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With Cruise, 'A Quiet Place,' Paramount ready for a comeback

Paramount Pictures is ready for its comeback story.

On Wednesday at the CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas, studio chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos announced a sequel to the breakthrough thriller "A Quiet Place," two new Star Trek movies and trotted out its biggest star, Tom Cruise, to dazzle the audience of theater owners and exhibitors with stories of his death defying stunts in "Mission: Impossible — Fallout."

"It's no secret we've had some difficult years at the box office," said Gianopulos in his first presentation as the studio chair to the CinemaCon attendees. For the past few years, the studio has trailed behind the other major Hollywood studios in box office returns.

He said the studio has made significant changes in leadership and production and is ready to get back to a narrative of success and that "A Quiet Place" is "the first of what we hope will be many future hits."

The John Krasinski-directed thriller has earned over $135 million from North American theaters in just three weeks. It cost only $17 million to produce.

The studio teased a lineup heavy with familiar brands, including the Transformers spinoff "Bumblebee," with Hailee Steinfeld, a new "Cloverfield" sequel, several "Star Trek" movies, their "Terminator" project, with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, a Sonic the Hedgehog movie, a World War Z sequel, a Dungeons and Dragons movie and a new "Spongebob Squarepants." Save for "Bumblebee: The Movie" which comes out in December, most of the projects are years from release.

One film that is likely destined for box office success in the more immediate future is "Mission: Impossible — Fallout," the sixth film in the Tom Cruise-anchored franchise, which have made over $2.7 billion worldwide.

Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie (who he calls McQ) made an appearance to close out the presentation with a look inside one of the film's most dangerous stunts — a free fall, at speeds ranging from 130 to 200 miles per hour, from an airplane at 25,000 feet. It's a technique, McQuarrie said, that special forces use for infiltration.

"How much we can do that is physically possible without killing Tom," McQuarrie wondered while choreographing the 3-minute stunt that they said everyone told them was impossible.

In the end, Cruise did 106 jumps to get three usable takes that will be cut together to make a single 3-minute action sequence in the film. CinemaCon audiences got a look at the early footage of Cruise pulling it off.

"We shot this in the UAE," Cruise said. "We never would have been able to do this anywhere else."

Later, Cruise's co-star Simon Pegg joined them on stage and said of Cruise's preference to do dangerous stunts himself that, "It is a daily stress going to work with him because you don't know if you're going to see him tomorrow."

Production on the film was put on hiatus last year after Cruise broke his ankle while filming a rooftop jump scene in London.

"Mission: Impossible — Fallout," and Cruise's latest epic stunt, hit theaters July 27.

___

Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

Patton Oswalt credits late wife in Golden State Killer case

"You did it, Michelle."

Comedian Patton Oswalt proudly and tenderly spoke those words to his late wife in an Instagram video on Wednesday.

Finally, an arrest had been made in the case of the Golden State Killer, a moniker Michelle McNamara coined on her personal mission to catch a man responsible for at least 12 killings and 50 rapes throughout California in the 1970s and 80s.

McNamara died in her sleep at 46 in April 2016. She had been in the middle of her hunt for the killer and her book, "I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer."

Oswalt helped finish the book after McNamara's death. It became a No. 1 New York Times best-seller.

On Wednesday, authorities announced that a DNA match led them to arrest the Golden State Killer, who they identified as Joseph James DeAngelo, a 72-year-old former police officer.

Oswalt appeared on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" early Thursday and said news of the arrest felt like "a beginning of this whole other chapter."

"Now it feels like this thing that she wanted so badly is done," he said.

He and McNamara's fans were crediting the late sleuth's years of dogged work with helping solve the crime and were disappointed when police didn't give her credit at a news conference announcing the arrest.

Asked specifically about whether McNamara's book helped solve the case, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said his office had gotten that question "from literally all over the world in the last 24 hours."

"And the answer is no," he said. "It kept interest in tips coming in. Other than that there was no information extracted from that book that directly led to the apprehension."

On Instagram, Oswalt said: "Even though the cops are never going to say it, your book helped get this thing closed."

McNamara "didn't care about getting any shine on herself," Oswalt wrote on Twitter, comparing her to Frances McDormand's unassuming Detective Marge Gunderson in the 1996 film "Fargo."

"She kept coming at him," Oswalt said.

DeAngelo's name hadn't been on McNamara's radar screen, said Billy Jensen, an investigative journalist who helped write the book.

But McNamara's idea for the "Golden State Killer" name, her coverage of the case in "Los Angeles Magazine" and a blog , the shocking news of her death, and the book all shined a spotlight on the decades-old crimes, he said.

"Just the fact that they said the book didn't help but then said 'We've got the Golden State Killer,' it's a bit contradictory," Jensen said.

Two hours before news broke of the arrest, Oswalt and all of McNamara's collaborators were together for the first time promoting the book with her family at an event outside her hometown of Chicago. It was also the first day of filming of an HBO documentary series based on the book.

"I'm a rational man, but I can't help but feel this transcends coincidence," collaborator Paul Haynes wrote on Twitter.

Oswalt said he ended the event with a thought about the killer: "He's running out of time."

McNamara wrote in her book that she became interested in cold cases as a 14-year-old girl when a neighbor's murder went unsolved. She also wrote about why and how the Golden State Killer case became her obsession later in life.

"The hook for me was that the case seemed solvable," she wrote. "Curiosity turned to clawing hunger. I was on the hunt."

When DeAngelo was arrested, Sheriff Jones said officers simply waited for him to walk outside his house.

"He was very surprised by that," Jones said. "It looked as though he might have been searching his mind to execute a particular plan he may have had in mind ... but he was not given the opportunity. It happened almost instantly and he was taken into custody without incident at all."

Oswalt and McNamara's fans couldn't help but notice the parallels with DeAngelo's arrest and how her book ends, with a message directly to the Golden State Killer.

"The doorbell rings," she wrote. "This is how it ends for you. 'You'll be silent forever and I'll be gone in the dark,' you threatened a victim once. Open the door. Show us your face. Walk into the light."

___

Follow Amanda Lee Myers on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaLeeAP

Sides agree to drop rape lawsuit against Russell Simmons

A lawsuit from a Los Angeles woman who alleged music mogul Russell Simmons raped her at his home in 2016 is being dropped, according to a federal court filing Wednesday.

The two sides have agreed that the suit, filed in January, should be dismissed, with each side bearing its own attorneys' fees. It gave no other details on whether a settlement was reached.

Jennifer Jarosik alleged Simmons raped her after trying to have sex with her when she visited his Los Angeles home in August 2016 for a meeting about a documentary she was making. She had sought at least $5 million in damages.

When the suit was filed Simmons called the allegation "absolutely untrue" and said he looked forward to the truth coming out in court.

He said in a legal response to the lawsuit earlier this month that Jarosik was an acquaintance with whom he'd had consensual sex, and said that he'd received a steady stream of friendly communications from her, including text messages and unsolicited nude photos, since the night of the alleged incident.

Simmons, 60, was a major player in the rise of hip-hop, co-founding Def Jam Recordings and helping make stars of hip-hop artists such as LL Cool J, Slick Rick, The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy. He later expanded his business into films, television and stand-up comedy.

He was one of the first figures in music to be called out in the cascade of sexual misconduct allegations that began with Harvey Weinstein in October.

Five other women have come forward publicly and said Simmons raped them in the 1980s or 1990s, including three who made the allegations in a New York Times story in December.

Simmons has denied all the allegations, saying in January that they range "from the patently untrue to the frivolous and hurtful."

___

Follow Andrew Dalton on Twitter at https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton .

DeLorean widow sues for 'Back to the Future' payments

The widow of maverick automaker John DeLorean has alleged in a lawsuit that a Texas company illegally received money from the "Back to the Future" movies that used his iconic car.

The sleek, angular car with gull-wing doors known simply as "the DeLorean," was featured in the 1985 movie starring Michael J. Fox and a 1989 sequel, about a kid who travels back in time to engineer his parents' meeting.

The lawsuit filed this week in federal court in Newark includes a contract with Universal from 1989 that gave DeLorean 5 percent of net receipts for any merchandising that featured the car and logo "as a key component."

According to the suit, the Texas company, called DeLorean Motor Company, represented to Universal that it had the right to the money and has already received "a substantial payment" from Universal.

The Texas company isn't affiliated with the one DeLorean started.

Sally DeLorean, who lives in New Jersey, settled a lawsuit in 2015 allowing the company to use the DeLorean name and trademarks. That agreement didn't transfer contractual rights to the company, the current lawsuit contends.

Attorneys didn't return messages on Wednesday.

John Z. DeLorean was an automotive innovator who began his career at General Motors Co. and is credited by some with creating America's first "muscle" car, the Pontiac GTO, in the mid-1960s. He left GM in the early 1970s to launch his own company that eventually produced the DMC 12.

Only about 9,000 of the cars were produced before the company went bankrupt in the early 1980s, but the car's look and cult following helped land it a role in the "Back to the Future" series. The car was chosen because it would plausibly look like a spacecraft to people in the 1950s flashback scenes, according to the Internet Movie Database.

DeLorean died in 2005, after years of court battles that included a highly publicized drug trial in the early 1980s in which he was acquitted of conspiring to sell $24 million of cocaine.

His former estate in the rolling hills about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of New York was converted into a golf course by then-developer Donald Trump in 2004.

'BlacKkKlansman' star hopes Lee film starts a conversation

Denzel Washington's son John David Washington has technically worked with Spike Lee before. When he was 7-years-old he had a bit part in "Malcolm X," which his dad starred in.

The younger Washington is now getting his own chance to star in a Spike Lee joint in "BlacKkKlansman," which CinemaCon attendees got a sneak peek of Wednesday afternoon at the Focus Features luncheon.

The film is based on a true story of a black police officer in Colorado who infiltrated the Klu Klux Klan. Washington said he hopes it will start a conversation about how people think in this country.

"Get Out" director Jordan Peele produced "BlacKkKlansman," which is in competition at the Cannes Film Festival and will be released in theaters on Aug. 10.

Musicians to raise funds for Waffle House shooting victims

Nashville's musical community is raising money to benefit the victims of a shooting at a Tennessee Waffle House with a special T-shirt honoring the man who stopped the gunman.

James Shaw Jr., lauded as a hero during the shooting that left four dead and more injured early Sunday, met with country singer Brantley Gilbert and indie rocker Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional on Wednesday at a Nashville rehearsal hall.

At their upcoming concerts in May, the musicians will sell a T-shirt that features the words "I Believe In Heroism," along with an image of Shaw's injured hand that was burned when he grabbed the gun away from suspect Travis Reinking. Proceeds from the sales will benefit the victims, as well as Shaw.

"I know he says he's not a hero and he was just trying to protect himself, but anytime you stand up in a situation like that, my belief is you've got hero in you," Gilbert said.

Shaw, who has also been honored by state lawmakers, said he thinks the term hero signifies someone whose actions are fictional.

"When you think of a hero, you think of Batman or Superman, or something like Wonder Woman, somebody like that," Shaw said. "And they are fictional characters. But if I say a regular guy took a gun from someone, I hope you can find that saving fire within yourself and you can possibly emulate that. And anybody can be a hero."

Gilbert, who has written songs like "Dirt Road Anthem," a hit single for Jason Aldean, and "Bottoms Up," said he wanted to use his platform to help the Nashville community. Most of all, Gilbert said he just wanted to thank Shaw.

"Thank him for being a hero because he inspires people," Gilbert said. "Anytime you stand up to a situation like that it inspires me, inspires everybody I think."

____

Online:

https://ibelieveinnashville.com/

Hypnobirthing delivery technique reportedly used by Kate Middleton but what is it?

Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, formerly known as Kate Middleton, gave birth to a baby boy on Monday.

>> Read more trending news 

This is the third child for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who welcomed their new son into the world in the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital in London.

According to reports, Middleton endured a five-hour labor without pain relief as a part of a delivery method called hypnobirthing. This isn’t the first time she’s tried it. Middleton has used the practice for all three of her babies. 

What is hypnobirthing?

It’s a type of therapy that helps parents seek a natural birthing experience with more patient control and less pain, according to Hypnobirthing.com. It involves special breathing, relaxation, visualization, meditative practice and attention to nutrition and body. The method can be practiced at home, in a hospital or birth center.

>> Related: Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, gives birth to baby boy

How exactly does it work?

Hypnobirthing is an effort at removing the anxiety associated with the birthing experience. Experts believe fear activates stress hormones that cause slow digestion and an increased heart rate. Blood is also forced to the arms and legs, which depletes blood to the uterus. This is what contributes to uterine pain. 

>> Related: What will Kate and Wills name new royal baby?

Parents can take hypnobirthing classes to learn specific breathing and visualization techniques, according to WebMD. For example, many courses teach mothers to self-hypnotize with their open eyes. Instructors may also encourage expectant moms to envision an easy birth and recite affirmations, such as “I relax and my baby relaxes.” Phrases that reference the difficulty of childbirth are rejected. Instead of using the words “pain” or “contraction,” patients are encouraged to say “sensation” or “surge” instead. 

Do you still feel pain?

A 2006 review of five previous studies found that women who chose hypnobirthing were almost half as likely to use painkillers and about one-third less likely to use an epidural during labor.

Who else has used this practice?

Celebrities, including Angelina Jolie and Jessica Alba, have also reportedly tried hypnobirthing. During an appearance on Ellen, Alba said “it’s not a weird thing.” 

>> Related: 4 fast facts about Kate Middleton

“It's not like the clock in front of your face and you go out and you wake up and you got a baby,” she joked. “My husband takes me through sort of a meditation. He'll say, 'you're relaxed, and you're floating on clouds while you're going through labor and your contractions. I'm just concentrating on breathing and staying relaxed...when you get tense that makes the whole labor worse and more painful.”

MSNBC's Reid says homophobic posts were result of hack

MSNBC's Joy Reid insists that homophobic language in one of her old blog posts is the work of a computer hacker and her security expert said Wednesday they have a strong suspicion of who did it, although he would not name the suspect.

The bizarre tale involving the news network's rising star is a technical who-dun-it that not everyone believes, given that Reid had admitted in December to similar anti-gay language in the same forum and had apologized for it. A gay rights organization has subsequently backed away from its plans to give an award to Reid, host of the "AM Joy" weekend shows on the cable news network.

MSNBC says the case has been referred to law enforcement officials and the network is awaiting their determination.

The posts that came to light in December were written for "The Reid Report," her blog when she was covering Florida politics a decade ago. In posts, she refers to then-Florida Gov. Charlie Crist as "Miss Charlie" and suggested he was "ogling the male waiters" on his honeymoon after marrying his wife, whom he has since divorced. She questioned whether the marriage was a sham by a gay man who thought it would help him politically.

Reid apologized, saying her remarks were "insensitive, tone deaf and dumb."

This week, Mediaite revealed a set of other supposed blog posts, pictures of which were sent via the Twitter account @Jamie_Maz. In one of these posts, Reid supposedly notes that "most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing" and that she couldn't see the movie "Brokeback Mountain" because she didn't want to watch two male characters having sex. Another post says that a lot of heterosexuals find the idea of homosexual sex to be gross and that there are concerns that gay men tend to be attracted to young, post-pubescent types and want to bring them "into the lifestyle."

Reid said that these posts were "fabricated and run counter to my personal beliefs and ideology."

She said she hired a security expert who found evidence that she had been a hacking victim. The expert, Jonathan Nichols, said Wednesday that time stamps indicated the posts were written at a time Reid was on the radio and would not have had time to write them. He said they are inconsistent with the way that she wrote and triggered no reaction from the blog's comments section, which he believes would have surely happened if they had been legitimate posts.

Meanwhile, the company Internet Archives, whose Wayback Machine collects copies of Internet postings, said that after being contacted by Reid's lawyers, it had investigated and found no evidence that any of its versions of Reid's original posts had been altered. Nichols said that this doesn't contradict Reid's story, since they believe it was the original blog posts — not the Wayback Machine versions — that were hacked.

The Wayback Machine had found evidence that the posts with the homophobic language had been erased due to an automated process that can be installed to wipe out the specific archives. Nichols said the posts — potentially very embarrassing for a personality for a network with commentary that leans left — had been erased at Reid's behest.

Nichols said that Reid's blog posts were altered in an attempt to smear and embarrass her.

"I hope that whoever corrupted the site recognizes the pain that they have caused, not just to me, but to my family and communities that I care deeply about," Reid said.

Nichols said he has collected "a preponderance of evidence" to indicate that someone with a grudge against Reid planted the material to embarrass her. But he said he would not identify the person because his research isn't done. "I'm not going to throw someone under the bus unless I'm certain," he said.

Reid's story has its skeptics. A New York magazine web site headline on Wednesday said that Reid's "'I was hacked' story doesn't add up."

PFLAG National, an organization for LGBT people and their families, said it had planned to honor Reid despite knowing about the blog posts involving Crist.

"We appreciated how she stepped up, took ownership, apologized for them, and did better — this is the approach we ask of any ally," said Jean Hodges, PFLAG National's president. "However, in light of new information, and the ongoing investigation of that information, we must at this time rescind our award to Ms. Reid."

Blake Shelton tweets dig at ex Miranda Lambert amid reports she’s dating Evan Felker

Miranda Lambert is reportedly dating folk musician Evan Felker, and fans of her ex-husband Blake Shelton seem to think that one of Shelton’s tweets is about her.

According to Us Weekly, Shelton has called out Lambert in a subtweet posted Wednesday. Us Weekly reported on Tuesday that Lambert, was dating Felker, of the neo-folk group Turnpike Troubadours. 

>> Read more trending news 

“Been taking the high road for a long time.. I almost gave up. But I can finally see something on the horizon up there!! Wait!! Could it be?! Yep!! It’s karma!!” Shelton, 41, tweeted.

According to Us Weekly, an unnamed source confirmed that Shelton is referring to Lambert in the tweet.

Lambert was previously with musician Anderson East for two years. Us Weekly reported that the timing of her relationship with Felker is unclear, but a source told them that the two began dating while Lambert was still with East. The outlet also reported that Felker has been married to Staci Nelson since September 2016, but she filed for divorce in February. The filing was a month after Felker’s band started opening for Lambert on her Livin’ Like Hippies tour.

According to some fan replies below Shelton’s tweet, the dig comes from speculation that Shelton and Lambert divorced in 2015 after four years of marriage because of Shelton’s infidelity. In actuality, reports at the time speculated infidelity on both sides. 

In a 2011 “Behind the Music” episode on Lambert, Shelton spoke about falling for Lambert in 2005 when he was still married to his ex-wife Kaynette Williams. The two sang “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma” at CMT’s 100 Greatest Duets Concert.

“I was a married guy, you know, standing up there going, ‘Man, this shouldn’t be happening.’ Looking back on that, I was falling in love with her right there onstage,” Shelton said.

“It was just like this draw to each other,” Lambert said on the episode. “It was just sort of this inevitable chemistry.”

Shelton is currently dating his fellow “The Voice” coach, singer Gwen Stefani. 

Oh, Yeezus: Trump and Kanye West trade Twitter love

Trump-West 2020?

In a moment that seemed to encapsulate 2018's social media-driven blurring of celebrity and politics, President Donald Trump tweeted his thanks to rap superstar Kanye West on Wednesday for his recent and perhaps unexpected online support.

"Thank you Kanye, very cool!" the president posted in response to the tweets from West, who called the president "my brother."

West, the enigmatic hip hop provocateur, posted a series of tweets in support of the president, whom he visited at Trump Tower in December 2016 during the presidential transition.

"You don't have to agree with trump but the mob can't make me not love him. We are both dragon energy," West wrote Wednesday. "He is my brother. I love everyone. I don't agree with everything anyone does. That's what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought."

Later, West posted a photo of himself wearing one of Trump's signature red campaign "Make America Great Again" hats and showcased that the president had signed it. "MAGA!" Trump responded in another tweet, using the acronym for his slogan.

West noted that his wife, reality star Kim Kardashian West, wanted him to clarify that he was not in lockstep with all the Republican president's positions.

"My wife just called me and she wanted me to make this clear to everyone," West wrote. "I don't agree with everything Trump does. I don't agree 100% with anyone but myself."

West lent an air of celebrity to Trump, who has not been nearly as popular among movie and music stars as his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama. He complained about struggling to lure big-name talent to his Inauguration and made a point of calling Roseanne Barr, a rare Trump supporter in Hollywood, for the recent success of her sitcom.

Trump has also consistently been supported by a small percentage of black voters.

West has recorded several best-selling albums and produced a buzzy fashion line and has the undeniable talent for attracting attention. He's also been linked to several previous presidents, including when Obama called him "a jackass" in 2009 for storming the stage at an MTV awards show to interrupt Taylor Swift. And in 2005, during a telethon to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, West criticized the White House's response to the storm by famously charging that "George W. Bush doesn't care about black people."

There was quick backlash to West on Twitter on Wednesday.

"Kanye doesn't care about black people," tweeted comedian Akilah Hughes.

But others were quick to embrace West.

Eric Trump, one of the president's sons, tweeted three American flags next to West's declaration of dragon energy. His brother Donald Trump Jr. appropriated Hillary Clinton's slogan, "#ImWithHer," when he retweeted a Kardashian West post in which she denounced the media for calling the rap superstar erratic. And InfoWars host Alex Jones, a conspiracy theory promoter, invited West onto his show.

West has toyed with running for president himself and on Wednesday tweeted a poster of his face emblazoned with the slogan "Keep America Great" and "#Kanye2024."

Coincidentally or not, West also tweeted earlier this week that he has a new album coming out this summer.

___

Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire

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