Norristown, Sep 25 (AP/UNB) — Declaring Bill Cosby doesn't deserve a free pass because of his advanced age, prosecutors on Monday asked a judge to sentence the comedian to five to 10 years in prison for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman, while the defense argued that he is too old and helpless to do time behind bars.
"What does an 81-year-old man do in prison?" defense attorney Joseph Green asked on Day 1 of the sentencing hearing for Cosby, who is legally blind and dependent on others. "How does he fight off the people who are trying to extort him, or walk to the mess hall?"
Green suggested that Cosby instead receive something akin to house arrest.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said that he has no doubt Cosby would commit another such offense if given the opportunity, warning that the TV star seemingly gets a sexual thrill out of slipping women drugs and assaulting them.
"So to say that he's too old to do that — to say that he should get a pass, because it's taken this long to catch up to what he's done?" Steele said, his voice rising. "What they're asking for is a 'get out of jail free' card."
And he said the sentence should send a message to others.
"Despite bullying tactics, despite PR teams and other folks trying to change the optics, as one lawyer for the defense put it, the bottom line is that nobody's above the law. Nobody," the district attorney said.
Judge Steven O'Neill is expected to sentence Cosby on Tuesday. The TV star once known as America's Dad for his starring role in "The Cosby Show" could become the first celebrity of the #MeToo era to be sent to prison.
Cosby was convicted in April of violating former Temple University women's basketball administrator Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004.
After testifying for several hours at two trials, the first of which ended in a hung jury, Constand spoke in court Monday for just two minutes.
"The jury heard me. Mr. Cosby heard me. Now all I am asking for is justice as the court sees fit," said Constand, who submitted a much longer victim-impact statement that wasn't read in court.
Steele quoted Constand in her statement as saying that Cosby took "my beautiful, healthy, young spirit and crushed it."
The three charges on which Cosby was convicted carry up to 10 years in prison each, but both sides agreed to merge them together for sentencing because they stemmed from the same encounter. State sentencing guidelines call for about one to four years behind bars on the combined charge.
The judge is also expected to decide whether to declare Cosby a "sexually violent predator" — a scarlet letter that would make him subject to mandatory lifetime counseling and community notification of his whereabouts.
On Monday, Kristen Dudley, a psychologist for the state of Pennsylvania, testified that Cosby fits the criteria for a sexually violent predator, showing signs of a mental disorder that involves an uncontrollable urge to violate helpless women. A psychologist for Cosby's side is set to testify Tuesday.
Cosby's lawyers argued that the state law on classifying sexual predators is unconstitutional. They contended also that Cosby is unlikely to commit another crime because of his age and health and because there have been no complaints that he molested anyone in the 14 years since his encounter with Constand.
"The suggestion that Mr. Cosby is dangerous is not supported by anything other than the frenzy," Green said, alluding to protesters outside the courthouse and public debate about the case.
Constand's mother, Gianna, also took the stand Monday and attributed her health problems to Cosby-related stress. She accused Cosby of "ruining many lives."
"I can only hope and pray that some sense of peace and faith can be restored back on our family," she said. "The victims cannot be un-raped. Unfortunately, all we can do is hold the perpetrator accountable."
Cosby's side didn't call any character witnesses and touched only on his life and fame, noting how he had been poor, dropped out of high school and served in the Navy before soaring to stardom.
He will be given the opportunity to speak in court before he is sentenced.
Monday's proceedings took place as another extraordinary #MeToo drama continued to unfold on Capitol Hill, where Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces allegations of sexual misconduct from more than three decades ago.
Cosby, looking grim, walked into the courthouse Monday morning on the arm of his longtime spokesman as protesters shouted at him. His wife of 54 years, Camille, was not in court. Several of the jurors who convicted him watched the hearing on a monitor in an overflow courtroom.
Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt told reporters in the afternoon that the entertainer was in "great, great" spirits.
"We tell him to stay strong and stay focused, and he's focused on Mrs. Cosby, and that's what matters in his family," Wyatt said. "He's a great guy. He's still America's Dad, and they won't ever take that away. You can't take away the legacy."
In the years since Constand first went to police in 2005, more than 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, though none of those claims have led to criminal charges. At least two of those women, including former model Janice Dickinson, were in the courtroom for the start of the sentencing.
Prosecutors had hoped to have some of the other accusers address the court at the hearing. But the district attorney's office told The Associated Press that that would not happen.
A few hours before the hearing, Constand tweeted Ephesians 4:26, a Bible verse about letting go of anger: "Be wrathful, but do not sin; do not let the sun set while you are still angry; do not give the Devil an opportunity."
Cosby, who grew up in public housing in Philadelphia, became the first black actor to star in a prime-time TV show, "I Spy," in 1965. He remained a Hollywood A-lister for much of the next half-century, hitting his peak in the 1980s with the top-rated "Cosby Show" as the warm, wisecracking dad, Dr. Cliff Huxtable.
The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, which Constand and other accusers have done.
New York, Sep 24 (AP/UNB) — The gothic family fantasy "The House With a Clock in Its Walls" exceeded expectations to debut with an estimated $26.9 million in ticket sales at the weekend box office, while audiences showed considerably less interest in Michael Moore's Donald Trump-themed documentary, "Fahrenheit 11/9," than his George W. Bush-era one.
"The House With a Clock in Its Walls" was easily the biggest draw on a quiet weekend at North American movie theaters, where the other three new wide releases all disappointed or downright flopped.
"Fahrenheit 11/9" opened with $3.1 million in 1,719 cinemas — a huge debut for most documentaries but a fraction of the $23.9 million opening generated in 2004 by Moore's record-breaking "Fahrenheit 9/11." That film went on to make $222.4 million worldwide, a record for documentaries.
Moore's new film, which examines the rise of Trump and other developments like the water crisis in his hometown of Flint, Michigan, was the first release from former Open Road chief executive Tom Ortenberg's new distributor, Briarcliff Entertainment. It had been predicted to open with $5 million to $8 million.
But despite a surge in success for documentaries at the box office — including "RBG," ''Won't You Be My Neighbor" and "Three Identical Strangers" — "Fahrenheit 11/9" didn't catch on.
Dan Fogelman's "Life Itself" and the home invasion thriller "Assassination Nation" both barely made a blip in nationwide release. Though Fogelman's "This Is Us" is one of TV's top-rated series, his "Life Itself" bombed with $2.1 million despite a starry cast including Olivia Wilde, Oscar Isaac and Antonio Banderas.
The film — an unabashedly sentimental tale of destiny across generations — drew some of the most scathing reviews of the year, landing it a 13 percent "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
In an interview last week, Fogelman blamed "primarily white male critics who don't like anything that has any emotion," prompting many female critics to point out that they, too, thought "Life Itself" was, as Variety's Jessica Kiang wrote, "manipulative and contrived."
The Amazon Studios release, which opened in 2,609 theaters, was one of the worst performing wide releases of the year, as was Sam Levinson's "Assassination Nation." The Neon thriller grossed just $1 million in 1,403 theaters.
But Universal Pictures' "The House With a Clock in Its Walls," based on the classic book written by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey, capitalized on a recent dearth of child-friendly options. The film, directed by the horror veteran Eli Roth with a budget of $40 million, stars Jack Black and Cate Blanchett.
"This was on the high end of any expectations," said Jim Orr, head of distribution at Universal. Orr credited the studio's producing partners at Amblin Entertainment as well as the release date in a normally slow month. "We really saw an opportunity in late September to kick off the fall season with this PG family film, and obviously it was well-positioned."
With the fall movie season getting started, a few specialty films hit theaters, drawing packed theaters in limited release.
Bleecker Street's "Colette," starring Keira Knightley as the iconic French author, debuted with $156,000 in four theaters, good for a per-screen average of $39,000. Jacques Audiard's dark Western "The Sisters Brothers," starring Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly, opened with $122,000 in four theaters for a $30,500 per-screen average.
Last week's top film, "The Predator," slid fast with a 65 percent drop, earning $8.7 million in its second week. Holding stronger was Lionsgate's "A Simple Favor." Paul Feig's suburban noir, starring Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick, dropped only 35 percent for a $10.4 million second weekend.
"Fahrenheit 11/9" may have decent weeks ahead leading up to the November midterm elections. ComScore's PostTrak survey found that 82 percent of viewers gave it four out of five stars. It landed an A CinemaScore.
"Those who did see it really enjoyed it," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. "People have said: Should they have gone limited? Should they have gone wide? I think they needed to get it out there nationwide with midterms six weeks away. But it's very easy to second-guess how to release a documentary like this. It's one of the most difficult types of films to release."
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 also are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. "The House With a Clock in Its Walls," $26.9 million ($8.7 million international).
2. "A Simple Favor," $10.4 million ($5.2 million international).
3. "The Nun," $10.3 million ($35.4 million international).
4. "The Predator," $8.7 million ($15.2 million international).
5. "Crazy Rich Asians," $6.5 million ($5.1 million international).
6. "White Boy Rick," $5 million.
7. "Peppermint," $3.7 million ($1.6 million international).
8. "Fahrenheit 11/9," $3.1 million.
9. "The Meg," $2.4 million ($3.4 million international).
10. "Searching," $2.2 million ($3.6 million international).
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:
1. "The Nun," $35.4 million.
2. "Golden Job," $23.2 million.
3. "Johnny English Strikes Again," $17.2 million.
4. "The Predator," $15.2 million.
5. "L Storm," $9 million.
6. "The Great Battle," $8.9 million.
7. "The House With a Clock in Its Walls," $8.7 million.
8. "Incredibles 2," $8.3 million.
9. "Mission: Impossible — Fallout," $8 million.
10. "Ash Is the Purest White," $5.9 million.
Dhaka, Sept 23 (UNB) - Bangladeshi filmmaker Mostofa Sarwar Farooki's film Doob (No Bed of Roses) is going to represent Bangladesh in the foreign movie category of the 91st Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars.
Chairman of Bangladesh Federation Film Societies Habibur Rahman Khan announced the news in a press briefing held in a city hotel.
Internationally acclaimed Indian superstar Irrfan Khan, who acted in Hollywood productions like Jurassic World and Life of Pi besides many Indian blockbusters, played the lead role in the film Doob. He also co-produced the film.
The cast also include Nusrat Imroz Tisha, star of Farooki's Third Person Singular Number that was Bangladesh's entry to the 2011 Oscars and of Television that was Bangladesh's entry to the 2014 Oscars.
Bangladeshi production house Jaaz Multimedia produced the film alongside India's Eskay Movies with Khan's IK Company on board as co-producer.
Mostofa Sarwar Farooki and Nusrat Imroz Tisha were also present at the press conference.
The 91st annual Oscars will be held on February 24 in 2019.
San Sebastian, Sep 23 (AP/UNB) — Actor Danny DeVito has been honored with a lifetime achievement award at Spain's most prestigious film festival in the northern coastal city of San Sebastian.
DeVito, 73, received the award from the San Sebastian International Film Festival during Saturday's gala. The American comic film star is promoting the animated children's film "Smallfoot" at the festival.
DeVito won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his role in the 1970-80's TV sitcom series "Taxi." Other career highlights include leading roles in the hit 1980s comedies "Throw Momma from the Train" and "Twins" and scores of endearing supporting parts.
He also shared an Oscar nomination for best picture as a producer of "Erin Brockovich" in 2000.
He currently stars in the TV series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."
Dhaka, Sept 19 (UNB) - The muhurat (launching ceremony) of a film based on a novel penned by Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader was held at Dhaka Club on Wednesday.
The shooting of the film based on novel ‘Gangchil’ will begin from next month. Its story is based on the life of people living in coastal belt of Cox’s Bazar.
Quader, also Awami League General Secretary along with Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu, Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor, State Minister for Information Tarana Halim, Bangladesh Film Directors Association president Mushfiqur Rahman Gulzar, Actors Tarik Anam Khan, Ferdous Ahmed, Actress Purnima and Rituparna Sengupta from Kolkata took part in the launching ceremony.
Minister Obaidul Quader said “The politicians of the sub-continent do not write novel but I have written it. I want to project the real life story of coastal people and that’s why I spend a week with the coastal people in Cox’s Bazar after my jail release.”
The novel Gangchil has become the best seller after release in the Ekushey Boi Mela. The minister said it was beyond his imagination that a cinema would be produced based on his novel.
Hasanul Haq Inu said the movie will play an important role to portray the development of the country.
Asaduzzaman Noor said it is a great example of a politician’s creative work.