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Actor Danny Masterson Convicted Of 2 Counts Of Rape

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LA – After a jury found Danny Masterson guilty on two of three counts of rape in his second trial, in which the Church of Scientology played a significant part, “That ’70s Show” star Danny Masterson was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs on Wednesday. He faces a prison sentence of 30 years to life.

Masterson’s wife, actor and model Bijou Phillips, who had sat stony-faced throughout both trials, gasped when the conviction was pronounced and sobbed as he was brought into custody.

After debating for seven days over two weeks, the jury of five men and seven women decided. On the third count, which claimed Masterson had sexually assaulted a previous girlfriend, they could not reach a decision. The verdict had received an 8-4 vote in favor.

Masterson, 47, will remain behind bars until his sentence is rendered. There is no established date for sentencing.

“I am experiencing a complex array of emotions — relief, exhaustion, strength, and sadness — knowing that my abuser, Danny Masterson, will face accountability for his criminal behaviour,” said one of the women, who Masterson knew as a fellow churchgoer and was found guilty of rape at his home in 2003.

In the statement, a second woman, a former girlfriend whose count caused the jury to reach a deadlock, said: “While I’m encouraged that Danny Masterson will face some criminal punishment, I am devastated that he has dodged criminal accountability for his heinous conduct against me.”

Masterson’s representatives declined to comment, although it is almost clear they will appeal.

Prosecutors retried Masterson in December after a deadlocked jury resulted in a mistrial. They said that between 2001 and 2003, he drugged and brutally raped three women at his Hollywood Hills home. All three women were church members then, and they claimed he utilized his status there to evade punishment for many years.

The three women bravely came forward and revealed their stories, and for that, we are grateful, said Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón in a statement following the verdict on Wednesday.

Masterson’s attorneys cited no witnesses, and he declined to testify. The defense asserted that the acts were consensual and worked to undermine the women’s accounts by calling attention to changes and contradictions that they claimed indicated coordination between the parties.

Masterson, 47, will remain behind bars until his sentence is rendered. There is no established date for sentencing.

In his closing argument, defense attorney Philip Cohen reminded the jury of their instructions and said, “You should consider not believing anything the witness says if you find that a witness in this case intentionally lied about something.

The Church of Scientology had a major impact in the first trial, but it may have been even more influential in the second trial. Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo permitted expert testimony on church policy from a former member of the leadership of Scientology who has since become a well-known adversary.

In a statement following the verdict, the Church said that the “inclusion of religion in this trial was an unprecedented violation of the First Amendment and impacted the due process rights of every American. The Church was not a party to this action, and according to centuries-old Supreme Court tradition, religion had no place in this legal process.

The accusers said on the witness stand that they were intimidated by certain Scientologists in the courtroom due to the high tension between current and former Scientologists.

Leah Remini, an actor and former church member who has emerged as its most prominent critic, occasionally attended the trial and held one of the accusers close to her during closing statements.

According to Remini, the two guilty convictions in the retrial are “a relief,” she wrote on Twitter. Heroes are the ladies who escaped Danny Masterson’s harassment. They have endured violent attacks and harassment from Danny’s well-funded legal team and Scientology for years, she wrote in her post. However, they persisted in their quest for justice.

Two of the accusers have filed a civil action regarding the alleged harassment.

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Masterson, 47, will remain behind bars until his sentence is rendered. There is no established date for sentencing.

Scientology states, “There is not a scintilla of evidence supporting the scandalous allegations that the Church harassed the accusers.”

L. Ron Hubbard founded the Church of Scientology in 1953 with many Hollywood-based adherents. The judge set restrictions on how much the prosecution may discuss the Church and mostly allowed it to be used as an excuse for why the women delayed so long to contact the police.

The women stated that when they reported Masterson to church officials, they were informed that they had not been sexually assaulted, were required to participate in ethics training, and counseled against reporting a member of such high standing to criminal enforcement.

Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller’s closing statement to the jury stated, “They were raped, they were punished for it, and they were retaliated against.” They were taught by science that there is no justice for them.

“Testimony and descriptions of Scientology beliefs” during the trial, according to the Church, were “uniformly false.”

“The Church has no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct of anyone — Scientologists or not — to law enforcement,” the statement read.

Olmedo will hold a hearing the following week to establish how a lawyer for the Church of Scientology obtained information that the prosecution had sent to the defense. Links that the attorney unintentionally included in an email to Mueller served as the basis for the evidence.

People who claim they have been sexually abused are not routinely named by The Associated Press.

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In this case, the testimony was explicit and intense.

According to the two women whose evidence resulted in Masterson’s conviction, he served them drinks in 2003, causing them to get drunk or pass out before he viciously raped them.

The third witness, Masterson’s then-girlfriend of five years, said she awoke to discover him raping her and had to yank his hair to stop him. Her testimony caused the jury to reach a deadlock.

Olmedo only let the ladies describe their state in the first trial but enabled the accusers and the prosecution to directly state that Masterson drugged the women in the second trial.

There were no drug-related charges against Masterson, and there was no toxicology data to support the claim.

The allegations were made when Masterson was at the height of his fame, appearing as Steven Hyde on Fox’s “That ’70s Show” from 1998 to 2006, the program that launched the careers of Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Topher Grace.

On the 2016 Netflix comedy “The Ranch,” Masterson reconnected with Kutcher, but the project was canceled when an LAPD investigation became public in December 2017.

SOURCE – (AP)

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2024: Bridgit Mendler, A Former Disney Actor Turned Space Startup CEO, Is Reaching For The Stars

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Bridgit Mendler, known for appearing on Good Luck Charlie and other Disney productions, is venturing into new territory: space.

Disney has effectively launched the careers of major stars such as Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez. However, one former child actor who starred on the network is pursuing a different venture: a space corporation.

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Bridgit Mendler, A Former Disney Actor Turned Space Startup CEO, Is Reaching For The Stars

Bridgit, a 31-year-old singer and actor best known for her role as Teddy Duncan on the Disney Channel original series Good Luck Charlie, announced this week on X (formerly Twitter) that she is venturing into uncharted territory by launching Northwood Space, a California-based satellite data startup.

Bridgit will lead the company as CEO, while her husband, Gryphon Cleverly, whom she married in 2019, will serve as chief technical officer. “Expect the unexpected!” she posted on X, reacting to a CNBC reporter who broke the story.

According to Ari Eisenstat, the space programme director for the upcoming Texas Eclipse Festival, Bridgit’s venture into science “is a great example of space moving from the domain of governments to becoming accessible to everyone”. Eisenstadt adds that we should all look to “younger generations to see diverse entrepreneurs create social, economic, and environmental impact in the space community”.

According to Bridgit’s post on X, investors have already provided $6.3 million (£4.9 million) in preliminary funding for the startup to create “a data highway between Earth and space.” Mendler said, “We have a lot of work ahead of us, but that’s the fun part.”

While it may come as a surprise to her followers, Mendler has always had interests beyond performing. She graduated from the University of Southern California in 2016 and began working at the MIT Media Lab in 2017. She enrolled in the graduate programme in 2018 and will begin her doctorate in philosophy at MIT in 2020. The next year, Mendler enrolled at Harvard Law School.

mendler

Bridgit Mendler, A Former Disney Actor Turned Space Startup CEO, Is Reaching For The Stars

Then, Mendler told CNBC that the seed of the Northwood idea was planted while she was in New Hampshire during the COVID-19 lockdown. “While everyone else was preparing their sourdough starts, we created antennae from whatever we could find at Home Depot. For me, the ground side is important because it brings the effects of space closer to people. However, it wasn’t until she started working at the Federal Communications Commission in 2022 that she understood her new path: she told CNBC it was when she “completely fell in love with space law”.

Mendler’s big news has her admirers excited to follow up, and her X announcement currently has over 23,000 likes. Northwood Space, which plans to mass-produce massive terrestrial antennas that connect to satellites in space, says: “The one-lane rickety road for space data needs to adapt to a ten-lane highway routing continuous traffic across the globe.”And, as a woman in science who changed careers to pursue her ambition, Mendler is likely to inspire other women to make timely career changes.

mendler

Bridgit Mendler, A Former Disney Actor Turned Space Startup CEO, Is Reaching For The Stars

Laurie Bardon Syphard, an environmental science educator, says she’s impressed by Mendler’s credentials and is already excited about her new business. “My gut is telling me that she is going to go really far with this career in science and technology,” she adds, adding that the young scientist’s Disney admirers would most certainly keep an eye on her, especially given space is “one of the areas that just is exciting and inspires people”.

Mendler’s followers appear to agree and have taken to X to celebrate her continuous success. One fan wrote, “She’s Barbie. Like 12 different careers. Singer/songwriter, actor, Harvard PhD in law, MIT PHD student, startup CEO.”

SOURCE – (BBC)

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2024 OSCARS: Everything You Need To Know About This Year’s Oscars

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NEW YORK — After a winter of award events, including the Emmys, Golden Globes, and Grammys, the granddaddy of them all, the Academy Awards, is just around the horizon. The 96th Academy Awards may be a coronation for “Oppenheimer,” which leads with 13 nominations, but other films, including “Barbie,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” and “Poor Things,” are also in the running.

Here’s what you should know about this year’s show:

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When are the Oscars?

The Oscars will be on Sunday, March 10, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The event will begin at 7 p.m. EDT, one hour earlier than normal, and will be live on ABC. The pre-show will begin at 6:30 p.m. EDT. This is an early reminder to set your clocks – the first day of daylight saving time in the United States.

Are the Oscars livestreamed?
You can access the show on ABC.com and the ABC app with a cable subscription. You may also watch on Hulu Live, YouTube, AT&T, and FuboTV.

Who is hosting the Oscars?
Jimmy Kimmel, who hosted the ceremony last year, will serve as emcee for the fourth time. That matches him with fellow four-timers Whoopi Goldberg and Jack Lemmon, leaving Kimmel trailing only Johnny Carson (five), Billy Crystal (nine), and Bob Hope (eleven) among Oscar hosts. “I always dreamed of hosting the Oscars exactly four times,” Kimmel told the audience.

What films are nominated for Best Picture at the 2024 Oscars?
The ten best-picture nominees are: “American Fiction,” “Anatomy of a Fall,” “Barbie,” “The Holdovers,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Maestro,” “Oppenheimer,” “Past Lives,” “Poor Things,” and “The Zone of Interest.”

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Who are the favourites?

Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” is the front-runner. Nolan, the best director favourite, is expected to win his first Oscar. The best actress category could be a close call between Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”) and Emma Stone (“Poor Things”). If Gladstone wins, she will be the first Native American to win an Oscar. Best actor might also be a tight call between Cillian Murphy (“Oppenheimer”) and Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers”). They would be first-time winners. Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Giamatti’s co-star, is the favourite to win Best supporting actress, while Robert Downey Jr. (“Oppenheimer”) is predicted to win Best Supporting Actor. Ryan Gosling is his closest competitor for “Barbie.”

What’s with the ‘Barbie’ snubs?
While “Barbie,” 2023’s largest box-office blockbuster, received eight nominations, much of the conversation has focused on the film’s lack of nominations. Greta Gerwig was not nominated for directing, while Margot Robbie did not win best actress. Some have detected reflections of the misogyny spoofed in “Barbie,” while others have noted comedians’ traditionally poor reception at the Oscars. The nominations for “Barbie” include best-adapted screenplay (by Gerwig and Noah Baumbach), best supporting actress (America Ferrera), and two best song nominees: Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For” and Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt’s “I’m Just Ken.”

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Are there any changes to this year’s Oscars?

Though prior Oscars have been marred by slaps, envelope snafus, and debates about which prizes are presented live during the ceremony, this year’s show promises to remain relatively unchanged. All of the awards will be broadcast live. The academy is introducing a new award for best casting, but the trophy will be handed in at the 2026 Oscars.

What else is there to look for?
Composer John Williams has been nominated for his record 49th best-score Oscar for “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” and 54th overall. Godzilla is making his Oscar debut, with “Godzilla Minus One” nominated for outstanding visual effects. Two non-English language films are nominated for Best Picture for the first time: the German-language Auschwitz drama “The Zone of Interest” and the French courtroom drama “Anatomy of a Fall.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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Beatles To Get A Fab 4 Of Biopics, With A Movie Each For Paul, John, George And Ringo

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NEW YORK — The Beatles are receiving the big-screen biography treatment in not just one film but four, with each band member getting his spotlight – all directed by Sam Mendes.

For the first time, the Beatles, traditionally among the most stingy rights holders, are granting complete life and music rights to a film project. Sony Pictures revealed Monday a contract that may dwarf all previous music biopics, with the story of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr divided across four films.

The Mendes-conceived films are intended to be released theatrically in a unique manner, with the films coexisting or intersecting in theatres. Specific release plans will be communicated at a later date. Sony has set a release date of 2027.

beatles

Beatles To Get A Fab Four Of Biopics, With A Movie Each For Paul, John, George And Ringo

McCartney, Starr, and the families of John Lennon and George Harrison have all approved the initiative through the band’s Apple Corps. Ltd. Sony Music Publishing has rights to the majority of Beatles’ songs.

“I’m honoured to be telling the story of the greatest rock band of all time, and excited to challenge the notion of what constitutes a trip to the movies,” Mendes stated in an e-mail.

Each film will be told from the perspective of one of the Beatles.

“We intend this to be a uniquely thrilling and epic cinematic experience: four films, told from four different perspectives, which tell a single story about the most celebrated band of all time,” stated Pippa Harris, the film’s producer. “To have The Beatles’ and Apple Corps’ blessing to do this is an immense privilege.”

The Beatles’ most well-known film appearances were during their early career. From 1964 to 1970, they appeared in five films, including “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964) and the animated “Yellow Submarine” (1968). They have, of course, been the subject of numerous documentaries, most recently Peter Jackson’s 2021 “The Beatles: Get Back.”

beatles

Beatles To Get A Fab Four Of Biopics, With A Movie Each For Paul, John, George And Ringo

The Beatles reunited in 2023 using artificial intelligence in the newly released song “Now and Then.” The track was made feasible by technology employed by Jackson on “Get Back,” it included a music video directed by the New Zealand director.

Attempts to dramatise the Beatles’ narrative have been intermittent and less effective. A 1979 biography titled “The Birth of the Beatles” was developed while Lennon was still alive, with the Beatles’ original drummer, Pete Best, serving as an adviser. The 1994 indie drama “Backbeat” followed Lennon’s connection with Stuart Sutcliffe before the Beatles became famous. Aaron Taylor-Johnson portrayed a teenage Lennon in the 2009 “Nowhere Boy” film.

However, music biopics have become a lucrative business in the last decade. Box-office successes like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Rocketman,” and “Elvis” have prompted Hollywood executives to seek the next jukebox blockbuster. Over Presidents Day weekend, “Bob Marley: One Love,” co-produced with the Marley estate, was the top-grossing film in theatres. A Michael Jackson biopic is currently under production.

beatles

Beatles To Get A Fab Four Of Biopics, With A Movie Each For Paul, John, George And Ringo

“Theatrical film events today must be culturally significant. “Sam’s daring, large-scale idea is that and more,” said Tom Rothman, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures’ Motion Picture Group.

The combination of Mendes’ crew “with the music and stories of four young men who changed the world, will rock audiences all over the globe,” Rothman added. “We are deeply grateful to all parties and look forward ourselves to breaking some rules with Sam’s uniquely artistic vision.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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