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NBC's ski announcers attempt to explain their blunder

Highlights from media coverage of the Pyeongchang Olympics:

OOPS: Instead of laughing off or owning up to making a wrong call the night before in the women's super-G, NBC's ski announcers seemed intent on justifying themselves Saturday night. In that Alpine race, little-known Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic stunned everyone by edging Austria's Anna Veith for the gold medal. Ledecka, ranked No. 43 in the world, was considered to have so little chance that NBC's Dan Hicks declared Veith the winner and NBC switched away as if the race was over. But it wasn't. Returning to the subject a night later, Bode Miller declared that "in everyone's opinion, the race was over. It was one of the most incredible upsets I've seen in any sport." Hicks noted that even Ledecka couldn't believe she had won. "Neither could we," he said. Under the circumstances, producers had made a reasonable call to move on to a compelling figure-skating competition. But it was still wrong for Hicks to have expressed certainty that the race was over, and the way he and Miller revisited it Saturday only served to annoy viewers who had missed the miracle on snow.

IT'S HISTORY: We're convinced NBC's Leigh Diffey can narrate a Monday morning commute to work and make it sound thrilling and history-making. He and analyst Bree Schaaf turned the women's skeleton competition into high drama. "Lizzy Yarnold proves she is an Olympic legend," Diffey said of Britain's two-time gold-medal winner. He and Schaaf are a breakout team.

UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT: During the U.S.-Russia hockey game, analyst Mike Milbury described Slava Voynov's expulsion from the NHL after being jailed for kicking and choking his wife as an "unfortunate incident" that hurt the Los Angeles Kings. His choice of words earned NBC some online criticism for insensitivity. Milbury, in a statement, said his intention was to discuss the impact of the incident on hockey after partner Kenny Albert outlined the domestic violence charges. "As I said at the time he was suspended, the league made the right call, 100 percent," he said.

RATINGS: The 19.2 million people who watched the Olympics on NBC, NBCSN or on streaming services Friday was identical to the 19.2 million NBC viewers for the corresponding night in Sochi in 2014. In today's television world, that's a victory. The Nielsen company said 16.6 million people watched NBC alone on Friday. NBC notes that the dominance of Olympic coverage over other things on TV is unmatched; on Friday, competitors ABC, CBS and Fox combined reached just 8.1 million viewers.

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More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

Harry Connick Jr.'s daytime show to end after 2 seasons

Harry Connick Jr.'s daytime show is coming to an end later this year.

NBCUniversal Domestic Television said Friday that Connick's talk-variety show, titled "Harry," will wrap after two seasons.

The company lauded the jazz musician and former "American Idol" judge as a "phenomenal talent."

In a statement, Connick said he was proud of the show that was intended to entertain and inspire viewers and was grateful for the opportunity.

"Harry," which lagged in viewership behind daytime programs such as "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," will tape through September.

'We've arrived:' South Africans cheer 'Black Panther' launch

South Africans have cheered the local premiere of "Black Panther" and have quickly begun dissecting the way actors pronounced the local isiXhosa language used in the film's fictional kingdom of Wakanda.

Actresses Lupita Nyong'o and Danai Gurira were applauded Friday night along with the South African actors who played roles in the film and contributed to the soundtrack.

South African actress Connie Chiume told the audience before the screening in Johannesburg: "I think we will walk out of here and the world will have changed. Africa, we are here. We've arrived."

Reviews were enthusiastic.

After viewing the movie, audience member Ayanda Sidzatane called it awesome and a "good representation of African people."

She says, "We knew it would be cool but not like this."

Ceremony to mark deadly nightclub fire postponed due to snow

A ceremony to mark the 15th anniversary of a Rhode Island nightclub fire that killed 100 people has been postponed because of an expected snowstorm.

The Station Fire Memorial Foundation announced the postponement Friday.

The service had been planned for Sunday at a park built at the West Warwick site of the Feb. 20, 2003, fire, which injured 230 people.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for the area and says heavy snow is possible and travel conditions are expected to be difficult from Saturday evening until Sunday morning. It says 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) of snow could accumulate.

A foundation spokeswoman says the ceremony will be rescheduled for May 20.

The blaze began when pyrotechnics for the rock band Great White ignited flammable foam installed as soundproofing.

June 30 opening, Slinky Dog ride at Disney's Toy Story Land

Disney World's forthcoming Toy Story Land got a press preview in New York Friday.

Toy Story Land opens June 30 at Walt Disney World Resort's Hollywood Studios outside Orlando, Florida.

Oversized replicas of old-school toys are a defining feature of the land. Lampposts shaped like towering Tinkertoys, gigantic colored blocks, a Jenga tower and other massive playthings will make human visitors feel as if they've shrunk to the size of a toy.

A roller coaster called Slinky Dog Dash will be gentle enough for young children. Alien Swirling Saucers will tow guests in rocket-ship toys. The land includes an existing attraction as well, Toy Story Mania, which allows guest to play games shooting at 3-D objects.

The new land will also feature a walk-up eatery, Woody's Lunch Box.

ESPN radio station to take over broadcasts of UConn games

An ESPN radio station will take over broadcasts of University of Connecticut sports games next fall in a multimillion dollar deal that will dump another station that has been the voice of the Huskies for 26 years.

The 10-year deal was announced Friday, the same day Farmington-based WTIC-AM says it couldn't reach an agreement to renew its contract.

The new contract involves IMG, the multimedia rights holder for UConn athletics, and iHeartMedia and its 97.9 ESPN station in Hartford. The station will broadcast football, men's and women's basketball and men's hockey games.

The New Haven Register reports that Athletic Director David Benedict called WTIC a "great partner" and said the decision was difficult.

Phil Zachary, a senior vice president at WTIC owned Entercom Communications, says he couldn't justify paying what UConn and IMG sought.

Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo welcome second baby girl

Congratulations are in order for Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo. They just welcomed their second daughter.

E! News reported on Friday that the newborn is named Geo Grace Levine.

>> Read more trending news 

Geo Grace joins big sister Dusty Rose Levine, 2.

On Wednesday, Levine gave fans a peek at his Valentine’s Day at home with Prinsloo just before she gave birth. In the Instagram post, the model was eating chocolates in sweatpants with a bouquet of roses on the bedside nearby.

“My maniac,” he wrote alongside the photo.

Prinsloo announced that she was expecting a second baby in September 2017 with a bathroom selfie as she posed in a bikini, full bump on display.

“ROUND 2….” she captioned the post.

Related: Adam Levine, Behati Prinsloo expecting baby No. 2

In November, Levine spoke with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres about having more babies with Prinsloo.

“I want a lot (of babies). I thrive in chaos,” Levine said. “We love it. And, (Behati) wants, like, 100 babies, but I don’t know if I can do that!”

He also said they were having another girl but did not reveal details about whether or not they had picked a name at that time.

5 things to know about ‘Black Panther’ director Ryan Coogler

Marvel’s “Black Panther” is already one of the highest-rated movies from the franchise.

With high praise from critics, the film is on track to set box office records. It’s only the third movie from director and screen writer Ryan Coogler.

>> Read more trending news 

Here are five things to know about the filmmaker behind the blockbuster:

He’s only 31 years old.

Coogler was born on May 23, 1986, in Oakland, California, and grew up reading about superheroes who looked nothing like him. 

“As I got older, I wanted to find a comic book character that looked like me, and not just one that was on the sidelines,” Coogler told NPR. “And I walk in and ask the guy at the desk that day, and say, ‘Hey man, you got any comic books here about black people, you know, like with a black superhero?’ And he was like, ‘Oh, yeah, as a matter of fact, we got this one.’”

It was “Black Panther.” 

A teacher inspired Coogler to become a screenwriter.

While on a football scholarship at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California, Coogler took a creative writing class.

According to Filmmaker Magazine, Coogler was given an assignment to write about a personal experience, so he wrote about the time his father almost bled to death in his arms.

Later, the professor called him into his office and asked what Coogler wanted to do with his life.

“Play ball, become a doctor and be a positive influence in my community,” he replied.

Related: 5 ways ‘Black Panther’ celebrates and elevates black women

Coogler told the magazine he remembers her saying, “I think you should become a screenwriter. You can reach more people.” He thought she was crazy. “But I was always thinking about stories, so maybe there was something to it.”

His previous feature films are both critically acclaimed.

Coogler’s first feature film, “Fruitvale Station,” which stars Michael B. Jordan, was produced in partnership with Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker.

Coogler told Filmmaker Magazine in 2012 that the  film was especially close to his heart. It tells the true story of Oscar Grant, an unarmed man shot in the back by a police officer in Oakland, California.

The 2013 film holds a high 94 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and won multiple critics awards between 2013 and 2014.

Related:  Michael B. Jordan reveals what he had to give up for ‘Black Panther’

Coogler’s second feature film, “Creed,” holds a 95 percent Rotten Tomatoes critics rating and earned numerous awards following its 2015 release. His memories of watching “Rocky” movies with his father inspired him to write the film.

All three of Coogler’s feature films star Michael B. Jordan.

“Fruitvale Station,” “Creed” and “Black Panther” all star Jordan. According to Variety, Jordan will star in a fourth Coogler film, titled “Wrong Answer.”

The fourth project will be written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, also the writer for the new “Black Panther” series, and produced by Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B. The film is based on a group of Atlanta high school teachers who participated in the Atlanta Public Schools standardized test cheating scandal in 2006. 

Related: Brad Pitt, Michael B. Jordan sign on to Atlanta school cheating scandal movie

He traveled to Africa to research “Black Panther.”

"What does it mean to be African?" Coogler asked himself. “It was a question I couldn’t answer,” he told NPR.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Coogler said he wanted to make sure Wakanda, the fictional setting of the film, didn’t feel like it was a city. It needed to feel like a country.

The fictional country was also inspired by several African landmarks, including South Africa’s Three Rondavels (or Three Sisters) and the canyon Orbi Gorge.

Related: Photos: ‘Black Panther’ world premiere

“As many pictures of it as you've seen," he added, "there's nothing a camera can do for (you that) your eyes do, or being a person of African descent, what your body does when you touch down there. It's a feeling I couldn't put into words, but I tried to put it into the movie,” he told the LA Times.

Magazine obtains ex-playmate's notes on alleged Trump affair

President Donald Trump had a nine-month extramarital affair with the 1998 Playboy Playmate of the year beginning in 2006, showing the woman his wife's bedroom in Trump Tower and bringing her to his private bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, according to the woman's eight-page, handwritten account of the relationship obtained by The New Yorker magazine.

The woman, Karen McDougal, confirmed in the story published online Friday that she wrote the account but said she was constrained in what else she could say publicly about Trump because she'd signed a confidentiality agreement.

The affair ended in part after McDougal started feeling guilty about it and after Trump made an offensive comment about her mother's age as well as a vulgar remark about the anatomy of black men, the magazine reported.

The story said McDougal was paid $150,000 during the 2016 presidential campaign for the rights to her story of an affair with any "then-married man" by the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer, which never ran it.

Just before Election Day, The Wall Street Journal reported that the tabloid, whose publisher, David Pecker, is a longtime friend of Trump's, had paid for McDougal's story but wasn't printing it, a tabloid industry practice known as "catch and kill."

Former staffers at American Media Inc., the company that publishes the Enquirer and other gossip sites, have told The Associated Press the company often bought the rights to unflattering stories about certain celebrities. The practice, described by six former employees who had participated in such deals, could give Pecker leverage over celebrities so that he could elicit future favors, such as appearing on his magazines' covers.

The former staffers spoke on condition of anonymity because they had signed nondisclosure agreements barring them from disclosing company practices.

The company has approached McDougal about extending her contract barring her from talking about Trump in recent months as the behind-the-scenes negotiations to keep porn star Stormy Daniels' allegation of a Trump affair have been made public, the magazine reported.

American Media has said it didn't find McDougal's account of an affair with Trump credible and paid her to write fitness columns. In a statement to The New Yorker, the company denied that having exclusive rights to McDougal's story left it with any influence over the president, saying that contention "while flattering, is laughable."

The White House said Trump denies having an affair with McDougal. The alleged affair occurred not long after Trump married his third wife, Melania, who had recently given birth to a son, the magazine reported.

Daniels, whose real name is Stefanie Clifford, has also said she had an extramarital affair with Trump beginning in 2006. This week, Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, said he paid Clifford $130,000 with his own money in October 2016 as part of a deal that would keep her from publicly discussing her account.

The same Los Angeles lawyer who represented Clifford in that transaction also represented McDougal in her negotiations with American Media, the magazine said.

McDougal told The New Yorker she regretted signing legal documents that constrained what she could say. "Every girl who speaks is paving the way for another," she told the magazine.

___

Horwitz reported from Parkland, Florida.

'Black Panther' scores mighty $25.2 million Thursday debut

"Black Panther" is well on its way to a record-making weekend at the North American box office.

The Walt Disney Co. estimates Friday that the superhero movie earned $25.2 million from its Thursday preview screenings. It's the second biggest for a Marvel Studios film behind "Avengers: Age of Ultron," which earned $27.6 million in previews, and the best for the month of February.

Preview screenings typically begin with 7pm Thursday showings.

"Black Panther" is now pacing to earn somewhere between $172 and $198 million across the four-day holiday weekend. It will far surpass the previous February record held by "Deadpool" which took in $152.2 million in 2016.

Internationally, the film has grossed $47 million in its first three days with strong showings in the U.K. and Korea.

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