NATIONAL CHRISTMAS TREE LIT
WASHINGTON (AP) – Continuing a tradition that began in 1923, President Donald Trump has lit the National Christmas Tree on the grounds near the White House. After the president counted down from 10 – with the audience joining in – first lady Melania Trump hit the switch to light the tree, a living Colorado blue spruce. The tree is ringed by 56 smaller trees featuring ornaments from every U.S. state and territory – as well as the District of Columbia.
NYC CHRISTMAS TREE LIT
NEW YORK (AP) – The Christmas season has officially started in New York City with the lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza. Mayor Bill de Blasio flipped the switch last night to bathe the huge tree in multicolored lights. The 72-foot-tall tree is decorated with 5 miles of LED lights and a 900-pound crystal star. Before the tree was lit, singers Diana Ross and Tony Bennett performed as part of a TV show that preceded the tree lighting.
NPR CUTS TIES WITH CONTRIBUTOR DAVID EDELSTEIN
NEW YORK (AP) – You’d think it’s something that doesn’t need to be said: don’t crack jokes about rape. But a contributor to NPR’s “Fresh Air” has been cut loose for doing just that. David Edelstein joked about the rape scene in the movie “Last Tango in Paris” on his Facebook page. The post was supposed to acknowledge the death of Bernardo Bertolucci, who directed Marlon Brando in the movie. Edelstein posted a photo from the scene with the caption “Even grief is better with butter.” Actress Maria Schneider is assaulted from behind by Brando’s character, who uses butter as a lubricant. Schneider says the scene was unscripted and she felt bullied by the director. Edelstein says he now knows his joke was “grotesque” and removed it. Meanwhile, Edelman remains on staff at New York magazine. A rep for the magazine says the matter is under review.
“WALKING DEAD” RATINGS
NEW YORK (AP) – Is “The Walking Dead” limping its way through its current season? If you believe the ratings, you might draw that conclusion. The show is still popular – just not as wildly popular as it has been in the past. For the first episodes of this current season, Nielsen reports The Walking Dead’s viewership is down 23 percent compared to last year. The most recent episode, which ran Sunday, was seen by 5.1 million people. Nielsen says last year’s midseason finale was seen by 7.9 million people.
SUNDANCE LINEUP TAKES SHAPE
LOS ANGELES (AP) – The starting lineup for the Sundance Film Festival is set. Organizers of the annual event in Park City, Utah say there will be 111 feature films at the festival, which opens in January. Among those to be seen in Sundance movies include Annette Bening, Zac Efron and Shia LaBeouf. And there’ll be a documentary by disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein. Diversity is also being featured at Sundance. This year’s lineup includes 45 first-time filmmakers. Of the films selected, 40 percent are directed by women, 36 by people of color – and 13 percent by someone who identifies as LGBTQ.
RITA MORENO – “WEST SIDE STORY”
NEW YORK (AP) – Back in 1961, Rita Moreno portrayed Anita in the classic film “West Side Story.” And now that the movie’s being redone, Moreno will be in the reboot, too. A publicist confirms Moreno will play Valentina, a revamped version of Doc, who owns the corner store where Tony works. Steven Spielberg will direct the remake and Moreno will also serve as an executive producer. Filming is set to begin next summer.
FORMER CIA DIRECTOR WRITING A BOOK
NEW YORK (AP) – John Brennan, the former CIA director and longtime intelligence official, is working on a memoir. A division of Macmillan Publishers says it has acquired the rights to Brennan’s book, which will cover his more than 30 years in government under both Republican and Democratic presidents. Brennan has been an outspoken critic of President Trump, saying he reminds him of how corrupt authoritarian leaders abroad would behave before they were deposed. Trump revoked Brennan’s security clearance in August. The book is currently untitled and scheduled to come out in 2020.
by Oscar Wells Gabriel II
Follow Oscar Wells Gabriel II on Twitter at https://twitter.com/OWGabriel2