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Keillor: Relationship with accuser simply 'romantic writing'

Garrison Keillor described several sexually suggestive emails he exchanged with a former researcher who accused him of sexual misconduct as "romantic writing" that never resulted in a physical relationship, and the radio host rejected the idea that because he was her boss — and the driving force of a hugely popular radio program — it could be sexual harassment.

The woman responded, via her attorney, that Keillor's power over her job made her afraid to say no to him.

In one of his first extended interviews since Minnesota Public Radio cut ties over the allegations against the former "A Prairie Home Companion" host in November, Keillor said he never had a sexual relationship with the woman, a freelance contributor to the show at the time.

"No button was unbuttoned and no zipper was unzipped," Keillor told The Associated Press. "I never kissed her ... This was a flirtation between two writers that took place in writing."

Keillor also downplayed his power over the woman by portraying himself as uninvolved in the mundane operations of the radio show he created nearly a half-century ago and built into a powerhouse that attracted millions of listeners nationwide each Saturday evening, spun off assorted businesses and tours and inspired a movie.

"I was not really the boss around 'Prairie Home Companion,'" Keillor said. "I was a writer sitting in a dim office at a typewriter, back in the old days." He also said: "I had no control over her whatsoever. She worked at home."

The woman said in an emailed response through her attorney that Keillor "had the power to provide or take away job assignments and opportunities. He also acknowledged several times that power imbalance between us, recognizing how his conduct could be offensive when it was coming from the person for whom I work."

She also said she wasn't interested in anything but a "collegial" relationship with Keillor.

"He was my mentor and employer," she said. "As such, he had power over me. Every time I said 'no' or tried to avoid him I feared I was saying 'no' to my future."

The Associated Press does not typically name alleged victims of sexual harassment unless they have chosen to go public.

MPR spokeswoman Angie Andresen said the station stands by its handling of the claims against Keillor. In January, the company said the woman had accused Keillor of dozens of sexually inappropriate incidents over several years, including requests for sexual contact and explicit sexual communications and touching.

"Our decision was not based on flirtations or fantasies, but based on facts confirming unacceptable behavior in the workplace by a person in a position of power over someone who worked for him," Andresen said by email.

Kelly Marinelli, founder of Solve HR Inc., a human resources consulting company in Colorado, said even when a relationship seems reciprocal, there could be problems when one person is the boss.

"In a situation where someone has power over another person and whether or not they continue to receive work ... it's very difficult for that to be a real mutual, consensual relationship," she said.

Prior to the interview, Keillor's attorneys allowed the AP to view hundreds of emails between Keillor and the woman dating from 2004 to 2017, on condition that they could be described but not quoted directly.

Some were work-related, including details from her research and Keillor's critiques. But many were personal, sharing details about their families and emotional struggles from their home email accounts, and some were overtly sexual.

The tone began changing in 2013, as the pair began sharing more about their lives and signing off by saying they loved and missed each other. By 2014 and 2015, the emails became more amorous. They both shared wishes or fantasies of being intimate, sometimes in detail. In one July 20, 2015, email, Keillor wrote of his desire to reach into the woman's blouse and hold her breast in his hand. Keillor was married at the time and still is.

"I agree that there are adolescent passages in there, but there were some by her and some by me," Keillor told the AP.

"We were two writers and we wrote back and forth and sometimes we slipped into what one could call them romantic writing," he said. "But this was between two people who hardly ever laid eyes on each other. She was never required to be in the office."

Keillor also wrote about wanting to touch the woman, kiss her, or be naked with her on several occasions. She replied in kind. The emails also included some explicit acknowledgements by Keillor of their work relationship, with him apologizing for some of the emails and noting that he was the person she worked for — but that he didn't feel like her boss.

When MPR cut ties with Keillor in November, his public statement at the time acknowledged one incident -- placing his hand on a woman's bare back in what he portrayed as an accident. He said then it was the only incident he could remember.

A timeline provided along with the emails said it was in July 2015 when Keillor's hand went inside her shirt and he touched her back as they embraced while at lunch. That was the same month as he sent the email about holding her breast. In a July 2016 email, as he neared retirement, Keillor apologized to the woman; she replied that she forgave him.

Keillor was accompanied in the interview by his attorney, Eric Nilsson, who highlighted the woman's status as a freelancer.

"There's an important distinction between an employee and an independent contractor. This woman was an independent contractor," he said.

Until his retirement in 2016, Keillor, 75, entertained millions weekly on "A Prairie Home Companion," the show he created in 1974.

MPR faced a backlash from some listeners when it ended its relationship with him, in part because it provided scant details of the allegations against him. It later gave more details based on what the company said was a 12-page letter from the woman.

MPR has removed archived Keillor shows from its website and no longer rebroadcasts shows he hosted. It also ended broadcasts of "The Writer's Almanac," his daily reading of literary events and a poem. Talks between Keillor and MPR over transitioning their business relationship have gone nowhere since early January.


Associated Press writer Doug Glass contributed.


Follow Jeff Baenen on Twitter at . Find more of his work at .

Judge dismisses coal company suit against HBO's John Oliver

A West Virginia judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by coal company Murray Energy against HBO host John Oliver.

A segment of Oliver's Sunday show "Last Week Tonight" in June poked fun at Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray, who blames regulatory efforts by the Obama administration for damaging the coal industry. Oliver said the 77-year-old looked like a "geriatric Dr. Evil."

A Circuit Court judge in Marshall County, West Virginia, ruled on Wednesday that Murray's company failed to state a claim. The two-page ruling from Senior Judge Jeffrey Cramer was posted online by The Hollywood Reporter.

The Ohio-based company was seeking financial damages and a court order barring rebroadcasts of the segment's "defamatory statements."

HBO had argued the show didn't violate Murray Energy's rights or those of Murray.

Adina Pintilie's "Touch Me Not" wins Berlin's Golden Bear

"Touch Me Not," an experimental movie about intimacy from Romanian director Adina Pintilie, won the top Golden Bear prize at the Berlin International Film Festival on Saturday.

The movie, which follows the story of a woman who can't bear to be touched and various other people searching for intimacy, was chosen from a field of 19 competitors at the first of the year's major European movie festivals. The Berlin jury was led by German director Tom Tykwer.

"We were not expecting that," Pintilie said. "We would like that the dialogue 'Touch Me Not' proposes opens to the world, so we invite you, the viewer, to dialogue."

American Wes Anderson was named best director Saturday for his animated movie "Isle of Dogs," a journey that begins with a city's dogs being exiled to a vast garbage dump and features the voices of Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum and Scarlett Johansson, among others.

Anderson couldn't be in Berlin on Saturday so Murray collected the award.

"I never thought that I would go to work as a dog and come home with a bear," he said.

The best actor award went to Anthony Bajon for his role in French director Cedric Khan's "The Prayer" and the best actress prize to Ana Brun for her part in Marcelo Martinessi's "The Heiresses," from Paraguay.

The jury grand prize award went to Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska's "Mug" while "The Heiresses" also picked up a prize for a film that opens up new perspectives.

Mexican entry "Museum" picked up the best screenplay prize for Manuel Alcala and Alonso Ruizpalacios. The award for an outstanding artistic contribution went to Elena Okopnaya for the costume and production design in the Russian film "Dovlatov."

Emma Chambers, 'Vicar of Dibley' actress, dies at 53

British actress Emma Chambers, best known for her role as Alice Tinker on the hit BBC show "The Vicar of Dibley," has died.

She was 53.

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The news of her death was announced Saturday, but the BBC reported that Chambers died Wednesday evening. Chambers died of natural causes, the BBC reported.

Chambers was well-respected for her comedic talents. She starred on "The Vicar of Dibley" from 1994 to 2007, earning a British Comedy Award in 1998, the BBC reported. Chambers also appeared in the film "Notting Hill" with Hugh Grant.

Chambers is survived by her husband, actor Ian Dunn, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

'Vicar of Dibley' actress Emma Chambers dies at 53

British actress Emma Chambers, known for her roles in "The Vicar of Dibley" television series and the romantic comedy "Notting Hill," has died at 53.

Her agent John Grant said Saturday that Chambers had died of natural causes on Wednesday evening.

"Over the years, Emma created a wealth of characters and an immense body of work. She brought laughter and joy to many, and will be greatly missed," he said.

Chambers was well known in Britain for her role as Alice Tinker in the long-running "The Vicar of Dibley" comedy. Dawn French, who co-starred with Chambers in the popular show, told Britain's Press Association she will miss Chambers very much.

"Emma was a very bright spark and the most loyal and loving friend anyone could wish for," French said.

Chambers also had a long career in a variety of television and film roles.

Emma Freud, the wife of "The Vicar Of Dibley" creator Richard Curtis, said on Twitter that Chambers had been a "beautiful friend."

"We're very very sad. She was a great, great comedy performer, and a truly fine actress. And a tender, sweet, funny, unusual, loving human being," Freud tweeted.

Actor Hugh Grant, part of the "Notting Hill" cast, called Chambers "a hilarious and very warm person and of course a brilliant actress."

Chambers was born in Doncaster, 170 miles (275 kilometers) north of London and trained at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art.

She is survived by her husband Ian Dunn.

What went right, wrong for NBC at the Olympics

Counting up the medals, Pyeongchang was a lackluster Olympics for the U.S. team, and the post-mortems will soon begin about what went right and wrong.

It's worth taking the same look at NBC's performance, because the network is locked into showing the Olympics every two years through 2032.

NBC tried some new things, and new people, to supplement a blueprint it has followed for several years.


The network started strong in the ratings, and has faded in the homestretch in part, executives believe, because more people became absorbed in the news following the Florida school shooting.

The company will turn a profit, and said it will hit the ratings guarantees it promised to advertisers, an important financial barometer.

Through Thursday, NBC had averaged 20.6 million viewers in prime time for the network, the NBCSN cable network and streaming services. That's down 8 percent from the Sochi Olympics in 2014, when the broadcast network was the only prime-time option (viewership on NBC alone is down 18 percent).

Young viewers are slipping away faster, and a Seton Hall University poll found people aged 18-to-29 were nearly as likely to stream the Olympics on their devices as watch on TV.

No one likes to see ratings go down. But because of how streaming services have changed viewing behavior since 2014, programs with a bigger audience than four years ago are rare. For two weeks, NBC routinely had more viewers than ABC, CBS and Fox combined.

"We were a little bit surprised that it started out as strong as it did," said Mark Lazarus, chairman of the NBC Sports Group. "It will end up about where we thought it would."


NBC's replacement of Bob Costas with Mike Tirico as prime-time Olympics host has by most accounts gone smoothly.

"He's done a terrific job," Lazarus said. "He is a warm and welcoming host. He is facile with the facts, he is entertaining and he is compatible with our announcers in the venues and the people who come to the (headquarters) to do interviews."

Tirico has shown no growing pains, and anytime a high-profile person avoids a headline-making gaffe is a plus. He's still somewhat of a mystery to viewers, since he had few opportunities to do interviews or commentary.

Part of that was the preponderance of live events in prime time that made Tirico essentially a television traffic cop.

The same busy schedule left less time for the profiles that tend to drive sports purists nuts. That also means less time to get to know the host country than in past Olympics. Anything that minimizes the presence of storytellers Mary Carillo and Jimmy Roberts is a minus.

NBC also showed little taste for stories that went beyond medals or Olympic records. The sexual misconduct allegations against Shaun White , Shani Davis' anger at not being selected flag-bearer, the skier with few apparent skills who made the Hungarian team — all got little or no attention.

NBC may justify that reluctance, given that Katie Couric and commentator Joshua Cooper Ramo were criticized for comments that strayed from sports during the opening ceremony .

But these stories are an important part of the Olympics, and avoiding them makes NBC vulnerable to criticism that it doesn't want to offend the people who run the games, its business partners.


Among the new wrinkles was NBC's decision to broadcast its Olympic show live across the country, meaning West Coast viewers were not just stuck with a rerun of the East Coast's prime-time show.

That turned out to be well-suited to the time difference. NBC's late-night show on the East Coast — which aired in prime time out West — was filled with live events, including the gripping gold medal women's hockey game between the U.S. and Canada. Ratings went up for this time slot, which NBC dubbed Prime-time Plus.

Get used to the template, since the next two Olympics (Tokyo in 2020, Beijing in 2022) have similar time differences.

NBC also became adept in programming NBCSN during prime time. It learned to use NBCSN to complement NBC; the cable network more fully aired the women's figure skating competition, for example, freeing NBC to show a greater breadth of Olympic sports. No longer did an NBC viewer have to feel trapped if they didn't want to see three hours of figure skating.

The network could improve on how it notifies viewers of the different options, although TV politics may prevent that. Local affiliates don't want viewers constantly reminded of things they could watch if they changed the channel.


Their Olympic performance increased the stature of some NBC performers. In their first Olympics as lead figure skating analysts, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir proved deserving of the promotion. They weren't preoccupied with their personas, did their homework and offered frank opinions. They may not have Scott Hamilton's buoyant enthusiasm, but that's just a difference in personality.

Leigh Diffey and his co-workers on the sliding sports, Bree Schaaf and John Morgan, excelled at generating enthusiasm combined with a deep knowledge of history and the top athletes. Apolo Ohno has made a strong transition from athlete to analyst.

The Alpine skiing team was the weak link. Dan Hicks is a pro, but embarrassingly called a race over when it wasn't. Despite his considerable knowledge about skiing, Bode Miller had trouble as a rookie analyst. His monotone made an exciting sport seem clinical. And he compounded his blooper about marriage hurting a woman skier's career with an apology that shrugged it off as a bad attempt at humor.

It will be up to Miller to decide if he wants to put the same energy into being a broadcaster that he did to becoming a world-class athlete.


More AP Olympics:

Armani rejects overdone emotion, Ferragamo favors color

Fashion and politics clashed Saturday in Milan's main squares and runways, as protesters rallied ahead of Italy's divisive national election and designers at Milan Fashion Week showed off their own visions of what the future should look like.

As the fashion crowd traversed the city, they passed right-wing leader Matteo Salvini of the anti-migrant League holding a major rally in front of the city's Duomo cathedral to reach shows in an adjacent palazzo. Students protesting a neo-fascist party scuffled with police in one of the many actions that snarled traffic.

Here are some highlights from Milan Fashion Week womenswear previews for next fall and winter, including shows by Giorgio Armani, Salvatore Ferragamo, Jil Sander and Missoni.



Giorgio Armani countered the increasingly violent tones surfacing in his native Italy's election campaign by producing an ethnically inspired collection — and in rejecting fashion shows that use shock tactics to get attention.

Asked after the show for his suggestions on translating the inclusion seen in his collection to politics and other arenas, the 83-year-old fashion designer said he was calling himself out on the strategy of using emotion to incite strong reactions.

"I would not overdo it with easy emotions at all costs, creating a spectacle," he said.

He transitioned immediately to a comment on fashion houses that he thinks employ shocking images to attract attention. The reference to Gucci was clear.

"One can do whatever he wants. But if I put on the runway a head under the arm, severed, we have reached the limit," Armani said, days after Alessandro Michele's "Cyborg" collection for Gucci featured two models carrying replicas of their own heads under their arms.



Armani's collection for the next cold weather season took inspiration from many cultures "as an ode to coexistence as opposed to exclusion." The designer said "sophisticated simplicity" was the unifying element.

Draped looks and soft jackets defined the silhouette. Ponchos were belted, skirts were knotted at the knee and trousers were loose and comfortable.

The color palate heated up from the new neutral, pink, with gray to warmer tones of purple, blue and flamingo red, which Armani swirled together for a dreamy, iridescent effect. Evening wear featured colorful beaded and fringe jackets with velvet trousers.

Dramatic furry hats topped the looks and jewelry included geometric shapes and tassels.



Paul Andrew's inaugural collection adding womenswear to his Ferragamo shoe portfolio had in mind the "naughty aristocrat."

"I was looking at the show 'The Crown,' and the idea of Princess Margaret, who is this sort of naughty aristocratic person, who has been out all night long, she is still wearing her velvet gown and it is 7 a.m. and she realizes, 'Oh, no, I need to go out and feed the pigs,'" he said.

And just for that highly specialized occasion, Andrew has created a leather poncho, a flat pair of Ostrich boots with the signature Ferragamo buckle and a big soft calf bag.

In homage to Ferragamo's inception as a shoe brand, Andrew said he approached the collection "from toe to head."

The shoes included heels galvanized with metallic glazing for the fashion house by automakers as Andrew seeks to win the attention of younger consumers with new technology while hewing to the brand's trademarks.

Soft ponchos, knit tops that complement Napa leather trousers and shirt-dresses in foulard prints pulled from the archives formed other key elements of the collection. The brand's trademark double buckles — or ganci — appeared as belts and accents on footwear, peek-a-boo detailing on high boots or as a sort of stir-ups on heels. The cool color palate included pewter blue, parakeet green, merlot reds and mustard yellows.

"I really wanted to make sure in this collection and going forward we really embrace color and make it a major feature of the house," Andrew said.



Missoni models splashed through an industrial space, dragging scarves and jackets through puddles. The message was not clear but there was a suggestion of a disregard for the material world.

The looks Saturday had a Bohemian-Rasta-Grateful Dead vibe, sans patchouli and incense, but with a mostly Earth-tones color palette. The designs were long, flowing and layered easy-to-wear pieces.

A mini-skirt was unfinished for a long, rough-hewn fringe effect. A big blanket-y coat appeared to have no arms, completely enveloping the wearer. Beneath the silhouette was tighter, made of a finer knit.

Necklaces looked like amulets and gemstones and big-brimmed hats finished the looks.



The husband-and-wife design team of Lucie and Luke Meier created a collection for Milan Fashion Week that they said was designed "to make the wearer feel good, feel safe, feel protected."

Models carried folded padded garments, which appeared at first to be pillows but instead revealed themselves to be padded wraps. Overcoats with elongated sleeves were cinched with armbands — a futuristic touch that had just a hint of the political.

The looks were clean as a whistle, with white Kimono tops over roomy skirts. A white Jacquard coat had just the lightest shimmer of purple and a smart knit navy blue dress sported a sailor collar.

Set in a new venue in the shadow of high-rises by star architects beneath a transparent tent, the overall feel of the collection was post-industrial and unadorned.

Britney Spear’s ex K-Fed wants child support increase amid star’s Vegas success

After seeing how successful her four-year Las Vegas residency has been, Britney Spears’ ex-husband Kevin Federline is asking for an increase in child support.

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Federline’s attorney reportedly sent the pop singer a letter recently indicating that he would like to renegotiate the $20,000 monthly payment he currently receives from her for their two sons, Preston, 12, and Jayden, 11. 

Married from 2004 to 2007, the former couple decided on that amount after Spears lost sole physical and legal custody over the children and was placed in a still-ongoing conservatorship under the care of her father during their highly-publicized 2008 divorce. However, now that her residency has grossed over $137 million in four short years, Federline is looking to cash in, believing the success of her show was “in part because the boys have been in her life.”

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“Kevin has always been supportive of Britney’s recovery and has always recognized what a great mother she has been,” a source familiar with the situation told US Weekly. “Britney’s entire world are the boys, period. She just lights up when she is with them.”

However, Federline additionally feels he’s entitled to an increase in child support in order to “recognize the sacrifices he has made because he has gone above and beyond what most people would do in this situation.”

Both Spears and Federline are reportedly hoping to reach an agreement outside of court, with the insider adding, “Britney won’t be involved with any of the legal discussions regarding the increase request. She will let her dad, Jamie, and the lawyers hash it out. However, Jamie isn’t just going to fork over what he would consider an outrageous demand.”

Nanette Fabray, star of stage, screen and TV, dies at 97

Nanette Fabray, the vivacious, award-winning star of the stage, film and television, has died at age 97.

Fabray's son, Dr. Jamie MacDougall, tells The Associated Press his mother died Thursday at her home in Palos Verdes Estates.

Fabray launched her career at age 3 as Vaudeville's singing-dancing Baby Nanette.

On Broadway she won a Tony in 1949 for the musical "Love Life" and was nominated for another for "Mr. President."

She starred opposite Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in the hit 1953 film "The Band Wagon."

Her television roles included playing Bonnie Franklin's mother in the hit 1980s sitcom "One Day at a Time."

She also played the mother of Shelley Fabares (fab-RAY'), her real-life niece, in the 1990s sitcom "Coach."

Actress Nanette Fabray, Tony, Emmy-winning star of stage and screen, dead at 97

Award-winning actress and comedian Nanette Fabray has died at the age of 97, Variety reported Friday.

Fabray was known for her charm, energetic exuberance and multi-talented performances in musical theatre in the 1940’s, as well as movies and TV in the 1950’s.

>> Read more trending news 

She won a Tony Award for her performance in the Broadway musical “Love Life” in 1949, according to her biography, and three Emmy Awards in the mid-1950s for her work on Sid Caesar’s television show “Caesar’s Hour.”

She co-starred with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in the 1953 movie “Band Wagon” and played Grandma Katherine Romano on the hit show “One Day at a Time” from 1979 to 1984, among many other roles over her long career.

She was also a longtime advocate for the deaf after overcoming a serious hearing problem of her own. She was awarded the President’s Distinguished Service Award and the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award for her long efforts on behalf of the hearing impaired.

Fabray’s son, Dr. Jamie MacDougall, according to The New York Times, confirmed she died at her home in Palos Verdes, California on Thursday.

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