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Omarosa's departure highlights lack of White House diversity

With Omarosa Manigault Newman's departure, the White House has lost arguably its most prominent and visible African-American senior staffer, serving as a reminder of the lack of diversity at the upper echelons of the Trump administration.

Manigault Newman was one of just a handful of African-Americans to hold a senior position under Trump. Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is the president's only African-American Cabinet member. Jerome Adams, Trump's surgeon general, is also black.

In an interview Thursday with ABC's "Nightline," Manigault Newman said she often felt lonely as "the only African-American woman in this White House."

"At times it was very difficult," she said, recalling sitting in morning senior staff meetings, with 30 other assistants to the president, where nobody looked like her.

"There was a lack of diversity that I will acknowledge," she said in the interview. "And at times it was very lonely. Because the majority of them were white men who had their own agendas. Many of them had never worked with minorities, didn't know how to interact with them."

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted to reporters Thursday that the White House staff was indeed diverse, despite evidence to the contrary.

"Look, we have a really diverse team across the board at the White House," she said, adding, "We always want to continue to grow the diversity here. We're going to continue to do that and continue to work hard. "

The White House did not respond to requests Thursday for a list of how many African-Americans serve in leadership positions at the White House.

Trump has often been criticized for his responses to racially charged issues, including when he claimed there was blame on "both sides" for deadly violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this year. Trump has also gone after football players who have chosen to kneel during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality, and he has repeatedly picked fights with African-Americans.

Manigault Newman, who was escorted off the White House grounds after resigning, had served as an assistant to the president and director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison, working on outreach to various constituency groups.

It remains unclear who will take over her position, though Sanders said a number of people were already engaged in outreach with the African-American community.

"This wasn't something that was a singular effort by any one individual," she said. "A member on the Cabinet, Ben Carson, I know, has been engaged and talked with the president on this issue."

Sanders also mentioned the president had met with Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who is black.

Despite a lack of diversity at the top, the Trump administration has elevated a number of women with diverse backgrounds.

Deputy National Security adviser Dina Powell, who will be departing early in the new year, is Egyptian-American, and Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is Indian-American. Elaine Chao, the transportation secretary, is Asian-American, and Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is Indian-American.

___

Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

As Disney swallows Fox, a new era dawns for Hollywood

After years of tremors, the earthquake that had long been predicted finally shook Hollywood.

Disney's deal to purchase most of 21st Century Fox ends the era of the "Big Six" major movie studios, toppling one of the industry's most famed studios and dramatically redrawing the Hollywood map.

Disney's move — to pay $52.4 billion in stock for Fox assets — has countless reverberations. But by effectively absorbing Fox's film studio, 20th Century Fox, Disney has rapidly accelerated the industry contraction that many considered inevitable in an era of flat-lining ticket sales and new streaming competitors like Netflix, Amazon and Apple.

The Big Six are now the Big Five — and the mightiest of them all has just been supersized.

The Disney deal hasn't just made 20th Century Fox's 3,200 employees anxious about their future within Disney. It's sent shockwaves through an industry that has until now bent under the pressures of the new digital landscape, but not broken. Now, Hollywood as an industry is quite literally shrinking.

"The strongest will get stronger and the weaker will fall off or merge with other entities," said Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock. "The future is right now and it's pretty obvious what's going on."

Many analysts consider further consolidation simply a matter of time. Before Rupert Murdoch earlier this fall began shopping Fox, most expected the first studio to fall would be either Viacom's Paramount Pictures (5 percent of the market) or Sony Pictures (8.8 percent), both of which have struggled in recent years and replaced their chief executives. Lionsgate and CBS are also frequent sources of speculation.

Fox is bigger, though. Founded in 1935 by the merger of Twentieth Century Pictures and Fox Films, 20th Century Fox is the home of "The Sound of Music," the original "Star Wars" and the highest grossing film of all-time, "Avatar." The studio has generally ranked either third or fourth in market share. This year, it's fourth with 12.3 percent, following the market-leader Disney, Warner Bros. and Universal.

Fox isn't necessarily disappearing. Disney will lease its fabled Los Angeles lot for the next seven years. But 20th Century Fox will be folded into Walt Disney Studios. Its movie-making operations will be reduced and likely restructured.

As a studio, Disney is already based on several distinct silos of brands: Disney, Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm. Its strength in intellectual properties — especially "Star Wars" and its library of animation classics — has made the studio dominant. In a conference call with investors Thursday, Disney chief executive Robert Iger suggested Fox may function similarly as a label within Disney.

"We have not only respected the culture of those organizations but respected and appreciated the talent that came with those acquisitions," Iger said.

Before it sold a ticket for "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," Disney already has three of the top six movies of the year: "Beauty and the Beast," ''Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2" and "Thor: Ragnarok." It has used its might to enforce more onerous terms with theaters on films like "The Last Jedi." Disney is requiring many theater operators to share a higher percentage — 65 percent — of ticket sales. The film is expected to come close to grossing $500 million worldwide this weekend.

The combination of sensibilities between Disney and Fox, has intrigued others. Though it's easy to see the planned quartet of "Avatar" movies under a Disney banner ("Avatar" already has a place in Disney theme parks), many of Fox's franchises, including "X-Men" and "The Kingsman," are well off-brand for the family-friendly Disney. It hasn't released an R-rated movie in four years.

"Time to uncork that explosive sexual tension between Deadpool and Mickey Mouse," Ryan Reynolds tweeted after earlier reports of the Disney-Fox deal.

Disney, which sold Miramax Pictures in 2005, has lacked other kinds of films, too. Fox's specialty label, Fox Searchlight, is among the industry's art-house leaders. Two Searchlight films — "The Shape of Water" and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" — along with Fox's "The Post" have made the studio the leading company of this year's awards season, at least with the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Iger voiced his support for maintaining those businesses. "We like being in the business of making quality movies," said Iger. "We fully intend to stay in those businesses."

The deal also, perhaps crucially, gives Disney the extensive Fox library for Disney's planned streaming service, set to debut in 2019. Disney is now better armed to compete against deep-pocketed digital competitors. Netflix has said it will spend up to $8 billion on original content next year.

"It's really a battle about the future of streaming," said Peter Labuza, a film historian and researcher at the University of Southern California. "Disney needs all this material outside of its own brand which now is its own Disney product, Lucasfilm, Pixar. But this can fill in a lot of the space in a streaming site that can compete with, essentially, Netflix."

That's a component of the deal that will strike fear in the hearts of exhibitors. Disney has pursued an almost completely event-movie strategy (it's releasing only eight movies this year), and it's expected to cut back Fox's theatrical slate. That's reason for concern for already struggling theater owners. Box office revenues were up just 1 percent last year, and are expected to slide this year.

"They can't be pleased," said Bock of exhibitors. "Less product just means less revenue in their minds."

But Disney has also, up until now, been a staunch defender of the traditional theatrical window. For that reason, as well as its reputation for quality, the world's largest theater chain, AMC, hasn't sounded any alarms over the purchase. Last week on CNBC, Adam Aron, AMC chief executive, applauded Disney's track record. "AMC has made a lot of money partnering with Disney studios," he said.

Whichever direction Disney chooses to go, it will have the sway — with approximately 40 percent market share — to set the course for the entire industry.

Hollywood may have shrunk into not the Big Five, but the Big One.

___

Film Writer Lindsey Bahr contributed to this report.

Peyton - Hero of the Day

Peyton is 15. She was diagnosed with lukemia at age 12 at the time her body had many negative reactions to the chemo. Happily though, this May, she rang the "end of treatment" bell!

Text “TCHKIDS,” to 50555, and we’ll get you all the info you need to be a miracle maker. 

 

2017 has been quite a year. We are lucky to live among the most generous people in all of Texas… who know how to hold each other up through tough times. 

 

We know that the needs of kids and families at Texas Children’s Hospital don’t go away during a crisis. They get bigger. 

 

Our Texas Children's Hospital Radiothon is also bigger than ever – all month long! Every day we’ll introduce local families whose struggles are more than we can imagine… sick kids who need 

and deserve the best. They need help to pay for the kind of care that only Texas Children’s can provide. 

 

Together, when we each give a little, it adds up to help a lot of kids. 

 

We’re counting on you. 

 

It’s easier than ever to donate to our Radiothon. Just text “TCHKIDS,” to 50555, and we’ll get you all the info you need to be a miracle maker. 

As much as you’re able to give, for as long as you can. We know it’s been a tough year. 

 

Text “TCHKIDS” to 50555 for The New 93Q Cares For Kids Radiothon from our friends at Shell Federal Credit Union. 

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9 films now vying for foreign language Oscar nomination

Nine films are now vying for an Academy Award nomination in the foreign language category.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the short-list Thursday, which includes films from Chile, Germany, Israel and Lebanon. Ninety-two films were initially in contention for possible nomination.

Five films are typically nominated for foreign language Oscar consideration, and the nominees will be announced on Jan. 23. The Academy Awards will be held on March 4 in Los Angeles.

The short-listed films are: Chile's "A Fantastic Woman," Germany's "In the Fade," Hungary's "On Body and Soul," Israel's "Foxtrot," Lebanon's "The Insult," Russia's "Loveless," Senegal's "Felicite," South Africa's "The Wound" and Sweden's "The Square."

Dustin Hoffman accused of new incidents of sexual misconduct

More women are accusing Dustin Hoffman of sexual misconduct, including an incident in which a playwright says the actor exposed himself to her in a New York hotel room when she was 16-years-old.

Playwright Cori Thomas described the 1980 incident in a story published Thursday by the trade outlet Variety. She confirmed the story in an email to The Associated Press.

Thomas was a classmate of Hoffman's daughter when she says she met the actor, who invited her to his hotel room to wait for her mother after a dinner with the teenagers. Thomas says after Hoffman's daughter left, the actor took a shower and came out wearing only a towel, which she told Variety he dropped, exposing herself to him. Hoffman then put on a robe and asked Thomas to massage his feet, Thomas said, and repeatedly asked her if she wanted to see him naked again.

The Variety report included the account of another woman, Melissa Kester, who said the actor pushed his hand down her pants while they were in a recording studio. The incident occurred while Hoffman was recording music for the film "Ishtar," and happened behind a partition while others, including Kester's boyfriend, were nearby.

Hoffman's publicist and attorney did not return email messages seeking comment Thursday.

It is the latest allegation of sexual harassment or abuse against the 80-year-old Oscar winner.

Actress Anna Graham Hunter has alleged that Hoffman groped her and made inappropriate comments when she was a 17-year-old intern on the set of the 1985 TV movie "Death of a Salesman."

Hoffman said in an earlier statement that the incident "is not reflective of who I am."

The report came a week after Hoffman was pointedly questioned about his treatment of women by late-night host John Oliver. Hoffman appeared blindsided by Oliver's questioning at a panel hosted by Oliver.

In a lengthy statement emailed to the AP, Thomas wrote of Hunter's allegations, "I recognized Ms. Hunter's story as the truth immediately because of the similarities to what happened to me."

She said attacks on Hunter's credibility led her to speak to Variety about her experience with Hoffman.

"In response to why I've stayed quiet for so many years, I have not stayed quiet for so many years, friends and family have been aware of this story for many many years, I just didn't go to newspapers with the story is all," she wrote. "And I regret that. I realize now, that the reason this continued to happen to others, was because of my silence, and I feel guilty about that but I hadn't even processed how badly this shamed and hurt me."

Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler opens Janie’s House for abused girls 

The first thing you see when you walk into Janie’s House is a quote painted in script on the wall: “They say the two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

>> Read more trending news 

Those words from Mark Twain would resonate with anyone.

But Steven Tyler turned them into a mission.

On Nov. 1, the first-ever Janie’s House opened off a secluded road in Douglasville as part of the campus for Youth Villages, the nonprofit organization that helps emotionally and behaviorally troubled children.

The residential facility serves girls aged 12-18 who are survivors of abuse and neglect and gives them the opportunity to engage in group and individual counseling, along with other therapies, such as drumming and animal. It currently houses nine girls and has a capacity of 16.

When Tyler sashayed into Janie’s House for the first time in early December to participate in the official “scarf cutting,” he was greeted by the energetic rhythm provided by two rows of staff and kids from Youth Villages, who exhibited talents gleaned from the therapeutic drumming program.

After removing some of the jewelry weighing on his fingers, Tyler sat next to drummer girl Tatiana Rolles and seamlessly picked up the cadence on his own drum.

Tyler was motivated to begin his Janie’s Fund after a 2014 Aerosmith concert at Philips Arena, when he spent an afternoon with some of the abused girls at Youth Villages.

A year later, on the 26th anniversary of Aerosmith’s hit song about abuse, “Janie’s Got a Gun,” Tyler launched Janie’s Fund, which is housed within the Youth Villages Foundation. From it, Janie’s House emerged.

>> Related: Steven Tyler says it wasn't heart attack that cut tour short

“You adopted me and my philosophy. To be a part of this has been…it’s nothing more than a beautiful thing,” he told the Youth Villages team gathered at the opening.

Tyler grew up in the Bronx, where he said he was beaten up regularly by the neighborhood kids and floundered without purpose until he discovered music. He talked about his stints in rehab and how he discovered there that there were, “a lot more girls who are abused.”

According to Youth Villages, more than 68,000 children are raped or sexually abused each year in the United States.

“I always thought that I could have a Janie’s House,” he said, visibly moved by the surroundings.

Even with his busy schedule of recording, touring and being one of the most recognizable rock stars in the world, Tyler was deeply involved in the creation of the house, a refurbished existing Youth Villages building.

“Steven designed everything, from the logos to the quotes in the rooms to the color scheme,” said Youth Villages CEO Patrick Lawler, gesturing at the navy blue butterflies squiggled on the walls around more quotes, some from Aerosmith’s classic “Dream On,” and other inspirational phrases.

The goal of the house, Lawler said, is to provide these traumatized girls a place to stay. The goal is to help them through difficult situations and eventually reunite them with their families, but some may go to foster care.

During the Janie’s House presentation, 15-year-old Skylar, a transgender male who had moved into the house three weeks prior, addressed the gathered throng with heart and courage.

>> Related: Steven Tyler announces illness, Aerosmith cancels tour dates

Being at Janie’s House was, “the greatest experience of my life,” he said, after detailing a life spent hopping through eight previous mental facilities and struggles with PTSD and manic depression.

“I have learned that not everything in the past is my fault,” he said through tears.

When finished, he walked a few feet over to Tyler, who wrapped the teenager in a hug, his eyes scrunched closed as he pulled Skylar closer.

No doubt, Tyler found an answer as to why he was born.

Actress Halle Berry ‘done with love’ after latest break-up

Halle Berry doesn’t need a man and she has the Instagram story to prove it.

>> Read more trending news 

On Wednesday, the actress reportedly shared a photo on her Instagram story of a rope shaped like a heart and the words “done with love” along with three flexing muscle emojis. The post comes just hours after US Weeklyreported that she had split from her music producer boyfriend, Alex Da Kid.

Ahead of the split, Berry took a rather cryptic tone on Instagram. Sharing a photo of the back of her head, Berry wrote, “Grow out got me feelin’ some kinda way every day ain’t perfect…”

The actress has two children from previous relationships, Maceo, 3 and Nahla, 9. She was previously married to David Justice from 1992 to 1997, then wed Eric Benét in 2001 but the two split in 2005. She married Olivier Martinez in 2013 and the two finalized their divorce in 2016.

Tavis Smiley accuses PBS of ‘biased and sloppy’ investigation, denies any misconduct

Former PBS host Tavis Smiley is fighting back against sexual misconduct allegations, accusing PBS of a conducting a “biased and sloppy” investigation.

>> Read more trending news 

The network suspended the “Tavis Smiley” show on Wednesday after former staffers accused the interviewer of inappropriate behavior.

According to Variety, the longtime PBS host had sexual relationships with many employees and was accused of “creating a verbally abusive and threatening environment” in the workplace. Some of the employees who accused the “Dancing with the Stars” alum were reportedly afraid to come forward sooner over fear of losing their job.

“PBS has indefinitely suspended distribution of ‘Tavis Smiley,’ produced by TS Media, an independent production company,” the network announced in a statement.

“PBS engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation immediately after learning of troubling allegations regarding Mr. Smiley. This investigation included interviews with witnesses as well as with Mr. Smiley. The inquiry uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS, and the totality of this information led to today’s decision.”

>> Related: PBS suspends ‘Tavis Smiley’ show amid sexual misconduct investigation

Not only did Smiley deny the allegations, he said PBS didn’t even tell what the accusations were or who made them. 

“I have the utmost respect for women and celebrate the courage of those who have come forth to tell their truth. To be clear, I have never groped, coerced, or exposed myself inappropriately to any workplace colleague in my entire broadcast career, covering 6 networks over 30 years,” his statement said, in part. “Never. Ever. Never.”

Smiley said that after he threatened to file a lawsuit, the network agreed to hear his side of the story.

“If having a consensual relationship with a colleague years ago is the stuff that leads to this kind of public humiliation and personal destruction, heaven help us. The PBS investigators refused to review any of my personal documentation, refused to provide me the names of any accusers, refused to speak to my current staff, and refused to provide me any semblance of due process to defend myself against allegations from unknown sources. Their mind was made up. Almost immediately following the meeting, this story broke in Varietyas an ‘exclusive.’ Indeed, I learned more about these allegations reading the Variety story than the PBS investigator shared with me, the accused, in our 3 hour face to face meeting,” the statement continued.

>> Related: Lindsey Vonn opens up about backlash after her Trump-Olympics comments

Smiley stated that “PBS overreacted and conducted a biased and sloppy investigation, which led to a rush to judgement.”

Read his entire statement here.

Top 20 Global Concert Tours from Pollstar

The Top 20 Global Concert Tours ranks artists by average box office gross per city and includes the average ticket price for shows Worldwide. The list is based on data provided to the trade publication Pollstar by concert promoters and venue managers.

TOP 20 GLOBAL CONCERT TOURS

1. The Rolling Stones ; $9,996,473; $158.81.

2. U2; $8,355,366; $117.39.

3. Coldplay; $4,373,643; $108.05.

4. Lady Gaga; $2,838,540; $117.65.

5. Bruno Mars; $2,674,096; $111.65.

6. Guns N' Roses; $2,575,272; $118.75.

7. Roger Waters; $2,298,860; $117.98.

8. Dead & Company; $1,667,123; $111.11.

9. Ed Sheeran; $1,441,881; $85.05.

10. Ariana Grande; $1,401,503; $90.29.

11. Depeche Mode; $1,372,431; $87.90.

12. Neil Diamond; $1,370,818; $113.35.

13. Marc Anthony; $1,224,459; $100.77.

14. The Weeknd; $1,098,035; $85.18.

15. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band; $1,084,704; $89.82.

16. Tim McGraw / Faith Hill; $1,050,287; $83.27.

17. Florida Georgia Line; $1,005,776; $51.75.

18. Foo Fighters; $1,001,748; $92.06.

19. Luke Bryan; $964,321; $50.71.

20. Kendrick Lamar; $960,444; $80.70.

For free upcoming tour information, go to www.pollstar.com

___

Walt Disney presents: ‘Avatar,’ ‘The Simpsons,’ ‘Alien’ and ‘Rocky Horror’

As of Thursday morning, the Walt Disney Co. is set to own a large part of the Murdoch family's 21st Century Fox in a $52.4 billion deal. With this merger, the number of major studios in Hollywood will go from six to five, and the combined Disney and Fox assets would have a 39% theatrical market share, according to Variety

>> Read more trending news 

The deal, which some have said will raise red flags among antitrust officials, is still awaiting regulatory approval, which could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months, according to Variety.

This deal is sort of the opposite of the Paramount Case of 1948, when RKO Pictures shuttered, divorcing movie theaters from the ownership of the studios that created the films those theaters were screening

A merger is a wish your boardroom makes, and all that. 

(In other news, the FCC is expected to repeal net neutrality Thursday, so...more great news for big corporations.)

>> Related: MoviePass now officially has some Texas competition 

Most of the chatter around this deal has centered around two things: one is that Disney is becoming a monopoly. Disney already owns Pixar, Marvel and The Studio Formerly Known As Lucasfilm. Disney’s acquiring of Fox isn’t just another merger deal — it’s one of the biggest deals to go down in Hollywood history.

The other talking point is that, well, hey, now that Disney owns Fox properties, that means that a majority of the Marvel properties are now in Disney’s hands. 

This means — as many have pointed out on Twitter — that the X-Men can now theoretically be in “Avengers: Infinity War” and other Marvel films. Ditto Deadpool and the Fantastic Four.

>> Related: Pixar celebrates Day of the Dead, family ties with captivating ‘Coco’

But there’s some other properties that Disney has now acquired that don’t really fit the House of Mouse’s squeaky clean image. Read on to see some of what might be coming to a theater near you under a new Disney banner. 

Comic books

  • X-Men
  • Deadpool
  • Fantastic Four
  • Legion
  • “Kingsman”

All of the above films and characters are either super violent or not very Disney-like, something that “Deadpool” star Ryan Reynolds pointed out on Twitter last week.

The other fun thing to think about here: What if Disney made an Avengers film with Captain America and the Fantastic Four? Chris Evans plays Captain America and also played The Human Torch in Fox’s 2005 bid to make that live-action franchise happen. (If you really want to check out something special, peep this unreleased “Fantastic Four” that Fox made back in 1994 solely to keep the rights to the franchise.)

>> Related: How comic book movies are making comic books worse

Action franchises

  • “Alien”
  • “Avatar”
  • “Die Hard”
  • “Independence Day”
  • “Planet of the Apes”
  • “Predator”

Ho, ho, ho. Now I have a lot of R-rated franchises. Does this mean we’re going to see a “Yippee-ki-yay, Mr. Falcon!” PG-13-ification of some of film’s most enduring action franchises? 

>> Related: ‘The Holiday' is a better Christmas movie than 'Love Actually' and here's why

But, on another note, Disney now owns the “Avatar” franchise, which is reported to have four planned sequels. The first film, released in 2009, brought in almost $3 BILLION worldwide.

Kid’s franchises

  • “Alvin and the Chipmunks”
  • “Doctor Doolittle”
  • “Goosebumps”
  • “Home Alone”
  • “Ice Age”
  • “Night at the Museum”
  • “Rio”

All of these franchises are at least three films in, with the exception of “Goosebumps.” Expect more from the House of Mouse in the coming years.

Straight-up weird properties to now think of as ‘Disney’ properties

  • “Cocoon”
  • “M*A*S*H” (Robert Altman film and the Fox TV series)
  • “The Omen” franchise
  • “Rocky Horror Picture Show”
  • “Romancing the Stone”
  • “The Sound of Music”
  • “X-Files” franchise

All that needs to be said:

Read more here.

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