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George Takei gives personal collection to Los Angeles museum

Actor and activist George Takei is donating a trove of art and artifacts from his life and career to the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

The museum announced the gift Wednesday and said the collection will be featured in an exhibition next year. "New Frontiers: The Many Worlds of George Takei" is set to open March 12, 2017.

Takei's collection includes photos, sculptures, scripts and other memorabilia from his "Star Trek" days, as well as his run for Los Angeles City Council in 1973 and the Olympic torch he carried ahead of the 1984 games in Los Angeles.

Takei's most recent acting credit was in the animated "Kubo and the Two Strings." The 79-year-old entertainer is an activist for gay rights and spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign.

What time is it? Kitten Bowl IV taping time!

The furry, fleet-footed pawthletes of Kitten Bowl IV didn't exactly have the plays down Wednesday at the taping of the annual cuteness fest that airs on the Hallmark Channel each Super Bowl Sunday.

Chaos ensued, but it was all good as cameras rolled on a Midtown soundstage, with Beth Stern deftly juggling a few frisky critters during interviews promoting the event.

Stern, the wife of radio jock Howard Stern, is the big-hearted cat ambassador who works all year round with North Shore Animal League of America, urging people to spay, neuter and release and adopt some pets.

One of her on-camera companions, a little player with black fur, was more interested in mussing up her perfect blond hair than talking pre-bowl ball.

"The friskier the better," Stern said as she juggled the four-footed baller. "He loves me. They all love me. Who are we kidding?"

Meanwhile, NFL all-star Boomer Esiason, also known as the "comish" of the Feline Football League, was having some trouble of his own. With the cat puns flying as he shot promos on set, the word "meowment," as in, "We'll be back in a meowment," wasn't going to happen.

You try saying that three times fast!

Also having a bit of a day, along with good fun, was NBC sportscaster Mary Carillo, a returnee to help call the big game despite a cat allergy that had her itching and reaching for hand sanitizer.

"There's no other sport that I cover that I need to do this 472 times a day," she laughed. "I'm a sport, but I love it. It's my favorite of all the sports, watching kittens play because they don't treat it like a sport. They treat it like a game, and they often don't really seem to treat it like anything. They're just hugely distracted by all of us."

What about the rule book? "Oh yeah, I'd like to see that rule book," Carillo said. "The rules for kittens are fuzzy. They seem not to have cracked open any of the rule books."

Stern is an old pro. This is her fourth Kitten Bowl.

"We've got some fun additions to make it a little different but it's just a hundred cats and kittens here ultimately are going to find loving homes at the end of this and that's really what this is all about," she said.

During halftime, watch for a "Cirque du Paw-leil" play on the theatric acrobatic shows usually performed by humans. And — gasp — a puppy band, complete with bite-size instruments and little hats.

The Sterns are big-time foster parents to homeless kittens — more than 300 in all over the last couple of years. Howard is the official name-giver of their temporary charges, and Beth is the hunter of permanent homes, but letting go isn't easy.

"It's the hardest thing in the world," she said. "I think I've cried over 300 times. My husband gets so emotionally attached as well."

Is Beth on board with Howard's name choices? Absolutely, including a little dude named Downey who is among seven fosters they're currently caring for.

"Robert Downey Jr. was over at our house and named this particular crew, so Howard was there approving the names that Robert Downey Jr. gave to this particular litter," Stern said.

Among the other names Downey picked: Chaplin, as in the silent screen comedian he portrayed in a movie of the same name.

They have six permanent feline residents as well, including the recent adoption of a blind cat.

Esiason, also on his fourth Kitten Bowl, is more than a mere commissioner. He's a team owner as well, fielding a new crew of Boomer's Bobcats. Can they go all the way? If they stay away from the 'nip, he said.

"Gotta stay away from the catnip," he deadpanned. "I've told my little kittens that if I catch anybody lookin' for the catnip, they'll be sitting on the bench.

Jennifer Lopez is back in judge's chair for dance show

Jennifer Lopez is stepping in front of the camera for NBC's new "World of Dance" competition series.

The network said Wednesday that Lopez will be a judge, a role she had on "American Idol." She was previously announced as an executive producer for "World of Dance."

The 10-episode series will challenge contestants to demonstrate their skills in an unlimited range of dance, including hip-hop, krumping, ballet and ballroom. The winner gets $1 million.

Would-be competitors can register online at www.worldofdancecasting.com. Qualifying events will be held nationwide.

An airdate for "World of Dance" was not announced.

Stars expose problems, seek solutions on 'America Divided'

Norman Lear, a show business legend and full-throated humanist, set out last spring to rent a modest apartment in the Bronx.

The landlord welcomed this incognito white man with a couple of offers.

Not so lucky was an African-American man who had come to him the day before. The landlord, insisting nothing was available, brusquely turned that man away.

This undercover mission, as well as Lear's subsequent blowing the whistle on the landlord, was filmed for "America Divided," a star-driven, eye-opening probe into systemic inequality in the U.S. today not only in housing but also education, health care, labor, criminal justice and voting rights.

The five-week docuseries, which premieres Friday at 9 p.m. EDT on Epix, employs the 94-year-old Lear (armed with a hidden camera) as one of its correspondents as well as an executive producer.

"I'm happy to have reached the 1 percent," said Lear, back in New York, where he spent part of his childhood, to shoot his report, "but I started as a kid in the Depression whose father was serving (prison) time. But what was wonderful about America was it offered me opportunity. And it promised that opportunity to everybody else, regardless of the color of their skin. After all these years, that promise has yet to be delivered on. I care about that."

Others who care include:

— Hip-hop artist and actor Common, who explores disparities in the criminal justice system in his hometown of Chicago in the aftermath of the 2014 police killing of teenager Laquan McDonald.

— Rosario Dawson travels to Flint, Michigan, to probe how the government poisoned its own citizens, a mostly African-American underclass.

— "Grey's Anatomy" star Jesse Williams heads to St. Petersburg, Florida, where he finds an educational and criminal-justice divide resulting from what some call "re-segregation."

— America Ferrera, whose parents and siblings emigrated from Honduras, travels to Texas' Rio Grande Valley to report on the plight of Central American refugees.

— Zach Galifianakis examines the nation's deepening political divisions as evidenced in his native state of North Carolina.

— Amy Poehler ventures into the world of the invisible immigrant women who help keep the California economy afloat: domestic workers.

— And Peter Sarsgaard looks at the addiction crisis in Dayton, Ohio, where the shuttering of America's factories and rampant unemployment exemplifies a heartland epidemic of drug- and alcohol-related deaths.

However unsettling, each story stands as more than a cry of distress. The narratives not only expose wrong-doers and bear witness to victims, but also highlight dedicated reformers.

In Lear's housing segment, viewers meet Fred Freiberg, executive director of New York's Fair Housing Justice Center, which flushes out discriminatory housing practices, then sues the offenders. It is Freiberg's agency that dispatches Lear and his African-American counterpart on their landlord-busting mission.

"With every story, we tried to show causes of inequality and the impacts of inequality, but we also tried to provide models of social action," says Solly Granatstein, a creator of the "America Divided" series. "We try to show that there are solutions and there is work being done, that it's not just simply a problem."

For the series, Granatstein, a nine-time Emmy-winning former producer at ABC News, NBC News and CBS' "60 Minutes," joined forces with Richard Rowley, whose credits include the 2013 Oscar-nominated documentary "Dirty Wars," and Lucian Read, with whom Granatstein teamed on their previous docuseries, "Years of Living Dangerously," which addressed the threat of climate change. (Their Divided Films produced the series in association with RadicalMedia.)

For this new venture, the trio set out to look at what Granatstein calls "the OTHER existential threat to our society and culture."

For this, they enlisted Lear, drawing on his show-business gravitas and his history of social activism. Common, too, signed on as a correspondent-executive producer, while TV hitmaker Shonda Rhimes ("Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal") came aboard as a behind-the-scenes exec producer.

Then the task began to settle on stories and recruit star-correspondents to report them.

"There's no shortage of stories that we could have done," says Granatstein with a wan smile. "But we were looking for geographical and demographic diversity, and where there were heroic individuals and groups who were struggling to heal the divide, whatever that divide might be."

The project, in the works for more than two years, was timed to air during the home stretch of this election season, when issues from the series might help inform the campaign dialogue.

"If you get people attuned to these issues," said Granatstein, "then, eventually, there could be a whole societal shift."

It's a long slog, noted Lear, whose own crusade to stir the public reaches back to his socially conscious sitcoms like "All in the Family" nearly a half-century ago.

"But I don't want to wake up the morning I don't have hope," he declared. Boasting 34,000-plus mornings and counting, Lear persists among the hopeful on "America Divided."

___

A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled America Ferrera's name as Ferrara.

___

EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore@ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories are available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore

_____

Online:

http://www.epix.com/series/america-divided

Lin-Manuel Miranda to host 'Saturday Night Live'

Alexander Hamilton is coming to "Saturday Night Live."

NBC said Wednesday that Lin-Manuel Miranda will host "SNL" on Oct. 8. Miranda created and starred in the Broadway sensation about the first U.S. treasury secretary.

Twenty One Pilots duo Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun will be the show's musical guests.

"SNL" opens its 42nd season this weekend with host Margot Robbie and music from The Weeknd.

Miranda has a bit more time on his hands: He wrapped his run in the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical "Hamilton" in July. He will star opposite Emily Blunt in Disney's sequel to "Mary Poppins" and he wrote music for the upcoming "Moana," an animated film with a Polynesian princess at its heart.

NBC sued over 'Timeless' series days before its premiere

The NBC show "Timeless" hasn't aired its first episode yet, but it has already prompted a copyright infringement lawsuit by the makers of a Spanish-language series.

ONZA Partners sued NBCUniversal and Sony Pictures Entertainment, claiming "Timeless" is an unauthorized version of its show "El Ministerio del Tiempo" ("The Ministry of Time.")

ONZA contends it was in negotiations with Sony to produce a U.S.-version of its series, which features a three-person team who hops through time trying to stop criminals from changing key historical events.

"Timeless" also features a three-person team, with an emphasis on stopping a criminal intent on altering American history. The show, which the network has been heavily promoting, is set to premiere on Monday.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages but does not seek an injunction to prevent the show from airing.

NBCUniversal and Sony declined comment because of the pending lawsuit.

"El Ministerio del Tiempo" began airing in Spain last year and has been broadcast in Brazil, Mexico and several other countries, according to the lawsuit.

It is not uncommon for shows that become successful in one region to be licensed and adapted for audiences in other countries.

For instance, the Showtime series "Homeland" is an adaptation of an Israeli show; Netflix's "House of Cards" is an adaptation of a BBC miniseries; and "American Idol" is an adaptation of a British show.

Most-watched presidential debates on television

1. Hillary Clinton (D) vs. Donald Trump (R), first debate, 2016 — 84 million viewers.

2. Ronald Reagan (R) vs. Jimmy Carter (D), only debate, 1980 — 80.6 million viewers.

3. Bill Clinton (D) vs. George Bush (R) vs. Ross Perot (I), second debate, 1992 — 69.9 million viewers.

4. Jimmy Carter (D) vs. Gerald Ford (R), first debate, 1976 — 69.7 million viewers.

5. Ronald Reagan (R) vs. Walter Mondale (D), second debate, 1984 — 67.3 million viewers.

5. George Bush (R) vs. Michael Dukakis (D), second debate, 1988 — 67.3 million viewers.

7. Barack Obama (D) vs. Mitt Romney (R), first debate, 2012 — 67.2 million viewers.

8. Bill Clinton (D) vs. George Bush (R) vs. Ross Perot (I), third debate, 1992 — 66.9 million viewers.

9. Barack Obama (D) vs. Mitt Romney (R), second debate, 2012 — 65.6 million viewers.

10. Ronald Reagan (R) vs. Walter Mondale (D), first debate, 1984 — 65.1 million viewers.

10. George Bush (R) vs. Michael Dukakis (D), first debate, 1988 — 65.1 million viewers.

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Source: The Nielsen company.

China's Wanda Group in talks to buy Dick Clark Productions

China's Dalian Wanda Group is in talks to buy Dick Clark Productions, the TV company that produces the Golden Globes and the "Miss America" pageant.

The deal could be worth $1 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the situation. Wanda did not return a request for comment.

Eldridge Group, which owns Dick Clark Productions, said in a statement that the TV company agreed to enter into exclusive talks with Wanda. If the deal gets finalized, it would be the latest U.S. entertainment deal for the Chinese company which owns property, cinema and sports holdings. In September it said it would partner with Sony Pictures to make big-budget movies. It owns AMC Theaters and bought Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion in January.

Dick Clark Productions was sold in 2012 to a group including investment firm Guggenheim Partners. Last year Guggenheim sold Dick Clark Productions to Eldridge Industries, which is controlled by Todd Boehly, a former president of Guggenheim and current member of Guggenheim's executive council.

Guggenheim said last month it was conducting a strategic review of its media holdings.

Debate reaches 84 million viewers, toppling record

The showdown between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was the most-watched presidential debate ever, with 84 million viewers.

The Nielsen company said the viewership, over 13 different networks, toppled a record that had stood for 36 years. The previous record for presidential debate viewership was the 80.6 million people who saw the only debate in 1980 between incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter and his Republican challenger Ronald Reagan.

At the time of the Carter-Reagan debate, the U.S. population was 226 million. Now, it is 324 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

No debate since then had exceeded 70 million viewers.

Social media was humming, too, with Nielsen saying there were some 17.1 million Twitter interactions involving 2.7 million people on Monday. Tivo said that the moment during the debate that caused more people to pause their television and play back what was said came near the end, when Trump said that he will "absolutely support" Clinton if she is elected president.

Clinton has some bragging rights at home. When final results are in, the audience for her first presidential debate will more than double what her husband, former President Bill Clinton, received for his last presidential debate in 1996 (36.3 million viewers).

Only the Super Bowl annually commands a television audience of that size. The biggest audience in U.S. television history was the 114.4 million people who watched the 2015 Super Bowl between New England and Seattle.

The news was particularly good for NBC. Not only did it have more viewers than any other network showing the debate, but "Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt's reviews as moderator were more positive than Matt Lauer received for his interviews with the candidates at a national security forum earlier this month, or CNBC anchors when they did a GOP debate last fall.

Watching the debate was nerve-wracking for NBC Universal chief executive Steve Burke because of the pressure on Holt. Burke said at an appearance in London on Tuesday that Holt "ended up doing a very good job."

Holt was not available for an interview on Tuesday.

Some Republicans were unhappy with Holt, suggesting that he was unfair because he asked tougher questions of Trump, and challenged his facts on issues like Trump's support for the war in Iraq and a court case involving the "stop-and-frisk" method of policing.

That may account for an overnight change of thinking by the candidate. Interviewed by reporters immediately after the debate, Trump said that "I thought Lester did a really good job" and that he thought Holt brought up the topics he wanted.

Several hours later, on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends," Trump said he thought Holt earned a C or a C-plus for his debate performance, and that he asked unfair questions.

The second of three scheduled debates will be Oct. 9. The "town hall"-style forum will be moderated by CNN's Anderson Cooper and ABC News' Martha Raddatz.

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Associated Press writer Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.

Nielsen company: 81.4 million watched Clinton-Trump presidential debate on 11 networks, preliminary estimates show

Nielsen company: 81.4 million watched Clinton-Trump presidential debate on 11 networks, preliminary estimates show.

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