Move aside, Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). The longest, strangest, and most oddly punctuated avian movie title now belongs to Birds of Prey.
EW has confirmed that the full name of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn-centric Suicide Squad spin-off will be Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Robbie revealed the news with an image on her Instagram of Christina Hodson’s script for the film. On it, the actress had added some Harley-esque doodles and the handwritten subtitle:View this post on Instagram ???? A post shared by @ margotrobbie on Nov 20, 2018 at 12:08pm PST
The subtitle doesn’t just put Harley’s sauciness front and center; it also hints at a potential storyline for Birds of Prey. The character’s comic book arcs since DC’s revamp in 2011 have focused on her coming into her own: Her solo series since 2013, Harley Quinn, written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, featured her in a romantic relationship with Poison Ivy, and in 2016, the series’ 25th issue saw her cutting ties with the Joker once and for all. An arc about Harley Quinn leaving the Joker behind? “Fantabulous emancipation” indeed.
For now, though, the Warner Bros. film is simply said to focus on Harley teaming up with a group of female heroes and antiheroes, including Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary, Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya, and Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain. The team will face Ewan McGregor as DC villain Black Mask, with Cathy Yan directing the film.
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn) — good luck fitting that onto theater marquees! — will hit theaters Feb. 7, 2020.
In just a few short years, Black Mirror has become the pop-culture prophet of our times. The anthology show’s stories about the unforeseen dangers of technology at first seemed out of step with the dominant optimistic worldview that smartphones and social media would save humanity. But now that we’ve had time to realize the addictiveness of phones and social media companies’ growing power over our personal data (power that is perhaps being wielded unethically), the Black Mirror view of technology’s dangers feels increasingly relevant.
The new book Inside Black Mirror, out this week from Penguin Random House, tells the behind-the-scenes story of the show and its unintended prophecies. Featuring interviews with co-showrunners Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones, as well as a host of various cast and crew members, the book goes in-depth on each episode of the show and how concepts made it from page to screen.
“It’s a big team effort, and I think it’s useful for fans of the show and people interested in writing to see how the process works,” Brooker tells EW. “Some people probably think the show is created by some thorough-browed Unabomber types who despise all technology and want to live in a wooden box. It’s not that all, we’re quite self-defecating, I think we’ve got a good sense of humor and we’re goofy.”
Ahead of the book’s release this week, EW caught up with Brooker to discuss stories and revelations from a few specific episodes.“San Junipero” (Season 3, Episode 4)
This season 3 standout has been justly celebrated for its sci-fi same-sex romance story with a happy ending, but Brooker says he’s surprised more people don’t comment on the fact that the protagonists are actually old women in a virtual reality simulator. That’s key to the whole thing; in fact, the episode was actually inspired by Brooker’s viewing of a 2010 BBC documentary called The Young Ones.
“They took celebrities who had been famous and were now old, and they moved them into this house for a week that had been redecorated to look like the ‘60s, and played music from that era. It was like they threw their walking sticks away,” he says.
Although Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis) spend most of their time in the virtual-reality resort of San Junipero in an ‘80s-themed setting, some other eras are briefly glimpsed. Inside Black Mirror contains concept art for how the main arcade/bar would look in different decades — see some of those pictures below. At one point, Brooker even wanted them to travel to the ‘20s and play with some flapper fashions, but it was the ‘80s setting that captured director Owen Harris’ imagination. Among other things, it allowed the episode’s creative team to complicate the typical optimism of ‘80s-centric nostalgia.
“By setting it in that period, we could do a same-sex story in which they get married, which wouldn’t have been legally possible then,” Brooker says. “That’s another thing i’m surprised doesn’t get picked up on more.”“15 Million Merits” (Season 1, Episode 2)
An early highlight of the show’s initial run, “15 Million Merits” painted a portrait of a dystopian future society in which most people live a drab, proletarian existence of physical labor, but are fine with it because the harder they work the more “merits” they get to spend on personal entertainment. It’s never grabbed as many headlines as its pig-centric predecessor “The National Anthem,” but it was always meant to be a different kind of episode.
“That’s one I still think gets slightly overlooked,” Brooker says. “It was very deliberate how we rolled the series out. We went from ‘The National Anthem,’ which had this outrageous darkly comic premise, to this very, very stylized world in our second episode. It was meant to be a slightly dreamlike world we’re creating. We don’t explain much about what’s going on there, we never explain exactly what this world is. Some people think it’s a prison. Are they underground? Are they in space? You don’t know.”
In addition to its skill at predicted technological developments, Black Mirror also has a knack for casting actors who go on to achieve stardom. “15 Million Merits,” for instance, stars Daniel Kaluuya, who has since earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his lead performance in Get Out and appeared in other critically-acclaimed films like Black Panther and Widows. In fact, his work on Black Mirror apparently led directly to his other achievements.
“When it comes to Daniel, when we saw his audition it was a bit of a no-brainer,” Brooker says. “It’s a very tricky part because for the first 15-20 minutes he hardly says anything, he’s sort of depressed. When he comes to that big speech at the end where he has this huge explosion and rails against everything in that world, he was so incredible in that scene, such a towering performance, that I remember thinking, ‘As soon as anyone sees this, surely this guy will get snapped up by everyone.’ I was waiting for that, and then it felt like it didn’t quite happen; he was in Sicario and working, but I thought he was a leading man. And then I remember seeing the trailer for Get Out like, ‘Oh my god it’s Daniel!’ I later discovered later that it was because Jordan Peele had seen him in ‘15 Million Merits’ that he was cast in Get Out. That was like, oh that’s good. Obviously he would have got there on his own because he’s such a talent, but it’s very gratifying that was literally the thing Jordan Peele saw that made him go, who is this guy? That’s brilliant, and it was born out, because how f—ing good was he in Get Out? He’s just an exceptional talent.”“Black Museum” (Season 4, Episode 6)
Brooker credits the show’s casting directors and the anthology format itself for the show’s ability to give “fairly meaty roles” to either promising newcomers or accomplished veterans without worrying about long-term commitments. The final episode of season 4, for instance, featured Letitia Wright before anyone had gotten the chance to see her star-making performance in Black Panther.
“She did an audition for us, and there was this voice reading lines off camera that she was responding to,” Brooker recalls. “It was an American accent, but Annabel and I were going, ‘We recognize that voice, where is that voice from?’ And it was Daniel Kaluuya! He was reading off-camera for her, and the character he was reading was American so he was doing his U.S. accent, and they were just doing it in her trailer for Black Panther. We got her just in time, because now she’s much more in demand.”
Although guest contributors have always been a part of Black Mirror, the switch to Netflix in recent seasons has also opened the show up to even more outside voices. Inside Black Mirror talks about how Parks and Recreation showrunner Mike Schur and actress Rashida Jones helped write the season 3 opener “Nosedive” (in which a woman becomes consumed with boosting her crowd-sourced rating on an app), while Jodie Foster directed the season 4 episode “Arkangel” (about a mother installing parental control technology into her daughter’s brain). Brooker says celebrity magician Penn Jillette also contributed to “Black Museum.”
“Now that we’re on Netflix, we have a big profile, so we’re in the very lucky position where sometimes people are coming to us and saying ‘I’d like to be in your show’ or ‘I’d like to work on your show,’” Brooker says. “Like, Penn Jillette came up with a story idea for one of the things we did in ‘Black Museum.’ Sometimes there are slightly odd places these things come from. That was quite unexpected, and I ended up basing the Rolo Haynes character in the episode on the way he speaks, as a result.”“Metalhead” (Season 4, Episode 5)
The terrifying, multi-purpose robotic “dog” that chases Maxine Peake’s character through the black-and-white wasteland of this season 4 standout bears more than a little resemblance to the real-life robots being developed by Boston Dynamics (and the new book gives an inside look at how the show’s producers developed their version of the robot). In this case, Black Mirror hasn’t predicted the basic technology at work, but one thing “Metalhead” keys into is changing attitudes around new technology.
Brooker, though, is actually encouraged by this increased caution.
“As a species we tend to learn from making mistakes,” he says. “I think we’re currently on a transitional period where we’re starting to question, hang on a minute, am I hooked on this phone? How can I believe what I’m reading? Am I being myself on the internet? I think we’re seeing the pitfalls, which hopefully means we’ll get better at using it, because this technology isn’t going away. Hopefully we’re becoming more conscious and mindful of what we’re doing. It’s a bit like someone who’s been binge-eating ice cream for 10 years going, ‘Hold on, my waistline is expanding here.’ It doesn’t mean you stop eating ice cream, you just think a bit more carefully about how you consume it. That’s my hope anyway. You look at some of the stuff that’s going on now and it’s hard to see how we steer through it. I don’t know; we never present answers to stuff on the show, because we don’t have any.”
This week on The Awardist podcast, EW’s Piya Sinha-Roy talks to Can You Ever Forgive Me? director Marielle Heller and actor Richard E. Grant about their new biopic, which stars Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel, a struggling writer who forges letters from literary icons. Grant plays Jack Hock, a grifter who becomes Israel’s accomplice and sometime best friend.
“I’ve had so many people come up to me and say, ‘I can’t believe anyone let you make this movie,’” Heller says. “It’s a movie about real characters. We thought about Midnight Cowboy when we were making it.”
Speaking about the barbed relationship between Israel and Hock, the filmmaker says, “We were conscious of never wanting to be overly sentimental or trying to soften who these people are, that kind of wickedness between them was so inherent to who they are. It’s almost even more touching.”
“These are scenes between two people talking,” Grant adds, comparing Can You Ever Forgive Me? in particular to his last film, Marvel’s X-Men action drama Logan. “It’s the equivalent of a road movie that goes through the byways of Manhattan in the early ’90s. You go on a journey with these two characters and really understand how and why they do what they do, and you have compassion for these people.”
Heller, who made a buzzy debut in 2015 with The Diary of a Teenage Girl, also gets candid about the challenge of being a female director determined to quickly land a second feature, especially when compared to men: “I’ve been at film festivals where I see people talking about a female filmmaker who just had a beautiful debut of some incredibly amazing movie that was edgy and well-told and well-directed, and they said, ‘Well, let’s see what she does next — and then we’ll decide if we want to work with her.’
“I also benefited from the time we’re in,” Heller says. “I just had to get over my own brain and my own neuroses and be able to say yes to something wonderful, and then I was able to make another wonderful movie. I’m aware that I’m very, very lucky in that regard.” Heller’s next film stars Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers.
The Awardist podcast is part of our comprehensive awards coverage, hosted by EW digital director Shana Naomi Krochmal. This week, we also go over the nominees for the Independent Spirit Awards, announced Friday. (Grant is among the supporting actor nominees.)
There’s a key qualification to be eligible for a Spirit Award: The film has to be made for $20 million or less. (For reference, last year’s Indie Spirit for best feature went to Get Out, which was made for about $5 million.) That doesn’t, however, include the marketing budget — either for the film’s theatrical run or its awards campaign. The nominations come early in the awards season cycle, but the ceremony itself won’t be held until the day before the Oscars, Feb. 23.
Plus: If we’re going to talk about awards in November, we feel like we should be willing to make some bold predictions for what happens in January and February. We asked Grant and Heller to name which of their peers they’d be most passionate about campaigning to get a nomination too — listen to Grant gush about Timothée Chalamet and Heller praise Ryan Coogler’s work on Black Panther.
Jeff Lewis says he regrets the fight that cost him his nearly 20-year friendship with Jenni Pulos.
“I am not trying to sway anyone’s opinion. I am going to let everybody watch it and everyone is going to come to their own conclusions. But I just want to point out a couple of things,” Lewis said.
He went on to claim that Pulos said working in his office was “humiliating” and he later heard that her job at Jeff Lewis Design was keeping her from the acting career she always wanted. Lewis added that their major fight, which turned personal pretty quickly, took place in a car, and ended with the termination of their friendship.
Lewis says that watching the episode back is “uncomfortable” and “sad” because “it is so raw.”
“There are a lot of editors that have their hands on this show and I’ve never seen the show just be filmed in real time,” he said. “We film thousands and thousands of hours of TV that gets edited and manipulated but this was like a real, true, documentary.”
However, when asked how he felt about the argument after the fact, Lewis admitted that he and Pulos were both wrong in the way they handled the blow up.
“I have looked at this episode and I have had a lot of time to think about it and I wish I would have handled it differently,” he said. “I probably should have not called her out in front of other people because that really embarrassed her.”
“It wasn’t worth losing a friendship over,” Lewis continued. “So I have deep regrets about that.”
Pulos spoke out about the fight for the first time in a recent issue of PEOPLE, saying that she was blindsided when he fired her during the fight. “I had no idea it was coming,” Pulos said.
WATCH THIS: Flipping Out’s Jenni Pulos Says Her Friendship with Jeff Lewis Is ‘Over’: ‘I Have to Move On’
In September, PEOPLE broke the news that Pulos and Lewis had ended their personal and professional relationship. On his radio show, Lewis claimed that Pulos hadn’t worked for him for “years” and that their relationship had been faked for the show. He also alleged that Pulos filed claims of wrongful termination and abuse and victimization against him, which she vehemently denied.
“Citing wrongful termination claim, wrong. Citing abuse claim, wrong. Citing victimization claim, wrong.” Pulos told PEOPLE. And as for their relationship on the show, “it was very real,” she said. “I was his employee and I worked for him. It was very authentic, and that’s important.”
“It’s semantics at this point,” Lewis said of whether or not Lewis actually reported him to network higher-ups. “She mentioned in the article that she never made a formal complaint . . . Maybe you didn’t walk into HR with your attorney but you made accusations. And those accusations had to have been investigated.”
Though he seemingly walked back some details of the alleged filing, he maintains that a Bravo executive did have dinner with him and separately with Jenni, and that “my show-runner was on the phone for four hours talking to multiple executives going frame by frame to make sure there was no abuse that was being alleged.”
He added, “I would never make something like this up because it is damaging to my reputation and my career. So that is not something I would ever make up.”
Reps for Pulos and Bravo did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
As of Tuesday, Flipping Out had not yet been renewed for a twelfth season. Lewis said on his Sirius XM radio show that his contract with Bravo was not renewed before an Oct. 15 deadline. He later clarified, claiming the show had not been canceled.
In recent months, the Bravo star has been surrounded by controversy. In June, the surrogate who carried his and partner Gage Edward’s now two-year-old daughter Monroe, filed a lawsuit against him, Edward, Bravo, and Flipping Out’s production company, Authentic Entertainment, for allegedly filming her giving birth without her permission, among other issues.
The Flipping Out season 11 finale airs Tuesday at 10/9c on Bravo.
For most studio films, the road to the Oscars is meticulously planned with a fall release and an Oscars campaign timed to the end of the year, when voters start to cast their ballots. For independent films, however, the road to the Academy Awards is a much longer journey.
The U.S. independent film cycle kicks off with the Sundance Film Festival in January, where filmmakers and buyers descend on the snow-covered streets of Park City, Utah for 10 days to acquire films for the upcoming year. In previous years, films such as Call Me By Your Name, Whiplash, The Big Sick, Manchester By The Sea, and Boyhood all debuted at the festival and went on to compete in the Oscars best picture race.
This year, Sundance found itself in the immediate aftermath of the #MeToo movement and the launch of the Time’s Up campaign calling for equality in Hollywood, which dominated the conversation and the tone of the films being discussed. Movies by female directors with female-driven stories were in the spotlight, but acquisitions were less frenzied than previous years as buyers operated with caution, and many films had already entered the festival with a studio attached.
The result has left a slight disconnect with the awards-targeted releases coming from studios this fall and the indie films that have grown out of Sundance since January, as seen with the Film Independent Spirit Award nominations that came out last week.
The Spirit Award nominations, voted for by members of Film Independent and honoring films made for under $20 million, are often populated with Sundance breakouts and are a strong indicator for the independent films with longevity in the Oscars race. In recent years, the winner of the Spirit Awards’ Best Feature prize has gone on to be named Best Picture at the Academy Awards – for example, Moonlight in 2017, Spotlight in 2016, Birdman in 2015, and 12 Years A Slave in 2014.
This year, the Best Feature race at the Spirit Awards will see Sundance hits Eighth Grade, Bo Burnham’s directorial debut, and Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace will compete alongside Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk (which debuted at Toronto Film Festival in September), Paul Schrader’s First Reformed (which debuted at Venice Film Festival in August) and Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, which debuted at 2017’s Cannes Film Festival and was released in April this year.
Both A24’s Eighth Grade, which earned four Spirit nods, and Annapurna Pics’ Beale Street, with three Spirit Award nominations, have been floating around critics’ top picks for the Oscars best picture race. But for the most part, the top-nominated Spirit Award films – The Orchard’s We The Animals (leading Spirit awards with five nominations), First Reformed, Leave No Trace, Private Life – have hardly registered in the bigger awards race.
Two Oscar frontrunners – Netflix’s Roma and Fox Searchlight’s The Favourite – both qualify as independent films but as they are foreign-made productions, they were only nominated in the international feature category. Then there are other Oscar contenders such as Amazon Studios’ Beautiful Boy, Focus Features’ Boy Erased and Universal Pictures’ Green Book, all made for under $20 million but did not earn any Spirit Awards nominations. Fox Searchlight’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? landed two nods, for its screenplay and supporting actor Richard E. Grant, while Focus Features’ BlacKkKlansman earned one nod for Adam Driver in the supporting actor category.
It is rare for an independent film with an independent distributor to break through into the Oscars race. Rather, it’s the independent films backed by studio power, such as 20th Century Fox’s Fox Searchlight arm and Universal Pictures’ Focus Features division, that can put the money towards a robust and expensive Oscars campaign. In recent years, more deep-pocketed distributors are entering the race, from the growing indie hubs of Annapurna Pictures (founded by Megan Ellison, the daughter of billionaire Larry Ellison) and A24 to Netflix and Amazon, all funneling money into the expensive awards-season push for their films.
But the independent film industry also keeps the bigger Hollywood players on their toes. For both veteran and new actors and filmmakers, independent movies offer them the opportunity to be more creative, liberated and not worry about catering for a mass audience.
British actress Rosamund Pike, who started her career as a Bond girl, recently said at a panel for independent filmmakers that she was able to break free of the stereotypes associated with being part of the Bond franchise by turning to indies, such as spotlighting her sharp wit with a supporting role in 2009’s An Education. She’s currently earning awards recognition for her role as war journalist Marie Colvin in A Private War.
For independent films, an Oscar nomination and win holds great value, as it reaches a larger audience and gets a global platform on Oscar night. In some years, the Best Picture race comes down to a David-and-Goliath battle between a splashy studio film versus a stubborn indie, such as the La La Land versus Moonlight battle at the 2017 Oscars.
At 2019’s ceremony, the Best Picture race could come down to studio blockbusters like Black Panther, A Star is Born, and First Man facing off against indies such as Eighth Grade, Green Book, Roma, Beale Street, and The Favourite. After a long road traveled for many independent films, that Best Picture win often feels even greater when it’s the underdog players of the film industry.
Eric Trump probably didn’t expect this reaction when he tried to sell some Trump-themed holiday spirit on Twitter.
President Donald Trump‘s middle son, 34, tweeted out several photos of Trump-themed Christmas ornaments on Monday, including two different mini versions of Trump Tower, a Trump-branded helicopter and a set of golf clubs (although social media users had difficulty identifying the last one).
“Love the all-new Christmas ornaments from our @TrumpStore team!” Eric captioned the photos.
Almost immediately, followers started bombarding the first son with jokes about a recent scandal in which the 45th commander and chief failed to attend a celebration of the WWI armistice at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in France, allegedly because the rain prevented his helicopter from flying there.
“Does the helicopter have to stay in the box if it’s raining?” one woman tweeted.
“Rain not included,” added another.
“Anything in handcuffs?” asked a third.
The ornaments retail for $60, which was another point of contention among Twitter users.$60.00 for an ornament seems reasonable. ???? pic.twitter.com/sWVRdyfQ7W— I'm Just Say'n (@SWhatiwannasay) November 13, 2018
“Seems reasonable,” wrote one person alongside a crying-laughing emoji.And the #TrumpCrimeFamily makes only $59.50 on each ornament! ????????????????????????— (((Chana ???))) (@ToBeSafeNSound) November 13, 2018
“And the Trump Crime Family makes only $59.50 on each,” joked another.
Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., also posted photos of the ornaments on his Instagram, prompting one user to ask what was pictured in the fourth photo in the series.
“It’s a set of golf clubs,” came the reply from the Instagram account for the Trump Store.View this post on Instagram Since Halloween just finished up it’s way past time to be all over your Christmas Tree decorations. Here are a few that are guaranteed to please the Trump fan in your family. Check them out @trumpstore. #trump #christmas #christmastree #decorations A post shared by Donald Trump Jr. (@donaldjtrumpjr) on Nov 19, 2018 at 2:27pm PST
The initial helicopter controversy took place on Nov. 10, the day before D-Day. Among the people criticizing Trump’s decision to opt out of the ceremony was Nicholas Soames, Winston Churchill‘s grandson and a member of Parliament.
“They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen,” Soames tweeted, adding, “#hesnotfittorepresenthisgreatcountry.”
RELATED VIDEO: Michelle Obama Says She ‘Stopped Even Trying to Smile’ During Donald Trump’s Inauguration
In its own condemnation of Trump’s absence, the progressive veterans’ group VoteVets referred to Trump’s quip in October that he was having a “bad hair day” after addressing reporters on a rainy day about the shooting that killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
“Donald Trump complained about having to stand in the rain, to speak about the massacre in Pittsburgh, because it messed his hair up (more),” the group tweeted. “Today, he will skip honoring fallen American heroes of WWI, and stay in his hotel room, because of some rain.”
For his part, Trump said he tried to get to the ceremony but the Secret Service wouldn’t allow it.By the way, when the helicopter couldn’t fly to the first cemetery in France because of almost zero visibility, I suggested driving. Secret Service said NO, too far from airport & big Paris shutdown. Speech next day at American Cemetery in pouring rain! Little reported-Fake News!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2018
“By the way, when the helicopter couldn’t fly to the first cemetery in France because of almost zero visibility, I suggested driving,” he tweeted. “Secret Service said NO, too far from airport & big Paris shutdown. Speech next day at American Cemetery in pouring rain! Little reported-Fake News!”
At ages 9 and 11, sisters Kimber and Mikelle Biggs were the best of friends — but could not have been more different.
“She was the perfect child, the straight-A student,” Kimber tells PEOPLE of her sibling. “She was very clean and organized, a borderline neat freak.”
“I was the exact opposite,” she says. “I did not like to clean my room. I didn’t care if it was a mess. Us sharing a room was a disaster for her. She put blue masking tape right across the middle of the room and separated it and said, ‘This is my side, this is your side,’ and I was not allowed to get any of my toys — or as she called it, any of my ‘crap’ — on her side.”
But their antagonistic affection for each other was shattered on Jan. 2, 1999, when Mikelle vanished not far from her home in Meza, Arizona, Kimber says. The two were outside on their suburban street as dusk approached when Kimber turned her back on Mikelle to go inside — just for a second — only to return to find her gone.
The bike Mikelle was riding had been dumped in the street, a tire still spinning, and nearby on the ground lay the quarters she’d clutched in anticipation of the ice cream truck she heard coming their way.
“I convinced myself it was my fault, and if I hadn’t left her there it wouldn’t have happened,” says Kimber, now 29, and the mother of a 6-year-old son. “I actually remember crying myself to sleep and thinking that.”
Days later, when Kimber confessed her feelings of guilt to their mom, Tracy, “she told me ‘if you had stayed out there, it could have been both of you, or it could have been you instead of her.’ She made it clear that it was the person’s fault who took her, and no one else’s.”
Mikelle’s parents, Tracy and Darien Biggs, found a way forward through their grief by holding a funeral on the fifth anniversary their daughter’s abduction and symbolically burying an empty casket.
“It was, we felt, needed as a way of having closure, or a way of being able to say goodbye to some sort of degree in order to move on,” Tracy, 53, tells PEOPLE. “I was grateful that we did it.”
Kimber found her own small comfort several years later after observing her then months-old son, Trayven, encounter a photograph of her sister for the first time at her mother’s home.
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“He just started laughing and smiling at it for no reason,” she says, recalling that the moment gave her “goosebumps.” “It made me think her knew her, like she was his guardian angel.”
“For years I’ve told myself that Mikelle was watching over me,” she says, “and that really made me feel like she was.”
Becoming a parent also gave Kimber perspective on losing a child, she says. She created a Facebook page, Justice for Mikelle Biggs, initially as “a coping mechanism for anyone who was touched by her life,” but also now serving as a place to collect tips and advocate for child safety and awareness.
The latter received a boost when, earlier this year, a dollar bill found in Wisconsin that purported to carry a handwritten message from her sister — “My name is Mikel [sic] Biggs kidnapped From Mesa AZ I’m Alive” — pushed Mikelle’s story back into the spotlight before authorities quickly judged the note to be a hoax.
“It is a horrible thing,” says Kimber, “and I don’t appreciate that someone felt the need to do that. But instead of being angry and hating them, I said, ‘Hey, thanks, you gave my sister more attention, you brought her back into the forefront.’ “
Two Mesa police investigators who worked on Mikelle’s disappearance, Sgt. Kevin Baggs and retired detective Jerry Gissel, tell PEOPLE that an incarcerated sex offender who lived in the neighborhood, 61-year-old Dee Blalock, has denied involvement but remains a person of interest.
Blalock has never been charged in the case.
“I do feel it will be solved,” says Kimber. “There’s no way of knowing when, but I personally feel like I will get the answers. I believe it is one of the purposes in my life.”
“I would be overwhelmed with gratitude if I just got answers, if I just knew what happened,” she says. “But I won’t give up on getting justice either.”
People Magazine Investigates: Gone in 90 Seconds is available to watch online now on Investigation Discovery.
A new E.coli outbreak has the Center for Disease Control urging people to not eat romaine lettuce in both the United States and Canada.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported that 32 people in 11 states in the U.S. have become ill, while 18 people in Ontario and Quebec have also reported sickness related to eating romaine lettuce. There have been no deaths reported so far, but 13 people have been hospitalized in the U.S., with the last reported illness on Oct. 31.
“Consumers who have any type of romaine lettuce in their home should not eat it and should throw it away,” the announcement states.
Since the specific types of products containing romaine lettuce have yet to be determined, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb says grocery stores and restaurants should withdraw from selling and using all romaine lettuce until it is classified. A previous outbreak linked to the lettuce occurred earlier this year, but health officials determined this strain is similar to one that occurred in 2017.
The symptoms of contracting E. coli include cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting and should subside within a week, according to the CDC.
Last week, Jennie-O Turkey recalled 91,388 pounds of raw ground turkey due to salmonella contamination, which left one person dead and 164 sick in 35 states.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and CDC are currently investigating the salmonella outbreak and warn customers that more products from different companies may still be affected. According to the CDC, a number of patients have admitted to eating a variety of types and brands of turkey products from different locations.
RELATED VIDEO: Clay Aiken Refuses to Eat Thanksgiving Turkey Without Cranberry Sauce…From the Can!
In order to avoid contracting a salmonella infection, the CDC has advised that people “cook raw turkey thoroughly to kill harmful germs.”
“Turkey breasts, whole turkeys, and ground poultry, including turkey burgers, casseroles and sausage should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill harmful germs. Leftovers should be reheated to 165°F.”
Footage unearthed by A&E for their new docuseries, The Clinton Affair, shows then-President Bill Clinton and then-22-year-old intern Monica Lewinsky briefly holding hands in the Oval Office when he met her family at the White House in June 1996.
After posing for pictures with Lewinsky and her father, stepmother and brother, President Clinton can be seen grasping Lewinsky’s hand for several seconds as she leaves the office. The moment took place several months before news of their affair broke and rocked the nation; by that point, the two had been secretly seeing each other for six months, Lewinsky told A&E.
Lewinsky’s father, Bernard, and stepmom, Barbara, gave a rare interview for the docuseries, with both saying something felt off about the meeting at the White House.Monica Lewinsky’s parents speak out in a rare interview, detailing how things unfolded between the former White House intern and former President Bill Clinton. pic.twitter.com/p385BVIaKE— TODAY (@TODAYshow) November 20, 2018
“When we walked in, he was friendly, very familiar with us, and that felt somewhat strange,” her father told A&E. “But we accepted it. You know, we were so proud to be there and to see the Oval Office. Not everybody gets to do that.”
Adds Barbara, “When [Clinton] was positioning us for the photo shoot it seemed a little bit odd, a little bit odd.”
Lewinsky also speaks out in the docuseries, revealing that when Clinton tried to end things with her, she threatened to tell her parents.
“He started yelling at me, like, ‘It is illegal to threaten the president of the United States of America,’ and he was so angry and I started to cry,” she recalls.
Instead of going to her parents, however, the then-intern confided in Linda Tripp — who secretly recorded Lewinsky’s private confessions and ultimately brought the affair to light in January 1998.
Lewinsky recently wrote a piece for Vanity Fair explaining her decision to participate in the documentary, saying she believes that in order “to move forward,” she must “excavate, often painfully, what has gone before … That’s exactly where we need to start to heal — with the past. But it’s not easy.
Just hours after a California pastor announced he was retiring, he was reportedly killed in a hit-and-run.
On Sunday, Morro Bay Presbyterian Church Pastor Dale Paulsen celebrated 40 years in ministry and nearly 24 years at the church with his loved ones and congregation, according to the San Louis Obispo Tribune.
Shortly after, the 67-year-old father of three from Los Osos was taking a walk when was fatally struck by a pickup truck driven by 24-year-old Emily Bales, who immediately fled the scene, the California Highway Patrol told the Tribune.
Bales was later found and arrested on four felonies, including gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, fleeing the scene of a vehicle crash and two other potential charges related to driving under the influence of alcohol, the outlet reported. She was released from custody on $100,000 bail, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.
The California Highway Patrol did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment. It was unclear if Bales has retained an attorney who could comment on her behalf.
“Dale Paulsen died tragically last night on his favorite walk along the bay. He was a man of faith and of integrity who served Jesus with his wife Emily for over 40 years in ministry,” the Paulsen family said in a statement provided to local news outlet KSBY.
Dale is survived by his wife, three sons and seven grandchildren.
Members of the Morro Bay Presbyterian Church also mourned the tragic death of their beloved pastor, whose last sermon was scheduled for Jan. 6.
“He was full of life and love and laughter and that’s a great loss,” church member Erica King told KSBY.
King added to the Tribune, “One moment you’re going about your business and the next, you’ve run headlong into an immovable object. And you recoil and you say, ‘This can’t be happening,’ but it just did.”
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