Trump White House’s First State Dinner High on Pomp, Low on Star Wattage


Donald Trump’s first state dinner for French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte will include 120 guests, a cream and gold color scheme, rack of spring lamb for the main course and white floral centerpieces of sweet peas and white lilacs.

What it won’t have is Hollywood glamour.

Celebrities have long been a staple of Washington state dinners. But unlike, say, the Obama years, which featured the likes of Beyoncé, Steven Spielberg and James Taylor, this year’s event is low on star wattage, with the Washington National Opera serving as the featured entertainment.

Except for Melania Trump’s broad-brimmed white hat earlier in the day, which drew immediate comparisons to “Scandal’s” Olivia Pope, perhaps the only other Hollywood connection at the state dinner was movie-financier-turned-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Also Read: Rupert Murdoch to Attend Trump White House’s First State Dinner

Among the non-politics celebs who arrived at the Mount Vernon dinner were Apple CEO Tim Cook, Rupert Murdoch and his wife Jerry Hall, Olympic curler John Shuster, and women’s hockey player Meghan Duggan. On the politics side, Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy, economic adviser Larry Kudlow, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, Chief Justice John Roberts, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, aide Stephen Miller, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, Henry Kissinger, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were there.

The lone Democrat invited was Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, whose office confirmed to TheWrap he and his wife will be attending.


In contrast, the Obama’s first state dinner for then-Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur in 2009 was held in a tent on the South Lawn of the White House. The dinner included 400 guests, including Steven Spielberg, Katie Couric and actors Blair Underwood and Alfre Woodard.

It was also the year when a couple of party crashers made headlines: Tareq and Michaele Salahi. The Washington socialites were filming “Real Housewives of D.C.,” and made an entrance even though their names were not on the list.

Also Read: Trump Cleans Dandruff Off Macron Shoulder in Show of Friendship (Video)

The Obamas’ list of Hollywood celebs famously included Beyoncé, who headlined the 2010 state dinner for Mexico’s then-President Felipe Calderón and his wife, Margarita Zavala. Angela Merkel had a friend in James Taylor during her state dinner in 2011. British Prime Minister David Cameron got to enjoy some John Legend and Mumford and Sons in 2012. And Mary J. Blige had gave some real love to Macron’s predecessor, François Hollande during his state dinner in 2014.

The Obama’s last state dinner, for Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife Agnese Landini in 2016, featured a who’s who of Hollywood A-listers. Gwen Stefani, former racing driver Mario Andretti, fashion designer Georgio Armani, celebrity chef Mario Batali, Disney lobbyist Richard Bates, and actor Roberto Benigni, who won an Oscar for 1999’s “Life Is Beautiful” were among the dinner guests.

Republican presidents typically have a harder time wrangling A-listers for their dinners.

First lady Laura Bush’s first state dinner was an intimate dinner honoring then-Mexican President Vicente Fox and his wife, Martha Sahagun de Fox in 2001.  The guest list included tenor Placido Domingo, Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green, after-dinner entertainment soprano Dawn Upshaw and the lone Hollywood representative, Clint Eastwood.

Other celebrities attending state dinners during the Bush years include country crooner Kenny Chesney in 2006, famed violinist Itzhak Perlman in 2007 and the Broadway production of “The Lion King” in 2008.

Spent yesterday with my team checking on the final details of our first State Dinner with France.

— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) April 23, 2018

Is Melania Trump’s white hat a symbol of morality like Olivia Pope’s?

— KOlive (@kmomonahan) April 24, 2018

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All 13 ‘Star Trek’ Movies Ranked From Worst to Best (Photos)


TheWrap critic Russ Fischer ranks “Star Trek Beyond” among all of the Enterprise crew’s big-screen adventures

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
“Star Trek” borrowing from itself is fine (see a good use of ideas from “The Voyage Home” in “Beyond”), but the second J.J. Abrams film plunders “The Wrath of Khan” like Doctor Frankenstein’s assistant seeking raw monster material. The appropriation and reversal of the emotional crescendo of “Khan” lands with a thud, as does the illogical, witless script and its muddy 9/11 allegory.

Star Trek Nemesis (2002)
There are good elements in the final “Next Generation” outing: Tom Hardy‘s preening, arrogant interactions with Patrick Stewart; Ron Perlman‘s “Nosferatu”-inspired makeup, which looks like a Guillermo del Toro dream; one of Jerry Goldsmith’s final scores. But Stuart Baird’s atonal direction makes for a dull action slog stained with the psychic rape of Deanna Troi — a  scene which becomes merely setup for a battle maneuver. “Star Trek” was forced into a seven-year theatrical hiatus after this movie. Frankly, the break was needed.

Star Trek: The Final Frontier (1989)
William Shatner‘s directorial outing is all about Kirk as an ’80s action hero, but the film oddly undermines the captain as often as it beefs him up. That interesting tension is lost in a plot about Spock’s long-lost half brother, written as a forgettable combination of Jesus and Charlie Manson, seeking God at the far end of the universe. The goofball script, with ideas like Uhura distracting enemies by dancing atop a sand dune, goes full-on silly at the patchy, forgettable climax.

Star Trek Insurrection (1998)
“Insurrection” strives to be lighter than other Next Gen movies, with more jokes and a distracting love affair for Picard, but its “fountain of youth” plot leads to indignities such as Worf suffering a giant zit. A decent story kernel — the Federation is beginning to appear weak and out of date — hides within this film, but few scenes support or expand that idea. Instead, “Insurrection” works with a limited visual and story palette better suited for a TV episode.

Star Trek Generations (1994)
Cinematographer John A. Alonzo (“Chinatown”) ensures this first “Next Generation” movie often looks tremendous, and the opening featuring Kirk, Scotty and Chekov is a pleasant original crew callback. Yet the script’s big-screen ambitions are squandered on a mediocre Enterprise-breaking setpiece. The film’s sagging midsection shows how poorly theatrical films explored Data’s yearning for humanity as a replacement for Spock grappling with the meeting of Vulcan and human instincts. Some good interaction between Kirk and Picard notwithstanding, their meeting is saved for the last reels, and Kirk’s final send-off is so lame that casual viewers probably won’t even remember his fate.

Star Trek First Contact (1996)
The best of the Next Gen movies fuses Borg invasion and time travel plots, throwing the Enterprise-E into Earth’s past on the trail of the cybernetic collective as it attempts to prevent humanity’s first contact with Vulcans, thereby destroying the Federation at its root. “First Contact” has more action than most Picard stories, but it’s still padded with a lot of corridor-crawling filler. For all their visual menace, the Borg aren’t particularly frightening, and even with Alige Krige in the role, the Borg Queen never gels as a villain. Points go to Alfre Woodard, however, for dressing down Picard.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
After the grandeur of “The Wrath of Khan,” director Leonard Nimoy‘s first Trek feature feels cheap, even though it is the first “Star Trek” film to destroy the Enterprise. The Genesis planet created in “Wrath of Khan” is a great setting, but “The Search for Spock” is saddled with stilted staging and mediocre villains driving the plot. This chapter succeeds by bringing Spock back to life in a way that prevents a simple reunion with his former crew members, but it serves best as a bridge between the second and fourth film.

Star Trek Beyond (2016)
The streamlined, effective third outing for the reboot crew is free of baggage — no need to justify its own existence or kooky fan-service tricks. Having firmly defined their roles, the cast has room to play and riff off one another, aided by a script that traps the crew, broken into pairs, on an alien planet. As Kirk says early on, things feel a bit episodic, but that’s “Trek,” and in this case the vibe of “Beyond” is calibrated to evoke the spirit of the Original Series. That task is accomplished well, and while the villain, played by Idris Elba, first seems growlingly rote, he grows into a respectable counter-balance for Kirk.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
The series’ first film is slow even by 1979 standards, though a 2001 director’s cut has better pacing and character work. Even with the glacial movement, the crawl through V’Ger’s environment and loving pans across the Enterprise — a gift to fans who waited a decade for new live-action adventures — are glorious. The story offers a welcome window on the running of the Enterprise and develops the sort of hardcore sci-fi story even “Star Trek” doesn’t often get to do.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
Gene Roddenberry often pushed his series to explore stories as allegory for modern life and politics; here “Trek” becomes  a Cold War story in which the Federation and a nearly bankrupt Klingon Empire are dropped into the context of a political thriller. Christopher Plummer adds weight as a key villain in a dark and heavy story that folds in murder mystery elements. It’s not always successful, especially when it comes to obscuring the mystery culprit, but this is a look at the Federation unlike anything else in the “Star Trek” film series.

Star Trek (2009)
The script for J.J. Abrams‘ franchise reboot takes big swings and doesn’t always connect, especially in the villain department. Yet the cast is so well-chosen, with chemistry and charisma to spare, that the new ensemble explores the dynamics of Roddenberry’s old crew with apparent ease. Rather than replicating the interaction between Shatner and Nimoy, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto find their own rhythm and quickly make a case for their versions of the well-known character pair. Sure, the the lighting and camerawork can be distractingly overbearing, but in all other respects the new “Trek” is a warp-speed success.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
Aided by an expanded budget and directorial freedom after “The Search for Spock,” director Leonard Nimoy ditched weapons and villains to shoot on location in San Francisco. In what seems like a contradiction for the series, “The Voyage Home” explores the characters in a new light by pitching the crew back in time to rescue two humpback whales in an effort to save Federation-era Earth. The script can veer into the didactic and the sun-slingshot time-travel device is kooky as hell. Even so, this sequel is a wonderfully entertaining high-water mark for the series with some of the best character beats for every crew member.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
To counter the heady and slow-moving debut film, director and co-writer Nicholas Meyer fashioned a high-spirited naval adventure with Ricardo Montalban delivering an all-time melodramatic villain performance and battle scenes energized by James Horner’s ringing score. The movie can turn on a dime, from the opening thrills of the Kobayashi Maru test to the alien weirdness of brain parasites. Spock’s final scenes etch the Kirk/Spock relationship in stone and set the standard for character relationships in genre film as a whole, to say nothing of future “Star Trek” sequels.

Alfre Woodard To Recur On ‘Empire’ Playing Cookie’s Mom


Emmy-award winner Alfre Woodward will have a guest-star role on Fox’s Empire as Renee, Cookie’s mother, who comes back for a turbulent reunion.
Empire comes back with new episodes on Wednesday, March 28 at 8 ET/PT on Fox. The Lee Daniels/Danny Strong musical drama centers on Empire Entertainment and the drama of its founding family. Taraji P. Henson plays Cookie Lyon, the ex-wife of hip hop mogul Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), who served a 17-year prison sentence and…

Alfre Woodard joins the cast of Empire as Cookie’s mom


When Empire premiered in 2015, it initially centered on Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) dividing up his record-label kingdom among his three sons in a seeming nod to King Lear. But it quickly became the “Cookie Lyon Show,” thanks to Taraji P. Henson’s fierce performance. The show’s full of badass moms, though,…

Read more…

‘Empire’ Casts Alfre Woodard as Cookie’s Mother


Alfre Woodard will guest star on an upcoming episode of “Empire” as Taraji P. Henson’s mother, Fox announced on Friday.

But the mother-daughter reunion won’t go smoothly. Fox is teasing that Woodard’s character Renee “comes back into her [daughter’s] life with a turbulent reunion.”

Woodard appearance on the musical drama will take place when the show returns from its midseason hiatus next month.

Also Read: Fox Sets ‘Empire’ Return Date, Shares New Teaser Featuring Axe-Wielding Demi Moore (Video)

Fox released the first teaser for the back-half of the season last month, promising a showdown between Henson’s character Cookie and an axe-wielding Demi Moore (who is holding hostage Terrence Howard’s Lucious Lyon.)

“Empire” is coming off of a production hiatus last fall, which lasted for a few weeks to allow the writers to regroup before beginning on the season’s final nine episodes. Co-creators and executive producers Danny Strong and Lee Daniels, as well as executive producers Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo were brought in to assist the show’s writing staff and guide the back-half of the season.

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Scarlett Johansson, Alfre Woodard, Laverne Cox and Olivia Munn Set to Join Women’s March


Scarlett Johansson, Alfre Woodard, Laverne Cox and Olivia Munn are among the famous names joining Women’s March L.A. on Jan. 20 to support women’s rights, human rights, civil liberties and social justice.

This is the second annual march through the streets of downtown Los Angeles, which started last year as part of a worldwide protest in the wake of President Trump taking office.

Other stars set to join this year’s march include Chloe Bennet, Rowan Blanchard, Yvette Nicole Brown, Sophia Bush, Lea DeLaria, Tony Goldwyn, Paris Jackson, Megan Mullally, Nicole Richie, Catt Sadler, Adam Scott, Olivia Wilde and Larry Wilmore, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Also Read: How Rose McGowan Came to Endorse the #TIMESUP Movement, Even Though She Doesn’t Support It

A year into the Trump presidency, there has never been more focus on women’s rights and gender equality has never been greater in light of the multiple sexual harassment accusations that have rocked Hollywood and sparked the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns.

Female empowerment dominated the Golden Globes last Sunday as countless stars wore head-to-toe black protesting sexual assault, abuse and harassment in Hollywood, and supporting those who have spoken out about these issues. This comes after heavyweights like Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, Louis C.K., Morgan Spurlock, and many more of have been accused of sexual misconduct.

Also Read: Golden Globes: Viewers Rip Red Carpet Hosts for Not Enough #MeToo and #TIMESUP Questions

Idina Menzel, Andra Day, Rachel Platten, Maxwell, and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles with Melissa Etheridge are also expected to perform at Women’s March Los Angeles,

The event begins at 8:30 a.m. in Pershing Square, with the march beginning at 10 a.m. and concluding in Grand Park around 3 p.m. It’s also expected to stream on Facebook Live.

Also Read: Read Oprah’s Full Golden Globes #MeToo, #TIMESUP Speech

It is estimated that between 3,267,134 and 5,246,670 people participated in the Women’s March in the United States in January 2017.

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Why Alfre Woodard Thinks ‘Everybody Gets Left Out’ of Film Awards Race


Golden Globes nominations announcer Alfre Woodard has some thoughts about the lack of diversity in the 2018 awards season. “Every year, in every awards race that tries to pretend like you can put art in a horse race, everybody gets left out,” the actress and activist told Variety on Wednesday. “I want people to start […]