10 incredibly useful online sites you didn’t know about until now

If you had to guess, how many different websites do you think exists in the world today? From simple blogs to complex businesses, the internet spans the gamut dispensing and gathering a myriad of information. Keep your answer in your head because, at the very end of this article, I’ll tell the closest estimate we have.

Luckily, all kinds of websites exist that offer free ways to perform simple yet essential tasks. These websites can tell you what’s streaming, clean up your email, fix your grammar, edit your photos, and test your router, and most of them require only one or two steps. Here are some lesser-known sites you’ll use time and time again.

 

1. A search site just for streaming movies and programs

You want to watch a movie. What’s the easiest way to find out if that movie is available on Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, HBO Now, CW, Starz, Showtime, PlayStation, or another streaming service? Most importantly, if it’s free on Netflix or HBO Now, then there is no need to pay to rent it on iTunes or Amazon.

 

Who knew that browsing online movies could be so arduous? Actually, finding which streaming service best suits your channel and programming needs is in itself very confusing. Click here for a streaming chart that lets you see exactly what channels are available per service.

 

The site JustWatch sifts through almost every streaming service out there to find a specific title or show you what’s new on a particular service. In just a few clicks, JustWatch will tell you where to find it, whether it’s available on a subscription service, and how much it costs to rent or buy. Since platforms like Netflix vary around the world, you can also search by country for available content. Click here to check out this streaming service’s search site for yourself.

 

2. Simple way to send large files privately and securely

It’s bound to happen. You have a large file that you need to email. Your email program chokes on the file’s size and your service provider politely posts a message that says, “The file size exceeds the limit allowed.” Thanks.

To the rescue is Send. It lets you share files in a fast, safe, and temporary way. Upload a file – up to a gigabyte, in almost any format – and Send will create a URL, which you send to the recipient. Once the file is downloaded somewhere else, it’s deleted from the internet, and it automatically vanishes after 24 hours.

 

This, as well as Firefox’s respected encryption software, ensures that your file won’t fall into the hands of some hacker. You can also check and see whether the file was downloaded on the other end, so you don’t have to wait for the recipient to send confirmation. Click here for this file sending site you’ll want to bookmark now because the time will come when you need it.

 

3. Make sure hackers are not lurking in your router

You’re using internet security software. You have secured your wireless network. You’ve enabled your network’s firewall. You’ve got complex passwords that contain an upper case letter, a number, a sign, and the name of your 4th grade teacher. All done, right?

 

One of the most overlooked vulnerabilities is your router. Hackers can break into this device as easily as any other, a process called “DNS hijacking,” and most victims wouldn’t think to check whether it’s secure.

 

This site offers a free service that’s specially designed to scan your router for break-ins. You may be surprised how easy and fast this diagnostic is; just click the “Check Your Router” icon, and you’ll receive a near-instantaneous report.

Click here to test your router now for any vulnerabilities.

 

4. Write like your English teacher wants you to

Ernest Hemingway was great at a lot of things: hunting wild animals, out-drinking his friends, and writing very concise sentences. Hemingway was famous for his stripped-down literary style, omitting any adjective and passive verb that wasn’t necessary.

Hemingway Editor is designed to mimic his minimalist prose. Copy and paste a few paragraphs into the site’s text box, and the editor will outline problematic parts such as long sentences, obscure words, and confusing passages.

For an all-encompassing grammar checker, Grammarly has taken homes and offices by storm. You can paste a document and have it checked at the Grammarly site. The app and browser extension works across programs and platforms, pointing out your split infinitives in email, word processors, web sites, or on social media. After all, using bad grammar on Facebook can create a tense situation.

5. For the tinkerers among us

Apps, browsers, devices, smart gadgets – they all come in different forms, and they don’t all cooperate with each other. We often struggle to hook up one service to another, especially when they were created by rival developers. Sure, some adept people can easily figure out in minutes how to tell their Amazon Echo to start their Roomba vacuum and lock up the house. But then, there’s this gem for the rest of us.

 

IFTT is short for “if this then that,” and the site is designed to help different devices and services talk to each other. These so-called “recipes” can make your gadgets do things as in a chain of events. Want your smart lights to blink three times when you are tagged in a photo on Facebook? Or how about getting a notification on your phone when your favorite artist tweets about tickets to a concert?

 

IFTTT can automate web-based tasks, and you can set up “triggers” and “applets” to set certain behaviors in motion. If you’re ready to take your tech to the next level, click here to learn more about creating your own recipes.

 

6. Powerful photo editor that doesn’t require a graphics degree

Adobe’s Creative Cloud boasts some of the most sophisticated multimedia software on the planet. But not everybody wants to muddle through Photoshop, with its complex suite and thousands of minute visual options. That’s probably why Adobe acquired Aviary, the simple-to-use site that can turn ordinary images into photographic masterpieces.

 

Aviary has many familiar tools, such as the cool filters of Instagram and the corrective tools of Apple Photos. But Aviary has a particularly friendly interface and can be used both on your desktop and portable device. If you like to edit photos, you’re going to love this site. Click here and prepare to be amazed at what you can do with a photo in only a few clicks.

 

7. A truly boring site that you’ll tap into a lot

Many people struggle to convert a Word document into a PDF. Or they have a WAV file that they need to condense into an MP3. What about a PNG that you want in JPG form, an XLS to CSV, or EPUB to MOBI?

 

Don’t sweat it. I’ve used this site for years. It is designed to handle all sorts of file format conversions, from one type to another type and back again. Simply upload your file, decide the output format, and click “Convert,” and the website will do the rest. This is a real godsend if you work with lots of different media.

Click here for a functional site that simply does what is says it will do and nothing more.

 

8. Be the inbox envy of your friends

If you are failing at obtaining the zen-like “zero inbox” status, this site might help. It doesn’t take long for a busy person to accumulate a few thousand emails. As I write this, I have 156 unread messages waiting for my attention.

When you apply Clean Email to your inbox, you receive a detailed (but readable) report, with sophisticated data about your correspondence. You learn about the senders, your response rate, and which emails can be safely eliminated. Clean Email is free for the first thousand emails, and then there’s a monthly subscription fee. You can also use it across multiple accounts.

 

Or you can do what I have done to obtain zero inbox status. Simply delete all the inbox email and see who reaches again because they will if it’s that important.

 

9. Get your stuff organized

Whether it’s your baseball card collection or bowling league teammates, you’re keeping a list of things. When it comes to technology, lists can be put into a program called a database. The individual items are called records. Once you enter the records into a database, you can categorize, identify, total, and sort all kinds of ways.

Using a secret URL, Sodadb gives you a template to build an online database, and you can manage up to 10,000 individual records for free. There’s no signup or subscription fee; you don’t even have to sign into anything.

 

Sodadb (which stands for “Simple Online Database”) arranges your data and keeps it safe from hackers, using SSL security. You could use this online database for business, collectibles, sports teams, gifts – anything you like.

 

10. Print online articles without all the ads

You would think, after all these decades, it would be easier to print pages off the internet. But printers and websites have never been on good terms, and you never know what kind of garbled papers will scroll out of your machine.

 

Print Friendly takes the headache out of this process: Just paste a URL into the field and hit “Preview.” Print Friendly trims away a lot of the extraneous information and gives you the meat of the page, and you can review your document as a PDF before hitting

“Print.” The service works better for some websites than for others, but it’s shockingly effective, especially for software that’s free.

Click here to save yourself from printer frustration as well as wasted ink and paper.

 

Alternatively, you can use the browser extension CleanPrint. Technically, this is not a website but it works like a charm. Click here for the download links for the major browsers.

 

Here’s the answer to the number of websites in the world today. InternetLiveStats has been tracking this data for many years. There is a live ticker right on their site. At the time of writing, that number was 1,331,525,090. You can click here to see the most recent number of websites around the world.

What questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.

 

Copyright 2018, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

COURTESY: Fox News

‘Black Panther,’ already a cultural moment, is about to shatter movie business assumptions

Trailer for Marvel’s “Black Panther,” starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett.

  

The fictional African land of Wakanda, which outsiders wrongly assume to be a Third World country, is the most technologically advanced nation on Earth in the Marvel comic book universe. This weekend, the new film about Wakanda’s protector, Black Panther, is also poised to destroy long-held assumptions about the movie business.

All signs say Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther,” being released Thursday evening by Walt Disney Co., is having a cultural moment fueled by massive pent-up demand for what is expected to be the first global superhero blockbuster to feature a mostly black cast and an African American director.

 

The $200-million film — directed by Ryan Coogler (“Creed”) and starring Chadwick Boseman as the titular hero — is expected to gross at least $150 million in the United States and Canada through Monday, according to people who have reviewed audience surveys, putting it on track to become one of Marvel Studios’ most valuable franchises.

Such a strong domestic result would set a record for a film directed by an African American filmmaker. It would also represent an unprecedented opening for a Marvel Studios movie that is not a sequel or an “Avengers” film, easily beating the first “Iron Man,” “Thor,” “Captain America” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” pictures.

Crucially, “Black Panther” could help shake up the way Hollywood does business by defying assumptions about films with predominantly black casts and filmmakers. Most movies with black casts, producers and directors — including the highly profitable “Girls Trip” and Tyler Perry productions — are made with low budgets and marketed to American audiences, not international crowds. “Black Panther,” by contrast, is getting a global release and marketing push from Disney.

 

“There aren’t many examples of African American directors being given that kind of opportunity to make a big-budget movie with a black cast and a global marketing campaign,” said Darnell Hunt, dean of social sciences at UCLA. “It’s a great opportunity to demonstrate the box-office power of this type of storytelling. This film, on both the cultural and economic fronts, has the potential to be a powerhouse.”

 

According to Fandango, “Black Panther” has pre-sold more tickets than any other superhero movie at the same point in its life cycle. The film has energized black moviegoers, many of whom bought their tickets weeks in advance and tweeted their excitement about it.

 

The movie has also inspired black charities and celebrities, including actress Octavia Spencer and Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Clinton McDonald, to host free screenings of the film in African American communities. Rapper T.I. teamed with Walmart to give free tickets to fans in Atlanta for an advanced screening, one of five screenings that the retail giant set up for this week in different cities.

 

Spencer, who does not appear in the film, wrote a Jan. 31 post on Instagram saying she planned to buy out a theater in Mississippi “in an underserved community there to ensure that all our brown children can see themselves as a superhero.”

 

Marvel and its Burbank-based owner, Disney, have taken steps to target African American audiences. The studio enlisted rap superstar Kendrick Lamar to create the original soundtrack, including contributions from artists such as SZA, Khalid and Vince Staples. Lamar recently performed at a college football halftime show to promote a new trailer for the movie.

 

Other films have already proved that diverse casting pays off at the box office. Universal Pictures’ “The Fate of the Furious,” directed by F. Gary Gray, who is African American, grossed $1.24 billion in 2017, mostly outside North America. Jordan Peele’s satirical horror film ‘Get Out’ grossed $255 million at the box office last year and scored four Oscar nominations, including best picture.

 

African Americans are a powerful underserved market for Hollywood, making up about 15% of frequent moviegoers, while constituting 12% of the general population, according to the Motion Picture Assn. of America. Still, only six of the top 100 films released in 2017 had black directors, according to a study by USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released in January.

 

“Audiences of color are driving box office and they’re driving ratings,” Hunt said. “Hollywood, if it wants to remain viable, will need to produce what the audience wants, and the audience is becoming more diverse by the day.”

 

Yet Marvel has previously been criticized for not giving lead roles to minorities and women. Now the studio is starting to address the lack of superhero films with leads who are not white men, including upcoming projects such us “Captain Marvel,” starring Brie Larson, and a Black Widow movie with Scarlett Johansson that is in development.

Marvel and Disney declined to comment.

 

While there have been superhero movies starring African Americans, such as Wesley Snipes in the “Blade” films and Will Smith in “Hancock,” “Black Panther,” in particular, is tapping into pent-up demand. Though the character of Black Panther (real name: T’Challa) was created in the 1960s, he has never had his own movie. Boseman made his debut as the character in the 2016 blockbuster “Captain America: Civil War.”

 

“It just seems like this is becoming a major event,” said Jeff Bock, a box-office analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “People forget how few movies there are for African American audiences, so when you combine that audience with the regular Marvel crowd, of course this is going to be huge.”

 

The likely success of “Black Panther” comes at a pivotal time for Disney, which paid $4 billion for Marvel Entertainment in 2009. Disney has enjoyed an unmatched string of successes from the Marvel franchise, with multiple interconnecting story lines converging in this year’s superhero mashup, “Avengers: Infinity War.” After mining its most famous characters to great effect at the box office, Marvel needs to tap fresh, less well-known characters to build its audience and pave the way for the company’s future.

“It’s about keeping up with the times and putting characters into story lines that are relevant,” Bock said. “They’ve got to continue to take risks.”

 

Among Disney’s stable of brands, Marvel has in some ways been overshadowed by Lucasfilm and its “Star Wars” property in recent years. Three “Star Wars” movies have come out since 2015, and Disney is placing even bigger bets on the brand — developing two new film series and several TV shows based on the space opera. And there’s the theme park business: Disney is building $1-billion “Star Wars”-themed areas at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, projects that dwarf Marvel additions to the company’s parks in recent years.

 

But some observers say that Marvel could become increasingly important to the company as the “Star Wars” franchise shows signs of possibly losing steam. Though Disney’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” has grossed more than $1.32 billion worldwide since its release in mid-December, some observers have nonetheless pegged the film as a disappointment, given the lofty expectations. The movie’s theatrical haul will fall far short of the performance of 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which took in more than $2 billion worldwide.

Laura Martin, an analyst with Needham & Co., said Marvel has more options than Lucasfilm because it has a “broader panoply” of characters compared with those from the Star Wars universe. Case in point, Marvel has been mining lesser-known heroes such as Doctor Strange and Ant-Man, and doing huge business with them. With “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” 2018 marks the first time three Marvel films will be released by Disney in a year.

 

“Marvel has more flexibility, and if they tell a great story, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know the character,” Martin said.

 

By most accounts, that’s what Marvel has done with “Black Panther.” The film has an almost perfect score on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes and received an overwhelmingly positive response from moviegoers who saw early screenings of the picture, praising its compelling characters, Afro-futuristic visuals and themes of black empowerment.

 

“The creation of ‘Black Panther’ represents the turn from seeing black people as victims to them having agency, and who has more agency than a superhero?” UCLA’s Hunt said.

daniel.miller@latimes.com

COURTESY: LOS ANGELES TIMES

Uma Thurman accuses Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault

Actress Uma Thurman has joined the growing group of women accusing Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. More than 70 women have accused the movie mogul of sexual misconduct, including rape.

Uma Thurman (picture alliance/dpa/Shootpix)

Actress Uma Thurman, an early star of Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax studio thanks to iconic roles in “Pulp Fiction” and “Kill Bill,” has accused the Hollywood producer of attacking her and threatening her career.

Thurman told The New York Times in an article published Saturday that Weinstein tried to sexually assault her when they met in his suite at London’s Savoy Hotel in 1994.

Uma Thurman in the film 'Kill Bill 2' directed by Quentin Tarantino (picture alliance/dpa/Miramax Films/A. Cooper)Thurman starred in Miramax’s ‘Kill Bill’ series

Read more: The Harvey Weinstein effect

“He tried to shove himself on me. He tried to expose himself. He did all kinds of unpleasant things. But he didn’t actually put his back into it and force me,” she told the newspaper.

Thurman said she got to know Weinstein and his first wife, Eve, after the success of the film “Pulp Fiction,” which was produced by Weinstein’s company.

“I knew him pretty well before he attacked me,” Thurman said in the article. She said she privately regarded Weinstein as an enemy after that.

Director Quentin Tarantino and Harvey Weinstein attend a ceremony in 2016 (Getty Images/A. E. Rodriguez)Director Quentin Tarantino (left) and Harvey Weinstein (center) have a close working relationship

Late last year, when the initial Weinstein revelations were reported, Thurman said she would wait to speak about inappropriate behavior in the workplace because she did not want to say anything in anger.

In October, it was reported that dozens of women had accused Weinstein of sexual abuse stretching back over 30 years. Criminal investigations into complaints from six women are ongoing in Los Angeles, New York City and London.

Many other well-known public figures in the worlds of film, music, politics and media have been accused of similar offenses since the initial Weinstein allegations came to light.

Watch video03:48

Weinstein accusers take to social media

Denials and legal threats

Weinstein’s lawyer Ben Brafman said Saturday that the producer had apologized to Thurman for making an “awkward pass” at her 25 years ago, but physical assault claims were untrue.

Brafman said the producer was “stunned and saddened” by the accusations.

“Why Ms. Thurman would wait 25 years to publicly discuss this incident and why according to Weinstein, she would embellish what really happened to include false accusations of attempted physical assault is a mystery to Weinstein and his attorneys,” Brafman said.

Thurman’s statements in the article were being examined before deciding whether any legal action would be appropriate, he added.

Through a spokesperson, Weinstein also denied ever threatening Thurman’s prospects and said he thought she was “a brilliant actress.”

Thurman starred in “Pulp Fiction” directed by Quentin Tarantino, and was the lead actor in his two-film “Kill Bill” action series, both produced by Weinstein’s Miramax studio.

In the article, Thurman also accused Tarantino of making her perform a dangerous car stunt that led to her injury. A video shows Thurman crashing into a tree, and she said she left hospital in a neck brace with damaged knees and a concussion.

Watch video00:37

‘Hold Trump to the same standard as Harvey Weinstein and other men’

jbh/cmk (AP, Reuters)

COURTESY: DW

Grammys 2018: 12 things to know, from Jay-Z’s shutout to Ed Sheeran’s controversial win

 January 29 at 6:00 AM 

From Kendrick Lamar’s opening performance to Kesha’s show-stopping moment, here are the highlights from the 2018 Grammys. 

The Grammy Awards clocked in at just over three and a half hours on Sunday, after a night of some wildly entertaining performances, a couple tearful tributes, a few surprises and quite a few snubs. Here are 12 things to know from the telecast:

1. Bruno Mars won basically everything. 

In a surprise sweep, the R&B star won every single category in which he was nominated, including the biggest categories of the night — album of the year (“24K Magic”), record of the year (“24K Magic”) and song of the year (“That’s What I Like”) — as well as best R&B song, performance and album.

While he didn’t quite pull an Adele and insist the album of the year should have gone to someone else, Mars gave a shout-out to the other nominees in the category: Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Lorde and Childish Gambino. “You guys are the reason why I’m in the studio pulling my hair out, man, ’cause I know you guys are gonna only come with the top-shelf artistry and music,” he said. “Thank you guys for blessing the world with your music. I mean that.”


Bruno Mars onstage at the Grammy Awards. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

2. Jay-Z was completely shut out.

The rapper’s much-analyzed, very personal album “4:44” propelled him to eight nominations, the most of any artist — yet he didn’t win a single award. Jay-Z has had a complicated relationship with the show for a long time (he boycotted for years until Beyoncé was nominated) and also declined to perform on Sunday’s telecast.

At the pre-Grammy gala Saturday, Jay-Z was honored with the Industry Icon award, and talked about his evolving feelings on the ceremony. “I realized that art is super-subjective. The academy, they are human like we are and they are voting on things they like. And we can pretend we don’t care, but we do,” he said.

However, the night wasn’t a total bust — we did get some fun GIFs of Blue Ivy:

Blue Ivy was like “no no I will give the signal to clap” 😂

3. Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” won despite his snub in major categories.

The British pop star was considered a lock to rack up the nominations this year, but he failed to land in a single big category, only earning two nods — one for pop vocal album for “÷ (Divide),” and one for pop solo performance for “Shape of You.” The latter category was one of the few prizes announced on the live telecast, and Sheeran was up against tough competition: Kesha (“Praying”); Lady Gaga (“Million Reasons”); Kelly Clarkson (“Love So Soft”); and Pink (“What About Us”).

Sheeran was the only one who didn’t show up (hmmm, is someone upset about his snub?) and when he won, some viewers weren’t having it.

PRAYING AND MILLION REASONS, TWO EMPOWERING AND IMPACTFUL SONGS, LOST TO GENERIC, RADIO-FODDER LIKE SHAPE OF YOU. WELL DONE, RECORDING ACADEMY.

Still wondering how Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” won Best Pop Solo Performance over Kesha’s “Praying” or Lady Gaga’s “Million Reasons” …

“Ed Sheeran” is a hell of a way to mispronounce “Kesha.”

4. Kendrick Lamar’s opening performance.

Lamar lost out on album of the year and record of the year, but wound up with five wins overall, including best rap album for “DAMN.” He opened the show with a powerful performance of “XXX.” and “DNA.,” with plenty of American flags and pyrotechnics and dancers dressed in Army fatigues. Dave Chappelle served onstage as commentator: “Is this on cable? CBS? Because it looks like he’s singing and dancing, but this brother is taking enormous chances.” (U2 also made an appearance, but no one really cared.)


Kendrick Lamar opens the Grammys. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

5. Hillary Clinton made a cameo.

The show was mostly politics free, though there were a few pointed political moments — Camila Cabello and Logic spoke in support of immigration, and presenter Trevor Noah spoke wistfully of a time “when Trump wasn’t president.” Then host James Corden aired a prerecorded skit in which celebrities (John Legend, Cher, Cardi B, DJ Khaled, Snoop Dogg) read excerpts of Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury,” and included Hillary Clinton.

 0:29
Hillary Clinton surprises Grammys with ‘Fire and Fury’ spoof

Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton read an excerpt from the book “Fire and Fury” at the Grammy Awards on Jan. 28. 

6. Kesha’s performance of “Praying.”

Kesha made her return to the music industry last year with the deeply emotional “Praying,” written after her legal battle with her producer, Dr. Luke, over sexual abuse allegations. She performed the ballad surrounded by Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, Andra Day, Bebe Rexha and Julia Michaels. Before the song, Janelle Monae offered a powerful introduction.

“Tonight, I am proud to stand in solidarity as not just an artist, but a young woman with my fellow sisters in this room who make up the music industry,” Monae said. “We come in peace, but we mean business. And to those who would dare try and silence us, we offer you two words: Time’s up.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/08adf9fc-04a1-11e8-aa61-f3391373867e

7. Consolation puppies.

Corden wisely stayed away from too many jokes, except for a pretaped skit with Sting and Shaggy that proved carpool karaoke doesn’t work on the subway. But his one bit that was a definite hit? Consolation puppies for stars who didn’t win any Grammys. Jerry Seinfeld, who lost best comedy album to Chappelle, looked genuinely ecstatic.

James Corden gave consolation puppies to people after they lost awards at the : http://eonli.ne/2BBnbHH 

8. SZA was also snubbed.

The breakout R&B star was up for five nominations (best artist, R&B performance, R&B song, rap/sung performance and urban contemporary album) and was shut out. Although she got time on stage to sing “Broken Clocks,” many were not pleased with the complete snub.

SZA going 0 for 5 sucks. And I really really hope she gets even more noms with the next album but man CTRL feels like one of those special albums that an artist spends the rest of their career chasing.

Y’all….I can’t believe SZA is going home empty-handed. CTRL was one of the best albums of 2017. This whole night is cancelled

what’s wild is that sza not winning a single grammy has me mad enough to buy three dilapidated billboards outside a made up town and wear overalls and be mean to every single person i interact with


SZA performs at the Grammys. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

9. The tribute to Las Vegas and Manchester victims.

Country artists Eric Church, Maren Morris and Brothers Osborne joined to sing Eric Clapton’s tear-jerker “Tears in Heaven” as a tribute to the people killed at concerts in the last year, from the Las Vegas mass shooting to the bombing in Manchester.

“The painful truth is that this year, in just those two events, 81 music lovers just like us went out to enjoy a night of music and never came back home, with many more injured and still healing,” Morris said.


From left, Brothers Osborne, Maren Morris and Eric Church perform. (Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

10. Childish Gambino sang with his castmate from “The Lion King.”

Album of the year nominee Childish Gambino, a.k.a. Donald Glover, a.k.a. Simba in the upcoming live-action version of “The Lion King,” sang “Terrified” in an excellent white suit. He was joined by young castmate JD McCrary, who plays young Simba.


Childish Gambino, left, and JD McCrary. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)

11. “Despacito” is still wildly entertaining.

Even if you think 2017’s song of the summer is played out, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee had a blast as they performed their incredibly addictive smash. It was a pure shot of live energy, even though the song didn’t take home awards for any of its three nominations.


Luis Fonsi, left, and Daddy Yankee. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)

12. Lady Gaga dressed her piano up like a bird.

We just thought you should know.


Lady Gaga sings “Million Reasons” at the Grammys. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)
COURTESY: The Washington Post

Connie Francis opens up about her horrific 1974 rape, brother’s murder in new book

Connie Francis isn’t sorry now about sharing her story.

The beloved singer, who is recognized as the top-selling female vocalist of the ‘60s, has enjoyed a lasting career, but her success didn’t come without its fair share of heartache. The 80-year-old has chosen to come forward with a tell-all titled “Among My Souvenirs,”where she candidly opens up about one of her greatest tragedies.

The Washington Post previously reported that in 1974, police found Francis in a Long Island hotel room naked, gagged and tied to an overturned chair. She was terrorized for nearly three hours at knife-point, raped and robbed. The crime led to a nervous breakdown, a crumbling marriage and it nearly ended her career.

Fox News spoke with Francis about opening up to fans.

Connie Francis 8

Connie Francis recording music in 1978 in London.  (Courtesy of Connie Francis)

Fox News: How did you cope with being raped in 1974?
Connie Francis: I had a lot of help. I had good friends, a family who supported me and my sense of humor… But I didn’t have the benefit of going to a support group for women who were raped because it would have been in the National Enquirer the following week. So I had to do that in the privacy of my own home. But it did take seven years out of my life. I didn’t grant an interview for seven years. I didn’t sing for seven years. It was a horrible experience.

Fox News: Which was the most difficult chapter for you to write and why?
Connie Francis: My brother’s murder. I rented out a room in the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas for two weeks to write the chapters on the rape and my brother’s murder. I figure once I got those out of the way, I would be able to concentrate on the lighter aspects of my life. I needed to put humor into my book. The thing that saved me has been my sense of humor. So I tackled those two subjects first.

Fox News: Do you think your brother’s death could have been prevented?
Francis: No. My brother was a former district attorney. Then he became involved with the mob. And he cooperated with the government for three years. There was no way he could have been saved. There was just no way when it was made public. I think had I been in a better frame of mind, had it not been [for] the rape, I would have had more of a handle on what he was doing and I would have prevented him from getting involved with such unsavory people. But I had my own problems and I took my eye off the ball. So to a large degree, I blame myself.

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Connie Francis (center) with her mother, father and brother George.  (Courtesy of Connie Francis)

Fox News: What’s the story behind your famous song “Who’s Sorry Now?”
Francis: My father wanted me to record that song for a year and a half and I turned him down. It was a square song, it was written during the 1920s, and the kids on “American Bandstand” would laugh me right out of the show. He said, “If you don’t sing this song sister, the only way you’ll get on ‘American Bandstand’ is if you sit on top of the television set.” So I did it as the last song. I stretched the other songs before I got to “Who’s Sorry Now” so there wouldn’t be time.

But there were 16 minutes left. My father said, “If I have to nail you to that microphone, you’re gonna do ‘Who’s Sorry Now.’” So I did it. I didn’t like it… I remember that record had been out for three months and it went nowhere… But Dick Clark liked it… It was a cosmic moment for me. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. Because I knew in five seconds my life would never be the same. And it wasn’t. It was a happy shock.

Fox News: How did you and Don Rickles meet?
Francis: Don Rickles was the one who taught me how to really laugh. I think I belly laughed for the very first time because of him. I owe a lot to Don Rickles because he made me see humor in things that ordinarily I wouldn’t have seen humor in.

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A young Connie Francis.  (Courtesy of Connie Francis)

The first time he asked me out on a date in 1961, he rented a shiny new Corvette sports car and we went to this elaborate movie house where they had valet parking. When we pulled up, the valet guy said to Don, “Wow Don, she’s a beauty.” I said, “Why thank you!” Don responded, “The car dummy, the car.” He was really the best. He was a very sweet, sweet man.

Fox News: How did you manage to save Don’s life?
Francis: He came to me petrified. He said that there was a mobster in the audience [at his show] with a date. But he didn’t know he was a mobster. Don told him, “Hey dummy, this floozy your latest thing? You can do better than her, cause I’ve seen better legs on Sonny Liston.” Don said, “Connie, the guy said he’s gonna break my legs!” So I made a phone call because I did have connections. The mobster was from New Jersey so I knew who to call. He never knew I did that.

Fox News: You were one of the few women who left Frank Sinatra waiting.
Francis: I got weak in the knees when I met Sinatra. I was actually afraid to meet him. There were two people I idolized: One was Frank and the other was Judy Garland. I got to meet both of them. Frank invited me to a party. He rented a whole restaurant to have a dinner party for me in Las Vegas.

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 (Courtesy of Connie Francis)

The first night that we met, he used vile language, not at me, but at somebody else. I was with Don Rickles and I said, “I’m outta here. You can babysit him all night if you want to.” So Frank came up and said, “Is there a problem Don?” Don said, “Well you used language that offended her, Frank. She was afraid you would use the F-word.” Frank said, “Well I didn’t disappoint her, did I?” Don said, “Don’t you see that sign on her forehead? It says ‘I’m a virgin.’” Frank then said, “The only virgins I know in Las Vegas are 4-year-olds and ugly.” He did apologize, which is very rare for him. And from there we had a wonderful friendship.

Fox News: Was there anything about Judy Garland that surprised you?
Francis: Yes, it was the time when she was going through her divorce from Sid Luft. She had guards around her house. He wanted the children. She talked about how she was putting her children through another day in hell. She was very remorseful. She was drinking a lot of red wine and she said she wanted to escape somewhere, but she didn’t know where. I felt so bad for her.

Fox News: It’s been said you’re still open to finding love. What would it take to impress you?
Francis: A lot! First of all, I’ve been very unsuccessful in that arena. I chose the wrong men for the wrong reasons. If I had put as much thought in selecting husbands as I did with Vegas openings, I would have been fine. But, my personal life was always secondary to my career.

I think it takes a lot to make a relationship successful, I think more than I’m willing to give right now. I do want to concentrate on things that are vital for me, which are veterans, victims of violent crime and the mentally ill. And if I were in a relationship, I wouldn’t be able to do these other things. It takes a lot to make a relationship work. And I spent most of my life apologizing to men for my success.

Courtesy: Fox News

Oscar nominations 2018: The complete list of nominees for the 90th Academy Awards

2018 ACADEMY AWARDS

The most unpredictable Oscar season in years finally came into focus Tuesday morning as the 90th Academy Awards nominations were announced, with nine films representing a wide range of genres earning best picture nods and Guillermo del Toro’s fantastical fable “The Shape of Water” leading the field with 13 nominations. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The 2018 Oscar nominations are out and “The Shape of Water” leads the field with 13 nominations. “Dunkirk” and “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” were also among the top nominees with 8 and 7 nominations each, respectively.

Follow The Times’ complete coverage of the Academy Awards nominations, reactions, surprises and more.

The Academy Awards ceremony be held at the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood on Sunday, March 4. ABC will air the ceremony live at 5 p.m. Jimmy Kimmel returns as host.

People open up about their racial experiences. I feel like I’m a walking therapy session. It’s quite intense. But it means a lot to people, Daniel Kaluuya says of reactions to his film “Get Out.” (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

A screenshot of Christopher Plummer as J. Paul Getty in “All the Money in the World.”

A look back at the career of Meryl Streep, recipient of Cecil B. DeMille award

Laurie Metcalf (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

A scene from the animated movie “The Breadwinner.” Gkids

Gary Oldman stars as Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, who leads a country against Nazi Germany during World War II.

She definitely loved decoration, says “Victoria and Abdul” costume designer Consolata Boyle of Queen Victoria. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

This was something that really came fresh and unexpectedly, writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson said of the origins of the story for “Phantom Thread.” “And that was really an exciting thing.” (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Claes Bang in the film “The Square.” (Magnolia Pictures)

Carter Burwell wrote the scores for two very different films this year, the child-centered “Wonderstruck” and the violence-themed “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Music: Sufjan Stevens; Lyrics: Sufjan Stevens
Music: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul; Lyrics: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Music: Diane Warren; Lyrics: Diane Warren and Common
Production Design: Paul D. Austerberry; Set Decoration: Shane Vieau and Jeff Melvin
Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Alessandra Querzola
Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer

James Ivory, at 89, is the screenwriter of “Call Me by Your Name.” (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Director Guillermo del Toro explains how ‘The Shape of Water’ is about today.

Taylor Swift told to beware gun-seeking ‘boyfriend’ by police officers

Taylor Swift told to beware gun-seeking ‘boyfriend’ by police officers

Taylor Swift could have another obsessive fan on her hands after a 59-year-old man has claimed he’s her boyfriend and needs a gun to protect her, law enforcement sources in New Hampshire told TMZ.

The man, who was at the station for voluntary questioning on an unrelated case, bragged that he is Swift’s boyfriend, even showing the officers text messages he supposedly exchanged with her.

TMZ reports that police officers became suspicious when the man asked how many states he can drive through with a concealed carry weapons permit.

The man reportedly told officers that he wanted a gun to protect Taylor in Africa. Although it’s unclear why he thinks Swift will be in Africa.

The man was not detained because cops said it’s not a crime if someone says they want a gun to protect someone else.

DEAR TAYLOR SWIFT: THANKS FOR NOT TELLING ME ABOUT YOUR POLITICS

Authorities in New Hampshire are trying to contact Swift’s team to warn her.

The pop star is no stranger to obsessive fans, of course.

For the first three months of 2017, Mohammed Jaffar lurked around Swift’s 10,000-square-foot penthouse condominium in New York City — including on her roof — ringing her doorbell for 45 minutes.

According to the New York Post, Jaffar was arrested March 6 on stalking and burglary charges. A judge signed off on an order of protection against him, barring any contact with the blonde pop singer.

Swift released “End Game,” a collaboration with Ed Sheeran and Future, last week.

COURTESY: Fox News

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