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Texans defensive end J.J. Watt offers to pay for funerals of Santa Fe victims

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has offered to pay for the funerals of all the victims in Friday morning’s mass shooting at Santa Fe High School, KRIV reported.

>> Read more trending news

“Absolutely horrific,” Watts tweeted Friday in response to the shooting, which left 10 people dead and 10 others injured at the high school located southeast of Houston. 

The Texans confirmed Friday night that Watt will pay for the funerals, KTRK reported.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, a student at the school, was arrested and charged with capital murder and aggravated assault of a peace officer in the shooting in which 10 people were killed and 10 others were injured. 

>> Santa Fe High School shooting: 10 dead, 10 injured

Watt has been honored for his philanthropic efforts. He was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year in 2017, along with Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, for his work in helping Houston recover after Hurricane Harvey. Watt helped raise $37 million through the Houston Flood Relief Fund.

Watt was also given the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award during Super Bowl LII weekend.

On Facebook, Chris Allen of Crowder Funeral Home wrote that Mount Olivet Cemetery was offering free plots for the victims, KHOU reported.

High-tech, sphere-shaped arena coming to Las Vegas Strip

A massive high-tech, sphere-shaped venue that will host concerts and other events while engaging multiple senses will break ground this summer in Las Vegas, officials announced Friday.

The New York-based Madison Square Garden Company revealed details of the 18,000-seat, futuristic-looking facility it is developing in partnership with Las Vegas Sands, which operates two casino-resorts on the Las Vegas Strip adjacent to the planned arena.

The MSG Sphere Las Vegas, where a massive exterior LED will be capable of making it appear as if is transforming into a globe or a tennis ball or project the event happening inside, is expected to open on New Year's Eve 2020.

"Just sitting there, what would it take to convince you that instead of sitting here in an airplane hangar in Las Vegas, you are sitting in your chair in the polar ice cap or an Amazon rainforest?" said Jim Dolan, executive chairman and CEO of Madison Square Garden Company. "Obviously if you are in the polar ice cap, you have to feel cold; you have to see the glacier. That is essentially what we are building: an attempt to convince you that you are somewhere else."

The 170,000-square-foot LED screen will wrap around its interior bowl. The average movie theater screen is 1,000 square feet and an IMAX screen is about 4,000 square feet.

It will also have an adaptive acoustics system that will enable audio to be directed to specific locations at a near-constant volume. Patrons will be able to smell different scents and feel certain movements, depending on the experience.

"We are going to employ a haptic flooring system that will create vibrations that when you are riding atop a Harley, you'll feel the pistons pumping," Dolan said.

Dolan said they have nothing for the sense of taste, "other than popcorn."

The venue comes as Las Vegas visitors continue to cut their gambling budgets but spend more on entertainment and dining.

An annual report from the agency responsible from promoting Las Vegas shows says nearly six in 10 visitors last year attended a show during their trip, an increase from the previous year.

The report from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority also showed that more than one in four people saw a Broadway or production-style show and more than one in five saw big-name headliner shows.

Dolan said the company is soliciting storytellers, artists and performers to create content.

In addition to concerts, the venue will be capable of hosting events like product launches, educational demonstrations and e-sports tournaments, in which all patrons could potentially participate thanks to the planned connectivity system.

"Imagine instead of having five players play five players, we can have 9,000 versus 9,000 or 1 versus 17,999," said Dolan.

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Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reginagarciakNO

Met says it has evidence Levine abused or harassed 7 people

The Metropolitan Opera said in court documents Friday that it found credible evidence that conductor James Levine engaged in sexually abusive or harassing conduct with seven people that included inappropriate touching and demands for sex acts over a 25-year period.

The Met fired Levine as its music director emeritus on March 12, citing evidence of misconduct, but it did not make public any details. Levine sued the Met three days later for breach of contract and defamation, which the opera company denies.

The Met filed its reply and counterclaims on Friday in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan. It is seeking $5.86 million in damages for what it called breach of loyalty.

Levine, who turns 75 next month, was the Met's music director and/or artistic director from 1976 to 2016 before the shift to an emeritus position. He was suspended on Dec. 3 after allegations of misconduct in reports by the New York Post and The New York Times. He has not been charged with any crime.

In its court filing, the Met claimed it learned during its investigation of improper conduct by Levine from 1975 to 2000. The Met identified the individuals only by number but described them as including a musician, an opera singer, an artist, two people who were 16 years old and a member of its Young Artists Program.

Levine's lawyers filed an answer to the Met's papers saying the company "has chosen to create sensationalized allegations ... all of which have no legal or factual basis whatsoever."

The Met said it found evidence of conduct that included discussion of pornography, groping, kissing and mutual masturbation.

In one instance, the Met accused Levine of inappropriately touching a musician starting in 1979 and six more times until 1991. In another 1985 incident, Levine is accused of groping and kissing an opera singer he was giving a ride home in his car against that person's will. Levine later placed the person in what prestigious program at the Met, the filings stated.

In 1986, Levine sexually abused a 16-year-old and arranged an estimated $50,000 in payments to the person through his brother, the filings stated.

The last incident described in the filings occurred in 1999 when Levine inappropriately touched a member of the Met's Young Artists Program "on his knees, legs and hands" and then the following year invited the musician to his dressing room to engage in sexual activity, according to Friday's court filings.

Levine's lawyers called them "only vague and unsubstantiated accusations of sexual misconduct supposedly engaged in by Levine decades ago, made by unidentified individuals, all in an attempt intentionally to smear Levine's name, reputation, and legacy, while at the same time making it difficult for Levine to defend himself with any specificity against anonymous accusations."

The conductor's lawyers said "Levine did not commit any acts of sexual misconduct against any individuals, much less the unnamed individuals." They added "the Met had no basis whatsoever for suspending and ultimately terminating Levine. The Met's so-called 'investigation' of Levine's conduct was nothing more than a pretext for the Met to suspend, fire and defame him."

Levine conducted 2,552 performances at the Met from 1971 through Dec. 2.

Prosecutors in Lake County, Illinois, said in December they had investigated a 1980s sexual abuse allegation but concluded that they could not bring charges, citing factors including the age of consent — 16 — at the time.

Meghan Markle, mother check in to hotel night before royal wedding

Meghan Markle has checked in to the Cliveden House Hotel at the National Trust's Cliveden Estate to spend the night before her wedding to Prince Harry.

Markle and her mom, Doria Ragland, arrived at the hotel Friday.

>> Read more trending news 

When asked how she was feeling, Markle said, “wonderful, thank you,” People magazine reports.

Judge rejects lawsuit against Fox by ex-host Andrea Tantaros

A judge threw out a New York lawsuit Friday against Fox News by former host Andrea Tantaros, citing her "vague, speculative and conclusory allegations."

The lawsuit U.S. District Judge George Daniels dismissed had alleged Fox tried to torment Tantaros after she complained about sexual harassment.

The lawsuit claimed Tantaros was viewed as a threat by Fox executives after she declined an offer of more than $1 million to remain silent. The suit said Tantaros suspected her emails and telephone conversations were being monitored after she revealed personal information in calls or emails that were then referenced by others in cruel social media posts.

She sought unspecified damages.

Fox News Channel had urged the lawsuit be rejected, saying the claims were a paranoid fantasy or a deliberate hoax.

In his written ruling, Daniels recounted her claims at length but repeatedly cited instances in which her accusations lacked the kind of specifics and proof necessary to put them before a jury.

For example, he rejected a wiretap claim, saying she had "failed to allege a basic element of this cause of action: an actual interception of her wire, oral, or electronic communications."

In another instance, he struck down a malware claim, citing her "vague, speculative, and conclusory allegations."

In an email response to a request for comment, Tantaros said, "Not one part of this lawsuit was based on speculation and conjecture — it was based on first hand testimony, cold, hard facts, and independently verified computer forensics.

"The Judge made the wrong call, and I absolutely plan on appealing," she wrote. "Fox News will be held accountable, just as they have for their sickening past, rife with sexual harassment, discrimination and destroying the careers of dozens of women for having the courage to come forward with the truth."

Asked for comment, a Fox News spokesman said the decision speaks for itself.

In August 2016, Tantaros sued the network, its ousted chairman and other top executives in a separate lawsuit, saying they retaliated after she detailed unwanted sexual advances made by her onetime boss Roger Ailes. A state judge ruled those claims were subject to closed-door arbitration.

Tantaros worked as a host and political analyst for Fox News from 2011 to 2016.

Ailes died last year.

'13 Reasons Why' premiere canceled after Texas shooting

Netflix canceled the premiere party for its second season of the teen drama "13 Reasons Why" because of a school shooting near Houston.

The streaming service announced the cancellation hours before the scheduled premiere and red carpet event, citing the Friday morning shooting at Santa Fe High School that left 10 people dead.

Despite the canceled premiere red carpet and party, the entire Season 2 is available on Netflix.

The first season of "13 Reasons Why" drew criticism for its graphic depiction of a teenager's suicide. The second season focuses on the aftermath of the girl's death, and it includes a storyline about a student's thwarted plans to shoot up a school dance. The student, who is heavily armed with a rifle and handguns, is talked out of the shooting by a classmate who helps him escape before police arrive.

The show's launch party in West Hollywood was expected to feature appearances by show stars Katherine Langford, Dylan Minnette, Kate Walsh and others, and producer Selena Gomez.

Dismissal upheld in suit over Viacom payments to Redstone

Delaware's Supreme Court has upheld the dismissal of a shareholder lawsuit challenging Viacom Inc.'s payment of more than $13 million in compensation to company founder and former chairman Sumner Redstone.

The court on Friday affirmed a judge's dismissal of a suit alleging that Viacom's directors approved payments to Redstone from 2014 to 2016 when the ailing billionaire media mogul was incapacitated and incapable of doing his job.

The judge said the claims were released as part of a 2016 settlement resolving three other lawsuits involving control of Viacom and the composition of its board.

The same judge is currently presiding over a CBS Corp. lawsuit against National Amusements Inc., which is the controlling shareholder of both CBS and Viacom and has been pressing for a merger of the two companies.

Bill Cosby jurors identified, 3 weeks after conviction

A judge on Friday publicly identified members of the jury that convicted Bill Cosby of sexual assault last month, but warned that reporters could face criminal charges if they hound jurors who don't want to be bothered.

Judge Steven O'Neill released the names after what he described as a 21-day "cooling-off period" to allow jurors to return to their personal lives after three weeks sequestered at a hotel for the trial.

The Associated Press and other media organizations went to court for access to the names and O'Neill said he was bound to release them under a state Supreme Court ruling making them public under the First Amendment.

O'Neill warned news outlets to respect jurors who refuse interviews or say they want privacy. He told jurors not to divulge what other members of the jury said during deliberations.

Two jurors reached Friday declined comment.

The jury issued a statement as a group days after the April 26 verdict, saying it had "absolutely no reservations" about convicting the 80-year-old Cosby of three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

The seven men and five women from the Philadelphia area said they found accuser Andrea Constand's testimony about Cosby drugging and molesting her at his home in January 2004 "credible and compelling."

They also asked for privacy and respect.

In his order releasing the names, O'Neill said one media outlet had interrupted Mother's Day last Sunday with telephone calls to at least six jurors.

Prosecutors argued the jurors' names should be kept secret, citing privacy concerns. Cosby's lawyer never took a side.

After O'Neill made it clear that the law would force him to release the names, prosecutor Adrienne Jappe made the suggestion that he wait a while.

She cited a 90-day delay in releasing juror names in the Casey Anthony case. Media lawyer Paul Safier said that was different because jurors were threatened after acquitting the Florida mother in 2011 of charges she killed her young daughter.

Cosby is confined to his home awaiting sentencing Sept. 24. Cosby turns 81 in July and is likely to face a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

O'Neill ordered Cosby be outfitted with a GPS monitoring bracelet and said he needs permission to leave the home, and only then to visit with lawyers or go to the doctor.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, as Constand has done.

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Follow Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak

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For more coverage visit https://www.apnews.com/tag/CosbyonTrial

Lovato has concert activities for mental health awareness

On Demi Lovato's latest U.S. tour, she opened each show with "You Don't Do It For Me Anymore," an ode to shaking her addiction to substance abuse.

But while the song is inspiring, it's what happened before the show that seemed to matter most to her.

Lovato, who says that she "thrives" with bipolar disorder, held what can be described as one-hour therapy sessions for a few hundred fans before she taking the stage.

"It's something that I'm passionate about, mental health, and raising the awareness and taking away the stigma away from it. So, if I can do that on tour then awesome," Lovato said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Lovato has been a mental health advocate for several years and worked with a pharmaceutical-sponsored awareness campaign at one time. For her U.S. tour, she partnered with CAST Centers , wellness clinics that treat mental health and substance abuse issues (the sessions are not a part of her European tour that kicks off later this month). Lovato became a co-owner after being treated there in 2011.

Before a recent show in Newark, New Jersey, Lovato spoke about her struggles, which besides bipolar disorder have included alcoholism, drug addiction, and eating disorders.

"My life has gotten a lot easier as I've continued to have more and more sobriety under my belt. And you know, for me it's just about asking for help when I need it. And I think that's the key to getting the help that you need is not being afraid to ask people when you need some assistance or support," Lovato said.

The sessions were free to those who purchase tickets to the concert but spots were limited. Lovato attended them, but was not the focus.

In Newark, 18-year old Ashley Hill was near the front of the line. She said she waited for hours but was satisfied.

"I've been in therapy for a couple of years. I just wanted to be a part of this experience," Hill said.

She added: "There (were) a lot of things I struggled with for a long time but Demi being able to come out of it, I was able to be more open about what I've gone through."

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Online: https://www.castcenters.com/ and https://www.castcenters.com/castontour

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