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Allison Janney on Broadway, 'The West Wing' legacy and Trump

Published: Friday, April 21, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

In this March 29, 2017 photo, Allison Janney poses for a portrait in New York. Janney, who won Emmy Awards for her work in “The West Wing” and “Mom,” is starring in a Broadway revival of “Six Degrees of Separation.” (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)
Brian Ach/Brian Ach/Invision/AP
In this March 29, 2017 photo, Allison Janney poses for a portrait in New York. Janney, who won Emmy Awards for her work in “The West Wing” and “Mom,” is starring in a Broadway revival of “Six Degrees of Separation.” (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)(Brian Ach/Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

Allison Janney recently found comfort in the fact that she shares something special with the late Sir Laurence Olivier. Yes, acting, of course. But also this: panic attacks.

The Emmy-winning actress from "The West Wing" and "Mom" confesses she's been Googling her nervous symptoms and whom she shares them with as she makes her Broadway return.

>>>RELATED: Dayton-area grad Allison Janney wins 7th Emmy, gives acceptance speech

"I'm not going to lie. There's a considerable amount of nerves, panic attacks," she says. "It kind of gets more acute as you get older, for some reason. I don't know why. It should get easier as we get older. I'm going to have to find a mantra."

When it comes to the wonderfully warm Janney, even her bout of nerves is refreshing. The actress — who has two Tony Award nominations — has built a huge following for her smart, heartfelt performances in everything from "The Way Way Back" to "Masters of Sex."

"I think part of the reason I love acting is I never feel more connected than I do when I'm onstage or working with another actor," she says. "I feel like I have a purpose and a reason. It makes me feel connected in a way that sometimes eludes me in my day in and day out life."

>>>RELATED: Dayton native Allison Janney hosts Miami Valley students on LA set

The self-confessed workaholic says she's having one of the busiest years of her life, juggling a movie — "I, Tonya," in which she plays skating star Tonya Harding's mother — as well as the TV series "Mom" — and now onstage in a revival of the 1990 play "Six Degrees of Separation ."

The play's plot, based on a real-life incident, centers on a young black man claiming to be the son of actor Sidney Poitier who bamboozles his way through households of rich, supposedly sophisticated New Yorkers. Janney plays a woman whose comfortable life is jolted awake by the encounter.

>>>RELATED: Bradley Cooper, Sheryl Crow, Tom Hanks and more than 12 other stars spotted in the Dayton area

"I think the issues that are in 'Six Degrees of Separation' are issues we're still dealing with as a country — race and class and wanting to be loved. Everything in it resonates, sometimes I think more now than even then," she says. "It's such a beautiful, beautiful play and it breaks my heart every single night."

In this March 29, 2017 photo, Allison Janney poses for a portrait in New York. Janney, who won Emmy Awards for her work in “The West Wing” and “Mom,” is starring in a Broadway revival of “Six Degrees of Separation.” (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)(Brian Ach/Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

Janney's name came up for the revival of John Guare's play initially as a bit of dream casting on the part of Trip Cullman, the show's director. He fell in love with her when she was playing the fast-talking White House press secretary C.J. Cregg on television's "The West Wing."

>>>RELATED: 'The West Wing' stars stop in Dayton for campaign pitch

"You just always love to listen to Allison Janney talk," says Cullman, who said she captures both the chilly patrician essence of the "Six Degrees" role and also its enormous warmth. "She is as kind as she is talented, as funny as she is heartbreaking in the role."

In this March 29, 2017 photo, Allison Janney poses for a portrait in New York. Janney, who won Emmy Awards for her work in “The West Wing” and “Mom,” is starring in a Broadway revival of “Six Degrees of Separation.” (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)(Brian Ach/Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

That Janney snagged the Broadway gig at least in part because she previously played Cregg makes perfect sense: The actress is still a little in awe of that part she played for seven years.

"Of all the roles I've ever played, I wish I was most like her," she says. "I look up to her and wish I could be more like her. I loved her smarts, her heart, everything. It was pretty exciting to get to play her."

>>>RELATED: 10 actors you should know who were born in Dayton

Nostalgia for "The West Wing," which ended its run in 2006, is on the rise, with fans fondly recalling a steady, kindly president surrounded by staffers who were whip-smart, honorable and caring. That fictional West Wing seems better than the real thing to many people, including Janney.

In this March 29, 2017 photo, Allison Janney poses for a portrait in New York. Janney, who won Emmy Awards for her work in “The West Wing” and “Mom,” is starring in a Broadway revival of “Six Degrees of Separation.” (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)(Brian Ach/Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

"It's just a very confusing time now for the world and Washington and for all of us. It's kind of like a reality show that you don't want to watch. I know I'm having difficulty watching it. I feel unmoored," she says.

Has she watched any briefings from the real press secretary, Sean Spicer? "I have been able to watch few of them because I get so embarrassed and it is too upsetting for me to watch them," she says. "I can't even talk about it."

She may just have to find a mantra for that, too.

LeToya Luckett engaged a year after divorce

Published: Thursday, August 17, 2017 @ 3:44 PM

LeToya Luckett is engaged to Dallas-based entrepreneur Tommicus Walker a year after a divorce.
Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET/Getty Images for BET
LeToya Luckett is engaged to Dallas-based entrepreneur Tommicus Walker a year after a divorce.(Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET/Getty Images for BET)

Former Destiny’s Child member LeToya Luckett has a lot to celebrate.

A year after ending her marriage to relationship expert Rob Hill Sr., she is engaged to a new man she has quietly been dating.

Essence reported that, according to photos and videos posted on Instagram, the original member of Destiny’s Child became engaged to Dallas entrepreneur Tommicus Walker after throwing him a surprise birthday party.

Luckett confirmed the news on her own Instagram page early Thursday.

“I said , ‘Yes yeeeesssss’ on his Burfday!” she captioned the photo.

I said , " Yes yeeeesssss" on his Burfday!! #issaengagement #GodShowedout #HesaGoodManSavanah #LoveWins #8/16/17

A post shared by LeToya Luckett (@letoyaluckett) on

In August 2016, TMZ reported that the “In the Name of Love” singer quietly got  a divorce after getting married in January “but split after just 2 months and change.”

Ebony reported that Luckett’s brother, Gavin Luckett, posted a video of the proposal on his Instagram page hours after Luckett confirmed the news.

That one time @letoyaluckett planned a surprise Bday dinner for @iamtwalk2 but he had a bigger surprise for her 💍 Congrats y'all!!!

A post shared by Gavin Luckett🇨🇱🎹🔊🔥 (@g_luck) on

From the video, it’s clear Luckett got a hefty-looking sparkler that she was happy to show off. 

Congrats to the couple!

Tom Cruise broke his ankle during ‘Mission Impossible 6’ stunt, production halted, studio says

Published: Wednesday, August 16, 2017 @ 3:19 PM

Tom Cruise reportedly broke his ankle in two places and injured his hip while doing a stunt for
Tom Cruise reportedly broke his ankle in two places and injured his hip while doing a stunt for "Mission Impossible 6."(Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images/Getty Images)

Days after TMZ captured video that appeared to show Tom Cruise getting injured while performing a stunt on the set of “Mission Impossible 6,” the studio behind the film has confirmed the news.

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“During production on the latest Mission: Impossible film, Tom Cruise broke his ankle while performing a stunt,” Paramount said in a statement Wednesday. “Production will go on hiatus while Tom makes a full recovery, and the film remains on schedule to open July 27, 2018. Tom wants to thank you all for your concern and support and can’t wait to share the film with everyone next summer.”

Related: Tom Cruise appears injured on ‘Mission Impossible 6’ set

Production on the film will be halted for six weeks to three months while the 55-year-old actor recovers, Variety reported, citing four unnamed people close to the situation. 

According to Variety, he may have broken his ankle in two places and hurt his hip. He is scheduled to see a doctor this week.

Video of the stunt showed Cruise in a harness while jumpiing in between two buildings. He appeared to fall short of the second building and slammed into it. He could be seen limping toward crew members and collapsing, before walking back toward the first, taller building and being pulled back by the safety team.

Cruise is well known for doing most of his own stunts. In 2015, he clung to the wing of a moving plane while filming “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger donates $100,000 to ‘anti-hate organization’ after Charlottesville violence

Published: Wednesday, August 16, 2017 @ 7:05 PM

Arnold Schwarzenegger Donates $100,000 To ‘Anti-Hate Organization’ After Charlottesville Violence

Arnold Schwarzenegger is putting his money where his mouth is after seeing coverage of the violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday.

In a statement posted on a note on his Facebook page Sunday, the former governor of California said he had been “horrified by the images of Nazis and white supremacists marching in Charlottesville and I was heartbroken that a domestic terrorist took an innocent life. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of Heather Heyer, Lt. Cullen, and Trooper-Pilot Bates.” He announced he would be donating $100,000 to an “anti-hate organization.”

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Heather Heyer was killed after police said James Alex Fields Jr. drove into a crowd of counterprotesters at the rally.

Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Burke M.M. Bates were killed in a helicopter crash Saturday while assisting with the incident in Charlottesville. The crash, which is under investigations, happened in a wooded area near a home. The two were the only fatalities.

“While these so-called ‘white nationalists’ are lucky to live in a country that defends their right to voice their awful, incorrect, hateful opinions, the rest of us must use our voices and resources to condemn hate and teach tolerance at every opportunity,” Schwarzenegger’s statement said.

“My message to them is simple: you will not win. Our voices are louder and stronger. There is no white America - there is only the United States of America. You were not born with these hateful views - you can change, grow, and evolve, and I suggest you start immediately.”

Schwarzenegger then said he would donate $100,000 to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles non profit organzation 

“I’m sending $100,000 to an anti-hate organization I've worked with for decades - the Simon Wiesenthal Center, named after the great Nazi hunter who I was lucky to call a friend.”

According to its website, the Simon Wiesenthal Center “confronts anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism, promotes human rights and dignity, stands with Israel, defends the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaches the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations.”

In a statement Monday, the Wiesenthal Center called on President Donald Trump to “specifically condemn the extreme alt-right and white nationalists who sow seeds of hate, distrust and violence. They and all other extremists, left or right, have no place in the mainstream of our nation.”

That same day, Trump denounced white supremacists, Nazis and KKK members in a prepared statement. It was two days after the violence in Charlottesville. 

On Wednesday, he backtracked, returning to his initial statement Saturday in which he said “many sides” were to blame for the violence. 

“I think there's blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it,” he said at a news conference Wednesday

That initial response drew criticism from Democrats and Republicans.

Getting To Know Arnold Schwarzenegger

Oprah reveals why she never married Stedman Graham after 30 years

Published: Tuesday, August 15, 2017 @ 4:34 PM

Oprah Winfrey shared with Vogue why she and her partner of 30 years, Stedman Graham, never got married.
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney/Getty Images for Disney
Oprah Winfrey shared with Vogue why she and her partner of 30 years, Stedman Graham, never got married.(Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney/Getty Images for Disney)

They’ve been together more than 30 years, so why have Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham never officially married?

According to Winfrey, their choice to not marry is what kept them together.

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“The only time I brought it up was when I said to Stedman, ‘What would have happened if we had actually gotten married?’ And the answer is: ‘We wouldn’t be together.’ We would not have stayed together, because marriage requires a different way of being in this world,” she said in Vogue’s September issue. “His interpretation of what it means to be a husband and what it would mean for me to be a wife would have been pretty traditional, and I would not have been able to fit into that.”

Related: Oprah opens up about why she never had kids

The two talked marriage in the past -- Graham even proposed in the 1990s -- but ultimately decided that not getting married was right for them.

In 2016, rumors emerged that Winfrey and Graham were planning a wedding, but Winfrey tweeted that it was “NOT TRUE” after getting calls from six people who knew her who gave congrats or expressed surprise that they didn’t get a wedding invite.