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Officials: Weinstein to surrender in sexual misconduct probe

Harvey Weinstein was expected to turn himself in to police Friday morning to face charges involving an aspiring actress who said he forced her to perform oral sex on him, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.

It would be the first criminal case against Weinstein to come out of the barrage of sexual abuse allegations from scores of women that destroyed his career and set off a national reckoning that brought down other powerful men in what has become known as the #MeToo movement.

The two officials said the criminal case involves allegations by Lucia Evans, who told a magazine that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex. She was among the first women to speak out about the 66-year-old film producer. One official said it's likely the case also will include at least one other victim who has not come forward publicly.

The officials spoke Thursday to the AP on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the investigation.

Evans confirmed to The New Yorker that she was pressing charges.

"At a certain point, you have to think about the greater good of humanity, of womankind," she told the magazine.

Weinstein was expected to be charged at least with criminal sexual act, a crime that carries up to 25 years in prison, the officials said. Weinstein's attorney, Benjamin Brafman, declined to comment, though Weinstein has said repeatedly through his lawyers that he didn't have nonconsensual sex with anyone.

Evans told The New Yorker in a story published in October that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex during a daytime meeting at his New York office in 2004, the summer before her senior year at Middlebury College.

"I said, over and over, 'I don't want to do this, stop, don't,'" she told the magazine. "I tried to get away, but maybe I didn't try hard enough. I didn't want to kick him or fight him."

Evans, who is now a marketing consultant, didn't report the encounter to police at the time, telling The New Yorker that she blamed herself for not fighting back.

"It was always my fault for not stopping him," she said.

Brafman said in court paperwork filed this month in a bankruptcy proceeding that the allegations that Weinstein forced himself on women were "entirely without merit."

"I am trying my very best to persuade both the federal and state prosecutors that he should not be arrested and or indicted, because he did not knowingly violate the law," Brafman wrote.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance had been under enormous public pressure to bring a criminal case against Weinstein. Some women's groups, including the Hollywood activist group Time's Up, accused the Democrat of being too deferential to Weinstein and too dismissive of his accusers.

A grand jury has been hearing evidence in the case for weeks.

In March, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took the extraordinary step of ordering the state's attorney general to investigate whether Vance acted properly in 2015 when he decided not to prosecute Weinstein over a previous allegation of unwanted groping, made by an Italian model. That investigation is in its preliminary stages.

More than 75 women have accused Weinstein of wrongdoing around the globe. Several actresses and models accused him of criminal sexual assaults, but many of the encounters happened too long ago for any prosecution. Film actress Rose McGowan said Weinstein raped her in 1997 in Utah, "Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra said he raped her in her New York apartment in 1992 and Norwegian actress Natassia Malthe said he attacked her in a London hotel room in 2008.

The statute of limitations for rape and certain other sex crimes in New York was eliminated in 2006, but not for attacks that happened prior to 2001.

New York City police detectives said in early November that they were investigating allegations by another accuser, "Boardwalk Empire" actress Paz de la Huerta, who told police in October that Weinstein raped her twice in 2010. She is not one of the victims in the case on Friday; hers was still pending, officials said.

Authorities in California and London also are investigating assault allegations. Britain has no statute of limits on rape cases; some of the allegations under investigation there date to the 1980s.

Harvey and his brother Bob Weinstein started his now-bankrupt company after leaving Miramax, the company they founded in 1979 and which became a powerhouse in '90s indie film with hits like "Pulp Fiction" and "Shakespeare in Love." The Weinstein Co. found success with Oscar winners "The Artist" and "The King's Speech."

___

Associated Press writer Jocelyn Noveck contributed to this report.

Sony no more, Bond 25 finds distribution from Universal, MGM

After more than a decade at Sony Pictures, James Bond has a few new partners.

In a joint announcement Thursday, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said Universal Pictures will release the 25th installment of the superspy franchise internationally while MGM will handle the U.S. release.

Daniel Craig will reprise his role as 007 in the film and Oscar-winner Danny Boyle will direct.

Sony's Bond contract expired in 2015 and many of the major studios competed for the chance to distribute the profitable franchise.

As per tradition Bond 25 will open a bit earlier in the U.K., on Oct. 25 2019, than in the U.S., where it will debut on Nov. 8, 2019. Production will begin in December at Pinewood Studios in London.

Rose McGowan on Weinstein: 'One win is a win for all of us'

She was one of the earliest Harvey Weinstein accusers, and she thought the mogul might never face justice in a court of law.

Now, actress Rose McGowan, who has accused Weinstein of raping her 20 years ago, is gratified but "still in shock" at the news that he is expected to surrender on Friday and finally face charges of sexual assault, in one of the scores of cases in which he's accused. And she prays that the charges will stick.

"I still have very guarded hopes," McGowan told The Associated Press Thursday night. "The justice system has been something very elusive. I hope in this case it works. Because it's all true. None of this was consensual."

Weinstein was expected to surrender to authorities on Friday to face charges involving at least one of the women who have accused him of sexual assault, Lucia Evans, two law enforcement officials told the AP. It would be the first criminal case against Weinstein since the revelations about him erupted last October and sparked the cultural "reckoning" that became the MeToo movement.

"I hope this gives hope to victims and survivors everywhere, that we are one step closer to justice. Because one win is a win for all of us," McGowan said. "It shows that it can be done."

After talking and writing about the case for so long, including in a recent memoir, "Brave," McGowan, 44, said it came as a huge surprise when news of the legal case finally came.

"I haven't come out of the shock of it yet," she said. "This is somebody who has been my nemesis for 20 years."

Weinstein has said repeatedly through his lawyers that he did not have nonconsensual sex with anyone.

Besides the immediate satisfaction of seeing Weinstein face justice, McGowan said she firmly believes that his story, and the cultural earthquake that followed, will have a profound and lasting impact on how society treats powerful abusers who engage in sexual misconduct.

"We can't go backward," she said. "The genie can't go back in the bottle. This is the first time since written history that women are being believed — begrudgingly, but still."

Equally important, McGowan said, is that the MeToo movement will help women who aren't famous, well-off movie stars, like many of Weinstein's accusers, but less powerful women without a voice. "If it's being done to me and other people who are well-known, what's happening to those who aren't?" she said.

As for what she expects to see in five or 10 years, McGowan said "there are always going to be social predators. And sociopaths. But the ones that to me are more guilty are the ones that kept everything quiet and covered everything up. Those are the ones that need to change their behavior. They know who they are. I think five years from now, a lot of these weeds will be taken out."

"The conversation will keep getting deeper," she said. "It will continue. Because we needed to have a conversation about truth. And ... victims tell the truth, no matter how long and how hard it is to tell the truth, or whether you've been saying it for 20 years and nobody cared to listen."

When asked if she planned to be in the courtroom should Weinstein go to trial, she said "Yes," with a quiet laugh. "Yes, I will."

Prize-winning children's author Richard Peck dies at 84

Prize-winning children's author Richard Peck, who drew upon his Illinois roots for such favorites as "A Long Way from Chicago" and "A Year Down Yonder," has died.

Peck died on Wednesday at his home in New York City at age 84. His publisher, Penguin Young Readers, told The Associated Press, that he died after a battle with cancer.

A native of Decatur, Illinois, and graduate of DePauw University, he was a prolific author who wrote dozens of books, but didn't start until his mid-30s when he decided to quit teaching. Willing from the start to address social issues, his debut novel "Don't Look and It Won't Hurt" was a story of teen pregnancy later adapted into the acclaimed independent film "Gas Food Lodging." He received his highest praise for "A Year Down Yonder," set in rural Illinois during the Great Depression and winner of the John Newbery Medal in 2001 for the year's best children's book. A year later, he became the first children's writer to be given a National Humanities Medal.

His other books included "The Best Man," ''A Season of Gifts" and "The River Between Us," a National Book Award finalist. His novel "A Long Way from Chicago," was a prequel to "A Year Down Yonder" and also a finalist for the National Book Award. Both featured his beloved character, the no-nonsense Grandma Dowdel.

Prince William to visit Jordan, Israel, West Bank in June

Kensington Palace says Prince William will visit Israel and the Palestinian territories at the end of June — the first British royal to make an official visit there.

The prince will begin his June 24-28 trip in Amman, Jordan, then travel to Jerash in Jordan; Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in Israel; and Ramallah in the West Bank.

No British royal has ever made an official visit to Israel, whose occupation of the Palestinian territories is considered illegal by the U.K. William's father, Prince Charles, attended the 2016 funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres in a private capacity.

This is also the first official royal visit to the Palestinian territories. It comes at the British government's request.

The trip was announced earlier this year, but the dates and destinations were disclosed Friday.

Morgan Freeman friend defends actor after misconduct allegations, speaks out against accusers

At least eight women have accused actor Morgan Freeman of inappropriate behavior, according to a report from CNN. The women said the behavior happened on and off movie sets.

>> Read more trending news 

Freeman is an Academy Award-winning actor, but he's also a business owner in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Two blocks around the corner from Ground Zero, the blues club Morgan Freeman owns, WHBQ-TV met with Celia Bobo. Bobo and  Morgan Freeman have been friends for two decades, and she said she does not believe the accusations.

"I find it hard to believe. I mean, I have known Morgan for many years," Bobo said. "Morgan has been nothing but a southern gentleman in my presence and the presence of my three daughters," she said

A number of Freeman's accusers said he "repeatedly (behaved) in ways that made women feel uncomfortable at work. Two even said they were subjected to unwanted touching, according to the CNN report.

Bobo told WHBQ she believes Morgan Freeman might actually be the victim in this case.

"With the current situation of the sexual harassment, I think it has become easier for a lot of people to say they have been sexually abused or harassed," Bobo said.

She said she believes the women who are accusing Morgan Freeman of misconduct are doing it to “show out.”

"He is a great guy, and I have been around him in many different circumstances."

>> Related: Morgan Freeman apologizes after 8 women accuse him of inappropriate behavior

In a statement released Thursday, Morgan Freeman apologized.

"Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would willingly offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy," Freeman said in the statement. "I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected -- that was never my intent."

Officials: Weinstein to surrender in sexual misconduct probe

Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is expected to surrender to authorities Friday to face charges involving at least one of the women who have accused him of sexual assault, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.

It would be the first criminal case against Weinstein to come out of the barrage of sexual abuse allegations from scores of women that destroyed his career and set off a national reckoning that brought down other powerful men in what has become known as the #MeToo movement.

The two officials said the criminal case involves allegations by then-aspiring actress Lucia Evans, who told a magazine that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex. She was among the first women to speak out about the 66-year-old film producer. One official said it's likely the case also will include at least one other victim who has not come forward publicly.

The officials spoke Thursday to the AP on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the investigation.

A grand jury has been hearing evidence in the case for weeks, and the precise charges against Weinstein weren't immediately known. Weinstein's attorney, Benjamin Brafman, declined to comment, though Weinstein has said repeatedly through his lawyers that he did not have nonconsensual sex with anyone.

Evans told The New Yorker in a story published in October that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex during a daytime meeting at his New York office in 2004, the summer before her senior year at Middlebury College.

"I said, over and over, 'I don't want to do this, stop, don't,' " she told the magazine. "I tried to get away, but maybe I didn't try hard enough. I didn't want to kick him or fight him."

Evans, who is now a marketing consultant, didn't report the incident to police at the time, telling The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow that she blamed herself for not fighting back.

"It was always my fault for not stopping him," she said.

Brafman said in court paperwork filed this month in a bankruptcy proceeding that the allegations that Weinstein forced himself on women were "entirely without merit."

"I am trying my very best to persuade both the federal and state prosecutors that he should not be arrested and or indicted, because he did not knowingly violate the law," Brafman wrote.

Brafman said in the same court filing that he had been informed that Weinstein was a "principal target" of an investigation being conducted by the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has come under enormous public pressure to bring a criminal case. Some women's groups, including the Hollywood activist group Time's Up, accused the Democrat of being too deferential to Weinstein and too dismissive of his accusers.

In March, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took the extraordinary step of ordering the state's attorney general to investigate whether Vance acted properly in 2015 when he decided not to prosecute Weinstein over a previous allegation of unwanted groping, made by an Italian model.

Vance had insisted any decision would be based on the strength of the evidence, not on political considerations. His office declined comment Thursday.

More than 75 women have accused Weinstein of wrongdoing. Several actresses and models accused him of criminal sexual assaults, including film actress Rose McGowan, who said Weinstein raped her in 1997 in Utah, "Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra, who said he raped her in her New York apartment in 1992, and the Norwegian actress Natassia Malthe, who said he attacked her in a London hotel room in 2008. Another aspiring actress, Mimi Haleyi, said Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in his New York apartment in 2006.

New York City police detectives said in early November that they were investigating allegations by another accuser, "Boardwalk Empire" actress Paz de la Huerta, who told police in October that Weinstein raped her twice in 2010.

McGowan said she was "in shock" at the news that Weinstein would face charges.

"I still have very guarded hopes. The justice system has been something very elusive. And I hope in this case it works. Because it's all true. None of this was consensual." she said. "I hope this gives hope to victims and survivors everywhere, that we are one step closer to justice. Because one win is a win for all of us. It shows that it can be done."

The statute of limitations for rape in New York was eliminated in 2006, but not for attacks that happened prior to 2001.

Several filed a federal lawsuit claiming his efforts to prey on women and cover up complaints amounted to a criminal enterprise.

Authorities in California and London are also investigating assault allegations. Britain has no statute of limits on rape cases; some of the allegations under investigation there go back to the 1980s.

Harvey and his brother Bob Weinstein started his now-bankrupt company after leaving Miramax, the company they founded in 1979 and which became a powerhouse in '90s indie film with hits like "Pulp Fiction," and "Shakespeare in Love." The Weinstein Co. found success with Oscar winners "The Artist" and "The King's Speech."

Even in a Hollywood where some film producers have long enjoyed outsized power, Weinstein stood out as someone who could make or destroy careers — a factor that kept many of his accusers, and people aware of his problematic conduct with women, from speaking out.

The public allegations against Weinstein helped prompt a broad public reckoning about sexual misconduct.

Major figures in media and politics have lost their jobs or had their reputations tarnished by allegations that they subjected women to unwanted advances or outright assaults. They include TV hosts Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose, comedian Louis C.K, Democratic Sen. Al Franken, chef Mario Batali, casino magnate Steve Wynn and, most recently, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

___

Associated Press writer Jocelyn Noveck contributed to this report.

BEWARE OF INSTAGRAM HACKING SCHEME

The Instagram accounts of Stellar Gospel Music Award winning recording artists such as Bri (Briana Babineaux) and Ahjah Walls of The Walls Group have been hacked by a person or persons behind a scam promising to get those accounts verified with the coveted blue checkmark.

 

Bri’s simply_bebe- account had over 545,000 followers – including celebrities such as Drake, Justin Bieber and other luminaries. She received what appeared to be a legitimate Instagram email suggesting that she was eligible to have her page verified. All, she had to do, was to sign into the account with her username and password. “It wasn’t even a full minute and then, he took over my account and locked me out of it,” she says.

 

In the case of Walls’ account, she received a blue check mark error email and was asked to sign-in to her account to re-confirm it. When she did, her account was immediately taken over.

 

For the record, Instagram never sends correspondence inviting account holders to have their accounts verified and they do not solicit to have pre-existing verified accounts re-confirmed. A high ranking-staffer at Tyscot Records’ (Bri’s recording home) distribution partner is corresponding with executives at Facebook/Instagram with the hopes of retrieving Bri’s original simply_bebe_ account and to have it restored.

 

“I want to warn other gospel artists to be on the look-out for this scam,” Bri says. “It’s devasting and this person is targeting people with a lot of followers.”

 

“This Instagram scam was tricky because it included the official Instagram logo and looked official,” says Bill Carpenter, who manages PR for Tyscot Records. “If you just glance at the emails, you won’t necessarily notice the red flags. However, upon closer examination, there were misspelled words or incorrect sentence structure in both emails. Those should always be a tip-off of a possible scam because most businesses do not send out official documents with spelling or grammar mistakes. It’s possible but rare.”

Courtesy of themediacapital@gmail.com | (202) 506-5051

 

Scenes cut from 'Show Dogs' over resemblance to sexual abuse

Two scenes are being cut from the family movie "Show Dogs" after complaints that they resemble real-life sexual abuse, the movie's distributor has announced.

In the movie, a police dog goes undercover at a dog show to catch animal smugglers.

In one scene, the dog is told to go to his "zen place" when he objects to having his testicles touched by a show judge.

In another scene, the dog is urged to overcome his resistance to being touched to become a champion.

Parenting bloggers first raised objections to the scenes, which they said resemble tactics used by abusers.

"During the movie, I kept thinking, 'This is wrong, it doesn't need to be in a kids movie," wrote blogger Terina Maldonado. "Everything else in the movie is good fun except for this.'"

Distributor Global Road Entertainment said in a statement Wednesday it "decided to remove two scenes from the film 'Show Dogs' that some have deemed not appropriate for children."

The statement added: "We apologize to anybody who feels the original version of 'Show Dogs' sent an inappropriate message. The revised version of the film will be available for viewing nationwide starting this weekend."

Maldonado said she was especially disturbed that her daughter said one of the scenes was her favorite part of the movie.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation had also objected to the scenes, and urged that they be cut.

The film starring Will Arnett and the voice of Ludacris was released last weekend and was the No. 6 film at the box office after earning $6 million.

Prince Harry called ex Chelsy Davy before royal wedding, sources say

Prince Harry reportedly called his ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy ahead of his royal wedding to Meghan Markle last week.

>> Read more trending news 

According to Vanity Fair, Davy was invited to the royal wedding but learned she wasn’t invited to the evening reception. 

A family friend told Vanity Fair that Harry called Davy out of courtesy and they shared a “tearful phone call.”

“It was their final call, a parting call in which they both acknowledged Harry was moving on,” the source told Vanity Fair. “Chelsy was quite emotional about it all, she was in tears and almost didn’t go to the wedding. In the end, she went and promised Harry she wouldn’t try and gate-crash the party.”

Harry and Davy dated for seven years, from 2004 to 2011, PEOPLE reports

Before their split, it was rumored that Davy was uncomfortable with being in the spotlight.

The pair are reportedly still friendly and have several mutual friends.

Davy, 32, was born in Zimbabwe. Her father, Charles Davy, is a safari farmer and her mother, Beverly Donald Davy, is a former Coca-Cola model and was Miss Rhodesia 1973, according to Elle Magazine

Davy studied economics and earned a law degree in 2009. She launched her own jewelry brand, Aya, in 2016. 

Davy wasn’t the only ex-girlfriend at the wedding.

Harry also invited Cressida Bonas, who he dated from 2012 to 2014.

Vanity Fair reports that Bonas, an English model and actress, was not invited to the exclusive evening reception, either. 

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