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Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood buy wedding gifts for fans

Married country stars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood are sharing the love by handing out wedding gifts to fans.

Jude and Jamie Blanchard attended Brooks' show in Lafayette, Louisiana, last month with a sign that read: "Best Week Ever. Garth this Friday, our wedding next Friday." Brooks took notice and serenaded them with "To Make You Feel My Love." He also asked if they wanted anything off their wedding registry, and Jamie passed along a wedding invitation to the stage.

The Lafayette Daily Advertiser reports (https://usat.ly/2uDivRr ) a pair of lounge chairs, a KitchenAid mixer and other items from the stars showed up at the Blanchards' door.

This month, Brooks and Yearwood offered to pay for a Hawaiian honeymoon for a couple who got engaged at an Oklahoma City show.

Larry David & Bernie Sanders, TGIF, Jennifer Aniston & Reese Witherspoon

It turns out, Larry David and political Bernie Sanders ARE RELATED! Larry, who figured this out while taping an episode of PBS's "Know Your Roots," played a convincing Bernie on SNL and now we know why! Now they're not long lost brothers or anything... just like "distant cousins." But STILL! NBC

Hulu just secured rights to TGIF! You know, the killer 90's TV lineup that included: Full HouseFamily Matters,

Step By Step, and more! Now, they weren't able to get the rights to EVERY TGIF show. Notably missing are Boy Meets WorldDinosaurs, and Sabrina The Teenage Witch. Vanity Fair

Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston are teaming up for a new TV show about a New York TV morning show. Surprisingly, the TV show (which does not have a title yet) is rumored to be a drama. It's being shopped to cable channels, HBO, and Netflix. Just Jared

Willa Ford had one hit song in 2001 called, "I Wanna Be Bad" and then her pop career seemed to fizzle out. Now, she's 38 and apparently blaming 9/11 for her fizzle.

“A lot of people don’t realize this, but my second single was released on September 11, 2001. Everything that happened that day froze; the world stood still, as it should have. My second single didn’t do well because anything that launched that day kind of got canned. I know that sounds silly, but on radio they slate things, but it really fell to the wayside.” 

O.J. Simpson won't be invited to USC practices, functions

O.J. Simpson won't be invited to watch practice or take part in any official functions at his alma mater this fall following his release from prison.

The Los Angeles Times reports Southern California head coach Clay Helton told reporters at Pac-12 media days Thursday the school has decided against welcoming back the former Heisman Trophy winner. But Helton adds that he would be "cordial" to Simpson if he met him.

Simpson was a guest at a USC practice in Florida before the 2003 Orange Bowl.

Simpson is set to be paroled in October after spending nine years in a Nevada prison on a robbery conviction.

Simpson was acquitted in 1995 of the killings of his ex-wife and her friend, but later found liable for their deaths in a civil suit.

Simone Biles shares goofy video after wisdom teeth surgery

Biles posted the video on Twitter on Thursday. She appears on a recovery room bed with gauze in her mouth yelling something incomprehensible and pretending to drive a car. Biles wrote that she hopes the 27-second clip makes people laugh.

The 20-year-old Biles later added that the full video is 14 minutes long and "other parts are hilarious too!"

Biles won four gold medals and a bronze at the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

"The Back Door" singer Menard dead at 85

D.L. Menard, whose song "The Back Door" is among the most popular in Cajun music, is dead at the age of 85.

Louisiana Funeral Services and Crematory in Broussard said on its website that Menard died Thursday at his home in Scott, Louisiana.

Including covers by other artists, the song sold more than 1 million copies, according to Floyd Solieau, whose Swallow Record Co. released the song as a single in July 1962.

The song is a jaunty ditty about a man who gets so drunk he sneaks into his house through the back door.

Menard wrote "The Back Door" in French, using English phonics -- he grew up speaking Cajun French, but teachers then would paddle children for speaking the dialect at school. The title in French was "La Porte en Arriere."

Menard's last public performance was July 2 at a tribute his hometown of Erath put on for the 55th anniversary of "The Back Door."

Though he had to be helped across the stage and he performed from a wheelchair, he sang "The Back Door" and many other songs, his voice still firm and strong.

The song helped make him a goodwill ambassador for Cajun music and culture, traveling to dozens of countries on State Department tours. Menard is in the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and the Cajun Music Hall of Fame, and in 1994 he was named a national heritage fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.

The funeral home said Menard's funeral will be Monday afternoon at Family Life Church in Lafayette, with visitation there Sunday and Monday morning.

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau makes cover of Rolling Stone

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau graced the cover of Rolling Stone this week, and the pop culture magazine put forth a provocative question in its headline: “Why Can’t He Be Our President?”

>> Read more trending news

Trudeau is pictured with his sleeves rolled up and his jacket slung over his shoulder. 

The prime minister is among other world leaders to make the cover of Rolling Stone, including former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, MSN reported.

In an article published online Wednesday, writer Stephen Rodrick contrasted Trudeau’s style with that of President Donald Trump, comparing the two politicians’ views on health care, the environment and marijuana.

Trudeau told Rodrick that while he disagreed with Trump “on a whole bunch,” they still have “a constructive working relationship.”

Disney legend, visionary Marty Sklar dies at 83

Disney Imagineer Martin A. “Marty” Sklar, who helped craft the vision that produced Walt Disney World and Epcot, died Thursday, the Walt Disney Company announced in a blog post. He was 83.

>> Read more trending news

Sklar worked at Disney for 54 years and "was instrumental” in helping Walt Disney create and expand his vision for theme parks.

“Everything about Marty was legendary – his achievements, his spirit, his career,” said Bob Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Walt Disney Company. “He embodied the very best of Disney, from his bold originality to his joyful optimism and relentless drive for excellence. He was also a powerful connection to Walt himself. No one was more passionate about Disney than Marty and we’ll miss his enthusiasm, his grace, and his indomitable spirit.”

Sklar was recruited to create The Disneyland News for the California theme park in 1955, when he was a student at UCLA. After graduating in 1956, Sklar joined Disney full time. He retired as executive vice president and imagineering ambassador on July 17, 2009, on the 54th anniversary of Disneyland’s opening.

'Walking Dead' panel called off for stuntman's funeral

The AMC channel says a producers' panel discussion for "The Walking Dead" is off because it conflicts with the funeral for a stuntman killed in an on-set fall.

In a statement Thursday, AMC said some of the five producers scheduled to appear on the weekend panel will be attending services for 33-year-old stuntman John Bernecker.

Authorities in Georgia said that Bernecker died July 12 after falling head-first onto concrete instead of on padding meant to cushion his roughly 22-foot (7-meter) fall from a balcony. The accident occurred on the show's set south of Atlanta.

The discussion, planned Saturday with the Television Critics Association, was to mark the upcoming eighth season of the zombie apocalypse drama.

A Comic-Con panel with some stars and some producers proceeded last week in San Diego.

Leading Disney parks 'Imagineer' Martin Sklar dies at 83

Martin A. "Marty" Sklar, a right-hand man of Walt Disney and central figure in the development and expansion of his company's theme parks around the world, has died.

Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown confirmed Sklar's death for The Associated Press. A company statement says he died Thursday at his Hollywood Hills home at age 83. No details were released on his cause of death.

"Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy," Sklar said in 2005, reading from a plaque at the front of the park. "That says so much about what Walt intended here," Sklar told the AP.

Sklar had roles in the development of every Disney park, from the original Disneyland in Southern California in 1955 to the Shanghai Disney Resort last year, and was revered by employees as a living link to the founder.

"Everything about Marty was legendary — his achievements, his spirit, his career," Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. "He embodied the very best of Disney, from his bold originality to his joyful optimism and relentless drive for excellence. He was also a powerful connection to Walt himself."

Sklar was still a college student at UCLA when he was hired to create The Disneyland News for the original park and became a full-time Disney employee the following year.

For the next 54 years he led the development and expansion of the company's parks, and was among the first to have the unique-to-Disney title of "Imagineer" when he became the company's chief creative leader for theme parks.

"Marty was one of Walt's most trusted advisers and helped turn his most ambitious dreams into reality," said Bob Weis, current president of Walt Disney Imagineering. "For us, it's hard to imagine a world without Marty, because Marty is synonymous with Imagineering."

Sklar scripted speeches for Walt Disney along with design and marketing materials for the parks and a film showing Disney's vision for Walt Disney World and Epcot in Florida before they were built.

He was a low-key and unimposing figure who condensed Walt Disney's ideas into a widely circulated creed called "Mickey's Ten Commandments."

He had a hand in the design of memorable Magic Kingdom attractions such as the "The Enchanted Tiki Room," ''It's a Small World" and "Space Mountain."

Like most Disney designers he had to face criticism from hardcore fans. He felt the need to respond to complaints when "It's a Small World" added characters from Disney films to its usual cast of international children.

"We are not trying to turn this classic attraction into a marketing pitch for Disney plush toys," Sklar said at the time. "We are not 'young marketing whizzes' trying to make a name for ourselves."

When the company made over Disneyland's Tomorrowland in 1998, he explained the company's constant intent to forge forward.

"The future is a moving target, and you have to keep aiming at it," he said.

Sklar retired in 2009 but was still a frequent presence and ambassador at Disney events, including the company's D23 Expo earlier this month.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years Leah, and son Howard.

At Disneyland's 50th anniversary in 2005, he summed up his life's work as he walked into the park.

"I think Disneyland is so much about reassuring people the world can be OK, that things can be orderly, that you can speak to a stranger," he told the AP. "All those things that we are losing or have lost in our daily lives."

Man killed in fair thrill ride wreck joined Marines week ago

A high school student who dreamed for years of joining the military and had just enlisted in the Marines was killed when a spinning and swinging thrill ride broke apart and sent several of its passengers tumbling onto the midway at the Ohio State Fair.

The 18-year-old's girlfriend was among seven who were badly injured when the Fire Ball flung riders — some still strapped in their seats — through the air.

A few people on the midway were hit by debris.

The ride's Dutch manufacturer on Thursday told operators of the same attraction at fairs and festivals worldwide to stop using it until more is learned about what caused the malfunction.

Federal and state investigators have begun working to find what caused the wreck on Wednesday, the fair's opening day.

Video taken by a bystander of the swinging, spinning Fire Ball ride in action captured a crashing sound. A section holding four riders came apart, and screams could be heard as at least two people were ejected and plunged toward the ground. Other riders were still in their seats as they fell.

Tyler Jarrell, of Columbus, was thrown about 50 feet (15 meters) and pronounced dead on the midway. The Marine Corps and school officials said Jarrell enlisted last week and was going to begin basic training after his high school graduation next year.

"That was just this past Friday. Then he goes to the state fair and he is involved in this horrible tragedy. It's just devastating," said Capt. Gerard Lennon Jr., a naval science instructor in the Junior ROTC program at Jarrell's high school.

Lennon said the teenager had been interested in going into the service or law enforcement for quite a while.

The injured ranged in age from 14 to 42. At least two were listed in critical condition.

Jarrell's girlfriend, Keziah Lewis, doesn't remember the accident and has pelvis, ankle and rib injuries, her mother told The Columbus Dispatch.

Lewis, a University of Cincinnati student, underwent one surgery and faces a second.

"She kept asking for her boyfriend," Clarissa Williams said. "I had to tell her he was the one who was deceased."

Inspectors looked over the ride while it was assembled and signed off on it hours before it flew apart, according to authorities and records released Thursday.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich shut down all rides at the fair and ordered them inspected again. He said it was too early to say whether inspectors missed something that led to the tragedy.

"It's a nightmare. It's a terrible situation," he said.

The ride's manufacturer, KMG, said the one at the Ohio fair was built in 1998. Forty-three of the rides, also known as the Afterburner, are in use around the world, 11 of them in the U.S., according to KMG. None has had a serious malfunction before, the company told the AP.

The Fire Ball swings 24 riders back and forth like a pendulum 40 feet (12 meters) above the ground while they sit facing each other in four-seat carriages that spin at 13 revolutions a minute, according to the company's website.

Records show that inspections on Fire Ball were up to date and a state permit was issued for the ride on Wednesday, the fair's opening day.

Ohio Department of Agriculture records provided to The Associated Press showed passing marks on inspections of about three dozen items, including possible cracks, brakes, proper assembly and installation.

All rides at the fair are checked several times when they are being set up to ensure the work is done the way the manufacturer intended, said Agriculture Director David Daniels.

Michael Vartorella, Ohio's chief inspector of amusement ride safety, said the Fire Ball was inspected three or four times before the fair opened.

Amusements of America, the company that provides rides to the state fair, said its staff also had inspected the ride before it opened.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is also investigating. It estimates there were 30,900 injuries associated with amusement attractions last year that required an emergency room visit.

It said there have been at least 22 fatalities associated with amusement attractions since 2010.

The Ohio State Fair, which remained open Thursday, is one of the biggest state fairs in the U.S. It drew 900,000 people last year.

"Our hearts are heavy for the families of those involved in last night's tragic accident," fair officials said on Twitter.

___

AP writers John Seewer in Toledo, Ohio; Dan Sewell in Cincinnati; Mark Gillispie in Cleveland; Denise Lavoie in Boston; Mike Corder in Brussels; and news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this story.

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