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Fox pulls Napolitano from air after Trump report

Fox News Channel has pulled legal analyst Andrew Napolitano from the air after disavowing his on-air claim that British intelligence officials had helped former President Barack Obama spy on Donald Trump.

A person with knowledge of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because it was a personnel matter said Napolitano has been benched and won't be appearing on the air in the near future. Fox had no immediate comment Monday.

Napolitano's report last week on "Fox & Friends," saying he had three intelligence sources who said Obama went "outside the chain of command" to watch Trump, provoked an international incident. Britain dismissed the report as "nonsense" after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer quoted it in a briefing, part of the administration's continued defense of Trump's unproven contention that Obama had wiretapped him at Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign.

FBI Director James Comey, testifying before Congress on Monday, became the latest official to state that no evidence has been found to support Trump's charge.

The president, when asked about the incident, said that "all we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn't make an opinion on it. You shouldn't be talking to me. You should be talking to Fox."

Fox's Shepard Smith, on the air Friday afternoon, quickly stepped the network away from Napolitano's claim.

"Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-president of the United States was surveilled at any time, in any way," Smith said.

Napolitano is a senior judicial analyst who has worked at Fox News Channel since 1998, and frequently comments on the Fox Business Network. He was a New Jersey Superior Court judge from 1987 to 1995.

Napolitano's removal from the air was first reported in the Los Angeles Times.

Colin Farrell tapped to play Oliver North for Amazon

Yorgos Lanthimos, who directed Farrell in the film "Lobster," will direct the untitled, one-hour series that will cover the Iran-Contra scandal. Ben Stiller is among the executive producers.

North, a decorated U.S. marine and a Fox News commentator, was at the center of the scandal over the sale of weapons to Iran and the channeling of proceeds to the Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s during Republican President Ronald Reagan's second term.

Lanthimos says he's excited to be working with Farrell again and that the story feels "very fresh and relevant to our times."

Farrell, active in films, starred in the second season of HBO's "True Detective."

Penelope Cruz to play Versace in 'American Crime Story'

Penelope Cruz is headed to television to play fashion designer Donatella Versace in the third installment of "American Crime Story" on FX.

The Academy Award-winning actress will star in the 10-episode series focused on the 1997 slaying of Versace's brother, Gianni. Donatella Versace took over the famed fashion house after her brother was killed.

Co-executive produced by Ryan Murphy, the Versace story is expected to air in early 2018.

Cruz won a supporting actress Oscar in 2009 for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," directed by Woody Allen. She has appeared in numerous other films including the blockbuster "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" with Johnny Depp.

2 men dead in burning car believed tied to TV performer ID'd

The deaths of two New Jersey men whose bodies were found in a burning car believed to belong to a reality television show performer have been ruled homicides.

Passaic County prosecutors identified the men Monday as Aaron Anderson and Antonio Vega Jr.

The Paterson residents were found Friday by emergency responders checking out a car fire in the city. The bodies were discovered after the fire was extinguished. It's unclear if the men died before or during the fire.

Anderson's mother has said he borrowed the car from the son of Kim DePaola. DePaola has frequently appeared on Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" television show.

Authorities have declined to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.

Busy Washington day plays out differently on TV

Washington's day of high-stakes political drama on Monday played out much differently depending on where motivated television viewers decided to get their news.

CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC all followed FBI Director James Comey's testimony before a congressional committee Monday morning live. For a while, so did ABC and NBC, cutting in to normal daytime programming. Given how coverage of President Donald Trump has been a ratings magnet, that wasn't surprising.

Comey, in his testimony, said the FBI is investigating possible coordination between Russia and Trump associates during last year's election. The director also said he'd found no evidence to support Trump's claim that former President Barack Obama had ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower.

Shortly before 1 p.m., the networks diverged. Fox News wrapped up its coverage of the hearing, which lasted until 3:20 p.m. and was shown nearly in its entirety on CNN and MSNBC.

Instead of showing the hearing, Fox spent considerable time airing people talking about the hearing, starting with its commentary show, "Outnumbered." There was an emphasis on discussion about whether any real evidence of collusion had emerged, and Republican concerns about leaks to reporters.

"If you're a Republican or Democrat, you have reason to distrust (Comey)," said Fox panelist Meghan McCain. "I don't see that it moves the needle either way for the American public."

On Fox, there was little evidence that the hearing was continuing. The network carried White House press secretary Sean Spicer's early afternoon briefing. So did CNN, adding a silent box on its screen showing the hearing; it eventually cut away from Spicer to show the hearing again. MSNBC began carrying Spicer, but immediately shifted away when a break at the congressional hearing ended.

Following Spicer's briefing, CNN's Dana Bash was particularly biting in assessing his performance.

Spicer, she said, is "trying to defend the indefensible and explain the inexplicable," she said. "Today it was on steroids."

CBS reaches deal to keep 'Big Bang Theory' on air

CBS says it has reached a deal with producers of "The Big Bang Theory" to keep the show on the air for two more years.

The network said Monday it agreed with Warner Brothers Television to extend the show that debuted in 2007. Along with the drama "NCIS," it is consistently one of the two most popular shows on television when original episodes are aired.

No details about the agreement were released. Producers have agreements with actors Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar to continue for two more years, and are negotiating similar deals with Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch.

CBS will also premiere a prequel, "Young Sheldon," next year about the character as a 9-year-old. Parsons will help narrate the series.

Q&A: 'Mad Men' creator talks tribute book, his next moves

"Mad Men" is a key part of the TV's modern golden age, and a detailed reminder of why has arrived.

A new two-volume, 1,000-page book set contains photos and portraits, script pages, interviews and Dead Sea Scrolls-like minutiae, including series creator and executive producer Matthew Weiner's early scribbled notes outlining his vision for the AMC series.

For Weiner, the books (Taschen, $200) offer evidence of the group effort behind "Mad Man," whose depiction of a changing 1960s America won a record-tying quartet of best-drama Emmy Awards. Its seven-season run concluded in 2015.

One book, the slimmer one, includes chapters on executive producer and director Scott Hornbacher; directors of cinematography Chris Manley and Phil Abraham; production designer Dan Bishop; costume designer Janie Bryant, and the show's deep writing bench of which Weiner was one member.

"I'm the person who got interviewed most of the time, myself and Jon Hamm, but hundreds were involved," Weiner said at a book launch party attended by series stars including Hamm, January Jones, Jessica Pare and Kiernan Shipka.

Weiner is a prominent voice in the book, offering insights on the evolution of lead character Don Draper (Hamm), the show's roots and the job of a showrunner. The hefty second volume is filled with beautifully reproduced photos from the series, with dialogue accompanying some.

A second team effort for Weiner is ahead, an Amazon anthology series inspired by Russia's last ruling family. But first up is a solo project: His inaugural novel due out this fall, "Heather: The Totality," about a teenage girl in peril.

He talked with The Associated Press about what's keeping him busy.

AP: Is it daunting to have your work enshrined in the books?

Weiner: The experiences that have gone with the experience of making this show, they're all daunting. I always feel I'm on the outside wondering, 'Who did this, how was I involved?' And especially now — we're almost 10 years since we started the show — I kind of look at it like it happened to someone else.

AP: Who do you imagine buying the set, 'Mad Men' addicts or art book fans?

Weiner: I think it's both. ... If you are a fan, there is so much behind-the-scenes stuff. ... I found these notes from 1992, before I even wrote the movie that became the pilot, where I'm talking about how badly my career is going and about my relationship with my wife and I don't want to disappoint (her). It's kind of like pulling your pants down in public (laughs).

AP: Did you relish working solo on the novel?

Weiner: (There was) the realization at a certain point, this was part of my transition out of the show and into the rest of my life, which was awesome and scary. I mean awesome not in the kids' awesome, but awesome like a terrifying, gigantic experience. ... All the work I did on it was contributing to a finished product. ... I had the 'Mad Men' script for seven years. It was a good script but it was not a show. There was something fascinating that this (the novel) is the thing I'm making, it doesn't need to be cast, I don't need to go on a location scout.

AP: You're jumping back in TV with Amazon's 'The Romanoffs.' Do you feel pressure to match 'Mad Men'?

Weiner: We opened the writers' room for that (the show). That's the moment when you say, 'I don't care if I talk about "Mad Men" for the rest of my life because it was an amazing experience and I don't expect to top it. .... But this is what I do. I'm always going to try.

___

Lynn Elber can be reached at lelber@ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber .

'Manny' of 'Modern Family' mourns father in Instagram post

The actor who plays Manny on the popular sitcom "Modern Family" is mourning his father in real life.

In a post on his Instagram account, Rico Rodriguez says the week since Roy Rodriguez died at age 52 "has been the toughest week of my life."

The actor's Instagram post included a picture of father and son drinking milkshakes together and said the father "was the most kind hearted, loving, hard working, determined, and funny man I have ever known."

According to an obituary in Bryan, Texas, newspaper, The Eagle, Roy Rodriguez is survived by his wife, five siblings and four children including 18-year-old Rico Rodriguez and Raini Rodriguez, who's an actress.

Rico Rodriguez plays teen Manny Delgado on the ABC sitcom "Modern Family."

Tim Allen compares being a Republican in Hollywood to 1930s Germany

It’s tough out there for a Republican actor, according to Tim Allen.

The actor and comedian appeared on the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on Friday night and made some remarks that probably won’t sit well with most of liberal Hollywood.

“You gotta be real careful around here, you know. You’ll get beat up if you don’t believe what everybody believes,” he told Kimmel.

“This is like ’30s Germany,” he said. “I don’t know what happened. If you’re not part of the group: ‘You know what we believe is right.’ I go, ‘Well, I might have a problem with that.'”

>> Watch the segment here (Viewer discretion advised)

Allen was invited to the Veterans Ball in Washington, D.C., and also attended the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

He joked that the parade following the inauguration was not what he anticipated.

“It looks like a Cadillac parade. It was just rows of Cadillacs. And my kids were like, ‘Is this a parade?'” he said. “There was no marching bands.”

>> Read more trending news

Allen also said he has some concerns about government surveillance.

“One day I was thinking, if the government drove down the street in a gray sedan with a camera on it, you would be rioting and going to Washington,” he started. “But it’s white with emojis with Google on it, you are waving at it. They are taking pictures of your house!”

(H/T Fox News)

'Sesame Street' welcomes Julia, new character with autism

A character with autism is joining Elmo, Big Bird and the other familiar faces on "Sesame Street."

The iconic children's show, which airs on PBS and HBO, will introduce a new Muppet, Julia, to TV audiences April 10, according to The Associated Press.

>> Read more trending news

Sunday's episode of "60 Minutes" offered a closer look at Julia, who has appeared online and in print as part of Sesame Workshop's "Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children" initiative since 2015.

>> Click here to watch

"It's important for kids without autism to see what autism can look like," Julia's puppeteer, Stacey Gordon, who has a son with autism, told "60 Minutes."

Host Lesley Stahl met Julia and spoke to Elmo and Big Bird about their new friend.

"Hi, Julia," Stahl said to the red-headed Muppet, who remained quiet – the same reaction she'll have when meeting Big Bird in her upcoming debut episode.

"I thought that maybe she didn't like me," Big Bird told Stahl.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

"Yeah, but you know, we had to explain to Big Bird that Julia likes Big Bird – it's just that Julia has autism, so sometimes it takes her a little longer to do things," Elmo said.

Julia also will struggle with loud noises and make up a game with her new friends.

 "They decide to play tag together, but Julia's so excited that she's jumping up and down," writer Christine Ferraro told Stahl. "That's a thing that can be typical of some kids with autism. And then it turns into a game where they're all jumping like her. So it was a very easy way to show that with a very slight accommodation, they can meet her where she is." 

Read more here.

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