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Release of film featuring fallen Chinese celebrity Fan nixed

The director of "Air Strike," featuring Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, says the film's release has been canceled in the wake of her disappearance and conviction on tax evasion charges.

The World War II thriller, also starring Bruce Willis and Adrien Brody, was to have been released Oct. 26.

However, director Xiao Feng posted on his Weibo miniblog Wednesday that it was "time to let go" after eight years of work on the film.

Chinese tax authorities this month ordered Fan and companies she represents to pay taxes and penalties totaling $130 million, ending speculation over the fate of one of the country's highest-profile entertainers three months after she disappeared from public view.

State media said Fan evaded taxes by using two separate contracts for her work on "Air Strike."

Fan has starred in dozens of movies and TV series in China and is best known internationally for her role as Blink in 2014's "X-Men: Days of Future Past," a cameo in the Chinese version of "Iron Man 3," and for star turns on the red carpet at Cannes as recently as May.

Before her disappearance, she had been booked to star with Penelope Cruz in the Hollywood film "355."

Fan posted an apology on her official Weibo account saying that she accepted the tax authorities' decision and would "try my best to overcome all difficulties and raise funds to pay back taxes and fines."

"I am unworthy of the trust of the society and let down the fans who love me," she wrote in her first update of her Weibo.com microblog since June 2.

Fan's disappearance coincided with a crackdown by Chinese authorities on high salaries for actors that can eat up much of the cost of a production. In June, regulators capped star pay at 40 percent of a TV show's entire production budget and 70 percent of the total paid to all the actors in a film.

America's most famous pimp, poised for elected office, dies

America's most famous pimp partied for days with porn stars, political pals and others to celebrate his 72nd birthday, but the revelry ended when Dennis Hof was found dead in one of his Nevada brothels.

Hof, a Donald Trump-style Republican who won a GOP primary for a seat in the state Legislature this year, spent his last nights in a series of celebrations across Nevada that drew notables from politics and the sex industry — two worlds he managed to bridge.

His final party Monday night at the Pahrump Nugget hotel-casino, about an hour's drive outside Las Vegas, included aging porn star Ron Jeremy, tax-cut activist Grover Norquist, one-time "Hollywood Madam" Heidi Fleiss and ex-Arizona sheriff and politician Joe Arpaio.

"Boy, that's shocking," Arpaio, the former six-term sheriff of metropolitan Phoenix, said of Hof's death. He said Hof was in good spirits when Arpaio left the party around 10 p.m.

Hof didn't drink, smoke or use drugs, Hof's campaign consultant Chuck Muth said. Despite the rigorous schedule, Hof seemed in a "perfect mood" and in "perfect health" at the parties.

"He was sitting on a stool talking with people when I left about 10," said Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly, who guessed more than 100 people attended the Pahrump event. "I guess that's partying at 72."

Jeremy, who also attended the Pahrump Nugget party, told The Associated Press that he and Dasha Dare, a prostitute from one of Hof's brothels, found the pimp's body Tuesday morning in Hof's residence at his Love Ranch brothel.

Dare, who Jeremy said spent part of the evening with Hof, did not immediately respond to email and Twitter messages.

Sheriff's deputies were summoned and Hof was pronounced dead, said Wehrly, who also serves as county coroner.

Wehrly said there was no preliminary indication of foul play but her office was investigating and an autopsy was scheduled by the Clark County coroner in Las Vegas. Wehrly said results of the medical examination could take six weeks.

Outside the brothel Tuesday, sheriff's employees and several women watched as Hof's body was carried on a stretcher beneath a red shroud past lawn furniture, Grecian-style statutes and signs advertising the bordello as, "Always Open, Always Tasty, No sex required."

Muth said Friday night's celebration in northern Nevada had been a "Save the Brothels" concert raising funds to fight a ballot initiative that would shutter brothels in northern Nevada's Lyon County, where Hof owned four properties.

Saturday featured a bash at Hof's Bunny Ranch bar and restaurant near Carson City, followed by a party at Hof's northern Nevada home Sunday and the party in southern Nevada Monday night, Muth said.

Hof was the Republican candidate in a heavily GOP state legislative district who brought in popular Trump supporters in his campaign, including Trump adviser Roger Stone and Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff.

Arpaio, known nationally for his positions on illegal immigration, lost a primary bid for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate from Arizona. He said Hof asked him to speak at his party.

"The thing I liked about him: He was with Trump and was for the Second Amendment and lower taxes," Arpaio said.

Hof owned a handful of brothels in Nevada, the only state that allows them to legally operate.

His Love Ranch brothel is the place where NBA player Lamar Odom was found unconscious in 2015.

The brothel was temporarily shuttered twice this year by regulators who said Hof failed to renew licenses and get proper permits for renovations.

About 20 brothels operate in Nevada, mostly in rural areas.

In addition to his legislative campaign, Hof fought a push to outlaw brothels and had problems with local regulators in the two counties where he ran licensed bordellos.

Hof had also been accused of sexual assault on at least four occasions. The Nevada Department of Public Safety has said it was investigating an allegation made in September but has released few details.

Hof had denied wrongdoing.

Besides "Cathouse," the flamboyant Hof wrote a book titled "The Art of the Pimp," a play on Trump's book "The Art of the Deal."

Wayne Thorley, deputy Nevada secretary of state for elections, said Hof's name will remain on the November ballot. Thorley said ballots with Hof's name have already been mailed to voters but signs will be posted at polling places notifying voters of his death.

If Hof wins in the heavily GOP assembly district, officials will nominate another Republican to fill the vacancy, Thorley said.

Hof was running against Democratic Las Vegas educator Lesia Romanov in the race for a sprawling assembly district that touches both California and Utah, covering rural southern Nevada, largest stretches of desert and the Nevada National Security Site where nuclear weapons were tested.

Hof also ran for the state Legislature in 2016 as a Libertarian but lost the race.

He upended Nevada politics this summer when he ousted an incumbent Republican lawmaker in a primary, celebrating at an election night party with Fleiss.

Hof said in interviews that he believed the anti-brothel push and regulatory problems he's faced this year were political retribution.

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Associated Press writers Ken Ritter and Regina Garcia Cano in Las Vegas and Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed to this report.

Harry and Meghan bring rain to drought-stricken Outback town

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were jokingly thanked for bringing England's notoriously inclement weather to a drought-stricken Outback town on Wednesday in a rain-drenched visit to Dubbo during their Australian royal tour.

The former Meghan Markle brought banana bread that she baked in Sydney on Tuesday as a gift to a farming family outside Dubbo who were struggling to feed their cattle and sheep through two years of below-average rain.

"When she heard she was coming to a family home, she had to bring a plate, so it was lovely," farmer Elaine Woodley said, referring to a dish to be shared.

The pregnant American former actress and her husband, Prince Harry, got their hands dirty throwing cotton seed onto hay used to feed the cows because of a lack of pasture.

Heavy rain started falling when the royal couple arrived later at a Dubbo park for a community picnic, but thousands of cheering well-wishers remained enthusiastic.

"As your royal highnesses are aware, our region has been hit by a terrible drought," Mayor Ben Shields told the drenched crowd draped with waterproof ponchos and holding umbrellas, who erupted in laughter.

"So we're very pleased that you can bring some of that English weather with you today, and hopefully it will bring some relief to the farming families," Shields added.

While rain in recent weeks has been welcome, much more is needed to repair the economic and environmental ravages of the extended dry spell.

Drought conditions in New South Wales state this year have been the most widespread since 1965.

Meghan held an umbrella over Harry as he gave a speech, acknowledging the hardships the drought brought to the rural community and urging drought victims not to suffer in silence.

The crowd applauded when Harry touched on his own mental health struggles following the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in a car crash in a Paris tunnel in 1997. He was 12 at the time. Harry, now 34, revealed in an interview last year that he did not seek counseling until he was in his late 20s.

"You are all in this together and, if I may speak personally, we are all in this together," Harry said. "Because asking for help was one of the best decisions that I ever made. You will be continually amazed how life changes for the better."

The prince ended by thanking Dubbo for its invitation and for sharing its stories, adding, "And the rain was a gift."

Drought relief charity Drought Angels director Natasha Johnston commended the couple for their empathy.

"To have them recognize that our farmers are hurting, and show up here, it's an honor," Johnston said.

"It's been unbelievably tough. We've had families who can't put food on the table, who can't afford everyday basics, who can't afford water to fill their tanks," she added.

On arrival at Dubbo airport, the couple appeared delighted when 5-year-old Luke Vincent, who has Down Syndrome, hugged them both and ruffled Harry's hair and beard.

Luke's school principal Anne van Dartel said she had told the students that they were not to reach out to the royals. She suspected Harry's beard reminded Luke of his favorite celebrity, Santa Claus.

"I was very concerned once he started rubbing Prince Harry's face and his hair, but Prince Harry was completely gracious and was so polite and realized what was happening and (Luke's) infatuation with his beard," van Dartel told Seven Network television.

Luke told later told Nine Network television that Harry had surpassed Santa in his estimation.

Harry and Meghan are on a 16-day tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.

The main focus of the tour is the Invictus Games, which start in Sydney on Saturday. The sporting event, founded by Harry in 2014, gives sick and injured military personnel and veterans the opportunity to compete in sports such as wheelchair basketball.

___

McGuirk reported from Canberra, Australia.

Photos: 2018 BET Hip Hop Awards red carpet

Celebrities arrive at the BET Hip Hop Awards 2018 at Fillmore Miami Beach on October 6, 2018 in Miami Beach, Florida. The taped show aired Oct. 16.

Tauren Wells wins 4, including new artist, at Dove Awards

Christian artist Tauren Wells won four awards including new artist and contemporary Christian artist of the year at the 49th annual Gospel Music Association's Dove Awards.

Wells, who was the former lead singer for Christian rock group Royal Tailor, performed "Known" from his solo debut album, "Hills and Valleys," during Thursday's award show from Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Wells also won awards for pop/contemporary album of the year and also got an award for being a featured artist on the rap/hip hop recorded song of the year with Social Club Misfits.

Wells accepted new artist of the year slightly out of breath, explaining that he had been backstage changing clothes when the award was announced and rushed to get to the stage without even knowing what award he had won.

"I am so grateful - what award is this?" Wells said. "New artist of the year?! Woah!"

Backstage after the show, Wells said that "Known" was about one of the God's lessons for him about image.

"While it's great to pose for all these pictures and getting to hold all these trophies, this doesn't matter as much as what is happening inside our hearts," Wells said.

Cory Asbury, a worship pastor in Kalamazoo, Michigan, rode the success of his No. 1 Christian single "Reckless Love" to three awards for song of the year, worship song of the year and worship album of the year. He said the song has connected to a lot of people through church services and on the radio.

"I've been hearing crazy testimonies of people that say 'I was suicidal and I was going to take my own life, and I heard this song and I felt the love of God for the first time,'" Asbury said. "Stories like that are why any of us do this."

Songwriter Colby Wedgeworth also won three awards, including songwriter of the year, non-artist, for working with Wells on the "Hills and Valleys" record and for co-writing the pop/contemporary recorded song of the year, "Old Church Choir."

Zach Williams won artist of the year and pop/contemporary recorded song of the year for his song "Old Church Choir," and Tasha Cobb Leonard won gospel artist of the year and urban worship album.

Rap duo Social Club Misfits from Florida won rap/hip hop recorded song of the year for their song "War Cry," a song they wrote after the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

"We feel like anything that happens to our generation, we take it personally, so this song came from a place of just wanting to rally a generation," said Martin Lorenzo Santiago, who goes by the stage name Marty, in the duo.

The show featured a couple of cross genre collaborations, including pop singer Tori Kelly singing with Kirk Franklin and country group Rascal Flatts singing with Jason Crabb. The show will air October 21 on TBN.

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Online:

https://doveawards.com/

'Love & Hip Hop' star Erica Mena, boyfriend Clifford Dixon arrested

“Love & Hip Hop” star Erica Mena was arrested over the weekend in Johns Creek, Georgia, after an incident with her boyfriend, Clifford Dixon.

According to police paperwork obtained by WSB, someone called police on Mena and Dixon after allegedly hearing an argument between the two.

>> Read more trending news 

Officers said they interviewed witnesses and discovered Mena and Dixon had been fighting and Dixon had kicked down a locked door.

Dixon was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing. Mena was arrested on possession of marijuana charges.

Mena was featured on Season 7 of “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” and was previously on a number of other reality and TV shows.

Town OKs steep fines for parking near 'The Goonies' house

The Astoria City Council has taken a step toward cracking down on motorists who illegally park near "The Goonies" house.

The Daily Astorian reports the City Council held a first reading of an ordinance Monday to modify city code and enhance the fees people will have to pay if they violate parking rules in the neighborhood.

Under the proposal people parking illegally could face a $100 fine.

City councilors will hold a second reading and officially could adopt the ordinance at a November meeting.

City Manager Brett Estes and Police Chief Geoff Spalding say the city already has posted signs saying "No Stopping," and "No Parking" in the area with only a moderate level of compliance.

The neighborhood has long been a draw to tourists hoping for a glimpse of the house featured in the 1985 movie.

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Information from: The Daily Astorian, http://www.dailyastorian.com

Fall foliage, tradition, wildlife star in PBS' 'AutumnWatch'

Attention would-be leaf peepers: Even if fall is a bit player where you live, PBS has got you covered.

A three-night public TV series, "AutumnWatch New England," promises to showcase the colorful landscape and other seasonal glories.

Among the live and pre-taped segments are time-lapse video of foliage changes and filmmaker Bob Poole's look at the nighttime routines of wildlife including bobcats and bears.

Other highlights include visits to a New Hampshire pumpkin festival and Maine's Fryeburg Fair, held annually since 1851.

Travel authority Samantha Brown and BBC presenter Chris Packham will host from a lakeside campfire in New Hampshire.

Contributors include chef Vivian Howard, biologists and other experts.

"AutumnWatch New England" is a PBS and BBC Studios co-production. It's airing on PBS at 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday through Friday (check local listings for times).

MeToo, Kavanaugh topics of talk at women filmmakers' event

The midterm elections, #MeToo, and the recent confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court: All were key topics of discussion at an annual gathering for women filmmakers Tuesday in Manhattan.

"Nevertheless, we persisted," intoned Jane Rosenthal, executive chair of Tribeca Enterprises, using the popular feminist slogan over and over as she discussed a year of women's struggles, both inside and outside Hollywood.

The gathering took place almost exactly a year after the #MeToo movement erupted into public consciousness, following stunning allegations of sexual misconduct against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

"Last year when we met we experienced a watershed moment," Rosenthal told attendees at the luncheon for "Through Her Lens: the Tribeca Chanel Women's Filmmaker Program ," which provides mentorship and funding for emerging women filmmakers. "Brave women were coming forward to demand societal change. And the world was listening — or so we thought."

Rosenthal called the recent Kavanaugh hearings "devastating" for women.

"It's hard to fight for equality in the workplace or the arts when we haven't achieved equality in the eyes of the government," she said. "We will, we must persist."

Kavanaugh took his seat on the high court last week after overcoming allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denied, by accuser Christine Blasey Ford.

Rosenthal also referred to efforts to achieve greater representation of women in Hollywood, especially behind the camera, where women still lag far behind men. Only one woman has ever won an Oscar for directing — Kathryn Bigelow, who is serving as a one of the mentors for the Tribeca program.

"We're not waiting for the rest of the world to catch up with us," Rosenthal said. "We're leading."

Actress Katie Holmes spoke of the importance of women mentoring and supporting others, and said she was sensing a shift for the better in Hollywood.

"I've seen a lot of captains of our industry really leading by example and supporting other women and that's what today is all about," she said in an interview. "What we need to do, forever, is continue to support each other, to inspire the new group of filmmakers, and to be protective of each other."

Holmes, now working on her second film as a director — an adaptation of the historical novel "Rare Objects" — said it was important to her to work with fellow women.

"I feel very creative around other women and I feel very understood," she said. She said a 2014 movie she starred in, written and directed by Karen Hopkins, was an especially rewarding experience.

"I loved her vision and I loved the character that she created," Holmes said. "And there was a wonderful energy on set."

Another actress in attendance, Piper Perabo, was wearing a T-shirt saying, "Believe Women." Last month, she was arrested for civil disobedience for protesting at Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing.

Perabo said she was not discouraged by what some have seen as setbacks for the movement, with Kavanaugh's confirmation and also the dropping of a charge against Weinstein in a New York court.

"It's never been easy," she said. "And the fact that even a setback in the Weinstein case makes headlines shows that people are talking about it and it's important to people, and people are going to discuss it and it's news."

"There are going to be steps forward and steps back, but that doesn't mean you give up," she said.

The Latest: Anna Burns wins Man Booker prize for 'Milkman'

The Latest on the Man Booker Prize for fiction (all times local):

9:50 p.m.

Anna Burns has won the prestigious Man Booker prize for fiction with "Milkman," a vibrant, violent story about men, women, power and conflict set during Northern Ireland's years of Catholic-Protestant violence.

Burns is the first writer from Northern Ireland to win the 50,000 pound ($66,000) prize, and open to English-language authors from around the world. She received her trophy from Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, during a black-tie ceremony Tuesday at London's medieval Guildhall.

"Milkman" is narrated by a young woman dealing with an older man who uses family ties, social pressure and political loyalties as a weapon of sexual harassment. Judging panel chair Kwame Anthony Appiah said those are timely themes in the "Me Too" era.

Burns beat two other British writers, two Americans and a Canadian.

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11:00 a.m.

The Man Booker Prize is set to be awarded to one of six finalists, including a gritty story set in a women's prison, a novel in verse about a divided America and an environmental epic that has been likened to "Moby Dick" for trees.

U.S. novelist Rachel Kushner's "The Mars Room," U.K. poet Robin Robertson's "The Long Take" and American writer Richard Powers' "The Overstory" are competing for the 50,000 pound ($66,000) prize with a reputation for transforming writers' careers.

The other contenders are "Washington Black," the saga of an escaped slave by Canada's Esi Edugyan; Northern Ireland writer Anna Burns' Troubles-set "Milkman"; and "Everything Under" by 27-year-old British writer Daisy Johnson, who would be the youngest-ever Booker winner.

The winner will be announced Tuesday at London's medieval Guildhall.

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