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Review: In 'The Founder,' cutthroat big business, supersized

When Kroc (Michael Keaton), a struggling traveling salesmen selling milkshake mixers, first beelines to San Bernardino, California, in 1954 to get a look at Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch) McDonald's burger joint, he stands agog at the counter. Moments after he orders, Kroc is handed his burger and fries in a bag, but he might as well have been flame-grilled by lightning. "But I just ordered," he stutters.

Kroc quickly recognizes the revolutionary power of the McDonalds' restaurant and becomes its franchise-driver and the pre-eminent proselytizer of an empire built on burgers. The arches, an invention of Dick's just like its other innovations, will spread "from sea to shining sea," Kroc vows. As a gathering place for families, it will be "the new American church, open seven days a week," he says.

"It requires a certain kind of mind to see the beauty in a hamburger bun," wrote David Halberstam of the minds behind McDonalds in "The Fifties." Of course, the genius behind McDonald's lied largely with Dick McDonald, who engineered the "speedee service system" of its assembly line-like kitchen, designed its layout and focused its tiny menu.

But the ironically titled "The Founder" is not about him. It's about Kroc, a hard-drinking, slightly shifty Illinois salesman who took the idea of the McDonalds and spread it around the world through sheer (and sometimes unscrupulous) force of will and savvy standardization. In the opening scenes, Kroc, struggling to eke out a living on the road, faithfully listens to Norman Vincent Peale's "The Power of Positive Thinking." ''Persistence, determination alone are all powerful," Kroc absorbs.

"The Founder" is a quintessentially post-war American story about a self-made man largely made by others. Kroc, who died in 1984, fashioned himself as the "big picture" visionary to the McDonald brothers' enterprise. Though McDonald's had by 1954 already sold 21 franchises, Kroc's zeal for expansion was compulsive and it turned him into a billionaire.

The McDonald brothers quickly realize, as Dick says, that they've let a wolf in the hen house. They begin fighting over issues that in their world are of massive importance, like milkshakes. Defending his high standards, Dick warns of "crass commercialism" infecting the franchise, and somewhere, Ronald McDonald chokes on a Big Mac.

But Kroc outmaneuvers them and eventually takes control of the company, leaving the run-over McDonalds to stare blankly at the yellow-and-red Frankenstein they've created. "I'm national," a swelling Kroc declares. "You're local."

Yet if there's any tragedy in "The Founder," it's not in the fate of the McDonald brothers but in Kroc's success. The film is penned by Robert D. Siegel, whose "The Wrestler" and "Big Fan" also reflected the dark underbellies of American dreams. But "The Founder," like its subject, is a little mechanical and a little too timid to really take a bite out of McDonald's. It's less a full meal than a drive-thru order.

Hancock's film stays laser-focused on Kroc, and with the naturally appealing Keaton playing him, our sympathies initially slide toward him. But unease steadily creeps in, especially as Kroc, while espousing the virtues of family, callously jettisons his quietly steadfast wife (Laura Dern) for another man's (Linda Cardellini). The bad taste of day-old McNuggets begins to form in our mouths as our hero turns villain, and a successful one at that.

Keaton chomps on the role, a Willy Loman who strikes it rich. Like Bryan Cranston on "Breaking Bad," we can see the wheels turning behind his eyes in his step-by-step drive for power, albeit selling a slightly healthier product than Walter White peddled.

The frightful thing about "The Founder," though, is that for all Kroc's back-stabbing and double-crossing, he's right. Remorseless brutality, just like fresh buns, turns out to be a necessary ingredient in business. Would you like fries with that?

"The Founder," a Weinstein Co. release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for "brief strong language." Running time: 115 minutes. Three stars out of four.

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MPAA Definition of PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Norman Vincent Peale.

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Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

Adams' 'Girls of the Golden West' to premiere on Nov 21.

Composer John Adams' "Girls of the Golden West" will be given its world premiere by the San Francisco Opera on Nov. 21.

The work, with a libretto by Peter Sellars, portrays stories of the California Gold Rush in the 1850s and stars tenor Paul Appleby, soprano Julia Bullock and mezzo-soprano J'Nai Bridges, the company said Tuesday in announcing its 2017-18 season.

Grant Gershon conducts, Sellars directs and David Gropman designs the sets in the co-production with The Dallas Opera, Nationale Opera and Ballet Amsterdam and the Venice's Teatro La Fenice.

Adams, who turns 70 on Feb, 15, previously composed "Nixon in China," ''The Death of Klinghoffer" and "Doctor Atomic," which all appeared at the San Francisco Opera.

The season opens Sept. 8 with a revival of Puccini's "Turandot" and includes new productions of Strauss' "Elektra" with Christine Goerke and Stephanie Blythe as well as Massenet's "Manon" with Nadine Sierra and Michael Fabiano. There will be three Ring cycles in a revival of Francesca Zambello's staging of the four Wagner operas, and they will feature new projections and stage action not part of its 2011 performances in San Francisco.

Adams' 'Girls of the Golden West' to premiere on Nov 21.

Composer John Adams' "Girls of the Golden West" will be given its world premiere by the San Francisco Opera on Nov. 21.

The work, with a libretto by Peter Sellars, portrays stories of the California Gold Rush in the 1850s and stars tenor Paul Appleby, soprano Julia Bullock and mezzo-soprano J'Nai Bridges, the company said Tuesday in announcing its 2017-18 season.

Grant Gershon conducts, Sellars directs and David Gropman designs the sets in the co-production with The Dallas Opera, Nationale Opera and Ballet Amsterdam and the Venice's Teatro La Fenice.

Adams, who turns 70 on Feb, 15, previously composed "Nixon in China," ''The Death of Klinghoffer" and "Doctor Atomic," which all appeared at the San Francisco Opera.

The season opens Sept. 8 with a revival of Puccini's "Turandot" and includes new productions of Strauss' "Elektra" with Christine Goerke and Stephanie Blythe as well as Massenet's "Manon" with Nadine Sierra and Michael Fabiano. There will be three Ring cycles in a revival of Francesca Zambello's staging of the four Wagner operas, and they will feature new projections and stage action not part of its 2011 performances in San Francisco.

Film about 1960s black mathematicians tops MLK weekend

"Hidden Figures," the uplifting film about African-American mathematicians at NASA during the 1960s space race, led the North American box office for the second straight week, selling $27.5 million in tickets over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, according to final studio figures Tuesday.

The Fox release, which stars Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer, has now made $61.9 million following its two weeks of nationwide release. Holdovers dominated the four-day weekend, while a number of high-profile new wide releases struggled badly.

Ben Affleck's period crime thriller "Live by Night" managed a feeble $6 million, and Martin Scorsese's passion project, the Christian epic "Silence," earned a mere $2.4 million. Paramount's pricey family film "Monster Trucks," which cost $125 million, opened with just $14.2 million. In an unprecedented move, Paramount's corporate parent, Viacom, last year wrote off the film as a $115 million loss.

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Monday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Tuesday by comScore:

1. "Hidden Figures," 20th Century Fox, $27,506,839, 3,286 locations, $8,371 average, $61,889,939, 4 weeks.

2. "Sing," Universal, $19,025,360, 3,693 locations, $5,152 average, $238,240,880, 4 weeks.

3. "La La Land," Lionsgate, $17,717,720, 1,848 locations, $9,588 average, $77,299,289, 6 weeks.

4. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," Disney, $16,806,712, 3,162 locations, $5,315 average, $501,898,446, 5 weeks.

5. "The Bye Bye Man," STX Entertainment, $15,204,094, 2,220 locations, $6,849 average, $15,204,094, 1 week.

6. "Monster Trucks," Paramount, $14,174,039, 3,119 locations, $4,544 average, $14,174,039, 1 week.

7. "Patriots Day," Lionsgate, $13,753,384, 3,120 locations, $4,408 average, $14,677,466, 4 weeks.

8. "Sleepless," Open Road, $9,771,305, 1,803 locations, $5,419 average, $9,771,305, 1 week.

9. "Underworld: Blood Wars," Sony, $7,263,585, 3,070 locations, $2,366 average, $25,379,703, 2 weeks.

10. "Passengers," Sony, $6,491,814, 2,447 locations, $2,653 average, $90,871,545, 4 weeks.

11. "Moana," Disney, $6,104,745, 1,847 locations, $3,305 average, $233,410,870, 8 weeks.

12. "Live by Night," Warner Bros., $6,003,052, 2,822 locations, $2,127 average, $6,188,696, 4 weeks.

13. "Why Him?" 20th Century Fox, $4,175,449, 1,977 locations, $2,112 average, $56,008,496, 4 weeks.

14. "Fences," Paramount, $3,513,003, 1,342 locations, $2,618 average, $46,645,365, 5 weeks.

15. "Lion," The Weinstein Company, $2,772,941, 575 locations, $4,823 average, $13,815,545, 8 weeks.

16. "Silence," Paramount, $2,374,886, 747 locations, $3,179 average, $3,456,650, 4 weeks.

17. "Manchester by the Sea," Roadside Attractions, $2,054,178, 726 locations, $2,829 average, $37,215,956, 9 weeks.

18. "Assassin's Creed," 20th Century Fox, $1,658,469, 968 locations, $1,713 average, $53,162,110, 4 weeks.

19. "Moonlight," A24, $1,363,803, 582 locations, $2,343 average, $14,862,562, 13 weeks.

20. "Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them," Warner Bros., $1,201,902, 502 locations, $2,394 average, $231,073,227, 9 weeks.

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Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.

Film about 1960s black mathematicians tops MLK weekend

"Hidden Figures," the uplifting film about African-American mathematicians at NASA during the 1960s space race, led the North American box office for the second straight week, selling $27.5 million in tickets over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, according to final studio figures Tuesday.

The Fox release, which stars Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer, has now made $61.9 million following its two weeks of nationwide release. Holdovers dominated the four-day weekend, while a number of high-profile new wide releases struggled badly.

Ben Affleck's period crime thriller "Live by Night" managed a feeble $6 million, and Martin Scorsese's passion project, the Christian epic "Silence," earned a mere $2.4 million. Paramount's pricey family film "Monster Trucks," which cost $125 million, opened with just $14.2 million. In an unprecedented move, Paramount's corporate parent, Viacom, last year wrote off the film as a $115 million loss.

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Monday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Tuesday by comScore:

1. "Hidden Figures," 20th Century Fox, $27,506,839, 3,286 locations, $8,371 average, $61,889,939, 4 weeks.

2. "Sing," Universal, $19,025,360, 3,693 locations, $5,152 average, $238,240,880, 4 weeks.

3. "La La Land," Lionsgate, $17,717,720, 1,848 locations, $9,588 average, $77,299,289, 6 weeks.

4. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," Disney, $16,806,712, 3,162 locations, $5,315 average, $501,898,446, 5 weeks.

5. "The Bye Bye Man," STX Entertainment, $15,204,094, 2,220 locations, $6,849 average, $15,204,094, 1 week.

6. "Monster Trucks," Paramount, $14,174,039, 3,119 locations, $4,544 average, $14,174,039, 1 week.

7. "Patriots Day," Lionsgate, $13,753,384, 3,120 locations, $4,408 average, $14,677,466, 4 weeks.

8. "Sleepless," Open Road, $9,771,305, 1,803 locations, $5,419 average, $9,771,305, 1 week.

9. "Underworld: Blood Wars," Sony, $7,263,585, 3,070 locations, $2,366 average, $25,379,703, 2 weeks.

10. "Passengers," Sony, $6,491,814, 2,447 locations, $2,653 average, $90,871,545, 4 weeks.

11. "Moana," Disney, $6,104,745, 1,847 locations, $3,305 average, $233,410,870, 8 weeks.

12. "Live by Night," Warner Bros., $6,003,052, 2,822 locations, $2,127 average, $6,188,696, 4 weeks.

13. "Why Him?" 20th Century Fox, $4,175,449, 1,977 locations, $2,112 average, $56,008,496, 4 weeks.

14. "Fences," Paramount, $3,513,003, 1,342 locations, $2,618 average, $46,645,365, 5 weeks.

15. "Lion," The Weinstein Company, $2,772,941, 575 locations, $4,823 average, $13,815,545, 8 weeks.

16. "Silence," Paramount, $2,374,886, 747 locations, $3,179 average, $3,456,650, 4 weeks.

17. "Manchester by the Sea," Roadside Attractions, $2,054,178, 726 locations, $2,829 average, $37,215,956, 9 weeks.

18. "Assassin's Creed," 20th Century Fox, $1,658,469, 968 locations, $1,713 average, $53,162,110, 4 weeks.

19. "Moonlight," A24, $1,363,803, 582 locations, $2,343 average, $14,862,562, 13 weeks.

20. "Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them," Warner Bros., $1,201,902, 502 locations, $2,394 average, $231,073,227, 9 weeks.

___

Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.

The Latest: Prosecutor calls hip-hop podcast host a killer

The Latest on the arrest of a hip-hop podcast host in connection with the fatal shooting of a rapper's bodyguard (all times local):

6:55 p.m.

A prosecutor says a hip-hop podcast host arrested in connection with a New York City concert venue shooting that left a rapper's bodyguard dead is a killer and a danger to the community unworthy of bail.

Daryl Campbell was arrested Monday on a federal weapons possession charge stemming from the May shooting at Irving Plaza in Manhattan just before rapper T.I. was to perform. Campbell is known as Taxstone.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagan Scotten on Tuesday urged a judge to deny him bail, saying evidence he fired the shot that killed a bodyguard for rapper Troy Ave is overwhelming.

The judge granted $500,000 bail but required electronic monitoring. Campbell must post $350,000 in cash or property and identify five people to pledge to support the bail.

Defense attorney Kenneth Montgomery says the claim Campbell fired the fatal shot is "not the truth." He calls his client a "smart, well-balanced person."

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8 a.m.

A hip-hop podcast host has been arrested in connection with a shooting at a popular New York City concert venue last year that left a rapper's bodyguard dead and two people wounded.

Thirty-one-year-old Daryl Campbell, also known as Taxstone, was charged Monday on a federal weapons possession charge tied to the May 2016 shooting at Irving Plaza in Manhattan just before the rapper T.I. was to perform.

A federal complaint states that DNA supposedly belonging to Campbell was found on the trigger, hand grip and magazine of a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun used in the shooting.

Brooklyn rapper Troy Ave, also known as Roland Collins, was wounded, along with a friend. Collins' bodyguard was fatally shot.

Campbell, host of the popular podcast Tax Season, was said to be feuding with Collins at the time.

Phone and email messages left for an attorney believed to be representing Campbell were not immediately returned early Tuesday.

Lin-Manuel Miranda to play 'Hamilton' for Oscar Lopez Rivera

"Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda says he will play Alexander Hamilton at a Chicago performance in honor of the commutation of Oscar Lopez Rivera's sentence by President Obama.

Lopez Rivera, who grew up in Chicago, was convicted of seditious conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government in 1981 while leading the Puerto Rican independence group FALN. The group bombed buildings in the 1970s. With Obama's action Tuesday, he is slated to be released May 17.

The Chicago Tribune reports (http://trib.in/2jlrZtb) Miranda said he was "sobbing with gratitude" for the reduction of Lopez Rivera's 55-year sentence.

Miranda, who is of Puerto Rican descent, tweeted he "wished he was with every Puerto Rican in Chicago right now."

Miranda last played the title role in New York In July 2016. "Hamilton" opened in October in Chicago, led by Miguel Cervantes.

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Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com

NFL dismisses report claiming Lady Gaga can't talk Trump at Super Bowl Halftime Show

Pop star Lady Gaga is weeks away from headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show, but one report says she won't be able to talk about the election or President-elect Donald Trump, who will be inaugurated as president by the time of the show.

>> Read more trending stories

According to Entertainment Tonight, citing an unnamed source, Gaga will not be allowed to talk about politics,

"Lady Gaga was told by the NFL that she cannot say anything or bring anything up about the election, or mention Donald Trump," the source said.

The singer publicly expressed support for former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton ahead of the election. She also joined protests outside of Trump Tower the day after the election.

But NFL senior vice president of communications Natalie Ravitz told The Wrap the report from ET isn't true.

"This is unsourced nonsense from people trying to stir up controversy where there is none," Ravitz said. "The Super Bowl is a time when people really come together. Lady Gaga is focused on putting together an amazing show for fans and we love working with her on it; we aren’t going to be distracted by this."

According to gossip site Page Six, Gaga has a stunt in mind for her halftime show includes the eccentric artists singing from the roof of Houston's NRG Stadium.

What is for certain is that Gaga is practicing for her performance in a tent in her backyard in Los Angeles, according to a post on her Instagram page.

"SuperBowl Rehearsal is so fun," Gaga said in the photo's caption. "We built a tent in my backyard with a dance floor to practice."

The Super Bowl is Sunday, Feb. 5 at 6:30 p.m. 

SuperBowl Rehearsal is so fun. We built a tent in my backyard with a dancefloor  to practice! We love you monsters, can't wait to perform for u! A video posted by xoxo, Joanne (@ladygaga) on Jan 16, 2017 at 2:18pm PST

The top 10 audiobooks on Audible.com

Fiction

1. The Bette Davis Club by Jane Lotter, narrated by Sue Pitkin and Tessa Marts (Brilliance Audio)

2. The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer, narrated by Ellen Archer (Hachette Audio)

3. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, narrated by Amanda Dolan (HarperAudio)

4. The Sleeper by Emily Barr, narrated by Imogen Church (Audible Studios)

5. Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G.S. Denning, narrated by Robert Garson (Recorded Books)

6. Into the Light by Aleatha Romig, narrated by Kevin T. Collins, Erin deWard, and Noah Michael Levine (Audible Studios)

7. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, narrated by George Newbern (Dreamscape Media, LLC)

8. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, narrated Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey and India Fisher (Penguin Audio)

9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale (Pottermore from J.K. Rowling)

10. We are Legion (We are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor, narrated by Ray Porter (Audible Studios)

Nonfiction

1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller (Tantor Audio)

2. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah, narrated by the author (Audible Studios)

3. Get Smart: How to Think and Act like the Most Successful and Highest-Paid People in Every Field by Brian Tracy, narrated by the author (Gildan Media LLC)

4. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F(asterisk)ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson, narrated by Roger Wayne (Harper Audio)

5. The More of Less by Joshua Becker, narrated by the author (Tantor Audio)

6. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance, narrated by the author (HarperAudio)

7. The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis, narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris (Simon & Schuster Audio)

8. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carngie, narrated by Andrew MacMillan (Simon & Schuster Audio)

9. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher, narrated by the author and Billie Lourd (Penguin Audio)

10. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, narrated by Mike Chamberlain (Random House Audio)

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The top 10 books on Apple's iBooks-US

iBooks US Bestseller List - Paid Books

1. Full Package by Lauren Blakely - No ISBN Available - (Lauren Blakely Books)

2. What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan - 9780062413871 - (William Morrow Paperbacks)

3. The Whistler by John Grisham - 9780385541206 - (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

4. The Reason I Jump by David Mitchell, Ka Yoshida & Naoki Higashida - 9780812994872 - (Random House Publishing Group)

5. Just Friends by Billy Taylor - 9781530511518 - (Billy Taylor)

6. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - 9780698185395 - (Penguin Publishing Group)

7. Ring of Fire by Brad Taylor - 9781101984772 - (Penguin Publishing Group)

8. Fifty Shades Darker by E L James - 9781612130590 - (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

9. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult - 9780345544964 - (Random House Publishing Group)

10. Below the Belt by Stuart Woods - 9780399574184 - (Penguin Publishing Group)

(copyright) 2017 Apple Inc.

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