Barbra Streisand on Michael Jackson’s Accusers: ‘It Didn’t Kill Them’

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Barbra Streisand said in an interview that while she believes the two men who accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse in the documentary “Leaving Neverland,” she also has some sympathy for Jackson.

In a wide-ranging Times of London interview published Friday, Streisand said of Jackson: “His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has.” She also said that on the few occasions they met, Jackson, who died at age 50 in 2009, was “very sweet, very childlike.”

Streisand told The Times that she “absolutely” believes the accounts of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, and said that watching “Leaving Neverland” was “too painful.”

But she added: “You can say ‘molested’, but those children, as you heard [the grown-up Robson and Safechuck] say, they were thrilled to be there. They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.”

Also Read: Michael Jackson’s Molestation Trial: 10 Bizarre Details You Didn’t Know or Totally Forgot

Streisand also told the Times that she has “combination of feelings” about the accusations. “I feel bad for the children. I feel bad for him, ” she said. “I blame, I guess, the parents, who would allow their children to sleep with him? Why would Michael need these little children dressed like him and in the shoes and the dancing and the hats?”

In the documentary, Robson and Safechuck said Jackson spent years grooming both them and their families, gaining their trust so he could betray it.

Jackson’s estate has denied the accusations. Jackson also denied child molestation accusations for years, and was acquitted in a child molestation case in 2005.

Representatives for Streisand did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.

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Read Attorney General William Barr’s Full Letter to Congress Announcing Delivery of Mueller’s Report

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After a nearly two year investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller delivered to Attorney General William Barr his long-awaited report detailing his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Here is the full letter Barr sent to congressional committee members confirming the end of Mueller’s probe:

Also Read: Mueller Report Submitted, Hollywood Reacts: ‘Wheel of Justice Has Many Spokes’

I write to notify you pursuant to 28 C.F.R. §600.9(a)(3) that Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III has concluded his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and related matters. In addition to this notification, the Special Counsel regulations require that I provide you with “a description and explanation of instances (if any) in which the Attorney General” or acting Attorney General “concluded that a proposed action by a Special Counsel was so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued.” 28 C.F.R. §600.9(a)(3). There were no such instances during the Special Counsel’s investigation.

The Special Counsel has submitted to me today a “confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions” he has reached, as required by 28 C.F.R. § 600.9(a)(3). I am reviewing the report and anticipate that I may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.

Separately, I intend to consult with Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Special Counsel Mueller to determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public consistent with the law, including the Special Counsel regulations, and the Department’s long-standing practices and policies. I remain committed to as much transparency as possible, and I will keep you informed as to the status of my review.

Finally, the Special Counsel regulations provide that “the Attorney General may determine that public release of” this notification “would be in the public interest.” 28 C.F.R. § 600.9(c). I have so determined, and I will disclose this letter to the public after delivering it to you.


William P. Barr

Attorney General

A.G. Barr has confirmed the completion of the Special Counsel investigation. We look forward to getting the full Mueller report and related materials. Transparency and the public interest demand nothing less. The need for public faith in the rule of law must be the priority.

— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) March 22, 2019

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‘Hotel Mumbai’ Director and Writer Deny Film Is ‘Overly Sympathetic to Terrorists’

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The filmmakers behind “Hotel Mumbai” have pushed back at criticism that their film is “overly sympathetic to terrorists” in the wake of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Director and co-writer Anthony Maras and co-writer John Collee clarified that they made the decision this week along with New Zealand distributor Icon Film Distribution to suspend the release of “Hotel Mumbai” from New Zealand cinemas, where it had already opened on March 14. In a joint statement given to TheWrap, Maras and Collee defended the hyper-realistic and intense film.

“The Christchurch attack was a tragic mirror image of Mumbai. We pulled the film from NZ cinemas as it’s clearly such a loaded issue in that place at that time,” Maras and Collee said. “However, we reject the idea that real life acts of violence should not be the subject of drama. If that were the case, we’d lose half of our cultural heritage at a stroke.”

Also Read: ‘Hotel Mumbai’ Review: Relentless, Unspeakable Terror Upends Luxury Palace

“Hotel Mumbai” depicts a 2008 terrorist attack in which members of the Islamic Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group carried out a series of 12 coordinated attacks across Mumbai landmarks, ultimately killing at least 164 people and wounding over 300. The film focuses specifically on the Taj Mahal Hotel, which was under siege for days as the staff and guests awaited special forces.

Maras and Collee said the film has been criticized for both “exploiting the suffering of the victims” and for being “overly sympathetic to the terrorists.”

“It’s interesting that our film which emphasises [sic] the diversity of the victims, and does attempt to humanise the gunmen, has been attacked for stoking racial tensions, for exploiting the suffering of the victims and — simultaneously, for being overly sympathetic to the terrorists,” Maras and Collee said. “It’s a movie for goodness sakes, based on first hand accounts and endorsed by many of those who experienced these events.”

Also Read: ‘Hotel Mumbai’ Lands Distribution at Bleecker Street, After Weinstein Co. Bankruptcy

Maras and Collee continued: “None of the protagonists was entirely noble nor were they entirely evil. Everyone is a product of their upbringing and experience. Drama can only illuminate that fact; but we now live in such a polarised [sic], hyper-partisan world that whatever you say, however even handed or – yes – truthful and realistic you attempt to be, there’s a certain number of commentators who will instantly take offence [sic] at some perceived bias, rather than considering the work as a whole.”

In a separate interview with TheWrap, Maras responded to a question of how the film might be perceived differently in the wake of the New Zealand attack. He cited a scene between the gunman and one of the victims in which the gunman is unable to bring himself to execute a woman when she begins to pray and express her Muslim faith.

“Our film is not anti-Islamic by any means. For us it’s a plea for peace. It’s an indictment of extremism,” Maras said. “What I hope audiences take away from it, is that in the Taj Hotel itself — and this is one of the main reasons we focused on this — you had people of all walks of life. You had Hindus, you had Muslims, you had Christians, you had people from vastly different socially economic backgrounds, who despite their differences came together to survive and become heroes. It’s extremism that the film seeks to indict, not anything else.”

“Hotel Mumbai” opens Friday in the U.S. via Bleecker Street.

Sharon Waxman contributed to this report.

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Shaquille O’Neal Becomes Papa John’s First African American Board Member

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Shaquille O’Neal is expanding his business portfolio by joining the Papa John’s team, the company announced on Friday.

The Basketball Hall of Famer and TNT analyst signed an $8.25 million three-year endorsement deal with the scandal-plagued pizza chain, according to Reuters.

O’Neal also joined Papa John’s board of directors and is the first African American to do so. Last year, founder John Schnatter was accused of using a racial slur during a role-playing call between Papa John’s executives and marketing agency Laundry Service.

Also Read: Papa John’s Founder to Resign From Board, End Legal Battle With Pizza Chain

The move had an immediate impact on Wall Street, with the company’s shares rising nearly 6 percent in early morning trading, Reuters reported.

“This is a triple threat opportunity for me. I am excited to join the Board and to help lead from the top, while also investing in nine stores in my home town of Atlanta and being an ambassador for the brand,” O’Neal said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Schnattner agreed to step down from the company’s board of directors and drop two outstanding lawsuits against the company he started in 1984. Schnattner will resign from the board if the independent director is named by the end of April when Papa John’s annual stockholder meeting is scheduled.

Also Read: Papa John’s Founder John Schnatter Denies Using N-Word in New Lawsuit

Schnatter, who still owns about 30 percent of the company, has been locked in a bitter legal battle with Papa John’s since he stepped down as chief executive in 2017 after months of turmoil following his criticism of the NFL over the player protests, blaming them for low pizza sales.

Shaq will be an investor in nine Papa John’s restaurants in Atlanta. He currently owns a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts franchise in Atlanta and previously owned 27 Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchises.

He also recently opened his self-named restaurant Shaquille’s at L.A. Live in Los Angeles,  across the street from where he used to play for the Lakers at Staples Center.

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‘Ain’t Too Proud’ Broadway Review: The Temptations Fight the Grind of Fame

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The wonderful thing about biographies is that they allow writers to get away with an overload of melodrama and irony that would never work in fiction. Take the story of the Temptations, the most successful rhythm-and-blues group ever: Paul Williams committed suicide, David Ruffin OD’d in a crack house, Eddie Kendricks died of lung cancer, and Melvin Franklin destroyed his immune system through the overuse of cortisone while suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Which leaves it to Temptations founder and survivor Otis Williams to tell the story of these men in the new musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations,” which opened Thursday at the Imperial Theatre.

Besides eschewing the drugs, booze, women and the egomania that brought down so many of the other Temptations, Otis Williams had it relatively easy in comparison. He only got his girlfriend pregnant, endured a shotgun wedding and promptly ignored his wife before she left him for another man. Years later, his only son died in a construction accident at age 22.

In other words, “Ain’t Too Proud” delivers more traumas than “The Jersey Boys,” “The Cher Show,” “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” combined.

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Dominique Morisseau’s book for “Ain’t Too Proud” is based on Williams’s autobiography, “The Temptations,” and may explain why Williams is the most genial subject of a musical since Carole King, whose show would more aptly be titled “Nice.”

Derrick Baskin’s impersonation of Otis Williams defines the word “innocuous,” even though late in the musical he is accused of being a control freak. Here, control freak is an encomium for a man coping with drug addicts, alcoholics and egomaniacs. During the overly long first act, Baskin/Williams is able to resolve in record time every problem the Temptations encounter: A feisty manager is fired and a demanding mother is appeased within minutes of being introduced. Rather than dramatizing the group’s rise to stardom, Morisseau’s book has Baskin/Williams narrate it.

Real drama doesn’t arrive until singer Al Bryant (Jarvis B. Manning Jr.) is replaced by David Ruffin (Ephraim Sykes). There are four more musicals to opens this Broadway season, but it’s difficult to imagine a performer more energized in any of them than Sykes. His superstar-making turn as Ruffin sums up that old adage about the brightest burning out the fastest.

Baskin/Williams keeps telling us that the Temptations are a group, and how it’s not about any one star. Sykes defies that platitude with every song he sings, every jump and split he lands, every mic he tosses and catches in the air. Sykes makes it totally understandable why such a talent would keep the others waiting, miss engagements and then show up uninvited to crash performances after he’d been fired from the Temptations.

Also Read: ‘Be More Chill’ Broadway Review: This Coming-of-Age Musical Is a Real Pill to Swallow

If only Ruffin/Sykes were narrating “Ain’t Too Proud.” For one thing, we’d be spared the cliched build-up to the group’s success and the endless parade of funerals at the end.

It makes dramatic sense that Ruffin’s closest ally in the group is Kendricks, especially as played by Jeremy Pope, hot off his own breakthrough performance in the just-closed Broadway drama “Choir Boy.” Both men exude an aura of suspense and danger on stage, as if each song could be their last. They’ll worry about their aching joints and vocal chords in the morning.

Playing Paul Williams and Melvin Franklin, respectively, James Harkness and Jawan M. Jackson impress with their vocals. Baskin appears to be the weak link, but surprises with a stirring “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” near the end. It’s Sykes and Pope, however, who prove that the parts can sometimes be much greater than the whole.

Also Read: James Corden Set as 2019 Tony Awards’ Host

Why do audiences love these cautionary showbiz tales? Do we need to see how miserable the rich, the talented and the famous really are under all that money and glitz?

Des McAnuff’s direction of “Ain’t Too Proud” gives us both the alluring razzle-dazzle and the underlying nightly grind of touring. Repeatedly, the Temptations perform to us out front, then turn to deliver the next few bars to the other three walls of the stage. Meanwhile, Robert Brill’s scenic design and Peter Nigrini’s projections give us the towns the men are playing — Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver. After a while, it’s all a blur and we understand how a gifted talent like Ruffin’s just doesn’t fit within that box.

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Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ Teaser Drops Timely Clues It Goes Back Way Before the Manson Murders

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

For almost as long as we’ve been hearing about “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Quentin Tarantino and Sony Pictures, which will release the film, have tried to dispel the notion that it will be all about the Manson murders.

They couldn’t have made their point better than they did with the teaser trailer released Wednesday. Tarantino signals with the teaser that that the film won’t just be a portrait of one horrible night in 1969, but rather of an entire era, sweeping across at least three years prior to the Manson murders.

Because he’s Quentin Tarantino, he doled out those clues via obscure Bruce Lee knowledge, old TV and movie marquees. Let’s look at all the signs, literal and figurative, that “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” won’t surrender its story to Manson.


On Aug. 9, 1969, Sharon Tate (played by Margot Robbie in the film) was murdered by the Manson Family in the Cielo Drive home she shared with her husband Roman Polanski. The family also killed her unborn baby, as well as celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring, aspiring screenwriter Wojciech Frykowski, Folger’s coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and 18-year-old visitor Steven Parent.

Also Read: Why Bruce Lee’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ Costume Is an Intriguing Surprise

One night later, the Manson clan murdered Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.

Tate’s sister, victims-rights advocate Debra Tate, said last August that Tarantino had outlined his plan for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and said she would make sure Sharon Tate’s “memory is not exploited.”

“People think they know what this movie is, they don’t,” she tweeted. “I’m grateful to Quentin For letting me read the script, and sitting down with me to explain his vision.”

So despite Tarantino’s love of cinematic violence, you can rest assured that the film won’t be a gory or cartoonish retelling of the killings. Rather, it looks like an exploration of a period that ended on Aug. 9, 1969, when Hollywood lost any vestiges of innocence and entered a darker time.

Yes, the promotional materials that accompanied the trailer’s release say the film “visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing.” But the trailer indicates it will visit other years as well.


We get our first big clue that the film will be at least partly set well before the murders at the 42-second mark of the teaser trailer. That’s the moment when we see the Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard decked out for a new film called “Krakatoa: East of Java.”

The film debuted on March 14, 1969.

We can be confident than Tarantino, an exacting film historian, knows exactly when the films he references in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” were released. It’s true that movies stayed in theaters much longer in the 1960s and ’70s than they do in the modern era.

Also Read: Why Bruce Lee Is All Over the Teaser for Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’

But it’s also a safe bet that the Cinerama Dome wouldn’t give up prime Sunset advertising space to a movie that wasn’t a new release. That places at least one scene in the film at least a few months before the Manson murders.


One second later in the trailer, we see a marquee advertising what appear to be two adult movies at the Pussycat Theater. I can’t find any detail on either of them, including their release dates.

But a second after that we see a marquee for “The Night They Raided Minsky’s,” an early film by “The Exorcist” director William Friedkin that starred Donald Sutherland and sounds absolutely awesome. The IMDb summary: “To distance herself from her strict Amish family, naïve Rachel Schpitendavel (Britt Ekland) escapes to New York City to become a dancer.” (The film is actually a fictionalized telling of the invention of the striptease and a real-life raid on the storied New York burlesque.)

“Minsky’s” came out Dec. 22, 1968 — more than seven months before the Manson murders. Could it have stayed in theaters that long? Maybe. But what about this?


At the 48-second mark, we get an extended sequence in which Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) spars verbally, then physically, with Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). During the verbal sparring, Lee is clearly dressed as Kato, his character on “The Green Hornet,” a show that ended in March 1967 — more than two years before the Manson murders.

This is our best indication yet that the film will have a multi-year sweep.


At 1:05 into the teaser, we see Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) dancing on the goofy real-life NBC show “Hulabaloo.”

“Hulabaloo” ended in April 1966. That places at least this scene at least three years prior to the murders. Could it be a quick flashback? Sure.


The Franco Zeffirelli film that your high school English class giggled through uncomfortably, because sex, turns up on a billboard at the 1:07 mark. It was released on Oct. 8, 1968. We don’t think its included just as a time signifier, but also as foreshadowing that “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is also a story of youth and tragedy.


We’d also recommend listening to the “Shoot This Now” interview we did last summer with “Bruce Lee: A Life” author Matthew Polly, who told us all about the weird way Lee was connected to the Manson murders, and lots of other things, like the origin of the yellow suit that Lee wears in “Game of Death” and that Uma Thurman wears in “Kill Bill Vol. 1.”

You can listen to on Apple and right here:

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Mark Steines to Host Nat Geo’s ‘Animal ER Live’ in First TV Job Since Hallmark Channel Ouster

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Former “Home & Family” co-host Mark Steines has been set as the host of Nat Geo’s upcoming “Animal ER Live,” the cable network said Thursday. This marks the TV journalist’s first small-screen job since he was abruptly ousted from Hallmark Channel last June.

Here’s the official logline for “Animal ER Live,” which premieres March 30:

Capturing the fast-paced drama and intensity of a hospital procedural mixed with the unbreakable bonds between pets and their owners, each episode of Animal ER Live will trail teams of emergency veterinarians and specialists as they work tirelessly through the night to save the lives of our pets from coast to coast, giving viewers insight into the extraordinary and unpredictable world of urgent animal care. The series will also follow a wide range of touching cases in emergency rooms and waiting rooms, and accompany on-call vets to homes and farms to treat animals that are too sick or too big to travel.

“I’m thrilled to partner with Nat Geo WILD and Big Fish Entertainment on this exciting new series that highlights the amazing work of those who have dedicated their lives to helping animals,” said Steines. “As an animal lover and advocate myself, I’m looking forward to showcasing the realities, drama and heartwarming moments these urgent care teams face on a daily basis as they work tirelessly to save the lives of animals in need.”

Also Read: Mark Steines ‘Home & Family’ Legal Claims Have ‘No Merit,’ Hallmark Channel Owner Says

Per Nat Geo, “Animal ER Live” will feature Steines and veterinary experts Dr. Justine Lee and Dr. Will Draper throughout the night, “giving commentary on what audiences are seeing in real time as cameras bounce to and from the featured animal hospitals and mobile vet emergency units in Boston, Massachusetts; Portland, Oregon; Charleston, South Carolina; Plainfield, Illinois; Kanab, Utah; Fort Bragg, California; and Waller, Texas.”

At the time of Steines’ ousting from “Home & Family” last June, Hallmark Channel clarified exclusively to TheWrap that there were no complaints about the “Entertainment Tonight” alum’s behavior on or off the set before it suddenly cut ties with the veteran anchor after six years and that the show was simply choosing to go in a different direction. He was replaced by Cameron Mathison in July.

Last September, Steines filed a lawsuit against Hallmark parent company Crown Media, alleging that he was fired after supporting two women who brought sexual-harassment claims against the series’ executive producer at the time, Woody Fraser. Crown Media quickly responded to the suit, stating it had “no merit” and that the decision to replace Steines was due to declining ratings.

“Animal ER Live” airs Saturday and Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT, for four weeks, premiering Saturday, March 30 on Nat Geo.

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Stream Fatigue? Streaming Subscriptions Drop So Far This Year – Just as Apple, Disney Prepare to Enter Market

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Forget about cord-cutting — the new trend in 2019 might be TV fans cutting back on their streaming service budgets.

New research from Ampere Analysis shows that Americans are subscribing to fewer streaming services in the first three months of this year — and also paying less overall. Between January and March, the average U.S. household subscribed to 2.6 services and paid about $30 per month altogether, marking a slight dip from last June, when the average household paid about $33 per month for 2.8 services.

The decline is admittedly modest so far but it’s a notable drop that comes just as Apple, WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal and, oh yeah, Disney are poised to enter an increasingly crowded streaming market within the next year. “Streaming fatigue” could be setting in as customers balk at the idea of dropping their cable and satellite plans only to juggle a half dozen different streaming subscriptions.

“Cord cutters, like me, are realizing that skinnier bundles still add up, price-wise, and how many [streaming] monthly fees can one viewer afford and navigate?” said Neil Landau, screenwriter and author of “TV Writing On Demand: Creating Great Content in the Digital Era.” “We now live in a world with over 500 scripted series, so in addition to getting noticed and breaking through the noise in this glutted TV landscape, the technologically challenged may not even be able to find a desired new show.”

Also Read: Streaming Officially Bigger Than Cable and Satellite TV in US, Research Shows

Landau’s “too many choices” concern was echoed by Kevin Westcott, Deloitte’s vice chairman and head of U.S. Telecom and Media and Entertainment: “With more than 300 over-the-top video options in the U.S., coupled with multiple subscriptions and payments to track and justify, consumers may be entering a time of ‘subscription fatigue.’”

To be clear, this doesn’t mean streaming is falling out of style or that cable and satellite are poised to make a comeback. Indeed, new survey data from Deloitte this week showed that streaming has officially passed traditional pay TV in popularity in the U.S., with 69 percent of survey respondents subscribing to at least one streaming service, compared to 65 percent of respondents that pay for cable or satellite.

However, the new trends indicate that streamers are reticent to sign up for new subscriptions. Cord-cutting was intended to drop monthly expenses while still giving viewers content they desire. And the addition of more big-name services on the market doesn’t guarantee that customers will open their wallets.

Look at the prices of the already established streaming players: Netflix’s premium plan runs $16 per month; Hulu’s “no commercials” plan is $12 per month; HBO Now is $15 per month. Amazon Prime Video comes with a $120 annual Prime membership fee. And Live TV options from YouTube and Hulu hover between $40 and $45 each month. On their own, these prices don’t break the bank, but they quickly add up in combination.

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“Soon we’ll all start looking at our credit card bills and start saying, ‘Why am I subscribing to all of these services? Something’s got to give,’” said Paul Hardart, former Warner Bros. and Turner executive and current head of the Entertainment, Media and Technology Program at New York University.

Making matters tougher for new streamers is Netflix’s overwhelming dominance in the market. The company has nearly 60 million U.S. customers and has built a devoted following behind trademark shows like “Narcos,” “Queer Eye” and “Stranger Things.”

The company’s first-mover advantage is real. New streamers will have a chance to carve out their share of the pie — Disney’s slew of top content, from “Star Wars” to its seemingly never-ending supply of Marvel movies, will bolster its Disney+ service, and Apple has more than $200 billion in cash to throw around if it chooses to bulk up its content offereings.

Still, it will be next to impossible for newcomers to bump Netflix from the select few services that Americans will pay for, Hardart said, leaving the rest of the field to battle for the remaining dollars customers are willing to shell out.

Also Read: Apple’s Streaming Service on Track to Have 100 Million Subscribers in 3-5 Years, Analyst Says

“There will be losers in this. Walmart basically abandoned their streaming service earlier this year,” Hardart noted, referring to the retail giant’s scrapped plans for an $8 per month service. “If a big player like Walmart is abandoning it, it’s a treacherous path.”

“We’ve almost reached a saturation point,” Ampere senior analyst Toby Holleran added of the streaming landscape. While he said the downturn in overall streaming subscriptions isn’t necessarily permanent — Holleran said the “sweet spot” for streaming subscriptions will likely land around three per household in the next year — customer loyalty will be difficult to secure. Instead, churn rates will increase, as a lack of contracts will allow viewers to nomadically bounce from service to service, binging a series or two before moving on to another service.

These key factors — price sensitivity, the ability to easily move from service to service and a finite amount of time for customers to watch all of the content that’s available — could hamper Apple, Disney and WarnerMedia’s fashionably late entrance to the streaming party.

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‘Devin Nunes’ Cow’ Parody Account Gets More Followers Than Nunes After His Twitter Lawsuit

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

A parody Twitter account cited in a $250 million lawsuit filed by Devin Nunes has now exceeded the California congressman’s total number of Twitter followers.

In his lawsuit filed Monday, Nunes, a Republican representing the state’s 22nd district, accused Twitter of censoring conservative voices and knowingly permitting abusive behavior. He is seeking $250 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages from the social media site, as well as several unnamed users.

One of those users is the creator of an account called “Devin Nunes’ Cow.” The profile, which frequently criticizes and mocks Nunes, had 1,000 followers at the time he filed the suit, and was virtually unknown. Nunes’ lawsuit had the unintended consequence of drawing attention to it, and by Wednesday, the account had around 536,000 followers.

Also Read: Inside Facebook, YouTube and Twitter’s Struggle to Purge Video of the New Zealand Mosque Attacks

Currently, Nunes himself has around 396,000 followers.

In addition to the monetary damages, Nunes’ lawsuit seeks to compel Twitter to reveal the names of the people behind “Devin Nunes’ Cow,” and also accounts called “Devin Nunes’ Mom,” “Fire Devin Nunes” and “Devin Nunes Grapes.” He also wants the site to permanently suspend a number of users whose posts contain what he says are “false and defamatory statements.”

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request from TheWrap for comment. Nunes’ office also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Last month, surgeon Phil Mercado and Hollywood executive Todd Quinn invited over 100 of their richest friends to sip beer, drink wine, and try to fall in love. Not in a romantic sense, but with a presidential candidate.

This time it was with Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Previous guests at their Hollywood Hills home have included New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and California Sen. Kamala Harris. The couple also hope to host former Vice President Joe Biden (who has not announced his candidacy) and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

But no one wants to commit to anyone. “Most people want to keep their powder dry,” Mercado said.

Also Read: 2020 Presidential Contenders: Everyone Who’s Challenging Donald Trump So Far (Photos)

The potential donors have the same problem as lots of Hollywood daters: There are too many attractive options, and new ones seem to pop up every day. The only thing everyone in liberal Hollywood seems to agree on is that anyone would be better than the guy they’re stuck with now.

With more than two dozen candidates either running or expected to run in the 2020 presidential race, Hollywood’s top donors are holding off on their contributions and weighing their options before making any commitments.

In 2016, the entertainment industry spent more than $86 million in donations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, mostly on Democrats, only to see Donald Trump win the general election.

So it’s no surprise many of them are now taking a more cautious approach, according to Jack Pitney, professor of government at California’s Claremont McKenna College.

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“It’s political speed dating,” Pitney told TheWrap. “They don’t want to spend money on a candidate who blows up or whose candidacy implodes.”

Many are trying to avoid anything serious right now, instead opting for high-powered meet-and-greets, like the one at Mercado and Quinn’s house, that don’t require anyone to sign a check to get in.

“In 2016 there was a clear frontrunner in Hillary Clinton,” Mercado said. “But this year it’s more analogous to what happened to the Republicans in the last cycle.”

For the candidates, the non-fundraising events are a chance to make their pitch to influential and wealthy supporters, while soaking up some of Hollywood’s glitz and glamour. They hope to make enough of an impression to score donations, time, or endorsements later on.

Media titan Haim Saban, a longtime Democratic Party funder and one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest donors in 2016, told TheWrap he’s “standing on the sidelines and waiting patiently to hear what everyone has to say.”

“With so many people saying so many things, it’s kind of difficult to hone in on any one person,” he said.

Saban and his wife Cheryl, a psychologist and author, donated more than $12.6 million to pro-Clinton efforts in 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. But this year, he said, he may hold out until the general election before making any donations.

“I’m just going to sit back until somebody emerges who I feel shares my views of the world,” he added.

In 2016, attorney and longtime Democratic fundraiser Dana Perlman hosted “countless” events for Clinton and even canvassed for her in Iowa and Nevada. But this year, Perlman has decided to give his money directly to the the National Democratic Committee.

“I am all in with the DNC,” he told TheWrap. “Only one of them is going to  make it to the mountaintop and whoever that is I want to make sure that on Day 1 that person has the infrastructure available to her or him to immediately proceed into the general election and defeat Donald Trump.”

David Schneiderman, co-owner of Seismic Productions and longtime fundraiser, told TheWrap he too was thinking of giving his money to the party instead of the candidates.

“My allegiance changes every day,” Schneiderman said. “There are so many good candidates, it’s hard to decide.”

Schneiderman, who said he attended nine Clinton fundraisers last cycle, said he was leaning towards Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, or possibly O’Rourke. But he added that he was waiting to hear from Biden.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. “I like a lot of people.”

Still, there are plenty of fundraisers in Hollywood these days. On Wednesday, director J.J. Abrams and his wife, producer Katie McGrath, hosted a fundraiser for Harris, an event co-chaired by some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including WME Entertainment’s Ari Emanuel, ICM’s Chris Silbermann, political consultant Jennifer Gonring, and producer Shonda Rhimes. According to an invite obtained by TheWrap, the evening reception is priced at $2,800 per person, with those who write and raise $10,000 listed as co-hosts.

Also on Wednesday, United Talent Agency’s Jay Sures hosted Sen. Klobuchar for fundraiser at his home.

No one can say how much money the 2020 candidates have raised so far. The Federal Election Commission requires candidates to file quarterly reports, and the first isn’t due until April.

Also Read: Democratic Party Nixes Fox News as Host of 2020 Presidential Primary Debates

But some of the candidates have released numbers for their first 24 hours following their announcements. So far, the person to beat is O’Rourke. The Texas Democrat announced Monday that his campaign hauled in an impressive $6.1 million in online donations in the 24 hours after his announcement. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he raised $5.9 million from more than 223,000 donors in the first 24 hours, and Harris clocked $1.5 million in donations during her campaign’s first 24 hours.

“I think there is a lot of excitement,” Mercado said. “Kamala [Harris] is of interest to a lot of people and so is Amy [Klobuchar]. We’ll probably end up seeing a clearer picture of who the frontrunners are closer to the debates. More people will announce before then and we’ll start to see more people falling in line behind their favorites.”

Dr. Howie Mandel (not the comedian), a prominent Los Angeles-based Democratic fundraiser who has attended several meet-and -greets this cycle said he believes the wait-and-see approach is “a good thing, not bad.”

“I don’t want to give money yet,” he told TheWrap. “Besides,” he said, “Hillary Clinton had more money than God and she lost.”

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‘White Noise’ Theater Review: Daveed Diggs Dazzles in Suzan-Lori Parks’ New Race Fantasy

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Fantasies can be difficult to review. The usual dictums regarding character and plot development just don’t apply, since fantasies set up and proceed on their own logic. Suzan-Lori Parks’ fantasy “White Noise,” which received its world premiere Wednesday at the Public Theater, is written as if a very important amendment to the U.S. Constitution never existed, and proceeds from there. (Paul Beatty used the same subject matter to spin his own Swiftian tale, “The Sellout.”)

The four characters in “White Noise” aren’t so much characters as they are archetypes of race, class and privilege who level stinging barbs at one another that would immediately vaporize any other real-world interracial friendship or affair. And that’s true before Parks drops the play’s big bomb.

Where “White Noise” quickly and repeatedly sheds its more fantastical elements are in the four remarkable monologues interspersed throughout this two-act, three-hour drama. There’s the white college instructor Ralph (Thomas Sadoski), who loses out on a tenured professorship to a person of color. His girlfriend, a black woman named Misha (Sheria Irving), takes angry telephone calls from viewers of her livestream show, “Ask a Black.” Their good friend Dawn (Zoe Winters) is a white lawyer who’s defending a black teenager who’s actually guilty of the crime as charged. And Dawn’s boyfriend, Leo (Daveed Diggs), is a black artist who suffers from insomnia for all those things that sum up Ralph, Misha and Dawn, and more.

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Leo’s alternately funny and painful monologue kicks off “White Noise,” and Diggs turns this rambling reverie into a plea for understanding that prepares us (almost) for the character’s outrageous wager to his best friend, Ralph. The actor’s Tony-winning turn in “Hamilton” was only a warm-up for the ways in which he grounds “White Noise.”

After this opening tour de force, the other actors are at a distinct disadvantage in our warming to them — until, one by one, each gets a turn to speak to us directly. Each monologue is a veritable essay on the subject of race in America, and yet each is as personal and heartrending as Leo’s woozy sleep-deprived meditation. Oskar Eustis’ even-handed direction makes sure that Irving, Sadoski, and Winters nearly match Diggs’ sheer intensity and charisma in these individual moments, which turn out to be the most character-driven aspects of Parks’ fantasy.

One of those characters tell us, “Some folks are doing their best to make things right, but to really fix the s—, you gotta go all the way back. Back through the portal of history, back through the rabbit hole, the abyss, the void, back through the wormhole, yeah, the wormhole as wide as the world.”

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Before this review reduces “White Noise” to a sermon or lecture, it’s appropriate to note that Parks writes great sketch comedy. And it’s the first play I can ever remember seeing that puts a bowling alley on stage (scenic design by Clint Ramos). It’s a bit startling at first to have the bowling balls coming right at you, and Parks mines that sport (the only one you can play while smoking and getting drunk) for enormous laughs. Even more uproarious is the scene where the rejected Ralph secretly phones into his girlfriend’s show to “ask a black” about his recent job humiliation. Irving’s quick segues from playing a hyper-educated woman to dialing up “the ebonics” for her on-air persona provide a master class in racial stereotypes.

These sketches float the first act of “White Noise,” making it the fastest 90 minutes in recent theater history.

The provocative wager between Leo and Ralph — no spoilers here about its nature — bears immediate positive results: Leo can sleep; he doesn’t even need that white-noise machine. And the previously unpublished Ralph immediately gets a story accepted by the New Yorker. (I told you that “White Noise” is a fantasy.) But those funny sketches turn ugly in Act 2: “Ask a Black” begins to torment Misha; the nights of bowling are now drenched in violence.

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A final match at the bowling alley lays out the marriage of capitalism and cultural appropriation, and springs directly from Leo and Ralph’s visit to a secret society of privileged white men. The two men are so hard-wired (see the “some folks” quote above) that they give entirely different monologues to describe what transpired in this private fraternity. Could Parks have called it something other than the White Club? Like those stinging barbs her couples level at each other in the first act, she utilizes short cuts to energize the drama. Making Dawn a lawyer is another short cut.

Parks also creates some convoluted twists to make Ralph both wealthy and neglected by his father. Oh, to be white, male and heterosexual! It’s amazing such a person even dares go to the theater anymore. But to pile on this white/male/straight stereotype, it’s not necessary to give Ralph so much childhood trauma. He’s the kind of guy who wouldn’t recognize his own sense of entitlement and privilege regardless of his upbringing.

More troubling are the play’s two magical bisexuals. Parks uses sexual orientation the way a costume designer switches clothes on an actor: It’s a mere point in the thesis or bump in the plot to keep an audience from falling asleep. You might as well call it gay face.

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March Madness: Dick Vitale Calls Zion Williamson the ‘Most Unique Player’ He’s Seen in 40 Years

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

No one gets more fired up about March Madness than Dick Vitale.
The veteran ESPN college basketball analyst shared his contagious excitement with TheWrap ahead of the 2019 NCAA Tournament, dishing his tips on the Cinderella teams to watch out for, his …

Jim Carrey Digs Into ‘Crypt Keeper’ Kellyanne Conway’s Marriage in Latest Political Cartoon

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

If Kellyanne Conway and her husband, George Conway, ever decide to seek marriage counseling, they might want to enlist the services of Jim Carrey because he seems to have a few thoughts about their relationship.

Actor-artist Carrey turned his artistic talents toward Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway and her husband, suggesting that their differing stances on President Donald Trump — Kellyanne is a fan, while George is decidedly not — must cause “a lot of fiction” between the couple.

“George T. Conway III tells the truth about Trump while his wife Kellyanne ‘Crypt Keeper’ Conway tells nothing but Trumped up lies,” Carrey wrote of his latest artwork, published Tuesday night.

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“I’m sure her ‘alternative facts’ are causing a lot of ‘fiction’ between them,” Carrey added.

The image itself offered a not terribly flattering rendition of Kellyanne, with George behind her and beaming.

Above George’s head were the words, “The ghoul is mine, the dog gone ghoul is mine,” an apparent nod to the Michael Jackson chestnut “The Girl Is Mine.”

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Carrey’s latest piece came after George Conway again criticized Trump on Monday, tweeting that his mental state is “getting worse.” Conway included a definition of “Narcissistic Personality Disorder,” which mentioned that the afflicted are “preoccupied with fantasies.”

On Wednesday, Trump took aim at George Conway on Twitter, calling him the “husband from hell,” as well as a “stone cold loser” who is “jealous of his wife’s success.”

“George Conway, often referred to as Mr. Kellyanne Conway by those who know him, is VERY jealous of his wife’s success & angry that I, with her help, didn’t give him the job he so desperately wanted. I barely know him but just take a look, a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!” Trump tweeted.

See Carrey’s latest work below.

George T. Conway III tells the truth about Trump while his wife Kellyanne “Crypt Keeper” Conway tells nothing but Trumped up lies. I’m sure her ‘alternative facts’ are causing a lot of ‘fiction’ between them.

– Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) March 20, 2019

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Netflix Denies Arranging ‘Love, Death and Robots’ Episode Order Based on Users’ Sexual Identity

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Netflix is denying that the order in which viewers are presented with the episodes of “Love, Death and Robots” — its new Tim Miller and David Fincher-created adult animated anthology series — has anything to do with a user’s own sexual identity.

“We’ve never had a show like ‘Love, Death & Robots’ before so we’re trying something completely new: presenting four different episode orders,” Netflix said via Twitter on Tuesday. “The version you’re shown has nothing to do with gender, ethnicity, or sexual identity — info we don’t even have in the first place.”

That tweet was in direct response to a thread started by Out in Tech co-founder Lukas Thoms on Monday, where he wrote: “Just discovered the most INSANE thing. The ORDER OF THE EPISODES for Netflix’s new series ‘Love Death & Robots’ changes based on whether Netflix thinks you’re gay or straight.”

We’ve never had a show like Love, Death & Robots before so we’re trying something completely new: presenting four different episode orders. The version you’re shown has nothing to do with gender, ethnicity, or sexual identity — info we don’t even have in the first place.

— Netflix US (@netflix) March 19, 2019

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Thoms included screengrabs of the order that his episodes came in versus that of a heterosexual friend, noting: “On the left is my account, starting with the one with a lesbian storyline, and the right is my straight friend Andrew’s account, starting with the one that has the most realistic and explicit hetero sex.”

See below:

On the left is my account, starting with the one with a lesbian storyline, and the right is my straight friend Andrew’s account, starting with the one that has the most realistic and explicit hetero sex.

— Lukas Thoms (@LukasThoms) March 19, 2019

“We’ve known for a while that Netflix personalized the marketing of their shows based on sexual orientation (trailers, cover images etc) but it’s next level weird to change the actual experience of watching it,” Thoms added. “Thought I was losing my mind trying to talk to Andrew about the show.”

When asked if the four different episode-order versions are assigned at random or by using some other kind of user data, a representative for Netflix declined TheWrap’s request for comment beyond the statement given by the streaming service on Twitter.

Thomas updated his own thread Tuesday in a tweet that said, “a friend I trust at Netflix looked into this, and apparently the episode ordering is just a 100% random A/B test that doesn’t involve any ML. Identity-based recommendations are still a good discussion to have, in this case it was just random!”

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“This makes sense to me as episode ordering is completely new, and there’s nothing keeping them from using the data gathered here for future identity targeting,” he continued. “I hear Netflix thinks and cares a lot about ethical algorithms, but every company needs to be more transparent here.”

A final update: a friend I trust at Netflix looked into this, and apparently the episode ordering is just a 100% random A/B test that doesn’t involve any ML. Identity-based recommendations are still a good discussion to have, in this case it was just random!

— Lukas Thoms (@LukasThoms) March 19, 2019

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How Hollywood Fights Anti-Semitism – and All Manner of Religious Intolerance (Guest Blog)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

If you happened to be at Temple of the Arts at the Saban Theatre on Friday night, you would have been shimmying and shaking to the combined voices of former Broadway performer and now cantor Ilysia Pierce, four-time Emmy-nominated composer Sharon Farber and an inner-city African American ensemble called The Spirit of David Choir. Their voices united against religious intolerance as they celebrated our shared heritage of freedom and memorialized the 50 people killed in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

So how does an entertainment industry-heavy Jewish temple fight against anti-Semitism? According to Rabbi David Baron, start by taking a holistic approach. “Many cultures share a common thread of oppression,” said Rabbi Baron. “As we celebrate Judaism in music and dance, we also fight against hate in the same way. Every year we celebrate with Patrick Bolton and the Spirit of David Choir because it brings our communities together. It is especially needed now.”

Friday night’s services drew actors Elliott Gould and Anne-Marie Johnson as well as Holocaust survivor and former tailor to the stars David Lenga, whose clients included everyone from Paul Newman to Groucho Marx.

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“I was amazed at the passion and comradeship that the inner city singers had with Temple of the Art’s congregation. My grandfather might have been appalled, but this is the way we fight against anti-Semitism now — with our brothers and sisters of other cultures,” Lenga observed.

Rabbi Baron opened Shabbat services with a prayer for the 50 dead from Christchurch’s Muslim community. His sermon bound together the communities that were sitting in the congregation. “We must recognize that when we call out anti-Semitic comments we are also fighting racism, and that if we permit a Congresswoman to spew hateful comments it sets the stage for hate filled fanatics to kill and maim. This poisoned fruit is sourced from the same poisoned tree of bigotry toward any minority.”

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When asked what is the most important thing that we can do to fight hate, Rabbi Baron advised, “we need to unify our voices. We are splintered within Judaism along political divides, and it’s gotten to a point where we have refused to speak with each other. We have to get over this, join with other cultures who have experienced oppression, link arms and speak out.”

The evening also recognized Zubin Mehta, Rabbi Baron, Holocaust survivor and hair dresser Bill Harvey and Leon Bass, an African American serviceman who was among the liberators who freed prisoners of Buchenwald concentration camp at the end of World War II. They all received a Mensch Award from Mensch Foundation founder Steven Geiger.

Streaming Officially Bigger Than Cable and Satellite TV in US, Research Shows

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Traditional TV is slowly headed the way of the dinosaur and Betamax, with more Americans subscribing to a streaming service than paying for satellite TV or cable for the first time ever, according to a new survey from Deloitte.

The numbers are close —  69 percent of respondents are paying for at least one streaming service, compared to 65 percent paying for cable or satellite — but traditional TV is trending in the wrong direction, with the 13th annual Digital Media Trends Survey showing 27 percent of respondents have dropped their pay TV packages in the last year. That stat has been reflected in the struggles of the usual TV juggernauts, with DirecTV reporting it lost 400,000 subscribers during the fourth quarter of 2018 alone.

Netflix, on the other hand, has continued to flourish, with the world’s dominant streaming service adding nearly 30 million customers last year. It now has about 60 million subscribers just in the U.S.

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One reason viewers are continuing to drop cable and satellite: they hate advertisements. 75 percent of Deloitte’s respondents said there are too many ads when they watch traditional TV.

Still, the report shows streaming versus traditional TV isn’t necessarily an “either/or proposition,” at least right now for many viewers, with 43 percent of respondents paying for at least one streaming service and one pay-TV package.

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Binge watching, which Deloitte defines as watching four hours or more of content in a single sitting, continues to play a major role in streaming’s rise, with 37 percent of millennials saying they binge at least once per week. Another 40 percent of U.S. millennials said they stream at least one movie per day.

Perhaps ironically, one red flag for streaming, according to the report, could be an increasingly crowded market. The more streaming services there are — and with more on the way from Apple and WarnerMedia — the more frustrating it will get for viewers to follow and pay for.

“With more than 300 over the top video options in the U.S., coupled with multiple subscriptions and payments to track and justify, consumers may be entering a time of ‘subscription fatigue,’” said Kevin Westcott, vice chairman and U.S. Telecom and Media and Entertainment leader at Deloitte.

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President Trump Rips ‘Mr Kellyanne Conway’ as a ‘Husband From Hell,’ ‘Stone Cold Loser’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

President Trump isn’t letting the latest barbs from George Conway go easily, with the president ripping the husband of White House advisor Kellyanne Conway as a “stone cold loser” who is “jealous of his wife’s success.”

In his public tweet-lashing came on Wednesday morning, Trump channeled his inner Richard Lewis by calling Conway the “husband from hell.”

The president also chided Conway for not getting a White House job he “desperately wanted.”

George Conway, often referred to as Mr. Kellyanne Conway by those who know him, is VERY jealous of his wife’s success & angry that I, with her help, didn’t give him the job he so desperately wanted. I barely know him but just take a look, a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2019

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Conway simply retweeted Trump’s lambasting on Wednesday with the comment: “The President of the United States.”

The president’s response came after Conway criticized his wife’s boss once again on Monday, tweeting that Trump’s mental state is “getting worse.” Conway included a definition of  “Narcissistic Personality Disorder,” which mentioned that the afflicted are “preoccupied with fantasies.”

“Don’t assume that the things he says and does are part of a rational plan or strategy, because they seldom are. Consider them as a product of his pathologies, and they make perfect sense,” Conway added.

Also Read: Kellyanne Conway Says ‘Unhinged’ Woman Assaulted Her in Maryland Restaurant (Video)

The tweet battle escalated on Tuesday, with Trump retweeting a post on Conway and adding his comment that he was a “total loser.” Conway shot back, saying “Congratulations! You just guaranteed that millions of more people are going to learn about narcissistic personality disorder and malignant narcissism. Great job!”

Congratulations! You just guaranteed that millions of more people are going to learn about narcissistic personality disorder and malignant narcissism! Great job!

— George Conway (@gtconway3d) March 19, 2019

This wasn’t the first time Conway has went after the president.. Last November, Conway creative referred to the Trump administration as a “s–storm in a dumpster fire.”

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Jim Carrey Flunks Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman Over College Admissions Case in Latest Artwork

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Sorry, Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman; you have failed to make the grade as far as Jim Carrey is concerned.

Actor-artist Carrey, who routinely tackles politics with his growing body of work, turned his talents to the college admissions case that recently put “Full House” star Loughlin and “Desperate Housewives” actress Huffman in a spotlight they no doubt would prefer not to be in.

In his latest work, Carrey opined that Loughlin and Huffman aren’t the only ones who deserve an F over the matter.

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“It’s not only Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman and their kids, but ALL cheaters who will eventually receive a failing grade,” Carrey wrote of his latest piece.

Loughlin and Huffman, along with dozens of others, were charged earlier this month with paying bribes of up to $6 million to get their children into top universities like Yale, Stanford, Georgetown and USC, according to charging documents. During a press conference in Boston, Andrew Lelling, U.S. District Attorney for Massachusetts, said this was the “largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice,” totaling $25 million in bribes.

The official charges for both actresses were “conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.” If convicted, they could each face up to five years in prison.

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The case prompted Hallmark Channel to cut ties with Loughlin last week.

“We are saddened by the recent news surrounding the college admissions allegations,” Hallmark parent company Crown Media said in a statement. “We are no longer working with Lori Loughlin and have stopped development of all productions that air on the Crown Media Family Network channels involving Lori Loughlin including ‘Garage Sale Mysteries,’ an independent third party production.”

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See Carrey’s latest below.

It’s not only Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman and their kids, but ALL cheaters who will eventually receive a failing grade.

– Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) March 18, 2019

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