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‘Fire and Fury’ sales top 29,000 in first weekend

The Free Press WV

Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” was the top-selling book last week, NPD BookScan told The Associated Press. And its numbers are likely to grow far higher.

“Fire and Fury” sold 29,000 copies, BookScan announced Wednesday. But Wolff’s explosive tell-all about the Trump administration only came out last Friday and BookScan’s weekly sales run through Saturday.

“The first couple of days of sales figures aren’t giving us the full picture,” said Kristen McLean, the NPD Group’s book industry analyst. “Because of potential distribution issues related to the early release coupled with high demand, it may take a few weeks to see exactly where this book will land in comparison to other political best-sellers of the last few years.”

McLean noted that Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened,” which came out last September, averaged sales of more than 30,000 hardcover copies per day in its opening week. But that book “was hugely anticipated and very well stocked,” she said. “Fire and Fury” seemed to catch everyone off guard, from the Trump administration to publisher Henry Holt and Co., which has raised an initial announced printing of 150,000 to more than 1 million. Since reports of the book’s contents emerged a week ago, retailers have struggled to keep up, with Amazon.com warning of delays of two to four weeks for delivery. BookScan, which tracks about 85 percent of the retail market, only counts an order as a sale once the book has been shipped.

The BookScan numbers also don’t include e-books. According to John Sargent, CEO of Holt parent company Macmillan, digital sales already top 250,000 copies, an extraordinary number for a nonfiction release and likely boosted by the scarcity of the hardcover edition. Audio sales exceed 100,000.

Clinton’s book, about her stunning presidential election loss in 2016 to Trump, had one of the biggest first weeks in recent history for a nonfiction book. It sold more than 300,000 copies in the combined formats of hardcover, e-book and audio, Simon & Schuster announced at the time. The debut for “Fire and Fury,” with its stories of a chaotic White House, is approaching 400,000.

“Fire and Fury” was supposed to come out Tuesday but Holt moved up the release in respond to popular demand and to threats of legal action by Trump, who has denounced the book as fiction. An attorney for the president last week sent a cease-and-desist letter to Holt, asking for publication to be withheld. Sargent has issued a company memo defending the decision to publish “Fire and Fury” and a Macmillan attorney on Tuesday said the publisher planned no retraction or apology.

Movie Review: ‘Paddington 2’

“Paddington 2 ” is that rare creation that somehow improves on its already charming predecessor.

Maybe it’s the addition of Hugh Grant as a lunatic faded star desperate for some cash to get his one man show going, Brendan Gleeson as a moody prison chef named Knuckles McGinty, a totally random dance routine during the credits, or just the sheer earnestness of it all but “Paddington 2” is a total delight.

Paul King returns as director and co-writer for the sequel which finds Paddington (voiced again by Ben Whishaw) living happily with the Brown family, Mary (Sally Hawkins), Henry (Hugh Bonneville), Jonathan (Samuel Joslin), Judy (Madeleine Harris) and Mrs. Bird (Julie Walters). Paddington, through his Pollyanna positivity and Emily Post politeness, has turned their little candy-colored neighborhood, Windsor Gardens, into a friendly paradise.

Paddington gets a mission when he spots a London pop-up book at an antique store that he thinks would be perfect to buy his Aunt Lucy (voiced by Imelda Staunton), who is still in Peru and has always dreamed of going to London (pretty thoughtful for an anthropomorphized bear). But, it’s expensive and he needs to get a job in order to afford it. It’s an easy set up for some hijinks as he tries and fails at a few things. In a film that feels so effortless, this is a rare snag that’s a little forced and chaotic. Thankfully it’s all building to something better, which is not coincidentally related to the arrival of Hugh Grant.


At a fair, Paddington meets the actor Phoenix Buchanan (Grant), who was once a star and has now been reduced to doing dog food commercials and takes an unusual interest in the pop-up book Paddington mentions he’s saving up for. One night Paddington notices a strange man breaking into the antique store that houses the coveted pop-up book, attempts to stop it and wrongly ends up in prison.

Pretty dark for a Paddington movie, sure, but King keeps it light and positive (this is perhaps the brightest and cleanest prison you’ve ever seen on screen). And Paddington quickly charms his fellow inmates and the grouchy chef who doesn’t know that Knuckles begins with a K and not an N.

Grant seems to be having the most fun he’s had in years on screen as the overly theatrical villain, who debates his devious plans out loud with a room full of costumed mannequins that he also provides the voices for (Hamlet and Scrooge among them). And there are some wonderfully fun digs at the egotism of actors throughout, including when Mrs. Bird explains that actors are “some of the most evil, devious people on the planet.”

Sally Hawkins also gets a nice spotlight as the eager-to-believe matriarch who is compelling enough to make you really trust that she’s possibly gotten a lead from a newsstand parrot about who framed Paddington.

Is it too lame to get wrapped up in the messages in a kid’s film? “Paddington 2” has a lot of worthy ones — the importance of kindness, family, and, heck, even saving money to get a thoughtful gift for someone who means something to you.

It is a cheerful, sweet movie, where there is no problem that a lovingly made marmalade sandwich won’t fix, and it’ll be sure to leave kids and adults smiling and even wiping a few tears away at the end.

“Paddington,” a Warner Bros. release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for “some action and mild rude humor.” Running time: 103 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four.

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MPAA Definition of PG: Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

‘American Idol’ says it wants to get back to making stars

The Free Press WV

“American Idol” wants to get back in the business of making stars.

The longtime talent show, which is being revived by ABC starting on March 11, faded in ratings and cultural significance over its last seasons on Fox before ending in 2016.

The memorable talents boosted by the show — Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert and the like — were all a part of the show’s heyday a decade earlier.

Ryan Seacrest is back as host of “American Idol,” but it will have three new judges in Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie. They said on Monday they see themselves as mentors and instructors.

Challenged at a news conference to name the three final winners of “American Idol,” none of the cast members or producers attempted it. Bryan acknowledged that was a weakness of the show’s final years, and judges wanted to mold some memorable talent.

“We are wasting our time if we don’t find another star,” Perry said.

Richie said he’s been asked often to do instructional videos on making it in the music business and he always resisted, wondering how many people would be interested. But he realized he would be able to offer that advice as a judge on “American Idol.”

“A lot of our viewers will see themselves in some of these contestants,” Perry said. “They will relate and they will feel hope ... hopefully they can be inspired to achieve their own dreams.”

The judges said they saw themselves in the contestants because they were once there; Perry recalled the struggling days when frozen chicken nuggets from Trader Joe’s was her regular dinner.

Seacrest said the show’s format hasn’t changed. He said the new judging panel is working well together — as opposed to stars circling in their own orbits — and that was an important goal in the reboot.

No one has necessarily emerged as a “bad cop” along the lines of Simon Cowell. Producers indicated that was an outdated view of the show. “I’m blunt but I can’t be mean because I’m a woman,” Perry said.

Much like in the show’s final years, it wouldn’t focus on marginally talented contestants during tryouts so they would be humiliated on television, said Trish Kinane, the show’s executive producer.

The show will air on Sunday and Monday nights for eight weeks, then wind down to just Sunday when a new season of “Dancing With the Stars” premieres. Then, “Idol” will have a two-night finale on May 20 and 21.

The reboot has caused some bad blood: Fox executives haven’t been happy that the show is coming back so soon and said that toward the end, producers wouldn’t work with them to reduce costs that would make the show more viable; producers at “American Idol” didn’t want Fox to cancel it in the first place.

Willie Nelson cancels shows after leaving a concert early

The Free Press WV

Country music legend Willie Nelson has canceled shows in Nevada and California after leaving a concert in San Diego after performing one song.

A publicist for Nelson says shows scheduled this week in Rohnert Park, California; Las Vegas; and Laughlin, Nevada, have been canceled. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Nelson left his show at a San Diego casino on Saturday after the first song, “Whiskey River.”

Fans told the newspaper that Nelson was coughing and apparently had difficulty breathing. A statement from Ticketmaster said he left the stage early because of an illness.

Nelson, 84, keeps up a rigorous touring and recording schedule. His latest album, “Willie Nelson and the Boys: Willie’s Stash Vol. 2” featuring his sons Lukas and Micah was released last year.

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