AP NEWS

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March 19, 2020 GMT

MOVIE THEATERS REQUEST BAILOUT FROM CONGRESS DUE TO VIRUS

NEW YORK (AP) — Faced with a lengthy shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, movie theaters are requesting relief from the U.S. government. The National Association of Theater Owners, the trade group that represents most of the industry’s cinemas, said Wednesday that it’s asking for immediate relief measures for its chains and its 150,000 employees. The theaters are requesting loan guarantees for exhibitors, tax benefits for employees and funds to compensate for lost ticket sales and concessions. NATO said the movie theater industry is “uniquely vulnerable” to the crisis.

ARE CELEBS JUMPING TO THE HEAD OF THE VIRUS TESTING LINE?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Celebrities, politicians and professional athletes faced a backlash this week as several revealed that they had been tested for the coronavirus, even when they didn’t have a fever or other symptoms. That’s fueling a perception that the wealthy and famous have been able to jump to the head of the line to get tested while others have been turned away. But the concerns over preferential treatment underscore a fundamental truth about inequalities baked into the American health care system — those with financial means can often receive a different level of service.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN TRANSFERRED TO STATE PRISON

NEW YORK (AP) — Harvey Weinstein was transferred to a state prison in New York on Wednesday as he begins to serve a 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault in his landmark #MeToo case. The disgraced film mogul, who turns 68 on Thursday, is locked up at the maximum security Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo, according to state prison officials. He is known behind bars as inmate No. 20B0584. The prison, six hours by car from Manhattan, is likely just a temporary stop for Weinstein. While he’s there, he’ll be evaluated to determine which state prison facility meets his security, medical, mental health and other needs.

BASEMENT CAM CONNECTS ‘TODAY’ SHOW’S SAVANNAH GUTHRIE

NEW YORK (AP) - Savannah Guthrie felt some sniffles and worked at home Wednesday. Since she’s co-host of NBC’s ‘Today’ show, that required something more than a laptop and cellphone. NBC provided her with a makeshift studio for her suburban New York basement. It is just one illustration of how the media has had to adjust to new realities created by the coronavirus. The show’s Al Roker and Tom Costello also filed reports from home Wednesday. NBC dropped off lights, a backdrop, a television monitor and TelePrompter at Guthrie’s home, and left it mostly to her husband to run.

BRINGING IT HOME WITH BACON

UNDATED (AP) — Kevin Bacon is trying to spread six degrees of safety by encouraging his followers to stay home. Bacon took to his couch and his Twitter account to make a video saying he’s staying home to protect others from the coronavirus outbreak. He suggests others do the same, and tag six people they name with the hashtag #IStayHomeFor. Bacon says among the people he’s staying home for is his wife, actress Kyra Sedgewick. He says, “Since we’re all connected by various degrees — trust me I know — we can work together to stay home and spread the word.”

PLAYWRIGHTS FIGHT BACK

UNDATED (AP) — The Dramatists Guild is pushing back against any theater producers asking playwrights to return advances for shows that have been canceled due to the coronavirus. The guild issued a statement saying, “Stop scapegoating the dramatists at this unprecedented time.” Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage tweeted that some playwrights were being asked to return payments. Nottage says while she’s “totally sympathetic to the plight of theaters,” asking artists for money back at this time is “tone deaf.”