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Glenn Snoddy, inventor of fuzz pedal for guitarists, dies

A recording engineer whose invention of a pedal that allowed guitarists to create a fuzzy, distorted sound most famously used by Keith Richards in the Rolling Stones' hit "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" has died.

Glenn Snoddy was 96. His daughter Dianne Mayo said Saturday that Snoddy died Monday of congestive heart failure at his Murfreesboro, Tennessee, home.

Snoddy was helping record country artist Marty Robbins' song "Don't Worry" in 1961 when a malfunction caused the distortion in a guitar solo. When other musicians sought the same effect, Snoddy couldn't recreate it in the studio but invented a pedal where a guitarist could switch into the sound with a tap of the foot.

Richards' "Satisfaction" riff with the fuzz tone is one of the most recognizable ones in rock history.

Mantel, Saunders up for best-ever Booker Prize accolade

Britain's Hilary Mantel, Canada's Michael Ondaatje and American author George Saunders are among five contenders for the title of greatest-ever winner of the prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction.

Mantel's Tudor saga "Wolf Hall," Ondaatje's multilayered romance "The English Patient" and Saunders' Civil War-era symphony "Lincoln in the Bardo" are finalists for the Golden Man Booker Prize.

Also nominated are "In a Free State" by Trinidad-born Nobel Prize winner V.S. Naipaul and "Moon Tiger" by Britain's Penelope Lively. The list was announced Saturday.

A panel of judges selected one book from each decade since the prize was founded in 1969. A public vote will decide the ultimate winner, to be announced July 8.

The prize was originally open to British, Irish and Commonwealth writers. Americans have been eligible since 2014.

Olivia Munn discusses Aaron Rodgers’ family issues for the first time

Olivia Munn has opened up about ex Aaron Rodgers’ family issues nearly one year after their split.

>> Read more trending news 

Munn appeared on Sirius XM’s “Andy Cohen Live” and said she only met the NFL Green Bay quarterback’s parents “a couple of times.” 

“Before he and I started dating, he hadn’t spoken to one of the brothers and his parents for eight months,” Munn told Cohen, according to Bravo TV

US Weekly reports that Munn and Rodgers dated for three years before their split in 2017.

Rodgers’ brother, Jordan, got the final rose on ABC’s “The Bachelorette” during the show’s 2016 season. 

She told Cohen that she encouraged Rodgers to work on his family relationships. At one point, she said that she helped him draft bullet points to guide a conversation.

“I just think it’s really important to try to mend things in a family. And I encourage that,” Munn told Cohen. “But at the end of the day, I do believe that family and fame and success can be really complicated if their dreams are connected to your success.”

While they were together, Munn was blamed for causing the rift between Rodgers and his family, 24-7 Sports reports.

Rodgers is currently dating professional racing driver Danica Patrick.

Morgan Freeman says he did not assault women

Morgan Freeman says he likes to compliment people to make them feel at ease around him but that he has never sexually assaulted women.

The Academy Award-winning actor is fighting back against charges of bad behavior made by multiple women in a CNN report this week. He said in a statement late Friday that the report has devastated him and that "it is not right to equate horrific incidents of sexual assault with misplaced compliments or humor."

Following the report, Visa announced it was suspending all of its marketing that features the actor's voice.

CNN's story includes one movie production assistant who said Freeman unsuccessfully tried to lift her skirt. Other women talked about unwanted touching on their backs and shoulders. Mostly, Freeman's accusers say he would comment about their bodies or clothes or make them uncomfortable by staring. A male former employee of Freeman's production company said the 80-year-old actor would behave like a "creepy uncle."

One of the article's authors, Chloe Melas, began working on it following a press junket where she said Freeman clasped her hand, looked her up and down and made comments like, "you are ripe."

"I admit that I am someone who feels a need to try to make women, and men, feel appreciated and at ease around me," Freeman said. "As a part of that, I would often try to joke with and compliment women, in what I thought was a light-hearted and humorous way. Clearly I was not always coming across the way I intended."

He said that he did not assault women, create unsafe work environments or offer employment or advancement in exchange for sex.

His reference to equating his behavior with others was unclear. The accusations against Freeman came out the same day word spread that New York City authorities were filing rape charges against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

Freeman's statement was reminiscent of an email written by longtime television anchor Tom Brokaw sent to friends recently after a former colleague had accused him of unwanted sexual advances.

"I am devastated that 80 years of my life is at risk of being undermined, in the blink of an eye, by Thursday's media reports," Freeman said.

Freeman won the 2005 Oscar for best supporting actor for "Million Dollar Baby." He was nominated four other times, including for "Driving Miss Daisy" and "The Shawshank Redemption." His voice is familiar on commercials and as a narrator for documentaries and other productions.

___

Associated Press writer Jocelyn Noveck and Josh Boak, AP economics writer in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

Legal hurdles may make Weinstein's prosecution an exception

Harvey Weinstein's arrest in New York Friday is a landmark moment in the #MeToo movement.

Yet as authorities work through dozens of cases against famous figures in entertainment and other industries brought on by the Weinstein-inspired wave that began in October, legal hurdles may make such prosecutions the exception.

While men including Kevin Spacey and Mario Batali remain under investigation, the next round of charges could well be against Weinstein again, who also is facing scrutiny from authorities in Los Angeles and London.

One expert said prosecutors in those jurisdictions are unlikely to stand down or shift priorities knowing that Weinstein is now charged with rape and another felony sexual assault in New York, where he pleaded not guilty Friday.

"You never know what's going to happen with the case there," said Stacey Honowitz, a longtime prosecutor of sex crimes in Broward County, Florida. "We don't go easy. Nobody's going to drop the ball and let New York do it."

She said it is more likely that authorities in other cities will be energized, and able to build off the charges.

"There's always strength in numbers," Honowitz said.

Stanley Goldman, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said last month's conviction of Bill Cosby's for sexual assault dating to 2004 has likely been propelling prosecutors forward in other places.

"I think perhaps the Bill Cosby conviction really gave them hope that the atmosphere may have changed, in the older cases where this has been hard to prove, that maybe they've got more of a chance now," Goldman said Friday.

Yet finding prosecutable #MeToo cases has proven difficult.

Los Angeles police said in December that they were investigating 27 entertainment figures, but none have yet resulted in arrests. And LA County prosecutors launched a task force in November to evaluate cases, but so far it has brought no charges.

The biggest obstacles by far are statutes of limitations, which have had special prominence amid the #MeToo and Time's Up movements because so many of the incidents involve women working up the courage to come forward after years of silence.

Hundreds of women have alleged varying degrees of sexual misconduct from Oscar-nominated writer and director James Toback, yet prosecutors declined in April to bring criminal charges against him in the five cases they reviewed, citing expired statutes of limitations in every case.

California, joining other states, recently eliminated its statute of limitations for rape, making the law a closer match for the #MeToo era, but most cases from before the changes are unaffected.

Goldman said in the past the principle has been that it's disruptive and unbalancing to society to go back and prosecute older crimes.

"If you're dealing with Kevin Spacey," Goldman said, describing the thinking, "it's disruptive to pull somebody like that out of society after all these many years where people have worked for them, and are supported by them."

That has been the case so far with several high profile cases presented to prosecutors, all of which emerged after Weinstein's downfall.

Prosecutors declined to file charges against Roman Polanski over allegations by a woman who reported in October that the Oscar-winning director molested her when she was 10 years old in 1975. Polanski's attorney has denied the allegations. Los Angeles prosecutors cited the statute of limitations, but still want Polanski to return to the United States to face sentencing in a case in which he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

A case against Hollywood agent Adam Venit, who actor Terry Crews alleged groped him at a party in February 2016, was also rejected. Crews did not report the incident until November 2017, and prosecutors said that was too late.

Earlier this week, prosecutors rejected charges in four cases it reviewed against talent agent Tyler Grasham, who has been accused of the sexual assault of men and boys as young as 15 in the film industry. Prosecutors cited the statute of limitation in two of the cases, a lack of evidence in one, and referred the fourth for possible misdemeanor prosecution.

Goldman said however the thinking around sexual crimes appears to be changing, and they are now being grouped with more serious crimes like murder.

In addition to Weinstein, there are several high-profile open cases that could still lead to criminal charges.

Authorities are still reviewing sexual assault allegations against Spacey, Los Angeles County district attorney's spokesman Greg Risling said Friday. Sheriff's investigators say the case dates to 1992, which could make prosecution difficult. London police reportedly were investigating two sexual assaults there. His former publicist has said Spacey is seeking unspecified treatment.

New York police are investigating Batali after a woman told "60 Minutes" that he drugged and sexually assaulted her in 2005. The celebrity chef denies assaulting the woman, but he is already facing business ramifications — three of his Las Vegas restaurants will close in July and his business partners have said they are actively negotiating to buy him out.

Steven Seagal also remains under investigation after a woman said the action star sexually assaulted her at a casting session at a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2002, when she was 17 years old. The actor's attorney says he adamantly denies the allegations.

___

Follow Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton .

Famed Ivan the Terrible painting attacked at Moscow gallery

Police in Russia have arrested a man on charges of vandalizing a famous painting by renowned Russian artist Ilya Repin in Moscow.

Russian news reports said the man claimed he drank 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of vodka in the cafe of the Tretyakov Gallery shortly before he allegedly attacked the painting with a metal stanchion on Friday night.

The painting — titled "Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16, 1581," depicts Russia's first czar cradling his dying son after striking him in a fit of rage. Media reports say the suspect said he damaged the painting because he thinks it is historically inaccurate.

Russian media say Repin's 1885 canvas received several holes, but the faces of the czar and his son were undamaged.

Alicia Silverstone files for divorce from husband of 20 years, Christopher Jarecki

Three months after they confirmed their separation, actor Alicia Silverstone and her musician husband, Christopher Jarecki, are divorcing.

According to documents obtained by The Blast, Silverstone filed for divorce Friday, citing irreconcilable differences. She requested joint legal and physical custody of the couple’s 7-year-old son, Bear Blu. Silverstone listed the date of separation as March 15, 2016.

>> Read more trending news 

Silverstone, 41, and Jarecki married in June 2005 in a lakeside ceremony after dating for eight years.

“They still deeply love and respect each other and remain very close friends but have mutually decided to separate after being together for 20 years. They have a son together whom they will continue to co-parent,” Silverstone’s representative said in February.

Hugh Grant marries producer Anna Eberstein, reports say

Actor and longtime bachelor Hugh Grant is a married man.

According to Reuters, citing British tabloid reports, the 57-year-old married Swedish television producer Anna Eberstein, 39.

>> Read more trending news 

People reported Grant married the mother of three of his children -- John Mungo, 5, a 2-year-old daughter, and a third child born in the spring whose name is not known -- Friday at the Chelsea Register Office in London. Paparazzi photos showed the pair celebrating outside the wedding venue, according to E! News. Days before the wedding, a photo of the wedding banns, a public notice displayed in the register office, was posted in multiple British tabloids.

Grant and Eberstein have dated for six years.

This is the first marriage for Grant. He has two children -- son Felix Chang, 5, and daughter Tabitha Xaio Xi, 6 -- from a previous relationship with Chinese actress Tinglan Hong.

Morgan Freeman says ‘I did not assault women’ after apology, allegations of sexual assault

Morgan Freeman has issued another statement since eight women have come forward accusing him of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.

On Thursday, CNN reported that eight women said that Freeman interacted inappropriately with women in varying work environments. The report said that people described a pattern of the behavior by Freeman while on set, while promoting movies and at Freeman’s production company.

>> Read more trending news 

After the report emerged, Freeman issued an apology, saying, “Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent.”

In a new statement, People reported, Freeman is denying the allegations, saying he apologized Thursday for unintentionally upsetting people with his comments in the past.

Freeman’s full statement can be read below.

“I am devastated that 80 years of my life is at risk of being undermined, in the blink of an eye, by Thursday’s media reports. All victims of assault and harassment deserve to be heard. And we need to listen to them. But it is not right to equate horrific incidents of sexual assault with misplaced compliments or humor.

I admit that I am someone who feels a need to try to make women — and men — feel appreciated and at ease around me. As a part of that, I would often try to joke with and compliment women, in what I thought was a light-hearted and humorous way. Clearly I was not always coming across the way I intended. And that is why I apologized Thursday and will continue to apologize to anyone I might have upset, however unintentionally.

“But I also want to be clear: I did not create unsafe work environments. I did not assault women. I did not offer employment or advancement in exchange for sex. Any suggestion that I did so is completely false.”

'Sesame Street' sues over new Melissa McCarthy puppet movie

The makers of "Sesame Street" are suing the promoter of a new Melissa McCarthy movie, saying it's abusing the famed puppets' sterling reputation to advertise the R-rated film.

A judge Friday scheduled a hearing next week to consider a request for immediate relief by Sesame Workshop, which sued Thursday in federal court in Manhattan for unspecified damages and an order forcing the film to be marketed differently.

The film, "The Happytime Murders," is scheduled for release Aug. 17. McCarthy plays a human detective who teams with a puppet partner to investigate grisly puppet murders.

The lawsuit said the "Sesame Street" brand will be harmed by a just-released movie trailer featuring "explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating and even ejaculating puppets" along with the tagline "NO SESAME. ALL STREET."

STX Productions LLC, in a statement issued in the name of "Fred, Esq," a lawyer puppet, said it was looking forward to introducing its "adorably unapologetic characters" to adult moviegoers this summer.

"We're incredibly pleased with the early reaction to the film and how well the trailer has been received by its intended audience," it said. "While we're disappointed that Sesame Street does not share in the fun, we are confident in our legal position."

In court papers, lawyers for Sesame Workshop asked the judge to order STX not to use any of Sesame's trademarks and intellectual property, including the phrase, "NO SESAME. ALL STREET," in marketing the film.

They said the marketing materials were confusing viewers into thinking Sesame was involved with or endorsed "this subversion of its own programming — thereby irreparably harming Sesame and its goodwill and brand."

In a release before the film was made, STX said it would be produced by The Jim Henson Company's Henson Alternative banner, On The Day Productions, and STXfilms, along with individuals including Brian Henson, Lisa Henson, Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone, among others.

In court papers, Sesame's lawyers said Lisa Henson, chief executive and president of Henson, just days ago emailed Sesame's chief executive, Jeffrey Dunn, saying it made her "terribly sad" that the marketing campaign "has devolved to this state of affairs."

Henson said Henson Alternative disagreed with the decision to reference Muppets and Sesame and argued against it, but "contractually we don't have the right to change it," according to the court papers.

She also said the Hensons did not view the film as a parody of the Muppets and "resisted creative suggestions. ...Therefore, trading off the famous Muppets to sell the film is exactly what we did not want to have happen," the court papers said.

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