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Fred Savage denies abuse on set of 'The Grinder'

Fred Savage says allegations in a lawsuit that he was abusive to a woman on the set of the Fox series "The Grinder" are "absolutely untrue."

Costumer Youngjoo Hwang claims in the suit, filed Wednesday in Los Angeles, that Savage berated her, struck her arm and behaved aggressively toward female employees. She also alleges 20th Century Fox Television refused to investigate her complaints.

In a statement, Savage said he has watched "brave women" come forward in the past few months to fight the "shame and stigma of harassment." The 41-year-old said it never dawned on him that his name "could be on the other side."

Fox said in a statement the company investigated and "found no evidence of wrongdoing." The company called the allegations "unfounded."

Queen Latifah’s mother, Rita Owens, dies after battling heart failure

After more than a decade of battling heart failure, Rita Owens, the mother of actress, rapper and singer Queen Latifah, has died.

Latifah issued a statement Wednesday confirming the news to Essence.

>> Read more trending news 

“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news my mother, Rita Owens passed away today,” the statement said. “Anyone that has ever met her knows what a bright light she was on this earth. She was gentle, but strong, sweet, but sassy, worldly but pragmatic, a woman of great faith and certainly the love of my life.”

“She had struggled with a heart condition for many years and her battle is now over. I am heart broken but know she is at peace. Thank you for your kindness, support and respect for our privacy at this time. Much Love, Dana Owens (aka Queen Latif‎ah), forever Rita Owens’ daughter.”

People reported that Latifah shared an Instagram post of her mother Wednesday night. 

“143,” she captioned the post. The numbers mean “I love you.”

Heart failure, according to the American Heart Association, is a chronic, progressive condition that “occurs when the heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen.”

Owens was diagnosed with the condition in 2004 after passing out while teaching at a New Jersey high school.

In 2015, Latifah opened up to People about caring for her mother’s heart failure.

“We’ve learned a new us,” Latifah said at the time. “We’ve gotten a lot closer and we’ve learned each other on a whole different, deeper level.”

“As a caregiver – it’s just like being a parent, like some things really don’t matter,” Latifah said. “All the kind of frivolous things sort of fall to the side because there’s something way more important than all that. And when we go through these things together as a family, I realize, these are the important things, these are the important moments.”

Publisher of Theranos book moves up release date to May

The publisher of an investigative book on blood testing startup Theranos has moved up the release date from October to this spring.

"Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup" was written by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist John Carreyrou, who in The Wall Street Journal first raised questions about the company's blood-testing technology.

Alfred A. Knopf announced Thursday that publication is now scheduled for May 21. Carreyrou has interviewed more than 150 people, including dozens of former Theranos employees.

Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Theranos and company founder Elizabeth Holmes with a "massive fraud." Holmes, a Stanford University dropout once billed as the "next Steve Jobs," has forfeited control of Theranos and will pay $500,000 in fines.

Queen Latifah's mom, Rita Owens, has died

Queen Latifah is mourning the death of her mother.

In a statement, the singer and actress says Rita Owens died Wednesday after struggling with a heart condition for many years. The statement did not given her mother's age or say where the death occurred.

She was diagnosed with heart trouble in 2004.

Queen Latifah, whose real name is Dana Owens, says her mom was "the love of my life."

She described her mother as gentle, strong, sweet and sassy.

There was no immediate word on funeral arrangements.

Without a voice, DC reporter Jamie Dupree's work still resonates across the US

A familiar Cox Radio voice is determined to be heard again.

>> On Cox DC bureau reporter loses voice in medical mystery

Cox Media Group Washington correspondent Jamie Dupree has spent more than three decades covering Capitol Hill, but nearly two years ago, his method of communication had to change.

>> The radio silence of Jamie Dupree

Doctors say a rare neurological condition is making it difficult for his brain to tell his tongue what to do while speaking. Placing a pen in his mouth helps him speak.

“It’s hard, but I am working to come back hard,” Dupree tells WSB Radio.

>> Read Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider blog here

He is now hoping a meeting with specialists at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta will help him figure out why he lost his voice. 

And the reporter in him has not quit.

“He still does interviews; he feeds us audio,” WSB Radio News Director Chris Camp says. Dupree also covers Congress via Facebook, Twitter and Cox Media Group websites. 

>> DC reporter Jamie Dupree honored on House floor

“He may not be able to talk, but boy you can hear him awful loud,” Camp adds.

Dupree is thankful to all who have wished him well. While the condition has obviously affected his job, that is not what he says hurts him the most.

“Think about not being able to talk to your kids, or your wife or your father or your friends. While my work is hard and different, life is about a lot more than that.”

>> WATCH: WSB-TVs Berndt Petersen speaks with Jamie about his struggle over the past couple years

Dupree says Emory researchers are trying a new treatment that will slow down the movement of his tongue to make it easier for him to speak. In the meantime, Jamie wants everyone to know his overall health is good.

“Even though he can't speak, Jamie is still the most trusted voice in Washington DC,” WSB Radio’s Bill Caiaccio says of his colleague and friend. “He was already the hardest working reporter in our nation’s capital, and now he works even harder to get the job done.”

WSB Radio anchor Chris Chandler echoes those sentiments, saying, "I've always said Jamie is the most valuable on-air presence on our stations, and he still is.

“There's not a word of news from Washington that he hasn't reported and broken down for us.”

Mark Arum, WSB Radio traffic anchor and talk show host, adds that Dupree is an invaluable resource: “He might have lost his voice, but he still has the drive to get the story and get it right.”

>> Read more trending news 

Sabrina Cupit, who anchors midday for WSB Radio, says Dupree is so much more than his voice: “His knowledge of Washington, his connections, his balanced reporting; they are all still a major part of what we do on air every day here at WSB.

“Personally, I have never met a kinder, more honest or just downright great human being in my life. I am praying for the return of his voice. I do miss hearing it.”

Get Dupree's take on what's happening in Washington delivered to your inbox every weekday by clicking here.

Jamie Dupree is a reporter for the Cox Media Group Washington News Bureau. 

US poet laureate Tracy K. Smith to serve second term

U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smith will serve a second term.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced Thursday that Smith has been reappointed for 2018-2019.

The library said that Smith would continue her focus on bringing poetry to rural communities.

She has also edited "American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time," scheduled for publication in September by Graywolf Press, in coordination with the library. The anthology includes contributions by former poets laureate Natasha Trethewey and Charles Wright and will be used by Smith for her visits around the country.

Smith said in a statement that she valued poetry as a way to expose people to different voices and perspectives. She has published four books of poetry and won the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for "Life on Mars."

TV personality known for playing Bozo the Clown dies at 89

Longtime Boston television personality and entertainer Frank Avruch, who was the star of the popular children's TV program "Bozo the Clown," has died. He was 89.

Avruch died Tuesday at his Boston home from heart disease, his family said in a statement to WCVB-TV .

Avruch played Bozo the Clown from 1959 to 1970, a clown character particularly popular in the U.S. in the 1960s because of widespread franchising in television. Avruch became the first nationally-syndicated Bozo the Clown.

"He had a heart of gold," manager Stuart Hersh told The Associated Press on Wednesday, "He brought the Bozo the Clown character to life better than anyone else's portrayal of Bozo the Clown."

Avruch also was a contributor to WCVB-TV for more than 40 years as a host of "Man About Town" and "The Great Entertainment."

He was an active philanthropist and a board member of UNICEF'S New England chapter. He toured the world performing as Bozo the clown for UNICEF.

"He touched so many people with his portrayal," Hersh said.

Avruch is survived by his wife Betty, two sons Matthew and Steven and several grandchildren.

"While it's hard to say goodbye, we celebrate the legacy of joy and laughter he brought to millions of children around the world as Bozo the Clown on TV and as a UNICEF Ambassador and later as host of Channel 5's Great Entertainment and Boston's Man About Town," Avruch's family said in a statement to the station. "Our dad loved the children of all ages who remembered being on his show and was always grateful for their kind words. We will miss him greatly."


Information from: WCVB-TV,

7 things to know about 'Sex in the City' star Cynthia Nixon, candidate for NY gov.

Former “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon announced her run for New York Governor Monday after flirting with the idea for several months.

>> Read more trending news 

"I love New York, and today I'm announcing my candidacy for governor," she revealed on Twitter.

According to her campaign press release, Nixon will be spending the coming weeks traveling across the state to hear from voters.

She will challenge 60-year-old Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a two-term incumbent, in New York’s Democratic primary in September.

She was born and bred in New York.

Nixon, 51, was born on April 9, 1966 and raised in the Upper West Side with her mother. In her campaign video, Nixon said she grew up “in a one-bedroom fifth floor walk-up.”

She later attended Hunter College High School and Barnard College before breaking out into her Broadway career primarily to save money to support herself through college, she told the New York Times in 2012.

Nixon, who identified herself as bisexual in 2012, was in a relationship with David Mozes from 1988 to 2003. The couple have two children together.

In 2004, Nixon began dating activist Christine Marinoni and they eventually married in 2012. They have one child together.

>> Related: Illinois primary could set up most expensive governor's race

Nixon is a Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award-winner.

For her role as lawyer Miranda Hobbes on “Sex and the City,” Nixon was awarded an Emmy Award in 2004 for outstanding supporting actress, and a Screen Actors Guild Award in 2002 and 2004 for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series.

Nixon made her Broadway debut in 1980 in the revival of “The Philadelphia Story” and later earned Tony Awards for her foles in “Rabbit Hole” (2006) and “The Little Foxes” (2017).

She was awarded a Grammy in 2009 for her “An Inconvenient Truth” spoken word album.

Explore her full list of awards at

She’s a survivor of breast cancer.

In 2006, Nixon was diagnosed with breast cancer and admitted to  Good Morning America in 2008 that she initially wanted to keep the news to herself but later became the official spokeswoman for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

"I want them [women] most to hear me saying that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. So the only thing to really be afraid of is if you don't go get your mammograms, because there's some part of you that doesn't want to know, and that's the thing that's going to trip you up. That's the thing that could have a really bad endgame," she said.

Nixon’s cancer was caught at an early stage and required a lumpectomy and radiation, but no chemotherapy.

She’s a longtime activist. 

Nixon first made political headlines during the 2011 campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in New York. During that campaign, she lobbied state lawmakers in Albany and was later honored by GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign with its Visibility Award for her work advocating for marriage equality.

In January, Nixon was also among a group of celebrity activists that came together for "the People's State of the Union,” an alternative event to President Donald Trump's first State of the Union speech.

She has in the past been very vocal about women’s health care and on education issues, serving on de Blasio's advisory board for the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City.

>> Related: Georgia Senate advances adoption bill called anti-LGBT

As a spokesperson for the Alliance for Quality Education, Nixon recently spoke out against Gov. Cuomo’s proposed education budget.

“Governor Cuomo had a chance today to put the next generation of New Yorkers first,” she said in a January 2018 AQE statement. “Instead, he proposed yet another budget that will keep New York at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to educational equity and justice. Governor Cuomo claims he has provided record increases in education funding, but in reality, he has created a record spending gap between the wealthiest and poorest school districts.”

If elected, she would make history.

Nixon would become the first female governor and first openly gay governor in New York history.

About her platform

“We are now the most unequal state in the entire country, with both incredible wealth and extreme poverty,” Nixon said in a video posted on Twitter announcing her candidacy.

According to her campaign website, Nixon’s state platform focuses on income inequality, renewable energy, access to health care, concerns about mass incarceration, passing the DREAM Act and “fixing our broken subway.”

She also emphasizes strengthening and renewing expiring rent laws to avoid “raising rents, and forcing people out of their homes.”

“Andrew Cuomo has given massive tax breaks to corporations and the super rich while starving the state and its cities of the most basic services and decimating our infrastructure,” Nixon wrote on her campaign site. “His inhumane budgets have been passed on the backs of our children, our working and middle class, and our elderly.”

“Together,” she added, “we could show the entire country and the world that in the era of Donald Trump, New Yorkers will come together and lead our nation forward.”


Chances against Cuomo

“Her campaign may test the appetite of New Yorkers for a celebrity leader in the age of President Trump, a deeply unpopular figure here among Democrats,” the New York Times reported.

But Nixon has her work cut out for her. A Siena College poll released Monday showed Cuomo leading her 66 percent to 19 percent among registered Democrats, and by a similar margin among self-identified liberals, AP reported. The poll of 772 registered voters was conducted March 11-16. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Cuomo, whose approval ratings have dropped below 50 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released in February, recently mocked the celebrity status the Grammy, Emmy and Tony winner could bring to the race.

"Normally name recognition is relevant when it has some connection to the endeavor," Cuomo said earlier this month. "If it was just about name recognition, then I'm hoping that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and Billy Joel don't get into the race."

Jefrey Pollock, pollster and political adviser to Cuomo and other prominent Democrats, told AP that celebrity isn't likely to trump governing experience in the voting booth.

"Over and over in our research, Democratic primary voters say they're not looking for an outsider because they look to Washington, D.C., and see what the outsider has meant to this country," Pollock said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

10 emerging writers receive $50,000 Whiting Awards

Ten emerging writers, a mix of poets, dramatists and fiction and nonfiction authors, were the winners of this year's $50,000 Whiting Awards on Wednesday night.

Nobel laureate Toni Morrison was scheduled to speak at the ceremony in Manhattan, but could not attend because of a snowstorm that pounded much of the Northeast.

In prepared remarks, read by prize-winning poet Elizabeth Alexander and shared with The Associated Press by Whiting officials, Morrison noted that as a descendent of slaves she knew well "the struggle to be allowed to learn to read."

"Reading became a hallowed practice in my family," Morrison explained. "With a background of fighting to read, you may understand how much more difficult it would be to write, to invent what one wanted to read."

The 87-year-old author quoted from her debut novel, "The Bluest Eye," and described one sentence as "meant to attract or repulse or simply shock the reader— anything to get her or his attention. "

"My sincere congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Whiting Award come from an intimate knowledge of the power and difficulty of the task," she concluded. "Thank you for your work."

Honorees on Wednesday night included poet Tommy Pico, dramatist Nathan Alan Davis, poet-nonfiction writer Anne Boyer and nonfiction writer Esmé Weijun Wang. Other winners were novelists Patty Yumi Cottrell, Brontez Purnell and Weike Wang, poet Rickey Laurentiis and playwrights Antoinette Nwandu and Hansol Jung.

The Whiting Foundation established the awards in 1985 to help writers fulfill the promise of "superior literary work." Previous winners include Michael Cunningham, Jonathan Franzen and Jorie Graham.

Tony-winner Sammy Williams from 'A Chorus Line' dies at 69

Sammy Williams, who won a Tony Award in the original Broadway production of "A Chorus Line," has died. He was 69.

Family spokeswoman and friend Brandee Barnaby says Williams died of cancer Saturday in Los Angeles.

Williams won best featured actor in a musical in 1976 for the role of Paul in "A Chorus Line." The pioneering musical with music by Marvin Hamlisch told of the inner lives of actors auditioning for a big show. Paul was a young Puerto Rican performer starting to feel comfortable about being gay.

Williams had other earlier smaller parts on Broadway in "Applause" and "The Happy Time." He was later a choreographer, director and actor in Los Angeles, who appeared in "Follies" at the Ahmanson Theatre in 2012.

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