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    In 1959, Ronald Erwin McNair walked into a South Carolina library. The 9-year-old aspiring astronaut wanted to check out a calculus book, but a librarian threatened to call the police if he didn't leave. McNair was black. Years later, McNair was selected to become only the second African American to travel to space, overcoming segregation, poverty, and stereotypes in an intellectual act of resistance that inspired a generation. Tragically, McNair died in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy. McNair's story and those of other black astronauts are shared in a new documentary that looks at the final frontier of civil rights: getting black astronauts into space amid Jim Crow, danger, discrimination and the Cold War. Within four generations, they went from slavery to space. “Black in Space: Breaking the Color Barrier,” scheduled to air Monday on the Smithsonian Channel, examines the race to get black astronauts into the heavens while fighting for human rights on earth. It shows how the astronauts surmounted racial barriers and hostile commanders to get close to the stars. “They really are the first of the first,” filmmaker Laurens Grant said. “And they are the elite of the elite.” Not only did these aspiring space travelers have to navigate the racial politics of their time, they also had to study cutting-edge science and engineering to compete with others, Grant said. And it didn't always end happily. The road to get black astronauts into space in the U.S. began under President John. F. Kennedy. His brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, pressured an Air Force program to make sure its astronaut project had a person of color. Air Force Capt. Ed Dwight was selected for a trainee program and became an overnight hero in the black press. However, the NASA program did not select him for the astronaut program. U.S. Air Force officer Robert Henry Lawrence Jr. was chosen. NASA selected the Chicago-born Lawrence as the first African American astronaut, and he may have made it to the moon. Unfortunately, Lawrence died after his F-104 Starfighter crashed in 1967 at Edwards Air Force Base, California, No African Americans would make it to the moon. During this era, Star Trek Communication Officer Lieutenant Uhura, played by Nichelle Nichols in the 1960s NBC television series, got the closest even though she was a fictional character. She would later speak out in public service announcements to recruit black scientists and pilots to NASA Frederick Gregory, now 79, saw some of those ads. “She was inside my TV one morning. She pointed at me and said, ‘I want you to apply for the NASA program,'” Gregory said. “She was talking to me.” The U.S. Air Force pilot would apply and later become the first African American shuttle pilot. The film shows how the former Soviet Union beat the U.S. and sent into space Cuban cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez. He was the first Latin American and first person of African descent to reach space. After his mission, he became a Cold War hero for Cuba — and his accomplishment was largely ignored. Guion Bluford would become the first African American astronaut. The aerospace engineer made it to space in 1983 as a member of the crew of the Orbiter Challenger. His trip came nearly 20 years after Kennedy sought to get a black man in space. Gregory said he's proud of his role in breaking barriers and contributing to space exploration. However, he's now concerned about what comes next. In an interview with The Associated Press, Gregory said he recalls looking down at Earth while floating in space and traveling at high speed. “Your concept of neighbor changes significantly,” Gregory said. “I began saying, ‘Hey, this is a world, and we are all part of it.’ When you go to space, you don't see boundaries on the ground. You wonder, why do these people dislike each other. Your concept of what your home is changes.” ___ Russell Contreras is a member of The Associated Press' race and ethnicity team. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras
  • A Los Angeles man suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend, a prominent family therapist and the former fiancee of comedian Drew Carey, was charged Wednesday with her murder. Dr. Amie Harwick died over the weekend after Gareth Pursehouse allegedly threw her over the third-floor balcony of her Hollywood Hills apartment, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said. Pursehouse faces charges including murder and first-degree residential burglary with the special circumstance allegation of lying in wait, making him eligible for the death penalty, prosecutors said. It wasn't immediately known if Pursehouse, 41, has an attorney. He's scheduled to be arraigned Thursday. Police responding early Saturday to reports of a woman screaming discovered Harwick, 38, on the ground below the balcony, prosecutors said. She died at a hospital. Officers found evidence of a struggle and a forced entry to the home, police said. Detectives learned Harwick had recently expressed fear about an ex-boyfriend and had previously filed a restraining order against him, according to a police statement. The restraining order had expired, police said. Harwick's website described her as a marriage and sex therapist. She appeared on TV and radio and wrote a book called “The New Sex Bible for Women.” Harwick was engaged in 2018 to Carey, the “Price is Right” host and former sitcom star. 'I hope you’re lucky enough to have someone in your life that loves as much as she did,' Carey said on Twitter. CBS canceled tapings of the game show for the week while he mourns. Carey shared a link to an online petition calling for an update to domestic violence laws. Pursehouse was initially arrested Saturday and posted $2 million bond. He was re-arrested Wednesday on a no bail warrant.
  • Jennifer Lawrence will star in the Adam McKay comedy “Don't Look Up” for Netflix. The streaming giant on Wednesday announced that it acquired the the project. McKay, who wrote the script, will direct the film about two low-level astronomers who go on a media tour to warn of an approaching asteroid heading for Earth. Lawrence has been little seen on the big screen lately, most recently co-starring in last year's “X-Men: Dark Phoenix.” The 29-year-old actress took a roughly two-year hiatus from acting but has recently returned to work. She recently wrapped production on an untitled film for A24 directed by Lila Neugebauer. “I’m so thrilled to make this movie with Jen Lawrence,' McKay said in a statement. 'She’s what folks in the 17th century used to call ‘a dynamite act.’ And the fact that Netflix sees this movie as a worldwide comedy sets the bar high for me and my team in an exciting and motivating way.” McKay's most recently movie was 2018's Oscar-nominated “Vice,” starring Christian Bale as Dick Cheney. “Adam has always had great timing when it comes to making smart, relevant and irreverent films that depict our culture,” said Scott Stuber, head of film at Netfix. 'Even if he somehow ends up predicting planet Earth’s imminent demise, we’re excited to add this to our slate before it all comes to an end.” Shooting on “Don't Look Up' is set to begin in April.
  • Two long-running television competitions, “American Idol' and “Survivor,” debuted new seasons this past week but it was another old reliable that beat them both. “NCIS,” where star Mark Harmon has been solving crimes since the series began on CBS in September 2003, was easily the most-watched series of the week and the only to exceed 10 million viewers in live viewing, the Nielsen company said. “American Idol” was ABC's most popular show last week, and exceeded 8 million viewers for a round of auditions. “Survivor,' which is bringing back 20 former winners to compete in its 20th season in 2020, was seen by 6.7 million people With football and awards show seasons ending in a mid-winter week, the television schedule reverted to some semblance of normal. CBS dominated its rivals with an average of 4.6 million viewers in prime time. ABC was second with an average of 3.2 million, NBC had 3.1 million, Fox had 2 million, ION Television had 1.04 million, Univision had 1.02 million, Telemundo had 680,000 and the CW had 570,000. Fox News channel was the most popular cable network, averaging 3.15 million viewers in prime time. TNT had 2.37 million, MSNBC had 1.64 million, HGTV had 1.26 million and History had 1.24 million. ABC's “World News Tonight” won the evening news ratings race with an average of 9 million viewers. NBC's “Nightly News” had 7.9 million viewers and the 'CBS Evening News had 5.9 million. For the week of Feb. 10-16, the 20 most popular shows, networks and viewers were: 1. “NCIS,” CBS, 11.76 million. 2. “FBI,” CBS, 8.94 million. 3. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 8.9 million. 4. “Chicago Fire,” NBC, 8.29 million. 5. “Chicago Med,” NBC, 8.18 million. 6. “American Idol,” ABC, 8.07 million. 7. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 8.03 million. 8. “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 7.46 million. 9. “America's Got Talent Champions,” NBC, 7.17 million. 10. “Chicago PD,” NBC, 7 million. 11. “Hawaii Five-0,” CBS, 6.95 million. 12. “Survivor,” CBS, 6.7 million. 13. “The Masked Singer,” Fox, 6.64 million. 14. “The Bachelor,” ABC, 6.43 million. 15. “This is Us,” NBC, 6.42 million. 16. “The Neighborhood,” CBS, 6.41 million. 17. “Bull,” CBS, 6.32 million. 18. “Mom,” CBS, 6.27 million. 19. “The Conners,” ABC, 6.21 million. 20. “FBI: Most Wanted,” CBS, 6.12 million.
  • The Washington publication The Hill issued a lengthy report on Wednesday finding fault with several articles by journalist John Solomon that it published last year and were used as discredited narratives by President Donald Trump and many of his supporters in their fight against impeachment. The Capitol Hill publication, in an internal review, found fault with how its own journalists failed to point out distinctions between news and opinion pieces and didn't disclose conflicts of interest to readers. The Hill stopped short of retracting or apologizing for Solomon's work. It has not erased the pieces from its website but added editor's notes that questioned the credibility of some of his sources and what they told him. Bob Cusack, the publication's editor-in-chief, did not immediately return phone messages. Solomon reported that a Ukrainian prosecutor had opened an investigation into alleged attempts by Ukrainians to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election on behalf of Democrat Hillary Clinton, a false story spread by Russians to deflect from their own involvement on behalf of Trump. The prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, also said that U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch had given him a list of officials not to prosecute for corruption. The State Department denied this at the time and Lutsenko later recanted his claims. In later testimony in Trump's impeachment investigation, the articles on Yovanovitch were described as part of a smear campaign set in motion by Trump's lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani. Solomon also falsely suggested that former Vice President Joe Biden had intervened in Ukraine to protect his son Hunter, who worked on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, the review said. Solomon, who had worked at The Associated Press, The Washington Post and The Washington Times, joined The Hill in 2017 in an executive role but also wrote stories that the publication began identifying as opinion, not news. He has defended his work in the past. He was unavailable for comment due to a death in the family, but is exploring legal options, said his representative, attorney C. Boyden Gray. In the review published Wednesday, the Hill said readers could have easily misunderstood that Solomon's stories, since they contained quotes and reached out to multiple sources, were news stories. That distinction also wasn't made clear when Solomon discussed his stories on Fox News Channel. “The Hill did not contact television producers to label Solomon as an opinion columnist,” the newspaper wrote. “It should have.” The review faulted Solomon for not disclosing that he used his own lawyers, Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing, as sources, and not revealing that some other sources had been indicted or were under investigation. The Hill also said that Solomon had improperly sent a copy of one article to his lawyers and Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian American who was another source, prior to publication without the knowledge of his editors. Solomon has said he has done this routinely to check accuracy, but the Hill said it does not condone the practice. The Hill, noting its own mistakes in dealing with Solomon's work, said it would write ethics guidelines to distribute to its staff.
  • After gaining millions of young readers for her “Divergent” fantasy series, Veronica Roth decided she and her characters were ready for the next phase — a novel for adults. “I grew up on stories like ‘Dune’ and ‘Harry Potter,’ and ‘Ender’s Game' about people who shoulder burdens when they’re too young to bear them,” says Roth, who tells the story of Sloane Andrews and her fellow fighters against the havoc of the Dark One in “Chosen Ones,” scheduled for April. “So the question of what comes after those stories just kept nagging me. ‘Chosen Ones’ is about that ‘after’ — about a group of 30-somethings who saved the world when they were younger, and they’re still dealing with the repercussions of it.” Roth, Tochi Onyebuchi and Sarah J. Maas are among several writers popular with young people who have books out this year intended for older readers. Some have never written for adults, while others move freely among teens and older readers. All are navigating one of the more complicated paths in publishing — how to consciously appeal to different audiences for different books, from the use or absence of profanity to the choice of subject matter and how to present it. The history is mixed: Judy Blume and Neil Gaiman are among those who have succeeded well, while others, including Daniel Handler and Stephanie Meyer, never fully caught on with adults. Roth's first “Divergent” book came out in 2011, and she reasons that enough of her original readers have reached an age that they'll be open to a mature approach. She considers her new work a “pretty natural” moment in her career, when you 'get curious about other genres, other types of writing,” Onyebuchi had published “Beasts Made of Night' and “Crown of Thunder” before completing his first book for adults, “Riot Baby.” It is set in part around the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the acquittal of policemen who beat Rodney King. 'Riot Baby'' is a dystopian fantasy about Kev, who has been jailed in Rikers Island, and his sister Ella, who holds the power and the horror of seeing the future. A graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, among other schools, Onyebuchi has worked in private and government law and thought a long time about a book that could draw upon his education and background. He considers adult books his first passion, but he found that writing for young people strengthened his storytelling, forcing him to write clearly and not “to obfuscate.” For “Riot Baby,” he was able to expand upon that discipline. “I could be straightforward and short and concise, and I could have a lyrical style that abounded in subjunctive clauses,' he said. “I didn't just have to be Hemingway. I didn't just have to be Faulkner. I could be both.” Maas, whose bestsellers for young people include the “Throne of Glass” fantasy series, has her debut adult book out in March. Her “Crescent City” series begins with “House of Earth and Blood,” in which protagonist Bryce Quinlan — with the help of a fallen angel — seeks to track down the killers of her closest friends. Maas told the AP that the new series had been a secret “passion project” for years, an idea came to her when she was on a plane during a book tour, listening to the soundtrack from “Gravity.” The “epic scene” that came to her became the ending of “House of Earth and Blood.” Bryce's age compelled Maas to think about a different readership. 'The moment Bryce Quinlan walked into my head, I knew she was in her early to mid-20s — an age that placed her story firmly in the adult range,' says Maas, adding that the main difference between writing for younger and older people is in the language. “I will admit that I can now get away with quite a bit more swearing!” V.E. Schwab, who writes adult and young adult novels, says she doesn't change her style or vocabulary: The difference is in her mindset. For her “Monsters of Verity' duology, she inhabits her 17-year-old self, a “pretty angry teenager.” For “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue,' an adult story coming in October about a woman who endures and is forgotten for centuries, she is closer to the person she is now. “One of the primary themes in the book is this concept of 30 as a threshold for true adulthood, the feeling like you look down for a moment, and when you look back up, everyone else has raced ahead, and you're still trying to get your bearings,” she said. “I wrote it essentially for a version of myself who never found writing. If I hadn't become an author, these are the questions I'd be facing, this is how lost I would feel.” Over the past decade, Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings have combined to write best-selling adult and young adult novels under the name “Christina Lauren.” They started out with romance books, among them such very adult stories as “Beautiful Bombshell,' “Wicked Sexy Liar' and the upcoming “The Honey-Don't List.' Meanwhile, for young adult novels such as “Autoboyography' and “The House,' they adapt the themes of love and desire for a more impressionable and sensitive audience. “We want to give our adult readers a literal escape, like when they turn on a Netflix show,' Billings says. “When we are writing of teens, we are trying to be entertaining, yes, but we also want to be more careful that they feel seen and understood. You want to make sure you're writing a story for them and that it doesn't feel like a grownup talking down to them.' ___ This story corrects the title of V.E. Schwab’s series mentioned in the 11th paragraph to “Monsters of Verity.”
  • Britain's Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, are breaking free of the royal family starting March 31, the couple’s office said Wednesday. The announcement comes as Buckingham Palace reviewed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's use of the label 'Sussex Royal' after their decision to step back from royal duties. Talks involving senior officials are ongoing about the issue and a decision will be announced alongside the launch of their new non-profit organisation. The royal couple stunned Britain with an abrupt announcement in January that they wanted to step back from royal duties. Prince Harry said he was taking a “leap of faith” in the move in an attempt to build a more peaceful life — one free of the journalists who have filmed, photographed and written about him since the day he was born. Harry and Meghan will no longer use the titles His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness but will retain them, leaving the possibility that the couple might change their minds and return sometime in the future. Harry's late mother, Diana, was stripped of the Her Royal Highness title when she and Prince Charles divorced. The prince and his wife will walk away from most royal duties, give up public funding and try to become financially independent. The couple, who were named the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their wedding day, are expected to spend most of their time in Canada while maintaining a home in England, near Windsor Castle. The couple's departure is a wrench for the royal family, and Queen Elizabeth II said at the time that she wished the couple had wanted to remain full-time royals. Despite the unprecedented move, the couple will keep the themes of their public work — the Commonwealth, community, youth empowerment and mental health, collectively. Harry's priorities remain supporting the welfare of servicemen and women, conservation, sport for social development and HIV. Meghan’s focus remains women's empowerment, gender equality and education.
  • Pop Smoke, a rising Brooklyn rapper who had a breakout year of hit songs and albums that made some of the biggest names in hip-hop his fans and collaborators, was fatally shot during a break-in Wednesday at a Hollywood Hills home, his label said. “We are devastated by the unexpected and tragic loss of Pop Smoke,” said a statement from Republic Records, the label of the 20-year-old whose legal name was Bashar Barakah Jackson. “Our prayers and thoughts go out to his family, friends and fans, as we mourn this loss together.” Los Angeles police did not immediately confirm the identification and have not announced any arrests. Police officers found a victim shortly before 5 a.m. after responding to a 911 call from someone who reported intruders, including one armed with a handgun, were breaking in, police Capt. Steve Lurie said. Public listings show that the home is owned by Edwin Arroyave and his wife Teddi Mellencamp, daughter ofRock & Roll Hall-of-FamerJohn Mellencamp and a star of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” In an Instagram post, Teddi Mellencamp said “we were informed by a 3rd party leasing and management company overseeing a rental home we own in Los Angeles that a shooting had taken place at the property. Foremost, we would like to extend our prayers and condolences to the family and loved ones affected by this tragic loss of life.” Mellencamp said she and her husband were not aware of any further details beyond what they have learned through media reports. Police said the 911 call came from “back East” and reported the break-in was occurring at a friend’s home. The victim was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Several people who were in the house were detained and released, Lurie said. “We're just getting started in this investigation,” he said. Chance The Rapper said in a tweet: “Rest Up Pop Smoke, you were too young. God Bless and comfort your family.' From Brooklyn, New York, Pop Smoke came onto the rap scene in 2018 and broke out last spring with “Welcome to the Party” a gangsta anthem where he brags about shootings, killings and drugs. It was a huge sensation that even drew the attention of Nicki Minaj, who dropped her own verse on a successful remix of the song. Earlier this month he released the album “Meet the Woo 2,” which debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart. It was the follow up to his first official release,” Meet the Woo,” last July. He also had the popular hit “Gatti” with Travis Scott and Jackboys and “Dior.” In an interview that ran on Rolling Stone’s website last week, Pop Smoke said he used a freestyle lyrical method. “I never wrote anything,” he told Rolling Stone. “It’s all up my head. Everything that I be writing, everything that I be saying, when it comes to these types of songs, just be so natural. Just how I be feeling. However, some songs I do write, and you’ll know the ones that I write, ’cause you’ll feel it.” Pop Smoke named fellow New York rapper 50 Cent as one of his influences and on Twitter, the multiplatinum entertainer memorialized him: “R.I.P to my man Pop Smoke, No sympathy for winners. God bless him.” Minaj also posted her sympathies with a photo of Pop Smoke on her Instagram account. “The Bible tells us that jealousy is as cruel as the grave. Unbelievable. Rest In Peace, Pop,” she wrote. And Jamie Foxx posted an Instagram picture of himself with the rapper, saying, “Wow just chopped it up with this young black man... just another senseless killing of us.” The death came about 11 months after rapper Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed in Los Angeles, and on a day when the man charged with killing him, Eric R. Holder, appeared in court for a hearing. Holder, who has pleaded not guilty, is expected to go to trial by April. In July, up-and-coming Philadelphia rapper Bankroll Gambino, 21, was shot and killed during a music video shoot there. And in June 2018, 20-year-old rapper XXXTentacion was gunned down while leaving a Miami motorcycle shop. ___ John Antczak in Los Angeles and Nekesa Mumbi Moody in New York contributed to this story.
  • A look at the charges against Harvey Weinstein and the punishment the former Hollywood producer could face if convicted at his New York City rape trial. A jury of seven men and five women started deliberating Tuesday in the closely watched #MeToo case. To convict or acquit Weinstein on any charge, their verdict must be unanimous. WHAT IS HARVEY WEINSTEIN ACCUSED OF? Scores of women have come forward in recent years to accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct, but his New York trial is essentially built on three allegations: The “Pulp Fiction” producer is charged with raping an aspiring actress in a New York City hotel room in 2013. He is accused of forcibly performing oral sex on another woman, production assistant Mimi Haleyi, at his apartment in 2006. And he is accused of raping “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra in the mid-1990s at her apartment. The verdict sheet the jury must fill out consists of five interlocking counts with a complex set of instructions that read like an income tax return. For example, it says that if you find the defendant not guilty on Count 1 with respect to Sciorra, then you must also find him not guilty on Count 3 and proceed to Counts 2, 4 and 5. The Associated Press does not publish the names of alleged victims of sex crimes without their consent. It is withholding the name of the first rape accuser because it isn’t clear whether she wishes to be identified publicly. WHAT ARE THE CHARGES AGAINST HARVEY WEINSTEIN? Five counts in all: — Two counts of predatory sexual assault. One of those counts accuses him of attacking both Sciorra and the unidentified aspiring actress; the other accuses him of attacking both Sciorra and Haleyi. — One count each of first-degree rape and third-degree rape, involving the unidentified actress. — One count of criminal sex act, involving Haleyi. HOW DOES THE PREDATORY SEXUAL ASSAULT AGAINST HARVEY WEINSTEIN CHARGE WORK? Under New York law, one way a person can be found guilty of predatory sexual assault is if he or she commits certain sex crimes against multiple victims, even if some of the conduct did not result in charges. In Weinstein’s case, prosecutors allege he raped Sciorra in late 1993 or early 1994 — an accusation that is too old to be the basis for criminal charges on its own but can still be rolled into a predatory sexual assault charge. DOES THE JURY HAVE TO REACH A VERDICT ON ALL CHARGES AGAINST HARVEY WEINSTEIN? No. Weinstein is charged with five counts, but the way the verdict sheet is designed, jurors won’t have to make a decision on all of them. The form instructs the jury to start by reaching a verdict on the predatory sexual assault counts, which encompass the other charged acts. Depending on what they decide on those counts, they can move on to or skip other charges. For example, if the jury finds Weinstein guilty of the predatory sexual assault count alleging he attacked both Sciorra and Haleyi, then it does not need to decide the separate criminal sex act charge involving Haleyi. WHAT IS HARVEY WEINSTEIN’S DEFENSE? Weinstein maintains the encounters were consensual. His lawyer said that the allegations are “regret renamed as rape.' The defense grilled Haleyi and the 2013 accuser about sexual encounters they had with Weinstein after the alleged assaults and highlighted friendly, flirtatious emails they sent him. HOW MUCH TIME COULD HARVEY WEINSTEIN FACE? Each of the predatory sexual assault counts is punishable by 25 years to life in prison. The first-degree rape and criminal sex act counts each carry a maximum of 25 years. Third-degree rape carries up to four years. WHAT’S THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO FOR HARVEY WEINSTEIN? A conviction on the charge of predatory sexual assault. Even if the jury finds the 67-year-old Weinstein guilty on just one of those top-level counts, a minimum sentence would keep him in prison until he in his early 90s. WOULD HARVEY WEINSTEIN HAVE TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER? Yes. If Weinstein is convicted on any of the charges, he will be required to register as a sex offender under New York's version of what’s known as Megan’s Law. WOULD HARVEY WEINSTEIN BE HAULED OFF IN HANDCUFFS RIGHT AWAY? If Weinstein is convicted on any of the charges, there's a good chance his bail will be revoked and he will be taken to jail right away. Prosecutors could argue he will have extra incentive to flee and that he is rich enough to do it. Even before the trial, prosecutors said he was showing signs of restlessness. A judge raised his bail in December after prosecutors accused him of fiddling with his electronic monitoring bracelet. WHAT'S NEXT FOR HARVEY WEINSTEIN? Win or lose, Weinstein faces more criminal charges in a Los Angeles case announced last month. He is accused of sexually assaulting one woman and raping another on back-to-back nights just before the Oscars in 2013. ___ Follow Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak
  • Eugene Hernandez will succeed Kent Jones as the director of the New York Film Festival, becoming only the fifth person to lead the esteemed Lincoln Center showcase for cinema in its 57-year history. Lesli Klainberg, executive director of Film at Lincoln Center, announced the appointment Wednesday, naming Hernandez to the top position at arguably the most revered film festival in the country. Hernandez will oversee the New York Film Festival, along with Dennis Lim, the festival’s new director of programming. Lim already presides over year-round programming for Film at Lincoln Center. Hernandez, who co-founded IndieWire, was first plucked away from the influential independent film website in 2010, when he joined Film at Lincoln Center as director of digital strategy. For the last six years, he’s served as deputy director. Now, Hernandez will take the reins of the prestigious film festival he first attended as a 20-something moviegoer in the mid-90s and later frequented as a reporter. “My whole life in New York starts here,” Hernandez, whose first job in New York was at the nearby ABC studios, said in an interview alongside Klainberg in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center on the Lincoln Center campus ahead of Wednesday’s announcement. Hernandez said his task as director will be to carry on the legacy of the New York Film Festival while shepherding it through a tumultuous, ever-evolving era in film. Like other festivals, New York is adapting to the proliferation of streaming services (whose films have frequently been shown at NYFF) and navigating changes that make bringing international films to U.S. audiences both easier and harder than ever. “We have to follow in the footsteps of the people that were here many decades before us in bringing this art form to a wider audience,” Hernandez said. “Now with this festival, we have an opportunity to bring it to an even wider audience and to engage people in different ways around the art form.” Jones, the festival’s director since 2012, stepped down after last fall’s 57th edition to dedicate himself more fully to filmmaking. Jones, a critic-filmmaker who had worked in documentary, last year made his fiction-film debut with the acclaimed “Diane,” which in 2018 won top honors at the Tribeca Film Festival. Before Jones, the last five decades of the New York Film Festival were led by Richard Peña and Richard Roud, who co-directed the festival from its inception, initially teamed with Amos Vogel. “When we realized that Kent was going to go off and become a filmmaker full time, we started to think about what we needed and what we wanted to do. We don’t have many opportunities at institutions like ours to rethink things. The last two people that were here before Kent had their jobs for 25 years,” Klainberg said. “I hope Eugene has many, many years ahead of him in this role.” Klainberg praised Hernandez as “a beloved person in the industry.” He has also been a formative influence on how film festivals exist in the digital age. He co-created IndieWire in 1996. It was initially just a newsletter sent to a few hundred subscribers from Hernandez’s AOL account. But IndieWire would grow to play a major role in bringing online more rapid film festival reports along with more comprehensive coverage of indie films. The New York Film Festival has sometimes existed outside that new media ecosystem. Where other festivals use starry world premieres, awards races and acquisition markets to add buzz, the New York, coming on the heels of Venice and Toronto, has remained the fall season’s sober-minded, highly curated mainstay. Its main slate is usually limited to about 25 films, which regularly provides one of the best annual snapshots of world cinema. “For us, the two key words are curation and audience,” Hernandez said. “Thankfully, we don’t have the same pressures to focus on world premieres exclusively as our mandate. If we can bring something new to a New York audience, and through our curatorial process find a film that’s going to be special for an audience here, that’s enough for us. “That doesn’t mean that every so often there isn’t a world premiere,” he said. “We last year had, I think, one of the most exciting and thrilling opening nights that I’ve been to.” That was Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” which kicked off the 57th New York Film Festival. It was a major get for the festival, and one of the year’s most anticipated premieres. The response at the festival, where “The Irishman” was widely greeted as a masterpiece, helped set it on a course to a number of awards, including 10 Oscar nominations. It was also a fitting match; Scorsese and Jones are friends and frequent collaborators. But Hernandez will have his own connections with filmmakers to trade on as he takes over the festival. This year’s edition opens Sept. 25. “This festival has always been on the forefront of discovering and showcasing what’s next in cinema,” he said. “It’s exciting to see that continue and to be a part of it.” ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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  • NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, who was involved in a horrific crash during the final lap of the Daytona 500, was hospitalized after Monday’s race. Update 2:03 p.m. EST Feb. 19: According to Roush Fenway Racing, NASCAR driver Ryan Newman was released from a Daytona Beach hospital Wednesday afternoon, two days after he was involved in a scary crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500. Roush tweeted a photograph of Newman leaving Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, holding the hands of his two daughters. “Ryan Newman has been treated and released from Halifax Medical Center,” the racing team tweeted. Update 12:25 p.m. EST Feb. 19: Ryan Newman continued to show “great improvement” as he recovered from injuries he suffered Monday night in a final-lap crash at the Daytona 500 race, his racing team said. Roush Fenway Racing tweeted a statement that said Newman was “fully alert” and walking around Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach. The racing team also tweeted a photo of a smiling Newman with his children. Update 4:47 p.m. EST Feb. 18: In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Roush Fenway Racing tweeted that Ryan Newman was “awake and speaking” with family members and doctors. Newman, who was seriously injured in a final-lap wreck during Monday’s Daytona 500 race, remains at the Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach. Update 10:13 p.m. EST Feb. 17: In a statement Monday night, NASCAR officials said Newman, 42, was in serious condition, “but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life-threatening.” Original report: Newman, 42, has 18 Cup wins, including the 2008 Daytona 500 and 2013 Brickyard 400. He was battling for the lead with Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin on the final lap of the 2.5-mile track at Daytona International Speedway when he crashed. Newman was in the lead coming into the final turn with Blaney and eventual winner Hamlin in close pursuit, NASCAR.com reported. Closing in on the finish line, Newman attempted to block Blaney, who was in second place. The impact of the cars touching sent Newman’s car airborne and into the wall. Newman’s car flipped several times and was hit head-on by Corey LaJoie, who sent Newman skidding across the track upside down Newman’s No. 6 Ford crossed the finish line engulfed in flames, ESPN reported. An ambulance departed Daytona International Speedway’s front stretch at 8:10 p.m. Newman was taken to an area hospital. His condition was unknown. 'I think we take for granted sometimes how safe the cars are, and No. 1, we are praying for Ryan,'' Hamlin said. “I hope he’s all right,” Blaney told reporters. “I was trying to push him to the win. I don’t like saying that things just happen because I feel really bad about it. It was a close one. I just hope Ryan is all right.” “I was hoping he would kind of bounce off the fence to the left, but he didn’t and I hit him,” Lajoie said. “I don’t know exactly where I hit him. I haven’t seen a replay. It was some scary stuff.” Newman, who led 15 laps, was credited with a ninth-place finish. “We ask that out of respect for privacy that you please do not speculate on Ryan Newman’s condition until an official statement has been issued,” Roush Yates Engines tweeted. Kelley Earnhardt, the daughter of Dale Earnhardt Sr., tweeted, “Please let @RyanJNewman be ok!” Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in a final-lap crash at the Daytona 500 in 2001. Newman, born Dec. 8, 1977, in South Bend, Indiana, was named Winston Cup rookie of the year in 2002, beating Jimmie Johnson, according to his NASCAR biography. Nicknamed “Rocket Man,” Newman graduated with honors from South Bend La-Salle High School in 1996. He studied engineering at Purdue University but at the same time, continued to race. Newman was a champion midget racer when he was 17, ran USAC sprint cars and won that division’s Silver Crown championship in 1999.
  • A mistrial has been declared by Athens Judge David Sweat in the courthouse hacking case involving a Gwinnett County judge. Channel 2 Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Tony Thomas said Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader walked out of court without comment as she remains suspended from the bench on charges that she hired three men to hack into the county computer system amid fears the district attorney’s office was spying on her. After the mistrial, the jury foreperson, Rachel Steahr, told Thomas she was frustrated because basically the evidence didn’t provide any clear answers to what happened. “There was a lot of evidence and it was really good, but either side it wasn't strong enough. They needed more since they didn’t come to a conclusion of how this happened,” Steahr said. She said a majority of jurors thought Schrader was not guilty on count one of computer trespassing, were split on the second charge and wanted to convict on the third charge. Prosecutors said they are now trying to figure out if they want to retry this case. “We are going to continue to reevaluate the case. We are going to be in discussion with the executive director and make a decision,” prosecutor John Regan said. Schrader’s attorney maintains her client is innocent. “I'm always relieved when it's clear our message was heard. She is not guilty,” said defense attorney BJ Bernstein. Prosecutors said it remains unclear when they may retry the case, but they are hoping to make it happen sooner rather than later.
  • We are learning more about the three University of Georgia employees arrested last week on theft charges: Amy Stowers is from Gainesville and was manager of the University’s Vision Clinic. She’s facing felony charges, accused of masterminding a bribery scheme that netted a reported $2,500 from eyeglass vendors. Two other women are facing misdemeanor counts after taking gift cards from vendors, cards said to have been worth several hundred dollars.From Asia Simone Burns, AJC… Amy Stowers, Rita Melville and Jamie Fay Coley were each taken into custody in connection with the investigation.  Police said Stowers, who managed the University Health Center Vision Clinic, orchestrated the bribery scheme. According to the police report, she made a “prohibited” agreement with an optical vendor, who was not named. The vendor would give her gift cards, and in exchange she would lead the vendor to believe it would “influence the performance of her official duties,” the report said.                    Stowers received about $2,550 in gift cards from the vendor, police said.  As part of the same agreement, Melville and Coley, who were opticians in the clinic, received $348 and $404 in gift cards, respectively.  The funds stemmed from the sale of eyewear frames, the report said. The women were able to convert the proceeds for personal use.  Stowers is facing four counts of felony bribery, while Coley and Melville each face six counts of misdemeanor theft by conversion. Stowers was booked into the Clarke County Jail on Wednesday and released the following day on a $44,400 bond. Coley and Melville were both booked into the jail Friday morning and released the same day on $10,100 bonds.
  • The Newton County parents convicted of murder says there is no evidence they killed their 2-week-old daughter.  Both Christopher Michael McNabb and Cortney Marie Bell have filed motions for new trials, according to documents filed in Newton Superior Clerk. Both were convicted of killing baby Caliyah in May 2019.  In his motion filed Monday, McNabb says prosecutors were unable to prove he killed baby Caliyah and that his prior attorney was ineffective during the trial.  “There was no physical or direct evidence produced that demonstrated that Mr. McNabb caused the child’s death. Nor was the State able to demonstrate what actually caused the child’s severe injuries,” McNabb’s motion states. “The thrust of the State’s case was that Mr. McNabb was a bad man that lived in a bad environment.” In her motion for a new trial, filed in late January, Bell also says prosecutors did not prove she was responsible for Caliyah’s death.  “The State did not prove that Ms. Bell caused Caliyah’s death, at best they attempted at trial to prove that she contributed to the circumstances that led to Caliyah’s death,” her motion states.  A jury deliberated about an hour before convicting both McNabb and Bell following a joint trial. McNabb was sentenced to life in prison without parole, Bell to 30 years with 15 to serve. But both parents were adamant they weren’t responsible for Caliyah’s death.  “I’m innocent. I didn’t do it,” McNabb told Judge John Ott before his sentencing. “If you ever find out who did it, they deserve to be under the jail.” In October 2017, Bell reported the baby missing from the family’s mobile home. That night, McNabb angrily demanded the child’s return in front of television cameras. It’s likely that Caliyah was already dead by the time McNabb pleaded for the community’s help in finding her, according to investigators. 
  • Athens Democrats hold a debate watch party tonight, as Democratic presidential candidates take the stage in Las Vegas in advance of Saturday’s Nevada caucuses. Tonight’s local viewing is set for 8 o’clock at Little Italy on Lumpkin Street in downtown Athens. The debate—the first to include former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg--can be heard live on WGAU. It starts at 9 o’clock, with television on MSNBC. From Facebook… Join your fellow democratic socialists for some #yallidarity and FREE PIZZA! We'll gather in the back room of Little Italy downtown, and cheer Bernie on as he continues to rise above the fray of the party establishment. It's the first debate featuring American Oligarch and proud stop-and-frisk-er Michael Bloomberg, so it's a must-watch. Come have fun with like-minded folks, and learn more about how you can get involved with Athens Area DSA... we need your ideas and energy!

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS Georgia basketball had the sellout crowd at Stegeman Coliseum rocking on Wednesday night, upsetting No. 13-ranked Auburn 65-55. Freshman Anthony Edwards had 18 points and six rebounds to lead the Bulldogs, who snapped a four-game losing streak with the victory. Georgia (13-13, 3-10 SEC) had lost three of the previous four games after leading by double-digits, but not this time against the Tigers (22-4, 9-4). The Bulldogs went up 10 points on a Sahvir Wheeler free throw that made it 37-27 with 14:55 left. Auburn couldn't get closer than three rest of the game. Wheeler had 13 points and four assists, controlling the ball and the tempo against Bruce Pearl's trapping Tigers with the seventh sellout crowd of the season urging him on. Freshman Toumani Camara took care a lot of the tough work in the paint with 12 points and eight rebounds. Camara sealed the win down the stretch, 5-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 22 seconds. It's UGA's second win over a ranked opponent this season. Georgia beat then-No. 9 Memphis 65-62 on Jan. 4 in Memphis Auburn won the teams' first meeting by an 82-60 count on Jan. 11 in Auburn. But Georgia served notice of just how good it can be when Rayshaun Hammonds (13 points, eight rebounds) is playing well in the first half, leading 31-25 at the break. The Bulldogs had led by as many as nine before intermission, a Hammonds' fast break layup giving UGA a 21-12 lead at the 9:31 mark. Hammonds scored all 10 of his first-half points the first 11 minutes of the game, also pulling down six rebounds. Edwards, meanwhile, didn't score the first eight minutes of the game. But Edwards third bucket of the game was a big one, as it ended a 9-0 Auburn run and put the Bulldogs back on top 25-23 with 3:55 left in the half. It was a lead Georgia would never relinquish. The Bulldogs return to action at 6 p.m. on Saturday against Vanderbilt in Nashville (TV: SEC Network). DawgNation Georgia basketball Georgia basketball drops close one at Texas A&M, Anthony Edwards ill Alabama topples Georgia in overtime Georgia suffers deflating defeat at Florida UGA snaps four-game losing streak with Texas A&M win Perplexing loss for Georgia basketball at Missouri Column: Anthony Edwards needs to get back to having fun Georgia comes up short in hard-fought loss at Kentucky Anthony Edwards puts the squeeze on Tennessee in blowout win Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener The post Georgia basketball upsets Auburn before sellout crowd at Stegeman Coliseum appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS The NCAA Transfer Working Group looks to open the door for for football transfers to gain immediately eligibility. 'The current system is unsustainable, (and) working group members believe it's time to bring our transfer rules more in line with today's college landscape,' Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, the chair of the working group, said in an NCAA article. 'This concept provides a uniform approach that is understandable, predictable and objective. Most importantly, it benefits students.' Per the proposal: The working group concept would change waiver criteria to allow approvals for first-time four-year transfers in all sports to compete immediately if they: Receive a transfer release from their previous school. Leave their previous school academically eligible. Maintain their academic progress at the new school. Leave under no disciplinary suspension. The proposal could be in place by the 2020-21 academic year. Of course, it's all too late for former Georgia tight end Luke Ford. RELATED: Ford transfer tied to being closer to agi ng grandfather Ford, who spent the 2018 season with the Bulldogs, lost his bid for a waiver last summer that would have allowed him to play for Illinois during the 2019 season. My Grandpa just passed on to a better place in heaven. Love you Papa! I'm sorry you didn't get to see me play in person, my heart is devastated Rest in Paradise L U K E F O R D (@lukeredx97) February 19, 2020 Ford lost his appeal following the 2018 season despite being represented by high-profile attorney Thomas Mars. Mars, of course, keyed Justin Fields' successful bid for immediate eligibility at Ohio State last season after he transferred from Georgia. The NCAA Transfer Working Group's proposal for football, basketball, baseball and hockey would be the same as the transfer legislation already in existence for other sports. The Division I Council appointed the council last fall, well aware that there could be unintended consequences. 'We know that challenges will exist with this concept, particularly as it relates to other coaches potentially tampering with currently enrolled student-athletes,' Steinbrecher s aid in the NCAA.org story. 'The working group will continue to examine this, as well as any potential financial aid and academic impacts, so the Council can make a fully informed decision.' ACC Network analyst and former Georgia football coach Mark Richt is among those who have concerns. I know, I have an idea. You recruit and develop players and when I think they're good enough I will poach them from your roster! Welcome to what the new normal will look like in college football! Mark Richt (@MarkRicht) February 18, 2020 ESPN analyst and Georgia football legend David Pollack expressed frustration with the inconsistency of the current policy. 'Fields versus Luke Ford, guys that were at Georgia, what determines who gets it (immediate eligibility)?' Pollack said to DawgNation last summer. 'Somebody's family is sick (Ford's grandfather), or somebody has a reason to go back home and they get a no,' and somebody else that doesn't really have a reason gets a yes.' That drives you nuts for the kids. 'Some people get waivers, some people don't, and it makes absolutely no sense.' Related: David Pollack goes off on NCAA transfer inconsistencies Current Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart has been relatively liberal in his view of transfers and the invent of the NCAA transfer portal. Smart said his priority is that the NCAA do what's best for the student-athletes. 'Kids have always been able to go places, change and make decisions. Roster management hasn't changed from the standpoint of, we've been working off 85, working off medical (redshirts),' Smart said last year. 'There's been slight changes to the number of guys you can sign early, there's been a slight of increase of players who have come out early over time. 'As we continue to grow, it's something we'll deal with. I don't think there's a major concern there. You've got 85 scholarships, you operate at your 85. NFL teams do it with less than that so I'm not that concerned about roster management as I am making sure what's best for the student athlete is what we do.' The post NCAA group recommends immediate eligibility for transfers, too late for Luke Ford appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Kirby Smart is considered one of the top defensive minds in football, constantly studying trends and concepts at the NFL, collegiate and even high school level. It's a safe bet the Georgia football head coach is considering new wrinkles this offseason just like the rest of the coaches who attend and speak at the UGA Coaches Clinic March 26-28. Smart has landed a star-studded guest speaker lineup consisting of new Mississippi State coach Mike Leach, Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel and new New York Giants coach Joe Judge. Middle school and high school coaches who want to attend the clinic can sign up through the school's website. Smart's staff will be involved coaches love to talk ball. But as much as anything, they will also be listening to one another. Especially when it's Leach's turn to speak. The Bulldogs are overhauling their offense. A dual-threat quarterback is set to be under center this season, with Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman the favorite entering spring drills. Smart says he's looking for the same things from his offense as before: efficiency, scoring and explosive plays. RELATED: Kirby Smart offers no grand speech' on future of Georgia football offense But Georgia has not locked into how it will go about it, even after the hiring of former NFL offensive coordinator Todd Monken, whose 2018 Tampa Bay offense set franchise records. Monken and Leach will be quite a meeting of the offensive minds. Leach is known for building some of the nation's most potent and prolific spread offenses, those of the 'Air Raid' variety he helped develop with Hal Mumme at Valdosta State and Kentucky. Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon had the second-highest passing yards in the FBS ranks last season (5,579) and the fourth-highest completion percentage (71.6) operating out of Leach's offense. RELATED: The Mike Leach coaching tree Vrabell, a former defensive coordinator with the Houston Texans, saw his team rank 12th in the NFL in total defense last season. The Titans, however, were tied for 10th in the NFL with 23 takeaways an area Smart has said UGA has room to improve. Judge is the Giants new coach in New York after an eight-year stint on Coach Bill Belichick's staff in New England. Judge worked with the Patriots' special teams throughout his tenure, adding the role of wide receivers coach last season. New England's special teams were among the best in the NFL throughout last season, per advanced metrics. They have traditionally been among the best in the NFL under Belichick, a characteristic Smart harps about wanting in his program. Each member of the Georgia football coaching staff will also participate in 'chalk talks' at the clinic. Bulldogs defensive coordinator Dan Lanning is fast becoming one of the hottest coaching commodities. His future in Georgia figures to be shorter rather than longer with programs recognizing his talents and head coach potential. Lanning's defense was tops in the nation in scoring defense and rushing defense, while finishing third in total defense and eighth in pass efficiency defense. This, despite not having any defensive players selected first-team All-SEC by an Associated Press panel. RELATED: League-leading Georgia defense shut out of first-team All-SEC picks Georgia had 37 players on defense get more than 100 snaps last season. The post Georgia football sure to benefit from Air Raid' guru Mike Leach at coaching clinic appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Jake Fromm's arm strength holds the key to his NFL draft status, according to ESPN analyst Mel Kiper jr. 'We know what he has: the smarts, we know he has the leadership, we know he's an accurate passer forget the numbers, he lost all his receivers going into this year so you know he can do all those things,' Kiper said on an ESPN teleconference on Wednesday. 'But is the arm good enough? (That's what) people are going to be really scrutinizing with Fromm going through this whole draft process leading up into late April, which will determine whether he's a second round pick, or whether he's a fourth- or fifth-round pick.' Kiper Jr. continues to maintain that Fromm reminds him of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. But, the long-time draft expert said, there is also a scenario where he projects more closely to former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. Fromm's performance at the NFL combine next week in Indianapolis will obviously be important. 'Only thing (that's) gonna be on display there, he's going to have to show is the necessary arm strength, because that's going to determine, is he Aaron Murray or is he Andy Dalton?' Kiper Jr. said. 'That's what everybody is trying to figure out.' The NFL combine runs from Feb. 23 through March 2 with testing taking place in Lucas Oil Stadium. Quarterbacks and wideouts will workout on Feb. 27. 'If he's Andy Dalton, you're talking about a second round, early-second round type of quarterback. If you're Aaron Murray, you're a later-round quarterback who's now playing in the XFL.' Murray, currently with the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL, was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Murray is the SEC's all-time leading passing yardage and passing touchdown leader, played for Mark Richt in Athens from 2010-2013. Kiper, however, has leaned more toward the Dalton comparison, which he first revealed last month during a podcast with fellow draft analyst Todd McShay. 'The easiest (comparison) in this draft is Jake Fromm to (Cincinnati Bengals quarterback) Andy Dalton,' Kiper said. 'From competitiveness, leadership, smarts, size ' Kiper, like Georgia coach Kirby Smart, qualified the drop-off in Fromm's numbers to the loss of UGA's top five pass catchers from the season before, along with other attrition. 'All of (Fromm's) touchdowns were gone,' he said. 'Think about (former UGA players) Riley Ridley, Mecole Hardman, Terry Godwin, Isaac Nauta. 'Then, he also lost Elijah Holyfield who was the No. 2 or 1-A running back with (D'Andre) Swift, who had a big year. And he lost his center as well. You can't take that away with anybody.' Fromm has been working out in Mobile, Ala., at 'QB Country' with his quarterback coach, David Morris, in preparation for the NFL combine. RELATED: AJC exclusive with Jake Fromm, what went into decision Fromm is one of 10 Georgia football players who received an invite to the all-important combine. Players will undergo thorough medical exams in addition to testing out in drill work and meeting with teams. RELATED: The 10 Georgia football players invited to 2020 NFL Combine DawgNation: Georgia in the NFL draft Jake Fromm evaluation, comparison, per former Super Bowl scout ESPN labels Georgia a 'loser' in NFL early entry process Evaluating Andrew Thomas, why he's a first-round lock Eli Wolf, Charlie Woerner, Brian Herrien, Tyrique McGhee shine in all-star games Todd McShay projects Georgia QB Jake Fromm to have first-round talent Closer look at Jake Fromm's decision, factors and faith Mel Kiper Jr.'s mock: Andrew Thomas and D'Andre Swift future teammates The post Jake Fromm 2020 NFL Draft stock hinges on arm strength, per Mel Kiper Jr. appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean is referring to it as an 'opportunity' game when the Bulldogs take on SEC powerhouse Auburn. Bruce Pearl looks at it as a 'must-win' for his Tigers. Georgia (12-13, 2-10 SEC) plays against No. 13-ranked Auburn (22-3, 9-3) at 7 p.m. with a sold-out crowd awaiting the tip at Stegeman Coliseum (TV: ESPN2). ' We have tremendous opportunity tomorrow night with Auburn, and the way that they're playing,' Crean said. 'They pose numerous challenges as most everybody else in this league does but especially the way they're playing. 'The way they're getting fouled right now, the way their offensive rebounding the ball, extremely high levels, playing extremely fast, aggressive. They play with great confidence and are playing like a veteran team.' Auburn is coming off a shocking 85-73 road loss to Missouri, a defeat that could be attributed to a 1-of-17 shooting night beyond the 3-point arc. Bruce Pearl's team did, however, get to the free-throw line to attempt an eye-popping 46 free throws. 'I look at it this way: the Georgia game is a must-win if we're going to stay in this conference championship race,' Pearl said. Kentucky is a game up on Auburn with its Tuesday night win over LSU. '(Georgia is a) tough place to play, hard to win on the road, but if we're going to be in this conference championship race, we have to win the game,' Pearl said. 'Strong statement with seven games left, but I've always kept it real with my team.' Georgia expects to have a healthy Anthony Edwards primed for the meeting. Edwards, recently projected by ESPN to be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, has been battling flu-like symptoms during the Bulldogs' four-game losing streak. Crean stressed the importance of team focus for the upcoming game. Junior forward Rayshaun Hammonds has shown signs of returning to form after going through a self-admitted slump. Freshman point guard Sahvir Wheeler appears recovered from an ankle injury that slowed him during the team's four-game losing streak the second half of January. If the Bulldogs can get Edwards, Hammonds and Wheeler healthy and playing well at the same time, it would greatly improve the team's chances for a strong finish. 'We just need to focus on playing well,' Crean said. 'Like playing longer stretches together, talking through it, playing with confidence not, you know, not waiting for the bottom to fall out right and that's what happens sometimes with teams it's just keeps playing.' A loud home crowd could go a long way for the Bulldogs on Wednesday night with the team looking to snap out of a funk that's seen it lose eight of the last nine games. Auburn won the first meeting between the teams this season, 82-60, on Jan. 11 in Auburn. The post Georgia basketball braces for Auburn team bringing must-win' mentality to sold-out Stegeman Coliseum appeared first on DawgNation.