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James Gunn is shown at the premiere of "Ant-Man and the Wasp" on June 25 in Los Angeles. Months after being fired over old tweets, James Gunn has been rehired as director of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” Representatives for the Walt Disney Co. and for Gunn on Friday confirmed that Gunn has been reinstated as writer-director of the franchise he has guided from the start. 


AP
James Gunn reinstated as director of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 3’

Talk about a plot twist.

James Gunn has been reinstated as the director of the upcoming “Guardians of the Galaxy 3,” eight months after he was dismissed following the resurfacing of tweets joking about rape and pedophilia that had been shared years in the past.

A rep for the filmmaker confirmed Gunn’s reinstatement after it was initially reported by Deadline. Gunn met with Alan Horn, president of Walt Disney Studios, several times to speak about the matter before Horn opted to bring him back aboard.

Gunn directed the first two installments of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise, which is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Stars of the ensemble cast including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and Karen Gillan signed an open letter in support of Gunn following his firing last summer.

The tweets that led to Gunn’s ouster were predominantly reposted by a right-winger blogger in July 2018. The posts in question were shared to Gunn’s Twitter page several years before the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie premiered in 2014.

Gunn, 52, addressed the situation last year after his firing.

“Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo,” he said at the time. “As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor,” he said. “In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies.”

In their open letter last year, the cast members of the “Guardians” movies said they looked forward to working with Gunn again one day.

“The character he has shown in the wake of his firing is consistent with the man he was every day on set, and his apology, now and from years ago when first addressing these remarks, we believe is from the heart, a heart we all know, trust and love,” the letter read.

Gunn signed on to direct “Suicide Squad 2” following his departure from “Guardians of the Galaxy 3.”

A release date for the third “Guardians” movie has not been announced.


AP
Tyson will return to TV after sex misconduct probe

LOS ANGELES — Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson will return to the air on two TV shows that had been put on hold for a sexual misconduct investigation.

The National Geographic Channel said in a statement Friday that Tyson’s “StarTalk” will return to the air in April with the 13 episodes that remain in the season.

The statement says Tyson’s other show, “Cosmos,” will return on National Geographic TV and Fox at a date to be determined.

Late last November, National Geographic Networks and Fox said they would examine reports that Tyson behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner toward two women. Friday’s statement did not address the complaints or investigation.

A message with a representative seeking from Tyson wasn’t immediately returned.

Tyson said in December that he denied the allegations and welcomed the investigation.


AP
Judge allows courtroom cameras for trial of R. Kelly

CHICAGO — Cameras will be allowed in the courtroom during the trial and pretrial hearings in R. Kelly’s sexual abuse case, but the R&B singer’s accusers can’t be photographed or filmed without their consent, a judge ruled Friday.

The Grammy-winning singer didn’t attend the brief hearing in Cook County Circuit Court, but his attorney took a similar position to the lawyer for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett earlier this week and welcomed cameras in the courtroom.

“Mr. Kelly wants this to be an open and transparent process,” said attorney Steve Greenberg. “So far there have been rumors, there have been allegations ... but with cameras in the courtroom, everyone will see what really happens.”

The judge in Smollet’s case, who also sits on the Cook County Circuit Court, hasn’t decided yet whether to allow cameras during the actor’s trial on charges accusing him of lying to the police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack. With neither side objecting to them , though, it’s almost certain that the judge will allow them.

As for Kelly’s case , Associate Judge Lawrence Flood said cameras will be allowed going forward, beginning with the next hearing on March 22. He also said two of Kelly’s accusers have already indicated that they don’t want to be photographed, filmed, or have their voices recorded in court.

Kelly, 52, has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse pertaining to four women, including three who were minors at the time the abuse allegedly occurred. The abuse in question is alleged to have occurred over roughly a decade, starting in the late 1990s.

The Kelly and Smollett cases have helped turn the hulking courthouse on Chicago’s South Side into something of a legal television studio in recent weeks.

While there have been several cases filmed in Cook County since cameras were first allowed in courtrooms in late 2014, it wasn’t until last fall that they took center stage in one of the most significant trials in recent Chicago history.

For months, the cameras captured the case of a white Chicago police officer charged with murder in the 2014 shooting death of a black teenager named Laquan McDonald. Viewers got to watch former Officer Jason Van Dyke explain what happened on the night he shot the teen 16 times. They also got to see the jury convict Van Dyke of second-degree murder and aggravated battery and the judge sentence him to six years and nine months in prison.

Although the Van Dyke was the first officer in decades to stand trial for an on-duty shooting and involved someone dying, the Kelly and Smollett cases are at least as sensational, given their celebrity status.

Smollett, who is black and gay and plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the Fox TV show, told police he was attacked by two masked men in downtown Chicago early on the morning of Jan. 29. He said the men — one of whom he said was white — hurled racist and homophobic slurs as they beat him and looped a noose around his neck before fleeing.

Prosecutors allege the Smollett hired two friends to help him stage the attack because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted to drum up publicity to further his career. Smollett has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to the 16 counts of disorderly conduct that he faces.

Kelly, meanwhile, has been trailed for decades by allegations that he victimized women and girls, though he was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008 related to a tape that prosecutors said showed him having sex with a girl as young as 13. The singer maintains that he is innocent and has said he has never had sex with a minor.

Although Smollett’s and Kelly’s say their clients welcome the cameras, some caution that it may not a good idea.

Prominent New York defense attorney Joe Tacopina said he’d be worried that the cameras might affect how the trial proceeds, particularly when it comes to the judge.

“A judge who knows his every ruling is going to be watched on television is not going to want to look like he’s soft on crime,” he said. “That could work against the defense.”

Chicago lawyer Joe Lopez said that in Kelly’s case, allowing the trial to play out on television could affect the singer’s ability to earn a living no matter what the outcome if what unfolds turns off fans.

“The allegations are going to come out in the newspaper, true, but a lot of his audience are young kids and they watch TV and don’t read the newspaper,” he said.

Phil Turner, a Chicago defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, said the risks that the public might turn against Smollett are just as great.

He said that if the two brothers who have admitted that Smollett hired them to carry out the attack testify and come off as believable and sincere, it could make it easier for the public to dismiss what Smollett says if he takes the stand.

“Everybody knows this guy is an actor, he’s good at acting. But the two guys, by admitting they did it, it makes them completely credible.”


JAKE HILL, For The Journal Times 

St. Catherine's Annemarie Letsch competes in the high jump on Thursday during a five-team meet at Park High School. Letsch placed sixth in the event, the first girls track meet of the season. 


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AP
Today in History

Today in History:

On March 16, 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his crew reached the Philippines, where Magellan was killed during a battle with natives the following month.

On this date:

In 1802, President Thomas Jefferson signed a measure authorizing the establishment of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

In 1926, rocket science pioneer Robert H. Goddard successfully tested the first liquid-fueled rocket at his Aunt Effie’s farm in Auburn, Massachusetts.

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent Congress the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 as part of his War on Poverty. (The measure was passed by Congress, and was signed by Johnson in August 1964.)

In 1968, the My Lai massacre took place during the Vietnam War as U.S. Army soldiers hunting for Viet Cong fighters and sympathizers killed unarmed villagers in two hamlets of Son My village; estimates of the death toll vary from 347 to 504.

In 1984, William Buckley, the CIA station chief in Beirut, was kidnapped by Hezbollah militants (he was tortured by his captors and killed in 1985).

In 1994, figure skater Tonya Harding pleaded guilty in Portland, Ore., to conspiracy to hinder prosecution for covering up an attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan, avoiding jail but drawing a $100,000 fine.

In 2003, American activist Rachel Corrie, 23, was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer while trying to block demolition of a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip.

Ten years ago: Joining a wave of public anger, President Barack Obama blistered insurance giant AIG for “recklessness and greed” for handing its executives $165 million in bonuses after taking billions in federal bailout money.

Thought for Today: “The only joy in the world is to begin.” — Cesare Pavese, Italian novelist (1908-1950).


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Birthdays

Actor Victor Garber (“Alias”) is 70. Actor Erik Estrada is 70. Guitarist-singer Nancy Wilson of Heart is 65. Rapper Flavor Flav of Public Enemy is 60. Folk singer Patty Griffin is 55. Singer Tracy Bonham is 52. Actress Lauren Graham is 52. Actress Kimrie Lewis (“Single Parents,” ‘’Scandal”) is 37. Actor Brett Davern (“Awkward”) is 36. Actress Alexandria Daddario (“True Detective”) is 33. Singer Jhene Aiko is 31.


ADAM ROGAN, adam.rogan@journaltimes.com 

Gabby Recupero, a fourth-grade student, takes off a virtual-reality headset at Gifford Elementary School's science fair on Thursday. The technology was provided by Racine Public Library staff and volunteers. With the goggles on, viewers could virtually ride a T. rex themed roller coaster, explore nature with a "BBC Life" 3D video, or play Temple Run.

"We're here to introduce the kids to the technology," Melissa Donaldson, the Library's digital services and innovation coordinator, said.


R. Kelly