World Ent. & Culture

Entertainment & Culture News from around the world.

UFC bouts return to Fight Island; McGregor back in octagon

UFC docked for a third time at Fight Island, and this time a pair of old rivals are primed to make the trip -- with a few thousand fans set to attend fights for the first time in 10 months.They might cheer the loudest for Conor McGregor. The first of three straight fight nights at Etihad Arena on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island kicks off Saturday when Max Holloway (21-6) fights Calvin Kattar (22-4) in a 145-pound bout in the main event of the first combat sports card aired on ABC since 2000. UFC welterweights Michael Chiesa and Neil Magny fight in the main event of Wednesday’s ESPN card.That’s just an appetizer for UFC 257 on Jan. 24 when McGregor returns from a year-long layoff for a rematch against Dustin Poirier in the promotion’s first pay-per-view of the year.By then, McGregor might know if another rematch is potentially on the table, this one against the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov, who called it quits in October with a 29-0 record after he retained his lightweight championship. McGregor’s last loss was against Nurmagomedov in October 2018 in a bout known more a post-fight melee that spilled outside the octagon. Saddened by the recent death of his father and mentor, Nurmagomedov surprisingly retired in his prime after he beat Poirier in Abu Dhabi. UFC President Dana White wants one of his top box office draws to fight again, perhaps get to 30-0 and take it from there. The two are scheduled to meet at some point in Abu Dhabi.“It’s yes or no,” White said by phone from Abu Dhabi. “I felt like going into that last fight, he obviously was very emotional, he was banged up, he was hurt. He was under a tremendous amount of pressure. Now he’s had plenty of time off. He’s healed up. He knows whether he wants to fight again or not. I think it will be a very quick conversation. If he says no, it’s no. I won’t even say another word.”White’s gut feeling? “I feel like he’s got one more in him and he’ll say yes.” White could only wish his relationship was that simple with McGregor.McGregor (22-4) fights for the first time since his knockout win against Donald Cerrone last January and for only the third time since 2016. The 32-year-old McGregor, who became the biggest star in MMA with his heavy fists and self-promotional acumen, stayed away from the cage in large part because of his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, his blossoming liquor venture, retirement claims and multiple arrests. McGregor and White sparred in public last year when the former featherweight and lightweight champion released a series of Instagram direct messages in a “he said-he said” exchange over potential fight opponents.“I honestly, at that point in time, didn’t think we were ever going to get over that,” White said. “I was really unhappy about it. I was wrong. He and I ended up talking and we got it worked out.”They’ve buried the hatchet -- as businessmen are inclined to do with multi-millions of dollars at stake -- and White said McGregor seems as focused and confident about fighting as he’s been in years.“I don’t know if I’d say he wasted (prime years) because if you look at what he’s accomplished in the short amount of time that he was here, and, listen, the kid made, and still makes a ton of money a year,” he said. “He leveraged his celebrity and what he’s done here in the UFC to make money outside the UFC, which is tough to do, for anybody. He didn’t just make some money. He made a life-changing substantial amount of money.”McGregor has long helped UFC set box office records -- his 40-second KO of Cerrone earned about 1.4 million buys. But he was absent as the promotion pushed on in 2020 in the face of a pandemic and ran events nearly every weekend. UFC -- really, White -- was criticized for pushing forward in the wake of a pandemic, and he fired back with a nearly five-minute long propaganda video in which specific outlets and writers were condemned for speaking out against the promotion. UFC used to go door-to-door with newspapers and other media outlets seeking coverage of its events and fighters. White would beg ESPN for highlights on its programming and now UFC is tied to the sports network in a $1.5 billion deal.He won. But it hasn’t been enough for the man who once dodged the money collectors for notorious crime boss Whitey Bulger.“Believe me, that was the first round,” White said. “I’ve got another one coming.”White said a UFC-produced documentary on how it navigated the early days of the pandemic is in the works and it takes aim on the media he claims “tried to get us shut down.”“I know all you media guys want to think you’re all good guys, but you’re not all good guys,” White said.It’s the media that also spreads the word of UFC headlines -- including an anti-doping policy change in which it will no longer punish fighters for using marijuana in most cases; a $1 million contribution this week toward brain trauma research; the continued fight against PPV piracy; and potential involvement with Johns Hopkins University about its psychedelics studies as a means to improve fighters’ brain health.White had been adamant about not wanting to run big fights without a packed house, but when the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism said it was time to let them in, he relented.UFC decided not to pipe in artificial crowd noise, use cardboard cutouts or any other type of gimmicks other sports leagues used to enhance the atmosphere during its broadcasts. The fight night noise had been simply raw fist-on-face, though starting Saturday, about 2,000 fans are expected to attend each event on Abu Dhabi. “I’ll do whatever these guys want,” White said. “If they want to put 2,000 or two people in here, I don’t care. But if we’re going into a venue back in the states or anywhere else, I’m not going to put anybody in there unless I can sell it out.”___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Noted character actor Peter Mark Richman dies at 93

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Peter Mark Richman, a character actor who appeared in hundreds of television episodes and had recurring roles on “Three's Company" and “Beverly Hills 90210," has died. He was 93.Richman died Thursday at his home in the Woodland Hills area of Los Angeles of natural causes, publicist Harlan Boll announced.Born in Philadelphia, Richman was a pharmacist but turned to acting. He joined the Actors Studio and in 1953 he starred on stage in the play “End as a Man." He appeared on Broadway in “A Hatful of Rain” and “Masquerade.” He also portrayed Jerry in more than 400 New York performances of Edward Albee’s “The Zoo Story," Boll said.His moves included 1958's “The Black Orchid” with Sophia Loren, “The Strange One,” “The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear” and “Friday the 13th, Part 8.”Bu he was best known for his TV work, appearing in more than 500 episodes of various shows over a decades-long career, from “Bonanza” and “The Fugitive" to ”Star Trek: The Next Generation.”He starred as lawyer Nick Cain in the short-lived 1960′s NBC series “Cain’s Hundred” and had recurring roles as an attorney on the 1980s hit “Dynasty” and the 1970's show “Longstreet."In the 1970s and 1980s he was Suzanne Somers’ father, the Rev. Luther Snow, on ”Three’s Company,” appeared as Lawrence Carson in a few episodes of “Beverly Hills, 90210" and was C.C. Capwell for nearly 30 episodes of “Santa Barbara."Richman also wrote plays, including the acclaimed “4 Faces,” a novel, short stories and an autobiography.In 1990, he received the Silver Medallion from the Motion Picture & Television Fund for outstanding humanitarian achievement. Richman is survived by his wife, Helen, five children and six grandchildren.

Michael Cohen writes foreword for Trump impeachment book

NEW YORK (AP) — A bound edition of materials about President Donald Trump's second impeachment will feature a foreword from an estranged associate — former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. Skyhorse Publishing announced that “The Second Impeachment Report: Materials in Support of H. Res. 24, Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for High Crimes and Misdemeanors by the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary" will come out Feb. 9. Publishers do not require permission to release Congressional reports as books because they are not copyrighted.The House impeached Trump earlier this week on a single charge, incitement of insurrection, over his role in last week's bloody attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump also was impeached a year ago for pressuring Ukraine's president to investigate President-elect Joe Biden. The Senate voted to acquit him. Cohen already has written a book about his falling out with Trump, the bestselling “Disloyal.” In his foreword to the new book, he writes, “We should never have to call Donald Trump ‘Mr. President’ again after January 20, 2021.”

Oprah Winfrey documentary to release on Apple TV+

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Media mogul Oprah Winfrey will have a biographical documentary released on Apple TV+. The streaming platform announced Thursday a two-part documentary focusing on Winfrey’s life. The project will chronicle 25 years of American history through the lens of Winfrey “who rose from humble roots to become a billionaire, philanthropist, actress, media executive, and agent of social change.”Winfrey’s documentary will be headed by Oscar-winning director Kevin MacDonald and Emmy-nominated producer Lisa Erspamer, who is known for her work on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Whitney.” In 2018, Apple and Winfrey reached a multiyear deal to create original programs. Some shows released on the streaming service include “The Oprah Conversation,” “Oprah Talks COVID-19” and “Oprah’s Book Club.”

Olympic swimmer released but ordered to stay away from DC

DENVER (AP) — A five-time Olympic swimming medalist charged with participating in a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol was released from federal custody Thursday but ordered to stay away from Washington, D.C. until after next week's inauguration.Klete Keller, who lives in Colorado, appeared during a brief hearing in Denver federal court following his arrest on charges brought by prosecutors in Washington. At the insistence of prosecutors, Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty said Keller could not travel to Washington before Jan. 21. After that, Keller is allowed to travel to Washington for court appearances and to meet with his lawyers but he must ask for permission for future visits to see his children in North Carolina after a trip already scheduled for this weekend. Keller did not have to pay money to be released but promised to appear at future court hearings and comply with other standard conditions, including not possessing firearms.Keller was charged Wednesday in federal court in Washington after a video emerged that appeared to show him among those storming the Capitol last week.Screenshots from the video were included in a court document charging him with knowingly entering a restricted building to impede an official government function, disorderly conduct, and obstructing law officers.Thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 while lawmakers met to formalize the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.The 38-year-old Keller competed in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics. He captured two golds and a silver as a member of the 800-meter freestyle relay, as well as a pair of individual bronzes in the 400 free.Keller’s alleged participation in the Capitol protest was first reported this week by SwimSwam, a site dedicated to covering competitive swimming and other aquatic sports.It pointed to video posted to social media by Townhall reporter Julio Rosas, which showed a tall man wearing a U.S. Olympic team jacket among the rioters as officers attempted to clear the Rotunda.SwimSwam said at least a dozen people within the sport have identified the man as Keller after reviewing the video and screenshots.

Review: In 'One Night in Miami,' speculative history sings

The potential pitfalls of a movie that brings together Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown for a night on February 25, 1964, seem so numerous, so prone to falling into caricature, that “One Night in Miami ...” feels like a miracle.The concept comes from Kemp Powers (co-director of the recent Pixar film “Soul”), a playwright who used a real occurrence — the four Black icons did gather that night, after 22-year-old Cassius Clay dethroned world heavyweight boxing champ Sonny Liston — for an acclaimed one-act play that imagined what they might have talked about behind closed doors. “One Night in Miami ...,” the directorial debut of Regina King, turns Kemp's play into a scintillating dialogue of African American activism and artistry, with a quartet of impassioned performances.The importance of “opening up” a play in a film adaptation is often overrated. Usually, this means the insertion of some outdoor filler. “One Night in Miami ...” falls victim to this, too, at first. The film, for which Powers wrote the script, takes a while to get going, as we're introduced to each of the four: Clay (Eli Goree), Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Brown (Aldis Hodge) and Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) But once they've assembled in a room at the Hampton House Motel, King's film — relaxed and confident in its pacing — comes alive in conversation coursing with the civil rights currents of the day and the each man's way of navigating them.Clay is poised to change his name to Muhammad Ali and join the Nation of Islam, just as Malcolm is preparing to depart it. Brown is exploring a career in film. Cooke, fresh from a performance before a disinterested white audience at the Copacabana, seems uncertain of his place in music. Being such a charismatic force, Ali usually takes up all the oxygen in movies. There isn't a camera that isn't drawn to him, nor should there be. But Clay and Brown aren't quite front and center in “One Night in Miami ..." Instead, the film gravitates toward the sparring between Malcolm and Cooke. A sense of victory and celebration quickly fades, and not only because, in observing Malcolm's religious dictates, they aren't drinking. (Malcolm instead offers vanilla ice cream.) Each character is contemplating how they fit, or don't, in a white-controlled world, and how their fame brings burden as much as it does opportunity. Are they risking enough? Or too much? “We are fighting for our lives,” says Malcolm. Some of the same dialogue, of course, resonates directly with today. And it goes without saying that films this intimate with the existential anxieties of Black identity aren't common. “One Night in Miami ...,” the first film by a Black female director selected to play at the Venice Film Festival in its 77 years, comes through stirringly unfiltered. And, as the dialogue surges, the movie crackles. Malcolm confronts Cooke, suggesting he left Gospel music behind to sing sweet ballads for white audiences like “a wind-up toy in a music box.” This may be the film's most questionable departure from history — Cooke, you could argue, deserves better — but it sets up a charged back-and-forth on making change from within or without, declaring all-out war or subverting with a smile. Malcolm charges Cooke with not writing songs about the movement, claiming Bob Dylan's “Blowin' in the Wind” beat him to it. Cooke responds the only real freedom is economic freedom. “Everybody talks about getting a piece of the pie,” says Cooke. “I want the goddamn recipe.”I won't go further into the details of the exchange, but King builds it, beautifully, toward the creation and performance of one of the era's greatest songs, Cooke's “A Change Is Gonna Come.” If the opening prelude of “One Night in Miami ...” is less purposeful, the payoff of the film's final crescendo is exhilarating. The movie's gathering momentum, even as it grows more claustrophobic, is owed to a few things. It comes from Ben-Adir's artfully calibrated performance as Malcolm — here more consumed with doubt, worry and self-awareness than the usual firebrand portrayal. It comes from Odom's deft sense of Cooke. And it comes from King's remarkable elegance as a director in this, her first feature (though she's been directing television series for nearly a decade). Like the foot-stomping “ohh-ahh” Cooke coaxes from an audience in a poignant flashback of an a cappella performance of “Chain Gang,” “One Night in Miami ...” ultimately throbs with the soulfulness of shared brotherhood. For these four Black men, yes, and for many others.“One Night in Miami,” an Amazon Studios release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for language throughout. Running time: 110 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four.___Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

'MLK/FBI' probes when bureau bugged Martin Luther King Jr.

NEW YORK (AP) — The opening images of the documentary “MLK/FBI” include footage from the 1963 march on the Washington Mall that, today, is all the more striking for the protesters’ peacefulness. The march culminated in one of the most indelible moments of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. And as familiar as the scene is, it could hardly stand in starker contrast to the recent U.S. Capitol riot. Here is a mass of humanity assembled in the nonviolent spirit of the movement’s leader.Yet only two days later, on Aug. 28, 1963, the FBI’s head of domestic intelligence, William C. Sullivan, sounded an internal alarm on King.“We must mark him now as the most dangerous Negro in the future of this nation,” Sullivan wrote in an FBI memo.“MLK/FBI,” which IFC Films will release in theaters and on-demand Friday, chronicles one of the darkest chapters in the bureau’s history: the yearslong surveillance and harassment of King. Where others saw a leader of the highest order, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI saw a suspect -- a potential communist and a threat to white America. Beginning in November 1963 and until his assassination in April 1968, the FBI wiretapped King’s telephone lines, bugged his hotel rooms and relied on informants close to him. It used the evidence gathered on King's extramarital affairs to pressure King, and, most gallingly, to urge him to kill himself in a letter that read: “You know what you need to do.” In the film, former FBI director James Comey calls the letter a historical low for the bureau.Details have gradually emerged on the FBI’s investigation, which was carried out with approval from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and later, with the support of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Some FBI documents have been released over the years, though much remains heavily redacted. “MLK/FBI” is based on the 1981 book “The FBI and Martin Luther King Jr.: From ‘Solo’ to Memphis” by David Garrow, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1986 biography of King, “Bearing the Cross.”For the filmmakers, digging into the FBI’s materials on King raised ethical questions. Doing so would illuminate a sinister side to a federal institution often mythologized in film. But it would also mean wading through information about King that ought never to have been gathered. Director Sam Pollard, a veteran editor known for his collaborations with Spike Lee (“4 Little Girls," “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts”), had used Garrow as a consultant on an episode he co-directed of the landmark 1987 documentary series “Eyes on the Prize.” Producer Benjamin Hedin suggested the project to Pollard. “The question that Ben and I kept asking ourselves over and over again: Were we actually doing what the FBI was trying to do so many years ago -- are we now doing that to King and his legacy?” says Pollard, speaking by Zoom from his New York apartment. “It wasn’t easy to say, ‘No we’re not. Absolutely not.’ In some ways, you could even say we were a little bit complicit.”On one hand, “MLK/FBI” enhances the legacy of King. Seeing his composure, while under such intense pressure, only heightens his accomplishments. The film includes copious restored footage and candid photographs of a more mortal but no less extraordinary King. Yale historian Beverly Gage, a prominent expert in the film who's writing a biography of Hoover, believes “MLK/FBI” is “righteous and complicated in all the right ways.”“It’s easy for us to forget about in this moment where King is such a sanctified figure just how many people not only criticized him but attempted to undermine him,” says Gage. “Beginning with the FBI but including lots and lots of other people in the government and American society as a whole.”But in delving into the FBI’s dubious bugging of King, “MLK/FBI” couldn’t avoid facing some of the more difficult aspects of the civil rights leader’s legacy. Not just King’s indiscretions but an explosive and controversial allegation discovered by Garrow in FBI records that King watched while a woman was sexually assaulted.Many historianshave doubted whether the information noted offhand by agents engaged in a smear campaign of King constitutes a strong enough basis for such a serious allegation.King’s lawyer, Clarence B. Jones, has denied the claims. The King Center didn’t respond to requests for comment for this article.“MLK/FBI” probes the allegation with measured skepticism.“We knew we had to deal with it,” says Pollard. “But our responsibility and our challenge was to deal with it in a way that we thought wasn’t going to be tawdry but responsible.”Garrow stands by his research. “A big part of my thinking two years ago is that everyone needs to be prepared for what will be in the full transcripts and the surviving tapes," Garrow said. The FBI’s recordings of King are under court seal at the National Archives until Jan. 31, 2027. Their release will surely offset a new round of research into King and the FBI's heinous program — and, maybe, an update to “MLK/FBI.” “Every time I would read one of the documents that was heavily redacted I would say, ‘Damn, what does it really sound like?’” says Pollard. “As a filmmaker, it would have been gold to have the tapes. Honestly, we may have to revisit this film when those tapes come out to make an addendum.”But access to the tapes might also have blurred the focus of Pollard's film. Nothing in them can change what King did for civil rights and the United States. More important is to understand how institutional forces worked tirelessly to destroy one of the country's greatest Black leaders.“In many ways, what we saw last Wednesday wasn’t an anomaly,” says Pollard, referring to the violent Capitol siege carried out partly by noted white nationalists. “It’s in the DNA of America.”___Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

Tyler Hubbard, Tim McGraw call for unity on new duet

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Isolating alone on his tour bus parked outside his home last year, Tyler Hubbard, one-half of the popular country duo Florida Georgia Line, felt weighed down with emotion about the division in America in 2020. In November, Hubbard had tested positive for COVID-19, the devastating coronavirus that became one of many issues, including politics and racial injustice, that had turned people against one another.“I think that 2020 and the state of the country was heavy on my heart, just like it is heavy on everybody’s heart,” Hubbard said. “I probably take for granted and forget how many other people are actually going through that and having the same emotions.”Luckily, years of touring made him adept at writing and recording while on a bus, so he funneled his thoughts into a new song, “Undivided,” a call for unity when the nation looks at its most fractured. It was released Wednesday.Hubbard and his FGL bandmate Brian Kelley announced at the beginning of the year they have both been working on music separately, but the duo told fans in an Instagram post that they are staying together as a band. After finishing the song with songwriter Chris Loocke, Hubbard pitched it to his Big Machine label mate Tim McGraw, who said the lyrics about empathy and letting God unite people again had him thinking about his own perceptions about the world. “It's not beating people up and it's not political,” said McGraw. "It’s more about the social fabric that we all rely on and the social contracts that we all rely on that hold us together and keep us sort of tethered to each other in a positive way.”The song comes out just a week after a violent mob rioted at the U.S. Capitol, spurred on by politicians' false claims of election tampering. Hubbard said the timing for the song is just right, even when there is so much noise to break through.“I’ve kept the TV off for the last couple of weeks, but I still caught the news about the Capitol and it’s just so sad," Hubbard said. “But it did remind me, ‘OK this message is still needed.' It’s not like 2021 hit and all of the sudden everyone’s unified again. It’s gonna take some time rebuild and repair.”

Lady Gaga to sing anthem, J-Lo to perform at inauguration

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem at Joe Biden's inauguration and Jennifer Lopez will give a musical performance on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol when Biden is sworn in as the nation's 46th president next Wednesday.The announcement of their participation comes one day after word that Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden's inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons.At the swearing-in ceremony, the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, will give the invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware.

Olympian Keller charged with taking part in US Capitol riot

Five-time Olympic swimming medalist Klete Keller was charged Wednesday with participating in a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol after video emerged that appeared to show him among those storming the building last week.An FBI complaint, citing screenshots from the video, asked that a warrant be issued charging Keller with knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority and attempting to impede an official government function.Thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 while lawmakers met to formalize the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.The 38-year-old Keller competed in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics. He captured two golds and a silver as a member of the 4x200-meter freestyle relay, as well as a pair of individual bronzes in the 400 free.Messages seeing comment left with Keller and his sister, former Olympic swimmer Kalyn Keller, were not immediately returned.___Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry___More AP Olympic coverage: https://www.apnews.com/OlympicGames and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports