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Madrid art fair yanks photo exhibit amid political spat

Madrid's International Contemporary Art Fair on Wednesday yanked a photo exhibition called "Political Prisoners in Contemporary Spain," prompting charges of censorship against the government-funded body which operates the event venue.

The spat came during efforts by pro-independence groups in the northeastern Catalonia region to break away from Spain. Some Catalan political leaders and activists have been preventively jailed because of their secession bid, and their supporters claim they are political prisoners — a charge which the national government in Madrid has vigorously denied, labelling them "politicians in prison."

The ARCO fair organizers said in a statement that IFEMA, which runs the fair venue, asked the exhibiting gallery to take down artist Santiago Sierra's photographs of unidentified prisoners because the controversy caused by the collection had diverted attention from the rest of the exhibits. It said the Helga de Alvear gallery complied with the request, leaving a broad stretch of blank wall.

The artist's studio said the move damaged the international prestige of Spain and of the annual fair. It said in a statement that the common denominator of the prisoners portrayed in the photos was that they had expressed their ideas without resorting to violence.

The collection of 24 black-and-white photographs featured head-and-shoulder portraits of prisoners with their faces pixelated. Captions explained who they were, such as Catalan and Basque nationalists, without naming them.

One group of photographs included people facing potential trial for their actions during the recent Catalan independence turmoil, and many Spaniards would likely be able to identify them despite the pixelation. They include Catalonia's former vice president, a former Catalan interior minister and two prominent Catalan separatist activists.

Carlos Urroz, the director of ARCO, said each gallery's space at the exhibition is a private area. Urroz said that Sierra, the artist, "is always very controversial and all his works have a very political slant."

Madrid City Council said it didn't support the decision to withdraw the exhibit, saying it defends freedom of expression and creativity "above all."

Chef Jose Andres writing book on Hurricane Maria relief work

Award-winning chef Jose Andres is working on a book about his efforts to help Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

Ecco told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it has acquired "We Fed An Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time." The book is scheduled for Sept. 11 and is co-written by Richard Wolffe. A portion of proceeds will be given to the Chef Relief Network of Andres' nonprofit World Central Kitchen. Also on Wednesday, the James Beard Foundation cited his efforts in feeding millions of Puerto Ricans after the storm in naming him "Humanitarian of the Year." The foundation called him a "committed advocate of food and hunger issues."

"We Fed an Island" will be released through Anthony Bourdain's imprint at Ecco. In the book, Andres says he wanted to provide the "inside story" of the relief work by himself and World Central Kitchen last fall.

"We want to tell the inside story of what we saw on the ground," he writes, "the good and the bad— of the crisis, the response, and how a plate of food does more than just fill you up. It fills you with hope."

Brit Awards adopt white rose symbol to signal 'Time's Up'

Music stars will wear white roses on the Brit Awards red carpet to support campaigns against sexual harassment and assault.

Guests at Britain's biggest music awards show will be given white rose pins to wear in solidarity with the "Time's Up" movement.

Calls for change have swept through the entertainment industry since women began coming forward to accuse Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein last year.

There was a similar gesture at Sunday's British Academy Film Awards, where women wore black to oppose sexual misconduct and bullying.

Rising star Dua Lipa, grime artist Stormzy and ubiquitous singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran are among nominees for Wednesday's awards at London's O2 Arena, hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall.

All three are also set to perform, along with Justin Timberlake, Rita Ora and Foo Fighters.

Will and Jaden Smith create eco-friendly water company: Just

Jaden Smith's environmental consciousness was born when he was out surfing at about age 10. He saw plastic water bottles bobbing in the ocean beside him, and he was so upset by it that he told his parents.

Then he learned in school about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, those floating "islands" of garbage and plastic debris, and insisted that his family do something about it.

The result is Just, an eco-friendly bottled water company founded by Smith and his famous dad, Will Smith. The company makes its packaging from almost entirely renewable resources, including "plastic" derived from sugarcane.

"This was a company born out of a child's love for the ocean," Will Smith told The Associated Press during an interview with the father-son entertainment duo about their company's new offering: flavored water. They established the company in 2015, but the elder Smith said he wanted to wait until it gained momentum on its own merits before revealing the brand had celebrity backing.

"We did not want this to be a celebrity brand," he said. "We're just about to launch our second product and we felt like there were enough people who already have accepted the brand and it wouldn't look like celebrities trying to sell some water."

Jaden Smith's passion for the company's mission — reducing plastic and carbon dioxide emissions globally — is evident when he speaks about it, as well as in various videos he's released talking about climate change, sustainability and renewable resources. The 19-year-old said he's visiting schools to spread awareness about the problems caused by plastic and pollution and to inspire young people to help find solutions.

"School and education is where it all starts, because that's where it started for me," he said, adding that he tells students: "I just want you to know that I came up with this idea when I was your age, and that means you have the infinite ability to come up with any idea or any way that you want to change the world."

He said his goals for the company also include producing classroom furniture from used water bottles as a way of repurposing materials and diverting them from landfills.

Will Smith, speaking by phone from Atlanta, where he's beginning work on an Ang Lee film, said he's been inspired by his son's commitment — both to the cause and to himself as someone who can create change. The 49-year-old superstar said that's the most valuable thing he's learned from his children (including daughter Willow, 17, and son Trey, 25): "That you have to freely and unapologetically be true to you above all things."

"There's a certain expectation that has developed of me over the years, and in watching Jaden and all of my children, I'm learning to get free again to be me and do me without the absolute concern of every single moment trying to live up to an image of who I am," Smith said. "I found a really brand new freedom through watching my kids and how they tend, specifically Jaden, to not concern themselves with anything above honesty and truth and integrity to themselves first and foremost."

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AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen is at www.twitter.com/YouKnowSandy.

New book by Sen. Bernie Sanders coming in November

Sen. Bernie Sanders is planning his next move.

At least on paper.

The Vermont independent and 2016 presidential contender is working on a new book. The publisher tells The Associated Press in a Wednesday statement that "Where We Go From Here" will be released Nov. 13 by Thomas Dunne Books.

Sanders will focus on how to oppose to President Trump and how to "strengthen the progressive movement." Sanders' previous book, "Our Revolution," told of his 2016 campaign.

His surprisingly strong run against Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries made him a national figure and favorite among progressives. He is often mentioned as a possible candidate for 2020.

Thomas Dunne Books is an imprint of St. Martin's Press.

Florida beach named nation's best in TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice awards

A Florida beach has been named the nation's best in TripAdvisor's annual Travelers' Choice awards.

>> See the full rankings here

The travel website announced Tuesday that Clearwater Beach was the best in the U.S. in 2018, climbing from No. 4 in 2017. The beach also topped the national list in 2016. 

>> Read more trending news 

Meanwhile, Grace Bay in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, took the award for the best beach worldwide.

>> Click here or scroll down to see which other beaches made the lists

Wonder Woman and Luke Skywalker expected at the Oscars

Wonder Woman and Luke Skywalker will be at the Academy Awards — or at least the actors who play them onscreen.

Oscar producers announced Wednesday that Gal Gadot and Mark Hamill will appear on the show, along with fellow "Star Wars" actors Oscar Isaac and Kelly Marie Tran.

Producers say Lin-Manuel Miranda, Gina Rodriguez, Armie Hammer and Zendaya also have been booked as presenters.

Previously announced stars appearing on the March 4 telecast include "Black Panther" Chadwick Boseman, comedian Tiffany Haddish, "Spider Man" Tom Holland and Margot Robbie.

Jimmy Kimmel is hosting the show, which will be broadcast at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC.

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For full coverage of awards season, visit: https://apnews.com/tag/AwardsSeason .

Mitch Albom plans sequel to 'Five People You Meet in Heaven'

Mitch Albom is giving heaven a sequel.

Publisher Harper tells The Associated Press that Albom's "The Next Person You Meet in Heaven" is coming out Oct. 16. The novel is a follow-up to Albom's best-selling "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," which came out in 2003.

The new book continues the stories of Eddie the maintenance man and of Annie, the young girl whose life he saves while losing his own. Albom says in a statement Wednesday that readers often asked him what happened to Eddie and Annie. He says the "The Next Person You Meet in Heaven" was a "natural" for him to write.

"The Five People You Meet in Heaven" was adapted into a 2004 TV movie starring Jon Voight and Ellen Burstyn.

Prosecutor-turned-TV personality Pirro admits driving 95 mph

Fox News personality and former New York prosecutor Jeanine Pirro has pleaded guilty to driving 95 mph in a 65 mph zone.

Authorities previously said that a state trooper clocked Pirro's Cadillac going 119 mph on Route 17 in Nichols, New York, on Nov. 19.

The Journal News says Pirro — who negotiated a plea deal with the Tioga County district attorney's office — has been fined $300 plus fees and has to take a defensive driving course.

Pirro said in November that she'd been driving for hours to visit her ailing mother and didn't realize how fast she was going.

Pirro was a Westchester County judge before serving as district attorney from 1994 to 2005.

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Information from: The Journal News, http://www.lohud.com

'On Body And Soul' hopes to continue Hungary's Oscar streak

With two Oscars in the past two years, Hungary's film industry has been on a winning streak. Now the creators behind the movie "On Body And Soul," a surreal love story, are hoping to score a third Academy Award.

Ildiko Enyedi's first film in nearly two decades comes on the heels of "Son of Saul," which won the 2016 Oscar for best foreign language film, and "Sing," which won best live action short last year.

Enyedi is the only female director in the foreign language category this year, and her film is about two people working at a slaughterhouse whose relationship begins in shared dreams but who have trouble connecting in daily life.

The movie has been gathering awards from Sydney to Mumbai, and won the top prize at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival.

Producer Monika Mecs said a key to the film's success was in creating an empathetic relationship with viewers.

"This is a wonderful love story, a film of love about two people very distant from each other and about them finding each other," Mecs said. "In a slightly clumsy way, it's very hard for them to communicate, they misunderstand each other, but in the end their love is fulfilled. I believe that then viewers recognize themselves in these characters."

Alexandra Borbely, who was named best actress at December's European Film Awards for her role as Maria, a mildly autistic slaughterhouse technician, highlighted the film's timelessness.

"It's not influenced by social or political events or what the current social problems are," Borbely said. "I can imagine that if they watch it 10 years from now, it will have the same effect on people."

While Borbely has had some small roles in a few films, the Slovak-born Hungarian is better known in Hungary for her theater work. "On Body And Soul" was her first leading role and her European acting award has been a real confidence booster.

"I decidedly feel that I'm acting in a much more courageous manner ... that I can think more creatively about a role," Borbely said.

The film's approach to a love story comes with a twist, as Maria and Endre, played by amateur actor Geza Morcsanyi, discover by chance that they are having the same dreams — both dreamt they were deer in a forest.

"Since this was Maria's first encounter with love in her life, for me it was also like reliving that process," Borbely said. "I was really able to experience how it was when it happened to me for the first time."

Mecs said the subject matter was "eternal" and universal.

"Love itself has engaged many for centuries. It's timeless and it's understood everywhere around the world," Mecs said.

Hungarian cinema has been enjoying an upsurge, winning numerous awards at film festivals across the world as well as the Oscars. The industry has benefited from ample state support, skilled technical crews and fresh ideas from directors and scriptwriters.

"A new, fresh golden era or golden age has arrived," Mecs said. "The Oscar glut is part of this very exciting and surprising process."

Enyedi is already at work on an adaptation of "The Story of My Wife," a 1942 novel by Hungarian writer and poet Milan Fust.

Mecs said they hope to start filming next year and that the picture will have an international cast and will be filmed in English. Thanks to the success of "On Body And Soul," the project has garnered interest from producers across Europe.

"To be at the doors of an Oscar is a very big achievement from every point of view," Mecs said. "It absolutely influences the film's future as well as the filmmakers' plans for their next film. These successes are really a huge boost."

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