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►  Dire wolves were real. Now someone is trying to resurrect them

“Game of Thrones” viewers who were hoping to get another glimpse of direwolves were disappointed. The wolf Nymeria did not reconsider her rejection of her former human companion, Arya Stark. Jon Snow’s journey to Dragonstone did not feature Ghost as a sidekick. Their absence will no doubt add to fan grumbling that the series has sidelined the computer-generated predators.

But take heart, viewers: Dire wolves are closer to a real-life resurrection.

Well, sort of. In southern Oregon, there is a breeder who has spent 30 years creating a new sort of dog she calls the American Alsatian. The puppies are astonishingly cute, and they grow up to be tall, broad, golden-eyed and quite wolfy-looking. And, Lois Schwarz hopes, they are on their way to looking just like the actual dire wolves that roamed the Americas during the last Ice Age, hunting bison and other megafauna, before going extinct.

Schwarz is the founder of the Dire Wolf Project, an endeavor that predated both the “Game of Thrones” books and series – a show she calls “very, very smart,“ although she dislikes the sex and darkness. Inspiration struck her decades before, in the late 1980s – an era when wolf-dog hybrids were hot and Schwarz wanted a large dog with the character of a lap dog. She had bred and trained dogs for some time, and she said she knew that even if people thought they wanted a wolf, they really didn’t. (Wolves and hybrids make infamously terrible pets.)

Schwarz figured: Hey, I can make that.

“So I thought, everybody wants the wolf look; I’m going to work on the wolf look, but I’m also going to work on the temperament and the character of the dog to fit a companion dog,“ said Schwarz, who lives near the city of Medford. Her daughter, Jennifer, suggested that the look she was aiming for was a dire wolf’s. And so away Schwarz went.

And what was that look? The dire wolves of the late Pleistocene weren’t nearly as imposing as George R.R. Martin’s pony-sized predators, which the author spells as one word, direwolves. But fossils indicate they had some heft.

Canis dirus existed from about 125,000 to 10,000 years ago, and it lived from coast to coast, as far north as Canada and as far south as Bolivia. But the treasure trove of fossils comes from the La Brea Tar Pits in what is now downtown Los Angeles, where, scientists say, the ancient pack animals probably pursued prey that was stuck in the goopy asphalt and then got trapped themselves.

The result is hundreds of well-preserved skulls and bones that show dire wolves were a lot like the gray wolves of today, only a bit bigger – weighing about 130 pounds and measuring about six feet long from nose to tail. Dire wolves were also stockier and had bigger heads, jaws and teeth, said paleontologist Caitlin Brown. Those dimensions came in handy, because packs of dire wolves took down big prey, she said: Horses, bison, and maybe even the occasional baby mammoth.

In Schwarz’s mind, there can also be a modern-day dire wolf. A kinder, gentler, cuddlier dire wolf.

She began her experiment in 1987, thousands of years after its inspiration went extinct under circumstances that are still unclear. Schwarz said she wanted to start with an intelligent dog, so she chose the German shepherd. But they tend to be “whiny,“ in her estimation, so she selected the least whiny pooches and bred them with dogs whose conformation, or body structure, she deemed the best: Alaskan malamutes.

Over the generations, she has introduced English mastiffs, for their large bones and heads; great Pyrenees, for some additional bulk; Akitas, for their shorter ears; and Irish wolfhounds, for their height and length. But all along, Schwarz said, her focus was temperament - creating a decidedly nonpredatory companion dog that “doesn’t bark, whine, dig and wants to be with you and doesn’t mind leaving the property.“

(If this all sounds like messed-up canine eugenics, remember that all dog breeds began this way – by selecting for certain traits.)

The result is big, shaggy and dusky gray to brown, but never the white of Jon Snow’s Ghost, because Schwarz figures pale fur would have stood out too much in the prehistoric flora and impeded hunting. Brown, the paleontologist, isn’t so sure about that. She thinks white is “feasible,“ gray is likely, and only black is impossible, because “we know for sure that black coats showed up in modern wolves from breeding with Native American dogs.“

Brown, who had not heard of Schwarz’s project, deemed it “cool,“ when told about it. “They have that big, bulky body, which is what I would have imagined,“ she said of the dogs in photos on Schwarz’s website.

Schwarz said the American Alsatian is not really complete, and she has no intention of making it an official, American Kennel Club-recognized breed anyway. That hasn’t stopped about 3,000 people across the country from buying one of her puppies and 90 or so others from putting their names on her waiting list. Her daughter, the only other breeder, has a waiting list of about 100, Schwarz said.

“Game of Thrones” has given demand a bump, but not in a way Schwarz likes. The fiction-motivated customers are looking for their Ghost or Nymeria, she said.

“It sends me people who only want dire wolves. They don’t care about the animal,“ she said. “They’re very sensitive, loving, kind dogs. They don’t want to fight.“

Yes, they’re “intimidating-looking,“ she said. But “they’re just so intuitive. You look into their eyes and see their soul.“

Kind of like Arya did to Nymeria, before the wolf turned her back and returned to the Riverlands.


►  Bruno Mars donates $1M from concert to Flint water crisis

Bruno Mars said Saturday he is donating $1 million from his Michigan concert to aid those affected by the Flint water crisis.

The Grammy-winning star told the audience at his show in Auburn Hills, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from Detroit, that he and tour promoter Live Nation are redirecting funds from the show to the charity The Community Foundation of Greater Flint.

In 2014, Flint switched water sources and failed to add corrosion-reducing phosphates, allowing lead from old pipes to leach into the water. Elevated levels of lead, a neurotoxin, were detected in children, and 12 people died in a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that experts suspect was linked to the improperly treated water.

“I’m very thankful to the Michigan audience for joining me in supporting this cause,” Mars said in a statement. “Ongoing challenges remain years later for Flint residents, and it’s important that we don’t forget our brothers and sisters affected by this disaster.”

Mars, who was born and raised in Hawaii, performed at the Palace of Auburn Hills during his sold-out 24K Magic World Tour. His latest album, “24K Magic,” recently achieved double platinum status.


►  Annabelle’ scares up $35M, jolting sleepy box office

The “Conjuring” spinoff “Annabelle: Creation” scared up an estimated $35 million in North American theaters over the weekend, making it easily the top film and giving the lagging August box office a shot in the arm.

The opening came close to matching the film’s predecessor, “Annabelle,” which opened with $37.1 million in October 2014. Warner Bros. could celebrate not only the month’s biggest debut but also having the week’s top two films. Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” followed in second with $11.4 million in its fourth weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Even amid an especially weak August, the well-reviewed horror sequel and modestly budgeted “Annabelle: Creation” found eager audiences.

“That we were able to do $35 million in what is a very sluggish marketplace was very impressive,” said Jeffrey Goldstein, Warner Bros.′ distribution chief. “We all know that moviegoing begets moviegoing and right now it’s a dip in the content overall.”

The film, the third to spiral out of 2013′s “The Conjuring,” cost only about $15 million to make. More sequels and spinoffs are being developed in what has become for Warner Bros. a steadily profitable horror franchise bent on old-school frights. The “Annabelle” offshoot centers on a possessed doll.

Last week’s top film, the poorly received Stephen King adaptation “The Dark Tower,” slid dramatically. The Sony Pictures release, starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, toppled nearly 60 percent on its second weekend with an estimated $7.9 million.

The week’s other new entry, the Open Road animated release “Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature,” edged just above “The Dark Tower” with $8.9 million. That was well below the 2014 debut of the original, “The Nut Job,” which opened with $19.4 million.

But the solid returns for “Annabelle: Creation” did little to counter the box-office slide. The box office was down 31.6 percent from the same weekend last year, when “Suicide Squad” was No. 1 despite brutal reviews and Seth Rogen’s “Sausage Party” opened. The summer altogether is down 12.4 percent from last year, according to comScore.

“This is a great weekend to be a really scary doll and Warner Bros., but for everyone else, it’s just plain scary,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. “It proves the horror genre is alive and well.”

Some of July’s bright spots, however, have continued into August. The summer’s top comedy, “Girls Trip,” will soon surpass $100 million domestically. The movie, starring Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah, took in $6.5 million in its fourth week to bring its cumulative total to $97.2 million. It may end up doubling the gross of its closest summer comedy competition: the starrier and pricey “Baywatch” ($58.1 million in its entire run).

In limited release, the A24 crime thriller “Good Time,” starring Robert Pattinson, debuted with a robust $34,000 per-screen average on four screens. That was bettered, though, by the $47,000 screen-average of Neon’s “Ingrid Goes West,” with Aubrey Plaza, on three screens. Both films expand in coming weeks.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers also are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. “Annabelle: Creation,” $35 million ($35 million international).

2. “Dunkirk,” $11.4 million ($14.5 million international).

3. “Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature,” $8.9 million.

4. “The Dark Tower,” $7.9 million ($7.9 million international).

5. “The Emoji Movie,” $6.6 million ($14.1 million international).

6. “Girls Trip,” $6.5 million ($1.4 million international).

7. “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” $6.1 million ($12.4 million international).

8. “Kidnap,” $5.2 million.

9. “Glass Castle,” $4.9 million.

10. “Atomic Blonde,” $4.6 million ($5.2 million international).

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore

1. “Wolf Warrior 2,” $83.6 million.

2. “Annabelle Creation,” $35 million.

3. “Guilty of Mind,” $23.6 million.

4. “The Adventures,” $22.3 million.

5. “War for the Planet of the Apes,” $17.1 million.

6. “A Taxi Driver,” $15.3 million.

7. “Despicable Me 3,” $15 million.

8. “Dunkirk,” $14.5 million.

9. “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” $14.4 million.

10. “The Emoji Movie,” $14.1 million.


►  Teen Choice awards to honor Miley Cyrus and Bruno Mars

Miley Cyrus and Bruno Mars will be among the honorees at Sunday’s Teen Choice 2017 awards.

The 19th annual show will feature performances from French Montana, Rita Ora and Louis Tomlinson during a two-hour broadcast that honors stars from film, television, sports and even YouTube personalities.

Cyrus is receiving the ceremony’s highest honor, the Ultimate Choice Award. The award honors Cyrus for involvement with the ceremony for more than a decade. It has given her 18 awards so far, and she is nominated for another four.

Mars is being given the Visionary Award for his success in pop music.

The show, which doles out many of its awards based on online voting, begins at 8 p.m. EDT. It is tape-delayed for West Coast audiences.

Arts & Entertainment News

The Free Press WV

►  Taylor Swift groping trial draws attention to hidden outrage

Taylor Swift’s allegation that a former morning radio host reached under her skirt and grabbed her backside during a photo op is bringing attention to a common but largely hidden outrage for many women, one that few report.

A 2014 survey found nearly 1 in 4 women in the United States had been groped or brushed up against in a public place by a stranger at least once.

But many never talked about it, let alone went to the police. A 2015 survey of more than 16,000 people globally found more than half of the respondents outside the U.S. had been fondled or groped.

The then-girlfriend of former DJ David Mueller, who was standing with Mueller and Swift when the singer says he groped her, even testified that a co-worker had grabbed her backside at another concert.

Mueller denies groping Swift and sued the singer, saying he was fired because of her false allegation.

Late Friday, just as closing arguments were set to begin, the judge threw out Mueller’s claims against Swift — saying after he’d heard all of the evidence that Mueller could not prove Swift had anything to do with his losing his job. U.S. District Judge William Martinez also said there was no indication that Swift had made up her story.

Even before that ruling, women around the world, not all of them fans of Swift’s music, had been cheering the pop superstar for confronting the issue in federal court and keeping an unflinching attitude on the witness stand.

On social media, some are using a teal ribbon that represents opposition to sexual violence and praising Swift as an example for other women.

Paige Brasington, 21, a Swift fan from The Woodlands, Texas, said she was groped on public transportation while studying abroad and was glad Swift was giving attention to the issue with the same honesty she brings to her music.

The University of Georgia student was stunned the first time it happened to her on a crowded tram in Budapest, thinking there must have been an object pressed against her. After she reached down, she found a man’s hand on her butt. He exited at the next stop. When she told a male friend, he asked if she had enjoyed it.

“The most important thing about this trial is it gets people talking about this issue,” Brasington said. “It forces them to confront that it is wrong and should never happen.”

Holly Kearl, founder and director of Stop Street Harassment, which commissioned the 2014 U.S. survey, said women who speak out face not being believed or being blamed for groping, something many women have reported in sharing their stories on the group’s website.

Sometimes they do not know their rights or what the law says, or lack the time or energy to report it. However, sharing those stories online, especially through video, is helping show victims it is not uncommon and proves to others it is a problem, she said.

Kearl was standing outside a house after leaving a party in college when a group of men ran by and one of them grabbed her crotch.

Even though she was a domestic violence advocate and well-versed in women’s issues, Kearl said she froze as the men left laughing, and she never reported it.

“It’s just something that happens in our society, and if we don’t challenge it, it’s going to keep happening,” she said.

Swift did not go to the police either. Her mother, Andrea Swift, testified they had hoped to keep the matter private and did not want it to define the singer’s life.

As a star, Swift had another way to take action. Andrea Swift and other members of Swift’s team pushed for Mueller to be fired, which led to his lawsuit against Swift and her representatives.

Mueller’s ex-girlfriend, Shannon Melcher, testified Friday that she saw nothing happen during the brief encounter at the photo session at a Denver arena in 2013 before a Swift performance.

Swift and her legal team have pointedly framed what Mueller allegedly did to her as a sexual assault, not “inappropriate touching” as Mueller’s lawyer, Gabriel McFarland, refers to it.

In Colorado, what Swift alleges is considered unlawful sexual contact or harassment, a misdemeanor, which victims have five years to report to police to prompt an investigation, said Karen Steinhauser, a former chief deputy prosecutor for the Denver District Attorney’s Office. It is unclear if Swift would reconsider pursuing a criminal charge.

On the witness stand, the singer defiantly told McFarland that she was not going to let him or his client make her feel that what happened was her fault.

Swift is countersuing Mueller, alleging assault and battery, and seeking a symbolic $1 judgment holding him responsible. Jurors will still get to decide that, along with whether Swift’s mother and radio liaison interfered with Mueller’s career.

Even though she’s not a fan of Swift’s music, Samaria Alli, 21, lined up for a spot inside federal court to show to her support for Swift’s stand. Alli, a musician, said women often are harassed in her male-dominated field, then face a backlash for complaining about it.

“I just want to see how this plays out for the sake of women anywhere,” she said.

Swift has a somewhat complicated history with feminism. She is known for her “squad,” a group of famous girlfriends that includes Lena Dunham and Selena Gomez, showing off her female friendships in the entertainment industry. And she has posted music from rising female singers on her social media pages, giving them extra exposure.

But Swift also has had a high-profile dispute with fellow female performer Katy Perry. And Swift was criticized by some when she tweeted about the Women’s March hours before it began in January because she did not personally attend, despite other celebrities showing up.

Swift was supportive of fellow singer Kesha, who is at war with her former mentor and producer, Dr. Luke. Kesha claims Dr. Luke drugged, sexually abused and psychologically tormented her. He denies the allegations.

Swift donated $250,000 to Kesha in a “show of support” to help in her legal fight. Adele, Lady Gaga and others also offered support to Kesha.


►  Presley’s friends feel love, pain, 40 years after his death

It isn’t just the legend of Elvis Presley that has unmatched staying power 40 years after his death. The guilt, pain and regret felt by those who knew and loved him lingers, too.

Prolific session musician and producer Norbert Putnam was on vacation with his family in Hawaii when he heard his friend died of a heart attack. After years of making groundbreaking music and acting in more than two dozen movies, Presley’s career had slowed, and historical accounts of his life note he was fighting obesity and substance abuse when he passed away in his Graceland home in Memphis, Tennessee.

Putnam was standing in line to pay for items at a general store when he heard someone say Presley had died.

“I reached into my pocket, threw some money down, ran to the car, threw the food down, turned on the radio,” Putnam said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

Putnam switched on the radio. The announcer said: “Elvis Presley died this morning.”

“I sat there in my car and bawled like a child who had a toy taken away from him,” Putnam said. “I could not believe it. I thought someone should have staged an intervention. I thought he could have been saved.”

Since Presley’s death, devotees of the swivel-hipped, smooth talking performer who was born into poverty in Tupelo, Mississippi, and became an international star have been flocking to Memphis for Elvis Week, the annual celebration of his life and career.

It coincides with the anniversary of Presley’s death in Memphis on August 16, 1977, and it draws visitors from around the world. Most fans will have their first glimpse of a newly built entertainment complex that has replaced and updated old exhibits focused on Presley’s cars, movies and memorabilia. An estimated 30,000 people are expected to attend a candlelight vigil that begins Tuesday night and continues into Wednesday morning at Graceland, where Presley is buried.

For the first time, Graceland will charge fans for access to Presley’s gravesite during the nighttime vigil. Visitors can pay $28.75 to join the procession leading to the graves. The ticket also provides access to other parts of the property, Graceland said in a statement.

Putnam is scheduled to make a public appearance during Elvis Week to honor the late rock n’ roll pioneer. Bill Medley, the deep-voiced singer who comprised half of the Righteous Brothers duo before starting a solo career, will also be there.

Presley and Medley played the same hotel in Las Vegas in 1971. Their schedules kept them busy, but they still would catch each other’s shows.

Medley had a strong following, and Presley sang Righteous Brothers hits “Unchained Melody” and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.” They were friends dating back to the early 1960s.

Before Presley would go on stage at the Las Vegas Hilton, he and Medley would spend a few minutes together, talking about their mutual love for motorcycles and musical influences. Medley remembers those chats fondly, as Presley had few moments when he could just be himself, away from fans and handlers and an entourage known as the Memphis Mafia.

“We would sit there, one on one,” Medley said. “So Elvis and I just really became Bill and Elvis. We would just talk about normal stuff. ... Nothing too deep.”

Putnam, a bass guitarist and member of the renowned Muscle Shoals rhythm section, played on 120 Presley songs. He recalls how much energy Presley displayed during the marathon recording sessions that ran all night at RCA Studio B in Nashville in 1970.

“Elvis could focus better than any artist I ever worked with,” Putnam said. “He would learn a new song in five to 10 minutes, and was ready to deliver a killer vocal on the first take. That was very unusual.”

Another musician who will appear during Elvis Week is Ginger Holladay. She was only 17 and in high school when she sang backup on Presley hits “Suspicious Minds” and “In the Ghetto.” Holladay’s sister Mary, a backup singer for Presley, had recommended Ginger when one of his regulars fell ill. So, Ginger Holladay skipped cheerleading practice and flew to Memphis to record at American Sound studio in 1969.

“He was more at home in the studio than he was anywhere else,” Holladay said. “He loved being a musician and he loved making connections with other musicians. We got to see another part of him that was more comfortable and not so much of a performer.”

Medley says he wanted to visit Presley when he was hospitalized in the mid-1970s, but was discouraged by his handlers.

“They knew what I was going to say — enough of this crap,” Medley said. “I would have told him, ‘Listen, do you want to get away? We’ll get a couple of motorcycles and take off.’ But I never had that chance.”

Such regret probably follows Presley’s friends around to this day, Holladay said.

“We all have that guilt with Elvis,” she said. “Looking back, how could we have supported him more? I think we all have that feeling that we let him down.”

Arts & Entertainment News

The Free Press WV

►  TV confidential: Signs of season to come at critics’ meeting

The stardust has settled from the just-ended Television Critics Association’s annual summer meeting, revealing a lot, if not everything, about the 2017-18 TV season. With a posh hotel as staging center, a two-week parade of actors, producers and executives dished in Q&A sessions about their projects and TV in general.

Should we be excited about what’s in store for the next chapter of the current golden age of TV, as brought to us by cable, streaming platforms and, on rare occasion, broadcast networks (read: “This Is Us”)? The players and concepts tell the tale, absent the final word from the most influential critics of all, the viewers.

NEW FACES

— In ABC’s “The Mayor,” Brandon Micheal Hall plays a young rapper whose run for mayor is intended solely to garner publicity for his music, but then he’s elected. Hall won the role after a series of auditions and a screen test, proving he could hold his own with TV veterans Yvette Nicole Brown (“Community”), who plays his mother, and Lea Michele (“Glee,” ″Scream Queens”) as his campaign manager.

— Alice Englert is working for her real-life mom, Oscar-winning filmmaker Jane Campion (“The Piano”), and opposite powerhouse actors Elisabeth Moss and Nicole Kidman in “Top of the Lake: China Girl,” SundanceTV’s follow-up to “Top of the Lake.” Kidman warmly vouched for Englert, whom she’s known from birth, saying she handles her role “beautifully” and noting the ingrained ease and affection they share.

— Iain Armitage, who stars as the title character in CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” prequel “Young Sheldon,” is eat-him-with-a-spoon cute and so poised that it’s easy to see why producers are banking on the 9-year-old. Asked about his favorite shows, he politely said he doesn’t watch much TV and spends most of his time reading, playing — not video games — and being around people. He’s already got a role in a buzzy movie, “The Glass Castle.”

OLD FACES

— Will and Grace and Larry David are returning to TV after absences of various lengths. “Will & Grace” stars Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally, who reunited last year for a video supporting their presidential candidate of choice (hint: she lost), decided to keep the fun going and advance the 1998-2006 sitcom’s groundbreaking treatment of sexuality. NBC has already ordered a second season.

David, whose last “Curb Your Enthusiasm” aired new episodes in 2011 on HBO, explained why he’s back as “TV Larry” in matching “real Larry” blunt fashion: “I was missing it (the show), and I was missing these idiots,” he said, indicating his co-stars including Jeff Garlin and Susie Essman. The charm is intact!

— Freddie Highmore, 25, is undeniably fresh-faced. But he’s a veteran actor, from last decade’s “Finding Neverland” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to his recent TV work on “Bates Motel” as Norman “Psycho” Bates in his formative years. With “The Good Doctor,” Highmore has the chance to plumb new depths of his talent as a surgeon with autism and savant syndrome, which prove both a gift and a challenge.

MISSING FACES

— Streaming platforms Amazon and Netflix go their own way with publicity as well as content. They skipped the TV critics’ meeting that networks and cable outlets rely on as a promotional opportunity. Granted, the idea of a making a splash with new fall programming is outside streaming’s business model, but that approach also is diminishing with traditional outlets as they seek audiences year-round. Bottom line: Network and cable executives were willing to field questions about their businesses and shows; streaming services weren’t.

— Speaking of broadcast, which includes ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, it appears largely intent on avoiding the creative vibrancy and daring of cable and streaming as exemplified by the likes of FX’s “Atlanta,” Netflix’s “Master of None” and Amazon’s “Transparent.” Instead, networks are mostly bringing forth a multiplex-style crop of comic book-based series, rote procedurals and reboots of “Roseanne,” ″Dynasty” and, yes, “Will & Grace.” Will audiences and sponsors keep buying it?

— People of color and especially women continue to find it hard to break into the top ranks of CBS stardom, and this fall isn’t making much of a dent with shows including “SEAL Team” starring David Boreanaz and sitcom “9JKL” with Mark Feuerstein. Network executives said they tried, with six shows in development starring women that didn’t turn out as expected. They chalked it up to the “cycle of business.” Recycling is more like it — how about a fresh approach from the ground up, including writers and directors?


►  We’re all in the same boat’ _ Michael Moore preaches unity

Michael Moore showed his patriotism by marching down the Avenue of the Americas with a drum and fife corps after making his Broadway debut.

“I say this to the people who disagree with me, we’re all Americans. We’re all in the same boat, and we’re going to sink or swim together. I prefer not to sink. So let’s find a way, if we can, to work together to save this country,” Moore said Thursday night.

The Oscar-winning filmmaker starred in the one-man show “The Terms of My Surrender” and then walked arm-in-arm to a party afterward with a variety of celebrities, including Christie Brinkley, Rosie O’Donnell, and Gloria Steinem.

The 63-year commentator and liberal activist made it clear that his show is aimed at his supporters, and not an attempt to open a dialogue with Donald Trump supporters.

“I’m here to preach to the choir, because the choir needs a song to sing. The choir has been severely depressed since November, and it’s time to rise up and get out of it. Snap out of it. We’re the majority. This is our country. We hold the reins, now we want the power back,” Moore said.

While Moore’s nightly 90-minute tirade puts his disdain for the president front and center, he also tackles other hot-button topics such as the Flint water crisis, race relations, and the latest restrictions from the Transportation Security Administration. Moore tweaks each performance to address the headlines of the day.

He feels humor is the best way to tackle worrisome issues. “It is scary and sometimes satire is our only way to get through the horror and find a solution to make things better,” he said.


►  James Cameron says ‘Terminator 2’ as ‘timely as it ever was’

James Cameron has taken time out from crafting the upcoming four “Avatar” sequels to return to one of his old films, one he says is as up-to-the-minute as ever — “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”

Cameron converted the 26-year-old film — in which one robot with artificial intelligence battles another to stop nuclear annihilation — into a 3D format that hits movie theaters August 25. It arrives just as escalating tensions over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions are in the headlines.

“I think the film is as timely as it ever was, probably more so less on the nuclear side and more on the AI side and dealing with our relationship with our own technology,” Cameron said Thursday. “And how we do really stand the possibility of making ourselves obsolete?”

The 1991 release — a sequel to the 1984 original — starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton and Robert Patrick. It followed Sarah Connor and her 10-year-old son John fleeing an advanced shapeshifting Terminator sent back in time to kill them. Schwarzenegger’s less advanced Terminator was also sent back in time to protect the pair. The film featured a scene in which Sarah Connor imagines a nuclear blast consuming Los Angeles.

“I tend to be kind of an apocalyptic kind of guy. I look at all the worst case outcomes,” said Cameron, who said he started writing the film before the Berlin Wall came down and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“I think that it’s we have to be on guard and constantly aware. So whether it’s climate change, or whether it’s the threat of an AI potentially replacing us or rapidly altering our word in a negative outcome for humans or weather it’s nuclear warfare — these are things we need to be constantly vigilant about.”

As for any film reboot of the series, Cameron said the idea was being discussed but he wanted to make sure it had “fresh imagery, fresh characters” and wasn’t “mired in the past.” The director said any reboot must “feel like a new, 21st-century version of a “Terminator” story but still stay true to what that means.”


►  Leaked email shows HBO negotiating with hackers

Hackers released an email from HBO in which the company expressed willingness to pay them $250,000 as part of a negotiation over electronic data swiped from HBO’s servers.

The July 27 email was sent by an HBO executive who thanked the hackers for “making us aware” of previously unknown security vulnerabilities. The executive asked for a 1-week delay and said HBO was willing to make a “good faith” payment of $250,000, calling it a “bug bounty” reward for IT professionals rather than a ransom.

HBO declined to comment. A person close to the investigation confirmed the authenticity of the email, but said it was an attempt to buy time and assess the situation.

The same hackers have subsequently released two dumps of HBO material and demanded a multi-million dollar ransom.

Arts & Entertainment News

The Free Press WV

►  Suspended Fox host suing reporter over alleged lewd texts

Suspended Fox News host Eric Bolling on Wednesday sued the reporter who broke the story that he had allegedly sent lewd text messages to colleagues.

Bolling filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Manhattan against Yashar Ali, a Huffington Post contributing writer. The cable news host said Ali damaged his reputation through what the court papers call the “highly reckless publication of actionable false and misleading statements about the plaintiff’s conduct and character.”

Bolling was suspended over the weekend pending an internal investigation that a Fox spokesperson said is underway.

Ali wrote last week that Bolling is accused of sending unsolicited photos of male genitalia to co-workers over several years.

On Wednesday, the reporter tweeted that he stands by his story and will protect his sources. Ali also wrote that he is not going to stop reporting on Bolling “or anyone else. I’ve had family members killed/jailed in Iran, a lawsuit isn’t going to scare me.”

Huffington Post editor in chief Lydia Polgreen, a former top New York Times editor, tweeted in support of Ali Tuesday night. “Yashar Ali is a careful and meticulous reporter,” Polgreen wrote, adding that the publication stands by his reporting and that it has “no hesitation about standing by him financially in this case.” Huffington Post is owned by Verizon thanks to its 2015 purchase of AOL.

Bolling’s lawyer, Michael J. Bowe, said in a statement: “This anonymously sourced and uncorroborated story is false, defamatory, and obviously intended to destroy this good man’s career and family. We will defend Eric aggressively in court, where actual facts, based on evidence, testimony, and cross-examination, will belie these anonymous accusations.”

Bolling tweeted that he “will continue to fight against these false smear attacks! THANK YOU FOR CONTINUED SUPPORT.”

Huffington Post is not involved in the legal action.


►  Ex-Fox News star Bill O’Reilly launches video ‘prototype’

Ousted Fox News Channel star Bill O’Reilly has launched an experimental video comeback with a daily online show.

The initial half-hour was posted on his website Wednesday for premium subscribers, originating from what he called a “new prototype studio.” He requested input from viewers for what he characterized as a “sneak preview.”

He said it would be made available to a non-paying audience on Thursday.

Among other topics, O’Reilly discussed Trump’s “fire and fury” comments about North Korea and a movement that calls for California to secede from the union. He spoke by Skype with political commentator Michael Smerconish.

O’Reilly has produced a daily podcast, which this video startup apparently builds upon, since he was fired from Fox News in April in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment.

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