Five things to watch for when President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney debate foreign policy Monday night:
1. THE TIEBREAKER: Romney ran away with the first. Obama edged him in the second. Stakes are high for their third and final showdown. Does that mean a repeat of last week's ornery tone? Or will the gravity of the issues — war, terrorism, world leadership — inspire more dignified discourse?
2. REMATCH ON LIBYA: It sparked one of the hottest exchanges of the second debate. And there's more to it than when Obama called the consulate attack an "act of terror." Expect to hear about failed security, intelligence lapses and the Obama administration's shifting account of what happened in Libya. After Obama's parry last week, Romney gets another try.
3. ROMNEY'S TEST: The former governor and businessman has limited foreign policy experience. He took hits for comments that ruffled British and Palestinian leaders last summer, and for hastening to criticize the administration's response even as chaotic events were unfolding in Libya and Egypt. This debate is the prime moment for Romney to display the knowledge and judgment to lead on the world stage.
4. ON DEFENSE: Obama must defend four years of foreign policy. Expect Romney to accuse the president of weakening America's world leadership by mishandling Iran's nuclear ambitions, the pullout from Afghanistan, the Syrian conflict and the U.S. relationship with Israel. Can Obama rebut that criticism and focus on ending the Iraq War and killing Osama bin Laden?
5. A NEW MEME? First Big Bird. Then "binders full of women." Watch Twitter to see whether another phrase catches fire while the debaters are still onstage.
The Philadelphia Eagles have fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and replaced him with secondary coach Todd Bowles.
The Eagles made the move Tuesday with the team stuck at 3-3 after blowing a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of a 26-23 overtime loss to Detroit.
Coach Andy Reid made the surprising switch before last season of making Castillo the defensive coordinator after 13 seasons of coaching offensive linemen. Castillo has been under the microscope in Philadelphia, with nearly every move he's made being scrutinized intensely.
Reid says six games into the season, "average isn't good enough. I know the potential of our team and insist on maximizing it."
Castillo joined the Eagles in 1995 as an offensive assistant under coach Ray Rhodes. He was promoted to tight ends coach in 1997, and then offensive line coach in 1998.
The Eagles have a bye this week. -- (AP)
LOS ANGELES — The onscreen love between Queen Latifah, Alfre Woodard, Jill Scott and Phylicia Rashad in the updated version of “Steel Magnolias” is real.
The actresses, who take on the roles originated by Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton and Olympia Dukakis in the 1989 film, bonded in real life just as their characters do in Truvy’s salon.
“It’s been a love fest,” said Scott, who plays Truvy, adding that she would have taken any role to be a part of the star-studded, small-screen retelling of Robert Harling’s stage play and original film, set to premiere Oct. 7 on Lifetime.
The new “Steel Magnolias,” produced by Academy Awards producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, maintains the flavor of Harling’s story, only this time with an all-Black cast.
Zadan said he learned over a lunch discussion with Harling about the story that his “dream would be to do it again but do it with an African-American cast,” the producer recalled. “It could be like a completely new film that you’ve never seen before. We thought, wow, that’s a great idea, so we called our friends and made the movie.”
(Latifah, also an executive producer of “Steel Magnolias,” previously worked with Zadan and Meron on “Chicago” and “Hairspray.”)
Harling’s words are essentially unchanged in the updated version, producers said, save for references to Facebook and Michelle Obama and some medical details that reflect advances in science.
“That’s why we think the material is classic material,” Meron said, “because it can live no matter where you put it.”
As in the original film, the story is set in the South and opens as M’Lynn (Latifah) and her husband are preparing for daughter Shelby’s wedding. The communal center in their town is Truvy’s hair salon, where M’Lynn and her friends, Ouiser (Woodard) and Clairee (Rashad), gather to catch up on their beauty regimens — and gossip.
“We connected immediately, so we didn’t really have to fake being girls in the beauty shop,” Latifah said. “We just bonded right away.”
It’s that sisterhood among women — and the enduring safety of the salon space — that makes “Steel Magnolias” such a timeless story. Women have long turned to one another in times of joy and sorrow, said Woodard, and the salon is practically sacred ground.
“We are communal beings at the core,” she said. “As we’ve moved away from an agrarian culture to a metropolitan one, the only place you gather for community in that way is either at church or at a spot like a hair salon or barber shop. But at the church, you can’t get real because you’re trying to get right. You can actually be more of your loving self in the salon. You actually get more healing in the salon than in the church.”
The connection the women share in Truvy’s salon is what drew Latifah to the project.
“I just love seeing that sisterhood, that bond between women in this film,” she said. “It’s something that doesn’t really have to change from the play to the original movie to this movie. That’s an important thing for all women: for us to rally around each other in tough times, in good times.”
And this may be just the beginning for this incarnation of “Steel Magnolias.” Meron said the team would hit Broadway “in a heartbeat” if given the chance.
“We’d be the luckiest people in the world,” he said.
The story could also find life as a TV series.
“It seems like a natural thing,” Meron said. “It’s something that obviously could be in the air. ... I think the first thing you want to do is you make the movie. And then if you’re happy with the movie, then everything will come after.” — (AP)
DJ Drama has earned respect in the music industry for boosting the careers of numerous rappers such as Lil Wayne, T.I. and Young Jeezy through his popular mixtape series, “Gangsta Grillz.”
The success of the mixtapes helped ignite Drama’s popularity too: He is one of the few DJs in hip-hop to land a record deal, releasing his debut album, “Gangsta Grillz: The Album” in 2007.
Now, Drama returns with his fourth offering “Quality Street Music,” a 15-track album filled mostly with hard-thumping, high-energy street anthem songs. The album features a cast of rappers and singers that includes Drake, Common, Wiz Khalifa, T-Pain and Llyod.
Drama makes it all work with his uniquely assembled combination of artists meshed alongside solid production work. This is clear on the album’s singles, “My Moment” featuring 2 Chainz, Meek Mill and Jeremih, and “We In This Bitch” with Young Jeezy, T.I., Ludacris and Future.
One of the album’s highlights is the Cardiak-produced “Never Die,” featuring Jadakiss, Cee Lo Green, Nipsey Hussle and Young Jeezy. With Cee Lo singing chorus, each of the rappers talks about how they were able to survive their own gritty streets.
Other standout songs are the V12: The Hitman-produced tracks “Clouds” featuring Rick Ross, Miguel, Pusha T and Curren$y, and “Same ‘Ol Story,” with Kid Ink, Schoolboy Q, Corey Gunz and Childish Gambino.
There are some downfalls here, but overall Drama delivers another respectable album. He continues to show he’s one of hip-hop’s top curators, creating a musical platform for artists so they can all flourish together.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: On “Monique’s Room,” rapper Fred The Godson seeks revenge toward an untrustworthy former mate. — (AP)
The Supreme Court term that began Monday holds the prospect for major rulings about affirmative action, gay marriage and voting rights.
A look at cases the court already has agreed to hear and other top cases in the pipeline:
RACIAL PREFERENCES — In Fisher v. University of Texas, to be argued Oct. 10, the court will weigh Texas’ limited use of race to help fill out its incoming classes. The outcome could result in a major cutback in the use of racial preferences at the nation’s colleges.
ACCOUNTABILITY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES — The justices will consider whether American courts may be used by foreign victims to sue over human rights violations abroad. The case of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, to be argued on Monday, concerns claims the oil giant Shell was complicit in atrocities committed by the Nigerian government against its citizens in the oil-rich Niger delta.
DRUG-SNIFFING DOGS — Two disputes involving drug-sniffing dogs will be heard by the court on Halloween. In one, the question is whether a dog brought to the front door of a home to sniff for marijuana amounts to a search. In the other, the court will consider a dog’s reliability and qualifications as a drug-sniffing animal in a case involving a traffic stop and a warrantless search that found the ingredients for making methamphetamines in a pickup truck.
FIGHTING TERRORISM — The government is trying to shut down a constitutional challenge to a law that lets the United States eavesdrop on overseas communications. Lawyers, journalists and human rights advocates filed a lawsuit that objected to the latest version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The issue at the high court, to be argued Oct. 29, is whether the law’s challengers are entitled to make their case in federal court.
The following issues probably will be heard this term:
GAY MARRIAGE — The justices are expected to take up gay marriage in at least one of the many appeals pending at the high court. Several lower federal courts have struck down as unconstitutional a provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal benefits, including favorable tax treatment and health benefits, among many others, to legally married same-sex couples. The court almost always has the last word when federal laws are struck down. A separate appeal involves California’s ban on gay marriage, ruled unconstitutional by federal courts.
VOTING RIGHTS ACT — Several appeals ask the court to invalidate a cornerstone of civil rights era legislation, a provision of the Voting Rights Act that requires all or parts of 16 states, most in the South and all with a history of past discrimination, to get approval from the Justice Department or the federal court in Washington before instituting any changes affecting elections and voting. Some justices expressed skepticism about the need for this measure in a 2009 decision that sidestepped a definitive ruling. — (AP)