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Six vice presidents talk about job once considered invisible

NEW YORK (AP) — After interviewing Dan Quayle in Arizona for his documentary on the vice presidency, filmmaker Jeffrey Roth was rushing to the airport to catch a flight to Wyoming, where he had an appointment with Dick Cheney the next morning.He had little time to spare. Suddenly, traffic halted for a motorcade to pass. It was Vice President Mike Pence and his entourage.Roth appreciates the irony. At least, he can now. He made his flight, “President in Waiting” is finished and set to debut on CNN Saturday at 9 p.m. Eastern.He interviewed all six living vice presidents and four presidents about a job that for much of American history was considered a joke, an appendage to government with few real duties other than being available to become the world's most powerful figure at a moment's notice.“Ben Franklin, when the Constitution was written, said, ‘we should refer to the vice president as ’his superfluous excellency,'” President-elect Joe Biden, who served eight years as Barack Obama's vice president, says in the film.Roth's doc includes several similar quotes, including the classic by John Nance Garner, Franklin Roosevelt's first vice president, who said the job was “not worth a bucket of warm piss.” Cheney said Gerald Ford described it as the worst nine months of his life and urged him not to become George W. Bush's running mate.So why would Roth want to devote three years of his life to making it?“For whatever reason, I was always fascinated by the office of the vice presidency and I thought there was an intriguing story behind it,” he said.Achieving access was his most important task. Two or three veeps wouldn't do. He needed them all, and each wanted to know the others were participating. Walter Mondale was his first interview; Al Gore and Pence took a year and a half to set up, he said.Ultimately, his only scheduling failure was Donald Trump.Roth also didn't want to make the type of film that would unspool in a high school social studies class, putting all the students to sleep.“It's a tough bunch of people to squeeze comedy out of,” said Courtney Sexton, senior vice president of CNN Films.But it has moments, like when Obama and Biden both struggle to edit the language of some of their conversations for public consumption. Both Cheney and his boss, George W. Bush, tell a funny story about their dogs clashing at Camp David.Cheney is a revelation in the film, considering he knows he was considered the Darth Vader of the Bush administration. He's engaging and entertaining, with a keen awareness of his own role and the job's spot in history.His insider look at what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as Biden's description of the deliberations before the killing of Osama bin Laden, are particularly illuminating.The film also describes the role of Mondale and his president, Jimmy Carter, in essentially creating the modern vice presidency. It's a turning point many viewers are likely unaware of; Roth said it was news to him.Mondale, a Minnesota senator, knew how Hubert Humphrey felt about his treatment at the hands of President Lyndon Johnson, and “President in Waiting” contains audio of Johnson essentially treating Humphrey as a lapdog. He told Carter he'd only become his running mate if given a meaningful role in the administration and an office in the White House. He composed a memo outlining his ideas that's still referenced today.Vice presidents lost their invisibility. Biden talks about being in the room when key decisions are made, and being copied in on internal correspondence. It's difficult to imagine a repeat of 1945, when Harry Truman succeeded Roosevelt and didn't know that the United States had developed an atomic bomb.Still, the limitations are visible when you listen to Bush. His vice president, Cheney, is widely considered the most powerful vice president, or close to it.“I don't know what the definition of a powerful vice president is,” Bush says in the film. “I think people have got to recognize that the vice president is empowered by the president.”That's also stated explicitly by Pence, whose role in the Trump administration gets little examination in the film. Whatever the modern precedent, a president can easily render the vice president's role meaningless again.In another month, the first woman, Kamala Harris, will join the vice president's club.Considering its title, the film spends surprisingly little time talking about the most important part of the job. No American under age 60 has any memory of a vice president suddenly elevated because of a president's death. Ford took over upon the resignation of President Richard Nixon 46 years ago.How did that knowledge change each man's life? How did they keep prepared for the possibility?Roth said none of the politicians had much illuminating to say on the topic.“There was not much of a story to be told there,” he said.

Alison Lurie, prize winning novelist, dead at 94

NEW YORK (AP) — Alison Lurie, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist whose satirical and cerebral tales of love and academia included the marital saga “The War Between the Tates” and the comedy of Americans abroad “Foreign Affairs,” died Thursday at age 94.Lurie, a professor emerita at Cornell University, died of natural causes, according to her husband and partner, Edward Hower. Praised by The New York Times as one of the country's “most able and witty novelists,” Lurie broke through commercially in 1974 with “The War Between the Tates” and received her highest acclaim for “Foreign Affairs,” winner of the 1985 Pulitzer. Set in London, Lurie’s novel was consciously based on old-fashioned narratives of manners and customs, with one character imagining himself trapped in a Henry James story.The protagonists were Corinth University professor Virginia “Vinnie” Martin, an Anglophile and middle-aged scholar of children’s literature so self-contained that her closest companion is an invisible dog, and her wayward young colleague, Fred Turner, who takes up with the impulsive British actress Rosemary Radley as his marriage falls apart back home.“Before he met Rosemary, Fred didn’t really exist for anyone here except a few other academic ghosts,” Lurie wrote. “Now the city is alive for him and he alive in it. Everything pulses with meaning, with history and possibility, and Rosemary most of all. When he is with her he feels he holds all of England, the best of England, in his arms.”Lurie’s novel was adapted into a 1993 television movie starring Joanne Woodward as Vinnie and Eric Stoltz as Fred. “The War Between the Tates” became a 1977 TV production featuring Elizabeth Ashley and Richard Crenna.Academics and artists were often featured in her work, which combined storytelling with social and intellectual commentary. Her first book, “Love and Friendship,” centered on a professor’s wife in New England who has an intense affair with a school musician. In “The War Between the Tates,” a Corinth professor’s adultery upends his marriage and scatters husband and wife into the cultural upheavals of the late 1960s.Her other books included the novels “The Last Resort” and “Real People,” the nonfiction works “The Language of Clothes” and “The Language of Architecture” and “Familiar Spirits,” a memoir about her friendship with the prize-winning poet James Merrill and his companion David Jackson. Her most recent novel, Truth and Consequences," came out in 2005. Her last published book, the literary essay collection “Words and Worlds,” was released in 2019.In her fiction, Lurie drew openly from her own life. Corinth was an Ivy League school that closely approximated Cornell and she shared Vinnie’s love for England and expertise in children’s literature, editing such compilations as “The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales” and “The Heavenly Zoo.” She wrote about Vietnam War protests, and participated in them. In 1985, she was arrested during a rally at Cornell that called on the school to sell off its investments in companies doing business with South Africa’s racist government.Married in 1948 to Jonathan Bishop, an academic and son of the poet John Bishop Peale, she separated from him around the time “The War Between the Tates” was published and later married Hower, an author and Cornell literature professor. She had three sons with Bishop.Born in Chicago and raised in White Plains, New York, Lurie was the child of liberal, educated parents and grew up reading Jane Austen and other British authors because there “were not many models for the American woman novelist, except for the Southern school,” she told The Associated Press in 1985. She studied history and politics at Radcliffe College and spent much of the 1950s raising her children, writing stories and poems and working with the Poets’ Theater, where members included Merrill and John Ashbery.She and Bishop lived in Amherst, Massachusetts, and Los Angeles, both of which became settings for her fiction, before moving to Ithaca, New York in the early 1960s. “Love and Friendship” came out in 1962 and got right to a favorite theme.“The day on which Emily Stockwell Turner fell out of love with her husband,” Lurie wrote in the book’s opening sentence, “began much like other days.”

New Queen Latifah drama gets post-Super Bowl debut showcase

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Queen Latifah's upcoming drama series has scored a touchdown. CBS says “The Equalizer” will get the coveted post-Super Bowl slot next February to showcase its debut.“The Equalizer,” a reboot of the 1980s series about a retired intelligence agent turned private detective, stars Latifah as an ex-CIA agent and single mom who helps those “with nowhere else to turn,” according to a network description.The series will immediately follow the conclusion of CBS Sports' Sunday, Feb. 7, Super Bowl LV broadcast, with subsequent episodes of “The Equalizer” airing at 8 p.m. EST Sundays, CBS said Thursday.A special edition of Stephen Colbert's daily “The Late Show” will follow late local news on Super Bowl night, the network also announced.The returning series “FBI” also is getting special treatment, with its season debut following the NFL's AFC championship game on Sunday, Jan. 24. The show will then air regularly at 9 p.m. EST Tuesday.The other daily CBS late-night program, James Corden's “The Late Late Show,” will air a weekend edition on the night of the conference championship and after local newscasts.

ESPN says Le Batard leaving radio, TV shows next month

ESPN announced Thursday that Dan Le Batard will be leaving the network next month. Le Batard hosts a late-morning show on ESPN Radio as well as the “Highly Questionable” afternoon program on ESPN. Le Batard will make his final appearance on both shows on Jan. 4.Le Batard had a year left on his ESPN contract. But Norby Williamson, the network's executive vice president and executive editor, said in a statement that “it was mutually agreed that it was best for both sides to move on to new opportunities and we worked together closely to make that possible."ESPN Radio also announced that Mike Greenberg's radio show “Greeny” will move to 10 a.m. ET while Bart Scott and Alan Han will have a two-hour show starting at noon. The two have had a show on ESPN Radio's New York affiliate since January.“Highly Questionable” will remain a part of ESPN's lineup with different contributors.Le Batard has been with ESPN since 1998, first as a contributor to its magazine before branching into television and radio. “Highly Questionable” debuted on ESPN in 2011 before his radio show with co-host Jon “Stugotz” Weiner went national two years later. The two have hosted a show since 2004, when it debuted on Miami radio. Le Batard was also a columnist at “The Miami Herald” from 1990 to 2016.The relationship between Le Batard and ESPN had been strained for the past couple of years. Le Batard has been critical of the company's policy of shying away from political issues that have no bearing on sports. The final straw came last month when one of his producers was part of the company's layoffs. Le Batard said he was not informed about the move and he kept the producer on by paying his salary."In short, thank you, Disney and ESPN, for a quarter century of absurd blessings. To our loyal army of concerned fans, and to everyone who walked along and played an instrument in our Marching Band to Nowhere, know that it is a very exciting time for us, not a sad one. And that you’ll be hearing our laughter again soon enough,” Le Batard said in a statement.Le Batard's exit continues what has been a massive restructuring of ESPN Radio's programming lineup. The entire 6 a.m.-6 p.m. timeframe now has new hosts and shows.

Biden eyes defeated candidates for key administration roles

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — In politics, there can sometimes be an upside to losing.President-elect Joe Biden is eyeing several Democrats who lost congressional reelection races last month for key positions in his administration. They include outgoing Reps. Abby Finkenauer of Iowa and Donna Shalala of Florida and Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama.Their consideration continues a long Washington tradition of defeated politicians seeking shelter in a new White House. Landing a job in a new administration can both position the losing candidates for future campaigns and provide the incoming president with important relationships on Capitol Hill. “It's good to have people who know how to roam the halls of Congress,” said Andrew Card, who directed George W. Bush's transition and later served as the Republican president's chief of staff. Biden's transition team declined to comment on the prospects of any individual contender for an administration role. He has already unveiled much of his economic and national security team and is expected to announce picks soon for key health positions.But there are still a large number of major Cabinet positions to be filled, including attorney general and leaders of the departments of Labor, Commerce and Transportation. As Biden considers his options, his personal connection with some of the defeated lawmakers could carry significance.Finkenauer, who is under consideration as Labor secretary, owes her start in politics in part to Biden. As a college student, she worked on his ill-fated 2008 presidential campaign. A decade later, he headlined a rally for her winning congressional campaign. She was a key surrogate for Biden ahead of the Iowa caucuses. “I know they have a long relationship, and it’s been mutually supportive,” said former Assistant Dubuque City Manager Teri Goodman, who is a decades-long Biden supporter and has watched Finkenauer’s rise.Finkenauer narrowly lost her bid for a second term in a rural northeast Iowa district. But since then, the former state legislator, who made a name promoting public employee unions, has had conversations with senior Biden transition officials about leading the Labor Department, according to Democratic sources familiar with the communications. Jones, meanwhile, is in the mix to lead the Justice Department, partly due to his work as a U.S. attorney who helped convict Ku Klux Klansmen for the Birmingham church bombing that killed four Black girls.He narrowly won a special Alabama Senate election in 2017, but lost reelection last month. He also has a longstanding personal relationship with Biden dating to Biden's first presidential campaign in 1988. Biden spoke at Jones' campaign kickoff in 2017, saying of Jones, “He knows your heart and will never let you down,” and was the first to telephone him on Nov. 3 after he'd lost the seat to Republican Tommy Tuberville. Shalala is perhaps the most administration-ready of 2020's losing Democratic class. She spent eight years as secretary of health and human services under Bill Clinton and then served as president of the University of Miami before winning a south Florida House seat in 2018. She has heard from Biden transition officials.Beyond the outgoing members of Congress, Biden is also considering his former rivals in the Democratic primary for jobs. He already tapped California Sen. Kamala Harris as his vice president.Biden is weighing roles for Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor who mounted a surprisingly strong campaign in the early stretch of the Democratic primaries. Biden has expressed deep affection for Buttigieg, who was one of the first major candidates to drop out of the race and endorse Biden. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who lost his Senate bid after leaving the White House race, is part of discussions for a Biden administration role, perhaps as secretary of agriculture. Another name under consideration for agriculture is former North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who lost in 2018 but has been a champion of reinvigorating rural America.“If they think I can be helpful, then good,” Heitkamp told The Associated Press recently. Presidents have often sought losing rivals for positions. Republican Donald Trump chose fellow 2016 GOP presidential candidates Rick Perry as energy secretary and Ben Carson for housing and urban development. Democrat Barack Obama notably chose former rival Hillary Clinton to be secretary of state after the 2008 election. Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft's defeat in 2000 paved the way for his four years as attorney general under George W. Bush, including during the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who lost election to a third term in 2004, was tapped after the 2008 election by Obama to head health and human services, which would have put him at the forefront of the health care debate. Daschle withdrew from consideration after questions arose about his failure to properly report and pay income taxes.The most successful losing congressional candidate of the past 50 years is George H. W. Bush, who as a two-term Republican U.S. House member from Texas lost his 1970 bid for Senate against Democrat Lloyd Bentsen. As a consolation, President Richard Nixon picked Bush to be ambassador to the United Nations, a disappointment for the up-and-comer who was hoping for a treasury job. But the post led to an ambassadorship to China, and the experiences were valuable when as president he found himself leading a global coalition in Operation Desert Storm. “The significance is that was the beginning of his self schooling and expertise in foreign affairs,” said Chase Untermeyer, director of White House personnel during George H. W. Bush’s administration. In a White House led by a Capitol Hill veteran like Biden, a team with a background in Congress is particularly valuable to those around the president, since Biden remains well acquainted with the rules and many members. But considering Biden hasn't been a senator in nearly a dozen years, Card said those with more recent experience in Congress will be helpful. “More than helping the president, these people can help the White House staff dealing with members of Congress,” said Card. “They know where the congressional gym is, and how to get invited to a congressional luncheon. And that’s an advantage.” ——-Associated Press writer Kim Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama, contributed to this report.

Hillary, Chelsea Clinton to tell unheralded heroes' stories

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, are forming a film production company that they say will tell the stories of people whose voices are often overlooked. Their first project of their HiddenLight company is to be a documentary series called “Gutsy Women,” which Apple TV+ said in a separate announcement Thursday it plans to air at an unspecified future date. Mother and daughter, who will host the series, say it was inspired by the 2019 book they co-authored: “The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience." “For too long, attention has been paid only to the loudest voices in the room. There have been generations of change-makers who have shaped and will continue to shape our world — often quietly, flying under the radar,” Hillary Clinton said in a statement. She added that the stories of those often-unheralded change-makers are the ones they plan to tell.The Clintons join former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle in the film and TV production business; the Obamas' Higher Ground company has supported several projects, including the Oscar-winning documentary “American Factory.”The pair partnered with Sam Branson in forming HiddenLight. The son of business tycoon Sir Richard Branson is an actor and also founder of the boutique production company Sundog Pictures.HiddenLight says it also has plans to produce other documentaries as well as scripted and unscripted entertainment for TV, film and digital platforms.“The stories we tell and the experiences we share shape the way we see each other and help us understand our own unique place in the world," said Chelsea Clinton.

William McRaven's next book is called 'The Hero Code'

NEW YORK (AP) — The retired U.S. Navy admiral who directed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden has a new book coming out. William McRaven's “The Hero Code: Lessons Learned from Lives Well Lived" is scheduled for April.Grand Central Publishing is calling the book “a ringing tribute” to “everyday heroes” McRaven has met everywhere from battlefields to college campuses. He has said before that while he grew up idolizing Batman and Superman, he came to realize real heroes were entirely human.“Admiral McRaven deploys powerful examples to define innate qualities of the human spirit that will uplift our next generation of everyday heroes — and profoundly shape our future,” Ben Sevier, Grand Central senior vice president and publisher, said in a statement Thursday. McRaven is also the author of the bestselling “Make Your Bed" and “Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations.”___This story corrects that McRaven's new book is not his first since “Make Your Bed.”

Rapper Casanova surrenders in federal racketeering case

NEW YORK (AP) — The rapper Casanova has surrendered to law enforcement following his indictment in a gang-related federal racketeering case, authorities said Thursday. The New York City rapper, whose legal name is Caswell Senior, was charged in an indictment unsealed against 18 members of the Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation gang, which authorities say operated in New York City and other parts of New York state.The gang is charged with a litany of crimes, including the killing in September of a 15-year-old in Poughkeepsie and defrauding programs meant for people suffering economic hardship because of the pandemic.Casanova, currently signed to Roc Nation, was charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and firearms possession. He is not charged with killing the child.Emails were sent to Roc Nation and the rapper’s representative seeking comment.Raised in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, Casanova is known for hits like “Don't Run" and, more recently, “Set Trippin,” a song with lyrics like “Punch you in the face ... I knock ya teeth out.”

YouTube announces lineup for discussions on racial justice

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mark Cuban, Anthony Anderson and Skylar Diggins-Smith will take part in a series of panel discussions on YouTube that are focused on racial justice.The video-sharing platform announced the lineup on Thursday for “Bear Witness, Take Action 2.” The two-hour special featuring the various panels and musical performances will premiere Saturday at 6 p.m. EST on the YouTube Originals channel. Common and Keke Palmer return as hosts of the forum, which will include sports figures, entertainers and activists. The first event took place in June.Patti LaBelle, Rapsody and SAINt JHN will perform. “I’m excited to return for the second installment to continue these necessary discussions centered around racial injustices in order to nurture, enhance and protect Black lives,” Common said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to the talented and intelligent people we have joining us this time around for more compelling and impactful conversations that we believe will lead to action.”The panels will venture into several topics including criminal justice reform, dealing with mental health during the pandemic and the intersectionality of race, gender and sexuality.Some of the highlighted panels include a discussion between Cuban and New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins. The Dallas Mavericks owner and Jenkins are expected to talk about what happens when a team owner holds a conversation with a player about white privilege, civil responsibility and political activism. Diggins-Smith will appear on panel with reporter Jemele Hill and activist Harry Edwards about athletes’ impact on today’s political movement. Famed author Isabel Wilkerson will talk with Soledad O’Brien about making society more equitable. “It is so important that we keep a dialogue about racial justice going beyond any particular moment,” Palmer said. “I want to encourage my peers to continue to have thoughtful and powerful conversations that will lead us to change. Let’s talk about it, take action, and see change realized.”

Indian movie superstar Rajinikanth to launch political party

NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian movie superstar Rajinikanth said Thursday he plans to launch his own political party in southern India in January, ending years of speculation by millions of his fans on his political future.He said in a tweet that he will make an announcement on Dec. 31, apparently in relation to legislative elections in Tamil Nadu state expected around June next year. He started taking an active part in politics in 2017.Rajinikanth, 69, is one of India’s most popular stars with more than 175 films since 1975, mostly in the Tamil and Telugu languages.“In the upcoming Assembly elections, the emergence of spiritual politics will happen for sure. A wonder will happen,” he tweeted. An announcement on matters connected to the party's launch will be made Dec. 31, he said.His political prospects appear bright following a vacuum created by the deaths of Jayaram Jayalalithaa, an actor-turned politician with the governing party in the state, and Muthuvel Karunanidhi, the leader of the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party.Cinema has always influenced Tamil politics by turning actors into popular politicians.C.N. Annadurai and M. Karunanidhi were scriptwriters who went on to become chief ministers. M.G. Ramachandran, a top actor-turned-politician, also had a strong following.Born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, Rajinikanth worked as a bus conductor for three years before joining an acting school. He started in small roles as a villain in Tamil cinema and worked his way up, landing roles in Bollywood, the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai.Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan also tried his hand in politics as a member of India’s Parliament, representing the Congress party in support of his friend, then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, in the 1980s. He resigned after three years following allegations that he accepted bribes in the purchase of artillery guns. His name was later cleared in the scandal.