Jan. 31 Entertainment Briefs

Won't you be his neighbor? Tom Hanks to play Mr. Rogers

NEW YORK — It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood for Tom Hanks, who'll star as Mister Rogers in the upcoming biopic "You Are My Friend."

TriStar Pictures announced Monday it has acquired worldwide rights to the film, to be directed by "The Diary of a Teenage Girl" filmmaker Marielle Heller.

The film will focus on the friendship between the host of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" and journalist Tom Junod. Junod reluctantly agreed to profile Fred Rogers only to find "his perspective on life transformed."

Production will begin in September, with a 2019 release expected.

The role will surely add to the America's Dad image of Hanks, who gave a very Rogers-like opening monologue while hosting "Saturday Night Live" before the 2016 presidential election, swapping his jacket for a sweater and giving America a pep talk.

Rogers died in 2003 at age 74.

Late poet Helen Dunmore wins Costa book prize

LONDON (AP) — A poetry collection by the late British writer Helen Dunmore has won the lucrative Costa book prize .

"Inside the Wave" was published two months before the poet and novelist died of cancer last year at age 64 and reflects on the intertwined worlds of life and death.

Author Wendy Holden, who chaired the judging panel, on Tuesday called the collection "life affirming and uplifting."

Open to writers based in Britain and Ireland, the Costa prizes are awarded in five categories, with one chosen as the overall book of the year.

Dunmore's poems beat four other finalists for the 30,000-pound ($42,000) prize: Gail Honeyman's debut novel "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine"; Rebecca Stott's memoir "In the Days of Rain"; John McGregor's novel "Reservoir 13" and children's book "The Explorer" by Katherine Rundell.

Former 'Glee' actor Mark Salling dead at 35

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mark Salling, one of the stars of the Fox musical comedy "Glee," has died of a possible suicide at age 35 a few weeks before he was scheduled to be sentenced in Los Angeles on child pornography charges.

Salling's lawyer, Michael J. Proctor, told The Associated Press the actor died Tuesday. He did not reveal the cause of death.

A law enforcement official not authorized to speak publicly said Salling was found hanging in a riverbed area in the Tujunga neighborhood of Los Angeles.

The official said the actor's death is being investigated as a suicide.

Salling pleaded guilty in December to possession of thousands of images of child pornography. He was scheduled to be sentenced March 7.

He played bad-boy Noah "Puck" Puckerman on the long-running show, which concluded in 2015.

Nicole Eggert claims co-star Scott Baio sexually abused her

NEW YORK (AP) — Nicole Eggert claims her former "Charles in Charge" co-star Scott Baio sexually abused her for years starting when she was 14.

Speaking on "Megyn Kelly Today" on Tuesday, Eggert said Baio first molested her when she was 14 and they had sexual intercourse when she was 17. Baio is more than 11 years older than Eggert.

The age of consent in California is 18.

Baio in a previous Facebook Live video says he is being falsely accused and says he and Eggert had a consensual relationship after she was over the age of 18.

Eggert says she is exploring all legal options and is considering filing a police report. A representative for Baio didn't immediately respond to The Associated Press.

Academy head walks back comments on women in music

NEW YORK (AP) — Recording Academy President Neil Portnow says his comments following the 60th annual Grammy Awards were taken out of context after he was criticized for saying women in the music industry need to "step up."

In a statement Tuesday to The Associated Press, Portnow says he regrettably used the words "step up" and that the words were taken out of context and neither convey his beliefs nor the point he was trying to make. The show ended Sunday with only two female winners onstage. Lorde, the only woman nominated for album of the year, didn't perform.

He says the music industry must recognize that female musicians "face barriers that men have never faced."

No, that wasn’t drool on his lips, Rep. Joe Kennedy says

WASHINGTON (AP) — No, that wasn’t drool on the lips of Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III. He says it was ChapStick.

Twitter lit up with jibes about the 37-year-old Democrat’s response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union. In his televised speech Tuesday, Kennedy’s lips appeared wet and glistening, leading to tweets about Kennedy’s “drool.”

Kennedy joked on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Wednesday that he “decided to go a little bit light on the ChapStick this morning...which is probably a wise choice.” He told CNN that Tuesday’s ChapStick was “a little too much, apparently.”

Other State of the Union responders have attracted similar unwanted attention.
In 2013, GOP Sen. Marco Rubio’s response to President Barack Obama’s speech was mocked for Rubio’s awkward off-screen reach for water.

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