AT NETROOTS NATION, progressives say they’re still with Obama — MORE CHARGES LIKELY AGAINST SNOWDEN: Hong Kong extradition fight may be long — LAST NIGHT’S big party — Brit Hume is 70

SIREN – WSJ 5-col. lead, “Prospects for Immigration Deal Blur: Agreements on Spending Also Put in Doubt After Failure of Farm Bill; Key Border-Security Vote on Monday,” by Janet Hook: “The unexpected collapse of a major farm bill in the House casts new doubt on Congress' ability to pass an overhaul of immigration law that leaders of both parties say they want—as well as on agreements on spending bills and sensitive fiscal issues. In a split-screen legislative picture, the Senate has managed to achieve a modicum of bipartisan comity. It passed a major farm bill this month, and Senate leaders on Friday set a crucial test vote for Monday on a border-security plan that could bring support for the immigration bill close to the 70-vote target that sponsors hope will pressure the House to act on immigration. The House, meanwhile, provided fresh evidence this past week of how easy it will be for the GOP's most conservative wing to shrug off even commanding support for any legislation emerging from the Senate. … “The picture has been far different in the Senate recently, where the new border-security plan was already drawing additional Republicans to the immigration bill, leaving supporters of the legislation almost giddy Friday as they put the final touches on the measure. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) scheduled a vote for late Monday afternoon on a procedural motion to end debate on the border security amendment. … It isn't even clear that Mr. Boehner could win House passage of all the Judiciary Committee's more narrowly focused bills, a leadership aide said. Some conservatives are set against any immigration bill passing the House, fearing it would give the Senate a vehicle to attach provisions they oppose. … Boehner has scheduled a July 10 closed-door meeting of House Republicans to discuss strategy on the issue.” Free in Google; paste in headline Story Continued Below Continue Reading

Amy Pascal steps down as Sony Pictures co-chairman

LOS ANGELES - Amy Pascal will step down as co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and head of the film studio, nearly three months after a massive hack hit the company and revealed embarrassing emails. Pascal, one of the most powerful women in Hollywood and the force behind such critical and commercial hits as "The Social Network" and "American Hustle," will launch a major new production venture at the studio focused on movies, television and theater, Sony Pictures said Thursday. Her career with Sony has spanned nearly 20 years. During the hack, Pascal came under fire for racist remarks about President Obama's presumed choice in movies that surfaced in leaked emails. She apologized for "insensitive and inappropriate" comments in her emails that she called "not an accurate reflection of who I am." Pascal also faced criticism for green-lighting the film that may have inspired the hacking to begin with: "The Interview," which starred Seth Rogen and James Franco as bumbling journalists tasked with killing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. After its systems were hacked, Sony initially opted not to release "The Interview" to theaters. The company later backtracked, giving the film a limited theatrical release and making it available online. Pascal will transition to the new venture in May. Sony Pictures will finance Pascal under a four-year contract and retain all distribution rights worldwide to funded films. The venture will be located at the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City, California. "The studio's legacy is due in large part to Amy's passion for storytelling and love of this industry. I am delighted that Amy will be continuing her association with SPE through this new venture, which capitalizes on her extraordinary talents," said Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton in a statement. "In recent months, SPE faced some unprecedented challenges, and I am grateful for Amy's resilience and grace during this period." Since Pascal has led the studio, Sony Pictures has Continue Reading

The genius of Leonardo da Vinci

The painting "Salvator Mundi" by Leonardo da Vinci could fetch $100 million or so at auction next month -- just one small part of Leonardo's rich legacy. Our Cover Story is reported by Dr. Jon La Pook:  They pack the gallery at the Louvre in Paris -- at least six million people a year -- for a glimpse at a superstar. But a select few, like author Walter Isaacson, actually appreciate the "Mona Lisa" as art. "It's the most famous painting in the world," he said. "And when you stand before it at the Louvre, you all of a sudden realize why. It's the most emotional painting." She's been a celebrity for 500 years. But we know a lot more about the celebrity artist who painted her than we do about Mona Lisa herself.  Largely because her creator, Leonardo da Vinci, documented his life's work in painstaking detail: some 7,200 pages of scribbles and sketches survive. "You know, Leonardo may have been the person with the greatest amount of curiosity of any human who ever existed," Isaacson said. "And he would make lists in his notebooks of things he wanted to know. Like, how do they walk on ice in Holland? Or, describe the tongue of the woodpecker. Now, who in the world would wake up one morning and put on their to-do list 'describe the tongue of the woodpecker'? But there it is. "And over and over again, Leonardo is just putting down in his notebook things he's curious about." Isaacson's own curiosity has given us bestselling books about Albert Einstein and Apple's Steve Jobs. And his just-released biography of Leonardo da Vinci (published by CBS' Simon & Schuster) will also be a film, starring another Leonardo. "There's a story that Leonardo DiCaprio's told, which is that when his mother was pregnant with him, she was at the Uffizi," Isaacson told LaPook. "There's a wonderful Annunciation there. Looking at the painting, he starts kicking, and the dad said, 'We're gonna name him Leonardo.'" BOOK EXCERPT: Read a chapter from Isaacson's "Leonardo da Vinci" Continue Reading

Chuck Jones? Einstein? Wile E. Coyote? A nonprofit boosts the common thread — imagination

By Lori Basheda | Orange County RegisterMarch 9, 2018 at 12:31 pm Erland Andersson(cq) on the left and Robert Patrick laugh over their group project during a creativity workshop with brain health in mind at the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity in Costa Mesa. The workshop is designed to exercise memory, executive function, visual function and association through creative projects. (Photo by Michael Goulding)Margareta Andersson(cq) enjoys some of the creative exercises while Craig Kausen directors other participants during a creativity workshop with brain health in mind at the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity in Costa Mesa under the smirk of Bug Bunny.. The workshop is designed to exercise memory, executive function, visual function and association through creative projects. (Photo by Michael Goulding)Participants compare their group projects during a creativity workshop with brain health in mind at the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity in Costa Mesa. The workshop is designed to exercise memory, executive function, visual function and association through creative projects. (Photo by Michael Goulding)Margareta Andersson(cq) works through her “tulpa drawing” with a smile on her face during a creativity workshop with brain health in mind at the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity in Costa Mesa. The workshop is designed to exercise memory, executive function, visual function and association through creative projects. (Photo by Michael Goulding)A replica of the Chuck Jones character, Marvin the Martian, is close at hand during a creativity workshop with brain health in mind at the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity in Costa Mesa. The workshop is designed to exercise memory, executive function, visual function and association through creative projects. (Photo by Michael Goulding)It was all hands on deck for each of the two groups working together in groups projects during a creativity workshop with brain health in mind at the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity in Continue Reading

Gloria Johns: The enigma that is Paul Ryan

When I look at Paul Ryan, Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, I see Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. For centuries art aficionados have had many interpretations of the meaning behind the smile, nor has it been decided, but equally debated, who Mona Lisa was.Does that sound like Paul Ryan? Is the smile actually a smirk? What’s the meaning of the limp applause he rendered behind Donald Trump at the State of the Union Address?Was it, “Of course, he’s my guy.” Or, “I can’t stand this chump.”Probably both.For quite a while, Ryan’s leadership style resembles a high-wire act — carefully wobbling from side to side, especially in his own party.For example, previously known as the quintessential fiscal conservative, he gave full-throated endorsement to a tax bill that blows up the deficit. But with that he appeased fat-cat Republicans — future campaign donors? — who couldn’t care less about the deficit when tax cuts are on the menu.And after the House passed the tax bill, the same Paul Ryan, who previously said he would not campaign with Trump, commented that Trump provided “exquisite leadership” in negotiating the bill.Then in an interview with Savannah Guthrie, when asked if a stimulus created by tax cuts would offset the deficit, Ryan waxed poetic: “Nobody knows the answer to that question, because that’s in the future.” To quote writer and actor William Gibson: “The future is there ... looking back at us. Trying to make sense of the fiction we will have become.”And then there’s the Donald Trump Two Step. In May of 2016, as Trump was deep into controversy on the campaign trail, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Ryan if he would endorse the nominee. He said, “I’m just not ready to do that at this point. I’m not there.” But in the weeks following, in response to jittery high-brow Republicans and their corporate Continue Reading

Renaissance man: GM Rob Pelinka, Kobe’s former agent, is trying to revitalize the Lakers

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – If you didn’t know Rob Pelinka was one of the most important people in this post-Kobe Bryant Lakers era, the yin to Magic Johnson’s yang in the front office overhauled by owner Jeanie Buss in February, you might mistake him for one of those well-to-do fans who watches from his front row seat at Staples Center.At least on this day.The team’s 47-year-old general manager, the Rob Lowe look-a-like who went to three Final Fours with the Fab Five teams at Michigan and later spent 18 years as Bryant's agent before making this massive career turn, is dressed head to toe in purple and gold as he sits inside the Lakers’ new $80 million training center. The Nike shoes. The hooded sweatshirt. The high-end sweat pants.It’s casual Friday where approximately 150 Lakers employees work, and Pelinka – who’s watching their team’s latest practice from a second-story loft that features a plate-glass window – can see his role on this revamped squad more clearly than ever.“When I walk through the front door, I always remind myself that, 'On this day, you're not more important than anyone else in what we're trying to accomplish here,’” Pelinka told USA TODAY Sports recently. “If you look at it that way, and if you lead with support and service, man you end up having a really incredible impact and a great day. That's what I've experienced.“I knew (when I took the job) that the way that Magic and I flow together is he loves to cast the vision, and then my background is more to be the implementer, to be the chess piece mover. As a lawyer, as a Type-A personality, I love to come up with the strategy and the plan to affect the vision. And so being able to service and support that, and what Jeanie sees, to kind of cast the vision for the franchise, that's what I love.”The love will flow in Bryant’s direction Monday, when both his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys are retired and the Continue Reading

From ‘Sully’ to ‘Doctor Strange,’ 20 must-see fall movies

For film lovers, the summer of 2016 was something of a mixed bag.There were a few expected highs, with “Captain America: Civil War” chief among them in terms of pure pop pleasure. Viewers were also subjected to a number of disheartening lows (we’re looking at your frustrating incoherence, “Suicide Squad”), small-scale sleeper successes (“The Fits” and “Hell or High Water”) and solid movies that failed to find the right audience (step right up, “Star Trek Beyond” and “Ghostbusters.”)But, to borrow a phrase from sports, there’s always next season. This weekend sees the unofficial end of summer, and from now until the first day of winter (Dec. 21), there are plenty of films demanding our attention. Some are big, some are small, and all appear interesting for one reason or another.Here are our 20 reasons to go to the movies this fall:“Sully” (Sept. 9): Tom Hanks stars as pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger in director Clint Eastwood’s dramatization of the 2009 “miracle on the Hudson.” Eastwood’s track record with true life stories is far from perfect; we’re hoping this is more “Letters From Iwo Jima” (2006) and less “J. Edgar” (2011).“London Road” (Sept. 9): In recent years, Tom Hardy has shown himself to be one of the most unpredictable movie stars of his generation, with 2015 alone finding him in the divisive, bold Oscar-winners “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Revenant.” The fall, he’s in “London Road,” a rather unconventional musical about life in a small town that’s home to shocking murders. LOOK BACK:  Director George Miller talks "Mad Max: Fury Road"“Blair Witch” (Sept. 16): Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett conjured up seriously cool scares with “The Guest” (2014), and now they’re unleashing Continue Reading

10 cool books for fall, from Dan Brown to Stephen King

Dan Brown will deliver a new thriller, and even Robert Langdon himself — aka Tom Hanks — is dipping his toe into fiction with a collection of short stories. More big names, including Alice Waters, John le Carré, Amy Tan and Matthew Weiner, will soon hit bookstores. USA TODAY’s Jocelyn McClurg looks at 10 cool books for fall.1. A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré (Viking, fiction, on sale Sept. 5)What it’s about: Peter Guillam, now retired from the British Secret Service, is summoned to London to answer questions from a new generation with little patience for Cold War tactics.Cool factor: This is the first le Carré thriller in more than 25 years to feature spymaster George Smiley. 2. Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook by Alice Waters (Clarkson Potter, non-fiction, on sale Sept. 5)What it’s about: A memoir by the chef (and cookbook author) who opened Chez Panisse, the influential Berkeley, Calif., restaurant, when she was 27 in 1971.Cool factor: Waters, at the forefront of the local/organic food movement, has seen her influence extend all the way to Michelle Obama’s White House garden.3. The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz (Knopf, fiction, on sale Sept. 12)What it’s about: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo mega-series continues as imprisoned punk hacker Lisbeth Salander teams with Swedish journalist Mikael Blomkvist to uncover the truth about her childhood and to exact revenge.Cool factor: This is the second Millennium sequel written by Lagercrantz and sanctioned by Stieg Larsson’s estate; the first, 2015’s The Girl in the Spider’s Web, was a No. 1 USA TODAY best seller. 4. Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King (Scribner, fiction, on sale Sept. 26)What it’s about: A mysterious sleeping disorder that can cause women to become violent and feral disrupts an Appalachian town where the main employer is a Continue Reading

ZOOM. When words collide

'The Da Vinci Code," has been on the best seller list for 153 weeks, and two historians are hoping for a piece of the action. Author Dan Brown and publisher Random House are being sued for copyright infringement in Britain by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, authors of the 1982 book "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" (published by a division of Random House, ironically). Brown freely admits sourcing their book - a character name Sir Leigh Teabing is a play on the authors' names - but says the similarities stop there. This isn't the first time Brown's gotten into hot water; Lewis Purdue, author of "Daughter of God" and "The Da Vinci Legacy," made similar allegations but lost in court to Brown last year. Here's a look at recent similar cases. Author: Stephen King Book: "Misery" Backstory: Freelance writer Anne Hiltner filed a $500 million lawsuit last year against the horror author and his publishers, claiming she was the inspiration for Annie Wilkes, King's nasty nurse character that later won Kathy Bates an Oscar for the film version. The New Jersey resident already unsuccessfully sued King in 1991, accusing him then of stealing some of her manuscripts. Author: James Patterson Books: "Kiss the Girls," "Along Came a Spider," "Cat & Mouse" Backstory: Christina Sharp, Patterson's ex-girlfriend, filed a federal lawsuit in 2004, alleging that Patterson used her ideas and personal letters in his popular Alex Cross series, and had verbally promised her a share of proceeds. Patterson later admitted to using some of Sharp's submissions in "Cat & Mouse," but Sharp dropped the charges in October 2005. "I cannot fight him in the federal court system," she told the Daily News. Author: J.K. Rowling Books: The "Harry Potter" series Backstory: Rowling was on the plaintiff side in 2003, when she went to court to prevent Russian writer Dmitry Yemets from publishing an English version of "The Magic Double Bass" - which featured a protagonist named Tanya Continue Reading


There is such a thing as star quality. The casting agents who launched the careers of Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio, John Cusack, Matt Damon and many others say future stars share a certain something that can be seen early on. "I think that when someone has that special ­quality and it meets with the right part, an explosion happens," said Jane Jenkins, co-author with Janet Hirshenson of "A Star Is Found" (Harcourt), their scrumptious memoir of casting movies like "The Da Vinci Code," "Jurassic Park," "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Home Alone," among others. "That's what happened when we met Meg Ryan," Hirshenson told us. "We were casting for Rob Reiner's 'A Sure Thing' and we loved her, just loved her. But she didn't get the part. But when we did 'When Harry Met Sally,' she came in and she was the girl. We auditioned very few others after that. " In the book, Jenkins recalls how an unknown ­Julia Roberts (above) blew an audition for Ron Howard's "Willow": "I liked her spunk and wanted to get her on tape, but she could only come in on a Saturday. I was willing to give up an hour or two of my day off - until I found myself waiting in my office with no Julia. " Her car had died. A year later, her agent tried again, this time for "Mystic Pizza. " "Sure," Jenkins told her, "if you promise she won't have car problems. " Roberts, then 19, showed up in baggy jeans and an oversized shirt. "­Beneath the ­sloppy clothes, I could sense an exuberance, a warmth, an unself-conscious sexuality ... someone who could show us a working-class girl reaching desperately for the glamour ... she knew she deserved, but didn't quite know how to attain," Jenkins said. "To this day, I couldn't tell you how I knew Roberts had that special quality, but it was definitely there. " Ditto Tom Cruise. "When I met him, he was about 19 and we were casting 'The Outsiders,'" Hirshenson recalled. "There was something about Tom - the Continue Reading