Move over Puppy Bowl, here come the kitties

Updated: Saturday, July 16, 2016 @ 3:54 PM
Published: Friday, April 05, 2013 @ 3:57 PM
By: Russell Mills -

Perhaps someone at the Hallmark Channel noted the proliferation of cat videos on the Internet, or possibly someone just thought felines should have equal time when it comes to faux sporting events.

For whatever reason, the 2014 Superbowl will now have a new foe fighting for eyeballs -- the Kitten Bowl.

The three hour special will air beginning at noon, Eastern Time, February 2, 2014 on the Hallmark Channel.

It will, in the network's words, feature the "world’s most adorable – and adoptable – kittens in the mother lode of cat agility competition."

It goes on to say "the special, which will be presented annually, is supported by the network’s animal welfare partner, American Humane Association, and is just one of many high-profile commitments the company has made to its evergreen Pet Project initiative. With American Humane Association, Hallmark Channel’s in-house production team will scour rescue associations and shelters searching for kitty competitors whose enduring prize will be a loving, forever home."

“Creating another programming event to reinforce Hallmark Channel’s Pet Project, our corporate pet adoption and safety initiative, enhances the profile of the plight of shelter animals in our country while providing fun, family-oriented entertainment to our viewers. We are very proud of our association with American Humane Association and their support of our work in this area,” said Bill Abbott, President & CEO, Crown Media Family Networks, home of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel.

The network added: "The agility competition will consist of a basic obstacle course of hurdles of varying heights, A-frame Alpine Scratchers, tunnels, hoop jumps, and weave poles. Lures, like laser pointers, and toys on a string will be used to get the kittens through the course, but food will not allowed. Cat agility competitions, which are modeled after the equestrian sport of show jumping, normally include rules which state that cats must complete a course in under 270 seconds, completing each obstacle in a prescribed manner. In a typical feline agility contest, a cat would complete between six and fourteen obstacles, with winning cats completing the course in ten seconds or less. In 'Kitten Bowl,' however, the competitors are kittens and any form of cuteness is the key to the game."

Britney Spears 'very nervous' about performing at MTV Video Music Awards

Updated: Sunday, August 28, 2016 @ 4:09 AM
Published: Sunday, August 28, 2016 @ 2:03 AM

Apparently, even pop diva Britney Spears gets stage fright.

>> Click here to watch the report from E!

Spears, who will perform her new song "Make Me ..." at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, opened up to reporters about her pending moment on the MTV stage, E! reports.

>> MTV VMA awards: What time, what channel, who's presenting, who's performing

“I think there’s something in the air with the VMAs. It’s like electric. I can’t really explain it,” the 34-year-old singer began.

>> Drake buys Rihanna congratulatory billboard for MTV VMAs honor

“Every time I’ve performed there, it’s always been one of those really big, nerve-racking experiences and the people that come, those celebrities, are so much fun and different … I still get very nervous,” she admitted.

>> Read more trending stories

The show airs at 9 p.m. Sunday on MTV.

Drake buys Rihanna congratulatory billboard for MTV VMAs honor

Updated: Sunday, August 28, 2016 @ 4:09 AM
Published: Sunday, August 28, 2016 @ 3:32 AM
By: Lauren Grose

Rapper Drake may have not officially confirmed the dating rumors with Barbadian singer Rihanna, but the two have made it very clear that their friendship is very close.

>> Britney Spears 'very nervous' about performing at MTV Video Music Awards

Drake purchased a billboard in Los Angeles to congratulate the “Work” singer on receiving the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards. The show airs Sunday night.

>> MTV VMA awards: What time, what channel, who's presenting, who's performing

The billboard reads: “Congratulations to Rihanna from Drake and Everyone at OVO.”

>> Read more trending stories

Rihanna showed her appreciation for the kind gesture by posting a photo of the billboard to Instagram, writing, “When he extra.” She added heart and trophy emojis.

>> Click here to see the post

When he extra!!!

A photo posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

Al Roker on Ryan Lochte: NBC refutes reports that execs are upset

Updated: Friday, August 26, 2016 @ 10:24 PM
Published: Friday, August 26, 2016 @ 9:41 PM
By: Cox Media Group National Content Desk

            Al Roker on Ryan Lochte: NBC refutes reports that execs are upset
Today / YouTube

The heated debate "Today Show" weatherman Al Roker and reporter Billy Bush had about U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte's Rio incident went viral as the Olympics ended last week.

It drew viewers to the NBC morning program, but according to gossip site Page Six, NBC executives are "embarrassed" by the argument.

>> Read more trending stories

Bush and Roker were debating the circumstances of Lochte's story in which he said he and three other swimmers were robbed by police in Rio.

Lochte was charged by Rio authorities Thursday for filing a false police report. Although there were reported holes in Rio's account, which accused the swimmers of destroying a gas station bathroom.

Only a ripped poster was found, according to a USA Today account.

Related: Ryan Lochte has been charged by Rio authorities, report says

Roker insisted that Lochte lied and threw his teammates under the bus by leaving Rio. Bush, who later said he was playing devil's advocate, used Lochte's wording in the swimmers interview with Matt Lauer and said that Lochte was simply "exaggerating." Bush also said that all the facts were not clear, but Roker was adamant that Lochte lied regardless.

"There were several producers and talent who were left trying to explain Al’s over-the-top behavior. Several insiders found themselves wanting to distance themselves from his response," Page Six said a source told them. "It was a great thing to watch online, but a lot of NBC staff thought that he took it way too far for something that, while it was certainly a legitimate issue and certainly bad behavior by Lochte, outrage to that level just wasn’t justified."

But an unidentified NBC exec said otherwise.

"This is not true. No one feels this way," the exec told Page Six. "In fact, everyone here is happy -- specifically with the 'Today' show’s great ratings."

Ryan Lochte incident: Summons to testify in Brazil expected

Updated: Friday, August 26, 2016 @ 10:24 PM
Published: Thursday, August 25, 2016 @ 2:34 PM
By: Cox Media Group National Content Desk

UPDATE: Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte is expected to be summoned to testify in Brazil about a robbery he reported during the games. If he fails to appear in Brazil, he could be tried in absentia and would not be able to engage in a plea deal, according to the Fox News report.

Read the original report below.

Following the loss of endorsement deals after Lochte admitted he "over-exaggerated" his story of being robbed at gunpoint by Brazilian civilians posing as police officials, a report claims there may be gaps in the version of the story that was given by Rio police.

USA Today said in a report it has constructed a narrative of the events in the incident, which also involved Olympic swimmers Gunnar Bentz, Jimmy Feigen and Jack Conger, that it says may indicate Rio police fabricated reports of the incident as well.

>> Read more trending stories

Here are the investigation findings, according to USA Today:

Claims that the Rio police were not transparent

USA Today said that when its reporters requested information, Rio police declined, saying the investigation was confidential. It said that part of the released reports of testimony given by Conger and Bentz, which contained statements that expressed doubt about Lochte's story, does not include the part of the statements that mentioned interactions with armed Rio authorities.

The newspaper said Rio's civil police would not provide the full testimony, and the portion of testimony that was released was removed from the organization's social media sites.

Related: Ryan Lochte loses 4 endorsement deals in one day

It reported that police accused Lochte and Feigen filing of a false police report, which may result in six months in prison and a fine. Bentz and Conger do not face charges. Feigen paid a settlement to avoid charges.

USA Today cited Deborah Srour, who said she practiced law in Brazil for 25 years and has represented Americans arrested in Brazil, as saying the swimmers' actions do not match the accusation by police.

"This crime only happens when you go to the police and you make a report, you file a report,"’ Srour said. "This did not happen."

Damage by swimmers to gas station restroom unclear

According to USA Today's report, Brazilian authorities said the swimmers vandalized a gas station restroom, but the paper said a reporter who visited the area did not see evidence of a broken soap dispenser, restroom doors or mirrors as Rio police chief Fernando Veloso said at a news conference.

Related: Al Roker blasts Ryan Lochte: 'He lied!'

The report said that, upon observing released surveillance video, swimmers were not seen going near any of the restrooms, contrary to Rio authorities' statements. USA Today said it only found a sign that was torn down, which it said matched statements from authorities and bystander Fernando Deluz. It also said Bentz's statement to police and authorities' narrative supported that the swimmers urinated behind the gas station.

Whether guards drew weapons on the swimmers is also unclear

It is not clear whether or not the guards, who USA Today said were police working a private security detail, drew a weapon on the swimmers. What is agreed upon, according to USA Today, is that the guards who allegedly showed their law enforcement badges to the swimmers after they urinated behind the gas station prevented the swimmers from leaving.

Related: Report: Teammate claims Lochte fabricated robbery story

As the swimmers tried to leave in a cab, USA Today reported that surveillance videos show a man stopping the cab. The man appears to have something in his hand. Veloso confirmed in a news conference that the guards were state police, but would not identify them and defended the guards for drawing weapons. USA Today said Bentz's statement about what happened after the cab was stopped -- that guards pointed their guns at the swimmers -- "could be attributed to cultural and linguistic clumsiness or to the swimmers allegedly being inebriated."

Debate over whether the swimmers were robbed, as Lochte claimed

Bentz's account said the swimmers were held at gunpoint until they paid the guards. "I gave them what I had in my wallet, which was a $20 bill, and Jimmy gave them 100 reais, which is about $50 in total. They lowered the guns, and I used hand gestures to ask if it was OK to leave, and they said yes,” his statement said.

USA Today cited witness Deluz, who said that the damage to the sign could have been resolved with an apology even if the swimmers had no money to pay for the damage, but the newspaper said the witness's claim does not match Bentz's statement, or Lochte's story, in which he said "there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money."

Related: What Ryan Lochte said about the Rio robbery

USA Today cited Rio Judge Joao Batista Damasceno as saying it may not be a robbery if the guards only asked for the amount of the damage. "But if the amount taken is higher than the value of the damages, with the use of a weapon by the 'security,' this is robbery."

Deluz said if the men were robbing the swimmers, they would have taken all the money rather than accept the requested payment, which Deluz said was understood as being tied to the damage to the sign.