February 22, 2017

Unable to reach their congressional representatives the old-fashioned way — by phone, email, and in person — Americans across the country are getting creative.

This week, Republican lawmakers like Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.) have faced angry constituents who peppered them with questions about everything from repealing the Affordable Care Act to President Trump's ties to Russia. Some of these representatives might run away from their meetings as fast as humanly possible, but at least they're showing up — the same can't be said for House Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.), and Rep. Paul Cook (Calif.), according to their constituents, who want to know why their congressmen aren't holding town halls or even letting people inside their offices.

In Wisconsin, the residents of Janesville are concerned over Ryan's whereabouts, so much so that they have placed a missing-person's ad in the Lost and Found section of the Madison Craigslist. "We had been planning on having an intervention at his recess town hall meetings, because he seems to be addicted to power, but he fled sometime in and around January 20, 2017, and hasn't been seen since," the ad states. To make sure people know who to look for, they included helpful photos of Ryan lifting weights while donning a backwards hat, a much different look than in this billboard in Wisconsin:

And last week, after a tussle at Rohrabacher's Huntington Beach office involving activists seeking a town hall meeting, one of his staffers, and a door, the California congressman accused the citizens of being "engaged in political thuggery, pure and simple." Here is an example of said thuggery on a local beach:

The search is also on in California's 8th District for Cook, who last appeared at an in-person town hall on Sept. 5, 2013. Anyone with any information is urged to visit www.WhereIsPaulCook.com. Catherine Garcia

5:25 p.m.

The disappointing final season of Game of Thrones has led many fans to wish for a do-over (even if that petition for HBO to film a whole new final season seems a little pie-in-the-sky).

But a new glimmer of hope has come from actor Kristofer Hivju, who played Tormund Giantsbane in the HBO drama. "We shot an alternative ending," Hivju told Metro, adding that it was "mostly for fun" and that he wasn't sure if he was allowed to talk about it. (Our guess: Probably not!)

Unfortunately, Hivju didn't spill any other details, so for now let's just go ahead and assume it ended with, you know, literally anyone else on the Iron Throne. Read more at Metro. Scott Meslow

5:12 p.m.

Daniel Radcliffe: Boy wizard, adolescent multimillionaire, surprisingly well-adjusted human adult, and… walking drink cart?

That's the story told by his Harry Potter costar Helena Bonham Carter, who described Radcliffe on The Late Show as a boy who was so well-mannered that he routinely agreed to hold her beverages on set.

"He was really handy because I like my tea and my coffee and my Diet Coke and things and he'd hold them all for me," explained Carter. (We guess Hogwarts saves the holdus yourown beverageus spell for graduate-level witches and wizards.) Read more at The Hollywood Reporter. Scott Meslow

5:03 p.m.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) saved his harshest words for last.

The House Intelligence Committee wrapped its second week of public impeachment hearings after hearing from former top adviser on Russia Fiona Hill and diplomat to Ukraine David Holmes. And while Democrats and Republicans still have more witnesses they'd like to hear from, Schiff, who leads the committee, delivered what felt like a finale at the end of Thursday's testimonies.

Schiff used much of his closing statement to tear down a constant refrain heard from Republicans throughout the hearings. They constantly brushed off witnesses' and the Ukraine whistleblower's testimonies as "hearsay," which Schiff called "absurd" because it requires taking President Trump at his word, and then "imagin[ing] he said something else ... about actually fighting corruption."

Schiff then compared what witness have said about President Trump to former President Richard Nixon's impeachment scandal, saying today's situation is "far more serious than a third-rate burglary of the Democratic headquarters." But the reason there isn't more definite action being taken against Trump is summed up in "the difference between that Congress and this one," Schiff continued. "Where is Howard Baker? Where are the people that are willing to go beyond their party to look to their duty?"

And with that, Schiff adjourned. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:01 p.m.

Getting merchandise in time for Christmas, Baby Yoda is.

Merchandise of everyone's favorite little green friend from The Mandalorian, the new Disney+ Star Wars series, will be going on sale for this holiday season, CNBC reported Thursday.

That might have seemed like a sure bet from the very first appearance of the adorable creature, who isn't actually Yoda as a baby but has been given that moniker since no official name for the character or the character's species has been revealed. But reports subsequently emerged suggesting any Baby Yoda merchandise might not go on sale until after the holiday season, as Disney had apparently held back in an attempt to prevent leaks of the surprise character. CNN just this morning observed that Disney "appears to have missed a big opportunity to sell a bunch of 'Baby Yoda' Star Wars toys to boost its holiday toy sale numbers."

But CNBC reports that "apparel and accessories featuring the yet unnamed creature will soon be available through Amazon, Zazzle, Target, Kohl's, Macy's, Hot Topic and Box Lunch," and these products "could arrive as early as Friday." Baby Yoda products are also headed to the Disney Store, ShopDisney, and to Disney Parks before the holidays as well, and "presales for toys and plush will be available in the coming weeks," the report says, though it's "uncertain when that merchandise will be shipped."

Disney will be striking while the iron is hot, then, presumably covering all its bases with everything from Baby Yoda dolls to Baby Yoda mugs to Baby Yoda, well, fill in the blank. And for those who don't believe what a phenomenon Baby Yoda has become in just over a week, that is why you fail. Brendan Morrow

4:57 p.m.

Here's news that might ruffle some feathers: Mark Ruffalo — who has appeared as Bruce Banner, a.k.a. the Incredible Hulk, in seven different Marvel movies — may have worn his last pair of shockingly stretchy pants.

In a recent interview with Collider, Ruffalo said he asked Hollywood executives if there would be room for the Hulk in the Marvel movies after Avengers: Endgame, and was given an extremely noncommittal answer about seeing where things landed in the future. "I just took that as a really nice way of saying 'probably not,'" Ruffalo says — which was a wise approach, because you wouldn't like him when he's angry.

Read more at Collider. Scott Meslow

4:56 p.m.

Apple's hopes of entering the film battleground to fight in the great streaming wars are on pause for now. The tech company pulled the release of its first original movie, The Banker, late Wednesday night, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Apple did not state any specific reasoning behind the decision to yank the movie, merely stating there were "concerns" surrounding the film. The Banker has recently garnered controversy over sexual abuse allegations against Bernard Garrett Jr, the real-life character's son. The claims were made by Garrett Jr.'s half-sisters, Cynthia and Sheila Garrett, Deadline reports. As of now, the accusations are undisclosed, but according to the Reporter, Cynthia Garrett recently brought the claims to Apple's attention. They allege the misconduct took place while Garrett Jr. was staying at their family home. Garrett Jr. co-produced The Banker, notes the Reporter, but he is no longer credited, according to the film's IMDb page.

The movie is based on a true story about the first African-American bankers in the United States who used a white man (played by Nicholas Hoult) as the face of their business. It stars Marvel co-stars Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Mackie. Jackson is playing Joe Morris and Mackie is playing Garrett Jr.'s father, Bernard Garrett.

The Banker was set to have its world premiere Thursday night in Hollywood at the American Film Institute Fest, and was even gathering Oscars buzz ahead of its sudden cancellation. The slot has now been filled with Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story, per Deadline. Brielle Diskin

4:20 p.m.

If something seems too good to be true, it's probably because it is.

President Trump congratulated his eldest child last week for hitting the top of The New York Times' bestseller list with his book Triggered. But as was pointed out at the time, Donald Trump Jr.'s rise to the top of the list was in part due to an unknown number of bulk sale purchases — leading some people to believe he bought his way into the ranks.

As Times reporter Nick Confessore noted Thursday, Trump Jr.'s book did in fact get a pretty hefty sales boost — from the Republican National Committee. A Federal Election Commission disclosure reportedly shows the RNC made an expenditure to Books-a-Million totaling $94,800 one week before Triggered was released. The disbursement, which was identified as being for "donor mementos," was reportedly connected to the promotion of Trump Jr.'s book.

Books-a-Million, which held a fundraiser at the beginning of the month for Triggered, is listing copies of the book for $23.09 online, which comes out to a little over 4,000 copies given the RNC's payment.

An RNC spokesperson previously told Confessore the committee had "not made a large bulk purchase" but was ordering copies of Triggered in order to "keep up with demand."

As Confessore points out, the situation is a sweet deal for both the RNC and Trump Jr. One makes $500,000 off of promotional deals with donors, and the other becomes a New York Times best-selling author. Marianne Dodson

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