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DirecTV Wants Out of Government’s Fight With AT&T, Time Warner

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DirecTV Wants Out of Government's Fight With AT&T, Time Warner

"The government offered no testimony or other evidence even hinting, much less demonstrating, that as a result of the merger DIRECTV’s incentives or behavior will change for the worse, or that it will be capable of harming competition."

The biggest antitrust trial in decades began nearly a month ago and, in that time, DirecTV says the Department of Justice has failed to show it belongs in the fight over AT&T's proposed $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

DirecTV, which was acquired by AT&T for $49 billion in 2015, on Tuesday filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge Richard Leon to either dismiss it from the matter or enter a judgment in its favor.

"The government has failed to state a claim for relief against DIRECTV, which is not a party to the challenged merger, much less an acquirer of any stock or assets (as the Clayton Act requires)," writes attorney Daniel Petrocelli. "Nor has the government introduced any evidence that could justify finding that DIRECTV bears any liability in this case or that its presence is necessary for full and effective relief."

Petrocelli argues that even if the government follows through on a newly mentioned plan to seek divestiture of DirecTV, the satellite company still wouldn't need to be involved in the matter because the court could directly order AT&T to divest DirecTV.

"The government has rested and its evidence provides no basis for ordering any relief against DIRECTV," writes Petrocelli. "The government offered no testimony or other evidence even hinting, much less demonstrating, that as a result of the merger DIRECTV’s incentives or behavior will change for the worse, or that it will be capable of harming competition. Indeed, the government’s chief economic expert has predicted that DIRECTV will charge its subscribers less as a result of the merger."

The only reason the government named DirecTV as a defendant, Petrocelli argues, is so it could seek admission of hearsay statements made by the company prior to its 2015 acquisition by AT&T.

Read the full filing below.


Read the full article – Hollywoodreporter.com

TV

‘Simpsons’ Criticized for Response to Apu Controversy

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'Simpsons' Criticized for Response to Apu Controversy

Apu Nahasapeemapetilon

Representatives for Fox and 20th Century Fox Television said that producers prefer to let the episode "speak for itself."

The Simpsons is under fire for the way in which the show responded to controversy around one of its most recognizable and oldest characters, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.

The outcry over the stereotypical portrayal of Springfield’s Kwik-E-Mart owner, voice by Hank Azaria, was addressed Sunday night in the episode “No Good Read Goes Unpunished" when Marge reads a book to Lisa that has been changed from its original version to something not so controversial.

Lisa says, “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” The show then panned to a picture of Apu.

While some viewers were fine with the response (showrunner Al Jean re-tweeted numerous positive takes afterward and before the show aired tweeted, "New Simpsons in five minutes. Twitter explosion in act three") there were those who felt like the moment was a slap in the face.

Comedian Hari Kondabolu, who last year released the documentary The Problem with Apu, was among those displeased.

"Wow. 'Politically Incorrect?' That’s the takeaway from my movie & the discussion it sparked? Man, I really loved this show. This is sad," Kondabolu tweeted. "In 'The Problem with Apu,' I used Apu & The Simpsons as an entry point into a larger conversation about the representation of marginalized groups & why this is important. The Simpsons response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress."

Comedian and TV personality W. Kamau Bell also blasted the Fox cartoon.

“I think the fact that they put this ‘argument’ in the mouth of Lisa’s character, the character who usually champions the underdogs and is supposed to be the most thoughtful and liberal, is what makes this the most ridiculous (as in worthy of ridicule) and toothless response," he wrote among numerous tweets on the issue. "The 'argument' the episode makes is basically things used to better before political correctness when nobody cared about all these groups. It ignores the facts that ALL THESE GROUPS ALWAYS CARED ABOUT ALL THESE GROUPS. But these groups' complaints weren't respected/supported."

Al Arabiya English journalist William Mullally wrote, "The Simpsons response to The Problem with Apu: a callous and resentful shrug."

Representatives for Fox and 20th Century Fox Television said that producers prefer to let the episode "speak for itself."


Read the full article – Hollywoodreporter.com

TV

John Oliver Creates Crisis Pregnancy Center Via ‘Last Week Tonight’ Church

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John Oliver Creates Crisis Pregnancy Center Via 'Last Week Tonight' Church

In this story

John Oliver
John Oliver
Late-Night TV
Late-Night TV

“I do give out condoms, but I tell people they’re zero percent effective because I cut the tops off these suckers," Rachel Dratch, making a return appearance as the host's TV wife, Wanda Jo, said. "Lets you blow the Holy Spirit right on through.”

On Sunday’s (April 8) episode of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver discussed crisis pregnancy centers, arguing that the religious organizations use manipulative tactics to convince women not to get abortions.

And thanks to Last Week Tonight's church, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, Oliver and his TV wife Wanda Jo (Rachel Dratch) created a crisis pregnancy center of their own.

The pair filed paperwork in New York last week, Oliver explained, to create the nonprofit Our Lady of Choosing Choice.

After revealing the organization’s van, brandishing the phrase “Vanned Parenthood," Oliver opened the vehicle to show Dratch inside. “Praise be, praise be! And welcome to Vanned Parenthood,” she announced.

Oliver explained that while in the van, they are allowed to tell the visitors any information that they can think of. Dratch added, “I tell women if they get an abortion, it’ll make a ghost baby that will haunt your hoo-haw forever.”

“Getting an abortion turns your breast milk into kombucha,” she added. “Eww! That’s weird!”

And, she said, “After an abortion, your vagina seals shut like an Egyptian tomb."

Oliver chimed in, "That’s a striking image. These are all things that we can say."

Dratch also shared her lack of qualifications when it comes to helping pregnant women. “Did you know that I’m not legally required in New York to have any training at all to use this ultrasound machine?,” she asked. Oliver then responded, “That’s absolutely terrifying, but in that case let’s get some jelly on some bellies.”

The actress then used the ultrasound wand to check if Oliver was pregnant. She declared, “You’re pregnant! It’s a miracle!”

The pair followed up the pregnancy announcement with a conversation about their feelings on birth control. “I do give out condoms, but I tell people they’re zero percent effective,” shared Dratch. “Because I cut the tops off these suckers. Lets you blow the Holy Spirit right on through.”

“The best part is, just like our church, we are tax-exempt and we could be eligible for government funding,” shared Oliver. “Praise discretionary budgets!”

The segment concluded with Oliver explaining just how problematic he believes real crisis pregnancy centers are. “The point is this is all perfectly legal, and there’s absolutely nothing stopping us from parking outside an abortion clinic tonight and harassing people first thing in the morning and frankly there really fucking should be.”

Watch the full segment below.

John Oliver Late-Night TV
Read the full article – Hollywoodreporter.com

TV

‘Walking Dead’ Season 8 Finale: 7 Predictions for the End of “All-Out War”

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'Walking Dead' Season 8 Finale: 7 Predictions for the End of "All-Out War"

What's ahead for Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) as they race toward the end of the battle?

[This story contains spoilers through the latest episode of AMC's The Walking Dead, as well as the comic books on which they are based.]

The end of the line is almost here. The only question now: will mercy prevail over wrath?

OK, it's not the only question, but it's a big one! Since the start of Walking Dead's current eighth season, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) has been seen pondering this very dilemma. At first, viewers weren't clued into the context of Rick's question. Now, the particulars have come into focus: Rick's wrath and mercy both reside beside him underneath a tree, as he's bleeding out at some point in the future — some time after losing his son Carl (Chandler Riggs), sending him into a murderous tailspin.

With only one episode left in the vicious season, and with the stage well and truly set for a climactic battle between Rick and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), we're about to find out where Rick lands when it comes to the extent of his bloodlust. But there are other fates and twists to consider as well. A longtime series regular is about to leave the show for a new zombie adventure; another longtime series regular is likely leaving as well, albeit under less than ideal circumstances.

Ahead, THR weighs in on the outcome of Rick's war, the characters set to depart Alexandria (one way or another) and more. Here are our predictions for what's coming up in the season eight finale:

1. Negan Survives

Not a tough prediction, assuming you're hip to the Walking Dead comic book lore. At the end of Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's "All-Out War," Rick overpowers Negan and decides to lock him away for the rest of his life, rather than kill the man. The show is geared to follow the same path, or a similar one at the very least. It's why we keep going back to Rick's question about mercy prevailing over wrath, for one thing. For another, Morgan didn't build that prison cell in Alexandria all those episodes ago for no reason. Expect Negan to wind up in the cell by the end of season eight, with plenty more stories in his future as Walking Dead moves ahead.

2. Dwight Dies

Austin Amelio's traitorous Savior has a lot of life left in him if we're going based on the comics — but the death of Carl (Chandler Riggs) earlier this season should make it clear that all bets are off in terms of fidelity to the source material. What's more, there's nothing in Dwight's future that can't be achieved through Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), who doesn't exist in the comics. Dwight's death would mean an end of the old Saviors' regime, Negan notwithstanding. As the series looks to move into new stories now that its episode count numbers well past 100, we're banking on another big shake-up from the original Walking Dead tale in the form of Dwight's death, and Daryl's subsequent ascension.

3. Morgan Flies

Again, not a hard prediction to make: Morgan's leaving The Walking Dead for Fear the Walking Dead. "It is known," as they say on another show. But how is he going to wind up in the Clark clan's orbit? The answer may reside with the helicopter previously seen at the Heaps. Whoever and whatever that party entails, it's a fair guess that Morgan getting to the chopper could be his ticket to Texas.

4. Maggie's Surprise

Lauren Cohan's future with The Walking Dead is very much up in the air at the moment, with the actress signing on to star in Whiskey Cavalier, an ABC drama pilot co-starring Scott Foley. Since it's a recent development that appears to have taken the Walking Dead creators by surprise, it's not likely that Maggie's exit is in the offing for season eight. What's the big surprise awaiting Maggie, then? It's the fact that there isn't any big surprise planned — meaning, fans might be in for a very anticlimactic ending for Maggie's time on the show, depending on factors having nothing to do with the story of Walking Dead.

5. The King and Queen, Side by Side

Earlier in the season, Ezekiel (Khary Payton) lost everything: Shiva, his people, his self-esteem. Through it all, Carol (Melissa McBride) has been nearby, if not always directly at his side. The show has hinted at a romance between the two characters ever since they first met in season seven. As both the war and season draw to a close, we're calling the shot: Ezekiel and Carol are coupling up.

6. Alexandria Thrives

The season began with a glimpse into the future. We later learned the true nature of those visions: they were Carl's hopes for his father's life after the war. Walking Dead comic book readers know that the story eventually skips forward several years in time, featuring a utopian community eerily similar to the one sketched out by Carl. Once the war ends in the finale, the chances are good the story will skip some years down the line as well, with Alexandria and the surrounding communities hitting the peak of their powers. Heck, maybe even Georgie (Jayne Atkinson) will make good on her promise to check back in on the group. What's more, another group might surface…

7. The Whisperers Hide

Following "All-Out War," the next major conflict in Kirkman and Adlard's comics centers on a group of vicious survivors known as the Whisperers. These men and women (and even children) survive on the open road by wearing flesh suits as disguises, blending in with and walking among the dead. Feral and ferocious, the Whisperers make their impact known in a decidedly gruesome event that takes more than a few main characters off the board. Season eight likely won't go quite that far down the road, but some sort of tease about the looming Whisperer War is very much in the cards.

What are your predictions for the finale? Sound off in the comments section below, and keep checking THR.com/WalkingDead for more coverage.


Read the full article – Hollywoodreporter.com

TV

TV Ratings: Masters Lifts ’60 Minutes’ to Tie ‘Idol’

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TV Ratings: Masters Lifts '60 Minutes' to Tie 'Idol'

ABC earns top marks in the key demo on Sunday, while CBS scores with total viewers.

Great news for a CBS: a rising Masters finale, up 14 percent from 2017, assisted its Sunday lineup — doubling 60 Minutes' score from the previous week to tie American Idol.

Final numbers for Patrick Reed's Augusta National victory won't arrive until later on Monday, but the highlight of the PGA calendar was the biggest thing going over the weekend with an overnight 8.7 rating among metered market households. That helped 60 Minutes, which started on time, jump more than 100 percent to a 1.5 rating among adults 18-49. The series also scored 10.8 million viewers, leading primetime.

CBS neighbors Instinct (0.9 adults), NCIS: Los Angeles (0.9 adults) and Madam Secretary (0.6 adults) also saw lifts, but ABC ultimately took bragging rights in the key demo. The network saw an even episode of American Idol earn a 1.5 rating among adults 18-49 and 7.2 million viewers. Deception took a 0.7 rating.

On NBC, Dateline (0.6 adults) took a small hit before even episodes of Little Big Shots (0.8 adults), Genius Junior (0.7 adults) and Timeless (0.6 adults). Fox had new episodes of Bob's Burgers (0.8 adults), The Simpsons (0.9 adults), Brooklyn Nine-Nine (0.8 adults), Family Guy (0.9 adults) and Last Man on Earth (0.7 adults).

TV Ratings
Read the full article – Hollywoodreporter.com

TV

‘Walking Dead’: Here’s What Carl Wrote in His Letters to Rick and Negan

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'Walking Dead': Here's What Carl Wrote in His Letters to Rick and Negan

"If they won't end it, you have to," says the dearly departed pudding enthusiast, as voiced by Chandler Riggs, in the penultimate episode of the AMC drama's eighth season.

[This story contains spoilers through season eight, episode 15 of AMC's The Walking Dead, "Worth," as well as the comics on which the show is based.]

Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) is dead. Long live Carl Grimes.

The most important character to die on The Walking Dead since the show lost Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) in the season seven premiere returned from beyond the grave in Sunday's episode of the AMC drama, albeit not as a zombie. Instead, it's his words that reverberated throughout the penultimate hour of season eight, perfectly timed with the climax of the current "All-Out War" arc.

The episode, called "Worth," begins and ends with Carl's words to the two leaders on opposite sides of the conflict: his father, Rick (Andrew Lincoln), reading his letter at the Hilltop; and enemy Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) receiving the message over a radio call with Michonne (Danai Gurira). In the first case, Riggs himself the voiceover for Carl's letter to Rick, reminding his father about fonder times from before the apocalypse, and pleading for a return to their more civilized nature.

Read Carl's letter to Rick below, transcribed from Riggs' reading in the episode:

I remember my eighth birthday at the KCC, with that giant cake and Aunt Evie showing up on leave, surprising all of us. I remember mom. I remember Codger. I remember school and going to the movies and Friday night pizza and cartoons and grandma and grandpa and church, the summer barbecues, and the kiddie pool you got me. I could've used that at the prison.

You told me about the walks we would take when I was 3. You holding my hand around the neighborhood, all the way to Ross' farm. I didn't know that I remembered them, but I do, because I see the sun and the corn and that cow that walked up to the fence and looked me in the eye. You told me about all that stuff, but it isn't just that stuff. It's how I felt. Holding your hand, I felt happy and special. I felt safe.

I thought growing up was about getting a job and maybe a family — being an adult. But growing up is about making yourself and the people you love safe. As safe as you can, because things happen. They happened before. You were shot before things went bad. It kind of felt like things went bad because you were shot. I want to make you feel safe, dad. I want you to feel like I felt when you held my hand. Just to feel that way for five minutes … I'd give anything to make you feel that way now.

I wanted to kill Negan. I wish I did. Maybe it would have been done. I don't think it's done now. You went out there again, but I don't think they surrendered. I don't think they will surrender. There are workers in there, dad. They're just regular people: old people, young people, families. You don't want them to die, dad. We're so close to starting everything over, and we have friends now. It's that bigger world you used to talk about: the Kingdom, the Hilltop. There's got to be more places, more people out there — a chance for everything to change and keep changing. Everyone giving everyone the opportunity to have a life. A real life.

If they won't end it, you have to. You have to give them a way out. You have to find peace with Negan. You have to find a way forward somehow. We don't have to forget what happened, but you can make it so it doesn't happen again, and nobody has to live this way. That every life is worth something. Start everything over. Show everyone they can be safe again without killing, that it can feel safe again, that it can go back to being birthdays, schools, jobs and even Friday night pizza somehow — and walks with a dad and a 3-year-old, holding hands. Make that come back, dad. And go on those walks with Judith. She'll remember them.

I love you.

– Carl

Carl's letter to Negan, on the other hand, is considerably shorter and to the point, but no less impactful. In essence, he reiterates the same points he made when confronting Negan in December's midseason finale, urging the Saviors' big bad to transcend his violent ways. Given how Negan responds to the letter's content (namely, by needlessly stomping on his own radio), it doesn't sound like the man who just killed his own lieutenant (Steven Ogg's Simon, gone but not forgotten) is going to heed Carl's advice so easily.

Read Carl's letter to Negan below, transcribed from Michonne's recitation:

Negan,

This is Carl. I was helping someone. I got bit. Didn't even have to be doing what we were doing. I was just helping someone, and now I'm gone. You might be gone. Maybe my dad made your people give you up and he killed you, but I don't think so. I think you're still around. I think you're working on a way out. Maybe you got out. Maybe you think we're a lost cause and you just want to kill all of us. I think you think you have to be who you are. I just wonder if this is what you wanted. I wanted to ask you. I wish I could have. Maybe you'll beat us. If you do, there will just be someone else to fight. The way out is working together. It's forgiveness. It's believing that it doesn't have to be a fight anymore — because it doesn't. I hope my dad offers you peace. I hope you take it. I hope everything can change. It did for me. Start over. You still can.

– Carl

How will Carl's letters to Rick and Negan impact next week's season finale? The comic books provide a fairly big clue, though it's worth pointing out just how far the show has deviated from its source material; look no further than Carl's death for proof. With that said, if the season eight finale follows the script laid forth by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard in the Walking Dead comics, then Rick and Negan are about to see some common ground — right before one last violent showdown that wins the war for Alexandria.

What's your reaction to Carl's letters? Sound off in the comments below, and keep following our coverage at THR.com/WalkingDead.


Read the full article – Hollywoodreporter.com

TV

‘The Walking Dead’s’ Latest Victim Opens Up About His “Honorable” Exit

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'The Walking Dead's' Latest Victim Opens Up About His "Honorable" Exit

The latest star killed off the AMC zombie drama speaks with THR about the outcome of the Saviors' civil war and more.

[This story contains full spoilers for season eight, episode 15 of AMC's The Walking Dead, "Worth."]

"If you wanna be the man? You gotta beat the man."

Let it be said: while he's not Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) sure has his own signature flair. In Sunday's episode of AMC's The Walking Dead, the Saviors' baseball bat-wielding head honcho finally rooted out the corruption at the heart of his group: Simon (Steven Ogg), once the most trustworthy right hand in Negan's world, was not-so-quietly making moves to take control over the Sanctuary. But rather than kill Simon outright once he learned about the plan, Negan instead gave his old friend a couple of last chances.

First, Negan teased Simon with the Lucille treatment, having him drop to his knees in the face of a potential baseball bat to the brain. If it was a test, consider it passed: Simon makes no moves to avoid his fate, full-heartedly resigning himself to the violent death. Negan proceeds to absolve Simon of his sins, making sure that Simon lives to sin another day — or at least another couple of hours. A few scenes later, Negan catches Simon in the middle of his conspiracy, and gives his lieutenant one final opportunity to seize the crown: a one-on-one trial by combat of sorts, with everyone in the Sanctuary allowed to watch the final battle between these two old friends.

When the dust settles on the grueling battle, Negan emerges victorious, not by using Lucille, but by relying on his own bare hands. He chokes his former second-in-command to death in an emotional fit of rage, one that almost resembles Rick killing Shane (Jon Bernthal) all the way back in season two. Another reason why these two deaths feel connected across almost a hundred full episodes of Walking Dead: in both cases, the deceased traitor returns from the dead as a zombie. In Simon's case, however, there's no Carl (Chandler Riggs) around to put him down. Instead, he's left strung up against the Sanctuary's fence, chomping and clawing at nothing in particular for the rest of his days — or until the Alexandrians manage to win the war, anyway.

What's next for Negan and the Saviors? That's a matter for another time. On a more concrete and practical level, the violent climax of "Worth" means the departure of one of the most intense figures in modern Walking Dead lore, if not the entire franchise: Steven Ogg as Simon. First introduced in the season six finale, "Last Day on Earth," Simon was an instantly fearsome figure, menacing Rick and the gang without an ounce of fear hiding behind his ferocious gaze. The intensity only escalated in his final arc on the show, as fan-favorite Ogg played Simon as a man on a deeply dedicated mission, eradicating the Garbage People and attempting to do the same to the Hilltoppers, without a shred of remorse.

For his part, speaking about his exit from the zombie drama, Ogg — the latest series regular to depart the zombie drama this season — is much more wistful than one would ever expect from Simon himself. The good news: Ogg, a singular force of nature, returns to television soon in the upcoming second season of HBO's Westworld. ("There's more Rebus; he's got some fun stuff coming up," is all he can tease for now about his killer role for now.) The bad news: when it comes to appearing on The Walking Dead, Ogg has now experienced his own last day on Earth of sorts.

Here, Ogg speaks with The Hollywood Reporter about the emotional rollercoaster involved with leaving The Walking Dead, seeing Simon's death coming from a few scripts away, playing out the character's defiant final moments and what he'll miss most about working with the Atlanta-based cast and crew.

How have you been, waiting for the world to find out what happened to Simon?

Obviously, we filmed it last year, at the end of October or early November, and I still see all of my [Walking Dead] friends and family at conventions, so I've had time to get over it. But now, with all of this? It's coming back up. So thanks, fuckers. (Laughs.) I'm doing The Talking Dead and I don't want to cry. It's not like an Oprah episode. But it wouldn't surprise me, just from the emotion of it. I essentially spent two years with this amazing group. You move on and shit happens; this is the life of an actor. But this is a very unique show for its bond among its cast and crew. For those reasons, I'm sad. I'm happy with what I did. I'm happy with the character. I'm happy with the opportunity. It's a mixed bag. As you start to reflect more upon it, you start looking at old pictures, and it's just a mix. You can feel sad, or you can try to appreciate what you had and look forward to what lies ahead, and what came of it.

When and how did you find out about Simon's fate?

We don't get our scripts until a couple of weeks before [we shoot], but I feel I somehow knew going into the [season eight premiere taping of The Talking Dead] at the Greek Theater in L.A. I remember feeling like I didn't feel like celebrating. I think it was in a moment of great celebration. Maybe it was there, maybe it was later, but I remember feeling, "You know? I don't really feel so good right now!" It was either then, or later on.

You get the news. You have that chat. You understand that this is part of the life and a part of the world [of The Walking Dead]. It sucks, because then you have to tell people, "Hey, guess what? I'm gone." It was quite touching, all of the responses [from cast and crew]. Interestingly enough, it was more emotional for me, getting the responses from everyone, than it was to hear the news.

People must have been upset. It's a close set.

That's what brought me to tears more. When you hear it's going to happen, that's a business call, so you get it, in a sense. But then you start getting other calls. Andrew [Lincoln] talks to you, and Norman [Reedus] comes up to you, and they're all like, "No!" That's when all of the emotion comes up. That was interesting to me.

Over the past few episodes, Simon launched an insurrection against Negan, briefly took over the Saviors, only to die in open combat against his former leader. What did you think of Simon's final arc? Did it fit alongside your view of the character?

You don't know what's happening as it's going on, because you're playing it out as an actor episode by episode, when you're getting the scripts. But when I saw the direction he was taking? As an actor, I was going, "OK. I know where this is going." (Laughs.) "Not a lot of ways out, unless I go set up my own shop somewhere." So I said, "OK. Here we go. I'm going to go for it, then." In a sense, I wanted Simon to remain honorable to what he does and how he wants to do things. For instance, in the scene where he almost gets the bat to the head? I wanted to look at Negan, initially. It's not because I'm being contentious, or saying "fuck you" to Negan. … It's because it was his honor. "You want to take that bat to my head? Then I'm going to look you right in the eye. Smash my skull in."

Of course, as an actor, I was told, "No, you have to turn around." (Laughs.) Alright! But I kept my head up. There are some other scenes like this earlier in the season where I'm trying to plant little seeds. There was a knock at the door, when Simon and Negan were talking. I wouldn't look away from Negan. The way they cut the show, you don't always see and notice it, but I was never looking away. I would never look down. When Negan returned with Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and they were covered in guts and slime, and everyone goes to their knees? I made a point of going to just one knee, still sitting up straight. So, when it came to the final fight? Negan is somewhat honoring Simon in doing it that way. But that's why Simon gives the speech he does. He doesn't know what's going to happen; as far as he's concerned, he's going to destroy Negan. He was going to beat the shit out of him!

It's almost surprising that he didn't!

Is it? That's what I'm curious about. It's the only thing I cared about. Does the audience buy it? Do you question [the outcome], watching it?

The way it's played, Simon walks into the fight as though it is not his last day on Earth. It's Negan's last day on Earth.

That's good. Did you believe Negan could kill Simon?

Yes, because in terms of the story, it was clear there was no other way to go.

Right. Jeffrey really sold it, choking me out. He went for it. That was one the most psychotic moments we've ever seen Negan in.

What was it like, playing the death scene out with Jeffrey?

It was great. Initially, we were both kind of [hesitant]. We're not fighters. We're not 20 years old. We're not the type of actors with the ego of, "I have to do my own thing!" We were both like, "Oh my god, this is going to kill us." (Laughs.) But we both wanted to make it look good, and we both wanted to commit to it. As soon as we started doing it, I certainly got into it. Now, I wanted to sell it. We both got into it. Because at first? It's not that Jeffrey was wimping out, but it hurts to do this kind of shit. You have to continue to work, and he has another seven pages of talking to do! You have to pace yourself. But as soon as we started… we both stepped into it. It was lovely, giving it all, laying it all out in the Sanctuary octagon.

How about playing the zombified version of Simon? Was that fun, awful, or a little bit of both?

It was fun! It was great to go through the makeup process. I wish there was more of that Simon zombie [on screen]. When he first turned and we reveal him with the bucket coming off of the head, I was really pleased with how that comes across. I wanted to capture [the spirit of] a pit bull: a very aggressive zombie who was almost still in a fight mode. I wanted to see the transition of Simon's zombie realizing that this was his place, if that makes sense. I wanted this intensity at the beginning, and then realizing: "Oh, fuck. I'm a zombie!" [Makes a sad clown noise.]

What will you miss most about playing Simon and your time within the Walking Dead universe?

Working with these people. I don't miss the character. You move on. It's everything that's around that world. The acting is wonderful. And as Simon developed, there was this intensity. It was so much fun to be able to throw everything into him with laser focus, going at someone deep with the connection of the eyes. That's what I'm going to miss, but that's what you should be doing all of the time [as an actor]. You should always try to connect on a cellular level with another actor. It doesn't have to mean you're going to kill them, but there should always be an intensity, whether it's making someone laugh or if you're scaring someone. So I won't miss being Simon, necessarily, so much as I'll miss those moments with those people. But that's your job: do that process in the next job and in the next thing you do. Bring it to the next gig. That shouldn't end with a character. That's ideally part of your process, who you are, and what you bring to roles. I'm not going to miss Simon, so much as I'll miss the family.

What's your take on Steven Ogg's departure from the series? Sound off in the comments section below, and keep checking THR.com/WalkingDead for more coverage.


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TV

‘American Idol’: Half of Top 24 Perform Solos for Judges

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'American Idol': Half of Top 24 Perform Solos for Judges

From left: Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Ryan Seacrest and Luke Bryan of 'American Idol'

The same contestants will perform celebrity duets on Monday night.

Twelve of the top 24 contestants sang solos before judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan on ABC's American Idol on Sunday night. After the same 12 singers perform again Monday night, singing duets with celebrities, five contestants will be eliminated. The remaining 12 will go through the same process next week. Perry said the judges were looking for what artists would do to stand out and prove that they could cut through the already packed industry. Contestants also received advice from iHeartRadio personality Bobby Bones.

The first singer up was Dominique, singing “Ain’t Nobody (Loves Me Better).” He set the bar high, bringing all three judges to their feet with his effortlessly cool and fun energy. “Dominique, welcome. You have arrived,” Perry said, adding that she felt like she was transported to a venue or club with his performance.

Young country singer Layla Spring was up next, and Bones told her heading into her performance that she shouldn’t lose her “kid energy.” She sang “A Broken Wing” by Martina McBride, which was definitely in her wheelhouse. “A big reason why you’re here is you’re infectious,” Bryan said, adding that she has taken some of their advice in order to improve.

Catie Turner followed, giving a lively performance of “Call Me” by Blondie. It was a great song choice that allowed her to show her entertainer quality. Her voice has stood out since the beginning, and on Sunday night she proved that she can also put on a good show while putting her own original twists on songs. All three judges were impressed with the performance.

Singing “Rude” by Magic!, Dennis Lorenzo went next. The song choice didn’t really allow him to show off his vocal range, but he was entertaining and confident onstage. Perry said he was singing with his whole heart. Richie wanted him to choose a better song next time, but he said he “brought the flavor.”

Dancer and singer Michelle Sussett took Perry’s advice to bring her culture into her performances by singing in Spanish. She sang “If I Were a Boy” by Beyoncé, putting her own spins on it with her runs and phrasing and also singing parts in Spanish. Perry said that the bilingual aspect was so powerful and that Sussett consistently lights the stage on fire.

Michael J. Woodard was up next, singing a gorgeous rendition of “Golden Slumbers” by The Beatles. It was understated and lovely, Woodard showcasing his soft, unique tone. The performance also had strong momentum. The judges were moved.

Trevor McBane gave a gritty performance of “Way Down We Go” by Kaleo. He showcased a strong sense of artistry and really came off like he knows who he wants to be as an artist. The judges still wanted a little more from him. “It’s hard to contain you,” Perry said, adding that she wants to see him take away all his constraints and really see him go all out.

Going the pop ballad route, Jonny Brenns sang “Georgia” by Vance Joy. His runs were solid, and he really shined when he slipped into his falsetto. “You’re blooming,” Richie said. Perry said she was encouraged to see how far he has come in the competition.

Kay Kay told Bones that she brings confidence to the table, and she certainly reiterated that in her performance of “Love on the Brain” by Rihanna. She took Bones and Perry’s advice to let go, delivering an emotional and raw performance with stunning runs. Bryan said she was born a star.

Brandon Diaz took a risk by singing Richie’s own “Hello.” It was another understated ballad that really allowed Diaz to show off his range and technical abilities. “You are so brave,” Perry said. Richie added that he was nervous for him and said that he didn’t really make it his own until the end. Richie took the mic himself and gave a little taste of his own singing, and Ryan Seacrest sang a bit, too.

Country music singer Gabby Barrett was next, singing “My Church” by Maren Morris. The performance built, leading to an exciting and dynamic ending. Perry and Richie were both blown away by the ending but said that Barrett should try to be a little more dynamic, building slowly. Bryan said she has shine.

The last singer of the night was rocker Cade Foehner, singing “All Along the Watchtower.” It was an appropriately theatrical performance and one of the best of the night. Foehner took vocal risks, and it paid off. He brought a lot of experience to the performance and was very charismatic. Perry in particular was blown away.

All of the contestants who sang solos on Sunday night will sing again on Monday night alongside seasoned celebrity artists. What did you think of tonight’s performances?

American Idol
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