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Bernie Casey, pro football player turned actor, dies

Bernie Casey, a professional football player turned poet, painter and actor known for parts in films such as "Revenge of the Nerds" and "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka," has died. He was 78.

Casey died Tuesday in Los Angeles after a brief illness, his talent agent Erin Connor said.

Born in West Virginia in 1939 and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Casey excelled in track and field and football and attended Bowling Green State University on an athletic scholarship.

He went on to play wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams before going back to his alma mater to get a master's degree in fine arts.

For Casey, the arts always came first. He painted and published books of poetry, but the football association that he viewed as a stepping stone followed him.

"It was just a gig," he told the Washington Post in 1977 about football. "But it limits the way people perceive you. That can be frustrating. People have tremendous combinations of talents. A man can be a deep-sea diver and also make china."

His art in particular captivated many famous minds, including Maya Angelou.

"His art makes my road less rocky, and my path less crooked," Angelou said of a 2003 exhibit of his works.

"I was a big, agile, fast and a dedicated athlete," Casey said in 1999. "But I always wanted to be a painter."

Casey's professional acting career began with "Guns of the Magnificent Seven," a sequel to "The Magnificent Seven," in 1969.

He appeared in some 35 films, including "Boxcar Bertha," ''The Man Who Fell to Earth," ''Brian's Song" and "Never Say Never Again."

Casey also starred opposite fellow NFL veteran Jim Brown in "...tick...tick...tick" and "Black Gunn."

He played Lamda Lamda Lamda head U.N. Jefferson in "Revenge of the Nerds" and John Slade in Keenan Ivory Wayans' Blaxploitation parody "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" from 1988.

He also had a number of television credits including "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," ''Murder She Wrote" and "L.A. Law."

'Breakfast Club' actor Hall pleads no contest to assault

"Breakfast Club" actor Anthony Michael Hall has pleaded no contest to shoving a neighbor who fell and broke his wrist.

The 49-year-old Hall entered the plea in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday to one misdemeanor count of assault likely to produce injury.

He was immediately sentenced to 40 hours of community service and three years of informal probation.

Prosecutors say Hall and a next-door neighbor in Playa Del Rey got into an argument in September 2016 that ended with Hall pushing the man to the ground.

Hall was a staple of early 1980s teen movies including "The Breakfast Club" and "Sixteen Candles." He more recently appeared in "The Dark Knight" and the TV series "The Dead Zone."

Britney Spears posts photo with Mariah Carey, exciting fans of both

At a recent dinner party, the two pop icons posed for a photo together at a party, leaving their fan bases begging for a musical collaboration.

According to a Wednesday tweet, Britney Spears and Mariah Carey ran into each other at a dinner party.

>> Read more trending news

“You never know who you’re going to meet at dinner parties!!” Spears captioned the photo. “Great night! So much fun, thank you Cade!”

Billboard reported that Spears is likely referring to Cade Hudson, who has been a long time friend of Spears and works as a publicist. 

Dressed in a black dress with lace details, Spears leans into Carey, who is turned slightly to the side in a low-cut black outfit.

Fans flooded the post with tweets asking if Carey and Spears would be working on new music together and otherwise expressing excitement that two of their favorite artists were in a photo together.

Jay-Z reportedly turned down Super Bowl Halftime slot

Don’t expect to be throwing up the Roc sign at the halftime show during the Super Bowl in 2018.

According to The Source, Jay-Z has turned down the NFL’s offer to have the rapper perform at the 2018 Super Bowl halftime show in Minneapolis.

>> Read more trending news

When NBC’s Pro Football Talk reached out to the NFL, the report wasn’t directly shut down.

“No decisions have been made on the performer(s) and we are not going to speculate on particular artists,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a Wednesday email to Pro Football Talk. “Along with Pepsi, we know that we will put on a spectacular show. When it is time to announce her name we will do it. Or his name. Or their names.”

For Jay, the rest of this year will be busy. He is set to tour North America in support of his latest album, “4:44,” Oct. 27. Billboard reported that Vic Mensa will be the opening act for the tour.

Jada Pinkett Smith responds to Leah Remini’s claim that she’s a Scientologist

Jada Pinkett Smith is denying she is a Scientologist after former member Leah Remini claimed she was one.

Remini, whose reality show, “Scientology and the Aftermath” examines the experiences of former members leaving the controversial church, made the claim about Pinkett Smith in a Saturday interview with The Daily Beast.

“I know Jada’s in. I know Jada’s in. She’s been in Scientology a long time,” Remini said. “I never saw Will (Smith) there, but I saw Jada at the Celebrity Centre. They opened up a Scientology school, and have since closed it. But Jada, I had seen her at the Scientology Celebrity Centre all the time.” 

>> Read more trending news

According to The Daily Beast, Pinkett Smith did not return multiple comment requests.

By Tuesday, however, The Huffington Post reported that the actress responded to Remini’s claims on Twitter.

Although she acknowledged she has studied Dianetics, Scientology’s main text, and Study Technology, a teaching method developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, she also said she’s studied and participated in aspects of other religions as well.

Remini has not responded to Pinkett Smith’s rebuttal. Pinkett Smith ended her Twitter thread with what some may interpret as a direct response to Remini’s claim.

“I practice human kindness, and I believe that we each have the right to determine what we are and what we are not,” she tweeted, “NO ONE ELSE can hold that power.”

Fergie said it was ‘weird’ pretending she was still with Josh Duhamel

While promoting her upcoming album, “Double Dutchess,” singer Fergie is addressing her split from husband Josh Duhamel.

The couple, who were married for eight years before separating, announced the separation long after they were actually apart. The timing meant Fergie, 42, and Duhamel, 44, had to respond to questions about each other when in public as though they were still together.

>> Read more trending news

“Honestly, it was just getting a little weird for us with all the romantic questions,” Fergie told People Tuesday while making the rounds promoting her album.

“We’re great friends, we love each other so much, and it just got to the point where it was getting a little weird,” she said. “There’s no perfect time, so we just decided to do it. We just wanted to get adjusted in private.”

The parents to son Axl Jack, 4, announced the separation Sept. 14 in a joint statement.

“With absolute love and respect we decided to separate as a couple earlier this year,” the statement said. “To give our family the best opportunity to adjust, we wanted to keep this a private matter before sharing it with the public. We are and will always be united in our support of each other and our family.”

Related: Singer Fergie, actor Josh Duhamel announce separation

Fergie went on to say co-parenting with the actor is going well, and their son’s school has helped with the process.

“We have a co-op so Josh and I would walk there several times before the school season. I get to learn from the teachers and see how he reacts in a group of friends that he knows. And I get to help out and serve them snacks and clean the dishes. We have fun, we get down and dirty and read the stories with our costumes. You get down in the sand and get dirty -- I love it. I love that part of it all.”

“Double Dutchess,” the followup to Fergie’s 2006 debut album, “The Dutchess,” is set for release Sept. 22.

The Latest: Lawyer says woman and Kevin Hart are victims

The Latest on the Kevin Hart scandal (all times local):

11:18 a.m.

A lawyer for a woman involved in the Kevin Hart scandal says someone secretly placed cameras in his Las Vegas hotel suite and made bedroom images of the two.

Lawyer Lisa Bloom told a Los Angeles press conference Wednesday that her client, Montia Sabbag (mahn-tee-uh suh-bahg), is a victim and Hart appears to be a victim as well.

Bloom says Sabbag is neither suing Hart nor demanding any money from the box-office star.

The attorney says there's no evidence that law enforcement is looking into the matter so she will immediately report the situation to authorities and seek a full investigation.

Sabbag says she's not an extortionist and has nothing to do with the recordings.

Hart publicly brought up the matter last weekend in an Instagram video in which he apologized to his family and said someone was trying to seek financial gain from a mistake he made.

___

10:30 a.m.

A woman has come forward to say she was involved with Kevin Hart a month ago but she is not an extortionist.

Montia Sabbag (mahn-tee-uh suh-bahg) spoke to reporters at her lawyer's Los Angeles office Wednesday following Hart's weekend apology to his pregnant wife and children via an Instagram video for what he called an error in judgment.

He also said someone was trying to seek financial gain from his mistake and he'd rather confess than let that happen.

Sabbag says that since her involvement with Hart, her name and pictures have become public and lies have been written about her.

She says she's a recording artist and actress, and hasn't broken any laws.

Sabbag also mentioned unspecified recordings but says she had nothing to do with them.

Milan Fashion Week: Gucci extends news cycle with Rocket Man

Green has been declared the color of Milan Fashion Week, with the fashion chamber promoting sustainability in the trend-driven world of ready-to-wear.

Eleven awards will be handed out Sunday evening to honor Italian designers, fashion houses and suppliers that "champion community and social justice, traditional craftsmanship, responsible supply chain management and innovation and technological transformation."

Milan Fashion Week previews for womenswear looks for next spring and summer, the highlight of the annual fashion calendar, feature 159 collections. The weeklong fashion celebration kicked off with Gucci, No. 21 and Fausto Puglisi and Angel Chen.

Some highlights from Wednesday's first day of shows:

___

GREEN FASHION AWARDS

Livia Firth, the wife of actor Colin Firth, is presiding over the first Green Fashion Awards, fittingly dubbed the Fashion Oscars, later in the week at the La Scala opera house. Asked what consumers can do to promote sustainability in fashion, she candidly said: "Buy less," short for eschew fast-fashion for quality.

Italian Fashion Chamber president Carlo Capasa has been promoting sustainability, urging fashion houses to adopt a code that addresses such issues as water use and green investments.

He acknowledged that the industry in general is "not at all" sustainable at the moment. "That is why we are promoting this," he said.

The uphill image battle was evident at a protest outside the city's main Duomo Cathedral, where animal rights activists demonstrated against the use of animal fur in Milan collections.

_____

GUCCI'S ROCKET MAN

In a news cycle dominated by U.S. President Donald Trump's threats against North Korea and references to its leader as "Rocket Man," it was certainly prescient that Alessandro Michele not only included a suit fitting of a rocket man for his latest Gucci collection, but dedicated a capsule collection to Elton John, whose hits include the pop song of the same name.

For the rocket man, there were oversized teardrop-shaped shoulders on a pink jumpsuit with yellow stars.

Since his Gucci solo debut in 2015, Michele has maintained a profile as the Milan fashion world's darling and innovator. Marco Bizzarri, the brand's towering CEO, said backstage that "Alessandro has the capacity to evolve while always maintaining a very clear line."

"There is a lot of joy. A lot of energy. That is the best part," he said.

___

MICHELE'S 'DISSENTING SPIRIT'

Michele's collections have had in common a growing element of self-consciousness. The designer inserts alienating elements in the same way that the German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht sought to remind audiences that they were witnessing a stage production and not be swept away by fantasy.

Judging by the crowd in attendance, the philosophy is winning not just fans but adherents. One male fashionista wore a golden mask echoing a previous season's masked alien.

The collection, combining both men's and women's looks, was shown under strobe lights and amid copies of classic statuary including from ancient Egypt, the Mayans and the Greeks. Michele says he wanted to underline that his view of the contemporary derives from myriad stories of the past.

The strobe lights helped narrowed the focus to shapes and sparkles: A disco-inspired handkerchief skirt with a golden and silvery sequin top, and red-white-and-blue satiny jumpsuit that could help power an Evel Knievel-wannabe

It's a collection, as the notes assert, for "the dissenting spirit."

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AUSPICIOUS 21 AT No. 21

Alessandro Dell'Acqua celebrated his 21 years in the fashion business with 21 sheer opening looks for his No. 21 fashion brand.

Dell'Acqua gorgeously combined sheers, feather elements and athletically accented knitwear to project a feminine strength, underlining the mood by closing to the sound of Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield."

The designer characteristically included masculine elements such as the checked patterns on skirts, jackets and slim knee-length trousers. The accessory of choice: An unattached hood for all occasions.

A range of neatly gathered, draped and tiered dresses and skirts accented with sheer sequins or feathery wisps — and done up in a color palette of sheer pinks, nudes and yellows — underlined the prettiness of the collection.

Cropped sweaters lent an edge, as did stronger color combos of light blue, red and black with some leopard accents on sleeker silhouettes, including pencil skirts and bra tops.

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TWO BY TWO FOR ANGEL CHEN

Shanghai-based designer Angel Chen combines Asian storytelling with technical prowess and materials in her latest collection.

It was the 25-year-old designer's second collection for her unisex brand to preview during Milan Fashion Week. This time, it was part of the main lineup with the support of the Italian fashion chamber.

"We want to break boundaries," the designer said backstage.

Inspired by a futuristic Noah's Ark tale, Chen's masterful two-by-two pairings included a women's suit with flared cropped trousers alongside a man's trench — both made out of bespoke Korean technical fabric that gave the impression of a shiny baby pink but on closer inspection was a combination of tones.

The designer referenced a host of animals destined for the ark, including tigers, cranes and insects that appeared in the shape of large backpacks. Many of the looks were sporty — black and red body suits — or technical, as in the diaphanous floor-length anoraks. Prints that featured tigers and crocodiles among other animals represented Asian allegories, Chen said.

"I would say the shape is contemporary, but the meaning is more cultural," she said.

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FEMININITY REFUGE AT PUGLISI

Fausto Puglisi took a nostalgic view of femininity for his latest collection, showing black and white lace and linen combinations that harkened back to another era.

Puglisi's focus was less on seduction and more on an intimate fragility.

"She doesn't need to show off her strength with her look," the designer said. "Because she thinks true strength is to take refuge in a book."

The collection was strong on white with black and floral accents, including long linen dresses with lace inserts, or shorter slip dresses with long, ruffle cuffs. Silky robe dresses finished in trailing fringe, while pale tulle skirts created a feminine silhouette.

Lillian Ross, longtime New Yorker writer, dead at 99

Lillian Ross, the ever-watchful New Yorker reporter whose close narrative style defined a memorable and influential 70-year career, including a revealing portrait of Ernest Hemingway, a classic Hollywood expose and a confession to an adulterous affair, has died at age 99.

Ross died early Wednesday at Lenox Hill Hospital after suffering a stroke, New Yorker articles editor Susan Morrison said Wednesday. In an email statement to The Associated Press, New Yorker editor David Remnick called Ross a groundbreaking writer.

"Lillian would knock my block off for saying so, she'd find it pretentious, but she really was a pioneer, both as a woman writing at The New Yorker and as a truly innovative artist, someone who helped change and shape non-fiction writing in English," Remnick wrote.

Hundreds of Ross' "Talk of the Town" dispatches appeared in The New Yorker, starting in the 1940s when she wrote about Harry Truman's years as a haberdasher, and continuing well into the 21st century, whether covering a book party at the Friars Club, or sitting with the daughters of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II as they watched a Broadway revival of "South Pacific." After the death of J.D. Salinger in 2010, Ross wrote a piece about her friendship with the reclusive novelist and former New Yorker contributor.

Her methods were as crystallized and instinctive as her writing. She hated tape recorders ("fast, easy and lazy"), trusted first impressions and believed in the "mystical force" that "makes the work seem delightfully easy and natural and supremely enjoyable."

"It's sort of like having sex," she once wrote.

Ross' approach, later made famous by the "New Journalists" of the 1960s, used dialogue, scene structure and other techniques associated with fiction writers. She regarded herself as a short story writer who worked with facts, or even as a director, trying to "build scenes into little story-films." In 1999, her 1964 collection of articles, "Reporting," was selected by a panel of experts as one of the 100 best examples of American journalism in the 20th century. The group, assembled by New York University, ranked it No. 66.

"She is the mistress of selective listening and viewing, of capturing the one moment that entirely illumines the scene, of fastening on the one quote that Tells All," novelist Irving Wallace wrote in a 1966 New York Times review of her work.

Short and curly-haired, unimposing and patient, Ross tried her best to let the stories speak for themselves, but at times the writer interrupted.

In the late 1940s, Hemingway came to New York for shopping and socializing and Ross joined him as he drank champagne with Marlene Dietrich, bought a winter coat and visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, flask in hand. She presented the author as a volatile bulk of bluster and insecurity, speaking in telegraphic shorthand ("You want to go with me to buy coat?") and even punching himself in the stomach to prove his muscle.

Ross was friendly with Hemingway — she liked most of her subjects — but her article was criticized, and welcomed, as humanizing a legend. "Lillian Ross wrote a profile of me which I read, in proof, with some horror," Hemingway later recalled. "But since she was a friend of mine and I knew that she was not writing in malice she had a right to make me seem that way if she wished."

Not long after, Ross went to Hollywood to report on director John Huston as he worked on an adaptation of Stephen Crane's Civil War novel "The Red Badge of Courage." She soon realized that the movie was more interesting than any one person: She was witness to a disaster. Ross' reports in The New Yorker, released in 1952 as the book "Picture," were an unprecedented chronicle of studio meddling as MGM took control of the film and hacked it to 70 minutes.

Praised by Hemingway among others, "Picture" was a direct influence on such future Hollywood authors as John Gregory Dunne ("Studio") and anticipated the nonfiction novel that Truman Capote perfected a decade later with "In Cold Blood." Huston's daughter, actress Anjelica Huston, became a lifelong friend.

"My parents loved and respected her, and trusted her. She was, they would say, different from other reporters," Huston wrote in the foreword to the book's 50th anniversary edition.

Deeply private even around her New Yorker colleagues, Ross did step out in 1998 when she published "Here But Not Here," a surprising and explicit memoir of her long-rumored, 40-year liaison with New Yorker editor William Shawn, a mating of secret souls allegedly consummated in a bedroom once used by Dietrich as a clothes closet.

"We were drawn to each other from the first by all the elusive forces that people have been trying to pin down from the beginning of time," Ross wrote.

William Shawn had died six years earlier, but his widow was still alive when the book was published, leading New York Times writer (and former New Yorker deputy editor) Charles McGrath to call it "a cruel betrayal of the Shawns' much-valued privacy — a tactless example of the current avidity for tell-all confessions."

While involved with Shawn, Ross adopted a son, Erik, who in later years would accompany his mother on assignments. Her New Yorker work was compiled in several books, most recently "Reporting Always."

Born in Syracuse, New York, she was always more comfortable as an observer and played hooky just to hang around professional newspaper offices. She graduated from Hunter College, worked at the liberal New York City daily PM, then was hired by The New Yorker in the mid-1940s, when the magazine was looking for women writers because so many men were serving in World War II.

"We have sent her on stories ranging from in subject matter from politics to uplift brassieres, and she's done splendidly by both," PM editor Peggy Wright Weidman wrote to Shawn. "Another baffler is that she likes to work and does so, at any hour of the day, night, or weekend, with concentration and no nonsense."

Officers’ ‘It’-themed photo takes ‘hot cop’ challenge to scary new level

As law enforcement agencies across the country continued to post “hot cop” photos this week in attempts to best one another, one California police department upped its game to a spooky level.

The Lincoln Police Department on Friday posted a photo to Facebook that meshed the “hot cop” challenge started by Gainesville, Florida, officers during Hurricane Irma and the wildly successful big screen version of novelist Stephen King’s “It.” 

The photo shows four of its officers standing on a street, one of the officers is reaching down to the pavement. On the asphalt is a line of tasty-looking doughnuts leading to a nearby drainage culvert.

In the culvert is someone dressed as the villain in “It,” Pennywise the Clown. Nearby floats one of Pennywise’s trademark red balloons. 

The photo caption reads, “Ok, Gainesville had the ‘hot cops’ and Loudon had the ‘cop on a bucket,’ so the Lincoln (CA) Police Department decided to join the fun.”

“Clown: ‘Hey guys, I have donuts down here!’”

As the officer reaches for the first in the line of doughnuts, a colleague tries to pull him to clown-free safety.

As of Wednesday, the photo had been shared nearly 200,000 times and garnered about 171,000 reactions, all positive. The image also earned some jokes from commenters.

“But, like, is the clown hot?” one woman asked.

“Looks like a trap,” another commenter said. 

“With sprinkles!” one man added. 

“But why did they put perfectly good donuts on the ground?” another woman asked.

“Donut go down there!” one commenter warned. 

>> Read more trending news

The photo from the Lincoln police officers is the latest in a string of pictures challenging a selfie posted by Gainesville officers earlier this month as they prepared for a 12-hour shift at the height of Hurricane Irma. The photo, posted on Facebook, had commenters praising the officers’ looks and offering to be arrested to get closer to the men. 

The Gainesville photo was removed from Facebook after one of the officers, Officer Michael Hamill, came under fire for alleged anti-Semitic posts on his personal Facebook page. He has been suspended while the department investigates the claims. 

In the days since the Gainesville photo went viral, however, departments across the country have offered their own photos of their finest. On Tuesday, the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office in southeast Louisiana posted a photo of their finest looking K-9 officers.

“K-9s Hoss, Baretta and Mako wanted in on the #HotCop competition, but they hope to start a new hashtag: #HotDogs!” the caption read. 

In another post, Loudon, Tennessee, police officers pose for the camera. One particularly short officer stands on a bucket.

“Loudon Police Department Adam Squad. We ain’t pretty, but we get the job done,” the post reads.

The challenge has become so popular since the post by the Gainesville officers that it has spawned a Facebook page of its own, Hot Cop Challenge. The page had just over 1,000 followers as of Wednesday. 

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