Review: Fred Rogers doc a beautiful day in the neighborhood

So accustomed are we to the downfall and disgrace of men that a marvelous sense of its absence propels the rich and glowing documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Fifty years after he made his public television debut, Fred Rogers remains aloft: a pure and gentle soul never befallen by scandal, a still-shining beacon of kindness without the near-requisite dark shadow.

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” — as snug as a worn sweater — is hagiography. But it’s deserved hagiography. And thank the lord it’s not an expose.

The film, directed by Morgan Neville, uses behind-the-scenes footage from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” archival video of Rogers and copious talking-head interviews with his collaborators and family members, including his wife, Joanne, and their two sons. It’s an affecting window into what remains very possibly the most benevolent broadcast ever regularly beamed out on the small screen.

As unique as “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” was in its own TV era, Rogers would seem downright extraterrestrial on today’s cable menu. Not long after Neville plays a snippet of Fox News where pundits bemoan Rogers for coddling a generation by teaching them that everyone is special, a former worker on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” wonders if there’s room today “for a nice person on TV.”

Calling forth Rogers today — and that plain, tender and disarmingly straightforward voice — is both a reminder of the mammoth loss (he died in 2003) and how sadly bereft we are of anything like him. Many of the battles Rogers was fighting — against the “ever-ready molders” of children, against mass entertainment made without compassion — are simply no longer waged.

What would Rogers — whose ire was raised by Superman movies that made kids think they could fly — make of an entertainment landscape where superhero blockbusters are billed as family entertainment? Rogers spoke of the “holy ground” between a young viewer and the TV screen. Today, it’s mostly just a battle ground.

But where, on Earth, did he come from? In the documentary, Rogers does sometimes smack of something alien, most of all when Neville relates how Rogers claimed he weighed 143 pounds every day of his adult life. The numbers, he felt, corresponded with the letters in “I love you.”

The answer, of course, is that Rogers came from outside Pittsburgh, and he was on his way to seminary before his first blush with television changed his trajectory. An often ill child (Rogers had scarlet fever) who was bullied as “Fat Freddy” for being overweight, Rogers was left, as he says, “to make up a lot of my own fun.”

The hand puppet Daniel Striped Tiger would eventually become a kind of outlet for Rogers’ own fears and anxieties. But he also emerged from his youth with a profound sensitivity to the slings and arrows of childhood. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” opens with a home-video clip of Rogers sitting at a piano in 1967 (a year before “Neighborhood” debuted nationwide) describing how he’d like to “help children through the difficult modulations of life.”

“Love is at the root of everything,” he says later. “Love or the lack of love.”

With these simple beliefs — love yourself, love your neighbor — Rogers made a quietly revolutionary show. He spoke about divorce and tackled racism. To show what a minute was, he patiently let an egg timer tick it off. To help children understand the world they were growing up in, he spoke frankly, without condescension, about traumatic events. His advice for the most horrific disasters still regularly goes viral: “Look for the people who are helping,” he said.

He wasn’t perfect. Francois Clemmons, who played Officer Clemmons, recalls Rogers telling him that he couldn’t go to gay bars while making “Mister Rogers” — that while he didn’t judge his sexuality, Clemmons couldn’t be “out.” Clemmons still considered him a surrogate father. Later, more awkward questions were put to Rogers (Tom Snyder asked him if he was “square”) and protesters demonstrated at his memorial service against his tolerance for gay people.

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” ultimately doesn’t dig much into who Rogers was. He remains unknowable for all his sincerity. One of his sons notes how it was “a little tough for me to have almost the second Christ as my dad.” A movie starring Tom Hanks as Rogers, due out in fall 2019, probably won’t do more to bring him down to Earth.

Neville instead leaves us Rogers’ simple and earnest message, and a final note of reflection on the people who shape our lives. Or as the song goes: “Won’t you be mine, could you be mine?”

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is a Focus Features release. It is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “some thematic elements and language.” Running time: 94 minutes. Three stars out of four.


Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at:


The Latest: Trump commutes Kardashian-backed offender’s time

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s commutation of the sentence of a woman Kim Kardashian West championed (all times local):

1:10 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump has commuted the sentence of a woman whose case was championed by reality star Kim Kardashian West, saying she’s been a model inmate.

The 63-year-old Alice Marie Johnson has served more than two decades in federal prison for drug offenses.

The White House says in a statement that Johnson “has accepted responsibility for her past behavior and has been a model prisoner over the past two decades,” working to rehabilitate herself and acting as a mentor to fellow inmates.

They note her warden, case manager, and vocational training instructor have all written letters in support of her clemency.

Kardashian West is also responding to the decision, tweeting “BEST NEWS EVER!!!!” She visited the White House last week of press Johnson’s case.


12:49 p.m.

President Donald Trump is commuting the life sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a woman convicted of drug offenses whose cause was championed by reality TV star Kim Kardashian West.

That’s according to two White House officials who say Trump commuted the 63-year old Johnson’s sentence. She has spent more than two decades behind bars and is not eligible for parole.

The move comes amid a recent flurry of pardons issued by Trump, who has seemed drawn to causes advocated by conservatives, celebrities or those who once appeared on his former reality show, “The Apprentice.”

Johnson was convicted in 1996 on eight criminal counts related to a Memphis-based cocaine trafficking operation.

Kardashian West visited the White House in May to advocate for Johnson.


Trump commutes sentence for Kardashian-backed drug offender

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump commuted the sentence Wednesday of a woman serving a life sentence for drug offenses whose cause was championed by reality TV star Kim Kardashian West in a recent visit to the White House.

Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, two White House officials said. The 63-year old more than two decades behind bars and is not eligible for parole. The move comes amid a recent flurry of pardons issued by Trump, who has seemed drawn to causes advocated by conservatives, celebrities or those who once appeared on his former reality show, “The Apprentice.”

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the commutation before it was announced.

The commutation puts a renewed focus on the Trump administration’s push for prison and sentencing reform, but which has sometimes clashed with the president’s law-and-order approach, especially at the Justice Department. Indeed, Trump has called for getting tougher on drug dealers, including suggesting some should receive the death penalty.

Johnson was convicted in 1996 on eight criminal counts related to a Memphis-based cocaine trafficking operation involving more than a dozen people. The 1994 indictment describes dozens of deliveries and drug transactions, many involving Johnson.

She was sentenced to life in prison in 1997, and appellate judges and the U.S. Supreme Court have rejected her appeals. Court records show she has a motion pending for a reduction in her sentence, but federal prosecutors are opposed, saying in a court filing that the sentence is in accord with federal guidelines, based on the large quantity of drugs involved. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Memphis did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

A criminal justice advocacy site, CAN-DO, and one of Johnson’s attorneys say a request for clemency was rejected by former President Barack Obama. The reasons are unclear.

A 1997 Associated Press story on Johnson’s sentencing said she headed up a multimillion-dollar drug ring. But Memphis attorney Michael Scholl, who filed the latest court documents in her request for a sentence reduction, said she was not a leader in the cocaine operation.

“What is the purpose of putting a lady with no prior criminal record, on a nonviolent drug offense, in jail for her entire life?” he said in a telephone interview. “She’s a model inmate.”

Scholl added that Johnson has admitted her wrongdoing, which is borne out in letters she has written to U.S. District Judge Samuel H. Mays, who now oversees her case.

“Judge Mays I’m writing to you to express my deep remorse for the crime that I committed over 20 years ago. I made some bad choices which have not only affected my life, but have impacted my entire family,” she said in a February 2017 letter in the court record.

In a hand-scrawled letter last June she wrote: “I’m a broken woman. More time in prison cannot accomplish more justice.”

Kardashian West visited the White House in May to meet with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who is overseeing the administration’s push to overhaul the nation’s prison system. She also met with Trump in the Oval Office, a photograph of which the president released on Twitter.

In an interview with Mic released earlier this year, Kardashian West said she’d been moved by Johnson’s story after seeing a video by the news outlet on Twitter.

“I think that she really deserves a second chance at life,” Kardashian told Mic. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get her out.”

The commutation comes days after Trump pardoned conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who was convicted of a campaign finance violation, and granted a posthumous pardon to boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, clearing Jack Johnson’s name more than 100 years after what many saw as a racially charged conviction.

The boxer’s pardon had been championed by actor Sylvester Stallone, who Trump said had brought the story to his attention in a phone call.

Trump has also pardoned former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a staunch campaign supporter; Scooter Libby, who served as chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney; and a U.S. Navy sailor convicted of taking photos of classified portions of a sub. In May, he also suggested he was considering acting to commute the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is serving 14 years in prison for corruption, and celebrity homemaker Martha Stewart, convicted of insider trading.


J.J. Abrams, Bareilles team for Amazon series ‘Little Voice’

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Amazon is ordering a comedy-drama series from J.J. Abrams that will feature original music by Sara Bareilles.

“Little Voice” is described by Amazon as a romantic tale of searching for one’s true voice as a young adult.

The show received a 10-episode order, Amazon said Wednesday. The cast and the release date were not announced.

Abrams, whose credits include “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Lost,” will serve as executive producer for “Little Voice.”

The Grammy-nominated Bareilles earned a Tony Award bid last year for her music for “Waitress.”

She and Josh Groban will host Sunday’s Tony ceremony, airing on CBS.


Sex abuse panel seeks witness statement from Prince Charles

LONDON (AP) — Prince Charles has been asked to give a witness statement to a public inquiry into how abuse allegations against a pedophile bishop were handled.

The request for a statement from Charles and his private secretary was made public Wednesday during an Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse hearing.

The inquiry is looking into the way abuse allegations against ex-bishop Peter Ball were dealt with. He was sentenced to 32 months in prison in 2015 for numerous sexual offenses going back to the 1970s.

Inquiry lawyer Fiona Scolding said Charles’ lawyers have indicated he is willing to assist and have raised a number of issues being reviewed.

“This has led to lengthy and complex discussions and we are currently considering the latest points they have raised. We hope to be able to provide an update to core participants on this in the next couple of weeks,” she said.

Charles had exchanged letters with Ball, whose diocese includes Charles’ country estate, Highgrove. The contents of the letters have not been made public.

Charles’ office said in a statement that the prince is “more than willing to provide context on his contact with Mr. Ball, as his former local bishop, if that would help the inquiry.”

The statement said Charles has “made it clear that he was unaware of the extent of Mr. Ball’s behavior.”

The disgrace of the ex-bishop has been a major embarrassment for the Church of England.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby last year apologized to Ball’s victims as the church published a detailed report revealing that senior figures did little about numerous allegations against the bishop over the years. Welby said the Church of England had “colluded” to help hide the long-term sexual abuse of young men.

Ball was convicted for misconduct in public office and indecent assault against teenagers and young men from the 1970s to 1990s.

He admitted to abusing 18 young men. He was released after serving 16 months.


Bruce Springsteen to perform at Sunday’s Tony Award telecast

NEW YORK (AP) — The Boss will be among the headliners at the Tony Awards telecast on Sunday.

Producers of the show said Wednesday that Bruce Springsteen will perform at Radio City Music Hall in addition to receiving a special Tony for his ongoing show “Springsteen on Broadway.”

Springsteen will be among a list of stars presenting or performing at the show, including Robert De Niro, Kerry Washington, Jim Parsons, Claire Danes, John Leguizamo, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Patti LuPone, Katharine McPhee, Tina Fey, Billy Joel, Matthew Morrison, Kelli O’Hara, Zachary Quinto and Andrew Rannells.

The co-hosts are Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban. The three-hour show on CBS starts at 8 p.m.


Dark comedy ‘Dietland’ seems timely in #MeToo times

NEW YORK (AP) — If there’s any TV show this summer that seems to have both anticipated and fed off the #MeToo movement, it’s “Dietland.”

The AMC dark comedy that debuted this week features as one of its story lines a mysterious group of vigilante women who murder sexual predators and drop their bodies from rooftops and freeway overpasses.

Show creator Marti Noxon says the 10-episode first season was still being shot when sexual misconduct allegations against high-profile men began making headlines. Her team rewrote parts of the show to reflect rising societal fury.

Noxon says she leaned on “Fight Club,” movies by Wes Anderson and David O. Russell, and Martin Scorsese’s “After Hours” and “The Babadook” to prepare for creating “Dietland.”

She calls the show “a big, juicy soap opera.”


Underwood has chance to extend winning streak at CMT Awards

Carrie Underwood has a chance to extend her run as the most decorated artist in the history of the CMT Music Awards.

The country star has 17 wins, and she’s nominated for three awards at Wednesday’s show, which kicks off at 8 p.m. Eastern from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.

Nominees for the top prize, video of the year, are Blake Shelton’s “I’ll Name the Dogs,” Thomas Rhett’s “Marry Me,” Kane Brown and Lauren Alaina’s “What Ifs,” Luke Combs’ “When It Rains It Pours” and Brett Young’s “Mercy.”

Little Big Town will host the show and will also perform their new single, “Summer Fever.”

Other performers include Underwood, Blake Shelton, Chris Stapleton, Kelly Clarkson, Sam Hunt, Luke Bryan, the Backstreet Boys, Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley and Darius Rucker.


David Cassidy says he never had dementia, was still drinking

LOS ANGELES (AP) — David Cassidy says he was still drinking in the last years of his life and he did not have dementia.

People magazine reported Wednesday the former teen idol called producers of an A&E documentary after he fell ill and told them he had liver disease. In the recorded conversation, Cassidy said there was no sign of dementia and it was “complete alcohol poisoning.”

The former “Partridge Family” star says he had lied by telling friends and family he had stopped drinking.

Cassidy died of organ failure in November at age 67.

Producer John Marks tells People that Cassidy wanted to be honest once and for all. The issue appears on newsstands Friday.

A&E will air “David Cassidy: the Last Session” on June 11.


Griffin honored for LGBTQ activism, pays tribute to Spade

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kathy Griffin paid tribute Tuesday night to Kate Spade by dressing head-to-toe in the late designer’s apparel to accept an honor for her activism and fundraising for LGBTQ causes.

Griffin did not personally know the designer, but gave a brief tribute to Spade while accepting the Rainbow Key award from the city of West Hollywood, California. Spade was found dead in New York earlier Tuesday in what authorities said was an apparent suicide.

West Hollywood leaders recognized Griffin for raising more than $5 million for HIV/AIDS services and other LGBTQ activism. The award is part of an annual ceremony commending individuals who have made significant contributions to the LGBTQ community.

Griffin is in the midst of a comeback following controversy and personal and professional setbacks after she posed for a photo holding a fake dismembered Donald Trump head in May 2017. She initially apologized for the photo, but later rescinded it. By then, the damage was done, with Griffin losing several jobs and receiving death threats.

West Hollywood leaders have expressed clear opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies affecting the LGBTQ community, and Griffin delivered a fiery yet comedic speech in the city council chambers. Griffin called for action against Trump administration’s policies, saying, “It’s shirts and skins” and called for members of the community to pick a team.

She also defended Samantha Bee’s comments about Ivanka Trump last week, and said is urging her social media followers to support advertisers on Bee’s program. She accused Trump of complaining to her father about Bee calling her a vulgarity and said she did not want the “Full Frontal” host to suffer.

“I’ve been the person that daddy made pay and it’s not going to happen anymore on my watch,” Griffin said.

Griffin also envisioned a day when a gay president might occupy the White House, and she might be back in favor with the leader of the free world.

“So, when we have our first gay president, which I hope to see, I just want you to know that for all I’ve put up with in the last 25 years, I better be invited to a state dinner and I want to stay in the Lincoln bedroom,” she said. “I’ve put in my time.”


Review: You won’t love your stay at the ‘Hotel Artemis’

If you’re looking for a hotel in downtown Los Angeles, might we recommend one that probably will get mixed reviews on TripAdvisor? It has atrocious turn-down service and few amenities but the onsite medical care is startlingly good.

This is the Hotel Artemis, where wealthy and forward-thinking criminals come for first-rate therapeutic treatment if they’ve been badly shot or knifed or horribly mutilated. As long as they’re a fully paid up member, they’re welcome. (That’s right, you can check out any time you like, but you don’t have to really leave).

This premise, not unlike the one in “John Wick,” animates “Hotel Artemis,” a sci-fi thriller that offers us a look at what Jodie Foster might look like as a little old lady and what Sterling K. Brown can look like when he’s a studly, gun-slinging action hero and not perpetually unsure like he is on “This Is Us.”

Good as these two are, they can’t conceal the fact that writer and director Drew Pearce has made an uneven feature film directorial debut. He flaps around for a consistent tone, stunts some potential story lines and kicks out a bunch of cliches. Then, clearly unable to find a rational way to end his film, he adds two massive doses of nonsensical ultra-violence.

But, until then, the premise he’s spun is intriguing. Foster plays an alcoholic, shut-in, onetime trauma doctor who for the past 22 years has stitched up criminals in the heavily protected 12th floor penthouse of the Hotel Artemis. She goes by the simple name Nurse and, you guessed it, there’s tragedy in her past.

In exchange for top-notch medical care that includes nanotechnology, 3-D printed organs and microwave scalpels — my goodness, even bad guys have excellent health insurance — the criminals who come to the Artemis promise not to kill each other or be rude to the help. (For anyone who cares, Artemis was the Greek goddess who embodied the sportsman’s ideal.)

The film takes place over one summer night in 2028, where the streets are filled with rioters angered by water shortages. A pair of bank-robbing brothers (Brown and Brian Tyree Henry) knock on the door needing urgent care, a slinky assassin (Sofia Boutella) has arrived with a secret agenda and a smarmy arms dealer (Charlie Day) is recuperating.

Plus, the Wolfking, the most dangerous mobster in town, also wants in. (He’s another treat, since he’s played by the laconically unpredictable Jeff Goldblum, and Zachary Quinto has a super turn as his needy youngest son.) There’s also a cop bleeding outside the Artemis with a personal connection to Nurse, but allowing her inside for treatment would violate another hotel rule.

“Just another Wednesday,” says Nurse ruefully.

None of these characters will be the same after an eventful night, but they remain cartoony, except for Brown who manages real pathos and Foster, who shuffles about using small footsteps under lots of prosthetics. She does have some of the best lines, including “This is America, honey. Eighty-five percent of what I fix is bullet wounds.”

Other nice additions are the elegant costumes by Lisa Lovaas, who dresses Brown in a stylish three-piece suit and Boutella in a ravishing gown with plenty of slits. Fans of musician Father John Misty should keep their eyes peeled for him in a cameo. (He also offers the original song “Gilded Cage” for the soundtrack.)

But if a nice bed is what you’re after in Los Angeles and you’re not in need of lifesaving care, we suggest an early check out from this particular hotel.

“Hotel Artemis,” a Global Road Entertainment release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “for violence and language throughout, some sexual references and brief drug use.” Running time: 93 minutes. One star out of four.


MPAA Definition of R: Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.




Mark Kennedy is at


Bill Clinton says ‘Today’ interview wasn’t his ‘finest hour’

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton is acknowledging that his combative response earlier this week to questions about Monica Lewinsky wasn’t his “finest hour.”

Still, Clinton says, “It was very painful thing that happened 20 years ago,” adding that he had to “live with the consequences every day since.”

In an interview with NBC’s “Today” released Monday, Clinton bristled at questions over whether he should have resigned 20 years ago because of his sexual relationship with the White House intern.

Clinton was asked Tuesday by the host of CBS’ “Late Show,” Stephen Colbert, if he realized why some people thought his response was “tone-deaf” in light of the MeToo movement.

The ex-president responded, “It wasn’t my finest hour,” adding, “I was mad at me — not for the first time.”


A busy week for Shepard Smith, Fox News’ resident contrarian

NEW YORK (AP) — Even for Fox News’ resident contrarian, it’s been quite a week for Shepard Smith.

He’s called out the Trump administration as lying about a meeting involving the president’s son, punctured claims about the FBI spying on the Trump campaign, dismissed the characterization of the Russian investigation as a witch hunt and resisted White House characterizations of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.

Smith’s afternoon news program has always stood out at Fox News Channel, but perhaps never more so than lately. While most of President Donald Trump’s critics in the media often speak to sympathetic consumers, Smith’s assessments hit ears that don’t always seek — or want — a contrary point of view.

Fox aired a portion of Trump’s White House rally on patriotism Tuesday that replaced the planned celebration of the Eagles’ Super Bowl win, giving it more time than either CNN or MSNBC. As the last strains of “God Bless America” ended, Smith came on in Fox’s New York studio.

“We stand to support, we stand to salute, we stand in the absence of the Philadelphia Eagles,” Smith said. “But the thing is, the Eagles stood as well.”

Smith said that Trump had claimed that the Eagles disagreed with him about the need to stand for the national anthem before football games. But the truth is, “the entire team stood for the anthem every game last season,” he said.

He read a tweet from an Eagles player that accused the president of spreading a false narrative that the players are anti-military.

A day earlier Smith, like others in the media, took the administration to task for shifting stories about Donald Trump Jr.’s 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer, and what hand the future president had in crafting his son’s statement about what the meeting entailed.

“It’s one of those days when somebody is lying,” Smith said following White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ briefing. “We’re just not really sure who is.”

He said that it’s frustrating to get a competing set of facts from people who “work for us.”

“It’s not partisan,” he said. “It’s about facts.”

Smith faces a steady stream of invective from many Fox News fans on social media. One viewer on Twitter said Tuesday he didn’t understand how Smith gets different information than others at Fox like Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.

Many posters promise not to watch him anymore; yet with an average viewership of 1.4 million people, Smith’s show is like most on Fox News in leading its cable news rivals in the ratings. There’s also no evidence that Fox viewers are rejecting him. In May, the two Fox hours that preceded his show and the one that followed him all averaged around 1.4 million viewers, too, the Nielsen company said.

There are also frequent calls for Fox to drop him. Fox in March announced a multiyear deal to keep him in place.

Last week Smith denounced the “Spygate” controversy involving FBI officials who looked into the Trump campaign to see if there was any evidence of Russian involvement. It was a story that got a flurry of attention from others at Fox; the anti-Fox lobbying group Media Matters for America circulated video that juxtaposed the words of Hannity talking about the story and Smith cutting it down.

“The president called it Spygate,” Smith said. “Fox News can confirm that it is not. Fox News knows of no evidence to support the president’s claim. Lawmakers from both parties claim that using informants to investigate suspected ties to Russia is not spying. It’s part of the normal investigation process.”

Smith also said there was no evidence to support charges that special counsel Robert Mueller is meddling in the midterm election.

“The so-called rigged Russian witch hunt is not a witch hunt,” Smith said. “It has resulted in charges against four former Trump associates. Three pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about Russia.”

In the past week, Smith was similarly blunt about ABC’s cancellation of the hit reboot “Roseanne” after its star, Roseanne Barr, tweeted a racist remark about former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. Barr’s show was initially celebrated by many Fox News viewers because the character she depicted was a supporter of the president.

“Racism is not funny,” Smith said to open his show on the day Barr was fired, “and Roseanne Barr is a racist.”


The Latest: Griffin honors Kate Spade while accepting award

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on the city of West Hollywood, California, honoring comedian Kathy Griffin for her LGBTQ activism (all times local):

8:20 p.m.

Kathy Griffin has accepted an award honoring her contributions to LGBTQ community by dedicating part of her honor to late designer Kate Spade.

Griffin wore an outfit made out entirely of Spade’s designs while accepting an honor from the Southern California city of West Hollywood Tuesday night.

Griffin opened her acceptance remarks with a tribute to Spade, who was found dead in New York earlier Tuesday in an apparent suicide.

The city gave Griffin on Tuesday its Rainbow Key Award for raising $5 million for HIV/AIDS services and other LGBTQ causes.

West Hollywood Mayor John Duran presented the comedienne the award.

She also said she’s starting a social media campaign to support advertisers who didn’t pull ads from Samantha Bee.


12 a.m.

Kathy Griffin will be honored Tuesday by West Hollywood for raising more than $5 million for HIV/AIDS services and LGBTQ causes.

The city will present Griffin with a Rainbow Key Award as part of an annual ceremony honoring individuals who have made contributions to the LGBTQ community.

Griffin is in the midst of a comeback following the uproar after she posed for a photo shoot while holding a fake severed Donald Trump head in May 2017.

Griffin apologized, but later retracted it.

The comedian addressed the fallout of the image, which included death threats and lost jobs, in an interview with The Associated Press in April before she embarked on a North American tour.

West Hollywood is a city of 36,000 between Los Angeles’ Hollywood neighborhood and Beverly Hills.


Spade remembered as vibrant and colorful, like her creations

NEW YORK (AP) — Bright. Vibrant. Colorful. And, most essentially, fun.

The same words used so often to describe Kate Spade’s enormously popular handbags — “It” bags that were both aspirational and affordable — were an apt description of the woman herself, say many in the fashion world. And that only contributed to the sense of shock and loss in the industry upon hearing the news Tuesday that Spade had apparently taken her own life at 55.

“She was always just as happy and delightful as her collection was,” said Fern Mallis, industry consultant and former director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America during Spade’s rise to success in the 1990s. “She was every bit the representation of that brand, and the fun of it all.”

Indeed, Spade had said it herself: “I hope that people remember me not just as a good businesswoman,” she told Glamour magazine in 2002, “but as a great friend — and a heck of a lot of fun.”

Spade was found hanged in the bedroom of her Park Avenue apartment Tuesday morning in an apparent suicide, law enforcement officials said.

Spade liked to say that she wasn’t obsessed with fashion, or interested in trends. She tried jeans, for example, decided they didn’t look good on her, and moved on. “I grew up in the Midwest, where you have to have (a fashion item) because you like it, not because you’re supposed to have it,” she told The AP in 2004. “It’s an adornment, not an obsession.”

And a Kate Spade bag was an adornment that was, crucially, affordable, unlike other iterations of “It” bags whose status seemed to hinge on the price tag. “It was a real shift,” Mallis said. “Everybody had Kate Spade bags. You could afford them, and happily buy more than one. They were affordable AND terrific AND fabulous.”

Having a Spade bag “was a sign that you were in the know,” said Eric Wilson, fashion news director at InStyle. “You associated yourself with this fun, cool, with-it, hip brand that wasn’t snobbish or so exclusive that it felt like a European luxury brand.”

And the bags seemed to effortlessly appeal to a variety of women. “She had a quirky visual language that captivated Bat Mitzvah girls and artists alike,” wrote actress Lena Dunham on Twitter. “She was also a staple of NYC who spread goodwill.”

Born Katherine Brosnahan, Spade grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. She was working as an accessories editor at Mademoiselle magazine when she launched her company with husband Andy in their New York apartment in 1993, based on six shapes of bags she thought every working woman needed. She called them her “stepping stones” — and said years later that they were still her favorites.

As her brand expanded, “the fun, colorful, bright designs she created added an element of cheerfulness others have tried to emulate,” said Deidra Arrington, associate professor of fashion design and merchandising at Virginia Commonwealth University. “She was a visionary.” One obvious measure of her influence was the number of counterfeit Kate Spade bags one could find on the streets, Arrington said. “Most women remember their first Kate Spade bag. I still have mine.”

Indeed, on social media, many women were recalling their first Spade bag. “My grandmother gave me my first Kate Spade bag when I was in college,” Chelsea Clinton wrote on Twitter. “I still have it.” Jenna Bush Hager wrote: “I will never forget the first Kate Spade bag I got for Christmas in college.”

Spade was not only about bags: she would expand into shoes, apparel, luggage and other accessories, and stationery. “Everyone loves to get a letter,” Spade told the AP in 2006, explaining that she never used computers and had her staff print out emails. “I love sending them. I love getting them.”

Spade, who won multiple CFDA awards and was named a “giant of design” by House Beautiful magazine, walked away from her company in 2007, a year after it was acquired from the Neiman Marcus Group for $125 million by the company then known as Liz Claiborne Inc.

Coach, now known as Tapestry, bought the Kate Spade brand last year for $2.4 billion. Spade and her husband — who is the brother of comedian David Spade — started a new handbag company recently, Frances Valentine.

Wilson, of InStyle, recalled often finding her in her store, helping shoppers. “Often I would walk in and I’d see her there serving customers, not telling them ‘I’m Kate Spade’ or Kate Valentine, her other alias, but just helping people,” he said. “I found her to be just down to earth, a normal mom, talking about the trials and tribulations of raising a child and life in the city.”

Mallis, the former CFDA director, noted that the stunning news of Spade’s death came just the morning after virtually the entire New York fashion industry had gathered at the Brooklyn Museum for the glitzy annual CFDA awards. “Nobody could have ever anticipated that the next day, this was the news that would be flashing on our phones,” she said. “You just never know the demons that people are dealing with.”

Outside a Kate Spade store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue Tuesday, Dorothy Ruderman, who said she was a fan of the designer, compared Spade’s death to that of Robin Williams, who hanged himself in 2014. “You see someone who kind of made a career off of making people smile,” she said. “It’s sad.”


Associated Press Writer Colleen Long and former AP writer Samantha Critchell contributed to this report.