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Back for an encore: Kelly Clarkson plans second picture book

After releasing a best-selling children's book, Kelly Clarkson is back for an encore.

HarperCollins Publishers announced Wednesday that the Grammy winner's "River Rose and the Magical Christmas" is coming out Oct. 24.

The picture book is illustrated by Lucy Fleming and continues Clarkson's "River Rose" series, which began last year with "River Rose and the Magical Lullaby." The new release also will include an original Christmas song by Clarkson.

Meanwhile, Clarkson is working on a new album, which also is expected to come out later this year.

Actor Jason Statham, model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley welcome first child

Model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and actor Jason Statham officially became parents on Saturday, and just announced the news on social media.

>> Read more trending news

“Our little man arrived! Jack Oscar Statham 8.8lbs on Saturday June 24th,” Huntington-Whiteley wrote on a Tuesday Instagram post alongside a sweet photo of her newborn holding her fingers.

Huntington-Whiteley announced her pregnancy in February with a photo of herself in a bikini with her baby bump on full display.

“Very happy to share that Jason and I are expecting!! Lots of love Rosie x Photo by @jasonstatham,” she wrote.

According to E! News, Huntington-Whiteley was joined by 40 to 50 close friends and family members at her baby shower on May 20.

“Everyone was really chill, and the spotlight was Rosie,” a source told the entertainment site, adding that she looked “flawless” at the party.

The couple kept things private ahead of their son’s birth and most recently appeared on the red carpet at the premiere of Statham’s film “The Fate of the Furious.”

Statham and Huntington-Whiteley have been dating since 2011 and became engaged in 2016.

Prince's 'The Dance Electric' Highlights His Competitive Brotherhood with Andre Cymone: 365 Prince Songs in a Year

Andre Cymone and his family welcomed Prince into their home at a young age. But like many brothers, their relationship could get quite competitive.

Continue reading…

Fans, critics surprised, delighted at Kendall Jenner's birthday gift to North West

North West, daughter of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, turned 4 earlier this month. To celebrate, Kardashian and West gifted their daughter with a puppy, but it’s what North West’s aunt, Kendall Jenner, got her that fans are delighted by. 

>> Read more trending news

Jenner, 21, gave her niece a book with more than 20 science projects.

Along with the book were materials and ingredients for four of the projects. 

Kardashian, who said she loved the gift, shared video of the book and prepared kits on social media. She said she appreciated the creative package.

Many praised Jenner for getting the gift “instead of something expensive and lavish.” 

Rock Hall of Fame to open 'Power of Rock' exhibit

Rock 'n' roll fans can get a taste of what it's like to be a star inducted at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame beginning this weekend.

The museum is opening an exhibit called "Power of Rock," featuring film clips, laser lights, concert smoke, under-seat speakers and recorded stories by Hall of Fame inductees, including former Deep Purple bassist Glenn Hughes. The exhibit is the centerpiece of an overhaul of the Hall of Fame. Renovations have cost $15 million to date.

Fans will be able to enter an interactive booth and listen to Hughes, who is set to visit the Hall on Thursday to record his story of how a Rolling Stones concert he attended as a teenager ignited his passion for rock.

"When I saw all the hoopla and what was going on on the stage, I go, 'I'll have some of this, Mother? May I have a real electric guitar?'" Hughes says.

The exhibit, presented exclusively to The Associated Press on Wednesday, opens to the public on Saturday. It will bring to life more than 30 years of the Hall's legendary induction ceremonies through digital displays, memorabilia exhibits and a 12-minute film of ceremony highlights by Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme, played on five moving screens.

Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley were among the Hall's first inductees in 1986, and 802 artists have been inducted so far.

Visitors starting their tour of the exhibit will wait on a bridge suspended three stories above the Hall's atrium and listen via a stretch of gold and black speakers to the names of Hall inductees in a roll call shout-out: KISS, Journey, Breaking Dead, among others.

Then 130 people at a time will file into a theater to watch the highlight reel spliced together by Demme, who won an Academy Award for "The Silence of the Lambs" and died in April.

"A lot of excitement, a lot of speakers — 'Make it loud' is what he'd always say," said Demme's producer, Rocco Caruso.

With laser lights, concert smoke and sliding screens, audience members will be quaking in their seats, literally — with bass speakers booming beneath them.

"You not only feel it in your chest, you feel it in your feet," said Christian Lachel, one of the theater's designers.

The film races through ceremony highlights of more than 100 artists, from Bob Dylan to Metallica, beginning with classic R&B singer Ruth Brown, known in the 1950s as Miss Rhythm, and ending with Prince's guitar-throwing 2004 rendition of the Beatles song "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

Prince's black and red suit that night will be in a special showcase, along with the blue bass guitar Tina Weymouth played when the Talking Heads were inducted in 2002.

Hughes told the AP he hopes that by telling his story in the "Power of Rock" he will inspire the next generation of musicians who feel the same stirring he did that night in the 1960s, listening to the Rolling Stones.

"The artist is suffering. It's difficult to make a living," Hughes said. "But I see the same endeavor, the same hunger, as when I started out, and that's all that really matters."

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Online: https://www.rockhall.com

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This story has been corrected to show that the $15 million is the total cost of the renovations to date, not just the new exhibit.

Bridges takes chilled approach in heated political rhetoric

But when it comes to critiquing the role of today's real-life president, Bridges is a lot more laid back than some of his fellow celebrities. How would The Dude, the character he played in "The Big Lebowski," handle things?

He likely wouldn't be dangling a severed head in the likeness of President Donald Trump, as comedian Kathy Griffin came under fire for. Neither would The Dude joke about killing the president as Johnny Depp recently did. Griffin and Depp later apologized.

"Everybody has something different and unique to contribute to society and with different ways of doing it," Bridges said in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press, after taking part on a panel focused on child hunger at a meeting of the Western Governors Association in Whitefish, Montana.

"Some people will be blatantly out there talking about their disappointments and ridiculing the way President Trump is acting," said Bridges, who supported Hillary Clinton in last year's election.

"I'm rooting for him to do well by our country," he said. "I'm rooting for him as a human being to do the cool thing," Bridges said, as he pivoted back to his work against childhood hunger.

Bridges said he is especially concerned about proposed cuts to federal food assistance programs, which he said could harm the well-being of more children.

The actor has been an ambassador for "No Kid Hungry " campaign, a national effort to address food insecurity among struggling families.

He founded the End Hunger Network in 1983 and became the national spokesman for No Kid Hungry in 2010.

Bridges splits his time between homes in Southern California and Montana. He has helped Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and the state's first lady, Lisa Bullock, on expanding school breakfast programs.

"The health of our children is a wonderful compass that can tell us if our country is going the right direction," he said. "That means we're off course, so I'm rooting for the president to get on course."

Chris Cornell’s widow Vicky Cornell says he ‘didn’t want to die’ in new interview 

Vicky Cornell is opening up about her husband Chris Cornell’s final night.

On May 18, the Soungarden and Audioslave frontman was found dead in a Detroit hotel room after performing one final concert. The corner ruled his cause of death to be suicide by hanging, but his wife thinks there’s more to the story.

>> Read more trending news

“My Chris was happy, loving, caring and warm,” Vicky Cornell said in this month’s issue of People. “This was not a depressed man—it wasn’t like I missed that. What I missed were the signs of addiction.”

Cornell previously struggled with addiction issues but had been sober for years, according to his wife. Shortly after his death, it was revealed that Cornell had prescription drugs and an anti-anxiety medication in his system. Vicky is unsure how the medical examiner could so quickly rule the death a suicide without waiting for toxicology results or a full autopsy report.

Related: Family of Chris Cornell disputes suicide report

She believes the drugs in his system significantly altered his state of mind.

“He didn’t want to die,” she said. “If he was of sound mind, I know he wouldn’t have done this.”

She continued, “Chris was humble, sweet, kind and good, with the patience of a saint.” The family was reportedly looking forward to an upcoming trip to Disney World with their kids, Toni, 12, and Christopher, 11. Cornell was also a father to Lily, 17, from a previous marriage.

Related: Chris Cornell toxicology report indicates multiple prescription drugs in system, did not cause death

Because Cornell was sober since 2009, she is now left guessing if she missed the signs of a relapse.

“I relaxed, I guess,” she told the publication.

The rocker was prescribed the Ativan as a sleep aid last year though it left him feeling deprived of rest. His widow said that was a sign. Following the Detroit concert, Cornell reportedly woke his wife up by turning the lights off and on in their home, remotely using an app on his phone. Vicky Cornell said when she awoke, she called her husband.

“He was on a rant,” she said. “I said, ‘You need to tell me what you took,’ and he just got mean. That wasn’t my Chris.”

Related: Brad Pitt, Dave Grohl and other celebrities pay respects at Chris Cornell's funeral

That’s when she decided to send Martin Kirsten, Cornell’s bodyguard, to check on him. After breaking down the doors, Kirsten found him slumped in the bathroom. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

“Addiction is a disease,” Vicky Cornell said. “That disease can take over you and has full power. I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure other children don’t have to cry like mine have cried.”

R2-D2 droid used in Star Wars films sells for $2.76m

An R2-D2 droid that was used in several "Star Wars" films has sold at auction for nearly $3 million.

The auction house Profiles in History said the 43-inch tall unit that was compiled from parts used throughout filming of the original trilogy sold for $2.76 million at an auction Wednesday.

There was no information about who purchased the droid, which was the most expensive item offered in a movie memorabilia auction that included numerous props from the "Star Wars" franchise. Other items up for sale included Luke Skywalker's lightsaber from the first two films, which sold for $450,000 and Darth Vader's helmet from the original film sold for $96,000.

The Calabasas, California-based Profiles in History had estimated the droid could fetch up to $2 million before Wednesday's sale.

Other space-themed film and television memorabilia was also for sale, with a collection of 23 ships from "Battlestar Galactica" and "Buck Rogers" sold for $1.8 million. A helmet worn by late actor Bill Paxton on the set of "Aliens" sold for $51,000.

Not all the items that sold were out of this world. The lighted dancefloor from "Saturday Night Fever" sold for $1.2 million."

Song from Prince's father being released on his 101st b'day

A new song from Prince's late father, produced at Paisley Park, is being released Thursday to celebrate what would have been his 101st birthday.

Prince's half-sister, Sharon Nelson, produced the jazzy "Heart of Mine" by John L. Nelson and said it is the first single from the album, "Don't Play With Love, The John L. Nelson Project," to be released Oct. 27.

The new song will be available for streaming and for sale at digital retailers on Thursday.

John Nelson, a jazz pianist who performed with the Prince Rogers Trio, died in 2001 at age 85. He co-wrote some songs with Prince, including "Computer Blue" from "Purple Rain."

"We are making his music available for the world to hear," Sharon Nelson said in a statement Wednesday. "Contrary to what has been written about our dad, he was a loving, caring, hardworking father, and a prolific jazz musician most notably known as the father of the musical genius, our brother Prince."

Sharon Nelson produced the album in January at Paisley Park from her father's sheet music. Prince, who died last year, had no creative role in the new music.

"Our dad wrote and composed many songs, but they were never recorded until now. He was Prince's musical inspiration, and this project is very special because it was recorded in Paisley Park," Sharon Nelson said. "This music was destined to come out and we are sure you will enjoy the masterful works of John L. Nelson."

The album will be released on Sharon Nelson's company, Maken It Music. Earlier this year a judge confirmed Prince's six siblings to be his rightful heirs, including his sister Tyka Nelson and five half-siblings — Sharon Nelson, Norrine Nelson, John R. Nelson, Omarr Baker and Alfred Jackson.

Sharon Nelson released an album in 2009 called "57th Street Sound" and co-produced an EP featuring her father in 1994.

Film academy invites Thor, Wonder Woman to joins its ranks

Thor, Captain America, Wonder Woman and Betty White have been invited to join the film academy.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed its latest invitees on Wednesday, which include several artists from the worlds of action and comedy.

"We are looking in areas that historically we hadn't," film academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in an interview. The organization invited 774 new members to join its ranks — the largest class ever.

Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Gal Gadot, all famous for their superhero roles, were invited to join the actors' branch. Other actors receiving invites include White, Dwayne Johnson, Riz Ahmed, Terry Crews, Chris Pratt, Anna Faris, Priyanka Chopra, Donald Glover and Zoe Kravitz. Several "Saturday Night Live" alumnae were also invited: Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph and current stars Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones.

"It takes a lot to be a comedic actor," Boone Isaacs said, "and certainly the branch is recognizing this talent."

She said the organization's efforts toward inclusivity may have inspired interest among a broader range of prospective members, who must be sponsored by existing members to be considered.

The film academy reports that its new class is 39 percent female and 30 percent non-white. The organization has been diversifying its ranks after two years of #OscarsSoWhite and criticism of its overwhelmingly white and male voting body. Women now comprise 28 percent of academy membership and non-whites account for 13 percent.

"This conversation that the academy has been having for the last couple years has really energized our base, has really energized our members and the community," Boone Isaacs said.

Besides including filmmakers from traditionally overlooked genres, the new class of invitees also represents 57 countries.

"We've recognized great talent around the world, but in one area we were not as active, and that is membership," she said.

Oscar nominees are automatically considered for membership. "Moonlight" writer-director Barry Jenkins has been invited to join both branches, but he'll have to pick one. "Hidden Figures" director Theodore Melfi and documentarian Ezra Edelman ("O.J.: Made in America") also received invitations.

Joss Whedon ("The Avengers"), Simon Pegg ("Shaun of the Dead") and Phil Johnston ("Zootopia") were invited to the writers' branch. "Get Out" writer-director Jordan Peele was invited to both writing and directing branches, while his Comedy Central collaborator Keegan-Michael Key, was invited to join the actors' branch.

The music branch extended invites to Lin-Manuel Miranda, Justin Timberlake, Nick Cave, Terry Lewis, Jimmy Jam and "La La Land" composers Benj Pasek, Justin Paul and Justin Hurwitz.

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .

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