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Senator Al Franken cut from PBS David Letterman tribute

PBS and WETA say Minnesota U.S. Senator Al Franken will not appear substantially in David Letterman's Mark Twain Prize special airing Monday night.

Representatives said Sunday that PBS will air an updated version of the previously filmed event in which Franken will only be visible at the end of the show when the cast joins Letterman on stage.

PBS and WETA said that the inclusion of Franken in the broadcast would distract from the show's purpose as a celebration of American humor.

Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of forcibly kissing her and groping her during a 2006 USO tour. Franken has since apologized to her and said that he remembers their encounter differently,

Tambor doesn't see how he can return to 'Transparent'

Following two allegations of sexual harassment against him, actor Jeffrey Tambor says he doesn't see how he can return to the Amazon series "Transparent."

In an ambiguous statement Sunday that heavily implies, though doesn't confirm, an imminent departure from the Emmy-winning series, Tambor referenced what he calls a "politicized atmosphere" that has afflicted the set. He said that this is "no longer the job I signed up for four years ago."

Two women have come forward over the past few weeks to accuse Tambor of sexual harassment, including "Transparent" actress Trace Lysette and his former assistant, who Tambor said was disgruntled.

"I've already made clear my deep regret if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being aggressive, but the idea that I would deliberately harass anyone is simply and utterly untrue," Tambor said Sunday.

He has repeatedly denied the allegations made against him, which are both under investigation by Amazon Studios. Representatives for Amazon did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

Tambor has won two Emmys for portraying Maura Pfefferman in the highly regarded show, which is now in its fourth season. The allegations made against Tambor have put its future in jeopardy.

Should Tambor part ways with "Transparent," it would be the latest professional casualty of the anti-sexual harassment movement that is upending Hollywood at all levels. Over the past few weeks, Kevin Spacey was fired from "House of Cards" and cut out of the film "All the Money in the World," and Louis C.K. had a Netflix standup special axed and was removed from Saturday's HBO benefit "A Night of Too Many Stars."

"Cosby Show" actor Earle Hyman dies at 91

Earle Hyman, a veteran actor of stage and screen who was widely known for playing Russell Huxtable on "The Cosby Show," has died.

Jordan Strohl, a representative for The Actors Fund, says that Hyman died Friday at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey. He was 91.

A North Carolina native, Hyman made his Broadway debut as a teenager in 1943. He would go on to become a charter member of the American Shakespeare Theater. In 1980 Hyman received a Tony nomination for "The Lady From Dubuque."

Hyman is best known, however, for "The Cosby Show" where he played the father to Bill Cosby's Cliff Huxtable, even though he was only 11 years his senior. He earned a guest performer Emmy nomination for the role in 1986.

‘Cosby Show’ actor Earle Hyman dead at 91

Earle Hyman, the actor best known for playing Russell Huxtable, Bill Cosby’s wise father on “The Cosby Show,” died Friday. He was 91.

>> Read more trending news

Hyman died at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, N.J., his nephew, Rick Ferguson, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Hyman played Othello on stage, was a regular on Broadway and received a Tony nomination for his performance as Oscar in the 1980 play “The Lady From Dubuque.” He also played the voice of Pantro on the animated series “ThunderCats, according to the Reporter.

From 1984 to 1992, Hyman played the father of obstetrician Cliff Huxtable and offered sage advice to his five grandchildren.

Hyman received an Emmy nomination in 1986 for outstanding guest performance in a comedy series on “The Cosby Show” episode “Happy Anniversary.”

"That's the one episode that was the most loved, most seen. People just loved it. It just shot off the charts,” Hyman said in 2009 on the podcast “Just My Show.” “We just had a ball, and the atmosphere just went over into a kind of reality. We were no longer Clarice and Earle, we were really Anna and Russell Huxtable.”

Born on Oct. 11, 1926, in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Hyman was the son of schoolteachers with Native American and African roots. He was raised in Brooklyn, New York, and began his film career with an uncredited appearance in the Oscar best picture winner “The Lost Weekend” (1945), according to the Reporter.

Reaction from the country music world on Mel Tillis' death

A look at reaction from the country music world on Mel Tillis, who died Sunday at age 85.

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Blake Shelton, on Twitter:

— He did his best to try and keep my head on straight. I looked up to Mel more than he could've possibly known. A talented songwriter. An incredible entertainer. And a funny funny guy. It has been a couple years since I saw him last. I deeply regret that now.

— He once spent an entire day at his place in Tennessee showing me all the memorabilia he'd gathered over the years where he gave me a pair of his stage boots. He even took time to talk me through some hard times in my life on a couple phone calls.

— Some of my most cherished memories are the times I spent with Mel Tillis. Many many great memories. From fishing, to just having a beer, to him crashing my concert!

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Kyle Young, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO, in a statement:

— Mel Tillis spent a lifetime giving us joy and laughter and music, which is why his death brings such sadness. Had he never stepped on a stage, he would still have been one of the funniest and most genuine people on the planet. But his whimsy and warmth were only a part of his appeal. He wrote some of country music's most compelling and consequential songs, he fronted a remarkable band, and he sang with power and emotion. He also shone as an inspiration, revealing what others called an impediment as a vehicle for humor and hope.

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Crystal Gayle, on Twitter:

— I'm saddened to hear of the passing of my friend, Mel Tillis. Sending my love and prayers to his family and friends. There will never be another Mel Tillis!

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John Rich, on Twitter:

— Mel Tillis and I became laughin buddies many years ago! He was truly one of a kind, and it was a real privilege to call him my friend.

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Charlie Daniels, on Twitter:

— Mel Tillis, you will be missed by so many of us you touched over the years. Rest in peace my friend.

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Tanya Tucker, in a statement:

—My heart is just broken over the passing of the great Mel Tillis. I have so many wonderful memories with him. I'll never forget working with him on "Love Boat" with Dottie West. We just go way back — from the time I was 8 years old when he brought me on stage with him. When I got older, sometimes I had to use other bands because I didn't have a band. Mel always let me use his band and I'll never forget that. We remained friends right up until the end. Love you, Mel.

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Naomi Judd, in a statement:

—There are stand-up comedians and then there's Mel Tillis. His hilarious misadventures out on the road are legendary. Just ask Mac Davis or Ray Stevens. I also know Mel as my friend. Upbeat guy who admirably turned his stuttering into an asset and educated everyone on how to overcome stereotypes. There will never be anyone else like Mel Tillis.

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Gene Watson, in a statement:

—Mel was a true country legend. A singer, a songwriter and entertainer. Like Ray Price, Mel was a forerunner in bringing a big band to country with 3 fiddles. As big as he was, he made time to come visit when I was in the studio. When I was in Branson, he would often drop by. I recorded Mel's song "Burning Memories." He was just a genuine nice guy and we will all miss him dearly.

Foo Fighters, Guns N’ Roses pay tribute to AC/DC’s Malcolm Young

The Foo Fighters and Guns N’ Roses paid tribute to Malcolm Young, the AC/DC rhythm guitarist who died Saturday at age 64. Both bands dedicated songs during their respective concerts to Young, who died three years after being diagnosed with dementia.

>> Read more trending news

The Foo Fighters opened its concert in Mexico City’s Corona Capital Festival with a blistering version of the 1977 A/C song, “Let There Be Rock,” Rolling Stone reported.

“We're going to play some rock ’n’roll for Malcolm tonight,” Dave Grohl told the crowd as a photo of Young was shown behind the band on the festival's large video screen.

>> AC/DC co-founder Malcolm Young dead at 64

Earlier in the day in a written tribute to Young, Grohl said that AC/DC's 1980 concert film “Let There Be Rock” “changed my life,” Rolling Stone reported.

Guns N' Roses played in Sacramento, California on Saturday. Although Axl Rose did not perform alongside Malcolm while he was the guest lead singer for AC/DC. The singer remains close to Malcolm's younger brother Angus Young, Rolling Stone reported.

“We're gonna dedicate this to Malcolm Young, who will be sorely missed. By none more than his brother Angus,” Rose told the crowd as Slash played a solo rendition of Alice Cooper's "Only Women Bleed."

>> PHOTOS: Notable deaths, 2017

Guns N' Roses then dedicated its covers of both Bob Dylan's “Knockin' on Heaven's Door” and AC/DC's “Whole Lotta Rosie” to the late guitarist.

In a statement to Rolling Stone, Slash said "Malcolm Young was one of the best-ever rhythm guitarists in rock ’n’ roll. He was a fantastic songwriter and he had a great work ethic too. I toured with AC/DC on their 'Stiff Upper Lip' tour. I found Malcolm to be a really cool, down to earth fellow. The entire rock ’n’ roll community is heartbroken by his passing.”

Model accuses Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct

Model Keri Claussen Khalighi has come forward to accuse Def Jam Records mogul Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct in 1991 when she was 17 years old.

In a report Sunday in the Los Angeles Times, Khalighi says that Simmons coerced her to perform a sex act and later penetrated her without her consent in his New York apartment. She said the film producer and director Brett Ratner, who has also been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment, was present.

Khalighi said she asked Ratner, then a music video director and Simmons protege, for help.

"I'll never forget the look on his face," she told the Times. "In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together."

Simmons, now 60, has denied the allegations in a statement, which he also posted to his Twitter account. He says everything that occurred between himself and Khalighi was completely consensual and with her "full participation."

"I'm deeply saddened and truly shocked to learn of Keri's assertions as to what happened over the course of that weekend," Simmons said in the statement.

He also detailed his own support of the #MeToo movement and the "brave men and women who have spoken out over the past month."

Simmons' statement, issued through his spokesman Eric W. Rose, also included three witness statements in his defense. Two were anonymous and one was from Simmons' former assistant Anthony McNair, who said that he did not notice any visible signs of distress from Khalighi during that time.

The Times report also includes four additional allegations against Ratner, who was previously facing at least six allegations of misconduct from women including actress Olivia Munn. His attorney, Martin Singer, has denied all allegations.

Among the new accusers are, Tanya Reid, who was working as a hotel employee in Miami 1994 when she was 18. She says that Ratner, who had asked her if she wanted to appear in a music video he was shooting, exposed himself to her and pressured her into sex acts.

Representatives for Ratner did not immediately respond to requests for comment Sunday.

The article also describes a "boy's club" culture among Ratner and Simmons' circle of friends, which includes disgraced writer-director James Toback, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by hundreds of women, Roman Polanski and producer Robert Evans. Ratner's home in Beverly Hills, Hilhaven Lodge, was a frequent gathering spot and the alleged site of some of the improprieties.

Khalighi told the Times that she was motivated to come forward after reading the Nov. 1 report about Ratner. She says she called Simmons first and "urged him to disclose his past behavior" during a 27-minute conversation in which she says he did not deny her claims. She also says she spoke to Ratner about the matter 15 years ago.

"I'm coming out because what I've experienced privately is not matching what they are saying publicly and hypocrisy to me is repugnant," Khalighi said. "It's time for the truth to come out."

'Justice League' disappoints in US with $96 million opening

Only in the modern era of superhero films could a $96 million opening weekend be considered anything less than impressive. But that's the situation Warner Bros. and DC's "Justice League" find themselves in.

The big budget superhero mashup came in well under expectations, which had pegged it for a $110 million launch in North American theaters. If studio estimates hold, it will also have the dubious distinction of being the lowest-opening film in the DC Extended Universe.

It has been a rollercoaster for the DC Universe since "Man of Steel" kicked off the comic book franchise in 2013, with films battling high expectations, critical reviews and the impossible standard of competing against the Marvel Cinematic Universe. "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" may have been a critical dud in early 2016, but it still opened to $166 million and went on to net $873.3 million worldwide by the end of its run.

"Justice League" comes on the heels of the widely well-received "Wonder Woman," the first DC Extended Universe film to score with both critics and audiences. It reunites Ben Affleck's Batman and Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman to fight a new threat facing earth while introducing new characters like Ezra Miller's The Flash, Jason Momoa's Aquaman and Ray Fisher's Cyborg. "Justice League" didn't impress critics, but neither did "Batman v Superman" or "Suicide Squad," which still managed to earn $133.7 million out of the gates.

Warner Bros. is remaining optimistic about "Justice League's" prospects, even with the lower than expected launch against a production budget that's reported to be in the $250 million to $300 million range, which doesn't include marketing expenses.

"I did have a higher expectation for the three days," said Jeff Goldstein, who heads up domestic distribution for Warner Bros. "(But) this is a big vacation week, and we have an opportunity to get a big audience to see us in a different pattern."

Goldstein said he is also encouraged by a few factors, including the overall B+ CinemaScore, the fact that women, who accounted for 42 percent of the audience, gave it an A- overall, and that Saturday earnings were up from Friday's.

"Clearly there is interest in the movie," Goldstein said.

"Justice League" pulled most of its weight abroad, where it launched to $185.5 million from 65 markets, boosting the worldwide debut to $281.5 million.

One film that did have a heroic showing this weekend is "Wonder," an adaptation of R.J. Palacio's novel about a child with a facial deformity that stars Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay. The family-friendly drama opened in second place with $27.1 million against a $20 million production budget and could be on its way to becoming a sleeper hit. Lionsgate distributed the film, which was financed and produced by Participant Media.

"Any time you have a big superhero movie opening, a movie like 'Wonder' could be overshadowed. But it's one of the brightest spots of the weekend," said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for comScore. "This could be a $100 million movie as people get the word out."

Disney and Marvel's "Thor: Ragnarok" fell to third place in weekend three with $21.8 million, bringing its North American total to $247.4 million. "Daddy's Home 2" took fourth with $14.8 million and "Murder on the Orient Express" landed in fifth with $13.8 million. Both are in their second weekend in theaters.

Opening outside of the top 10, the faith-based animated film "The Star," from Sony's AFFIRM label, took sixth place with $10 million. And both "Lady Bird" and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" continue to thrive in their expansions.

The Thanksgiving holiday should not be discounted either in its potential to boost a film's earnings, and the only, albeit formidable, competition will be from Disney and Pixar's latest "Coco."

"Thanksgiving is the perfect second weekend for any movie," Dergarabedian said. "Including 'Justice League.' "

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1."Justice League," $96 million ($185.5 million international).

2."Wonder," $27.1 million ($310,000 international).

3."Thor: Ragnarok," $21.8 million ($24.1 million international).

4."Daddy's Home 2," $14.8 million.

5."Murder on the Orient Express," $13.8 million ($20.7 million international).

6."The Star," $10 million.

7."A Bad Moms Christmas," $6.9 million ($5.1 million international).

8."Lady Bird,' $2.5 million.

9."Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," $1.1 million.

10."Jigsaw," $1.1 million ($4.1 million international).

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Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:

1. "Justice League," $185.5 million.

2. "Thor: Ragnarok," $24.1 million,

3. "Murder on the Orient Express," $20.7 million.

4. "Paddington 2," $9.2 million.

5. "The Golden Monk," $8.5 million.

6. "Happy Death Day," $8 million.

7. "A Bad Moms Christmas," $5.1 million.

8. "Suck Me Shapespeer 3," $4.3 million.

9. "Jigsaw," $4.1 million.

10. "Coco," $3.6 million.

___

Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.

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Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/ldbahr

Nick Cave plays Israel to 'take stand' against boycotters

Nick Cave, the dark poet of rock, on Sunday accused the anti-Israel boycott movement of trying to bully musicians and said he was taking a "principled stand" by performing in the country.

The Australian artist, known for music that can be both melancholic and uplifting, is popular in Israel and is set to perform a pair of nearly sold-out shows.

At a news conference, Cave spoke about the pressure on artists by the international movement that seeks to ostracize Israel by lobbying corporations, performers and academic institutions to sever ties with the Jewish state.

He said record producer Brian Eno had asked him three years ago to sign a boycott list. "On a very intuitive level I did not want to sign that list, there was something that stunk to me about that list," Cave said.

He said it felt "cowardly" not to play in Israel and after much thought and consideration, he decided to play Israel on his tour this year.

"So at the end of the day there are two reasons why I am here. One is that I love Israel and I love Israeli people and two is to make a principled stand against anyone who wants to censor and silence musicians," Cave said.

"So really you could say in a way that the BDS made me play Israel," he said.

The BDS movement advocates boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel in what its supporters say is a nonviolent way to promote the Palestinian cause. It counts thousands of volunteers around the world.

Israel says the campaign goes beyond fighting its occupation of territory Palestinians claim for a state and often masks a more far-reaching aim to delegitimize or destroy the Jewish state. Some BDS critics accuse the movement of anti-Semitism — a claim the movement rejects.

BDS has enlisted the support of Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters and has persuaded some performers like Elvis Costello and Lauren Hill against playing.

A long list of artists including Metallica, Madonna, Elton John, Rihanna, Ozzy Osbourne and others have ignored the pressure and performed in Israel in recent years.

Longtime country singer, songwriter Mel Tillis dies

Mel Tillis, the affable longtime country music star who wrote hits for Kenny Rogers, Ricky Skaggs and many others, and overcame a stutter to sing on dozens of his own singles, has died.

A spokesman for Tillis, Don Murry Grubbs, said Tillis died early Sunday at Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida. He was 85.

Grubbs said Tillis battled intestinal issues since 2016 and never fully recovered. The suspected cause of death is respiratory failure.

Tillis, the father of country singer Pam Tillis, recorded more than 60 albums and had more than 30 top 10 country singles, including "Good Woman Blues," ''Coca Cola Cowboy" and "Southern Rain."

Among the hits he wrote for others were "Detroit City" for Bobby Bare; "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town," by Rogers and the First Edition; and "Thoughts of a Fool" for George Strait.

Bare was a bandmate of Tillis' in Old Dogs, along with Waylon Jennings and Jerry Reed. Bare said in a statement that he had been friends with Tillis since the late 1950's, when they met in Nashville.

"I've lost another fishing buddy and a talented, talented brother," Bare said. "Without Mel and 'Detroit City,' I probably would not have had a career."

Country music stars Charlie Daniels, Crystal Gayle, Tanya Tucker, Naomi Judd and Blake Shelton also offered their condolences and talked about their memories of Tillis on social media and in statements from publicists.

"He once spent an entire day at his place in Tennessee showing me all the memorabilia he'd gathered over the years where he gave me a pair of his stage boots," Shelton's Twitter account said. "He even took time to talk me through some hard times in my life on a couple phone calls."

Although his early efforts to get a record deal were rebuffed because of his stutter, he was a promising songwriter in Nashville in the 1950s and 1960s, writing tunes for Webb Pierce and Ray Price.

In all, the Country Music Hall of Fame member wrote more than 1,000 songs and in 2012 received a National Medal of Arts for bringing "his unique blend of warmth and humor to the great tradition of country music."

He also dabbled in acting, appearing in such feature films as Clint Eastwood's "Every Which Way But Loose," and the Burt Reynolds movies "Cannonball Run I and II" and "Smokey and the Bandit II." He starred in several television movies and briefly had a network TV show, "Mel and Susan Together," with Susan Anton.

In 2007, Tillis became a regular performer on the Grand Ole Opry country music show.

"You know what? Another part of the dream has been fulfilled," he said at the time. "It's been a long, hard road."

Tillis was raised in Pahokee, Florida, and developed his stutter as a child while being treated for malaria. He dropped out of the University of Florida and instead served in the Air Force and worked on the railroad before relocating to Nashville in 1957.

Musical from an early age, he started performing in the early 1950s with a group called The Westerners, while stationed in Okinawa and serving as a baker in the Air Force.

He held a variety of odd jobs before breaking out, including being a truck driver, a strawberry picker, a firefighter on the railroad and milkman, which inspired his breakthrough song. Feeling down one day he began singing to himself, "Oh Lord, I'm tired. Tired of living this ol' way." He turned his lament into "I'm Tired," which became a hit for Webb Pierce.

Price, Skaggs, Brenda Lee and hundreds of others would cover his songs.

Tillis, meanwhile, became a major success on his own in the late 1960s and toured for decades, often using his stutter as a source of humor — though his stutter disappeared when he sang.

"One of the reasons I worked it into my show is that it's my trademark," he once told The Associated Press.

He said that when he was in the Air Force as a flight leader, he marched airmen right into a wall.

"I couldn't get out the word 'halt,'" he said.

Grubbs says the Tillis family will release information about funeral services in Florida and Nashville.

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