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Entertainment

    Johnny Depp denied hitting ex-wife Amber Heard in a jealous rage, as he was cross-examined Wednesday by a lawyer for British tabloid The Sun in a London courtroom. The newspaper is defending a libel claim after calling the Hollywood star a “wife beater.” Depp is suing The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, over an April 2018 article that said he had physically abused Heard. The case opened Tuesday at the High Court in London, with Depp sitting in the witness box and denying Heard’s allegations that he assaulted her on multiple occasions. The “Pirates of the Caribbean” star said Heard’s “sick” claims were “totally untrue.” He called his ex-wife sociopathic, narcissistic and emotionally dishonest. Depp, 57, and Heard, 34, met on the set of the 2011 comedy “The Rum Diary” and married in Los Angeles in February 2015. They divorced in 2017, and now bitterly accuse one another of abuse. While Heard isn’t on trial, the case is a showdown between the former spouses, who accuse each other of being controlling, violent and deceitful during their tempestuous marriage. The Sun’s defense relies on Heard’s allegations of 14 incidents of violence by Depp between 2013 and 2016, in locations including Los Angeles, Australia, Japan, the Bahamas and a chartered jet. He denies them all and says Heard, an actress and model, attacked him with items including a drink can and a cigarette, and severed his finger by throwing a vodka bottle at him. Cross-examining Depp, The Sun’s lawyer, Sasha Wass, recounted an allegation of abuse that Heard says took place at her home in March 2013. She said Depp became enraged at a painting by Heard's former partner, artist Tasya Van Ree, that hung in Heard's bedroom. Depp acknowledged that he “could be jealous” but denied Heard's claim that he took the painting off the wall, tried to set it on fire and slapped Heard when she intervened. “I did not hit Ms. Heard and furthermore I have never hit Ms. Heard,' said Depp, who wore a gray suit, blue shirt and patterned tie for his court appearance. He also denied hitting Heard after she laughed at a tattoo he had that read “Wino Forever.” He said he'd had it altered from “Winona Forever” after he split up with actress Winona Ryder years earlier. 'I don’t recall any argument about any of my tattoos,' Depp said. Depp rejected every allegation of violence put to him by Wass, dismissing the claims as “not correct” and “patently untrue.” He denied the lawyer's suggestion that his memory had been impaired by alcohol and drug abuse. Wass has tried to paint Depp as a volatile personality with a longstanding drug habit and an anger-management problem. Depp has acknowledged taking both prescription and illegal substances since childhood, but denied Heard’s clam he became a “monster” when he drank and took drugs. “I was angry, but that doesn’t mean I have an anger problem,” Depp said Tuesday. “I also express myself by laughing. I don’t have a humor problem.” Depp and Wass also clashed over whether Heard had tried to curb his drinking and drug use. Heard claims she tried to support Depp to become sober and never took cocaine during their relationship. “There were many times in our relationship, early on, where not only did she chop the cocaine with a razor blade into lines, she would then take the cocaine on her finger and rub it on her gums,' Depp said. Heard is attending court and is expected to give evidence later in the trial, which is scheduled to last three weeks.
  • Television's most popular political host, Tucker Carlson, says leaders of the Democratic party should be disqualified from running the country because they “despise” it. That led the Biden campaign to accuse the Fox News Channel host on Tuesday of using “hate speech masquerading as journalism” and acting as an accomplice to President Donald Trump. Days after reports surfaced that some Republicans were discussing Carlson as a potential 2024 presidential contender, he delivered a monologue Monday night striking in its language and amplification of points made by Trump over the Fourth of July weekend. Trump said at Mount Rushmore that the “radical ideology attacking our country” in protests that followed George Floyd’s death in police custody “would demolish both justice and society.” Trump has been critical of efforts to remove monuments to the Confederacy, which has led to reevaluations of other historical figures. While some analysts called it divisive, Carlson praised it as the best speech the president has made in his life. He played clips of cable TV hosts and analysts critical of some of the nation’s actions historically. Carlson said that “these people hate America. There’s no longer any question about that.” “The leaders of today’s Democratic Party ... despise this country,” he said. “They have said so. They continue to. That is shocking but it is also disqualifying. We cannot let them run this nation because they hate it. Imagine what they would do to it.” He contrasted Trump's speech with one made over the holiday weekend where former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, said Americans had the chance to rip out the roots of systemic racism. Carlson said Biden was wagging his finger “in the face of the nation that promoted someone as mediocre as you to the position you held.” “Tucker Carlson and his colleagues who traffic in hate speech masquerading as journalism are accomplices to Donald Trump’s perverse mission to use division and bitterness to tear this country apart,” said Biden campaign spokesman T.J. Ducklo. 'It is the polar opposite of what Joe Biden stands for, and exactly what he means when he talks about a battle for the soul of America.” Fox News did not immediately comment on Ducklo's statement. Questioning patriotism has long been a part of politicians’ playbooks, from suggestions that anti-Vietnam War protesters “love it or leave it” and harsh criticisms of Democrats after the Civil War, said Thomas Patterson, former head of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. “Things are really heating up and I do think there is an air of desperation on the part of Republicans in this,” said Patterson, author of “Is the Republican Party Destroying Itself?” Carlson has been among biggest television beneficiaries during the busy news period. He's been reaching 4 million viewers a night and in recent months has pulled slightly ahead of Fox News colleague Sean Hannity. Besides Biden, Carlson on Monday singled out U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a former military helicopter pilot who lost both legs during a 2004 attack in Iraq. Carlson was critical of the Democratic senator for an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash where she was twice asked about whether or not statues of George Washington should be removed. Duckworth didn’t give her opinion, but said Americans should have a “national dialogue” about it. “You’re not supposed to criticize Tammy Duckworth in any way because she once served in the military,” Carlson said. “Most people just ignore her. But when Duckworth does speak in public you’re reminded what a deeply silly and unimpressive person she is.” Duckworth tweeted in response: “Does Tucker Carlson want to walk a mile in my legs and then tell me whether or not I love America?” The senator spoke Tuesday night at a fundraiser for Biden, where the former vice president referenced Trump attacking her patriotism. “I found it sickening,” Biden said to Duckworth: “I know you can handle yourself, you’ve already done that. But I just think it’s a reflection of the depravity of what’s going in the White House right now.” ___ Associated Press Writer Will Weissert in Washington contributed to this report.
  • President Donald Trump's niece offers a scathing portrayal of her uncle in a new book, blaming a toxic family for raising a narcissistic, damaged man who poses an immediate danger to the public, according to a copy obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press. Mary L. Trump, a psychologist, writes that Trump's reelection would be catastrophic and that “lying, playing to the lowest common denominator, cheating, and sowing division are all he knows.” “By the time this book is published, hundreds of thousands of American lives will have been sacrificed on the altar of Donald’s hubris and willful ignorance. If he is afforded a second term, it would be the end of American Democracy,' she writes in “Too Much and Never Enough, How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man.” Mary Trump is the daughter of Trump’s elder brother, Fred Jr., who died after a struggle with alcoholism in 1981 at 42. The book is the second insider account in two months to paint a deeply unflattering portrait of the president, following the release of former national security adviser John Bolton's bestseller. In her book, Mary Trump, who is estranged from her uncle, makes several revelations, including alleging that the president paid a friend to take the SATs — a standardized test widely used for college admissions — in his place. She writes that his sister Maryanne Trump did his homework for him but couldn’t take his tests and he worried his grade point average, which put him far from the top of the class, would “scuttle his efforts to get accepted” into the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he transferred after two years at Fordham University in the Bronx. “To hedge his bets he enlisted Joe Shapiro, a smart kid with a reputation for being a good test taker, to take his SATs for him,” she writes, adding, “Donald, who never lacked for funds, paid his buddy well.” White House spokesperson Sarah Matthews called the allegation “completely false.” Mary Trump also writes, in awe, of Trump’s ability to gain the support of prominent Christian leaders and white evangelicals, saying: “The only time Donald went to church was when the cameras were there. It’s mind boggling. He has no principles. None!” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany slammed the book Tuesday, saying, “It’s ridiculous, absurd accusations that have absolutely no bearing in truth.” Mary Trump traces much of her pain to the death of her father when she was 16. The president, who rarely admits mistakes, told The Washington Post last year that he regretted the pressure he and his father had put on Fred Jr. to join the family business when his brother wanted to be a pilot instead. “It was just not his thing. ... I think the mistake that we made was we assumed that everybody would like it. That would be the biggest mistake. ... There was sort of a double pressure put on him,” Trump told the paper. Yet as her father lay dying alone, Mary Trump claims, “Donald went to the movies.” She says that, as a child, Donald Trump hid favorite toys from his younger brother and took juvenile stunts — like Fred Jr. dumping a bowl of mashed potatoes on his then-7-year-old head — so seriously that he harbored resentments even when his eldest sister, Maryanne, brought it up in her toast at his White House birthday dinner in 2017. She paints Trump, who often called her “Honeybunch,” as a self-centered narcissist who demanded constant adulation — even from his family — and had little regard for family members' feelings. Trump’s crude rhetoric on the campaign trail, she said, was nothing new, reminding her “of every family meal I’d ever attended during which Donald had talked about all of the women he considered ugly fat slobs or the men, usually more accomplished or powerful, he called losers.” The book is, at its heart, a lengthy psychoanalysis of the Trump family by a woman trained in the field, who sees the traits of her uncle that critics despise as a natural progression of behaviors developed at the knees of a demanding father. For Donald Trump, she writes, “lying was defensive — not simply a way to circumvent his father’s disapproval or to avoid punishment ... but a way to survive.” Publisher Simon & Schuster announced Monday that it would be publishing the book two weeks early, on July 14, after a New York appellate court cleared the way for the book’s publication following a legal challenge. Robert Trump, the president’s younger brother, had sued Mary Trump, arguing in legal papers that she was subject to a 20-year-old agreement between family members that no one would publish accounts involving core family members without their approval. A judge last week left in place a restraint that blocked Mary Trump and any agent of hers from distributing the book, but the court made clear it was not considering Simon & Schuster to be covered by the ruling. In the book, Mary Trump writes that she didn’t take her uncle’s run for the presidency seriously in 2016 — an opinion apparently shared by Trump's eldest sister, a retired federal appeals court judge. “'He’s a clown,' my aunt Maryanne said during one of our regular lunches at the time. ‘This will never happen,’” she recalls her saying. She said she declined an invitation to attend her uncle’s election-night party in New York City four years ago, convinced she “wouldn’t be able to contain my euphoria when (Hillary) Clinton’s victory was announced.” Instead, she found herself wandering around her house a few hours after Trump’s victory was announced, fearful that voters “had chosen to turn this country into a macro version of my malignantly dysfunctional family.” Mary Trump wrote that she considered speaking out against her uncle at various times, including the summer of 2016, but was reluctant to do so for fear of being “painted as a disgruntled, disinherited niece looking to cash in or settle a score.' After the events of the last three years, she writes, “I can no longer remain silent.' ___ Colvin reported from Washington.
  • “A Most Wicked Conspiracy: The Last Great Swindle of the Gilded Age,” by Paul Starobin (Public Affairs) Rules, laws and honesty meant little to Alexander McKenzie, a Gilded Age political boss in North Dakota who chummed around with deep-pocketed capitalists and U.S. senators. After gold was discovered in the territory of Alaska at the end of the 19th century, he involved them in his brazen scheme to plunder gold already claimed by miners by secretly rigging the justice system. Starobin tells a jaunty tale of jaw-dropping greed at the dawn of the 20th century. The complex scheme to grab the gold involved political appointments and back-room deals, but boiled down to having a federal judge in Alaska appoint McKenzie as receiver to a series of contested gold mine claims. Miners fighting off the claim jumpers were unaware that McKenzie had secretly engineered the appointment of the crooked judge, who did his bidding. Receivers are supposed to safeguard disputed assets, but McKenzie wanted to use the legal proceedings to make sure the gold was extracted for himself and his co-conspirators. He even made a play for Alaska’s beaches, which were common areas open to anyone who wanted to sift for gold dust in the surf. The cast of characters involved in the conspiracy is large, sometimes confusingly so. But Starobin is able to paint a vivid picture of the mining camps and of Nome, Alaska, then a muddy boomtown filled saloons, dance halls and men dreaming of a big score. The center of the story is McKenzie, a bear of a man who bootstrapped his way from obscurity. Encountering obstacles once in Nome, he simply bulled through them. Even an order from a higher federal court was ignored. He seemed as incapable of giving up as he was of being honest. McKenzie eventually got into trouble, and the resulting scandal required the attention President William McKinley, a fellow Republican who had a difficult decision to make about the political boss’s fate. While McKenzie had wronged a lot of people, he had powerful friends working on his behalf. Turns out that some things haven’t changed in 120 years.
  • The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for its 77th installment, which will include a slightly reduced number of films in the main competition as well as some outdoor and virtual screenings. If the schedule stays intact, it will be the first major film festival since COVID-19 essentially shut down the industry in mid-March. Festival director Alberto Barbera said in a statement that he is “extremely pleased that the Biennale Cinema can be held with a minimum reduction of films and sections” and that “a significant number of directors and actors will accompany films to the Lido.” There will still be 50 to 55 films in the official selection, which will be announced on July 28, and screenings will take place in the traditional venues as well as two outdoor arenas (at the Giardini della Biennale and a skating rink on the Lido) with adopted safety measures established by authorities. The festival will take its Virtual Reality section online and this year forego its Sconfini section, which hosts smaller films and genre fare, to accommodate more socially distanced screenings of the major films in competition. Actress Cate Blanchett is presiding over the main competition jury. Travel to Italy, an early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, is allowed from European countries. The European Union last week said it would reopen its border to 14 nations, but most Americans have been refused entry due to soaring coronavirus infections in the U.S. Press from countries with travel restrictions will be able to view press conferences virtually, Barbera said. “Without forgetting the countless victims of these past few months to whom due tribute shall be paid, the first international festival following the forced interruption dictated by the pandemic becomes the meaningful celebration of the re-opening we all looked forward to, and a message of concrete optimism for the entire world of cinema which has suffered greatly from this crisis,” Barbera said. The Toronto International Film Festival, which is typically held on the heels of Venice in September, has already announced plans for a smaller 2020 version, with fewer films and virtual red carpets. Both festivals serve as major launching grounds for awards hopefuls, although no one know how exactly it will work now that runway to the Oscars has been extended by two months. The Venice Film Festival runs from Sept. 2-12.
  • One of the country's oldest retreats for artists — The MacDowell Colony — will drop “Colony” from its name and call itself “MacDowell.” “This name change is at once a significant step and a natural evolution consistent with how the organization is widely known,” MacDowell Board Chair Nell Painter said in a statement. “While the decision to make this change now aligns with the calls for social justice and reform that are sweeping the country, it is in keeping with the organization’s longstanding commitment to eliminate financial, geographic, cultural and accessibility barriers to participation.” According to Tuesday's announcement, the change was in response to “feedback from Fellows and the larger artist community.” MacDowell, based in Peterborough, New Hampshire, was founded in in 1907 by composer Edward MacDowell and his wife, the musician and philanthropist Marian MacDowell. Visiting artists have included Aaron Copland, James Baldwin, Alice Walker and Jonathan Franzen. The term “artist colony” pre-dates MacDowell, but is used far less frequently as an official title than in the 20th century. One of the few organizations still calling itself a “colony” is the Millay Colony of the Arts, founded in 1973 and based in Austerlitz, New, York, where the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay once lived. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Painter said that concerns about the word “colony” had been raised over the years to the board but the issue took on greater urgency after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the worldwide protests which followed. Painter acknowledged that the word “colony” can mean a country or given location under the control of an outside power or, as would apply to MacDowell, a community of like-minded people. But she said both definitions carry a sense of exclusion and hierarchy, and that the first definition was far more prevalent. She added that MacDowell was formed during a time of legal segregation and for decades was virtually all-white. 'I'm sure Marian MacDowell never imagined artists of color being there,' said Painter, who earlier this year's became MacDowell's first Black board chair. “In the language we speak today, colony is a word tied to occupation and oppression.”
  • A member of the Pussy Riot protest group has been charged with failing to properly notify Russian authorities about his Canadian citizenship, officials said Tuesday. The charges filed Tuesday came a day after Russian activist Pytor Verzilov was released after serving 15 days in jail for swearing in public. He said he was assaulted in what he claimed was a provocation staged by police and that there was no evidence he swore. The 15-day sentence followed Verzilov's questioning in connection with a protest against the Kremlin last year. Verzilov, who was born in Canada, has Russian and Canadian citizenship. Russians are required by law to inform the authorities about foreign citizenship. Violators face a fine or community service as a penalty. Pussy Riot was founded in 2011 as a punk rock and performance art protest group. Verzilov attracted attention in 2018 when he and three other Pussy Riot activists wearing police uniforms entered the field at the World Cup final in Moscow to protest police brutality, an action for which they served 15 days in jail. Two months later, he became severely ill from what group members suspected was poisoning and underwent treatment in Germany.
  • The late Sargent Shriver, the Peace Corps' founding director and an architect of President Lyndon Johnson's “War on Poverty,” left behind at least one unfinished project. RosettaBooks announced Tuesday that it had acquired Shriver's memoir “We Called It a War,” which he worked on in the late 1960s and was only recently rediscovered. Shriver's friend and law partner David Birenbaum edited the manuscript, in which Shriver tells of his efforts to fulfill Johnson's vow in 1964 to end poverty. The 348-page book, pared down from a “very raw” 500 pages, is scheduled for January. “What I learned from working with Sarge, and what I hope readers will discover in reading the book, is his distinctive model of leadership in which policy is shaped by our noblest human values and energy flows from spiritual awareness,' Birenbaum said in a statement. 'He operated under the principle that institutions, including governments, need not be bureaucratic, but can, rather, promote creativity and practical decision-making to benefit the human beings they serve.” Shriver was the husband of President John F. Kennedy’s sister, Eunice. The Shrivers had personal ties to Rosetta, founded by literary agent Arthur Klebanoff in 2001 as primarily a digital publisher and now distributed in print by Simon & Schuster. Klebanoff is a close friend of Bill Josephson, who was the Peace Corps' founding general counsel and wrote the book's foreword. Shriver, who died in 2011, was a prominent liberal and government official in the 1960s who for many embodied a more idealistic time. He became known for his leadership of the Peace Corps during the Kennedy administration and for helping to establish such lasting government programs as Head Start and VISTA while serving under Johnson. Eunice Shriver, who died in 2009, helped found the Special Olympics. Shriver was the U.S. ambassador to France at the time he wrote “We Called It a War.” According to Josephson, he did not try to publish the book right away because he was serving under a new president, Republican Richard Nixon, and thought Nixon might object to Shriver touting governments programs which Nixon opposed. Shriver published a 1964 book, “Point of the Lance,” about his years with the Peace Corps, and books about him include a memoir by his son, Mark Shriver, and an acclaimed biography by Scott Stossel. “We Called It a War” was spotted among his personal papers at the Sargent Shriver Peace Institute. “We had just begun cataloguing the contents of a collection of Sarge’s papers from his office at Special Olympics, and we found the manuscript in the first box we opened,' Jamie Price, the institute's executive director, said in a statement. 'What a blessing for us all to have available now, in these difficult and polarizing times, the voice, wisdom and spirit of a man who knew how to tackle systemic problems of poverty and economic opportunity and to solve them.”
  • Former Kasabian frontman Tom Meighan was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty Tuesday at Leicester Magistrates’ Court to assaulting his former fiancée. The case came a day after Meighan quit the band, releasing a statement saying he was dealing with “personal issues.” Closed circuit television footage of the attack was played in court as 39-year-old Meighan wiped his eyes and held his head in his hands. His lawyer Michelle Heeley told the court he “offers his sincere apologies to the people he has let down and he has sought to address his offending behavior.’’ Founded in the English city of Leicester in 1997, Kasabian released its self-titled first album in 2004. The band has released six albums and headlined Glastonbury and other major music festivals.
  • Comedian Rickey Smiley's daughter is recovering after she was shot while on the way to a Houston Whataburger restaurant late Sunday. Smiley, who is also a radio host, shared the news about 19-year-old Aaryn in an emotional video posted to social media Monday afternoon. 'I don't know what to do. Can't think straight. Nerves bad. Butterflies in my stomach,' he captioned the video, which has drawn more than 71,000 reactions on Facebook. >> Click here to watch the video (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised.) Smiley said he was on the way to Houston to see Aaryn, who was in surgery after being caught in the crossfire of a suspected road-rage shooting while stopped at a red light. Houston police said four people suffered gunshot wounds in the incident, according to USA Today.  Through tears, Smiley said he was grateful that his daughter and the other victims survived.  'I want you to see that it's raw, and it’s real,' he said. 'I want you to see what parents have to deal with when their children become victims of gun violence – the raw feeling, the [expletive] you have to go through.' Later Monday, Smiley said his daughter made it through her surgery.  'She's doing great!!' he wrote in an Instagram post. 'Thank you for your prayers!!!!' Aaryn reflected on the incident in her own tweet Monday night. 'I could've lost my life yesterday,' she wrote. 'If it was another hollow tip bullet, and the metal didn’t stop it from coming into the car where my head was, I would be dead. I’m so grateful there’s only 4 bullet holes. I’m so grateful that it was a regular bullet and not like the one in my leg.' Read more here.