JUDGE TO WEIGH POSSIBLE BIAS BY SMOLLETT SPECIAL PROSECUTOR
CHICAGO (AP) – A Chicago judge will decide soon whether the special prosecutor investigating possible conflicts of interest in Jussie Smollett’s criminal case has a conflict himself.
It’s the latest twist in a saga marked by turns and reversals since the “Empire” actor reported a racist, homophobic attack that police said he staged against himself.
Judge Michael Toomin appointed Dan Webb in August to investigate whether the office of Chicago’s top prosecutor Kim Foxx acted properly in abruptly dropping charges against Smollett.
Webb has disclosed he co-hosted a 2016 fundraiser for Foxx and wrote her campaign a $1,000 check.
Toomin is expected to address the issue at a Friday hearing. It’s not clear whether he’ll seriously considering yanking Webb from the case.
JAGUARS OWNER INVESTING IN NATIONAL BLACK NEWS CHANNEL
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan says he’ll be the majority investor in the nation’s only 24-hour news network aimed at African American viewers.
The billionaire entrepreneur told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he believes the African American community is underserved and he hopes the network will be a bridge to connect all cultures.
Khan said he is committed to a long-term investment in the network.
Former Republican U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts will be chairman of the new network, which will be available via cable and satellite viewers in 33 million households.
That includes major African American markets such as New York, Atlanta, New Orleans, Chicago and Los Angeles. Watts says the network is to begin broadcasting in November and will be based in Tallahassee, Florida’s capital, with bureaus around the country.
‘MAKING A MURDERER’ SUBJECT SEEKS PARDON, COMMUTATION
MADISON, Wis. (AP) – A man convicted of rape and murder when he was a teenager whose story was documented in the 2015 Netflix series “Making a Murderer” has sent a handwritten note to Wisconsin’s governor requesting a pardon.
The note from Brendan Dassey comes as his advocates on Wednesday launched yet another formal attempt to free him.
Dassey’s attorneys say their client is intellectually disabled and that police officers manipulated him into confessing.
Dassey says in his note to Gov. Tony Evers that he should be pardoned because he’s innocent and wants to go home. He says he enjoys Pokemon and hamburgers. He drew two hearts on the note with the word “hugs” in one and “love” in the other.
Attorney Laura Nirider says she hopes Evers takes a serious look at this case.
Evers on Wednesday didn’t rule out the Dassey request, saying he hadn’t seen it yet. The governor has yet to act on any pardon requests.
NFL TELEVISION RATINGS SHOW 5% INCREASE OVER LAST SEASON
UNDATED (AP) – NFL ratings through the first four weeks of the regular season have shown a 5% increase over last season.
According to the league and Nielsen, games are averaging 16.6 million viewers on television and digital platforms.
NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” has shown the biggest jump among the weekly packages with a 6% increase. The average of 21.4 million viewers makes this the network’s best start since 2016. The Dallas-New Orleans game Sunday averaged 24.7 million.
Fox’s Sunday package is averaging 19 million (5% increase) and CBS is averaging 17.1 million (4% increase).
ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” is averaging 11.6 million, which is even with last year.
GERWIG TALKS ‘LITTLE WOMEN’ FOR ACADEMY’S WOMEN INITIATIVE
NEW YORK (AP) – With a new awards season underway, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences hosted a luncheon Wednesday supporting female filmmakers and celebrating the women behind Greta Gerwig’s upcoming “Little Women.”
The event was held at Rockefeller Center’s Rainbow Room, and it drew much of New York’s filmmaking elite. Gerwig, actor Laura Dern and producer Amy Pascal discussed on stage the hardships and joys of getting a female-led production made in an industry that has made improvements in gender parity but still lags woefully behind in equality.
The former Sony Pictures chief Pascal noted that today there are just as many women running studios – one – as there were when she took over Sony two decades ago.
To help urge on a new generation of filmmakers, the academy has been giving fellowships to young women aspiring to Hollywood, including two it is bestowing this week.