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Michelle Obama praises 'Black Panther' on Twitter: 'I loved this movie'

Former first lady Michelle Obama tweeted a shoutout Monday to the new Marvel superhero film, “Black Panther.”

>> See the tweet here

“Congrats to the entire #blackpanther team!” she tweeted. “Because of you, young people will finally see superheroes that look like them on the big screen. I loved this movie and I know it will inspire people of all backgrounds to dig deep and find the courage to be heroes of their own stories.”

>> ‘Black Panther’ raking in the dough; here’s the records the blockbuster has smashed

The film has earned rave reviews from fans and critics alike, receiving a 97 percent "fresh" rating from Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregate site.

>> On Rare.us: After the Obamas’ official portraits were unveiled, people had a lot to say

The movie grossed $201 million at the box office over the weekend, according to The Washington Post.

>> Read more trending news 

Other high-profile Democrats to send shoutouts to the film include Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who both posted tweets about the movie.

>> On Rare.us: Barack Obama issues statement on Florida school shooting: 'We are not powerless'

“Outside City of Refuge with @HollywoodLadyj from the film 'Black Panther'! Congratulations Janeshia!” Waters posted along with a picture of herself and the film’s stuntwoman, Janeshia Adams-Ginyard.

>> See the tweet here

Warren posted a picture of her and her family attending the film, captioning it, “#BlackPanther Rocks!”

>> See the tweet here

Queen Elizabeth surrounded by fashion royalty at her first London runway show

This year’s London Fashion Week ended with the biggest name in fashion meeting the biggest name in London.

>> Read more trending news 

Queen Elizabeth II made quite the splash Tuesday as she sat next to Vogue’s infamous editor-in-chief Anna Wintour in the queen’s historic appearance at a fashion show.

Her Majesty came dressed to impress in a pastel blue coat and jacket designed by Angela Kelly — her personal assistant and designer — and accessorizing with crisp black gloves, pearl earrings and a matching broach.

The Queen, 91, made the shocking appearance — her first-ever at the event in 65 years on the throne — to bestow the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design upon designer Richard Quinn. In the speech she gave while presenting the award to the designer who’s runway show she’d come to watch, she described the award as “a tribute to the industry and my legacy and all those who have contributed to British fashion.”

>> Related: Internet shows no mercy when Duchess Catherine stepped out wearing this over the weekend

The British Fashion Council helped choose Quinn, who started his own label only in 2016, for the prize — also designed by Angela Kelly. The show was full of bright and bold looks that obviously drew the eye of the fashion elite, regardless of their eccentricity.

Spry as ever even at 91, she took a tour around several showrooms at the event before addressing the audience about Britain’s fashion history.

“From the tweed of the Hebrides to Nottingham lace, and of course Carnaby Street, our fashion industry has been renowned for outstanding craftsmanship for many years, and continues to produce world-class textiles and cutting edge, practical designs,” she said.

Since this was the queen’s first time at London Fashion Week, social media swooned at her appearance.

>> Related: Prince William rides a motorcycle and melts a million hearts

Considering this is the first year the award is being presented, it stands to reason that the Queen may make another return next year. Only time will tell!

The Queen’s fashionable showing comes just days after her Duchess Catherine’s fashion choices were criticized by the public. Attendees of the BAFTA awards — equivalent to the Oscars — were encouraged to wear all black in support of the #MeToo and #TimesUp initiatives at this year’s BAFTAs, but the pregnant royal’s choice of a green cap-sleeved gown rubbed people the wrong way.

The Sun reports that people on the red carpet were just as disgruntled about the Duchess’s fashion statement as social media users.

“She shouldn’t have bothered turning up if she couldn’t wear black,” one guest said, according to the paper.

Another reportedly added, “How is supporting equality for women political?”

>> Related: Photos: Kate Middleton wears dark green, not black at BAFTAs

Being a member of the royal family, Catherine is supposed to stay away from making any public political statements, which may have been one reason she opted for another color.

‘Black Panther’ raking in the dough, here’s the records the blockbuster has smashed

“Black Panther” has taken theaters by storm, breaking box office goals. 

>> Read more trending news 

Over the Presidents Day weekend, the Marvel flick made a whopping $242 million, much more than the $150 million predicted

That wasn’t the only success the film saw. It also made history for Marvel, on social media and beyond.

Here’s a list of records the flick has broken. 

Biggest February opening weekend

“Deadpool” previously held the record, raking in $132 million over a Friday to Sunday weekend, according to The Numbers, a site that keeps data on films. “Black Panther” scored a $202-million weekend for its Friday-Sunday opening.

>> Related: ‘Black Panther’: Five things to know about the movie’s ties to metro Atlanta

Biggest long holiday opening weekend

“Black Panther” brought in $242 million over the four-day weekend. That’s ahead of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” which made $200 million during it’s Wednesday to Sunday debut, the Numbers said. It also surpasses “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “Spider-Man 2,” which both had $180 million six-day Independence Day weekend premieres.

Biggest domestic opening for a black director

This is Ryan Coogler’s third film, behind “Creed” and “Fruitvale Station.” He’s inching closer to F. Gary Gray top selling film “Fate of the Furious,” which earned more than $1 billion worldwideThe Numbers recorded. 

“Black Panther” is also the biggest global debut for a predominantly black cast. “Straight Outta Compton” previously held the record with $66.3 million, according to BuzzFeed.

>> Related: Atlanta airport nonstop flights to Wakanda from Black Panther

5th biggest Friday to Sunday opening weekend of all time

Here’s a quick overview of the top five, according to The Numbers:

  1. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” - $284 million 
  2. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” - $220 million
  3. “Jurassic World” - $208 million
  4. “The Avengers” - $207 million
  5. “Black Panther” - $202 million

Most tweeted about film in 2018

It’s garnered more than five million tweets, according to Variety, and inspired several hashtags, including #BlackPantherChallenge, #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe and #WakandaForever. And if you type “#BlackPanther” a Black Panther mask appears. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” took second and third place. 

Ursula K. Le Guin wins posthumous prize for essay writing

The late Ursula K. Le Guin was among the recipients of literary honors presented Tuesday night by PEN America.

The science fiction/fantasy author's "No Time to Spare" won a $10,000 prize for best essay writing. Le Guin died last month at age 88 and her award was announced during a New York ceremony hosted by PEN, the literary and human rights organization.

Poet Layli Long Soldier's debut collection "Whereas" won a $75,000 award for the year's best book. Jenny Zhang's story collection "Sour Heart" received a $25,000 prize for best debut fiction and Alexis Okeowo's "A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa" won a $5,000 award given to outstanding works by "authors of color."

"This year's awardees represent the near and far corners of the literary landscape, including writers who have shattered barriers of race, class, ethnicity, geography, gender and sexual orientation to bring stories to new audiences, unlock empathy and take places of distinction within our collective canon," PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel said in a statement. "In times of challenge great literature offers a desperately needed window onto other possibilities."

Lifetime achievement awards had been previously announced and were given to Edmund White, who won the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for American fiction, and Edna O'Brien, winner of the PEN/Nabokov Award for international literature.

California law that blocked posting actors' ages struck down

A California law that sought to prevent age discrimination in the entertainment industry by blocking a popular Hollywood website from posting the ages of actors was struck down Tuesday as unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco said the law passed in 2016 violated the First Amendment rights of IMDb.com by preventing it from publishing factual information on its website that provides information about movies, television shows and their casts and crews.

The law was a "direct restriction on speech" and was flawed because it was not narrowly tailored and was "underinclusive" by targeting IMDb, Chhabria said.

The ruling comes as sexual misconduct scandals that erupted in Hollywood last fall and spread more broadly have also brought new attention to pay disparity and other gender-related discrimination in the entertainment industry. Without referencing the #MeToo movement, the judge said the law was misguided because it sought to prevent discrimination of actors who couldn't get parts because of age bias when a bigger problem was sex discrimination.

Materials supporting the law referred to the practice of casting younger women against much older men and also to the lack of women in leading roles and as directors, the judge said.

"This is not so much because the entertainment industry has a problem with older people per se," Chhabria wrote. "Rather, it's a manifestation of the industry's insistence on objectifying women, overvaluing their looks while devaluing everything else."

Supporters of AB 1687 said it was necessary because existing laws were not enough to eliminate age discrimination and older actors were concerned that they would be shut out roles. The law was defended by the state attorney general and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

SAG-AFTRA had argued it was OK to ban publishing the ages of actors and other entertainment professionals because those facts facilitated age discrimination. Chhabria noted that was "an argument that, if successful, would enable states to forbid publication of virtually any fact."

The union said it was extremely disappointed with the ruling and would appeal.

"The court unfortunately fails to understand or recognize the massive impact gender and age discrimination has on all working performers," said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, general counsel of SAG-AFTRA. "That discrimination is facilitated by IMDb's insistence on publishing performers' age information without their consent."

Chhabria had temporarily halted the law from taking effect last year while he heard further arguments in the case.

IMDb, also known as the Internet Movie Database, had argued it shared the goal of preventing age discrimination, but the law would fail to achieve that and instead would "chill free speech and undermine public access to factual information."

Representatives of the lawmaker who authored the bill, the attorney general who defended it or the entertainment website that challenged the law did not immediately provide comment requested by The Associated Press.

Seattle launches season-ticket campaign for new NHL team

Fans longing for a professional hockey team in Seattle will soon be able to put down some money for season tickets.

Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Oak View Group, which is trying to bring an NHL team to the city, announced Tuesday that people can make refundable deposits for season tickets at NHLSeattle.com beginning March 1.

The deposits run $500 per ticket for season tickets or $1,000 per ticket for club season tickets, which are center ice, lower-level tickets.

Billionaire David Bonderman and filmmaker Jerry Bruckheimer are leading the effort to bring a team to Seattle. The group submitted its expansion application with the National Hockey League last week.

NBC's Lindsey Vonn Show takes home Olympic bronze

Highlights from media coverage of the Pyeongchang Olympics:

THE LINDSEY VONN SHOW: NBC identified Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White as its two stars of the Olympics going in, and with White's games over, was intent upon riding with Vonn to the bottom of the mountain. The focus bordered on the excessive, with the pre-race catalogue of her injuries, the l-o-n-g lingering camera shot as she waited for the starting gate to open and the two separate post-race interviews by Heather Cox. In the second interview, Cox followed NBC's cringeworthy, get 'em to cry playbook by asking about a dead relative. In this case, it paid off because Cox stuck with her and, her emotions unleashed, Vonn talked movingly about her career and likely last hurrah at the Olympics.

LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE: It was plain how determined NBC was to not repeat the embarrassment of the super-G competition when announcer Dan Hicks pronounced the race over before it was. And the network nearly succeeded. The downhill had roughly the same structure, with the last dozen or so racers having very little chance to win. This time NBC stuck with coverage nearly to the end, through racers that showed you why they had very little chance to win, forcing Hicks and partner Bode Miller to fill space through skiing's version of basketball's garbage time. Then, with nine racers left to go, a graphic flashed on the screen with the top three finishers and the still-premature label of "final results."

MILLER TIME: Miller's had a rough Olympics, but he's capable of insights you can only get from a recent, serious competitor. To an outsider, snow is snow. But Miller spotted a rough patch that caused one competitor to wipe out and spoke of the impact of different consistencies of snow. He also took the bold stance of suggesting the key factor in gold medal winner Sofia Goggia's victory was her chosen starting time, fifth among all the skiers. We're still hoping to learn what he means by the observation that a skier is taking an aggressive line.

MILLER TIME, PART TWO: Is this Miller's first and last Olympics with NBC? He sounded wistful hearing the story of Goggia working as a television commentator when she missed the Sochi Olympics due to an injury and when asked how she liked it, replied, "I like being a competitor a lot more." Responded Miller: "I can agree with that."

SECOND CHOICE: NBC is getting the hang of using its NBCSN cable network as a complement to network coverage. On Tuesday, for example, the cable network gave extensive coverage of figure skating, allowing NBC the flexibility to stay longer on the downhill race and show more of the breadth of Olympic competition. It still needs to better communicate the choices that viewers have.

RATINGS: An estimated 18.6 million viewers watched the Olympics in prime time Monday on either NBC, the cable network NBCSN or streaming services. That's down 21 percent from the 23.5 million viewers who saw the Olympics on the corresponding Monday night in Sochi four years ago. The 16.3 million who watched the NBC telecast Monday was down 31 percent from Sochi. NBC says the average prime-time viewership for the Pyeongchang Games is 21.1 million, but no individual evening has topped the 20 million figure since last Tuesday.

___

More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

Stephen King in tweet slams congressman as "NRA sweetheart"

Author Stephen King on Tuesday called a Maine congressman an "NRA sweetheart" for receiving thousands of dollars from the gun rights advocacy group.

King urged residents in a tweet to not vote for Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in November, citing his support from the National Rifle Association. The Maine-born novelist has posted several tweets about gun policy since a Florida high school shooting last week that left 17 people dead.

Poliquin adviser Brent Littlefield said the incumbent congressman is a strong Second Amendment supporter and that he will not respond directly to a "Hollywood person."

"There are literally thousands and thousands of National Rifle Association members throughout Maine," Littlefield said. "And Congressman Poliquin has been happy to have those Maine people's support. Maine has a long tradition of responsible and peaceful firearms ownership."

The New York Times has identified Poliquin as a top House recipient of NRA funding. The newspaper last fall said the association reported spending more than $200,000 to help Poliquin's political career, including $68,000 spent attacking his opponents.

Atlanta airport offers nonstop flights to Kingdom of Wakanda

“Black Panther” fans rejoice: The world’s busiest airport is officially offering nonstop flights to the fictional Kingdom of Wakanda. Sort of.

>> Read more trending news 

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport shared a photo of a terminal showing a 7:30 p.m. departure time to the hidden city on Twitter Monday, following a holiday weekend that brought in $235 million for the film.

The person behind the airport’s Twitter account had answers to all the essential questions.

According to the state Department of Economic Development, 3,100 people working in Georgia’s booming film industry were employed during the shoot, which started in August 2016 and wrapped up in November 2017.

“We’re incredibly proud that Atlanta has such an important role in the film industry,” Reese McCranie, Hartsfield-Jackson’s director of policy and communications, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. McCranie said the airport’s social media team, which he oversees, came up with the idea during a Monday meeting.

Related: ‘Black Panther’ enjoys record weekend at box office

Since its posting, the playful image shared on the airport’s official Instagram and Twitter accounts has reached hundreds of thousands of people.

“We love keeping our customers engaged,” McCraine said. “And it’s important for us to be part of the cultural conversation.”

Unfortunately, the current flight departing from Gate T3 isn’t headed to the Kingdom of Wakanda. But, McCraine said, “we are certainly looking to explore direct service connection. In the meantime, we hope everyone gets to enjoy the movie.”

As for Wakanda, the beauty and wonder of the fictional country was inspired by Africa itself. Before shooting the film, director Ryan Coogler explored the mountainscape of the tiny nation of Lesotho.

Related: 5 things to know about ‘Black Panther’ director Ryan Coogler

According to The Washington Post, Wakanda is actually farther north, along the shores of Lake Victoria. “The country is rendered as a Pan-African pastiche; viewers of Black Panther can point to Ghanaian fabrics and Zulu headdresses, Ethiopian tribal body markings and a prominent Bantu tongue,” the Post reported.

The fictional country was also inspired by several African landmarks, including South Africa’s Three Rondavels (or Three Sisters) and the canyon Orbi Gorge.

George and Amal Clooney donate $500k to march against guns

Actor George Clooney and his wife, Amal Clooney, are donating $500,000 to students organizing nationwide marches against gun violence, and they say they'll also attend next month's planned protests.

In a statement released Tuesday, the couple says they're inspired by the "courage and eloquence" of the survivors-turned-activists from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed at the school and others wounded when a former student went on a rampage with an assault rifle. Students are mobilizing a March 24 march in Washington and elsewhere to urge lawmakers to enact tougher gun control.

The Clooneys say they're donating the money in the names of their eight-month-old twins Ella and Alexander. The couple also says the family plans to "stand side by side" with students next month.

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