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February 7, 2019

Woody Allen is taking Amazon to court.

The director has launched a breach of contract suit against Amazon Studios, alleging the company improperly terminated a film deal with him over "a 25-year old, baseless allegation," Variety reports. Amazon in 2016 signed a five-picture agreement with Allen, Mashable reports, the first of those five movies being Wonder Wheel, which was released in 2017 and starred Kate Winslet and Justin Timberlake.

The next film in the deal was to be A Rainy Day in New York, starring Selena Gomez, Timothée Chalamet, Elle Fanning, Jude Law, and Rebecca Hall. The film was shot in 2017, but its future became uncertain after the #MeToo movement gripped Hollywood. Allen had previously been accused of sexual assault by his daughter, Dylan Farrow; he has denied the allegation and has never been charged. In early 2018, several of the stars of A Rainy Day in New Work released statements saying they regret working with Allen and would donate their salaries to charity, and Page Six reported in August that Amazon Studios might not release the film at all.

This lawsuit confirms that, with Allen saying that Amazon is refusing to release the film in theaters as was agreed to and moved to terminate his deal in June 2018. The complaint says that Amazon already knew about the allegation against Allen before signing the agreement deal but that "in any event it does not provide a basis for Amazon to terminate the contract," per The Hollywood Reporter. Additionally, it claims that executives at Amazon met with Allen in early 2018 and agreed they would release A Rainy Day in New York but simply wait until 2019 to do so. Allen is seeking $68 million from Amazon, which has not yet responded to the lawsuit. Brendan Morrow

10:25 p.m.

The Justice Department announced Tuesday it will open a broad antitrust review into tech giants and how they acquired so much power.

The DOJ said in a statement the review will "consider the widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online." The Federal Trade Commission and Congress have both already started similar inquiries, and several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have called for the breakup of these massive companies.

The DOJ said the goal of the review is to identify antitrust issues so they can be fixed, The Wall Street Journal reports. In after-hours trading on Tuesday, shares for Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, and Facebook were all down. Catherine Garcia

9:21 p.m.

A businessman who remembers what it was like to rely on free lunches as a child approached the Wyoming Valley West School District in Pennsylvania with an offer he didn't think they would refuse.

Todd Carmichael, CEO and co-founder of La Colombe Coffee, said he told the school board president, Joseph Mazur, that he wanted to give the district $22,000 to wipe out all student lunch debt. Carmichael proposed the gift after learning that the district was sending letters to parents warning them that if they didn't pay the lunch money owned, they could be "sent to dependency court for neglecting your child's right to food," possibly leading to children being removed from their homes and put in foster care.

Mazur rejected his offer, Carmichael's spokesman Aren Platt told The Associated Press, saying the money is owed by parents who can afford to pay up. "The position of Mr. Carmichael is, irrespective of affluence, irrespective of need, he just wants to wipe away this debt," Platt said. Mazur did not return AP's phone calls.

A lawyer for the school board said he doesn't know what they plan on doing regarding lunch debt; previously, there had been talk of placing liens on properties and filing complaints in a district court. As for the foster care threat, Luzerne County child welfare agency officials said it's false to claim that parents who don't pay lunch debt could be sent to court, AP reports, and the school district needs to stop making this threat. Catherine Garcia

8:14 p.m.

Climate change activists glued themselves to the doorways of tunnels that connect the Cannon House Office Building to the Capitol Building on Tuesday, demanding that lawmakers do something about the climate emergency.

The activists are part of the group Extinction Rebellion, which made headlines earlier this year after members in London glued themselves to windows, barricaded the entrance of the London Stock Exchange, held a massive protest at the Natural History Museum, and blocked the city's streets. The group doesn't think politicians are taking climate change seriously or doing enough to curtail carbon emissions. Extinction Rebellion has affiliates in more than 50 countries, BuzzFeed reports, and there are 38 chapters in the United States.

In Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, peaceful protesters held up signs saying "Declare Climate Emergency" and sang songs together. On Twitter, Extinction Rebellion of Washington, D.C., said the group was "sorry for the inconvenience, but we're not going back to business as usual until we declare a climate emergency and get climate justice for everyone, everywhere." So far, 13 protesters have been arrested. Catherine Garcia

7:00 p.m.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller will appear before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday with one of his longtime aides, Aaron Zebley, by his side, people familiar with the matter told The New York Times on Tuesday.

At the last minute, Mueller requested Zebley be sworn in as a witness, but instead, he will be there as Mueller's counsel, offering guidance on how to answer questions about the two-year investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and obstruction of justice.

Zebley was a deputy special counsel with "day-to-day oversight of the investigations conducted by the office," Mueller spokesman Jim Popkin said. Zebley was also Mueller's chief of staff when he served as FBI director. Mueller is also appearing before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, but it's unclear if he made the same request to the panel. Catherine Garcia

5:53 p.m.

Snap is finally on the upswing again after its disastrous 2018 redesign.

On Tuesday, Snapchat's parent company revealed the app gained 13 million new users in the second quarter, its largest boost since it went public in 2017. It also reported a boosted revenue of $388 million up 48% from a year earlier, sending stocks up 11% in post-market trading, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Snapchat had been either losing users or remaining stagnant from when it posted its IPO until the first quarter of 2019. It also saw a year of falling stock numbers, hitting a record low of $4.99 at the end of last year. Shares have since rebounded 180% to hit $16.50 after Snap shared its Q2 earnings Tuesday, though that's still below its debut price of $17, CNBC notes.

Snap's 203 million total user base exceeds the 192 million expectation analysts predicted for this quarter, Snap said on Tuesday. That's largely thanks to popular gender-swapping filters that apparently even helped one college student catch an alleged predator cop. An updated Android interface also helped retain and add users, Snap said. Snap expects its revenue and user base to continue growing in the third quarter, with an anticipated Q3 revenue of between $410 million and $435 million. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:10 p.m.

You might want to get the tissues out for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's eulogy for her former colleague, the late former Justice John Paul Stevens, who died last week at 99.

Ginsburg kept her remarks short and sweet, but they lent credence to reports that Stevens was not only a well-respected judicial mind, but a man of high character — with a sense of humor to go along with it.

Stevens was laid to rest in a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday, but CNN obtained a transcript of Ginsburg's eulogy. She spoke of how Stevens was actively playing sports and traveling across the Atlantic well into his 90s. In fact, the two of them saw each other at a conference in Lisbon, during what turned out to be the last week of Stevens' life.

On their last evening there, Ginsburg said she told Stevens that it was her dream to remain on the bench as long as he did. (Stevens, who served for 35 years, has the third longest Supreme Court tenure in U.S. history). Stevens' response? Stay longer.

At the end of the day, Ginsburg said, "in a capital city with no shortage of self-promoters" the "genuinely genial, unpretentious, and modest" Stevens "set a different tone." Read the full remarks at CNN. Tim O'Donnell

4:42 p.m.

Comedian Jon Stewart on Tuesday celebrated the Senate's passage of a bill permanently reauthorizing the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, saying fighting for the cause alongside 9/11 first responders has been the "honor of my life."

Stewart spoke after the Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill extending funding through 2092 in a 97-2 vote, ensuring that it remains funded for the remainder of the 9/11 first responders' lives, as NBC News reports.

"I will always be so proud to have been associated" with the fight to extend the fund, Stewart said on Tuesday. "...We can never repay all that the 9/11 community has done for our country, but we can stop penalizing them. And today is that day that they can exhale." Stewart went on to say that "unfortunately, the pain and suffering of what the heroes go through is going to continue," but today should "begin the process of being able to heal."

The former Daily Show host blasted Congress in a fiery, viral testimony last month, pleading with lawmakers to permanently extend the fund. But Stewart clearly didn't want to take too much credit for the bill's passage, sarcastically quipping after Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) heaped praise on him, "Yes, I think we can all agree I'm the real hero."

9/11 first responder and advocate for the fund John Feal also spoke on Tuesday after embracing Stewart, saying there's "no joy" or "comfort" in passing the bill after "18 years of pain and suffering." After deciding he'll miss "nothing" about Washington, D.C., Feal blasted the two Senators who voted against passing the bill, Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), pointing to the overwhelmingly successful vote and telling them, "We whipped your asses." Brendan Morrow

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