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Watergate movie was meant to be funny. Then came Trump

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BERLIN (Reuters) – The makers of “Watergate”, a film about the scandal that brought down Richard Nixon, first intended to make a lightly humorous study of the affair. Then came Donald Trump.

The movie, having its European premier at the Berlin Film Festival, recounts the fall of President Richard Nixon, starting with the break-in by thieves seeking material to help his election campaign at the Democratic Party’s offices in Washington’s Watergate complex.

It blends interviews with participants in the affair with original footage and dramatized re-enactments of Nixon’s conversations, using tape recordings from the listening devices the Republican president installed in the Oval Office.

Director Charles Ferguson started making the film before Trump became a candidate. But once the real estate magnate and former reality television star won the White House, Ferguson felt he had to adjust the tone.

“The original film had more humor in it and was more of a real-life political thriller,” he told Reuters on Tuesday. “As all these parallels unfolded … I came to realize that just wasn’t appropriate and I had to make a very serious film.”

Trump’s presidency, like Nixon’s, has been conducted in the shadow of an investigation by a special prosecutor. In Trump’s case, Robert Mueller is investigating Russian influence in the election. Several of the president’s top campaign aides have been indicted or convicted. Trump calls it a witch hunt.

“Watergate – Or: How We Learned to Stop an Out of Control President” shows scenes of tense conversations in the Oval Office between a Nixon who is by turns charming, bullying, paranoid or furious, and associates including Henry Kissinger and Bob Haldeman. Nixon is played by the Tony Award-winning British stage actor Douglas Hodge.

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporters who first revealed that the Watergate break-in was more than a simple burglary, are also interviewed.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Peter Graff

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Son of singer Ronnie Milsap found dead on houseboat at Tennessee marina, reports say

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Son of singer Ronnie Milsap found dead on houseboat at Tennessee marina, reports say

Todd Milsap, the 49-year-old son of country music singer Ronnie Milsap, was found dead Saturday aboard his houseboat at a marina in Antioch, Tenn., according to reports.

The body was discovered by Todd Milsap’s son, who hadn’t heard from his father in two days, police said, according to the Tennessean of Nashville.

The death appeared to be medically related, Nashville’s WKRN-TV reported, but no further details were available.

The body was discovered while a mandatory evacuation was underway at the marina because of heavy flooding, Nashville’s FOX 17 reported.

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“Our son Todd was a force of joy, life, creativity and giving from the moment he was born,” Ronnie Milsap said, according to the newspaper. “He made such a mark on our world in his years on this planet, everyone who met him was richer for it. It is too soon to even understand this loss, and I hope it’s something no one has to bare. Please keep his three children, their mothers and Joyce and I in your prayers at such a fragile time.”

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Joyce Milsap was the mother of Todd Milsap.

Ronnie Milsap, 76, is a six-time Grammy winner, best known for the songs “Smoky Mountain Rain” and “(There’s) No Getting’ Over Me.”

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Glenn Close, ‘Beale Street,’ win indie film honors ahead of Oscars

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Glenn Close, 'Beale Street,' win indie film honors ahead of Oscars

2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards – Show – Santa Monica, California, U.S., February 23, 2019 – Glenn Close accepts her award for Best Female Lead for the film “The Wife.” REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Actress Glenn Close and racial injustice movie “If Beale Street Could Talk” were the big winners on Saturday at the Independent Spirit Awards, a day ahead of the Oscars ceremony.

Mexican family drama “Roma,” which is seen as a strong contender for best picture at the Academy Awards on Sunday, won the Spirit award for best international film.

The Spirit Awards are the annual honors given to Hollywood’s low-budget movies made for under $20 million.

Close, 71, won the best actress award for playing a submissive spouse who finally finds her voice in “The Wife.” She has also emerged as the favorite to win the Oscar on Sunday for her role in the movie.

“If Beale Street Could Talk” — based on late writer James Baldwin’s tender 1974 novel about a young New York couple whose lives are wrecked when the man is imprisoned for a rape he did not commit — came away as the biggest winner.

The film took the Spirit Award for best feature film, best supporting actress for Regina King, and best director for Barry Jenkins, whose last film, “Moonlight,” won the best picture Oscar two years ago.

Winners often go onto success at the Academy Awards the following day. King’s performance as a mother seeking justice for her son is seen as a strong contender in the supporting actress Oscar category, although “If Beale Street Could Talk” failed to get a best picture Oscar nomination.

On Saturday, Richard E. Grant was named best supporting actor for his role in literary drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, boosting his profile for the Oscars where he is also nominated.

Ethan Hawke was named best actor for religious drama “First Reformed.”

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Sandra Maler

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Bill Maher mocks Middle Americans as less ‘affluent and educated,’ saying ‘they want to be us’

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Bill Maher mocks Middle Americans as less 'affluent and educated,' saying 'they want to be us'

“Real Time” host Bill Maher on Friday derided Middle Americans in red states as envious of their blue-state counterparts, in wide-ranging remarks that also included criticism of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for not building its headquarters in poorer states.

HBO’s Maher blamed Bezos for pitting wealthy cities against one another in a real estate battle over where the next Amazon headquarters would be built, while ignoring states that he argued would benefit most from thousands of new jobs. This, after a previous deal to build in New York City fell through.

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“We have a problem in America called spatial geographic inequality which means the most affluent and educated people are clustered in just a few cities,” he said.

He said there are “two Americas,” referencing states that historically vote Democratic versus ones that skew Republican.

“We have orchestras and theaters districts and world-class shopping. We have Chef Wolfgang Puck, they have Chef Boyardee.”

He continued: “The blue parts of America are having a big prosperity party while the big sea of red feels like their invitation got lost in the mail — and they still use the mail.”

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The comedian went on to explain why he thinks red-state voters are so “pissed off.”

“The fly-over states have become the passed-over states, that’s why red state voters are so pissed off. They don’t hate us, they want to be us.”

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