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Hope he gets into the Hall Of Fame one day!!

Roy Halladay returns to Baseball as guest instructor

CLEARWATER, FLA.—Roy Halladay is back wearing a baseball uniform.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner returned Tuesday to serve as a guest instructor for the Phillies in spring training. Halladay, who threw a perfect game in his first season in Philadelphia in 2010 and a no-hitter later that year in his first post-season start, is considering a more permanent role in the big leagues.

“I definitely want to get back in,” Halladay said. “So just getting here and being around, obviously with a new front office they need to see who you are. I think it’s just a great opportunity to get out here again and be around the guys. Especially with so many new, young players, it’s exciting for a guy like myself to come in and watch them. If I can share anything that’ll help them, that’s awesome.”

The 39-year-old Halladay plans to work with pitchers on the mental side of the game along with the fundamentals and mechanics of pitching.

“Whatever concerns they may have, if any, or talking about things that helped me be successful, so it can cover a range of things,” Halladay said. “For me, it’s just a pleasure to be able to help out. If it’s throwing BP, I’ll throw BP.”

Halladay watched young starters Zach Eflin and Jake Thompson throw and talked with others on his first day in camp.

“He’s probably 95 per cent mental, whether it’s thought process going into pitches or sequence, it’s incredible,” Thompson said.

Eflin said he was excited to introduce himself to Halladay.

Halladay spent 16 seasons in the major leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays and Phillies. He retired in December 2013 because of an ailing back. Halladay was a guest instructor with the Phillies in 2014 but hadn’t returned until now.

“There are all kinds of options,” he said about his future in baseball. “I don’t ever try to get too far ahead of myself. I’m going to enjoy this first week here, being a guest coach, and see where things go. We’ll continue talking, but, you know, I think it’s always trying to find a good fit, too.”

Halladay was 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA in 416 career games, including 390 starts. He had 67 complete games and 20 shutouts. His resume includes three 20-win seasons, eight all-star games, and three other top-3 finishes for the Cy Young Award.

He’s going to Cooperstown this summer with one of his son’s baseball teams and looks forward to possibly being enshrined in the Hall of Fame one day.

“You see guys get in that are deserving and you see guys that are possibly deserving that don’t get in,” he said. “Boy, it’s a tough thing to figure out. But absolutely I would love to be there. I think every player who ever played the game would love to be there. It would be a tremendous honour.”

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Casey Affleck has spoken to the Boston Globe.

Casey Affleck speaks to sexual harassment claims

In an interview following his best actor Oscar win on Sunday, Casey Affleck addressed earlier sexual harassment claims against him and said “everyone deserves to be treated with respect in the workplace and everywhere else.”

The Manchester by the Sea star had largely evaded questions about the two lawsuits brought against him while making the 2010 mockumentary I’m Still Here, which he directed. The settlement of each case prevents each party from discussing the accusations.

Affleck has denied the allegations.

In an interview posted Tuesday night by The Boston Globe, Affleck said, “I believe that any kind of mistreatment of anyone for any reason is unacceptable and abhorrent, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect in the workplace and anywhere else.”

Asked about those who have criticized his Academy Award win, Affleck said there was “nothing I can do about it other than live my life the way I know I live it and to speak to what my own values are and how I try to live by them all the time.”

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Good luck to them all, especially Mr. T!!

Dancing With the Stars season 24: And the celebrities are…

A Cheerio, a Beverly Hills housewife, two former Olympians, and a repeat visitor to The Love Boat are among the 12 celebrities who’ll grace the ballroom of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars this season, as announced on Good Morning America Wednesday.

And the men have reason to worry: Several of the women have lots of dance (and acrobatic) experience. Once again, it always helps to have earned a few Olympic medals.

Here are the season 24 celebrities and their partners, announced this morning on Good Morning America:

Pro bull rider Bonner Bolton, with Sharna Burgess
Former SNL comedian Chris Kattan, with Witney Carson
Former MLB catcher David Ross, with Lindsay Arnold
Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Erika Jayne, with Gleb Savchenko
Glee star Heather Morris, with Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Actor Mr. T, with Kym Herjavec
Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan, with Artem Chigvintsev
Fifth Harmony member Normani Kordei, with Valentin Chmerkovskiy
NFL running back Rashad Jennings, with Emma Slater
Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, with Sasha Farber
The Bachelor’s Nick Viall, with Peta Murgatroyd
Spanish-American entertainer (and frequent Love Boat guest star) Charo, with Keo Motsepe

The season 24 premiere will mark the 400th episode of DWTS. It will air on March 20, 8-10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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Too bad their mistake was seen by everyone!!!

Oscars accountants involved in best picture mix-up won’t be back

The two accountants responsible for the shocking best picture mix-up at the 89th annual Oscars will not work on the show again, a spokesperson for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has confirmed.

According to the Associated Press, which first reported the news, academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said the organization’s 83-year relationship with the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers remains under review.

PwC accountants Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz were in charge of the winners’ envelopes at Sunday’s ceremony, each holding a complete set on opposite sides of the stage. Cullinan handed presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway the wrong envelope for Best Picture, shortly after tweeting a photo (since deleted) of best actress winner Emma Stone. Boone Isaacs told the AP that Cullinan was distracted from his duties.

Beatty was visibly perplexed by what was the second best actress envelope naming Stone the winner for La La Land. He then showed it to Dunaway, who erroneously announced La La Land as the best picture winner. It was only after two minutes — and two and a half acceptance speeches — that the mistake was corrected and Moonlight was declared the real best picture.

The episode stunned Oscars attendees and those watching the broadcast.

Within hours of the blunder, PwC released a statement apologizing “to Moonlight, La La Land, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error.” The firm followed up Monday, taking “full responsibility for the series of mistakes and breaches of established protocols” that caused the mix-up.

The academy was mum until Monday night, finally issuing a statement that said, “We deeply regret the mistakes that were made during the presentation of the Best Picture category during last night’s Oscar ceremony. We apologize to the entire cast and crew of La La Land and Moonlight whose experience was profoundly altered by this error. We salute the tremendous grace they displayed under the circumstances. To all involved — including our presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the filmmakers, and our fans watching worldwide — we apologize.”

The academy also apologized Wednesday for mistakenly running a photo of a living producer during the Oscars’ annual In Memoriam segment.

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They waited until the very end to have the show’s most memorable moment. Glad something happened!!

‘Moonlight’ wins Best Picture at Oscars after shock ‘La La Land’ mix-up

In the most shocking mix-up in Oscars history, Moonlight won best picture at the Academy Awards — but only after presenter Faye Dunaway announced La La Land as the winner, setting off mass confusion inside the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.

“I want to tell you what happened,” co-presenter Warren Beatty explainer after the mix-up was revealed. “I opened the envelope and it said Emma Stone, La La Land. That’s why I took such a long look at Faye and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”

“Well, I don’t know what happened. I blame myself for this,” Kimmel joked after the moment. “Let’s remember, it’s just an awards show. I mean, we hate to see people disappointed, but the good news is we got to see some extra speeches. We have some great movies. I knew I would screw this show up, I really did. Thank you for watching. I’m back to work tomorrow night on my regular show. I promise I’ll never come back. Good night!”

Speaking after the mix-up had been rectified, Moonlight director Barry Jenkins said, “Very clearly, very clearly in my dreams this could not be true. But to hell with my dreams. I’m done with it because this is true. Oh my goodness.”

He added a note of praise to his La La Land opponents, “And I have to say it is true. It’s not fake. We’ve been on the road with these guys for so long. My love to La La Land. My love to everybody. Man.”

In addition to providing the Oscars with its most surprising moment in history, the Moonlight win represented a huge upset as well. Heading into the night, Damien Chazelle’s musical had been expected to win best picture — and paced the field with 14 nominations, tied for the most ever. La La Land enjoyed success throughout the night as well, winning six total awards, including best director for Chazelle and best actress for Emma Stone.

But Moonlight ultimately walked away with the top prize, along with two other honors: best supporting actor for Mahershala Ali and best adapted screenplay for Jenkins and playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney.

Based on McCraney’s play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue and adapted for the screen by him and Jenkins, Moonlight unfolds over three chapters in the life of a young, gay black man growing up in a rough Miami neighborhood.

That character, Chiron, is played by three different actors over the course of the film (Alex R. Hibbert as a young boy, Ashton Sanders as a teen, and Trevante Rhodes as an adult), while the supporting cast includes Oscar nominee Naomie Harris as Chiron’s mother — who descends into drug addiction as the film progresses — and Ali a local dealer who becomes a father figure to the young Chiron.

“There was a time when I thought this movie was impossible because I couldn’t bring it to fruition I couldn’t bring myself to tell another story so everybody behind me on this stage said no, that’s not acceptable,” Jenkins said in accepting the Oscar on Sunday night. “So I just wanna thank everybody up here behind me. Everybody out there in that room because we didn’t do this. You guys chose us. Thank you.”

Moonlight was nominated in the best picture category alongside Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Lion, and Manchester by the Sea.

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This list is absolutely correct. It’s been double-checked twice!

Oscars 2017 winners: The full list

See the full list of winners below.

Best Picture
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
WINNER: Moonlight

Best Actress
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
WINNER: Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Best Supporting Actress
WINNER: Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Best Actor
WINNER: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

Best Supporting Actor
WINNER: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Best Documentary Feature
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life Animated
WINNER: O.J.: Made in America
13th

Best Director
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
WINNER: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Adapted Screenplay
Arrival, Eric Heisserer
Fences, August Wilson
Hidden Figures, Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi
Lion, Luke Davis
WINNER: Moonlight, Barry Jenkins with story by Tarell Alvin McCranley

Best Original Screenplay
Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan
La La Land, Damien Chazelle
The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou
WINNER: Manchester by the Sea, Kenneth Lonergan
20th Century Women, Mike Mills

Best Foreign Language Film
Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
WINNER: The Salesman
Tanna
Toni Erdmann

Best Original Score
Jackie
WINNER: La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Passengers

Best Original Song
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls
WINNER: “City of Stars,” La La Land
“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana

Best Cinematography
Arrival
WINNER: La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Silence

Best Production Design
Arrival
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
WINNER: La La Land
Passengers

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
WINNER: Suicide Squad

Best Costume Design
Allied
WINNER: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jackie
La La Land

Best Visual Effects
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
WINNER: The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Best Sound Editing
WINNER: Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Sully

Best Sound Mixing
Arrival
WINNER: Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Best Documentary Short
Extremis
4.1 Miles
Joe’s Violin
Watani: My Homeland
WINNER: The White Helmets

Best Live Action Short
Ennemis Intérieurs
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights
WINNER: Sing
Timecode

Best Animated Feature
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
WINNER: Zootopia

Best Film Editing
Arrival
WINNER: Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Moonlight

Best Animated Short
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Pearl
WINNER: Piper

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I was expecting something more memorable.

Oscars attack Trump: Celebs unleashed on Hollywood’s big night

The first salvo against Donald Trump was fired only a few minutes into the Oscars — and then they just kept on coming.

In what might be an unprecedented numbers of jokes, allusions, and sincere articulations inspired by a single person during an awards telecast, Hollywood’s most luminous tackled Trump and his policies during the the 89th annual Academy Awards. From host Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue, to the acceptance speeches, to those blue ribbons on tuxedo lapels, there were direct and indirect references to the 45th president throughout the ceremony.

The Oscars got underway with a joyous opening musical number by Justin Timberlake performing best original song nominee “Can’t Stop the Feeling” that brought the crowd to its feet. Then Kimmel took the stage and threw out a slew of POTUS jokes.

“This is being watched live by millions of people in 225 countries that now hate us,” Kimmel told the Dolby Theater (full monologue video below).

Kimmel also had this to say: “I want to say thank you to President Trump. Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist? … It’s gone thanks to him.”

And this: “In Hollywood, we don’t discriminate against people based on what countries they come from. We discriminate on them based on their age and weight.”

Kimmel also made jokes about “mediocre” and “overrated” Meryl Streep — a reference to Trump’s criticism of the actress, who slammed him during the Golden Globes last month.

And the ABC late-night host noted that actors will give speeches that “the president will tweet about in all caps during his 5 a.m. bowel movement tomorrow.”

But Kimmel also surprised by throwing out this plea for unity: “If every person watching this show … if every one of you took a minute to reach out to someone you disagree with, someone you like and have a positive, considerate conversation — not as liberals and conservatives, but as Americans — we could make America great again.”

Yet the host noted that he’s probably the wrong person to unite the country. “I can’t do that,” Kimmel said as the camera shifted to showing Hacksaw Ridge director Mel Gibson, a best director nominee, seated in the audience. “There’s only one Braveheart in this room — and he’s not going to unite us either.”

After the monologue, Kimmel was far from done: “Doctor Strange was nominated for special effects — and also Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.”

Later, when Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won for The Salesman, the award was accepted on his behalf by Anousheh Ansari, famed for being the first female space tourist. Ansari read a blistering letter from Farhadi, who declared last month he would not attend the Oscars in the wake of Trump’s executive order blocking citizens from Iran and six other predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. (The ban has since been halted by judicial decisions.)

“I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight,” Farhadi said via the letter. “My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and from the other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law which bans immigrants entry into the U.S.” Ansari was interrupted by cheers here, then continued: “Dividing the world into the ‘us and our enemies’ categories creates fear — a deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which themselves have been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others — an empathy we need today more than ever.”

Trump’s immigration policy was also in the spotlight when The White Helmets — about the Syrian civil war — won best documentary short. U.S. immigration authorities reportedly barred its 21-year-old cinematographer Khaled Khateeb from traveling to Los Angeles for the Oscars. Director Orlando von Einsiedel noted, “It’s very easy to feel these guys have been forgotten, the war has been going on for six years, if everyone here could just stand up and remind them that we all care that this war ends as quickly as possible.”

Likewise when Barry Jenkins who won best-adapted screenplay for Moonlight along with Tarell Alvin McCraney, he told viewers, “All you people out there who feel like there’s no mirror for you, that your lives are not reflected, The Academy has your back, the ACLU has your back, we have your back, and for the next four years we will not leave you alone, we will not forget you.”

In another instance, actor Gael Garcia Bernal took a shot at Trump’s border wall plan while introducing best animated film: “Flesh and blood actors are migrant workers. We travel all over the world. We construct families, we build life, but we cannot be divided. As a Mexican, as a Latin American, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I’m against any form of wall that wants to separate us.”

And when Zootopia won that animation category, director Rich Moore pointedly noted, “We are so grateful to audiences to audiences all over the world who embraced this film with this story of tolerance being more powerful than fear of the Other.”

After so many references to Trump policies, Kimmel even tweeted to the president while on stage.

But wait, there was more: After Swedish cinematographer Linus Sandgren won for La La Land, Kimmel threw out a quip referencing Trump’s much-debated comment last week suggesting Sweden was attacked: “We’re so sorry about what happened in Sweden last week. We hope your friends are okay.”

And even when presenting the final award of the night — best picture — Warren Beatty along with Faye Dunaway seemed to allude to the topic at hand as well. “Our goal in politics is the same as our goal in art — and that’s to get to the truth,” Beatty said. [Movies] show us the increasing diversity in our community and a respect for diversity and freedom all over the world.”

(After that, of course, Trump was quickly forgotten amid the jaw-dropping chaos of Dunaway reading the wrong winner, but that’s a whole other story).

Sunday’s ceremony was expected to one of the most politicized in memory given Hollywood largely standing in opposition to President Trump and his policies. Even on the red carpet before the show began, several stars were spotted wearing the blue “Stand with the ACLU” ribbons. While the nonprofit organization is considered nonpartisan, its mission to protect “individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and law of the U.S.” has become rather topical of late as the ACLU has mobilized an effort to resist Trump’s deportation plans.

On Saturday, Hollywood had a warm-up round at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, where Casey Affleck used his acceptance speech for best actor to call out Trump’s policies as “abhorrent” and “un-American.”

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Moonlight is totally the type of film that would sweep the Film Independent Spirit Awards!!

Moonlight sweeps Film Independent Spirit Awards

SANTA MONICA, CALIF.—Sunday might be dominated by La La Land, but Saturday belonged to Moonlight.

Barry Jenkins’s luminous coming-of-age tale swept Saturday’s Film Independent Spirit Awards, taking home six awards including best feature. Moonlightwon every award it was nominated for at the 32nd annual indie awards, the dressed-down, beachside ceremony held the day before the Academy Awards.

Moonlight won for its directing, screenplay, cinematography and editing. It was also honoured for its ensemble cast in the Spirit Awards’ Robert Altman Award. Backstage, Jenkins said its tale of a poor, young, black kid in Miami stood in stark contrast to President Donald Trump’s administration.

“I think Moonlight exists as a beacon of inclusivity,” Jenkins said, flanked by his African-American cast and producers.

The afternoon ceremony frequently had a strong political tenor. Casey Affleck, who won best actor for Manchester by the Sea, wore a shirt with the word “love” in Arabic.

“The policies of this administration are abhorrent and will not last,” Affleck said accepting his award. Backstage, he spoke about “the torrent of terrifying news that comes out of Washington every day.”

Some Oscar contenders were missing their presumed rivals at the Spirit Awards, which only nominated films made for $20 million or less (and thus disqualifying the Academy Awards favourite La La Land). But if Moonlight, nominated for eight Oscars including best picture, is to pull off the upset Sunday, it has some history on its side. The last three Spirit Awards best-feature winners — Spotlight, Birdman, 12 Years a Slave — all went on to win best picture at the Oscars.

Host Nick Kroll and John Mulaney maintained a rigorously irreverent tone through a ceremony often punctuated by belly laughs. In their opening monologue, Kroll mockingly defended the common charge of “liberal elitism” often thrown at Hollywood events like the Spirits.

“We’re not in a bubble. We’re in a tent,” Kroll said, referring to the Spirits’ home in Santa Monica, California. “We’re fringe artists on a California beach. If we leaned any further to the left, we’d topple into the ocean.”

Instead of a lengthy in memoriam reel, they opted instead for a highlight of those who didn’t die, singling out Milos Foreman and Tim Allen while Andy Samberg, doing his best Eddie Vedder, sang Pearl Jam’s “Alive.”

Best actress went to Isabelle Huppert, the French actress of Elle, who bested Natalie Portman and Annette Bening. Just as Affleck wasn’t up against Oscar favourite Denzel Washington in best actor, the best actress category was missing Emma Stone of La La Land.

Molly Shannon, the former Saturday Night Live cast member, supplied one of the afternoon’s highpoints. She was visibly overjoyed by winning best supporting actress for her performance in Other People. She concluded her speech by exclaiming, “I really truly feel like a … SUPERSTAR!” — aping her old SNL character.

Other awards also went to films far outside the Oscar candidates. Robert Eggers’s well-researched The Witch, set in 17th-century Massachusetts, won for both best first feature and best first screenplay. He thanked the Puritans for “writing down so much stuff.”

Ezra Edelman’s O.J.: Made in America took best documentary. Best foreign language film went to Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann.

The Cassavettes Award, which honours the best feature made for less than $500,000 went to Andrew Ahn’s Korean gay-immigrant drama Spa Night. Taking the stage Ahn first remarked, “I’m going to barf,” but quickly collected himself, speaking tenderly about his parents’ acceptance of their gay son and the need for acceptance of immigrants, gays and other communities.

“We are part of this great country,” Ahn said. “And we are undeniable.”

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“Congratulations” To All The “Winners”!!

‘Batman v Superman,’ ‘Hillary’s America’ top Razzie Awards

LOS ANGELES—Neither Batman nor Dinesh D’Souza could finagle their way out of a Razzie.

The annual Golden Raspberry Awards bestowed a tying four “honours” to both D’Souza’s documentary “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party” and the superhero blockbuster “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

D’Souza’s film was named the worst picture of the year on Saturday, and the conservative author got both worst director (with co-director Bruce Schooley) and worst actor for playing himself. Worst actress went to Rebekah Turner who played Hillary Clinton.

“This is absolutely fantastic,” said D’Souza in a video statement. “My audience loves the fact that you hate me. Thank you.”

Not to be outdone, Zack Snyder’s $250 million “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” also picked up four “wins” including worst remake, worst screenplay and worst screen combo for its dueling stars Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill. Jesse Eisenberg was also singled out as the worst supporting actor for his over-the-top portrayal of Superman baddie Lex Luthor.

Both films were widely panned by critics upon their release — D’Souza’s film for being biased and sensationalist and Snyder’s for its messiness. While D’Souza’s outing is likely a one-time deal, there is more to come in the DC Comic Book Universe from Snyder whose “Justice League” hits theatres in Nov.

Another poorly received film, “Zoolander 2,” got away with only one award, which went to Kristen Wiig for worst supporting actress.

The organization also bestowed the “redeemer” award to Mel Gibson, who was previously nominated for “The Expendables 3” and this year has climbed back up to the ranks to more prestigious awards. Gibson is nominated for a best director Oscar for his World War II film “Hacksaw Ridge.”

The Razzie Awards are determined by around 1,000 voting Razzie members from 25 countries, while Worst Screen Combo was voted on by “thousands” through a Rotten Tomatoes partnership.

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May he rest in peace.

Judge Joseph Wapner, of ‘People’s Court’ fame, dead at 97

LOS ANGELES — Joseph Wapner, the retired Los Angeles judge who presided over The People’s Court with steady force during the heyday of the reality courtroom show, died Sunday at age 97.

Son David Wapner told The Associated Press that his father died at home in his sleep. Joseph Wapner was hospitalized a week ago with breathing problems and had been under home hospice care.

The People’s Court, on which Wapner decided real small-claims from 1981 to 1993, was one of the granddaddies of the syndicated reality shows of today. His affable, no-nonsense approach attracted many fans, putting The People’s Court in the top five in syndication at its peak.

Before auditioning for the show, Wapner had spent more than 20 years on the bench in Los Angeles, first in Municipal Court and then in Superior Court. At one time he was presiding judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court, the largest court in the United States. He retired as judge in November 1979, the day after his 60th birthday.

“Everything on the show is real,” Wapner told the AP in a 1986 interview. “There’s no script, no rehearsal, no retakes. Everything from beginning to end is like a real courtroom, and I personally consider each case as a trial.”

“Sometimes I don’t even deliberate,” he added. “I just decide from the bench, it’s so obvious. The beautiful part is that I have carte blanche.”

The People’s Court cases were tried without lawyers by the rules of Small Claims Court, which has a damage limit of US$1,500. Researchers for the producer, Ralph Edwards Productions, checked claims filed in Southern California for interesting cases.

The plaintiff and defendant had to agree to have the case settled on the show and sign a binding arbitration agreement; the show paid for the settlements.

In some metropolitan counties, the number of small claims cases more than tripled during the 1980s; some cited Wapner as a cause.

Johnny Carson invited Wapner him to come on The Tonight Show and settle a dispute between himself and David Letterman. Carson wanted to do it as a skit, but Wapner said no and conducted it like a trial.

The dispute was over an old truck that Letterman kept parked by his property in Malibu. Carson said it was an eyesore and had it hauled away. When Letterman got it back, the headlights had been broken.

“I awarded Letterman $24.95,” said Wapner.

By the time Wapner left the show, in 1993, interest in the genre had cooled, but trials such as the Simpson trial and the courtroom theatrics of “Judge Judy” revived the TV-court craze starting in 1997.

Wapner returned to The People’s Court show in 2000 to help celebrate its 3,000th episode, judging the case of a man suing over a piece of sports memorabilia. He said he had seen snippets of Judge Judy’s work, but generally never watched such shows.

“I never watched myself,” he said. “Why should I watch them?”

He also had a series on the Animal Planet cable channel called “Judge Wapner’s Animal Court.”

Wapner was a Los Angeles native and received a law degree from the University of Southern California. He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Mickey, and by two sons, both of whom joined the legal profession. A daughter, Sarah, died in 2015.

During his days as presiding Superior Court judge, Wapner was credited with innovations aimed at saving time for trial participants. A 1971 Los Angeles Times article described his steps to streamline jury selection or even dispense with juries altogether by increasing the number of cases heard solely by a judge chosen to be acceptable to both sides in the case.

His courtroom was also used in 1971 in a brief test of a system to videotape trials to save on the cost of making a trial transcript.

Wapner said he was often amazed at the lengths people would go to to prove a point: “A woman bought a birthday cake for her daughter for $9. She said it was mouldy, and the baker offered to refund only $4.50. She picketed the bakery for six hours, then filed the claim. I found against the baker for $9.”

He generally turned down guest shots on other shows, saying, “I’m not an actor, I’m a judge.”