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Entertainment Headlines

    For years, actress Annabella Sciorra felt powerless against Harvey Weinstein, keeping to all but a few friends the allegation that the once-revered Hollywood honcho pinned her to a bed and raped her in the early 1990s. Now, more than a quarter-century later, Sciorra is set to confront Weinstein as a key prosecution witness at his New York City rape trial. A guilty verdict could put the 67-year-old Oscar winner in prison for the rest of his life. Sciorra, 59, is expected to testify Thursday, setting up the first of several face-to-face confrontations between Weinstein and his accusers at a trial that's a landmark moment for the #MeToo movement. The New York trial involves just a pair of the dozens of allegations that surfaced against Weinstein in recent years. He is charged with forcibly performing oral sex on former “Project Runway” production assistant Mimi Haleyi in his apartment in 2006 and raping an aspiring actress in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013. Weinstein has insisted any sexual encounters were consensual. As he left court on Wednesday, he told reporters he felt “very confident” about the case. Sciorra's allegations are outside the statute of limitations for criminal charges on their own, but her testimony could be a factor as prosecutors look to show that Weinstein has engaged in a pattern of predatory behavior. Her testimony about events in the mid-to-late 1990s could give the jury of seven men and five women a sense of the breadth of Weinstein’s alleged wrongdoing and insight into the power dynamics at play in his interactions with young actresses. Prosecutors previewed Sciorra's testimony in a lengthy, at-times graphic opening statement Wednesday that painted Weinstein as a sexual predator who used his film industry clout to abuse women for decades. She's one of four other accusers that prosecutors plan to call as witnesses during the monthlong trial. Sciorra, known for her work in “The Sopranos,” alleges Weinstein showed up at her Manhattan apartment after dropping her off from a dinner, forced himself inside and raped her sometime in late 1993 or early 1994. “The evidence will show that despite her protests, despite her fight, despite her body revolting, Harvey Weinstein felt he was entitled to take what he wanted from Annabella forcing her to live in terror of him for decades,” prosecutor Meghan Hast told jurors in her opening statement. That touched off several years of Weinstein tormenting Sciorra, Hast said, culminating in an incident at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 in which he arrived at her hotel door in his underwear, with a bottle of baby oil in hand. A petrified Sciorra ran to the back of the room and started hitting call buttons, at which point Weinstein left, Hast said. Weinstein lawyer Damon Cheronis, in his opening statement, made clear the defense intends to go on the offensive. He questioned the validity of Sciorra's account, saying she once told a friend that she “did a crazy thing and had sex with Harvey Weinstein' and that she had a consensual encounter with him. “She didn't describe it as rape because it wasn't,” Cheronis said. The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they have been victims of sexual assault, unless they come forward publicly. ___ Follow Michael Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak and Tom Hays at twitter.com/aptomhays
  • Jamie Foxx has won a plethora of major awards including an Oscar and Grammy. But after the African American Film Critics Association recognized him Wednesday night, the actor-singer called its honor just as special. Foxx along with Eddie Murphy and Jordan Peele were among some of the honorees at the 11th annual ceremony in Los Angeles. “People say so much about the other awards, but it’s special when it comes from your own people,” said Foxx, who won best supporting actor for his role in “Just Mercy.” “It’s just special,” he said after receiving the award from the organization, which actively reviews films with an emphasis on projects that include the black experience. The awards mainly highlight films produced, written, directed and starring people from the African diaspora along with other ethnic projects that break new ground. Oscar contender “Parasite,” a South Korean thriller, won two awards for best screenplay and foreign film, sharing the honor with “Atlantics,” a Senegalese love story. Through his translator, “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho said African Americans played a big role for him while studying cinema during college in South Korea. He said he used to create his own subtitles to Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” and “Jungle Fever.” “At the time, my English wasn’t that good, so subtitling it was quite an experience,” Bong said. “I had no idea there was various curse words in the English language. Thanks to Spike Lee, I learned so many things.” Bong said he finally met Lee at an award show a couple weeks ago. The director took a picture with Lee, but didn’t get a chance to tell him about how he subtitled his films in college. “If any of you guys are acquainted with him, please tell him I would like to get in touch with him,” his translator said as the audience burst into laughter. After Bong left the stage, Academy Award-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter — who has worked with Lee for more than 20 years — said she could put the two directors in touch with each other. Murphy was not in attendance, but he won for best actor for his role in Netflix's “Dolemite Is My Name.' For a second time, a film directed by Peele won the AAFCA award for best picture. His movie “Us,” starring Lupita Nyong'o and Winston Duke, won the show’s top honor. “For my second project, the whole question was ‘What are you going to do?’ I knew that I wanted to bring something different, something that people weren’t expecting,” said Peele, who also won for best director. In 2018, his film “Get Out” took home the award for best picture. “I wanted to take a risk,” he continued. “It means so much to me to be acknowledged for this huge risk, this huge swing. ... This encourages myself and a whole lot of other people to take big swings.” Music exec Clarence Avant was honored with the game changer award. The Netflix documentary “The Black Godfather,” which depicts Avant's story, was named best documentary. Matthew Cherry, who earned his first Oscar nomination for “Hair Love,” took home the award for breakthrough director. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” director Peter Ramsey said Cherry “struck a nerve” with his animated short film, which delved into a story about an African-American father who learns how to style his daughter's hair for the first time. “It’s important to honor each other, especially when groundbreaking film making is happening,” Cherry said. “It’s been happening since the beginning of cinema, so it’s really important that we honor each other.”
  • The first night of arguments in favor of President Donald Trump's impeachment before the U.S. Senate was judged not ready for prime time by many of the nation's television executives. ABC, CBS and NBC all stuck with regularly scheduled programs like “Chicago Med,” “Criminal Minds” and “Modern Family” Wednesday evening instead of showing the House managers' evening session at the impeachment trial. That lasted about two hours, 15 minutes. CNN and MSNBC carried the trial in full. Fox News Channel, after showing Rep. Adam Schiff speak for about a half hour, interrupted for a story about a child support case involving former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter, and never returned. Even two PBS stations in the New York area showed science programming and “Antiques Roadshow” instead of the trial Wednesday evening. PBS said it gave its local stations the option to show the trial or not. The calls Wednesday night are significant because if the top networks decided not to pre-empt programming on the first full night the case against Trump was laid out, chances are they won't reverse course later unless the unexpected happens. Daytime was an intriguing contrast, since the top three broadcasters and cable news outlets all carried Schiff's initial stand at the podium, which lasted more than two hours. It was rare for anyone in today's media world to command full television attention to that extent. The Senate's rules for the trial, which required using a single camera on the speaker and didn't allow reaction shots of senators, only served to accentuate Schiff's message. Meanwhile, Trump was setting a record for sending out the most tweets in a single day since he's been president. For the television networks, however, prime time is a different animal altogether, with more viewers and advertising revenue available. After pulling away from House managers Wednesday evening, Fox News personalities spent much of their time ridiculing the proceedings. Fox mostly kept a postage stamp-size picture of the speaker soundlessly mouthing words in a corner of the screen, with an invitation for viewers to go online if they wanted to hear the arguments. Fox's Tucker Carlson ran clips of TV commentators on other network personalities who praised Schiff's afternoon speech, calling the comments “pornographic.” He said Trump wasn't the only victim of the impeachment trial — suggesting viewers were, too. He brought on a former Republican congressman to talk about alleged crimes in the Obama administration and Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe to assess the trial. “Today was really boring and the president's defense team is very happy,” Ratcliffe said. Carlson also interviewed Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, with the host saying Hawley had “stepped out of the trial” to talk on television and criticize House managers. Similarly, Fox's Sean Hannity labeled the impeachment trial the “Schumer Schiff Sham Show” and attacked Schiff for his afternoon speech. “He is a lunatic,' Hannity said. “If you watched him talk he was totally unhinged. He looked like a lunatic who has lost his mind.” Wrapping up his evening argument a half-hour later, Schiff also used the word “sham,” but in a much different context, as a description for Trump's attempts to get the Ukraine to investigate the activities of Hunter Biden. It wasn't heard on Fox, however. At the time Hannity was interviewing lawyer Alan Dershowitz, a member of Trump's impeachment defense team.
  • It's no secret, sports fans. Better games produce better ratings. That was the simple lesson for the NFL this week, after a dip in viewership for its conference championship games, compared to 2019. The Nielsen company said 42.8 million people watched the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers to punch their Super Bowl ticket, and 41.1 million people watched Kansas City beat Tennessee. Both conference championship games went into overtime last year, and the audiences were 44.2 million and 53.9 million, Nielsen said. By contrast, this year's games were one-sided. LSU's win over Clemson in the college football national championship game was seen by 25.6 million on ESPN, Nielsen said. That's a little over a million more than last year's game reached. With the benefit of an NFL game in prime time, Fox led all the broadcast networks in ratings last week, averaging 9.9 million viewers. CBS had 4.9 million viewers in prime time, NBC had 4.2 million, ABC had 3.8 million, Univision had 1.6 million, ION Television had 1.3 million, Telemundo had 890,000 and the CW had 790,000. ESPN led the cable networks, averaging 4.28 million viewers in prime time. Fox News Channel averaged 2.75 million, MSNBC had 1.86 million, CNN had 1.46 million and TLC had 1.18 million. ABC's “World News Tonight” led the evening news ratings race, averaging 9.3 million viewers last week. NBC's “Nightly News” had 8.1 million viewers and the “CBS Evening News” had 5.9 million viewers. The top 20 programs as measured by Nielsen last week, their network and viewership: 1. NFC Championship: Green Bay at San Francisco, Fox, 42.79 million. 2. “NFL Post-Game” (9:44 to 9:49 p.m. Eastern), Fox, 31.29 million. 3. College Football Championship: Clemson vs. LSU, ESPN, 25.58 million. 4. “NFL Post-Game” (9:50 to 10:04 p.m. Eastern), Fox, 23.92 million. 5. “College Football Post-Game,” ESPN, 16.7 million. 6. “Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time, Match 4,” ABC, 13.55 million. 7. “911: Lone Star,” Fox, 11.41 million. 8. “NCIS,” CBS, 10.13 million. 9. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 8.88 million. 10. “FBI,” CBS, 8.57 million 11. “Chicago Med,” NBC, 8.45 million. 12. “Chicago Fire,” NBC, 8.17 million. 13. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 8.1 million. 14. “Democratic Debate,” CNN, 7.4 million. 15. “Chicago PD,” NBC, 6.78 million. 16. “This is Us,” NBC, 6.73 million. 17. “America's Got Talent Champions,” NBC, 6.53 million. 18. “FBI: Most Wanted,” CBS, 6.52 million. 19. “Mom,” CBS, 6.3 million. 20. “Democratic Debate Analysis,” CNN, 5.77 million.
  • As Harvey Weinstein goes through his New York trial on rape and sexual assault charges, here's a look at the movie mogul's past and his multiple legal fights. A HOLLYWOOD KINGMAKER: For decades, Weinstein was among the most powerful men in film. Born in Queens, New York, the son of a jewel cutter, Weinstein and his younger brother Bob began as rock concert promoters in Buffalo. They became distributors of independent and foreign films, then major players in the 1990s mainstreaming of indie films into Academy Awards contenders with movies that included “Sex, Lies and Videotape,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Shakespeare in Love.” Through his companies Miramax and later The Weinstein Company, he was known for his hard-nosed style with employees and competitors, and as an innovator in campaigning for Oscars, bringing the relentless methods of politics into play for awards for his films. THE ALLEGATIONS BEGIN: In October 2017, whispers and rumors of allegations of serious sexual misconduct became a roar with the publication of stories about Weinstein in The New York Times and The New Yorker. In those stories and in the months that followed, dozens of women, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek, Lupita Nyong'o and Ashley Judd, accused Weinstein of sexual harassment, while actresses Asia Argento, Rose McGowan and others accused him of raping them. A COLLAPSING CAREER: Following the deluge of allegations, Weinstein became a film industry pariah. The 67-year-old disgraced movie mogul was kicked out of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and received a lifetime ban from the Producers Guild of America. He was removed as head of The Weinstein Co., which subsequently declared bankruptcy; its films and other assets bought by Dallas private equity firm Lantern Capital. Weinstein's wife, Georgina Chapman, filed for divorce. Women globally began using the hashtag #MeToo to share their own stories of sexual assault. Reports of sexual misconduct involving men in entertainment and media soared, and people came forward to make allegations against multiple other famous men in movies, the news media, music, television and the fine arts. THE ARREST: On May 25, 2018, Weinstein was arrested on charges involving two people: Lucia Evans, who accused Weinstein of forcing her to perform oral sex in his office in 2004, and an unidentified woman who said she was raped at a hotel in 2013. Prosecutors would later add a third alleged victim to the case, Mimi Haleyi, who said Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in 2006. Weinstein has broadly denied having engaged in non-consensual sexual conduct. He vowed an aggressive defense, and his legal team scored an early victory. Prosecutors dropped Evans from the case after evidence surfaced that a police detective had coached a witness to stay quiet about her doubts about the truthfulness of the allegations. Police and prosecutors in New York considered bringing charges involving several women but couldn't pursue some cases because the statute of limitations had expired. Weinstein worked with several lawyers before settling on his current team, Donna Rotunno, Arthur Aidala and Damon Cheronis. ALLEGATIONS STACK UP: Prosecutors in Los Angeles unveiled new charges against Weinstein on Jan. 6, the eve of jury selection beginning in his New York rape trial. Weinstein is accused of sexually assaulting two women on successive nights during Oscars week in 2013. Los Angeles prosecutors allege he raped a woman at her Los Angeles hotel, then sexually assaulted a woman in his Beverly Hills hotel suite the next day. He could get up to 28 years in prison if convicted on all of those charges. Los Angeles county prosecutors said three more sexual assault cases remained under criminal investigation. Others, dating from the late 1970s, 2011 and 2015, were declined for prosecution because statutes of limitations had expired. OTHER LEGAL WOES: Dozens of actresses, models, former employees and associates have sued Weinstein in federal and state courts in the more than two years since a surge of sexual misconduct allegations against him emerged in media reports and spurred the #MeToo movement. Those who sued included the actresses Dominque Huett, Paz de la Huerta, Wedil David, Judd and McGowan. In December, a tentative $25 million settlement was revealed that would end many of the suits brought against Weinstein and his former film studio's board. At least 29 plaintiffs including actresses, former Weinstein employees and the New York attorney general’s office have agreed to the proposed settlement, a plaintiffs’ attorney, Elizabeth Fegan, told The Associated Press in December. It wouldn't cover additional lawsuits from Judd, who alleges Weinstein interfered with her career after she rejected his sexual advances, and McGowan, who says Weinstein, some of his lawyers and an Israeli intelligence firm engaged in racketeering in an attempt to keep her from publicly saying he raped her. Weinstein’s attorneys called the allegations baseless.
  • The head of Hallmark's media business is leaving the company after 11 years, just a month after its flagship Hallmark Channel faced an outcry over a decision to pull an ad with a lesbian couple kissing. No reason was given for Bill Abbott's departure, and no replacement was immediately named. In a statement, Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards Inc., said that with immense competition from TV networks and streaming services, it is important for the company to find “relevant new ways to grow our business.” Abbott was CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, a company controlled by Hallmark Cards. Crown Media's flagship cable channel is The Hallmark Channel, known for family-friendly programming, particularly made-for-TV Christmas-themed movies. In December, the Hallmark Channel's decision to pull an ad featuring the same-sex couple led to an outcry online. The company later reversed the decision. Crown Media also operates the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Hallmark Drama networks, subscription streaming service Hallmark Movies Now and e-book publishing division Hallmark Publishing.
  • What started as a joke on Twitter about an unwritten rule among country radio stations not to play two female artists in a row prompted outrage by country music stars, but also pledges to give women equal airtime. A now-deleted tweet by a Michigan radio station 98 WKCQ-FM last week claimed “we cannot play two females back to back” in response to a writer for Variety magazine. The station’s parent company later denied that was ever a rule, but the fire that had been steadily smoldering for years over the perceived barriers to women in country music had already been reignited. Grammy-winning country singer Kacey Musgraves snapped back on Twitter to the station, “And yet, they can play 18 dudes who sound exactly the same back to back.” Kelsea Ballerini chimed in to say, “I’m really sorry that in 2020, after YEARS of conversation of equal play, there are still some companies that make their stations play by these rules.” But others took an immediate action. CMT announced on Tuesday that they would institute equal airplay for female artists across their two channels. And a country radio station in Ontario, Canada, started an equal play initiative for one week, pledging to split the airplay time 50-50 between men and female voices. The so-called rule against playing two women back to back is a familiar excuse heard by country singer Mickey Guyton, who was one of several female country stars tweeting about the controversy. “I have also heard them say that women need to write better songs,' said Guyton, in an email interview with The Associated Press. Guyton said the industry is more concerned with finding reasons why women aren’t succeeding than finding solutions. “For the longest time, I was so scared to speak up because I was taught to fear losing the support of the industry, but you can’t lose what you don’t have,” said Guyton, who has a new single called “Sister.” “The people who have felt underrepresented are thanking me for standing up for something that they have seen go on for a long time.” “No women back to back” might not be a rule, but statistics show that overall country radio has put it in practice for the last two decades. Jada Watson, a professor at the University of Ottawa who studies country music and gender, found that country radio has been for several years severely lopsided in how many female artists are played. Her report, in consultation with WOMAN Nashville, found that between 2000 and 2018, there was a 66% decline in the number of songs by female artists on country radio. “Ultimately what they’re doing with these 50/50 and equal play campaigns is retraining an audience to be familiar with female voices, who’ve they not heard for the last decade,” said Watson. Still this is not surprising information to anyone in country music. In 2015, a radio consultant who compared women to tomatoes in a salad and encouraged stations to remove female voices from their playlists prompted a similar call for changes in the industry. Brittany Thompson, program director for CKLC-FM, a country radio station in Kingston, Ontario, said everyone in country music points fingers elsewhere when these gender discussions come up, whether it’s at radio, labels or concert promoters. “We will use our platform to hopefully at least not only start a discussion, but show that you don't have to be scared of women on country radio,” said Thompson. Thompson said that prior to their equal play initiative, the station was playing about 40% women to 60% male artists for songs that are current. For recurrent and gold playlists, which are songs that have been released months or years prior, the disparity was much larger for women, Thompson said. “We had a minuscule amount of women. There might have been a couple of Carrie Underwood songs. I don’t think we had any Miranda Lambert songs,” Thompson said. Leslie Fram, senior vice president of music and talent at CMT, has been behind a number of initiatives meant to support new and existing female acts in country music, including a popular CMT Next Women of Country tour. She dismissed the critics of equality pledges who say songs should be chosen based on merit, not gender. “We are basing it on merit,” said Fram. “We’re saying the best song should win, but women should have an equal playing field.” Other initiatives some stations have taken include playing women for an entire hour, or having programming that is dedicated to playing women. These initiatives are a little frustrating, but it's better than no action at all, said Brandy Clark, who will be part of CMT's Next Women of Country tour this year. She applauded CMT for its equality pledge. “I hate that for women to get played we have to turn ourselves into even more of a minority,” Clark said. “But it has to start somewhere. People can't like what they don't hear.” For Guyton, she wants to see more stations and companies pledge to play more women and stop adhering to false notions about what country listeners want to hear. “I have a hard time believing that 50% of the population doesn’t want to hear songs that represent them,” Guyton said. ___ Online: http://www.cmt.com
  • Former Grammys CEO Neil Portnow said Wednesday that a rape allegation against him aired by his successor in a complaint against the Recording Academy is “false and outrageous.” Portnow released a statement saying that the academy conducted a thorough and independent investigation of the accusation and he was “completely exonerated.” His comment came a day after ousted academy CEO Deborah Dugan filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission asserting that she had been subjected to retaliation for reporting sexual harassment by an academy attorney and for calling out the “boys club” culture that pervades the institution. The allegations were being exchanged during what is usually a celebratory week of parties and special events leading up to Sunday's Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Dugan said she learned during her six-month stint as CEO that Portnow had been accused of rape by a foreign recording artist and academy member after a performance at Carnegie Hall. The artist was not named. “This document is filled with inaccurate, false and outrageous and terribly hurtful claims against me,' Portnow said. “There was no basis for the allegations, and once again I deny them unequivocally.” Portnow, a 72-year-old former record label executive, did not seek an extension of his contract and left the CEO post last year after 17 years. He came under fire for saying women need to “step up” when asked backstage at the 2018 Grammy Awards why only two female acts won awards during the live telecast. Portnow again apologized for the comment on Wednesday. Dugan's attorneys responded Wednesday that they and their client stand by the complaint. Portnow’s statement 'is only the most recent in a series of defamatory attacks aimed at Ms. Dugan because she is a women who has shown the courage to stand up for what is right,” the lawyers said in a statement. Portnow also said he never demanded the $750,000 annual consulting fee that Dugan's complaint says she was urged to give him. Dugan's attorneys said that she never asserted Portnow made such a demand, only that the academy's board chairman asked her to give him the job before Dugan was told about the rape allegation. Dugan was put on administrative leave last week, and the wide range of allegations she aired in her complaint, which also criticized the awards nomination process, put the academy on the defensive and threatened to throw the institution into tumult at its most important time of year. An interview Dugan gave to “Good Morning America” is set to air on Thursday and is likely to keep alive the conversation about the troubles surrounding the Grammys. In response to her filing, the academy said Dugan's complaints to a human resources executive in December about sexual harassment and other issues came only after she was accused of abusive behavior toward the executive assistant she inherited from Portnow. The academy said in a statement Tuesday that it “immediately launched independent investigations to review both Ms. Dugan’s potential misconduct and her subsequent allegations.' Those probes have yet to be completed. The employee who complained that Dugan was abusive, former Director of Administration Claudine Little, also came forward Wednesday, saying in a statement that Dugan is spreading a “false narrative” about her and the academy's alleged gender bias that is “emblematic of Ms. Dugan’s abusive and bullying conduct” as CEO. “It is disappointing that Ms. Dugan hopes to leverage public opinion along gender lines and expects not to be scrutinized for her inexcusable behavior simply because she is a woman,” Little said. In her complaint, Dugan said her treatment of Little as her boss was entirely appropriate, and that she had done her a favor by keeping her on after Portnow's departure. Dugan's complaint also alleged that Joel Katz, an influential music attorney and the academy's general counsel, tried to woo her romantically and attempted to kiss her against her wishes during a dinner last year. Katz issued a statement late Tuesday saying he “categorically and emphatically denies her version of that evening.” Also Wednesday, four women from the academy's executive committee issued a joint letter lauding the organization's recent work toward diversity and inclusion, supporting the investigations surrounding Dugan and emphasizing that the academy is sensitive to allegations of harassment or abuse. “It is deeply disturbing to us — and quite frankly, heartbreaking — to witness the firestorm against our organization that has been unleashed,” the letter said. 'We have collectively volunteered many years of service guiding and supporting this organization. We would not have taken precious time away from our families and careers if we felt that it was a ‘boys' club.’” ___ Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton.
  • Dr. James C. Metts Jr., a Savannah physician whose four decades serving as an elected coroner earned him a small part in the bestselling book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” has died at age 88. Metts died Monday at his Savannah home, where he had been under hospice care, Betty Ann Brannen of Brannen-Kennedy Funeral Homes said Wednesday. During his 40 years as Chatham County coroner, Metts juggled a hectic schedule. By day, he worked as a physician at a clinic treating poor and uninsured patients. At night, and whatever odd hours police called him, he turned up at the scenes of homicides and other suspicious deaths in his role as coroner. 'With his practice of medicine and the coroner's job, Jimmy never slept very much,' Savannah attorney Sonny Seiler, a friend of Metts' since kindergarten, told The Associated Press in 2013. “You could find him almost any time of day, but you weren't going to find him home in bed.” Metts was first elected coroner when the job came open in 1972. He never faced opposition for re-election, and resigned from office in 2012 at age 81. He was featured in a chapter of 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,' John Berendt's 1994 nonfiction bestseller about a 1981 slaying that resulted in a Savannah antiques dealer standing trial for the shooting death of his young lover. In the book, Metts describes the crime scene to a defense attorney and says he feels sympathy for the accused, considering the victim was ill-tempered and vitriolic. “Hell, I'd have shot Danny Hansford too,” the book quotes Metts as saying. In 1996, the coroner tried to solve a Revolutionary War mystery when he exhumed human remains buried beneath Savannah's monument to Brig. Gen. Casimir Pulaski, a Polish nobleman killed fighting the British in 1779. Experts spent nearly a decade trying to extract DNA to confirm whether the remains were Pulaski's, but results were inconclusive. A different team took up the case years later and reported a DNA match with a Pulaski descendant in Poland. Metts abruptly resigned as coroner in December 2012 after county auditors reported $141,000 in questionable payments to Metts. He paid back the money and never faced charges.
  • A judge has told Aerosmith's drummer Joey Kramer to dream on if he hopes to rejoin the band as it's set to perform and be honored at Grammy events this week. Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Mark Gildea on Wednesday denied Kramer's request to order the band, whose first hit single was 1973's “Dream On,” to let him participate in an award celebration in Los Angeles on Friday as well as Sunday's prime time Grammy Awards show. “Given that Kramer has not played with the band in six months and the dearth of available rehearsal time before the upcoming performances, Kramer has not shown a realistic alternative course of action sufficient to protect the band's business interests,' the judge's decision reads in part. Kramer said in a statement that he's “extremely disappointed” but respects Gildea's decision. “I knew filing a lawsuit was a bit of an uphill battle,” he said. “I can hold my head high knowing that I did the right thing – to fight for my right to celebrate the band’s success that I have dedicated the better part of my life to helping build.” The 69-year-old Magnolia, Texas, resident had argued the band, which he helped found in Boston 50 years ago, is in breach of contract because it required him to re-audition for his job after an ankle injury last year caused him to miss a chunk of the band's residency at a Las Vegas casino. Kramer said in his suit that the band required him to earn his job back by performing a series of solo rehearsals to prove he could play “at an appropriate level.” He argued the “artificial, made-up and undefined” requirement was “insulting and upsetting” because that no other member of the band has been asked to do it before. Singer Steven Tyler, guitarists Joe Perry and Bradley Whitford, and bassist Tom Hamilton have all been recently sidelined with injuries and illnesses and weren’t asked to re-audition for their jobs, Kramer noted in his suit. “This is not about money,” he said in a statement ahead of Wednesday's hearing in Plymouth, Massachusetts. “I am being deprived of the opportunity to be recognized along with my peers, for our collective, lifetime contributions to the music industry.” Representatives for Aerosmith didn't comment on the judge's decision. The band has said previously it invited Kramer to join it for the Grammy events. There just wasn't enough time to rehearse together for him to play on stage, the band maintained. “Joey Kramer is our brother; his well-being is of paramount importance to us. However he has not been emotionally and physically able to perform with the band, by his own admission, for the last 6 months,” the statement reads. “We have missed him and have encouraged him to rejoin us to play many times but apparently he has not felt ready to do so,' the statement continues. 'Joey has now waited until the last moment to accept our invitation, when we unfortunately have no time for necessary rehearsals during Grammys week.” Kramer said after Wednesday's decision he appreciates the band's offer, which he said amounts to “red carpet photo ops.” But he said it's still “extremely hurtful” to know someone else will be playing in his place. In his lawsuit, Kramer said his fellow band members deemed his “try out” wasn’t “technically correct” and lacked “energy,” an assessment he strongly disputed. He's also said its “devastating” to miss out on being honored on the music industry’s biggest stage. “The greatest magic and success of Aerosmith happens when all the band’s founding members are together in the house,” he said before Wednesday's decision. “To be removed from my rightful place on stage to celebrate our success — a success that acknowledges my own life’s work, is just plain wrong.” Aerosmith is slated to receive the 2020 MusiCares Person of the Year award on Friday at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Alice Cooper, Foo Fighters, Jonas Brothers, John Legend and John Mayer are among the artists slated to perform as the band is recognized for its philanthropic work by the Recording Academy, which awards the Grammys. Aerosmith is also set to perform a “career-spanning medley' at the Grammy Awards show Sunday night at the Staples Center where they're expected to be joined on stage by hip hop’s Run-DMC.

Local News

  • A newly announced candidate for a seat in the Georgia House will speak to Athens Democrats tonight: Mokah Johnson is running against Republican Representative Houston Gaines. She’s the featured speaker at this evening’s meeting of local Democrats, set for 6 o’clock at the Library on Baxter Street.  From the Athens-Clarke County Democratic Committee Facebook page…   We've organized a special program, 'Civil Rights, Then and Now,' to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Week. Come hear Mokah Johnson, of the Athens-Anti-Discrimination Movement; Beto Cacao, of DIgnidad Immigrante; and Hattie Whitehead, of the Linnentown Project.
  • The Athens Area Habitat for Humanity holds its annual gala tonight: it’s underway at 6:30 at the Cotton Press on Oneta Street in Athens. From the Athens Habitat For Humanity Facebook page…   Athens Hab celebrates our local partners and supporters at our annual gala, this year hosted by Epting Events at the Cotton Press. Come enjoy great food, live music, cash bar, inspirational speakers, and fellowship as we give thanks for a successful drive to raise $30,000 to complete Lydia's Homeplace, a joint project with Lydia's Place to create housing for homeless college students in our area. All donors giving $80 or more by January 23rd are invited!
  • A northeast Georgia judge says she will not be a candidate for reelection: Northern Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Lauren Watson says she won’t be the ballot for the May 19 elections.  Judge Watson, an attorney in Madison County, was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal two years ago as a replacement for retired Judge Thomas Hodges and has worked in a judicial circuit that covers Madison, Oglethorpe, Elbert, Franklin, and Hart counties.  The funeral for former Franklin County Probate Judge Eddy Fowler is scheduled for Sunday at the Ginn Memorial Chapel in Carnesville. Fowler, who also worked as a Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy, died earlier this week at a hospital in Lavonia. 
  • Georgia travels to Fayetteville this Thursday to take on No. 20/21-ranked Arkansas at 6 p.m. CT/7 p.m. ET on the SEC Network. Courtney Lyle and Carolyn Peck will call the action from Bud Walton Arena.    » Arkansas is the fifth top-25 team the Lady Bulldogs have played this season. This is the first of four-straight games against top-25 squads coming up on Georgia’s schedule over the next couple of weeks.    » Three of Georgia’s seven losses this season have come against teams currently ranked in the top-10 of both the Associated Press and Coaches polls (No. 1/2 Baylor, No. 9 Mississippi State and No. 10 UCLA).    » Georgia head coach Joni Taylor owns a 5-1 record against Arkansas during her head coaching career. The Lady Bulldogs have won five of the last six and 13 of the last 15 meetings against the Razorbacks. Overall, Georgia is 34-6 against Arkansas, including a 14-3 mark in Fayetteville.    » The Lady Bulldogs defeated Auburn this past Sunday in front of nearly 5,000 fans at Stegeman Coliseum. The win snapped a three-game losing skid in SEC play.    » Georgia’s bench outscored Auburn’s bench by an impressive 34-4 margin. The Lady Bulldogs were down 17-9 at the end of the first quarter before the lineup of Chloe Chapman, Shaniya Jones, Caitlin Hose, Stephanie Paul and Malury Bates provided Georgia a spark in the second quarter.    » Lady Bulldog guard Shaniya Jones had her best game of the season against Auburn. She scored a career-high 21 points in 21 minutes of action. Jones hit 5-for-6 from the field and scored 11 points in the third period.    Scouting Arkansas » The Razorbacks rank third in the nation in points per game, averaging 86.9 points per contest this season. Chelsea Dungee, one of the top players in the Southeastern Conference, paces Arkansas with 20 points per game. Dungee has scored in double figures in all but one contest and has totaled 20 or more points nine times. Arkansas boasts a 15-3 overall record, with its only losses in SEC play coming to Texas A&M and South Carolina.    Series Breakdown Overall: Georgia leads, 34-6 In Athens: Georgia leads, 17-2 In Fayetteville: Georgia leads, 14-3 Neutral Sites: Georgia leads, 3-1 Current Streak: Georgia has won five of the last six Last Meeting: Arkansas W, 86-76 (3/7/19) Largest Margin of Victory: Georgia W, 87-54 (2/24/96) Largest Defeat: Arkansas W, 66-45 (2/24/02)   Last Meeting Against Arkansas The Georgia Lady Bulldogs fell to Arkansas, 86-76, in the SEC Tournament on March 7, 2019 at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville. 
  • Economic forecasters from the University of Georgia and its Terry College of Business are on the road again today, in Augusta for the Augusta-area economic outlook luncheon: it’s set for noon at the Marriot in downtown Augusta. From the UGA Master Calendar…   The Georgia Economic Outlook series brings the expertise of the University of Georgia Terry College of Business to nine cities across the state, offering you specific and reliable insights into next year’s economy. Learn about the nation’s economic trajectory, the trends shaping our state’s fiscal outlook, and what to expect in your local area for the upcoming year from forecasts based on data and analysis from the Selig Center for Economic Growth.

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS Former Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas might want to make sure his wardrobe includes plenty of things that match with brown. Thomas, an Outland Trophy Finalist and All-American for the Bulldogs last season, is being sidelined projected as the first-round pick for the Cleveland Browns in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Browns have the 10th overall pick, and Thomas one of the record 111 underclassmen from the college ranks to declare himself eligible for the draft is widely considering the top offensive tackle in the draft class. The ClevelandBrowns.com website will be paying particularly close attention to Thomas throughout the draft process as its roundup reflected the former Georgia captain a popular choice among NFL draft analysts. Among those projecting Thomas to the Cleveland Browns at No. 10 are: Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network Dane Brugler, The Athletic Vinnie Iyer, The Sporting News Benjamin Solak, The Draft Network Josh Edwards, CBSsports.com Brugler reportedly noted Thomas has 'shock absorbers' for hands in assessment. Thomas has been projected to be selected by other teams by other analysts, but the Browns' projection is far and away most popular. That said, the NFL draft process is just getting underway ,with players' draft stock rising and falling at the Senior Bowl this week, and the NFL combine in Indianapolis fast approaching. Thomas' athleticism, skill work and disposition figure to make him a strong candidate to improve his stock once he starts meeting with teams and performs at the NFL combine. Indeed, Thomas has been projected as high as the No. 4 overall pick in the New York Giants (CBS Sports). Iowa's Tristan Wirfs and Alabama's Jedrick Wills appears to Thomas' biggest competition in the draft at the offensive tackle position. Both are also widely projected first-round picks. The draft ranking for Thomas from No. 4 to No. 10 is higher than any of the other Georgia players in the upcoming draft class. The Bulldogs have two other juniors, tailback D'Andre Swift and quarterback Jake Fromm, who have received first-round draft projections, but neither as high as Thomas. Georgia also has two other underclass offensive linemen coming out, junior guard Solomon Kindley and redshirt sophomore Isaiah Wilson. Both Kindley and Wilson have been trimming up their football frames to be in prime condition for the NFL combine. Kindley and Wilson, both, figure to improve their stock at the combine. The NFL Draft takes place April 23-25 in Las Vegas, Nevada. DawgNation: Georgia in the NFL draft ESPN labels Georgia a 'loser' in NFL early entry process 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 Georgia OG Solomon Kindley comes off ankle injury, makes NFL leap The post Georgia football's Andrew Thomas first-round NFL draft lock, Cleveland popular projection appeared first on DawgNation.
  • LEXINGTON, KY.Neither Georgia nor Anthony Edwards may have seemed particularly impressive as the Bulldogs have stumbled out to a 1-4 start in SEC play. But don't tell that to Kentucky's John Calipari, who gushed about the team the No. 10 Wildcats defeated 89-79 Tuesday night at Rupp Arena. 'Tom's done a great job,' Calipari said of Georgia's second-year coach Tom Crean. 'They're going to win games. I just told their team as we walked off, you're as good as anybody we've played. Go win some games.' Their start was ridiculous. Now let's see where they go. Tom's terrific and I think they'll be fine. At this point, I want them to beat everybody.' The Bulldogs would settle for at least two in a row and soon. The loss to the Wildcats was their fourth in the last five games and 14th in a row to Kentucky overall. RELATED: Too little, too late from Georgia star Anthony Edwards at Kentucky But as Calipari pointed out, Georgia's league schedule has been a bit front-loaded. This was the second time they've played Kentucky (14-4, 5-1 SEC) and they've also played then-No. 5-ranked Auburn and Mississippi State on the road. Georgia (11-7) gets three of the next five at home, including Saturday's 5:30 p.m. game against Ole Miss (9-8, 0-4). The Bulldogs insist they'll be no less confident as they move into the next stretch of the season. 'We've just got to continue to learn,' Crean said. 'For where we're at youth wise, as many new guys as we have and starting three freshmen in here, we've got to go through some things so we can grow into some things. That's how I see my team right now.' Kentucky steps out of the conference Saturday with a road trip to Texas Tech, then comes home to face Vanderbilt before kicking off February at Auburn. Georgia's cause would be helped if Edwards could ever put two halves together again. Once again, the star freshman struggled in the opening half, going scoreless for the first time all year on 0-for-5 shooting, 0-for-2 from 3-point range. He rallied to score 16 points in the second half, but also fouled out and finished with five turnovers and just one rebound. 'I'm guessing the scouting report was to deny me the ball and not really let me touch it,' Edwards said. 'When I did touch, I was usually double-teamed. So I was trying to get the ball out of my hands in a hurry. I couldn't really do anything.' Edwards, a 6-5 guard from Atlanta, is projected as an NBA lottery pick. Calipari warned people who want to write off him as 'overrated' not to be too hasty. 'It's hard for young guys, especially when everybody's paying special attention to him,' Calipari said of the nation's leading-scoring freshman (19 points per game). 'Now all the sudden, every pick-and-roll, they hold him a lot longer. Every drive, they leave their men to go get him. So, it's like he's playing (against) a box-and-one all night, and he still gets baskets. That tells you how good he is.' The Bulldogs actually had Kentucky worried a few times Tuesday. They led twice in the first half and were within a single bucket twice in the second half. But every time Georgia would get close the Wildcats would answer with another run. Kentucky led by as many as 16 points in the second half, but the majority of the game was contested within a single-digit margin. Georgia sophomore Tye Fagan was able to pick up some of Edwards' slack in the first half. The 6-3 guard scored 12 of his 14 points the second-most in his career in the first half. Also, freshman Toumani Camara scored all 10 of his points in the first half as Georgia made a brief charge shortly before halftime. Rayshaun Hammonds had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Bulldogs. Atlanta native and one-time UGA commit Ashton Hagans led the Wildcats with a career-high 23 points. That's the second time Hagans has scored 23, the other time also coming against Georgia. He has averaged 19.7 points against the Bulldogs. Twice in the second half, Georgia got to within three points, the second time 57-54 at 12:36 on a high-arcing Edwards jump shot. But that was followed in short succession by two Edwards turnovers and one by Hammonds, and Kentucky converted all three into points to pull away again. Crean said the Bulldogs are not despondent or disillusioned by the recent struggles. 'There's no moral victory, right? That's not what I'm saying here. But we brought a very young team into this environment and battled,' he said. 'This is an incredible environment, and for a team to come in here and battle like that. We're growing up. It's a hard league to grow up in and to win in, but I'm not worried about morale.' Said Edwards: 'We've got a great team. I've got great teammates beside me and we're going to keep fighting and keep working to get better.' DawgNation Georgia Basketball Georgia comes up short in hard-fought loss at Kentucky Mississippi State wins battle of Bulldogs in Starkville, decisively Anthony Edwards puts the squeeze on Tennessee in blowout win Georgia falls in first SEC road game of season at Auburn Georgia basketball delivers signature Top 10 win at Memphis Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Tom Izzo on Georgia: 'That was an incredible comeback' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener Georgia freshman already making basketball history The post Kentucky's John Calipari says don't write off Georgia basketball just yet appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia basketball simply couldn't keep up with Kentucky in Rupp Arena on Tuesday night. The No. 15-ranked Wildcats (14-4, 5-1 SEC) took down the Bulldogs (11-7, 1-4) by an 89-79 count. It was UK's 14th straight win in the series, and their second this season. Kentucky guard Ashton Hagans, from Cartersville, Ga., led the Wildcats with 23 points, nine assists and five rebounds. Georgia junior Rayshaun Hammonds scored 16 points and pulled down 8 rebounds, giving Coach Tom Crean the type of road effort that was missing in a loss at Mississippi State on Saturday. UGA freshman Anthony Edwards, meanwhile, scored 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting. But it was a case of too little, too late from Edwards, who had just one rebound and turned the ball over five times. Edwards was heldscoreless in the first half as Kentucky staked out to a 41-35 lead at intermission. The Bulldogs had their moments, using a 9-0 run to claim a 29-28 lead with 5:34 left in the first half. Donnell Gresham Jr. sparked the burst with a 3-pointer and also capped it with a jumper that triggered a John Calipari timeout. Kentucky responded with a 7-0 run of its own the first 78 seconds out of the timeout to reclaim control of the game. Georgia held a surprising 19-17 advantage on the glass in the first half, but the smaller Bulldogs could not sustain that advantage. UK out-rebounded Georgia 21-12 in the second half, even as Edwards awoke from his first half slumber. Edwards finally scored two minutes into the second half after missing his first five shots. Edwards hit his next three shots, too, pulling the Bulldogs to 57-54 with 12:38 left. It was as close as Georgia got the rest of the night. Kentucky came back at the Bulldogs with a 12-2 run, and Georgia couldn't get closer than seven points the rest of the night The Wildcats wonthe first meeting between the teams by a 78-69 count in Athens, coming back from nine points down in front of a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum crowd in both team's SEC opener on Jan. 7. Georgia returns to action at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum against Ole Miss. The Bulldogs are 9-1 on their home court this season. The post Georgia basketball falls at Kentucky, too little, too late from Anthony Edwards appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Kirby Smart is typically pretty transparent, but the Georgia fifth-year head coach didn't let on the sort of overhaul or the extremes he was prepared to go to in order to improve the offense. 'We'll look at it,' Smart said on Dec. 18, asked about the Bulldogs' offensive philosophy. 'But we want to score points.' RELATED: Kirby Smart's amazing offseason of change at Georgia A month later, Georgia had landed the highest-rated (PFF) grad-transfer QB on the market, the OC from the NFL's most prolific pass game in 2018 and a quarterbacks coach Smart knew first hand from his Valdosta State days The Bulldogs still have work to do, and the Feb. 5 National Signing Day will certainly be worth tuning into. Georgia went 12-2 last season with a 5-1 mark vs. Top 25 teams and a third-straight SEC East Division title. But Smart, who insists on setting the bar at a championship level each fall, has continued to reach higher and push for more on his coaching staff and within his team. Complacency, Smart said, is the enemy of the team's aspirations and played a role last season. : When you're not hungry, you become average, and some of that, I think, has affected us in the past,' Smart said after the 26-14 Sugar Bowl win over Baylor. 'And we've got to find a way in this program to not let that creep in and keep that same hunger you have as a young player because we've had it happen to several guys that were really hungry, and then they become full.' Nobody in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall will be getting too comfortable anytime soon. Indeed, incoming freshman QB Carson Beck is probably just now growing comfortable with the competition ahead of him on campus, and UGA has already added a 5-star in the 2021 class. Brock Vandagriff, a 5-star prospect from nearby Bogart who ranks as the No. 1 -ranked Pro Style quarterback in the 2021 class, made his verbal pledge on Tuesday. Mike Griffith and Connor Riley discuss the repercussions of Smart's latest moves and additions on Tuesday's 'On The Beat' show, and what it means for the program. Georgia football On The Beat, 1-21-20 More from DawgNation UGA adds offseason excitement, stars endorse new OC Todd Monken WATCH: 2021 commit Brock Vandagriff shares story with DawgNation Podcast: Brandon Adams shares his take on Brock Vandagriff addition Kirby Smart has turned Georgia offense upside down Social media reacts to addition of 5-star QB Brock Vandagriff Why Buster Faukner a perfect complement to Todd Monken The post WATCH: Georgia football early offseason breakdown, Brock Vanagriff addition, appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Brock Vandagriff is the newest 5-star commitment for the Georgia Bulldogs. The nation's No. 8 overall prospect (247Sports Composite ratings) chose Georgia earlier today. He was once committed to Oklahoma. Bet a lot of folks knew that. Maybe they also knew that he ran for 1,001 yards at a rate of 7.3 yards per carry as a high school sophomore. But what about his kickoffs? Or his big-time leg at punter? How 'bout the fact that he caught 34 passes during his freshman season at Prince Avenue Christian in nearby Bogart? Or that he threw his first high school pass off a jet sweep from the receiver spot? It was, of course, a touchdown. That's just the beginning of the information superhighway when it comes to all things Vandagriff. Check out the featured video above or the embedded version below for a breakdown on all things Vandagriff, including His favorite route to throw? How did Georgia keep the recruiting channels open after he committed to Oklahoma? His description of some real adversity he deal with during his junior year What was the reason he chose Georgia? What sort of connection his first name has to the Florida Gators? Did he really finish out a game last season with a broken fibula? Why did he choose to de-commit from Oklahoma? What sort of changes does he see in store for the offense at UGA? Brock Vandagriff: Getting to know Brock on DawgNation Prince Avenue Christian 5-star QB Brock Vandagriff commits to UGA Social media reacts strongly to Brock Vandagriff choosing Georgia DawgNation Daily: Breaking down what Vandagriff means to the Bulldogs Brock Vandagriff breaks down his 'Junior Day' unofficial visit, plans quick return Vandagriff previews big UGA visit, opens up on his Oklahoma de-commitment Just how competitive is Brock Vandagriff? Check out this early DawgNation story The post Brock Vandagriff: Watch the new 5-star Georgia commitment share his story appeared first on DawgNation.