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Entertainment Headlines

    The Latest on the sexual abuse case against R&B singer R. Kelly (all times local): 3 p.m. Lawyer Michael Avenatti says it is 'outrageous' that R. Kelly's attorney asserts that the four accusers are lying about being sexually abused by the R&B singer. Avenatti, who says he represents two Kelly victims and gave prosecutors new video evidence of Kelly having sex with an underage girl, said Saturday that, 'We're going to do everything in our power ... to make sure 2019 is not a repeat of 2008.' He was referring to Kelly's 2008 child pornography trial, in which the singer was acquitted. Kelly's lawyer, Steve Greenberg, said Saturday after a judge set Kelly's bond at $1 million that Kelly 'is a rock star. He doesn't have to have nonconsensual sex.' Referring to the #MeToo movement, Greenberg said, 'Unfortunately, there's this whole hashtag movement. Just because someone says something now ... it doesn't make them credible.' ___ 2 p.m. R. Kelly's lawyer rejects the allegations that the R&B singer sexually abused anyone, telling reporters: 'He is a rock star. He doesn't have to have nonconsensual sex.' Greenberg made the comments Saturday after a judge set a $1 million bond for Kelly, who was booked Friday on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse involving four females, including three who were underage at the time. Greenberg says he's happy with the bond amount, but Kelly doesn't have much money because he says mismanagement by others put the singer in financial straits. He says Kelly is trying to get the bond money together and hopes to get out of jail later Saturday. ___ 1:40 p.m. The lawyer for R. Kelly says he thinks the four people the R&B singer is charged with sexually abusing are all lying. Steve Greenberg made the comment to reporters Saturday after a judge set Kelly's bond at $1 million. Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx says the abuse dated back as far as 1998 and spanned more than a decade. Kelly was tried and acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008 and has consistently denied any sexual misconduct. The 52-year-old Grammy winner's lawyer said Friday that he's confident Kelly will be vindicated. ___ 1:20 p.m. A prosecutor told the judge at R. Kelly's bond hearing in Chicago that the singer met one of the four people he's charged with sexually abusing during his 2008 child pornography trial. The prosecutor says the two met when he gave her an autograph, and that she was underage at the time. Kelly was acquitted at that trial, which stemmed from a video purported to show him having sex with an underage girl as young as 13. The prosecutor says Kelly sexually abused the girl he met during the trial between 2009 and 2010. Kelly was booked Friday on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse involving four female victims, including three who were between the ages of 13 and 17 at the time. Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx says the abuse dated back as far as 1998 and spanned more than a decade. ___ 1:10 p.m. A judge has set R&B singer R. Kelly's bond at $1 million. Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. said during Saturday's hearing in Chicago that the amount equals $250,000 for each of the four people he's charged with sexually abusing. Lyke called the allegations against Kelly 'disturbing' during the hearing. The singer stared at the floor while the judge was speaking and looked dejected. Kelly was booked Friday on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse involving four female victims, including three who were between the ages of 13 and 17 at the time. Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx says the abuse dated back as far as 1998 and spanned more than a decade. Kelly was tried and acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008 and has consistently denied any sexual misconduct. The 52-year-old Grammy winner's lawyer said Friday that he's confident Kelly will be vindicated. ___ 1:05 p.m. R. Kelly's lawyer has asked a judge to release the R&B singer on bond. Attorney Steve Greenberg told Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. during Saturday's bonding hearing that, 'Contrary to the song, Mr. Kelly doesn't like to fly,' in reference to the Grammy-award winner's hit 'I believe I can fly.' The judge called the allegations against Kelly 'disturbing' as the singer stared at the floor looking dejected. Kelly was booked Friday on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse involving four female victims, including three who were between the ages of 13 and 17 at the time. Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx says the abuse dated back as far as 1998 and spanned more than a decade. Kelly was tried and acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008 and has consistently denied any sexual misconduct. The 52-year-old Grammy winner's lawyer said Friday that he's confident Kelly will be vindicated. ___ 12:50 p.m. R. Kelly has arrived at a Chicago court hearing where a judge will decide bond in the sexual abuse case against the R&B singer. The judge at Saturday's hearing, Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr., is the same judge who presided over 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett's bond hearing earlier this week. Kelly was booked Friday on 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse involving four female victims, including three who were between the ages of 13 and 17 at the time. Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx says the abuse dated back as far as 1998 and spanned more than a decade. Kelly was tried and acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008 and has consistently denied any sexual misconduct. The 52-year-old Grammy winner's lawyer said Friday that he's confident Kelly will be vindicated. ___ 12:05 a.m. R&B singer R. Kelly is expected to appear in a Chicago court one day after being arrested and charged with aggravated sexual abuse. Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx announced 10 counts Friday against the Grammy winner. She said the abuse dated back as far as 1998 and spanned more than a decade. The charges involved four victims, including at least three between the ages of 13 and 17. Chicago police say Kelly was taken into custody after the 52-year-old singer surrendered Friday night. He was scheduled to be arraigned Saturday. Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008 and has consistently denied any sexual misconduct, but he has been dogged for decades by allegations that he violated underage girls and women and held some as virtual slaves. ___ Check out the AP's complete coverage of the investigations into R. Kelly.
  • Filmmaker Stanley Donen, a giant of the Hollywood musical who through such classics as 'Singin' in the Rain' and 'Funny Face' helped give us some of the most joyous sounds and images in movie history, has died. He was 94. Donen, who often teamed with Gene Kelly but also worked with Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire, died Thursday in New York from heart failure, his sons Joshua and Mark Donen confirmed Saturday. The 1940s and '50s were the prime era for Hollywood musicals and no filmmaker contributed more to the magic than Donen, among the last survivors from that era and one willing to extend the limits of song and dance into the surreal. He was part of the unit behind such unforgettable scenes as Kelly dancing with an animated Jerry the mouse in 'Anchors Aweigh,' Astaire's gravity-defying spin across the ceiling in 'Royal Wedding,' and, the all-time triumph, Kelly ecstatically splashing about as he performs the title number in 'Singin' in the Rain.' Steven Spielberg recalled Donen as a 'friend and early mentor' for whom life and film were inseparable. 'His generosity in giving over so many of his weekends in the late 60's to film students like me to learn about telling stories and placing lenses and directing actors is a time I will never forget,' Spielberg said on Saturday. The filmmaker Guillermo del Toro said, 'Before Stanley Donen actors sang, actors danced. He made the camera dance and the colors sing.' A 2007 American Film Institute survey of the top 100 American movies ranked 'Singin' in the Rain,' with its inventive take on Hollywood's transition from silent to talking pictures in the 1920s and Kelly's famous dance in a downpour, at No. 5. Donen was asked in 2002 whether the filmmakers knew that 'Singin' in the Rain,' released in 1952 and also starring Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor, would be revered decades later. 'You can't get through a movie if you don't think it's good,' he told The Associated Press. 'Certainly we thought it was good. More than that? I don't know. You don't think about that. You just think about how you can do it.' Both the film and Donen were at first underrated. 'Singin' in the Rain' was initially seen as high entertainment rather than art and was not even nominated for a best picture or directing Academy Award. Donen, overshadowed by Kelly early in his career, never received a competitive Oscar nomination and waited until 1998 for an honorary award, presented to him by Martin Scorsese. He was more than ready. Donen danced cheek-to-cheek with his Oscar statuette, which he called 'this cute little fella.' The crowd yelled and applauded as he crooned, 'Heaven, I'm in heaven,' from Irving Berlin's 'Cheek to Cheek.' During his acceptance speech, he explained his formula for a great musical. Bring in songwriters like Adolph Green and Betty Comden, and performers like Kelly or Astaire or Sinatra. 'And when filming starts,' he added, 'you show up and you stay the hell out of the way.' Born in Columbia, South Carolina, Donen would remember movies — especially those with Astaire and Ginger Rogers— as a needed escape from the tensions of being one of the few Jews in his community. He took tap dancing lessons in his teens and began his show business career as a performer, dancing in the original Broadway production of 'Pal Joey' at age 16. The title role was played by Kelly, and the show's success propelled Kelly into the movies. Donen received his first Hollywood break when Kelly got him a job helping choreograph the 1944 Kelly film 'Cover Girl.' Over the next few years, he worked on choreography for such films as 'The Kissing Bandit,' starring Sinatra, and 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame,' starring Sinatra and Kelly, who teamed with Donen on choreography. 'Singin' in the Rain' was one of three films credited to Kelly and Donen as co-directors; the others were 'On the Town,' the 1949 Kelly-Sinatra musical about sailors on leave in New York City, and the darker 'It's Always Fair Weather,' in which three soldier friends reunite a decade later. The co-director credits — rare in films — came out of a tense relationship between Donen and the star, who had played such an important role in advancing Donen's career. Donen would later speak resentfully of Kelly, who died in 1996, as being cold and condescending and not fully appreciative of his contributions. They parted for good after 'It's Always Fair Weather,' which came out in 1955. 'He could be difficult with me and everyone else,' the director told The New York Times in 1996. 'It was always a complicated collaboration.' Other Donen films included 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' (1954), with its superlative athletic choreography; 'Damn Yankees' (1958), the remake of the Broadway smash about a baseball fan's temptation; and 'Funny Face,' in which Astaire teamed up with Audrey Hepburn to play a fashion photographer and his unlikely muse. Astaire's character in 'Funny Face' was modeled on Richard Avedon, and the famed photographer served as a consultant to Donen. 'Nothing is more fun than finding someone who stimulates you, and who can be stimulated by you,' Donen said in John Kobal's book 'Gotta Sing Gotta Dance: A Pictorial History of Film Musicals.' ''The result, rather than just adding up to two and two, multiplies itself, and you find yourself doing much better things — you are both carried away on the crest of excitement.' Donen worked in various genres. 'Indiscreet' (1958) was a light farce starring Grant and Ingrid Bergman, and 'Two for the Road' (1967), with Hepburn and Albert Finney, was an unusually acerbic and tense marital comedy for its time, far removed from the carefree spirit of his musicals. (Donen himself was married five times and had an embroidered pillow in his New York apartment reading 'EAT DRINK AND RE-MARRY'.) One Donen film, the chic mystery 'Charade' (1963), reminded viewers of a Hitchcock thriller. 'Charade' starred Hepburn as a precocious socialite whose husband has been murdered, and Grant — who appeared in four Hitchcock films — as a mysterious man who may or may not be helping her. Donen steadfastly denied any Hitchcock influence, while adding that the master of suspense 'doesn't own the genre.' Donen had three sons; the oldest, Peter, died in 2003 of a heart attack at age 50. His first wife, dancer Jeanne Coyne, later married Kelly. His fourth wife was the screen star Yvette Mimieux. Over the past two decades, his companion was the filmmaker-comedian Elaine May. None of his more recent films approached the heights of his most famous work. The nadir may have been 1984's 'Blame It on Rio,' a comedy about a man (Michael Caine) who has an affair with his friend's young daughter. Roger Ebert slammed the film as 'clearly intended to appeal to the prurient interests of dirty old men of all ages.' Other credits include a musical segment for the 1980s TV comedy 'Moonlighting' and a stage production of 'The Red Shoes.' In 1999, he directed the ABC television movie 'Love Letters,' which starred Steven Weber and Laura Linney. 'There are limits to TV,' Donen told The Associated Press in 1999. 'And that's what was fun: to try to find a way to be surprising within limits. I'm always looking for limits, because then you have to be inventive.
  • The 34th Film Independent Spirit Awards have a few things the Oscars don't: a host and female filmmaker nominees. The annual awards honoring independent film will be handed out Saturday in a tent on the Santa Monica, California, beach and broadcast live on IFC at 2 p.m. PST. Aubrey Plaza will be hosting this year's show which includes fewer Oscar contenders than usual. The top nominees are Bo Burnham's coming-of-age tale 'Eighth Grade,' Lynne Ramsey's existentialist thriller 'You Were Never Really Here,' Paul Schrader's religious drama 'First Reformed' and Jeremiah Zagar's lyrical 'We the Animals.' While the Oscars feature no women nominated for best director, the Spirits have three: Ramsey, Tamara Jenkins ('Private Life') and Debra Granik ('Leave No Trace'). The Spirits' best-picture winner has often predicted Oscar, including 'Moonlight,' ''Spotlight,' ''Birdman' and '12 Years a Slave.' But last year Jordan Peele's 'Get Out' took the Spirits' top honor before Guillermo del Toro's 'The Shape of Water' won at the Academy Awards. A casual, oceanside precursor to Sunday's Oscars, the Spirit Awards will this year surely differ. None of the best picture nominees are up for the same award at the Oscars. And none of this year's nominees pack anything like the box-office punch of 'Get Out,' which grossed $255 million worldwide on a $4.5 million budget. Up for best film are: 'Leave No Trace,' ''Eight Grade,' ''You Were Never Really Here' and Barry Jenkins' 'If Beale Street Could Talk.' The Spirit Awards limit nominees to films with budgets pf $20 million and under, eliminating bigger budget contenders like 'Black Panther' and 'A Star Is Born.' They also focus on American movies, limiting Oscar nominees like 'Roma' and 'The Favourite,' which are both nominated for best international film. Winners are chosen by Film Independent, which includes critics, filmmakers, actors, festival programmers, past winners and nominees, and members of its board
  • Color was the watch word on the fourth day Saturday of the mostly womenswear collections during Milan Fashion Week. The Salvatore Ferragamo and Roberto Cavalli fashion houses each set off neutrals with bursts of hues while combining their women's and men's previews for Fall/Winter 2019-20. Ferragamo's color palette ranged from a peacock blue to an icy sage, mauve with forest green, while the Cavalli collection turned on a melange of turquoise, magenta, ochre, saffron and sky blue. Another trend on Milan runways this season: including older models, a sign that fashion houses are taking their laser focus off millennials and returning it to a significant luxury demographic. Some highlights of Saturday's shows: ___ SALVATORE FERRAGAMO OWNS LEATHER Salvatore Ferragamo's latest collection drew inspiration from the brand's heritage with sculpted heels on footwear, a fresh emphasis on leather ready-to-wear and lots of color, combining innovation and craftsmanship to create a modern vibe. The combined womenswear and menswear collections included leather apparel for day and night, stretching beyond overcoats and footwear. That included long leather skirts with a pretty slit, a long black leather evening gown and a leather jumpsuit, as well as sportier suits for him and for her. 'Being a luxury heritage brand, I feel like we should own leather dressing,' said Ferragamo creative director Paul Andrew. A Nappa leather puffer coat that had the sheen of technical fabric in a luxurious chocolate brown summed up the collection's innovation. 'You pick it up and it's lightweight. It's built in a way that you can just sort of scrunch it up into nothing,' Andrew said. The brand's signature footwear included a remastered sculpted heel inspired by a 1968 design by Fiamma Ferragama for women and rugged Nubuck trekking boots for men. Andrew included older models on the runway because 'they really epitomize the woman that I am going after. In fact, Ferragamo is not dressing 17-year-old girls only. We also have clients who are 30, 40, 50, 60, 70.' Andrew, who joined Ferragamo in 2016 as shoe designer then added womenswear, was named this week as creative director for the fashion house. He will continue the collaboration Guillaume Meilland, head of menswear, with both working across the segments for a complete vision. _____ ROBERTO CAVALLI REINVENTS ANIMAL PRINTS Creative director Paul Surridge's opening look for Roberto Cavalli was a print with the power and shades of an Arizona sunset, giving the brand's heritage animal print designs a fresh new twist and planting color at the center of the new collection. The collection offered women and men a sense of freedom in both movement and dressing. A pleated mini-dress billowed into evening length in the back, while knit dresses echoed the silkier pleating, projecting a contemporary silhouette with stronger shoulders and narrow bodice. Standout pieces included dresses decorated with shells and studs to create a rich pattern and snug, beaded art-deco evening dresses with cut-outs to reveal an under-layer that Surridge said was meant to be suggestive of a body tattoo. Coats for men featured exaggerated buttons and closures, while suits were dressed up with colorful patterned turtlenecks under suit jackets and shirts. For younger dressers, there were ski vests over big animal-print anoraks and matching tops, with the brand's new Vortex sneaker. 'It's about pushing boundaries. You have to be inclusive, not only on body shape but also age, and offering modern solutions for day, evening and cocktail,' Surridge said backstage. ____ GIORGIO ARMANI'S RHAPSODY IN BLUE Giorgio Armani cast blue accents over his elegant collection for next fall and winter, with sculpted details recalling roses, or mini-cyclones. Armani held the combined women's and men's preview for the first time in his Silos museum, which collects and encapsulates the designer's creations. The female silhouette was elongated, accentuating curves, while the looks for men were strong and classic. Together they cut an elegant, evening figure. In fact, the collection shown under twilight lighting contained no strictly daytime looks. For women, dark suits featured short jackets with woven ribbon details in contrasting midnight blue and pants with a jodhpur profile. Long evening coats had sculpted necks. Belts and handbags both had ruffles that gave voluminous accent to the looks. An iridescent rose appeared on a top. The fronts of jackets were constructed to resemble a rose petal. Velvet pantsuits sparkled. Beyond the classic suits with slim fitting pants and structured jackets, men could choose from a loose velvet coat over a satiny shirt for a more indulgent, relaxed silhouette. Armani called the men's and women's collections 'complementary expressions of the same vision, united through the color blue.' ____ MISSONI'S BLUE LIGHT Missoni's looks for next fall and winter were heavily stylized -- giving an entree to anyone aspiring to enter the Missoni family. The combined menswear and womenswear looks were shown under a cast of blue light Womenswear was heavily accessorized by the family-run brand's own woven accents. There were dainty knit collars, often with a sparkle and slightly gathered, detached sleeves to accompany sleeveless tops, dickies that sometimes were long enough to be scarves, and hoods, ubiquitous hoods, that were less sporty and more for an elegant head cover. Knit belts cinched at the waist gave shape to open sweaters or dresses. Wraps were long and enveloping, often over finely knit pantsuits or pencil skirts. Jumpsuits cast a youthful silhouette. Looks were finished with rolled beanies. Menswear was relaxed, with robe-like outerwear over striped knits and easy trousers. A sparkly men's sweater faded from twilight to deepest night, and was worn with a sparkly knit foulard. 'The chroma allows everything to come back,' creative director Angela Missoni said in notes. 'As such, it shows no nostalgia.
  • Taking center stage in the weekly protests against Serbia's autocratic president was a role that actor siblings Sergej and Branislav Trifunovic felt compelled to play. The two brothers are among the main public faces of the demonstrations against populist leader Aleksandar Vucic's firm grip on power that started in early December. They march with the masses and speak at rallies. Sergej Trifunovic also has taken a role leading a liberal political movement. The Trifunovics, who act in Serbian theater productions, films and TV shows, say they couldn't bow out from the struggle for democracy in the Balkan country because they believe everyone should do their part. Sergei says 'we can't just sit with our hands on our backs, waiting for a messiah to fall from the sky and solve our problems.
  • Yalitza Aparicio, the Oscar-nominated, first-time actress in 'Roma,' is finding strong support among Mexican-American women who identify with her indigenous roots despite backlash she is receiving in Mexico. Some Mexican-American women say they are glad Aparicio's high-profile role is challenging typical images of light-skinned Latinas in Spanish-language films and TV shows, and they are expressing pride that she's the first indigenous woman to be nominated for best actress at the Oscars. U.S. Latina Aparicio fans are holding Oscar watch parties, commenting to each other online with excitement and sharing on social media every move Aparicio makes. 'She's brown girl magic,' said Jennie Luna, a Chicana/o Studies professor at California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo, California. 'My students can't stop talking about her.' The praise north of the U.S.-Mexico border among fans of Mexican descent comes as Aparicio, who is from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, faces racist attacks online in her homeland and scorn from some Mexican actors. More recently, Mexican actor Sergio Goyri was caught on video criticizing Aparicio's nomination and using a racial slur to describe her. He later apologized. After she appeared on the cover of Vogue México last year, Aparicio was hit with a tirade of online racist comments that criticize her physical appearance. 'I am proud to be an Oaxacan indigenous woman and it saddens me that there are people who do not know the correct meaning of words,' Aparicio, who is of Mixtec descent, said in a statement earlier this month. In 'Roma,' Aparicio plays Cleo, a domestic worker for a Mexico City middle-class family in the turbulent early 1970s. She speaks in an indigenous dialect and in Spanish and works to navigate the different worlds for her own survival. Aparicio, a 25-year-old primary school teacher, is nominated alongside Glenn Close, Lady Gaga, Olivia Colman and Melissa McCarthy at Sunday's Oscars. Astrid Silva, an immigrant rights activist in Las Vegas whose parents are from Mexico, said many Mexican-American women and Mexican immigrants in the U.S. see themselves in Aparicio for many reasons. 'She's a dark-skinned woman (who) comes from a poor region in Mexico like many of our families,' Silva said. 'She's not only challenging old notions of beauty that always involved blond hair and light skin. She's threatening them.' Aparicio's popularity is especially strong in California where many Mexican-Americans can trace their roots to migrants from the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca, Michoacán and Guerrero. Those states have vibrant, diverse indigenous populations that historically faced discrimination in Mexico. 'We've been working to rediscover our indigenous roots and Aparicio's presence is showing that we matter,' said Lilia Soto, an American Studies professor at the University of Wyoming, who grew up in Napa, California. 'The racism she's facing in Mexico also is an attack against us.' Soto said Aparicio also is popular among Mexican immigrants in New York City who largely come from the Mexican state of Pueblo — another region with an indigenous population. When Aparicio visited New York City last year, she was treated to a hero's welcome among the Mexican immigrants she encountered. Silva said she hadn't planned on watching the Academy Awards until she heard about Aparicio's nomination and 'Roma's' best picture nod. 'It's hard to describe. It's not just pride we're feeling,' Silva said. 'Yalitza is just...us.' ___ Associated Press Writer Russell Contreras is a member of The Associated Press' race and ethnicity team. Follow Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras ___ For full coverage of the Oscars, visit: https://apnews.com/AcademyAwards
  • A basketball radio play-by-play announcer was suspended for the rest of the season Friday after he compared an opposing black player to King Kong, the Quad City Times reported. >> Read more trending news  Gary Dolphin, who calls University of Iowa basketball games, was suspended for his Tuesday night comments, when he compared University of Maryland player Bruno Fernando to the fictional gorilla from the 1933 movie. Fernando, a 6-foot-10, 245-pound center, scored the game-winning basket on a tip-in with 7.8 seconds to play, giving Maryland a 66-65 victory against the Hawkeyes.  “That's some pretty good long-range shooting. Fernando was King Kong at the end of the game,” Dolphin said, according to KCCI, which obtained an audio of the broadcast.  University officials supported the suspension, saying in a statement that “The University of Iowa athletics department values diversity and is committed to creating a welcoming environment for all members of its campus community.’’ Kameron Middlebrooks, president of the Des Moines NAACP, called Dolphin’s comments “inexcusable language,” KCCI reported. Dolphin, who has called Iowa football and basketball games for 22 years, issued an apology in a statement, the Quad City Times reported. “During the broadcast, I used a comparison when trying to describe a talented Maryland basketball player. In no way did I intend to offend or disparage the player,' Dolphin said. 'I take full responsibility for my inappropriate word choice and offer a sincere apology to him and anyone else who was offended. I wish the Iowa Hawkeye players, coaches and fans all the very best as they head into the final stretch of the season. I will use this as an opportunity to grow as a person and learn more about unconscious bias.
  • A judge on Saturday gave R. Kelly a chance to go free while the R&B star awaits trial on charges that he sexually abused four people, including three minors, in a case that seemed likely to produce another #MeToo reckoning for a celebrity. Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. set bond at $1 million bond, meaning that the 52-year-old Grammy winner must post $100,000 to be released or remain behind bars until he is tried on the allegations that date back as far as 1998 and span more than a decade. Kelly turned himself in late Friday and spent a night in jail before being taken to the courthouse. He stood with his hands behind his back and said to the judge, 'How are you?' His attorney, Steve Greenberg, said Kelly is not a flight risk and told the judge, 'Contrary to the song, Mr. Kelly doesn't like to fly.' One of Kelly's best-known hits is 'I Believe I Can Fly.' The bond equals $250,000 for each of the four people Kelly is charged with abusing, the judge said. Greenberg said Kelly 'really doesn't have any more money,' suggesting that others had mismanaged his wealth. Still, he said he expected that Kelly would be able to come up with enough money for bail. Asked later how Kelly could find the cash, Greenberg said, 'That's none of your business.' The judge called the allegations 'disturbing.' The singer-songwriter looked down at the floor as the judge spoke. Kelly's DNA was found in semen on one of the accuser's shirts, and semen found on one worn by another was submitted for DNA testing, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx said. Kelly met one of the accusers when she was celebrating her 16th birthday party at a restaurant and another when he signed an autograph during his 2008 trial on child-pornography charges, Foxx said. Prosecutors said they have a video of another accuser that shows R. Kelly having sex with her when she was 14. A fourth accuser told prosecutors that she thought she was going to braid R. Kelly's hair, but that he instead tried to force her to give him oral sex. The woman, who was 24 at the time, was able to pull away, but Kelly ejaculated on her and spit in her face, Foxx said. After the hearing, Greenberg told reporters that he thinks all four of the accusers are lying. 'He did not force anyone to have sex. He's a rock star. He doesn't have to have nonconsensual sex,' Greenberg said. Kelly has been trailed for decades by allegations that he violated underage girls and women and held some as virtual slaves. He was charged with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse. Robert Kelly, who was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008, has consistently denied any sexual misconduct. He broke into the R&B scene in 1993 with his first solo album, '12 Play,' which produced such popular sex-themed songs as 'Bump N' Grind' and 'Your Body's Callin'.' He rose from poverty on Chicago's South Side and has retained a sizable following. Kelly has written numerous hits for himself and other artists, including Celine Dion, Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga. His collaborators have included Jay-Z and Usher. The jury in 2008 acquitted Kelly of child pornography charges that centered on a graphic video that prosecutors said showed him having sex with a girl as young as 13. He and the young woman allegedly seen with him denied they were in the 27-minute video, even though the picture quality was good and witnesses testified it was them, and she did not take the stand. Kelly could have gotten 15 years in prison. Charging Kelly now for actions that occurred in the same time frame as the allegations from the 2008 trial suggests the accusers are cooperating this time and willing to testify. Because the alleged victim 10 years ago denied that she was on the video and did not testify, the state's attorney office had little recourse except to charge the lesser offense under Illinois law, child pornography, which required a lower standard of evidence. Each count of the new charges carries up to seven years in prison. If Kelly is convicted on all 10 counts, a judge could decide that the sentences run one after the other — making it possible for him to receive up to 70 years behind bars. Probation is also an option under the statute. Kelly was charged a week after Michael Avenatti, the attorney whose clients have included porn star Stormy Daniels, said he gave prosecutors new video evidence of the singer with an underage girl. At a news conference Friday, Avenatti said a 14-year-old girl seen with R. Kelly on the video is among four victims mentioned in the indictment. He said the footage shows two separate scenes on two separate days at Kelly's residence in the late 1990s. During the video, both the victim and Kelly refer to her age 10 times, he said. Avenatti said he represents six clients, including two victims, two parents and two people he describes as 'knowing R. Kelly and being within his inner circle for the better part of 25 years.' Legally and professionally, the walls began closing in on Kelly after the release of a BBC documentary about him last year and the multipart Lifetime documentary 'Surviving R. Kelly,' which aired last month. Together they detailed allegations he was holding women against their will and running a 'sex cult.' #MeToo activists and a social media movement using the hashtag #MuteRKelly called on streaming services to drop Kelly's music and promoters not to book any more concerts. Protesters demonstrated outside Kelly's Chicago studio. In the indictment, the prosecution addressed the question of the statute of limitations, saying that even abuse that happened more than two decades ago falls within the charging window allowed under Illinois law. Victims typically have 20 years to report abuse, beginning when they turn 18. ___ Check out the AP's complete coverage of the investigations into R. Kelly.
  • Vietnamese authorities are not amused by the antics of two impersonators of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump. The duo has been making rounds of Hanoi, taking pictures with curious onlookers ahead of the second summit of the two leaders next week. However, on late Friday, a Kim lookalike, the Hong Kong-based impersonator who uses the name Howard X, posted on Facebook that about 15 police or immigration officers demanded a mandatory 'interview' with them following a talk they gave at the state-run VTC station. 'They then said that this was a very sensitive time in the city due to the Trump/Kim summit and that our impersonation was causing a 'disturbance' and ... suggested that we do not do the impersonation in public for the duration of our stay as these presidents have many enemies and that it was for our own safety.' According to Howard X, there was a back-and-forth with an unnamed Vietnamese officer who 'did not seem pleased with my answer' and threatened the impersonators with deportation, saying they were breaking immigration rules. Finally, he said they were driven back to their hotel and told to stay put until authorities decide how to treat them. 'Although I am not surprised that I got detained for doing my impersonation in Vietnam, it's still pretty annoying. What it shows is that Vietnam has a long way to go before they will be a developed country and I wonder if they ever will under these conditions,' he wrote on his Facebook page. 'If the Vietnamese authorities are willing to give this kind of harassment over something as trivial as an impersonation to a high profile foreigner, imagine what all the Vietnamese artists, musicians, film producers and all the political activists have to endure for simply wanting to release a controversial film, songs or for simply speaking up about real injustices in this country.' Vietnam is a tightly controlled communist country that tolerates no dissent. Howard X was also questioned by Singaporean immigration authorities when he and his colleague appeared in the city-state for the first Kim-Trump summit last June. The impersonator's real name is Lee Howard Ho Wun.
  • Flowers from Meghan Markle's New York baby shower are getting a second life. WNBC reports that the flowers from the Duchess of Sussex's shower on Wednesday were donated to Repeat Roses, an organization that gives flowers to charities. The American Cancer Society says Meghan's flowers were donated to cancer patients around the city. One of the recipients was the cancer society's Hope Lodge. The facility provides free lodging to cancer patients traveling to New York for treatment. Friends including Gayle King and Amal Clooney joined Meghan at her shower at a Manhattan hotel. The 37-year-old American actress became a British royal when she married Prince Harry last year. She is due to give birth to the couple's first child in April. ___ Information from: WNBC-TV, http://www.nbcnewyork.com

Local News

  • ABC News correspondent and UGA alumna Deborah Roberts will give the University of Georgia’s spring undergraduate Commencement address May 10 at 7 p.m. in Sanford Stadium. Loch Johnson, Regents Professor of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia, will deliver the spring graduate address on the same day at 9:30 a.m. at Stegeman Coliseum. Tickets are not required for either ceremony. Since graduating from UGA in 1982 with a degree in broadcast news from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, Roberts has risen through the ranks of television news, received numerous awards and been a regular reporter and contributor for programs such as “Dateline NBC,” “20/20,” “Nightline,” and “Good Morning America” to name a few. Born in the small town of Perry, Georgia, Roberts was one of nine children. She began her post-college career at WTVM-TV in Columbus, Georgia, and subsequently worked at WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she gained notice for her coverage of the state legislature. Roberts further honed her reporting skills as bureau chief of WFTV-TV, the ABC affiliate in Orlando, from February 1987 to May 1990, where she also served as the station’s field anchor at the Kennedy Space Center and co-anchor of the weekend news. In 1990, Roberts began her network career with NBC News as a general assignment correspondent. She covered stories in the Southeast from the Atlanta and Miami bureaus and was dispatched to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait reporting on the lead up to the Persian Gulf War. Roberts was later named a magazine correspondent for “Dateline NBC” and reported from Barcelona during the 1992 Summer Olympic games, earning an Emmy nomination for this coverage. In 1992, she received a University of Georgia Distinguished Alumnus Award, presented annually to recent graduates who have excelled rapidly in their professions. Roberts joined ABC 20/20 in 1995. Since then her curiosity has taken her around the world, from Bangladesh to report on women’s maternal health to Africa where she has traveled extensively, telling stories about the HIV/AIDS crisis and an Emmy-winning report on a woman who discovered her long lost mother in an African village. Roberts has won numerous awards for her work including a Clarion award for coverage of abuse within the Amish community. In 2006, Roberts delivered UGA’s Holmes-Hunter lecture, and in 2016 she presented an Alumni Seminar. Earlier this year, she participated in a panel discussion entitled “Grady Greats: A Conversation on the Enduring Values and Power of Journalism.” Johnson, who also holds the title of Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor, is an accomplished scholar in political science, with numerous awards for his teaching prowess and research. During his career at UGA, Johnson authored more than 30 books and over 200 articles on intelligence agencies, foreign policy and national security. He served as editor of the journal Intelligence and National Security and as a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Intelligence History, International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence,  Intelligence and National Security and The Oxford Handbook of National Security Intelligence, among many others. His latest book is entitled Spy Watching: Intelligence Accountability in the United States (Oxford, 2018). Johnson was a driving force in the creation of the School of Public and International Affairs in 2001. In 2012, the fourteen universities that comprise the Southeast Conference selected him as the inaugural recipient of its now annual prize: “The SEC Professor of the Year.” After receiving his doctorate in political science from the University of California at Riverside in 1969, he taught at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, California State University (San Francisco) and Ohio University, where he was tenured in 1974. From 1975 on, Johnson also served as a political consultant and congressional staff member, pushing for increased oversight of intelligence agencies. He was Special Assistant to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which investigated the nation’s spy agencies and led to the establishment of oversight committees in the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to monitor intelligence activities. Additionally, Johnson served on the staff of the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations, as staff director of the House Subcommittee on Intelligence Oversight and on the staff of the House Subcommittee on Trade and International Economic Policy. He became a member of the UGA faculty in the Department of Political Science in 1979, becoming a full professor in 1985. He took a year’s leave from the university in 1995 to work on the Aspin-Brown Commission on Intelligence. He has also taught at Yale University and Oxford University as a Distinguished Visiting Professor, and he has presented addresses on national security and foreign policy topics at over 150 colleges and universities in North America, Europe, and New Zealand. During his time at UGA, Johnson has been involved in both local and national politics, including writing Friend of the Court petitions in intelligence-related court cases, serving as a member of the Georgia State Board of Elections and leading the SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) campaign to finance a new Cedar Shoals High School and renovate public schools throughout Athens-Clarke County. Johnson will retire at the end of the spring semester after more than 40 years at UGA.
  • There is a Saturday session for the citizens committee that is looking at the SPLOST project list: the panel meets at 9 tomorrow morning at the Sandy Creek Nature Center. Athens-Clarke County voters decide the fate of the penny-on-the-dollar sales tax referendum in November.  Saturday is a trail work day at the Sandy Creek Nature Center: Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services says volunteers will gather at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning at the Nature Center on Old Commerce Road. Leisure Services says it’s a clean-up day.  The Green Life Expo and Awards ceremony is set for Saturday at the Library on Baxter Street, underway at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning. The Green Life Awards recognize sustainability leaders in schools, businesses, community organizations, and government in Athens. |
  • The University of Georgia was ranked No. 2 by OpenStax on a list of top 10 schools that have saved their students the most money through adoption of OpenStax free college textbooks in the 2017-18 school year. These textbooks helped 42,245 UGA students, according to data from Rice University-based publisher OpenStax. Savings from these textbooks saved students around $3.9 million, according to UGA data. UGA, as well as the University System of Georgia, has made a concerted effort to move toward free online textbooks, especially for large-enrollment courses, to save students money and improve teaching. “At UGA, we are growing a culture of Open Educational Resources thanks to dedicated advocacy for affordable textbook alternatives by our students, faculty, staff and administrators,” said Megan L. Mittelstadt, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning. “The majority of these savings are a result of the adoption of OpenStax texts—the high-quality, peer-reviewed OpenStax books are popular among our faculty seeking to implement open education resources in service of equity and student academic success. These not only lower the cost for students, but data from a small sample of UGA courses using OpenStax books also shows improved end-of-course grades, especially for Pell recipients, part-time students and student populations historically underserved by higher education.” UGA was an early adopter of these free textbooks and pioneered ways large institutions can focus their implementation on a bigger scale and improve learning outcomes. Peggy Brickman, a professor of plant biology, and her colleagues teach general education biology courses taken by nearly 2,000 students a year. When she adopted an OpenStax textbook in 2013, CTL used a grant to fund a graduate assistant who worked with Brickman to redesign her course. It was an opportunity for Brickman to rethink how to best teach the course, and students have been thanking her ever since. “It has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars for students,” Brickman said, “and the course is much better after we redesigned it.”
  • The Hart County Sheriff’s Office is heading up the investigation into the shooting that wounded an Elberton man: the shooting apparently happened at the dam on Lake Hartwell. The victim, who was shot in the leg, tells investigators it happened during a robbery. A White County man begins his life sentence: Frederick Sauder is 30 years old, from Cleveland. He was sentenced after his conviction for his role in the armed robbery and murder of 66 year-old Wayne Alexander, who was killed in August of 2016. A Hall County man is behind bars, charged with a long list of drug and driving charges: the Hall County Sheriff’s Office says 39 year-old was arrested after a traffic stop.    From the Hall Co Sheriff’s Office... On February 20, 2019, Deputies with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office arrested Donald Jason Passmore, 39, of Gainesville (pictured above), at a location in the 3300 block of Baker Road, during the course of an investigation.   Four Superior Court Probation warrants had been previously issued for Mr. Passmore’s arrest in July 2018.    His original charges included: manufacturing methamphetamine near a child, possession of methamphetamine 3cts. DUI, possession of drug related objects, theft by taking and obstruction.   On February 20, 2019, Passmore attempted to break into a storage building located at a residence in the 3700 block of Baker Road by prying the lock with a crow bar.   He also attempted to enter the primary residence but fled the scene in his car when confronted by the homeowner/victim in this case.   Deputies responded.    When deputies attempted to arrest Mr. Passmore, he accelerated his vehicle, driving towards the Deputy, causing the deputy to jump out of the vehicle’s path to avoid being struck.   Passmore was ultimately arrested without further incident and charged with:    1) Aggravated Assault on a Peace Officer 2) Felony Obstruction 3) Failure to Maintain Lane of Travel 4) Suspended License 5) Reckless Driving 6) Fleeing/Eluding 7) Criminal Trespass of Property 8) Possession of Tools of a Crime (of Burglary) 9) Superior Court Probation Warrant (issued 7/13/18) 10) Superior Court Probation Warrant (issued 7/13/18) 11) Superior Court Probation Warrant (issued 7/24/18) 12) Superior Court Probation Warrant (issued 7/24/18)   Passmore was booked in at the Hall County Jail.  
  • The University of Georgia’s Black History Month Awards and Dinner is set for this evening in Athens: it gets underway at 5:30 at the Georgia Museum of Art. From the University of Georgia master calendar… This dinner and awards ceremony features the presentation of the Larry D. and Brenda A Thompson Award. Visit bit.ly/gmoa-bhma19 to sponsor and receive guaranteed tickets. Individual tickets will be available Jan. 4 for members and Feb. 1 for nonmembers. Call 706-542-4199 with additional ticket inquiries. Friday, February 22 at 5:30pm to 9:00pm Georgia Museum of Art 90 Carlton Street, Athens, GA 30602

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm doesn’t expect Georgia’s offense to change much under the direction of first-year offensive coordinator James Coley. But the 2019 Heisman Trophy candidate indicated it could evolve. When one considers the returning personnel, it’s not hard to understand why and how. The Bulldogs ranked 18th in the nation in total offense last season and return a veteran offensive line, a 1,000-yard back and a third-year starter in Fromm. RELATED: Kirby Smart makes his pick on offense “There’s just going to be more added to it,” Fromm, who ranked fifth in the nation in passing efficiency last season, told WSB. “We’re super excited in what we have going on.” Receiver Tyler Simmons, who played part of last season limited by a shoulder brace, told WSB-2 he’s expecting a different feeling in the huddles. “A little bit more energetic,” Simmons said. “Coley brings a lot of energy to the offense, we we’re all excited.” Simmons suggested the Georgia pass attack won’t drop off despite the Bulldogs losing four of their top five receivers last season in Riley Ridley, Mecole Hardman, Isaac Nauta and Terry Godwin. “We may have the ball in the air a little more,” Simmons said. “A little bit more passing, a little bit more balance offensively.” That may be true, but it won’t come at the expense of a dominant run game, if Coach Kirby Smart stays true to form. “We’ve got a set of plays, our core belief that we always have which is balance, being powerful, being able to run the ball at our will, not somebody else breaking our will,” Smart said last fall. “That’s always going to be the identity we have.” Further, Smart’s philosophy on building an offense is that the talent will dictate the play calls. “The building of the package is really based on what we have,” Smart said last fall. “What are our strengths? Are we stronger at receiver than running back or are our backs going to be as good and explosive as they were last year?” Georgia is expected to start spring football practice on March 18, with the G-Day spring football game scheduled for April 20. The post Georgia football QB Jake Fromm predicts offensive expansion under James Coley appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — The unintended consequences on the Georgia football 2020 schedule have yet to shake out, as it relates to the pending Auburn-Tennessee October-November flip. But the fact Alabama rotates on Bulldogs regular-season schedule in 2020 has some UGA fans losing sleep. Could the Bulldogs play the Tide and Tigers in back-to-back weeks? Extremely unlikely, to the point it would be shocking, and a deeper dive explains why. About the flip On the surface, Georgia’s Auburn-Tennessee schedule flip provides mutual benefits for UGA and the Tigers, to the extent Kirby Smart obviously believes it’s in the best interest of his program. RELATED: Vince Dooley says schedule change benefits Auburn Smart said last May at the SEC Spring Meetings that he was open to changing things up so UGA wasn’t playing road games at Georgia Tech and Auburn in November. WATCH: What Kirby Smart said about Auburn schedule twist But surely, Smart and athletic director Greg McGarity played out the scenario and have some assurances from the SEC office that the Auburn and Alabama games in 2020 won’t occur in back-to-back weeks. “I’d just make the statement that if there are any issues that our staff has, we’d voice that,” UGA athletic director  Greg McGarity told DawgNation. “But I think Kirby will be very comfortable with the schedule that you’ll see in 2020.” Historic trend Still, the relatively limited series history between Georgia and Alabama has led some alarmists to speculate the Bulldogs could be in another scheduling bind. The past two meetings between the Bulldogs and the Tide have been in Atlanta, with the SEC Championship on the line last December, and the national championship at stake in January of 2018. But prior to that, the teams most recent regular season meetings were Oct. 3,   2015 (Athens) and then a 2007-2008 home-and-home in Tuscaloosa (Sept. 27) and Athens (Sept. 27). The good news for Georgia fans is the Bulldogs already have a contracted home game with Louisiana-Monroe for the last Saturday in September, the 26th. More good news is DawgNation sources said earlier this week the 2020 Auburn game will be in October — not September. Circle Sept. 19 The educated guess here is that the 2020 Georgia-Alabama game will be played on Sept. 19 — a week before the contracted non-conference game with Louisiana-Monroe — with the Auburn game played on Oct. 3. It’s worth noting Alabama plays Georgia State on Sept. 12, 2020 and Kent State Sept. 26, 2020 — leaving that Sept. 19 date a prime target for a marquee early-season SEC showdown in Tuscaloosa. But until the schedule comes out, more will speculate and wonder when Georgia will play Alabama in 2020. Regardless of where or when the game is played, the most noteworthy trend that must be reversed is the outcome. The Tide has won five straight against Georgia to snap what had been a three-game Bulldogs win streak in the series dating back to the Bulldogs’ 26-23 overtime win in Tuscaloosa in 2007.     The post Evaluating Georgia football possibility of playing Auburn-Alabama in consecutive 2020 weeks appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia football has scheduling twists that seem to have some fans twisting in the wind. Here’s the thing: Coach Kirby Smart is on board with the changes, and they would’t be happening if he wasn’t. “I’d just make the statement that if there are any issues that our staff has, we’d voice that,” UGA athletic director Greg McGarity told DawgNation. “But I think Kirby will be very comfortable with the schedule that you’ll see in 2020.” So Georgia is switching the order of games with rivals Auburn and Tennessee, the matchup with the Tigers moving to October, and the Vols’ series moving to November. It would certainly be easier if Smart were to speak for himself on the issue. But Smart has chosen to strategically stay silent since the 28-21 Sugar Bowl loss to Texas on Jan. 1. Smart did, however, choose to issue a statement making it clear he’s very supportive of McGarity — a narrative that somehow some have gotten confused in the past: “Greg’s been a great resource for me since coming to Georgia and has always been supportive and energetic about all the things that are necessary to develop and maintain a successful football program,’’ Smart said in a UGA release. “I’m especially appreciative of his commitment to facilities. Greg is loyal to the University and has what is best for Georgia as his top priority.’’ It’s hard to imagine how the Bulldogs head coach could be any clearer. Smart also made his feelings known on the Auburn scheduling at the SEC Spring Meetings last May in Destin, Fla. Smart said he would be all for it if Auburn were to play two consecutive games in Athens. “Absolutely, if we can get a chance to fix it, and (they) return the favor that we paid to them,” Smart said, asked if he would be on board with the Tigers playing consecutive years in Athens. “I hear about that a lot, obviously I wasn’t there, but if you can make it more consistent and balance it out, it would help in the long run.” UGA played two straight   games in Auburn, in 2012-2013, as the SEC adjusted its schedule to include Missouri and Texas A&M. The unintended consequence of Georgia changing up its odd/even years and home/away with Auburn is that the Bulldogs fell into playing both Georgia Tech and the Tigers on the road in November every other year. Smart didn’t like that, either, and he said so. “I feel like if we could fix it, it would help to not have two road games back to back for us, like the situation we had last year (2017) with Auburn and Georgia Tech back to back,” Smart said. “I understand there are problems and difficulties trying to appease everyone.” So while the opportunity for Auburn to play at Georgia two years in a row wasn’t on the table, the chance to move up the Auburn game to October was, and Smart and UGA took advantage of that. Some have pointed out that Tennessee is also a rivalry game. Now, it’s a matter of having to travel to Knoxville and Atlanta (to play Tech) in the same month. But what won’t happen is the possibility of facing Auburn in a rematch just a few short weeks after facing that program in the regular season — something Smart alluded to in Destin last May. Smart had many other things to say that offered a great deal of insight into his feelings of what was to come with transfers and quarterback situations that are worth looking back on: Kirby Smart, SEC Spring Meetings The post WATCH: What Kirby Smart said about Auburn scheduling twist, Greg McGarity appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia is moving quickly to make improvements in every phase of its football program, and apparently that extends to the Bulldogs’ relatively new “Light Up Sanford” tradition. While the plans to transition from the old metal halide lighting system to a modern LED “Lumadapt” system installed by Ephesus Lighting. In addition to being more energy efficient and brighter, the lights also can be digitally adjusted, synchronized to music and produce special effects. Which is where Georgia’s Light Up Sanford tradition comes in. “Think about the creativity to we can bring to the games,” deputy athletic director Josh Brook said during his presentation to the board. “We can celebrate a touchdown, there are all kinds of things we can do. We’re planning on a few things. There’s a certain fourth-quarter tradition we have that might come into play. We’re working on some things I don’t want to reveal right now. But this should add to the game-day experience and the things we can do for fans.” Back in 2015, members of Georgia’s Redcoat Marching Band started a fourth-quarter tradition that has gained considerable momentum the last two seasons. After the third quarter ends, the band plays a song called Krypton. That’s alerts Georgia fans to pull out their cell phones and activate their flashlight apps and wave them up and down to the music toward the team on the field. The Bulldogs respond as well, holding up four fingers and acknowledging the crowd’s belief that the fourth quarter belongs to them. The synchronicity creates quite the scene and even has inspired video documentaries. The tradition has really taken off the last two seasons as the Bulldogs made runs to the SEC Championship and National Championship game. With the capability of the new LED lights, Sanford Stadium might be able to play along as well. Brooks said Georgia is one of the first NCAA stadiums to utilize the systems installed by Ephesus. The arena lighting specialists have done installations for the last three Super Bowl venues and will for next year’s game in Miami as well. “We can take lighting effects to the next level,” Brooks said. UGA DEPUTY AD JOSH BROOKS The post WATCH: Georgia aims to take its 4th-quarter, ‘Light Up Sanford’ tradition to a new level appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — It was just a statement buried within a UGA press release on Wednesday’s athletic board meeting, but it happened to be Kirby Smart, from whom we’ve heard very little over the last 51 days and nothing directly. Georgia’s football coach was commenting on Wednesday’s news that Greg McGarity had received a contract extension to continue as the Bulldogs’ athletic director. “Greg’s been a great resource for me since coming to Georgia and has always been supportive and energetic about all the things that are necessary to develop and maintain a successful football program,’’ Smart said in the release prepared by UGA sports communications staff. “I’m especially appreciative of his commitment to facilities. Greg is loyal to the University and has what is best for Georgia as his top priority.’’ McGarity certainly has been a strong supporter of Smart and the football program. Since taking over as the Bulldogs’ head coach, McGarity has seen that Smart’s requests for facility improvements got approved and completed fast. Upon Smart’s appointment in December of 2015, the Bulldogs were in the process of breaking ground on a $31 million indoor practice facility. That building was dedicated as the William & Porter Payne Indoor Athletic Center in January of 2017. After that, McGarity filled Smart’s request for a new locker room and recruiting lounge to be constructed in the West End of Sanford Stadium. That $63 million dollar project was completed and dedicated before the 2018 season. Meanwhile, Smart’s latest request seems to be coming on line quickly. UGA already is raising funds and drawing up plans for a new football-dedicated building to be added to the Butts-Mehre Complex on South Campus. Architectural design concepts are due to be submitted to the athletic board by the time it meets again in May. At that time, the size, layout and cost of the new addition will be revealed. The multi-million dollar project could commence as early as 2020. Georgia teams have won eight national championships since McGarity’s arrival in August of 2010. The latest came last week when the women’s team won the NCAA Indoor Championship. “Greg’s leadership and continued support instill confidence in our coaches, student-athletes, and sports programs in general,’’ said Lu Harris-Champer who just began her 19th season as head coach of the UGA softball team.  ‘’He is totally committed to providing the best opportunities for our student-athletes to be successful in competition and in the classroom.  Greg is a great facilitator of success.’’ McGarity’s extension was the only personnel news to come out of the board’s winter meeting. The group also voted unanimously to allocate $8.5 million toward the new grandstand at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. The post Georgia coach Kirby Smart thanks Greg McGarity for unwavering support of football appeared first on DawgNation.