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    The Chinese-language version of the Oscars is being held Saturday night in Taiwan's capital, Taipei, with veteran director Zhang Yimou's monochrome historical epic 'Shadow' a leading contender for best picture. The Golden Horse Awards honor films from Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China and other parts of the Chinese-speaking world, transcending political, cultural and geographic borders. This year's judging committee is led by Gong Li, the leading actress in many of Zhang's earlier films, who was invited by Ang Lee, director of Hollywood features such as 'Brokeback Mountain' and 'Hulk.' 'Shadow,' which delves into the rich vein of Chinese martial arts and palace intrigue, leads with 12 nominations. Other films in contention include 'Dear Ex,' which explores the relationship between a homosexual's family and his gay lover after his death.
  • Standing amid the charred foundations and burned-out movie sets of Paramount Ranch, officials from the National Park Service said Friday that they plan to rebuild and reopen the site that holds decades of movie history and still hosts a steady stream of Hollywood productions within the next two years. Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Superintendent David Szymanski announced the plan Friday as he guided reporters through the twisted metal and ashes that once made up the ranch's 'Western Town,' most of which burned shortly after a huge wildfire broke out Nov. 8 and swept through the surrounding mountains and community, destroying more than 700 homes and other buildings. 'The site is almost a total loss,' Szymanski said. 'It's easy to be somber. But there's some things that I'm hoping will allow us to be a little bit less somber. We'd like to get Paramount Ranch rebuilt in the next 24 months.' A church built for HBO's 'Westworld' and a train depot constructed for the 1990s CBS series 'Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,' the two productions most associated with the site, are all that remain of the structures, backed by the blackened hills of a wildfire that many feared for years. 'We've all dreaded it, we've tried to prepare, but sometimes the wind just takes over,' said Rory Skei, the chief deputy executive officer of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. 'We do what we can do.' Elsewhere on the fire, more residents were allowed Friday to return to homes they fled from days earlier. Authorities reopened more areas in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. But they kept some locations within the Woolsey Fire zone off-limits because of hazards ranging from burned power poles to compromised gas lines and destroyed roadways. Utility crews worked to remove damaged equipment and bring in replacements, including numerous power poles. Although walls of flame and towering columns of smoke were gone, firefighters continue to expand containment lines around the scorched area. Fire commanders said the 153-square-mile (396-square-kilometer) burn area was 78 percent surrounded. The count of destroyed structures reached 713. Another 201 structures were damaged. Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives were investigating three deaths. Two adults were found in a gutted car last week, and the remains of a person were found Wednesday in the rubble of a home that had burned to the ground. At the Paramount Ranch, structures that served as barns, hotels, saloons and barbershops for decades of movies and TV shows are gone. Workers will salvage what they can and then work to rebuild. The site began as a set for Paramount Pictures in the 1920s and was taken over by the National Park Service in 1980. It got a major restoration in 1985, with the park service trying to maintain as much as it could from the original buildings. Corrugated tin roofs on many of them still dated to the 1920s. Now those roofs lie burned and twisted on the ground like pieces of a crashed plane. Western Town specifically was built for TV productions in the 1950s and was used for such westerns as 'The Cisco Kid' and 'Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre.' But the site lent itself to productions of all kinds. 'American Sniper,' the 2014 film starring Bradley Cooper, was also partly filmed there, as was 2006's 'The Lake House,' starring Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. 'It could be adapted for anything,' Szymanski said. It remained to be seen how much the ranch being out of commission would affect Hollywood productions. HBO did not immediately answer questions about whether the fire would affect the upcoming season 3 of 'Westworld,' or whether production was planned for the ranch at all. The network previously expressed concern for 'all those affected by these horrible fires.' As the ranch's manmade structures are rebuilt, the stark surrounding hills will most likely take care of themselves. 'All this natural vegetation will regenerate itself,' said Sara Horner, board president of the Santa Monica Mountains Fund. 'A year from now, it will be green, from after the rains, and then in a few years, it'll look pretty much as it did. Nature is amazingly powerful in her ability to heal.
  • Justin Bieber has agreed to settle a long-running lawsuit filed by a former neighbor whose house the pop singer egged. A document filed Friday shows the case has been resolved in its entirety. No details were given about the terms. Jeffrey and Suzanne Schwartz filed a lawsuit in early 2015 that alleged they suffered emotional harm because of the egging and other actions by Bieber when he lived next door. The 24-year-old pop singer has already served probation in a criminal plea deal after the 2013 incident, and paid $80,000 in restitution for the damage he caused. The lawsuit alleged Bieber spit in Jeffrey Schwartz's face and terrorized the family with loud parties, drug use and aggressive driving while living in a gated community in the celebrity enclave of Calabasas. It sought more than $25,000 in damages for assault and battery, trespassing and infliction of emotional distress claims. Bieber's attorneys argued that the restitution he already paid and the punishment he was given were sufficient, and that he did not rightly owe more for emotional damages. Messages left for attorneys from both sides were not immediately returned. During an August hearing, Judge Elaine W. Mandel, who had taken over the case after three years, expressed skepticism at the plaintiffs' claims. She grilled the Schwartz's attorney Brian J. Kim to explain what damages Bieber caused the plaintiffs, calling them 'minimal.' She also did not appear inclined to admit much of the evidence the plaintiffs want to introduce at trial, including dozens of media stories about Bieber's misbehavior.
  • The Pulitzer Prize Board has decided not to remove fiction writer Junot Diaz over sexual harassment allegations. The board announced Friday that an independent review 'did not find evidence warranting' Diaz's departure and that the author would be 'welcome' to complete his term, which ends in April. The monthslong review was conducted by the Washington D.C. law firm Williams & Connolly. It followed an allegation by writer Zinzi Clemmons that Diaz had forcibly kissed her. Other female writers on social media shared their encounters with Diaz. Diaz won the Pulitzer for fiction in 2008 for his novel 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.' He currently teaches at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT announced in June that it had completed a review and found no evidence of misconduct.
  • ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey, who created a deep bench of ethnic diversity in the network's shows and fired Roseanne Barr for a racist tweet, will be stepping down. Her decision announced Friday comes amid ABC corporate parent Walt Disney Co.'s pending acquisition of 21st Century Fox and the planned reorganization of Disney's television units. Dungey, who became the first African-American programming chief for a major broadcast network when she was named to the job in February 2016, will be replaced by Karey Burke, head of programming development at ABC sibling cable channel Freeform since 2014, the network said. Dungey will remain during a transition period as Burke takes over. Burke's resume includes overseeing production of NBC prime-time series including 'ER' and 'The West Wing' from 1999 to 2003, during which time she developed 'Scrubs,' ''Freaks & Geeks' and other shows. In a statement, Dungey said she could have called ABC home for many more years but wants to tackle new, unspecified challenges. Under Dungey, both as president and in her previous job as head of ABC's drama development, the network became the home of 'Scandal,' ''How to Get Away With Murder' and other multiethnic shows from powerhouse African-American producer Shonda Rhimes. But Rhimes, whose shows own ABC's Thursday prime-time schedule, and another prominent producer, Kenya Barris of the network's sitcom 'black-ish,' have both jumped ship for lucrative streaming deals. More recently, Dungey made news for her quick action in canning Barr from her revived namesake show 'Roseanne' after the actress-comedian posted an insulting tweet about former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, who is African-American. Barr apologized, but the show, which had been an immediate success for ABC, was revamped without her and debuted this fall as 'The Conners.' In October, Disney said it was bringing in Fox executive Dana Walden as chairman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment. Burke will report to Walden after the Fox acquisition is completed, with Burke's replacement at Freeform to be announced, ABC said. In a statement, Disney CEO Bob Iger lauded Dungey for her 'curiosity, passion and creativity' and predicted she will be successful at whatever she chooses to pursue. Burke, a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, said she was honored to continue Dungey's legacy of 'excellent storytelling that touches so many people's hearts.' ___ Lynn Elber can be reached at lelber@ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber .
  • A small, private funeral has been held to mourn Marvel Comics mogul Stan Lee, and his company is making more plans to memorialize him. 'Stan was always adamant that he did not want a large public funeral, and as such his family has conducted a private closed ceremony in accordance with his final wishes,' Lee's company POW! Entertainment said in a statement to The Associated Press on Friday. POW! Entertainment has set up a memorial wall on Lee's website where friends, colleagues and fans can share thoughts, prayers and tributes to Lee, and messages from fellow creators and artists will be posted on Lee's social media pages in the coming days. The company says further memorial plans are in the works, and hopes to share more details soon. 'The grandeur of Stan makes this a monumental task,' the statement said. The 95-year-old was declared dead after being rushed to a Los Angeles hospital on Monday. No cause of death has been given. He co-created the Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, and many of the other heroes in the Marvel comic and cinematic universes. He was a hero himself to fans who frenzied for his movie cameos and public appearances as he remained an ambassador for Marvel until the end of his life.   
  • FilmStruck may be no more, but the Criterion Collection will live on as a subscription-streaming service. In an announcement that warmed the hearts of cinephiles everywhere, Criterion said Friday that it has reached an agreement with WarnerMedia to launch the Criterion Channel as a stand-alone service in spring next year. FilmStruck, the streaming offshoot of Turner Classic Movies and home to the Criterion's catalog of arthouse classics, is to be shutdown Nov. 29. The decision sparked a backlash, with tens of thousands signing petitions and prominent filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Paul Thomas Anderson and Guillermo del Toro lobbying for FilmStruck's preservation. Additionally, the Criterion Collection will join WarnerMedia's planned streaming service to launch late 2019. Said Criterion in a statement: 'The Criterion Channel will be picking up where FilmStruck left off.
  • Blanche Burton-Lyles, a concert pianist who was mentored by pioneering opera singer Marian Anderson, has died. She was 85. Burton-Lyles died of heart failure Monday at a rehabilitation center, according to Slater Funeral Home in Philadelphia. Burton-Lyles was born and raised in Philadelphia. She learned how to play classical piano at the age of 3. Burton-Lyles was the first African-American woman pianist to perform at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, according to The Marian Anderson Historical Society. She was 14 at the time. Anderson gave Burton-Lyles a recommendation for early admission to the Curtis Institute of Music. In 1954, she became the first African-American woman pianist to graduate from the institute. She went on to tour with Leroy Bostic and the Fellow Aires. Burton-Lyles managed the musical company after Bostic died and renamed it Lady Blanche and Her Merry Men. She was highly respected, giving concerts for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Burton-Lyles met her husband Thurman Lyles in 1955 and the pair married a year later. Lyles died in 2010. Burton-Lyles toured until 1963, when she started teaching music in the School District of Philadelphia. She received a master's degree in music education from Temple University in 1971. Anderson was the first black singer to perform at the Metropolitan Opera. Burton-Lyles committed herself to preserving Anderson's legacy, establishing a society in her name and turning the opera singer's Philadelphia home into a museum.
  • The 34th Film Independent Spirit Awards showered nominations on Bo Burnham's coming-of-age tale 'Eighth Grade,' Lynne Ramsay's existentialist thriller 'You Were Never Really Here' and Paul Schrader's religious drama 'First Reformed' in nominees announced Friday . Each scored four nods including best picture. Also nominated for best picture: Barry Jenkins' James Baldwin adaptation 'If Beale Street Could Talk' and Debra Granik's father-daughter tale 'Leave No Trace.' With many of this year's major Oscar contenders being bigger-budget studio releases like 'A Star Is Born' and 'Black Panther,' the Spirits threw their support behind a more idiosyncratic array of independent films from both veteran and first-time filmmakers. The leading nominee was a directorial debut that has collected all of $66,000 at the box office: Jeremiah Zagar's 'We the Animals.' The film, a lushly poetic story of three biracial brothers, received a leading five nominations including best first feature and the 'someone to watch' award. Doled out the day before the Academy Awards, the Spirits honor independent film, selecting from nominees with budgets under $20 million. Two other Academy Awards favorites — Alfonso Cuaron's 'Roma' and Yorgos Lanthimos' 'The Favourite' — weren't eligible for the Spirits' main categories, but were nominated for best international feature. That left plenty of room for films like Tamara Jenkins' 'Private Life' (three nods, including best director and best screenplay for Jenkins), Paul Dano's directorial debut 'Wildlife' (three nods, including best actress for Carey Mulligan) and Jennifer Fox's childhood sexual abuse chronicle 'The Tale' (three nods, including best first feature) to find attention. Selection committees went especially for 'Eighth Grade,' including a best actress nomination for its 15-year-old star, Elsie Fisher, and a supporting actor nom for her fictional father, Josh Hamilton. Joaquin Phoenix, the unhinged hit-man of 'You Were Never Really Here,' was nominated for best actor, along with John Chu ('Searching'), Daveed Diggs ('Blindspotting'), Christian Malheiros ('Socrates') and Ethan Hawke of 'First Reformed.' Alongside Mulligan and Fisher, the nominees for best actress were: Glenn Close ('The Wife'), Toni Collette ('Hereditary'), Regina Hall ('Support the Girls') and Helena Howard ('Madeline's Madeline'). The Spirits' Robert Altman Award, an ensemble prize given to a film's director, cast and casting director, will go to Luca Guadagnino's horror remake 'Suspiria.' The Spirits will also, for a second time, give the Bonnie Award (and a $50,000 grant) to a mid-career female director. This year's nominees are Granik, Jenkins and Karyn Kusama ('Destroyer'). Gemma Chan and Molly Shannon announced the nominations, which were streamed online, in a press conference from the W Hotel in Hollywood on Friday. After four straight years of matching best picture winners with the Oscars ('Moonlight,' ''Spotlight,' ''Birdman,' ''12 Years a Slave'), the Spirit Awards last year deviated by choosing Jordan Peele's 'Get Out' for its top award. The Spirits, presented by the non-profit arts organization Film Independent, will be broadcast live on IFC on February 23. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP
  • First day sales for Michelle Obama's 'Becoming' topped 725,000 copies, making it one of the year's biggest debuts. Crown Publishing told The Associated Press on Friday that the figures include sales and pre-orders for the former first lady's memoir include hardcover, audio and e-books editions for the United States and Canada. 'Becoming' was released on Tuesday, the same day Mrs. Obama launched a national book tour . Crown also announced that it had raised the book's print run from 1.8 million copies to 2.6 million. Reviews of the book, which traces Obama's journey from Chicago's South Side to the White House, have been positive, with The Washington Post praising its 'impressive balance in telling the truth of her challenges while repeatedly acknowledging her lucky life.' 'Becoming' had the biggest opening of any books in 2018 by Crown's parent company, Penguin Random House. But at least one other book this year, from Simon & Schuster, did start higher: Bob Woodward's 'Fear: Trump in the White House' sold around 900,000 copies after one day. 'Becoming' is well exceeding the pace of previous memoirs by first ladies. In 2003, Hillary Clinton's 'Living History' had first week sales of around 600,000 copies, at a time when audio sales were tiny and e-book sales nonexistent.