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‘SNL’ mocks presidential town halls

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Oct. 18 (UPI) — Saturday Night Live has satirized last week’s competing town hall broadcasts between President Donald Trump and contender Joe Biden.

This weekend’s opening sketch was introduced with text scrolling across the screen and a voice reading the message: “On Thursday, Vice President Biden held a town hall, as scheduled, on ABC.

“At the same time, NBC laid a thirst trap for President Trump. One town hall was a thoughtful, cogent discussion of the issues facing our country. The other featured President Trump. We now present a rebroadcast of those town halls the way most Americans watched them … Flipping back and forth, trying to decide between a Hallmark movie and an alien autopsy. This is Dueling Town Halls.”

Alec Baldwin reprised his role of Trump in an interview that devolved into a pro wrestling match where moderator Savannah Guthrie (Kate McKinnon,) hit him with a folding chair.

Jim Carrey played Biden as a rambling version of children’s television star Fred Rogers and painting guru Bob Ross, neither of whom offered clear answers to the questions they were asked.

Issa Rae was the episode’s guest host and Justin Bieber provided the musical entertainment.

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Gray wolves stripped of federal endangered species protections

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Oct. 29 (UPI) — The U.S Department of the Interior announced Thursday it was lifting endangered species protections for gray wolves in the United States, saying the 45-year recovery of U.S. wolves has “exceeded all conservation goals.”

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt compared the success of wolves protected in regions of the country under Endangered Species Act to that of the bald eagle.

“Today’s action reflects the Trump Administration’s continued commitment to species conservation,” said Bernhardt in a statement. “After more than 45 years as a listed species, the gray wolf has exceeded all conservation goals for recovery. Today’s announcement simply reflects the determination that this species is neither a threatened nor endangered species based on the specific factors Congress has laid out in the law.”

The de-listing means that the management of wolves will be determined by state and tribe wildlife agencies in more states than they currently are, including in the Midwest in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, as well as in Colorado, Utah and California.

Environmentalists opposed the plan.

“This attempt to return vulnerable wolf populations to state control is the latest chapter in a years-long quest to scapegoat a vital keystone species, despite the courts repeatedly finding a lack of scientific or legal basis for delisting,” said Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute in a statement.

State management plans regulate the hunting of wolves by hunters and ranchers and vary in methods of hunting allowed, including killing wolves from winged aircraft. Some states, such as Wyoming and Idaho have high limits on the number of wolves that can be killed. Gray wolves are still protected by state laws in Colorado and California.

About 6,000 wolves now roam in the northern parts of the United States. Wolves were almost hunted to extinction by 1973, when the species was down to around 145 animals and gray wolves were first put under federal protections.

About 70 wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and on tribal land in Idaho. The animals have since made a comeback over 25 years, spreading to eastern Oregon, Washington and Montana, as well as into Wyoming and Utah.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has attempted multiple times to de-list gray wolves from the lower 48 states, but has been stopped by lawsuits.

In Colorado, where a referendum initiative to restore gray wolves to the state’s western slope is on Tuesday’s ballot, wolf advocates said stripping wolves of federal protections would make reintroduction harder, even though gray wolves are still protected under Colorado law.

“In Colorado, the wolf has been functionally extinct for nearly 80 years and remains so today,” said Rob Edward of the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund. “More than ever, we need wolves to restore the balance in our mountain ecosystems. We need to reintroduce wolves to improve the health of our elk and deer herds, which are suffering from a high prevalence of the always-fatal chronic wasting disease.”

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Thursday’s announcement was “yet another example of the Trump administration undermining longstanding, bedrock protections for our air, water, landscapes and wildlife.”

About 150 Mexican red wolves and Mexican gray wolves remain in the United States. Those species remain listed as endangered under federal protection.



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‘Respect’: Aretha Franklin biopic delayed to August

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Oct. 28 (UPI) — Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson, has been delayed seven months to Aug. 13, 2021, MGM announced.

Respect was set to be released on Dec. 25 with a wide release coming on Jan. 15. The film is titled after Franklin’s 1967 hit song of the same name.

Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, Saycon Sengbloh, Hailey Kilgore, Skya Dakota Turner, Tate Donovan and Mary J. Blige also star in the biopic from director Lisel Tommy.

“Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing her father’s church choir to her international superstardom, Respect is the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice,” reads the synopsis for the film.

Franklin died at the age of 76 in August 2018.

MGM also announced that its planned Tomb Raider sequel, starring Alicia Vikander, has been delayed.

The studio’s first Tomb Raider film arrived in 2018 and also starred Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu and Kristin Scott Thomas.



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Allison Tolman, Nick Frost land leads in ‘Why Women Kill’ Season 2

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Oct. 28 (UPI) — Fargo and Castle Rock actress Allison Tolman and Into the Badlands and Shaun of the Dead alum Nick Frost have signed on for roles in Season 2 of CBS All Access’ anthology series, Why Women Kill.

“I’m heading back to work in this strange new Covid safety landscape, thankful to be alongside good natured individuals also up for an adventure,” Tolman tweeted Tuesday.

The show was created by Marc Cherry of Desperate Housewives and Devious Maids fame.

“This season of the dark comedy features a new ensemble cast and story lines set in 1949 that will explore what it means to be beautiful, the hidden truth behind the facades people present to the world, the effects of being ignored and overlooked by society, and finally, the lengths one woman will go in order to finally belong,” the streaming service said in a press release.

Tolman will play Alma, “a timid and awkward housewife,” while Frost will portray her husband Bertram, “who spends his days as a veterinarian putting sick and injured animals out of their misery.”

Season 1 of the show debuted last year and featured Lucy Liu, Ginnifer Goodwin and Kirby Howell-Baptiste.



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