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Is this the real life?
February 20, 2019

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is apparently a new correspondent for Extra, and he's making his debut by ... chatting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about Bohemian Rhapsody.

That is not a Mad Libs but rather a real description of events that happened Wednesday, when Extra teased a clip from an upcoming interview with Pompeo. It's conducted by Spicer, who Extra casually dubs their "special D.C. correspondent." Spicer hit Pomepo with a hard-hitting question to start, asking what he listens to on iTunes — Pompeo named AC/DC and Toby Keith. His wife, Susan, added that he's a big fan of Queen, though, so much so that they saw Bohemian Rhapsody opening weekend.

This led to a conversation about the Oscars. President Trump may think the Academy Awards are "a sad joke," but Pompeo apparently watches them every year and will even make sure he can do so during his flight this Sunday. And what's his pick for Best Picture? While Susan mentioned that they saw A Star Is Born, the secretary of state threw his weight behind Bohemian Rhapsody, which he "loved." The Queen biopic has been criticized for a wide variety of reasons, including its minimization of Freddie Mercury's sexuality, although considering Pompeo has suggested homosexuality is a "perversion," perhaps that wasn't a concern.

Watch the clip below. Brendan Morrow

February 8, 2019

We live in wondrous times. On Thursday night, the world's wealthiest man, Jeff Bezos, revealed that the tabloid National Enquirer was threatening to publish what Dylan Howard — chief content officer of American Media Inc., the Enquirer's parent company — referred to in an email as a "below the belt selfie  — otherwise colloquially known as a 'd*ck pick'" if Bezos didn't drop an investigation into how AMI acquired his private text messages to his mistress. Howard and other AMI officials put these threats into writing, and Bezos put that writing into his post.

This could cause serious legal problems for AMI and its chief, David Pecker, who have a non-prosecution deal with Manhattan federal prosecutors in a separate "catch-and-kill" case, and Bezos' investigators reportedly suspect that a government agency or foreign government originally intercepted the Bezos text messages, which could potentially implicate President Trump, a longtime friend of Pecker and vocal critic of Bezos. But let's not lose sight of what's important here: the gift this is to headline writers. In fact, the New York Post and HuffPost had the same obvious-in-retrospect banner:

Headlines don't really write themselves, but sometimes all the right ingredients are there for the taking. Peter Weber

February 7, 2019

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) admitted to wearing blackface but denies being either the man in blackface or the man in a KKK robe in a photo he put on his 1984 medical school yearbook page. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) faces an accusation of sexual assault. The second person in line to be governor if Northam and Fairfax resign is Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D), who also admitted Wednesday to wearing blackface in 1980. And the next person in line after Herring is Kirk Cox, the Republican speaker of the House of Delegates, who is speaker only because Republican Del. David Yancey broke his electoral tie with Democratic challenger Shelley Simonds by dumb luck — his name was drawn out of a bowl.

Or, as the New York Post summarized all that information on Thursday's front page:

So, Virginia's political crisis is mostly attributable to college kids wearing blackface in the 1980s. Was that really a thing? Maybe.

Presumably, House Speaker Cox wasn't a member of Chi Phi at the University of North Carolina in 1979. Right? Peter Weber

November 5, 2018

Fox's Queen biopic won the domestic box office this weekend, while Disney's latest live-action effort wasn't so lucky.

Bohemian Rhapsody, which stars Rami Malek as Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury, had a $50 million U.S. debut, per Box Office Mojo. This was well above expectations; the film last week was projected to bring in closer to $35 million, Variety reported. The critics have been tough on the film, but audiences clearly disagree: While Bohemian Rhapsody earned a 60 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, it has already made $141 million worldwide on a budget of $50 million, and moviegoers across the country gave it an average rating of A, per CinemaScore.

Meanwhile, Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms failed to conjure much Christmas spirit with a dismal $20 million opening. This is particularly dire considering the live-action retelling of the classic story reportedly had a budget of about $130 million. Analysts blame a variety of factors including the release date, which placed a Christmas movie nearly two full months before the actual holiday, and just two days after Halloween. This is Disney's third box office stumble of the year after A Wrinkle in Time and Solo: A Star Wars Story. But considering this was also the year that Disney made over $3 billion from Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War alone, the studio can probably handle these occasional losses. Brendan Morrow

January 17, 2018

Congress is two days away from a government shutdown, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) doesn't have enough Republican votes for a fourth straight short-term spending package, facing discontent from GOP defense hawks and the far-right Freedom Caucus. Democrats say they will vote against it, despite a tacked-on 6-year extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), because Republicans won't agree to a deal to protect DREAMers. The White House and House GOP leaders are leaning on GOP holdouts while preemptively blaming Democrats if the government shuts down, arguing that Democrats are voting against CHIP.

When a Politico writer said it would be interesting to see how many Democrats "vote against a 6-yr CHIP extension," Ryan press secretary Doug Andres retweeted, roping in late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel, a vocal proponent of funding children's health care. Kimmel wrote back.

The argument continued:

It was actually a pretty good summation of the political fight. Andres appeared to have a hard time believing this was his life.

Funding for CHIP expired in September. Everyone believes a standalone bill to fund it would easily pass in both houses. Peter Weber

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