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Activist to star as TV's first transgender superhero

A transgender activist who won a discrimination lawsuit after her school refused to let her use the girls' bathroom will be TV's first transgender superhero.

Nicole Maines will star in The CW/Warner Bros.' "Supergirl" as Nia Nal, aka Dreamer. Producers describe her character as a "soulful young transgender woman with a fierce drive to protect others."

Maines gained national attention for her battle against her Orono, Maine school district over her right to use the girls' bathroom.

Maine's highest court ruled in 2014 that school officials violated state anti-discrimination law when they required her to use a staff restroom.

It was the first time a state high court concluded that a transgender person should use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

'Hamilton' creator announces arts fund for Puerto Rico

Lin-Manuel Miranda jumped up to a podium shortly after landing in Puerto Rico on Sunday to announce he has helped create a multimillion-dollar fund to boost the arts in the U.S. territory as it struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria.

The "Hamilton" playwright said he hopes the fund will grow to $15 million in upcoming years. He added that he will donate all funds from the Broadway hit when it is performed January in Puerto Rico.

"The goal wasn't just artistic satisfaction, but how can we leave Puerto Rico a little better than we found it," said Miranda, whose parents are from the island.

Hurricane Maria caused damage estimated at more than $100 billion when it hit in September. Cultural and artistic groups across Puerto Rico have been greatly affected, losing government and nonprofit support amid an 11-year-old recession.

The first five recipients of the fund include a dance school and a theater company.

"This will allow us to start dreaming again, to come up with new ideas, to visit more cities. This will allow us to breathe," Julio Morales, artistic co-director of the local theater company, Y No Habia Luz, told The Associated Press.

The seven-member company will receive $180,000. It had struggled to find funds and was forced to cancel all events for several months after the hurricane.

The nonprofit Flamboyan Foundation will manage the fund, which will award $1 million each to the Theater of the University of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Museum of Art. An award of $900,000 will go to an art education program and a dance school.

Among those visiting Puerto Rico for the announcement was Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller.

"Arts will be at the center of the rebuilding effort," he said, noting that he is excited about the show's upcoming run in Puerto Rico. "The point it to lift everybody up for those three weeks."

Hundreds of people in Puerto Rico recently auditioned for the historical musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, and Miranda said he would like to bring the newest cast members on tour in the U.S. mainland.

Miranda said he has to prepare for Hamilton in Puerto Rico, adding with a laugh: "I still have to memorize my lines."

Rapper Tekashi69 says men forced him from car, took jewelry

The rapper known as Tekashi69 says two men forced him from a car at a New York City intersection and robbed him of jewelry.

The New York Police Department says the rapper went to a police precinct early Sunday to report what happened to him.

Authorities say he stated he had been the passenger in a car that was bumped by another vehicle around 4:30 a.m. in Brooklyn and the two men got out and forced him into their car.

Police say the rapper says the men forced him to call another man to bring him some personal property, which he did. Police say the rapper reports the men took an undisclosed amount of jewelry and left.

Police say the rapper became uncooperative after filing the report.

Rapper Offset posts bail, reunites with wife Cardi B after arrest for weapon, drug charges

Migos rapper Offset came home Saturday after he was arrested on suspicion of drug and weapon charges Friday.

WSB reported the 25-year-old and his bodyguard, Senay Gezahgn, were traveling in Jonesboro, Georgia, when police pulled over Offset for an improper lane change.

Offset, whose real name is Kiari Cephus, was driving a 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera.

>> Read more trending news 

According to WSB, Clayton County police said officers searched the vehicle and found less than 1 ounce of marijuana and more than $107,000 in cash.

Offset was charged with improper lane change; possession of marijuana, less than 1 ounce; possession of a weapon by a convicted felon; and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime.

Related: Rapper Offset, of trio Migos, arrested in metro Atlanta on weapon, drug charges

Offset and his Migos group mates, Quavo and Takeoff, were arrested on drug and gun charges in 2015 during a show at Georgia Southern University. While Quavo and Takeoff were able to post bail after two nights in jail, Offset remained in jail for eight months because of past burglary and theft convictions

Gezahgn was charged with possession of marijuana, less than 1 ounce, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime.

Quavo confirmed Offset was home on Twitter.

People reported that Offset’s wife, rapper Cardi B, posted a quick glimpse of the rapper at home with her and their newborn daughter on her Instagram story. She also cleared up details of Offset’s arrest, saying, “For the record Offset is NOT ON PROBATION.”

Offset’s lawyer, Drew Findling, told People the rapper’s top priority is his family. He also said his client was not guilty of any crime. 

“He did not commit any traffic offense and he certainly was not in possession of any weapons,” Findling told People. “This was an improper arrest and I believe in his innocence.

“He’s up as best he can considering the circumstances and knows he has not broken any laws. He is going to have his day in court.”

Opera based on Pink Floyd album 'The Wall' makes US debut

An opera based on Pink Floyd's album "The Wall" has made its U.S. debut in Cincinnati.

"Another Brick in the Wall" opened Friday at Music Hall. It premiered in Montreal last year. Pierre Dufour's production follows a rock singer named Pink, who relives pivotal moments in his life during a stay at a mental health clinic.

The opera includes all of the album's lyrics along with some melodic themes. Dufour says he believes the progressive rock album's story of love and loss makes it a great opera.

"Another Brick" star Nathan Keoughan has the task of diving into Pink's "tortured" life. He says he believes many rock fans are attracted to the opera because of its creativity.

The opera will run through July 31.

'Equalizer 2' squeaks past 'Mamma Mia 2' and takes top spot

In the battle of two very different sequels at the box office this weekend, Denzel Washington's action pic "The Equalizer 2" has narrowly won out over the ABBA jukebox musical "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again."

Studios on Sunday estimate that the R-rated Denzel Washington joint grossed $35.8 million from North American theaters over the weekend. It's Washington's first ever sequel and the biggest opening of director Antoine Fuqua's career. The first "Equalizer," from 2014, opened similarly and went on to earn over $190 million worldwide.

Second place went to Universal Pictures' "Mamma Mia 2," which took in $34.4 million, a sum that was driven by an audience that was 83 percent female and 64 percent over the age of 25. The film brought back much of the original cast, like Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried and Pierce Brosnan, and added Cher, Andy Garcia and Lily James to the mix. Critics overall gave the sequel better marks than the first, which still went on to gross over $600 million worldwide 10 years ago.

"We consider this a terrific opening," said Jim Orr, Universal's president of domestic distribution. "And knowing the audience for these types of films, we are going to have a very healthy run at the domestic and worldwide box office. This is a very fun, very uplifting movie that people need right now."

It's also a rare showdown of two star-driven films that succeeded in targeting two very different audiences.

"It's amazing how well-matched these contenders are," said comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. "Both studios really did a great job of marketing each of these movies to their target audience. It's classic counter-programming."

Sequels powered the top six spots at the domestic box office this weekend and eight out of the top 10 overall. "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation" came in third with $23.2 million in its second weekend, "Ant-Man and the Wasp" took fourth place with $16.1 million in its third weekend, "Incredibles 2" landed in fifth with $11.5 million, and "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" came in sixth with $11 million.

The weekend's other big new opener, "Unfriended: Dark Web," also a sequel, scared up $3.5 million for a ninth-place start. The only two originals in the top 10 were "Skyscraper" and "Sorry to Bother You."

"People are enjoying these films," said Dergarabedian. "It doesn't matter if there's a number after the title."

And yet there are still original films and documentaries making their own modest impact on the charts, including "Blindspotting," a buddy comedy with some serious themes about race and class starring Tony-winner Daveed Diggs that opened in 14 theaters and made an estimated $332,500.

"Movies like 'Sorry to Bother You' and 'Blindspotting' are showing that in the summer people don't live by blockbusters alone," Dergarabedian said.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. "The Equalizer 2," $35.8 million ($3.3 million international).

2. "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again," $34.4 million ($42.4 million international).

3. "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation," $23.2 million ($37.7 million international).

4. "Ant-Man and the Wasp," $16.1 million ($21.6 million international).

5. "Incredibles 2," $11.5 million ($36.5 million international).

6. "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," $11 million ($17.3 million international).

7. "Skyscraper," $11 million ($27.3 million international).

8. "The First Purge," $5 million ($8.9 million international).

9. "Unfriended: Dark Web," $3.5 million.

10. "Sorry to Bother You," $2.8 million.

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:

1. "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again," $42.4 million.

2. "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation," $37.7 million.

3. "Incredibles 2," $36.5 million.

4. "Skyscraper," $27.3 million.

5. "Dying to Survive," $25.3 million.

6. "Ant-Man and the Wasp," $21.6 million.

7. "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," $17.3 million.

8. "Hidden Man," $10.4 million.

9. "The First Purge," $8.9 million.

10. "Animal Crackers," $3.7 million.

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.

___

Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/ldbahr

Lady Antebellum calls police lip sync of its song 'amazing'

An Ohio police department's entry in a lip sync challenge sweeping the nation has gotten rave reviews — including from the country music group whose song is featured.

Middletown police Chief Rodney Muterspaw says he's "overwhelmed" by the response to a video his department created as part of a national lip sync challenge among police departments. The Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News reports among fans of the video is the band Lady Antebellum, which tweeted that the police department's cover of its song "Need You Now" is "amazing."

Since its posting on Wednesday the video has been viewed more than 2 million times.

The police chief says it took about an hour to shoot the video. He says some officers were reluctant at first but everyone seemed to enjoy the experience.

Author tells of kidnapping by pirates he'd gone to interview

Michael Scott Moore is walking a bit gingerly these days, but it has nothing to do with the 2½ years he spent imprisoned by Somali pirates, the beatings he suffered, his time spent in chains or the lousy food that caused him to lose 40 pounds.

"I got thumped by a wave surfing off Manhattan Beach the other day," the author of "The Desert and the Sea: 977 days Captive on the Somali Pirate Coast" says with a sheepish grin. "I've got a cracked rib."

Otherwise Moore, freed by his pirate captors in 2014 after his mother raised a $1.6 million ransom, looks fine. He's dressed casually in a dark blue shirt and jeans as he sits down in the shade of the century-old art-deco building that houses Los Angeles' downtown library to talk about his latest book.

"The Desert and the Sea" goes on sale Tuesday, and its 49-year-old author is about to embark on a cross-country tour of readings and signings.

The page-turning thriller, published by Harper Collins, takes readers on a relentless journey as Moore reveals the squalid living conditions that nearly killed him, the beatings he endured and the thoughts of suicide he weighed, along with other thoughts of grabbing one of his captor's machine guns (they were careless about leaving them lying around) and seeing how many of them he could kill before they killed him.

"I don't know," he says with a smile when asked how he survived it all.

After several seconds of quiet contemplation, he adds that a combination of giving up any immediate hope of freedom and living in the moment helped. So did maintaining a sense of humor while trapped in a very unfunny situation. Thus, the book contains several darkly comic moments.

Like the one when Moore hid the keys to the chains the pirates kept him in after he tried to escape by leaping from an old fishing vessel and attempting to swim to shore. They never could find them and had to buy a new set, something that delighted their captive.

Or the time one of the friendlier pirates, knowing Moore holds dual U.S.-German citizenship, woke him one morning to say excitedly that Germany, that year's World Cup winner, defeated Brazil 7-1 in the semifinal game. Moore dismissed the news as "more pirate bull----," replying that no team scores seven goals in a soccer game. Then he turned on the radio and learned it was true.

Moore first thought of writing a book about modern-day piracy when he came across examples of it in coastal African and southeast Asian nations he visited while seeking out some of the world's best surfing spots for a 2010 book. "Sweetness and Blood," documenting how a loose-knit band of hippies, star-struck wanderers and U.S. military personnel helped turn an ancient Hawaiian sport into an international pop-culture phenomenon, has been hailed as arguably the best historical account of modern-day surfing.

His plans to report on piracy weren't sealed, however, until he covered the trial of 10 pirates captured after abducting a German cargo ship off Somalia in 2010. Their two-year trial, which Moore covered for the publication Spiegel Online, marked the first case of piracy prosecuted in Germany in nearly 400 years.

"I really wanted to write a book that had material that I hadn't seen. On pirates," he says now. "And it became an obsession."

By the time he arrived in Somalia in January 2012, piracy had become a cottage industry for a nation plunged into poverty and lawlessness by years of civil unrest. Young men unable to find other work sailed the high seas in small skiffs looking for people to kidnap and hold for multimillion-dollar ransoms.

Moore says he knew going to Somalia was dangerous, but he thought he'd taken all necessary precautions. A "fixer" with clan connections arranged the trip in which he was accompanied by a large contingent of machine-gun-toting guards.

But a pirate leader Moore interviewed betrayed him, paying off most of his security team. Moore was captured on a dusty desert road by pirates who demanded a $20 million ransom.

As his mother spent years negotiating the price and raising money from family and friends, Moore's plight went largely unreported. His employer, Der Spiegel, asked other news organizations to withhold the story, fearing publicity would drive up the price. Almost all, including The Associated Press, complied.

"Honestly, I don't know if it was better or worse to keep it quiet," he says now.

Tall and trim with graying hair, Moore says he has fully recovered physically from his ordeal, although it took more than a year. He laughs when he recalls that several Asian fishermen he was held captive with remarked, "Michael, you got fat," when they saw him during an emotional 2016 reunion.

He still struggles with some emotional scars and takes part in a therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which involves concentrating on what happened to you while focusing the eyes.

"I don't know if it's trendy or cutting edge," he jokes.

"At times, I think he still has very much trouble sleeping, although he says he doesn't have nightmares," his 78-year-old mother, Marlis Saunders, says in a phone interview from the Redondo Beach home where her only child grew up and became an avid surfer.

Another ex-hostage, former Associated Press correspondent Terry Anderson, says it's unlikely anyone gets completely over such an ordeal.

"That kind of an experience does damage to you that takes a long time to compensate for," said Anderson, who was AP's chief Middle East correspondent when he was abducted by Islamic militants in Lebanon in 1985 and held for nearly seven years. "You don't forget it."

Anderson, 70, says he's glad to hear Moore is getting counseling, adding he underwent it himself but still struggled to accept how emotionally damaging his experience was.

For now, Moore is busy with his book tour and working on a feature story about three men recently convicted of plotting to blow up a Kansas apartment building housing Somali refugees.

After that he'd like to get back to some of the travel writing that took him to many fascinating parts of the world when he was researching his surfing book.

"I don't want to give that up," he says.

Then he laughs as he quickly adds, "It doesn't have to be dangerous travel."

And now he is 5: Britain's Prince George marks birthday

Who doesn't like birthdays?

Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate have released a new photo of their son Prince George to mark his fifth birthday.

The photo shows George grinning in the garden of Clarence House after the christening of his younger brother Prince Louis on July 9.

George is third in line for the British throne. His grandfather, Prince Charles, is heir to the throne and his father William comes next.

George has seemed increasingly self-assured in public this year, serving as a page boy at Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle in May at Windsor Castle and making several other appearances.

Happy 5th birthday, Prince George! Kate Middleton, Prince William share sweet photo of oldest son

Someone looks very happy to be turning 5.

Kensington Palace shared an adorable photo of a smiling Prince George, the oldest child of Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, on Saturday, one day before the pint-sized royal's birthday.

>> Prince Louis' christening portraits revealed: Kate Middleton, royal family stun in new photos

"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to share a new photograph of Prince George to mark his fifth birthday – thank you everyone for your lovely messages," the palace tweeted along with the photo, taken by Matt Porteous.

>> See the photo here

The tweet quickly racked up 57,000 likes and 6,500 shares in 10 hours.

>> PHOTOS: Prince Louis christened

Take a look at his previous birthday portraits below:

>> Read more trending news 

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