Band bio makes Led Zeppelin's 'Hammer of the Gods' look like a children's book.
Police tapped into Chicago's vast network of surveillance cameras — and even some homeowners' doorbell cameras — to track down two brothers who later claimed they were paid by "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett to stage an attack on him, the latest example of the city's high-tech approach to public safety.
Officers said they reviewed video from more than four dozen cameras to trace the brothers' movements before and after the reported attack, determining where they lived and who they were before arresting them a little more than two weeks later.
Smollett reported being beaten up by two men who shouted racist and anti-gay slurs and threw bleach on him. But his story fell apart when Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo — bodybuilders and aspiring actors whom Smollett knew from the "Empire" set and the gym — told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted to promote his career.
Smollett was arrested Thursday and made his first court appearance. He was later released after posting the required 10 percent of the $100,000 bond.
Police Commander Edward Wodnicki, who heads the detective division that led the investigation, credited the camera network but also residents who shared information from their own cameras for helping to solve the case.
"That was super useful in this investigation," he said of residents' cooperation. "The city came together to investigate and help the police with this crime."
The search went beyond surveillance cameras to include other electronic records. Detectives also reviewed in-car taxi videos, telephone logs, ride-share records and credit card records, according to a summary of the case released by prosecutors.
At first, police were puzzled when they could not find footage of the attack, which Smollett said occurred around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 while he was walking home from a Subway sandwich shop.
Chicago has the most extensive video surveillance network in the U.S., with access to more than 32,000 cameras mounted on buildings, poles, train tunnels and buses — and even in businesses and private residences whose owners agree to opt into the system full-time. What's more, authorities can track someone by linking those cameras at a sophisticated emergency command center, police stations or even from tablets in officers' squad cars.
Police say Smollett deliberately staged the attack in a spot where he believed it would be captured on video, but "that particular camera wasn't pointed in that direction," Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Thursday.
But police soon found footage of two men walking in the area of the attack and interviewed more than 100 people seeking witnesses.
Using 35 police cameras and more than 20 private-sector cameras, investigators were able to trace the men's movements after the attack, including footage of them getting into a cab, Wodnicki said. Detectives interviewed the cab driver, got video from inside the vehicle and followed it along a trail of cameras to the city's North Side, where the brothers got out and began walking.
The private footage offered by residents included video from cameras embedded in doorbells that showed the men walking, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.
After that, police tracked the men's movements "backward to where they came from" before the attack, Wodnicki said — first walking, then to a cab and back to a ride-share car.
"That was the lead we needed to identify a person of interest," Wodnicki said. "We were able to put a name to both individuals."
Police found out the men had flown to Nigeria the same day as the reported attack and would return on Feb. 13. In the meantime, police executed more than 50 search warrants and subpoenas, including for phone and social media records.
The Osundairos were arrested when they got off the plane. Within two days, they were released without charges after detailing the alleged plot orchestrated by Smollett.
Although the camera network — which has raised privacy concerns among some civil liberties groups — was key, it was only one part of the investigation, Guglielmi said.
"Then they just did the police work," he said. "It was a lot of digging."
Check out the AP's complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.
Children's author and illustrator Mo Willems sees creativity as part of a grownup's job.
"Having a child is an opportunity to be silly again," says Willems, who has been named the Kennedy Center's first ever "Education Artist-In-Residence."
"I think parents forget that they are cool and if they want the next generation to be creative then they have to be that way, too."
On Friday, the Washington, D.C.-based center announced that Willems would organize projects for children and their families, including "collaborative experiences across artistic genres." The residency lasts two years, along with a year for preparation. Willems, 51 and based in Massachusetts, will receive an undisclosed fee for his work.
Known for such acclaimed picture stories as "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!" and "Knuffle Bunny," Willems has a long history with the Kennedy Center. He has helped stage theatrical adaptations there of "Knuffle Bunny" and his "Elephant & Piggie" series and is working on a musical production of "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!" that will premiere at the Kennedy Center at the end of the year.
The center's senior vice president for education, Mario Rossero, said in a statement that the goal for the residency was "to extend and deepen intergenerational audience experiences by providing not just kid-friendly art, but family-friendly art.
"We knew that if we found the right partner — someone who appeals to children and adults, and someone who could help us push creative boundaries — we'd increase the ways that family and student audiences engage with the Center," she said. "In Mo, the Kennedy Center has found the voice of a generation — actually, several generations."
Willems, during a recent telephone interview with The Associated Press, said his work at the center will be an extension of his books and life. He likes the idea of making creativity accessible, noting that he draws in a simple, but distinctive style that readers enjoy imitating. He is the father of a teenage girl and at home might unfurl a roll of butcher block paper that family and friends can doodle on.
For his residency, he envisions multimedia projects for young and old, bringing in artists from other fields such as singer-songwriter Ben Folds and jazz pianist Jason Moran.
He said he has completed a couple of books, "banked" them in advance, so he can "concentrate on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be terrified and to learn.
"I really don't know how all of this stuff is going to end up, and that's exciting."
Democratic politicians and celebrities called it a shocking instance of Trump-era racism and hate. Republicans now depict it as yet another example of liberals and mainstream media rushing to judgment while disparaging the president's supporters as bigots.
The case of "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett encapsulates the polarized state of political discourse in America.
With Smollett now accused of staging a racist, anti-gay attack on himself , the case seemed to inflame political tensions even more while creating potentially damaging consequences for genuine hate crime victims in the future.
"The danger is that it will cause people to respond with skepticism whenever they hear reports of hate violence, even though the overwhelming majority of those reports are completely true," said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Smollett, who is black and gay, is accused of filing a false police report last month asserting that he was attacked in Chicago by two men who beat him, targeted him with slurs, and yelled "This is MAGA country" — an apparent reference to President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.
Democratic presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Cory Booker were among those who sided with Smollett early on and called the incident a "modern-day lynching." They soon found themselves under attack from the right as Smollett's story began to fall apart.
Trump initially called reports of the attack "horrible." On Thursday, he tweeted, "what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?"
Harris tweeted Thursday that she was "sad, frustrated and disappointed" at Smollett's alleged staging of the attack.
Editor and commentator Jarrett Stepman of The Daily Signal, an online publication of the conservative The Heritage Foundation, faulted left-of-center pundits and politicians for seizing immediately on Smollett's claims in a bid to score political points.
"Instead of just treating this as a serious crime, it was used as a political bludgeon to malign large swaths of Americans," he said. "There was a rush to find a story to attack half the country."
However, Stepman said he shared concerns that the case might have unfortunate consequences for real victims who deserve support and compassion.
"Heinous hate crimes do exist in this country, but it's the 'boy who cried wolf' thing," Stepman said. "People become cynical, and that's not a healthy thing for American society."
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson had a hard time holding back his frustration over the allegation that a gay black man like Smollett would concoct such a story given the real struggles in the city with racial divisions and hate crimes.
He expressed similar concerns about how hate crimes are handled in the future because of this case while recognizing how his city became a participant in a national political debate.
"Celebrities, news commentators and even presidential candidates weighed in on something that was choreographed by an actor," said Johnson, who is black and grew up in Chicago.
In the debate over the Smollett case, critics of Trump have pointed out that hate crimes have soared since his election, but the statistics are nuanced.
The most recent official figures from the FBI show that there was a 17 percent spike in hate crimes in 2017. But that data isn't complete because it's based in part on voluntary reporting by police agencies across the country.
Non-government researchers have come up with a variety of findings. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism in Cal State San Bernardino looked at hate crimes in the nation's 10 biggest cities and found a 12 percent increase in 2017. There were similar annual increases during the Obama administration.
Shannon Minter said hate crimes already are underreported, and worried that the Smollett case would aggravate that problem.
However, Minter said he was heartened by some recent moves across the political spectrum to address racism and hate violence. He cited efforts by the Southern Baptist Convention, a generally conservative denomination, to acknowledge its past legacy of racism.
Robin Valeri, a psychology professor at St. Bonaventure University who has researched hate crimes, said the Smollett case reminded her of the 1987 case involving Tawana Brawley, a black teenager from New York state who falsely alleged that she was abducted and raped by a gang of white men.
"These cases make people skeptical," Valeri said. "The assumption is going to be, 'Oh, they're just making it up.'"
Among the black activists who championed Brawley's case before it unraveled was civil rights leader Al Sharpton.
Speaking Thursday on MSNBC, Sharpton called the hoax claims against Smollett "horrific" and said the actor, if proven guilty, "ought to face accountability to the maximum."
Alvin Tillery, a political science professor who directs Northwestern University's Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy, said racial hoaxes — including the Brawley case — have a long history in the United States.
"The Smollett case is likely to have an even larger impact on our politics and culture than those infamous hoaxes because of Mr. Smollett's celebrity status and our deeply troubling political climate," said Tillery, who is black.
The wall-to-wall media coverage that the case generated also left some people frustrated.
"There's a lot of racial and anti-Semitic violence in this country that we didn't even know about," said Heidi Beirich, who heads the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project. "It outweighs one sensational fake crime."
The Chicago police chief began his news conference Thursday by acknowledging the throng of reporters in front of him and declaring, "I just wish that the families of gun violence got this much attention."
Check out the AP's complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.
Motley Crue revealed the track listing and album artwork for the soundtrack to 'The Dirt,' and released the title track.
Anna Wintour paid tribute Friday to Karl Lagerfeld's generosity and sense of humor as she presented a new fashion exhibition. Elsewhere in Milan, luxury brand Bottega Veneta's new creative director showcased a collection that draws on the house's heritage but pushes it toward a forward-dressing consumer.
The American Vogue editor-in-chief said that Lagerfeld, who died this week, "would have loved" the Costume Institute's upcoming exhibit "Camp: Notes on Fashion" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, given his "wonderful sense of humor."
"Karl was the very best benefactor and collaborator, as erudite as he was generous," Wintour said.
Highlights from the third day of Milan Fashion Week previewing designs for the upcoming fall and winter:
BOTTEGA VENETA'S NEW DIRECTION
Bottega Veneta took a sharp turn under its new creative director Daniel Lee.
The young British designer's first collection since joining the brand, owned by the French group Kering, incorporated Bottega's trademark "intreccio" weave in innovative ways while taking its core leather accessories in a fresh direction.
An oversized weave on a red knitwear tunic emphasized the weave's inherent grace. The weave was left open on a leather skirt for a laser-cut effect, while a repeating tab technique created leather coats for him and her with a slight wave effect. Bags included molded leather in fresh geometric shapes.
Lee put a lot of emphasis on the neckline, which scooped, dipped and performed other more complicated geometric tricks. A leather tuxedo shirt with a plunging neckline was paired with an ice-green quilted skirt with a puffer coat aesthetic.
For men, knitwear looks were overlapped with large open panels and modernized necklines. A man's coat had wide shoulders, and was kept short for an overall square silhouette, and worn over an all-leather biker ensemble.
Overall, the collection projected a hardness with lots of leather and hardware, but the designer's softer side came through in knitwear and pieces like a mirrored coat for women that moved like silk.
CAMP AS FASHION'S ZEITGEIST
The Costume Institute's new blockbuster exhibition focuses on the role of "camp" in fashion, drawing from many pieces featured in recent runway shows including Gucci, Viktor & Rolf and Palomo Spain.
The show will include a Lagerfeld creation — a 1987 Chanel look inspired by Versailles — among 120 that he donated to the Met's Costume Institute.
Presenting the exhibition in Milan, Wintour expressed her gratitude for Lagerfeld, whom she described as a "great friend and an important donor," her voice cracking as she spoke.
Curator Andrew Bolton says camp has been used "as an escape but also a tool for political criticism."
"I think camp has this ... playful sort of approach to the Zeitgeist. ... It's a reaction and a reflection of the times we are living," he said.
The exhibit, sponsored by Gucci, will include pieces from creative director Alessandro Michele's fall and winter 2018-2019 collections. It runs from May 9 to Sept. 8 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
"The exhibition in some ways belongs to the DNA of what I have done in these years," Michele said. "Camp isn't only a word created to explain how much you can be extravagant, exaggerated. It is that thing that hides the great power of clothes and the great power of appearance."
Jussie Smollett is enmeshed in weekly drama on the set of "Empire," the Fox TV series that gave the actor a breakout role and the fame to advance his social activism.
But a scene that played out on a dark Chicago street in January has left Smollett facing felony charges and raised the possibility that "Empire" could mark the pinnacle of the 38-year-old's career.
Smollett, who is black and gay, told police he was the victim of a hate crime committed by men who threw liquid in his face, yelled racist, anti-gay slurs and looped a noose around his neck. After a three-week investigation, Smollett was charged Wednesday with staging the attack with help from two brothers he knew and allegedly paid for their services.
Even in an industry in which bad or erratic behavior is expected , insiders and observers are stunned by what authorities allege was fakery intended in part to get Smollett publicity and a raise.
"This is incredible. No one does this," said Garth Ancier, a veteran network executive and a co-founder of the Fox network. If more money was his goal, that's what agents and negotiations are for, he said, calling the alleged hoax "beyond the pale."
"It's too bad that such a talented guy threw all that away," Ancier said, adding he didn't see how he could be kept on "Empire."
Producers appeared to be doing that for now, with Smollett traveling directly after being released from jail on bond Thursday to the "Empire" set. There are two episodes left to make of the 18 airing this season, the fifth year for the series starring Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard as hip-hop moguls Cookie and Lucious Lyon.
Replacing Smollett at this point would be problematic. Writing his character, one of three Lyon sons, out of future seasons would be less so.
Smollett's legal team released a statement late Thursday calling Chicago police's version of events "an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system.
"Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing," the statement said.
After Smollett was charged, TNT's celebrity battle-rap series "Drop the Mic" pulled an upcoming episode with him "in the interest of not being exploitative of an incredibly sensitive situation," the network said in a statement.
The Fox studio that makes "Empire" publicly stood behind Smollett when he first reported the attack and as skepticism about it arose. But it declined comment Thursday about what happens next as he fights charges of filing a false police report.
Experts in the field of crisis management were pessimistic. The online mockery Smollett is taking is unlikely to stop, and it could hinder any attempt to re-emerge, said Eric Dezenhall, CEO of the public relations firm Dezenhall Resources.
"The thing it's really hard to come back from is ridicule," Dezenhall said. "It can be easier to come back from something just bad. In our culture the whiff of something dangerous has a certain street cred. But here we're talking about a combination of malevolence and ridiculousness."
Eden Gillott, president of Gillott Communications, offered a similar take.
"This could be a career-killer. We've seen this many times. Society has become more intolerant and unforgiving," said Gillott, citing instances ranging from Kevin Spacey's firing from "House of Cards" for alleged sexual misconduct to Megyn Kelly's "Today" exit after she defended blackface costumes.
What Smollett is alleged to have done isn't analogous to either one — or to just about anything that's happened with a celebrity or prominent person in recent memory or in news files.
There have been stunts, such as Joaquin Phoenix's role in a so-called documentary, "I'm Still Here," directed by actor Casey Affleck and supposedly about Phoenix's career as a rapper in decline. The film's release came with public apologies and lawsuits attached.
Others have exaggerated their exploits, such as TV journalist Brian Williams' account of being in a helicopter hit by a rocket in the 2003 Iraq invasion or Hillary Clinton's 2008 account of landing under sniper fire during a 1990s trip as first lady.
But Smollett, instead of creating an image-burnishing fiction, positioned himself as a victim and the deserving centerpiece for outrage directed at his attackers. He said those who questioned him made him feel "victimized."
The allegation that Smollett did it for money could be seen as both a betrayal and baffling, given what he earns: more than $1.8 million for the current 18-episode season of "Empire," according to a person familiar with the situation.
Dezenhall said it would be tough for Smollett, who proclaimed himself innocent of the charges through his lawyers, to explain himself publicly.
"All of us have said something stupid, put something in an email we shouldn't have — we can understand that. But very few of us would say, 'I would orchestrate something like that to advance my career.' There's a difference between a mistake and a scheme," Dezenhall said. His advice to Smollett: "'Vanish for a few years, take up a cause, devote yourself to doing something good, and revisit it later.'"
Or search out people like Kandi Burruss, the singer-songwriter and reality star.
"I consider him a friend. I love him and regardless of if it's true or not, I'm still going to be here for him. I hate the situation but I don't hate the person," she told The Associated Press Thursday at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon.
AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton and Cindy Martin contributed to his report.
Check out the AP's complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.
Amandla Stenberg brought the audience to their feet as she talked of being protected by the ancestors.
KiKi Layne evoked tears as she talked about having the comfort of black women during an exciting but "terrifying" time.
Regina Hall kept people in stitches as she cracked jokes and celebrated her longevity in Hollywood. And Jenifer Lewis commanded everyone to honor those who came before them— while seemingly alluding to the arrest of Jussie Smollett for allegedly concocting a hoax about being attacked.
The actresses honored by Essence at the Black Women in Hollywood luncheon all riveted the room, albeit for different reasons, in front of a crowd that included Angela Bassett, Oscar-nominees Regina King and Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay, Diddy, Maxine Waters, Anita Hill and a host of other luminaries.
The annual event, hosted by Kelly Rowland, put the spotlight on black women as Hollywood prepares for its biggest night — the Oscars — in an industry where black women still can find themselves struggling to be heard and seen.
Layne is one of the lucky ones who hit a home run with her first movie, "If Beale Street Could Talk." Her co-star in that movie, King, lovingly introduced the statuesque star by saying she felt Layne could be her daughter. When King began to tear up, she said: "I'm crying like I really am your mama!"
The tears didn't stop when Layne accepted her trophy. She recounted praying that she would be featured in Essence magazine, and then, when they put her on the cover, she worried she wasn't ready.
"(Then) it hit me that it was the perfect time for me to receive this honor because it is the very beginning for me, and being here in this room, receiving this award, it's showing me that I'm not by myself in all of this," she said.
"People ask me all the time, 'How has all of this been' or 'your life is changing.' I mean it's extremely exciting, I'm so very grateful, but it's also completely terrifying," Lanye said, as she started to softly cry.
As the audience cheered her on, she reflected on how her success has encouraged others with "my chocolate skin and natural hair. . being represented in a way that this industry that we all know doesn't always (tend) to represent us."
"The Hate U Give" star Amandla Stenberg evoked the ancestors in her speech — from the grandmother that she never met, but felt a connection to, to others unknown that she said lift black women up daily.
"Sometimes it may feel like we carry a lot of weight, but it is because we have been given roots that run deep into the earth," she said. "The love and protection of our ancestors envelops us and transcends time itself. No matter what we face, we are wrapped in that protection."
Not all of the speeches were heavy. Hall, who also starred with Stenberg in "The Hate U Give" and drew raves for her role in "Support the Girls," had the audience in stitches as she recalled her 20-year journey in Hollywood, which started with a psychic who stopped her and told her she would be very successful — but years later.
"At 29 ... you feel like the time is now. As women you feel like you have a clock," she said. "I was like, 'First of all, you are unsolicited!' "
She added: "I never had a quantum leap that was overnight. But there is so much that you learn in the journey, and so I'm grateful for that."
Hall celebrated the friendships that helped her make it through, including with Sanaa Lathan, who co-starred with her in "The Best Man" and became one of her closest friends. She joked about the time Lathan told her she was going to get a job offer, but to keep it secret. When the offer never came, she called to find out what happened — and found it was for Regina King.
Hall talked so much so that Lathan jokingly tried to leave the stage. The afternoon's final honoree, "black-ish" star Lewis, got up and shouted, "Sit your (butt) down!" That drew even more laughter.
Lewis, dubbed the "mother of Black Hollywood" combined comedy and wisdom in a poignant speech where she talked about overcoming the extreme poverty of her childhood, being molested and learning to live with being bipolar.
"I asked for help, and I got it, and now, as you can plainly see, in my skin. HAPPY! FREE! RICH! FAMOUS! I'M SO AMAZING!" she shouted to the cheers of the crowd.
While she was introduced by longtime friends Loretta Devine and Sheryl Lee Ralph, her award was given to her by her daughter, whom she adopted after being a mentor to her.
Lewis beamed as she looked at her: "I did something right!"
The Essence luncheon occurred the same day "Empire" star Smollett was in court to face allegations he concocted a hoax about being the victim of a racial and homophobic attack, and it was part of the chatter on the red carpet leading up to the event.
While Lewis never mentioned Smollett, she said, she was asked "what do you think" on the carpet and told reporters that she would have no comment.
But on stage, she began singing a song with the lyrics: "Before you lie to us, remember Rosa sat on that bus; before you tell your tale, remember Mandela sat in that jail," and implored the audience to "remember the shoulders you stand on."
Two brothers who played central roles in what Chicago police say was a staged racist and homophobic attack on Jussie Smollett are, compared to the "Empire" actor, so far walking away legally unscathed.
Police outlined their case against the 36-year-old actor at a news conference Thursday, saying he paid the brothers $3,500 to help stage a bigoted attack against him early on Jan. 29 in downtown Chicago. Police say Smollett sought to drum up publicity for himself and was unhappy about his salary.
Smollett is charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly choreographing the hoax and filing a false report. A conviction carries a maximum three-year prison term. A Cook County judge admonished Smollett in bond court Thursday and set bond at $100,000.
As for 25-year-old Abimbola "Abel" and 27-year-old Olabinjo "Ola" Osundairo, the city's police chief said they aren't considered suspects and he gave no indication any charges against them are pending.
Here's a look at why they may be off the hook:
Q: DIDN'T THE BROTHERS COMMIT A CRIME DURING THE ALLEGEDLY STAGED ATTACK?
A: Not necessarily. However odd it might be, it wouldn't be breaking the law to agree to pretend to beat someone up. If that was as far it went, there would be no victims. It becomes a crime if one of the participants reports the fake beating to police as real. Authorities say that's what Smollett did. The victims would include police, who wasted their time investigating the phony attack.
Smollett, who is black and gay, had reported that two masked men beat him, used racist and homophobic slurs, doused him in a chemical substance and draped a noose around his neck before fleeing. He also said they yelled "This is MAGA country" — an apparent reference to President Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again."
The American-born brothers of Nigerian descent are bodybuilders and have both done some acting. A Thursday court filing by prosecutors said Abimbola Osundairo was a close friend of Smollett's.
The filing also said text messages "revealed Abel was a source of designer drugs" for Smollett. It mentions ecstasy. Smollet's attorney, Mark Geragos, declined comment on that issue. A message left for Abimbola Osundairo's lawyer Thursday evening was not returned.
Q: COULD ANYTHING THE BROTHERS DID BEFORE OR AFTER THE ATTACK BE A CRIME?
A: Possibly, said Gal Pissetzky, a Chicago-based defense attorney.
If the brothers knew in advance that Smollett planned to call police to pass off the hoax as real and knew the aim was to pressure Smollett's employers for a higher salary, Pissetzky said that could open them up to a charge of conspiracy.
But prosecutors may see such a charge as overkill for an incident that didn't result in major damages or injuries, even if it generated negative publicity for Chicago. Police say scratches on Smollett's face were likely self-inflicted.
"I don't think they are going to bother spending resources on charging them," Pissetzky said of the brothers. "They would rather get the big fish, Smollett."
Q: IS THE BROTHERS' COOPERATION A FACTOR IN THEM NOT FACING CHARGES?
A: Authorities haven't said if they promised the brothers they would not be charged if they cooperated. However, police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Thursday much of the evidence that made it possible to charge Smollett came from interviews with the brothers. That cooperation is almost certainly a main reason they haven't been charged.
It's also possible police broached allegations about Abimbola Osundairo being a source of designer drugs to apply additional pressure.
The brothers' lawyer, Gloria Schmidt, told reporters earlier Thursday that her clients weren't motivated by promises about anything.
"There was a point where this story needed to be told, and they manned up," Schmidt said. "Plea deal, immunity, all of that — they don't care about that."
As she suggests, they didn't open up to police right away.
According to Johnson, the brothers left for Nigeria shortly after the staged attack and were detained Feb. 13 upon arriving back in Chicago. It was only after more than 45 hours behind bars that they agreed to talk, later admitting they helped stage the attack and offering details on how it was done.
Johnson said that if the brothers had held out and refused to speak for another few hours, reaching their 48th hour in custody, police would have had to release them and authorities might still not have reached the stage of charging anyone.
Q: WHAT ABOUT THEIR GRAND JURY TESTIMONY?
A: Police said the brothers were taken before a grand jury Wednesday just hours before the charge against Smollett was announced so their testimony could be "locked in." That refers to the practice of taking witnesses — especially reluctant ones — before a grand jury to get them to say everything they know under oath before they can even think about changing their minds.
Bringing the Osundairo brothers before the grand jury accomplished at least two things for prosecutors, explained Pissetzky.
First, it gives them the option of charging or threatening to charge the brothers with lying to a grand jury if it ever looks like they might try to recant their statements about Smollett. Secondly, if they do recant, say, at a future Smollett trial, prosecutors could be permitted to read their grand jury testimony to trial jurors to discredit the contradictory testimony.
Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mtarm
Two women said Thursday that singer R. Kelly picked them out of a crowd at a Baltimore after-party in the mid-1990s when they were underage and had sex with one of the teens although she was under the influence of marijuana and alcohol and could not consent.
The women, Latresa Scaff and Rochelle Washington, joined lawyer Gloria Allred at a New York City news conference to tell their story publicly for the first time.
Their accusations come six weeks after a Lifetime documentary series, "Surviving R. Kelly," took another look at old sexual misconduct allegations against the R&B star.
Scaff said she was 16 and Washington was 15 when the pair attended a concert and after-party featuring Kelly and LL Cool J in Baltimore.
Scaff said Kelly singled the girls out at the after-party, had a member of his entourage ply them with drugs and alcohol and told them to meet him at his hotel suite.
"We both went to the hotel, thinking there was going to be another party there," Scaff said.
Scaff said the two girls were in Kelly's hotel room when Kelly entered with his penis already outside of his jeans. She said he wanted a threesome with the two teens but Washington said no and escaped to the bathroom.
With Washington in the bathroom, Kelly asked Scaff for oral sex and then had intercourse with her although she was under the influence of marijuana and alcohol and "did not have the capacity to consent," she said.
"When I first met R. Kelly that night, I was very happy and excited because I was young and starstruck," Scaff said. "However now that I am an adult, I feel hurt by what he did to me when I was only 16 years old and under the influence of alcohol and marijuana which had been provided to me at his after-party."
Washington said that now she's a mother, she feels she was taken advantage of by Kelly. "I just want justice for anyone that was hurt or violated," she said. "I want victims to know it's not their fault."
Allred, who said she has several clients who allege that they were sexually abused by R. Kelly, not all of whom have spoken out publicly, said Scaff and Washington were brave to come forward.
"For years they were embarrassed about what happened that night and they were not sure if they should blame themselves for what happened when they were teenagers," she said.
Allred said the two women planned to meet with officials from the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York. She did not say why she had chosen that jurisdiction for alleged crimes in Maryland.
Kelly's lawyer, Steve Greenberg, has said his client never knowingly had sex with an underage woman. An email was left with Greenberg seeking comment about Scaff's and Washington's allegations.
Kelly, whose legal name is Robert Kelly, has faced allegations of sexual misconduct with underage girls for decades and has denied them.
The now 52-year-old was acquitted in 2008 of child pornography charges stemming from a sex tape he allegedly made with an underage girl.
He was the group's genuine folksinger, and his songs had a ring of truth to them. These are the best.
Sasha Sagan, daughter of the late Carl Sagan, is working on a book her publisher is calling "part memoir, part guidebook and part social history."
G.P. Putnam's Sons announced Thursday that Sagan's "For Small Creatures Such As We: Finding Wonder and Meaning in Our Unlikely World," is coming out in October.
She will share memories of her father, the famed astronomer, and explore her beliefs in the prevalence of science and the natural world. She will also write about how she and her husband created "new, secular rituals" when they became parents.
Sasha Sagan is a writer, filmmaker and producer. Her book is drawn from a widely read essay, "Lessons of Immortality and Mortality From My Father, Carl Sagan," that she wrote for New York Magazine in 2014.
"All the Stars" are not performing at the Academy Awards, including Kendrick Lamar and SZA.
A person familiar with the decision, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't allowed to publicly discuss it, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the duo behind "All the Stars" will no longer perform at Sunday's show because of "logistics and timing."
Lamar and SZA will still attend the Oscars, where Lady Gaga will perform.
"All the Stars," from the "Black Panther" soundtrack, is nominated for best original song.
The other four songs competing for the award will be performed Sunday. The nominees are "Shallow" from "A Star Is Born"; "I'll Fight" from the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary "RBG"; "The Place Where Lost Things Go" from "Mary Poppins Returns"; and "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings" from "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs."
The estate of Michael Jackson on Thursday sued HBO over a documentary about two men who accuse the late pop superstar of molesting them when they were boys, saying the film violates a 1992 contract to air a Jackson concert.
The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court alleges that by co-producing and airing "Leaving Neverland," as HBO intends to do next month, the cable channel is breaching a deal to not disparage the singer. The decades-old contract allowed the cable network to air "Michael Jackson in Concert in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour" and included language that HBO would not disparage Jackson at any future point.
According to the suit, the film implies Jackson molested children on the very tour that the concert footage came from.
"It is hard to imagine a more direct violation of the non-disparagement clause," says the suit, which asks the court to order arbitration and says damages could exceed $100 million.
The film premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival, where its subjects Wade Robson and James Safechuck received a standing ovation and took questions afterward along with director Dan Reed. The first installment of the four-hour documentary will first air on HBO on March 3, with the second half airing the following night. Britain's Channel 4 will air it around the same time.
"Despite the desperate lengths taken to undermine the film, our plans remain unchanged, HBO will move forward with the airing of 'Leaving Neverland,'" HBO said in a statement Thursday. "This will allow everyone the opportunity to assess the film and the claims in it for themselves."
The network didn't respond to the breach-of-contract allegations.
The lawsuit states in its opening sentence that "Michael Jackson is innocent. Period," and goes on to recount the criminal investigation and 2005 trial in which Jackson was acquitted, highlighting the conflicting statements through the years of Robson and Safechuck, who are described as "admitted perjurers" in the suit. Both men told authorities that Jackson did not molest them, later claiming they were abused in lawsuits filed after the singer's death and in graphic detail in "Leaving Neverland."
It also reiterates the estate's position that it was irresponsible for the film not to include any defense of Jackson from those who knew him or further fact checks of the men.
HBO responded with a statement saying its plans to air "Leaving Neverland" remain unchanged.
"Dan Reed is an award-winning filmmaker who has carefully documented these survivors' accounts," the network's statement said. "People should reserve judgment until they see the film."
Reed is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
"Michael is an easy target because he is not here to defend himself, and the law does not protect the deceased from defamation, no matter how extreme the lies are," the lawsuit states. "Michael may not have lived his life according to society's norms, but genius and eccentricity are not crimes."
Follow Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton .
Omaha police used justifiable force when firing dozens of bullets at an armed robbery suspect in a fast-food restaurant and had no duty to protect a law enforcement reality television show crew member who was inadvertently shot and killed, the police chief said.
Bryce Dion, 38, who was a sound technician on "Cops," was on a ride-along with Omaha police officers in August 2014 when he was killed, The Omaha World-Herald reported.
His family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the City of Omaha, accusing the police of negligence and using excessive deadly force.
In court Wednesday, Christian Williams, a lawyer for Dion's family, said the suspect, Cortez Washington, was clearly a threat to officers when they fired on him as many as 39 times.
But, he said, officers fired around two dozen additional shots even as Washington was running from the restaurant, and that one of those bullets inadvertently hit Dion, who was standing in the entrance to the restaurant.
The bullet slipped through a gap in the armpit of the bulletproof vest Dion was wearing, and he died.
Washington was also shot and killed.
Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer testified that the police response was justified and that Washington "never stopped" being a danger to responding officers, even when he was running away.
Officers later learned that Washington's weapon was a pellet gun.
The police department's internal affairs unit and a Douglas County grand jury cleared the three officers who fired their weapons of any wrongdoing.
Douglas County District Judge Jim Masteller is expected to take the case under advisement after the trial ends this week.
Dion was the first crew member to be killed in more than 30 seasons of "Cops."
Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com
Band's jukebox musical gets off to a great start.
Peter Tork, a talented singer-songwriter and instrumentalist whose musical skills were often overshadowed by his role as the goofy, lovable bass guitarist in the made-for-television rock band The Monkees, has died at age 77.
Tork's son Ivan Iannoli told The Associated Press his father died Thursday at the family home in Connecticut of complications from adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare cancer of the salivary glands. He had battled the disease since 2009.
"Peter's energy, intelligence, silliness, and curiosity were traits that for decades brought laughter and enjoyment to millions, including those of us closest to him," his son said in a statement. "Those traits also equipped him well to take on cancer, a condition he met like everything else in his life, with unwavering humor and courage."
Tork, who was often hailed as the band's best musician, had studied music since childhood. He was accomplished on guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, banjo and other instruments, and Michael Nesmith, the Monkees' lead guitarist, said Tork was actually the better of the two.
He had been playing in small clubs in Los Angeles when a friend and fellow musician, Stephen Stills, told him TV casting directors were looking for "four insane boys" to play members of a struggling rock band.
Stills, a member of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, reportedly told Tork he had been rejected because his teeth were ugly. He thought the handsome Tork might fare better.
When "The Monkees" debuted in September 1966, Tork and fellow Monkees Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones became overnight teen idols.
Producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider modeled the show after the Beatles' popular musical comedies "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help!," seeking to create a band that would mirror them in cheekiness if not musical talent.
In the Monkees iteration, Nesmith was the serious one, Jones the cute one and Dolenz the zany one.
Tork said he adopted his "dummy" persona from the way he'd get audiences to engage with him at Greenwich Village folk clubs in the early 1960s.
He knew only one member of the Monkees before the show's debut, Nesmith who had been running "Hoot Nights" at the Troubadour nightclub, where Tork would occasionally perform after moving to L.A.
"As I write this my tears are awash, and my heart is broken," Nesmith posted on his Facebook page Thursday. "PT will be a part of me forever."
During its two-year run "The Monkees" would win an Emmy for outstanding comedy series and the group would land seven songs in Billboard's Top 10. "I'm a Believer," ''Daydream Believer" and "Last Train to Clarksville," would reach No. 1.
Initially, the Monkees was a band whose members didn't play their instruments or write many of their songs, something that infuriated both Tork and Nesmith.
Tork would tell of going to an early recording session, only to be told dismissively that session musicians were laying down the musical tracks and all the Monkees had to do was sing.
"I was a hired hand, and I didn't quite know that, and I didn't quite get it," he told The Associated Press in 2000. "I had fantasies of being more important than it turns out I was."
Eventually he and Nesmith wrested control of the band's musical fate from Don Kirshner, who had been brought in as the show's music producer. By the group's third album, "Headquarters," the Monkees were playing their instruments and even performed live in Hawaii.
After the show concluded in 1968 the band went on a lengthy concert tour that at one point included Jimi Hendrix as the opening act. But music critics had turned on them. They were dismissed as the PreFab Four, a mocking comparison to the Beatles.
That and creative differences led Tork to leave soon after the group's 1968 movie and album "Head."
For several years he struggled financially and creatively, working for a time as a waiter and a schoolteacher.
By the mid-1980s, thanks to TV reruns and album reissues, the Monkees gained a new, younger following, and Tork rejoined the others for reunion tours. All four produced a new album, "Justus," in 1996 featuring them on all of the instrumentals and including songs they had written.
In the 1990s Tork also formed the group Shoe Suede Blues and toured and recorded frequently.
Later albums included the solo work "Stranger Things Have Happened" and the Shoe Suede Blues albums "Cambria Hotel," ''Step By Step" and Relax Your Mind."
Tork begged off a Monkees reunion tour with Nesmith and Dolenz just last year to finish "Relax Your Mind." Jones died in 2012.
This story has corrected the spelling of Stephen Stills, and adenoid cystic carcinoma.
Associated Press Writer Pat Eaton-Robb in Hartford, Connecticut contributed to this story.
Nashville producer Fred Foster, who produced some of Roy Orbison's most popular records and was the first to produce records from Kris Kristofferson and Dolly Parton, has died. He was 87.
His publicist, Martha Moore, said Foster died Wednesday in Nashville, and that a memorial service will be held later.
Born in 1931 in North Carolina, Foster helped launch the careers of many hit country artists and was a major supporter of some of Nashville's biggest songwriters. He also worked with artists like Tony Joe White, Willie Nelson, Charlie McCoy and Jeannie Seely.
In the 1960s, he moved his record label, Monument Records, from Washington, D.C., to Nashville.
Foster was the first to see the potential in a young singer-songwriter from East Tennessee named Dolly and got her songs cut by other artists, as well as recording and releasing her own material. But it wasn't until she started appearing on Porter Wagoner's TV show that she became popular.
"I am heartbroken that my friend Fred Foster has passed on," Parton said in a statement on Thursday. "Fred was one of the very first people to believe in me and gave me chances no one else would or could. We've stayed friends through the years and I will miss him. I will always love him."
"It's a gift, being able to sense something unique in somebody, and that's what I aimed for, always," said Foster in 2007. "Anybody that dropped a needle on a groove of a Monument record, I wanted them to immediately know, 'Oh, that's Dolly Parton,' or 'That's Roy Orbison.' It had to be unique."
Foster also owned a publishing company, Combine Music, and Kristofferson was one of his hires, a Texas-born athlete and Army veteran who loved William Blake. He had been trying to break through as a songwriter, even working as a janitor in a Music Row recording studio. After hearing some of his songs, Foster said he would only hire Kristofferson as a songwriter if he also signed a record deal.
"He was so intelligent, so gifted, so talented and he didn't sound like anybody I had ever heard," Foster told The Associated Press in 2016, the same year Foster was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Foster is credited as co-writer on Kristofferson's hit song, "Me and Bobby McGee." Foster came up with the idea to name a song after a female secretary in his building, whose name was Bobbie McKee. Kristofferson told the magazine "Performing Songwriter" that he was inspired to write the lyrics about a man and woman on the road together after watching the Frederico Fellini film, "La Strada."
Janis Joplin, who had a close relationship with Kristofferson, changed the lyrics to make Bobby McGee a man and cut her version just days before she died in 1970 from a drug overdose. The recording became a posthumous No. 1 hit for Joplin.
In the early 1960s, Foster helped Roy Orbison become an international star with his recordings on Monument. Orbison was an unlikely rock 'n' roller with his falsetto and penchant for wearing dark sunglasses and black suits. His singles on Monument were dark and emotional, backed by soaring strings and doo-wop backing vocals. Some of the classic Orbison songs released by Monument include "Only the Lonely," ''Oh, Pretty Woman," and "Crying."
"Oh, Pretty Woman" sold more than 7 million copies in 1964 and earned Orbison his first Grammy nomination for best rock & roll recording.
Foster continued to work as a producer throughout his life, never really slowing down. He produced "Last of the Breed," a 2007 collaborative album between Ray Price, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson that resulted in a Grammy win for Price and Nelson for best country collaboration with vocals. At 85, he worked on a Price tribute album for Nelson, called "For the Good Times," that was released in 2016.
"If I don't know more at 85 than I did at 75, I am not learning very fast, am I?" Foster said then. "I think I'm probably a better producer today than I have ever been."
The Latest on a documentary featuring two men who accuse Michael Jackson of molesting them as boys (all times local):
The estate of Michael Jackson is suing HBO over a documentary about two men who accuse the late pop superstar of molesting them when they were boys.
The lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleges that by co-producing and airing "Leaving Neverland," as HBO intends to do next month, the cable channel is violating a 1992 contract for showing a Jackson concert in which it agreed not to disparage the singer.
The suit states that the contract covered future disparagement of Jackson, and that the film alleges Jackson molested children on the "Dangerous" tour that the concert footage came from. It asks the court to order arbitration, and says damages could exceed $100 million.
HBO did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit, but the channel has consistently defended the documentary in the face of complaints from the estate.
Michael Jackson accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck say that the Sundance Film Festival is first time they've ever felt public support for their allegations the King of Pop molested them.
The documentary "Leaving Neverland," which premiered at the festival last month and will air on HBO in two parts on March 3 and 4, chronicles how their lives intersected with Jackson's. The film was met with a standing ovation at Sundance , but has been treated with disbelief and even threats from Jackson's fans.
The singer's estate has condemned the documentary and called the men's credibility into question.
Both accusers came forward with allegations of sexual abuse after Jackson's death in 2009 and after they had told officials otherwise.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson took it personally when detectives determined that "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett allegedly lied about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack .
Speaking Thursday at a news conference, Johnson said he was angry and offended that another black man would exploit racial divisions for his own gain — and smear the reputation of a city Johnson has worked his entire career to protect.
"I know the racial divide that exists here. I know how hard it's been for our city and our nation to come together. And I also know the disparities and I know the history," Johnson said. "'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career."
Johnson, a lifelong Chicagoan, grew up in some of the city's toughest and most segregated neighborhoods. He lived in Chicago's notorious Cabrini-Green housing project until he was 9, and then in the South Side neighborhood of Washington Heights.
After nearly 30 years as a police officer, Johnson was asked to lead the department in 2016 after former Superintendent Garry McCarthy was fired following the release of dashcam footage showing a white police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager 16 times. Mayor Rahm Emanuel hoped to repair the trust between the police and residents, and Johnson promised to do his best.
His son, who gave Johnson a kidney in 2017 after the superintendent battled a potentially life-threatening condition, recently joined the police force.
Smollett's claims thrust the city back into an international spotlight it didn't want.
Smollett, who is black and gay, told police he was physically attacked by two men who shouted homophobic and racial slurs at him before beating him up and throwing some kind of chemical on him the early morning of Jan. 29. He also said his attackers shouted, "This is MAGA country," an apparent reference to President Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again," and looped a rope around his neck.
But his story fell apart when brothers Abimbola "Abel" Osundairo and Olabinjo Osundairo — bodybuilders and aspiring actors who Smollett knew from the "Empire" set and the gym — told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack because he was unhappy about his salary and wanted to promote his career.
Smollett was arrested Thursday morning and was appeared in court later that day. A judge set his bond at $100,000.
"Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?" Johnson said. "How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile? How can an individual who's been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims?"
Johnson has led the police department as violence in some neighborhoods spiked. He recently pointed to double-digit decreases in gun violence over the past two years as proof of progress. On Thursday, he began his remarks by saying that the families of gun violence deserved more attention than Smollett.
He also noted that the city hosts one of the world's largest gay pride parades every year, and said police take all hate crimes seriously.
"I love the city of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department, warts and all," Johnson said. "But this publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn't earn and certainly didn't deserve."
Check out the AP's complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.
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