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Entertainment Headlines

    Actor Ron Leibman, who appeared in movies, theater and television in a career that spanned six decades and won a Tony award for Tony Kushner's iconic play ”Ängels in America,' has died after an illness. He was 82. Leibman's agent, Robert Attermann, said the actor died Friday. He gave no further details, but a person who knew the actor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the cause was pneumonia. Leibman is survived by his wife, the actress Jessica Walter. In his lengthy career, Leibman played a huge variety of roles both dramatic and comic. He appeared in numerous films including “Norma Rae,' opposite Sally Field, and “Slaughterhouse-Five.” He won an Emmy award in 1979 for the short-lived CBS series “Kaz,” which he also created. He was perhaps best known on television for his role on “Friends,” though, in which he played Dr. Leonard Green, the father of Rachel, played by Jennifer Aniston. A crowning moment of Leibman's career was his leading-actor Tony in 1993 for playing the fearsome role of Roy Cohn, the conservative lawyer and chief counsel to Sen. Joseph McCarthy who died of AIDS in 1986. Leibman's performance was called ”blood-churning' by New York Times critic Frank Rich, and “frenzied” by Associated Press critic Michael Kuchwara. Accepting his Tony, Leibman told the audience that he'd seen his first Broadway play at 3 years old. “I've been a professional actor for 35 years,' he said. ““Angels in America'' is my tenth Broadway play, and this is my first Tony nomination. I hope you know in your hearts how deeply grateful I am to be here tonight.' Thanking his wife, Jessica, he quipped: 'Maybe we can get an apartment with a washer-dryer now.' Sally Field, who won an Oscar for 'Norma Rae,' playing a textile worker to Leibman's labor organizer, paid tribute to the actor on Twitter. ”So many of the best memories of my career have Ron Leibman in them,' Field wrote. She thanked him “for being my champion.” Leibman was born Oct. 11, 1937 in New York, and attended Ohio Wesleyan University. An earlier marriage to actress Linda Lavin ended in divorce. “Ron was an incredibly talented actor with a distinguished career in film, TV and theater,' said Attermann, his agent. “Our thoughts go out to his wife, Jessica, and his family.”
  • An executive with Netflix says the streaming giant has boosted its original content exponentially over the last several years and that will mean more action for its production hub in New Mexico, where state officials have been busy trying to woo more big partners in the industry. Nick Maniatis, who ran the state's film office before going to work for Netflix, spoke to a group of hundreds of business leaders and elected officials who were gathered Thursday in Albuquerque. He described it as a “golden era,' saying the amount of content that's out there is amazing. “A year ago you could say all the major studios — take Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, Fox, all of them combined — would do about 300 or 400 projects a year. This year, we will do 1,000 projects, just Netflix,” he said. The pace of production is showing no signs of slowing down as Disney and others are planning new products. Maniatis said that will surely lead to a dearth of sound stages. That's where New Mexico is hoping to fill the void. It's already home to Netflix's first U.S. production hub. The company partnered with the state and the city of Albuquerque in purchasing a studio complex on the city's southern edge, pledging to invest $1 billion in production in the state over the next decade. It has put more than $2 million into renovating the studios so far and its offices there are expected to be complete by the end of the month. “We have a lot more to bring to New Mexico,” Maniastis said, teasing about some new developments. “I can’t really tell you about it other than to say we’re really pushing forward into the future with how production will be done. We’ve got some really innovate ways to do it and we’re going to do a lot of that here in New Mexico.” The company also says it's on track with meeting spending and employment benchmarks promised as part of the partnership with the state. Netflix and state officials are planning to announce the progress in the coming weeks. NBC Universal is in midst of turning a warehouse near downtown Albuquerque into a state-of-the art television and film studio. It has committed to spending $500 million on productions in the state over the next decade. Both NBC Universal and Netflix also plan to put money each year toward film industry training initiatives. Alicia J. Keyes, secretary of the New Mexico Economic Development Department, is just back from Los Angeles where she met with another company interested in coming to New Mexico. She said the state has shifted the conversation from one-off shows to partnerships with studios that can make long-term commitments to being in the state and keeping the established crew base working. “Hollywood is finally like, ‘Wow, what’s going on here and how are they doing this?’ So we are on the map I think in a way that we never have been before,” she said Friday in an interview. State officials tout changes in the film incentive program for the uptick in productions and interest over the past six months. Netflix is among those to benefit from the program, though Keyes said it will take some time for the state to calculate the total amount of incentives and the economic impact of the work done since the legislation took effect in July. In all, there have been about 80 to 85 productions in 2019, according to the state film office. The state is projecting direct spending by the industry of about $530 million for the current fiscal year.
  • Actor Bryan Cranston will be the celebrity monarch when the Krewe of Orpheus parade rolls in New Orleans on Feb. 24, the krewe announced Friday. The Emmy- and Tony-winning “Breaking Bad” star will be joined by Charlie Day and Mary Elizabeth Ellis of “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Country musician Lauren Alaina also will be part of the procession. And she will headline the krewe's annual post-parade captain's party, the “Orpheuscapade,' which will feature a tribute to New Orleans musician Art Neville, who died this year. The parade is one of the Mardi Gras season's biggest. Some 1,200 krewe members will ride 30 elaborate floats in a parade that also features 32 marching bands and clubs.
  • What’s inside the frame and what’s outside of it are electrifyingly synonymous in French filmmaker Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.” It’s a sumptuous period romance set in 18th-century France about women making art free, for a moment, of traditional male frameworks. And the same could be said for the film itself, one crafted by women striving for a new cinematic dynamics and new images. “It’s kind of a testimony of its own ideas,” Sciamma said in a recent interview. “There are two frames, two canvases that embody it. It's not just an idea. This is also how we worked. The movie gives back this emotion because it’s full of it.” The emotions stirred up by “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” have been considerable since its debut earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival. There, it won best screenplay and Sciamma became the first female director to win the Queer Palme, an award given to the best LGBTQ-themed film across the festival. France selected another film (“Les Miserables”) for its Oscar submission, so U.S. distributor Neon is giving “Portrait” a brief qualifying release this weekend with a wider one set for Feb. 14. But that hasn’t stopped “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” from becoming one of the year’s most acclaimed films. Sciamma’s fourth movie has been hailed as a love story that excites as much emotionally as it does intellectually. It’s about the female gaze, made with a female gaze, by women seeking new filmmaking terrain. “The cinema should offer new images, create new memories,” says Sciamma. When “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” was playing earlier this fall at the New York Film Festival, Sciamma met for an interview just off Central Park alongside her two stars, Adèle Haenel and Noémie Merlant. In “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” Merlant plays an artist named Marianne who arrives to paint the portrait of Héloïse, a young noblewoman (Haenel), intended to seal her marriage to a Milanese suitor. Héloïse, resistant to the arrangement, has refused to sit for a portrait with a previous male artist. Marianne must work stealthily, pretending to be Héloïse’s companion and stealing glances at Héloïse on coastal walks. A love develops that can never last, that will ultimately leave a trace only on Marianne’s canvas and in the hearts of its characters. Sciamma conceived of love in the film as “a sentimental education but also an artistic education.” “The idea was to craft the film around a love story, a love being born — a slow burn — and being lived,” she says. “But also this other timeline of the legacy of love, and what’s left of love.” Sciamma, who last directed the coming-of-age tale “Girlhood,” wanted the entire production to be“radical.” Just as the movie upends the traditional relationship between artist and muse, she wanted an equality of power all through the cast and crew. They shot nearly 80% of the film in one room, she estimates. “It’s like a laboratory,” she says. Haenel, who starred in Sciamma’s debut “Water Lilies,” was particularly adamant about throwing off the usual trappings of the period movie. For one scene in which Héloïse wears a cape, Haenel imaged herself a “Star Wars” character. “Nobody sees it, but you believe you are. This might make the movie sparkle,” says Haenel. She continues: “I don’t really pay much attention to acting as in a period piece. I think it’s a dry way to think. You just reproduce whatever is the cliché from what a period piece is. There’s too many candles. Like there was no life in the past. Especially women used to be dead people in the past, just looking through the window, being nice objects. It’s a movie set in the 18th century but it comes from our year. It comes from imagination that leads everywhere.' The 30-year-old Haenel, a two-time Cesar Award-winner whose films include “BPM” and “The Unknown Girl”, was previously in a relationship with Sciamma but their bond remains strong. “Céline and I are interested in the same thing,” says Haenel. “We are fighting for ideas and looking for beauty, but we are also playing all the time.” Last month, Haenel said she was sexually harassed as a 12-year-old by the French director Christopher Ruggia in her debut film. Ruggia has denied it. French authorities are investigating. Sciamma was a founding member of the collective 50/50x2020, a French version of Time’s Up that last year in Cannes organized one of the most striking protests on gender equality in the film industry. During the making of “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” Sciamma was intent on fostering a creative environment, she says, without gender domination or social hierarchies. The nature of the project immediately struck Merlant. “What was remarkable to me was this movie deals with women and is written by a woman. The space this movie offered to women to express their desire, their love, their artistic desire, and this horizontal gaze between them was so powerful,” Merlant says. “The point of the movie was, like, right there.” Merlant’s role relied heavily on looks and glances. “It was almost like a dance, the rhythm of the eyes,” she says. For inspiration, Merlant and Sciamma talked about films like Ingmar Bergman’s “Persona” and Jane Campion’s “The Piano” — even “Titantic.” “She wanted this collaboration between the director, the crew, the actors to have this horizontal gaze,” says Merlant. Talking about a film bursting with so many ideas has its downside, the trio grants. They like discussing them, but Sciamma says, “We also wanted to make this very new emotional ride and people have their heart broken. It’s hard to convey both.” Sciamma shrugs. “It’s cinema.” The movie began not with a concept, but an image. Sciamma saw the last shot in the film before she knew what led up to it. To explain it would spoil it, but it's a kind of portrait, itself, one that frames the love story in a moment years later. Sciamma calls it the most difficult shot of her life, but not because of it technicality. “The whole movie was built around this. It was a moment I had been dreaming about,' recalls Sciamma. “I was in another dimension. My heart beat so fast for so long. I don’t know if I will now die very young because it was so exhausting or if I will die very old because this muscle (she points to her heart) has been trained.” ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP
  • Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg says employees at his news organization need to accept restrictions with their paycheck, including the ban on investigating their boss. Bloomberg, billionaire founder of Bloomberg News, was asked in a CBS News interview about rules put in place when he announced his candidacy: The organization's reporters are not allowed to probe him and his finances, or any of his Democratic rivals. Bloomberg News says the restriction does not apply to President Donald Trump as the government's leader. That prompted Trump's campaign to say it would not allow Bloomberg reporters to cover its events. “We just have to learn to live with some things,” Bloomberg told CBS. His reporters “get a paycheck. But with your paycheck comes some restrictions and responsibilities.” He said that people have said to him, “'how can you investigate yourself?' And I said, Ï don't think you can.'' He noted that Bloomberg News subscribers also get access to campaign news from The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. With his comments, the former New York mayor “puts the journalists who work for him in an extremely uncomfortable, tenuous position,” said Lynne Adrine, a Washington-based journalism professor for Syracuse University. As the owner of Bloomberg News, which started in 1990, Bloomberg has the right to do as he wants, she said. 'Yet, I don't think that's the take-away journalism consumers need at this time,' Adrine said. Bloomberg reporter Mark Niquette is covering Bloomberg's campaign. On Friday, he posted a story about remarks Bloomberg made in the CBS interview, including about the news organization's policy. Earlier this week, he wrote about Bloomberg's campaign stop in Mississippi, where the candidate talked about his apology for New York City's stop-and-frisk policing tactics when he was mayor. The Bloomberg company had no comment Friday on what the candidate said. Kathleen Culver, a professor of journalism ethics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, said she's concerned about the extent to which Bloomberg reporters feel intimidated about their boss' remarks. Culver said she understands Bloomberg's reluctance to step fully away from the company he created, but he might want to look at ways to completely disassociate himself with Bloomberg News at this time.
  • As gallerists and collectors descend on Miami's most prestigious art fair by day, the Hollywood crowd knows it's all about the exclusive after parties. Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder and Pharrell were in town while DJ Khaled and rappers Travis Scott and Gucci Mane held court late night. Early in the week, fashion was front and center where Kate Moss, Bella Hadid and Winnie Harlow attended the it event of the week — Christian Dior's first fashion show in the U.S. for the iconic Parisian fashion house. Designer Kim Jones called Tuesday's show the perfect precursor to Art Basel Miami, which officially opened Thursday, but the parties and satellite art shows surrounding it started Monday. At the Ocean Drive magazine party celebrating Bad Bunny's cover Tuesday, guests in the VIP area smoked a hookah while the Latin singer's “Pasame La Hookah” played. Later in the week, the reggaeton singer covered his face with a diamond encrusted mask and emerald chandelier earrings to accessorize his green Gucci suit for a performance at LIV nightclub. On Wednesday, model Kendall Jenner took a turn at the DJ booth at LIV nightclub to debut her Apple Music radio station. She showed up around 2 a.m. in a hot pink zebra-striped mini dress with models Bella Hadid, Joan Smalls and Luke Sabbat. They moved onto the VIP party pit to join Basel regular Leonardo DiCaprio at 24-hour Miami club E11even where Jenner and Hadid snapped selfies. At hotelier Alan Faena's home, celebs including Tommy Hilfiger, Sean Penn, Rosario Dawson, “Cool Girl” singer Tove Lo and Paris Hilton came out to support Lenny Kravitz's limited-edition Dom Pérignon collection at a dinner that included a DJ set by Diplo. Also Wednesday, Joan Smalls and Karolina Kurkova helped House of Ruinart raise money for the Amazon rainforest with a champagne fete from Chef Daniel Boulud. Across town, Serena Williams hosted a party to celebrate her fashion brand before heading over to the legendary karaoke night at Casa Tua, which has become a mainstay during Miami's art week. Billy Joel sat at the piano for a live Q&A broadcast on his SiriusXM channel, performing songs and sharing stories behind his hits. Nearby, Brooke Shields and former supermodel Helena Christensen attended an Art Miami party to curate an exhibition with The New York Academy of Art. Diplo, wearing a cowboy hat and suede fringe jacket stopped by a posthumous album release party for slain rapper XXXtentacion before headlining a show at E11even. Rapper Gucci Mane performed at Rockwell x 1 Oak and local DJ Khaled hosted a private party at the Delano for Jay Z's streaming service Tidal. The Grammy-Award nominated Khaled, who will be performing at the Super Bowl, performed “I’m on One” and yelled to the crowd, “We the Best, Art Basel, DJ Khaled, sing it.” In the Miami Design District on Thursday night, Pharrell and A$AP Rocky dined at Swan restaurant; Pharrell is a co-owner. Black Coffee surprised guests with a special DJ set. Kim Kardashian West, Kourtney Kardashian, Bella Hadid, Bad Bunny and Christian Acosta were also spotted at the restaurant this week.
  • The Who, “WHO” (Interscope) While frequently joining forces for tours and other projects, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey have released just two studio albums as The Who since 1982, with 2006’s “Endless Wire” their last such work until now. “WHO” sees the pair backed by some of their frequent collaborators since the deaths of drummer Keith Moon in 1979 and bassist John Entwistle in 2002, such as drummer Zak Starkey and bassist Pino Palladino. Others include drummers Joey Waronker and Carla Azar, bassist Gus Seyffert and keyboard player Benmont Tench. Still, all the splendid backing notwithstanding — and not forgetting co-producer and multi-instrumentalist D. Sardy, either — it’s the high standards of The Who’s last remaining trademarks, Townshend’s songwriting and guitar playing and Daltrey’s superlative singing, that make the album such a joy. Townshend has written a strong batch of songs full of yearning and confronting the passage of time, many carrying shades and echoes of his past work; he rips power chords and performs slinky riffs; and his vocals, especially in support of Daltrey’s leads, are still a highlight. Daltrey, for his part, with health concerns behind him, sings with power, sensitivity, range and conviction, just as he has done for decades. While it doesn’t have the same of air of finality as Leonard Cohen’s “You Want It Darker,” released just weeks before his death in 2016, based on their recording habits of the past decades, “WHO” may well be their last studio album. The catchy, propulsive opener “All This Music Must Fade” seems like a message about Townshend and Daltrey's difficult relationship, even though that seems to have mellowed: “I don’t care/I know you’re gonna hate this song. And that’s it/We never really got along.” It may also be a missive to their fans and closes with what will become Townshend’s most famous last words since his “I saw ya!” at the end of “Magic Bus.” “Ball and Chain,” “Street Song” and “Beads on One String” are topical but many other of the 11 tracks (plus three on the deluxe edition) are simultaneously defiant, vulnerable and contemplative, with aging repeatedly rearing its head. On the rousing “Rocking in Rage,” like a coda to “Quadrophenia,” the talk is still about their generation: “I thought I’d be calmer/Not rocking in rage,” even if “I’m too old to fight.” It’s a shiver-inducing Daltrey performance. Townshend sings lead on “I’ll Be Back,” a nostalgic tune with strings and harmonica, that seems lifted from his “All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes” 1982 solo album. On “I Don’t Wanna Get Wise,” Daltrey seems to have changed some of the lyric sheet’s “I” pronouns into “he,” “we” and “us,” as if making space for himself in the rocking mini-biography of a song — “He was drunk/I was blind/Though we tried to be kind” — and belting out a “We got wise” at the end. Thankfully, it’s much too late for Daltrey and Townshend to die before they get old, so with “WHO” they show that even in rock ‘n’ roll, it’s possible to age both with grace and vigor and without abandoning purpose. Or lose the talent to make stirring, highly gratifying music.
  • The top 10 songs of the year by Associated Press Music Editor Mesfin Fekadu. 1. Jhené Aiko, “Triggered (freestyle)': Jhené Aiko brilliantly captures so many emotions in one song on “Triggered (freestyle),” as she rapidly spits out lyrics in a raw way that range from “I HATE YOU SO MUCH RIGHT NOW' to “Sup, you up?' She's a ball of emotions, but she's direct and honest, and those lyrics are piercing and appealing, and make for a great song — rather, the song of the year. She's trying to move on, but she needs closure. She's saying I hate what you did, but I can't still be with anyone else intimately yet. She's angry. And bitter. And hurt. And healing. Overall, she's human. And she's a beast of a songwriter. 2. Sam Smith and Normani, “Dancing With a Stranger”: Sam Smith's recent songs have been a batch of dance-flavored bops, and we need more of it. 3. H.E.R., “Make It Rain — Live at Austin City Limits': H.E.R. is one of the best live performers of our time, and her rendition of Foy Vance's “Make It Rain” is heavenly. Her magical guitar playing mixed with her powerful voice — and the voices of her groundbreaking background singers — make this track one of the best of the year. 4. Lewis Capaldi, “Someone You Loved': The award for the song most likely to make you cry goes to breakthrough singer Lewis Capaldi, who bares it all on “Someone You Loved,” one of the songs we loved all year long. 5. Daddy Yankee and Snow, “Con Calma': Though the contemporary Latin music world has been dominated by young and emerging acts, Daddy Yankee has continued to shine brightly, and even outshined most of his counterparts. Long after blazing the charts with “Gasolina,' he's still putting out hits, and this year it was with the anthemic “Con Calma.' And we're talking about the original version featuring rapper Snow, not the gentrified one with Katy Perry. 6. Kehlani featuring Ty Dolla $ign: Kehlani and Ty Dolla $ign are the prom king and queen of R&B thanks to this hella addictive track. 7. Chris Brown featuring Gunna, “Heat': Chris Brown's “Indigo' has 32 tracks, but “Heat' is the hottest. 8. City Girls, “Act Up”: Wake up. Brush teeth. Wash face and body. Listen to “Act Up.' Leave the house feeling untouchable. 9. Rosalía and Ozuna, “Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi': Rosalía. Can. Do. No. Wrong. 10. Normani, “Motivation”: I probably account for 70 million of the 72 million views Normani's fun, striking and eye-popping “Motivation” has on YouTube. The song and video is just the beginning for this future icon.
  • The top 10 albums of the year by Associated Press Music Editor Mesfin Fekadu: 1. Ari Lennox, “Shea Butter Baby”: A message to the Grammy Awards, in the words of pop music philosopher Mariah Carey: “Them chickens is ash and I'm lotion.” Them is the Grammys, and the lotion is Ari Lennox’s “Shea Butter Baby,” a product that’s clearly too expensive for the super-dry Recording Academy. A nomination — or eight — isn’t necessary for any real music fan to realize how outstanding, soulful and poignant Lennox’s debut album is. Every song on the 12-track is a winner, with Lennox’s voice and tone changing throughout the album, showing her skill, versatility and power. “Shea Butter Baby” feels as good as soaking in a warm bath, with the right candle — scent not too strong, but not too weak — illuminating in the background. It’s hard not to play “BMO,” which echoes Erykah Badu, less than 20 times a day; the title track with J. Cole is classic-sounding; and “Static” beautifully closes the album. Lennox’s “Shea Butter Baby” is the best album of the year, no matter if awards shows think differently, including you, the Soul Train Music Awards. 2. Summer Walker, “Over It”: Summer Walker’s debut album is perfect, as she spits matter-of-fact lyrics over some beats that borrow from classic ‘90s R&B hits including Usher, Destiny’s Child and 702. But even when she’s not sampling a song, Walker can hold her own, delivering a flawless album that’s easy to obsess over. 3. Anitta, “Kisses”: This Brazilian singer’s first trilingual album — featuring songs in Portuguese, Spanish and English — is adventurous, from its drop-it-like-it’s-hot opening number “Atención” to the sweet sound of the closing track, “Você Mentiu,” which would make you want to slow dance with your lover. It between are tunes that range from reggaeton trap (“Banana”) to groovy R&B (“Poquito”) to addictive pop (“Get to Know Me”). And while the album is jam-packed with all-star male guests, including Snoop Dogg, Caetano Veloso, Swae Lee, Alesso, Prince Royce, Chris Marshall and more — leading lady Anitta is the true star of the show. You Anitta more Anitta in your life. 4. Buku Abi, “Don’t Call Me”: Buku Abi’s debut EP is a R&B masterpiece, as the singer explores life as a 21-year-old woman navigating in the world of love, dating, sexual freedom, situationships and more over beats produced by her sister Jaah Kelly. Her album echoes SZA and other women brilliantly leading the pack in alternative R&B, and its proof that there’s more to come from the daughter of embattled singer R. Kelly. 5. Rapsody, “Eve”: 2019 was a great year for female rap, as Megan Thee Stallion, City Girls, Kash Doll, Saweetie and more reached new heights at a time that vets in the game like Missy Elliott, Lil Kim, Trina and Yo-Yo put out new music. And then there’s Rapsody. Her epic “Eve” album not only is the best female rap album of the year, it’s simply the best rap album of the year. Her smart and skilled rhymes flow throughout the well-produced album, as each song is named after an iconic woman, from Nina Simone to Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama. After this album, someone needs to make a song called “Rapsody.” 6. Yola, “Walking Through Fire”: Yola’s immense voice is so strong and soothing that it can’t do anything but put a smile in your face. Paired with production from Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, this English singer is a powerhouse on her country-soul debut, “Walking Through Fire.' And that's just it — the album is pure fire. 7. Ariana Grande, “Thank U, Next”: It’s probably not possible for Ariana Grande to make a bad album. All of her records, including her fifth release, “Thank U, Next,” are a perfect blend of radio-ready pop and R&B, and the songs are anchored by Grande’s booming voice and relatable lyrics. Thank you, Ariana, but when’s that next album coming out? 8. Khalid, “Free Spirit”: Select any song on Khalid’s sophomore album and you’ll hear a hit. 9. Pink Sweat$, “Volume 2”: The Philadelphia-born musician, who has crafted songs for country duo Florida Georgia Line and rapper-singer Tierra Whack, is delightful on “Volume 2,” a set of acoustic, guitar-friendly R&B tracks that must be replayed over and over again. 10. James Blake, “Assume Form”: After years of being the go-to-guy for help on your album, with big-names like Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar and Travis Scott requesting his services, Blake calls in the favor on “Assume Form,” and it was a smart move. Blake was already an amazing musician before this album, but opening his studio door to hip-hop producer Metro Boomin, co-producer Dominic Maker and engineer Nathan Boddy only maximized his downbeat electronic sound, with songs like “Mile High,” “Can’t Believe the Way We Flow,” “Barefoot In the Park” with Rosalía and “Into the Red” sounding both contemporary and classic.
  • The first time Caoilinn McLane met Melania Trump she had no idea it wouldn't be the last time. Fighting leukemia from her bed at Children's National Hospital, Caoilinn McLane, then 15, met the first lady in 2017. Mrs. Trump had quietly visited the hospital to help with preparations for a “healing” garden that was being built for patients and their families. They met again when the first lady returned weeks later to dedicate the rooftop garden. And the pair saw each other Friday when McLane was given the honor of introducing Mrs. Trump when she returned to the hospital to continue the tradition of first ladies reading to patients at holiday time. “I'm glad that we're here, and I get to see her again,” McLane, now 18, told The Associated Press in a brief interview before the event as she sat with her mother, Libby McLane. The family lives in Aldie, Virginia. At one point, when McLane suffered a relapse, she answered the telephone to find the first lady was on the line. “It was so special,' she said. “I felt very cared for and it ... meant a lot that somebody was thinking about me.” Libby McLane said the White House had reached out to her a couple of days in advance to set up the call. At the time, mother and daughter were spending a lot of time going back and forth between hospitals in the District of Columbia so the girl could get radiation treatments she needed to get ready for a bone marrow transplant. “So when the call was coming, I knew who it was and I let her answer it,” Libby McLane said. “I sort of freaked out,' added Caoilinn McLane. The high school senior said her leukemia is in remission following a bone marrow transplant about a year ago. The first lady's office confirmed Caoilinn McLane's account of her interactions with Mrs. Trump. The first lady has spent a lot of time visiting children in hospitals around the country, especially those born dependent on opioids. Her concern for Caoilinn McLane fits with her “Be Best' youth initiative and its focus on child well-being. Libby McLane said the first lady has also sent messages through Children's National Hospital. “She really is genuine and cares for the kids, and that's so special,' Libby McLane said. “I appreciate her interest in just following along and seeing how Caoilinn's doing and sending us well wishes,' she said. 'A lot of times, through the hospital, we'd get a little message that they had spoken to Mrs. Trump and she was asking how Caoilinn's doing.' At the hospital on Friday, the first lady toured a short-stay unit and a surgical unit. She also visited with patients in a playroom and helped make snowflakes with them. She came down to the atrium after the tour, sitting with two patients in front of a towering Christmas tree to read “Oliver the Ornament Meets Belle,” a sequel to the story she read at the hospital in 2018. Oliver is a damaged Christmas ornament with a spirit that helps him overcome challenges. “Nice to be here again,' Mrs. Trump said before she started reading the story. When finished, she wished everyone “Merry Christmas and happy and healthy New Year.' She also praised the doctors and nurses on staff as “amazing.” The tradition of first ladies visiting hospitalized children at Christmastime dates back to Bess Truman. ___ Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

Local News

  • 21 faculty members across UGA’s schools and colleges met to discuss the development of UGA’s Innovation District on Dec. 3 in the Peabody Board Room of the Administration Building. The Innovation District Faculty Advisory Council will meet throughout the year to provide input on the Innovation District initiative, with particular focus on programming, resources and support for research commercialization and university-industry engagement. The council will be led by the Innovation District leadership team: Kyle Tschepikow, special assistant to the president and director for strategy and innovation; David Lee, vice president for research; and Rahul Shrivastav, vice president for instruction. The members of the council are: Jenay Beer, Insitute of Gerontology Karen Burg, College of Veterinary Medicine Justin Conrad, School of Public and International Affairs Andrew Crain, Graduate School Joseph Dahlen, Warnell School of Forestry Naola Ferguson-Noel, Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center Chris Garvin, Lamar Dodd School of Art Chris Gerlach, New Media Institute Kristina Jaskyte, Institute for Nonprofit Organizations Kirk Kealey, Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center Eileen Kennedy, College of Pharmacy William Kisaalita, College of Engineering Kevin McCully, College of Education Sergiy Minko, College of Family and Consumer Sciences Michael Myers, Small Business Development Center Jonathan Murrow, AU/UGA Medical Partnership Usha Rodrigues, School of Law Pejman Rohani, Odum School of Ecology Christine Szymanski, Complex Carbohydrates Research Center Amitabh Verma, College of Environment and Design Dee Warmath, College of Family and Consumer Sciences
  • U.S. Rep. Doug Collins was as pugnacious as ever as he delivered his opening remarks during Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on impeachment. The Gainesville Republican repeated his critique that the Democratic-led investigation was primarily fueled by contempt for President Donald Trump. He described the probe as a rushed attempt to ram through charges without evidence that the president had done anything wrong. “This is nothing new, folks; this is sad,” said Collins, the ranking Republican on the committee. There were some points of levity — including when Collins joked about the room’s chilly temperature and uncomfortable chairs — but most of his comments were pointed and biting, both toward the Democrats on the committee and the three constitutional law experts who backed impeachment. Collins also used his opening statement to criticize the decision to invite four constitutional law experts to the hearing, three of whom were recommended by Democrats and one called by Republicans. One of them, Stanford University law professor Pamela Karlan later said she took offense at his insinuation they had not reviewed the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report before testifying. “Mr. Collins, I would like to say to you, sir, that I read transcripts of every one of the witnesses who appeared in the live hearing because I would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts,” she said. “So I’m insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts.” Throughout the meeting, Collins and other Republicans forced procedural votes on requests varying from postponing the hearing to requiring House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and an anonymous whistleblower to testify. Democrats, who are in the majority, objected each time.
  • The Athens Symphony will perform the first ever public performance of a new arrangement of “O Holy Night” at their annual Christmas concerts on December 7 and 8.    The piece, arranged by Hollywood film scorer Chad Rehmann, was initially featured in the 2018 film A Christmas Arrangement. Following rave reviews, Rehmann re-arranged the score for orchestral performance and dedicated it to his wife Kari.    “After reaching out to a few regional orchestras known for their holiday concerts,” said Rehmann, “Brad Maffett (Athens Symphony’s Associate Conductor) contacted me expressing interest in performing the work. The more we corresponded, the more excited I became about the Athens Symphony premiering this work, especially given the ensemble’s commitment to family-friendly programming and its focus on a relationship with the Athens community. “   The Symphony will host Rehmann at the December 7 concert with a red-carpet welcome planned for 7:30 p.m.    A Christmas Tradition   A longstanding tradition, the Athens Symphony’s annual Christmas Concerts bring Athenians and Northeast Georgia residents together to celebrate with classic Christmas favorites, a sing-along, and even a visit from Santa.    “The Athens Symphony Christmas Concerts are known for being premier events of the holiday season in our community, bringing people from all walks of life together to celebrate the season,” said Symphony Executive Director Dr Richard Hudson. “It’s a privilege that the Symphony is able to continue its mission of providing free concerts that are open to everyone, knowing that the power of music is a unifying force.”   Complimentary tickets will be available at The Classic Center Box Office beginning Nov. 25 and are required for entry into the concerts, which will be held Saturday, December 7 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 8 at 3:00 p.m.
  • Oconee County says the new traffic signal at the three-way intersection of Mars Hill, Virgil Langford, and Rocky Branch roads will become operational next week. Crews have been working for the past several weeks to reconfigure the busy intersection off Highway 316.  The Georgia DOT is partnering with Georgia State University to conduct a survey, looking to find out what drivers think about new express lanes on I-85.  MARTA might see rate hikes next year: that word comes from the CEO of the transit system in Atlanta, who tells a state legislative panel that fare revenue is below the 35 percent threshold required to put towards operating expenses. The last time the authority raised the price was in 2011, when the fare for a one-way ticket increased by 50 cents. Any rate hike would take effect next summer. 
  • The Georgia Bulldogs don’t have the only big game this weekend. There is high school playoff football tonight in Watkinsville: the Oconee County Warriors host the Sandy Creek High School Patriots in a game that will kick off at 7:30 tonight in the last game of the season at Warrior Stadium.  Both teams come into the game with 12-1 records. The winner advances to next week’s state championship game. 

Bulldog News

  • DawgNation has four staffers who cover Georgia football from every angle: Beat, live streams, photos, podcasts, recruiting, etc. The 'Cover 4' concept is: 1) Present a topic; 2) Offer a reasoned response; 3) Share a brisk statement on that opinion. 4) Pepper the page with photos for the big picture. For this edition, we discuss the big matchups to pay attention to for Saturday's Georgia-LSU game. DawgNation continues with the 'Cover 4' concept. The focus is always a timely look with each of our guys manning the secondary on a pertinent topic. The quick in-and-out game remains. It is designed to come out quicker than former Bulldog Nick Chubb scored his third touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens earlier this year. The latest 'Cover 4' question is of the fill-in-the-blank variety: What is the one matchup which will largely decide the SEC Championship game? Brandon Adams: The UGA secondary vs. LSU WR Ja'Marr Chase The 'why' from 'DawgNation Daily' here: ' It's not easy to identify LSU's best receiver, but Chase might win the Biletnikoff Award. The Bulldogs also faced the Biletnikoff winner in last year's SEC championship game and held Alabama's Jerry Jeudy to three catches for 24 yards (including a touchdown) .' Mike Griffith: Georgia offensive line vs. LSU defensive front The 'why' from 'On the Beat' here: ' Georgia has to run the ball effectively on first down to have success against the LSU defense . ' Connor Riley: Clyde Edwards-Helaire vs Georgia's linebackers The 'why' from 'Good Day UGA' here: ' Edwards-Helaire has been phenomenal this year. When Georgia saw him in 2018, he rolled up 145 yards on the Bulldogs. Georgia's group of linebackers have to be better and win that matchup for the Bulldogs to win the game . ' Jeff Sentell: Kirby Smart, Dan Lanning, J.R. Reed and Richard LeCounte III versus Joe Burrow, Joe Brady and Steve Ensminger. The Intel here: 'Plays + players. That's the winning equation here. Can Lanning and Smart make the calls that lead to big stops on the back end from Reed and LeCounte? If so, the Bulldogs can limit the LSU quarterback and the game plans laid in place by Brady (passing game coordinator) and Ensminger (offensive coordinator) which have transformed LSU football in 2019.' The 'Cover 4' topics of late: The most pro-UGA stat to pay attention to versus LSU The way Georgia beats LSU is .. How much will the first-half suspension of George Pickens hurt? What's the desired outcome for the Alabama-LSU game? Who is coaching Georgia when Ohio State comes to town in 2030? The Florida Gators who can do the most damage against Georgia are Name the Bulldog who delivers a key supporting role against Florida What's the big area where the Bulldogs must 'do more' to beat Florida? Cover 4: What will Georgia's record look like at the end of the regular season? What is the toughest game left on the schedule? What is the biggest edge that Georgia will have on Notre Dame? Who has already opened our eyes after just two games? What is your take on the legendary Vince Dooley? Who has the biggest day against Murray State? The most improved Bulldog since last season is . A few big non-score predictions for Georgia-Vanderbilt Which returning Bulldogs impressed the most in fall camp? The players set to become the new fan favorites for 2019 are . What will convince you the Bulldogs are throwing the ball more this fall? What kind of numbers will D'Andre Swift put up in 2019? Jake Fromm 's best quality? The Cover 4 crew chops that one up The post Georgia football: What one matchup with LSU could swing the SEC championship game? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATLANTA Georgia and LSU both had their walk-through session as Mercedes Benz-Stadium on Friday. The programs offered two different examples of what the experience means to them. Unbeaten LSU had a lot of cell phones out soaking up the moment as they walked onto the turf on Saturday. Georgia did not. That's indicative of the Bulldogs now making their fourth appearance in that venue since December of 2017. Kirby Smart and his Bulldogs will compete on Saturday afternoon in their third straight SEC championship game. That's a feat that has only been matched by Alabama and Florida in conference play. Alabama matched that feat earlier this decade. The Gators (1992-1996) and the Crimson Tide (1992-1994) also both did that during the first decade of the game. LSU Heisman Trophy candidate Joe Burrow and his splendid tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire both took a seat for almost all of the 15-minute media viewing period for their Friday walkthrough. Smart did the same while his team first hit the turf on Friday afternoon. There were a couple of moments in the LSU session which entertained. The first was an impromptu volleyball match among the LSU offensive line. Choose your conclusion A) Check out this new 'play' the LSU offensive line was working on Friday or; B) This just about sums up the pageantry of the media walk-through period at the SEC championship or; C) This really means more. pic.twitter.com/OGC364WFwg Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) December 6, 2019 The champions of the SEC West also tossed up passes among their receiver group, too. LSU sophomore WR Ja'Marr Chase. 70 catches for 1,457 yards and 17 TDs so far. That's 20.8 yards per catch. pic.twitter.com/A3YoQMAXhj Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) December 6, 2019 Check out the DawgNation.com photo gallery below from the rest of the events of the day. The post PHOTOS: Walkthrough day for Georgia-LSU at the SEC championship appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATLANTA Georgia football legend David Pollack has proven to be as aggressive and direct with his analysis as he once was as an All-American pass rusher, and Friday was no different. Pollack emphasized the importance of UGA tailback D'Andre Swift and dished out criticism aimed at Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm on Friday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. RELATED: Kirby Smart Friday press conference in Atlanta, updates D'Andre Swift Asked to rate the importance of Swift in Georgia's game against LSU at 4 p.m. on Saturday on a scale of one to 10, Pollack replied, '15,' and explained why. 'One of the keys would be to get him and Brian Heroine the ball out of the backfield, because LSU is not covering backs,' said Pollack, a two-time SEC Player of the Year and three-time All-American during his UGA career (2001-2004). 'I think (Swift) has to have an enormous game if Georgia wants to win, and it needs to be inside and outside. It needs to be screens, it needs to be finding ways to get him the ball he's the best back in the country in space.' Pollack also said Fromm, the first quarterback since Florida's Danny Wuerffel to lead his team to three straight SEC title game appearances, is 'not playing his best football' this season. Here's more from Pollack's Q&A on Friday: Can Georgia hold LSU's offense? POLLACK: Define hold?Kirby and Company are going to have to check their egos at the door and understand that from 20 to 20, have all the yards you want, make it a slow death, and then make them be really efficient in the red zone and kick field goals. I don't think anybody can stop this offense. I think Joe Burrow is operating on a level that, his worst game is 71 percent, I think. It's not human. It's an offense where it has great answers for everything you do and great weapons and a running game. And not only that, there's a quarterback who buys time and scrambles and breaks tackles and makes big plays. There are gonna get theirs, and Jake is going to have to play really well. What would you say to Georgia fans who have had questions about the Bulldogs' offense? POLLACK: You should. I Tweeted about being excited about old school versus new school, because it used to be defense wins championships. I don't think it's defense wins championships anymore. I think you have to have a great offense to win a college football championship, and the game has changed so much. We'll get to see if old school defense can still reign supreme. This is a Big 12 offense. This is not an offense that reinvented and does new amazing things that nobody else does. It's just an offense that has answers that spread out so it can throw the football to a lot of different weapons. They are gonna get theirs.' What role do you think Jake Fromm plays for Georgia's offense? POLLACK: He's not playing his best football. I can look at him and watch him, his mechanics need to improve. He's fading away throwing the football way too much. That's the kind of stuff for a three-year starter, where you can't do that. He's definitely culpable. He's missed a lot of throws that are wide open. I think the system and the scheme is getting to know each other still and hasn't really clicked together great yet, and it needs to do that this week. It will change a little bit more. It has done well at times, but it hasn't put together a complete game and it needs to do that.' The SEC West has had three teams in three years, Georgia has won three straight in the East, what does that say? POLLACK: Florida is doing OK. Florida is back to back 10 win seasons for the first time since 2008, so Florida is doing their share and doing well But Georgia is three times in a row here, that's pretty dad gum good. If you had told Georgia fans that when Kirby got hired, they would have said sign me up for that. How about three straight years ending where you're in the conversation for the college football playoff? That's pretty dad gum good. It's still a pretty good young team, that's not going to lose much on defense, offensive line who leaves early? Who leaves early, Swift will leave early. When he leaves, how many leave will be the better questions. So it shows a lot about Kirby and how he has been able to recruit and restore. What is the trick about this LSU offense that has made it that unstoppable? POLLACK: 'There ain't no trick, Bro. It's not a trick, they know how to execute, they know exactly if you blitz them, they have their answers, and if you want to play Cover One they are going to hit deep overs and they are going to hit fades, and gos they do a good job if you are going to pay dime and nickel they are going to run duos all day and run the football at you. They do a really good job of knowing how to attack every level of a defense. The offense (once) trended toward Golden State, it was threes and dunks, it was gos and screens and they do a good job with their mid-range and attack. They do everything well. That's why it's hard to say I'm going to take this away, or that away. Every time you do, they have an answer for it. I think Kirby, as brilliant as he is defensively, can up with something to make a few plays. Tua (Tagovailoa) last year had a roll going coming into the Dome, and cooled off big time, got hurt too. It's what can you find that can slow them down for a possession and you win. Auburn tried the tower approach tried to go with three down and bring in a bunch of speed, it kind of worked, but what can you bring in and slow down just for a little bit, and hold the rope and hopefully your offense makes plays and hold the ball a little bit and works together. Could Coach Orgeron win Coach of the POLLACK: Year? POLLACK: In the league, or nationally? Yeah, Ryan Day, he's done a heck of a job, and you look at P.J. Fleck and Baylor's Matt Rhule, he's definitely in there. How about his record against Top 10 teams, and the hire of the offseason, nobody can debate that. I know who the Broyles Award winner is, I don't think anybody else is nominated, it's just go ahead and give it to Joe Brady. Can Joe Burrow lose the Heisman Trophy? POLLACK: Sure, I mean people have those moments when they start to have doubts and questions. He's by far and away commanding the lead, but what if he struggles mightily and limps to the finish and then all the sudden, you see a huge game from Justin Fields, or somebody like that, it can jump up, maybe. It's a small, small chance. I think Joe Burrow has done enough throughout the season. But it's a big-time stage where you have to prove things, but I think some people could have some doubts, still. I find it very hard to believe he'd lose it. LSU's Grant Delpit says he's close to 100 percent, is that what you've seen on film from him? POLLACK: I'm trying to measure my words here. He hasn't had his best year, this year. I think the secondary on a whole, you see a ton of talent, but you've also see more big plays than you're accustomed to seeing, more missed tackles than you're accustomed to seeing. Yeah, they are getting healthier, but they've got to play better. That's why Ohio State is No. 1. You can nitpick and say Cincinnati is a Top 25 team, or whatever, Ohio State has been more dominant, their defense has been more dominant. That's the difference between LSU and Ohio State. I could also swing the pendulum and say who has Ohio State played offensively that's any good? Even Cincinnati is not very good, Penn State is not very good, Wisconsin's offense, those all leave a lot to be desired. Michigan is a pretty good, and had some success. I think defensively it's very interesting we are sitting on championship weekend and we're pointing the finger at LSU and it's at their defense.' How important is it for Georgia to keep Joe Burrow in the pocket? POLLACK: 'I don't know, it doesn't matter. You better cover really well, and you better get him to the ground. I don't care about where you keep him, when you get your hands on him, you got to get him to the ground. He's strong, he's physical, but he's so dad gum tough. He doesn't give up. He's not like a Manning back in the day, you saw people get close to them, they would kind of take a dive. That's not a shot at them, but Joe Burrow is going to physically go through anybody he needs to. When he runs the football, he lowers his shoulder, he's going to make plays. So when Georgia gets here, whoever that is, get your hands on him and get him to the ground. I think another key will be batted passes. You want to take away some of those throws over the middle, when I'm a pass rusher and I know I can't get to the QB, I get my hands up and knock the ball down. Now maybe it's second-and-10 and you've got a better chance.' Is this game important to determine if Georgia has the right offensive identity? POLLACK: 'We'll see. I think that it's pretty proven now that offenses win, and you have to score. You have to win a championship game, a playoff game and another playoff game to be a champion. And to do that, you're going to play offensive juggernauts, and you better be able to score points. If you can't score points, and you can't be an explosive offense, it's very hard to win that many games in a row. It's like the NFL being in the playoffs, and you have to string three together, that's a tough thing to do.' #Georgia has named Jake Fromm, J.R. Reed and D'Andre Swift as game captains seemingly a good indication that Swift (shoulder) will play, although.. But, Brian Herrien was a game captain for South Carolina and he didn't play in that game (back spasms). Mike Griffith (@MikeGriffith32) December 6, 2019 Georgia football DawgNation Kirby Smart compares Jake Fromm to Tim Tebow CBS analyst Gary Danielson says key for Georgia not Jake Fromm 7 Georgia players to watch vs. LSU Why D'Andre Swift is the most important player for UGA vs. LSU LSU coach Ed Orgeron brings great confidence into matchup Georgia aware of Tigers dangerous running back Kirby Smart relays how LSU represents greatest challenge James Cook could provide offensive spark vs. LSU Statistical comparison of Georgia-LSU in SEC title game VIDEO: Kirby Smart shares feelings on George Pickens WATCH: Jake Fromm zeroes in on LSU David Pollack The post David Pollack Q&A: D'Andre Swift has to have an enormous game if Georgia wants to win' appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATLANTA Kirby Smart said the expectation at Georgia was to be back back at the SEC Championship Game for a third straight season, but by no means is it taken for granted. 'I'm excited to be here because I love the venue and the opportunity to play in it,' Smart said Friday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 'It means you accomplished something and won your division, you don't ever take that for granted. 'It's earned, it's not something we take lightly or for granted, it's something we expected to do, and we're going to always set that as a bar, because this is where you go to take the next step.' The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs (11-1) are a touchdown underdog against No. 2 LSU (12-0) in the 4 p.m. game on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Tigers feature Heisman Trophy front runner Joe Burrow along with two 1,000-yard receivers. 'They've broke about every record there is in the SEC, and I know our guys are excited,' Smart said. 'It will be a challenge for us.' LSU beat Georgia 36-16 last season in Baton Rouge, but Smart said the Tigers' offense has undergone a complete makeover. 'It's extremely different, you can see remnants, small elements, but the unique thing now is they are doing whatever they want to do,' Smart said. 'Last year they were a little bit more predictable and had more of a run element.' Georgia's offense, meanwhile, is largely the same. The Bulldogs look to be efficient throwing the football and feature a power element on the ground. Smart didn't offer much of an update on tailback D'Andre Swift, who left last Saturday's game with a shoulder injury but hasn't missed any practice time. 'It's hard to measure from practice, because at this point of the season you don't go live and hit,' Smart said. 'He's practiced and done everything we asked him to do.' LSU coach Ed Orgeron said the Tigers expect to see Swift. 'We're planning for him to play,' Orgeron said on Friday. 'Just like other great players we play, I'm assuming this guy is a great competitor, and I'm assuming he's going to play.' Smart said he's confident his team can handle playing on the big stage 'In the SEC, these games are championship games every week,because if you don't win them, you're not in the championship game,' Smart said. 'It's another week you have to go out and play, and you're playing the best from the other side in LSU.' Georgia football DawgNation Kirby Smart compares Jake Fromm to Tim Tebow CBS analyst Gary Danielson says key for Georgia not Jake Fromm 7 Georgia players to watch vs. LSU Why D'Andre Swift is the most important player for UGA vs. LSU LSU coach Ed Orgeron brings great confidence into matchup Georgia aware of Tigers dangerous running back Kirby Smart relays how LSU represents greatest challenge James Cook could provide offensive spark vs. LSU Statistical comparison of Georgia-LSU in SEC title game VIDEO: Kirby Smart shares feelings on George Pickens WATCH: Jake Fromm zeroes in on LSU The post Georgia coach Kirby Smart: SEC Championship Game an expectation, but not taken for granted appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Closely matched games have a tendency to come down to four or five plays, moments when a given team takes or is handed momentum. Turnovers, special teams plays and explosive plays are all capable of triggering emotional swings and changing a team's game plan or preferred personnel in a flash. Georgia and LSU have battled their way to the SEC Championship Game by handling those moments and overcoming obstacles. The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs (11-1) are a touchdown underdog to the No. 2-ranked Tigers (12-0) and figure to need their 'A' Game to pull off the upset. Here are seven Georgia players that will be key against the Tigers. 1. Rodrigo Blankenship Every point will count, every kickoff will count, and the Bulldogs will be relying on their all-time leading scorer to come through in the clutch. Blankenship's third quarter miss against Alabama in last year's SEC title game was an opportunity for Georgia to make that a three score game. This time, UGA may need Blankenship to salvage stalled drives and connect from long distance, as well as hit the pressure-packed kicks. 2. Jake Fromm It's so obvious, but so true, Georgia relies on Fromm to do so much more than complete passes. The junior must change plays at the line of scrimmage, adjust protections and manage the huddle in the midst of chaos and emotion. Fromm has avoided interceptions in 11 of 12 games this season, but against LSU, he'll also need to tuck and run for the offense to be at its best. 3. Richard LeCounte This junior play-making safety has been a ball hawk of late, forcing fumbles in each of the past two games and picking off a pass against Missouri in a 27-0 win on Nov. 9. LeCounte's has also developed into the most fierce hitter in the secondary and an excellent open-field tackler. He'll be relied on to handle speedy receivers as well as powerful runner Clyde Edwards-Hellaire in one-on-one open-field tackling matchups. 4. D'Andre Swift It has been said and written at each turn that Swift is UGA's X-factor, and that is because he is the most explosive skill position player on the team. Swift can run heavy or fast, depending on the situation. Swift has shown home run speed once in the open field, but his sharp cutting is what separates him from other backs. Bumps and bruises have slowed the junior, but this will be a legacy game and an opportunity for Swift to take a place alongside recent greats Todd Gurley, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. 5. Monty Rice The heart and soul of the Georgia defense and designated tough guy, Rice is going to need to get to Edwards-Helaire before the LSU running back can get momentum. Rice has proven adept at stepping into gaps, but his pass coverage skills will be tested on first and second down. Young Nakobe Dean often comes on the field on third downs, but the Tigers are a threat to score on every play, and Rice will need to be on top of his game in pass coverage as well as run stoppage. 6. Tyler Simmons Simmons was limited by a shoulder brace most of the season, but he has had it off the past few games and evolved into Georgia's leading receiver over the past two games. The senior has the speed to get open and make things happen, and he's showing consistency with his hands. Perhaps most importantly, Fromm trusts Simmons to be where he's supposed to be and carry out his assignments. It has been a tough year for the UGA receivers, but they have an opportunity for redemption on Saturday. 7. Trey Hill Hill was roughed up at center and his snaps were late in Georgia's only loss to South Carolina, and that can't happen again. In truth, it's going to take Georgia's best collective effort on both sides of the line of scrimmage to win this football game. The last time these teams met, LSU won both sides of the line of scrimmage and was the stronger, tougher and more well-drilled team. The Bulldogs have it all on the line, quite literally, in Atlanta. Georgia football DawgNation Kirby Smart compares Jake Fromm to Tim Tebow CBS analyst Gary Danielson says key for Georgia not Jake Fromm Why D'Andre Swift is the most important player for UGA vs. LSU LSU coach Ed Orgeron brings great confidence into matchup Georgia aware of Tigers dangerous running back Kirby Smart relays how LSU represents greatest challenge James Cook could provide offensive spark vs. LSU Statistical comparison of Georgia-LSU in SEC title game VIDEO: Kirby Smart shares feelings on George Pickens WATCH: Jake Fromm zeroes in on LSU The post 7 key Georgia football players against LSU in SEC Championship Game appeared first on DawgNation.