Chris Soules breaks silence after arrest, fatal accident

Chris Soules is speaking out for the first time since his involvement in a fatal car accident.

“My family and I are overwhelmed with this tragedy, but we are sticking together and we’ll get through it,” Soules said in a statement. “Thank you for reaching out.”

The former “Bachelor” star was arrested Monday night, following a crash that occurred near his home in Buchanan County, Iowa.

Soules was driving a 2008 Chevy pickup that collided with a tractor, according to a spokesman with the Iowa State Patrol. The individual driving the tractor was killed.

Soules was charged with a class D felony for leaving the scene of the accident. He posted $10,000 bail and is expected in court next month.

Court documents allege that Soules was in possession of “alcoholic beverages/containers.”

After the accident, Soules’ team issued a statement saying that he was “devastated to learn” that the victim had died.

Soules has since suspended his social media pages.

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ESPN will lay off 100 on-air personalities and writers, source says

ESPN plans to lay off 100 on-air personalities and writers, a source familiar with the matter told CNNMoney on Wednesday.

The job cuts, including television, radio and online personalities, will be announced Wednesday, and most will take effect immediately, the source said. ESPN also plans to cut what the source described as a limited number of additional off-air jobs.

ESPN is shifting its focus toward digital as it faces cable subscriber losses and increased pressure on costs. The network has spent billions of dollars in recent years on rights deals with major sports leagues and college conferences.

It was not immediately clear who was losing their jobs. But Ed Werder, a prominent NFL reporter, said on Twitter that he was among those laid off. “I have no plans to retire,” he said.

ESPN declined to comment on the job cuts. In a note to employees, however, ESPN president John Skipper mentioned the changing habits of viewers.

“These decisions impact talented people who have done great work for our company,” he wrote. “I would like to thank all of them for their efforts and their many contributions to ESPN.”

Many of the people who were laid off were coming to the end of their contracts and did not want to accept large pay cuts, the source said. For others, ESPN offered to buy them out of their contracts.

ESPN employs about 8,000 people around the world.

Jim Miller, the co-author of “Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside The World of ESPN,” told CNNMoney that ESPN believed the moves were necessary “to not only stay competitive, but to help transition their content strategy for the future.”

“SportsCenter,” ESPN’s flagship show, will become more of a digital presence and move away from “a show with many, many, highly paid anchors,” Miller said.

“ESPN is arguably one of the greatest success stories in the history of modern media,” Miller added. “But now even it can’t escape some of the harsh realities of an ever changing technological landscape.”

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Chicago artist creates a mural of Michelle Obama and nobody’s happy

A new mural of former first lady Michelle Obama, painted on a building in the Chicago neighborhood where she lived as a child and remains popular, would seem like an innocuous project.

But the mural, by Chicago artist Chris Devins, has sparked intense debate — and not for the usual political reasons.

Shortly after Devins finished the mural last Friday, criticism began bubbling up online. People accused him of copying the image from Rhode Island art student Gelila Mesfin, who had posted a nearly identical portrait of Michelle Obama on Instagram last year.

News of the mural’s existence came as a huge surprise to Mesfin, too.

“How can you just steal someone’s artwork… someone’s hard work and claim it like it’s yours…” she wrote Saturday in an Instagram post.

“How can you go on record and say you designed this… this is so disheartening and so disrespectful on so many levels…” Mesfin added. “It’s one thing to share or even profit from someone’s work but to claim it as yours is just wrong!”

In an interview Tuesday with CNN, Devins denied any wrongdoing. He said he didn’t know who Mesfin was prior to last week and only learned of her artwork after someone on Instagram notified him of her accusations.

“I credited Ms. Mesfin for her work immediately. I’ve taken the heat and will gladly do so as long as the kids have a mural they can look up to,” he said.

Devins said he got the idea for the mural from an image he found on Pinterest that depicted the former first lady as an Egyptian queen. He said he didn’t know where it had originated.

Devins, who calls himself an urban planner as well as an artist, is known for painting large outdoor murals and installations around Chicago. He said he chose the mural’s location — across the street from an elementary school Michelle Obama once attended on the city’s South Side — because “I wanted a mural that would serve as an inspiration for the young ladies on Chicago’s South Side and young ladies everywhere.”

Devins launched a GoFundMe page and raised nearly $12,000 before completing the mural.

In recent days he has been careful to credit Mesfin in all his social media posts. He said he has not spoken directly to Mesfin about the controversy but has offered to pay her a licensing fee and is negotiating with her attorney.

“For me, this is a time for learning and self-reflection, not justification. Though I did not receive any funds based on Ms. Mesfin’s work, I was granted money based on a socially responsible message about Black women,” he said in a statement. “She has accepted my extended hand of friendship and collaboration.”

Devins is certainly not the first artist to appropriate someone else’s work. In fact, Mesfin herself adapted her Obama portrait from a photograph by Collier Schorr that appeared last fall in the New York Times’ magazine. She has consistently credited Schorr in her Instagram posts.

CNN has reached out to Mesfin for comment but has yet to hear back.

But in a statement posted on her social media accounts, Mesfin said she has been in contact with Devins in hopes of resolving the issue “in a professional manner.”

“I only ask that everyone keep this positive towards him; I preach love, not anger or hate of any kind,” she added.

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How to see Minneapolis through Prince’s eyes

Prince was more than a pop star. He was the living embodiment of the music itself; a genre-defying, gender-bending master who could play guitar like Hendrix, out dress Madonna and get down with the spirit of James Brown.

But now he’s gone. One year ago, on April 21, 2016, Prince Rogers Nelson was found dead in his Minneapolis mansion.

A local boy, he grew up, lived and died in his hometown and the echo of his presence remains.

Unsurprisingly given his fame and impact on his hometown, there’s now a guided bus tour of the Purple One’s key locations in the city. (More information: Explore Minnesota / Minneapolis, City by Nature)

Here’s how to see Minneapolis through Prince’s eyes.

The Capri Theatre

It may be in a rundown part of town today, but it was here in the Capri Theater, just a few blocks from where he grew up, that Prince’s legend began.

It was January 1979, he was 18 years old and he’d just recorded his first album “For You,” in which he played every single instrument — 27 of them in total. But this was the first time it all came together live.

There were pyrotechnics, there were sound problems, but all anyone seems to remember was a flamboyant, diminutive figure somehow filling the entire room with energy.

Local music critic Jon Bream, who saw the show, wrote: “He was cool, he was cocky, and he was sexy.” A purple future lay ahead.

The Capri Theater, 2027 West Broadway Avenue, Minneapolis; +1 612 643 2024

First Avenue

The outside walls of this legendary Minneapolis venue, where Prince performed many times — sometimes announced, mostly by surprise — are covered in silver stars with the names of past performers.

Now one is gold, filled in the night of his death by an anonymous fan. It’s a fitting tribute.

Prince shot much of his Oscar-winning movie “Purple Rain” inside.

Walk through the doors and you can almost sense his presence, backlit, in white leather, smoke all around, cloud guitar in hand, ready to play. Just like the movie.

First Avenue, corner of First Avenue & 7th Street, Minneapolis; +1 612 332 1775

Purple Rain House

A year before his death, Prince bought the house featured in the movie “Purple Rain” — a three-bed, barn-style residential in southwest Minneapolis.

“The Kid” may have grown up here in the film, but don’t expect to see where he made out with Apollonia.

The house, not to be confused with Prince’s real-life Purple House in Chanhassen, where he lived in the early 80s but had bulldozed after moving, was only used for exterior shots.

Today it has an eerie presence, dilapidated and empty, in an otherwise normal residential street, with flowers and purple candles left like an altar at its steps.

Purple Rain House, 3420 Snelling Avenue, Minneapolis.

Dakota Jazz Club

This iconic live music and dinner club, in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, was one of Prince’s favorite hangouts.

He had his own table on the second floor, where he could sneak in unobserved to watch shows and even played here too: using the tiny stage to warm up for a 2013 tour in front of just 350 lucky locals.

The Raspberry Beret Bellini is fresh, delicious and made in his honor.

Dakota Jazz Club, 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; +1 612 332 5299 (Box Office) / +1 612 332 1010 (Dinner Reservations)

Electric Fetus

A Minneapolis bastion of counter-culture spirit since 1968, the Electric Fetus, an Aladdin’s cave of independent music, rare vinyl and quirky left-of-center gifts, is where Prince went to buy his music.

“He had a golden aura,” one sales assistant says, describing those visits. “He floated, he didn’t walk.”

And he was loyal, too. His last album “Hit n Run Phase Two” was released worldwide exclusively through this tiny store, and he would often allow them to stock his music weeks before its official release.

Electric Fetus, 2000 4th Avenue South, Minneapolis; + 1 612 870 9300

Paisley Park

Prince may have left his mark throughout the city, but it’s at his former home, Paisley Park, in the suburbs of Chanhassen, where his presence is most keenly felt. The estate has been offering tours since last November — the first time fans have been able to see inside his inner sanctum.

For a man known to wear bottomless yellow onesies, first impressions are surprising: a windowless white-panel box on the edge of a busy motorway, more like a secret government research facility than a pop star’s crib.

But walk through the doors of the 65,000-square-foot wildly eccentric and predominantly purple mansion — which includes a full Hollywood-style soundstage, four recording studios and a nightclub — and it all makes sense.

Paisley Park, 7801 Audubon Road, Chanhassen, Minnesota.

The Atrium

The tour begins at the end, in the atrium, where his ashes are kept in a miniaturized version of his home.

Blue-sky walls with airbrush-painted clouds, a giant mural of his eyes with a burst of godlike light beaming down and real life doves that coo, but don’t cry, in a cage above.

His star is everywhere: see-through pearl-string stage costumes with chain-mail veils, his legendary Hohner “MadCat” Telecaster guitar, lyrics penned in neat cursive in a faded notebook.

But it’s the homely touches, which surround the room, that are most interesting: his golden office, where he would mentor younger acts; the diner-style kitchen, where he would eat pancakes and watch basketball; an entire room decked out in UV stars like a purple nebula, where he would write songs and meditate.

He lived as he played: flamboyant, eccentric and self-assured.

Studio A & B

Prince’s vision for Paisley Park was to unite his life and his music, he could literally plug in and record just about anywhere he pleased. But it was in the famous Studio B where the magic happened.

Through the recording-booth glass, there’s a gold-framed photograph of his father, John Nelson, next to the mixing desk where “Sign O’ The Times” was put to record.

Outside, the ping pong table where he would relax between takes (he was a master and once destroyed his pop rival Michael Jackson in a game).

Studio A, nearby, is the home of his last recorded work. Stand in the middle of the room and the sound washes over in perfect clarity, trademark Prince funk with a touch of jazz, but no vocals, he never got that far.

A microphone stand bent down towards his empty chair, unfinished lyrics on the music stand by its side.

Sound Stage & NPG Music Club

The enormous 12,400-square-foot sound stage, where “Graffiti Bridge” and “Sign O’ The Times” were filmed, now houses displays of every Prince era: from “Purple Rain” and the New Power Generation to 3RDEYEGIRL and his last incarnation, the stripped back “Piano and a Microphone” shows.

Annexed next door is his private NPG Music Club, with purple nook sofas, psychedelic projections and an enormous heart-shaped mirror on the floor.

Prince was famous for throwing impromptu late-night parties here, inviting local fans on a first-come, first-served basis, and now the tradition is continuing with a newly announced series of “After Dark” celebrations and late-night concert screenings.

“Life is just a party,” Prince sang. “And parties weren’t meant to last.” This one, it seems, isn’t quite over yet.

Purple Rain Room

Once used for dance rehearsals, the Purple Rain room, as it’s now called, features a display of his most treasured memorabilia from the film: the purple motorbike, the cloud guitar, the little purple piano that he danced on top of.

But to truly appreciate the greatness of that song, pause at the end of the tour to watch a loop of his 2007 Super Bowl performance of it, widely considered the greatest half-time show in history.

Just before he was due on stage a torrential rainstorm broke outside, but when asked if he wanted to delay the show he replied: “Can you make it rain harder?” The result is one of the hottest, most soaking-wet guitar solos ever played.

Graffiti Bridge Room

Treasures from his less successful second foray into film with “Graffiti Bridge,” as well as the movie “Under a Cherry Moon,” in which he played a gigolo swindling rich French women, are on display here.

This room was always envisioned by Prince as part of a museum of his work and art, but it’s what’s nearby that is perhaps more revealing.

In a backroom corridor, there is a mural showing Prince emerging godlike from a lotus flower, arms outstretched either side.

To the right are his influences; to the left, the people he has in turn influenced. It’s a good metaphor for who he was. Lenny Kravitz said it best: “He was a vessel — an instrument himself.”

Memorial Fence

After his death, tributes from around the world were pinned to the fence that surrounds Paisley Park. The tour ends with a revolving display of some of the best.

There are hand- painted canvases, poems and little porcelain doves, but most of all just simple thanks. “Your music is the soundtrack of my best memories,” reads one. Perhaps those memories aren’t quite finished yet.

Underneath Paisley Park is a vault containing hundreds of hours of unreleased music. Almost no one has seen inside. But when asked in an interview what it might contain, his answer was cocky, tantalizing and pure Prince: the future.

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9 months of sex scandals take down two Fox News icons

In just nine months, Fox News has lost its founder and its biggest star to sexual harassment scandals.

It began on July 6, 2016, when Gretchen Carlson dropped a bombshell that CEO Roger Ailes had harassed her. Other accusations followed and Ailes was gone two weeks later. On Wednesday, Bill O’Reilly followed Ailes out the door.

July 6, 2016 – Gretchen Carlson brings suit against Roger Ailes

Carlson, a former Fox News host, sends shockwaves through the media world when she sues Ailes. The suit claims that she was terminated for “refusing Ailes’ sexual advances.”

Ailes denies the accusations saying “This is a retaliatory suit for the network’s decision not to renew her contract.”

This leads Fox’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, to conduct an internal review.

July 19, 2016 – Megyn Kelly tells investigators that Ailes harassed her

New York Magazine reports that anchor Megyn Kelly, one of the network’s biggest stars, told 21st Century Fox investigators that Ailes made unwanted sexual advances towards her a decade earlier.

July 21, 2016 – Roger Ailes leaves Fox News

Shrouded in scandal, Ailes resigns from Fox News ending his 20-year run at the network.

Rupert Murdoch, the head of 21st Century Fox, becomes the channel’s chairman and acting CEO.

July 29, 2016 – Laurie Luhn

Laurie Luhn, a former Fox News booker, tells investigators of the Fox internal probe that she had been harassed by Ailes for more than 20 years and that Fox News knew about it, according to New York Magazine.

“It was psychological torture,” she tells the magazine.

Summer 2016 – Laurie Dhue

Following Ailes’ resignation, 21st Century Fox reaches a settlement of more than $1 million with Laurie Dhue, an anchor from 2000 to 2008, regarding harassment claims against O’Reilly and Ailes, according to the New York Times.

August 22, 2016 – Andrea Tantaros

Andrea Tantaros, a former Fox News host, files a lawsuit alleging that she was sexually harassed by both Ailes and O’Reilly.

“Fox News masquerades as a defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny,” Tantaros claims in the suit.

Fox News responds a few days later saying Tantaros is “not a victim” but rather “an opportunist.”

September 2016 – Juliet Huddy

21st Century Fox pays out a $1.6 million settlement to Juliet Huddy, who had made appearances on “The O’Reilly Factor,” according to The New York Times.

Huddy claims O’Reilly tried to kiss her and tried to stunt her career once she turned him away.

September 6, 2016 – Carlson settles

Gretchen Carlson and 21st Century Fox reach a settlement worth $20 million.

November 15, 2016 – Megyn Kelly’s memoir alleges harassment by Ailes

Kelly alleges in her memoir that Ailes made unwanted sexual advances towards her.

This leads to O’Reilly telling “CBS This Morning” that he’s “not interested in making my network look bad,” referring to Kelly.

O’Reilly adds on his own show that “if somebody is paying you a wage, you owe that person or company allegiance. If you don’t like what’s happening in the workplace, go to human resources or leave.”

March 9, 2017 – Tamara Holder sues Francisco Cortes

Fox agrees to pay $2.5 million to Tamara Holder, a former on-air contributor, following her allegations that Francisco Cortes, an executive at Fox News Latino who was terminated, forced himself on her in 2015.

April 1, 2017 – The New York Times bombshell

The New York Times reports that five women (Rachel Witlieb Bernstein, Andra Mackris, Rebecca Gomez Diamond, Dhue, and Huddy) have received settlements from O’Reilly, Fox News, or 21st Century Fox since 2002.

Of the five, the Times reveals three payouts totaling $13 million.

April 3, 2017 – Julie Roginsky

Just days after Times report, Julie Roginsky files a harassment lawsuit against Ailes.

Roginsky, a contributor, alleges that Ailes advised her to “engage in sexual relationships with ‘older, married, conservative men’ because ‘they may stray but they always come back because they’re loyal.'”

Roginsky states that she was led to believe that she would receive a permanent position on the network’s panel show, “The Five,” but that it was rescinded once she turned back Ailes.

April 4, 2017 – Wendy Walsh

Wendy Walsh, a psychologist and radio TV personality, accuses O’Reilly of harassment. She tells CNN that’s she not in it for the money and not suing him.

April 4, 2017 – O’Reilly has sponsor exodus

In wake of the scandal, O’Reilly’s highly rated news show bleeds sponsors.

Dozens of companies including Mercedes-Benz, BMW of North America, Lexus, Bayer, Allstate and Hyundai pull ads from Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”

April 11, 2017 — O’Reilly goes on vacation

Amid the advertiser boycott, O’Reilly announces he is taking a two-week vacation. His spokesperson says the trip had been planned since October, and Fox News says he will return to “The O’Reilly Factor” on April 24.

April 19, 2017 — O’Reilly is officially out

After significant back and forth, Fox News parent 21st Century Fox gives O’Reilly the boot.

“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” the company says.

O’Reilly calls his departure “tremendously disheartening,” claiming his accusers made “completely unfounded claims.”

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Bill O’Reilly out at Fox News

Bill O’Reilly’s 21-year career at Fox News has come to a sudden and ignoble end.

“The O’Reilly Factor” has been canceled amid a cloud of harassment allegations against the conservative broadcaster.

Rupert Murdoch and his sons James and Lachlan, who run 21st Century Fox, made the announcement Wednesday afternoon.

“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” Fox said.

In a statement of his own released later Wednesday afternoon, O’Reilly said, “It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today.”

It is unclear if Fox News is paying O’Reilly. The host is presumably owed tens of millions of dollars under the terms of his multi-year contract, though the contract may have contained clauses allowing Fox News to get out of the deal.

It is also unknown if O’Reilly is subject to a so-called “non-compete” clause limiting his ability to appear on other networks.

O’Reilly’s ouster shocked the television news industry, including Fox’s own employees. While the broadcaster was not well-liked inside the network, he was viewed as invincible.

Wednesday’s outcome “is stunning because Bill O’Reilly WAS Fox News,” former Fox contributor Kirsten Powers said on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”

Powers, who moved to CNN last summer, said “it was sort of unthinkable that he would ever leave there, except on his own terms.”

What changed? An investigation by The New York Times. After founding Fox News CEO Roger Ailes resigned under a cloud of sexual harassment allegations last summer, the Times looked into allegations in O’Reilly’s past.

It found that O’Reilly and Fox had reached settlements totaling $13 million with five women who had accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment or verbal abuse, only some of which had previously been reported publicly.

The Times published its reporting on April 1. Within days, there was an advertiser exodus — dozens of sponsors told Fox to remove their ads from “The O’Reilly Factor.”

There was also a crucial phone call from an O’Reilly accuser to Fox. On April 5, Wendy Walsh called Fox’s hotline and described what she said was harassment and retaliatory behavior by O’Reilly back in 2013.

This was significant because O’Reilly and Fox had said that none of the women accusing O’Reilly of improprieties had ever contacted human resources or called the hotline.

Walsh and her attorney Lisa Bloom publicized the phone call. The Murdochs responded to the call by asking the law firm Paul, Weiss to conduct an investigation.

The results of the internal probe were not shared publicly. But it apparently influenced the Murdochs’ decision.

In a letter to employees on Wednesday, Rupert Murdoch said O’Reilly’s exit followed “an extensive review done in collaboration with outside counsel.”

The involvement of Paul, Weiss was instrumental in Ailes’ eventual resignation.

In the letter, Murdoch praised O’Reilly as “one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news” before saying “we want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect.”

The letter concluded with an apparent nod to morale problems within Fox News recently.

“I understand how difficult this has been for many of you,” Murdoch wrote. “Thank you for your hard work, patience, and for the great job you all do delivering news and opinion to millions of Americans whose trust you earn every day. I look forward to even more success in the coming years.”

Minutes after O’Reilly’s departure was confirmed, Fox tried to turn the page by announcing a new, O’Reilly-less lineup, which will take effect on Monday, the day O’Reilly had been scheduled to return from vacation.

Tucker Carlson will move from 9 p.m. to take over O’Reilly’s 8 p.m. slot, while the five-person talk show “The Five” will move to 9 p.m. with new co-host Jesse Watters.

Eric Bolling, who had been a co-host of “The Five,” is taking over the 5 p.m. hour, though his new show will not debut until May 1.

On Wednesday night Dana Perino hosted the 8 p.m. hour on Fox, which was stripped of all O’Reilly branding. The show was simply titled “The Factor.” Perino addressed O’Reilly’s departure at the start and end of the show, but did not mention the reasons behind it.

In contrast to Fox News, Henry Holt, an imprint of Macmillan that has published O’Reilly’s litany of best-selling books, said it was standing by him on Wednesday.

“Our plans have not changed,” a spokeswoman said.

Liberal groups which had long opposed O’Reilly, and had been pushing advertisers to join the boycott, celebrated the news Wednesday.

“Advertisers fled because they immediately recognized what Fox News has ignored for over a decade: that serial sexual harassment is not only wrong, but bad for business. Without advertisers, Bill O’Reilly’s show was no longer commercially viable. Fox News had no choice but to fire O’Reilly. Accountability came from the outside, not from within,” Media Matters for America president Angelo Carusone said in a statement.

— CNNMoney’s Tom Kludt contributed reporting.

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