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Game of Thrones, Veep eye big farewell wins at the Emmy Awards

12 0 22 Sep 2019

The television landscape is so crowded with new shows and miniseries these days that even the most devoted viewer might find it hard to keep up with the endless stream of debuts. But on Sunday night, two familiar favorites that recently departed the airwaves — HBO’s sprawling fantasy epic “Game of Thrones” and the acid-tongued political satire “Veep” — could hog all the glory at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards.

Here’s a look at three key storylines heading into the ceremony, which will be held at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles and air live at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

The frontrunners

HBO is set to take a victory lap, barring any major surprises. “Game of Thrones” and “Veep,” two marquee series that wrapped up in May, are likely to loom large over the night and could notch wins in the top drama and comedy categories.

“Thrones” divided fans and split critics with its polarizing final season, but the show’s sterling Emmys track record — it has the most Emmys of any television series in history, 57 — suggests the giants of Westeros won’t be easily felled by rivals in the drama competitions. (Although last year, Hulu’s dystopian saga “The Handmaid’s Tale” upset “Thrones” in the top contest.) “Thrones,” which barrels into the telecast with a staggering 32 nominations, is joined in the best drama race by AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” Netflix’s “Bodyguard,” BBC America’s “Killing Eve,” Netflix’s “Ozark,” FX’s “Pose,” HBO’s “Succession” and NBC’s “This Is Us.”

“Veep,” a full-mouthed skewering of Washington that claimed the top comedy prize the last three times it was nominated, will go head-to-head with fellow HBO series “Barry,” Amazon Prime Video’s “Fleabag,” NBC’s “The Good Place,” Netflix’s “Russian Doll,” and Pop TV’s “Schitt’s Creek.” Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who starred on the series as the ruthless pol Selina Meyer, could earn her seventh statue for the role — a victory that, combined with her Emmys for “Seinfeld” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” would make her the most-honored actor in all of Emmy history, according to the Television Academy.

The coveted Emmy Awards statue.Mark Ralston / AFP – Getty Images

No host, no problem

TV is apparently taking a page from the Hollywood playbook. This year’s Emmys, like the Academy Awards telecast in February, will proceed without a host for only the fourth time in its history. (The comedian Kevin Hart stepped aside from Oscars emcee duties amid controversy over resurfaced tweets in which he made homophobic jokes.)

Rob Wade, Fox’s president of alternative entertainment, reportedly said the no-host ceremony would free up more time to honor the shows that ended their runs this year. He also reportedly said Fox was eager to mix up the standard formula, especially without an obvious candidate for the job from one of the network’s shows.

“We’ve had great success with a hostless Creative Arts Emmys, and we’re happy to give Fox and the production companies freedom to do what they think will be best for the Emmy telecast celebrating the best of television,” Frank Scherma, the Television Academy’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement in August.

The absence of a host could help the three-hour telecast feel brisk and snappy, a symbolic win for critics who say major award shows have become too bloated. But the adjusted format could also starve the night of sharp topical jokes that typically crop up during the opening monologue — especially barbs about President Donald Trump, who has said he finds the Emmys “sooooo boring!”

History-makers?

Sandra Oh, an eight-time Emmy nominee who riveted fans of the twisted crime thriller “Killing Eve” in its second season, could become the first performer of Asian descent to triumph in the lead drama actress category. The Korean-Canadian actress, who received five supporting actress nominations for her role on the medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” lost last year to Claire Foy of “The Crown.” But she still made a big impression during awards season with a well-reviewed co-hosting stint at the Golden Globes, alongside “SNL” alum Andy Samberg.

Billy Porter, the Broadway star, pop singer and actor who appears on FX’s groundbreaking drama “Pose,” could become the first openly gay man to claim lead actor honors. Porter, who won a Tony Award in 2003 for his magnetic performance in the musical “Kinky Boots,” was also nominated for a Critic’ Choice Television Award for his work on “Pose.”

Taylor Swift cancels performance at Melbourne horse race. Animal rights advocates cheer.

13 0 22 Sep 2019

Taylor Swift canceled her performance at Australia’s Melbourne Cup horse-racing event, the Victoria Racing Club announced in a news release.

The 29-year-old pop star was slated to headline the Lexus Melbourne Cup Day on Nov. 5 but had to pull out of the event because “changes to her Asian promo schedule” made it logistically impossible for her to be here, a music-booking agency said in the release.

“To all of Taylor’s fans, we hope to see Taylor in Australia in 2020,” the agency said.

Swift has yet to comment publicly on her decision to pull out of the event.

But her cancellation drew cheers from animal-rights advocates who had protested against her planned appearance.

“Thank you Taylor!” the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses said in a Facebook post Saturday. “We are absolutely delighted with the news.”

Ten days before, after Swift’s performance at the race was announced, the coalition had urged its social media followers to ask her to say #NupToTheCup.

“Taylor Swift has put money before compassion by agreeing to perform at the 2019 Melbourne Cup,” the group posted on Sept. 11. “Horses are being killed for gambling profits and entertainment. If Taylor Swift cares at all about other animals the way she appears to care about cats, she will cancel her show and make a strong statement that animal abuse is unacceptable.”

After Swift canceled the show, Australian Sen. Mehreen Faruqi praised the pop star in a tweet, writing: “Good on Taylor Swift for pulling out and saying #NupToThecup.”

At last year’s Melbourne Cup, an Irish racehorse, The Cliffsofmoher, was euthanized after the 5-year-old stallion broke its shoulder, Reuters reported. The horse was the sixth to be euthanized after the race since 2013.

Deaths of racehorses have also drawn growing attention in the U.S. In June, Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was banned from the Santa Anita Park near Los Angeles after his horse, American Currency, was euthanized due to an injury the animal sustained while exercising.

It was the fourth horse from Hollendorfer’s stable to die that season and the 30th racehorse to die at the Santa Anita track since December.

Reward upped to $35K in search for missing 5-year-old Dulce Alavez

12 0 22 Sep 2019

The reward for information about the disappearance of Dulce Alavez was increased to $35,000 as the search for the missing 5-year-old girl entered its sixth day.

The New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association said in a tweet late Friday that it was raising the award to $30,000 in hopes that “someone will come forward.”

“We need everyone’s help to find this girl,” the agency’s president, Patrick Colligan, said.

The FBI in Newark said in a tweet Thursday that it was offering up to $5,000 for information that leads to Dulce’s whereabouts.

Dulce vanished from City Park in Bridgeton, a city in the southern part of the state, on Monday afternoon. Authorities are searching for a man, possibly Hispanic, who they say led her from the park to a red van with a sliding side door and tinted windows.

Dulce was last seen wearing a yellow shirt, black-and-white pants and white sandals.Bridgeton Police Department

The van drove away from the area around 4:20 p.m., according to a statewide Amber Alert.

Residents in the area are planning to hold a candlelight vigil for Dulce at the park at 7 p.m. on Saturday. A flyer posted on social media asks those attending to wear yellow “and pray Dulce finds her way back home.”

During a press conference on Friday, Bridgeton Police Chief Michael Gaimari said authorities do not have any “strong suspects at this time.” He said police have conducted more than 70 interviews.

Dulce’s mother told authorities that she last saw her daughter playing on the swings with her 3-year-old brother. The mother said she was about 30 yards away in her car with an 8-year-old relative.

When the 3-year-old returned to the car without Dulce, the mother tried to find her but could not. She contacted authorities about 4:50 p.m., police said in a news release earlier this week.

At least six other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI in Newark, are helping local authorities in the search for Dulce. In a tweet Friday, the FBI asked people to stop spreading false rumors about the case online after reports surfaced that an arrest had been made.

The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office said in a Facebook post on Saturday that the circulation of false information “pulls our attention away from doing all that we can to locate Dulce.”

The girl was last seen wearing a yellow shirt with a koala bear on the front, black-and-white pants and white sandals. She is described as Hispanic, with black hair and is roughly 3 feet, 5 inches tall.

The man who police are searching for is described as having a thin build, light skin, no facial hair, and acne. He is said to be between 5 feet, 6 inches and 5 feet, 8 inches tall, and was wearing a black shirt, red pants, and orange sneakers, possibly Nikes.

Irish Spring soap? Sorry, were out, Georgia store announces ahead of Notre Dame game

15 0 21 Sep 2019

Some University of Georgia football fans are taking their fandom to the next level ahead of a game between the Bulldogs and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday night.

Dill’s Food City, a grocery store chain whose owners are known locally as die-hard Bulldogs fans, removed traces of the Irish before the big game day, starting with Irish Spring soaps.

Sorry Dill’s customers there will be no Irish Spring at our stores this week. Go Dawgs!” the store in Royston, about 30 miles north of the University of Georgia campus in Athens, said on a Facebook post on Monday.

The post included photos of the owner taking the product off the shelves and replacing it with a Bulldogs-branded sign that says, “Temporarily out of Stock. Go Dawgs!”

Three days later, Irish Spring joined Twitter to react to the store’s post.

The soap company tweeted a photo of an Irish Soap shipment with Bulldog signs, saying, “Hey University of Georgia – Heard you were out of stock in Athens, GA. We’re sending a little luck your way. Hoping for a good, clean game tomorrow!”

The online back-and-forth brought smiles to some football fans, regardless of how serious they might be about the Georgia-Notre Dame rivalry.

“The fact that Irish Spring created an account just to get in on the #NDvsUGA pregame banter is one of the many reasons I absolutely love #CollegeFootball Twitter,” a University of Georgia graduate tweeted.

“This is hilarious…doesn’t matter who you’re pulling for #NDvsUGA,” another Twitter user posted.

The University of Georgia clapped back at Irish Spring, though with an apparently less humorous tone: “Commit to beating Notre Dame!

Georgia ranks 3rd in the NCAA and Notre Dame 7th. Saturday’s game will kick off at 8 p.m. in Sanford Stadium in Athens. To accommodate the expected crowds of fans for both teams, the stadium will add 500 seats to its usual capacity of 92,746.

Two Muslim men from Texas claim they were racially profiled on American Airlines flight

15 0 21 Sep 2019

Two Muslim men from the Dallas area claimed Thursday they were racially profiled and forced off an Alabama-to-Texas flight because one of them was deemed suspicious for using a bathroom — and flushing twice — before takeoff.

Issam Abdallah and Abderraoof Alkhawaldeh were aboard American Airlines Flight 5886 in Birmingham on Saturday morning to fly home to Dallas when the crew suddenly had all passengers get off the regional jetliner, the two men told reporters at a press conference in Dallas on Thursday.

The men said they were initially told it was a general security concern before an FBI agent specifically informed them that Abdallah had raised concern by using the toilet on the plane.

“I asked him what’s the reason, he (FBI agent) said I went to the restroom and I flushed twice,” Abdallah told reporters in Dallas on Thursday. “It was a really humiliating situation in front of everybody, I felt like they were discriminating against my ethnicity and my religion.”

American Airlines said it cancelled the flight over “safety and security concerns,”

“American Airlines Flight 5886, operated by Mesa Airlines, from Birmingham to Dallas-Fort Worth on Sept. 14 was canceled due to concerns raised by a crew member and a passenger,” according to a company statement on Thursday.

“American and all of its regional partners have an obligation to take safety and security concerns raised by crew members and passengers seriously. All customers on Flight 5886 were rebooked on the next flight to DFW.”

American said it is reviewing the incident and has “reached out to Mr. Alkhawaldeh and Mr. Abdallah to better understand their experience.”

Alkhawaldeh said he has traveled more than a million miles on American and has attained the airline’s highest frequent flier status, executive platinum.

“And to be treated with disrespect, suspicion. This is absurd, unacceptable and un-American,” Alkhawaldeh said.

Alkhawaldeh choked back tears as he pondered his next trip.

“I am really worried as to what my next flying experience will be,” Alkhawaldeh said. “I have not had problems before and then out of nowhere, for what?”

Ben Carson allegedly called trans women big hairy men in front of HUD staffers

19 0 21 Sep 2019

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson allegedly made transphobic comments at a meeting with HUD staffers earlier this week.

According to The Washington Post, during a visit to HUD’s San Francisco office Tuesday, Carson expressed concern about transgender women, whom he reportedly called “big hairy men,” entering women’s homeless shelters.

Carson also expressed concern that society could no longer differentiate between men and women, according to the Post, which cited three unnamed sources who reportedly heard Carson’s remarks firsthand and interpreted them as “an attack on transgender women.”

HUD did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment, but a senior HUD official released a statement to The Post saying, “The Secretary does not use derogatory language to refer to transgendered individuals. Any reporting to the contrary is false.”

Carson’s track record of anti-LGBTQ remarks and opposition to gay and trans rights began long before he joined the Trump administration in 2017. As a guest on Fox News in 2013, he compared gay people to pedophiles, likening them to members of the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), a group that works to abolish age-of-consent laws criminalizing adult sexual involvement with minors. In 2015, the former neurosurgeon claimed that being gay was a choice — a belief that has been disproven by science and that he has since apologized for promulgating. Later that year, Carson expressed opposition to transgender personnel serving in the military, stating that trans people should “deal with the transgender thing somewhere else.”

While running for president in 2016, Carson doubled down on his anti-transgender views, saying trans people don’t “make any sense” and comparing them to those who may wake up one day and decide to change their ethnicity.

Shortly after Carson took the helm at HUD, the department removed links that provided emergency shelters with guidance on how to best serve LGBTQ service recipients. The guidance, provided in 2009 by the Obama administration, was intended to help housing providers and shelters interpret the agency’s rules to avoid discrimination against such residents.

In May of this year, HUD proposed a rule change that would allow men’s and women’s shelters to segregate transgender people “consistent with state and local law” — an amendment many LGBTQ advocates argued would further marginalize trans people who are especially vulnerable to homelessness. As many as 1 in 5 transgender people have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives, a problem compounded by discrimination in housing and employment and family rejection, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Politicians and advocates are speaking out against Carson’s alleged comments, with Zeke Stokes, vice president of programs at LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD, writing in an email that Carson is “unfit to serve.”

Presidential candidate Julián Castro, who led HUD during the Obama administration, also condemned Carson’s alleged remarks, stating they “normalize violence against” black transgender women — at least 19 of whom have been murdered this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

“As HUD Secretary, I protected trans people,” Castro wrote on Twitter. “I didn’t denigrate them.”

Without a home, transgender individuals face increased risk of physical and sexual violence and being forced into sex work, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

“This man is IN CHARGE of housing. He’s out there using language that makes trans folks seem disposable,” Jay Brown of the Human Rights Campaign said in a tweet. “This is quite literally killing us. We deserve better. We must DEMAND better.”

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Meghan McCain storms off The View after sparring over Trump whistleblower with co-hosts

13 0 20 Sep 2019

Meghan McCain stormed off the set of “The View” Friday after sparring with co-hosts and regular guest Ana Navarro during a discussion on the politics and ethics of whistleblowing.

The conservative commentator and co-host of “The View” suggested that Democrats were hypocritical for supporting a whistleblowing intelligence officer who filed a complaint about President Donald Trump.

The complaint alleged that Trump made a promise to a foreign leader, as reported by The Washington Post on Thursday evening.

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McCain suggested that liberals were being hypocritical by supporting the whistleblower in this case, but they criticized the leak of emails from former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016.

“I think all interference from a foreign country in our election, all of it is bad and should be condemned and you can’t play party politics with this, and there’s a lot of people on the left who are doing that with Julian Assange,” she said. “I’m mad that there are people on the left that think that Julian Assange is OK.”

Joy Behar then said she is on the left and does not agree with that at all.

Co-host Sunny Hostin asked McCain: “You’re saying, Meghan, the people are against this whistleblower?”

McCain told her: “There’s a lot of people in the hard left that defend Julian Assange.”

Abby Huntsman attempted to clarify McCain’s comments.

“What she is saying though is what Julian Assange did … is just as dangerous as what the president is being charged with doing or people are assuming that he did: Is putting people’s lives in danger. Is throwing our national intelligence completely under the bus,” Huntsman said.

Toward the end of the segment on the live episode Friday, the women were all speaking, at which point McCain yelled, “Excuse me!”

“Maybe I was clumsy in the way that I said it,” McCain said. She also said that she didn’t even know what Navarro had just said.

Navarro, one of the most outspoken Republican critics of Trump and a regular guest on the show, responded: “Don’t scream at me, I’m two feet away,” which drew audible gasps from the audience.

McCain walked off set and the ABC daytime program then cut to commercial. She returned after the commercial break.

She later tweeted a meme with the quote, “I’m good. It’s ok. We’re good.”

Suzanne Whang, House Hunters host, dies at 56

14 0 20 Sep 2019

Suzanne Whang, best-known as host of the HGTV series “House Hunters,” died after a long battle with breast cancer, according to her partner.

She was 56.

Jeff Vezain wrote in a Facebook post on Whang’s page, that he was by her side as she died at home Tuesday night.

“For thirteen years she confronted cancer with courage, humor, determination and optimism,” Vezain wrote. “She was immensely encouraged by the love of her family, friends and those she had yet to meet.”

“Your kind, loving messages always lifted her spirits,” he continued. “I know she would prefer that her life be celebrated, as opposed to her passing mourned, but I also know how vehemently she disagreed with anyone being told, ‘Don’t cry.’ So…cry if you will.”

Vezain said laughing was a staple in the couple’s relationship and that in addition to crying, he has laughed in her honor to cope with his loss.

“Her audacious sense of humor blessed many, shocked a few, but allowed us to laugh in the face of adversity,” he wrote.

Whang hosted HGTV’s “House Hunters” from 1999 to 2007. She also appeared on such shows as “Las Vegas,” “Dexter,” “General Hospital” and “Arrested Development.”

“Suzanne was warm, funny and kind with a distinctive voice that made everyone feel at home,” the network said in a statement Friday. “Our HGTV family mourns her loss and wishes to express deepest condolences to her friends, fans and family who knew and loved her.”

Patriots release Antonio Brown amid rape allegations

11 0 20 Sep 2019

The New England Patriots released wide receiver Antonio Brown on Friday after just one game with the defending champions amid sexual assault allegations.

“We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time,” the team said Friday afternoon.

At about the same time, Brown tweeted: “Thanks for the opportunity appreciate @Patriots.”

The Patriots signed Brown after he was cut by the Oakland Raiders over disagreements about the helmet he’d wear and a reported confrontation with the team’s general manager.

After New England signed him, Brown was accused of sexually assaulting a trainer, according to a lawsuit she filed. His lawyers have denied all allegations stemming from the lawsuit.

The Patriots dropped Brown a day after Nike confirmed it had parted ways with the mercurial wide receiver. He “hopes to play for another team” this season.

And earlier this week, Sports Illustrated reported that Brown allegedly sent “intimidating” text messages to a second woman, who also accused him of unwanted sexual advances.

He called this woman “super broke” and threatened to “look up her background,” according to her lawyers, who sent copies of the text messages to NFL offices and the Patriots on Thursday.

“We have included the relevant text messages here, which are clearly in violation of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy, as they amount to ‘stalking, harassment, or other forms of intimidation,’ ” the woman’s lawyer Lisa Banks wrote.

“We request that the NFL conduct an appropriate investigation into Mr. Brown’s threatening actions and also take steps to ensure that he and his associates immediately cease their harassment and intimidation of our client and her family.”

Hours before the player was released, Patriots coach Bill Belichick walked out of a press conference when reporters asked him several Brown-related questions.

“I think I’ve already addressed this. So we’re going to get ready for the Jets here, happy to answer any football questions,” the coach said. “But the rest of it, I’m done with the rest of it.”

When the Brown questions kept coming, Belichick beat a hasty retreat from the podium and said: “I’m good, OK, thank you.”

In Brown’s lone game for New England, a 43-0 victory over the Miami Dolphins this past Sunday, he caught a touchdown pass from Tom Brady and led the team in receiving yards.

Michelle Carter, convicted of urging boyfriend to take his own life, is denied parole

10 0 20 Sep 2019

Michelle Carter, the young woman convicted of encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself, had her request for parole rejected by a Massachusetts state board.

“The [board] is troubled that Ms. Carter not only encouraged [Conrad Roy III] to take his own life, she actively prevented others from intervening in his suicide,” the parole board wrote in its decision released Friday morning. “Ms. Carter’s self-serving statements and behavior, leading up to and after his suicide, appear to be irrational and lacked sincerity.”

The board added that Carter needs to address the “causative effects” that led to the offense.

“Release does not meet the legal standard,” the board concluded.

Carter’s lawyer said she will probably not make another parole application because she is likely to earn enough credits for good behavior to be released from the Bristol County jail in February — a few months short of her full 15-month sentence.

“She’s been a model inmate,” lawyer Joseph Cataldo told NBC News on Friday. “She was a perfect candidate to obtain parole.”

Cataldo said “the parole board’s decision is based on the incorrect and dangerous legal ruling” by Massachusetts courts that upheld his client’s conviction.

Carter was convicted in 2017 of involuntary manslaughter in the death of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. The 23-year-old woman, who was 17 at the time of Roy’s death in 2014, began her sentence in February.

Roy died by suicide after filling the inside of his pickup truck with poisonous fumes. When he had second thoughts, Carter texted him to “get back in” the truck.

Carter’s attorneys argued her texts were constitutionally protected free speech. Her conviction has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A Bristol County Juvenile Court judge this past February ordered Carter to begin serving 15 months behind bars, after the state Supreme Court upheld her conviction.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers proposed a new law called “Conrad’s Law,” which would make it a crime, punishable by up to five years, for anyone who “intentionally coerces or encourages” a suicide or suicide attempt.

The case was subject of an HBO documentary this summer, “I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth vs. Michelle Carter.”

The two-part series showed that both teens struggled with depression. And in great detail, “I Love You” showed how Carter relentlessly texted Roy, encouraging him to killing himself.

“You keep pushing it off and say you’ll do it but u never do. It’s always gonna be that way if u don’t take action,” Carter texted him on the day he died.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.