J.J. Abrams certainly knows how to draw attention to a charity. In May, he introduced an ongoing drive for UNICEF by revealing a brand-new alien that will appear in Star Wars: Episode VII. And this week, as the charity drive comes to an end, he's revealed something even better: one of the new Star Wars sequel's X-Wing spaceships.
In the new video, Abrams explains that anyone who donates to UNICEF through the Omaze page for Star Wars: Episode VII will earn a chance to visit the set. They'll also be eligible for a separate drawing, which will see one lucky fan receive an early Star Wars: Episode VII screening in their hometown.
But regardless of whether or not you win anything, all Star Wars fans who watch the video will get to enjoy the official introduction of one of Episode VII's battle-weathered X-Wings, complete with a suited-up pilot (and a droid who's clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time). Check it out below. --Scott Meslow
Maybe Adele should have started off "Hello" with a ukulele. On Tuesday night, The Tonight Show posted a video of Monday's guest, Adele, singing her hit song in a small greenroom with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, using a dinky drum machine and a bunch of instruments you might find in a grade school music class. These "classroom instrument" sessions are almost always a great way to show off a singer and the song, and "Hello" suffers little or nothing from being stripped down to, in some cases, acoustic toys. Still, it would be nice if The Roots left the kazoos at home next time. Watch below. Peter Weber
President Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to several notable names in entertainment, sports, and politics Tuesday, including filmmaker Steven Spielberg, baseball legend Willie Mays, singer and actress Barbra Streisand, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md).
Obama said the recipients contributed "to America's strength as a nation," and pointed out the different ways they made a difference in the country. Mays, he said, "helped carry forward the banner of civil rights. It's because of giants like Willie that someone like me could even think about running for president." Spielberg creates films that are "marked by a faith in our common humanity," and NASA mathematician Katherine G. Johnson had the task of calculating trajectories for the first U.S. mission in space and the Apollo 11 moon landing. "If you think your job is pressure-packed, hers meant that forgetting to carry the one might send somebody floating off into the solar system," Obama said.
Other honorees include composer Stephen Sondheim; conductor and violinist Itzhak Perlman; singer Gloria Estefan; music producer Emilio Estefan; veterans activist Bonnie Carroll; singer James Taylor; former Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton; and former EPA head William Ruckelshaus. Baseball great Yogi Berra; Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress; Indian treaty rights advocate Billy Frank Jr.; and civil rights activist Minoru Yasui were all honored posthumously. Yasui took a stand in 1942 by ignoring the military curfew for Japanese Americans and going for a walk in Portland, and Obama said his legacy has "never been more important. It is a call to our national conscience, a reminder of our enduring obligation to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, an America worthy of his sacrifice." Catherine Garcia
Following the release of a video showing the fatal officer-involved shooting of a black teenager, hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Chicago Tuesday night.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) November 25, 2015
— RT (@RT_com) November 25, 2015
— People magazine (@people) November 25, 2015
— CNNgo (@CNNgo) November 25, 2015
Some shouted "16 shots," referring to the number of bullets allegedly fired during the Oct. 20, 2014, shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, USA Today reports. Others carried posters and called for an end to the violence that has plagued Chicago. Three people have been detained for unknown reasons, WGN reports, and other protesters said they would make their way to 17th and State to show their solidarity. Catherine Garcia
David Canary, a legendary soap opera star who won five Daytime Emmy awards, died Nov. 16 of natural causes in Connecticut. He was 77.
— Kelly Ripa (@KellyRipa) November 24, 2015
Canary was famous for playing twins Adam and Stuart Chandler on All My Children, winning five Outstanding Actor Awards and earning 16 nominations between 1985 and 2008. He started his acting career working in theater in New York before transitioning to film and television. He also appeared in Hombre with Paul Newman and Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Peyton Place, Another World, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Talk show host Kelly Ripa, who played Canary's daughter on All My Children, said on Twitter she was "so sad to learn of the passing of the great David Canary. A[n] incredibly talented actor. A wonderful man. I was lucky to know you." Canary is survived by his wife, Maureen; son Christopher; daughter Kathryn; brother John; and one grandson. Catherine Garcia
Hearing cries coming from a nativity scene, a maintenance worker at a Catholic church in Queens, New York, found, tucked away in a manger, a newborn baby.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) November 24, 2015
Police say the baby was just four or five hours old when he was discovered, swaddled in towels. The Rev. Christopher Heanue of Holy Child Jesus Church said it's likely the infant was in the crèche for about 30 minutes before he was found, and his umbilical cord was still attached. "I believe that this mother came with her child and was able to find in this crèche — a place where Jesus will be welcomed — a place where her child will be welcomed," he told The Wall Street Journal.
Under New York State law, as long as a child is left in a safe place, it is not a crime to abandon a baby, and police still do not know the identity of the mother or whoever dropped off the infant. A couple in the church is interested in adopting the baby, Fr. Heanue said, and the boy would be a "gift to our parish, our community. The Holy Child Jesus, that's our namesake. It's a welcoming home for this child, most especially." Catherine Garcia
The city of Chicago released dashboard camera footage Tuesday evening that shows the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old black teenager in October 2014.
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) November 24, 2015
The video is six minutes long, and appears to show Laquan McDonald walking down the middle of a street before he is shot. Jason Van Dyke, the officer who allegedly shot McDonald, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday; prosecutors say he fired 16 rounds at McDonald in roughly 14 seconds, and was reloading when another officer told him to hold his fire, the Chicago Tribune reports.
A court ordered the release of the video after a freelance journalist filed a Freedom of Information Act request, going against the wishes of McDonald's family. "No one understands the anger more than us, but if you choose to speak out, we urge you to be peaceful," the family said in a statement. "Don't resort to violence in Laquan's name. Let his legacy be better than that." Before the video was posted, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy held a news conference, urging residents to remain calm. "The officer in this case took a young man's life, and he's going to have to account for his actions," McCarthy said. "People have a right to be angry, people have a right to protest. " While he did not predict "doom and gloom," he did say he believed the tape would spark protests. The graphic video can be viewed on the Chicago Tribune website. Catherine Garcia
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday at least 19 people in California, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Utah, Virginia, and Washington may have been infected by E. coli after consuming rotisserie chicken salad sold at Costco.
Five people have been hospitalized, and two have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, which can lead to organ damage, Reuters reports. No deaths have been reported. The CDC says 14 of 16 people purchased or ate rotisserie chicken salad from Costco in the week before they became ill. Costco says it stopped selling the salad Nov. 20, the same day the company was notified by health officials about the connection to E. coli cases. The CDC says it has not yet identified which ingredient is linked to the infection. Catherine Garcia