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Lithuanian TV apologizes for Nazi gestures by actress

Lithuania's public television apologized Wednesday for a live show in which a popular actress made gestures to represent Adolf Hitler's moustache while raising her arm in a Nazi-style salute.

Virginija Buneviciute, a spokeswoman for Lithuanian National Radio and Television LRT, told The Associated Press the contract with the production company behind the popular "Guess the Melody" show was immediately terminated.

During Friday's contest, which actress Asta Baukute was about to win, she jumped off her seat when recognizing a melody by a Lithuanian composer of Jewish heritage. She then made the gestures and yelled "Jew, Jew, Jew" in Lithuanian.

Hours after the show was aired, LRT's deputy manager Rimvydas Paleckis said on the channel's Facebook page he was shocked, adding "this is in no way compatible with our values."

"The show is closed," he added.

Buneviciute said in an email: "As a public broadcaster, we stick to the policy of non-censorship, yet I can hardly imagine a situation (in which) she would be invited to one of our programs now."

Local media said Baukute, a former lawmaker with a populist party in Lithuania, later apologized and said she didn't want to hurt anyone. She was not immediately available for comments.

Ex-TV show contestant's video shows him rescuing choking man

A contestant on the TV reality show "American Ninja Warrior" put some different skills to use when he rescued a motorist who was choking alongside a New York street.

Exterminator Pavel Fesyuk (PAY'-vehl feh-SHOOK') says he was driving a Town and Country Pest Solutions vehicle with his cellphone camera recording video from the dashboard when he spotted a man bent over the trunk of his car Tuesday on a Rochester street.

The video shows Fesyuk approaching the man, who motions for Fesyuk to pat his back. Fesyuk patted the man's back, but when that didn't help, he got behind the man and performed the Heimlich maneuver.

Fesyuk says the man then swallowed whatever was blocking his air passage. The video shows both men heading to their vehicles before driving away.

First images: Joseph Fiennes portrays Michael Jackson, draws ire from Jackson's fans

A new television show is prompting controversy after the casting of Joseph Fiennes in the role of one of the most iconic African American entertainers, Michael Jackson.

>> Read more trending stories  

The first images have been released and it's causing many to question Fiennes', who is white, casting as the King of Pop, E! News reported.

Announced in January 2016, the movie is called "Urban Myths" and will examine the supposed stories of the rich and famous.  

The Fiennes segment illustrates a story that was written in Vanity Fair, where Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando drove from New York to Ohio trying to get home after the 9/11 attacks, E! News reported.

Related: Joseph Fiennes to play Michael Jackson in 9/11 road trip drama

Stockard Channing plays Taylor and Bryan Cox is Brando.

The film is being released by Sky Arts, a U.K. channel that is geared to the arts.

Watch the trailer here or below:

The "collection of comedies," as it is being billed, also stars Eddie Marsan as Bob Dylan, Rupert Grint as "Hitler's Friend," and will air in the U.K. on Jan. 19, Billboard reported.

Fiennes' casting as Jackson has come under fire on social media, from not only fans of Jackson but also media outlets.

Get your first (and hopefully last) look at Joseph Fiennes playing Michael Jackson: https://t.co/HcfbLlnoBM pic.twitter.com/yJxG1sulGR— Slate (@Slate) January 10, 2017

I hope it loses every single dime of its budget. Every single dime. #UrbanMyths https://t.co/99qCA2lkzn— Keith Powell (@KeithPowell) January 11, 2017

Nope!! #UrbanMyths Trailer:Joseph Fiennes Makes His Debut as Michael Jackson in British Comedy Series https://t.co/s0sxDba4H7 via @indiewire— Denise Renee (@deniserenee24) January 11, 2017

Here is a Horrifying Look at Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson in Urban Myths https://t.co/BcS1boigSp via @jezebel— Kimberly Shaw (@52cf42b127ad49e) January 11, 2017

No. No. Here Are the First Images of Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson https://t.co/RAnC8IgZGK via @enews— Kathleen Schmidt (@Bookgirl96) January 11, 2017

Shonda Rhimes: Don't look for Donald Trump in 'Scandal'

A roundup of news Tuesday from the Television Critics Association winter meeting, at which TV networks and streaming services are presenting details on upcoming programs.

____

PARALLEL WORLDS

There's the world of Trump and the world of "Scandal." Don't go looking for similarities between the two, because the ABC show's creator certainly isn't.

The series returns to ABC's lineup on Jan. 26 with its own election, early episodes that were filmed before the world learned the results of the real-world contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

"I don't really equate the two," said "Scandal" executive producer Shonda Rhimes on Tuesday. "That's not really the goal. If it was the goal, we would have waited until after the election" to film new episodes.

The show is beginning its sixth season, and ABC can use the ratings boost. The season was shortened from 22 to 16 episodes to accommodate star Kerry Washington's pregnancy, and Rhimes said being able to concentrate on fewer programs sharpened the storytelling.

Washington gave birth to her second child, a boy named Caleb Kelechi, on Oct. 5.

Even though she was obviously busy, Washington said she and the show's other stars sought each other out to talk about what happened on election night.

"Over the years, these are the people I've become closest to in many ways," she said. "It was strange to have to find each other on hiatus, to kind of check with each other and process it."

Rhimes batted away political questions during a meeting with reporters, including one about Meryl Streep's Golden Globes speech. She said she had no problem with ABC postponing the show's debut for a week for the network to air a pre-inauguration special.

___

UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE

Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black says his upcoming TV miniseries about the gay rights movement is for everyone, up to and including the incoming president.

"I think there's a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump who will love this show," Black told a TV critics' meeting Tuesday. "I didn't write this show for half the country. If Donald Trump watches the show, I think he might like the show."

"When We Rise," airing Feb. 27 to March 2 on ABC, recounts the LGBT civil rights movement and those involved from the mid-20th century to present day. The cast includes Guy Pearce, Rachel Griffiths, Mary-Louise Parker, Ivory Aquino and Michael Kenneth Williams.

Black said the show already has come under online attack from white nationalists known as the alt-right, but said that "the show is not a war. We are not against anyone."

The project was initiated four years ago and without anticipation of the current political climate, Black said.

He wrote it for members of his own family, he said. The writer, who won an Academy Award for 2008's "Milk," described growing up in a "religious, conservative, military" household in the South.

His message to his cousins, aunts, uncles and others is, "Hey, we have more in common than we think and we speak the same language," Black said.

The series' perspective is universal, Black said, calling it a "conversation about what it's like to be a minority in this world" and the importance of working together.

Williams ("Boardwalk Empire," ''12 Years a Slave") said the miniseries offers "stories of triumph and courage this country was built" and is a timely celebration of American diversity and unity.

When Black and the actors were asked about whether Hollywood is out of touch with middle America, Griffiths responded.

"This show isn't four nights of telling the middle how they should think and feel. It's not an education, propaganda tool, which I'm sure the alt-right will say it is," said the Australian actress ("Six Feet Under").

Instead, she said, it's an opportunity to understand the lives of others. When she was a "little Irish Catholic girl" and watched the slavery epic "Roots," she learned what it was like to be owned by another person and "that affected me for the rest of my life."

___

TRY, TRY AGAIN

Jenna Elfman is taking aim again at finding comedic success on television.

The actress best known for her hit ABC show "Dharma & Greg" that ran from 1997 to 2002 is back on the same network with "Imaginary Mary." Elfman plays a woman dating a man with children. Her character relies on an imaginary friend voiced by Rachel Dratch of "Saturday Night Live" fame.

Elfman has had starring roles in six comedies since 1996-97. Only "Dharma & Greg" lasted more than a single season.

"I'm always looking for writing I feel I can express myself in a true way," she told the Television Critics Association winter gathering on Tuesday.

Her latest role presents challenges similar to what Elfman faced in the 2003 movie "Looney Tunes: Back in Action."

Back then, she was acting against a green screen. Now, she rehearses with a life-sized puppet and another actress on set who does Dratch's lines since she's based in New York and the show is shot in Los Angeles.

The puppet is removed for filming, when Elfman is interacting with Stephen Schneider, who plays her boyfriend, and his children. The boyfriend doesn't see or hear the imaginary friend.

"It was actually a really great challenge," Elfman said. "I liked the challenge of maintaining all these things. I felt super-engaged on set all the time."

___

AP Writers David Bauder, Lynn Elber and Beth Harris contributed to this report.

Jenna Elfman tries again for TV comedic success

Jenna Elfman is taking aim again at finding comedic success on television.

The actress best known for her hit ABC show "Dharma & Greg" that ran from 1997 to 2002 is back on the same network with "Imaginary Mary." Elfman plays a woman dating a man with children. Her character relies on an imaginary friend voiced by Rachel Dratch of "Saturday Night Live" fame.

Elfman has had starring roles in six comedies since 1996-97. Only "Dharma & Greg" lasted more than a single season.

"I'm always looking for writing I feel I can express myself in a true way," she told the Television Critics Association winter gathering on Tuesday.

Her latest role presents challenges similar to what Elfman faced in the 2003 movie "Looney Tunes: Back in Action."

Back then, she was acting against a green screen. Now, she rehearses with a life-sized puppet and another actress on set who does Dratch's lines since she's based in New York and the show is shot in Los Angeles.

The puppet is removed for filming, when Elfman is interacting with Stephen Schneider, who plays her boyfriend, and his children. The boyfriend doesn't see or hear the imaginary friend.

"It was actually a really great challenge," Elfman said. "I liked the challenge of maintaining all these things. I felt super-engaged on set all the time."

Writer: Gay rights TV miniseries is for all, including Trump

Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black says his upcoming TV miniseries about the gay rights movement is for everyone, up to and including the incoming president.

"I think there's a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump who will love this show," Black told a TV critics' meeting Tuesday. "I didn't write this show for half the country. If Donald Trump watches the show, I think he might like the show."

"When We Rise," airing Feb. 27 to March 2 on ABC, recounts the LGBT civil rights movement and those involved from the mid-20th century to present day. The cast includes Guy Pearce, Rachel Griffiths, Mary-Louise Parker, Ivory Aquino and Michael Kenneth Williams.

Black said the show already has come under online attack from members of the alt-right movement, but said that "the show is not a war. We are not against anyone."

The project was initiated four years ago and without anticipation of the current political climate, Black said.

He wrote it for members of his own family, he said. The writer, who won an Academy Award for 2008's "Milk," described growing up in a "religious, conservative, military" household in the South.

His message to his cousins, aunts, uncles and others is, "Hey, we have more in common than we think and we speak the same language," Black said, adding that he treasures his relatives.

The series' perspective is universal, Black said, calling it a "conversation about what it's like to be a minority in this world" and the importance of working together.

Williams ("Boardwalk Empire," ''12 Years a Slave") said the miniseries offers "stories of triumph and courage this country was built" and is a timely celebration of American diversity and unity.

When Black and the actors were asked about whether Hollywood is out of touch with middle America, Griffiths responded.

"This show isn't four nights of telling the middle how they should think and feel. It's not an education, propaganda tool, which I'm sure the alt-right will say it is," said the Australian actress ("Six Feet Under").

Instead, she said, it's an opportunity to understand the lives of others. When she was a "little Irish Catholic girl" and watched the slavery epic "Roots," she learned what it was like to be owned by another person and "that affected me for the rest of my life."

___

Lynn Elber can be reached at lelber@ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.

Nielsen's top programs for Jan. 2-8

Prime-time viewership numbers compiled by Nielsen for Jan. 2-8. Listings include the week's ranking and viewership.

1. NFL Playoff: Detroit vs. Seattle, NBC, 26.89 million.

2. NFC Wildcard Postgame (New York Giants vs. Green Bay), Fox, 21.52 million.

3. Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 20.02 million.

4. "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 16.80 million.

5. NFL Playoff Pre-kick, NBC, 16.78 million.

6. "NCIS," CBS, 15.80 million.

7. "Bull," CBS, 11.31 million.

8. "Blue Bloods," CBS, 10.78 million.

9. "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 10.41 million

10. Rose Bowl: USC vs. Penn State, ESPN, 10.19 million.

11. "Hawaii Five-O," CBS, 10.10 million

12. "NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 9.63 million.

13. "The Great Indoors," CBS, 9.46 million.

14. "Madam Secretary," CBS, 9.00 million.

15. "Mom," CBS, 8.50 million.

16. "MacGyver," CBS, 8.42 million.

17. "60 Minutes," CBS, 8.22 million.

18. "The Simpsons," Fox, 8.19 million.

19. "Chicago PD," NBC, 7.89 million.

20. "Last Man Standing," ABC, 7.75 million.

___

ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co.; CBS is a division of CBS Corp.; Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox; NBC is owned by NBC Universal. ESPN is owned by ESPN Inc.

Football, Globes help NBC to 7th straight weekly ratings win

NBC kicked off the new year with a winning week and a football clash that took the top spot.

Nielsen says NBC's telecast of the NFL playoff game between Detroit and Seattle was the week's most-watched show with nearly 27 million viewers. That helped the network to an overall win in prime time with an average of 10.32 million viewers.

Also helping: NBC's Golden Globes telecast, seen by 20 million viewers.

It all added up to NBC's seventh straight weekly win, its longest in-season streak in 21 years.

The week's runner-up was CBS, scoring 12 shows in the Top 20 and a prime-time average of 7.92 million. Fox, placing third, had 6.12 million.

ABC had 5.15 million viewers, while Univision had 1.95 million, Telemundo had 1.64 million, ION television had 1.30 million, and the CW had 750,000 viewers.

Among cable networks, ESPN was on top with an average 3.14 million viewers. Runner-up Fox News Channel had 2.37 million, while HGTV had 1.72 million.

In the newscast derby, ABC's "World News Tonight" held the lead with an average of 9.96 million viewers, while NBC's "Nightly News" was second with 9.77 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 8.12 million.

For the week of Jan. 2-8, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Playoff: Detroit vs. Seattle, NBC, 26.89 million; NFC Wildcard Postgame (New York Giants vs. Green Bay), Fox, 21.52 million; Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 20.02 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 16.80 million; NFL Playoff Pre-kick, NBC, 16.78 million; "NCIS," CBS, 15.80 million; "Bull," CBS, 11.31 million; "Blue Bloods," CBS, 10.78 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 10.41 million; Rose Bowl: USC vs. Penn State, ESPN, 10.19 million.

___

ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox and Fox News Channel are owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks. ESPN is owned by ESPN Inc.

___

Online: http://www.nielsen.com

Report: Fox News settled harassment claims against O'Reilly

A former Fox News personality who accused Bill O'Reilly of sexual harassment was paid a sum in the high six figures by the network's parent company in exchange for her silence and agreement not to sue, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The employee, Juliet Huddy, said O'Reilly, the network's biggest star, pursued a sexual relationship with her in 2011. When she rebuffed O'Reilly's advances, he tried to derail her career, the Times reported, citing a letter from her lawyers to Fox News it obtained.

The secret agreement was reportedly struck between Huddy and network parent 21st Century Fox in September, weeks after Roger Ailes was ousted as network chairman amid a sexual harassment scandal.

A Fox News spokeswoman said, "Juliet Huddy's letter of intent to sue contained substantial falsehoods which Bill O'Reilly vehemently denied."

A representative for Huddy had no comment.

Shonda Rhimes: Don't look for Donald Trump in 'Scandal'

There's the world of Trump and the world of "Scandal." Don't go looking for similarities between the two, because the ABC show's creator certainly isn't.

The series returns to ABC's lineup on Jan. 26 with its own election, early episodes that were filmed before the world learned the results of the real-world contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

"I don't really equate the two," said "Scandal" executive producer Shonda Rhimes on Tuesday. "That's not really the goal. If it was the goal, we would have waited until after the election" to film new episodes.

The show is beginning its sixth season, and ABC can use the ratings boost. The season was shortened from 22 to 16 episodes to accommodate star Kerry Washington's pregnancy, and Rhimes said being able to concentrate on fewer programs sharpened the storytelling.

Washington gave birth to her second child, a boy named Caleb Kelechi, on Oct. 5.

Even though she was obviously busy, Washington said she and the show's other stars sought each other out to talk about what happened on election night.

"Over the years, these are the people I've become closest to in many ways," she said. "It was strange to have to find each other on hiatus, to kind of check with each other and process it."

Rhimes batted away political questions during a meeting with reporters, including one about Meryl Streep's Golden Globes speech. She said she had no problem with ABC postponing the show's debut for a week for the network to air a pre-inauguration special.

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