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"Star Trek' wax figures get new mission: helping museum

The starship Enterprise has a new five-year mission: to boldly go and raise money to help a quirky museum live long and prosper.

The Hollywood Science Fiction Museum recently took possession of life-sized wax figures of all seven crew members from the original "Star Trek" TV series, including Capt. Kirk.

The figures and a replica of the Enterprise bridge had spent a decade in storage.

"This is kind of a holy grail of Trek fandom," museum founder Huston Huddleston said in an online museum video.

The figures were crafted for the Movieland Wax Museum, a Buena Park tourist attraction. Around 10 years ago, the defunct museum auctioned off its contents, including the figures that had drawn generations of Trekkies.

"As far as anyone knew, it was lost," Huddleston said Wednesday of the Trek tableau. "It was either in a rich person's house and never seen again, or it was destroyed...nobody knew."

In fact, the intrepid crew had been rescued.

At the museum auction, Steve and Lori Greenthal ponied up $40,000 for Kirk, Spock, Sulu, Uhura, Dr. "Bones" McCoy, Chekov and Engineer Scott.

They wanted to keep the set from being broken up.

"We took them home and put them in our dining room," Lori told the Orange County Register (http://bit.ly/2nkPdRq).

Steve didn't like the way their life-like eyes stared.

"We put paper bags over their heads," he said.

Steve called a buddy, Chris Liebl of Anaheim, and they hatched a plan to make money from the figures. Liebl offered to pay half the purchase price and together they spent another $40,000 building a 20-by-30-foot mockup of the Enterprise bridge, complete with sounds effects from the TV show.

They took the set to Las Vegas for a 40th Star Trek anniversary gathering and sold about 800 photographs of people posing with the figures. George Takei, who played Sulu, and Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Uhuru, even stopped by to pose with their alter egos.

But the venture didn't make money and the setup was cumbersome.

So the figures eventually were dismantled and the wax heads and hands placed in cold storage. The bridge set was stored in a hangar at the Fullerton airport.

However, the airport now needs the hangar for other things.

Three months ago, the owners donated the set and its wax crew to the museum. On a recent weekend, they held a party to say goodbye.

"I've been on an emotional roller coaster," Lori Greenthal told the Register. "I'm happy they're going to be together and on display. It brings such joy to so many people."

The museum held a successful Kickstarter campaign to pay for about $14,000 to cover the expected costs of restoring the figures.

"Most of them are great shape," Huddleston said. "The only damage is their hair was messed up over the years and also 30 years of really harsh light on them had made their paint fade off."

Spock's figure already has been restored. Among other things, that meant removing a "terrible, tacky wig" that someone had stuck on top of the figure's original hair, which was composed of individual strands painstakingly punched into the wax, Huddleston said.

The nonprofit museum, which has no permanent home, plans to take the figures on a five-year North American tour beginning later this year in Los Angeles, Huddleston said.

The tour will help raise money to give the museum a home in North Hollywood.

Meanwhile, the Spock and McCoy figures will be introduced at the Wondercon convention in Anaheim that begins Friday, Huddleston said.

Huddleston called the figures "true pieces of art."

"I'm living a nerd's dream," he said.

BET Networks announces changes in executive ranks

Executive changes are afoot at BET Networks.

The cable channel said Wednesday that its programming president, Stephen Hill, is stepping down. BET also announced that executive vice president Zola Mashariki is leaving.

Connie Orlando, a BET senior vice president, will serve as interim programming chief after Hill's departure Friday.

Last month, Viacom's CEO identified BET Networks as one of the brands the media conglomerate intends to focus on. Others cited by Viacom chief Bob Bakish included Comedy Central and Paramount Network, the rebranded Spike TV.

The changes come a month before BET Networks presents its upcoming schedules to advertisers.

BET's recent programs included "The New Edition Story," a miniseries about the R&B group that was a ratings success.

‘DWTS’ pro Cheryl Burke replaces Abby Lee Miller on ‘Dance Moms’

“Dance Moms” instructor Abbey Lee Miller blindsided fans when she announced she was quitting the Lifetime reality TV show Monday, but the network is moving on fast.

According to Entertainment Tonight, “Dancing with the Stars” pro Cheryl Burke will be on board with the show for the rest of the season.

“It's a go with or without Abby,”an unnamed source told ET. “It's been up in the air because the network said it's either all of the cast or they weren't doing any [more episodes).”

Related: ‘Dance Moms’ Abby Lee Miller says she's leaving show

People reported that Miller is not aware of the replacement. Her representative told the outlet: “We haven’t been told anything about Abby being replaced or released from the show other than seeing the stories run last night.”

Miller announced her departure in an Instagram post.

“I just have a problem with being manipulated, disrespected, and used day in and day out by men who never took a dance lesson in their lives and treat women like dirt,” she wrote in a caption.

Burke had been on “DWTS” for the first 19 seasons, until her contract expired and she left the show in 2014. She returned for season 23 in 2016.

Miller, who is facing a bankruptcy fraud case for attempting to hid income from her show during her bankruptcy proceedings, has starred in “Dance Moms” since it started in 2011 and has had multiple spin-offs shows on Lifetime.

Benched legal analyst returns to Fox, stands by story

Fox News Channel legal analyst Andrew Napolitano returned to the air Wednesday, saying he stood by his claim about spying on President Donald Trump that got him benched by the network for more than a week.

Napolitano had reported on Fox that British intelligence officials had helped former President Barack Obama spy on Trump, a story that quickly attracted notice because the president cited it in a news conference. Britain denied that it had done any such thing, and Fox news anchors Shepard Smith and Bret Baier distanced the network from the report, saying its reporters had found no evidence that Trump had been under surveillance.

Fox said on March 21 that it was taking Napolitano off the air for an indefinite period. The former New Jersey judge has worked at Fox News and Fox Business Network as an analyst since 1998.

In his return Wednesday, Napolitano told anchor Bill Hemmer that he stood by his story — and Hemmer didn't mention that others at Fox had been unable to verify it.

"You've had a few quiet days," Hemmer told him. "You likely needed them."

Napolitano said he and his sources stand by the story, although he offered no new details.

"The American public needs to know more about this rather than less because a lot of the government surveillance authorities will expire in the fall and there'll be a great debate about how much authority we want the government to have to surveil us," he said. "And the more the American public knows about this, the more informed their and Congress' decisions will be."

Hemmer and Napolitano then moved on to another topic. Fox didn't explain to its viewers Wednesday why Napolitano had been off the air.

Fallon's 'Tonight' heads to Florida with Vin Diesel, Pitbull

Jimmy Fallon's guests will include Vin Diesel, Shaquille O'Neal and Pitbull when his NBC late-night show airs from Florida next week.

The "Tonight Show" host's four-night stand in Orlando celebrates the opening of Universal Orlando Resort's new 3D attraction, "Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon."

Other guests on the "Tonight" broadcasts airing April 3-6 include Blake Shelton, Scott Eastwood, Dwayne Johnson, Nicole Richie, Flo Rida, Jay Leno and Jason Derulo.

"Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon" opens April 6 at the Universal Orlando Resort. The attraction includes "Tonight" show segments such as Hashtag the Panda and a virtual go-kart race that whizzes past the Statue of Liberty and other New York landmarks.

2 women charge racial discrimination at Fox News

Two black women who work at Fox News Channel have charged in a lawsuit that they were subjected to "yearslong relentless racial" hostility at the hands of a top financial executive at the network who has since been fired.

Tichaona Brown and Tabrese Wright, who sued this week in New York State Supreme Court in the Bronx, said their boss talked about her physical fear of black people, humiliated them by making them repeat words she believes blacks pronounce incorrectly and mocked the "Black Lives Matter" movement.

Judith Slater, the executive involved, asked Wright, a mother of three, whether all of her children had the same father, the lawsuit alleges.

Fox said it fired Slater on Feb. 28. She was the network's controller and senior vice president of accounting.

"There is no place for inappropriate verbal remarks like this at Fox News," the network said in a statement. "We are disappointed that this needless litigation has been filed."

Fox offered no contact information for Slater, and it was not immediately clear if she had hired a lawyer.

The allegations of racial insensitivity come on the same week that Fox's most popular personality, Bill O'Reilly, apologized for an on-air comment that he couldn't concentrate on a speech by California Rep. Maxine Waters, who is black, because he was distracted by her "James Brown wig."

Fox is also dealing with the legal fallout from last summer's forced departure of former CEO Roger Ailes because of sexual harassment charges, which he denied.

Brown and Wright's lawsuit alleges that Fox "intentionally turned a blind eye" to the climate of racial hostility until it was clear that it couldn't keep the matter in-house. The lawsuit said Slater was fired "because Fox knew this would become a public matter and wanted to salvage its reputation." News reports of Slater's firing began circulating late last week.

Fox said it takes these matters very seriously and that it took action against Slater before the lawsuit and before Wright had complained through her lawyer.

The women also said that "days before this lawsuit was filed," Brown was fired and Wright demoted. Fox said Brown was still a Fox employee and Wright made a lateral move, with the same pay and benefits.

The lawsuit also detailed complaints about the racial atmosphere at Fox by four other black employees who have since left the network.

In the lawsuit, the women said Slater had also made derogatory remarks about people of Chinese, Indian and Mexican descent.

Poehler, Offerman team up for NBC craft-making reality show

Former "Parks and Recreation" stars Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman are reuniting for an NBC reality competition focused on craft making.

The network says Poehler and Offerman will produce and host "The Handmade Project." The series pits "eight of America's best all-around makers" against one another in a series of projects over six episodes.

In addition to playing Ron Swanson on "Parks and Rec," Offerman is well-known as an accomplished wood craftsman. He owns a custom woodworking business in Los Angeles and wrote a book about the craft last year.

NBC calls Poehler "a self-proclaimed crafting novice." She says in a statement that she's looking forward to finally conquering her fear of papier-mache.

NBC did not say when the show will air.

Fonda and Tomlin savor senioritis as 'Grace and Frankie'

The message of "Grace and Frankie" is: There's life after 70.

And also your own brand of vibrator, according to this Netflix comedy's just-released new season.

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin press on as the title characters whose longtime husbands (played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) abruptly left them for each other at the series' inception.

"When our law-partner husbands tell us they've been having an affair for 20 years, we're bereft and cast adrift," says Tomlin.

"What happens when you're in your late 70s and the rug is pulled out from under you?" poses Fonda.

The answer they and their show are promoting: "There can be a third act that's pretty robust and pretty fun," as Fonda puts it. "Don't write us off just because we're over the hill. 'Cause there's a lot of other hills still to come that are pretty exciting."

As the third season begins, the often-fractious friendship shared by uptight Grace and free-spirited Frankie has steered them into marketing a product designed to meet the special needs of women of their vintage. It's a vibrator with thoughtfully large-print directions and a swiveling head that won't aggravate the user's carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis. Its brand name: Menage a Moi.

Thus does "Grace and Frankie," between generous laughs, continue to explore growing older while thumbing its nose at Father Time.

Fonda and Tomlin (today hale and hearty at, respectively, 79 and 77) are the best advertisements for what the series is about. They first worked together in a certain hit film nearly four decades ago.

Fonda had attended a live performance by Tomlin "and I fell in love with her. I was preparing a movie called '9 to 5' that was kind of serious. But after I saw her show, I thought, 'I CAN'T do a movie about secretaries if Lily Tomlin isn't one of them.' And we had to totally redo the movie so it was funny."

Tomlin says she came to the project "totally in awe" of Fonda, and, referring to Fonda's Oscar-winning performance in the 1971 thriller "Klute," confides, "I had already worn a 'Klute' hairdo for a couple of years."

With their on-screen reunion for "Grace and Frankie," Fonda says Tomlin, once again, is "good for me to be around. I come from a long line of depressed people, and Lily's humor is right close to the surface. I tend to depression, and she finds laughter in everything. We have fun together."

Even so, the series presents challenges.

In the first season, Fonda unexpectedly identified with the abandonment issues her character was going through. "It kind of shatters" Grace, she says, and "it did for me, Jane, as well. It triggered something in me. It was really hard to be playing somebody going through that."

Thinking back on it seems to bring Fonda to the brink of tears.

Or not, she argues with a smile. "I just have something in my eyes."

And there are other demands besides the emotional. Like "working 16 hours a day when you're almost 80," Fonda says. "And we have to be learning our lines. Some of us," she adds with a comically knowing eye in Tomlin's direction, "have QUITE a challenge that way."

"I have NO problem learning lines!" Tomlin chortles. "She is just so full of it!"

"Lily stumbles around and forgets her lines," persists Fonda, "then, when it's all put together, it all turns out perfectly. She somehow makes it seem so fresh. When I forget MY lines, I just feel sort of like I'm a dud."

"This is just crazy talk," Tomlin counters, then reports that, a few days before, she watched a couple of episodes, "and — oh, I'm sorry — you're really GOOD."

"You think?" says Fonda, as if caught by surprise.

"Oh, yes. Just terrific."

"Aw, thanks," says Fonda, clearly touched.

But it all begs the question: How do these veteran actresses do it?

Fonda: "You've got to get enough sleep."

Tomlin: "You've got to squat."

Fonda: "Squat over WHAT?"

Tomlin: "Just squat. So that you stay flexible."

Fonda: "I get eight or nine hours of sleep. Which means when I get home I go right to sleep."

Tomlin: "I don't go right to bed. But I SHOULD."

Fonda: "I can only have one martini, or not even any if I have to work the next day."

Tomlin: "I could have a glass of wine if I'm going out to dinner — but who can go out to dinner?"

Fonda: "Dinner?! I don't even eat after 3 or 4."

Tomlin: "Don't make it sound so stringent!"

Fonda: "I WANT to make it sound stringent, so people will feel sorry for us and resent us less for being our age with such good jobs. I feel so lucky!"

Sure, but all those people who don't have a TV show "can go to bed a little later," Tomlin points out. "And only squat halfway."

_____

EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore@ap.org. Past stories are available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore

_____

Online:

https://www.netflix.com

'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' cast reunites for 20th birthday

Buffy Summers and her old pals from Sunnydale High are reuniting to celebrate the 20th birthday of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

Series creator Joss Whedon talks with stars Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan and 10 other cast members on "EW Reunites: Buffy the Vampire Slayer," which premieres Wednesday on the streaming People/Entertainment Weekly Network .

"This is like a high school reunion, but much worse because they all still look really great," Whedon says.

He and series stars including David Boreanaz, Nicolas Brendon, Charisma Carpenter and Michelle Trachtenberg share memories of their days on the show and reflect on its enduring impact.

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" premiered in 1997 and ran through 2003. Its title character battled vampires, demons and other dark forces while navigating everyday teenage struggles. Whedon was nominated for an Emmy for his writing on the show in 2000.

The show was "the ultimate metaphor," Gellar says.

"It was utilizing the horrors of adolescence manifested through these actual monsters," she says. "And I think that (for) everyone going through it, that's the hardest time of life and to understand that you're not alone through that."

The interview was filmed earlier this month in Los Angeles. The reunited "Buffy" cast also appears on the cover of the upcoming issue of Entertainment Weekly magazine, available Friday.

SEE IT: 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' cast reunites on Instagram

This reunion should bring a smile to the faces of '90s kids everywhere.

>> Read more trending news

More than 20 years after "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" came to an end, the cast was pictured "chillin' out, maxin', relaxin' all cool" Monday night in a photo shared to Instagram by Alfonso Ribeiro, aka Carlton Banks.

>> Is Will Smith becoming Uncle Phil? Internet freaks out over bungee-jumping selfie

"Always amazing to spend an afternoon with my Fresh Prince family," Ribeiro wrote in the post, which has more than 50,000 likes. "Wishing that James Avery was still with us to make this complete."

>> See the snapshot here

The photo features, from left, Tatyana Ali (Ashley Banks), Ribeiro, Karyn Parsons (Hilary Banks), Will Smith, Daphne Reid (Aunt Vivian) and Joseph Marcell (Geoffrey). Avery (Uncle Phil) died in December 2013.

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