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NBC News shutting down a digital service

NBC says that it is shutting down its Breaking News digital service, which provided bulletins on stories through Twitter, a website and its own app.

The network said Thursday that the service, which began in 2009, wasn't self-sustaining and will cease operations at the end of the year. It employed 20 people in Seattle, New York, Los Angeles, London and Chicago. NBC Digital spokeswoman Emily Passer said Thursday the network will try to find jobs for those people elsewhere in the company.

The headline service was popular with journalists, government workers and other industries dependent on knowing news quickly.

Viewership dips for NBC's live showing of 'Hairspray'

NBC's live presentation of the musical "Hairspray" reached 9 million viewers, making it the least-watched of the four musicals it has aired, starting when the 2013 presentation of "The Sound of Music" created a sensation.

The Nielsen company said Thursday that the three-hour telecast did manage to beat Fox's hit "Empire" head-to-head. It was also NBC's top-rated Wednesday night show among young viewers in four years, excluding Olympic telecasts.

Three years ago "The Sound of Music: Live!" reached 18.6 million viewers. NBC's presentation of "Peter Pan: Live!" dipped to 9.2 million in 2014 but ratings rebounded for "The Wiz: Live!" in 2015. That show reached 11.5 million people.

Viewership dips for NBC's live showing of 'Hairspray'

NBC's live presentation of the musical "Hairspray" reached 9 million viewers, making it the least-watched of the four musicals it has aired, starting when the 2013 presentation of "The Sound of Music" created a sensation.

The Nielsen company said Thursday that the three-hour telecast did manage to beat Fox's hit "Empire" head-to-head. It was also NBC's top-rated Wednesday night show among young viewers in four years, excluding Olympic telecasts.

Three years ago "The Sound of Music: Live!" reached 18.6 million viewers. NBC's presentation of "Peter Pan: Live!" dipped to 9.2 million in 2014 but ratings rebounded for "The Wiz: Live!" in 2015. That show reached 11.5 million people.

The Latest: Tipster says abuse claim preceded murder plot

The Latest on the retrial of Dalia Dippolito, a Florida woman accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband, in a case that was the focus of a special episode of the "Cops" TV show. (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

Lawyers for a Florida woman accused of trying to have her husband killed in a case made famous on the "Cops" TV show have called a man described as her former lover as a defense witness.

Mohammed Shihadeh is also the undercover informant who first told police that Dalia Dippolito told him she wanted someone to kill her convicted con-man husband, Michael Dippolito.

But Shihadeh has testified he wanted police to help her, not build a case against her. That's because he says she told him her husband was abusing her, and her only way out was to die or have him killed.

Shihadeh says detectives pressured him to put her in touch with an officer posing as a hit-man, and that he didn't believe she would go through with it.

But under cross-examination, Shihadeh agreed that his belief was wrong.

___

1 p.m.

Millions of people have seen a secretly recorded video of Dalia Dippolito telling an undercover police officer she was "5,000 percent sure" about hiring him to kill her husband.

At her retrial on Thursday, six Florida jurors who said they had never seen the 2009 video watched Dippolito tell Boynton Beach Detective Widy Jean that she would pay him $7,000 to kill Michael Dippolito in a staged robbery.

The 34-year-old Dippolito has testified at her previous trial and in court hearings that she was only acting the part of a murderous wife in hopes of getting her own reality TV show.

Her first jury didn't buy that defense, but an appellate court threw out her 2011 conviction and 20-year sentence for attempted first-degree solicitation of murder. She faces the same sentence if convicted again.

Wife on video: '5,000 percent sure' she wanted husband dead

Millions of people have seen a secretly recorded video of Dalia Dippolito telling an undercover police officer she was "5,000 percent sure" about hiring him to kill her husband.

At her retrial on Thursday, six Florida jurors who said they had never seen the 2009 video watched Dippolito tell Boynton Beach Detective Widy Jean that she would pay him $7,000 to kill Michael Dippolito in a staged robbery.

The 34-year-old Dippolito has testified at her previous trial and in court hearings that she was only acting the part of a murderous wife in hopes of getting her own reality TV show.

Her first jury didn't buy that defense, but an appellate court threw out her 2011 conviction and 20-year sentence for attempted first-degree solicitation of murder. She faces the same sentence if convicted again.

These jurors sat expressionless as they watched the 23-minute video, which was central to a "Cops" television special and remains popular on YouTube.

It shows Dippolito, dressed in tank top and pony tail, entering Jean's red convertible and discussing not only the cost of killing her convicted conman husband, but how, when and where it would be done.

"Are you sure you want to kill this dude?" Jean asks her.

Dippolito, seeming uncomfortable with the question, appears to urge Jean to be more circumspect.

"Do we really have to? I would rather be less, whatever, about the deal," Dippolito tells Jean, swallowing laughter.

Narrating the video for the jury on Thursday, Jean testified that Dippolito opened up once he said she's beautiful.

After these pleasantries, the video shows her agreeing to pay $7,000 for the murder — a $1,000 premium since she wouldn't be able to pay in advance. He then tells her he'll break into their house, put two bullets in her husband's head and make it look like a robbery.

"I need it done, like, this week," Dippolito says, assuring Jean she wouldn't stiff him. "You obviously know where I am."

Dippolito then tells Jean her husband would soon withdraw $10,000 from a bank, and suggests killing him there instead, taking the even-higher sum as payment.

"I don't know if that's too public for you," she says.

No, Jean replies; the extra cash might be worth the risk.

"Just so you know, all of these here are tender points," she adds, pointing to her lower back to show where her husband was recovering from liposuction surgery.

Jean testified that he tried to give Dippolito a way out by warning that she would not be able to change her mind later.

"No, there is no changing," she replies. "There is no — I'm determined already. I'm positive, like 5,000 percent sure."

The prosecution rested shortly after showing the video, and without bringing several other key figures, including Michael Dippolito and an undercover informant who initially told police about her alleged desire to kill him.

Under cross-examination by defense attorney Brian Claypool, Jean conceded it was unusual that the department posted the video only minutes after Dalia Dippolito's arrest, ahead of its appearance as part of a special episode on "Cops."

Claypool told the jury in opening statements that Boynton Beach Police staged the case to become famous on "Cops," whose producers were in town to prepare to for episodes with the department. Jean somewhat agreed with Claypool's assessment that releasing the video so quickly could have compromised the investigation.

"It might," he said, but if the case was closed with Dippolito's arrest, it would be "a moot point."

The defense began its case by calling Mohammed Shihadeh, Dippolito's former lover who first contacted the police. He said she had told him her husband abused her and the only solution was for her to be dead or her husband to be killed.

Shihadeh said he wanted the police to help her, not arrest her, but detectives pressured him to be part of the undercover investigation and put her in touch with Jean. He said he didn't think she was serious about having her husband killed.

"I didn't think she had it in her," Shihadeh told Dippolito attorney Brian Claypool.

"But you were wrong?" prosecutor Craig Williams asked under cross-examination.

"Yes," he said.

___

Follow Terry Spencer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/terryspen. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/author/terry-spencer .

Kiss and Tell? Madonna makes Michael Jackson revelation

Madonna says she once made out with Michael Jackson after giving him a glass of chardonnay.

That was among the revelations that came during the pop icon's appearance on James Corden's signature "Carpool Karaoke" segment that aired on Wednesday night's "Late Late Show" on CBS.

Madonna says she made the first move with Jackson because "he's a little bit shy." She says she never shared the story publicly "because no one ever asks" her.

Madonna also described herself as "quite square" these days, saying she doesn't drink, smoke or party. She still dances though. At one point, she turned around in the front seat and twerked for the camera mounted on the dashboard of the SUV.

Madonna and Corden belted out "Vogue," ''Papa Don't Preach" and other hits during the segment.

'Rogue One' moves 'Star Wars' forward by going back

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there were more stories than those of the Skywalker family. That was the idea Disney was counting on when it purchased George Lucas's empire Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012, and the rights to everything in the "Star Wars" universe. Sure, they'd continue chronicling the trajectory of the Skywalkers, but what else was out there?

It was 30-year Lucas veteran John Knoll who thought of telling the story of the rebels who stole the plans for the Death Star, only alluded to in the opening crawl of the original 1977 "Star Wars." And with that, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" was born. It hits theaters next week, kicking off Lucasfilm and Disney's spinoff gamble. There are already two more in the works, including a young Han Solo standalone for 2018. The plan is to release the spinoffs in the gap years between the next two installments of the main saga (Episode VIII comes out next December.).

If Marvel can have a universe, after all, why can't Star Wars? The idea of "spinning off" Star Wars, though, has existed about as long as the idea of Star Wars, but three decades ago, that was more of a TV-special or straight-to-video proposition. Now, the spinoffs are as important as the main films and are being given the full blockbuster treatment — big budgets (reports say $200 million), burgeoning stars and hefty marketing expenses. Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy has promised that they'll run the gamut in size, scope and genre, too.

For "Rogue One," they chose British director Gareth Edwards, known for the indie "Monsters" and the 2014 "Godzilla" reboot. He lived and breathed "Star Wars" — a requirement for executives who want "caretakers" for the franchise.

Edwards' film is set in a time of conflict and unrest, as the Empire grows and various rebel factions assemble in resistance, introducing a whole batch of new characters: The heroine Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones); her scientist father, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen); a rebel spy, Cassian (Diego Luna) and his sarcastic droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk); an extremist, Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker); and a pilot for the Empire, Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed).

Inspired by WWII classics like "The Guns of Navarone," and shot by "Zero Dark Thirty" cinematographer Greig Fraser, "Rogue One" promises to be a grittier film, putting the war back in "Star Wars."

"We tried to feel embedded like a real film crew in a war zone and give it that kind of flavor," said Edwards, who was sometimes literally in the trenches with the cast.

Ben Mendelsohn, who plays Imperial Officer Orson Krennic, said it's "pretty intense."

"There is a lot of battle," Mendelsohn said. "This is a tougher Star Wars film, in certain respects, than any of its predecessors."

"The Force Awakens" and its $2 billion in worldwide earnings was always going to be a tough act to follow, but "Rogue One" has had a particularly bumpy ride — at least in the public imagination. There were rumors about expensive reshoots. The production had also hired veteran scribe Tony Gilroy, of "The Bourne Identity," to help with the script, which didn't assuage fears that there was something deeply wrong that needed "fixing." While reshoots are a common practice for any blockbuster, it nonetheless made fans nervous. Would this be another underwhelming prequel situation? Or would they knock it out of the park as with "The Force Awakens" — a production that, even when Harrison Ford broke his leg on set, never seemed to exhibit any weaknesses.

Edwards said "Rogue One" ''just grew."

"We shot the movie in a very realistic way, a lot of handheld, a lot of documentary-style stuff," he said. "We showed it to the studio and they were very supportive and they said 'look, whatever you need to do just do it.' The visual effects shots went from like 600 to 1,600, which was great for me. It felt like 'this is exactly what it needs to be.'"

What that means for audiences is another thing. "Rogue One" is being treated with a secrecy similar to that of "The Force Awakens." The cast has seen it, but few others will until the film's premiere in Los Angeles on Dec. 10.

For Diego Luna, this is as it should be. Watching "The Force Awakens" and knowing precious little about it let him experience cinema as he did in childhood.

"You sat down and let the film happen to you and those answers come to you through the voice of a director — not through the voice of a blogger and a reviewer and then the trailer and then the song and the toy," Luna said. "Because of the secrecy and because of all these filters, they're managing to go back to that time where cinema happened inside of the cinema."

Now, everyone is waiting to see how big of an appetite there will be for the spinoffs. "Rogue One" is tracking to open to over $130 million — the second-highest ever for December — but still a far cry from "The Force Awakens'" $248 million. And then there's the question of how it will holdup.

"Obviously there's a lot riding on this. But what does that mean?" Edwards wondered. "The riskiest thing you could do with Star Wars is not take a risk."

Or, never tell a Star Wars fan the odds.

___

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

Extreme Wyoming cold frosts even Moscow Ballet

It got so cold in Wyoming, even the Moscow Ballet couldn't move.

The traveling ballet group famous for performing "The Nutcracker" this time of year couldn't start their buses Thursday morning in Casper.

The temperature in the central Wyoming city plunged to 31 degrees below zero overnight.

Moscow Ballet spokeswoman Sally Michael Keyes says the group's bus and equipment trucks had to be defrosted over several hours.

The delay and worries about driving over snowy passes in Colorado prompted the troupe to cancel a performance Thursday night in Grand Junction, Colorado.

The ballet's home town of Moscow is no stranger to cold and snow, but even Moscow's recent low of 18 degrees wasn't nearly as cold as Casper.

The Moscow Ballet still plans to perform Friday and Saturday in Denver.

Extreme Wyoming cold frosts even Moscow Ballet

It got so cold in Wyoming, even the Moscow Ballet couldn't move.

The traveling ballet group famous for performing "The Nutcracker" this time of year couldn't start their buses Thursday morning in Casper.

The temperature in the central Wyoming city plunged to 31 degrees below zero overnight.

Moscow Ballet spokeswoman Sally Michael Keyes says the group's bus and equipment trucks had to be defrosted over several hours.

The delay and worries about driving over snowy passes in Colorado prompted the troupe to cancel a performance Thursday night in Grand Junction, Colorado.

The ballet's home town of Moscow is no stranger to cold and snow, but even Moscow's recent low of 18 degrees wasn't nearly as cold as Casper.

The Moscow Ballet still plans to perform Friday and Saturday in Denver.

Excerpts of secret audio between Dippolito, pretend hit man

A secretly recorded conversation between newlywed Dalia Dippolito and Widy Jean, an undercover Boynton Beach officer posing as a hit man, was played Thursday for jurors who must determine whether she was trying to kill her husband.

The 23-minute video went viral in 2011 after the reality TV show "Cops" aired a special episode on her case. Dippolito maintains she was only acting the part of a murderous spouse, as part of an ill-conceived scheme to win her own role on reality TV. Here are some excerpts:

JEAN (off-camera, in the driver's seat): "Are you sure you want to kill this dude?"

DIPPOLITO (swallowing laughter): "Do we really have to? I would rather be less, whatever, about the deal."

(Jean changes the subject, asking questions about the Dippolitos' home alarm system).

---

DIPPOLITO (nervously smoothing her hair): "So how are we going to do it at the house? Like, how do we, how soon could you do it, what time are we looking at?"

JEAN: "I could do it Wednesday morning, Wednesday morning at the house. Because I was looking at news, newspapers here, there's been a lot of burglaries in this area ..."

DIPPOLITO (nodding her head affirmatively): "Right."

JEAN: "... it's not uncommon for someone to break into a house, OK? So it's going to be like, I break into the house, didn't think he was going to be home cause everyone works in the daytime..."

DIPPOLITO (nodding again): "Right."

JEAN: "... and he's not at work, and he gets two in the head. That's it. You know. And I take a couple things with me, break a couple windows, make it look like a robbery that went bad, and it's all over."

---

JEAN: "Police are going to be asking you questions. ... I don't know how well you handle pressure. You understand?"

DIPPOLITO (nodding her head): "No, I'm not gonna, you know, I'm a lot tougher than what I look. I know you see me and you like go, 'What a cute little girl' or whatever." (nervous laughter) "But I'm not. I'm not, no..."

JEAN: "You're beautiful."

DIPPOLITO: "I'm not, no, thank you, but I just want to make sure everything gets taken care of."

---

JEAN: "From now to when it's done, you're not going to have an option to change your mind. Even if you change your mind, you know ...

DIPPOLITO (shaking her head negatively): "No, there is no changing. There is no — I'm determined already. (Nodding vigorously now): I'm positive, like 5,000 percent sure."

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