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The Free Press WV

►  Film academy invites Leslie Jones, Dwayne Johnson, Riz Ahmed

The film academy is inviting 774 new members to join its ranks, including actors Leslie Jones, Dwayne Johnson, Riz Ahmed, Chris Pratt and Anna Faris.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed its latest invitees on Wednesday.

Other actors invited to join the group include Priyanka Chopra, Janelle Monae, Elle Fanning, Donald Glover, Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm, Betty White, Terry Crews, John Cho, Zoe Kravitz and “Wonder Woman” herself, Gal Gadot. Several “Saturday Night Live” alumnae also received invites: Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph and current star Kate McKinnon.

“Moonlight” writer-director Barry Jenkins was invited to join both branches, as was “Get Out” writer-director Jordan Peele. “Hidden Figures” director Theodore Melfi and documentarian Ezra Edelman, who won an Oscar for “O.J.: Made in America,” also received invitations.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Justin Timberlake, Nick Cave, Terry Lewis, Jimmy Jam and “La La Land” composers Benj Pasek, Justin Paul and Justin Hurwitz were invited to the music branch.

The film academy reports the new class of potential members is 39 percent female and 30 percent non-white. The organization has been diversifying its ranks after two years of #OscarsSoWhite and criticism of its overwhelmingly white and male voting body.


►  White House reporter says he’s tired of being bullied

The reporter who accused White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders of inflaming the public against the media at a press briefing says he did it because he’s tired of being bullied by the administration.

Brian Karem, an editor at the Washington-area Sentinel newspapers, became an instant symbol in the tense relationship between the president and journalists when he interrupted Sanders on Tuesday. Given the nation’s wide political divide, it took little searching to find depictions of him as either a hero or crying baby on social media.

“There’s a time and a place for everything and the time has come to stand up and be counted,” Karem told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “I’m tired of taking it. I want friendly relationships, but those who want respect, show respect. We have shown that man and shown the administration respect for six months, and all we’re getting in return is a lack of respect, derision and bullying.”

Karem, 56, is not a representative of the large national media organizations repeatedly described as “fake news” by the president. Besides his editing, he writes for Playboy, where his first-person account of the confrontation was posted late Tuesday. He was jailed as a Texas television reporter in 1990 for refusing to identify sources in a crime story.

The administration’s own anger with the media is close to the surface, with the president tweeting Tuesday about a CNN story on Russian connections that was retracted last week, and on Wednesday about The New York Times’ coverage of the stalled health bill. Sanders opened Tuesday’s briefing by calling on a reporter from the conservative Breitbart News, who asked about the CNN story, and she expressed frustration with media coverage.

“If we make the slightest mistake, the slightest word is off, it is just an absolute tirade from a lot of people in this room,” Sanders said. “But news outlets get to go on, day after day, and cite unnamed sources, use stories without sources.”

That’s where Karem broke in.

“Come on!” he said. “You’re inflaming everybody right here, right now with those words.” He said that Sanders is there to answer questions “and what you did is inflammatory to people all over the country who look at it and say, ‘See, once again, the president’s right and everybody else out here is fake media.’ And everybody in this room is only trying to do their job.”

Sanders said that “if anything has been inflamed, it’s the dishonesty that often takes place by the news media and I think it is outrageous for you to accuse me of inflaming a story when I was simply trying to respond to his question.”

The White House has been holding fewer on-camera briefings lately, and the press has been pushing for more. With that backdrop, it felt like the chief purpose of Tuesday’s on-camera session was to browbeat the press, Karem said.

Karem, who was not at the White House on Wednesday, said he hasn’t heard from the administration about the exchange and doesn’t know if there will be repercussions. Sanders did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While Karem said he’d received expressions of support from some fellow reporters, not all sympathetic observers like to see frustration boil over. Liberal former talk show host Phil Donahue, on MSNBC Wednesday, said reporters should stay above the fray.

“I don’t think the press should get in the mosh pit,” he said. “I think they have to be big boys and girls and take the hits.

“The best way to handle this is to just keep working,” Donahue said. “Don’t be so sensitive. Don’t look like you have a glass jaw ... I think the press has to be above that.”

Karem said he always taught his children that the best way to handle bullies is to try and make friends with them and, failing that, punch back so they know you won’t take their guff. Since it’s a potent issue for Trump’s supporters, he doesn’t expect the administration’s attitude toward the media will change.

“You think it’s going to go away?” he said. “It’s not. But I’m not going gently into the good night. I’m not going to sit there and be told that I’m the enemy of the people and that I’m fake news.”


►  TV, films turning to young girls for their new action stars

From the murderous Laura in “Logan” to the mysterious Eleven in “Stranger Things” to the audacious determination of Mija in “Okja,” opening Wednesday, powerful young girls are starring in mainstream action fare like never before.

Though Nancy Drew was solving mysteries in the 1930s and Buffy slayed vampires all through high school in the late 1990s, young girls are rarely shown as heroes in programs aimed at general audiences, said Mary Celeste Kearney, director of gender studies and a professor of film, television and theater at University of Notre Dame.

“Girls have seen these figures… but when they’ve looked to mainstream stuff and what their brothers and their dads and boys are watching, those girls are never there,” Kearney said. “And now they are, and that’s huge.”

It means girls don’t have to look to grown up heroes like Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games” or Rey in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Like 10-year-old Elliot on the flying bicycle in “E.T. the Extraterrestrial,” now girls are having awesome genre adventures as powerful young kids onscreen.

The Duffer Brothers said gender was never a question when it came to creating the super-powered star character in their Netflix series “Stranger Things.” Eleven, played by 13-year-old Millie Bobby Brown, can move things with her mind and is the fascinating secret friend of a group of pre-teen boys in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana.

“Eleven was always a girl. I don’t even remember when or why we made that decision except that was always the case,” Matt Duffer said in a recent interview. “Eleven was the centerpiece of the show for us always and was always going to be this girl who escaped the lab… I think we liked the idea because it wasn’t something we had seen before.”

A second little girl is joining the cast for the show’s second season, which premieres October 31.

Writer-director Bong Joon Ho intentionally made his central human character a girl in “Okja,” an international adventure film named for the genetically engineered six-ton “super pig” at its heart.

“In cartoons or movies, young girls are often portrayed as characters that need to be protected or rescued. I wanted to do the opposite,” the filmmaker said in an email. “I liked that a young female character was the unstoppable guardian of a creature, and that she had to charge and break through all obstacles that stood in her way. I liked this feeling.”

Played by 13-year-old An Seo Hyun, Mija has grown up with Okja, and risks everything to protect the massive creature when the corporation that sponsored the super-pig program comes to claim its product.

One thing that’s missing from “Okja” and the other projects is a stereotypical little girl who needs saving.

“Logan” writer-director James Mangold can’t take credit for creating the young female mutant Laura — he mined the character from “X-Men” history. But Mangold cast an exceptional actress, 11-year-old Dafne Keen, and successfully brought a killer female character to the ultra-male world of big-screen superheroes.

He chose to make Laura a child rather than the teenager she is in the comics because of the bond it would allow with Hugh Jackman’s character and the shock it might elicit when Laura draws her claws.

Like Hit-Girl in 2010′s “Kick-###,” Laura is a character created in her father’s image. She’s Wolverine’s daughter and has just as much flesh-shredding power as her dad.

“I did think the shocking nature of Laura’s ability to kill savagely would be all the more shocking, in a really wonderful way, that it was a girl and not a boy, that that lethalness would be exhibited by this little girl,” Mangold said. “I wondered whether we could pull it off, whether the audience would truly believe this level of violence and intensity trapped inside an 11-year-old body. To me that made it even more exciting to put it on the screen.”

Mangold said he took care with Laura’s character, who’s mute for the first half of the film and speaks only Spanish in the second, to “undermine the kind of cute factor of what this young woman would be and allow her to exist as her own unique character.”

It’s notable, too, that these young heroines are not all embodied by white actresses.

Kearney says it’s more than just the “Wonder Woman” effect inspiring these empowered characters: “History has everything to do with this and the gender politics of different historical moments.”

The powerful women and girls onscreen reflect more progressive gender attitudes, she said, adding that some writers and producers may have been inspired to create such heroes out of a desire to see more real-life female leaders.

She noted the recent crop of characters all exist in “fantasy narratives,” where people can have super powers.

“It’s not in our reality; it’s in some other reality, and that’s really disheartening if you think about it in that way,” she said. “Like girls are great as action heroes, but not as president of the United States, not in real life.”

Consider that “Billy Elliott,” the charming, realistic 2000 independent film about an 11-year-old boy who learns about gender and identity through dance, became a sleeper hit that was adapted for the stage. “The Fits,” a similarly realistic, 2016 indie film about an 11-year-old girl who does the same, didn’t get the same reception.

Girl action heroes are a start, though, especially ones with mass-market appeal.

“They have a powerful, powerful cultural impact,” Kearney said, “which is girls seeing these things and boys seeing girls do these things…. A boy can’t go and see ‘Logan’ and not see a girl as powerful as Logan.”

The Duffer Brothers note that Eleven is the show’s most popular character and best-selling action figure. Mangold said that when his pre-teen sons visited the set during the making of “Logan,” they were more interested in Laura than Wolverine himself.

“They were completely mesmerized by her,” he said. “It’s really refreshing for everyone to see a kid, especially a young girl, who’s not a kewpie doll first or a dimpled smile first, you know? That what’s really going on there is someone in conflict, someone who’s searching for something, someone who’s capable — someone also, by the way, in my film who ends up offering pretty intense advice and wisdom and stability.”


►  Disney: Animatronic Trump will speak at Disney World show

Disney has confirmed that an animatronic version of Donald Trump will have a speaking role at its Hall of Presidents attraction at Walt Disney World in Florida.

The company is pushing back against reports that Trump’s figure wouldn’t have a speaking part in the show, which features figures of all U.S. presidents.

Disney Parks editorial content director Thomas Smith writes in a blog post that Disney is working closely with the White House on Trump’s words and a recording session with the president has been scheduled.

The attraction closed in January so Trump’s figure could be added. Smith says it will reopen late this year with a new show and upgraded theater.

An online petition was launched in January to push Disney to keep its animatronic Trump silent.

In Arts & Entertainment….

The Free Press WV

►  Virtual reality can help people overcome real pain

Despite all efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, the crisis continues to destroy lives and contribute to the growing gap in life expectancy by income and education in the U.S. But it appears that some relief may come from an unexpected source: virtual reality. Anyone who thinks virtual reality is just a sideshow for gamers should pay close attention to the stunning results it’s achieving in the medical world.

A virtual reality game called SnowWorld – in which patients throw snowballs at snowmen while virtually immersed in a white, snow-covered environment – has been used for more than 20 years to relieve the pain experienced by burn victims, and it’s been surprisingly effective. As David Rhew, the chief medical officer at Samsung Electronics America, recently explained to me, the promising results from burn management have led to broader use of virtual reality in an array of medical settings, including the type of chronic pain that leads to opioid abuse.

In one trial at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles involving 100 patients experiencing significant chronic pain, half the patients played a 15-minute virtual reality game called Pain RelieVR, in which the patient tries to shoot balls at moving objects in an immersive 360-degree environment. The other half were shown an ordinary video of relaxing nature scenes.

Sixty-five percent of the virtual reality patients experienced pain relief, compared with 40 percent in the control group, and the change among the game-players was more substantial. Virtual reality seems to do more than a two-dimensional movie to shift the brain’s experience in a way that helps patients handle pain.

To be sure, this study involved only a brief virtual reality experience, and it did not randomly assign the patients to each group. But other studies of virtual reality in chronic pain management are showing similar results. The conclusion of a review done several years ago remains true today: “Virtual reality has consistently been demonstrated to decrease pain, anxiety, unpleasantness, time spent thinking about pain and perceived time spent in a medical procedure.“

Perhaps the most remarkable medical results from virtual reality involve spinal cord injuries. In a small study of eight Brazilian patients who were paralyzed below the waist, researchers used virtual reality, a robotic suit and tactile limb feedback to train the subjects’ brains to develop alternative neural pathways to the affected limbs. After a year, all of them experienced some improvement, and half were upgraded from full lower-body paralysis to partial. (None of these patients were able to walk independently, but they were closer to being able to do so. One patient could move her legs by herself while supported by a harness.)

There’s some concern that virtual reality, if used to treat opioid addicts, might become the focus of new kind of addiction, but even so, it wouldn’t be as deadly as the very real one we currently face.

The use of virtual reality as a medical tool is in its infancy, and the results to date should be viewed as promising rather than definitive, especially given the exceedingly small sample sizes in studies so far. Nonetheless, there’s reason to be hopeful, since the results are fully consistent with the well-researched placebo effect in addressing pain, depression and other health problems.

The brain is remarkably powerful, perhaps even able to reawaken limbs that have been paralyzed for years. Virtual reality might be able to help channel that power in beneficial ways.


►  Rebel Wilson Wins in Tabloid Defamation Suit

Rebel Wilson has emerged victorious in her fight against Bauer Media. After two days of deliberation, a six-person jury ruled the Australian actress the winner of her defamation suit against the Australian publisher, which printed eight articles in 2015 falsely claiming she had lied about much of her life story. Damages will be decided by a justice, the Guardian reports, but outside court after the ruling Thursday Wilson said: “The reason I’m here is not for damages, it’s to clear my name. And the fact the jury has done that unanimously and answered every single of the 40 questions in my favor I think proves what I’ve been saying all along.“ Though the publisher insisted the articles were not defamatory, Wilson said she had never lied. She testified for six days and was in court every day of the three-week trial, the BBC reports.

Bauer, which publishes Australia’s Women’s Weekly as well as Australia’s Woman’s Day magazine, said it would “consider its options” after the verdict came down. Wilson, 37, says an “obsessed and weirdly jealous” former classmate had given the false information to reporters, and during the trial the jurors were read emails in which one magazine writer expressed doubts about the anonymous source’s story. Her lawyer questioned why the publisher couldn’t produce anyone to whom Wilson had supposedly lied, saying, “The reason why they came up with nothing, of course, is obvious. Rebel Wilson has not lied.“ Wilson says that as a result of the articles, she was fired from two animated films, Kung Fu Panda 3 and Trolls, and that she lost roles after the articles came out.


►  Gene Simmons Claims This Widely Used Hand Sign Is His

The “rock on” hand gesture is sported by everyone from teen girls to Spider-Man—but Gene Simmons claims it’s all his. The KISS frontman filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office on Friday in an effort to trademark the sign, per the Hollywood Reporter. While similar to the “devil horns” gesture (make a fist, then raise your index and pinky fingers), Simmons’ application is for the widely used sign that includes an extended thumb. Simmons claims he was the first person to use it commercially on November 14, 1974, during KISS’ “Hotter Than Hell” tour.

Not so, according to a radio DJ who points out that John Lennon used the gesture on the cover of the Beatles’ 1966 single “Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby.“ As the symbol for “I love you” in American Sign Language, the gesture has also long been used by the deaf community, reports the Washington Post. (It’s also the gesture Spidey makes when he shoots his webs.) Those appearances could complicate Simmons’ endeavor. However, Simmons’ application notes he plans to trademark the gesture for “entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist.“


►  Heading to See Rough Night? Expect Just That

A mostly female cast gathers for director Lucia Aniello’s Rough Night, which reveals just how bad a bachelorette weekend with college friends can get, especially when male strippers are involved. If this plot seems a bit tired to you, you’re not alone. The movie has a lackluster approval rating of about 50% among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, despite big-name stars such as Scarlett Johannson and Kate McKinnon. Samples:

  • Rough Night “offers a few sight gags that are pure, dumb genius” and “is at its best when it catches the precise crosscurrent between sleazy and breezy.“ But when the movie takes a dark turn, “it starts to fall apart,“ Stephanie Zacharek writes at Time. “As Hangover-style dumb entertainments go, it’s certainly good enough,“ she adds, but she isn’t sure this is “anything close” to what women want to see.
  • Owen Gleiberman, on the other hand, says Rough Night is “a perfect example of why Hollywood needs (many) more women filmmakers.“ Though its formula is quite “derivative,“ its female perspective makes it fresh, he writes at Variety. The best elements: “the feisty, claws-out spontaneity of its competitive banter between ‘sisters’ who love and hate each other” and Jillian Bell, “the film’s comic spark plug.“
  • /ul>

    • Leah Greenblatt was less tickled. Rough Night is “a raunchy, wildly off-the-rails farce” that “feels like the summer-movie equivalent of a fidget spinner: shiny, manic, and spiraling to nowhere,“ she writes at Entertainment Weekly. She does commend the casting—naming Ty Burrell and Demi Moore, who play a swingers couple—but adds the actors have to deal with a “loose cannon of a script.“
    • “Well, at least they got the title right,“ begins Adam Graham at the Detroit News. The rest of his review is no less harsh. “Rough Night is a dismal, excruciating experience, a tired retread of raunchy comedy tropes that can’t be bothered to come up with any funny or original bits,“ he writes. Like one of its characters on cocaine, “it’s frantic, scattered and convinced of its own greatness,“ then “empty and rather sad.“


    ►  Jay Z Skips Hall of Fame Ceremony Amid Beyonce Birth Rumors

    On Thursday night, Jay Z became the first hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, though he wasn’t actually there to accept the honor himself. Famous Jay Z fan and former POTUS Barack Obama inducted the rapper into the hall via a recorded video message, ETOnline reports, calling Jay Z a friend and pointing out he’s a “first-time ballot Hall of Famer.“ Then—though his mother, grandmother, sisters, cousin, and quite a few friends were in attendance, and it seemed the rapper might show up himself—Jay’s longtime friend and music publisher, Warner/Chappell CEO Jon Platt, gave the rapper’s acceptance speech, Variety reports. “I can’t begin to tell you how much this honor means to me—I’m sorry,“ Platt said, laughing, “it’s not my award—I can’t begin to tell you how much this award means to Jay. He’s really sorry he can’t be here.“

    As for why he wasn’t there, there was no official reason given, but rumors have been swirling that wife Beyonce has given birth (or is about to give birth) to the couple’s twins. Rumors are also swirling that Obama himself gave a hint about the sex of those twins, USA Today reports, noting that he said, “Jay and I are also fools for our daughters, although he’s gonna have me beat once those two twins show up.“ (You can watch Obama’s full speech HERE .) Jay Z wasn’t entirely absent from his big night, however; on Twitter, he issued a lengthy series of tweets thanking “all the people that have inspired me,“ and he kept adding more to the list with “wait,“ “s—- did I say…,“ “this s—- hard,“ and “too many f—- this. All you!“ “Okay I’m done . I’m deleting this app in the morning . S—- is impossible to get right,“ he added toward the end. “I promise I’m not drunk.“


    ►  One NBC Station Takes Stand on Megyn Kelly Interview

    The firestorm continues over Megyn Kelly’s controversial interview of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Connecticut’s NBC affiliate has decided not to air Kelly’s show Sunday night, the Hartford Courant reports. In an internal memo obtained by the paper, WVIT general manager Susan Tully tells staff the decision to nix Sunday Night was made after listening to grief-stricken Sandy Hook parents. The station “considered the deep emotions from the wounds of that day that have yet to heal.“ The memo says the station is planning a report on its 11pm newscast. Jones, founder of the website Infowars, has infuriated parents by calling the 2012 schoolhouse massacre a hoax.

    Lawyers for several parents sent a letter to NBC News chief Andy Lack threatening to sue if the interview is broadcast, charging that Kelly’s talk with the right-wing firebrand “implicitly endorses” the idea that Jones’ “lies are actually ‘claims’ that are worthy of serious debate,“ per the Courant. The LA Times reports that WVIT is an NBC-owned station, and provides some context for the move: “While affiliates occasionally chose to not air a network program, it’s rare for a network-owned station to opt out.“ CNN chief Jeff Zucker rapped NBC for teasing Kelly’s segment by showing her apparently responding evenly to Jones’ wild claims. “You need to hold up a picture of the dead kids at Sandy Hook and say ‘How dare you?‘“ Zucker says, calling the marketing strategy “a big mistake.“

In Arts & Entertainment….

The Free Press WV

►  Lindsay Lohan Is Heading Back to TV

Lindsay Lohan is making a comeback on the small screen after a three-year hiatus from acting. The NY Daily News reports that the starlet posted a photo from the set of the British television comedy Sick Note announcing her new gig while posing in a blazer with a sleek bob haircut alongside costars Rupert Grint of Harry Potter fame and Nick Frost. Season one has yet to air (it’s slated for this fall), but according to the Hollywood Reporter, the series follows Grint after he is misdiagnosed with a terminal illness; Lohan will come in during the second season. She is taking on the role of the daughter of Grint’s boss, who is played by actor Don Johnson.


►  Wonder Woman Vs. Mummy? It’s No Contest

Wonder Woman wrapped up Tom Cruise’s The Mummy at the weekend box office, pulling in an estimated $57.2 million in North American theaters. Universal’s The Mummy looked its age, selling a relatively feeble $32.2 million in tickets in its debut weekend, reports the AP. That couldn’t compete with Warner Bros.‘ Wonder Woman in its second weekend. The Gal Gadot superhero film has quickly earned more than $205 million domestically in two weeks. In third place was Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie from Fox, which is expected to pull in $13 million, per Variety.


►  Stop Carping About the 1%, Open Your Eyes to the 20%

For all the talk in the US about rising income inequality and the fatcats who make up the 1%, America seems blind to a more prevalent disparity: the upper middle class and all those below them. British transplant Richard Reeves writes in the New York Times that he was surprised to learn upon moving here “that the United States is more calcified by class than Britain, especially toward the top.“ He’s talking about households that make at least $200,000, roughly the top 20%. Under the jarring headline of “Stop Pretending You’re Not Rich,“ Reeves makes his main point: “The rhetoric of ‘We are the 99 percent’ has in fact been dangerously self-serving, allowing people with healthy six-figure incomes to convince themselves that they are somehow in the same economic boat as ordinary Americans, and that it is just the so-called super rich who are to blame for inequality.“

People are quick to talk about the cycle of poverty, but less attention is paid to the other end of the scale. Kids born into the upper middle class usually stay there or move up, or, at worst, move down a bit in the ranks. This happens because their parents “engage in antimeritocratic behavior in order to give their own children a leg up” while, inadvertently, making it difficult for the lower ranks to rise. Think zoning laws designed to make neighborhoods more inclusive that are routinely shot down. Or the US tradition under which it’s easier for kids to get into a college if their parents are alums. Or policies such as 529 college savings plans, whose benefits go almost exclusively to richer families. It’s a “rigged system” that Americans are in denial about. “We need to raise our consciousness about class,“ writes Reeves. “And yes, I am looking at you.“ Click for the FULL COLUMN.


►  Surprise Entry Makes Cut of Century’s 25 Best Films

The century is but 17 years old, but that’s enough time for some terrific movies to have emerged. At the New York Times, film critics AO Scott and Manohla Dargis run down the 25 best films of the century so far. One notable entry: Judd Apatow’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin comes in at No. 25, in part for its “desperately poignant vision of an American tragedy.“ Here are the top 10:

  1. There Will Be Blood, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007
  2. Spirited Away, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, 2002
  3. Million Dollar Baby, directed by Clint Eastwood, 2004
  4. A Touch of Sin, directed by Jia Zhangke, 2013
  5. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, directed by Cristi Puiu, 2006
  6. Yi Yi, directed by Edward Yang, 2000
  7. Inside Out, directed by Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen, 2015
  8. Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater, 2014
  9. Summer Hours, directed by Olivier Assayas, 2009
  10. The Hurt Locker, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, 2009

Click for the full list, along with the critics’ explanations of why they made the cut.


►  Batman, Family Guy Actor Adam West Dies at 88

Adam West, best known to the world as Batman, died Friday in Los Angeles at the age of 88, according to the Hollywood Reporter. A family spokesperson says the actor had been battling leukemia. “Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero,” his family said in a statement. West played the caped crusader in Batman for three seasons and a movie starting in 1966. The campy role was his big break. “You can’t play Batman in a serious, square-jawed, straight-ahead way without giving the audience the sense that there’s something behind that mask waiting to get out, that he’s a little crazed,“ West once said of the character.

After Batman ended, West came to resent the role, which kept him from getting work, Variety reports. He resorted to appearing as Batman at car shows and other events, moving from Hollywood to Idaho. He later popularized himself with a new generation as the voice of Mayor Adam West on Family Guy while eventually coming around to his famous role. “I decided that since so many people love Batman, I might as well love it too ... I saw the love people had for it, and I just embraced it.” West received a star on the Hollywood Hall of Fame in 2012. Two years later, he told fans: “I’m so grateful. I’m the luckiest actor in the world, folks, to have you still hanging around.” West is survived by his wife, six children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.


►  He ‘Killed Newspapers,‘ but Now Fights for Journalism

Craig Newmark, who started Craigslist way back in the 20th century, is a man who likes to be in the shadows. He is an observer—one of his favorite hobbies, fittingly, is birdwatching, notes a profile by Alyssa Bereznak at Ringer. He’s also rather quietly amassed a fortune, and has just as quietly been giving lots of it away. His little site, after all, grew to have a global but modest presence, and took in $694 million of revenue in 2016. (He remains on its board, but no longer manages the website.) In the profile, Newmark says that back in ‘99, “I just decided on a different business moDelegate ... I decided no one needs to be a billionaire. You should know when enough is enough.“ So he chose what he calls a “minimal” strategy, instead of trying to reach eBay-like scale. As it turns out, the 64-year-old now has a net worth of $1.3 billion.

The story points out an ironic twist: These days, Newmark throws his money into journalism, the very industry he so famously disrupted with his free classified listings. In fact, he’s generally “accused of killing newspapers,“ writes Bereznak. Now, however, he’s especially interested in preventing the spread of fake news. This may have something to do with how Craigslist was covered in 2010, when CNN found its adult services section being used for underage sex trafficking. (Newmark says he’d been working with the FBI to track criminals, for which he later won an award.) Last year, Newmark gave Poynter $1 million toward journalism ethics, and this year he gave another $1 million to ProPublica. He’s especially interested in the harassment of reporters, which he says poses “real consequences for democracy.“ Read the full profile HERE .

In Arts & Entertainment….

The Free Press WV

►  O’Reilly blames ouster on ideology, culture with ‘no rules’

Former Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly has lost his nightly show, but he’s as busy as ever with his million-selling book career and determined to find new fans online.

In announcing his next book in the best-selling “Killing” historical series on Tuesday, O’Reilly reiterated his denial of the allegations of sexual harassment that led to his April ouster, blaming them on false, ideological attacks and a vicious culture in which there are “no rules.“

“Allegations are not facts. Nobody’s searching for the truth anymore,“ O’Reilly, who was fired in April amid allegations of sexual harassment that he has denied, told The Associated Press in one of his first interviews since his dismissal.

“Killing England: The Brutal Struggle for American Independence,“ which focuses on the Revolutionary War era, will be published September 19, Henry Holt and Co. told the AP. The book will be co-written by O’Reilly’s longtime collaborator, Martin Dugard. The six previous “Killing” books, which include “Killing Lincoln,“ ‘'Killing Reagan” and “Killing Kennedy,“ have consistently sold more than 1 million copies each in hardcover, a rare achievement in publishing for nonfiction.

O’Reilly, for years Fox News’ most popular and most lucrative anchor, said he wasn’t worried that sales would fall off without having his show to promote his books. He hosts his own “No Spin News” podcast on http://www.billoreilly.com, contributes to Glenn Beck’s radio program on TheBlaze and said he would do whatever else was needed to publicize “Killing England.“ He said he was “forming alliances” with internet organizations, although he said no decisions had been made and did not cite any specific companies.

“I’m not an internet person, but I realize that’s the market of the future,“ he said, adding that if people didn’t like his books they wouldn’t have succeeded, no matter where and how much he talked about them. “I could give you a long list of people who have television and radio shows with books that didn’t do well.“

O’Reilly’s departure has been among several for Fox over the past year, notably the ouster of founding CEO Roger Ailes. O’Reilly called his firing a “business decision” by Fox, where ratings have dropped in recent weeks. Nielsen says Fox’s viewership in the 8 p.m. time slot that was O’Reilly’s is down 13 percent between April and May.

“There’s always cause and effect,“ he said. “We were doing extraordinarily well, bringing in audiences that were competitive with the networks. You take it out and there’s going to be interesting things happening.“

Multiple advertisers withdrew from O’Reilly’s show before he left, and a similar pattern has developed for Fox host Sean Hannity, who has been strongly criticized for promoting a discredited story involving a murdered Democratic National Committee employee. O’Reilly thinks Hannity will stay on with Fox.

“It’s the same thing, the far left going after him, trying to get him off the air,“ O’Reilly said. “I think Hannity will survive because I don’t know if Fox can handle another shake-up like that.“

O’Reilly said he chose the American Revolution because he had never read a book that explained it “top to bottom” and was also anxious to show the personal sides of George Washington and other leaders.

“You get to know all the people as people,“ he said during the recent telephone interview.

Holt has said all along that no changes were planned in his publication schedule, which includes three more “Killing” releases. Holt President and publisher Stephen Rubin has worked with O’Reilly on virtually all of his books and has defended him before, including when critics challenged the accuracy of “Killing Kennedy” and other works.

“We are totally committed to Bill, long-term. Why wouldn’t we be?“ Rubin said. “We have created the most successful adult nonfiction franchise in recent publishing history and we are thrilled to continue it.“

According to Holt, the “Killing” series has more than 17 million copies in print.


►  Investors Snap Up $42M Stake in Marijuana Magazine

In another sign of marijuana’s shift toward corporate respectability, a controlling interest in a magazine founded by an outlaw hippie pot smuggler in 1974 has been bought by a group of cannabis investors. The consortium that bought High Times includes Damian Marley, son of reggae legend Bob Marley, and the owners of the Denver Relief marijuana shop chain, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Their 60% majority stake cost $42 million, a price that values the magazine at $70 million, TechCrunch reports. The magazine, which started out as a countercultural publication, is now a major part of the emerging legal marijuana industry and holds events like the Cannabis Cup competition.

The acquisition was led by investment firm Oreva Capital whose CEO, Adam Levin, describes the High Times brand as the “Coca-Cola of cannabis.“ He says buyers have seen the opportunity to shift the magazine “from the authority in the counterculture movement to a modern media enterprise.“ Frequent cover star Tommy Chong compares the magazine’s journey to his own career with Cheech Marin. “We all went through some hard times. We all went through some really good times,“ he tells the Chronicle. “And now we’re faced with the prospect of weed being mainstream.“


►  Wonder Woman Gets It Right

When an American pilot falls out of the sky onto an island inhabited by female warriors, an Amazonian princess gets pulled into World War I, convinced she can stop it. It helps that she has badass fighting skills. Oh, and superpowers. Here’s what critics are saying about DC Comics’ long-awaited Wonder Woman, which has a 93% positive rating at Rottten Tomatoes:

  • Thanks to “a mostly cheerful light touch” from director Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman restores the “escapist fun” that’s been missing from DC Comics movies since Christopher Reeve was Superman, Colin Covert writes at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It has “campy charm.“ At the same time, it “blazes an amusing proto-feminist path,“ he writes. On the downside, it “lacks a compelling supervillain” and is somewhat bewildering.

  • The special effects are “uninspiring” and the action “slightly jerky,“ but Wonder Woman is still “a cut above nearly all the superhero movies” of the past few summers, writes Stephanie Zacharek at Time. She credits Gal Gadot, who is “simply marvelous” as a heroine both sweet and strong, though Connie Nielsen’s “regal presence … elevates even the tiniest role” as Queen Hippolyta.
  • It’s one of DC Comics’ best movies yet, according to Kelly Lawler. Slamming together action, romance, comedy, war, and history, it “throws out the now very tired superhero movie formula” and “makes you feel good while you watch it,“ she writes at USA Today. “Gadot and [Chris] Pine have fantastic chemistry,“ she adds, but Gadot is “electric” on her own. And without the clutter of some other superhero action scenes, hers truly shine.
  • As Moira MacDonald puts it, Wonder Woman is “everything fans and moviegoers would want it to be: smart, swift, sometimes funny, occasionally dazzling and surprisingly soulful.“ Jenkins manages to lay the foundation for a franchise while “creating a movie that stands alone, she writes at the Seattle Times. But this is still Gadot’s show. In “projecting both endless strength and quiet vulnerability,“ she makes Wonder Woman all her own.


►  In NBA Finals, Rihanna Has Unexpected Role

The NBA finals got underway Thursday, and one name making headlines isn’t on either the Golden State Warriors or Cleveland Cavaliers. Yes, Rihanna allegedly shouted “Brick!“ at Kevin Durant of the Warriors as he prepared to shoot a free throw, and, later, Durant appeared to stare her down after dropping a 3-pointer, per CBS Sports. When asked about the glare later, Durant brushed it off and said he didn’t remember it. But according to the USA Today, there was a similar interaction between the two during the 2014 playoffs. As for the game, Durant’s Warriors beat LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers, 113-91.

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