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NASCAR's Bubba Wallace was not target of hate crime, FBI finds

No Comments Sports News

Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesBy MEREDITH DELISO, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — The FBI has completed its investigation into a noose found in Bubba Wallace’s garage at Talladega Superspeedway earlier this week and is not filing any federal charges, the organization announced Tuesday.

According to a statement from U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, the noose had been in the garage since as early as last fall.

Wallace, the league’s only full-time Black driver, “was not the target of a hate crime,” NASCAR said in a statement.

The FBI investigation concluded through video and photographic evidence that a garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned in that garage number 4 since at least October 2019, and thus was not directed at Wallace.

“Although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week,” Town and Sharp’s statement said.

In a press call with media on Tuesday, NASCAR President Steve Phelps said this was “fantastic” news.

“There is no place in our sport for this type of racism and hatred,” Phelps said. “It’s not who we are as a sport.”

Phelps said that NASCAR will be continuing its own investigation to determine “why there was a rope fashioned into a noose.” He said the rope was present in the garage during a race in October. On Sunday, a member of Wallace’s crew found and reported it to his crew chief, who then brought it to the attention of NASCAR Cup Series Director Jay Fabian, he said.

“To be clear, we would do this again,” Phelps said. “The evidence that we had, it was clear that we needed to look into this.”

Phelps said the show of support around Wallace at Monday’s race was a “very powerful image” and “one of the most important days that we had.”

Wallace was met with a huge show of support from all 39 other drivers and their crews with a march down pit road as they pushed his car to the front of the field.

“These times kind of bring back that positive light of love and passion and solidarity and unity, to unite together and show that love is way stronger than hate,” Wallace said on ABC’s “The View” Tuesday.

On Sunday, NASCAR had said it was launching an investigation after a noose was found in the garage stall for Wallace’s 43 team.

On Monday, the Department of Justice announced its Civil Rights Division was also investigating to determine if any federal laws were violated.

Wallace had pushed for NASCAR to ban the display of the Confederate flag amid calls for racial justice following George Floyd’s death last month at the hands of Minneapolis police. NASCAR subsequently announced earlier this month that it was banning the presence of the controversial flag at all events.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Seal pays tribute to 'Batman Forever' director Joel Schumacher, who made "Kiss from a Rose" a hit

No Comments Entertainment News

Photo by Venturelli/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) — Seal has paid tribute to director Joel Schumacher, who died Monday. Schumacher directed films like St. Elmo’s Fire, The Lost Boys, Falling Down, The Client and Batman Forever — but Seal gives him credit for the success of his music career.

In an Instagram video, Seal explains that in 1994, he released the song “Kiss from a Rose” as a single, and it flopped.  But one day, he got a call from Schumacher, who said he was a big fan and asked if Seal might have a song he could use for a love scene in his new movie, Batman Forever.

Seal said he didn’t have anything, but Seal’s manager stepped in and sent Schumacher a copy of Seal’s album, with a note to listen to “Kiss from a Rose.” 

The next day, Schumacher called back and said that while it didn’t work in the love scene, “I love the song so much, I’m just gonna stick it on the end credits.”

We know what happened next: The song hit #1, won three Grammys and Seal sold eight million albums.

“I owe my career in large part to Joel Schumacher, who took a chance [on a] song that was always a good song, but a kinda unconventional one, so it wasn’t immediately palatable,” Seal says.  “The difference was that everyone who went to see that movie, when they came out of the theater, the last thing they heard was [me singing] ‘BA-BEH!!’ and I guess it kinda stuck!”

Seal concludes, “I just want to say I love you Joel. Thank you very much for everything that you’ve done for me and the joy and the love that you brought to millions of people all around the world, and one day, we’ll all meet again.”

By Andrea Dresdale
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Scotty McCreery is "In Between" number-one hits

No Comments Country Music News

Jeff RayScotty McCreery has locked in another number-one hit with “In Between.”

The introspective song, co-written by Scotty, Jessi AlexanderJonathan Singleton and Frank Rogers, tops the Billboard Country Airplay chart this week. That makes Scotty’s third consecutive number-one single, following in the footsteps of “This Is It” and “Five More Minutes.”

The trio of songs is from from Scotty’s album Seasons Change, which debuted in the number-one slot on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart in 2018. 

Of note, “In Between” marks the second longest climb to the top spot in the Country Airplay chart’s 30-history. With its 63-week ascent to number-one, Scotty is right behind Travis Denning‘s recently set record: His single “After a Few” took 65 weeks to reach the top. 

“Earning a number one record on ‘In Between,’ which is a song that defines me, is amazing. I loved writing this song with Frank, Jessi and Jonathan and telling my story,” Scotty says. “Earning three number one songs in a row is the perfect way to celebrate Seasons Change and how that album changed my life.” 

The American Idol champion is currently working on new music for his fifth studio album. 

By Cillea Houghton
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

"She's lying": Rep for Mel Gibson denies Winona Ryder's accusations that he made bigoted remarks

No Comments Entertainment News

Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures(LOS ANGELES) — A rep for Mel Gibson is hitting back at Winona Ryder, after the Stranger Things actress gave an interview in which she claimed she overheard him years ago making anti-Semitic and anti-gay comments.

In the interview with the U.K.’s Sunday Times, Ryder said, “We were at a crowded party with one of my good friends. And Mel Gibson was smoking a cigar, and we’re all talking and he said to my friend, who’s gay, ‘Oh wait, am I gonna get AIDS?’ And then something came up about Jews, and he said, ‘You’re not an oven dodger, are you?'”

A rep for the Oscar-winning filmmaker and actor fired back in a statement to Variety, saying, “This is 100% untrue. She lied about it over a decade ago, when she talked to the press, and she’s lying about it now.”

Ryder also claimed Gibson tried to apologize for his behavior, but the rep denied that claim as well: “She lied about him trying to apologize to her back then. He did reach out to her, many years ago, to confront her about her lies and she refused to address it with him.”

Gibson famously was arrested in a 2006 DUI stop in which he made anti-Semitic comments.  In 2010, amid a nasty split with ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, he was recorded in a rage in which he used racial and other slurs. 

The actor and Braveheart director’s career took a major hit from the incidents, but his career has been on the upswing in recent years, including his 2016 Oscar-nominated World War II film, Hacksaw Ridge, and parts in films like Daddy’s Home 2 and others.

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Darius Rucker joines forces with Lady A for new single

No Comments Country Music News

ABC/Randy HolmesDarius Rucker and Lady A are teaming up for a new collaboration. 

In an interview with the Grand Ole Opry published last week, Darius revealed that the two acts have recorded a song together which will be released in the coming weeks. 

“I have a new single coming out this summer with Lady A. I’m really excited and can’t wait for people to hear it,” Darius describes. “It’s a lot of fun.” 

The cross-genre star also shared that in addition to spending time with his three children, he’s also devoted much of his time in quarantine to songwriting. 

The new track won’t be the first time that Darius and Lady A have collaborated. The Hootie & the Blowfish star joined the Grammy winning trio as an opening act on their Own the Night Tour in 2012, and they toured as co-headliners on the Summer Plays On tour in 2018.

The trio also sings background vocals on Darius’ smash cover of Old Crowe Medicine Show‘s signature hit, “Wagon Wheel.” 

By Cillea Houghton
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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