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Palestinian festival drops film over director's Israel trips

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — A Palestinian film festival on Sunday canceled the screening of a movie by a Lebanese-French director following pressure by activists who opposed his previous work in Israel.

"The Insult," the latest movie by director Ziad Doueiri, was set to close the Palestinian Days of Cinema festival on Monday and was competing for the festival's top award.

But after a charged campaign by activists on social media, the city of Ramallah, which was hosting the screening, told the festival to scrap the showing, according to Khulood Badawi, a spokeswoman for the festival, which agreed to the cancellation. It was not clear if the film was still eligible for an award.

Doueiri's previous film, "The Attack," about a Palestinian surgeon living in Tel Aviv who discovers that his wife carried out a deadly suicide attack, was filmed in Israel and featured several Israeli actors. That film was banned in Lebanon and most Arab countries. Last month, Lebanese authorities briefly detained the Paris-based Doueiri because of his visits to Israel.

"The director showed no remorse, and insisted on his stand, and we think screening any of his work at a Palestinian cinema festival would be a big mistake" said Abed Hamayel, an activist who campaigned against the film's screening.

A segment of Palestinians has long called for Arab political, economic and cultural leaders to boycott Israel as a way to prevent normalizing ties with the Jewish state. An international movement of activists also calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against people or companies doing business with Israel.

Doueiri could not be reached for comment, but Kamel Elbasha, a Palestinian actor who stars in the film, criticized the decision.

"Ziad was punished for that movie which was banned in all Arab countries," he said, adding that the activists were "mixing things up, lying and distorting facts," and questioning their motives. Elbasha won the best actor award for his role in the film at the Venice Film Festival in September.

Film Lab Palestine, the group behind the Palestinian festival, noted that "The Insult," was being screened in Lebanon and in other festivals in the Middle East. The film, which focuses on a tense exchange between a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian refugee, explores the fraught place of Palestinians in Lebanese society.

"'The Insult' was selected for this year's edition of the festival since it addresses an important issue for the Palestinian people," said a statement from the group. It also said the film was selected because it stars Elbasha, who hails from east Jerusalem.

'Madea Halloween' sequel takes No. 1, 'Geostorm' flops

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tyler Perry's "Boo 2! A Madea Halloween" has scared up a healthy audience in its first weekend in theaters. Studio estimates on Sunday say the comedy sequel earned $21.7 million from 2,388 theaters to easily take first place.

In second place is the long-delayed disaster epic "Geostorm," which opened to a dismal $13.3 million against a reported $120 million production budget. Gerard Butler stars in the film from first-time director Dean Devlin, who produced "Independence Day."

Holdovers took third and fourth places, with "Happy Death Day" bringing in $9.4 million and "Blade Runner 2049" adding $7.2 million.

The fact-based firefighter drama "Only the Brave" opened in fifth place with $6 million from 2,577 screens, while the poorly reviewed adaptation of "The Snowman" tanked in eighth with $3.4 million.

Weather service: Oklahoma hit with as many as 4 tornadoes

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — State emergency managers and the National Weather Service were surveying damage Sunday from severe storms that spawned as many as four tornadoes in southwestern Oklahoma.

The overnight storms tore part of the roof off of a casino and toppled power lines and trees. Other businesses, including a hotel, also were damaged along with cars and trucks, said Keli Cain, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

No injuries were reported.

National Weather Service meteorologist John Pike said officials were in Tillman, Comanche, McClain and Seminole counties, where the tornadoes and damage were reported. Forecasters had issued eight tornado warnings as the storms developed Saturday evening ahead of a cold front.

Pike said the worst of the damage appeared to be at the Riverwind Casino in Norman, where a possible twister ripped part of its roof off during a Beach Boys concert that Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin attended.

Fallin said in an interview with KWTV on Saturday that there was "this huge flood of rain coming through the roof." She said she had to be evacuated from the casino twice.

Most of the storms hit rural or remote areas, so widespread damage was minimal, Pike said.

"Anytime we walk away like that, you can say we dodged a bullet," he said.

He said the weather is expected to change again heading into the coming weekend, when the state could see its coldest temperatures yet this year and parts of southwestern and western Oklahoma might possibly get their first freeze.

Watch Bob Dylan Perform 'Learning to Fly' in Tribute to Tom Petty

The cover was particularly notable because Bob Dylan's set lists are traditionally set in stone.

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Mariah Carey’s ex-fiance James Packer calls relationship a ‘mistake’

A year after calling off their engagement, James Packer is talking about his breakup with Mariah Carey for the first time.

>> Read more trending news

“I was at a low point in my personal life,” Packer said about his time with Carey.

“She was kind, exciting and fun. Mariah is a woman of substance. But, it was a mistake for her and a mistake for me.”

The couple first got together in 2015 and had plans to get married. Nine months after getting engaged, however, they called everything off in October 2016 while they were vacationing in Greece.

Carey, who was reportedly “blindsided” by the breakup, famously went on to burn her wedding gown in her “I Don’t” music video by tossing it into a fire.

>> Related: Mariah Carey is asking for much more than cash in her settlement with ex-fiancé James Packer

Mariah was totally blindsided by James. She read the news in Woman’s Day Australia that said he dumped her,” a source told Us Weekly. “Mariah knew they were having problems, but all relationships have issues — it wasn’t the kind of thing where she thought she’d read in the paper that she got dumped. She was devastated; she was shocked.”

A representative for the singer later confirmed the news in a statement that read, “Mariah and James had a fight in Greece, and have not seen each other since. The fight was not because of any cheating allegations or excessive spending by Mariah. James is one of the most successful businessmen in the world. They are trying to work it out. Right now, they’re not sure if they will stay together.”

>> Related: Mariah Carey slams ex-fiancé James Packer and now there are threats of lawsuits

Jim Carrey accuses dead ex-girlfriend of elaborate extortion scheme 

As the wrongful death lawsuit against him plows forward at full steam, Jim Carrey is claiming his late ex-girlfriend, Cathriona White, contracted the STDs that made her suicidal before meeting him, not after as her family alleges.

>> Read more trending news

White’s mother and estranged husband contend that White started experiencing suicidal thoughts after the actor gave her Herpes I, Herpes II and gonorrhea. However, documents filed in court by Carrey accuse White of an elaborate plot to extort him for millions “through smears and threats of public degradation via false allegations” and by faking her medical records. White allegedly told Carrey that she would lie and tell people that he gave her the diseases.

“When the threats were met with silence, White asked and obtained a copy of her friend’s Planned Parenthood records,” the motion says. “White’s intent in obtaining these records was clear — she cooked the records, creating forgeries with altered information, phony tests, and fictitious dates. A ruse, needed to support her lie, in July 2013, White and her attorney Marchino used the counterfeit records to extort money from Carrey.”

Carrey’s team points to text messages between White and a friend, which allegedly pertained to the scheme.

“This motion seeks an admission of the truth; namely that White had multiple STDs before meeting Carrey or nonforged copies of December 28, 2011 records of White, records that do not and have never actually existed,” the motion continues. 

>> Related: After months of delays, Jim Carrey finally has to answer questions about his ex’s suicide

“Recognizing that Carrey was conned before, White’s green-card husband, Mark Burton, and her estranged and emotionally abusive mother, Brigid Sweetman, decided to get a second bite at the apple by filing a lawsuit claiming Mr. Carrey caused White’s death, exploiting the judicial system with fraudulent ‘evidence’ in a continued effort to extort Carrey.”

>> Related: Jim Carrey’s ex made serious accusations against him in a note years before her suicide

Scorpions Adding New Songs to Upcoming Ballads Compilation

‘Born to Touch Your Feelings’ features softer tracks from German icons’ 18-album catalog

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No joke: TV host Letterman honored with Mark Twain Prize

WASHINGTON (AP) — No joke: David Letterman yukked it up on late-night TV longer than anyone else. Now his career of comedy has earned him a prestigious award and a celebrity roasting.

Letterman was to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor during a star-studded celebration Sunday night at Washington's Kennedy Center.

Expected to attend were previous recipients Steve Martin and Bill Murray, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, musician Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam and Al Franken, the comedian-turned-senator.

The 70-year-old Letterman spent 33 years on late-night TV, hosting long-running shows on NBC and then on CBS. His final broadcast on May 20, 2015, was episode No. 6028 that Letterman hosted. It shattered the record of his mentor, Johnny Carson.

Letterman's run on NBC in particular was hugely influential, introducing a sardonic, irony-drenched comedic style that influenced a generation.

His time slot immediately following Carson's "The Tonight Show" allowed Letterman to draw a huge following of young, largely college-age viewers seeking an alternative to the somewhat staid Carson model.

Letterman introduced the country to fringe musical acts that might never have received an opportunity on "The Tonight Show."

His humor was undeniably intelligent, but also at times surrealistic and silly. He pioneered segments called Stupid Pet Tricks and Stupid Human Tricks. He tossed watermelons and other objects off a five-story building; at one point, he wore a suit made of Velcro and jumped onto a Velcro-covered wall, sticking in place. He turned bizarre characters like Larry "Bud" Melman into cult celebrities.

Letterman started his career as a radio talk show host and TV weatherman in Indiana. In the mid-1970s he moved to Los Angeles, performing stand-up comedy and writing jokes for (at the time more famous) stand-up comic Jimmy Walker of "Good Times" fame. Eventually he caught the eye of "The Tonight Show" and Carson, performing several times on the show and becoming a regular guest host starting in 1978.

NBC gave Letterman his own show following Carson; "Late Night with David Letterman" debuted on Feb. 1, 1982. Letterman's first guest that night? Murray, the Twain award recipient in 2016.

Letter penned a day before Titanic sank sold at UK auction

LONDON (AP) — A letter written by one of the Titanic's passengers a day before the ocean liner sank has sold for 126,000 pounds ($166,000) at an auction in England.

The handwritten note, on embossed Titanic stationery, was penned by first-class passenger Alexander Oskar Holverson on April 13, 1912 — the day before the ship hit an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic, killing more than 1,500 onboard.

Holverson, a salesman, was on the Titanic with his wife, Mary. He had intended to post it to his mother when they arrived in New York.

Auction house Henry Aldridge & Son, which specializes in Titanic memorabilia, said Saturday the letter was "the most important Titanic letter we have ever auctioned" because of its content, historical context and rarity.

In the letter, addressed to "My dear Mother" and stained with saltwater marks, Holverson described the Titanic as "a giant in size and fitted up like a palatial hotel." He added: "The food and drink is excellent."

In a poignant line, he also wrote: "If all goes well we will arrive in New York Wednesday AM."

The letter, one of the last known to have been written on board by the disaster's victims, was found in Holverson's pocket notebook when his body was recovered. It was later sent to his family.

His wife survived the disaster, Aldridge said.

___

This version corrects the third paragraph to clarify Holverson was planning to send the letter when he arrived in New York, not that his mother was living in New York.

A-ha's stripped down version of ‘Take On Me’ is hauntingly beautiful

“Take On Me” by A-ha is one of the 1980s’ most remembered songs, not only for its fast-paced beat but also because of that iconic video, which featured a pencil-sketch animation theme (called rotoscoping) and live action featuring lead singer Morten Harket and his then-girlfriend, actress Bunty Bailey.

>> Read more trending news

It reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts in October 1985 and won six awards at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards.

But take away the fast tempo and the synthesizers and that catchy riff and what do you get? A stripped-down, acoustic version of the hit that the Norwegian-based group played earlier this month on an “MTV Unplugged” show at Giske Harbour Hall in Norway.

On “MTV Unplugged,” the song is slow and performed in a style vaguely reminiscent of the 1960s rock ’n’ roll band Vanilla Fudge, which took fast-paced songs and sang them at an excruciatingly slow tempo. The Ah-ha acoustic version is less psychedelic and is sung quietly -- almost reverently.

Many purists will prefer the version that bubbled through the radio and television during the 1980s, but the new arrangement is certainly haunting.

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