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Chris Matthews abruptly resigns from MSNBC following controversial comments

No Comments National News

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Longtime MSNBC host Chris Matthews began his Monday night show with his resignation, following controversial comments he made over the last few weeks and new allegations that he had previously made inappropriate remarks to a woman appearing on his show.

Matthews, 74, addressed his audience for about two minutes at the top of Monday’s show before abruptly signing off, surprising viewers.

“Let me start with my headline tonight: I’m retiring,” Matthews announced at the top of the show. “This is the last ‘Hardball’ on MSNBC.”

Matthews came under fire in recent days for comparing U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’s campaign victories to the Nazis invading France and for an interview with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren Tuesday after the South Carolina debate in which critics said he treated Warren disparagingly over her attacks on Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

On Saturday, political reporter Laura Bassett published an essay in GQ Magazine in which she alleged Matthews made inappropriate comments to her while she was in his show’s makeup room in 2016.

Matthews apologized for his behavior and said he made the decision to end his run after nearly 23 years following a conversation with MSNBC management.

“Compliments on a woman’s appearance some men, including me, might have once incorrectly thought were OK were never OK — not then and certainly not today,” he said. “For making such comments in the past, I’m sorry.”

Steve Kornacki took over Monday’s “Hardball” show following the first commercial break.

Bassett tweeted out a response after Matthews announced his resignation, saying, “All I gotta say is… it’s about time.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

James Franco's attorneys say sexual misconduct accusers are jumping on #MeToo "bandwagon"

No Comments Entertainment News

Photo by Bauzen/GC Images(NEW YORK) — Attorneys for actor James Franco have asked a Los Angeles court to toss out a class-action lawsuit leveled at him by his former students, claiming Franco’s accusers falsely accused him of sexual exploitation.

Back in October, a suit was filed in which two former students, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal accused the actor and teacher of staging a class that, to quote Variety, “was little more than an opportunity for him and his friends to exploit young women.”

The women in the class, the class action suit alleged, were encouraged to disrobe as part of intimate scenes that were being rehearsed, and those who obliged were given preferential treatment.

Variety reports that Franco’s attorneys accused the former students of trying, “to jump on the bandwagon and insert [themselves] into the media’s insatiable appetite to ruin the next celebrity.”

Calling the claims “salacious and false,” Franco’s team said the suit had the “obvious goal of grabbing as much publicity as possible for attention-hungry plaintiffs.”

The attorneys describe Franco as, “an ardent believer in the righteousness of the #MeToo and Times Up movements,” and note that while the movement led to the punishment of “reprehensible individuals,” these accusations of sexual misconduct “have also ensnared an innocent man.”

The lawyers’ motion, filed Friday, also said, “Franco is doing what is best for him: forcefully denying the scurrilous and false accusations but supporting his accusers’ right to their day in court.”

The attorneys pointed to Tweets written by Tither-Kaplan in which she called Franco’s master class, Studio 4, “an amazing experience.”

“In the end, Franco is confident that he will be vindicated,” his attorneys claimed.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

"More Than a Memory": Garth Brooks makes history with five decades of top five hits

No Comments Country Music News

ABC RadioGarth Brooks is making history — again. 

As “Dive Bar,” his collaboration with Blake Shelton, ascends to the top five on the Mediabase country chart today, Garth officially becomes the first artist to have scored at least one top five single on both the Billboard country chart and the Mediabase chart across five consecutive decades: the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, ’10s and ’20s. 

This winning streak began in 1989, when Garth scored his first number one single with “If Tomorrow Never Comes.”  That was followed by a string of chart-toppers including “The Dance,” “Friends in Low Places” and “The Thunder Rolls.” 

Garth will receive the Icon Award at the Billboard Music Awards on April 29.  He’s only the ninth artist in the show’s history to be bestowed with the title. He’ll also perform during the telecast.

The superstar’s 14th studio album Fun is expected to be released later this year. 

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

NASA hiring a new round of astronauts for the first time in 4 years

No Comments National News

LaserLens/iStock(NEW YORK) — Job applications to be a NASA astronaut are officially open again — the first time in four years.

The new job posting from NASA on Monday comes as the agency is gearing up to send the first woman to the moon with its Artemis program.

“Exploring the moon during this decade will help prepare humanity for its next giant leap — sending astronauts to Mars,” the agency said in a statement announcing the search for potential employees.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agency is seeking “diverse” astronauts from “every walk of life.”

“America is closer than any other time in history since the Apollo program to returning astronauts to the moon. We will send the first woman and next man to the lunar South Pole by 2024, and we need more astronauts to follow suit on the moon, and then Mars,” Bridenstine said.

“We’re looking for talented men and women from diverse backgrounds and every walk of life to join us in this new era of human exploration that begins with the Artemis program to the Moon,” he added. “If you have always dreamed of being an astronaut, apply now.”

During its last round of hiring in 2015, NASA said it received 18,300 applicants. From that pool, NASA picked 11 new astronauts who recently completed more than two years of training.

The application is open to the public, though you must be a U.S. citizen to apply. A master’s degree in a STEM field is also required, or equivalent experience as narrowly-defined by NASA. Finally, the agency is also looking for at least two years of “related, progressively responsible professional experience.”

Applicants must also take an online test. Potential astronauts have until March 31 to apply, and the listed salary range was $104,898 to $161,141 per year, according to the government website.

“Those who apply will likely be competing against thousands who have dreamed of and worked toward going to space for as long as they can remember,” Steve Koerner, NASA’s director of flight operation and chair of the Astronaut Selection Board at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, said in a statement.

“But somewhere among those applicants are our next astronauts, and we look forward to meeting you,” he added.

For those who don’t get the job offer from NASA but still wish to explore space, private space tourism company Virgin Galactic announced last week it is preparing to sell another batch of tickets to space again, albeit for a hefty price tag.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX also announced in February that it has four seats up for grabs to send private citizens into orbit for an undisclosed price.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Justin Moore finds songwriting inspiration at the beach

No Comments Country Music News

ABC/Image Group LAWhen Justin Moore needs inspiration, he takes to the sea. 

In a new issue of Cowboys & Indians magazine, the “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” singer reveals that his favorite place to write songs is the beach.

He shares that when he first moved to Nashville to launch his country music career, he would rely on the typical method of co-writing in an office space or on his tour bus. But after a writing session at the beach, Justin has never looked back. 

“More so than any other place, [I find inspiration at] the beach,” he says, adding that he purchased a home near Destin, Florida in 2014, where he and his family spend their summers.

“When I first moved to Nashville, my producer and I … would just pop down there and rent a house and lock ourselves in, drink beer, write songs. A lot of those early album cuts and hit records we had, we wrote down there,” he says.

The beach is also where he gained inspiration for his latest album, Late Nights and Longnecks: He invited a few of his songwriter friends to his oceanfront property to help write the album, which debuted at number two on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart in 2019.

“It was probably the most fun I’ve had making an album,” he notes.

Late Nights and Longnecks has so far spawned the number-one single, “The Ones That Didn’t Make it Back Home.” 

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