Omarosa dishes on Trump and gets his attention

Omarosa Manigault Newman once predicted that “every critic, every detractor will have to bow down to President Trump.” The question now for the former White House aide and “Apprentice” contestant is whether that applies to her, too.

Starring in another reality TV show after resigning from the West Wing, Manigault Newman unleashed one criticism after another of her longtime friend Donald Trump and former White House colleagues, testing the widely held view that few people are ever really exiled from Trump’s orbit.

Manigault Newman said she was “haunted” every day by Trump’s tweets and “attacked” by colleagues when she tried to intervene. She said he tweets in his underwear in the early morning. She compared leaving the White House to being freed from a plantation, a reference to her one-time status as the only black member of the White House senior staff.

If that wasn’t enough, she said the country will not be OK under Trump, and teased that she may tell everything in a book.

The ill feelings may well be mutual.

Trump, who called Manigault Newman a “good person” after she left the White House, referred to her as “the worst” in a speech at a press dinner where the president traditionally jabs at friends and foes alike.

The White House dismisses Manigault Newman as someone Trump has now fired four times: thrice from “The Apprentice” and once from the White House last December.

Armstrong Williams, a longtime friend of Manigault Newman, said the fact that Trump name-checked her in the Gridiron dinner speech this month “means she’s on his mind.” He doesn’t think she had fallen out of favor because of her nationally broadcast criticisms.

“Here’s the key: The president has not tweeted about anything that Omarosa has done since she left. That’s significant,” said Williams, a conservative commentator. “He’s tweeted about (Steve) Bannon and everybody else, but he has not tweeted or pushed back in any way against Omarosa.”

Bannon is the former White House chief strategist whom Trump publicly broke with after a book about Trump’s first year in office quoted Bannon criticizing some of Trump’s adult children. Trump then accused Bannon of “losing his mind.”

Others fired by Trump, including his first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and his first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, remain in contact with the president.

During her stint on CBS’ “Celebrity Big Brother,” where Manigault Newman and other celebrities lived under constant surveillance in a shared house until voted out, she steered clear of Trump’s third rail, his family. But she let loose on the president and Vice President Mike Pence.

In one whispered conversation, she said working for Trump was “like a call to duty,” but “I was haunted by the tweets every single day, like ‘What is he going to tweet next?'” When she tried to intervene, Manigault Newman said through tears, “all of the people around him attacked me.”

When asked if people should be worried, Manigault Newman nodded her head and said, “It is going to not be OK. It’s not.”

She criticized Pence in a later episode, saying he’d be more extreme than Trump. “So everybody that’s wishing for impeachment might want to reconsider their lives. We would be begging for days of Trump back if Pence became president,” she said. “He’s extreme. I’m Christian. I love Jesus. But he thinks Jesus tells him to say things. I’m like, ‘Jesus ain’t saying that.'”

The conversations eventually came around to Trump’s tweets. Manigault Newman was asked who monitors them.

“He’s up in his underwear or something at 4 in the morning. Who’s going to monitor that?” she said. “Remember, the bad tweets happen between 4 and 6 in the morning. Ain’t nobody up there but Melania” — Trump’s wife. Manigault Newman then commented on the large diamond the first lady wears on her left ring finger and said Trump “can do whatever he wants. She ain’t saying nothing.”

It was unclear whether her criticisms were genuine or whether she was trying to curry favor with her castmates to avoid eviction. (She didn’t win.)

Manigualt Newman, who declined to comment for this story, passed up a chance to repeat her criticisms during a recent appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” after the reality TV show ended.

When asked if everything will be OK under Trump, she told Colbert, “You’ll have to wait and see.”

She did tell Colbert that she plans to focus on her ministry. Last April, she married John Allen Newman, senior pastor at a Baptist church in Jacksonville, Florida, during a ceremony at Trump’s hotel near the White House. The website of Mount Calvary Baptist Church says she was licensed to preach in 2011 and later ordained and served as assistant pastor.

“My calling to the ministry is more important than anything else that I’ve done and I don’t want to neglect it,” Manigault Newman told Colbert.

Whether that means she’s done bashing Trump remains to be seen.

In her first interview after leaving the White House, she told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “when I can tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear.”

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Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

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For live 'Jesus Christ Superstar,' NBC turns to a Legend

Most Easter Sundays, you can find John Legend at home, helping cook a big dinner for family and friends. Except this Easter. He’ll be a little busy — being Jesus Christ in front of millions.

Legend leads a cast that includes Sara Bareilles and Alice Cooper in a live NBC version of the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

It will be the latest addition to the prime-time lineup of live TV musical remakes that kicked off five years ago with “The Sound of Music” and includes “Peter Pan,” ”Grease,” ”The Wiz” and “Hairspray.” While the shows often air at Christmas, this time it made sense for an Easter broadcast of the 47-year-old musical.

“It’s an iconic show. It’s meant a lot to a lot of people for a long time,” Legend said. “You want people who are fans of it already to be excited by our rendition. But then also we want to attract new people to the show, too.”

The musical explores the caustic intersection of politics and showbiz, using a pulsating guitar- and organ-driven score that includes “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” ”Everything’s Alright” and “Superstar.”

Live TV musicals have become progressively more complex, with the use of cars and multiple locations, sometimes outdoors. But “Jesus Christ Superstar” will be more stripped down, an attempt to capture a concert vibe. It will be staged inside an armory in Brooklyn with about 12 cameras.

The actors will be augmented by a 32-piece band — including a mobile, all-woman string quartet — and 1,500 people will be in the audience, surrounding the action and interacting sometimes with the performers. The stage will be just 2 feet above a mosh pit.

“I’m so excited that we have a live audience to work with and to feel the energy of in the room because I think, as someone who’s a concert performer and now in the theater, that’s the missing link so much of the time,” said Bareilles, who plays Mary Magdalene.

Director David Leveaux is promising this version of the musical to be “very unpackaged, not neat, quite raw.” The rest of the cast includes Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas, Cooper as King Herod and Norm Lewis as Caiaphas.

Costume designer Paul Tazewell, who dressed the “Hamilton” cast, has picked flowing tunics and modern, sexy silhouettes. Choreographer Camille A. Brown will mix traditional social dances with hip-hop, New Orleans-style second-line dancing and The Charleston.

Leveaux, who in a 2013 Broadway revival of “Romeo and Juliet” put Orlando Bloom on a motorcycle with a set that spit fire, will use real flames and pyrotechnics for “Superstar.” He’ll also employ some low-tech tricks, like a white scarf that can have multiple uses.

“This is live. So you create ingredients that can combust because it’s live,” said Marc Platt, an executive producer. “In this instance, we have a live audience and an interactive concert, and live musicians — never done before. So we’re not daunted by it. We welcome what’s live and what’s risky about it because that’s what’s exciting.”

Legend, who has won a Grammy, Tony and Oscar, knows he is just an Emmy away from winning the coveted EGOT, but he isn’t planning that his portrayal of Jesus will add to his trophy haul. He made his acting debut in 2016’s “La La Land.”

“I have no presumptions about the idea that I’ll be considered an award-winning actor in my second role as an actor,” he said, laughing. “But I’m aware of the gap in my EGOT.”

The annual live broadcasts have gradually dipped in viewership, with the lowest being “A Christmas Story Live” last Christmas that attracted 4.5 million viewers — but they’ve become popular fodder for hate-tweeting.

“It’s part of it. You just kind of do the best you can,” said executive producer Neil Meron, who helped start the live TV trend with “The Sound of Music” broadcast in 2013. “They’ll rip it apart, they’ll praise it.”

Leveaux has even coined a new term for the potential online hating this time, one that combines Twitter with crucifixion. He calls it death by “twitterfixon.”

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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Designer of deadly waterslide charged along with park owner

A water park company co-owner accused of rushing the world’s tallest waterslide into service and a designer accused of shoddy planning were charged Tuesday in the decapitation of a 10-year-old boy on the ride in 2016.

With the latest charges, three men connected with Texas-based Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts and its park in Kansas City, Kansas, have been indicted by a Kansas grand jury, along with the park and the construction company that built the ride. Caleb Schwab died on the 17-story ride when the raft he was riding went airborne and hit an overhead loop.

The Kansas attorney general’s office said Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeffrey Henry, 62, and designer John Schooley were charged with reckless second-degree murder, along with Henry & Sons Construction Co., which is described as the private construction company of Schlitterbahn. Second-degree murder carries a sentence of 9 years to 41 years in prison.

They also were charged with 17 other felonies, including aggravated battery and aggravated endangerment of a child counts tied to injuries other riders sustained on the giant slide, called Verruckt, which is German for “insane.” The indictment accuses Henry of making a “spur of the moment” decision to build the ride, and that he and Schooley lacked technical or engineering expertise in amusement park rides.

Henry was ordered held in a Texas jail without bond Tuesday, pending extradition to Kansas. The attorney general’s office said Schooley is not in custody. Schooley didn’t have a listed phone number and no one answered the phone at Henry & Sons Construction Co. Eric B Terry, who represented the company in an earlier unrelated case, didn’t immediately return a phone or email message.

The same grand jury last week indicted the Kansas City park and Tyler Austin Miles, its former operations manager, on 20 felony charges. The charges include a single count of involuntary manslaughter in Schwab’s death. Miles has been released on $ 50,000 bond, according to one of his attorneys, Tricia Bath.

The company has promised to aggressively fight the criminal charges. After Miles and the park were charged, it said it would respond to the allegations in the 47-page indictment “point by point.”

After Henry’s arrest in Texas, Schlitterbahn spokeswoman Winter Prosapio said in an emailed statement: “We as a company and as a family will fight these allegations and have confidence that once the facts are presented it will be clear that what happened on the ride was an unforeseeable accident.”

According to the indictments, Henry decided in 2012 to build the world’s tallest water slide to impress the producers of a Travel Channel show. Henry’s desire to “rush the project” and a lack of expertise caused the company to “skip fundamental steps in the design process.”

The indictment said, “not a single engineer was directly involved in Verruckt’s dynamic engineering or slide path design.” The indictment said that in 2014, when there were news reports emerging about airborne rafts, a company spokesperson “discredited” them and Henry and his designer began “secretly testing at night to avoid scrutiny.”

The indictment listed 13 injuries during the 182 days the ride was in operation, including two concussions. In one of those cases, a 15-year-old girl went temporarily blind while riding.

Caleb, the son of Kansas Republican state Rep. Scott Schwab, was decapitated after the raft on which he was riding went airborne on a day when admission was free for state legislators and their families.

The family reached settlements of nearly $ 20 million with Schlitterbahn and various companies associated with the design and construction of the waterslide. The two women who rode on the same raft with Caleb suffered serious injuries and settled claims with Schlitterbahn for an undisclosed amount.

“Clearly the issues with Schlitterbahn go far beyond Caleb’s incident, and we know the attorney general will take appropriate steps in the interest of public safety,” the family said in a statement released Monday through their attorneys.

The indictment said Schooley was responsible for doing “the math” that went into the slide’s design and signed an operations manual claiming the ride met all American Society for Testing and Materials standards. But the indictment lists a dozen instances in which the design violated those standards and says investigators could find no evidence that so-called dynamic engineering calculations were made to determine the physics a passenger would experience. The indictment said Schooley lacked the technical expertise to properly design a complex amusement ride such as Verruckt.

The indictment said Schooley admitted, “If we actually knew how to do this, and it could be done that easily, it wouldn’t be that spectacular.”

Prosapio said Schlitterbahn does not expect any changes to the Kansas City park’s season, which is set to open May 25 and runs through Labor Day. The Verruckt slide has been closed since Caleb died.

Mike Taylor, a spokesman for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, says it does not believe it has the legal authority to shut down a business, other than for an epidemic or contagious disease outbreak.

The company also operates water parks in Galveston, Corpus Christi, South Padre Island and New Braunfels, Texas, according to its website.

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Associated Press writers David Warren and Terry Wallace in Dallas also contributed to this report.

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Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

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Sean Penn makes smoky appearance on 'Late Show'

Sean Penn made a smoky appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to promote his book.

The actor told the host Monday he had taken a sedative “to get to sleep after a red-eye flight” and Penn lit a cigarette.

The two-time Academy Award winner described his novel, “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff,” as “the conversation once a year with the drunken uncle.”

Penn lit a second cigarette and Colbert asked him to consider quitting. Penn said it was “job security for oncologists.”

Meanwhile, Penn told comedian Marc Maron in a podcast that that he and his ex-wife Robin Wright “don’t have a lot of conversation.”

Penn said they “have very separate relationships” with their children, 26-year-old Dylan and 24-year-old Hopper.

The couple divorced in 2010.

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'Ready Player One' Review: Spielberg goes back to the future

“Why can’t we go backward for once?” wonders the protagonist of “Ready Player One” shortly before gunning his “Back to the Future” DeLorean in reverse. “Really put the pedal to the metal.”

Pressing rewind is, if anything, an understandable desire these days. But in today’s reboot, remake-mad movies, it’s not exactly swimming against the tide. Yet Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One,” a rollicking virtual-world geekfest flooded by ’80s ephemera, doesn’t just want to wade back into the past. It wants to race into it at full throttle. For those who get their fix through pop nostalgia, “Ready Player One” is — for better or worse — an indulgent, dizzying overdose.

In a dystopian 2045 where the world looks mostly like a trash heap, teenager Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) lives in “The Stacks” — not aisles of books but towering piles of mobile homes — in Columbus, Ohio, with his aunt. “These days,” he narrates, “reality’s a bummer.” With bleakness all around, seemingly everyone is addicted to strapping on a headset and entering the virtual-reality landscape of the OASIS. There, an individual can transform into a digital avatar — live-action or animated, human or extraterrestrial, Sonny or Cher — and do basically anything. Your imagination is your only limit. You can even, we’re told, climb Mt. Everest with Batman! Presumably the thin air would make him less grumpy.

It’s been five years since the death of OASIS creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance), a fizzy-haired Steve Jobs-meets-Willy Wonka nerd deity who left behind a trio of Easter Eggs — hidden clues — in his game. The first one to find the keys and follow them to the end will win the rights to the trillion-dollar company. Wade, who goes by Parzival inside OASIS, is among the competitors still trying to crack the first challenge — a blistering melee through New York City streets where racers must evade, among other things, King Kong and the T-Rex from “Jurassic Park.”

At the film’s SXSW premiere, Spielberg introduced “Ready Player One,” based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 best-seller, as a “movie,” not a “film.” Spielberg, too, is here turning back the clock — just four months after releasing his well-timed ode to the freedom of the press, “The Post” — with a thrill-ride spectacle that harkens back to his pre-“Schindler’s List” days and the more popcorn-friendly flights of movie magic that Spielberg conjured before focusing on more “serious” tales.

The funny, sometimes awkward irony of “Ready Player One” is that Spielberg isn’t just making a movie like his old movies; he’s making a movie awash with his old movies. Sounding almost embarrassed, Spielberg — who initially thought a younger director ought to direct Cline and Zak Penn’s script — has said he stripped out many of his own references from the screenplay.

But the universe of “Ready Player One” remains a loving, fanboy homage to the escapist entertainments Spielberg did more than anyone to create. “Ready Player One” could conceivably be titled “Spielberg: The Remix.” Watching it is a little like seeing him sit in with a Spielberg cover band — a band that’s, like, totally stoked to have the master in their midst.

It’s also an opportunity for one of cinema’s most absurdly skilled and most insanely popular directors to reckon with both his blockbuster legacy and the more digitally versed generations of fantasy-seekers that have followed him. In the OASIS, there are solo players called “gunters” like Parzival and his VR-crush Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), who believe deeply in the game and its maker. And there are companies, specifically one called Innovative Online Industries led by a slick suit named Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), who sends armies of players into battle in hopes of capturing the lucrative company and — in the most sinister of anti-nerd plots — open up OASIS to advertising.

When it’s not careening through ’80s references from Tootsie Roll Pop commercials to Buckaroo Banzai, “Ready Player One” is an Internet parable. There’s mention of prior “bandwidth riots” ahead of this battle over keeping OASIS an open playground to all. “Ready Player One” is both game and war, the stakes of which are occasionally lessened by the fact that it’s a land of make believe. Much of “Ready Player One” also promotes a tiresome gamer culture where “real” fanboys outrank “haters,” geeks vie with suits, and tech wizards are slavishly worshipped. In between the book and the movie, Gamergate exposed the toxicity of the video-game culture lionized here.

As eye-popping as is the kaleidoscopic OASIS — a shinier, bigger-budget, less funny pop-culture soup than the one stirred in “The Lego Movie” — “Ready Player One” is best when it keeps a foot in to the real world. That’s clearly where Spielberg’s heart is, and it’s where, you can feel, he longs to lead his film. (Sorry, “movie.”)

Still, Spielberg shows that he’s just as capable as he ever was in making a rip-roaring spectacle. The momentum is headlong, the visual fireworks are brilliant and despite all the reality-flipping, every scene is perfectly staged. For a backward-looking movie, it’s incredibly forward-moving. Spielberg makes this stuff look easier, and register more clearly, than anyone else in blockbuster-making.

But if choosing between vintage Spielberg and meta Spielberg, I still — not to sound too fanboy-ish about it — prefer the genuine article.

“Ready Player One,” a Warner Bros. release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive material, partial nudity and language.” Running time: 140 minutes. Three stars out of four.

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Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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'Roseanne' revival aims to keep it real, Trump included

Roseanne Barr looks spiffier, John Goodman slimmer. But the mass-market plaid couch is a giveaway that ABC’s “Roseanne” revival hasn’t ditched its roots.

The blue-collar Conner family and the times in which they live are at the heart of the reboot, just as they were for the hit 1988-97 sitcom inspired by Barr’s stand-up comedy. The new “Roseanne” debuts 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday with an hour-long episode.

The prospect of updating the comedy was exciting “as long as we were permitted to tell relevant and authentic stories” about working-class characters, said Tom Werner, a producer for both shows.

That focus, noteworthy in the ’80s when the show entered a relatively small TV universe, is still rare despite the swarm of broadcast, cable and streaming shows.

Profitability aside, the industry has scant artistic regard for such fare. “Roseanne” failed to earn a best sitcom Emmy in its long run, joining snubbed shows about the non-affluent including “Married with Children” and “The Middle.” (Barr and “Roseanne” co-star Laurie Metcalf received acting trophies.)

“It’s shocking that ‘Roseanne’ was never even nominated for best comedy series at the Emmys despite winning the Golden Globe for best comedy, a Peabody and being in the top 10 Nielsen ratings year after year,” said Tom O’Neil, author of “The Emmys” and editor of the Gold Derby awards website.

But the show’s perspective may carry more weight today.

The 2016 presidential campaign “was a wake-up call in that there were a large group of voters who were frustrated with the status quo” and being sidelined by the economy, Werner said. “What we’re interested in doing is just telling honest stories about a family that’s up against it.”

In “Roseanne,” it’s up to matriarch Roseanne, a supporter of President Donald Trump, and her sister, Jackie (Metcalf), a hard-core opponent, to handle the political jousting.

“He talked about jobs” and shaking things up, Roseanne says of Trump in one scene. “I know this may come as a shock to you, but we almost lost our house because of the way things were going.”

“Have you looked at the news? Because now things are worse,” Jackie retorts.

“Not on the real news,” says Roseanne.

Sisterly love defuses the tension, with punchlines aimed at doing the same for viewers. Whether a sitcom can double as meeting ground for a divided nation, as “All in the Family” once did, remains to be seen given the current din from social media and cable news shows.

During a Q&A with TV critics in January, Barr initially ducked a question about whether her own politics — she supported Trump — influenced her character’s. “Go ahead, Bruce,” she said, inviting series producer Bruce Helford to answer. But the usually forthright Barr, also a writer and producer on the show, finally dived in.

“I have always attempted to portray a realistic portrait of the American people and of working-class people. … And, in fact, it was working-class people who elected Trump. So I felt that was very real, and something that needed to be discussed,” Barr said.

The same holds true for “people actually hating other people for the way they voted, which I feel is not American. And so I wanted to bring it (the series) right down the middle, and we did,” said Barr. She added that she’s not an apologist for the president and doesn’t agree with all he’s said and done, including some “crazy” things.

Whether the White House or child-rearing are on the family table, the writing has the same zest and bite as the original series. Roseanne’s distinctive cackle-laugh is intact, although she’s less prickly. And if familiarity breeds more comfort for viewers, the largely intact cast is there to help.

The Conner kids are back, including Sara Gilbert as Darlene, Michael Fishman as D.J. and Lecy Goranson as Becky. Sarah Chalke, who played Becky in later seasons, is on hand as a new character, and guest stars including Estelle Parsons and Sandra Bernhard will reprise their roles.

Goodman’s return required sleight of hand, given that Dan was killed off by a heart attack in the original’s final season. The revision is handled with a wink in the season opener, and Werner offers no apologies for rewriting TV history (as the original “Dallas” did when it turned a character’s death into a dream sequence).

“I appreciate the microscope which the show is under, but I’d rather see John Goodman in these episodes than not,” he said.

Goodman’s reaction: “I thought it was a clever way to do it — to handle it and get it out of the way.”

If the nine-episode reboot proves popular, Barr and others have expressed enthusiasm for another season. Werner said he hopes the audience embraces what’s key to the show, beyond punchlines and current events.

It’s “emotional,” he said. “There are certainly some very painful moments which go along with the comedy.”

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Online:

http://abc.go.com/

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Lynn Elber is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. She can be reached at lelber@ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.

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