Innovation of the Week
June 14, 2014

Japanese telecom SoftBank has a new robot that it claims can recognize human emotion thanks to technology that allows it to "communicate through emotion, speech, or body language." Pepper is also equipped with microphones and proximity sensors, and will use cloud-based computing to share data to improve their emotion-recognition functions. Pepper, which is now serving customers at SoftBank stores in Tokyo, will go on sale to the public next year for about $2,000. The robots could someday act as babysitters, nurses, and emergency medical personnel.

Golden Arches
2:13 a.m. ET
Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images

McDonald's is giving a raise and new benefits to the roughly 90,000 employees who work at the 1,500 U.S. restaurants the company owns and operates, the fast food giant announced Wednesday. Starting July 1, workers will get at least $1 over minimum wage, for an average pay of $9.90 an hour. Employees with at least a year on the job will also be eligible for up to five days of paid leave a year.

The across-the-board pay raise won't directly affect the bulk of McDonald's workers — 750,000 people work at 12,500 McDonald's eateries owned by 3,100 franchisees in the U.S. alone — but all U.S. workers will be able to take advantage of a new program allowing employees to get their high school diploma online free of charge, plus some assistance with college tuition.

"Motivated teams deliver better customer service," new McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook told The Wall Street Journal, "and delivering better customer service in our restaurants is clearly going to be a vital part of our turnaround." Outside analysts say the move by McDonald's is in response to wage pressures from the improving economy and raises handed down to hourly employees by other large U.S. customer-interacting companies.

April Fools
1:18 a.m. ET

Jimmy Kimmel is a huge fan of April Fools' Day, but he's usually the one pulling the pranks. Early Wednesday, with the help of Kimmel's wife, Rihanna turned the tables. You could argue that having Rihanna and her crew come in and perform a personal concert for you in your bedroom is a nice prank, but the flashlight in the eyes and the pillows to the head would be unpleasant. Plus, putting the video on national TV. "All right, well, that was a good one," Kimmel said after the prank. And so it was. Watch. —Peter Weber

Afro & Deziak?
12:54 a.m. ET

There really could have been an NBC show called American Power Hour in the early 1980s, but it's unlikely it would have featured a black-and-white R&B duo called "Afro & Deziak." But despite the spot-on VHS-quality look the Tonight Show crew managed to create, realism isn't the reason to watch Jimmy Fallon and guest Pharrell Williams sing and dance. You watch for the crazy outfits, cheap laughs, and quick costume changes. Isn't that reason enough? —Peter Weber

Time to move to Indiana
12:31 a.m. ET

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) was David Letterman's guest on Wednesday night's Late Show, and Letterman asked about the kerfuffle over the "religious freedom" law in his home state, Indiana. Franken and Letterman both agree that gays and lesbians, because they are people, should not be discriminated against, and that Gov. Mike Pence (R) erred in signing the law. Then Letterman got down to brass tacks.

"Here's what I want to know," Letterman started. "I love Indiana, and I'll probably be buried in Indiana, and I know I've embarrassed the state many, many times.... What can I do now to make the governor feel uncomfortable." Franken had a brainstorm: "As a matter of fact, there's an open seat there," with Sen. Dan Coats (R) not seeking re-election in 2016. "I think you should run," he said. Letterman, who will be jobless next year, shakes his head no, but Franken has a point: Candidates with 35-40 years of professional comedy under the belt have fared pretty well in politics. —Peter Weber

RIP
April 1, 2015

Cynthia Lennon, the first wife of John Lennon and mother of their son, Julian, died of cancer on Wednesday at her home in Mallorca, Spain, at age 75. Cynthia Powell and John Lennon met in art school in Liverpool, and married in 1962 after she became pregnant but before the Beatles recorded their first single, "Love Me Do."

It was not a very happy marriage, according to her two memoirs and several interviews, and it ended after John started a relationship with his future second wife, Yoko Ono. After their divorce in 1968, Cynthia Lennon remarried three times, and her last husband died in 2013. She is survived only by Julian Lennon, who posted this video after her death. —Peter Weber

April Fools
April 1, 2015

If new Late Late Show host James Corden wasn't familiar with America's April Fools Day tradition before Wednesday's show, he was afterward. Katie Couric is the guest, and anything else would kind of ruin the punchline. Watch below. —Peter Weber

TV talk
April 1, 2015
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Any publicity is good publicity, right?

According to the Daily Mail, Barbara Walters, who created ABC's The View in 1997, believes that bringing on a controversial figure as co-host would boost the show's floundering ratings.

Walters sold the rights to The View to ABC last year. In an interview with David Letterman in 2014, Walters said that she didn't think that being on the show was what Lewinsky wanted at the time, but added, "I think it'd be great if she were on The View, but I wouldn't expect it tomorrow."

The "network source" quoted by the Mail said that Walters thinks Monica would attract a younger demographic interested in her story and what she has to say, though her presence would likely bar an appearance by Bill or Hillary Clinton.

Lewinsky has reportedly been asked to appear on the show as a guest to discuss her anti-bullying campaign, but a network executive said there are no plans to bring her on as a co-host.

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