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    Madonna’s twins get first Barbie dolls, singer posts video

    Madonna’s twins got their first Barbie dolls this weekend and the entertainer is sharing it with the world.

    >> Read more trending news

    The “Material Girl” posted adorable video of newly adopted twin daughters, Estere and Stelle playing with the dolls.

    In the short video posted on Instagram, the girls sang the Finger Family song in unison while sitting on their beds. As they sing, the girls waved their new toys in front of the camera.

    “What happens when you get your first Barbie Doll!” Madonna wrote. “Pikachu is left in the dust!”

    In February, Madonna confirmed the rumor that she had adopted the girls also in an Instagram post.

    “I can officially confirm I have completed the process of adopting twin sisters from Malawi and am overjoyed that they are now part of our family,” she wrote alongside a photo of herself walking with her girls.

    Elephant ranch lets visitors bathe, feed, ride elephants

    A private central Florida elephant preserve offers a unique, hands-on experience to visitors. The Elephant Ranch allows tourists to get up close and personal with the majestic animals.

    >> Read more trending news

    The Two Tails Ranch located near Gainesville lets people feed, bathe and even ride the eight elephants living at the ranch.

    The nonprofit group All About Elephants, Inc. owns and runs the ranch with an objective of teaching people about pachyderms.

    It was founded in 2008 “to start educational programs for private sectors and professionals to learn about elephants.”

    The organizations said it has helped more than 250 elephants over the years. “Some stayed temporarily while their own exhibits were being remodeled or built. Others stayed for retirement, medical needs, behavior problems or even emergencies after hurricanes destroyed their zoos,” the company said on its website.

    The ranch focuses on elephants, but it houses other exotic animals, as well, including a pair of zebras, African spurthighed tortoises, red foot tortoises, an ostrich, emu and a camel.

    Shelby Lin Erdman contributed to this report.

    Idaho woman blames car crash on deer-chasing Bigfoot

    A northern Idaho woman blamed a car crash with a deer on a Sasquatch sighting last week.

    >> Read more trending news

    The woman told police she collided with the deer after spotting a Bigfoot on a highway near Potlatch near the Washington border, according to NBC Montana.

    The woman said the Sasquatch was chasing the deer Wednesday night along the side of the road, and as she watched the creature in her rear-view mirror, the deer veered onto the road in front of her car.

    The Benewah County Sheriff’s Office issued the report on the accident, but did not report any evidence of a Sasquatch, NBC Montana reported. 

    4-year-old with brain tumor gets star treatment as honorary police officer

    A 4-year-old was smiling ear to ear Saturday while he got to be an honorary Boston police officer for the day and member of their basketball team at a cancer research fundraiser in Massachusetts. 

    >> On See more photos from Declan's day

    "We won't know where we'll be a year from now, but today my son's as happy as he can be," said dad David Higgins. 

    Declan Higgins, a huge BPD fan, and is being treated for a stage 3 brain tumor. He's had surgery and radiation at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for the tumor. 

    "It's one day at a time," David said. 

    >> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

    On Saturday, complete with a hat and mini badge, Declan was picked up from his Medfield home and escorted to West Roxbury for a day of fun and basketball. 

    Boston police officers were playing in the annual A Shot For Life: Battle of the Badges to raise money and awareness for brain cancer research at the Stephen E. and Catherine Pappas Center for Neuro-Oncology at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. Declan got the chance to be part of their team as an honorary player.

    "I'm honored that he's here. He's my favorite player today," said nonprofit leader Mike Slonina.

    >> Read more trending news

    Slonina started the nonprofit following his mother's brain cancer diagnosis in 2010. 

    "It's supposed to united people through basketball," he said. 

    And that it did. A large crowd of people were in West Roxbury to cheer Declan on as he arrived before the game. There were posters, cheerleaders and plenty of police officers giving the 4-year-old the basketball star treatment. 

    "We open up our hearts; that's we do," said Sgt. Detective Joe Sullivan with the BPD, who helped organize the day. 

    Declan walked into the gym and changed into his BPD jersey. He shot some hoops and even got into the game with the officers as they played in the Battle of the Badges. 

    In support of the fundraiser, the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, TD Garden and Prudential Tower were lit in red and blue Saturday night.

    Viral video captures dramatic chase after alleged theft from construction site

    Construction workers are about the hardest-working people in America. Once you’ve put shingles on a roof in the summer, there’s not much else that can hurt you. But one thief apparently decided to try to test his luck, and it did not end well for him.

    >> Read more trending news

    According to KTVT, a now-viral video taken from a security camera in University Park, Texas, near Dallas captured the dramatic scene. The thief jumped out of a red car, swiped a piece of equipment and tried to make a getaway, police said. But he probably wasn’t counting on the hard-working Texans who weren’t willing to let anything go from their site.

    KTVT reported Saturday that the workers chased after the alleged thief – with one worker atop the hood of the getaway car. The video, which has been viewed more than 766,000 times since it was posted to YouTube on Friday, also appears to show the workers ramming the vehicle with a truck.

    >> Watch the clip here

    Police said they are still searching for the alleged thief, who faces a property theft charge, WTVT reported. The worker shown on the car hood in the video was not hurt, police said.

    Read more here.

    – The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

    Entertainment News »

    Madonna’s twins get first Barbie dolls, singer posts video

    Madonna’s twins got their first Barbie dolls this weekend and the entertainer is sharing it with the world.

    >> Read more trending news

    The “Material Girl” posted adorable video of newly adopted twin daughters, Estere and Stelle playing with the dolls.

    In the short video posted on Instagram, the girls sang the Finger Family song in unison while sitting on their beds. As they sing, the girls waved their new toys in front of the camera.

    “What happens when you get your first Barbie Doll!” Madonna wrote. “Pikachu is left in the dust!”

    In February, Madonna confirmed the rumor that she had adopted the girls also in an Instagram post.

    “I can officially confirm I have completed the process of adopting twin sisters from Malawi and am overjoyed that they are now part of our family,” she wrote alongside a photo of herself walking with her girls.

    'Beauty and the Beast' dances off with top box-office spot

    Not all reboots are created equal.

    This weekend at the box office, nostalgia-driven fare was everywhere, from "Beauty and the Beast" to "Power Rangers" and "CHIPS," producing both successful and underwhelming results.

    On the high end, Disney's live-action "Beauty and the Beast" continued enchanting audiences in its second weekend in theaters, easily topping the charts with $88.3 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. On the low end, Warner Bros.' raunchy, R-rated "CHIPS" debuted in seventh place with $7.6 million.

    In the middle was Lionsgate's "Power Rangers," which earned a solid $40.5 million to grab the No. 2 spot. The PG-13 take on the campy 1990s television show tells the origin story of the Power Rangers with a diverse teenage cast of relative newcomers.

    Its audiences were 60 percent male, while "Beauty and the Beast" crowds remained largely female. The divide allowed both to succeed in the crowded marketplace.

    "Power Rangers" didn't get the best reviews, but audiences gave it a promising A CinemaScore, suggesting that it might have staying power in the coming weeks.

    "CHIPS," on the other hand, underwhelmed audiences, critics and the studio. Dax Shepard wrote, directed and starred in the action comedy based on the 1970s and '80s TV show about the California Highway Patrol.

    Costing $25 million to produce, "CHIPS" wasn't the biggest risk, but its $7.6 million debut disappointed. The film also got a deathly B- CinemaScore from audiences.

    "Brand recognition will get you far — it gives you a leg up before you even start — but at the end of the day, it comes down to the movie itself," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. "No matter how much brand equity they have with a particular title, the real test is: How do critics and audiences respond to that film?

    "You still have to deliver a solid movie that will entice people to spend their hard-earned money to go see something that they already know, or already know about," he said.

    That's where Disney has succeeded, with its latest remake earning $317 million in just 10 days in North American theaters and $690.3 million worldwide.

    "With 'Beauty and the Beast' there have been decades of goodwill and the Disney brand and so many more elements going into it than just the intellectual property," Dergarabedian said. "Disney makes it look easy. Others have had more challenges."

    Also this weekend, the sci-fi thriller "Life" failed to connect with audiences, debuting in fourth place with $12.6 million behind holdover "Kong: Skull Island" with $14.4 million.

    The R-rated space film stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds as astronauts who discover that the alien life form they have brought on board might be dangerous. With a $58 million price tag, Sony and Skydance's "Life" has a long journey to profitability.

    Dergarabedian said that part of the reason for its muted launch might be that recent space films, such as "Passengers" and "Arrival," are available for home viewing. The much-anticipated "Alien: Covenant" and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" also are on the horizon.

    Despite some flops, the March 2017 box office, which crossed $1 billion this weekend, has become the biggest March of all time, with help from the strength of "Logan," ''Kong: Skull Island," ''Get Out" and "Beauty and the Beast."

    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."Beauty and the Beast," $88.3 million ($119.2 million international).

    2."Power Rangers," $40.5 million ($18.7 million international).

    3."Kong: Skull Island," $14.4 million ($93 million international).

    4."Life," $12.6 million ($16.1 million international).

    5."Logan," $10.1 million ($12.1 million international).

    6."Get Out," $8.7 million ($2.2 million international).

    7."CHIPS," $7.6 million ($1.9 million international).

    8."The Shack,"$3.8 million.

    9."The Lego Batman Movie," $2 million ($1.2 million international).

    10."The Belko Experiment," $1.8 million.


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

    1. "Beauty and the Beast," $119.2 million.

    2. "Kong: Skull Island," $93 million.

    3. "Power Rangers," $18.7 million.

    4. "The Boss Baby," $16.3 million.

    5. "Life," $16.1 million.

    6. "Logan," $12.1 million.

    7. "The Prison," $8.3 million.

    8. "Split," $5.2 million.

    9. "Sing," $4.6 million.

    10. "A Dog's Purpose," $4.1 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:

    Insider Q&A: Mattel's COO talks Barbie movie

    Mattel is looking to the movies. The maker of Barbie and Hot Wheels, which has live-action films based on those toys in the works, says it wants to find new ways to be on more screens in front of more kids. These days, that takes more than a 30-second commercial.

    Big-screen movies are a first for 72-year-old Mattel, which has mostly relied on television ads, apps and straight-to-DVD movies to promote its toys. It launched a separate unit last year to help produce films, TV shows and other content with studio partners. The Barbie movie hit a snag last week when comedian Amy Schumer dropped out of the starring role citing scheduling conflicts. The film is being made with Sony and it's expected to be released next year. A Hot Wheels film is also in development.

    Mattel will also be on TV starting April 7 on ABC, showing its search for the next big toy idea in a competition show called "The Toy Box." Chief Operating Officer Richard Dickson says Mattel is making the winning toy now, and it will go on sale at Toys R Us stores after the series ends May 19.

    Other changes Mattel has made include new body shapes, hair types and skin colors for Barbie, and the American Girl brand's first boy doll .

    Dickson spoke recently with The Associated Press about how Mattel is trying to bring new life to its classic toys. Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.

    Q: Why the focus on movies and TV shows?

    A: Kids today can obviously skip commercials. And screen time today is not one screen, it's multiple screens. Our objective is to be everywhere our consumers are. They are on their phone. They are on their laptop. They're on their iPad. They're on their television. There is no center.

    Q: What's the Barbie movie about?

    A: I can't get into a lot of detail as to what the story will be, but I can tell you what it is. It is live action. It is going to be a story that continues to celebrate the idea that girls can be anything. I think the way that we narrate that story will be entertaining for girls of all ages. And I also think it will be, hopefully, appealing to some boys also.

    Q. With Amy Schumer out of the Barbie movie, is there a search for someone else? What are you looking for? Another comedian?

    A: We have a list of people who are interesting and interested. We look forward to working with Sony to bring the vision of the character and the story to life.

    Q: Why the changes to Barbie's body shape last year?

    A: Historically, we never addressed the cultural pushback that we always had with people criticizing Barbie's body. And we sort of justified it by saying it's a toy and it's not a real human and we sort of moved on. And one of the things that we've done, to reintroduce the brand as relevant, is to listen to the consumer and start to have a dialogue with her instead of a monologue.

    Q: In 2015, a Barbie ad featured a boy for the first time. Why the attention to boys?

    A: We know for a fact that a lot of boys play with Barbie and it hasn't been something that we've acknowledged. In many cases it is a boy playing out a Barbie world with his sister. And then there are boys who actually drive the play themselves. We are pretty pronounced with boys, we just never really expressed it in marketing.

    Toscanini's musical and anti-Fascist legacy remembered

    Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini's legacies included abolishing encores at La Scala. So it was a playful touch when one of the maestro's musical heirs included a Verdi encore during a tribute at the Milan opera house marking the 150th anniversary of Toscanini's birth.

    The Saturday night concert was part of a series of celebrations and commemorations planned across Italy to honor one of the 20th century's most enduring conductors, a man who defied Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, brought discipline and decorum to La Scala and popularized symphonic orchestral music in the United States.

    Unlike composers whose works can be played and reinterpreted over time, the contribution of conductors "is written in water in a certain sense," said Harvey Sachs, a Toscanini biographer who helped curate an exhibit on the conductor at La Scala's museum that runs through June 4.

    But Toscanini's fame has endured due to the musical rigor he imposed on orchestras and the fact that he was one of the first major conductors whose work was both recorded and broadcast live, Sachs said.

    During his lifetime, Toscanini enjoyed renown around the world but particularly in his native Italy, where his focus was opera, and in the United States, the second home where he devoted his career to broadcasting symphonic music.

    "In 1935, Time magazine published a statistic that 9 million Americans listened to his broadcast of the New York Philharmonic each week," Sachs said. "That was 7 percent of the population of the United States, adults and children, at that time. That would be like 22 million people tuning into a broadcast of symphonic music. It is almost unthinkable today."

    He worked at La Scala both as principal conductor, for a decade from 1898, and musical director in the 1920s, and is credited with improving the discipline of musicians, expanding the repertoire and improving the behavior of unruly audience members.

    It was Toscanini who installed an orchestra pit to help balance the sound of the musicians with the opera singers. He also had the lights turned down during performances and demanded silence from the audience, etiquette that is now the norm but then was a revolution, according to Toscanini expert Franco Pulcini, who collaborated on the La Scala exhibit.

    By 1929, he'd had enough of fighting with theater directors over the expensive staging of operas and decided to focus on symphonic work. He shifted his career to the United States, where he was conducting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at the time and had previously conducted the Metropolitan Opera.

    "He realized that moving to the United States by conducting symphonic music, he had a much bigger audience for classical music," Pulcini said.

    He went back and forth between Italy and the United States until his anti-Fascist political views — which included refusing to conduct the Fascist anthem — got him into trouble with Mussolini, and his passport was revoked.

    In 1938, he went into self-exile in the U.S., where a year earlier he had taken the helm of the NBC Symphony Orchestra that was created for him. He continued there for 17 years.

    His political views also led him to refuse in 1933 to return to the Bayreuth Festival dedicated to performances of operas by Richard Wagner, where he had been the first non-German conductor to appear.

    Toscanini, who declined to attend because of the Wagner family's sympathies for Nazism, told Wagner's anti-fascist granddaughter, Friedelind, "This is the greatest sorrow of my life."

    In a nod to Toscanini's strong politics, Italian conductor Riccardo Chailly closed Saturday's tribute concert with Verdi's "Hymn of Nations," which incorporates the Italian, French and British anthems and was seen at the time of its 1862 premier as presenting a view of European harmony.

    The encore brought the audience, which included Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, to its feet.

    The Toscanini anniversary tributes also included a sold-out concert in Bologna, the city where Toscanini was attacked by anti-Fascists in 1931, and with the opening of a new musical production center in Parma, the city of his birth.

    Concerts by the La Scala Chamber orchestra are being performed this week in Washington and New York to coincide with the publication of the book "Toscanini, The Maestro: A Life in Pictures."

    Will NYC invite the 'Fearless Girl' to stay on Wall Street?

    Should the "Fearless Girl" stand up to Wall Street's charging bull forever?

    That's the question New York City officials are facing after a statue of a ponytailed girl in a windblown dress went up in front of the bronze bull early this month and immediately became a tourist draw and internet sensation.

    What was intended as a temporary display to encourage corporations to put more women on their boards is now getting a second look in light of its popularity, which has spawned an online petition seeking to keep it.

    But does keeping the girl past her scheduled April 2 deadline forever alter the meaning of the bull? After all, the 11-foot-tall, 7,100-pound bull has been hugely popular in its own right; it was placed in a lower Manhattan traffic median in the wake of the 1987 stock market crash as a symbol of Americans' financial resilience and can-do spirit.

    Some fans of the bronze girl already see the bull much differently.

    "The bull represents men and power," says Cristina Pogorevici, 18, a student from Bucharest, Romania, who visited the statues this past week. "So she is a message of women's power and things that are changing in the world right now."

    Holli Sargeant, 20, a visitor from Queensland, Australia, says the 4-foot-tall, 250-pound bronze girl "is standing up against something and we see her as powerful image. She represents all the young women in the world that want to make a difference."

    Such shifting perceptions of the bull — from American hero to villain of sorts — outrage bull sculptor Arturo De Modica, who wants the girl gone.

    He dismissed Kristen Visbal's statue as nothing more than an "an advertising trick," noting the bronze was a marketing effort on the eve of the March 8 International Women's Day by Boston-based State Street Global Advisors and its New York advertising firm, McCann.

    As for his bull, "I put it there for art," the Italian-born sculptor told MarketWatch, which first reported his anger. "My bull is a symbol for America. My bull is a symbol of prosperity and for strength."

    Visbal, the artist behind the girl statue, said she could not comment without the permission of State Street Global Advisors, whose spokesman did not return phone calls.

    A spokesman for New York City, which controls public art in the area, did not say when a decision would be made. Mayor Bill de Blasio has said only that he would try to prolong the girl's presence, but has not yet said whether she could stay permanently.

    David Levi Strauss of Manhattan's School of Visual Arts, known for his writings about the impact of art on society and politics, says he is excited by the dynamics the girl statue has brought to the space and agrees the overall meaning has shifted.

    "The girl has changed the meaning of the bull forever," he says. "With public art like this, you never know what's going to happen; it's a Rorschach test onto which people are projecting their own opinions and feelings."

    A similar point-counterpoint was played out at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, erected in 1982 in Washington, with three soldiers in bronze added two years later, seemingly interacting with the stark marble wall bearing the names of the dead. The result prompted debate; some said the soldiers infused life onto the wall, while protesters blasted the statue as a tasteless intrusion.

    When it comes to the girl facing the bull, Strauss said, "the bull's stature diminishes. She's the individual standing up to the beast of power. ... She's frozen in a sort of dream of winning, and that's what appeals to people. She's irresistible."


    Associated Press writer Alina Heineke contributed to this report.