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AP WIRE

James Avery of ‘Fresh Prince’ fame dead at 68

NEW YORK (AP) — James Avery, the bulky character actor who laid down the law at home and on the job as the Honorable Philip Banks in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” has died. Avery’s publicist, Cynthia Snyder, told The Associated Press that Avery died Tuesday, Dec. 31, in Glendale, ...

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NASA responds to Beyoncé’s Challenger sample use

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — NASA officials say the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster “should never be trivialized” in response to a new song from Beyoncé that features an audio sample recorded just after the craft exploded on takeoff in 1986, killing all seven crewmembers. The space agency issued the statement late ...

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Nativity features Trayvon Martin instead of Jesus

CLAREMONT, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California church nativity scene is featuring a bloody Trayvon Martin in place of the infant Jesus in an effort to stir a community conversation about gun violence. The nativity scene on the lawn of the Claremont United Methodist Church — which shows Martin in ...

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“Hobbit,” “Frozen” lead box office to record year

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Over the bustling post-Christmas weekend, Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” continued to lead the box office, landing in the No. 1 slot for the third weekend in a row. The Warner Bros. prequel earned $30 million, bringing the domestic gross to $190.3 million, ...

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A&E reverses decision on ‘Duck Dynasty’ patriarch

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A&E landed in the middle of America’s culture wars when “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson sounded off on gays and the Bible. The channel quickly found there was no safe ground. It was pilloried for allowing a man who equated gays with hell-bound sinners like adulterers ...

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Britney Spears’ Las Vegas residency a departure

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Britney Spears has begun her early retirement in Las Vegas with a show that looks strikingly like the eye-popping Cirque du Soleil productions found elsewhere on the Strip. The debut of Spears’ long-term casino gig Friday kept an audience of about 4,500 on their feet for ...

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