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Tom Petty Died of Accidental Overdose, Including Opioids

Tom Petty died last year of an accidental drug overdose that his family said occurred the same day he found out his hip was broken. He had just finished a string of dozens of shows with a less serious injury.

His wife and daughter released the results of Petty’s autopsy via a statement Friday on his Facebook page, moments before coroner’s officials in Los Angeles released their findings and the rocker’s full autopsy report. Dana and Adria Petty say they got the results from the coroner’s office earlier in the day that the overdose was the result of a variety of medications.

Fentanyl among drugs

The coroner’s findings showed Petty had a mix of prescription painkillers, sedatives and an antidepressant. Among the medications found in his system were fentanyl and oxycodone. An accidental overdose of fentanyl was also determined to have killed Prince in April 2016.

Petty suffered from emphysema, a fractured hip and knee problems that caused him pain, the family said, but he was still committed to touring.

He had just wrapped up a tour a few days before he died in October at age 66.

“On the day he died he was informed his hip had graduated to a full-on break and it is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his overuse of medication,” his family’s statement said, adding that he performed more than 50 concerts with a fractured hip.

The family said Petty had been prescribed various pain medications for his multitude of issues, including fentanyl patches, and “we feel confident that this was, as the coroner found, an unfortunate accident.”

They added: “As a family we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives. Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications.”

Common prescriptions

Painkillers and sedatives are among the most commonly prescribed medications in the U.S., but both drug types slow users’ heart rate and breathing. The Food and Drug Administration has warned against mixing them because the combination can lead to breathing problems, coma and death.

Government figures released in December showed that for the first time, the powerful painkiller fentanyl and its close opioid cousins played a bigger role in the deaths than any other legal or illegal drug, surpassing prescription pain pills and heroin.

Petty was a rock superstar with the persona of an everyman who drew upon the Byrds, Beatles and other bands he worshipped as a boy in Gainesville, Florida. He produced classics that include Free Fallin’, Refugee and American Girl. He and his longtime band the Heartbreakers had recently completed a 40th-anniversary tour, one he hinted would be their last.

The shaggy-haired blond rose to success in the 1970s and went on to sell more than 80 million records. He was loved for his melodic hard rock, nasally vocals and down-to-earth style. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted Petty and the Heartbreakers in 2002, praised them as “durable, resourceful, hard-working, likable and unpretentious.”

Oscars: Four Questions Ahead of Tuesday’s Nominations

Oscar nominations balloting might be finished but Hollywood’s “Me Too” moment has kept right on going.

When Academy Awards nominations are announced Tuesday morning, it might be a brief, celebratory reprieve for an industry enflamed by sexual harassment scandals and gender equality protests.

Or it might just add more fuel to the fire.

Will the motion picture academy, as it has done in 85 out of 89 years, field an all-male field of film directors? Will James Franco squeak into the best actor category after several women made allegations against him of sexual impropriates while filming sex scenes? Franco denied the claims on late-night shows just days before nomination voting closed last Friday.

Either of those outcomes could make the Oscar nominations — a morning often dominated by Harvey Weinstein in the past — one more fraught chapter in the ongoing “Me Too” saga that has shaped and contorted an Oscar race unlike any before.

Here are four questions in the lead-up to Tuesday:

​Is there a front-runner?

After winning four Golden Globe Awards, including best feature, drama, Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri may have finally taken the Oscar race position that no one wants: favorite. It has the most unblemished score card of all the contenders, including nine BAFTA nods, an ensemble nomination from the Screen Actors Guild (which hands out its awards Sunday), top award nods from the directors and producers guilds, and the often predictive Toronto Film Festival audience award.

But Three Billboards, which many have criticized for its portrayal of a racist police officer (played by Sam Rockwell), has proven a lightning rod, both celebrated for the timeliness of a tale about female vengeance and derided as out of touch. If Three Billboards is out in front, it’s only by a hair. Nearly its equal is Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, a much admired Cold War fable that may earn the most nominations Tuesday thanks to its lavish craft and celebrated ensemble cast. Yet it crucially missed out on a SAG ensemble nomination, which historically has been a must-have for any Oscar best-picture winner. Every best-picture winner in the last 22 years first landed SAG ensemble nod.

And still just as much in the mix are Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Each can stake its own claim. Lady Bird is the only top contender made by a woman, and is perhaps the most critically acclaimed movie of the year. Get Out is a landmark genre-bending film about racism, and for many a vital film for the Donald Trump era. Dunkirk is the lone big-screen, blockbuster spectacle of the bunch. While it has been quiet thus far in awards season, Dunkirk will get a boost in the technical categories Tuesday.

How will ‘Me Too’ alter things?

Oscar campaigns from Kevin Spacey to Dustin Hoffman have already bit the dust. Before Franco (The Disaster Artist) was awkwardly answering tough questions from Stephen Colbert he was a borderline best actor contender, slotting in behind Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour), Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name), Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) and Tom Hanks (The Post). Many Oscar votes had been cast by the time allegations hit, but, then again, a lot of academy members wait until the last minute to send in their ballots. This year, with such a never-ending stream of revelations, voters would have been advised to wait until the very last second before one final Google search.

Particular attention, though, will be on the best director category, where only four women have ever been nominated. Among the many statistics that depict the imbalanced maleness of Hollywood, it’s among the most telling. Gerwig, who was nominated by the Director’s Guild, is poised to be the fifth. But it’s a competitive category, with five seats for the presumed final six: del Toro, Nolan, McDonagh, Spielberg, Peele and Gerwig.

A wildcard is Ridley Scott, who has won admiration for his last-minute reshoots on All the Money in the World, in order to replace the disgraced Spacey with Christopher Plummer. Plummer, too, could crash the best supporting actor category.

Could Oscars-so-white return?

Last year, Moonlight triumphed and films like Fences and Hidden Figures led a firm rebuke to two years straight of all-white acting nominees. Tuesday’s nominations aren’t likely to be a repeat of 2015 and 2016, but they also aren’t likely to overwhelm in their multicultural selections.

Kaluuya, Mary J. Blige (Mudbound) and Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water) are all favored for nominations, but none are considered among their categories’ front-runners. Much will hinge on how the academy receives Get Out. It’s the only film currently handicapped for a best-picture nomination with a protagonist who’s a person of color. As a horror film from a first-time feature-film director, it’s far from a prototypical Oscar contender. Peele’s movie came out last year on Oscar weekend.

But even if all the above wins nods as expected on Tuesday, critics will wonder why Girls Trip breakout Tiffany Haddish or Downsizing scene-stealer Hong Chau were overlooked.

Can the Oscars top the Globes?

Whoever is nominated, an unusual question will hang in the air: Will the March 4 Oscars feel like merely a buttoned-down sequel to the Globes?

The Golden Globes are usually a frothy kind of dress rehearsal for the main event. But this year, thanks to the black-attired protest by female attendees and stirring speeches from the night’s female winners, the Globes had an almost Oscar-like veneer of importance. As the first major awards show to confront the post-Weinstein landscape, they may have stolen some of the Oscars’ thunder.

Jimmy Kimmel, who will host the ABC telecast for the second straight year, told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour that, in the current climate, the two months between the Globes and the Academy Awards are a lifetime.

“I do thank (Globes host Seth Meyers) for being that litmus test,” Kimmel said. “As far as how I will handle it, the problem is it’s two months from now. So it’s almost like getting into a hot tub or something; you can’t really know what the temperature is until you get there.”

But the Oscars will lack one element the Globes had: Oprah. It will take more than an envelope flub to top that.

Soccer Great Pele Cancels Appearance in England Because of Fatigue

Brazilian soccer great Pele has canceled a trip to England where he was to receive an award from the English Football Writers’ Association.

A spokesman for Pele said the former soccer (football) player was resting at his home in Guaruja, Brazil, and that reports that he had been taken to a hospital were “fake news.”

“He said he’s not going [to England] because it’s going to be very tiring, very stressful,” said spokesman Pepito Fornos.

Pele, 77, was supposed to attend a dinner in his honor Sunday at the Savoy Hotel in London, organized by the Football Writers’ Association. The group said Pele would not appear after having collapsed from what appeared to be severe exhaustion.

Pele has frequently been admitted to hospitals in the past few years for kidney and prostate problems, and has also undergone hip surgery.

Fornos said Pele had reduced his scheduled appearances recently so he could receive more therapy for his hip issues.

Pele appeared in a wheelchair in Moscow in December for the draw for this year’s World Cup. Fornos said Pele was planning to attend the World Cup in Russia.

Pele is the only player to win three World Cups, helping Brazil to win victories in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

‘Game of Thrones’ Ice Hotel Opens in Finland

A “Game of Thrones”-themed ice hotel complete with a bar and a chapel for weddings has opened in northern Finland in a joint effort by a local hotel chain and the U.S. producers of the hit TV series.

Lapland Hotels said Friday they chose “Game of Thrones” to be the theme for this season’s Snow Village, an annual ice-and-snow construction project covering 20,000 square meters (24,000 sq. yards) in Kittila, 150 kilometers (93 miles) above the Arctic Circle.

Snow Village operations manager Janne Pasma told Finnish national broadcaster YLE that he was a huge fan of the series and it was “a dream come true” that HBO Nordic agreed to go along.

The hotel, which stays open until April, suggests that guests stay only one night due to below-zero temperatures.

IOC: More Initiatives Coming to Promote Korean Unity

Olympics organizers on Friday welcomed an agreement between North and South Korea to unite athletes at the upcoming Winter Games in Pyeongchang, and promised that “much more exciting initiatives” promoting Korean unity will emerge this weekend.

“Watch this space,” International Olympic Committee presidential spokesman Mark Adams told the Associated Press in an interview, a day before a crucial meeting of Korean delegations at Olympics headquarters in Lausanne. He declined to elaborate, saying the decisions would come Saturday.

Referring to a detailed peace-making agreement between the rival countries announced Thursday by South Korea’s Unification Ministry, including a joint team in the women’s hockey tournament, Adams said it was “great … but these are discussions.”

The announcement from South Korea, which hasn’t yet been finalized by the IOC, would mark the first time the two national Olympic committees would be competing together in a single team.

“I can tell you that there will also be some much more exciting initiatives coming through as well tomorrow,” Adams added.

Some have questioned the fine print of the agreement announced by the two Koreas, saying it gives the combined hockey squad a far larger roster than any other national team.

Asked how the IOC planned to maintain the integrity of the sport, Adams said: “People would say that these are exceptional circumstances, and we need exceptional measures.”

“This is about the Olympic spirit,” Adams added. “And the Olympic spirit is about nations competing, athletes competing, and we will do our best make sure that it sends a signal that sport can improve the world.”

North Korea Cancels Visit to South by Arts Delegation

North Korea on Friday abruptly canceled plans to send a delegation led by the head of a hugely popular girl band to South Korea over the weekend to check preparations for a trip by a North Korean art troupe she also leads during next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry said North Korea didn’t explain why it was “suspending” the two-day visit by the seven-member advance team that it proposed just hours earlier through a cross-border communication channel.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the visit, which was to begin on Saturday, was permanently canceled or postponed. The ministry said it will try to gather further information from the North regarding the decision.

The rival Koreas earlier this week agreed that the 140-member Samjiyon art troupe, which will include singers, dancers and orchestra members, will perform twice in South Korea during the games in a sign of warming ties between the countries. It will be part of a North Korean Olympic delegation that will also include athletes, officials, state media reporters, a cheering group and a taekwondo demonstration team.

South Korea has also proposed that it send a 12-member delegation to North Korea on Monday to inspect preparations for a joint cultural event at the North’s scenic Diamond Mountain and a training session between non-Olympic skiers at the North’s Masik ski resort ahead of the Olympics in the South, the ministry said.

The little-known Samjiyon art troupe is led by Hyun Song Wol, who also heads the popular female Moranbong Band hand-picked by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Hyon has been the focus of intense South Korean media interest since she attended inter-Korean talks at the border on Monday that reached agreement on the troupe’s visit. Hyon’s gestures during the talks as well as her makeup, looks, navy blue suit and green shoulder bag received widespread coverage.

The reconciliation mood between the Koreas began after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year’s speech that he was willing to send a delegation to the Olympics. While South Korea hopes to use the games to improve relations with its rival after a year of animosity involving North Korea’s rapidly expanding nuclear weapons program, some experts view Kim’s overture as an attempt to weaken U.S.-led international sanctions against the North and buy time to further advance his nuclear weapons program.

Hyon is also an alternate member of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee. Her visit would have made her the highest-profile North Korean to visit South Korea since its International Olympic Committee representative, Chang Ung, came last July.

Brigitte Bardot: ‘MeToo’ Actresses Are ‘Hypocritical’

Former French actress and sex symbol Brigitte Bardot said in an interview published Thursday that she thinks most actresses protesting sexual harassment in the film industry are “hypocritical” and “ridiculous” because many play “the teases” with producers to land parts.

The star of And God Created Woman also said in the interview with weekly Paris-Match magazine that in her view, so many actresses are coming out with sexual misconduct allegations “so that we talk about them.”

Bardot, 83, is the second French film legend to distance herself from the worldwide protest movement against sexual misconduct, known as the #MeToo campaign. Last week, Catherine Deneuve signed a collective op-ed that said “insistent or clumsy hitting-on is not a crime.”

Bardot, who is known as an animal rights activist these days but inspired the term “sex kitten” as a young actress, said she never had been a victim of sexual harassment and found it “charming to be told that I was beautiful or that I had a nice little ass.”

“This kind of compliment is pleasant,” she said.

Bardot said her comments on sexual misconduct only concerned actresses, not women in general. She added that actresses campaigning against sexual harassment in the entertainment industry are “of no interest.”

“This [issue] takes the place of important topics that could be discussed” instead in the news, she argued

As for actresses who allege they have been victims of misconduct, Bardot suggested they might become the targets of a personal backlash instead of the publicity she thinks they want.

“Actually, rather than benefit them, it only harms them,” Bardot said.

In an open letter published last week in Le Monde newspaper, Deneuve and 100 or so performers, scholars and other prominent French women said men are being unfairly accused of sexual misconduct and harassment and should be free to hit on women.

The signatories argued that the “legitimate protest against sexual violence” stemming from the Harvey Weinstein scandal had gone too far and threatened hard-won sexual freedoms.

After the op-ed encountered intense criticism in the French press and on social media, Deneuve, who is known as a women’s advocate, apologized to victims of “odious” acts of sexual abuse.

Bardot has a different profile. Since ending her acting career more than four decades ago, she has dedicated herself to the cause of animal welfare. Politically, she defines herself as a right-wing conservative.

Bardot also has been convicted of multiple racial hatred offenses for comments about Islam and the Muslim community.

Prosecutors Want to Call 19 Other Accusers at Cosby Retrial

Prosecutors preparing for Bill Cosby’s retrial on sexual assault charges want to call 19 other accusers to try to show a pattern of “prior bad acts” over five decades.

The comedian’s first trial ended with a hung jury in June. In that proceeding, prosecutors asked to call 13 other accusers, but the judge allowed only one to testify.

A lawyer for Cosby says she can’t comment on Thursday’s filing.

The 80-year-old comedian is charged with knocking out a Temple University employee with pills and sexually assaulting her in 2004.

Cosby has said the sexual encounter was consensual.

Pennsylvania law allows testimony about “prior bad acts” if they fit a nearly identical crime pattern. Prosecutors say that’s the case for the TV star once dubbed “America’s Dad.”

‘Married Men’ Movie Premiere Draws Miami’s Haitian A-Listers

With nearly nine films to his credit, not to mention music videos and commercials, Haitian-born Robenson Lauvince is confident his latest bold and ambitious work will boost the Haitian film industry and the community as a whole. 

Saturday’s Miami premiere of his highly anticipated film “Married Men” came in the wake of President Donald Trump’s remarks last week in which he allegedly used a vulgar word to describe African nations and Haiti. 

Trump’s comments inflamed the Haitian-American community. Hundreds rallied in Times Square in New York City Monday to denounce racism, and Haiti’s ambassador to the U.S. said the president’s recent comments about Haiti “hurt the country.”

But those who gathered at downtown Miami’s historic Lyric Theater – many of whom emigrated to the U.S. as children or in their early teens to seek a better life – were upbeat, despite Trump’s alleged remarks.

Haitian star Junior Rigolo has a small role in the film and spoke during a press conference in Fort Lauderdale on the eve of the premiere. 


“I don’t think it’s a black-and-white thing with Trump, it’s just how he is,” Rigolo said. “So if you’re going to get angry about what Trump said, you’ve only just begun being mad. It’s not going to stop. Every day, there’s something new. So, for Haitians — we need to stop going on social media and posting ‘I am Haiti,’ because that’s just for show, (it’s not reality). We need to instead mount a movement to show the world who we really are.”

“Married Men” centers around Juno Rene, a therapist who seems to have the perfect marriage until he meets a woman who he is willing to risk everything for.  

The film, featuring some of Haiti’s most popular musicians and actors, drew out Miami A-listers who made it known they came out to support and promote their country’s best talent.

On the red carpet, Lauvince was thrilled that his five-year labor of love was finally going to be seen by hundreds of fans who purchased tickets and stood in line for hours in cool temperatures.

“I’m super-duper happy and excited,” he told VOA.  “I think that what’s happening tonight is not only meaningful to me but also to the Haitian movie industry. We need this. Haitian film needs this to move forward.” 

Asked about the dozens of fans who arrived early to stand in line, Lauvince said there’s a mutual need that exists. “At the end of the day, this is a Haitian film, and it represents all Haitians who are making movies today and all Haitian movie fans. I’m glad they are here.” 

Among the local VIPs in attendance was Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime, the first Haitian-American elected to the commission.

“As a community leader, I put a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the millennials because honestly, the fact that most of them grew up in the United States and fit so comfortably into the American culture means they have tasted the benefits of entrepreneurship and mix that with a thirst to advance as Haitians. There are more opportunities here in the U.S., so we’re counting on them to take Haitians to a higher level in the future,” he told VOA. 

According to Monestime, Miami-Dade County invested millions to restore the Lyric theater, which had fallen into disrepair.   

Flav Athlet, the heartthrob best known as one of the lead singers of the popular Haitian Konpa band Gabel, says the lead role was a huge responsibility. He credits his critically acclaimed performance in his movie debut to the crew that surrounded him. 

“The director Robenson did a fantastic job, and also the whole team, Belgamee (productions). I hope people admire the character I play (Juno Rene).I think some will hate him, but I hope some admire him as well. There are a lot of good lessons in the movie, so I think people will receive it well,” he told VOA.

Actress Belindja Eustache plays Chanel in the movie — a woman married to the main character’s best friend, divorce lawyer Gabriel Jobert, whom she constantly cheats on. Eustache was impressed with Robenson’s methodology. 

“The experience was very different,” she said, “because Roby was serious. It was on set at that time, and he was not playing. And I’ve been in previous stuff, but it was never this on track.” 

WATCH: Belindja Eustache talks to VOA​

Haitian musician J. Perry, whose romantic ballad “My Way” featuring Nyanda is heard in the movie, was also in Miami.  Hours after the news of Trump’s statement about Haitians, he took to Instagram to post a passionate message: “Unity is Power,” he began in all caps. “Let’s all work together so other countries will stop humiliating us.”   

 “I think what’s happening tonight is a great example of what I was talking about in my Instagram post. Look at this amazing Haitian event. This is how Haitians should continue working so that other countries can see what we can do. There’s a song that goes ‘You’re just blah blah blahing.’ I think when a person is talking, don’t waste time answering. Let your actions be the response because when you respond, you may not realize that one day, you may need that person in the future. So, I think we shouldn’t curse. We shouldn’t get angry. We need to be the best Haitians we can be around the world.”

Despite some technical issues at the beginning of the movie, the cast of “Married Men” was given a standing ovation after the final credits rolled.