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Ryan Seacrest back as host of 'Idol' when it returns on ABC

Seacrest in!

Ryan Seacrest will be back hosting "American Idol" when it returns for its first season on ABC. Kelly Ripa made the announcement on Thursday's "Live with Kelly and Ryan," which she has co-hosted with Seacrest since he joined her in May.

"I am happy to confirm ... that Ryan Seacrest is returning as the host of 'American Idol,'" said Ripa as the studio audience whooped.

Seacrest said he was excited to be doing it again.

"I don't know if you've ever been in a 15-year relationship and then, for a reason that you really don't know, you break up," he said. "I thought, 'Gosh, it would be great to get back together at some point.'"

Seacrest had a grand history with "Idol" during its smash-hit run on Fox from 2002 through 2016. Reclaiming that job now gives him an additional role in the Disney family, which owns ABC and produces the syndicated "Live."

His potential return to "Idol" had sparked much speculation since ABC announced in May that it would revive the talent competition. The program airs from Los Angeles and "Live" airs weekday mornings from New York. But the 42-year-old Seacrest is no stranger to a packed work schedule and cross-country flights.

"You can have all the tickets you want," he told Ripa, "and you can come back and forth with me any weekend."

Seacrest will also continue his syndicated Los Angeles morning-drive-time radio show, as well as a nationally syndicated Top 40 radio show, from his iHeartMedia studio in the same Manhattan complex where "Live" is telecast. He also hosts and executive produces ABC's annual "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest," and is a busy producer of series in which he doesn't appear, including "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and its many spin-offs.

ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey called Seacrest's talent "limitless, and I can't think of a more appropriate person to honor the 'Idol' legacy as it takes on new life than the man who has been there through it all."

On Fox, "Idol" dominated TV in the 2000s and minted stars like Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson, while making its judges, such as Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell, household names. It was the No. 1 series for nine years, peaking with 30 million viewers each episode in 2006. But by its last season the average audience had dipped to 11 million and skewed older, and NBC's "The Voice" surpassed it in popularity. Fox eliminated it. Even so, in today's television world, an audience of 11 million would rank it among TV's top 20 shows, a fact that clearly didn't escape ABC's notice.

On the final Fox edition, a hopeful Seacrest told viewers, "Goodbye — for now."

The nationwide search for the first ABC-aired "Idol" begins next month. ABC has not announced a premiere date.

Former intelligence director James Clapper is writing a book

James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence who has clashed with President Donald Trump, has a book deal.

Viking told The Associated Press on Thursday that Clapper, 76, will write about his 6 1/2 years as head of National Intelligence during President Barack Obama's administration and his long career in military and government service. The book is currently untitled and scheduled for 2018.

Clapper, who stepped down at the end of Obama's second term, will cover everything from the killing of Osama bin Laden to the intelligence documents leaked by Edward Snowden. According to Viking, Clapper also will give "the truth" about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump has disputed such stories and said that Clapper agrees with his assertion that the Trump campaign did not collude with the Russians. Clapper has said he was not in a position to know about collusion, but believes the Russians did attempt to influence the campaign, a view widely held in the intelligence community.

He has also criticized the president for firing FBI Director James Comey and said that democratic institutions were "under assault" by Trump. Clapper said in a statement Thursday that he will offer a "warts and all" account of his experiences and that friends had urged him to tell his story. Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House, said in its announcement that Clapper will address such issues as transparency in government and the ethics of intelligence gathering and will "counter the narrative about surveillance of American citizens."

Clapper was strongly criticized after Snowden's leaks contradicted his Congressional testimony in 2013 that the National Security Agency was not "wittingly" involved in gathering data on millions of Americans. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., later said that Clapper had engaged in "a deliberate decision to lie to the American people about what their government was doing." Clapper has called his comments "clearly erroneous," while also saying he did not think the question could be answered with a simple "yes" or "no."

"I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner by saying 'No,'" he told MSNBC after the Snowden documents came out.

Financial terms for his book were not disclosed. As is standard for former intelligence officials, his manuscript will be vetted by the government before publication to check for classified material.

Former intelligence director James Clapper is writing a book

James Clapper, a former top intelligence official who has clashed with President Donald Trump, has a book deal.

Viking told The Associated Press on Thursday that Clapper will write about his years as director of National Intelligence during President Barack Obama's administration and his long career in military and government service. The book, scheduled for next year, is currently untitled.

Clapper, who stepped down at the end of Obama's second term, said in a statement that he will offer a "warts and all" account of his experiences. According to Viking, Clapper will give "the truth" about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. Trump has disputed such stories and said that Clapper agrees with his assertion that the Trump campaign didn't collude with the Russians. Clapper has said he wasn't in a position to know.

UK royals make pretzels, visit German cancer research center

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined a rowing regatta, visited a cancer research center and made pretzels in the university city of Heidelberg on the second day of their visit to Germany.

Prince William and his wife, Kate, took to the waters of the Neckar river on Thursday afternoon, coxing two opposing boats in a race of rowers from Heidelberg and its twin city Cambridge.

With German onlookers cheering the royal couple everywhere they showed up, they also practiced shaping pretzels at a British-German market in downtown Heidelberg, tried a local vintner's wine and made sugar canes, the German news agency dpa reported.

"This visit is an enormous honor for us," Mayor Eckart Wuerzner said.

Earlier Thursday, William and Kate also toured the German Cancer Research Center, peering through a microscope for a glimpse of the facility's work. British researcher Michael Milsom, an expert in the development of blood stem cells, said he could never have dreamed of presenting his research to his future king.

The Baden-Wuerttemberg state governor, Winfried Kretschmann, gave the couple a specially made cuckoo clock with a British flag. Prince George and Princess Charlotte were given teddy bears with their names embroidered on them.

In the evening, the Duke and Duchess were returning to Berlin to attend a reception at the city's famed Claerchens Ballhaus, one of the last remaining Berlin ballrooms, which opened in 1913.

UK government to take more time to consider Fox-Sky deal

Britain's culture secretary needs more time to consider Twenty-First Century Fox's takeover bid for the Sky pay television and broadband network.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said Thursday in an update before Parliament breaks for recess that she is not yet in a position to make a final decision on whether or not to refer the matter to the Competition and Markets Authority for further review.

Britain's government had stalled the takeover after regulators said it could give Rupert Murdoch and his family too much influence over the country's media.

Bradley said last month the deal "potentially raises public interest concerns" and that she is "minded to" send it to the competition authority.

Murdoch's New York-based media group is trying to buy the 61 percent of Sky it doesn't already own.

London Zoo welcomes a new kind of visitor: Robotic dinosaurs

London Zoo is welcoming a new star attraction this summer: robotic dinosaurs.

Visitors will see robotic replicas of Mesozoic-era dinosaurs, including T. Rex and Triceratops, which lived approximately 65 million years ago, at a "time travel safari" exhibit named Zoorassic Park. The robots make sounds and motions that mimic the real-life dinosaurs. Some even drip water out of their mouths or spray it at passers-by.

Information about the dinosaurs' massive extinction is dispersed throughout the display at the zoo in north London. At the end, visitors are "transported" back to modern times with a video on endangered species, recent extinctions and conservation efforts.

The exhibition opens Saturday and runs until Sept. 3.

Princess Charlotte said goodbye to Poland with an adorable curtsy, but everyone missed it

Princess Charlotte is a serious pro at the art of a curtsy.

>> Princess Charlotte appears to wear Prince Harry's hand-me-down shoes from 1986

The 2-year-old was spotted on Wednesday morning giving a polite little curtsy to the Polish dignitaries as the royal family left the country for the second part of their tour in Germany. None of the officials seemed to see Charlotte; maybe in a few years she’ll be big enough to grab the spotlight.

>> See the clip here

The tiny princess has taken a cue from her mother, who has also been spotted giving a perfect curtsy while out and about.

>> Read more trending news

Charlotte and her big brother, Prince George, are sitting out many of the family’s official events, but by the looks of it, she is absolutely ready for her royal duty.

Canada governor touches queen's elbow for safety on stairs

Canada's governor general says he decided to breach royal protocol and touch Queen Elizabeth II to ensure she didn't stumble down slippery steps during an official engagement in London.

David Johnston, who met with the 91-year-old monarch on Wednesday to mark Canada's 150th birthday, was seen gently touching her elbow as she ascended steps at London's Canada House. He did the same as she left the building.

It is generally accepted that members of the public do not touch the queen.

Johnston told CBC News: "It's a little bit awkward, that descent from Canada House to Trafalgar Square, and there was a carpet that was a little slippy, and so I thought perhaps it was appropriate to breach protocol just to be sure that there was no stumble."

Key events in OJ Simpson's fall from sports hero, movie star

O.J. Simpson's story represents one of the most dramatic falls from grace in the history of American pop culture.

A beloved football hero in the 1960s and '70s, he transitioned effortlessly to movie star, sports commentator and TV pitchman in the years that followed.

He kept that role until the 1994 killings of his ex-wife and her friend. A jury acquitted him, but many still believe he carried out the grisly slayings.

Here's a timeline of major events in the life of Simpson, now 70, who has been imprisoned in Nevada for armed robbery and on Thursday was granted parole.

— 1967: Simpson leads all college running backs in rushing in his first season at the University of Southern California.

— 1968: Simpson wins the Heisman Trophy, college football's top honor.

— 1969: The first pick in the pro draft, Simpson goes to the Buffalo Bills and spends the next nine seasons with the team.

— 1973: He becomes the first NFL player to rush for 2,000 or more yards (2,003) in a season.

— 1979: Simpson retires, having rushed for 11,236 yards, second most in NFL history at the time.

— 1985: Simpson is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

— 1988: Simpson, who had been appearing in TV shows and commercials since the late 1960s, co-stars in the first of the "Naked Gun" crime comedies, perhaps his most popular role.

— February 1992: Nicole Brown Simpson files for divorce after seven years of marriage. It becomes final Oct. 15.

— June 12, 1994: Nicole Simpson and a friend, Ronald Goldman, are stabbed to death outside her Los Angeles home.

— June 17, 1994: Ordered by prosecutors to surrender, Simpson instead flees with a friend in a white Ford Bronco. It's a nationally televised slow-speed chase across California freeways until police persuade him to surrender.

— June 1995: During Simpson's trial, a prosecutor asks him to put on a pair of gloves believed worn by the killer. The gloves appear too small, leading defense attorney Johnnie Cochran to famously state in his closing argument: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."

— Oct. 3, 1995: Simpson is acquitted of murder.

— February 1997: After a trial in a civil suit filed by the victims' families, a jury finds Simpson liable for the deaths and orders he pay survivors $33.5 million.

— July 2007: A federal bankruptcy judge awards the rights to a book by Simpson, in which he discusses how he could have committed the killings, to Goldman's family as partial payment of the judgment. The family renames the book "If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer."

— September 2007: Simpson, accompanied by five men, confronts two sports-memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room, angrily telling them that most of the memorabilia they are planning to sell is rightfully his.

— Oct. 3, 2008: A jury finds Simpson and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart guilty of kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and conspiracy charges. The other accomplices had taken plea deals and received probation.

— December 2008: Simpson is sentenced to nine to 33 years and sent to Lovelock Correctional Center in northern Nevada.

— October 2010: The Nevada Supreme Court denies Simpson's appeal but grants Stewart a new trial. Stewart takes a plea deal and is released.

— July 25, 2013: Simpson asks the Nevada Parole Board for leniency, saying he has tried to be a model prisoner. He wins parole on some convictions but is left with at least four more years to serve.

— July 20, 2017: A four-member parole board unanimously grants Simpson parole, effective Oct. 1. The board cites the low risk he might commit another crime, his community support and a release plan that includes moving to Florida, where he has family.

'Juice' will be loose: OJ Simpson granted parole in robbery

O.J. Simpson was granted parole Thursday after more than eight years in prison for a Las Vegas hotel-room heist, successfully making his case for freedom in a nationally televised hearing that reflected America's enduring fascination with the former football star.

Simpson, 70, could be released as early as Oct. 1. By then, he will have served the minimum of his nine-to-33-year sentence for a bungled attempt to snatch sports memorabilia he claimed had been stolen from him.

During the more than hourlong hearing on live TV, Simpson was, by turns, remorseful, jovial and defensive, heatedly insisting the items taken in the armed robbery were "my stuff."

At one point, the murder defendant in the 1995 "Trial of the Century" set off a storm of sarcasm and incredulity on social media when he said, "I've basically spent a conflict-free life, you know."

All four parole commissioners who conducted the hearing voted for his release after a half-hour of deliberations. They cited, among other things, the low risk he might commit another crime, his community support and his release plans, which include moving to Florida.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," Simpson said quietly as he buried his head on his chest with relief. As he rose from his seat to return to his prison cell, he exhaled deeply.

Then, as he was led down a hall, the Hall of Fame athlete raised his hands over his head in a victory gesture and said: "Oh, God, oh!"

Simpson was widely expected to win parole, given similar cases and his good behavior behind bars. His defenders have argued, too, that his sentence was out of proportion to the crime and that he was being punished for the two murders he was acquitted of in Los Angeles in 1995, the stabbings of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Inmate No. 1027820 made his plea for freedom in a stark hearing room at the Lovelock Correctional Center in rural Nevada as the parole commissioners questioned him via video from Carson City, a two-hour drive away.

Gray-haired but looking trimmer than he has in recent years, Simpson walked stiffly into the hearing room in jeans, a light-blue prison-issue shirt and sneakers. He chuckled at one point as the parole board chairwoman mistakenly gave his age as 90.

Simpson insisted he never meant to hurt anyone, never pointed a gun and didn't make any threats during the holdup of two sports memorabilia dealers.

"I thought I was glad to get my stuff back, but it just wasn't worth it," he told the board. "It wasn't worth it, and I'm sorry."

Even one of the dealers Simpson robbed, Bruce Fromong, testified on his behalf, telling the parole board that Simpson deserved to be released so he could be with his family.

"He is a good man. He made a mistake," Fromong said, adding the two remain friends.

Arnelle Simpson, at 48 the eldest of Simpson's four children, told the board, "We recognize that he is not the perfect man." But she said he has been "a perfect inmate, following all the rules and making the best of the situation."

"We just want him to come home, we really do," she said.

The commissioners said the murder case played no role in their decision, though a majority of letter writers opposed to Simpson's release asked the board to take it into account.

Among those angered by Thursday's decision were Goldman's father, Fred, and sister, Kim.

"The Goldmans are devastated," said family spokesman Michael Wright, adding they didn't want to say anything more.

Simpson said that he has spent his time in prison mentoring fellow inmates, often keeping them out of trouble, and that he has become a better person behind bars.

"I've done my time. I've done it as well and respectfully as I think anybody can," he told the board.

Asked if he was confident he could stay out of trouble if released, Simpson replied that he learned a lot from an alternative-to-violence course he took in prison and that in any case he has always gotten along well with people.

Several major TV networks and cable channels — including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, MSNBC and ESPN — carried the proceedings live, just as some of them did two decades ago during the Ford Bronco chase that ended in Simpson's arrest, and again when the jury in the murder case came back with its verdict.

Simpson said if released he plans to return to Florida to be near two of his adult children.

"I could easily stay in Nevada, but I don't think you guys want me here," he joked at one point.

"No comment, sir," board chairwoman Connie Bisbee replied.

Authorities must still work out the details of Simpson's release with Florida officials, including where he will live and what rules he must follow.

An electrifying running back dubbed "Juice," Simpson won the Heisman Trophy as the nation's best college football player in 1968 and went on to become one of the NFL's all-time greats.

The handsome and charismatic athlete was also a "Monday Night Football" commentator, sprinted through airports in Hertz rental-car commercials and built a Hollywood career with roles in the "Naked Gun" comedies and other movies.

All of that came crashing down with his arrest in the 1994 slayings and his trial, a gavel-to-gavel live-TV sensation that transfixed viewers with its testimony about the bloody glove that didn't fit and stirred furious debate over racist police, celebrity justice and cameras in the courtroom.

Last year, the case proved to be compelling TV all over again with the ESPN documentary "O.J.: Made in America" and the award-winning FX miniseries "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story."

In 1997, Simpson was found liable in civil court for the two killings and ordered to pay $33.5 million to survivors, including his children and the Goldman family.

Then a decade later, he and five accomplices — two with guns — stormed a hotel room and seized photos, plaques and signed balls, some of which never belonged to Simpson.

Simpson was convicted in 2008, and the long prison sentence brought a measure of satisfaction to some of those who thought he got away with murder.

___

Associated Press writers Scott Sonner in Carson City; John Rogers, John Antczak, Christopher Weber and Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles; and Terence Chea in Lovelock contributed to this report.

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