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Longtime NPR broadcaster Carl Kasell has died from Alzheimer’s disease at 84

Longtime NPR broadcaster Carl Kasell has died at the age of 84 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease, NPR announced Tuesday.

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The unflappable Kasell with his reassuring baritone voice, delivered the news at the top of the hour for both for the network’s flagship news magazines “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered,” during his long career, before diving into a new role in the late 1990s as the comedic judge and scorekeeper of NPR’s satirical news quiz show “Wait, Wait ... Don’t Tell Me!

Kasell started with NPR in 1975 as a part-time employee  and contributor for “Weekend All Things Considered,” and four years later announced the news for the first broadcast of “Morning Edition,” a new morning show at the time, according to the network. He went on to become one of NPR’s most recognizable voices.

>> Related: Actor comedian Harry Anderson of 'Night Court' fame dead at 65

The prize for winning on “Wait Wait ... Don’t Tell Me!” was a custom-made voice recording of Kasell for answering machines or cellphone voice mails, and over the 16 years he was part of the show, he provided more than 2,200 recordings for contestants, according to NPR.

Quiz show co-host Peter Sagal called Kasell a “dear friend” in a Twitter post Tuesday.

“He was, and remains, the heart and soul of our show,” Sagal said. 

Kassel retired from “Morning Edition” in 2009, but continued on “Wait Wait” for another five years.      

Kasell, who was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina, in 1934, started in radio when he was 16 at a local radio station hosting a music program and continued his career in college at the school radio station at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His broadcasting career spanned more than 50 years in radio.

>> Related: Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor breaks shoulder in fall

He was married for 37 years to Clara de Zorzi, who died in 1997, according to The Washington Post, and married Mary Ann Foster in 2003.

He leaves behind a son from his first marriage and a stepson.

Kasell is also survived by a sister and four grandchildren.

Texas reopens case seen as inspiring 'Three Billboards' film

Texas authorities are seeking fresh leads in the 1991 death of a woman whose case is seen as an inspiration for the Academy Award-winning film "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri."

The Texas Department of Public Safety released a statement Tuesday saying it has upped the reward to $6,000 for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the death of 34-year-old Kathy Page.

After her death, Page's father rented billboards accusing police in Vidor (VY'-dohr) of failing to properly investigate the killing.

The Dallas Morning News reports the billboards caught the eye of British-Irish director Martin McDonaugh, who traveled through the area two decades ago. McDonaugh has said his film was inspired by billboards he saw during U.S. travels.

A jury in 2000 found Page's estranged husband, Steve Page, liable in a wrongful-death lawsuit and awarded her family $150,000.

Conservative enthusiasm helps 'Roseanne' continue domination

As the rebooted "Roseanne" continues to dominate the television landscape, research indicates that enthusiasm expressed for the show's initial success by President Donald Trump and Fox News Channel had an impact on its audience.

Both Trump and Fox commentators said the show's initial stunning success was a reflection of the show's lead character, played by Roseanne Barr, portraying a Trump supporter. The research organization Samba TV said viewership among people who also watched Fox News regularly increased by 40 percent from the first to second week on the air. For people who also watched MSNBC, which appeals more to liberals, viewership was down 11 percent for the same period.

"The conservative audience is really carrying over," said Jen Whalen, marketing director for Samba TV.

The company's research also indicates that older viewers are sticking with the series at a higher rate than younger people.

The Nielsen company's research said that 12 percent of "Roseanne" viewers last week also watched Fox News Channel, compared to 7 percent for the show's premiere.

But ABC said those figures hardly indicate that the "Roseanne" audience lacks diversity. According to Nielsen data, 38 percent of the comedy's audience last week identified itself as conservative, 41 percent said they were moderate and 22 percent said they were liberal. The show's audience of 13.8 million on the first night it was broadcast last week led all prime-time programming for the third week in a row.

"When a show reaches over 27 million viewers and ranks as the most popular show on television, it's a strong indication that the series has broad appeal," said ABC spokeswoman Jori Arancio, citing ratings that include people who watch on a delayed basis.

CBS' depth enabled it to win the week in prime time, averaging 7.2 million viewers. ABC had 4.9 million viewers, NBC had 4.7 million, Fox had 2.6 million, Univision had 1.5 million, ION Television had 1.4 million, the CW had 1.11 million and Telemundo had 1.08 million.

Fox News Channel was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.59 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 2.17 million, TNT had 1.49 million, HGTV had 1.36 million and USA had 1.33 million.

ABC's "World News Tonight" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.2 million viewers. NBC's "Nightly News" had 7.8 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 5.9 million.

For the week of April 9-15, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "Roseanne," ABC, 13.77 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 12.78 million; "Academy of Country Music Awards," CBS, 12.06 million; "Young Sheldon," CBS, 11.7 million; "60 Minutes," CBS, 10.57 million; "Interview with James Comey," ABC, 9.87 million; "The Voice" (Monday), NBC, 9.86 million; "Mom," CBS, 8.94 million; "Blue Bloods," CBS, 8.24 million; "Survivor," CBS, 7.98 million.

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ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.

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Online:

http://www.nielsen.com

Newscaster Carl Kasell of NPR's 'Morning Edition' dies at 84

Newscaster Carl Kasell, a signature voice of NPR who brought his gravitas to "Morning Edition" and later his wit to "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me!" has died. He was 84.

NPR said Kasell died Tuesday from complications from Alzheimer's disease in Potomac, Maryland. He retired in 2014.

Kasell's radio career spanned half a century, starting as a morning DJ and newscaster at WGBR-AM in Goldsboro, North Carolina. He spent a decade at radio station WAVA in Arlington, Virginia, going from morning anchor to news director.

He was a newscaster for 30 years on "Morning Edition" until 2009. Kasell then became the official judge and scorekeeper of the Chicago-based show "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me!" in 1998. He left his voice on hundreds of answering machines as part of that show's prize.

"He was, and remains, the heart and soul of our show," Peter Sagal, the host of "Wait, Wait," tweeted Tuesday. NPR's Melissa Block said of Kasell: "A beloved voice. A radio man through and through. And the kindest colleague you could hope to find."

Kasell joined NPR as a part-time employee in 1975 for "Weekend All Things Considered" and then announced the news on the first broadcast of "Morning Edition" in 1979 alongside host Bob Edwards.

"I look out the window in the morning sometimes, and the sun is rising, and the people are going to work," Kasell told NPR on his retirement. "I look at Washington as being that big, sleeping giant, just stretching and waking up, and going about its business. And to know that I'm working in the capital of the most powerful nation in the world — I feel good about that."

He loved radio from an early age, saying he would play his grandmother's records on a wind-up record player and take commercial breaks. He majored in English at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and helped inaugurate a news program at the university's WUNC station.

Poet-publisher-activist Sam Hamill dies at age 74

Sam Hamill, a poet, translator and anti-war activist who as co-founder of Copper Canyon Press published works by Pablo Neruda, W.S. Merwin and many other celebrated poets, has died at age 74.

Hamill died Saturday at his home in Anacortes, Washington, following a period of ill health. His death was announced by Copper Canyon, which he, Bill O'Daly and Tree Swenson helped start in 1972.

Although based thousands of miles from the New York publishing industry, Copper Canyon became the literary home to some of the world's greatest poets, whether Merwin or Theodore Roethke or such Nobel Prize winners as Neruda and Octavio Paz. Hamill himself wrote poetry. His works include the career retrospective "Habitation." He also translated poetry from Mandarin and Japanese, and, at times, used poems for protest. In February 2003, he helped organize a campaign to send thousands of poems and statements to the White House in opposition to the imminent Iraq War, which President George W. Bush began the following month.

Known for his confrontational style, Hamill had been responding to an invitation from first lady Laura Bush to a poetry forum at the White House. The event was canceled.

Hamill's growing involvement in the anti-war movement helped lead to his departure from Copper Canyon in 2004.

"Through his advocacy, social consciousness, political engagement, and acts of resistance, he set a model that the Press still engages today," Copper Canyon Press Editor-In-Chief Michael Wiegers said in a statement Tuesday. "Sam was a passionate defender of those he loved, and had a determined, yet open mind when it came to new discoveries. He was a mentor, friend, and model for living with a great commitment to poetry."

Hamill was raised on a farm in Utah and endured an early life of violence, drug abuse and jail time. He was a teenage heroin addict, living in the San Francisco streets, when he had the "dumb luck" to fall for poetry, as encountered in the basement of the famous City Lights bookstore. He studied under poet Kenneth Rexroth at the University of California, Santa Barbara. A $500 literary prize he won while a student was used in starting Copper Canyon.

He is survived by a daughter, Eron Hamill, of British Columbia.

Lawsuit leads to revelations about David Copperfield's act

Jurors got a rare behind-the-scenes look at a David Copperfield disappearing act Tuesday during testimony in a negligence lawsuit involving a British man who claims he was badly hurt when he fell while participating in a 2013 Las Vegas show.

The magician's friend and executive producer, Chris Kenner, revealed to jurors the mystery behind a signature Copperfield illusion that appeared to make about a dozen audience members vanish together onstage.

Practiced stagehands with flashlights hurried randomly chosen participants through dark curtains, down unfamiliar passageways, around corners, outdoors, indoors and through an MGM Grand resort kitchen in time to re-enter the back of the theater for their "reappearance" during the show finale, Kenner testified.

"Is that route an obstacle course?" asked Benedict Morelli, attorney for Gavin Cox, a resident of Kent, England, who claims lasting brain and bodily injuries from his fall have cost him more than $400,000 in medical care.

No, said Kenner, whose company, Backstage Employment and Referral Inc., is also a defendant in the case.

Copperfield's lawyers lost pretrial bids to close proceedings to the public to avoid giving away performance secrets. MGM Grand Hotel attorney Jerry Popovich said Tuesday the illusion is no longer used to close the show.

Morelli asked Kenner whether stagehands and Copperfield visually assessed the physical fitness and footwear of audience members randomly picked to participate in the trick dubbed "the runaround."

Magicians, media members and lawyers were disqualified to protect the secrecy of the trick that Kenner estimated Copperfield performed tens of thousands of times over 20 years.

"At no time are they told what they're going to do before they start this illusion," Morelli asked Kenner. "They're told as they're running the route, correct?"

Yes, Kenner replied.

Kenner declined to say it was dangerous to lead people along a dark and unknown route over changing floor surfaces of linoleum, cement, carpet, sidewalk and tile. The lawyer noted that before Cox fell, the group hustled through an alley coated with what Morelli called construction dust.

Popovich told the jury of eight women and four men last week that 10 minutes before Cox fell, Copperfield safely walked through that same area as part of another illusion that did not involve audience participation. The MGM Grand lawyer said Copperfield would have alerted stagehands if he noticed any problems along the way.

Cox and his wife, Minh-Hahn Cox, are seeking unspecified damages in the negligence lawsuit.

Copperfield could take the stand Wednesday.

'Mockingbird' Broadway producer sues Harper Lee's estate

The producer of the Broadway production of Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" has filed a countersuit against the executor of the late author's estate which challenged screenwriter Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

Scott Rudin's production company, Rudinplay, filed the lawsuit in Manhattan on Monday demanding $10 million from Lee's estate for damages and threatening to cancel the play scheduled to open in December.

"Investors are not willing to invest millions of dollars when a cloud exits," the lawsuit claims.

Lee's estate filed a federal lawsuit last month in Alabama over the play, arguing that Sorkin's script wrongly alters Atticus Finch and other characters from the book.

The lawsuit, which includes a copy of a contract signed by Lee and dated about eight months before her death in February 2016, contends Sorkin's script violates the agreement by portraying Finch, the noble attorney who represents a black man wrongly accused of rape in "Mockingbird," as someone else in the play.

The suit asks a judge to enforce a section of a 2015 contract that says the play will not deviate from the spirit of Lee's novel.

Rudin insists the play is faithful to the novel and seeks to have the Alabama lawsuit dismissed.

"The Agreement did not give Ms. Lee approval rights over the script of the Play, much less did it give her right to purport to edit individual lines of dialogue," Rudin's lawsuit argues.

Tonja B. Carter, the executor of Lee's estate, released a statement on Monday saying she "had no choice but to file the lawsuit."

"It is my duty and privilege to defend the terms of Ms. Lee's agreement with Rudinplay, and I am determined to do so," Carter told The New York Times.

Sorkin has won multiple Emmys for his work on the drama series "The West Wing," and he won an Academy Award for his screenplay of "The Social Network" in 2011.

Rudin's credits include "Lady Bird," which was nominated for an Academy Award as best motion picture this year, and "Fences," which was a 2017 nominee. He won a best picture Oscar for "No Country for Old Men" in 2008.

Billboard Music Awards: Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar top nomination list

The nominations for the 2018 Billboard Music Awards were announced Tuesday, and Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars and Kendrick Lamar lead the nominations with 15 each. In the top artist award category the three are up against Drake, with nine nominations, and Taylor Swift, who snagged five BBMA nods.

>> Read more trending news 

Here’s a list of the nominees in the top categories:

Top Artist: Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift

Top New Artist: 21 Savage, Camila Cabello, Cardi B, Khalid, Kodak Black

 Billboard Chart Achievement Award: Camila Cabello, Cardi B, Drake, Sam Hunt, Ed Sheeran

Top Male Artist: Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars, Post Malone, Ed Sheeran

Top Female Artist: Camila Cabello, Cardi B, Halsey, Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift

Top Duo/Group: The Chainsmokers, Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Migos, U2

>> Related: 2018 Academy of Country Music Awards: Winners list

The Billboard Music Awards air at 8 p.m. on Sunday, May 20, on NBC.

Pearl Jam aims to tap into youth movement with Montana show

Pearl Jam will look to tap into a national youth movement to register new voters when the pioneering grunge rock band plays a concert in tiny Missoula, Montana, one of just four cities in its U.S. tour this summer.

The politically active band has dubbed the sold-out Aug. 13 concert "Rock2Vote" and plans to give a portion of its proceeds to four Montana organizations that support youth and Native American voting, land conservation and women's health.

Bassist Jeff Ament, a native of Montana who lives part time in Missoula, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he's been inspired by the eloquence and passion of the teenage survivors of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

"It's hard not to be inspired by the youth movement right now on a national level," Ament said. "We'll certainly follow their lead."

The band also plans to launch a Rock2Vote website to tell Montana fans about upcoming elections and what's happening in their communities, he said.

The aim is to encourage people who are coming of voting age to have a conversation about the divisive political climate and how it's affecting them, Ament said.

"Maybe it will be a model that can be used beyond Montana, but we're creating it for this show," Ament said.

The Missoula concert will mark the third time Pearl Jam has played in Montana when Ament's childhood friend, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, is up for election. The band also played in Missoula in support of Tester campaigns in 2005 and 2012.

The Montana Democrat is running for a third term in November, with four candidates competing for the Republican nomination to unseat him.

Pearl Jam is coming back this time to support the Montana Democrat indirectly, Ament said. The band's financial contributions will go to its four "partner" organizations: Forward Montana, Montana Native Vote, Montana Conservation Voters and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana.

Ament and Tester grew up in the northern Montana town of Big Sandy. Tester refereed Ament's childhood basketball games and they worked on adjacent farms during the summer.

They even got the same crewcut from Ament's dad, George, who was the town's mayor and barber.

Pearl Jam also will play two shows each in Seattle, Chicago and Boston starting in August. The short U.S. tour will follow a 13-stop European tour in June and July.

Ament, who turned 55 last month, also is releasing a solo album and said that Pearl Jam does not have any immediate plans to go back into the studio.

But after 28 years together, the band doesn't plan to slow down its heavy touring schedule.

"There's really nothing better than getting together with our friends and playing music," Ament said. "It wouldn't really make sense to stop."

Russell Crowe movie jockstrap gifted to Alaska Blockbuster

John Oliver of HBO's "Last Week Tonight" is trying to give one of the last Blockbuster Video locations in the world a little help in drawing customers instead of streaming movies online.

Oliver has offered to send the store the jockstrap that Russell Crowe wore in "Cinderella Man" and other movie clothing obtained by the show at a celebrity auction.

Oliver's show Sunday night featured a segment on the closure of multiple Blockbusters in Alaska, the Anchorage television station KTUU reported . Afterward, he offered the jockstrap to the owner of the Debarr Road location — free of charge.

"You know, buy Russell Crowe's jockstrap and send it to one of the last remaining Blockbusters in Alaska. Even that sentence is absolutely incredible to say out loud," Oliver said during the show.

Blockbuster announced last month that its North Pole store would close in April, narrowing the number of open stores in the state to four. Blockbuster's website lists three open locations outside of Alaska. Two are in Oregon and one is in Texas.

Kevin Daymude, general manager of Blockbuster's Alaska stores, said he has reached out to the show to claim the memorabilia.

"We're definitely interested, come on? Russell Crowe memorabilia?" Daymude said.

He said he plans to display the jockstrap next to a figurine of Yoda, the beloved "Stars Wars" character.

"I'm glad that we're important to them to put a little spurt about Blockbuster Alaska," Daymude said. "I'd love to do something special for him, too."

Crowe sold the strap and other items during the auction he called "The Art of Divorce."

"Last Week Tonight" also bought a robe and shorts from the same film, the set chairs of Crowe and Denzel Washington from their time on "American Gangster," the vest Crowe wore in the film "Les Miserables" and a hood Crowe wore in "Robin Hood."

The jockstrap was reportedly purchased for $7,000.

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Information from: KTUU-TV, http://www.ktuu.com

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