,” (December 22). Spielberg’s drama is about The Washington Post’s 1971 publishing of the classified Pentagon Papers, which revealed many of the government’s lies about the Vietnam War.

The film, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, is like an all-star team assembled as Hollywood’s response to Trump. The project was announced in March and shot over the summer. Streep, who memorably critiqued the then-president-elect at January’s Golden Globes and was then deemed “over-rated” by Trump, is already viewed as all-but-certain Oscar contender.

Other timely tales of American heroism are also rushing to the screen. Clint Eastwood, who has previously voiced support for Trump, is prepping “The 15:17 to Paris” about the 2015 Thalys train attack in France, with the real-life heroes playing themselves: Anthony Sadler, Alex Skarlatos and Spencer Stone. Whether it will be finished in time for 2017 isn’t yet clear; no release date has been announced but Eastwood works famously fast.

Several other films are coming that explore the intersection of patriotism and politics. Just as Trump has ordered more troops to the war in Afghanistan, films like Richard Linklater’s “Last Flag Flying” will contemplate the human cost of battle. “Last Flag Flying” (November 3), a kind of loosely connected bookend to Hal Ashby’s 1973 film “The Last Detail,” stars Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell and Laurence Fishburne as Marines reunited to bury a dead son killed in Iraq.

The film, a tender and comic road-trip odyssey, isn’t overtly political or even a war film; Linklater is skeptical any war film can be anti-war. But it seeks to intimately understand the individual repercussions of war, free of saber-rattling or mythologizing.

“It will mean killing civilians. It will mean dead Americans. It will mean exorbitant costs. It will mean all that. That’s what war is,” says Linklater. “That’s what does worry one about Trump. It’s always the guys who didn’t fight that want to prove their manhood by launching some bombs and missiles and being a tough guy. Both Republicans and Democrats it’s the same. We haven’t had a soldier anywhere near leadership in so long.”

“Thank You for Your Service” (October 27), starring Miles Teller and Haley Bennett, is about three soldiers returning from Iraq, adjusting to civilian life and fighting post-traumatic stress disorder.

Other films will recall civil-rights icons. “Marshall” (October 13), stars Chadwick Boseman as a young Thurgood Marshall defending a black chauffeur in 1941 against his wealthy socialite employer in a sexual assault and attempted murder trial. Rob Reiner’s “LBJ” (November 3) stars Woody Harrelson as the 36th president, taking office after the assassination of John F. Kennedy and passing the Civil Rights Act.

Whether all of these films will resonate any differently in 2017 than they might have another year remains to be seen. George Clooney’s “Suburbicon” (October 27), which he directed from a script by Joel and Ethan Coen, is about a bucolic 1950s suburb with a violent and racist underbelly. Clooney, who recently announced a grant of $1 million with his wife Amal to combat hate groups in the wake of Charlottesville, says the film is about out-of-control white-male paranoia.

“Trump got elected while we were shooting it,” said Clooney. “A bunch of crew members came up to me and said, ‘It’s too bad it’s not coming out today.’ And I said, ‘Unfortunately these issues never get old.’ So, yes, it’s timely, but unfortunately it’s always timely.”

In Arts & Entertainment….

The Free Press WV

►  Candy Crush addicts get new outlet as video game comes to TV

Candy Crush addicts, and you know who you are, put down your mobile device immediately. Then you can watch “Candy Crush,” the TV game show.

Expect breezy, energetic fun from the CBS series debuting 9 p.m. EDT Sunday with host Mario Lopez, said executive producer Matt Kunitz, whose credits include “Wipeout” and “Fear Factor.”

Nearly 200 billion game rounds were played in the Candy Crush Saga last year, according to its maker, King. To entice people to watch it on TV, “Candy Crush” supersizes the visuals and the action.

Two specially designed video walls, each made up of 55 monitors and measuring more than 20-by-25 feet, require contestants to physically scramble as they compete for the weekly $100,000 prize.

One wall is placed horizontally on the stage floor, the other is perpendicular to it, and players in safety harnesses scoot across and up and down the screens. They make candy matches by, natch, swiping squares a la the mobile game.

The stunt team that handled Lady Gaga’s rig during her airborne entrance to this year’s Super Bowl halftime show did the same for “Candy Crush,” with the same injury-free success, Kunitz and CBS said. Taping is completed.

When the show was pitched to the network, Kunitz said, they asked CBS executives to imagine “if you were playing on your phone and got sucked through and were in a Candy Crush arena.”

The video walls were key, he said.

Their surfaces needed to withstand running, jumping and sliding and respond only to the swipe of contestants’ hands. Producers ended up going with a company, MultiTaction, that had created a 44-monitor wall for the Australia’s Queensland University of Technology.

That was the world’s biggest, Kunitz said, until “Candy Crush” came along — and he points to a Guinness World Records citation attesting to that. Each monitor has 32 cameras to record the flurry of hand swipes.

Many video games have been translated to the movie screen, from “Super Mario Brothers” to “Tomb Raider” to “The Angry Birds Movie,” but it’s rare, if not unprecedented, for a game to come to television, said Sebastian Knutsson, a King executive who helped develop Candy Crush.

The game’s simplicity “actually translates very well” to TV, he said, and the audience’s perspective allows them to see opportunities more readily than the contestants who are so close to the oversized boards.

How protective did he feel of his baby during its TV adaptation?

“It’s been very important to us that this stay true to the core of how you play the game, and that it wouldn’t break what we think of as the core rules of Candy Crush,” Knutsson said from Stockholm.

That doesn’t mean the TV show had carte blanche.

King shared a Candy Crush style guide with details on the color and size of each candy character, Kunitz said. It was so precise that it dictated the dimension of the line around each character and their size in relation to each other.

It was understood that some things might change slightly on TV, Kunitz said, and, in turn, he appreciated what was at stake.

“There’s a huge expectation from the audience of what this show should be, because hundreds of millions of people play the game,” he said. “I wanted to make it bigger and more spectacular and prime-time. That’s a fine balance. You don’t want to mess up the brand. And it is a brand, a massive brand.”

Nearly two-dozen different challenges for players help make each episode feel unique, he said.

While great effort went into the production, Kunitz said he hopes that viewers will be unaware of all the work and simply enjoy the show.

“It’s just fun. That’s all it is,” he said. “We’re not grossing anyone out, no one’s wiping out, no one’s 300 feet in the air hanging from a helicopter. It’s just pure summer fun.”


►  Kendall and Kylie Jenner sued over Tupac Shakur T-shirts

A commercial photographer has sued Kendall and Kylie Jenner over the use of two of his images of late rapper Tupac Shakur that were used on T-shirts the sisters briefly sold for $125 apiece.

Michael Miller sued the Jenner sisters in a Los Angeles federal court on Friday for copyright infringement over the “vintage” T-shirts that featured their likeness or designs superimposed over photos of famous musicians. Miller’s suit states the Jenners never sought permission to use his photos.

The sisters’ brand Kendall + Kylie stopped selling the shirts last month after Ozzy Osbourne’s wife and the mother of the late rapper Notorious B.I.G, criticized them.

Emails sent to the Jenners’ publicists were not immediately returned Friday.

Miller is seeking at least $150,000 apiece for the use of his photos.


►  American gored at Pamplona bull run promises to run again

One of the two Americans gored Saturday during this year’s second running of the bulls in the Spanish city of Pamplona is swearing that he will run again before the festival is over.

Bill Hillmann, a 35-year-old writer who also was gored three years ago at the San Fermin festival, was in stable condition. The bull that led the pack thrust its horn into Hillmann’s buttocks before flipping him onto the street.

“In a split second he was on me. I tried to jump, but he hit me in the butt,” Hillmann told The Associated Press by telephone from a hospital in Pamplona.

“I flew up in the air and landed on my back. I didn’t know I was gored at first. Then people started telling me I was gored and pulled me over to the medics. I pulled down my pants and there was blood. The bull had pulled down my pants before he pierced my underpants.”

Hillmann said his love hasn’t wavered for the chaotic and treacherous spectacle.

“I am probably going to run tomorrow or the next day, sure at this festival,” he said. “I am already walking. The first time, I wasn’t walking for a week.”

Hillmann’s wound was less severe than those of a 22-year-old American that the regional government of Navarra identified with the initials J.C., who was in serious condition after his left arm was impaled and he was dragged for several meters (yards) before the bull flung him off and stormed over him.

Three other Americans, two Frenchmen and three Spaniards — all men — needed hospital treatment for injures received during the frantic and crowded run of thrill-seekers.

The gorings took the total through two days to five, after two Americans and a Spaniard were gored on Friday’s first run.

Hillmann was in Pamplona for a 12th consecutive year to brave the bulls and ran on Friday.

He was gored in the early stages of the run, when the bulls from the ranch of Jose Escolar confirmed their reputation as being unpredictable.

The bulls completed the 930-yard (850-meter) cobbled-street course in just over four minutes — well over the average of three minutes — because one bull broke away from the rest and turned around.

The other five plowed into the slower-moving crowds, knocking many runners down as they maneuvered through the narrow streets and wooden barricades.

Hillmann described this second goring as “just a tick” compared to his first one in 2014, which produced two thigh wounds he called “traumatic.”

Hillmann, like scores of foreigners, discovered the San Fermin festival thanks to Nobel Literature laureate Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises.”

“It changed my life. It made me want to be a writer, to run the bulls, to come to Spain,” he said. “When I got here everything in the book was still here, but a thousand times more. And it just keeps getting more interesting. People think this is just crazy people running. There is real art. If you pay attention, you can see it.”

Hillmann claims to have participated in over 300 bull runs across Spain at traditional summer festivals. He has written a guide on bull running, along with a novel, and was back in Pamplona to make a documentary featuring him as a bull runner.

“The thing is that when you run, you always have doubts because you are taking a decision that can end your life,” he said. “There is a shadow that follows you. Sometimes I don’t run because I don’t feel right. I usually get premonitions. Not today. I felt good today, but it didn’t go my way.”


►  Missing teen daughter of actor Donal Logue found safe

The teenage daughter of actor Donal Logue has been found safe nearly two weeks after she went missing in New York City.

The New York Police Department says 16-year-old Jade Logue was found Saturday.

Logue had posted appeals to help find Jade on Facebook and Twitter after she disappeared on June 26.

He wrote on Facebook that the “net had been flung far and wide.“

Jade is transgender and was previously known as Arlo Logue. Police provided no details about how or where she was found.

Donal Logue stars as Detective Harvey Bullock on “Gotham.“ He also had a recurring role as Lt. Declan Murphy on NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.“

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