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Caroll Spinney, original Big Bird, retiring from 'Sesame Street'

The man who has played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since “Sesame Street” debuted in 1969 is retiring this week, Sesame Workshop said Wednesday in a news release.

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Caroll Spinney, 84, will perform his roles for the final time Thursday. The puppeteer’s roles will be taken by Matt Vogel, who will perform as Big Bird; and Eric Jacobson, who will play Oscar. Spinney has mentored both men for more than 20 years.

“Big Bird brought me so many places, opened my mind and nurtured my soul,” said Spinney said in a statement. “And I plan to be an ambassador for Sesame Workshop for many years to come. After all, we’re a family! But now it’s time for two performers that I have worked with and respected – and actually hand-picked for the guardianship of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch – to take my alter-egos into their hands and continue to give them life.”

During his 49 years on “Sesame Street,” Spinney appeared on “thousands” of the more than 4,400 episodes of the children’s show, a Sesame Workshop spokesman told the The New York Times.

As Big Bird, Spinney has traveled around the world, visiting China with comedian Bob Hope. He has also performed in the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Germany, Canada and Australia. Big Bird has danced with the Rockettes and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The character also has been featured on a U.S. postage stamp and was named a Living Legend in 2000 by the Library of Congress.

“Since 1969, Caroll’s kind and loving view of the world has helped shape and define this institution,” Jeffrey D. Dunn, Sesame Workshop’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Throughout his unparalleled career, Caroll Spinney gave something truly special to the world. With deepest admiration, Sesame Workshop is proud to carry his legacy – and his beloved characters – into the future.”

In October 2012, The Atlantic reported that Spinney made about $314,000 a year in his roles on “Sesame Street.” From a personal standpoint, Spinney met his wife, Debra, on the show’s set in 1973, Sesame Workshop said in its statement. They have been married 45 years, the New York Post reported. 

“Before I came to Sesame Street, I didn’t feel like what I was doing was very important. Big Bird helped me find my purpose,” Spinney said in a statement. “Even as I step down from my roles, I feel I will always be Big Bird.”

Spinney had to stop puppeteering as Big Bird in 2015 due to problems with his balance, the Times reported. Since then he has limited his roles to voices for Big Bird and Oscar.

His final recordings will be aired on “Sesame Street’s” 50th anniversary in 2020 on PBS, the newspaper reported. Spinney said he will remain a “Sesame Street” ambassador.

“I’ll be 100 years old, doing Muppet stuff,” Spinney told the Times.

CBS says Secret Service blocked reporter from Kushner

CBS News says a Secret Service agent blocked one of its correspondents from asking Jared Kushner a question when he was walking out of an airplane, saying there was a "time and a place" for such interactions.

A network spokeswoman said Wednesday that reporter Errol Barnett happened to be on the same Washington to New York flight as the presidential son-in-law. CBS said he showed a press credential and attempted to ask a question about Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

A short video posted online showed what appeared to be an agent saying, "I don't give a damn who you are."

The Secret Service said it was reviewing the incident and that appropriate action would be taken depending on what its investigation shows.

Roseanne's TV son: Filming 'The Conners' without Barr 'odd'

"The Conners" star Michael Fishman says dealing with the cancellation of the "Roseanne" reboot was heartbreaking but describes the return of the cast in the revamped show without Roseanne Barr as a gift.

Fishman was among "The Conners" stars who came out for the premiere of the show on Tuesday night at the Paley Center — the same night it made its debut on ABC.

Barr was fired from "Roseanne" after making a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, a top official in the administration of former President Barack Obama. Barr tweeted over the summer: "Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj." She was dismissed shortly thereafter and the show was canceled.

Fishman plays Roseanne's son DJ on the show, and had been a part of "Roseanne" since he was a boy. He describes moving on without Barr in the spinoff as "odd."

"We had such a close relationship and we think about her all the time. But, at the same time, we know as a group that we kind of collectively have taken the decision to carry the legacy, and so it's important for us to do it right," Fishman said.

But it was a little nerve-wracking before the spinoff was announced.

"Well it was a heartbreaking summer, but then the idea of coming back was just kind of this amazing gift. You know this will be the third time that we're all together in this way and trying to bring these characters to life. And it's a really special opportunity," Fishman said.

The Nielsen company said Wednesday that 10.5 million people tuned in, larger than any other ABC show this new season. But it didn't come close to the 18.2 million people who watched the first episode of the "Roseanne" reboot last spring.

Lecy Goranson, who plays Becky, says Barr's firing initially affected so many more.

"I think what people don't understand is it's not just the cast or the writers. We have a huge crew that was also put out by all of this, and people who not only love to work, but they love to work with each other," Goranson said.

The new series begins after the death of Barr's character from an opioid overdose.

Goranson thinks that while Barr's infamous tweet was racially insensitive, she doesn't believe that Barr is a racist.

"I feel like the comment was racist. I think undeniably it was. And part of what I thought was what it must be like to be a black person in America and grow up to hear those comments, whether it's at the grocery store or in the media or wherever you are, over and over and over again. And how that must chip at yourself over time, even — especially if it's casual," Goranson said.

However, Goranson says she doesn't think Barr's tweet reflects who she is as a person. Nevertheless, she feels Barr acted irresponsibly.

"Do I think Roseanne is a racist? No. Has she ever said a racist thing to me one time? Never. So, to me it was a political thing. It was a mistake. But you know, if you're that — if you're on the forefront of a show and you're the star — you have to take accountability for what you say and do. And, unfortunately, this was the outcome, and it's devastating," Goranson said.

Co-stars Sara Gilbert and John Goodman were also at the premiere, but declined to walk the red carpet.

MTV's 'Real World' going international and digital

MTV's long-running reality show "The Real World" is going digital and international.

The network announced Wednesday that its production studio will work with Facebook Watch to create new editions of the series next year for audiences in the United States, Mexico and Thailand. The series, which depicts the adventures of young strangers placed in a house together, will stream on Facebook Watch.

The social media platform will also try to connect fans to participants in the show with Facebook Live, watch parties and other innovations. MTV president Chris McCarthy said it's an opportunity to create a new genre of television.

"The Real World" aired 32 separate seasons on MTV between 1992 and 2017. It's the first time it will have international editions with non-U.S. cast members.

Tim McGraw Injures Himself

LOS ANGELES, CA – JULY 14: Tim McGraw performs onstage during the “Soul2Soul” World Tour at Staples Center on July 14, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Uh-oh! Seems like Tim McGraw might be playing a little too hard when he isn’t at work. He has two stress fractures in his right foot and posted it to social media with the caption “Too much spearfishing and beach volleyball…” Get better soon, Tim!

Man Files For Divorce After Seeing Wife Cheating On Google Maps

Let this be a lesson - always do the right thing even when you think no one is watching! An Australian news outlet reports that a man was searching tourist destinations on Google Maps when he spotted HIS WIFE with another man!

The husband was looking at the Bridge of Sighs in Barranco, Peru, when he spotted his wife sitting on a park bench with another man’s head in her lap. Clearly there’s no denying that these two are showing some signs of affection and now the husband has filed for divorce.

The now divorced man said he recognized parts of his wife’s clothing and accessories before she admitted to the infidelity.

Let this be a lesson to all! You never know who’s watching...

Puppeteer who played Big Bird on 'Sesame Street' retiring

The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on "Sesame Street" is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show.

Caroll Spinney announced in a statement Wednesday that he's handing over Big Bird and his other character, Oscar the Grouch, to younger performers. The 84-year-old joined "Sesame Street" at its inception in 1969.

Spinney says he didn't feel like his work was important until Big Bird helped him find his purpose.

Spinney says the physical requirements of performing the characters had become difficult and he developed problems with his balance. He stopped doing the puppeteering for Big Bird in 2015 and now only provides the voices for him and Oscar.

His apprentice, Matt Vogel, will succeed him in the Big Bird role. Vogel also plays Kermit the Frog.

Music City Minute: Jason Aldean and Tim McGraw!

Baby Memphis is on the move! Jason Aldean’s wife Britney shared a cute video yesterday of their 10-month-old son, Memphis taking his first steps! In the video, you can see Baby Memphis bravely let go of furniture as he walks towards a stuffed animal.

“He’s getting so big, I can’t take it!!!” Britney says. The Aldeans announced in July that they were expecting a baby girl so along with Baby Memphis, you can be sure we’ll get to be a part of more baby milestones in the future! 

Tim McGraw and his active lifestyle are well documented but it looks like the ‘Neon Church’ singer may have taken it too far! Yesterday, Tim shared a photo to his social media accounts that he is in a boot as a result of two stress fractures. McGraw captioned the photo, “Too much spearfishing and beach volleyball...”

It’s not fully known yet how long it will take Tim to recover but he did just release his new single, ‘Neon Church’ with a new album expected to drop in 2019. 

The Y100 Bud Light 8 Man Jam ticket stops are in full effect! We had our first ticket stop yesterday at The Sandbox and will have our next one tomorrow with J.R. at Metro PCS at 6634 Binz Engleman Rd., Ste. 102 from 2-4pm. For more information on where we’ll be at with your shot at tickets, click here. You’ll also have a shot at tickets 10x a day with Y100!

Film with Fan Bingbing, Bruce Willis canceled after tax case

The director of "Air Strike," featuring Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, says the film's release has been canceled in the wake of her disappearance and conviction on tax evasion charges.

The World War II thriller, also starring Bruce Willis and Adrien Brody, was to have been released Oct. 26.

However, director Xiao Feng posted on his Weibo miniblog Wednesday that it was "time to let go" after eight years of work on the film.

Chinese tax authorities this month ordered Fan and companies she represents to pay taxes and penalties totaling $130 million, ending speculation over the fate of one of the country's highest-profile entertainers three months after she disappeared from public view.

State media said Fan evaded taxes by using two separate contracts for her work on "Air Strike."

Fan has starred in dozens of movies and TV series in China and is best known internationally for her role as Blink in 2014's "X-Men: Days of Future Past," a cameo in the Chinese version of "Iron Man 3," and for star turns on the red carpet at Cannes as recently as May.

Before her disappearance, she had been booked to star with Penelope Cruz in the Hollywood film "355."

Fan posted an apology on her official Weibo account saying that she accepted the tax authorities' decision and would "try my best to overcome all difficulties and raise funds to pay back taxes and fines."

"I am unworthy of the trust of the society and let down the fans who love me," she wrote in her first update of her Weibo.com microblog since June 2.

Fan's disappearance coincided with a crackdown by Chinese authorities on high salaries for actors that can eat up much of the cost of a production. In June, regulators capped star pay at 40 percent of a TV show's entire production budget and 70 percent of the total paid to all the actors in a film.

America's most famous pimp, poised for elected office, dies

America's most famous pimp partied for days with porn stars, political pals and others to celebrate his 72nd birthday, but the revelry ended when Dennis Hof was found dead in one of his Nevada brothels.

Hof, a Donald Trump-style Republican who won a GOP primary for a seat in the state Legislature this year, spent his last nights in a series of celebrations across Nevada that drew notables from politics and the sex industry — two worlds he managed to bridge.

His final party Monday night at the Pahrump Nugget hotel-casino, about an hour's drive outside Las Vegas, included aging porn star Ron Jeremy, tax-cut activist Grover Norquist, one-time "Hollywood Madam" Heidi Fleiss and ex-Arizona sheriff and politician Joe Arpaio.

"Boy, that's shocking," Arpaio, the former six-term sheriff of metropolitan Phoenix, said of Hof's death. He said Hof was in good spirits when Arpaio left the party around 10 p.m.

Hof didn't drink, smoke or use drugs, Hof's campaign consultant Chuck Muth said. Despite the rigorous schedule, Hof seemed in a "perfect mood" and in "perfect health" at the parties.

"He was sitting on a stool talking with people when I left about 10," said Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly, who guessed more than 100 people attended the Pahrump event. "I guess that's partying at 72."

Jeremy, who also attended the Pahrump Nugget party, told The Associated Press that he and Dasha Dare, a prostitute from one of Hof's brothels, found the pimp's body Tuesday morning in Hof's residence at his Love Ranch brothel.

Dare, who Jeremy said spent part of the evening with Hof, did not immediately respond to email and Twitter messages.

Sheriff's deputies were summoned and Hof was pronounced dead, said Wehrly, who also serves as county coroner.

Wehrly said there was no preliminary indication of foul play but her office was investigating and an autopsy was scheduled by the Clark County coroner in Las Vegas. Wehrly said results of the medical examination could take six weeks.

Outside the brothel Tuesday, sheriff's employees and several women watched as Hof's body was carried on a stretcher beneath a red shroud past lawn furniture, Grecian-style statutes and signs advertising the bordello as, "Always Open, Always Tasty, No sex required."

Muth said Friday night's celebration in northern Nevada had been a "Save the Brothels" concert raising funds to fight a ballot initiative that would shutter brothels in northern Nevada's Lyon County, where Hof owned four properties.

Saturday featured a bash at Hof's Bunny Ranch bar and restaurant near Carson City, followed by a party at Hof's northern Nevada home Sunday and the party in southern Nevada Monday night, Muth said.

Hof was the Republican candidate in a heavily GOP state legislative district who brought in popular Trump supporters in his campaign, including Trump adviser Roger Stone and Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff.

Arpaio, known nationally for his positions on illegal immigration, lost a primary bid for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate from Arizona. He said Hof asked him to speak at his party.

"The thing I liked about him: He was with Trump and was for the Second Amendment and lower taxes," Arpaio said.

Hof owned a handful of brothels in Nevada, the only state that allows them to legally operate.

His Love Ranch brothel is the place where NBA player Lamar Odom was found unconscious in 2015.

The brothel was temporarily shuttered twice this year by regulators who said Hof failed to renew licenses and get proper permits for renovations.

About 20 brothels operate in Nevada, mostly in rural areas.

In addition to his legislative campaign, Hof fought a push to outlaw brothels and had problems with local regulators in the two counties where he ran licensed bordellos.

Hof had also been accused of sexual assault on at least four occasions. The Nevada Department of Public Safety has said it was investigating an allegation made in September but has released few details.

Hof had denied wrongdoing.

Besides "Cathouse," the flamboyant Hof wrote a book titled "The Art of the Pimp," a play on Trump's book "The Art of the Deal."

Wayne Thorley, deputy Nevada secretary of state for elections, said Hof's name will remain on the November ballot. Thorley said ballots with Hof's name have already been mailed to voters but signs will be posted at polling places notifying voters of his death.

If Hof wins in the heavily GOP assembly district, officials will nominate another Republican to fill the vacancy, Thorley said.

Hof was running against Democratic Las Vegas educator Lesia Romanov in the race for a sprawling assembly district that touches both California and Utah, covering rural southern Nevada, largest stretches of desert and the Nevada National Security Site where nuclear weapons were tested.

Hof also ran for the state Legislature in 2016 as a Libertarian but lost the race.

He upended Nevada politics this summer when he ousted an incumbent Republican lawmaker in a primary, celebrating at an election night party with Fleiss.

Hof said in interviews that he believed the anti-brothel push and regulatory problems he's faced this year were political retribution.

___

Associated Press writers Ken Ritter and Regina Garcia Cano in Las Vegas and Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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