She will no longer play a man

Staff & Wire Reports

FILE - In this April 23, 2018 file photo, Scarlett Johansson arrives at the world premiere of "Avengers: Infinity War" in Los Angeles. Johansson has pulled out of the film “Rub & Tug” after her plans to portray a transgender man prompted a backlash. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

FILE - In this April 23, 2018 file photo, Scarlett Johansson arrives at the world premiere of "Avengers: Infinity War" in Los Angeles. Johansson has pulled out of the film “Rub & Tug” after her plans to portray a transgender man prompted a backlash. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

This 1979 photo shows transgender man Dante "Tex" Gill, flanked by masked Frank Cocchiara, left, and Donna Potts while leaving the Public Safety Building in Pittsburgh, Pa. Actress Scarlett Johansson has pulled out of the film “Rub & Tug” after her plans to portray Gill prompted a backlash. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

Scarlett Johansson pulls out of trans drama after backlash


AP Film Writer

Monday, July 16

NEW YORK (AP) — Scarlett Johansson on Friday withdrew from the film “Rub & Tug” after her plans to portray a transgender man prompted a backlash.

In a statement to on Friday, Johansson said she’s pulling out from the project “in light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting.” Last week, Johansson said she would star as Pittsburgh 1970s and ’80s prostitution ring leader Dante “Tex” Gill, who was born Lois Jean Gill but identified as a man.

When transgender actors and advocates questioned the casting, Johansson initially responded with a statement that criticism “can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto and Felicity Huffman’s reps.” All are cisgender actors who won acclaim for playing transgender characters.

“Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive,” said Johansson, who added that she had “great admiration and love for the trans community.”

“While I would have loved the opportunity to bring Dante’s story and transition to life, I understand why many feel he should be portrayed by a transgender person, and I am thankful that this casting debate, albeit controversial, has sparked a larger conversation about diversity and representation in film,” the actress added.

Johansson previously came under fire for playing an originally Asian character in the 2017 film “Ghost in the Shell.” That film’s director, Rupert Sanders, was set to also helm “Rub & Tug.”

It’s not clear if the film, which Johansson was also producing, will go forward. A representative for Johansson didn’t respond to an email Friday. A spokesman for New Regency, which was set to produce “Rub & Tug,” said it’s uncertain what will happen with the film.

Some critics have argued that trans roles should be played by trans actors. Last week, numerous trans actors responded to Johansson’s casting as another sign of a lack of opportunity for trans actors.

“Actors who are trans never even get to audition for anything other than roles of trans characters,” Jamie Clayton, a transgender actress who stars in Netflix’s “Sense8.” ”That’s the real issue. We can’t even get in the room.”

Jen Richards, trans activist and creator of the web series “Her Story,” praised Johansson for stepping down.

“If you’re tired of hearing about it, you can’t imagine how tired trans actors are of talking about it,” Richards said on Twitter. “We just want to work. And with more trans and nonbinary people, of all kinds, participating, the work will be a better and richer representation of our world. This is a win.”

GLAAD, formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said in a statement: “Scarlett Johansson’s announcement, together with the transgender voices who spoke out about this film, are game changers for the future of transgender images in Hollywood.”

ODNR News Release – Informational State Forest Open House Meetings Open to the Public

Ohio Department of Natural Resources

July 16, 2018

COLUMBUS, OH – Interested stakeholders are invited to attend informational open house meetings featuring management plans for Ohio’s 21 state forests. Held annually, the 2018 state forest open houses are scheduled for late July, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

ODNR forest managers and foresters develop annual work plans to guide forest management activities for each of Ohio’s state forests. These open houses provide an opportunity for the public to better understand and comment on Ohio’s plans for sustainable forestry, which includes recreation; treating invasive species; prescribed burning; and timber cruising and harvesting.

The ODNR Division of Forestry will host four regional open houses for the 21 state forests covering nearly 200,000 acres combined. The public is cordially invited to attend any of these open houses to ask questions and submit written comments on state forest management plans at any of the following dates and locations:

District 3 (Yellow Creek, Fernwood, Harrison and Beaver Creek state forests)

Tuesday, July 24, from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Fernwood State Forest Office

11 Township Road 181, Bloomingdale 43910

For more information, call 440-564-5883, ext. 2.

District 4 (Sunfish Creek, Perry, Blue Rock, Hocking, Shade River, Tar Hollow, Gifford, Vinton Furnace and Zaleski state forests)

Wednesday, July 25, from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Hocking Cabin

Located across the road from the Hocking State Forest Office:

19275 SR 374, Rockbridge 43149

For more information, call 740-272-8519.

District 5 (Scioto Trail, Richland Furnace, Pike, Dean, Brush Creek, and Shawnee state forests)

Thursday, July 26, from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Chillicothe District Office

345 Allen Ave., Chillicothe 45601

For more information, call 740-774-1596, ext.101.

District 2 (Maumee State Forest and Mohican-Memorial State Forest)

Friday, July 27, from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Findlay District Office

952 Lima Avenue, Findlay 45840

For more information, call 419-424-5004.

Comments will be accepted for up to 30 days after the respective open house, at which time comments will be considered as the plans are finalized. Open house information and annual work plans are also posted on the ODNR website at

The ODNR Division of Forestry works to promote and apply management for the sustainable use and protection of Ohio’s private and public forest lands. State forests are managed for multiple uses, including wildlife; habitats for threatened and endangered species; recreation opportunities; timber products; demonstration for private forest owners; and soil and water protection.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at

Denali photograph by Ansel Adams up for auction

Monday, July 16

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — An iconic image of an Alaskan landscape taken by renowned American photographer Ansel Adams is up for auction this week.

Adams’ original photograph of Denali and Wonder Lake is being sold in an online auction that ends Thursday, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

The black and white photograph taken at Denali National Park features North America’s tallest mountain, previously known as Mount McKinely, in the background with the lake in the foreground. The image mounted on board was printed in 1948 and has an estimated value of $4,000 to $6,000.

London-based auction house Christie’s is selling the gelatin silver print in an auction of photographs from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The sale is to benefit the acquisition fund for the museum’s department of photography, according to Christie’s.

“Adam’s love of nature led him to photograph places such as Yosemite Valley and the Alaska wilderness,” the auction house said in a statement. “Adams was an advocate for the magnificence of Alaska’s natural surrounding, after visiting there with his son and capturing Mount McKinley and Wonder Lake.”

As of Sunday, the photo’s top bid was $13,000.

Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner,


Overdue Ovation for Sherman Irby

Overdue Ovation for Sherman Irby

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A Walk In the Woods 20th Anniversary

Great Smoky Mountains first-ever guide service in celebrates 20 years

GATLINBURG, Tennessee — A Walk in the Woods, the region’s first-ever guide service, celebrates 20 years of guiding visitors through in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Launched in 1998, A Walk in the Woods has also been awarded the prestigious REI Adventure Top Guide Award, A TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence.

Two decades ago, Erik and Vesna Plakanis found themselves disillusioned by corporate careers that left them feeling unfulfilled. They had been frequent and longtime visitors to the Smoky Mountains, which had become their sanctuary.

“We wanted to do something we felt was meaningful in our lives,” said Vesna, co-founder of A Walk in the Woods. “It didn’t take us long to realize that environmental education and working to introduce others to the beauty of our planet was the most meaningful work we could do.”

Plakanis added that she and husband Erik had amassed a wealth of knowledge on the area, including its natural and cultural history, as well as its flora and fauna through years of research and exploration. With no other guide services in the area, the husband-and-wife became full time tour guides and naturalists, specializing in medicinal and edible uses of plants, animal tracking, wilderness survival and primitive arts. They also serve as storytellers focused on regional Cherokee legends, settler tall tales and bear encounter stories.

A Walk in the Woods has grown exponentially since opening as a mom-and-pop operation, now employing more than two dozen guides offering nature walks, hiking tours, backpacking and driving tours throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and surrounding natural areas. They also offer group tours, glamping trips, classes, trip planning services and equipment rentals available for self-guided treks. To the nature-loving couple, their services allow travelers to reconnect with the natural environment by employing all of their senses. They cultivate enthusiasm for nature in their staff, hiring and training well-educated guides who are driven and brimming with passion.

“It’s astonishing to see how far we’ve come in the last 20 years, “said Plakanis. “We never thought when we gave up our ‘day jobs’ to pursue our love of hiking and nature that we would accomplish so much. We’ve grown our tours from a handful of hikes each week led by my husband and me to leading up to a dozen different hikes each day and offering more than 15 different tours, experiences and amenities.

Friends and fans of A Walk in the Woods are invited to celebrate this milestone on August 5 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Historic Elkmont section of the park. The public is welcome to join in commemorating 20 years of success with a guided history tour, door prizes, live music by a local blue grass band, gourmet appetizers, wine and beer. A silent auction will be held benefiting the Discover Life Project and the Appalachian Bear Rescue.

Helping people immerse themselves in nature and the Great Smoky Mountains since 1998, A Walk in the Woods is a recipient of the prestigious REI Adventures Top Guide Award, a TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence winner eight years running and a “Must See.” The tour company offers a variety of curated, nature-based experiences, from day hikes to multi-day backpacking adventures for groups and individuals of any age and skill level, including seniors, teams and corporate groups for team-building exercises, schools, scouts, individuals and families. Additional information is available at, or by calling (865) 436-8283.

2 purported sons of Charles Manson out of battle over estate


Associated Press

Sunday, July 15

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two men who claimed the most direct line of descent to murder mastermind Charles Manson were eliminated Friday from the bitter battle over his estate.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismissed probate petitions by Matthew Lentz, a musician who claims he was fathered by Manson at a 1967 orgy, and Michael Brunner, whose mother was a member of the “Manson family” when he was born.

Because both men were adopted, which severs their legal link to Manson, their claims had been on shaky ground since another court dismissed their bid to claim his corpse after he died in November. Manson, 83, was serving a life sentence for orchestrating the 1969 killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and eight others.

Judge Clifford Klein narrowed the case down to Jason Freeman, a man who says he’s the cult leader’s grandson, and Michael Channels, a pen pal who peddled memorabilia he collected from Manson.

Lentz made his first court appearance in the case Friday and asked the judge to give him more time to find a lawyer. But Klein told him he had blown deadlines and his time was up.

Unlike Brunner, who asked to withdraw his petition because he didn’t think he could win, Lentz was still hopeful that a will naming him as beneficiary would give him a claim to the estate, which includes rights to songs Manson penned and other possible intellectual property.

The will named Ben Gurecki, another so-called murderabilia dealer and friend of Manson, as executor. The will had deficiencies such as only one signature from a witness to Manson signing it and Freeman’s lawyers said it was a fraud.

Without a lawyer to help Lentz navigate the legal system, he was lost and said he was relieved in some ways to be done with the court fight.

“I’m over my head,” Lentz said outside court, saying he was going to focus on his music and promote himself as Matthew Manson. “I never expected to get anything out of this.”

Brunner’s bowing out and Lentz’s loss leaves Freeman, a former cage fighter, and Channels.

Channels’ claim to the estate lies in a will that names him as executor and sole beneficiary and specifically disinherits any children or heirs.

The will’s authenticity and validity have been called into question, due to a conflict of interest because Channels is listed as a witness and his signature pre-dates Manson’s autograph by four days.

Freeman, whose father Charles Manson Jr. committed suicide, has the inside track. He already overcame challenges by the others in Kern County Superior Court to claim the remains of Manson from the morgue.

He held a simple funeral in the Central Valley and spread Manson’s ashes in March.

Channels and Lentz objected to the way Freeman handled the service.

Klein scheduled a hearing Dec. 14 to set a trial date.

‘Hotel Transylvania 3’ tops charts, ‘Skyscraper’ stumbles


AP Film Writer

Monday, July 16

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” has checked into the No. 1 spot at the box office in its opening weekend and left the Dwayne Johnson action thriller, “Skyscraper,” in the dust.

Sony Pictures estimated Sunday that the animated family movie earned $44.1 million from North American theaters. As the first in the franchise to open in the summer, it’s just slightly under the previous installment’s $48.5 million debut in September 2015.

Worldwide, “Hotel Transylvania 3” has already earned more than $100 million.

“It’s really terrific,” said Adrian Smith, Sony’s head of domestic distribution. “We’re positioned to take advantage of the valuable summer weekdays and there are six weeks of summer left.”

The successful series has grossed over $900 million worldwide to date.

Going into the weekend, experts expected a three-way race to the top between “Hotel Transylvania 3,” ”Skyscraper” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” but the family film won by a large margin.

“There haven’t been a lot of options for families this summer,” said comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “They become instant hits.”

Johnson’s “Skyscraper,” a rare original summer blockbuster, remained earthbound in its first weekend in North America. The Universal Pictures film brought in only $25.5 million domestically. “Skyscraper” cost a reported $125 million to produce, not accounting for marketing costs.

Johnson has been a consistent presence in movie theaters this year with both “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and “Rampage” prior to “Skyscraper.” Both previous films opened in the $35 million range, and while “Jumanji” went on to be a worldwide box office juggernaut, “Rampage” petered out domestically just under $100 million. As with “Rampage,” however, the studio is expecting the majority of “Skyscraper” profits to come from international audiences.

“‘Skyscraper’ is really engineered for a global release and it got a terrific start,” said Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “We have great faith in a more than terrific run at the domestic box office going forward.”

Internationally, “Skyscraper” grossed $40.4 million from 57 territories for a global total of $65.9 million.

Second place went to Disney and Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” which brought in an additional $28.8 million in its second weekend, down 62 percent from last week. It’s one of the steeper second week falls in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first “Ant-Man” fell 53 percent.

“Incredibles 2” took fourth place with $16.2 million and “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” rounded out the top five with $15.5 million.

A handful of smaller releases made notable splashes this weekend including Annapurna’s buzzy dystopian satire “Sorry to Bother You,” which opened in limited release last week and added 789 locations this weekend. It earned $4.3 million in its expansion for spot No. 7 on the charts.

The coming of age film “Eighth Grade” also scored top marks, and the highest per theater average of the year, with $252,284 from four theaters. The well-reviewed pic will expand nationwide in the coming weeks.

And documentaries continue to perform well too, including the Fred Rogers doc “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” which added $1.9 million from 868 theaters, and “Three Identical Strangers” which expanded to 167 theaters and grossed $1.2 million.

Estimated ticket sales are 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. “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation,” $44.1 million ($46.4 million international).

2. “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” $28.8 million ($35.3 million international).

3. “Skyscraper,” $25.5 million ($40.4 million international).

4. “Incredibles 2,” $16.2 million ($33.3 million international).

5. “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” $15.5 million ($26.7 million international).

6. “The First Purge,” $9.1 million ($6.2 million international).

7. “Sorry to Bother You,” $4.3 million.

8. “Sicario: Day of the Soldado,” $3.9 million ($1.7 million international).

9. “Uncle Drew,” $3.2 million ($70,000 international).

10. “Ocean’s 8,” $2.9 million ($4.3 million international).


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

1. “Dying to Survive,” $66.6 million.

2. “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation,” $46.4 million.

3. “Hidden Man,” $44.8 million.

4. “Skyscraper,” $40.4 million.

5. “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” $35.3 million.

6. “Incredibles 2,” $33.3 million.

7. “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” $26.7 million.

8. “Asura,” $6.6 million.

9. “The First Purge,” $6.2 million.

10. “Ocean’s 8,” $4.3 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:

FILE – In this April 23, 2018 file photo, Scarlett Johansson arrives at the world premiere of "Avengers: Infinity War" in Los Angeles. Johansson has pulled out of the film “Rub & Tug” after her plans to portray a transgender man prompted a backlash. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File) – In this April 23, 2018 file photo, Scarlett Johansson arrives at the world premiere of "Avengers: Infinity War" in Los Angeles. Johansson has pulled out of the film “Rub & Tug” after her plans to portray a transgender man prompted a backlash. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

This 1979 photo shows transgender man Dante "Tex" Gill, flanked by masked Frank Cocchiara, left, and Donna Potts while leaving the Public Safety Building in Pittsburgh, Pa. Actress Scarlett Johansson has pulled out of the film “Rub & Tug” after her plans to portray Gill prompted a backlash. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP) 1979 photo shows transgender man Dante "Tex" Gill, flanked by masked Frank Cocchiara, left, and Donna Potts while leaving the Public Safety Building in Pittsburgh, Pa. Actress Scarlett Johansson has pulled out of the film “Rub & Tug” after her plans to portray Gill prompted a backlash. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

Staff & Wire Reports