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Amy Schumer responds to critics over possible Barbie role

Variety reported last week Schumer was in talks to play Barbie and the plot of the movie would involve the character getting kicked out of Barbieland for not being perfect enough and going on an adventure in the real world.

The comedian posted a picture of herself in a swimsuit on Instagram Tuesday . She says those who attempted to fat shame her have failed because she knows she's not fat and has "zero shame" in her game. Schumer says the backlash has made it evident that she's a "great choice" to play "an important and evolving icon."

Italian director clarifies 'Last Tango' butter rape scene

Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci is clarifying details about the infamous butter rape scene in the "Last Tango in Paris."

Bertolucci says the only novelty sprung on actress Maria Schneider was the butter — not the simulated rape, which he said was written into the script.

"Some people thought, and think, that Maria wasn't informed about the rape," said a Bertolucci statement carried by the ANSA news agency Monday.

"False! Maria knew everything because she had read it in the script, where it was described," he said. "The only novelty was the idea of the butter."

The controversial film made headlines in recent days after a 2013 interview surfaced in which Bertolucci said neither he nor Marlon Brando had told Schneider of their plans to use the stick of butter during the scene.

He said he and Brando came up with the idea on the morning of the shoot and decided not to tell Schneider because he wanted her to react "as a girl, not as an actress." Bertolucci wanted her, he said, to feel "the rage and the humiliation."

Schneider, who died in 2011, spoke often about the scene between her, then aged 19, and Marlon Brando, then 48, even saying in a 2007 Daily Mail interview that she "felt a little raped" by her co-star and director.

In the statement, Bertolucci said the controversy was "ridiculous." He criticized commentators for being so "naive" as to think that what they see on screen actually happens.

"Those who don't know that in film, sex is (almost) always simulated, probably also think that every time John Wayne fires, someone actually dies."

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This story has been corrected to show that comments were made Monday, not Wednesday.

Italian director clarifies 'Last Tango' butter rape scene

Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci is clarifying details about the infamous butter rape scene in the "Last Tango in Paris."

Bertolucci says the only novelty sprung on actress Maria Schneider was the butter — not the simulated rape, which he said was written into the script.

"Some people thought, and think, that Maria wasn't informed about the rape," said a Bertolucci statement carried by the ANSA news agency Monday.

"False! Maria knew everything because she had read it in the script, where it was described," he said. "The only novelty was the idea of the butter."

The controversial film made headlines in recent days after a 2013 interview surfaced in which Bertolucci said neither he nor Marlon Brando had told Schneider of their plans to use the stick of butter during the scene.

He said he and Brando came up with the idea on the morning of the shoot and decided not to tell Schneider because he wanted her to react "as a girl, not as an actress." Bertolucci wanted her, he said, to feel "the rage and the humiliation."

Schneider, who died in 2011, spoke often about the scene between her, then aged 19, and Marlon Brando, then 48, even saying in a 2007 Daily Mail interview that she "felt a little raped" by her co-star and director.

In the statement, Bertolucci said the controversy was "ridiculous." He criticized commentators for being so "naive" as to think that what they see on screen actually happens.

"Those who don't know that in film, sex is (almost) always simulated, probably also think that every time John Wayne fires, someone actually dies."

___

This story has been corrected to show that comments were made Monday, not Wednesday.

Cruz Beckham, 11, releases debut holiday song for charity

Another Beckham has stepped into the limelight.

Cruz, the 11-year-old son of David and Victoria Beckham, has released his debut single, a holiday-themed pop track titled "If Every Day Was Christmas."

Beckham previewed the song Wednesday on Britain's Capital FM. He said the song contained "two of my favorite things: singing and Christmas."

Father David said he was "really proud."

Proceeds from the sale of the single will go to a charity for disadvantaged children.

Cruz Beckham is being managed by Scooter Braun, who shepherded Justin Bieber from teen YouTube sensation to global stardom.

Former soccer star David Beckham and Spice Girl-turned-fashion designer Victoria have three other children: Brooklyn, 17; Romeo, 14; and 5-year-old Harper.

Cruz Beckham, 11, releases debut holiday song for charity

Another Beckham has stepped into the limelight.

Cruz, the 11-year-old son of David and Victoria Beckham, has released his debut single, a holiday-themed pop track titled "If Every Day Was Christmas."

Beckham previewed the song Wednesday on Britain's Capital FM. He said the song contained "two of my favorite things: singing and Christmas."

Father David said he was "really proud."

Proceeds from the sale of the single will go to a charity for disadvantaged children.

Cruz Beckham is being managed by Scooter Braun, who shepherded Justin Bieber from teen YouTube sensation to global stardom.

Former soccer star David Beckham and Spice Girl-turned-fashion designer Victoria have three other children: Brooklyn, 17; Romeo, 14; and 5-year-old Harper.

Photos: Happy 100th birthday, Kirk Douglas!

Carolina Herrera says it's an honor to dress Melania Trump

While a few designers have made news saying they would not dress the future first lady, Carolina Herrera said she'd be honored if Melania Trump wore one of her outfits.

The famed designer spoke about Trump on the red carpet before she got an honor of her own Monday night from the Women's Leadership Council at Lincoln Center.

Who might dress the wife of President-elect Donald Trump has become an issue after designers Sophie Theallet and Tom Ford, who have both dressed first lady Michelle Obama, said they wouldn't do so for Mrs. Trump, a former model.

But when asked if she would, Herrera said, "Of course I will, as the first lady of this country I will. Of course."

She added, "It is an honor to dress the first ladies of the country and it's something to do for the United States. It's not for myself. It's for the public."

Obama has worn Herrera while in the White House.

Herrera was lauded for her 35 years of fashions at the event by Emmy Rossum and Seth Meyers, among others. Diana Ross sang a mini-concert in Herrera's honor, including hits like "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "I'm Coming Out."

Rossum and Meyers both used wedding dress tales to testify about the greatness of Herrera

The "Shameless" actress said Herrera, whom she called "the chicest women alive," was the first to design for her on the red carpet, and over the years, helped her get out of her comfort zone.

"She persuaded me to embrace increasingly bolder and brighter prints," Rossum said. "She dared me to stand out."

Rossum said she excitedly called Herrera to design her gown for her upcoming wedding.

"I knew without question that only she could make the wedding dress of my dreams, and she has approached that task with the same care, elegance and enthusiasm that only she can," Rossum said. "I couldn't be more honored at the thought of wearing her dress on my big day."

Meyers' wife also wore Herrera for their wedding. On the day, the late night comedian recalled how his wife came down with food poisoning and had to go to the hospital, but rallied for the ceremony.

"I was still concerned as to how she would look as she walked down the aisle, because I have to be honest, she did not look great in the hospital," he said to laughs. "It was problematic, because I put on the tuxedo, I looked fantastic."

But his fears were allayed when she put on her Herrera gown.

"I cannot tell you how much it meant to me and how in awe I was when my wife walked down the aisle after she had been lying on that gurney, on those fluids, and it was all such a credit to this Carolina Herrera wedding gown she was wearing," he said. "She was completely transformed."

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Entertainment producer Alicia Rancilio contributed to this report.

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This story has been corrected to show the spelling of the designer is Carolina Herrera, not Herrara.

Drake tops iTunes' year-end music lists

Drake was all over Apple Music this year, so perhaps no surprise the rapper tops the iTunes music lists as well.

Drake's album "Views" was the best-seller in iTunes, while his hit "One Dance" was the most popular single. Drake debuted his album on Apple Music's Beats 1 Radio in the spring.

Rihanna, who collaborated with Drake on her smash "Work," held the No. 2 spot on the top album's list with "Anti," while Adele's "25," Frank Ocean's "Blonde," which also debuted on Apple, and Justin Bieber's "Purpose" rounded out the top five.

Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling" was the No. 2 song of the year, followed by Rihanna's "Work," Flo Rida's "My House" and Lukas Graham's "7 Years."

The list is determined by iTunes downloads and streams from Apple Music, which has over 20 million subscribers.

In an interview, Eddy Cue, senior vice president of Internet Software and Services at Apple, said that 60 percent of those using Apple Music had not purchased any music from iTunes, and noted the growth in its exclusives with artist, from Frank Ocean to Chance the Rapper.

"At the end of the day, we work for the artist. What we are doing is about making sure that we make it easy with our technologies for them to create music, and with our technologies, for them to be able to distribute music and for them to make a great living doing that," he said.

Cue said one of the biggest lessons learned is Apple Music was making it easier for consumers to use, from access to its playlists to its radio stations on Beats 1.

Zane Lowe, who runs Apple's Beats 1 Radio, said the integration of all platforms is key for Apple Music as well.

"When you go to browse, you know that there's an album out, but there's also an interview that's just been done that there's attached to that, and there's a playlist to that," he said.

Elsewhere on iTunes in 2016, the top paid app was Minecraft: Pocket Edition, while the most popular free app was Snapchat; the top movie was "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," and the most popular TV show was "Game of Thrones, Season 6."

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Online:

www.itunes.com

Country rebel Sturgill Simpson awed by Grammy nom

Sturgill Simpson's records have defied easy characterization (Country? Americana? Experimental Southern rock?), but this year The Recording Academy decided whatever genre he was, he made one of the best records of the year. And that's enough for him.

"The fact that there are a million people around the world Googling my name and trying to figure out who the hell I am right now is just enough for me," the Kentucky-bred singer said with a laugh during a phone interview Tuesday in Nashville, Tennessee.

Simpson's album, "A Sailor's Guide to Earth," was the surprise underdog nomination for the all-genre album of the year category alongside blockbuster albums by Adele and Beyoncé when the Grammy nominations were announced Tuesday. It was also nominated as best country album of the year.

Although the album was a critical favorite and topped Billboard's Country Albums chart when it was released, Simpson remains outside of mainstream country music's radar. Not a blip on country radio, no country music award nominations, but his music incorporates elements of traditional country in the vein of Waylon Jennings, while experimenting with jazz, soul, rock and pop.

"Musically when I open my mouth, it's going to be a country song," Simpson said. "But I listen to everything except country music these days in my life. I am trying to encapsulate and incorporate a lot of those elements and also push my understanding of what a country album could be."

Simpson started his professional career as a musician late in life, after stints in the Navy and working on the railroad and a series of odd jobs throughout the country. His first two records, "High Top Mountain," in 2013 and "Metamodern Sounds in Country Music," in 2014 framed him as a student of the genre as well as an outsider. The later record earned him a Grammy nomination for best Americana album.

"Sailor's Guide" was recorded in just a week with longtime Nashville engineer David Ferguson, who worked with producer Rick Rubin on Johnny Cash's last records. Ferguson, who learned under legendary producer Cowboy Jack Clement, added lush orchestration to Simpson's brash honky-tonk sound. A concept album about his life lessons to his son, the record includes the recently deceased Sharon Jones' brass band, The Dap-Kings, as well as violin, bagpipes and a cello, and an impressive cover of Nirvana's "In Bloom."

But he caused a bit of controversy this year when he posted on Facebook that the Academy of Country Music Awards should not have created an award named after Merle Haggard when he felt they never showed true love to the country outlaw, who died this year. He later added that he felt like he would be "blackballed" from the industry for his comments.

Simpson had developed a friendship with the country icon over the last couple of years of his life.

"He had a very elastic flexibility as a musician and also a fearlessness," Simpson said. "Merle made a career out of doing what Merle wanted to do. That was a huge influence and gave me a lot of courage, not only as a musician but as a human being just because sitting and talking to him, he would say things that most people would never say out aloud out of fear of how it might make them look. But with him there was no filter."

As for whether he still felt blackballed by the industry despite the Grammy nomination, he said he's always had the support of many musicians, producers and engineers in Nashville.

"This to me tells me that we're just going to reach a lot more people and it tells me that I have reached a lot more people than I was even aware of," Simpson said. "And that's so amazing and humbling. It's insane."

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Online:

www.sturgillsimpson.com/

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Follow Kristin M. Hall at twitter.com/kmhall

Illinois man who faked Canada link gets 5 years in prison

An Illinois man who forged the signature of the Canadian deputy health commissioner and defrauded investors was sentenced in New York to five years in prison Tuesday.

Howard Leventhal was sentenced in Brooklyn federal court by Judge Brian M. Cogan. Prosecutors said Leventhal claimed he had agreements to market a device named after Dr. Leonard McCoy, a fictional character on TV's Star Trek series.

They said Leventhal claimed his company, Neovision USA Inc., would market the product as "Heltheo's McCoy Home Health Tablet."

The government said Leventhal cited agreements signed by Glenda Yeates, Canada's former deputy health commissioner, as he solicited more than $26 million from investors. But prosecutors said there was no agreement with Health Canada and Yeates' signature was a forgery.

"Leventhal used his considerable imagination, non-existent technology, and stolen identities to deceive a number of entities and individuals," said U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers. "Fortunately for investors, his alternate reality, propped up by fabricated bank documents, unraveled and collapsed when he attempted to defraud an undercover FBI agent."

William F. Sweeney Jr., head of the FBI's New York office, urged investors to do research before spending their money and to notify the FBI if fraud is suspected.

"Stranger than fiction truly applies in this case with the subject using a popular sci-fi movie as the inspiration to scam millions of dollars from people. He also forged the signature of the Canadian deputy health minister, which not many people would question as legitimate," Sweeney said in a release.

The 60-year-old Grayslake, Illinois, resident had pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

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