Bill Cosby faced the start of a sentencing hearing Monday at which a judge will decide how to punish the 81-year-old comedian who blazed the trail for other black entertainers and donated millions to black causes but preyed on at least one young woman and perhaps many more.
Cosby was the first celebrity to go to trial in the #MeToo era and could be the first to go to prison — perhaps for the rest of his days — after being convicted in April of drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.
Judges can't help being influenced a little by the "optics" of a case — that it, how it is going to look to the public, said Daniel Filler, dean of Drexel University's Kline School of Law.
In this instance, "the judge is going to get flak," he said. "The judge is going to get less flak if they see Bill Cosby walk out in cuffs."
At the end of the potentially two-day hearing, Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O'Neill could sentence Cosby to as many as 30 years in prison or send him home on probation. The state guidelines for someone like Cosby, with no prior convictions, call for about one to four years behind bars.
"Obviously, the allegations are serious, and, except for his age and poor health, would normally warrant some jail time," said Samuel Stretton, a veteran defense lawyer not connected to the case.
Cosby is legally blind and uses a cane, something his lawyers are certain to point out along with his achievements and philanthropy. Prosecutors hoped to call some of his other accusers to paint Cosby as a sexual predator deserving of prison.
Whatever the sentence, Cosby is likely to be deemed a sexually violent predator and will have to undergo monthly counseling the rest of his life, in prison or out. Neighbors and schools will be warned he is living nearby.
In the years since Constand first went to police in 2005, more than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, though none of those claims have led to criminal charges.
Two of those women, Lise-Lotte Lublin and Chelan Lasha, said Sunday at a Philadelphia news conference that they want prison for him and hope they get to make impact statements at the sentencing.
"I really think it's important that he spend some time behind bars," said Lublin, who said Cosby assaulted her when she was 23 in 1989. "At some point, he should acknowledge what he's done, and do the time for the crime."
Just a few hours before the sentencing hearing was to begin, Constand tweeted Ephesians 4:26, a Bible verse about letting go of anger: "Be wrathful, but do not sin; do not let the sun set while you are still angry; do not give the Devil an opportunity."
Cosby, who grew up in public housing in Philadelphia, became the first black actor to star in a prime-time TV show, "I Spy," in 1965. He remained a Hollywood A-lister for much of the next half-century, hitting his peak in the 1980s with the top-rated "Cosby Show" as the warm, wisecracking dad, Dr. Cliff Huxtable.
But behind the scenes, according to testimony, the married star sought out sexual encounters with young women, including actresses he offered to mentor, models seeking a part on his shows, and flight attendants he met in his travels. He also acknowledged obtaining quaaludes in the 1970s to give to women before sex.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, which Lublin, Lasha and Constand have done.
At the end of the 1991 movie "Thelma & Louise," the two leading ladies — fugitives cornered by authorities in the Grand Canyon — decide against surrendering and instead drive off a cliff.
One of cinema's most iconic endings wasn't filmed in the national park in Arizona, but not for lack of trying.
"We didn't want to encourage people coming into the canyon doing what was done in the movie, so we declined it," said Maureen Oltrogge, a longtime spokeswoman for the national park who retired in 2014.
Nevertheless, Oltrogge said at least two people took their own lives by driving over the rim of the Grand Canyon after the movie was released, thinking it was filmed there.
The landscape in and around one of the world's seven natural wonders has a long history of stunts being staged — or turned down. An acrobat, a magician and overall daredevils are among those who have approached Grand Canyon National Park over the years with visions of a made-for-TV moment.
The latest planned feat will be Tuesday when actor Will Smith celebrates his 50th birthday by bungee jumping from a helicopter. While it's been billed as a leap "in the heart of the Grand Canyon," it actually will take place over a smaller gorge on the Navajo Nation, a tribe whose reservation borders the east rim of the national park.
Getting permission to film or stage something in the Grand Canyon means meeting a lot of criteria. Among the outrageous proposals the park has declined was in the 1990s, when now-deceased artist Ron Nicolino collected thousands of bras that he wanted to string across the Grand Canyon. The park said no.
Grand Canyon spokeswoman Kari Cobb said Smith did not approach the park for the bungee jump, but it wouldn't be allowed anyway. She said the park is responsible for protecting its assets.
"It's everything relating to safety, impacts to visitors and impacts to the resources," she said.
Oltrogge said other filming projects were turned down because of their size, the impact to tourism and because they didn't align with the park's educational values. The park also has rejected requests for ride-along criminal justice programs, and to launch jet engines from rim to rim.
Todd Berger, author of "It Happened at Grand Canyon," says the earliest-known publicized stunt he can recall from his research of the Grand Canyon was an airplane landing near Plateau Point in the early 1920s. Ellsworth Kolb and a swashbuckling pilot took off from the plateau below the South Rim and "spiraled" up and out of the canyon in front of large crowds and cameras.
The Grand Canyon is alluring for promotional purpose because it's "world-famous, spectacular and scary to most people," Berger said in an email.
In 1999 and 2011, Robbie Knievel, the son of stunt performer Evel Knievel, and Swiss aviator Yves Rossy, respectively, approached Grand Canyon National Park with requests to jump part of the canyon and soar over it in a jet suit.
After being rejected, both men went to the Hualapai Tribe, whose reservation stretches 100 miles (160 kilometers) along the Grand Canyon's west rim. The tribe agreed, and both successfully completed their feats.
The Hualapai also allowed illusionist Criss Angel in 2010 to be shackled and locked inside a crate that was suspended over the edge of the Grand Canyon.
The tribe is best-known for its Grand Canyon Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass bridge that juts over the canyon overlooking the Colorado River. The tribe's Grand Canyon Resort Corp. said any event must be respectful of Hualapai culture and consistent with its brand.
"Our Tribal Council would need to approve any proposal, and that's a high bar," CEO Colin McBeath said in a statement. "We want to protect the canyon and the businesses we have worked so hard to establish and grow."
Robert Bravo Jr., a tribal member who has served as the corporation's chief executive and as a member of its board, said the stunts had been a way to showcase to the tribe to the world. Special permission for filming and photos also is needed.
"They were necessary to really promote what we have and who we are," he said. "But now that we're on the map, it's not as much of a necessity."
One request the Hualapai declined was when aerial artist Nik Wallenda wanted to walk a tightrope over the canyon in 2013. Bravo said it was too risky.
"The canyon is very sacred and very spiritual to the Hualapai people, and God forbid something happen to him while he's out there," he said.
Wallenda ended up getting permission from the Navajo Nation to walk a 5-centimeter-thick steel cable 1,476 feet (450 meters) over the Little Colorado River gorge, just east of Grand Canyon National Park. The roughly 22-minute act was broadcast live on the Discovery Channel.
That is where Smith will be making his big leap.
Navajo Nation spokesman Mihio Manus said any stunt or filming project in the tribe's Little Colorado River park requires a special permit. Applicants outline their plans and fill out paperwork. If a department manager approves, they talk about the scope of the event and location. Environmental and wildlife officials also weigh in before a permit can be issued and a fee assessed.
Manus declined to comment on Smith's jump.
The "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" actor teamed up with charity website Omaze to make his bungee jump a fundraiser. The site launched a lottery for a fan to be chosen to witness the jump and meet Smith. Attempts to reach Smith were unsuccessful.
Tang reported from Phoenix.
X-Men star Fan Bingbing's Beijing management office is dark and abandoned. Her birthday passed almost unremarked in China's hyper-adrenalized social media environment.
For one of China's best known stars and a rising Hollywood actress, Fan's vanishing is stunning, coming amid vague allegations of tax fraud and possibly other infractions that could have put her at odds with Chinese authorities.
Fan has starred in dozens of movies and TV series in China and is best known internationally for her role as Blink in 2014's "X-Men: Days of Future Past," a cameo in the Chinese version of "Iron Man 3," and star turns on the red carpet at Cannes as recently as May. She was booked to star with Penelope Cruz in the Hollywood film "355" and has a role in the upcoming Bruce Willis-Adrien Brody feature "Air Strike."
Yet for nearly three months, Fan hasn't been seen or heard from in public in any verifiable way.
One of China's wealthiest entertainers, Fan pulled down tens of millions of dollars for her roles, along with handsome sums in appearance fees and product endorsements. Some of those contracts may have landed her in hot water with the authorities.
Fan's name has been mentioned in reports about a reportedly common entertainment industry practice — an actor having a public contract stating an official salary and a private contract detailing the true, much higher payday. A talk show host, Cui Yongyuan had said in May that Fan had such an arrangement — which allegedly helps facilitate tax evasion — and revealed details that sparked a public outcry. Cui later apologized.
At Fan's management office in Beijing's Dongcheng district, doors are locked, the lights are out and a calendar hanging alongside posters advertising Fan's film appearances is still turned to July. A worker at an office across the hall said she couldn't remember the last time she'd seen anyone enter the company premises.
Fan turned 37 on Sept. 16, but only a handful of entertainment notables sent greetings online, a stark break from the past when her birthday celebrations were lavish, well-attended affairs, marked last year by a public marriage proposal from boyfriend Li Chen.
An automatic birthday greeting on her once-active account on Weibo, China's main microblogging service, was apparently deleted by persons unknown.
Shi Shusi, a columnist and commentator on Chinese popular culture, suggests Fan's high profile was her undoing, having made her a target for officials wishing to set an example for would-be tax cheats amid China's slowing economy.
"Such a famous actress and no one knows her whereabouts. And no authorities have made any clarifications. This is the real suspense," Shi said.
Fan's disappearance even brought a message of concern from Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times tabloid known for its hard-line pro-Communist Party nationalist opinions.
"A timely clarification and public notification of Fan Bingbing's status would also be beneficial to setting the record straight internationally," Hu wrote on his Weibo account on Sept. 15.
Back in June, Fan's production company denied Fan had ever a signed a "yinyang" contract, so named because of its dual natures. Fan, her production company and her agent could not be reached for more recent comment. Police rarely acknowledge such investigations are taking place until a conclusion has been reached.
Her disappearance had come as Chinese authorities seek to rein in high salaries for actors that can eat up much of the cost of a production. In June, regulators capped star pay at 40 percent of a TV show's entire production budget and 70 percent of the total paid to all the actors in a film.
Though China has become the world's second-largest film market, authorities keep tight control on local productions, exercising final say over choice of cast, director and script. If Fan had stepped on official toes, it would be a simple task to retaliate by destroying her career, with Chinese authorities wielding broad powers to detain, interrogate and accuse citizens out of the public eye.
Other celebrities have run afoul of authorities over drug use, excessive pay or tax issues, said Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group based in Shanghai.
"Then the government really cracks down hard and pretty much destroys their careers for several years if not forever," Rein said. Companies that bet big on a-list Chinese celebrities incur a "huge political risk," he said.
Known as a classical Chinese beauty with almond eyes and porcelain skin, Fan, 36, usually maintains a prominent presence on Weibo, where she has more than 62 million followers. Her account has been largely dormant for weeks, however, with a July 26 "like" about a posting on her charitable foundation being the last activity prior to the deletion of her birthday notice. Photos on social media also appear to show her visiting a pediatric cardiac ward at a Shanghai hospital for a charity event on July 1.
The strongest clue to Fan's status may have been a Sept. 6 notice posted on the website of the Securities Daily, a newspaper published by the official Economic Daily. It stated that the local tax bureau had sent a notice to Fan's studio that she had been "placed under control" — a legal term for being held under investigation. The article was later deleted from the website.
Fan's disappearance has already taken a toll on her lucrative sideline as brand ambassador, throwing those companies' plans into disarray. Australian vitamin brand Swisse issued a statement saying it was suspending use of her image and "continuing to monitor the situation and hope that it is resolved in the near future."
British diamond giant De Beers, who signed with Fang just last year, appears to have already moved on: Another actress, Gao Yuanyuan, represented the company at a store opening last month in the ancient capital of Xi'an. Other firms she endorsed, from duty-free chain King Power to Louis Vuitton and Montblanc are also taking action. "
"There's a lot more risk for celebrities in China than in the United States, because the government takes much more of a moral crackdown," said China Market Research's Rein. "So there's a greater risk for celebrities to get in trouble with the law and never be able to get a chance at redemption."
Actor James Woods has been locked out of his Twitter account over a tweet he sent out months ago that was found to be in violation of Twitter's rules.
The tweet was posted July 20 and includes a hoax meme that said it came from Democrats and encouraged men not to vote in the midterm elections. Woods got an email from Twitter on Thursday saying the tweet "has the potential to be misleading in a way that could impact an election." The email says Woods can use his account again if he deletes the tweet.
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, Woods said this means he'll be allowed back on Twitter only if he decides to do what Twitter says. He says he won't do that, and he won't delete the tweet.
"Free speech is free speech — it's not Jack Dorsey's version of free speech," Woods said, referring to Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey.
Twitter said it doesn't comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons. A spokesman for the social media platform said by email that he had nothing more to share when asked if Dorsey would respond directly to Wood's comments.
"The irony is, Twitter accused me of affecting the political process, when in fact, their banning of me is the truly egregious interference," Woods said. "Because now, having your voice smothered is much more disturbing than having your vocal chords slit. If you want to kill my free speech, man up and slit my throat with a knife, don't smother me with a pillow."
Woods said if he deletes the tweet, it would force him to watch his step with everything he says in the future, chilling free speech. The email Woods received from Twitter said Woods would be suspended from the social media platform permanently if there are repeated abuses.
He noted that his original tweet was reposted by his girlfriend on Friday and had been retweeted thousands of times by Sunday. His girlfriend's account wasn't locked, which he said was proof that he'd been singled out because of his large Twitter following.
Woods, who has more than 100 acting credits to his name and starred in several movies including "Salvador," ''Ghosts of Mississippi" and "Casino," has more than 1.7 million Twitter followers and is known for his conservative political views. His Twitter page is still online, though he can't access it. Many of his recent tweets include his views of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her decades ago.
The meme that Woods posted in July said #LetWomenDecide and #NoMenMidterm. It claimed to be from a Democratic group, but it was determined to be a hoax campaign to encourage liberal men not to vote in November, according to the website knowyourmeme.com.
Woods called it a parody. In his tweet, he acknowledged the meme likely wasn't real, saying: "Pretty scary that there is a distinct possibility this could be real. Not likely, but in this day and age of absolute liberal insanity, it is at least possible ..."
The tweet is considered to be material that would suppress votes or deliberately deceive, and was found to be in violation of Twitter rules.
Social media companies like Twitter have come under pressure to get hate speech and posts that could influence elections offline, learning quickly that they can't please everyone as they try to act as gatekeepers of discourse. Dorsey testified before the GOP-led House Energy and Commerce Committee earlier this month, as the committee examined whether Twitter has censored conservatives.
The AP reached Woods on Sunday through his girlfriend's Twitter account. After he shared information over messaging, he agreed to have a FaceTime conversation so the AP could verify his identity.
Woods said he wants open discourse, and called the situation a dangerous one for free speech.
"I wish this were about an unknown Twitter user so that I could be even more passionate about it," Woods said. "This is not about a celebrity being muzzled. This is about an American being silenced — one tweet at a time."
Follow Amy Forliti on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/amyforliti . More of her work at https://apnews.com/search/amy%20forliti
Two of the women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault decades ago said Sunday they hope he will be sentenced to prison time this week.
Lise-Lotte Lublin and Chelan Lasha, who appeared with attorney Gloria Allred, also said they hoped they would be allowed to read victim impact statements before Cosby is sentenced on three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault .
Cosby was convicted of drugging and molesting a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004 in what became the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era. A two day-sentencing hearing begins Monday in Montgomery County.
"I really think it's important that he spend some time behind bars," said Lublin, who said Cosby assaulted her when she was 23 in 1989. The then-model said Cosby prodded her to take two drinks to relax. "At some point, he should acknowledge what he's done, and do the time for the crime."
Lasha, who wept during her testimony at the trial last spring, said she prays Cosby is sentenced to 30 years. "He deserves every year."
Lasha said she was a teenage aspiring actress in 1986 when she lay immobilized and unable to speak as Cosby touched her breast and rubbed himself against her leg. She said he gave her a pill he described as an antihistamine.
"He ruined my life at 17 years old," Lasha said. "I have nightmares about it this very day, and I want them to go away, just like him."
More than 60 other women accuse Cosby of sexual misconduct during his 50-year show business career. Five were allowed to testify, while others came to watch the court proceedings.
Allred said she believed the sentencing would be "sending a message" in the #MeToo era. She said Cosby should be sentenced to "a substantial period of time," shouldn't receive probation or house arrest, and shouldn't remain free pending appeal.
"Mr. Cosby should not be treated differently because he is a celebrity," she said. "Judgment day has finally arrived for this convicted sexual predator who betrayed the trust of so many women."
Lawyers for the 81-year-old, legally blind Cosby are expected to stress his age, health problems, legacy and philanthropy. Prosecutors hope to call other accusers to paint Cosby as a sexual predator deserving of prison.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Lublin and Lasha have done.
Milan designers are embracing women of all shapes, sizes and ages, even if the young, thin model prevailed during this week's previews for next spring and summer.
Marni's runway included women of different sizes while Dolce & Gabbana continued their embrace of models in a range of ages and sizes for their DNA runway show on Sunday.
Highlights from Sunday's show, the fifth day of previews of womenswear for next spring and summer:
DOLCE & GABBANA PAY TRIBUTE TO HERITAGE
Dolce & Gabbana retraced their DNA by bringing back some of their most famous models: Carla Bruni in a brocade suit, Monica Belluci in a fitted polka-dot dress, Eva Herzigova in a frothy black chiffon number, and a caped Isabel Rosselilni, who walked with her children Roberto and Elettra carrying her young son.
In the brand's bid for inclusion, they sent grandmothers with granddaughters, husbands and wives, lesbian couples and curvy models, including Ashley Graham.
Cardi B kept a careful eye on the collection from her front-row seat, taking off her animal skin-covered D&G sunglasses to take in the steady stream of flash. Her eyes stayed glued on an embroidered shawl jacket with mini-skirt, mouthing, "I like that," with a sassy shoulder shake.
The elaborate collection by Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana displayed the designers' unrivaled aptitude for over-the-top looks with a something-for-everyone range. There were pretty layered floral dresses with jeweled sandals, bejeweled biker jackets with tuxedo tails, raw jute fabrics in fringed day suits and tiered dresses in sparkly organza.
While the collection incorporated the duo's well-known motifs, including prints of the Madonna, Sicilian references and floral prints, there was also a pointed message on one netted top: "Fatto a Mano," or "handmade," to underline the commitment to craftsmanship.
The designers also provided a subtle hint of an upcoming project for Milan and Rome: a Christmas market inside the Rinascente department stores featuring Dolce&Gabbana styled appliances and their own range of the Milan Christmas cake, panettone, with flavors from their beloved Sicily. The hints included a Santa Claus figurine carried by a model and a print that echoes the unique panettone tin.
THE LIGHTNESS OF BEING ARMANI
Giorgio Armani's collection for next spring and summer was meticulously sculptured out of iridescent, dreamy blue, gray and pink textiles that collect the light. The main point of contrast, a bright fuchsia, which has become the power color of the season in Milan.
The looks had what the designer called "a liquid lightness," derived from a range of understated colors — save for a touch of fuchsia.
"It is all mixed and very subtle in terms of colors. The color this time gave form to the clothes," Armani said backstage.
The silhouette was elongated, often with a layer of organza that wrapped the figure or was layered over trousers for a misty effect. A plexiglass bustier gave shape to a micro-pleated dress.
Armani continued his mastery of the jacket with fluid jackets over straight trousers, or slim-fitting leather jackets with trousers colorful water color prints, and blousons with a long layer of tulle spilling out. One dramatic cape-like jacket had exaggerated military detailing on the shoulders, worn over a shimmering organza fitted suit.
The collection had futuristic touches, from a cellophane look on footwear to mesh carryalls.
"This is a woman who wants to be noticed," the designer said. "She doesn't slink away dressed as a man."
Armani saluted the crowd wearing a jacket and tie instead of his usual dark blue T-shirt or sweater.
"You didn't recognize me, did you?" he joked backstage.
MARNI'S WAKEUP CALL
The fashion crowd woke up early Sunday for a fashion call, only to go back to bed in the Marni showroom. Designer Francesco Risso's latest kooky seating arrangement was a series of beds in the shape of an amphitheater.
Risso was exploring the classics in more ways than one. The silhouette was mostly classic and tailored, with edgy touches that gave the collection the air of a desperate, punk housewife. But he also incorporated elements from the ancient classical world, including prints with architectural elements — a departure from Marni's traditional florals — and jewelry shaped like the Venus de Milo.
The art was all in the construction. Skirts were swept up like a sarong, worn with off the shoulder bustiers, but with sturdy fabrics that suggest the city and not light beachy fare. Risso put a new twist on the Roman toga in sleek, form-fitting textiles. Bomber jackets had half belts sewn into the back. Full-skirted dresses had front panels, some left as a blank canvass, others with prints.
Risso included in his model casting average-size women, who made clear the collections can have a broad audience.
Colors ranged from soft creams and yellows to louder reds and blues. Eye wear were dramatic pointy sunglasses.
MISSION CELEBRATES HERITAGE LOOKING TO FUTURE
Missoni treated the fashion crowd to a sweeping view of the new Milan skyline of skyscrapers by architects Zaha Hadid, Arata Isozaki and Daniel Libeskind to celebrate its 65th year.
Creative director Angela Missoni said she chose the terrace overlooking the City Life quarter and beneath Mario Bellini's silvery sculpture "Comet," because the view represented "the most futuristic place in Milan."
"This place is a dream. This place summarizes the future," she said.
The looks for men and women were delicate in tone, weight and structure.
For women, Angela Missoni constructed layered works, incorporating fresh detailing like tiered ruffles and braided overlays of yarn, for a playful touch. The men's looks were relaxed and functional, including kimono tops, long T-shirts and cardigans.
Keon McGuire has no real attachment to Bill Cosby or his landmark show.
As a black man, he's aware of the sitcom's place in pop culture, but he was barely in elementary school when "The Cosby Show" went off the air. Years later, he mostly tuned Cosby out after a widely panned speech to the NAACP in 2004, when the star ranted about black mothers, clothing choices and language.
"That for me was kind of an emotional — I won't say reckoning — but it made me reposition how I felt about Bill Cosby as this figure within the larger representation of black leadership," said McGuire, a 32-year-old education professor at Arizona State University.
McGuire's mindset reflects a broader generational divide over Cosby, who is scheduled to be sentenced Monday in a Philadelphia courtroom for drugging and molesting a woman. The sentence — anything from probation to 30 years in prison — will mark the final chapter of the 81-year-old entertainer's resounding fall from grace.
Those who grew up viewing Cosby's NBC show struggle to reconcile the conviction with the wise, warm television father they knew. But many millennials see him as long-irrelevant figure, and the #MeToo era has cast him as someone who was deservingly vanquished, like so many other misbehaving men in power.
"The generational gap plays a huge role in the contrasting, at times conflicting, views of Cosby's cultural importance," said Michael Eric Dyson, a sociologist at Georgetown University. "Those of us who are older have memories of Cosby as a cultural ambassador, a black icon and an American hero."
Jon Francois, a 26-year-old radio deejay in Lyndonville, Vermont, was too young to have grown up with "The Cosby Show." But he became a fan as a child when he found his parents watching reruns on cable. He didn't see it as a rarity until he later compared the show to older sitcoms that depicted the black experience as more lower class. Cosby's Cliff Huxtable was a doctor and his wife, Clair, a lawyer in New York City.
"It wasn't until I got older and kind of studied 'The Cosby Show,' that I realized 'Oh hey, this was a groundbreaking thing to have a black family portrayed like this as upper middle class.'"
When sexual assault allegations started to surface against Cosby in large numbers, Francois said, younger relatives were more objective about it. The claims by women were too much to ignore. But his mother and aunt had the hardest time believing the accusations.
"They were still stapled on the idea of Bill Cosby, the man they enjoyed and loved so much on TV, America's dad, that they just didn't really want to acknowledge the fact that he's an alleged rapist," Francois said.
An underlying issue is the lack of humanizing portrayals of African-Americans in popular media, he added.
"If anything, that's a serious indictment on the culture, that someone would feel losing Cosby is losing a positive representation of black folks," he said.
The entire ordeal leaves him with mixed emotions — mostly sadness and disappointment.
"If all this sexual assault stuff didn't happen, he could have retired and went off into the sunset and had this great legacy left behind as a groundbreaking comedian-actor who paved the way for so many African-Americans," Francois said. "It's so surreal even now he's being convicted."
It's an old tradition that a bride should have something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue on her wedding day, and the Duchess of Sussex followed at least part of that when she married Prince Harry.
The former Meghan Markle has revealed in a television documentary that she had a piece of blue fabric from the dress she wore on her first date with Harry sewn into her wedding dress.
She made the comments while discussing the dress in a documentary about Queen Elizabeth II called "Queen of the World." She didn't say whether she also embraced the rest of the tradition.
The clip was made public Sunday. The documentary will be broadcast at a later date. It deals with the queen's role as head of the Commonwealth.
The duchess described her May wedding on the grounds of Windsor Castle as a "magical day."
The American actress who starred in "Suits" married Harry on May 19 on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The "Queen of the World" will air in the U.K. on Tuesday.
The gothic family fantasy "The House With a Clock in Its Walls" exceeded expectations to debut with an estimated $26.9 million in ticket sales at the weekend box office, while audiences showed considerably less interest in Michael Moore's Donald Trump-themed documentary, "Fahrenheit 11/9," than his George W. Bush-era one.
"The House With a Clock in Its Walls" was easily the biggest draw on a quiet weekend at North American movie theaters, where the other three new wide releases all disappointed or downright flopped.
"Fahrenheit 11/9" opened with $3.1 million in 1,719 cinemas — a huge debut for most documentaries but a fraction of the $23.9 million opening generated in 2004 by Moore's record-breaking "Fahrenheit 9/11." That film went on to make $222.4 million worldwide, a record for documentaries.
Moore's new film, which examines the rise of Trump and other developments like the water crisis in his hometown of Flint, Michigan, was the first release from former Open Road chief executive Tom Ortenberg's new distributor, Briarcliff Entertainment. It had been predicted to open with $5 million to $8 million.
But despite a surge in success for documentaries at the box office — including "RBG," ''Won't You Be My Neighbor" and "Three Identical Strangers" — "Fahrenheit 11/9" didn't catch on.
Dan Fogelman's "Life Itself" and the home invasion thriller "Assassination Nation" both barely made a blip in nationwide release. Though Fogelman's "This Is Us" is one of TV's top-rated series, his "Life Itself" bombed with $2.1 million despite a starry cast including Olivia Wilde, Oscar Isaac and Antonio Banderas.
The film — an unabashedly sentimental tale of destiny across generations — drew some of the most scathing reviews of the year, landing it a 13 percent "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
In an interview last week, Fogelman blamed "primarily white male critics who don't like anything that has any emotion," prompting many female critics to point out that they, too, thought "Life Itself" was, as Variety's Jessica Kiang wrote, "manipulative and contrived."
The Amazon Studios release, which opened in 2,609 theaters, was one of the worst performing wide releases of the year, as was Sam Levinson's "Assassination Nation." The Neon thriller grossed just $1 million in 1,403 theaters.
But Universal Pictures' "The House With a Clock in Its Walls," based on the classic book written by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey, capitalized on a recent dearth of child-friendly options. The film, directed by the horror veteran Eli Roth with a budget of $40 million, stars Jack Black and Cate Blanchett.
"This was on the high end of any expectations," said Jim Orr, head of distribution at Universal. Orr credited the studio's producing partners at Amblin Entertainment as well as the release date in a normally slow month. "We really saw an opportunity in late September to kick off the fall season with this PG family film, and obviously it was well-positioned."
With the fall movie season getting started, a few specialty films hit theaters, drawing packed theaters in limited release.
Bleecker Street's "Colette," starring Keira Knightley as the iconic French author, debuted with $156,000 in four theaters, good for a per-screen average of $39,000. Jacques Audiard's dark Western "The Sisters Brothers," starring Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly, opened with $122,000 in four theaters for a $30,500 per-screen average.
Last week's top film, "The Predator," slid fast with a 65 percent drop, earning $8.7 million in its second week. Holding stronger was Lionsgate's "A Simple Favor." Paul Feig's suburban noir, starring Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick, dropped only 35 percent for a $10.4 million second weekend.
"Fahrenheit 11/9" may have decent weeks ahead leading up to the November midterm elections. ComScore's PostTrak survey found that 82 percent of viewers gave it four out of five stars. It landed an A CinemaScore.
"Those who did see it really enjoyed it," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. "People have said: Should they have gone limited? Should they have gone wide? I think they needed to get it out there nationwide with midterms six weeks away. But it's very easy to second-guess how to release a documentary like this. It's one of the most difficult types of films to release."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday also are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. "The House With a Clock in Its Walls," $26.9 million ($8.7 million international).
2. "A Simple Favor," $10.4 million ($5.2 million international).
3. "The Nun," $10.3 million ($35.4 million international).
4. "The Predator," $8.7 million ($15.2 million international).
5. "Crazy Rich Asians," $6.5 million ($5.1 million international).
6. "White Boy Rick," $5 million.
7. "Peppermint," $3.7 million ($1.6 million international).
8. "Fahrenheit 11/9," $3.1 million.
9. "The Meg," $2.4 million ($3.4 million international).
10. "Searching," $2.2 million ($3.6 million international).
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:
1. "The Nun," $35.4 million.
2. "Golden Job," $23.2 million.
3. "Johnny English Strikes Again," $17.2 million.
4. "The Predator," $15.2 million.
5. "L Storm," $9 million.
6. "The Great Battle," $8.9 million.
7. "The House With a Clock in Its Walls," $8.7 million.
8. "Incredibles 2," $8.3 million.
9. "Mission: Impossible — Fallout," $8 million.
10. "Ash Is the Purest White," $5.9 million.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP
Actor Danny DeVito has been honored with a lifetime achievement award at Spain's most prestigious film festival in the northern coastal city of San Sebastian.
DeVito, 73, received the award from the San Sebastian International Film Festival during Saturday's gala. The American comic film star is promoting the animated children's film "Smallfoot" at the festival.
DeVito won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his role in the 1970-80's TV sitcom series "Taxi." Other career highlights include leading roles in the hit 1980s comedies "Throw Momma from the Train" and "Twins" and scores of endearing supporting parts.
He also shared an Oscar nomination for best picture as a producer of "Erin Brockovich" in 2000.
He currently stars in the TV series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."
Bill Cosby's sentencing hearing Monday will begin with testimony about his sex offender evaluation and, presumably, a fierce debate over whether the 81-year-old actor should be branded a sexually violent predator.
The stakes are high given the lifetime counseling, community alerts and public shaming the designation would trigger. And it could become evidence in the defamation lawsuits filed against Cosby by accusers who say he branded them liars when he denied molesting them.
Defense lawyers say the state's latest sex-reporting law, despite several revisions, remains unconstitutional.
"It's the modern-day version of a scarlet letter," said lawyer Demetra Mehta, a former Philadelphia public defender, "which I think is sort of an interesting philosophical issue at this time with the #MeToo movement, but also criminal justice reform."
Pennsylvania's sex-offender board has examined Cosby and recommended he be deemed a predator, concluding that he has a mental defect or personality disorder that makes him prone to criminal behavior. Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O'Neill will have the final say Monday.
O'Neill has presided over the case for nearly three years, from shortly after Cosby's December 2015 arrest to a 2017 trial that ended in a jury deadlock to the jury finding this past April that Cosby drugged and molested a woman at his suburban Philadelphia estate in 2004. He faces anything from probation to 30 years in prison on the three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault.
It's unclear if the judge, in weighing the predator label, will consider the dozens of other Cosby accusers who have gone public or his deposition in the trial victim's 2006 lawsuit, when Cosby acknowledged getting quaaludes to give women before sex; described sex acts as the "penile entrance" to an "orifice" and "digital penetration"; and said he often gave young women alcohol but didn't drink or take drugs himself because he liked to stay in control.
Defense lawyers fighting the predator label note that sexual offender registration laws are in flux in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
Numerous courts, including the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, have found the laws so vague as to be unconstitutional. Courts have also debated whether the programs unfairly amount to extra punishment, especially for people convicted of misdemeanors. Cosby has added one of the state's top appellate lawyers, Peter Goldberger, to his defense team.
"This is going to probably be a very important case for sex-offender law when it's up on appeal," Mehta said. "It's an area of law that is just sort of unsettled right now. . There's a lot up on appeal, but there's not a lot decided."
Pennsylvania alone now has 2,200 people classified as sexually violent predators, of the more than 20,000 people on its Megan's Law list of sex offenders. The Megan's Law group has their names, pictures and towns listed online, but they're not subject to the same monthly counseling mandates as the "predator" group, and authorities don't actively warn communities of their nearby presence.
The stigma may not be as paralyzing for a man like Cosby — in his 80s, living in a gated house and presumably not looking for work or going to the local gym. However, it's one more stain on his reputation.
Defense motions note that the sex offender board's recommendation followed an evaluation by just a single board member, and that the evidence needs only to meet a "clear and convincing" standard.
That violates Cosby's "right to reputation without confrontation, without trial by jury and without proof beyond a reasonable doubt," defense lawyer Joseph Green Jr. argued in a July court filing.
Legal experts believe a "predator" classification would be a legal finding that Cosby accusers could use in their defamation suits, including one involving seven women plaintiffs that's pending in Massachusetts.
"That may (also) be about legacy protection, about what the obituary says, what the Wikipedia page says," said Daniel Filler, dean of Drexel University's Kline College of Law. "You can bet, especially in crowd-sourced things, everything's going to begin with 'he's a sexually violent predator.' It's like a slogan. He has a tag now."
The talk off the Milan runway this season has been a perceived assault on Made-in-Italy's integrity.
The Italian Fashion Chamber issued a statement during Milan Fashion Week defending the system following a report by The New York Times on exploited workers in the luxury supply chain in the southern region of Puglia.
The chamber said in a statement the report "embitters and perplexes us for many reasons," and noted that it has been working to make "the Italian supply chain resilient, fair and protective on all fronts."
The chamber acknowledged it had been more than 40 years since the last comprehensive study of irregular labor in Italy's fashion sector, but said the most recent estimate put the number at 2,000-4,000 workers in an industry that employs 620,000 people in 67,000 companies.
Previews of Made in Italy handiwork for next spring and fall continued for the fourth day Saturday at Milan Fashion Week. Here are some highlights:
FERRAGAMO'S TUSCAN COLORS
The Salvatore Ferragamo design team of Paul Andrew for womenswear and Guillaume Meilland for menswear worked in perfect symphony for their second combined collection.
At Ferragamo, the looks are defined from the shoe up. This season's fantastic sculpted women's heels were inspired by Constantin Brancusi's studied curves and the woven uppers from the Ferragamo archives.
"There are actually all sorts of materials and almost every girl has a different shoe, which I love the idea of doing this season," Andrew said backstage. "There's cork heels, stacked leather, wrapped in snakeskin. There are wooden clogs."
A 1940 Ferragamo archive photo of Loretta Young wearing a beveled heel inspired the loose trouser and the palm tree floral print that permeated the collection on handkerchief dresses, suit ensembles and bowling shirts. The color palette was mostly Tuscan-inspired natural hues that were deployed with military precision, with contrasting peacock purple and teals in standout overcoats for him and for her.
The brand is looking to target youth while still maintaining its traditional mature customers, sending out experienced models, including 1990s cover-girl Stella Tennant, to underline that point. Tennant opened the show in an olive leather handkerchief skirt, belted with a taupe T-shirt. Woven boots finished the look.
Menswear and womenswear echoed each other. Coveralls for men were worn apron down under a suit jacket while a women's tailored jacket was left open in the back for an apron effect, and worn with roomy trousers that blurred into a long skirt.
"I feel until recently Ferragamo was speaking too many different aesthetic languages," Andrew said. "You would walk into a store and not really understand what the message was. In working together, we have built this new vocabulary of dressing, in both ready-to-wear and shoes and accessories."
CELEBRITY SPOTTING AT FERRAGAMO
American actors Armie Hammer and Julianne Moore took front row seats at Ferragamo. Hammer sat with James Ferragamo, the grandson of founder Salvatore Ferragamo, who oversees accessories at the fashion house.
"I'm a big fan of the (Ferragamo) family, both in person and also their clothes. It is great to come out to a beautiful city like Milan and look at beautiful clothes with beautiful people," Hammer said, motioning toward Moore.
SCERVINO'S GENDER PLAYS
Ermanno Scervino knows when to be light and when the occasion calls for something more substantial.
A white frothy organza skirt was worn with a prim, fitted white jacket, which segued into a pantsuit featuring a tailored white jacket worn shirtless for the bold, with an angular modesty panel for a bit of daring. Seen together, the pieces would fit a hers-and-hers wedding.
Crochet and ruffle details accented the collection's lighter moments without becoming the main feature. To balance a series of light-as-air lace dresses, Scervino also offered black leather ensembles with thigh-high boots for a rocker ethos.
Womenswear took some cues from men's dressing: tuxedo details on jackets and trousers, men's shirts combined with ultra-feminine skirts. And Scervino sent men down the runway to illustrate the symmetries.
The most striking were shimmery golden jacquard suits, hers with a plunging V neckline, his with a straight white T-shirt. Knitwear, including tennis sweaters, had an edgy golden finish for a wet effect.
CAVALLI CELEBRATES PHYSICALITY
The men's shirt is getting a workover at Roberto Cavalli, cropped and wrapped around the bodice and worn with plunging front mini-dresses encrusted in beads.
The collection by Paul Surridge tapped some of the Cavalli codes while trying to retrace them for a younger generation. For this season, Surridge put the focus on legs, the torso and the plunging neckline, "celebrating the physicality of the body."
Gigi Hadid opened the show with a muted animal print on a tailored jacket with Bermuda shorts, and took another turn later in glimmering, silver sequined jacket over short shorts.
Wrap dresses bared torsos and legs. For a sportier look, biker shorts were worn with long see-through tailored shirts or cropped jackets. Sensual touches included plunging V-necks on a beaded dress and a Cavalli signature diaphanous number with lace detailing.
French actor Vincent Cassel watched from the front row with his wife, model Tina Kunakey.
PHILIPP PLEIN EMBRACES MILAN
Philipp Plein returned to show his womenswear collection in Milan after a several-season New York hiatus, bringing with him a super-star cast including Chris Brown, Ayo & Teo, American rapper 6ix9ine and a bevy of Cirque de Soleil acrobats.
The collection was a tribute to Michael Jackson, with a clear military inspiration. It liberally used beads, sequins, fringe, crystals and studs on worn leather, denim, latex or python to create motorcycle jackets, evening gowns and corset dresses.
Paul Simon ended his final concert tour under a moonlit sky on home turf Saturday, telling an audience in a Queens, N.Y. park that their cheers "mean more than you can know."
Simon performed at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which he said was a 20-minute bicycle ride from where he grew up, ending the landmark night with his first big hit, "The Sound of Silence."
The 76-year-old Simon isn't retiring, and hasn't ruled out occasional future performances. But he's said this is his last time out on the road, and he isn't alone among his peers; Elton John and Kiss are also doing goodbye swings.
New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio introduced Simon, calling him "one of the greatest New York City artists of all time." The return to New York raised memories of Simon's two iconic shows in Manhattan's Central Park, in 1981 with former partner Art Garfunkel and in 1991 on his own.
Simon didn't directly address the special nature of this occasion, and his only guest was wife Edie Brickell, who came out to whistle the solo in "Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard." But there were many references to familiar surroundings, like when he paused and beamed at an airplane descending over the park as he prepared to sing "Homeward Bound."
"Welcome to New York," he said.
When Simon finished singing "Kodachrome," with its memorable line about "the crap I learned in high school," he said, "take that, Forest Hills High School."
But, he conceded, "I actually had a good time there."
The crowd cheered when Simon sang about the "queen of Corona" in "Me & Julio Down By the Schoolyard."
"How much fun is it to sing a song about Corona in Corona?" he said.
The former high school baseball player brought out a glove and a ball, saying he wanted to play catch. He twice threw the ball into the audience and the return throws sailed over his head. But on the third, Simon caught a perfect strike.
His 26-song set spanned more than 50 years. A staple of the 1960s folk-rock scene with Garfunkel, Simon explored music from around the world as a solo artist. His band contained guitarists from Nigeria and South Africa, and a classical sextet. His recent work has been his most musically challenging, and in a new disc he revisits overlooked songs from the past four decades. He's a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member for both stages of his career.
The only references to Garfunkel were a couple of fleeting pictures during a nostalgic montage on the video screen. As Simon prepared to sing "Bridge Over Troubled Water," he said that "I'm going to reclaim my lost child." He had originally given the giant hit to Garfunkel to sing.
An often dour performer, Simon has been animated and talkative during the final shows. He seems eager for the freedom that awaits him, said Robert Hilburn, who wrote the biography "Paul Simon: A Life" that was released this spring.
"The thing that strikes me is that he's been happy, relieved," Hilburn said. "There's a burden off of him."
During an earlier show in Portland, Oregon, Simon playfully "penalized" himself for flubbing the lyrics to one song by singing an old Simon & Garfunkel hit he confessed to hating: "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)."
Allman Brothers Band founding member Dickey Betts has had successful surgery after slipping and hitting his head while playing with his dog in Florida.
The Dickey Betts website says the "Ramblin' Man" and "Blue Sky" singer-songwriter and guitarist underwent surgery Friday to relieve swelling on his brain.
A statement posted Saturday on the website says Betts and his family said the "outpouring of support from all over the world has been overwhelming and amazing. We are so appreciative."
Last month Betts suffered a mild stroke and had to cancel upcoming tour dates with his Dickey Betts Band, which includes his son, Duane Betts.
A few weeks ago longtime friend David Spero posted that Betts was responding well to treatment for the stroke and was "raring to go."
About 80 of Burt Reynolds' friends and relatives shared memories of the late actor at a private memorial service.
Reynolds' ex-wife Loni Anderson and their son Quinton Anderson Reynolds were among the speakers at the Thursday service at Quattlebaum Funeral Home in North Palm Beach, Florida, a family spokeswoman, Cheryl Kagan, told The Associated Press.
Reynolds died at age 82 on Sept. 6 at a hospital in Jupiter, Florida, and a death certificate issued Sept. 10 that was obtained by "Entertainment Tonight" said that he had already been cremated. Neither family nor officials have revealed a cause of death.
Bobby Bowden, former longtime football coach at Florida State University, where Reynolds was a player, opened the service with a prayer and went on to tell stories from throughout the actor's life.
Anderson, who had a famously difficult divorce from Reynolds, shared happier moments from their 12 years together, calling their son Quinton their "greatest collaboration."
Other guests included Lee Corso, the ESPN football analyst who was a teammate and roommate of Reynolds in college, and former NCAA and NFL quarterback Doug Flutie.
Frederica von Stade sat on a table singing, her face filled with fear and wonder, her character unsure where she was going and where she had been.
Nearly a half-century after her professional debut, the 73-year-old teamed with fellow mezzo Marietta Simpson for a mesmerizing performance Thursday night in the world premiere of "Sky on Swings," Lembit Beecher's joyful and disturbing chamber opera about two women deteriorating from Alzheimer's disease.
Commissioned by Opera Philadelphia for the first night of its season-opening O18 festival, the 78-minute work debuted on the eve of World Alzheimer's Day. It explores the cognitive decline of Danny (von Stade) and Martha (the 59-year-old Simpson), whose disease is more progressed.
In the third chamber opera by the 37-year-old Beecher and librettist Hannah Moscovitch after "I Have No Stories to Tell You" and "Sophia's Forest," jarring keyboard notes and pizzicato in the 11-piece orchestra punctuate melodic singing to create a disorienting intensity.
"There was a feeling that the orchestral music in the piece needed to be about disintegration or degeneration in some way," Beecher said Friday.
Moscovitch's libretto explores the place of the elderly in a society with longer life spans, much like Alan Bennett's "Allelujah!" which opened at London's Bridge Theatre in July. But while Bennett sets his play in the specific locale of a Yorkshire hospital and has sharp political commentary about cuts to Britain's National Health Service, Moscovitch focuses "Sky" on the collapsing minds of the two principal characters in their individual homes and a nonspecific facility.
Danny's son Ira (tenor Daniel Taylor) and Martha's daughter Winnie (soprano Sharleen Joynt) depict the frustrations of caregivers, and a chorus of four elders adds pathos by voicing diminishment in clinical and practical terms.
After Danny is unable to remember where she parked her car, Ira asks her to repeat 10 nouns. Shattered when she realizes that she is impaired, Danny bemoans her inability to recall appointments, yet touchingly reveals: "I remember pop's shaving cream/ I remember the smell of his face/ I remember the way you looked when you were born Ira/ And my first house/ And my first kiss."
"It transcends sanity to a certain extent," von Stade said. "It's what's so marvelous about human nature, that even with this debilitating disease there are still great human touches that shine in spite of it."
Director Joanna Settle has Danny and Martha sing as if to themselves and to all, much like a Shakespearean soliloquy. There wasn't a murmur in the crowd at the Kimmel Center's 550-seat Perelman Theater.
"To experience the silences from the audiences was very, very impactful," Simpson said.
Von Stade, who debuted in 1970 at New York's Metropolitan Opera, had two aunts die of Alzheimer's.
"I find it very emotional to do it, especially I think at my advanced age," she said. "It's very pertinent."
Andrew Lieberman's minimalist sets dominated by whites and grays include a line of twisted neon and a projected shadow that morph from words to squiggles and back. Choral passages turn into mumbles, and character phrases become disjointed.
"Memorizing text for someone who's losing their mind — trying to find a pattern where there's not an obvious pattern, that is difficult," Simpson said.
There are four more performances through Sept. 29.
Freddy Krueger is coming for "The Goldbergs."
ABC announced Friday that Robert Englund is reprising his role as the "A Nightmare on Elm Street" slasher for a Halloween episode of the ABC sitcom.
The show is keeping with its 1980s setting. The Krueger episode, titled "Nightmare on Elk Avenue," centers on the fears of the show's teenage protagonist, Adam, after seeing "A Nightmare on Elm Street."
Englund, who played Krueger in eight horror films starting in 1984, was known for killing teens in their sleep wearing a gloved hand with sharpened razors.
In a statement, Englund calls his guest appearance "a spooky valentine to the fans."
The sixth season of "The Goldbergs" premieres on Sept. 26 at 8 p.m. Eastern, and the Halloween episode will air in October.
Fashion may seem a respite for the cares of the world, but often it is actually an expression of them.
Designers in Milan this week are finding ways to express their concerns about the global affairs through their collections, in some cases purposely providing an escape but in others using textiles and seams to stitch together a story.
Milan Fashion Week on Friday held its third day of previews for next spring and summer with shows by Antonio Marras, Etro, MSGM and Versace.
Donatella Versace is all about emphasizing the power of women and she does it on and off the runway. For this season's show, she assembled this generation's top models to tell her story but remembered also those who blazed the trail.
Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber, Kendall Jenner and Irina Shayk headlined fast-paced show the show, and Versace allowed a significant pause before sending out the final model: 1990s supermodel Shalom Harlow.
The looks the models sported gave a sense of fearlessness. The collection was free-spirited and youthful, featuring skin-tight silhouettes of the finest transparent printed tulle that lent itself to colorful layering. A bohemian-Gypsy vibe was created by floral silk head-scarfs, embroidered hosiery and the clashing patterns and layering. A dark net overlay easily takes the dress from day to night.
Power suits featured geometric checks and stripes, while leather looks had a tough-girl edge with a painted faux-python slit skirt and shiny cropped leather jacket.
Versace's heritage came out most strongly in body-hugging matte leather ensembles, and a series of trademark evening dresses in satin with golden accents.
NIKKI MINAJ VINTAGE VERSACE
Nikki Minaj held court in the Versace front row, patiently posing for photos as models made their final preparations back stage.
Minaj wore a plunging black leather Versace corset and a long gathered skirt in a bold primary color print for the fashion outing. The look was accessorized with a plaid tam o' shanter bonnet and matching scarf, acid green gloves and a chunky Versace chain.
"It felt very Italy to me," she said. "I love the colors. It made me feel really happy. I always love colors, but this is very Versace, I feel. Very vintage. "
ANTONIO MARRAS' JOURNEY INTO EXILE
Designer Antonio Marras stitched a story into his garments for next spring and summer. It is a tale of exile, of military demands interrupting a tranquil life.
Marras mixed masculine textiles, like camouflage and denim, with feminine laces, crochet work and animal prints. The garments are a patchwork, none with a clearly defined silhouette but with overlays indicating turbulence and forced journeys. Marras said he was inspired by the story of an Ethiopian princess who was forced under Italian rule into exile with her children on an island near Sardinia.
"I think fashion can tell what is happening in the world. We are bombarded every day by images that are very strong. My work is to transfer the sensations I have inside onto textiles," he said.
Marras said the work started with a simple men's shirt, which he completely redefined, cutting long holes in the sleeves that he trimmed with big ruffles, adding shreds and cutting-room castaways of khaki, reptile and leopard print to the bodice.
The workmanship is evident in the details. Ruffles and scraps are stitched meticulously together to create a collage of stripes, checks and neutrals on a mini-wrap skirt-jacket combo. Chiffon leopard prints are ruffled and pieced together to create frothy details on the shoulders.
Delicate crochet work was sewn into panels on a smock dress with a Victorian-era flair. More modern cues came in the form of a loose sweatshirt cape with leopard and reptile accents, and a drop-waist dress with a black hoody T-shirt over a leopard skirt, held together by sheer black lace.
Marras added drama to the collection with enormous, sculptural mosquito-netting hats.
ETRO'S PACIFIC ZEN
The Etro woman is seeking Zen somewhere in the Pacific between California, Hawaii and Japan. In Veronica Etro's mind's eye, the destination is a fantastical Paisley island, recalling the brand's trademark print.
Etro said the collection explores the fluidity between the active West Coast lifestyle of surf and skateboard and the more meditative Asian martial arts disciplines.
"We melted these references together to get this collection that I call Pacific Zen," Etro said backstage.
The colors are bright but sophisticated, taken from kimono silks. A dreamy pattern of the sun on the water on a strapless sheath dress can just as easily represent a California sunset as an Asian sunrise.
The looks have a contemporary edge that comes through in the silhouette, in particular a pagoda-tiered dress with a surfer's wetsuit bodice trimmed in ruffles. Relaxed patchwork denim looks with knitwear jackets and bikini tops played nicely against floral kimono tops with matching trousers.
Etro is one of the rare fashion houses to showcase swimwear, in this case modeled by real-life surfers Victoria Vergara and Maribel Kouke who carried their boards. Accessories included myriad shell jewelry, marking a comeback for the puka shell with luxury pearl and gold accents.
The family-run Etro brand is marking its 50th year with an exhibit opening Saturday at Milan's MUDEC museum.
MSGM'S COLOR-BURST DREAMS
MSGM creator Massimo Giorgetti said his latest color-burst of a collection was inspired by dreams.
For next spring and summer, the designer turned away from lace-trimmed sweatshirts that were an early inspiration and focused on dresses.
"It is really like a new kind of attitude, and new kind of femininity," Massimo Giorgetti said backstage.
Pretty florals pop on long flowing dresses, tight legging outfits with matching sheer jackets and blur into a matching denim print. Giorgetti breaks down the colors into wrap dresses in blocks of orange, pink black and tan. Some are mini, showing off ankle cowboy boots with clear PVC panels.
The collection closed with a series of dreamy tie-dyes worn with painted feather mini dresses, and layered with hoodies.
His overriding message was upbeat: "Sognare insieme," or "Dream together," emblazoned in Italian on the back of a jacket.
Associated Press journalist Paola Masera contributed to this report.
Mariska Hargitay thinks "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" has played a huge role in educating people on sexual violence, but believes there is still a lot of work to do.
The star of the TV drama spoke as the NBC show celebrated its 20th season Thursday at the Tribeca TV Festival.
Hargitay has been playing Lt. Olivia Benson from the first episode. She said she was initially drawn to the show because it was tackling issues that others weren't.
"It's an incredibly progressive show, progressive idea, and really starting a conversation and taking sexual assault, domestic violence, and these issues that were traditionally swept under the carpet," Hargitay said.
"The conversation is in full swing, and that's very exciting. I think the show has really been a huge part of the cultural education on sexual violence. I think we have taken on the issues of consent and the neurobiology of trauma and created a survivor-centric show that was utterly unique."
Hargitay even created the Joyful Heart Foundation to help empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.
"Being immersed in this material and learning the statistics and learning about the shame and isolation that survivors of sexual violence feel, that is what really called me to start my own foundation and to respond to the subject matter that I was being immersed in every day," she said.
Ice-T, who joined the show at the end of the first season, admits he was surprised by the impact that it has had on its audience.
"It took about a year or so of people saying 'thank you' to realize that it was therapy for a lot of people. These are survivors," he said.
The second annual Tribeca TV Festival, a spinoff of the Tribeca Film Festival, showcases dozens of series premieres. Most will be followed by panel chats with talent, writers and producers. Highlights will include the world premiere of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" season 12 and new season openers of "Empire," ''Madam Secretary" and "Ray Donovan."
The 20th season of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" kicks off Sept. 27 with a two-part episode.
The winner of the world's 1st Chopin competition on historic pianos says the search for the original sound restores the appeal of classical music and helps artists understand the composer's intentions.
Tomasz Ritter of Poland was named the best of 30 young pianists at the 1st International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments this month.
The 23-year-old student from the Moscow State Conservatory earned top notes from the international jury in all three stages of the contest, despite fighting severe pain in his arms and shoulders that hit two weeks before the competition and forced him to go on painkillers and seek out physical therapy.
One of the pianos he played on was a 1842 French-made soft-sounding Pleyel, Frederic Chopin's favorite brand. He described its sound as "soft, long-lasting and singing."
Ritter's eyes lit up Friday as he explained to The Associated Press that historic pianos, which are smaller and more delicate than modern ones, require a light touch but render a nuanced sound and melody that better reflects the notes written by Poland's best loved 19th-century romantic composer.
"You cannot use force, so you cannot produce a strong fortissimo, it does not sound well," Ritter said. "But their advantage is that in the pianissimo (soft sections) and in the dark (parts of music), they are very interesting, they have a very wide gamut of colors."
Because different sections on historic keyboards have different sounds, piano players can easier understand the composer's intentions.
"These instruments help you read the composer's text," said Ritter, who has studied piano since the age of 7, including historical pianos and harpsicord.
Chopin was born in 1810 in Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw, to a Polish mother and a French father. He received his music education in Warsaw and started composing and giving concerts there. At 20 he left Poland and settled in Paris, then Europe's center of art and music. He composed chiefly for the piano and much of his work was inspired by Poland's music, such as the polonaise and the mazurka dances. His works require great skills that should serve a singing rendition of the music, Ritter said.
Ritter, a native of Lublin in eastern Poland, said his physical pain and discomfort vanished as he concentrated on stage and "heard nothing, saw nothing and felt nothing else" than his own performance.
His musicality was revealed when, as a small child, he would burst into tears on hearing some minor-key, sad-sounding Christmas carols, which were subsequently banned from the family's repertory, Ritter said.
As a result of the win, Ritter's calendar has filled up. Upcoming performances include Brussels in November and Tokyo and Osaka in June, places that he is "very happy" about.
After the interview, he said he was going to the airport to indulge in one of his favorite hobbies: spotting planes.
The next Chopin contest on historical instruments will be in 2023.
"This competition departs from set habits, from stereotypes," Ritter said.
"We all need something new and alluring. Something that we have lost today."
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