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From Cooper to Spielberg, Stars Turn Out for AFI Awards

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Ariana DeBose, left, and Steven Spielberg arrive at the AFI Awards Luncheon on Friday, March 11, 2022, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — From Bradley Cooper to Steven Spielberg, some of Hollywood’s brightest stars came together to relax and sip wine in a fancy ballroom where everyone ended up walking away a winner at the American Film Institute Awards on Friday.

The annual AFI invite-only luncheon honored 10 films and 10 television shows with well-spoken words about the celebrated project followed by a brief clip of a scene. “Squid Game,” “Belfast” and “Summer of Soul (…or: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’)” received special awards during the event.

Laughs and hugs were shared before the event between “tick, tick… BOOM!” star Andrew Garfield and Lee Jung-jae and Jung Ho-yeon from “Squid Game.” Cooper and “Licorice Pizza” actor Cooper Hoffman had a chat before both posed for photos. “WandaVision” star Kathryn Hahn went out of her way to meet the “Squid Game” cast at their table in a ballroom in Beverly Hills, California.

“West Side Story” star Ariana DeBose had a jovial conversation with Spielberg on the red carpet. Garfield was signing with “CODA” star Marlee Matlin after the event.

The AFI event is all about having fun, creating a laid-back vibe with no pressure.

“If you’ve been with us before, you know the game. The game is: There is no game,” AFI President Bob Gazzale said as many in the audience chuckled. “You have won. Most importantly today, you all won.”

Films recognized include “CODA,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Dune,” “King Richard,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Nightmare Alley,” “The Power of the Dog,” “tick, tick…BOOM!” “The Tragedy of MacBeth” and “West Side Story.”

Television shows honored were “Hacks,” “Maid,” “Mare of Easttown,” “Reservation Dogs,” “Schmigadoon!” “Succession,” “Ted Lasso,” “The Underground Railroad,” “WandaVision” and “The White Lotus.”

Those in the star-studded room also included Meryl Streep, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Guillermo del Toro, Keegan-Michael Key and Rita Moreno.

Morgan Freeman closed the luncheon with a benediction to celebrate the honorees, including the late actor Sidney Poitier, who died at the age of 94 early this year.

“Someone had to kick down the door,” Freeman said of Poitier, the groundbreaking actor who transformed how Black people were portrayed on screen. “In baseball, it was Jackie Robinson. In politics, Barack Obama. For us, it was Sidney Poitier. No Sidney, no Halle Berry. No Sidney, no Viola Davis. No Sidney, no Denzel. Hell, no Sidney, no me.”

Freeman said Poitier was “my compass showing me the way, my one bright light who illuminated the path for me to walk upon.”

“Even though Sidney is no longer with us, his light will never dim,” he continued. “No matter where you are from or who you are, he was, is and always will be an inspiration.”

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Multi-Platinum Country Artist Chase Rice to Perform Saturday Night Infield Concert at Talladega Superspeedway During NASCAR Playoffs Weekend

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Country star Chase Rice. Photo via NASCAR.

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Talladega Superspeedway is proud to announce that multi-Platinum singer-songwriter Chase Rice, who also has NASCAR ties, will be the featured artist for the track’s traditional Saturday Night Infield Concert, Oct. 1, during an exciting NASCAR Playoffs weekend, featuring the YellaWood 500.

 

Rice will take the stage at NASCAR’s “Party Capital” just hours after the conclusion of the Sparks 300 (NASCAR Xfinity Series) and Chevy Silverado 250 (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series) races, and the night before the YellaWood 500 NASCAR Cup Series event (Sunday, Oct. 2). It will mark the second time that Rice has performed at the biggest and baddest race track on the planet (spring of 2015). The best part about the concert is that admission is FREE with the purchase of a Sunday race ticket for the YellaWood 500. Breakout country artist Bailey Zimmerman will open the anticipated night.

 

“We are thrilled to have Chase Rice back with us at Talladega Superspeedway for our popular Saturday Night Infield Concert,” said Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Brian Crichton. “We have amazing fans, and knowing what an incredible entertainer Chase is, everyone in attendance is going to have an incredible time. Chase will continue the tradition in our world-famous infield, and it’s one fans will not want to miss.”

 

With more than 2.3 million albums sold and over 2.3 billion total streams, plus a legion of passionate fans at his high-energy concerts across the globe, Rice has established himself as a powerful force in Nashville and beyond. With a forthcoming album crafted in his rural Tennessee home-turned-studio, his sound continues to evolve to reflect the realities of his life, as evidenced by recent single “If I Were Rock & Roll” and his latest release, “Key West & Colorado.” The new music serves as a follow up to his three-part project, The Album, featuring his latest Platinum-certified No. 1 hit, “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen. (featuring Florida Georgia Line)” and Platinum-certified Top 10 hit “Lonely If You Are.”

 

This is the same gravelly-voiced Chase Rice fans first fell in love with years ago – but better. Freer. Unbeholden and uninhibited, somehow capable of evoking Chris LeDoux and The Chronic, campfire singalongs and stadium anthems, all at once. The new music builds upon the success of his sophomore album, Lambs & Lions, which featured the Triple-Platinum, two-week chart topper “Eyes On You” – Rice’s first No. 1 as an artist and the most-streamed song of his career.

 

In addition to a hugely successful music career, Rice also has an athletic background as a former linebacker at the University of North Carolina, and was a part of the sport of NASCAR, serving as a rear tire carrier for the Hendrick Motorsports team pit crew before moving to Nashville to pursue music full-time.

 

Warner Music Nashville / Elektra Music Group breakout country artist Zimmerman is following an explosive trajectory after an unexpected, whirlwind rise. His undeniable smash “Fall In Love” features Zimmerman’s “blistering…effortlessly gritty, fervent vocal” (Billboard). The song is currently racing up the country radio charts and multiple all-genre Billboard charts, having already charted at No. 1 on Apple Music’s Top Country Songs chart and SiriusXM The Highway’s Top 30 Countdown earlier this year.

A victory by a playoff eligible driver in any of the trio of October events will make it to the next round of their respective NASCAR Playoffs series. The YellaWood 500 will serve as the second race in the Round of 12 and will feature NASCAR’s ’Next Gen’ car. Bubba Wallace is the defending Champion of the YellaWood 500. Brandon Brown won last year’s Xfinity Series race while Tate Fogleman took the top honors in the Camping World Truck Series race.

Guests attending the weekend can be immersed into the sport of NASCAR by being a part of the Talladega Garage Experience, which gives the ability to be up-close to NASCAR’s top drivers and teams via a fan walkway under the same roof as the NASCAR Cup Series garage bays. For all race weekend ticket information, log onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com.

Fans are encouraged to keep up with all the happenings at the biggest, baddest race track on the planet by following Talladega Superspeedway on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as the all-new NASCAR Tracks App. for the latest speedway news.

Follow Chase Rice at:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/chasericemusic

Twitter: @chasericemusic

Instagram: @chaserice

TikTok: @chasericemusic

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Universal Orlando Resort Celebrates Biggest Fans with Passholder Appreciation Days

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Photo: NBCUniversal.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Beginning August 15 and continuing through September 30, Universal Orlando Resort is giving back to Universal Orlando Passholders with exclusive benefits to celebrate the UOAP family during Passholder Appreciation Days. UOAPs will have the opportunity to experience Universal Orlando in incredible ways with perks that include exclusive passholder merchandise, a collectible UOAP themed magnet, unique food and beverage offering, special nightly rates at select Universal Orlando Resort hotels and more.

Here are some of the offerings that Universal Orlando Passholders can enjoy during this time:

  • Collectible UOAP Magnet, a passholder favorite, is featured during this year’s Appreciation Days.
  • Exclusive Merchandise including an all-new spirit jersey, stemless cup, and so much more.
  • Food and beverage featuring more than fifteen limited-time menu offerings throughout the destination:
    • Universal’s Islands of Adventure: Dan Dan Noodles at Confisco Grille, Brisket Grilled Cheese at Comic Strip Café, Willy Wallo Lasso at Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-pendous, and Hummus Kawarma at Mythos Restaurant
    • Universal Studios Florida: Crab Okonomiyaki at Lombard’s Landing and Maloney Stack at Finnegan’s
    • Universal’s Volcano Bay: Island Chicken Pancit Bowl at Wakawawai
    • CityWalk: Mango Ginger Kiss at Voodoo Doughnut, Nutella Croissant Bread Pudding at Bigfire, Quesadilla Ahogada at Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food, a Mt. Fuji Roll at Cowfish and more.

To keep updated on these and other limited-time offerings, visit the Discover Universal Orlando Blog.

Universal Orlando’s amazing collection of hotels offers a variety of accommodation options for every travel style and budget, giving guests easy access to the excitement of the theme parks and Universal CityWalk. Universal Orlando Hotels are also celebrating UOAPs with exclusive offers on delicious menu items that passholders can enjoy throughout the resorts. Passholders can take advantage of incredible savings at Universal Orlando Resort hotels by booking exclusive hotel rates starting at $109* per night, plus tax at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal’s Aventura Hotel, available to book through September 28, 2022. For more information and for booking, visit Universal Orlando Resort Reservations.

Passholders enjoy a thrilling combination of experiences at Universal Orlando’s award-winning theme parks all year round. Here is the only place where UOPAs can race alongside Velociraptors at Jurassic World VelociCoaster – Florida’s fastest and tallest launch coaster; take flight aboard magical motorbikes for a journey deep into the Forbidden Forrest on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade – and so much more. For more information on all the benefits Passholders will be able to enjoy during Passholder Appreciation Days at Universal Orlando, visit www.Universalorlando.com/Appreciation-days. Select blackout dates apply to select passes. Additional Passholder Appreciation Days benefits will be announced soon.

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Black Lives

Black Family Sues Sesame Place, Alleging Discrimination

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In this image from video provided by Jodi Brown, posted to Instagram on Saturday, July 16, 2022, a performer dressed as the character Rosita waves off Brown's daughter and another 6-year-old Black girl at the Sesame Place amusement park in Langhorne, Pa. (Jodi Brown via AP)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Baltimore family is suing a Sesame Street-themed amusement park for $25 million over claims of racial discrimination, alleging multiple costumed characters ignored a 5-year-old Black girl during a meet-and-greet event last month.

The lawsuit comes in the wake of a video, shared widely on social media, showing two other Black girls apparently being snubbed by a costumed employee during a parade at the park in Langhorne, outside Philadelphia. Sesame Place apologized in a statement and promised more training for its employees after the video went viral earlier this month.

The suit, which seeks class action status, was filed in a federal court in Philadelphia against SeaWorld Parks, the owner of the Sesame Place, for “pervasive and appalling race discrimination.”

The lawsuit alleges four employees dressed as Sesame Street characters ignored Quinton Burns, his daughter Kennedi Burns and other Black guests during the meet-and-greet on June 18. The lawsuit says “SeaWorld’s performers readily engaged with numerous similarly situated white customers.”

During a press conference held Wednesday, one of the family’s attorneys, Malcolm Ruff, called for transparency from SeaWorld and for the company to compensate the Burns family. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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