By HAVEN DALEY
The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO —
Robin Williams, a brilliant shapeshifter who could channel his frenetic energy into delightful comic characters like "Mrs. Doubtfire" or harness it into richly nuanced work like his Oscar-winning turn in "Good Will Hunting," died Monday in an apparent suicide. He was 63.
Williams was pronounced dead at his San Francisco Bay Area home Monday, according to the sheriff's office in Marin County, north of San Francisco. The sheriff's office said the preliminary investigation shows the cause of death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.
The Marin County coroner's office said Williams was last seen alive at home at about 10 p.m. Sunday. An emergency call from his house in Tiburon was placed to the Sheriff's Department shortly before noon Monday.
"This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken," said Williams' wife, Susan Schneider. "On behalf of Robin's family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin's death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions."
Williams had been battling severe depression recently, said Mara Buxbaum, his press representative. Just last month, he announced he was returning to a 12-step treatment program he said he needed after 18 months of nonstop work. He had sought treatment in 2006 after a relapse following 20 years of sobriety.
From his breakthrough in the late 1970s as the alien in the hit TV show "Mork & Mindy," through his standup act and such films as "Good Morning, Vietnam," the short, barrel-chested Williams ranted and shouted as if just sprung from solitary confinement. Loud, fast and manic, he parodied everyone from John Wayne to Keith Richards, impersonating a Russian immigrant as easily as a pack of Nazi attack dogs.
He was a riot in drag in "Mrs. Doubtfire," or as a cartoon genie in "Aladdin." He won his Academy Award in a rare dramatic role, as an empathetic therapist in the 1997 film "Good Will Hunting."
He was no less on fire in interviews. During a 1989 chat with The Associated Press, he could barely stay seated in his hotel room, or even mention the film he was supposed to promote, as he free-associated about comedy and the cosmos.
"There's an Ice Age coming," he said. "But the good news is there'll be daiquiris for everyone and the Ice Capades will be everywhere. The lobster will keep for at least 100 years, that's the good news. The Swanson dinners will last a whole millennium. The bad news is the house will basically be in Arkansas."
As word of his death spread, tributes from inside and outside the entertainment industry poured in.
"Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien - but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most - from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets," President Barack Obama said in a statement.
Following Williams on stage, Billy Crystal once observed, was like trying to top the Civil War. In a 1993 interview with the AP, Williams recalled an appearance early in his career on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson." Bob Hope was also there.
"It was interesting," Williams said. "He was supposed to go on before me and I was supposed to follow him, and I had to go on before him because he was late. I don't think that made him happy. I don't think he was angry, but I don't think he was pleased.
"I had been on the road and I came out, you know, gassed, and I killed and had a great time. Hope comes out and Johnny leans over and says, 'Robin Williams, isn't he funny?' Hope says, 'Yeah, he's wild. But you know, Johnny, it's great to be back here with you.'"
In 1992, Carson chose Williams and Bette Midler as his final guests.
Like so many funnymen, Williams had dramatic ambitions. He played for tears in "Awakenings," ''Dead Poets Society" and "What Dreams May Come," which led New York Times critic Stephen Holden to write that he dreaded seeing the actor's "Humpty Dumpty grin and crinkly moist eyes."
But other critics approved, and Williams won three Golden Globes, for "Good Morning, Vietnam," ''Mrs. Doubtfire" and "The Fisher King."
His other film credits included Robert Altman's "Popeye" (a box office bomb), Paul Mazursky's "Moscow on the Hudson," Steven Spielberg's "Hook" and Woody Allen's "Deconstructing Harry." On stage, Williams joined fellow comedian Steve Martin in a 1988 Broadway revival of "Waiting for Godot."
"Robin was a lightning storm of comic genius and our laughter was the thunder that sustained him. He was a pal and I can't believe he's gone," Spielberg said.
More recently, he appeared in the "Night at the Museum"movies, playing President Theodore Roosevelt in the comedies in which Ben Stiller's security guard has to contend with wax figures that come alive and wreak havoc after a museum closes. The third film in the series is in post-production, according to the Internet Movie Database.
In April, Fox 2000 said it was developing a sequel to "Mrs. Doubtfire" and Williams was in talks to join the production.
Williams also made a short-lived return to TV last fall in CBS' "The Crazy Ones," a sitcom about a father-daughter ad agency team that co-starred Sarah Michelle Gellar. It was canceled after one season.
"I dread the word 'art,'" Williams said in 1989 when discussing his craft with the AP. "That's what we used to do every night before we'd go on with 'Waiting for Godot.' We'd go, 'No art. Art dies tonight.' We'd try to give it a life, instead of making "Godot" so serious. It's cosmic vaudeville staged by the Marquis de Sade."
His personal life was often short on laughter. He had acknowledged drug and alcohol problems in the 1970s and '80s and was among the last to see John Belushi before the "Saturday Night Live" star died of a drug overdose in 1982.
Williams announced in 2006 that he was drinking again but rebounded well enough to joke about it during his recent tour. "I went to rehab in wine country," he said, "to keep my options open." The following year, he told the AP that people were surprised he was no longer clean.
"I fell off the wagon after 20 years and people are like, 'Really?' Well, yeah. It only kicks in when you really want to change," he said.
Born in Chicago in 1951, Williams would remember himself as a shy kid who got some early laughs from his mother — by mimicking his grandmother. He opened up more in high school when he joined the drama club, and he was accepted into the Juilliard Academy, where he had several classes in which he and Christopher Reeve were the only students and John Houseman was the teacher.
Encouraged by Houseman to pursue comedy, Williams identified with the wildest and angriest of performers: Jonathan Winters, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, George Carlin. Their acts were not warm and lovable. They were just being themselves.
"You look at the world and see how scary it can be sometimes and still try to deal with the fear," he said in 1989. "Comedy can deal with the fear and still not paralyze you or tell you that it's going away. You say, OK, you got certain choices here, you can laugh at them and then once you've laughed at them and you have expunged the demon, now you can deal with them. That's what I do when I do my act."
He unveiled Mork, the alien from the planet Ork, in an appearance on "Happy Days" and was granted his own series, which ran from 1978 to 1982 and co-starred Pam Dawber as a woman who takes in the interplanetary visitor.
"I am completely and totally devastated," Dawber said in a statement. "What more can be said?"
Following his success in films, Williams often returned to television — for appearances on "Saturday Night Live," for "Friends," for comedy specials, for "American Idol," where in 2008 he pretended to be a "Russian idol" who belts out a tuneless, indecipherable "My Way."
Williams could handle a script, when he felt like it, and also think on his feet. He ad-libbed in many of his films and was just as quick in person. During a media tour for "Awakenings," when director Penny Marshall mistakenly described the film as being set in a "menstrual hospital," instead of "mental hospital," Williams quickly stepped in and joked, "It's a period piece."
Winner of a Grammy in 2003 for best spoken comedy album, "Robin Williams — Live 2002," he once likened his act to the daily jogs he took across the Golden Gate Bridge. There were times he would look over the edge, one side of him pulling back in fear, the other insisting he could fly.
"You have an internal critic, an internal drive that says, 'OK, you can do more.' Maybe that's what keeps you going," Williams said. "Maybe that's a demon. ... Some people say, 'It's a muse.' No, it's not a muse! It's a demon! DO IT YOU BASTARD!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! THE LITTLE DEMON!!"
In addition to his wife, Williams is survived by his three children: daughter Zelda, 25; and sons Zachary, 31, and Cody, 19.
By Alan Duke
Justin Bieber was charged with drunken driving, resisting arrest and driving without a valid license after police saw the pop star street racing early Thursday morning, Miami Beach police said.
"What the f*** did I do? Why did you stop me?" Bieber asked the police officer who pulled him over just after 4 a.m., according to the arrest report.
Bieber, 19, was released from a Miami jail an hour after he made a brief appearance through a video link before a Miami judge, who set a "standard" $2,500 bond Thursday afternoon.
He strutted out of the jail dressed in black, with a baggy hoodie covering his head. His pants appeared to be baggy leather. Bieber briefly sat on top of a black Cadillac Escalade, where he waved to screaming fans, before he was chauffeured away.
At the bail hearing, the singer, dressed in an orange jail uniform, stood silently with his lips sometimes pursed as attorney Roy Black represented him in the hearing earlier.
Black told Judge Joseph Farina that he had been retained by Bieber's manager. He said his partner had been denied access to Bieber in jail before the hearing.
Bieber was booked into a Miami jail after failing a sobriety test, Miami Beach Police Chief Raymond Martinez told reporters Thursday.
Bieber "made some statements that he had consumed some alcohol, and that he had been smoking marijuana and consumed some prescription medication," Martinez said.
A Miami Beach officer saw Bieber driving a yellow Lamborghini in a race against a red Ferrari in a residential area of Miami Beach, Martinez said. The cars were speeding at about 55 to 60 mph in a 30 mph zone, he said.
Police report details Bieber arrest
The officer pulled Bieber's car over, but the singer was "was not cooperating with the officer's instructions," Martinez said.
"At first, he was a little belligerent, using some choice words questioning why he was being stopped and why the officer was even questioning him," he said.
He allegedly ignored a police officer's request to keep his hands on the car while he did "a cursory patdown for weapons," the report said.
"I ain't got no f***ing weapons," the arresting officer quoted Bieber as saying. "Why do you have to search me? What the f*** is this about?"
The arrest report describes Bieber as having a "flushed face, bloodshot eyes, and the odor of alcohol on his breath."
Bieber failed a field sobriety test, Miami Beach Police Sgt. Bobby Hernandez told CNN.
Two black SUVs blocked the traffic at 26th and Pine Tree Drive, which "facilitated an open road" for the two cars to race on Pine Tree, the report said.
The Ferrari's driver, identified as 19-year-old Def Jam recording artist Khalil Sharieff, was also arrested on a drunken driving charge, police said.
Sharieff posted a photo on his Instagram account of Bieber in the yellow Lamborghini with a woman behind the wheel early Thursday. "U know bizzle brought that lambo out," he wrote in the caption.
Another posting showed a photo of a Ferrari steering wheel with the caption: "Miami nights ridin thru yo city in that hot wheel."
A tweet posted Wednesday evening on Sharieff's verfied Twitter account linked to a video of him playing basketball with Bieber.
Bieber flew to Miami on Monday.
Another police department in the Miami area is investigating a report that some of its officers escorted Bieber's caravan between Miami strip clubs this week without authorization.
Opa-Locka Assistant City Manager David Chiverton toldCNN affiliate WSVN-TV that "at some point, the escort took them at least to two locations that we know of."
"The police administration had no knowledge of this escort, and it is not the norm for those things to occur without the chief and his administration authorizing such escorts," Chiverton told the TV station.
Thursday's incident marks the first time the teen singer has been arrested, although he is under investigation on allegations of egging his California neighbor's home.
Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies used a felony search warrant last week to raid Bieber's mansion in the felony vandalism investigation. They seized Bieber's iPhone and the security camera system, which detectives have been examining for clues about who tossed eggs over a fence that splattered onto the next-door house, causing an estimated $20,000 in damage.
Bieber is having some issues
Deputies have also investigated reports by Bieber's neighbors that he raced his expensive sports car down the streets of the exclusive Oaks community of Calabasas, California, but no charges ever resulted.
One neighbor accused Bieber of spitting in his face during a heated confrontation last March. Deputies have responded to complaints about loud parties at Bieber's place.
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office concluded it couldn't prove the spitting or speeding cases in court, so it declined to prosecute.
Prosecutors also rejected a misdemeanor battery complaint from a photographer who accused Bieber of attacking him in the parking lot of a Calabasas shopping center as he was taking photos of Bieber and his then-girlfriend, Selena Gomez, in May 2012.
"We didn't do this search warrant to send a message," Sheriff's Lt. David Thompson said last week. "That's not what we do, but we hope maybe that understanding the gravity of this will change some of the behavior."
By: Gina McIntyre
“Ant-Man” has a new release date.
The Marvel film, starring Michael Douglas as Hank Pym and Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, now will open July 17, 2015. That’s two weeks earlier than its planned July 31 release date; it moves into the date that had been reserved as the opening of Zack Snyder’s untitled “Man of Steel” sequel featuring Henry Cavill as Superman and Ben Affleck as Batman.
Marvel announced the change on its website Thursday.
Last week, in a surprise move, Warners pushed back its “Superman/Batman” project, which also will feature an appearance from Wonder Woman as played by Israeli actress Gal Gadot, shifting the blockbuster to May 6, 2016. A release issued by the studio said the move was designed to allow “the filmmakers time to realize fully their vision, given the complex visual nature of the story.”
The “Man of Steel” sequel goes into production later this year, and is set to film in Michigan. Theproject was originally announced last year at San Diego’s Comic-Con International.
“Ant-Man” is poised to become a new franchise for Marvel, with Douglas set to play the original Avengers member, a scientist who, in the comics, invents a shrinking serum that allows him to sneak around in miniature form and surprise foes. Rudd’s character, meanwhile, is a reformed thief and the second superhero to take the name Ant-Man.
It’s unclear whether either incarnation of the diminutive hero will appear in writer-director Joss Whedon’s upcoming “Avengers” sequel, “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which also is set for release in 2015. In the comics, Pym is the creator of Ultron, an automaton that becomes a supervillain.
Wright embarks on “Ant-Man” after the success of last summer’s “The World’s End,” his third film collaboration with actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The trio’s Cornetto Trilogy — “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz” and “World’s End” — established Wright as an especially beloved figure among the fan community, his films fusing humor and heart within genre trappings.
Wright’s been attached to the project for some time — he debuted “Ant-Man” test footage that showcased the helmeted hero growing and shrinking in size at Comic-Con in 2012.
What upcoming superhero film are you most excited to see? Let us know in the comments section.
By Lauren Hockenson, Giga Om
Facebook on Thursday announced the final phase of removing an old privacy feature from the social media platform. The feature, which allows users to be hidden from search, will finally be taken away for users who have it enabled.
The feature, called "Who can look up your Timeline by name?" was removed from Privacy settings last year (noted in a December blog post) for those who didn't have it enabled. When enabled, the setting removes the ability for users to access a Timeline profile via search, even when a user puts in the exact name of the person he or she is locating. Now, users that still have that feature enabled will begin to see removal notices from Facebook, indicating that they will be present and visible in Graph Search along with the rest of the Facebook user base.
Facebook says in the blog post that the feature is a vestigial precaution that reaches back before the platform had a sophisticated search algorithm. When Facebook search acted as a mere directory, removing oneself from search made it more difficult for strangers to access a given profile. But now, as Open Graph opens up to search more settings and there is greater visibility of Timelines for friends of friends, the importance of finding a person through search has diminished while controlling the content on any given Timeline has become more important. Facebook says that the feature also caused hiccups in the user experience:
"People told us that they found it confusing when they tried looking for someone who they knew personally and couldn't find them in search results, or when two people were in a Facebook Group and then couldn't find each other through search."Of course, the sunsetting of this feature for those who care about it the most only stresses the importance of checking and updating Facebook privacy settings often. Now, it's more important to consider the content of the Timeline itself: a "private Timeline" is only such when content is marked explicitly "Friends Only." As Facebook continues to make search easier, it's important to keep in mind how these changes impact social media privacy at large.
by Chelsey Wilkins in Beauty
Our royal highness, King Beyonce Knowles-Carter, found herself in quite a hairy (heh) situation while on stage during last night’s stop on the Mrs. Carter World Tour. In the middle of her performance for "Halo," Bey's GLORIOUS blonde wavy tendrils were snatched up by a fan! If you’re anything like us, you’re saying to yourself, "Who dare approach the throne to commit such a maleficence!?!" But Beyhive, before you go summoning Jay-Z and the rest of “La Familia” to initiate a manhunt for this audacious audience member, note that the offender was only a stage fan—as in, an inanimate object.
The same stage fan that helps create Bey’s signature hair-blowing-in-the-wind moments turned its back on its fearless leader, leaving her stuck and unable to whip her hair back and forth in true Sasha Fierce fashion. We’re sure audience members refrained from breathing during this frightening ordeal, praying Beyonce’s mane remained intact and unscathed. All the while, Bey continued performing like the boss chick she is, as body guards and concerned stans standing by removed B’s luxurious locks from the metal hands of this unapologetic machine. The show must go on, right?!
Beyonce, aware of the effects of social media and the hundreds of video cameras in the arena, took to Instagram early this morning to make fun of the situation before anyone else could (of course WE’d never poke fun at the Queen!). After uploading an Insta-video of the near disastrous hair experience, she posted a picture with reworked lyrics for her smash hit “Halo”. The remixed version goes something like this:
“Gravity can’t begiiiiiiiin
To pull me out of the fan again.
I felt my hair was yankiiiiiiiin
From the fan that’s always hatiiiiiiiin
Virgin remy & malasiiiiiaaaaaan”
HILARIOUS, right?! She signed her witty note with the message, “I got snatched ‘2 snaps.’ Goodnight all, B.” Well said, Beyonce. Well said.