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National Entertainment

‘Green Book’ wins best picture in an upset at the Oscars

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LOS ANGELES — The segregation-era road-trip drama “Green Book” was crowned best picture at the 91st Academy Awards, delighting those who see the film as a feel-good throwback but disappointing others who ridicule it as an outdated inversion of “Driving Miss Daisy.”

In a year when Hollywood could have made history by bestowing its top award on Netflix (“Roma”) or Marvel (“Black Panther”) for the first time, the motion picture academy instead threw its fullest support Sunday behind a traditional interracial buddy tale that proved as popular as it was divisive. But Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book” weathered criticism that it was retrograde and inauthentic to triumph over more acclaimed films and bigger box-office successes.

It was an unexpected finale to a brisk, hostless ceremony that was awash in historic wins for diversity, including Spike Lee’s first competitive Oscar. More women and more individual black nominees won than ever before.

The Oscars otherwise spread awards around for Ryan Coogler’s superhero sensation “Black Panther,” Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white personal epic “Roma” and the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Lee, whose “Do the Right Thing” came out the same year “Driving Miss Daisy” won best picture, was among those most visibly upset by the award handed to “Green Book.” After presenter Julia Roberts announced it, Lee stood up, waved his hands in disgust and appeared to try to leave the Dolby Theatre before returning.

“Green Book” also won best supporting actor for Mahershala Ali and best original screenplay.

“The whole story is about love,” said Farrelly, a filmmaker best known for broad comedies like “Dumb and Dumber” and “There’s Something About Mary.” ”It’s about loving each other despite the differences and find out the truth about who we are. We’re the same people.”

Backstage, Lee clutched a glass of champagne while reflecting on the 30 years between “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Green Book.” ”I’m snake bit,” he said, laughing. “Every time somebody’s driving somebody, I lose!”

Lee’s win for best adapted screenplay for his white supremacist drama “BlacKkKlansman,” an award he shared with three co-writers, gave the ceremony its signature moment. The crowd rose in a standing ovation, Lee leapt into the arms of presenter Samuel L. Jackson and even the backstage press room burst into applause.

Lee, whose film includes footage of President Donald Trump following the violent white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, urged mobilization for the upcoming election.

“Let’s be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love and hate,” said Lee, who was given an honorary Oscar in 2015. “Let’s do the right thing! You knew I had to get that in there.”

One of the biggest surprises of the night was in the best actress category. Olivia Colman won for her Queen Anne in the royal romp “The Favourite,” denying Glenn Close her first Oscar. Close remains the most-nominated living actor never to win, with seven nominations.

“Ooo. It’s genuinely quite stressful,” said a staggered Colman, who later turned to Close to say she was her idol, “and this is not how I wanted it to be.”

The night’s co-lead nominee “Roma” won best director and best cinematography for Cuaron, whose film also notched Mexico’s first foreign language film Oscar. Cuaron and his “Three Amigos” countrymen — Alejandro Inarritu and Guillermo del Toro, who presented Cuaron with best picture — have had a stranglehold on the category, winning five of the last six years.

Cuaron, who becoming the first director to ever win for serving as his own director of photography, referenced an especially international crop of nominees in one of his three acceptance speeches.

“When asked about the New Wave, Claude Chabrol said there are no waves, there is only the ocean,” said Cuaron, referring to the French filmmaker. “The nominees tonight have proven that we are a part of the same ocean.”

The wins for “Roma” gave Netflix its most significant awards yet, but “Green Book” denied the streaming giant the best picture win it dearly sought. Netflix remains to some a contentious force in Hollywood, since it largely bypasses theatres. The wins for “Black Panther” — along with best animated film winner “Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse” — meant the first Academy Awards for Marvel, the most consistent blockbuster factor Hollywood has ever seen.

The lush, big-budget craft of “Black Panther” won for Ruth Carter’s costume design, Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart’s production design, and Ludwig Göransson’s score. Beachler had been the first African-American to ever be nominated in the category. Beachler and Carter became just the second and third black women to win non-acting Oscars.

“It just means that we’ve opened the door,” Carter, a veteran costume designer, said backstage. “Finally, the door is wide open.”

Two years after winning for his role in “Moonlight,” Mahershala Ali won again for his supporting performance in “Green Book” — a role many said was really a lead. Ali is the second black actor to win two Oscars following Denzel Washington, who won for “Glory” and “Training Day.” Ali dedicated the award to his grandmother.

“Bohemian Rhapsody,” which kicked off the ABC telecast with a performance by Queen, won four awards despite pans from many critics and sexual assault allegations against its director, Bryan Singer, who was fired in mid-production for not showing up. Its star, Rami Malek, won best actor for his full-bodied and prosthetic teeth-aided performance, and the film was honoured for editing, sound mixing and sound editing.

“We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant who lived his life unapologetically himself,” said Malek who after the ceremony fell and was checked out by medics before making the rounds at post-show festivities. “We’re longing for stories like this. I am the son of immigrants from Egypt. I’m a first-generation American, and part of my story is being written right now.”

Queen launched Sunday’s ceremony with a medley of hits that gave the awards a distinctly Grammy-like flavour, as Hollywood’s most prestigious ceremony sought to prove that it’s still “champion of the world” after last year’s record-low ratings.

To compensate for a lack of host, the motion picture academy leaned on its presenters, including an ornately outfitted Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry and a Keegan-Michael Key who floated down like Mary Poppins. Following Queen, Tina Fey — alongside Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph — welcomed the Dolby Theatre audience to “the one-millionth Academy Awards.”

Rudolph summarized a rocky Oscar preamble that featured numerous missteps and backtracks by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: “There is no host, there won’t be a popular movie category and Mexico is not paying for the wall.”

The trio then presented best supporting actress to Regina King for her pained matriarch in Barry Jenkins’ James Baldwin adaptation “If Beale Street Could Talk.” The crowd gave King a standing ovation for her first Oscar.

The inclusivity of the winners Sunday stood in stark contrast to the #OscarsSoWhite backlash that marked the 2016 and 2015 Oscars. Since then, the academy has worked to diversify its largely white and male membership, adding several thousand new members and opening the academy up internationally. Still, this year’s nominations were criticized for not including a female best director nominee or a best-picture nominee directed by a woman.

Though the once presumed front-runner “A Star Is Born” saw its chances flame out, it won, as expected, for the song “Shallow,” which Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper performed during the ceremony. As she came off the stage, Cooper had his arm around Gaga as she asked, “Did I nail it?”

Best documentary went to Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s “Free Solo,” which chronicles rock climber Alex Honnold’s famed, free solo ascent of Yosemite’s El Capitan, a 3,000-foot wall of sheer granite, without ropes or climbing equipment. “Free Solo” was among a handful of hugely successful documentaries last year including the nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary “RBG” and the snubbed Fred Rogers doc “Won’t You Be My Neighbour.”

“Thank you Alex Honnold for teaching us to believe in the impossible,” said Vasarhelyi. “This film is for everyone who believes in the impossible.”

Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice” won makeup and hairstyling for its extensive physical transformations. The category was one of the four that the academy initially planned to present during a commercial break and as its winners — Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney — dragged on in a litany of thank-yous and were the first to have their microphone cut off.

To turn around ratings, Oscar producers pledged a shorter show. In the academy’s favour was a popular crop of nominees: “Bohemian Rhapsody,” ”A Star Is Born” and, most of all, “Black Panther” all amassed huge sums in ticket sales. Typically, when there are box-office hits (like “Titanic”), more people watch the Oscars.

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Associated Press writers Kristin M. Hall, Andrew Dalton and Lindsey Bahr contributed to this report.

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This story corrects the first name of Brian Tyree Henry and the last name of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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For full coverage of the Oscars, visit: https://apnews.com/AcademyAwards

Jake Coyle, The Associated Press




















































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National Entertainment

Prosecutors drop groping case against Kevin Spacey

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BOSTON — Prosecutors dropped a case Wednesday accusing Kevin Spacey of groping a young man at a resort island bar in 2016 after the accuser refused to testify about a missing cellphone the defence says contains information supporting the actor’s claims of innocence.

Spacey was charged with indecent assault and battery last year in the only criminal case that has been brought against the actor since his career collapsed amid a slew of sexual misconduct allegations. The two-time Oscar winner was among the earliest and biggest names to be ensnared in the #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment that swept across the entertainment and other industries.

Spacey denies groping the man, whose mother first went public with the allegations in 2017.

A phone message seeking comment was left with Spacey’s lawyer.

The actor’s accuser was ordered to take the stand earlier this month after he said he lost the cellphone he used the night of the alleged groping. The defence said it needed the phone to recover deleted text messages it says would help Spacey’s case.

The man denied deleting messages or manipulating screenshots of conversations he provided to investigators. But when he was pressed by the defence about whether he knew that altering evidence is a crime, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination , and the judge said his testimony would be stricken from the record.

The judge then questioned how prosecutors would be able to bring Spacey to trial if the accuser continued to refuse to testify, and prosecutors told the judge they needed time to decide how to proceed.

On Wednesday, Cape and Island District Attorney Michael O’Keefe said in court documents that they were dropping the charge “due to an unavailability of the complaining witness.”

Prosecutors said in an emailed statement that they met with the man and his lawyer Sunday and told him that if he wouldn’t testify in further proceedings, they couldn’t move forward with the case. The man “elected not to waive his right under the Fifth Amendment,” prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said they could further pursue the case and grant the accuser immunity but then they would need more than his uncorroborated testimony.

Furthermore, “a grant of immunity compromises the witness to a degree which, in a case where the credibility of the witness is paramount, makes the further prosecution untenable,” they said.

Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer for the accuser, said in email that the man and his family “have shown an enormous amount of courage under difficult circumstances.” Garabedian said he had no further comment.

The hearing at which the accuser testified came days after the man abruptly dropped a lawsuit he had just recently filed against the actor that sought damages for “severe and permanent mental distress and emotional injuries.” The suit was dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning it cannot be refiled.

The man did not receive a settlement to drop the civil case, his mother said. His lawyer said he dropped it because he was emotionally overwhelmed and wanted only “one roller coaster ride at a time” and so chose to focus on the criminal case.

The man’s mother, former Boston TV anchor Heather Unruh, alleged in 2017 that Spacey got her son drunk and sexually assaulted him at the Club Car, a bar on Nantucket where the teen worked as a busboy.

The man told police he went over to talk to Spacey after his shift because he wanted to get a picture with the former “House of Cards” star. He said Spacey bought him several drinks and tried to persuade him to come home with him before unzipping the man’s pants and groping him for about three minutes.

Unruh’s son told police he tried to move Spacey’s hands, but the groping continued, and he didn’t know what to do because he didn’t want to get in trouble for drinking because he was underage. The man said he fled when Spacey went to the bathroom.

Shortly after Spacey was charged, he posted a video on YouTube in the voice of his “House of Cards” character who was killed off after the sexual misconduct allegations emerged, saying “I’m certainly not going to pay the price for the thing I didn’t do.”

Spacey has faced several other accusations.

His first accuser, actor Anthony Rapp, said Spacey climbed on top of him on a bed when Rapp was 14 and Spacey 26. Spacey said he did not remember such an encounter but apologized if the allegations were true.

The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they are the victims of sexual assault unless they identify themselves publicly. Rapp has; Unruh’s son has not.

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Follow Alanna Durkin Richer at http://www.twitter.com/aedurkinricher

Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press


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Man screaming ‘You die!’ kills at least 23 at anime studio

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Man yelling You Die kills 23 at Tokyo studio

TOKYO — A man screaming “You die!” burst into an animation production studio in Kyoto, Japan, and set it on fire early Thursday, authorities said, killing 13 people and leaving more than 10 others presumed dead.

The blaze injured another 36 people, some of them critically, Japanese authorities said. Most were workers at Kyoto Animation, known for mega-hit stories featuring high school girls, with places featured in the stories even becoming “pilgrimage sites” for their fans.

The fire started in the three-story building in Japan’s ancient capital after the suspect sprayed an unidentified liquid accelerant, Kyoto prefectural police and fire department officials said.

Thirteen were confirmed dead on the first and second floors, Kyoto fire department official Kazuhiro Hayashi said. On the third floor, more than 10 people were found unresponsive, he said. Some of them were found on the stairs, where they apparently collapsed while gasping for air and trying to go out to the roof.

Hayashi says firefighters were still searching inside the building in case anyone else was left behind.

Kyoto police said the suspect was injured and taken to a hospital for treatment. They are investigating the man, who is 41 and not a company employee, on suspicion of arson, police said.

A witness who saw the suspect being approached by police told Japanese networks that the man admitted spreading gasoline and setting a fire with a lighter. She told NHK public television that the man had burns on his arms and legs and that he was angrily complaining that something of his had been “stolen,” possibly by the company. NHK footage also showed sharp knives police had collected from the scene, though it was not clear if they belonged to the suspect.

Survivors who saw the attacker said he was not their colleague and that he was screaming “(You) die!” when he dumped the liquid and started the fire, according to Japanese media reports. They said some of the survivors got splashed with the liquid.

Kyoto Animation, better known as KyoAni, was founded in 1981 as an animation and comic book production studio, and its hits include “Lucky Star,” ”K-On!” and “Haruhi Suzumiya.” The company does not have a major presence outside Japan, though it was hired to provide secondary animation work on a 1998 “Pokemon” feature that appeared in U.S. theatres and a “Winnie the Pooh” video.

Footage on Japan’s NHK television showed gray smoke billowing from the charred building. Other footage showed windows blown off.

“There was an explosion, then I heard people shouting, some asking for help,” a female witness told TBS TV. “Black smoke was rising from windows on upper floors, then there was a man struggling to crawl out of the window.”

Witnesses in the neighbourhood said they heard bangs coming from the building, others said they saw people coming out blackened, bleeding, walking barefoot, Kyodo News reported.

Rescue officials set up an orange tent outside the studio building to provide first aid and sort out the injured.

Fire department officials said more than 70 people were in the building at the time of the fire and many of them ran outside.

With at least 23 killed or presumed dead, the fire was the worst mass killing in Japan since a man stabbed and killed 19 people at an assisted living facility in western Tokyo in 2016.

A fire in 2001 in Tokyo’s congested Kabukicho entertainment district killed 44 people in its worst known case of arson in modern times. Police never announced an arrest for setting the blaze, though five people were convicted of negligence. In 2008, 16 people died in a blaze at a movie theatre in Osaka, near Kyoto.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press













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