U.S. President Donald Trump heads to Northern California on Saturday to see first-hand the grief and devastation from the deadliest U.S. wildfire in a century, as confusion continued over how many people remain unaccounted for.
Authorities have confirmed a new death toll of 71 and say they are trying to locate 1,011 people, even as they stressed that not all are believed missing.
California's outgoing and incoming governors, both Democrats and vocal critics of Trump, planned to join the president Saturday. Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom welcomed Trump's visit, declaring it's time "to pull together for the people of California."
The blaze that started Nov. 8 all but razed the town of Paradise, population 27,000, and heavily damaged the outlying communities of Magalia and Concow. It destroyed more than 9,800 homes and at its height displaced 52,000 people.
Problems with escape plan
When strong winds pushed flames into Paradise at three kilometres per minute around 8 a.m. that day, emergency personnel and locals realized escape plans that were crafted after a 2008 blaze would not work.
Their plans for a staggered evacuation, one zone at a time to avoid panic and chaos, "went out the window" and everyone was ordered to leave, Paradise emergency operations co-ordinator Jim Broshears said.
The Napa Valley Register reports that a full-scale evacuation order was issued at 9:17 a.m., but by then the fire was already consuming the town.
With the fire toppling power lines and mobile towers, and residents jamming networks with calls, about 60 per cent of CodeRED alerts were delivered to phones and mobile apps.
Between 25 and 50 per cent of residents had signed up for the optional system, said Troy Harper of OnSolve, the company that provides the service, meaning 30 per cent of households, at best, got alerts.
Details of Trump's itinerary had not been released late Friday.
This patch of California, a former Gold Rush region in the Sierra Nevada foothills, is to some extent Trump country, with Trump beating Hillary Clinton in Butte County by four percentage points in 2016.
But Trump has stirred resentment among survivors over comments he made two days after the disaster on Twitter, then reiterated on the eve of his visit.
In an interview taped Friday and scheduled for broadcast on Fox News Sunday, Trump said he was surprised to see images of firefighters removing dried brush near a fire, adding, "This should have been all raked out."
Asked if he thought climate change contributed to the fires, he said: "Maybe it contributes a little bit. The big problem we have is management."
Those comments echoed his initial reaction to the fires Nov. 10 when he blamed the wildfires on poor forest management and threatened then to withhold federal payments. Trump subsequently approved a federal disaster declaration.
"If you insult people, then you go visit them, how do you think you're going to be accepted? You're not going to have a parade," Maggie Crowder of Magalia said this week outside an informal shelter at a Walmart store in Chico.
But Stacy Lazzarino, who voted for Trump, said it would be good for the president to see the devastation up close: "I think by maybe seeing it, he's going to be like 'Oh, my goodness,' and it might start opening people's eyes."
Firefighters returning to a command centre in the neighbouring city of Chico after a 24-hour shift Friday were reluctant to weigh in on Trump's visit, but some shared their thoughts.
Federally controlled forest land
Nick Shawkey, a CalFire captain from rural Northern California, said Trump's visit was the mark of a good leader. But to imply the state was to blame for mismanaging the forests was based on a misunderstanding, because much of the forest land in California is controlled by the U.S. Forest Service, he said.
"The thing he's tweeting about is his property," Shawkey said.
Paul Briones, a firefighter from Bakersfield, predicted Trump's visit would be a huge boost to the community, showing "that this on a national level is a priority."
More than 5,500 fire personnel were battling the blaze that covered 590 square kilometres and was 50 per cent contained officials said.
Firefighters were racing against time with a red flag warning issued for Saturday night into Sunday, including winds up to 80 km/h and low humidity. Rain was forecast for mid-week, which could help firefighters but also complicate the challenging search for remains.
"It's a disheartening situation," Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told a news conference Friday. "As much as I wish we could get through this before the rains come, I don't know if that's possible."
List of missing 'dynamic'
The number of people unaccounted for grew to more than 1,000 on Friday. But Honea acknowledged the list was "dynamic" and could easily contain duplicate names and unreliable spellings of names.
The roster probably includes some who fled the blaze and do not realize they've been reported missing, he said.
"We are still receiving calls. We're still reviewing emails," Honea said. "This is a massive undertaking. We have hundreds and hundreds of people working on this."
Families searching for loved ones have scoured shelters and social media and say they understand the chaos of the situation, But the wait for information is agonizing.
For one family, good news arrived by telephone.
Missing tracked down at shelter
Monica Whipple said Friday she was boarding a plane back to North Carolina from Northern California when she got a call two days ago that her mother, Donna Price, had been found alive. Price had been presumed missing but was tracked down at a shelter.
"It was so crazy, I started crying in front of everybody," Whipple said. "She's doing OK."
For too many others, the wait to learn a loved one's fate has ended with bad news.
Sol Bechtold searched for his 75-year-old mother, Caddy, posting flyers of her on bulletin boards and searching for her in shelters.
On Thursday, Bechtold went to the Butte County Sheriff to provide DNA samples. As he was driving back to his home in Pleasanton, Calif., he got a call from an officer with the coroner's unit of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office and was told his mother's remains were found in her home in the community of Magalia. The home had burned down to its concrete foundation.
"It's hard to realize your mother is gone," Bechtold said.
Family members remembered her personality, her wonderful heart and great smile, he said. She raised four children.
"It's been a pretty emotional 24 hours. Lots of tears," he said.
Sometimes, athletes have to fall before they can achieve greatness. In Brad Gushue's case, it was a literal fall — an infamous face-plant — that would turn out to be a turning point in his career.
The pride of Newfoundland and Labrador burst onto the curling scene in 2006, winning an Olympic gold medal at the young age of 25. He figured the victories would continue to roll in. But they didn't. His breakthrough in Turin was followed by years and years of getting close but never winning the Brier or returning to the Olympics.
Then came The Fall.
The gruesome scene, which happened on Halloween 2015, was worthy of a horror movie. During a Grand Slam of Curling quarter-final in Truro, N.S., Gushue squatted in the house to better size up teammate Mark Nichols' incoming shot. As the rocks collided and Gushue rose to his feet, he lost his footing and fell, smashing his face directly into the ice. On national television.
Watch the fall heard 'round the curling world:
The impact opened up a nasty cut above his eye and resulted in a concussion. Gushue was rushed to hospital, stitched up and, incredibly, returned to the game.
Watch Gushue pull a Willis Reed:
He went on to lose 5-2 to Steve Laycock but still had enough sense of humour to poke fun at his gory injury.
Watch Gushue make a pretty funny joke about his face:
The cut eventually healed, but the effects of the concussion lingered long into the season. On top of that, Gushue later suffered a groin/hip injury that bothered him for a long time.
The next 14 months turned out to be what Gushue described as the "toughest" of his curling career. There was even a period when he wasn't sure he'd throw another rock.
A lot has changed since then.
This week, almost three years to the day since that epic fall, Gushue and his teammates are back in Truro, shooting for another Grand Slam title. Many consider the team from St. John's to be the best in the world. In the time that has passed since their skip's face-plant, they've captured back-to-back Brier titles (in 2017 and '18), along with the 2017 world championship and several Slam titles.
In some ways, the Truro tumble turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Prior to that season, Gushue had never missed a game to injury. In the year after the fall he missed 47.
Looking back, Gushue says all that time away from the game he loves gave him a new appreciation and understanding for what he does. He'd always been a taskmaster, expecting perfection from himself and his teammates. But sometimes, he realized, that need for perfection got in the way of him being able to enjoy moments on the ice.
"Up until that fall, the only thing that provided some perspective was when my mom got sick," Gushue said. "Curling was everything."
Gushue's mom, Maureen, was battling cancer during his 2006 Olympic run. His tear-jerking cell phone call to her back home in Newfoundland after winning gold in Italy is one of the lasting moments of those Games.
Watch Brad phone home:
That experience provided some perspective, but Gushue pushed on and returned to his intense ways in the years that followed.
He's a husband and father now, and he's accomplished just about everything you can in his sport. Better still, Gushue is playing with an ease and freedom on the ice that he believes he never could have reached if it wasn't for that awful fall.
"I think it's made me grow as an athlete and as a person," he says, "in every way possible."
“I might or might not have thrown an ice cream cone at Meryl Streep. In a scene, ’cause she made me mad,” Witherspoon told co-host Robin Roberts. “It’s going to be really good. And I think it’s one of the top moments of my entire career. For real.”
Above all, Witherspoon — and Streep for that matter — was most impressed with her aim. “And I hit her! Like, I nailed it!” she bragged. “She turned around and she was like, ‘Yeah you got me.'”
When ET spoke to Witherspoon earlier this month, she reiterated how exciting the scene was to shoot.
“I did that!” she said at the time. “It’s a top five moment in my career for sure.”
Though she couldn’t reveal the plot of the HBO show’s second season, Witherspoon did share the origins of the story.
“The amazing author Liane Moriarty wrote a follow-up novella that will never be published, but it gave us the basis for what is going to be the entire season two and it’s so good,” she said on GMA. “We were all just excited. I think you can tell when you watch the show that we just deeply love each other and we were having a lot of fun.”
In addition to Big Little Lies, Witherspoon is also busy promoting her book, Whiskey in a Teacup, which drops Sept. 18.
“Well my grandmother used to say, ‘Southern women are like whiskey in a teacup.’ They’re sort of beautiful and ornamental and put together on the outside, but they’re really strong and fiery on the inside. And it’s true!” she said of the book’s title. “… I just learned a lot about being a part of a community and part of a family from my grandparents, who were just the biggest influence in my life.”
On top of all of her projects, Witherspoon is also a mom of three — Ava, 19, Deacon, 14, and Tennessee, 5 — and currently in the midst of the busy back to school season.
“I see all the people post the cute pictures of their kids going to kindergarten, [but] mine won’t let me take a picture. There’s like a picture with [the sign] over his head,” she lamented. “I’ve got one in kindergarten, one starting high school and one started college. I’m not going to lie, I was a little stressed. I was a little stressed this year.”
“They approached me with the idea,” she told Roberts. “This was this empowered moment, a feminist moment back in the early 2000s, wouldn’t it be interesting to revisit her as she’s turning 40 and she what challenges she’s facing? It’s really a good idea, so I’m excited!”
Witherspoon also shared her excitement about the flick when ET spoke to her earlier this month.
“I got to go to a meeting the other day and we talked about all the new plot points and all the characters and some returning characters and some new characters,” she said at the time. “…I mean, I got so excited just in the meeting. I was like, ‘This is going to be good.'”
Legally Blonde 3 is set to premiere on Valentine’s Day 2020. In the meantime, check out ET’s interview with Witherspoon:
Lost has cemented its place on the list of all-time great TV shows, but for Evangeline Lilly, not all of the memories from her time on the series are good ones.
Fresh off her starring turn in Ant-Man and the Wasp, the newly-minted Marvel hero sat down for a recent episode of The Lost Boys podcast, where she got very candid about making the mysterious ABC drama — including several traumatic on-set moments that led to her putting her foot down when it came to filming nude scenes.
“In season 3, I’d had a bad experience on set with being basically cornered into doing a scene partially naked, and I felt had no choice in the matter,” Lilly recalled. “And I was mortified and I was trembling and when it finished, I was crying my eyes out and I had to go on do a very formidable, very strong scene thereafter.”
“In season 4, another scene came up where Kate was undressing and I fought very hard to have that scene be under my control and I failed to control it again,” she added. “And so I then said, ‘That’s it, no more. You can write whatever you want—I won’t do it. I will never take my clothes off on this show again.’ and I didn’t.”
The actress also recalled going toe-to-toe with writers and producers over her character, Kate’s, motivations and actions, particularly, the “obnoxious” storyline that revolved around her love triangle with Jack (Matthew Fox) and Sawyer (Josh Holloway).
“At the beginning, she was kinda cool, and then as the show went on, she became more and more predictable and obnoxious,” Lilly mused. “I felt like my character went from being anonymous—really having her own story and her own journey and her own agendas—to chasing to men around the island and that irritated the shit out of me. And I did throw scripts across rooms when I’d read them because I would get very frustrated by the diminishing amount of autonomy she had and the diminishing amount of her own story there was to play.”
Ultimately, the actress said, her dreams for the character were bigger than what she got to play out on screen. “I wanted her to be better, because she was an icon for strength and autonomy for women, and I thought we could have done better than that.”
“The great thing about that is that she was flawed, and that’s so important,” she added. “If you don’t have flaws in the women on screen, then what you’re telling the world is that women have perfect if they’re going to be lovable. And if you have flawed women on screen who are also icons of femininity, who are also beloved, then it gives us all permission to be flawed.”
See more from Lilly, including how her Wasp character may team up with Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel in the upcoming final Avengers movie, in the video below!
Melissa McCarthy’s upcoming comedy Life of the Party marks the third time she’s starred in a film directed by her husband, Ben Falcone, which may be why shooting the film’s sex scene may have been a little easier for the couple.
In Life of the Party, McCarthy stars as wife and mother whose husband unexpectedly asks her for a divorce. Suddenly single, she decides to go back to college alongside her daughter, and tries to experience everything she missed in her younger years — including getting hot and heavy with a hot younger man (played by Luke Benward), in the university library.
For the steamy scene, McCarthy’s husband was right in the middle directing all the action, which the actress admitted was a little bizarre.
McCarthy and Falcone spent some time chatting (and drinking) with ET’s Kevin Frasier at during CinemaCon 2018 at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Tuesday, and she opened up about the strange timing of when they shot the love scene.
“When we have our big intimate scene in the library, it was on our wedding anniversary,” McCarthy said, recalling how Benward jokingly wished her a happy anniversary before going in for one of the scene’s kisses.
“It was so creepy, but it was pretty funny,” she joked, adding that her husband’s directorial suggestions made the whole thing stranger. “He was like, ‘Grab his butt! Happy anniversary!'”
In Life of the Party, McCarthy is joined by an impressive cast of funny women including Maya Rudolph, Julie Bowen, Gillian Jacobs, Debby Ryan, Heidi Gardner and even pop icon Christina Aguilera, who plays herself.
Recently, Aguilera jumped the passenger seat of James Corden’s SUV for a hilarious segment on his Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special, and they were joined by a surprise appearance from McCarthy, who dropped in to perform Redman’s verse from Aguilera’s hit track “Dirrty.”
Check out Aguilera’s hilarious “Carpool Karaoke” adventure in the video below.
Life of the Party hits theaters May 18.
While Alec Baldwin didn’t turn up to reprise his recurring impression of President Donald Trump, this weekend’s Saturday Night Live didn’t slack when it came to getting some huge celeb guest stars – kicking things off with Ben Stiller making a surprise appearance as Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Stiller’s Cohen nervously joined Attorney General Jeff Sessions (Kate McKinnon) and Vice President Mike Pence (Beck Bennett) days after the FBI raided his office in connection with Cohen paying adult film actress Stormy Daniels $ 130,000, allegedly to buy her silence regarding her claim that she had a sexual affair with the president.
In the amazing cold open, Sessions and Pence sympathized with Cohen – who laments, “You know how much evidence I have in my office? I’m Donald Trump’s lawyer. I have an entire hard drive that’s just labeled ‘Yikes!'” – before sending him off to speak with special investigator Robert Mueller.
Stiller was lead into a room with little more than a chair and a table with a polygraph machine. Moments later, Robert De Niro stepped out (with some pretty amazing facial prosthetics) as Mueller, who strapped Stiller into the lie detector for an amazing re-creation of one of the most memorable scenes from their blockbuster 2000 comedy Meet the Parents.
After some warm-up questions, Mueller told Cohen about how his investigation has been using codenames for the politicians they’ve been looking into. For example, he said Trump’s codename used to be “Putin’s Little Bitch,” but it’s since changed to “Stormy’s Little Bitch.”
As for Cohen, his codename was simply “Dead Man Walking.”
The two also made a direct reference to the lie detector scene in Meet the Parents when Mueller asked Cohen if he’d ever threatened anyone.
“Directly? No, but let’s just say I’ve cut a lot of letters out of a lot of magazines,” Stiller’s Cohen said. “I was just tryin’ to milk some information outta people. So what?”
“Did you say ‘milk?”” De Niro’s Mueller asked.
“Yeah, like with a cow, or a goat. Or a cat,” Stiller’s Cohen replied, trying to stifle a laugh. “I mean you can milk anything with nipples.”
“Really? I have nipples, can you milk me, Mr. Cohen?” De Niro’s Mueller asked to the cheer of the audience.
Fitting in one last reference to the beloved comedy, Mueller promised Cohen, “We’re gonna catch all you little fockers.”
Saturday Night Live returns with Atlanta creator and star Donald Glover serving as host – while also performing as the night’s musical guest under his stage Childish Gambino – on May 5 at 11:30 p.m. ET/8:30 p.m. PT on NBC.
Simon Pegg is opening up about Star Trek Beyond’s lackluster box office performance, and has some specific ideas regarding why the movie failed to connect with audiences as well as its predecessors had.
Speaking with Geek Exchange recently, the actor — who played Montgomery “Scotty” Scott in the rebooted series and co-wrote the third film — said he felt the film was “poorly marketed,” which resulted in it under-performing financially.
“If you look at a film like Suicide Squad, that was around for such a long time before it finally came out and people were so aware of it. Whereas with Star Trek Beyond, it was left too late before they started their marketing push,” Pegg shared. “It still did great business, but it was disappointing compared to [Star Trek Into Darkness].”
Beyond, which hit theaters in July 2016, had a budget of $ 185 million, but only managed to make back $ 158.8 million domestically and $ 343.6 million worldwide.
By comparison, Into Darkness earned a worldwide box office gross of $ 467.3 million off a $ 190 million budget.
Some fans of the franchise have said the film’s first trailer — which was set the Beastie Boy’s “Sabotage” and focused primarily on the movie’s action sequences instead of its characters or levity — turned them off to the idea of watching it.
According to Pegg, the trailer actually spoiled the movie’s major climactic scene.
“I was really angry about that,” he said. “[The trailer] used ‘Sabotage,’ which was our surprise moment in the end. It was supposed to be a very fun and heightened twist, and something that was a big surprise and they blew it in the first trailer, which really annoyed me.”
Pegg also lamented the fact that the promos “made the film look like a boneheaded action film.”
While Pegg was disappointed about the film’s advertising campaign, the 48-year-old actor — who is currently appearing in Steven Speilberg’s new sci-fi epic Ready Player One — he appreciated the love the film ended up getting from many fans.
“From a professional standpoint for me, it was such a great experience in the end, because the critical response that we did get was exactly what [co-writer] Doug Jung and I and [director] Justin Lin had hoped for.”
As for the upcoming fourth film in the franchise, Pegg explained that there is “a script that’s been written.” However, things are somewhat up in the air amid the news that Quentin Tarantino could be involved with the creation of the next installment in the franchise.
“There’s also the story of Quentin Tarantino coming and chatting with J.J. [Abrams] about an idea that he’s had for a long time. That idea is going into the writer’s room to be looked at,” Pegg said. “I think it might take something like him to restart it.”
The actor admitted that Tarantino penning a Star Trek script could actually be “an interesting proposition.”
“I don’t know if that means everybody will be blowing each other’s heads off with phasers and calling Klingons mother f*****s, but, who knows?” Pegg said. “That could be fun.”
However, before any iteration of a new Star Trek hits the big screen, Pegg will also be starring alongside Tom Cruise in the upcoming Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
ET’s Cameron Mathison caught up with Pegg at the Hollywood premiere of Ready Player One on Monday, and he opened up about working alongside Cruise for the third time in the series, and the wild stunts the movie promises — including one that led to Cruise getting seriously hurt.
“It was almost a year [of shooting]. We took some time out [of production] because Tom broke his foot, but he recovered in a bizarrely quick way as only he probably would,” Pegg joked. “[But] it’s crazy what we do in this one. I mean, it’s falling off things again, but higher and more dangerous.”
According to Pegg, the take showing Cruise’s injury is actually in the film. “Your foot shouldn’t touch your knee, not on the same leg. But it did and it’s gross,” he joked.
While he said he’s impressed by Cruise’s dedication, he’s concerned about the star’s determination to one-up himself in each Mission: Impossible film.
“I worry because every time we do one he has to kind of raise the bar and at some point that’s going to mean death,” Pegg said.
Ready Player One comes out March 29. Mission: Impossible – Fallout explodes into theaters July 27.