JUSSIE SMOLLETT INVESTIGATION CONTINUES
CHICAGO (AP) – There’s no word yet when – or if – “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett will sit with Chicago police for a follow-up interview. But if it does happen, it’s likely to be a tense affair. Authorities say the investigation has “shifted” after detectives interviewed the two men who appear in surveillance video taken around the time of the reported attack last month. They were released without charges. And that’s fueled speculation that police feel Smollett, who is black and gay, made up a story about being beaten by two men who hurled racist and anti-gay comments at him as they attacked him. Police aren’t commenting on that part of the case. And a rep for Smollett’s lawyers says she can’t comment on whether the actor had agreed to another interview.
JUSSIE SMOLLETT – ONLINE REACTION TO “SHIFT” IN INVESTIGATION
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Three weeks ago, when “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett reported being beaten by two men who used racial and anti-gay slurs – and mentioned “MAGA” – more than a few celebrities came to his defense. That support is muted now that police say the probe has “shifted” – giving weight to suggestions that Smollett may have fabricated the attack. Some of his early backers say they’ll reserve judgment until all the facts are known. But some conservative pundits have complained that people were too quick to accept an account that suggested President Donald Trump’s supporters are racist and homophobic.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – “Alita: Battle Angel” has conquered the latest box office battle. The sci-fi fantasy is the nation’s top movie over the weekend, beating out newcomers like the rom-com “Isn’t It Romantic” and the horror sequel “Happy Death Day 2U.” “Alita” took in an estimated $27.8 million over the weekend, barely making a dent in its $170 million budget. This past weekend’s movies combined to produce the slowest Presidents Day weekend at the box office in almost 20 years.
NEW YORK (AP) – The motion picture academy has corrected another of the missteps it has taken toward this year’s Oscars ceremony. The academy has decided to undo its decision to present four awards during commercial breaks of this year’s Oscar telecast. The reversal means all 24 categories will be shown live, as they have in years past. At first the academy declared the awards for cinematography, film editing, makeup and hairstyling and live-action short would be announced while show was in commercial, with excerpts of winners’ acceptance speeches being inserted later. But now it’s backtracking on that, in part because of the ruckus raised among academy members who thought the move demeaned the awards in those fields.
DON CHEADLE HOSTS “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE,” BALDWIN RETURNS AS TRUMP
NEW YORK (AP) – Don Cheadle made both jokes and political points when he hosted “Saturday Night Live” for the first time. When he introduced the night’s musical guest, the actor wore a T-shirt that said, “Protect Trans Kids.” And when he closed the show, Cheadle wore a jersey with the initials of the former Soviet Union on the front. On the back it had the name “Trump” and number 45. In the open, Alec Baldwin portrayed Trump declaring a national emergency over immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border. While the studio audience laughed, Trump wasn’t amused. He tweeted yesterday that there’s “nothing funny” about SNL, that the show is “tired” – and that the TV networks regularly do what he calls “total Republican hit jobs.”
“HAMILTON” AUDIENCE FLEES SAN FRANCISCO THEATER
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A night at the theater was more exciting than usual for some people in San Francisco on Friday. A performance of “Hamilton” in San Francisco was cut short when audience members mistook a medical emergency for a shooting. On Friday night, a woman suffered a heart attack – and someone opened an emergency defibrillator case, setting off an alarm. While that offstage drama played out, actors onstage were doing the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr – complete with fake gunfire. Some patrons conflated the incidents and rushed out of the theater, fearing a gun attack. Three people were hurt in the impromptu evacuation. The woman who had the heart attack was revived and at last word, was hospitalized in critical condition.
SWISS ACTOR WHO PLAYED HITLER DIES
BERLIN (AP) – Actor Bruno Ganz has died. The Swiss-born performer is best known for playing Adolf Hitler cooped up in his Berlin bunker in the movie “Downfall.” A German news agency (dpa) quotes Ganz’ management team as saying he died Saturday in Zurich, Switzerland. He was 77 years old.
by Oscar Wells Gabriel II
Follow Oscar Wells Gabriel II on Twitter at https://twitter.com/OWGabriel2