Pasadena, Feb 6 (AP/UNB) — Oscars disarray over the exit of Kevin Hart as the host of the show had an upside — people paid attention, ABC's entertainment president said Tuesday.
"Ironically, I have found that the lack of clarity ... has kept the Oscars really in the conversation, and the mystery has been really compelling," said Karey Burke, whose network is the ceremony's longtime home.
She called the interest proof that the Oscars are still relevant.
Burke's worries about the host-less Feb. 24 ceremony have vanished as it comes together with a "phenomenal" line-up of presenters, she told a TV critics meeting.
Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg, Daniel Craig, Jennifer Lopez, Chris Evans and Constance Wu are among them.
The ceremony also has box-office hits — best-picture contenders "Black Panther," ''Bohemian Rhapsody" and "A Star Is Born" — with fans that could boost TV viewership.
The 2018 show drew a record-low 26.5 million people, a 20 percent drop from the 2017 show and the first time Oscar viewership dipped below 30 million, according to Nielsen records that go back to 1974. The best-picture winner, "The Shape of Water," only grossed $57.4 million in the U.S.
Burke also lauded the movie academy's pledge to keep the ceremony to three hours, avoiding the overtime that can drain off viewers.
The host-less Oscars was a decision that everyone involved got on board with fairly quickly after Hart withdrew in December, said Burke, who's been in the top ABC entertainment job just two months.
Hart dropped out amid criticism over years-old homophobic tweets, for which he eventually apologized.
New York, Feb 5 (AP/UNB) — Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg and Brie Larson will be presenters at the 91st Academy Awards.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Monday announced its first slate of presenters. Also among the 13 stars are Daniel Craig, Jennifer Lopez, Amandla Stenberg and Awkwafina.
Chris Evans, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Charlize Theron, Tessa Thompson and Constance Wu will also take the Oscar stage as presenters.
There has been some acrimony over exclusive rights to some presenters this year. The Screen Actors Guild earlier criticized the film academy for requiring that its potential presenters not appear at previous awards shows.
ABC will broadcast the Oscars live on February 24. No host has been announced after Kevin Hart stepped down following a backlash over past homophobic tweets by the comedian.
London, Feb 3 (AP/UNB) — Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has written personal messages to women being helped by a charity that seeks to help sex workers break free from prostitution.
Prince Harry's wife took the unusual step of writing the messages on the skins of bananas destined for the food parcels that would be handed out to the women Friday.
Meghan wrote sentiments such as "You are strong," ''You are special," and "You are brave!" with hearts next to them. She was visiting the One25 organization in Bristol, southwest England.
She said the messages were inspired after she learned of a program "this woman had started in the States on a school lunch program when on each of the bananas she wrote an affirmation or something to make the kids feel really empowered."
Atlanta, Feb 2 (AP/UNB) — Cardi B said she received an offer to perform at the Super Bowl, but struggled with the decision to turn down the lucrative opportunity in support of ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick.
The Grammy-nominated rapper told The Associated Press on Friday evening that she had "mixed feelings" after she declined to take the stage at Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta. She said it was a hard decision since her husband, rapper Offset, loves to watch football, but she felt obligated to "stand behind" Kaepernick because he "stood up" for minorities.
"My husband, he loves football. His kids play football. It's really hard for him. ... He really wants to go to the Super Bowl, but he can't go to the Super Bowl, because he's got to stand for something," said Cardi B, who is nominated for five Grammys. She is competing for both album and record of the year.
"You have to sacrifice that," she added. "I got to sacrifice a lot of money to perform. But there's a man who sacrificed his job for us, so we got to stand behind him."
Kaepernick helped start a wave of protests by kneeling during the national anthem to raise awareness to police brutality, racial inequality and other social issues. His efforts ignited a political firestorm over whether social justice needs to be addressed at the NFL's marquee event.
Maroon 5 will be joined by Big Boi of Outkast and rapper Travis Scott at halftime of the game between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots on Sunday. Gladys Knight will sing the national anthem.
Some, including Rihanna and Pink, have reportedly turned down offers to perform during this year's halftime. In a recent song, Jay-Z alluded to declining to perform at the Super Bowl, and Amy Schumer refused to appear in a TV ad during the game.
Last year, Cardi B said she wouldn't take the Super Bowl stage until Kaepernick gets a job. With Kaepernick still without a team, she is standing by her words, but will perform at a downtown concert Saturday. She is hosting a party this week and will also appear in a Super Bowl commercial.
Cardi B heard the criticism toward her and other music artists for taking part in Super Bowl-related events. But she believes she can perform at those events outside the championship game without directly supporting the NFL.
"I hear people saying like 'Oh, y'all are saying all this stuff about the Super Bowl, but you're doing all these parties,'" she said. "And it's like, well, if the NFL could benefit off from us, then I'm going to benefit off y'all. Y'all make the most money off our people. Why am I not going to take advantage of y'all and take money from y'all too? Because of y'all, we are getting these parties. OK, thank you."
Cardi B hopes the protests supporting Kaepernick can create positive change in the world, but she's not sure if that will happen anytime soon.
"We got an arrogant president, and the racism right now has been reborn," she said. "They feel mighty brave nowadays. When Obama was around, I just feel like they were praying on the day when his eight years was over. A lot of jealousy."
Cardi B added: "When they see (how) the choices they made due to racism has affected the country, that's when things are going to start changing. Right now, they don't want to accept that their decision has affected the country."
Ottawa, Jan 31 (AP/UNB) — Canada's Parliament passed a motion Wednesday saying Netflix should compensate the people of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, for using footage of the 2013 rail disaster in the post-apocalyptic survival film "Bird Box."
The footage involved the disaster created when an unattended train carrying crude oil rolled down an incline, went off the tracks and exploded into a massive ball of fire, killing 47 people in the Quebec town.
The motion is non-binding but is a stern rebuke from Canada's Parliament for the use of footage from the rail explosion in "Bird Box" and in the series "Travelers."
Members of Parliament voted to demand that Netflix remove all images of the Lac-Megantic tragedy. Netflix has apologized but has refused to remove the images. Netflix licensed the footage from the stock image vendor Pond 5.
Pierre Nantel, a legislator with the opposition New Democrat party who introduced the motion this week, said he cannot accept Netflix not removing the footage.
"We know people are going to go and watch this film, and again these real images will be used," he said. "For people in Lac-Megantic, they saw images of their own downtown burning, and could imagine their own family members in it."
Netflix refused comment Wednesday, pointing only to a letter the company sent last week to Quebec's culture minister in response to her concerns. In it, Netflix public policy director Corie Wright said the company "understands that many feel frustration and sadness at seeing images of this tragic event," but it cannot make changes to "finished content."