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Spielberg debuts action-packed 'Ready Player One' footage

When Steven Spielberg first read the book "Ready Player One," which is about a dystopian future where humans take refuge in a virtual reality world, he had one thought: "They're going to need a younger director."

But Spielberg decided to take on the challenge anyway, spending two and a half years bringing author Ernest Cline's vision to life. The director unveiled a new action- and nostalgia-packed trailer for the film Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con to much excitement.

The 6,500-person Hall H crowd gave the director a standing ovation and cheered heartily when the first images of "the stacks" appeared showing a bleak vision of the housing situation in Columbus, Ohio, in 2045. Tye Sheridan stars as the lead character Wade Owen Watts, who longs to have been born in the 1980s.

For Spielberg, the film was a chance to both go back to his heyday of filmmaking while also gazing into the future. Eagle-eyed viewers spotted references to everything from "Tron" to "The Iron Giant" in the footage.

"It was like the most amazing flash-forward and flash-back at the same time," Spielberg said.

For Cline, having Spielberg directing the adaptation of his book was like closing a circle. He grew up on Spielberg's films, which informed how he evolved as a writer.

"They are woven into the fabric of my DNA," Cline said. "I learned how to be a storyteller because of this man."

He brought his DeLorean to his first meeting with the director in honor of "Back to the Future," which he had Spielberg autograph, Cline said.

Co-star T.J. Miller went one step further in his Spielberg fandom, sporting "Back to the Future" inspired sneakers, and "E.T.: The Extraterrestrial" inspired red hoodie and T-shirt.

Spielberg, who simply smiled at his gushing actors and collaborators, said that he was really proud of the footage, which gives "a slight taste of things to come."

"Ready Player One" opens in March 2018.


Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter:

Civil rights icon leads march through California Comic-Con

Civil rights leader John Lewis led a march through Comic-Con on Saturday.

About 1,000 people joined the Georgia Democrat on a march through the crowded San Diego Convention Center following a panel discussion about his trilogy of graphic novels, "March."

Some chanted "No justice, no peace" as the group wound its way past costumed characters and mystified conventioneers. Those who recognized the congressman stopped to greet him and shake his hand. One man confessed that he was near tears at the opportunity to meet someone so instrumental in the fight for social change.

"Thank you for all that you've done," the man said.

Lewis was welcomed with a standing ovation when he and his co-authors, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, walked into the room for their presentation. Scores of elementary school students were seated in the front row.

In his commanding style, Lewis was almost like a preacher as he urged students to remain optimistic and to believe in their power to contribute.

"Dr. King inspired me to get in trouble: What I call good trouble, necessary trouble," he told the audience. "Now more than ever before, we all need to get in trouble. When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation, a mission and a mandate to stand up, to speak up, to speak out and get in trouble."

The "March" series tells the story of Lewis' childhood and how he became an activist for civil rights. It details the movement's non-violent protests, from sit-ins at lunch counters in the South and the bus boycott in the mid-1950s to the marches in Selma, Alabama, and Washington, D.C.

The book is being used in schools across the country to teach young people about the history of civil rights, "March" editor Leigh Walton said. One woman who stopped Lewis to thank him for all he's done said she teaches the books in her classes at University of California, San Diego.

Lewis hadn't set out to become a comic-book hero, but he was receptive when Aydin, who worked on his campaign, approached him with the idea. Lewis had told his young aide a story about a comic book he read in 1957 about the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Aydin ended up doing his graduate thesis on that publication. He thought his boss' story could have the same power to inspire.

"I thought, 'Why isn't there a John Lewis comic book?'" Aydin said.

He interviewed Lewis for hours to create a manuscript of more than 600 pages, which illustrator Powell brought to life in images. They rigorously fact-checked their work so that the story could serve as a real historical guide.

"I think it's important that we're providing a common understanding of our past," Aydin said in an interview. "Particularly as it pertains to this time in our history."

The trilogy has won many accolades since the first book was published in 2013. The third volume received Comic-Con's Eisner Award on Friday for best reality-based work, and the three authors were surprised at Saturday's panel with Comic-Con's Inkpot Award, which recognizes outstanding achievements in comics, sci-fi and fantasy.

"I didn't know the story would have such a powerful reception," Lewis said in an interview before the panel.

The panel veered slightly into political territory. Lewis declared that he believes health care is a right. One panel guest asked why he supported Hillary Clinton instead of Bernie Sanders in the race for president. Another asked about how to distinguish fake news from real.

But the writers' main message was one of inspiration. Lewis said he was only 15 when he first heard King speak, and it made him believe he could make a difference toward righting the injustices of discrimination and segregation.

"I saw something that I was not pleased with. I was not at home with myself, and I wanted to do something about it. But I didn't know what to do," Lewis said. "And I heard the voice, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., and it seemed like saying, 'John Robert Lewis, you too can do something.' "


Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at .

NTSB assessing whether to probe NYC seaplane hard landing

The National Transportation Safety Board says it's determining whether to investigate a seaplane mishap on New York's East River.

Spokesman Eric Weiss said Saturday the NTSB was collecting information to make the decision.

The plane made a hard landing in the river on Friday evening with 10 people aboard. All were rescued and declined medical attention.

The passengers aboard the East Hampton, New York-bound plane included TV producer Bill Lawrence, the creator of "Scrubs" and other shows.

Plane operator Tailwind Air LLC said the charter flight aborted its takeoff from a Manhattan seaplane terminal. The company said it resumed normal operations Friday and was grateful that no one was seriously injured.

West Harrison, New York-based Tailwind Air had no immediate updates Saturday.

90 hospitalized during Chance the Rapper show

Police in Connecticut say more than 90 people were hospitalized during a concert featuring Chance the Rapper.

Authorities say many were taken to hospitals for excessive drinking.

Hartford Deputy Chief Brian Foley said Saturday that officers made 50 underage drinking referrals Friday at Hot 93.7's Hot Jam concert at Xfinity Theatre. Most of those charged were issued a summons to appear in court. Several other arrests were made throughout the evening.

Police say the crowd was apparently made up of people in their late teens and early 20s. He says tailgating, partying and excessive alcohol consumption was "extremely prevalent."

Foley says a large number of people hospitalized were underage attendees experiencing "severe intoxication."

Other artists performing at the concert were Kyle, PnB Rock and ANoyd.

Country singer Scotty McCreery cited for handgun at airport

Country singer Scotty McCreery has been cited after authorities say he had a loaded handgun with him in Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Authorities told local media organizations that they found a loaded 9 millimeter handgun in McCreery's backpack at a security checkpoint on July 13. He told authorities he had been at a firing range and forgot to take the gun out. He was flying to Nashville, Tennessee.

Authorities say he had a valid concealed carry permit. He was cited for a misdemeanor concealed weapon permit violation and released.

McCreery told WTVD-TV in a statement that he has learned a lesson he won't forget, adding, "I take gun safety very seriously."

The singer is an "American Idol" winner and North Carolina native.

Actor John Heard, of 'Home Alone' movies, dies at 71

Actor John Heard, whose many roles included the father in the "Home Alone" series and a corrupt detective in "The Sopranos," has died. He was 71.

His death was confirmed Saturday by the Santa Clara Medical Examiner's office in California. The circumstances were not clear; police referred questions to the coroner's office, which declined to give further details. TMZ reported that a representative for Heard said he was staying in a hotel in Palo Alto, California, while he recovered from back surgery.

Heard played Peter McCallister, the father of Kevin, played by Macaulay Culkin, in "Home Alone" and "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York." He said in later interviews that he sought a movie with kids in it so his son, age 5 at the time, could come to the set and have someone to play with.

After it became a big hit, he was reluctant to revisit the role but his agent convinced him the money was too good to pass up.

"I didn't want to be the 'Home Alone' dad for the rest of my life," he told Yahoo News in 2013.

He was born March 7, 1946, in Washington, D.C. and grew up performing in local theater. One of his memorable early roles was as a disabled Vietnam War veteran in the 1981 film "Cutter's Way."

He was active in film for the next decade, playing Tom Hanks' rival in "Big," actress Geraldine Page's son in "The Trip to Bountiful" and in the movies "The Pelican Brief," ''Beaches," ''Gladiator," ''Rambling Rose" and "After Hours."

He earned an Emmy nomination for playing Vin Makazian in "The Sopranos." Heard said in a 2015 interview with The A.V. Club that he got the part after running into series star James Gandolfini in a gym. His time on "The Sopranos" ended like it did for many other actors there — with his character's death.

Heard said he approached series creator David Chase and said "'Why me? I'm a detective! You can use me forever!' And he told me, 'John, there's a rule in television. Somebody has to die that the audience likes.' I said, 'They like me? How do you know they like me?' He said, 'Well, they like you. So we're gonna kill you.'

"My mother said, 'Why do you have to die in everything?' I said, 'You're telling me? I could've made a fortune!"

Other television roles kept Heard busy. He acted in "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," ''Elementary," ''Prison Break," ''Modern Family" and "Entourage." One of his favorite jobs came in the original "Sharknado" television movie in 2013.

"I knew it was going to be a cult classic," he told the Baltimore Media Blog last year. "It's just ridiculous. I thought it would replace people calling me the 'Home Alone' dad."

Fellow actor Michael McKean paid tribute on Twitter Saturday: "RIP John Heard. Never not good."

Actor James Woods said Heard was "a complex and brilliant man and a true artist. I will miss him dearly."

Heard was married and divorced three times, including briefly to actress Margot Kidder. He had three children.


This story has been corrected to show John Heard was 71, not 72.

'Let 1994 go': Simpson case's racial symbolism now a relic

He wasn't old enough to understand the "trial of the century," but his parents and the older black people in his community made their position clear: They were cheering for Simpson, and were convinced the former NFL star was an innocent dupe in a racial conspiracy. For them, Simpson was a symbol of racial tension and uneven justice.

But Zimmerman, now 30 and living in Washington, D.C., grew up amid the hashtags that have come to symbolize the killings of unarmed black men by police. On his Facebook page on Thursday — after Simpson was granted parole from armed robbery and assault convictions — Zimmerman posted: "Let 1994 go guys."

"The most relevant thing that came out of O.J. since the trial was the Kardashians for millennials," said Zimmerman, referring to Simpson's close friendship with the reality-TV clan that was highlighted in a recent television series about the case. Family patriarch Robert Kardashian, a lawyer, was on Simpson's defense team during the murder trial.

"We don't have an O.J.," Zimmerman said. "For me, that was Trayvon Martin. He was me. That resonates more to me ... It wasn't like (Simpson) was at the forefront of any movement."

While millions watched Simpson's parole hearing last week, audiences were hardly as emotionally invested as they were a generation ago watching his murder trial. Simpson's 1995 acquittal in the deaths of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman bitterly polarized Americans around race.

But interest has waned, attitudes have changed and black Americans are wrestling with more familiar injustices.

Today, Simpson's racial symbolism is largely seen as a relic.

"We just have bigger concerns that are much more directly impacting our specific lives," said University of Pennsylvania sociologist Camille Z. Charles. "We now have symbols that reflect what actually happens to most black people. Most black people don't get fancy lawyers that get them off. They don't have jurors that will be sympathetic because of celebrity. The tide has shifted."

On Oct. 3, 1995, an estimated 150 million people — more than half the country at the time — tuned in to hear the jury's verdict in Simpson's trial for the Brown-Goldman murders. The strategy for Simpson's defense team — which included legendary black litigator Johnnie Cochran — was to frame the case around race. They argued that Simpson had been framed by a corrupt and racist Los Angeles Police Department.

Simpson spent much of his life distancing himself from the black community. He lived in the wealthy enclave of Brentwood in Los Angeles and traded his black college sweetheart for a blonde, white woman. And he once said, "I'm not black. I'm OJ." Still, many African-Americans saw the former running back and actor as a pioneer and cultural icon. Even before he became a criminal defendant, Simpson stood for something bigger.

Charles McKinney, who is black, was at work on June 17, 1994, when a friend called and told him to turn on the television. In his office with his white co-worker, the two saw the infamous Bronco chase as Simpson tried to elude police on a California highway.

"My co-worker was like, 'I think we should both go home and watch this,'" recalled McKinney, now 49, and a resident of Memphis, Tennessee. "I knew it was a simultaneously fascinating and toxic mix of race, reality television and celebrity, to see how quickly the nation just split itself along racial lines and how black folks tried to navigate this moment."

At the time, many blacks were less concerned with Simpson's guilt or innocence. For them, Simpson's wealth balanced the scales of justice in a way that was impossible for most black defendants: He could afford to buy his freedom.

"That sort of euphoria around somebody black working the criminal justice system and having it come out the way that it comes out for white folks all the time was kind of a big deal," Charles said. "We knew 'not guilty' didn't mean 'innocent.'"

Time has sobered the view of many blacks since the verdict. Recent polls show that a majority of blacks now say they believe Simpson was guilty — a view shared by only about 20 percent of blacks at the time of the trial.

Simpson found new relevance with millennials and sparked nostalgia with Generation Xers last year with a wildly popular docuseries and documentary about the murder case. And rapper Jay-Z's new album, "4:44," includes a song titled "Story of OJ."

When Simpson was convicted in Nevada for a hotel-room heist in 2008 and sentenced to up to 33 years in prison, blacks and whites perceived the harsh sentence as a proxy justice for his earlier acquittal. Still, McKinney wasn't glued to his television for Thursday's hearing. His initial reaction: Who cares?

"It's older white people or people who were around in 1994," McKinney said. "You get them mad about the case again. For folks in my generation, nobody was running home to watch this. He's a symbol, but we have lots of symbols now of people who embody these tensions."

Simpson's hearing on Thursday also didn't resonate with Shane Walk, 23, of Albuquerque, a white man who was an infant when the verdict came down.

"I didn't live through the trial, so he doesn't represent to me, at least, to be a racial, polarizing figure as he did with previous generations," said Walk, adding that he felt the hearing was just another passing fad for the media and that people his age should focus on the current divisions in our country.

For Zimmerman, that focus belongs more on the modern-day issues around race and policing that Simpson's case once captured.

"I have no vested interest in O.J.," Zimmerman said. "I would like for our country to get over certain things that just really don't affect us. His freedom doesn't affect anybody. There's no systemic issue with O.J. being free."


Associated Press writer Russell Contreras contributed to this story from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Contreras and Whack are members of AP's race and ethnicity team. Follow Errin Haines Whack on Twitter at

Report: Actor John Heard dies at 72

Actor John Heard, best known for playing the dad in the “Home Alone” movies, has died, TMZ reported.

US Weekly confirmed the report.

Heard was found dead in a California hotel Friday, according to TMZ. He was 72.

>> Read more trending news

The cause of death is unknown, but TMZ reports that Heard had minor surgery on Wednesday, and was staying at the hotel while recovering.

Heard’s acting career included film, television and stage credits. While best known for playing father Peter McCallister in “Home Alone,” other film credits include “Big” and "Beaches," while television credits include “The Sopranos” and “Prison Break.”

This is a breaking news story, return for updates.

WIN Busch Gardens Tickets

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Courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, and Miami’s New #1 For ALL THE HITS...The New HITS 97.3!

Louis Tomlinson heeds dying mother's wish, reconciles with ex-bandmate Zayn Malik

Louis Tomlinson said he honored a special request from his dying mother last December: The One Direction member reconciled with former bandmate Zayn Malik.

>> Read more trending news

The Sun reported that before her death from leukemia at age 42, Johannah Deakin initiated a secret reconciliation between her son and Malik, who had not spoken to one another for a year. 

“My mum said, ‘You’ve got to get back in contact with Zayn,” Tomlinson told The Sun. “Life’s too ... short!”

Malik had a bitter split with One Direction and criticized his time with the band. But Tomlinson said the meeting went well.

“If there is any animosity, just clear the air,” Tomlinson told The Sun. “I met up with him and it was nice.”

Prince George marks his fourth birthday with official photo

Prince George celebrates his fourth birthday on Saturday, and the royal family released photographs of the beaming child, the Independent reported.

>> Read more trending news

The son of Prince William and his wife Kate is third in line to the British throne.

In a statement, Kensington Palace said that "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are delighted to share a new official portrait of Prince George to mark His Royal Highness's fourth birthday tomorrow.

"The Duke and Duchess are very pleased to share this lovely picture as they celebrate Prince George's fourth birthday, and would like to thank everyone for all of the kind messages they have received."

UK palace releases Prince George's 4th birthday portrait

Kensington Palace has released a portrait to mark Prince George's fourth birthday.

The son of Prince William and his wife Kate celebrated his birthday Saturday. George, who is third in line to the throne, is beaming with a happy smile in the photo.

The palace said William and Kate "are delighted to share a new official portrait of Prince George to mark His Royal Highness's fourth birthday." It was taken by a professional photographer. In the past, Kate has released photos she has taken of the children.

George and his 2-year-old sister Princess Charlotte have been traveling with their parents this week on an official visit to Poland and Germany.

In Germany, George toured a helicopter similar to the one his father William has flown as a rescue pilot.

Canadian rock legend Kenny Shields dies 

Kenny Shields, the lead singer of Canadian classic rock ‘n’ roll band Streetheart, died Friday after cardiac surgery in Winnipeg, CBC News reported. He was 69.

>> Read more trending news

Shields and Streetheart charted during the 1970s and 1980s with hits like “Action,” “Hollywood,” “Here Comes the Night,” and a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb.”

The group’s last album was 2008’s “The Hits/Anthology.” The band had planned a cross-country tour this year to celebrate its 40th anniversary, but scrapped the plan when Shields became ill earlier this month.

Shields’ wife and daughter were with him when he died around 3 a.m., according to close friend and bandmate Jeff Neill.

“The ones that he loved were by his side and he wasn’t in pain,” Neill told CBC News. “And he just slipped away.”

‘Britain’s Got Talent’ champion dog Pudsey dies

Former “Britain’s Got Talent” winner Ashleigh Butler announced the death of her beloved dog, Pudsey on Friday, ITV reported.

>> Read more trending news

Butler, who won the 2012 season title on the ITV television show with Pudsey -- a mix of border collie, bichon frise and Chinese crested -- posted an emotional tribute on her Instagram account.

“My handsome man is gone and I don’t know what to do without him,” Butler wrote.

Butler said Pudsey, who was 11, was put down on Thursday after a short battle with leukemia. 

"I had to make the hardest decision of my life to let my beautiful boy go to sleep at the age of 11," Butler told the BBC.

The pair were notable for their dance routine to the theme song from “Mission: Impossible,” and were the first dog act to win the competition.

Hit the decks of Oasis of the Seas for perfect solar eclipse view

Want the perfect spot to view the Aug. 21 total eclipse of the sun?

>> Read more trending news

How about on the deck of a cruise ship, surrounded by miles of ocean!

There’s still time to book the seven-night Total Eclipse Cruise aboard the Oasis of the Seas, sailing from Port Canaveral on Aug. 20.

The party kicks off the following day with eclipse-themed activities, including dance parties, trivia, enrichment lectures and science programs for youngsters. Eclipse-watchers can indulge in a Cosmic Cosmo, Planetary Punch or Moon Pie.

A “major headliner” is slated to perform in concert on Eclipse Day — but the cruise line is keeping us in the dark (eclipse humor) for now as to the identity of the entertainer.

Post-eclipse stops on the voyage are St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Nassau. On-board activities include two Flowrider surf simulators and a nine decks-high zip line. Broadway musical “Cats” is on stage, and the outdoor AquaTheater offers high-diving acrobatic performances.

For more information on the sailing, visit

Great American Eclipse: Economic boon or bust for towns in path?

The tiny town of Herculaneum, Missouri, canceled the Fourth of July this year.

>> Read more trending news

It’s saving its celebrations for the Super Bowl of celestial events — a total solar eclipse that will turn the Mississippi River-hugging burg of 4,000 dark for a full two minutes, 32 seconds on Aug. 21.

Scores of cities from Oregon to South Carolina are planted in the 70-mile-wide path of totality for the historic eclipse. With one month to go, they are watching with wary excitement, bracing for an onslaught of eclipse chasers and hoping for a solar system-sized economic boost.

>> RELATED: Best places to see the Great American Eclipse

“We’re doing a two-day festival prior to the eclipse,” said Herculaneum Mayor Bill Haggard, who is also overseeing the sales of city-stamped eclipse glasses, T-shirts and commemorative coins. “We’ve been working on this for a couple years now trying to get the word out.”

A total solar eclipse last touched the U.S. in 1979, turning day to night along the path of a moon shadow that crossed five states. The Aug. 21 eclipse is the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in 99 years.

For many, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, with hotels filling up more than a year in advance and reservations spilling over into dorms at universities eager to cash in on their location.

But economists doubt a significant economic boon will be felt in most areas.

>> RELATED: Your eyes will fry without special eclipse glasses

Small towns are limited by how many people they can house, feed and entertain. At the same time, unlike a sporting event held in a specific city, the coast-to-coast eclipse spreads out spending with no one town as a focal point.

“Nashville is the largest city in the path and it will see the largest impact because it has the biggest hotel capacity,” said Jeff Humphreys, director of economic forecasting for the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business. “A lot of the smaller towns won’t have the infrastructure to accommodate big crowds, so people won’t be spending a ton of money in them.”

Jimmy Kimmel shares update on infant son following heart surgery

A few months ago, Jimmy Kimmel revealed that his newborn son, Billy, was diagnosed with a congenital heart disease. The newborn was found to have a “hole in the wall of the left and right side of his heart.” Kimmel broke down on his show as he described his son going into surgery and described the wait as “the longest three hours of my life.”

May 1, 2017 announcement: 

>> Read more trending news

Fortunately, the operation was a success, and Billy is doing better than ever. Kimmel shared a picture of Billy on Twitter.

>> RELATED: Jimmy Kimmel breaks down reliving story of newborn son’s heart surgery

“Billy is three months old today and doing great,” Kimmel wrote. “Thanks for all your love & support and please remind your Congresspeople that every kid deserves the care Billy got.”

Kimmel’s wife, Molly McNearney, also posted a picture in celebration of Billy turning three months old. From the looks of the big smile on his face, it was almost like he was never sick.

Small seaplane makes hard landing in NY's East River.

A seaplane made a hard landing in New York's East River on Friday and passengers including TV producer Bill Lawrence, the creator of "Scrubs" and other shows, were rescued.

The plane went down near Manhattan's east side shortly after 5:30 p.m.

The Fire Department says 10 people were on board. All of them declined medical attention.

Ephrain Diaz was fishing in the East River and saw the plane go down.

"When the propeller hit the water, you heard all the water splashing, all over the place," said Diaz, who said he then called 911. He said other boats quickly responded as the plane drifted northward.

Carter Craft was on a boat after finishing up an environmental project when the seaplane made a hard landing and one of its pontoons broke.

He said he saw the plane approach from the south, come in to land in choppy water and then come to a "dead stop."

"I knew something was wrong when it was stalled there in the water," Craft said. "I could see it was completely stopped and there were a lot of people out on the wing and one of the pontoons that didn't break off."

He was traveling on a former U.S. Navy police boat and rushed to the fallen seaplane. He said the passengers all had life vests on and he asked if they needed a ride.

Craft said the travelers' spirits were high despite the hard landing.

"One guy said, 'Are you going to the Hamptons?' And I said, 'Not that far, sorry, but I can take you to 23rd Street.'"

He said he asked the captain if anybody needed to be rushed to the hospital but the captain said that "everybody appears to be OK."

Craft said police and fire boats arrived shortly after.

The plane was operated by Tailwind Air LLC. Michael Siegel, the executive vice president of Tailwind, said all the passengers and crew members were evacuated safely and the seaplane was towed to a nearby dock.

Manhattan resident Leroy Farmer said he was watching as the seaplane's left pontoon seemed to hit a wave.

"It went into the water and never came back up," Farmer said. But then the propeller blades began to hit the water, and the plane got caught in the river current, he said.

He didn't hear yells for help or see anyone come out of the plane. "It looked like (the pilot) had everything under control, from here," Farmer said.

Lawrence, whose work also includes "Spin City" and "Cougar Town" in addition to "Scrubs," posted photos and a video of himself aboard the plane on social media.

Lawrence joked in one tweet, "Going to drink tequila continuously. #Lucky."


Associated Press writer Karen Matthews contributed to this report.


This story has been corrected to say that 10 people were on board, not seven as the Fire Department originally said.

Sand sculpting fest draws artists from all over the world

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend a sand sculpting festival on a Massachusetts beach this weekend.

The International Sand Sculpting Festival on Revere Beach got underway Friday morning. The festival runs through Sunday.

The competition draws sand sculptors from all over the United States and the world, from countries as close as Canada and as far away as Russia.

The first place prize is $5,000.

Sculptures include a 20-foot-wide depiction of the U.S.S. Constitution and a 10-foot-tall lighthouse.

'Teen Wolf' cast makes special appearance for Make-A-Wish

The stars of "Teen Wolf" made a special appearance at Comic-Con Friday for an audience of one.

Nine members of the MTV show's cast sat down for a meet-and-greet with 16-year-old super fan Sydney Lang, who came to Comic-Con with her family thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Sydney's parents, Kevin and Gwen, said it was their first family vacation together so far from home. The couple owns a small business that they closed for the first time in 26 years to come to the pop-culture convention with their daughter, who has Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Soft-spoken Sydney beamed and blushed as she walked into a room where Tyler Posey, Colton Haynes and other stars were chanting her name.

The teenager's wish was to come to Comic-Con and attend the "Teen Wolf" panel, which she did on Thursday. Friday's meeting with the cast was a special surprise.

She sat at a table with Posey, Haynes, Linden Ashby, Shelley Henning, Khylin Rhambo, Dylan Sprayberry, Charlie Carver, Cody Christian and Melissa Ponzio. They chatted with Sydney about her favorite characters and episodes and asked her about her life back home in Edmonton, Ontario, Canada. Henning playfully inquired whether Sydney had any personal connections to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and might make an introduction.

Afterward, Henning said she was grateful for the chance to meet Sydney.

"It puts everything in perspective," the actress said.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation brought 14 young people and their families to Comic-Con this year, curating special experiences for each. The organization says the emotional lift kids and their families get from their Wish experience often aids in healing by providing a renewed sense of hope.

Besides the Lang family's "Teen Wolf" experience, they planned to attend panels for such shows as "The Big Bang Theory" and "Doctor Who." They spent time on the convention center floor, where Sydney added to her collection of Pop! figurines. The family also zipped over to the nearby San Diego Zoo, which Sydney's younger brother, Ethan, was particularly excited about.

Dad Kevin Lang said they've been on the move morning to night and having a blast.

"They exceeded our expectations in the first half of the first day," Lang said of the Make-A-Wish crew.

Sydney, meanwhile, was speechless. Her face-spanning smile said it all.


Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at .

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