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Verne Troyer, Mini-Me from 'Austin Powers' films, has died

Verne Troyer, who played Dr. Evil's small, silent sidekick "Mini-Me" in the "Austin Powers" movie franchise, has died. He was 49.

A statement provided by Troyer's representatives that was also posted to his Instagram and Facebook accounts said the actor died Saturday.

No cause of death was given, but the statement describes Troyer as a "fighter" who was unable to overcome a recent bout of adversity then goes on to discuss depression and suicide.

"Over the years he's struggled and won, struggled and won, struggled and fought some more, but unfortunately this time was too much," the statement said. "Depression and suicide are very serious issues. You never know what kind of battle someone is going through inside. Be kind to one another. And always know, it's never too late to reach out to someone for help."

Troyer became a celebrity and pop-culture phenomenon after starring alongside Mike Myers as "Mini-Me," the tiny, hairless clone of villain Dr. Evil in two of the three "Austin Powers" films.

"Verne was the consummate professional and a beacon of positivity for those of us who had the honor of working with him," Myers said in a statement. "It is a sad day, but I hope he is in a better place. He will be greatly missed."

Troyer appeared in 1999's "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" and 2002's "Austin Powers in Goldmember," in which "Mini-Me" switches sides and becomes a miniature version of Powers. Both hero and villain were played by Myers, who also put Troyer in his 2008 film "The Love Guru."

He also played the banker goblin Griphook in 2001's "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and appeared on dozens of TV shows including "Boston Public," ''Sabrina the Teenage Witch" and "MADtv."

Troyer was born in 1969 in Sturgis, Michigan with achondroplasia, a genetic condition that kept him less than 3 feet tall.

"Even though his stature was small and his parents often wondered if he'd be able to reach up and open doors on his own in his life, he went on to open more doors for himself and others than anyone could have imagined," the statement said. "He inspired people around the world with his drive, determination, and attitude. . . He also touched more people's hearts than he will ever know."

Troyer was baptized surrounded by his family during his recent struggles, the statement said. No place of death was given, but he lived in Los Angeles.

Actress Marlee Matlin was among those who paid tribute on Twitter, posting a picture of him and saying he worked with her to raise money for free hearing aids for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

"So sad to read of the passing of Verne Troyer," Matlin tweeted, saying Troyer had a "lovely smile with a caring and big heart."

Roberta Flack leaves Harlem awards show after feeling ill

Singer-songwriter Roberta Flack was under observation at a Manhattan hospital Saturday after suddenly feeling ill before her appearance at Harlem's Apollo Theater.

The 81-year-old Grammy award-winner was taken to Harlem Hospital in an ambulance Friday evening, TMZ reported .

Flack apparently became very dizzy as she was about to receive a lifetime achievement award from The Jazz Foundation of America.

She was in the theater's green room, waiting to go onstage, when she suffered some kind of "episode" those around her feared might have been related to a stroke she suffered two years ago, said Jazz Foundation spokeswoman Bobbi Marcus.

On Saturday, Marcus said she spoke to Flack's manager "and am happy to report that she's doing well."

Flack has been transferred from the Harlem hospital to another Manhattan hospital where she's under the care of her private doctors, Marcus said. "They are keeping her for observation and expect she'll be released in the next couple of days."

Earlier Friday evening, Flack arrived at the Apollo in a wheelchair for red carpet photos, looking "beautiful with hair and makeup," Marcus said.

She was being honored at the foundation's annual benefit concert, called "A Great Night In Harlem."

The show still went on, including a tribute segment to the singer who had gained fame in the 1970s and 1980s with such hit songs as "Killing Me Softly" and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face."

Featured performers at the benefit included Cassandra Wilson, Nona Hendryx, and Alabama Shakes' lead singer, Brittany Howard.

Flack's manager, Suzanne Koga, was not immediately available on Saturday.

The mission of the Jazz Foundation of America is to provide emergency support to great jazz and blues musicians who fall on hard times and to preserve their musical legacy.

Library of Congress brings America to life in LA photo show

If a picture tells a thousand words, the Library of Congress is bringing 440,000 of them to Los Angeles with a free-wheeling photo exhibition that seeks to define America's zeitgeist in a way people have never seen.

"Not An Ostrich: And Other Images From America's Library," which opened Saturday at the Annenberg Space For Photography, takes visitors on a picturesque journey across the country beginning with the birth of photography and continuing to the present day.

But don't expect just amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties, although there are a few of those included in the 440 photographs.

Instead, look for civil rights icon Rosa Parks sitting not in the back of the bus but in the front passenger seat in 1956 after the yearlong battle that she, Martin Luther King Jr. and others led to end segregation on public transportation succeeded.

See baseball immortal Babe Ruth lying in his coffin in 1948, while not far away, in a photo taken seven years later, a young Hank Aaron is seen speaking with a reporter decades before he would break Ruth's home-run record.

Other photos show how day-to-day American life has evolved from the 19th century, when horse-drawn wagons hauled ice to homes, to 2005 when thousands lined up outside a Mojave Desert airplane hangar to see the launch of the X-Box 360 game.

"I'll be disappointed if somebody can come into this space and not find at least one picture that they love," exhibition curator Anne Wilkes Tucker said during a recent pre-opening tour.

Tucker worked for nearly two years with Library of Congress photo curator Beverly Brannan and others, culling through an estimated 1 million of the library's 14 million photos.

Some of the selections are laugh-out-loud funny as in a man holding a sign on a frigid Wisconsin winter day in 2001 asking, "What? You Couldn't Have Pulled This Crap In Warm Weather," as he and others protest Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to roll back union bargaining rights.

Others are menacing, like the image of a 1920s-era Ku Klux Klan rally two miles from Washington, D.C., that includes a Klan member glaring at the photographer.

There's also that reliable photo standby, the funny cat picture. This one, taken in 1936, features an annoyed-looking feline dressed to resemble the female warrior Brunhilde.

"Around the turn of the century, in the early 19-somethings, people liked to make pictures of cats and dogs, putting them at tea tables with dolls, putting clothes on them," said Brannan, revealing that at least one aspect of photography hasn't changed much in 150 years.

Nor has another: One of the first photos visitors see is a daguerreotype Robert Cornelius snapped of himself outside his family's Philadelphia lamp shop in 1839.

"The first selfie we're calling it," Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said with a chuckle.

It is included on the exhibition's "Icons Wall." Two others on the wall, placed side-by-side, are the first known photo of Abraham Lincoln, taken years before his assassination, and the first of legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman, taken in 1868.

Others include the Wright Brothers' first flight in 1903 and the deadly crash of the German dirigible Hindenburg in New Jersey in 1937. (Those who want can don headsets and hear radio broadcaster Herbert Morrison's anguished description of the crash in which he shouts, "Oh, the humanity.")

A rebroadcast of race horse Seabiscuit's stunning upset of War Admiral at Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course in 1938 can also be heard as visitors gaze at a photo of the thoroughbred crossing the finish line four lengths ahead.

Alexander Graham Bell has the distinction of being featured in more than one gallery, as he flies a kite in the leisure section and uses his invention, the telephone, to make one of the first long-distance calls in another.

Celebrities are represented but not in the type of photos one might expect. There's a candid family shot of Elizabeth Taylor, for example, showing her stretched across her bed in 1957 with her infant children as her husband Mike Todd leans over them. She was said to have liked it so much that she sent copies to friends at Christmas.

Not far away is "Migrant Mother," Dorothea Lange's moving portrait of a destitute farmworker photographed in 1936 at a pea-pickers camp near Nipomo, California.

Still others show photographers themselves at work, including a stunning image of Margaret Bourke White perched precariously on a gargoyle sculpture outside the 61st floor of New York's Chrysler building in 1930 as she shoots the skyline below.

In still another, a smiling Malcolm X is photographing a smiling Muhammad Ali.

"Everybody who walks in should find a picture that resonates with them in some way, that challenges them or makes them laugh or inspires them, informs them," said Tucker. "All the levels on which photographers can engage people."

The exhibition, which is free, runs until Sept. 9.

Record Store Day: Vinyl, CDs outsell digital music

Music lovers are paying homage to their local record stores.

Record Store Day, which is celebrated Saturday from coast to coast, celebrates the brick-and-mortar spot where people have long gathered to thumb through vinyl records.

Chris Brown from Maine's Bull Moose Music hatched the idea in 2007.

Brown wanted something for record stores along the lines of Free Comic Book Day. The annual event is now in its 11th year with hundreds of stores participating.

Record stores have something to cheer: The numbers of stores are growing and sales of CDs and vinyl are outselling digital downloads for the first time since 2011.

Queen Elizabeth turns 92: 5 fun facts

Queen Elizabeth II turned 92 on Saturday, and after 65 years on the throne, she holds the distinction of ruling longer than any monarch in the United Kingdom’s history. 

>> Read more trending news

The queen actually celebrates two birthdays each year: her actual birthday, which is April 21; and one in June when she hosts a parade -- weather permitting -- called “Trooping the Color.”

Here are some other fun facts about the Queen: 

One queen, many presidents and popes

Harry S Truman was in the White House and Pope Pius XII was on the throne of St. Peter when Elizabeth II was coronated in 1952. Thirteen U.S. presidents and seven popes have served during her reign.

Her French is tres bien

The queen speaks fluent French, as evidenced by this video:

She has met rocket men (and women)

The queen has hosted Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space; Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space; and Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, the crew of Apollo 11 that was the first crew to land on the moon. Armstrong and Aldrin were the first men to walk on the moon in July 1969.

Mechanically inclined

The monarch received driving and mechanic training as a member of the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II.

Olympic experience

Elizabeth is the first head of state to open two Olympic games in two different countries. She opened the 2012 Summer Games in London and the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

Sources: The official website of the British Monarchy, wire services.

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

Now it's President Donald Trump's turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive.

Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relations by playing host to President Emmanuel Macron at a glitzy White House state dinner on Tuesday.

Months in the making, it's the first state visit and first big soiree of the Trump era in Washington.

"It sounds like what they're planning will be spectacular," said Jeremy Bernard, who was White House social secretary in 2014, the last time the U.S. feted a French president.

The White House has said little beyond the fact that dinner will be served, sticking to the tradition of trying to maintain an element of surprise for its guests.

In fact, Macron will break bread twice with Trump.

On Monday, the president and Melania Trump will dine privately with Macron and his wife, Brigitte, at Mount Vernon, the home of America's first president, George Washington, on the banks of the Potomac River in Virginia. The White House said the setting will serve as a reminder of France's "unique status" as America's first ally.

Trump ended his first year without receiving a foreign leader on a state visit, making him the first president in nearly 100 years to do so and heightening the stakes for Tuesday.

Dinner tickets are typically highly sought after by Washington's political and business elite. A few inklings of who's in and who's out already are known: Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, is in, as are House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was invited, but his office said he is unable to attend.

In a break with tradition, Trump invited no Democratic members of Congress or journalists, said a White House official who was not authorized to discuss the arrangements. But at least one Democrat will be in the crowd: the office of Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards confirmed his attendance.

Approximately 150 guests will take their seats in the State Dining Room on Tuesday, making for a more intimate affair than those held by President Barack Obama. Obama's guest lists numbered into the hundreds, requiring that the event be held in a tented pavilion erected on the South Lawn because no room in the White House can accommodate that many people.

Most of the responsibility for executing a flawless celebration falls to the first lady and her staff, including such key details as what is served (Trump likes wedge salads and chocolate cake) and poured into glasses (Trump wine?), who sits next to whom, who performs after dinner and what the decor looks like.

One big moment is the first glimpse of the first lady in her gown. Fashion details are kept secret until the first couple steps on to the North Portico on Tuesday night to welcome their dinner guests.

Former first lady Michelle Obama often used state dinners to showcase the talent of up-and-coming designers. Some designers have cited Trump's politics in refusing to dress the current first lady, a former model. Still, a likely choice would be Dior, the French design house whose fashions Mrs. Trump often wears, or Herve Pierre, the French-American who designed her inaugural gown and other looks.

The last time a Republican president hosted his French counterpart was November 2007 when President George W. Bush welcomed the newly divorced Nicolas Sarkozy.

More than 100 guests feasted on lobster bisque, lamb with tomato fondue, green beans and sweet potato casserole, salad and dessert served in the State Dining Room. Among the guests were major league baseball pitcher Tom Glavine, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, French chef Guy Savoy and several Louisiana politicians.

After dinner, guests strolled down the hall to the East Room to watch performers in the roles of Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, the Frenchman who served on Washington's staff in the Continental Army. Sarkozy toured Mount Vernon the following day.

When Macron's limousine first pulls up the White House driveway on Tuesday morning, Trump, the first lady, White House and administration officials, and hundreds of invited guests will be waiting on the South Lawn. The pomp-filled arrival ceremony is for the man who became the youngest president in French history when he was elected in 2017 at age 39 on his first run for office.

The visit also offers Macron his first Oval Office meeting and a joint White House news conference with Trump. There's also a State Department lunch hosted by Vice President Mike Pence before Macron and his wife arrive for the state dinner.

The Trump-Macron relationship appeared to get off to a bumpy start with a white-knuckler of a handshake when the political novices met for the first time at a NATO summit in Brussels last May. But Macron likely sealed the bond after Trump accepted his invitation to attend the annual Bastille Day military parade in the center of Paris in July. Macron and his wife also took Trump and the first lady on a tour of Napoleon's tomb and whisked them up into the Eiffel Tower for dinner overlooking the City of Light. The experience led Trump to order up a military parade for downtown Washington later this year.

But the two part company on some significant issues, including the Paris climate accord, which Trump withdrew the U.S. from last year, and the Iran-nuclear deal, another multinational agreement that Trump is itching to pull out of. The president did successfully rally Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May, with whom Trump has sparred, to mount a joint military operation against Syria in response to an apparent chemical attack this month that killed Syrian civilians. Macron still worries about Trump's desire to remove U.S. troops from Syria.

An art lover who speaks good English, Macron is known to watch what he eats. Yet he told reporters at an agricultural fair in Paris in February that "I drink wine at lunch and dinner."

Discerning his tastes, including likes and dislikes, even allergies, is one of the first things the White House tries to pin down for all guests, said Bernard.

"You're really focused on making sure the guest feels special," he said.

Mrs. Trump's social secretary, Rickie Niceta, came aboard last year after two decades of event planning for a caterer whose clients included the White House, the State Department and several embassies, in addition to working on the past five presidential inaugurations, including Trump's. The first lady, who speaks French, also has experienced hands running the kitchen, pastry shop and florist's lair. All three women helped execute more than a dozen state dinners for Obama.

Trump owns hotels, including one near the White House, and knows about good hospitality.

Bernard recalled that, just as invitations were about to go out for the 2014 dinner for then-French President Francois Hollande, news broke that Hollande and his longtime girlfriend had abruptly split. Mrs. Obama's staff anxiously sought clarity on whether Hollande would bring another date.

He didn't, and Bernard dealt with the awkwardness of the situation by seating Hollande between the two Obamas.

___

Associated Press writer Sylvie Corbet in Paris and AP News Researcher Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report.

___

Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

Stormy Daniels' attorney talks about 'locked and loaded' DVD, Sean Hannity

The attorney for Stormy Daniels reiterated that a DVD of evidence of the adult film actress’ affair with President Donald Trump is “locked and loaded,” Newsweek reported. 

>> Read more trending news

Michael Avenatti appeared on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” and in the online-only Overtime segment, the attorney was grilled about the DVD, which he teased with a photograph in a tweet last month.

Maher asked whether Avenatti would ever “release the contents of the warning-shot disc of evidence you tweeted about.”

“Possibly. It depends how the case progresses,” Avenatti said.

Maher tried to get specific, asking “What’s on it?”

“Well, we took that picture and we tweeted it out and it was exactly that -- it was a warning shot to Michael Cohen and the president that if they tried to claim that my client was a liar after ‘60 Minutes’ there was gonna be consequences, and it worked, and it worked perfectly because we heard nothing from them,” Avenatti said.

Avenatti also was asked about Cohen’s legal relationship with Fox News host Sean Hannity.

“Here’s what I think: I think that when the documents actually come out, and there are documents -- there’s no question in my mind, there are documents with Sean Hannity’s name on them -- the extent of that relationship, when it finally surfaces, I think will be very embarrassing to Sean Hannity,” Avenatti said.

Hannity has claimed that Cohen merely advised him on a real estate query. 

Avenatti described Cohen as a “zero,” Newsweek reported

“I think that Michael Cohen knows where almost all the bodies are buried, and I think that he’s going to sing like a canary,” Avenatti said. “I know he’s going to fold, because here’s the problem, when you have a fixer, you need two things at least: You need a guy who is tough, and you need a guy that is smart. This guy is neither tough nor smart. I think he’s a zero.”

Dwayne Johnson answers girl's prom request, rents out theater for her

An 18-year-old Minnesota student isn’t going to the prom with “The Rock,” but the actor and former wrestling star gave her the next best thing.

>> Read more trending news

Katie Kelzenberg of Stillwater Area High School had tweeted a video to Johnson, asking him to be her date for her school’s senior prom on May 5.

Friday during the school’s morning announcements, Kelzenberg and her fellow classmates were startled to hear Johnson’s voice over the intercom, ABC News reported.

“All right, let’s start this Friday morning announcement off with a little bit of fun and a little bit of excitement ... You're probably thinking 'What is 'The Rock' doing on our intercom system!?” Johnson said. “Well, I'm sending a message to very special young lady.”

While acknowledging that Kelzenberg might have been embarrassed -- in the video, her face reddens as Johnson continues to speak -- he thanked her for being “cool and awesome” for the prom invitation. He told the students that he was unable to make the prom because he would be in Hawaii filming his new movie, “Jungle Cruise.”

Then Johnson dug into his wrestling repertoire and dropped the People’s Elbow on the unsuspecting class.

Johnson told Kelzenberg that he was renting out a local theater for her friends and family to see a screening of Johnson’s movie, “Rampage,” with drinks and popcorn on him, ABC News reported.

"I want you to go and have the greatest time! I rented out 232 seats!" he said. "Katie, have the best time. Thank you for being awesome!"

Thousands sing 'Happy Birthday' to Queen Elizabeth II

The audience at Royal Albert Hall got a rare treat Saturday — the chance to sing "Happy Birthday" to the longest reigning monarch in British history.

Queen Elizabeth II, with her eldest son Prince Charles at her side, waved to the crowd as they celebrated her 92nd birthday in song.

Charles got an enthusiastic response when he introduced her as: "Your majesty, mummy."

The queen took center stage after a varied pop concert featuring British singers Sting, Tom Jones and Jamie Cullum along with Australian star Kylie Minogue, long a fan favorite here.

Shaggy and Craig David also performed, and the festivities took a long stroll down memory lane, with audio from a speech Elizabeth made on her 21st birthday and video from her Golden Jubilee, when roughly 1 million people gathered outside Buckingham Palace to honor her.

She was flanked in the royal box by Charles, heir to the throne, and Prince William, next in the line of succession.

Prince Harry and fiancee Meghan Markle also attended, generating a roar of applause when they took their seats. The couple will wed May 19 at Windsor Castle.

Prince William's wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, did not attend. She is expecting the couple's third child.

The queen's husband, Prince Philip, was also missing. He is recovering from hip replacement surgery.

The show featured contemporary tunes, but included songs from earlier eras, including selections from "My Fair Lady" — one of the queen's favorites — and a sentimental rendering of "Wonderful World."

Earlier in the day, honorary gun salutes were staged at Hyde Park, the Tower of London, a castle in Wales and the town of Windsor to mark the occasion.

The queen celebrates two birthdays every year: Her actual birthday on April 21, which she usually marks privately with her family, and her "official birthday" in the summer. That usually falls on the second Saturday in June, when she joins the Trooping the Color military parade in central London.

Elizabeth's real birthday this year came on the tails of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which brought the leaders of the 53 Commonwealth countries together in England.

The queen has led the disparate group, made up of Britain and its former colonies, since she took the throne in 1952.

___

This story has been corrected to show that Saturday was the queen's actual birthday, not the "official" birthday she observes in June.

Prince Charles will succeed Queen Elizabeth as head of the Commonwealth

It’s official: Prince Charles will succeed Queen Elizabeth as head of the Commonwealth, the BBC reported.

>> Read more trending news

The Queen had said it was her “sincere wish” that the Prince of Wales succeed her when she dies. Leaders of the Commonwealth discussed the issue before making their decision, the BBC reported.

Unlike the British crown, the lead role in the Commonwealth is non-hereditary, the BBC reported.

At a news conference, British Prime Minister Theresa May praised the Queen for her "vision and duty" in growing the Commonwealth from eight members to 53. She said it was "fitting" Prince Charles would succeed her due to his "proud support" of the Commonwealth "for more than four decades."

The role is largely symbolic and carries no maximum fixed term, the BBC reported.

The Queen turned 92 on Saturday. Charles, her oldest child, is 69.

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