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Issa Rae On Her Road From YouTube Fame To HBO Star

Issa Rae writes and stars in "Insecure," HBO's Golden Globe nominated comedy.

Box Office Top 20: 'Beauty' adds $90.4 million in weekend 2

Disney's live-action "Beauty and the Beast" performed even better than expected in its second weekend in theaters, adding $90.4 million to its North American grosses, which now tally at $319 million.

"Beauty and the Beast" easily topped the crop of newcomers — including Lionsgate's "Power Rangers," which got off to a solid start with $40 million — and a few less successful debuts as well.

The sci-fi thriller "Life," starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds opened in fourth place, behind "Kong: Skull Island," with a middling $12.5 million, while the big screen take on "CHIPS" only managed to bring in $7.7 million in its first weekend in theaters for a seventh place start.

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by comScore:

1. "Beauty And The Beast," Disney, $90,426,717, 4,210 locations, $21,479 average, $319,032,604, 2 Weeks.

2. "Power Rangers," Lionsgate, $40,300,288, 3,693 locations, $10,913 average, $40,300,288, 1 Week.

3. "Kong: Skull Island," Warner Bros., $14,670,653, 3,666 locations, $4,002 average, $133,747,891, 3 Weeks.

4. "Life," Sony, $12,501,936, 3,146 locations, $3,974 average, $12,501,936, 1 Week.

5. "Logan," 20th Century Fox, $10,334,390, 3,163 locations, $3,267 average, $201,644,986, 4 Weeks.

6. "Get Out," Universal, $8,851,845, 2,474 locations, $3,578 average, $147,669,880, 5 Weeks.

7. "Chips," Warner Bros., $7,722,802, 2,464 locations, $3,134 average, $7,722,802, 1 Week.

8. "The Shack," Lionsgate, $3,859,551, 2,330 locations, $1,656 average, $49,146,595, 4 Weeks.

9. "The Lego Batman Movie," Warner Bros., $2,100,951, 1,638 locations, $1,283 average, $170,972,203, 7 Weeks.

10. "The Belko Experiment," OTL Releasing, $1,878,370, 1,341 locations, $1,401 average, $7,648,935, 2 Weeks.

11. "Hidden Figures," 20th Century Fox, $753,140, 640 locations, $1,177 average, $167,015,012, 14 Weeks.

12. "The Last Word," Bleecker Street, $535,493, 380 locations, $1,409 average, $988,218, 4 Weeks.

13. "John Wick: Chapter Two," Lionsgate, $457,414, 403 locations, $1,135 average, $90,851,421, 7 Weeks.

14. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," Disney, $446,992, 267 locations, $1,674 average, $531,314,491, 15 Weeks.

15. "Passengers," Sony, $397,472, 506 locations, $786 average, $99,886,692, 14 Weeks.

16. "Lion," The Weinstein Company, $394,481, 320 locations, $1,233 average, $50,736,321, 18 Weeks.

17. "T2: Trainspotting," Sony, $389,453, 59 locations, $6,601 average, $622,727, 2 Weeks.

18. "Wilson," Fox Searchlight, $336,227, 310 locations, $1,085 average, $336,227, 1 Week.

19. "The Sense Of An Ending," CBS Films, $276,816, 235 locations, $1,178 average, $1,031,040, 3 Weeks.

20. "Phillauri," Fox International Productions, $260,982, 74 locations, $3,527 average, $260,982, 1 Week.


Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.

Gianopulos named new chairman of Paramount Pictures

Viacom Inc. named Jim Gianopulos the new chairman and chief executive officer of Paramount Pictures, turning to the former Fox chief to revive the flagging movie studio.

Gianopulos will succeed Paramount's former chairman, Brad Grey, who was ousted in February. Viacom Chief Executive Bob Bakish said Monday that Gianopulos will be able to deliver the recovery needed to "begin the next chapter in Paramount's storied history."

But hits have lately been lacking for Paramount, which has trimmed its release schedule and seen its standing in Hollywood slide. Along with overseeing production, marketing and distribution at the studio, Gianopulos has been tasked with setting a new strategy for Paramount. The studio lost $445 million in its 2016 fiscal year.

"Looking ahead, I see a strong opportunity to position the studio for success by creating valuable franchise opportunities, developing fresh creative ventures, and mining Viacom's deep brand portfolio to bring exciting new narratives to life," Gianopulos said in a statement.

Gianopulos was pushed out of 20th Century Fox last year when Stacey Snider was promoted to lead the Fox Filmed Entertainment Group. At Fox, Gianopulos notably oversaw the likes of "Avatar" and the "X-Men" franchise in his 16 years of running the studio.

Though Paramount had a number of critically acclaimed Oscar contenders last year ("Fences," ''Arrival"), it has struggled to find the franchise blockbusters studios depend on for the lion's share of its ticket sales. Paramount's biggest movie last year was the so-so performing "Star Trek Beyond," which made $343.5 million worldwide. But it released a string of clunkers, including "Zoolander 2," ''Ben-Hur" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows."

Formerly under Sumner M. Redstone, Viacom wasn't willing to plunk down the kind of money other studios, like the Walt Disney Co., have invested in sought-after intellectual properties. Instead, the studio has turned to financing partners and China to claw its way back. But some of those efforts haven't panned out. A ballyhooed $1 billion co-financing deal with Chinese firms, Huahua Media and Shanghai Film Group, has, at least for now, stalled.

Gianopulos is expected to have bigger budgets to work with and to increase the studio's annual output. He will also be called on to better leverage Viacom's other properties (among them Comedy Central, MTV, BET and Nickelodeon) on the big screen.

Viacom's TV business, though, has also recently struggled. Bakish, who was named chief executive in December, has led a restructuring intended to refocus the media conglomerate on its core brands.

Drake's new CD 'More Life' breaks a new streaming record

Drake, who was the most streamed act on Spotify last year, has started 2017 strong — his new album, "More Life," has broken the U.S. record for the number of online streams from a single album in one week.

The rapper's 22-track album recorded 385 million streams across all platforms in its first week, beating the previous record holder — Drake. His 2016 album, "Views," had owned the title with 245 million streams until "More Life" showed up on March 18, according to Nielsen Music.

"More Life" is Drake's seventh consecutive album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. It had competition from new albums by Ed Sheeran, Rick Ross and the soundtrack for "Beauty and the Beast."

George Lucas gives another $10M to USC for student diversity

George Lucas has given another $10 million to the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts to fund the student diversity program he helped establish.

The donation was announced Monday by USC, Lucas' alma mater. Last fall, USC established a foundation in Lucas' name to support students from underrepresented communities who qualify for financial support. It was funded with an initial $10 million gift from the George Lucas Family Foundation.

Michael Renov, vice dean of academy affairs, said the gift will help USC "recruit storytellers whose voices are underrepresented in cinematic media and whose inclusion benefits all of us."

Hannity angry at treatment by CBS in interview

Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity is calling on CBS News to release the full tape of his interview with Ted Koppel for "Sunday Morning," in which the veteran "Nightline" anchor answered "yes" when Hannity asked if Koppel thought he was bad for America.

The exchange between two different generations of television news personalities continued to resonate Monday: It was the lead "hot topic" that hosts of "The View" kicked around on their talk show.

Hannity was interviewed for the Sunday show's cover story about partisan media, and sensed some unease by Koppel when he discussed his role as an opinion host. Hannity is a fervent supporter of President Donald Trump and has attacked his opponents and traditional media outlets for how they report on the president.

"You're cynical," Hannity said.

"I am cynical, Koppel replied.

"Do you think we're bad for America? You think I'm bad for America?" Hannity asked.

"Yeah," Koppel said.

Koppel said he lumped Hannity in with other opinion shows and that while he thought Hannity was "very good at what you do," his audience feels ideology is more important than facts.

It was one of two excerpts of Koppel's interview with Hannity that was included in the broader 10-minute story, and it quickly attracted attention. CBS News fanned it, breaking out a 45-second clip of their exchange for its website and writing a story about it.

Hannity, in a series of tweets, criticized the report as "fake edited news. I did about a 45-minute interview with CBS. They ran less than two. Why did Ted cut out my many examples of media bias?" He called on CBS to release the unedited interview so people could see the "games" being played by editors.

Hannity didn't indicate that his words were edited to make them appear misleading; he just seemed upset that so much got left on the cutting-room floor.

CBS News didn't respond to Hannity's request Monday. Koppel said he was content to let the story speak for itself.

Koppel has expressed similar opinions before. In an appearance on Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor" last year, Koppel told host Bill O'Reilly that he had changed the television landscape by taking news from being objective and dull to subjective and entertaining. When O'Reilly said that Koppel believed that "people like me have ruined the country," the former ABC newsman answered, "That's right."

In 2012, Koppel also took MSNBC's liberal host Rachel Maddow to task in a speech at the National Press Club.

"I don't want to know what she thinks about these issues," he said. "I really don't. I want to hear her informed reporting. I want to hear her interview people with that sharp mind of hers."

CBS News released a lengthier outtake of Koppel's interview with Hannity online Saturday, before the television report aired. Hannity discussed his working class background, criticisms of former President Barack Obama and his attitudes toward liberals and journalism.

"We are stuck in an ideological rut and programs like yours, popular as you are, haven't helped," Koppel said.

Barry Jenkins' next project? 'The Underground Railroad'

"Moonlight" director Barry Jenkins will follow up his Oscar-winning film with a drama series for Amazon based on Colson Whitehead's "The Underground Railroad."

Amazon announced Monday that it will develop the TV series, with Jenkins writing and directing the adaptation of the 2016 National Book Award winner. Whitehead's "The Underground Railroad" is a part-historic, part-surrealistic novel about a slave who escapes on an actual railroad.

"Going back to The Intuitionist, Colson's writing has always defied convention, and The Underground Railroad is no different," said Jenkins in a statement. "It's a groundbreaking work that pays respect to our nation's history while using the form to explore it in a thoughtful and original way. Preserving the sweep and grandeur of a story like this requires bold, innovative thinking and in Amazon we've found a partner whose reverence for storytelling and freeness of form is wholly in line with our vision."

Jenkins has already been at work on the series, though how many episodes are planned was not announced. He is to write and direct.

"Moonlight," which last month won best picture, was Jenkins' second film following 2008's well-regarded but little-seen "Medicine for Melancholy." Made for just $1.5 million, "Moonlight" has grossed more than $56 million worldwide. It also won Academy Awards for Jenkins' screenplay, based on Tarell Alvin McCraney's play, and for Mahershala Ali's supporting performance.

"The Underground Railroad" will reunite much of the team behind "Moonlight." Like that film, it will be produced by Adele Romanski and Brad Pitt's Plan B.

The Latest: Cops: Hip hop promoter pistol whipped victim

The Latest on a shooting in New Jersey involving hip-hop star Fetty Wap (all times local):

2:15 p.m.

A man arrested after a shooting involving hip-hop star Fetty Wap in his New Jersey hometown is facing assault charges after police say he pistol whipped someone.

Court documents show that Raheem Thomas was charged Monday with aggravated assault after police say he used a gun to strike a victim in the head and face in Paterson early Sunday. He was also charged with having a gun after previously being convicted of a felony.

Thomas was not charged with the shooting itself, which happened on the street outside of a deli.

It wasn't known if he had an attorney to comment on his behalf and an email sent to an account believed to be his wasn't immediately returned.

Three people were shot after the fight inside. No details on their condition was immediately available.


11 a.m.

Authorities have made an arrest stemming from a shooting involving hip-hop star Fetty Wap in his New Jersey hometown that left three people wounded.

The shooting happened outside a 24-hour deli in Paterson at about 5 a.m. Sunday.

Authorities on Monday charged Raheem Thomas with assault and weapons offenses.

It wasn't known if he had an attorney to comment on his behalf and an email sent to an account believed to be his wasn't immediately returned.

Investigators say the rapper, whose real name is Willie Maxwell, and several friends, became involved in a heated altercation with another group.

Officials say the rapper was not hurt and the three victims were taken to a hospital.

There was no immediate word on the extent of the injuries to the shooting victims. The investigation is ongoing.

'Conviction' has believable characters, intriguing twists

Julia Dahl's examination of the myriad communities that exist — sometimes not so harmoniously — in Brooklyn, New York, fuels her third excellent novel featuring freelance reporter Rebekah Roberts.

In "Conviction," Dahl effectively uses the backdrop of the Crown Heights riots that pitted the Hasidic and black communities against each other during 1991 that had ramifications for decades. Racism and anti-Semitism are smoothly woven into the plot as Dahl shows how a violent nature can be formed and that ethical journalism matters and can change lives.

Rebekah agrees to look into the case of DeShawn Perkins, who has been in prison for 16 years in the death of his foster parents and foster sister in 1992. DeShawn claims he's innocent, but Rebekah knows that almost every convicted murderer says that. Before the murders, DeShawn had been rebelling against his very loving foster parents — a situation well-known in the community and at the tight-knit church the family attended. The pastor and several of his parishioners were quick to blame DeShawn, who says he was coerced into confessing and that a policeman took a crack addict's identification without questioning it.

"Conviction" easily moves between 1992, showing a neighborhood still reeling from the tensions that sparked the riots, and the present with a gentrifying Crown Heights community.

Rebekah's investigation leads to ex-cop Saul Katz, a former Orthodox Jew who is now involved with the reporter's mother, politicians and area landowners. Dahl succinctly shows the drudgery of real reporting — slogging through court files and paperwork, interviewing those who remember the murders — and how this sleuthing for facts can pay off.

Dahl proved her skills as a strong storyteller in her debut, "Invisible City," which won several awards and was nominated for an Edgar. "Conviction" illustrates how her talents continue to grow.

A formidable view of a changing neighborhood, believable characters and intriguing twists that keep the reader guessing the outcome until the satisfying finale meld for the uber-smart "Conviction."



Colombia mad over Wiz Khalifa's visit to Pablo Escobar tomb

American rapper Wiz Khalifa is stirring controversy in the South American nation of Colombia, where he laid flowers and smoked what looks like a joint at the tomb of cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar.

The rapper is an avid marijuana smoker and used his Instagram account to post several photos of him smoking at Escobar's tomb in Medellin. He played a concert in the city last week.

Colombians took to social media to express outrage.

Medellin's Mayor Federico Gutierrez called the rapper a "scoundrel." He suggested that instead of paying homage to Escobar, the performer should've brought flowers to Escobar's thousands of victims killed during the height of Colombia's drug violence in the late 1980s.

Review: The Mavericks ' new CD is a spinning wheel of styles

The Mavericks' "Brand New Day" is skillfully paced for the dancefloor, straddling the southern American borders and shores with a spinning wheel of styles and rhythms.

Led by rhapsodic vocalist Raul Malo, the band displays its usual high standards on tunes brimming with Tex-Mex accordions, Cuban rhythms, sophisticated 1960s pop, sensitive ballads and swirling bossa nova.

Opener "Rolling Along" contains the leitmotif of the band's first album on their own independent label — "Don't fix what ain't broken" — and suggests a distraction from some of life's many difficulties that, as of press time, is legal only in a handful of states.

The title track sounds like a long-lost Motown classic produced by Phil Spector in the 1970s and if "Easy As It Seems" doesn't inspire your inner Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers, check if you still have a pulse.

"Ride With Me" combines a brochure for Tourism U.S.A. with Eddie Perez's Chuck Berryesque guitar, horn accents and Jerry Dale McFadden's swirling organ — road music customized for a cabriolet.

The Mavericks have a distinctive talent for mixing and matching, and Malo's Latino/Miami roots are a big part of his songwriting. "Wish You Well" and "Goodnight Waltz" offer a chance for intimacy on the dance parquet and Malo really lets it rip on "I Will Be Yours," a deeply romantic shuffle.

Closer "For The Ages" returns to Doug Sahm territory deep in the heart of Tex-Mex, ending with a brief singalong perfectly suited to close out the party. But don't despair, another Saturday night is just a week away again.

Punk legend Johnny Rotten supports Trump, Brexit vote

Count punk pioneer Johnny Rotten among President Donald Trump's supporters.

The former Sex Pistols front man, whose real name is John Lydon, tells ITV's "Good Morning Britain" that "there's many, many problems" with Trump as a person, but he's not racist. Lydon says Trump "terrifies politicians and this is joy to behold." He says he looks at Trump as "a possible friend."

Lydon is a U.S. citizen, but also weighed in on the politics of his native Britain, saying he's in favor of the UK's vote to leave the European Union last year. He says, "the working class have spoke and I'm one of them and I'm with them."

Review: Aimee Mann offers delicate takes on 'Mental Illness'

Aimee Mann plays to an illusory type on "Mental Illness," a serene album of delicate, mournful songs with characters walking off cliffs, stuck in holes and escaping to amusement parks.

Aiming to write the "saddest, slowest, most acoustic" songs as tongue-in-cheek confirmation of her image as a peddler of gloominess, Mann succeeds — maybe too well.

Pulling the plug on the electric charge of her recent projects, Mann's classy melodies soothe the heavy emotional themes but, as in a Philip Marlowe film or novel, the darkness rarely dissipates. The consistency in her depiction of frustrating or failed relationships may well be a plus but, if you happen to be slightly off-center yourself, it could tip you over.

Mercifully, the songs feature mostly acoustic guitar and piano — as well as some billowing string arrangements — but few of the instrumental ornaments which characterized her early solo albums with Jon Brion. Here they would have only amplified the psychosis and neurosis.

On "Rollercoasters," such rides and Ferris wheels are tools of escapism, while "Patient Zero" quickly knocks down any illusions of fitting in and succeeding in a new environment.

Mann dresses up "Philly Sinks" in a McCartneyesque tune that tugs you under as "animatronic bloodhounds bark/the wind-up mockingbirds sing" and before you can help it, you're joined at the hip with tragedy.

And so it goes. You may feel compelled to abandon all hope in the "Mental Illness" inferno. But, oh, those melodies are heavenly.

Houston student dies days after FaceTime with Beyonce

A Houston high school student has lost her battle with terminal cancer days after having a dream come true in a talk with Beyonce over a video chat.

Alief Independent School District spokeswoman Kimberly Smith says senior Ebony Banks died late Saturday night.

The teen's Hastings High School classmates started an online campaign before her death to give her a chance to meet her favorite singer, Beyonce. Banks received a FaceTime call Wednesday from the star.

The school gave Banks her diploma during a graduation ceremony in the hospital last week.

Students gathered at a candlelight vigil Sunday to remember Banks. Video posted on social media shows students raising candles to Beyonce's "Halo."

Prosecutors fight Cosby bid to query 2,000 potential jurors

Prosecutors in Bill Cosby's sex assault case in Pennsylvania objected Monday to defense efforts to prescreen as many as 2,000 potential jurors.

They also said in a court filing that the jury should be selected weeks before the scheduled June 5 trial so jurors can prepare to be sequestered nearly 300 miles away from home. And they challenged defense claims that it will be tough to find people without opinions of the longtime Hollywood icon.

In a sometimes caustic court filing, they called that "a cynical view of the potential jurors in Allegheny County."

"Defendant forecasts that jury selection will take weeks; we are confident that it will not," Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said, noting that it took just a day to pick jurors for the state attorney general's perjury trial last year.

Cosby, who turns 80 next month, is accused of drugging and molesting a Temple University basketball team manager at his home in 2004, an encounter he calls consensual. He was 66 at the time; Andrea Constand was 30.

Prosecutors had hoped to call a dozen women who have made similar accusations, but the judge will allow just one "prior bad act" witness: a woman who worked for Cosby's agent and said he drugged and assaulted her during a lunch meeting at the Bel-Air Hotel, in Los Angeles, in 1996.

The trial will be held in suburban Philadelphia, where Cosby met with Constand at his estate, but the jury will come from the Pittsburgh area because of pretrial publicity over the past two years. Cosby's appearance at a half-dozen court hearings has drawn a swarm of national and international media.

Defense lawyers have proposed sending a specialized questionnaire to up to 2,000 Allegheny County residents, and to question those who pass muster starting June 5. Prosecutors said Cosby deserves no such "special treatment." They want opening statements to start that day.

The battle over jury selection is just the latest legal maneuvering in the high-profile case. The judge must still decide how much the jury will hear from Cosby's deposition about his long history of extramarital affairs. The next court hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Cosby, a Philadelphia native, broke racial barriers when he became the first black actor to star in a network drama, the 1965 hit "I Spy," a role that earned him three consecutive Emmy awards for best actor. He is perhaps best known for his top-rated 1980s sitcom, "The Cosby Show," which painted a warm portrait of black family life and earned hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties.

The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they are sexual assault victims, but Constand has granted permission through her lawyer.

Comedian Gabriel Iglesias in life-threatening battle with his weight

Comedian Gabriel Iglesias has always been on the heavy side–in fact that’s what he’s known for. His punchline is a dig at his own weight problem, “I’m not fat…I’m fluffy.” But now the comedian’s obesity has caught up with him. 

>> Read more trending news

A few weeks ago, he announced on Instagram that he was canceling upcoming shows; saying, “I’m dealing with some serious health and emotional issues.”

Since canceling some tour dates, Iglesias has been working hard to get his weight and diabetes under control. On Tuesday, he posted on social media that he was “down almost 20 pounds since I stopped touring and my diabetes is currently under control with exercise, diet and meds.”

The comedian is hitting the gym hard to lose weight, and he’s honing his boxing skills impressively. He posted a short video on Instagram that shows his technique with the speed bag.

TMZ reported that Iglesias is hitting the gym five times a week for two hour sessions. He is hoping to drop over 50 pounds before resuming his tour. 

The comic is training with Ricky Funez, who is famous for whipping Justin Bieber into shape. Gabriel says that he came to Funez, “a broken, humbled man after I walked away from the road in Feb. and asked him for help.”

He also said that he’s been struggling with “emotional issues,” and it seems that those demons are harder to tame. 

The comic wrote that, “I have some things I need to do for myself b4 I can be in a good place.”

Actress Shailene Woodley reaches deal in pipeline protest

Hollywood actress Shailene Woodley has reached a plea deal that calls for no jail time over her involvement in protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota.

The "Divergent" star was among 27 activists arrested Oct. 10. She livestreamed her arrest on Facebook.

She initially pleaded not guilty to criminal trespass and engaging in a riot, misdemeanors carrying a maximum punishment of a month in jail and a $1,500 fine.

Woodley signed a court document Friday agreeing to plead guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct, serve one year of unsupervised probation and forfeit $500 bond. The agreement is awaiting a judge's approval. Woodley was scheduled to stand trial this Friday.

Opponents of the $3.8 billion pipeline worry about potential environmental damage. About 750 protesters have been arrested since August.

Will Cabinet follow Tillerson's lead in media access?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has famously declared himself "not a big media press access person," isn't alone in President Donald Trump's Cabinet. But it's too early to call him a trendsetter, either.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, both with extensive private sector backgrounds, have similarly been press-averse at the beginning of their tenures. Others seem to be following the leads of predecessors. In some cases, it's just too early to tell.

Tillerson's decision not to make room for reporters on the plane for his first major overseas trip earlier this month drew scrutiny because his job is generally considered the most important in the Cabinet and there's a rich tradition of secretaries of state keeping the public informed of foreign policy objectives. He's had little visibility so far and the plane decision is more than symbolic; many of his predecessors and their staffs used that time to answer reporters' questions.

In an interview with the one journalist allowed on the trip, from the right-leaning web site Independent Journal Review, Tillerson said he personally doesn't need media attention.

"I understand it's important to get the message of what we're doing out," the former Exxon Mobil CEO said, "but I also think there's only a purpose in getting the message out when there's something to be done."

With attention paid to Trump's declaration of some media organizations as enemies of the American people, and reporters' jousting with White House press secretary Sean Spicer a near-daily television event, access to Cabinet-level officials can be overlooked.

Precisely because they don't get as much attention, it's important for journalists to understand and explain the work being done, said Nikki Usher, a professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University.

"These offices have tremendous power and most people don't know what goes on in there," she said.

Cabinet secretaries with a private sector background need to understand that they now work on behalf of the people, who have a right to know what these officials are doing in their names, she said.

"Corporate folks are used to not having to account for any kind of public conversations or talk to reporters with the exception of crisis communications or quarterly earnings calls with assessments of the health of their corporations," Usher said. They're used to being insulated.

The billionaire philanthropist DeVos' background is more private sector than public. She was the chairman of Michigan's Republican Party and her husband is the co-founder of Amway. Her lack of education background and support of school choice made her the most controversial Cabinet pick, and she needed the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence to be confirmed.

Perhaps as a result, she's not been shy about avoiding the media.

The department did not announce it when she visited her first school as education secretary. Reporters showed up anyway, tipped by advocacy organizations, but were not allowed in the school. DeVos does not take reporters' questions after speeches and her few interviews were with conservative news outlets. Her public schedule is often not released ahead of time.

Chao has both a public and private sector background, as a banker, former Labor Secretary, director of the Peace Corps and CEO of United Way. She hasn't held a meeting or news conference with reporters since her Jan. 31 Senate confirmation, and hasn't spoken to reporters following public appearances.

Ray LaHood and Anthony Foxx, the two transportation secretaries under former President Barack Obama, met frequently with reporters.

How the Trump appointees interpret their boss' attacks on the press will be watched closely. "The press is not the enemy," said Peter Cook, a former reporter and spokesman for the Department of Defense during the Obama administration.

It's also common for top executives in many fields, for reasons of ego or message control, to keep a tight rein on underlings. Requests to speak to agency heads in the administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, have to go through the governor's office.

Here's how some of the other Cabinet offices have been working:

— Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other senior defense and military leaders continue to take media contingents with them overseas. Mattis and the others hold media availabilities on the trips, although Mattis has not yet gone to the Pentagon briefing room.

—Trump's Homeland Security Department has operated the way others have in the early stages. Its Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch uses Twitter to defend enforcement actions; under Obama, the feed was largely confined to news releases.

—Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs manager, took reporters on his plane to the Group of 20 meeting with finance officials in Germany earlier this month. He's done interviews with business news networks, the Wall Street Journal and the news site Axios.

— The Justice Department under Jeff Sessions, a U.S. senator before his appointment, has handled media interactions much like prior administrations. Sessions' public events are disclosed ahead of time to reporters, and he usually takes questions afterward. He appeared before reporters on the most significant day of his tenure, when he recused himself from any investigation into Russia's influence on the presidential election.

— Former presidential candidates Rick Perry, the new energy secretary, and Ben Carson, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, also are accustomed to dealing with the media. It remains to be seen how being used to — or needing — media attention will play into their new roles.

—Trump imposed a media blackout on the Environmental Protection Agency after taking office that has since been lifted. Top administrator Scott Pruitt has generally tightened media access, although he made news in a CNBC interview this month when he questioned the scientific consensus that human activity is the primary driver of climate change.


Associated Press reporters Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Lolita C. Baldor, Michael Biesecker, Alicia Caldwell, Martin Crutsinger, Maria Danilova, Sadie Gurman, Laurie Kellman, Josh Lederman, Joan Lowy and Paul Wiseman in Washington, and David Klepper in Albany, N.Y. contributed to this report.

'The Wanderers' is mission-to-Mars fiction with a twist

In "The Wanderers," a private corporation called Prime Space is financing the first crewed mission to Mars and training three astronauts: an American woman, a Russian man and a Japanese man.

Helen, Sergei and Yoshi will undergo an elaborate, 17-month simulation that will use virtual reality to mimic the round-trip mission to the Red Planet. Attention to detail will include goodbyes to their families, a realistic-feeling launch, an outbound trip through "space" and 30 days on "Mars" — actually an unpopulated area of Utah.

The training mission is called Eidolon. It's a high-stakes test to see how they perform as a team. The ambitious crew must prove they are worthy of the real mission to Mars. The trio will be monitored by corporation observers who will joke that their jobs are as dull as watching "Chekhov in space."

Meg Howrey's novel starts at a Chekhovian crawl, but picks up after 100 pages when the simulated mission gets rolling at last and her research on interplanetary spaceflight can shine.

Her near-future premise is based on Mars500, a real-life experiment completed in 2011 by a six-person international crew. Howrey's Prime Space nods to billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX company. Last week, President Donald Trump signed legislation adding human exploration of Mars to NASA's mission.

In the novel, as the mission adjusts from a 24-hour Earth day to a slightly longer Martian "sol," the crew faces increasingly stressful equipment malfunctions. Their troubles may or may not be part of Prime Space's simulation. Duct tape is employed. Tensions rise.

But the crew must not let the company know that the pressure is getting to them or that they're having bad dreams. Helen, a NASA veteran with three space missions on her resume, continually probes her feelings, wondering if her emotions will feel more authentic on Mars, or if Mars will feel like a simulation.

Rarely does she shed her defenses. In one such moment, an awestruck Yoshi sees Helen for who she really is: "What a large thing it is to be Helen, what infinite space she is," Howrey writes. "And then to be seen by her. As if, just for once, the universe understood him, came up with a name for him, instead of the other way around."

All three crew members worry that their thirst for space exploration has crippled their family bonds. The families left behind are going through some rough times, too. Helen's daughter, Mirielle, struggles in the shadow of her famous space-traveling mom. In separate chapters, she and two other family members experiment with their public identities. Sergei's 16-year-old son nervously explores his sexuality. Yoshi's wife speaks honestly only to a robot.

The family sections give "The Wanderers" more opportunities to play with notions of counterfeits and authenticity, beyond the obvious stage of the simulated mission. Helen doesn't ask anyone at Prime Space to explain her mission's name, Eidolon, but if she'd checked Wikipedia, she would have learned that an eidolon is a phantom in human form. The most famous eidolon appeared in Greek literature as the likeness of another Helen — Helen of Troy.

Is the Eidolon mission all it appears to be? Or more? The unfolding of that mystery launches this plausible space tale into higher realms of enjoyment.



'American Horror Story' stars discuss potential Trump plot

The cast of "American Horror Story" is opening up about rumors of a season of the series centered on President Donald Trump.

Series creator Ryan Murphy told Bravo's Andy Cohen last month that the seventh season of the FX drama would be focused on the presidential election and mentioned the possibility of a Trump character.

When asked ahead of Sunday's "AHS" event at the Paley Center in Los Angeles, Sarah Paulson told The Associated Press a Trump-themed season doesn't fit what the show has done so far, but "anything is possible if it's what the audience craves."

Cuba Gooding, Jr. adds that he doesn't know for sure, but thinks the rumors are a "red herring."

Kathy Bates says she's OK with it, as long as she's not cast as the president.

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