Brad Pitt: FBI considers investigation over plane claim

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Brad Pitt has said he is ‘saddened’ that Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce

The FBI says it is gathering information about an alleged incident involving Brad Pitt and his children aboard a private flight last week.

It said it was evaluating whether to launch an investigation.

Pitt’s wife Angelina Jolie filed for divorce on Monday citing irreconcilable differences.

Jolie has asked for physical custody of the couple’s six children, asking the judge to give Pitt visitation rights.

The FBI told the BBC: “In response to your inquiry regarding allegations within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States; specifically, an aircraft carrying Mr Brad Pitt and his children, the FBI is continuing to gather facts and will evaluate whether an investigation at the federal level will be pursued.”

Pitt released a statement to People magazine after Jolie filed for divorce, saying he was “saddened”, and adding: “What matters most now is the well-being of our kids. I kindly ask the press to give them the space they deserve during this challenging time.”

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Jolie had filed for the dissolution of their marriage

Jolie’s lawyer, Robert Offer, said the decision to divorce had been made “for the health of the family”.

Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services said it could not confirm or deny whether it was investigating Pitt because of confidentiality laws.

Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has said it is not investigating actor Brad Pitt in connection with reports of allegations regarding his children, following claims they were looking into the matter.

They told the BBC: “The LAPD is not handling any report or allegations into child abuse for Mr Brad Pitt.”

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Bill Nunn, actor in Spike Lee and Spider Man films, dies

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Nunn had been battling cancer

US actor Bill Nunn, who featured in Spider Man as well as films by the director Spike Lee, has died aged 63 at his home in Pittsburgh, his wife said.

The actor, best known for his role as Radio Raheem in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, had been battling cancer.

Mr Lee paid tribute to his “dear friend” on social media, saying he was “resting in power”.

Nunn went on to appear in dozens of films and TV programmes, including New Jack City and Sirens.

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Mr Lee paid tribute to his “dear friend” Nunn

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TV’s Zoe Ball and DJ Norman Cook announce separation

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TV presenter Zoe Ball and husband DJ Norman Cook – better known as Fatboy Slim – have announced their separation after 18 years together.

The pair announced the news “with great sadness” in a statement on Twitter, but said they remained “great friends”.

“After many exciting adventures together over the last 18 years we have come to the end of our rainbow,” the pair said.

BBC Radio 2 DJ Ball and Cook married in 1999 and have two children together.

In the statement, they said: “We are still great friends and will continue to support each other and raise our beautiful children together, living next door but one.”

The couple, who live in Brighton, East Sussex, had their first child, Woody, in 2000.

They announced they were to separate in 2003, but reconciled, and had their second child, Nelly, in 2010.

Ball, 45, is best known as a former BBC Radio 1 breakfast show host and currently hosts Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two.

Cook, 53, is a former member of the band the Housemartins and under his pseudonym Fatboy Slim enjoyed success with songs including Praise You; Right Here, Right Now; and Weapon of Choice.

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Imelda Staunton to star in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

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Imelda Staunton earned rave reviews – and awards – for her performance as Mama Rose in Gypsy

Imelda Staunton is to appear in Edward Albee’s play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in London’s West End.

Albee, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, died aged 88 last week at his home on Long Island, near New York.

Staunton will star alongside Game of Thrones actor Conleth Hill at the Harold Pinter Theatre.

The play, directed by James Macdonald, will run from 22 February to 27 May 2017.

Staunton won awards for best musical performance for Gypsy last year at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards and UK Theatre Awards.

‘Not uplifting’

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Albee’s best-known work, was denied the 1963 Pulitzer Prize following its debut the previous year, with the advisory board for the award ruling it was not “uplifting” – noting its profanity and sexual themes.

It went on to win a Tony Award for best play however and was made into a 1966 film, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

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Edward Albee died earlier this month

The play, set on the campus of an American college, tells the story of a decaying marriage and takes place over the space of one evening.

Staunton’s West End return, following her Gypsy performance as Mama Rose, sees her take on the role of Martha, who has invited a new professor and his wife to the home she shares with husband George for after-party drinks.

Staunton has won four Olivier Awards, including one for her role as Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd, as well as a Bafta film award for best actress in a leading role for Vera Drake.

Hill plays Lord Varys in Game of Thrones and is also an award-winning theatre actor, while Macdonald’s recent work includes The Father and Roots.

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James Patterson scraps The Murder of Stephen King novel

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Patterson, left, has said King is not associated with the novel in any way

Author James Patterson has scrapped the publication of a new novel titled The Murder of Stephen King because he does not want to cause “discomfort” to King.

The book is about a fictional obsessed fan hunting down King, the author of Misery, The Shining and Carrie.

But Patterson said he had learned in the run-up to the planned November publication that fans had “disrupted” King’s home in real life.

King has had nothing to do with the novel, Patterson has stressed.

Before deciding to scrap the book, he wrote on his website: “I’m a Stephen King fan, but Stephen King did not participate in the making of this novel, nor is he affiliated with it in any way. I hope he likes it.”

‘Out of respect’

However, in a statement released by his publisher on Thursday, Patterson – who co-wrote the book with Derek Nikitas – said: “My book is a positive portrayal of a fictional character, and, spoiler alert, the main character is not actually murdered.

“Nevertheless, I do not want to cause Stephen King or his family any discomfort. Out of respect for them, I have decided not to publish The Murder of Stephen King.”

King declined to comment on the book when asked about it last week by the Associated Press.

Patterson, ranked as the world’s highest-earning author for the last three years, told the news agency the pair do not know each other.

In 2009, King called Patterson a successful yet “terrible” writer. Crime writer Patterson described that remark as “hyperbole” when speaking to AP.

Patterson is releasing the novel Taking the Titanic instead of the planned King book.

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Transformers’ Blenheim Palace ‘Nazi’ scenes defended

Media captionThe Transformers director has responded to criticism

A film director has defended turning Winston Churchill’s Blenheim Palace birthplace into a “Nazi HQ” for the next Transformers film.

Michael Bay said the World War Two prime minister is a “big hero” in the upcoming fifth entry of the series.

The Sun newspaper reported “fury” from veterans after huge Nazi flags were draped across the stately home in Oxfordshire this week.

But Mr Bay said: “I would do nothing to disrespect veterans.”

‘Churchill would be smiling’

Speaking exclusively to the BBC while filming scenes for Transformers: The Last Knight in Oxford, he added: “People have not been fortunate enough to read the script and they don’t know that Churchill in this movie is a big hero.

“Churchill would be smiling.

“When you see the movie you’ll understand.”

Filming for the movie, which stars Mark Walberg and Anthony Hopkins, will also take place in Oxford’s Radcliffe Square until 23:00 on Sunday.

It is not the first time Nazi flags have appeared in Woodstock – the town hall exterior was fitted with them during the filming of World War Two romance Hanover Street in 1979.

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Blenheim Palace, in Woodstock, was draped in huge Nazi flags

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No action over Chris Packham, BBC Trust rules

Chris Packham

The BBC Trust has said no action is required over comments Chris Packham made in BBC Wildlife Magazine.

The presenter described people involved in hunting and shooting as “the nasty brigade” in an article last year.

The corporation received two complaints from readers stating that Packham should not have expressed his personal opinion in a BBC magazine.

But the BBC Trust said the strapline had made clear the article was an opinion piece.

In a column in the October 2015 issue, the naturalist wrote that conservation groups were “hamstrung by outdated liaisons with the ‘nasty brigade’ and can’t risk upsetting old friends” in the rural and shooting communities.

The Countryside Alliance complained Packham was breaking rules by using his position “to spread propaganda” and called for him to be sacked.

Packham responded by accusing his critics of trying to “neutralise” him and others who oppose grouse shooting.

In its report, published on Friday, the BBC Trust said Packham was a freelancer and therefore not a BBC employee, adding he was not “associated with news or public policy-related output”.

It also noted that all parties named in the article had been given a right of reply prior to publication, and readers had the opportunity to respond in subsequent issues.

Both complainants have had letters published in the magazine in response to Packham’s column.

The committee added the new editor would not have allowed the term “nasty brigade” to have been published.

In its summary, the BBC Trust said there had been no breach of the impartiality guidelines.

The committee also looked at whether Packham had breached the BBC’s conflict of interest guidelines.

But the report stated: “It was clear that Mr Packham had been expressing his personal views as an individual, and that there was no implication that the charities and other causes he supported were endorsed by the BBC.”

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Skepta sales surge after Mercury win

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Sketpa beat David Bowie and The 1975 to win the Mercury Prize

Sales of Skepta’s album Konnichiwa have surged 174% after his Mercury Prize win last week.

His fourth album has climbed 40 places to number 13 in this week’s official albums chart.

Skepta beat David Bowie and Radiohead to win the £25,000 prize, which is awarded annually to what critics judge the best British album of the year.

Konnichiwa covers topics including police harassment and his anger at British politics.

Bastille held the number one album spot for a second week with Wild World.

The highest new entry was Led Zeppelin’s The Complete BBC Sessions, a collection of the group’s five live sessions recorded in 1969, which debuted at number three.

Usher scored his sixth UK top 10 album with Hard II Love, which landed at number seven, while Seth Lakeman’s Ballads of the Broken Few, debuted at number 18.

On the singles chart, The Chainsmokers feat. Halsey remained at number one for the fourth consecutive week with Closer, which notched up 82,000 combined sales.

They held off competition from former X Factor winner James Arthur, whose latest single Say You Won’t Let Go climbed from number 25 to two with 60,000 sales.

The singer has re-signed with Simon Cowell’s Syco record label, which originally dropped him two years ago.

DJ Snake and Major Lazer, both of whom have current singles featuring Justin Bieber, each dropped a place to numbers three and four respectively.

Calvin Harris rounded off the top five with My Way.

New entries included Emeli Sande’s comeback single Hurts, which debuted at number 22, and US actress Hailee Steinfeld’s debut single Starving, which landed at number 40.

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Monty Python’s Terry Jones diagnosed with dementia

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Terry Jones directed Monty Python’s Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life

Monty Python star Terry Jones has been diagnosed with a severe variant of dementia.

The 74-year-old is suffering from primary progressive aphasia, which affects his ability to communicate.

As a result, Jones “is no longer able to give interviews”, his spokesman said.

The news was confirmed as Bafta Cymru announced the Welsh-born comedian is to be honoured with an outstanding contribution award.

The National Aphasia Association describes primary progressive aphasia as a neurological syndrome in which language capabilities become slowly and progressively impaired.

“It commonly begins as a subtle disorder of language, progressing to a nearly total inability to speak, in its most severe stage,” their website states.

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Left-right: Terry Jones, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin

Jones, who is from Colwyn Bay in north Wales, was a member of the legendary comedy troupe with Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin and the late Graham Chapman.

He directed Monty Python’s Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life and co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Gilliam.

The surviving members reunited for 10 reunion performances at the O2 Arena in London in 2014.

Kathryn Smith, director of operations at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We are deeply sorry to hear about Terry Jones’s diagnosis of dementia and are thinking of Terry and his family during this time.”

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Stephen Lovekin

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Jones and the surviving members of the original Monty Python cast attended the Tribeca Film Festival last year

His award was announced at the Bafta Cymru nominations party, ahead of the British Academy Cymru Awards on 2 October.

“Terry is proud and honoured to be recognised in this way and is looking forward to the celebrations,” his spokesman said.

Hannah Raybould, director of Bafta Cymru, said: “We are very much looking forward to celebrating the work of Terry Jones during the ceremony with a look back at his work from 1969 to the present day.”

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Curtis Hanson: Oscar-winning writer and director dies at 71

US filmmaker Curtis Hanson speaks during an interview at the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Mexico, on 1 December, 2009Image copyright

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Tributes have flooded in from the stars of Curtis Hanson’s films

Oscar-winning writer and film director Curtis Hanson has died at his home in Hollywood at the age of 71.

Police said he died of natural causes. A report said he had retired in recent years due to Alzheimer’s.

Hanson won an Oscar in 1998 for best adapted screenplay for LA Confidential. His directing credits included The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and Wonder Boys.

He also directed Detroit hip-hop movie 8 Mile starring Eminem, who led the tributes.

“Curtis Hanson believed in me and our crazy idea to make a rap battle movie set in Detroit,” the rapper said in a statement. “He basically made me into an actor for 8 Mile. I’m lucky I got to know him.”

LA Confidential actor Russell Crowe wrote on Twitter: “Thank you for believing in me standing your ground. In reality you made my job a career. Love respect my friend.”

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Hanson shared the Oscar win with LA Confidential co-writer Brian Helgeland

Hanson, born in Reno, Nevada, started as a writer for the magazine Cinema before moving into screenwriting and directing in the early 1970s.

“I got into the business kind of through a side door,” he said in 2005. “I felt my best avenue was through screenwriting, because to write, all you need is a typewriter and an idea.”

But it was only in 1992, with The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, that he found mainstream success.

He went on to direct The River Wild with Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon in 1994, and he co-wrote the screenplay for 1997′s LA Confidential, adapted from James Ellroy’s novel about crime in 1950s Los Angeles.

“LA Confidential was the first movie that I produced as well,” he revealed in 2005.

“My attitude was very calculated. I knew I was using up the leverage I had earned on those other two movies and making a picture I really wanted to make.”

In 2000, he filmed Wonder Boys with Michael Douglas and Tobey Maguire, who described Hanson as “a generous and talented man”, adding: “I’m grateful to have known and worked with him.”

On Twitter, Bacon said: “So sad to hear about Curtis Hanson. great director. Great man. Riding that river with him was one of the greatest gigs of my life.”

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Michael Douglas played an English professor in Wonder Boys

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Hanson directed Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine in 2005′s In Her Shoes

Most recently, Hanson directed the HBO film Too Big To Fail, about the financial crisis.

Actor James Woods added his tribute. He wrote: “This saddens me deeply. Great director and the nicest man. RIP, dear friend.”

Rob Lowe, who acted in 1990′s Bad Influence, said it was “an honour to make Bad Influence with Curtis Hanson. So smart, so kind and a great storyteller. I will miss him”.

Hanson’s final project was 2012 surf movie Chasing Mavericks, with Gerard Butler and Elisabeth Shue. However, Curtis dropped out during filming due to an undisclosed illness and was replaced by Michael Apted.

Actress Abigail Spencer, who also starred in Chasing Mavericks, posted: “So honoured I got to work with the dear Curtis Hanson – the most lovely and wonderful. Heartbroken. My condolences to his family.”

When asked to describe his career in 2005, Hanson told the BBC: “Thematically I just go to what interests me. I’m always asking myself, is this a world I want to go into?

“To use the analogy of a traveller, I’m someone who likes to go to different countries rather than return to the same country all the time.”

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