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Exclusive: Judge in Italy weighs if Paul Haggis goes free in sex abuse probe

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Judge in Italy weighs if Paul Haggis goes free in sex abuse probe

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BRINDISI, Italy — A judge in southern Italy on Wednesday was weighing whether Academy Award-winning film director Paul Haggis should go free while Italian prosecutors investigate a woman’s allegations that he had sex with her over two days without her consent.

Haggis’ lawyer, Michele Laforgia, said after the hearing Wednesday in Brindisi courthouse that his client reiterated his total innocence and is in “hopeful expectation” that he will be ultimately vindicated.

Judge Vilma Giil was expected to issue her decision later Wednesday.

“Paul Haggis answered all questions and explained what happened,” Laforgia told reporters outside the courthouse. “He declared himself, as he had already done right after the detention, completely innocent, in the sense that the sex he had with this woman was totally consensual.”

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Paul Haggis arrested in Italy, faces sexual assault charges

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While the woman’s allegations are investigated, the 69-year-old Canadian-born director, producer and screenwriter was ordered on Sunday to stay detained in his guest residence in a farmhouse in Ostuni, a popular tourist town in Puglia, the region forming the “heel” of the Italian peninsula.

Prosecutors have said he is under investigation for alleged aggravated sexual violence and aggravated personal injuries.

They didn’t immediately comment after the hearing, which lasted several hours.

Prosecutors have described the woman as young and foreign. State TV and other Italian media said she is a 30-year-old Englishwoman who had known Haggis before he came to Ostuni to participate in an arts festival that began this week.

Asked by a reporter what kind of relationship Haggis and the woman had, Laforgia replied that the two had had a “relationship of acquaintance.”

The lawyer said the defense disputes a hospital report indicating that the woman had suffered physical injuries.

“There is no sign of injury nor sign of violence,” Laforgia asserted, adding, “I believe that they (the investigators) badly interpreted the findings of the emergency room” of a Brindisi hospital, where the woman was taken after she told authorities that she had been sexually abused.

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Haggis co-wrote, directed and produced “Crash,” which won the 2006 Academy Awards for best picture and best screenplay. He also wrote the screenplay for “Million Dollar Baby,” another Oscar winner.

He has had legal problems in recent years stemming from sexual misconduct accusations by four women in the United States.

On Sunday, shortly after Italian prosecutors announced the investigation and detention of Haggis, he U.S.-based attorney, Priya Chaudhry, told The Associated Press that although she could not discuss the evidence under Italian law, “I am confident that all allegations will be dismissed against Mr. Haggis. He is totally innocent, and willing to fully cooperate with the authorities so the truth comes out quickly.”

Because Haggis doesn’t speak Italian, he submitted written statements in English to the court throughout the hearing. Translations back-and-forth lengthened the duration of the hearing, Laforgia said.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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Exclusive: Chuck D Reacts After 'Jeopardy!' Player Forgets Public Enemy – TalkOfNews.com

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Exclusive: Beyoncé explains why she created Renaissance alongside epic new photo – TalkOfNews.com

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We now know a bit more about Beyoncé‘s forthcoming new album, Renaissance.

The superstar singer posted an ethereal photo of herself upon a see-through horse on her Instagram account on Thursday (Friday morning AEST), captioned with some insight.

“Creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world,” Beyoncé wrote.

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“It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when little else was moving. My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom.

“It was a beautiful journey of exploration.”

READ MORE: Dannii Minogue reveals her wildest celebrity encounters from Jennifer Lopez to Lenny Kravitz

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She released her first single, Break My Soul, from the new album last week and it became a quick hit.

The dance track was co-produced by the same team who brought us Single Ladies – Tricky Stewart and The-Dream. Jay-Z is also on the writing credits, as are the writers of Robin S’s 1993 hit Show Me Love, which is prominently sampled in the song.

In an apparent slight to major streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, the song initially appeared only on Tidal – the streaming service co-owned by Beyoncé’s husband, Jay-Z – three hours before its announced release time of midnight in the US, and on Vevo/YouTube an hour or so later.

Beyoncé has a history of this: her 2016 Lemonade album was available only on Tidal for three years.

Renaissance, the singer’s long-expected seventh album, is set to come out on July 29.

Beyoncé’s last full-length album was Lemonade in 2016 – the singer has actually released four albums since this blockbuster outing, although none of them are full Beyoncé solo albums.

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Beyonce released the first new song, Break My Soul, off the album last week (Getty)

“I hope you find joy in this music,” she said on Instagram.

“I hope it inspires you to release the wiggle. Ha! And to feel as unique, strong, and sexy as you are.”

Fans have already sleuthed information suggesting the album will contain 16 tracks, and signs of a multi-part release are clear from the billing as “Act 1”.

Sources told Variety the album will feature both dance and country-leaning tracks, with contributions from hit songwriter Ryan Tedder, who co-wrote Beyoncé’s 2008 hit Halo as well as hits for Adele, Taylor Swift, the Jonas Brothers and Tedder’s own group, OneRepublic.

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The new song initially appeared only on Tidal – the streaming service co-owned by Beyoncé’s husband, Jay-Z (Instagram / @beyonce)

Also said to be involved is Raphael Saadiq, who has crafted hits for Mary J Blige, D’Angelo, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and Andra Day as well as his own excellent solo albums, and executive-produced A Seat at the Table, Beyoncé’s sister Solange’s widely praised 2016 album.

– Reported with CNN and Variety.

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Exclusive: See Michael Douglas as Benjamin Franklin in First Look at Apple TV+ Series – TalkOfNews.com

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Michael Douglas is stepping into the shoes of renowned inventor, politician and writer Benjamin Franklin.

Apple TV+ shared a first look at the actor in the upcoming series Franklin June 30. In the photo, Douglas wears a long white wig and 18th century attire as he stands by a window, deep in thought. 

This is one of the first times Douglas has starred in a period piece, having previously played businessmen and other modern figures in moves like Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction and A Perfect Murder.

But executive producer Tony Krantz said his lack of experience in the genre doesn’t show. “Michael’s become the role, transforming his physicality, voice, cadence. And his humor is so much fun,” Krantz told Entertainment Weekly. “I think people will see one of Michael Douglas’ greatest performances ever in this project.”

The series will chronicle Franklin’s efforts to garner the support of the French monarchy during the American Revolution. At the time, the inventor was 70 and had little experience in diplomacy. 

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