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Minnesota author Kelly Barnhill wins Newbery Medal

Before winning the most prestigious prize in children's literature, Kelly Barnhill took a little detour.

Barnhill, named Monday as this year's winner of the John Newbery Medal for her fantasy novel "The Girl Who Drank the Moon," started writing children's stories in her late 20s — after two kids and a yearslong hiatus from the craft she studied as an undergraduate.

"I was doing all the wacky stuff that early 20s people did," Barnhill said in a telephone interview. "I worked for the National Park Service, I got trained as a volunteer firefighter, I went to Florida for a little while, I fell in love, I had my first baby when I was 25 and moved back to Minnesota, got my teaching license and was really not writing at all during that time."

She said she wasn't "drawn back to the page" until after she had her second baby girl and began making a dent in a stack of library books, starting with "The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse" by Louise Erdrich.

"That book unlocked something in me and I've been writing ever since," she said.

Barnhill started with short stories, which eventually turned into children's novels, including the coming-of-age tale "The Girl Who Drank the Moon" and her other critically acclaimed book "The Witch's Boy." Most of her stories start with a sticky conundrum or some sort of fundamental question, she said.

"The Girl Who Drank the Moon" started with Barnhill examining how narratives can be manipulated and true stories can be changed into falsehoods. The book is set in a town where the villagers sacrifice a newborn baby each year to a witch because they fear her. But the witch is secretly good and brings those babies to loving families in a town on the other side of the woods.

"This notion of rumor spreading and of getting the wrong idea about a person," she said, "that's like real stuff for these kids, that's what their life is like right now."

These days, the mother of three teaches in Minneapolis for COMPAS, a statewide nonprofit arts education organization. The Newbery award comes after her book was a New York Times bestseller; movie rights were sold in the fall to Fox Animation.

Barnhill said the most rewarding part of being a children's author is discussing the book with kids.

"It's particularly fun when I go someplace where the kids have already read the book. It's amazing how deep of thinkers they are," she said.

Minnesotan author Kate DiCamillo, who won the Newbery Medal winner for her book "The Tale of Despereaux," said she was delighted by Barnhill's win.

Asked what sets apart Barnhill's work, DiCamillo said: "It's that heart. And the imagination. And the courage to ask big questions."

Minnesota author Kelly Barnhill wins Newbery Medal

Before winning the most prestigious prize in children's literature, Kelly Barnhill took a little detour.

Barnhill, named Monday as this year's winner of the John Newbery Medal for her fantasy novel "The Girl Who Drank the Moon," started writing children's stories in her late 20s — after two kids and a yearslong hiatus from the craft she studied as an undergraduate.

"I was doing all the wacky stuff that early 20s people did," Barnhill said in a telephone interview. "I worked for the National Park Service, I got trained as a volunteer firefighter, I went to Florida for a little while, I fell in love, I had my first baby when I was 25 and moved back to Minnesota, got my teaching license and was really not writing at all during that time."

She said she wasn't "drawn back to the page" until after she had her second baby girl and began making a dent in a stack of library books, starting with "The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse" by Louise Erdrich.

"That book unlocked something in me and I've been writing ever since," she said.

Barnhill started with short stories, which eventually turned into children's novels, including the coming-of-age tale "The Girl Who Drank the Moon" and her other critically acclaimed book "The Witch's Boy." Most of her stories start with a sticky conundrum or some sort of fundamental question, she said.

"The Girl Who Drank the Moon" started with Barnhill examining how narratives can be manipulated and true stories can be changed into falsehoods. The book is set in a town where the villagers sacrifice a newborn baby each year to a witch because they fear her. But the witch is secretly good and brings those babies to loving families in a town on the other side of the woods.

"This notion of rumor spreading and of getting the wrong idea about a person," she said, "that's like real stuff for these kids, that's what their life is like right now."

These days, the mother of three teaches in Minneapolis for COMPAS, a statewide nonprofit arts education organization. The Newbery award comes after her book was a New York Times bestseller; movie rights were sold in the fall to Fox Animation.

Barnhill said the most rewarding part of being a children's author is discussing the book with kids.

"It's particularly fun when I go someplace where the kids have already read the book. It's amazing how deep of thinkers they are," she said.

Minnesotan author Kate DiCamillo, who won the Newbery Medal winner for her book "The Tale of Despereaux," said she was delighted by Barnhill's win.

Asked what sets apart Barnhill's work, DiCamillo said: "It's that heart. And the imagination. And the courage to ask big questions."

Alec Baldwin to host SNL for record 17th time, smashing previous record

Actor Alec Baldwin is scheduled to host “Saturday Night Live” next month for the 17th time, in an appearance that will break comedian Steve Martin’s record for most times hosting the late-night comedy show.

>> Read more trending stories 

Baldwin's impression of President Donald Trump has garnered rave reviews and plenty of late-night laughs, as he played Trump throughout the 2016 presidential campaign and beyond.

The actor’s portrayal of Trump even provoked a response from the president himself via Twitter, with Trump calling "Saturday Night Live" "unwatchable." Baldwin responded by tweeting back, "Release yor tax returns and I'll stop. Ha."

Just tried watching Saturday Night Live - unwatchable! Totally biased, not funny and the Baldwin impersonation just can't get any worse. Sad— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2016

...@realDonaldTrump Release your tax returns and I'll stop.Ha— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) December 4, 2016

Trump did appear on “Saturday Night Live” in Nov. of 2015, but that was before Baldwin began performing his hilarious spoof of him.

Baldwin will host the show on Feb. 11.

Gospel singer Vicki Yohe apologizes for Trump posting

A gospel singer is apologizing to her fans after posting an image on her social media account suggesting that Jesus was returning to the White House under President Donald Trump.

Vicki Yohe, known for her song "Because of Who You Are," posted the meme on Instagram on Saturday, but then removed it after getting flooded with criticism from fans. She posted a note Monday on Facebook saying she did not mean to imply that former President Barack Obama was not a Christian. She wrote that she was wrong and regrets it.

Yohe, who is based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said in an interview Monday that she has a lot of black fans and she was insensitive to their feelings and she hopes they will forgive her.

White House press secretary: 'Our intention is never to lie'

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told a roomful of reporters that "our intention is never to lie to you," although sometimes the Trump administration may "disagree with the facts."

Spicer's first full press briefing was closely watched Monday following a weekend statement about President Donald Trump's inauguration audience that included incorrect assertions. After White House counselor Kellyanne Conway received wide social media attention for her explanation that Spicer had presented "alternative facts," Monday's briefing was televised live on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC and, for a time, even ABC.

Meanwhile, ABC announced that anchor David Muir would interview Trump for a one-hour prime-time special to air at 10 p.m. EST Wednesday.

Spicer tried to defuse tension by opening with a self-deprecating joke about his lack of popularity, and his 78-minute session was wide-ranging and mostly substantive. He corrected one disputed statement from Saturday, defended another and expressed some frustration regarding how the new Trump administration feels about its news coverage.

Asked for a pledge not to lie, Spicer assented, saying, "I believe we have to be honest with the American people." He said he had received incorrect information about Inauguration day ridership on the Washington Metro system when he initially claimed the system was used more Friday than for Barack Obama's 2013 inauguration.

"There are times when you tweet something out or write a story and you publish a correction," he said. "That doesn't mean you were trying to deceive readers or the American people, does it? I think we should be afforded the same opportunity."

Spicer didn't back down from his claim that Trump's inauguration was the most-seen ever, clarifying that he was including people who watched online. The ceremony didn't have the highest TV ratings and aerial photographs indicate the live crowd wasn't as big as it was for Obama's first swearing-in, but there are no reliable crowd estimates or numbers indicating how many people across the world watched the ceremony online.

He expressed frustration about an erroneous report, later corrected, stating that a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from a room in the White House following Trump's inauguration.

"Where was the apology to the president of the United States?" Spicer said. "Where was the apology to the millions of people who thought that it was racially insensitive?"

One reporter said Spicer had accepted an apology from the news outlet that made the mistake in a pool report.

Spicer would not say whether he was ordered by Trump or other staffers to make Saturday's statement, but explained some of the thinking that went into it. Like countless White House staffs before them, the Trump team is exasperated about "negative" and "demoralizing" coverage.

"When we're right, say we're right," he said. "When we're wrong, say we're wrong. But it's not always wrong and negative."

Spicer broke with the White House tradition of opening briefings with a question from The Associated Press. The AP was traditionally given the first question because it is a broad-based news cooperative that represents the largest swath of American newspapers, broadcasters and other kinds of news organizations.

Instead, Spicer initially called on a reporter from the New York Post, and he took questions from several news organizations that were rarely called on during the previous administration. He said four seats in the briefing room would be kept open for out-of-town reporters to participate via Skype.

The new press secretary — who took no questions Saturday — drew a laugh when he said he'd stay at the podium for as long as the reporters wanted him there, and he nearly did.

"I want to make sure we have a healthy relationship," he said.

White House press secretary: 'Our intention is never to lie'

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told a roomful of reporters that "our intention is never to lie to you," although sometimes the Trump administration may "disagree with the facts."

Spicer's first full press briefing was closely watched Monday following a weekend statement about President Donald Trump's inauguration audience that included incorrect assertions. After White House counselor Kellyanne Conway received wide social media attention for her explanation that Spicer had presented "alternative facts," Monday's briefing was televised live on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC and, for a time, even ABC.

Meanwhile, ABC announced that anchor David Muir would interview Trump for a one-hour prime-time special to air at 10 p.m. EST Wednesday.

Spicer tried to defuse tension by opening with a self-deprecating joke about his lack of popularity, and his 78-minute session was wide-ranging and mostly substantive. He corrected one disputed statement from Saturday, defended another and expressed some frustration regarding how the new Trump administration feels about its news coverage.

Asked for a pledge not to lie, Spicer assented, saying, "I believe we have to be honest with the American people." He said he had received incorrect information about Inauguration day ridership on the Washington Metro system when he initially claimed the system was used more Friday than for Barack Obama's 2013 inauguration.

"There are times when you tweet something out or write a story and you publish a correction," he said. "That doesn't mean you were trying to deceive readers or the American people, does it? I think we should be afforded the same opportunity."

Spicer didn't back down from his claim that Trump's inauguration was the most-seen ever, clarifying that he was including people who watched online. The ceremony didn't have the highest TV ratings and aerial photographs indicate the live crowd wasn't as big as it was for Obama's first swearing-in, but there are no reliable crowd estimates or numbers indicating how many people across the world watched the ceremony online.

He expressed frustration about an erroneous report, later corrected, stating that a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from a room in the White House following Trump's inauguration.

"Where was the apology to the president of the United States?" Spicer said. "Where was the apology to the millions of people who thought that it was racially insensitive?"

One reporter said Spicer had accepted an apology from the news outlet that made the mistake in a pool report.

Spicer would not say whether he was ordered by Trump or other staffers to make Saturday's statement, but explained some of the thinking that went into it. Like countless White House staffs before them, the Trump team is exasperated about "negative" and "demoralizing" coverage.

"When we're right, say we're right," he said. "When we're wrong, say we're wrong. But it's not always wrong and negative."

Spicer broke with the White House tradition of opening briefings with a question from The Associated Press. The AP was traditionally given the first question because it is a broad-based news cooperative that represents the largest swath of American newspapers, broadcasters and other kinds of news organizations.

Instead, Spicer initially called on a reporter from the New York Post, and he took questions from several news organizations that were rarely called on during the previous administration. He said four seats in the briefing room would be kept open for out-of-town reporters to participate via Skype.

The new press secretary — who took no questions Saturday — drew a laugh when he said he'd stay at the podium for as long as the reporters wanted him there, and he nearly did.

"I want to make sure we have a healthy relationship," he said.

Box office top 20: Shyamalan's 'Split' trounces 'xXx'

M. Night Shyamalan's psychological thriller "Split" blew away box-office expectations, earning $40 million in ticket sales over inauguration weekend, according to final figures Monday.

The director's second collaboration with the low-budget horror outfit Blumhouse Productions proved an unexpected hit at the North American box office. Though originally expected to vie with the Vin Diesel action sequel "xXx: The Return of Xander Cage," ''Split" doubled its business.

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Monday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Tuesday by comScore:

1. "Split," Universal, $40,010,975, 3,038 locations, $13,170 average, $40,010,975, 1 week.

2. "xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage," Paramount, $20,130,142, 3,651 locations, $5,514 average, $20,130,142, 1 week.

3. "Hidden Figures," 20th Century Fox, $15,721,606, 3,416 locations, $4,602 average, $83,710,357, 5 weeks.

4. "Sing," Universal, $9,003,780, 3,193 locations, $2,820 average, $249,328,975, 5 weeks.

5. "La La Land," Lionsgate, $8,427,583, 1,865 locations, $4,519 average, $89,758,080, 7 weeks.

6. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," Disney, $7,210,470, 2,603 locations, $2,770 average, $512,376,033, 6 weeks.

7. "Monster Trucks," Paramount, $7,072,602, 3,119 locations, $2,268 average, $22,684,156, 2 weeks.

8. "Patriots Day," Lionsgate, $5,753,016, 3,120 locations, $1,844 average, $23,392,961, 5 weeks.

9. "Sleepless," Open Road, $3,453,212, 1,803 locations, $1,915 average, $14,940,116, 2 weeks.

10. "The Bye Bye Man," STX Entertainment, $3,430,655, 2,220 locations, $1,545 average, $19,990,285, 2 weeks.

11. "The Founder," The Weinstein Company, $3,404,102, 1,115 locations, $3,053 average, $3,405,368, 1 week.

12. "Moana," Disney, $2,695,781, 1,296 locations, $2,080 average, $236,970,483, 9 weeks.

13. "Passengers," Sony, $2,247,012, 1,556 locations, $1,444 average, $94,480,200, 5 weeks.

14. "Lion," The Weinstein Company, $1,765,427, 575 locations, $3,070 average, $16,347,957, 9 weeks.

15. "Underworld: Blood Wars," Sony, $1,738,855, 1,466 locations, $1,186 average, $28,649,814, 3 weeks.

16. "Live By Night," Warner Bros., $1,718,017, 2,822 locations, $609 average, $9,385,366, 5 weeks.

17. "MET Opera: Romeo And Juliette (2017)," Fathom Events, $1,500,000, 900 locations, $1,667 average, $1,500,000, 1 week.

18. "20th Century Women," A24, $1,385,337, 650 locations, $2,131 average, $2,311,978, 4 weeks.

19. "Fences," Paramount, $1,214,742, 693 locations, $1,753 average, $48,714,426, 6 weeks.

20. "The Resurrection Of Gavin Stone," Independent, $1,206,771, 890 locations, $1,356 average, $1,206,771, 1 week.

___

Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.

Female animators break down cartoon-women stereotypes

For a long time, nearly all of the animation students at the California Institute of the Arts' were men.

Today, most of CalArts' more than 250 animation students are women, and one of their goals is to create more realistic female characters — not just the sex bombs, shy nerds and haggard villains that dominate now.

The reason such stereotypes persist, according to Marge Dean, president of the industry group Women in Animation: Men still fill animation's writing rooms and director's chairs.

"Many, many, many women are going to animation schools," said Dean, whose organization tracks figures through schools and industry groups. "Yet if you start looking at women in creative roles, the last number we have is only 22 percent."

In an effort to boost those numbers, CalArts faculty invites studio representatives to campus for events and maintains a close relationship with groups like Dean's, which is pushing the studios to have a creative workforce of half women and half men by 2025.

The school also has played host the past two years to a symposium on gender bias in animation. This year it focused on the roles of "Sidekicks, Nerd Girls, Tomboys and More."

Here, a female CalArts student renders some archetypal cartoon women, and Erica Larsen-Dockray, who teaches a class on "The Animated Woman," explains:

___

THE PRINCESS

She has an impossibly tiny waist and is gorgeous beyond belief. Big eyes, flowing locks, luscious lips and a heart-shaped face. She's historically usually white and depicted as innocent and virginal. About the typical princess' waistline, Larsen-Dockray says: "If they were life-size, they would not have space in their bodies for reproductive organs."

___

THE FAIRY GODMOTHER

She's always plump and rosy-cheeked, with particular emphasis on large breasts and buttocks. "I think a lot of animators at that time were thinking about their nannies," Larsen-Dockray says. "They're like the epitome of physical comfort, every man-child's dream."

___

THE VILLAIN

While male villains can be any shape or size, female villains almost always are old and unmarried. They have gray hair, wrinkles and harsh makeup. They're hardened and sour and always look stern and angry. Visually, they're typically depicted looking almost bony with sharp lines, including high cheekbones and pointy elbows.

___

THE NERD

Many female sidekicks are depicted as nerds. They have glasses, they're shy and awkward, and they often have freckles. They're also usually in a makeover episode at some point, Larsen-Dockray says, as if to remind viewers that they can be feminine. "It's really messed up," she says.

Stephen Colbert to host Emmys on CBS in September

Stephen Colbert will host the annual Emmy Awards telecast, this year to be shown on his home network of CBS.

The annual awards show honoring the best in television will take place on Sept. 17 in Los Angeles.

Colbert is host of the "Late Show" on CBS, and the former host of Comedy Central's "Colbert Report." In talking about hosting the 69th Emmy telecast, Colbert made sly reference to the Trump administration's unprovable assertion that Trump's inauguration was the most watched ever.

Said Colbert: "This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period. Both in person and around the globe."

Stephen Colbert to host Emmys on CBS in September

Stephen Colbert will host the annual Emmy Awards telecast, this year to be shown on his home network of CBS.

The annual awards show honoring the best in television will take place on Sept. 17 in Los Angeles.

Colbert is host of the "Late Show" on CBS, and the former host of Comedy Central's "Colbert Report." In talking about hosting the 69th Emmy telecast, Colbert made sly reference to the Trump administration's unprovable assertion that Trump's inauguration was the most watched ever.

Said Colbert: "This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period. Both in person and around the globe."

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