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November court date set in crash that injured Tracy Morgan

Prosecutors and the defense lawyer in the 2014 crash that injured actor Tracy Morgan are due in court in November.

The Home News Tribune (http://mycj.co/2dcnLWb ) reports Nov. 9 was set for a status conference after both sides met at the Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick on Thursday.

Authorities have charged Wal-Mart truck driver Kevin Roper of Georgia with aggravated manslaughter, vehicular homicide and aggravated assault. He has pleaded not guilty.

Investigators say Roper was speeding when he crashed into a limo van carrying Morgan and others on the New Jersey Turnpike. Morgan was injured and his friend and fellow comedian James McNair was killed.

Morgan reached a settlement with Wal-Mart last year.

Ed Harris digs into the mystery of 'Westworld' and loves it

The anything-goes getaway called Westworld doesn't really exist, and, if it did, you couldn't hope to afford this top-notch pleasure park.

Fortunately, HBO has brought it to your favorite screen in the mind-blowing "Westworld," which will treat you to its all-inclusive delights — as well as their sinister underpinnings — for the simple cost of your HBO subscription. (The 10-episode season premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT.)

Think of Westworld as a dude ranch gone wild. Its guests ("newcomers") interact with lifelike androids ("hosts") with no restrictions or consequences — sexually, violently or any Old West way. It's a futuristic free pass for every patron's fantasy, depraved or benign.

That's the intoxicating promise, at least. But behind the scenes, its high-tech wizardry, advanced robotics and beyond-breathtaking artificial intelligence are suddenly besieged by worrisome glitches. Hosts, out of whack, are starting to push back.

Meanwhile, an oft-returning newcomer, identified only as the Man in Black, arrives for his latest visit with something more in mind than routine mega-self-indulgence. He aims to crack the overarching mystery that Westworld represents for him, which seems nothing less than the nature of consciousness, the limits of free will, and what it means to be human.

The hefty "Westworld" cast includes Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton and Jeffrey Wright, as well as Ed Harris, who, as the Man in Black, is a study in unapologetic villainy.

"I like playing this guy," says Harris with a grin. "He's not trying to escape from anything, he's on a mission of discovery. He's not trying to forget his life, he's trying to learn more about himself — and about what's going on in the park, where he's been coming for 30 years."

At 65, Harris, meeting a reporter in a Beverly Hills hotel suite, exhibits the sturdy build and plainspoken manner (not to mention jeans, weathered boots and work shirt) of a fellow who feels at home on the range. But across his broad sweep of film roles, he has tackled all manner of manliness. Who else could have played John Glenn and John McCain; Jackson Pollock and Beethoven?

He recalls how, in an early conversation with Jonathan Nolan, a co-creator of "Westworld" (which was inspired by the 1973 film), "We discussed what they were after on an intellectual, kind of metaphysical level — which is not where I live.

"But he made me understand how serious he was about his vision for this thing. And that, by itself, matters to me — working with people who have passion about what they're doing and want you to be a part of it."

Harris' "Westworld" character, and the underlying premise, may remind some viewers of "The Truman Show." In that 1998 film, he played the beret-sporting Christof, executive producer of a round-the-clock telecast whose hapless star, played by Jim Carrey, was as oblivious to his ginned-up circumstances as the Westworld hosts are here. Numbering some 2,000, they have no idea (at least, not at first) that they aren't "real" and that they exist solely to serve Westworld's paying customers.

"There's a deeper level to this game," declares the Man in Black. He's right. But any clues to that were shared with Harris by the producers strictly on a need-to-know basis.

"Beforehand, they told me enough to understand what kind of life my character had in the outside world and why he was coming to this park," Harris says. "But then you get the script for Episode 7, say, and" — with voiced a trace of sarcasm — "you're going, 'Oh! Thanks for telling me, man! I didn't realize THAT about myself!'"

Maybe it's a bridled way to function for an actor who treats his profession as "a way of life, a way of being in the world. Everything you see, every person you come in contact with, it all feeds into what you do creatively," he says.

That could help account for why he often opts for challenging, ambitious roles in films he knows will be a long shot at the box office.

He cites his 2006 biopic "Copying Beethoven," in which he depicted the immortal composer, as "not the greatest film in the world, but there's some pretty cool stuff there." Yet seemingly a moment after opening in theaters, "Boom! It was gone."

Harris isn't bellyaching, just laying it out.

"That's one of the reasons I said I would do 'Westworld,'" he explains. "I knew it was very important to HBO and would be done in a certain classy way, and I knew they would promote the (crap) out of it. I thought it might be kind of fun to be in something people actually see."

Seeing it, they are sure to share his enchantment with the Man in Black's mission.

"This," Harris says, "could easily become the thing I'm most known for."

_____

EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore@ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories are available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore

_____

Online:

http://www.hbo.com/westworld

Review: Woody Allen's TV series is a plodding 'Crisis'

With Woody Allen's "Crisis in Six Scenes," the screenwriter has let down his director — who coincidentally also falls short. And then there's the leading man, who phones in his performance.

"Crisis" is right.

It was a major coup when Amazon announced in January 2015 that its upstart streaming site — not Netflix, not HBO — had snagged Allen to write, direct and star in his first TV series.

How exciting! This legendary filmmaker, an artist who pecked out his scripts at a portable typewriter and said he hadn't even known what a "streaming site" was, was going digital as he neared his ninth decade.

But the picture darkened when, a few months later, he told Deadline.com that he had been "struggling and struggling and struggling" to bring the series to life, and "regretted every second" since agreeing to do it.

Viewers may feel their own pangs of regret after sampling his "Crisis," whose six half-hour episodes debut Friday on Amazon Prime.

Sure, the series will engage hardcore Woodyphiles who not only celebrate his many great films but are also willing to defend his dismal misfires ("A Rational Man"! "Whatever Works"! "September"!).

It might also draw fans of Miley Cyrus, despite her being fully clothed here as a militant, Marx-spewing 1960s revolutionary named Lennie Dale, a member of a group called the Constitutional Liberation Army imprisoned for blowing up a draft-board office.

Meanwhile, the series might serve as a useful crash course (or refresher) in the clashing points of view that rocked the turbulent '60s.

Allen plays Sid Munsinger, a kvetching, semi-successful novelist who, in his autumn years, wants to finally make a big score by creating a hit sitcom. The wonderful Elaine May plays Allen's wine-mellowed wife, an unflappable marriage counselor.

Then, in the middle of the night, Lennie lands on their suburban doorstep, on the lam after a prison break with the law on her tail. To Sid's horror, sympathetic Kay grants Lennie open-ended refuge in their home.

The remainder of the series trades on two elements:

— Sid's understandable though tiresome panic (expressed by Allen on autopilot) that he and his wife will go to jail forever if Lennie is discovered.

— The growing impact Lennie and her radical views have on the kneejerk liberals whose world she has upended.

The series is at its most valuable (however limited that may be) as a dialectic between those who argue (as Lennie shrilly does) that "you have to break some eggs to make an omelet" and other characters, mainly Sid, who counter that the best way to peace and social justice is by working within the system (though they don't often get around to it).

Sequence after sequence stages characters to bat this issue back and forth.

For instance, in their bedroom, Kay tells Sid, "We grouse about the (Vietnam) war. We keep talking about how there's so much inequality for blacks, so much social inequality. But what do we DO about it?"

"We don't bomb! We don't shoot!" sputters Sid. "We VOTE!"

Kate (gently chuckling): "You haven't voted in the last six elections."

Sid: "Right! What's the point?"

A half-century later, that same debate still rages — what IS the best way to effect social change? — but, as Lennie would be the first to point out, talk is cheap. What "Crisis" needs is more action. Instead, it relies on plodding dialogue, not drama. And certainly not comedy. Woody-worthy laugh-lines are painfully few.

And even the potentially madcap moments (notably — and spoiler here though it's unlikely you'll make it this far — a deluge of Kay's clients and her fellow book-club members all descending on the house in the chaotic finale) fall prey to sluggish pacing.

As with any of his films, Allen has recruited an able cast, which includes John Magaro, Rachel Brosnahan, Joy Behar, Michael Rapaport, Christine Ebersole and Lewis Black.

But this TV project — shoehorned into Allen's unrelenting feature-film-annually regimen — feels half-hearted and, at times, even threadbare. It has given Allen license to revisit and re-examine an earthshaking era from decades past, but breathing life into the narrative he made of it, sadly, was a step he wasn't able or apparently willing to take.

"Crisis in Six Scenes," therefore, unwinds as an intellectual exercise. And for its audience, a dreary exercise to watch.

_____

EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore@ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier. Past stories are available at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/frazier-moore

_____

Online:

http://www.amazon.com

CNN says Lewandowski no longer being paid by Trump campaign

CNN said Thursday that its analyst Corey Lewandowski, the former Donald Trump campaign manager, has cut all financial ties to the campaign and is no longer receiving monthly severance payments.

Lewandowski made light of the issue in an on-air announcement with anchor Alisyn Camerota. "Forty days to go in the election, and now this is the breaking news of the day," he said.

The Trump campaign confirmed that it had fulfilled all of its contractual obligations to Lewandowski, and it will be reflected in the next Federal Election Commission filing. The campaign had said last week that Lewandowski had been due severance payments until the end of the year.

Lewandowski's hiring by CNN shortly after he had been fired by Trump raised questions about whether he could talk at all candidly about the campaign he had been a part of, particularly since Trump demands former employees sign agreements not to divulge secrets or disparage the campaign. CNN chief executive Jeff Zucker has said he believes it is important to have some analysts who reflect Trump's point of view.

Ethical questions were raised when Trump's August FEC filing listed Lewandowski being paid $20,000 in August for "strategy consulting." But the campaign said that was part of a severance agreement and that he no longer had a role in the campaign.

Since then, Lewandowski told CNN that he had agreed on a payout with the campaign in order to avoid future distractions, said a network executive who spoke on condition of anonymity because it was a personnel matter.

Mary J. Blige explains why she sang to Clinton during talk

Mary J. Blige said she decided to sing Bruce Springsteen's "American Skin (41 Shots)" to Hillary Clinton during her recent interview because she was trying to get the Democratic presidential nominee to feel and understand the widening frustration among blacks in America over police brutality and similar topics.

A pair of clips teasing Blige's interview with Clinton was roundly mocked Tuesday, including a brief video of Blige singing to Clinton, leaving some confused. But on Wednesday at a meeting with journalists to discuss the interview, which is the first episode of her new Apple Music show, "The 411," Blige said she wanted Clinton to feel the overwhelming feeling she felt when she first heard Springsteen's 2000 song.

"I wanted to incorporate the song in the show because the lyrics resonated with me so deeply and so heavily because of all the shootings and police brutality and I never got a chance to say anything," Blige said. "I'm a singer first ... so that's the only way I can express myself and ... the only way I can get that reaction from (Hillary) is to sing it."

"I didn't warm up ... I just sang. ... It was organic and that's how it went. And hopefully, I believe she felt it, I think she did," Blige added.

Springsteen wrote "American Skin (41 Shots)" about the 1999 police shooting death of Guinean immigrant Amadou Diallo. Blige, 45, said people will truly understand what she was doing when the 30-minute interview with Clinton becomes available for streaming on Friday.

"My meeting with her at the DNC inspired the interview because when I met her, she was genuinely concerned about how I was doing. She hugged me like a grandma," Blige said. "It's not just about her being a politician; it's about who she really is — that's what I wanted. And I want people, our people, to get an opportunity (to see that) because everybody's like, 'I hate her' or 'blah, blah, blah,' but who is she? That's what we want to see."

Blige is endorsing Clinton. She said she was nervous as she came up with questions for the interview. The topics ranged from faith to Clinton's relationship with her mother and her role as a grandmother.

Blige, a nine-time Grammy winner, first launched a radio show with Apple Music called "Real Talk" last year. She said she is planning to film more interviews for "The 411," though it won't include her singing from her seat.

"That will never happen again. That was just for her," she said.

_____

Online:

http://apple.co/The411

___

This story corrects year for Springsteen song.

'All My Children' creator Agnes Nixon dies at 93

Agnes Nixon, the creative force behind the edgy and enduring TV soap operas "One Life to Live" and "All My Children," has died. She was 93.

Nixon died Wednesday at a Haverford, Pennsylvania, physical rehabilitation facility close to her Rosemont home, said her son, Bob Nixon. She had checked in to gain strength for a planned book tour, he said.

She had just completed her memoir, "My Life to Live," on Sunday, a week before it was due to publisher Penguin Random House for publication in early 2017, her son said.

"She was really a great wife, mother and human being — but above all, a writer. She was writing up until last night," he said, and had called him with a few changes for the book.

The cause of death was not immediately known, he said.

Nixon suffered a stroke four years ago with serious complications, her son said, but she fought to regain her health. He confirmed her birthdate as December 1922, despite media reports that she was 88.

"I am devastated to learn that we have lost Agnes. I adored her and admired her and I am forever grateful to her!" Susan Lucci, who starred as Erica Kane on "All My Children," said in a statement.

Nixon created, wrote and produced the long-running ABC daytime serials, which were canceled in 2011 as the network bowed to the reality that soaps had faded as a daytime TV force. (Both subsequently had short-lived online runs.)

"All My Children" aired for nearly 41 years, while "One Life to Live" made it to 44 years. They were set in the fictional Philadelphia-area towns of Pine Valley and Llanview.

Social issues including child abuse, AIDS, alcoholism and gay rights made their way into the series' story lines. Erica Kane was the first regularly appearing TV character to undergo a legal abortion, in 1973.

In a 2003 episode of "All My Children," Bianca, who was Erica's daughter, and the character Lena shared what was billed as daytime TV's first same-sex kiss.

"The theme of 'All My Children' from the beginning is the belief that, as God's children, we are all bound to each other by our common humanity, despite our many personal differences," Nixon told The Associated Press at the time. "The Bianca story is our latest effort to dramatize that belief."

"Agnes' impact on daytime television and pop culture is undeniable," said Robert Iger, chairman and CEO of ABC parent The Walt Disney Co., in a statement. "She was the first to champion socially relevant topics, and the towns and characters Agnes brought to life leave an indelible imprint on television that will be remembered forever."

Nixon, a native of Chicago, was mentored by the grande dame of the soap opera genre, Irna Phillips, back in the radio age.

She was writing for a TV soap, "Search for Tomorrow," as early as 1951. In the late 1960s, while raising a family and serving as head writer for "The Guiding Light," Nixon created a "bible" detailing "All My Children."

The show was rejected by CBS, but after Nixon breathed new life into NBC's flagging "Another World," she was approached by ABC to create a new serial. That was the start of "One Life to Live," which earned such solid ratings in its first year that ABC asked for another.

"I said to my husband, 'I can't think of another one,'" Nixon told the AP in 2013. "He said, 'How about "All My Children"?' So I opened the desk drawer and took out the 'bible' and sent it to ABC. They said, 'Boy, that was fast work!'"

The stories and characters of Nixon's fictional worlds never ended for her, Bob Nixon said: "It might not have been on the air but it was in her head."

Agnes Nixon was married to the late Robert Nixon, and the couple's four children are among her survivors. Services were planned for Saturday in Rosemont, with a private burial to follow.

Miley Cyrus drops pay bombshell about 'Hannah Montana' days

She may be one of the biggest names in showbiz, but when she got her start she didn't bring in the big money you'd think she would have. 

In a new sit-down interview with Elle Magazine, Miley Cyrus may have just shocked her fans from her "Hannah Montana" days.

The former Disney Channel child star claims she may have been the star of the show, but was paid the least of the cast. 

>> Read more trending stories  

"I mean, at one point - they'll probably kill me for saying it - I was probably the least paid person on my [Hannah Montana] cast because I didn't know any better," Cyrus told the magazine. "I was just like, I can be on Disney! Yeah, I want to do it! My name was Miley on my show, but I didn't own my name - we didn't think about it like that."

The hit show also stared Emily Osment as Lilly, Jason Earles as Miley's brother Jackson and her real-life father Billy Ray Cyrus as her TV dad, Robby Ray.

Cyrus played high school student by day and hit teen singing sensation Hannah Montana by night. 

The show became a hit that spurred a line of clothing and dolls for fans, live concert tours and "Hannah Montana: The Movie."

Cyrus went on to say that, "My mom started understanding how many people take advantage of a child, so she hired smart people to protect me in that way. I'm happy that when I was younger, people protected me and put me in a position where I can now control my music."

Cyrus has taken what started as a children's television show gig and turned it into a career. 

She has reinvented herself after her Disney years, with an edgy, more adult persona, with hits like "Wrecking Ball" and "Party in the U.S.A." and serves as one of the mentors on this season of NBC's "The Voice."

Cyrus is also appearing in Woody Allen's new Amazon Studio series "Crisis in Six Scenes."

'All My Children' creator Agnes Nixon dies at 93

Agnes Nixon, the creative force behind the edgy and enduring TV soap operas "One Life to Live" and "All My Children," died Wednesday. She was 93.

Nixon died at a Haverford, Pennsylvania, physical rehabilitation facility close to her Rosemont home, said her son, Bob Nixon. She had checked in to gain strength for a planned book tour, he said.

She had just completed her memoir, "My Life to Live," on Sunday, a week before it was due to publisher Penguin Random House for publication in early 2017, her son said.

"She was really a great wife, mother and human being — but above all, a writer. She was writing up until last night," he said, and had called him with a few changes for the book.

The cause of death was not immediately known, he said.

Nixon suffered a stroke four years ago with serious complications, her son said, but she fought to regain her health. He confirmed her birthdate as December 1922, despite media reports that she was 88.

"I am devastated to learn that we have lost Agnes. I adored her and admired her and I am forever grateful to her!" Susan Lucci, who starred as Erica Kane on "All My Children," said in a statement.

Nixon created, wrote and produced the long-running ABC daytime serials, which were canceled in 2011 as the network bowed to the reality that soaps had faded as a daytime TV force. (Both subsequently had short-lived online runs.)

"All My Children" aired for nearly 41 years, while "One Life to Live" made it to 44 years. They were set in the fictional Philadelphia-area towns of Pine Valley and Llanview.

Social issues including child abuse, AIDS, alcoholism and gay rights made their way into the series' story lines. Erica Kane was the first regularly appearing TV character to undergo a legal abortion, in 1973.

In a 2003 episode of "All My Children," Bianca, who was Erica's daughter, and the character Lena shared what was billed as daytime TV's first same-sex kiss.

"The theme of 'All My Children' from the beginning is the belief that, as God's children, we are all bound to each other by our common humanity, despite our many personal differences," Nixon told The Associated Press at the time. "The Bianca story is our latest effort to dramatize that belief."

"Agnes' impact on daytime television and pop culture is undeniable," said Robert Iger, chairman and CEO of ABC parent The Walt Disney Co., in a statement. "She was the first to champion socially relevant topics, and the towns and characters Agnes brought to life leave an indelible imprint on television that will be remembered forever."

Nixon, a native of Chicago, was mentored by the grande dame of the soap opera genre, Irna Phillips, back in the radio age.

She was writing for a TV soap, "Search for Tomorrow," as early as 1951. In the late 1960s, while raising a family and serving as head writer for "The Guiding Light," Nixon created a "bible" detailing "All My Children."

The show was rejected by CBS, but after Nixon breathed new life into NBC's flagging "Another World," she was approached by ABC to create a new serial. That was the start of "One Life to Live," which earned such solid ratings in its first year that ABC asked for another.

"I said to my husband, 'I can't think of another one,'" Nixon told the AP in 2013. "He said, 'How about "All My Children"?' So I opened the desk drawer and took out the 'bible' and sent it to ABC. They said, 'Boy, that was fast work!'"

The stories and characters of Nixon's fictional worlds never ended for her, Bob Nixon said: "It might not have been on the air but it was in her head."

Agnes Nixon was married to the late Robert Nixon, and the couple's four children are among her survivors. Services were planned for Saturday in Rosemont, with a private burial to follow.

Agnes Nixon, creator of 'All My Children' and 'One Life to Live,' has died at age 93, ABC confirms

Agnes Nixon, creator of 'All My Children' and 'One Life to Live,' has died at age 93, ABC confirms.

'NCIS' showrunner Gary Glasberg dies in Los Angeles at 50

The executive producer of TV's "NCIS" and creator of "NCIS: New Orleans" has died. CBS says in a statement that Gary Glasberg died in his sleep Wednesday. He was 50.

Glasberg joined "NCIS" as a producer and writer in 2009 and became its showrunner in 2011. He launched the New Orleans version of the show in 2014.

CBS Television President David Stapf said Glasberg "brought kindness, integrity and class to everything he did."

Glasberg's other television credits include "Shark," ''The Mentalist," ''Crossing Jordan" and "Bones."

He is survived by his wife, Mimi Schmir, and their two sons, Dash and Eli. Glasberg is also survived by his father and sister. A memorial service is planned for next month.

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