OFFICIAL: CHICAGO IS SEEKING $130K FROM SMOLLETT
CHICAGO (AP) — A city official says Chicago is seeking $130,000 from “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett (smoh-LET’) to cover the costs of the investigation into his reported beating, which police say was staged. Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city government’s legal department, confirmed the amount Thursday, hours after Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city would try to recoup the money it spent on the investigation. Cook County prosecutors on Tuesday dropped all of the charges against Smollett, who was accused of lying to police about being the victim of a homophobic and racist attack in downtown Chicago on Jan. 29. Emanuel and the police department blasted the decision to drop the charges, saying they stand by their belief that Smollett hired two friends to help him stage the attack because he was unhappy about his salary and wanted publicity. Smollett has maintained throughout that he is innocent. A spokeswoman for Smollett attorney Patricia Brown Holmes declined to comment on the letter.
DOZENS OF HOLLYWOOD CELEBRITIES OPPOSE LATEST ABORTION BILL
ATLANTA (AP) — More than 40 Hollywood celebrities have signed a letter sent to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and House Speaker David Ralston saying they will urge TV and film production companies to abandon the state if a “heartbeat” abortion bill becomes law. The bill prohibits most abortions after six weeks from conception and could come to a House vote as early as Thursday. If approved, it would go to Kemp, who’s expected to sign it. While TV and film production companies have largely stayed on the sidelines regarding the bill, these actors and the Writers Guild of America are going public in their opposition. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports those who signed the letter, spearheaded by Alyssa Milano, include Alec Baldwin, Amy Schumer, Gabrielle Union, Ben Stiller, Don Cheadle, Mia Farrow and others.
A NEW ‘DUMBO,’ BUT CREATOR SAYS THEMES OF THE CLASSIC REMAIN
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Director Tim Burton says he wanted to keep the spirit of the 1941 animated classic “Dumbo” intact for his live-action remake. Burton says the flying elephant represents so many things, like turning a disadvantage into an advantage, and he wanted to make sure those themes remained. He says while he wanted to make the film resonate with modern audiences, he wants viewers to have their conclusions about the film’s messages. “Dumbo” is the first of three live-action films based on animated classics coming this year alone, with “Aladdin” arriving in theaters in May and “The Lion King” set for a July release. Its stars, including Colin Farrell and Michael Keaton, say Burton has succeeded in creating a family-friendly movie and maintaining his style of filmmaking.