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Entertainment

    Police are investigating a break-in at a Dutch art museum that is currently closed because of restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, the museum and police said Monday. It wasn't immediately clear if any paintings or art were stolen in the raid in the early hours of Monday morning on the Singer Laren museum east of Amsterdam. The museum did not release any details. It scheduled a news conference for Monday afternoon. Before the closure, the museum was hosting an exhibition titled “Mirror of the Soul. Toorop to Mondriaan” in cooperation with Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. The museum houses the collection of American couple William and Anna Singer, with a focus on modernism such as neo-impressionism, pointillism, expressionism and cubism.
  • Popular Japanese comedian Ken Shimura, who drew inspiration from the American comedic icon Jerry Lewis, has died from the coronavirus, becoming Japan's first known celebrity victim of the disease. He was 70. Shimura, who attracted fans of all generations with his slapstick comedy and funny faces, had been treated at a Tokyo hospital and died on Sunday, according to his agency, Izawa Office. He was diagnosed with pneumonia after contracting the coronavirus. He was hospitalized on March 20 after developing a fever and breathing troubles, and was put on on a ventilator. The news of his death comes as new cases have spiked in Tokyo, with the city's governor warning of an explosive spread of the virus in the region. The news topped Japanese television news and talk shows on Monday, and some fans and media gathered outside the hospital where he had been treated. Tokyo had 68 new cases of the virus on Sunday, bringing its prefectural total to 430. Nationwide, Japan has confirmed 2,578 cases, including 712 from a cruise ship. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. Shimura's death sent shock waves throughout Japan, where many people, especially the younger population, are seen as lacking a sense of urgency about the virus. “I'm shocked to hear that he died so soon after his infection was reported,' a 21-year-old college student told NHK television. 'Until now, the risk of getting infected seemed someone else's problem, but I'm scared of it now.' Shimura was a former member of the comedy rock band the Drifters, a household name in the 1970s and 1980s, and gained fame while starring in the group's prime-time comedy show “It's 8 o'clock, Gather Everyone!” Born Yasunori Shimura, he recently was known for his popular character Baka Tonosama (Stupid Warlord) on TV comedy shows. He also led his comedy theater, Shimurakon (Shimura Spirit), since 2006. He also was known as a fan of the late American comedian Jerry Lewis and had drawn inspiration from him. Shimura's death came as he was preparing for a new film. He was also to run in the Olympic torch relay in July to represent Higashimurayama, a town in Tokyo's suburbs, his agency said. Japan and Olympic officials have agreed to postpone the games until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic. “I don't think Shimura himself expected to have to go this way,” an Izawa Office staff member told reporters, adding that his comedy shows were still upcoming on TV. “I hope you will remember him and laugh,” he said. “Until the end, he was committed to present laughter to the people.” ___ Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi
  • Elmo, Rooster and Cookie Monster are doing their part to help keep kids safe as the coronavirus pandemic grinds on. The beloved Sesame Street Muppets are featured in some of four new animated public service spots reminding young fans to take care while doing such things as washing hands and sneezing. One of Elmo's signature songs, the toothbrush classic “Brushy Brush,” has been updated to “Washy Wash.”Rooster pops up in another of the 30-second spots to remind kids to “wash hands now” before eating, playing sports or using the bathroom. The new content on SesameStreet.org/caring builds on last week’s launch of Sesame Workshop's Caring for Each Other initiative to help families stay physically and mentally healthy during the health crisis. The overall project ranges from messages of comfort to learning activities in reading, math and science. The new spots will be distributed globally in 19 languages through partners that include HBO, PBS Kids, YouTube and the Ad Council. 'As families around the world adjust to their new realities, parents and caregivers are looking for help in creating new routines, staying healthy and fostering learning at home while little ones are out of school,” Dr. Rosemarie Truglio, senior vice president of curriculum and content at Sesame Workshop, said in a statement. The workshop will continue to roll out new resources for parents and caregivers on creating new routines, fostering playful learning at home and managing anxiety. Families can also watch Sesame Street episodes on HBO, PBS stations and the PBS KIDS 24/7 live stream. Free on-demand episodes of “Sesame Street” are offered on PBS KIDS digital platforms, along with more than 110 free “Sesame Street” e-books on all major e-book platforms. ___ Online: https://www.sesamestreet.org/caring
  • Alan Merrill — who co-wrote the song “I Love Rock and Roll' that became a signature hit for fellow rocker Joan Jett — died Sunday in New York of complications from the coronavirus, his daughter said. He was 69. Laura Merrill said on her Facebook account that he died in the morning. “I was given 2 minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out. He seemed peaceful and as I left there was still a glimmer of hope that he wouldn’t be a ticker on the right hand side of the CNN/Fox news screen,' she wrote. “I walked 50 blocks home still with hope in my heart. The city that I knew was empty. I felt I was the only person here and perhaps in many ways I was. By the time I got in the doors to my apartment I received the news that he was gone.' Merrill said her father was in good spirits recently. She went to a show of his about two weeks ago and had taken a photograph of him for his new album, Merrill said. “He played down the ‘cold' he thought he had,' she said. “I’ve made a million jokes about the ‘Rona' and how it’ll “getcha”... boy do I feel stupid.' Jett scored a major hit with “I Love Rock and Roll' in 1982. Alan Merrill wrote the song for his band The Arrows and recorded it in 1975. On her Twitter account, Jett wrote: “I’ve just learned of the awful news that Alan Merrill has passed. My thoughts and love go to his family, friends and music community as a whole. I can still remember watching the Arrows on TV in London and being blown away by the song that screamed hit to me. With deep gratitude and sadness, wishing him a safe journey to the other side.” Merrill was born in New York and grew up in Switzerland, Los Angeles and Japan before starting his music career in New York.
  • Billie Eilish, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys and Dave Grohl opened their doors — literally — as the musicians performed from their homes for an hour-long benefit concert to raise money for those affected by the coronavirus crisis. Keys kicked off the Sunday's event — which also honored health professionals and first responders — singing her song “Underdog” from a piano in her home. She thanked those “risking their lives to keep us safe.' Carey, one of the last performers, sang “Always Be My Baby' from her home studio in New York, then told the audience she was going to put on gloves. Elton John sang and also hosted the special that aired on Fox and iHeartMedia radio stations; he said he hoped “this entertainment will feed and fuel your soul.' The homebound setting wasn’t a stretch for the home-schooled Eilish, who typically performs live alongside her brother-producer Finneas, who is either on guitar or piano. On Sunday, he strummed along as Eilish sang her No. 1 hit “Bad Guy” from their couch. The concert special came on the one-year anniversary of Eilish’s Grammy-winning debut album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” — which Finneas and Eilish produced and recorded from their home in Los Angeles. Eilish told viewers she was happy she and her brother could provide “some sort of comfort during the crazy, crazy time.” The artists were filmed with cell phones, cameras and audio equipment in their homes. The event took place during the time slot that was to belong to the iHeartRadio Music Awards, which became part of a wave of public-event postponements and cancellations because of the pandemic. Other performers included Tim McGraw, H.E.R. and Sam Smith, who sang “How Do You Sleep” in a cappella form. Dave Grohl sang “My Hero” from his studio in Hawaii, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong strummed his guitar to “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” while Camila Cabello sang “My Oh My” from Miami with a guitar assist from beau Shawn Mendes. The five members of the Backstreet Boys performed from separate locations to sing their classic hit, “I Want It That Way.' And Demi Lovato sang her emotional song “Skyscraper” while playing piano. Lady Gaga, Lizzo, Melissa McCarthy, Ryan Seacrest, Ken Jeong and others made special appearances, thanking first responders and telling viewers to practice safe habits like hand-washing and staying home. “I see a lot of inspiring stories of kindness around the world that are helping to calm everyone’s nerves during this scary time. My heart goes out to people who have lost loved ones and also to people that are losing their jobs,” said Gaga, who postponed the April 10 release of her album “Chromatica,” saying it’s not the right time amid a global fight with the coronavirus. “I just wanted to check in and make sure that you’re finding the time to be kind to yourself and doing whatever you can to maintain your mental helath.” Like Gaga, other artists have changed release dates on projects because of the virus, and artists have had to cancel or postpone live shows because of social-distancing mandates. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. Viewers watching Sunday’s concert special were asked to support two of the charitable organizations aiding victims and first responders during the pandemic: Feeding America and First Responders Children’s Foundation. Some police officers and health care professionals spoke in between performances, with one ICU nurse in tears as she told viewers about her emotional day treating victims carrying the virus.
  • The family of John Prine says the singer-songwriter is critically ill and has been placed on a ventilator while being treated for COVID-19-type symptoms. A message posted on Prine's Twitter page Sunday said the “Angel from Montgomery” singer has been hospitalized since Thursday and his condition worsened on Saturday. “This is hard news for us to share,” Prine’s family added. “But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now. And know that we love you, and that John loves you.” Prine’s wife and manager Fiona Whelan Prine earlier this month said that she had tested positive for the coronavirus. She said the couple were quarantined and isolated from each other. The 73-year-old Prine, one of the most influential in folk and country music, has twice fought cancer. Most recently, he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013 and had part of a lung removed. The surgeries affected his voice but Prine continued to make music and to tour. Before the onset of the virus, Prine had shows scheduled in May and a summer tour planned. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new coronavirus. As of Sunday, it has killed more than 32,000 people worldwide.
  • Country singer Joe Diffie, who had a string of hits in the 1990s with chart-topping ballads and honky-tonk singles like “Home” and “Pickup Man,” has died after testing positive for COVID-19. He was 61. Diffie on Friday announced he had contracted the coronavirus, becoming the first country star to go public with such a diagnosis. Diffie's publicist Scott Adkins said the singer died Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee, due to complications from the virus. Diffie, a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was a member of the Grand Ole Opry for more than 25 years. His hits included “Honky Tonk Attitude,' “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die),' “Bigger Than the Beatles' and “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets).” 'Country music lost one of the good guys today,” Naomi Judd said in a statement. Diffie's mid-90s albums “Honky Tonk Attitude” and “Third Rock From the Sun” went platinum. Eighteen of Diffie's singles landed in the top 10 on the country charts, with five going No. 1. In his 2013 single “1994,” Jason Aldean name-checked the '90s country mainstay. Diffie shared in a Grammy award for best country collaboration for the song “Same Old Train,” with Merle Haggard, Marty Stuart and others. His last solo album was 2010's “The Bluegrass Album: Homecoming.” “Joe Diffie, one of our best singers and my buddy, is gone,” Tanya Tucker said in a statement. “We are the same age, so it's very scary. I will miss his voice, his laughter, his songs.” “Joe was a real true honky tonk hero to every country artist alive today,” singer John Rich said in a statement. “No one sang our music better than he did, and to see his life and artistry cut short is beyond tragic. He was loved, cherished and respected by all of country music and beyond.” Toby Keith extended his condolences to Diffie's family, saying in a statement, “A great traditional voice will live on cuz I'm putting his music on now. Here's a beer to ya, Joe. Go get your reward.” Deanna Carter said she was “shell shocked” by the news and had hoped to perform again with Diffie this year. “He was a powerhouse that stopped people in their tracks, both on and off stage,” she said in a statement. Diffie is survived by his wife, Tara Terpening Diffie, and seven children from four marriages.
  • Singer-songwriter Jan Howard, who had a No. 1 country hit “For Loving You” with Bill Anderson and wrote hits for others like Kitty Wells' “It's All Over But the Crying,” has died at age 91, according to the Grand Ole Opry. The Opry, of which she was a member for nearly 50 years, announced her death on Saturday. “Jan Howard was a force of nature in country music, at the Opry, and in life,” said Dan Rogers, the Grand Ole Opry's vice president and executive producer, said in a statement. “We were all so lucky so many nights to hear her voice on stage and to catch up with her backstage. We’re all better for having had her in our lives.” The Missouri-born Howard had her first hit in 1960 with “The One You Slip Around With,” and had a string of others including “Evil on Your Mind” and “Bad Seed.' But she had her biggest success as a duo with Anderson, including “I Know You're Married,' “Someday We'll Be Together” and'For Loving You,' which spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard country chart in 1967. She also wrote for others, including Wells' song and Connie Smith's hit “I Never Once Stopped Loving You.” Her most personal song was perhaps “My Son,” which she wrote as plea for her son Jimmy's safe return from the Vietnam war. He was killed two weeks after its release in 1968. Another son later killed himself. Howard documented her triumphs and struggles in the 1987 autobiography “Sunshine and Shadow.” She is survived by her remaining son, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
  • Garth Brooks and wife Trisha Yearwood will be taking viewer requests during a live prime-time show this week filmed at their home. CBS will air the special, “Garth and Trisha: Live!” on Wednesday at 9 p.m. Eastern. In an announcement Sunday, CBS says the country stars will perform “an intimate concert for viewers looking for the comfort and shared joy of music during this difficult time.” The inspiration came from a live show that Brooks performed from his studio last week that attracted millions of viewers and caused Facebook Live to crash multiple times. With millions of Americans staying at home to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus, performers are turning to live streamed concerts to reach fans and lift spirits. John Legend, Keith Urban and John Mayer are among the stars who have performed virtual concerts. CBS says the special will be filmed with a minimal crew that will take social distancing precautions.
  • Ugandan pop star and opposition leader Bobi Wine, who released a song urging Africa's people to wash their hands to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, is criticizing African governments for not maintaining better health care systems for the continent's 1.3 billion people. In his new song, “Corona Virus Alert,” Wine and collaborator Nubian Li highlight prevention measures against the virus, which now has been reported in at least 46 of Africa's 54 countries. Speaking to The Associated Press about the song, Wine — a popular musician, legislator and presidential aspirant whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu — said it is time for Africa's leaders to channel more resources toward building functional health care systems that serve both the rich and the poor. “For a long time we have been calling out the government of Uganda, like many governments on the African continent that have neglected the health care systems,' said Wine. “They have invested heavily in weapons and invested heavily in curtailing the voices of the people.” As the coronavirus spreads across Africa, he said, “this is the time for them (the continent's leaders) to remember that a functional health care system is not only a benefit for the poor but also the rich, because right now, as we stand, they cannot travel abroad for medical care. They have to face the same ailing medical care to deal with them. And this should be a message to them.” Wine's criticism of Uganda's government has made him a leader of those opposing long-time president, Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled the East African country since 1986. Museveni is expected to seek reelection next year and Wine has said he will challenge the president. Since becoming a potent government critic, Wine's attempts to perform and hold rallies have been blocked by authorities. He has complained of harassment and beatings by security forces when they block his public appearances. Authorities accuse him of trying to lure young people into rioting and have charged him with multiple criminal offenses, including treason, which he denies. Many Ugandans are angered by newspaper reports of high-ranking officials seeking medical treatment abroad at the expense of taxpayers while government-run health centers in remote areas routinely run out of basic supplies such as gloves and painkillers. The government spends less than 15% of its budget on health and local media frequently cite corruption in health-related procurement deals. The World Health Organization also has urged African Union members to fulfill a 2001 pledge to allocate at least 15% of their annual budgets toward the health sector. The U.N. agency reported in 2011 that nearly all African countries failed to meet that target. The WHO chief has warned Africa to 'prepare for the worst” as the coronavirus begins to spread locally, amid worries that the continent's fragile health systems are not prepared to handle the challenge. The new virus has been slow to reach Africa, but its spread across the continent is picking up pace. Africa has registered more than 3,500 cases, with South Africa registering the largest number at more than 1,000. Uganda has reported 30 cases of COVID-19, mostly people who recently traveled through the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai. In recent days Museveni has led the government's efforts to combat the virus, giving broadcasts in which he explains how the virus infects the human body as government health experts sitting nearby back him up. Museveni has closed schools and temporarily banned religious and cultural gatherings to curb the spread of the virus. Uganda's only international airport has been shut down and public transport restricted. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.