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Country stars from Vegas festival to perform Grammy tribute

Three performers at last year's Route 91 Harvest Festival where a gunman opened fire on fans will perform a tribute at this year's Grammy Awards to honor victims killed at live music events this past year.

Eric Church, Maren Morris and Brothers Osborne, who performed at the three-day country festival prior to the mass shooting last October, will collaborate on a special performance at the 60th annual Grammy Awards, airing live on CBS from New York on Jan. 28.

The shooting in Las Vegas was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. modern history. It came in a year when 22 people were killed in a bombing outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, in May.

Church headlined the first night of the festival, which was the last night of his tour. A gunman perched in a window of a hotel-casino overlooking the outdoor festival opened fire on the crowd during the final night of the festival as Jason Aldean was performing, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more.

"In all honesty, there's not a day that goes by since that day that I have not thought of it and thought of the people and the victims," Church told The Associated Press. "That being our last show of the year, I took it in differently than I have maybe taken in other shows. I savored it. I remember everything about it."

Church, who wrote a song called "Why Not Me" immediately after the shooting, said he knew some of the victims because they were members of his tightknit fan club and said he appreciates that the Grammy producers wanted to reserve time in the show to remember those music fans who had been lost.

"Mass shootings, they happen every year, unfortunately," Church said. "But this year was a little bit unique in that you had two happen at music events and one of those was the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. It's been a tragic year."

Ken Ehrlich, executive producer of the Grammys, said the country artists will perform a classic Grammy-winning song, which hasn't been announced. "We considered a number of songs. We wanted something that is universal. We wanted something that spoke to the subject, which certainly this song does," he said. "When you listen to the lyric, this one certainly stood out."

Morris, a nominee for best country solo performance, performed the night before the shooting. She said she's heard directly from fans that the attacks have left them scared to go to shows, and said that it has affected artists as well.

"As an artist and a performer, I don't want to be afraid to walk out on a stage each night," Morris said. "I know that we've all been reckoning with that for the last several months."

Morris said it felt right to have performers from that festival lead the tribute. "It reinforces even more the strength of music and the community that we all share together, artists and fans alike."

Church said the attacks shattered the sense of safety and comfort that music can sometimes bring. He said that's been the hardest thing for him as an artist to deal with, but added that those attacks can't stop musicians or their fans.

"You don't let it kill the music and you don't let it destroy the moment," Church said.

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Online:

www.grammy.com

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Follow Kristin M. Hall at twitter.com/kmhall

John Mellencamp Buys $2.3 Million 'Live-Work Space' in Manhattan

It isn't a pink house and it certainly isn't in a small town, but John Mellencamp has added to his real estate portfolio by spending $2.3 million on a "stylishly renovated" space in Manhattan.

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UK media: Police probe 3rd Spacey sex assault allegation

Britain's media say police in London are investigating a third allegation of sexual assault against two-time Academy Award winning actor Kevin Spacey.

The Metropolitan Police force said Thursday it had received an allegation "that the man sexually assaulted a man (Victim 3) in 2005 in Westminster."

The force didn't identify Spacey as the alleged perpetrator, as authorities in Britain don't name suspects until they are charged. But it said the same man was accused of an assault in 2005 and one in 2008, both in the south London borough of Lambeth. The suspect in those cases has been widely named in British media as Spacey.

The 58-year old Spacey was artistic director of London's Old Vic Theatre, located in Lambeth, between 2004 and 2015.

USA Gymnastics says it will not fine McKayla Maroney if she speaks out against team doctor

USA Gymnastics said Tuesday evening it will not fine gymnast McKayla Maroney if she speaks publicly about the alleged abuse by former team doctor Larry Nassar.

Maroney, who signed a nondisclosure agreement for $1.25 million with USA Gymnastics in in December 2016 in exchange for her silence, is currently suing USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University with the claim that the nondisclosure agreement she signed after claiming Nassar molested her was illegal. 

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Chrissy Teigen offers to pay McKayla Maroney's possible $100K fine to speak out about team doctor

USA Gymnastics said in a statement it has not and will not seek retribution if Maroney speaks about alleged abuse by Nassar during his four-day sentencing.

As of Wednesday morning, Maroney was not expected to speak at Nassar’s sentencing.

"USA Gymnastics has not sought and will not seek any money from McKayla Maroney for her brave statements made in describing her victimization and abuse by Larry Nassar, nor for any victim impact statements she wants to make to Larry Nassar at this hearing or at any subsequent hearings related to his sentencing,” the statement to USA TODAY read. “This has been her right and USA Gymnastics encourages McKayla and anyone who has been abused to speak out. USA Gymnastics remains focused on our highest priority — the safety, health and well-being of our athletes and creating a culture that empowers and supports them."

In response to reports Tuesday that USA Gymnastics could fine Maroney up to $100,000 if she spoke out against Nassar at his sentencing like nearly 100 other alleged victims, model Chrissy Teigen offered to pay the fine.

>> Read more trending news 

“The entire principle of this should be fought – an NDA to stay quiet about this serial monster with over 140 accusers, but I would be absolutely honored to pay this fine for you, McKayla,” Teigen wrote.

After Nassar pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct in November, his sentencing on seven sexual assault charges began Tuesday. 

The former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor is currently serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison on child pornography charges.

Listen to Dizzy Reed's New Single 'This Don't Look Like Vegas'

Guns N' Roses keyboardist Dizzy Reed is readying the release of his upcoming solo album 'Rock 'N Roll Ain't Easy' with the arrival of the set's first single.

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45 Years Ago: Rolling Stones Stage Benefit Concert for Nicaragua Earthquake Victims

The Rolling Stones lifted their unofficial ban on doing benefit concerts on Jan. 18, 1973, when they performed to aid the earthquake victims of Nicaragua.

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Ann Wilson Reflects on Sex-Abuse Message of Heart's 'Barracuda'

Ann Wilson reflected on the continued need to deliver the message of Heart's 1977 song “Barracuda” while discussing current Hollywood sexual misconduct scandals.

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Former Ozzy, AC/DC and Dio Members Form New Band Dream Child

Former Dio guitarist Craig Goldy has unveiled a new supergroup called Dream Child.

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Iggy Pop and Josh Homme's 'American Valhalla' Coming to DVD

'American Valhalla,' a documentary that follows the making of Iggy Pop's 2016 'Post Pop Depression' album with Josh Homme, will be released on home video.

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Is it news? Ansari story triggers media ethics debate

What makes a private sexual encounter newsworthy? A little-known website raised that very question after publishing an unidentified woman's vivid account of comedian Aziz Ansari's sexual advances while the two were on a date.

The story on Babe.net threw a wrench into the #MeToo movement, with some feminist writers dismissing the incident as a bad date that should have remained private. Others welcomed the piece for spurring a debate over deeper cultural attitudes that normalize aggressive behavior toward women.

Media ethics experts say it's not easy to determine what constitutes a legitimate story of sexual misconduct in the midst of a social movement that has emboldened people to speak out on subjects once considered taboo.

"What takes this out of the realm of a really bad date and into the realm of something that is publicly significant?" asked Ed Wasserman, dean of the journalism school at the University of California, Berkeley. "It's a little borderline."

  The story, which appeared Saturday, offers a detailed 3,000-word account of a night out between Ansari and a 23-year-old Brooklyn photographer that ended at the comedian's home. The woman told the site that the actor repeatedly initiated sexual activity despite what she later called "clear non-verbal cues" indicating her discomfort and lack of interest. She also reportedly told Ansari that she didn't want to "feel forced" in the encounter.

The woman told Babe.net that she eventually decided the incident was a sexual assault and said she was angered when she saw Ansari wearing a "Time's Up" pin at the Golden Globe Awards. The pin referred to a movement against sexual misconduct in Hollywood.

The website published screenshots of what it said were text messages between the two the next day. The woman told Ansari the encounter had made her uncomfortable; he texted back with an apology. The story was initially published with no comment from Ansari because, the website said, his representatives did not get back to them by its deadline.

Many major news organizations reacted cautiously. The Associated Press and other media outlets did not report on the story until Ansari issued a public statement addressing the claim the next day. The actor, who stars on the Netflix hit "Master of None," acknowledged that he apologized to a woman last year when she told him about her discomfort during a sexual encounter in his apartment that he believed to be consensual.

Feminist writers, other actors and media commentators were left to debate the public value of an anonymous tale about a confusing encounter at a time when more women are speaking publicly about sexual assault.

Some prominent women, including Whoopi Goldberg and Ashleigh Banfield, a host on the CNN spinoff HLN, concluded that the story didn't describe sexual misconduct of any kind and lacked newsworthiness. The feminist writer Jill Filipovic, in a column for The Guardian , said the piece touched on the need for more stories about "how pervasive power imbalances benefit men and make sex worse for women." But she said Babe.net squandered that opportunity by failing to "tell this particular story with the care it called for" and muddying the line between sexual assault and misogynistic behavior.  

The story's reporter and editors at Babe.net, which is less than two years old and says it has 3 million readers, have publicly defended their news judgment. "We stand by our story," said site editor Amanda Ross. Babe.net is published by Tab Media, a company that has received funding from Rupert Murdoch.

Helen Benedict, a Columbia journalism professor, said the story's one-sided, anonymous account was difficult to judge. But that, she said, encapsulates the tension between the public's need to know and the obligation of the media to protect sources, particularly people who say they are victims of sexual assault and request anonymity.

Benedict said the story didn't sufficiently press the woman on her motivations and took a flippant approach as to whether the incident constituted sexual assault. "I don't feel that the reporters asked enough about what the goal was," she said. "What does she want?"

Ryan Thomas, an assistant professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, said the piece lacked the rigor of other stories that used multiple sources to establish a clear pattern of abuse by prominent men like Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K.

"Most of the journalism has been very methodical in identifying a catalog of incidents to build a picture of a pattern of behavior," Thomas said. By contrast, he said, the Babe.net story "focuses on a single case against a named individual by an anonymous individual," thus raising questions about its newsworthiness and the care with which it was reported.

Few have called into question the veracity of the report, particularly because Ansari himself did not dispute it.

Wasserman, the Berkeley professor, said he finds it difficult to criticize the piece for crossing any lines of journalistic integrity. After wrestling with the question of whether the article addressed an issue of legitimate public concern, he said, he "reluctantly" sided with Babe.net.

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