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Jay Z to become 1st rapper in Songwriters Hall of Fame

Jay Z will become the first rapper ever inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame when he enters the prestigious organization in June.

The Songwriters Hall announced Wednesday that songwriting heavyweights in the industry, including Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Max Martin and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis will also be part of its 2017 class.

The organization's 48th Annual Induction and Awards Dinner takes place June 15 in New York.

Three members of Chicago — Robert Lamm, James Pankow and Peter Cetera — as well as Motown founder Berry Gordy, who deferred his induction in 2016, will also be inducted.

Jay Z is the first rapper to be nominated for the Songwriters Hall. Songwriters are eligible for induction after writing hit songs for at least 20 years. Jay Z, who released his debut album "Reasonable Doubt" in 1996, has launched multiple hits in the last two decades, from "Big Pimpin'" to "Empire State of Mind."

Babyface has won countless Grammys for writing hit songs for Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men and other acts, while Martin has become pop music's leading contemporary songwriter, co-writing No.1 hits for Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, the Weeknd and other superstars.

Songwriting Hall nominees who did not move on to induction include the late George Michael, Madonna, Bryan Adams, Vince Gill, Kool & the Gang and Gloria Estefan.

Only five songwriters, or songwriting groups, are inducted each year.

Jay Z to become 1st rapper in Songwriters Hall of Fame

Jay Z will become the first rapper ever inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame when he enters the prestigious organization in June.

The Songwriters Hall announced Wednesday that songwriting heavyweights in the industry, including Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Max Martin and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis will also be part of its 2017 class.

The organization's 48th Annual Induction and Awards Dinner takes place June 15 in New York.

Three members of Chicago — Robert Lamm, James Pankow and Peter Cetera — as well as Motown founder Berry Gordy, who deferred his induction in 2016, will also be inducted.

Jay Z is the first rapper to be nominated for the Songwriters Hall. Songwriters are eligible for induction after writing hit songs for at least 20 years. Jay Z, who released his debut album "Reasonable Doubt" in 1996, has launched multiple hits in the last two decades, from "Big Pimpin'" to "Empire State of Mind."

Babyface has won countless Grammys for writing hit songs for Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men and other acts, while Martin has become pop music's leading contemporary songwriter, co-writing No.1 hits for Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, the Weeknd and other superstars.

Songwriting Hall nominees who did not move on to induction include the late George Michael, Madonna, Bryan Adams, Vince Gill, Kool & the Gang and Gloria Estefan.

Only five songwriters, or songwriting groups, are inducted each year.

Jordan Peele turns his focus to directing in 'Get Out'

Jordan Peele is "kind of done" with performing.

While that might be a dagger in the hearts of fans who came to know and love Peele as an uncannily calm Barack Obama, the endlessly annoying Meegan or any of the other characters he played in the sketch comedy series "Key & Peele," the good news is that he's still in the business of entertaining. He's just taking a seat behind the camera. The better news? He's really good at it.

His directorial debut, "Get Out," in theaters Friday, is one of those rare creations that functions both as a taut psychological thriller and as searing social commentary about racism in the modern era. The premise is simple: A black man, Chris, (Daniel Kaluuya) goes upstate with his white girlfriend, Rose, (Allison Williams) to meet her parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) and things get weird. It's been described as "The Stepford Wives" meets "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."

Peele, who also wrote the film, isn't necessarily commenting on interracial relationships directly. His mother is white, as is his wife, comedian Chelsea Peretti — although he met her after it was written. Instead, it's in part based on the experience of being the only black man at an event full of mostly older, white people.

"There's a desire to connect that is sweet and endearing, but I wanted with this movie to show how you experience it different from our perspective," Peele said. "It's one thing to have one conversation with somebody but when every conversation you're having begins to resemble that conversation you begin to realize that you are being seen as other... it's at least a reminder that we're not past race."

Like "Scream," ''Get Out " is a satire with "full thriller vocabulary."

Peele was unabashed in referencing his influences during filming — often telling his production designer that he wanted one thing to feel very David Lynch and another to have more of a David Cronenberg vibe. He described it as pooling his influences and melting them down to create something new.

"(Quentin) Tarantino is the guy who taught me with the most clarity that you don't have to be afraid of your influences in order to create something absolutely new," Peele said. "I mean, what is more unique than 'Pulp Fiction' and what is also simultaneously more derivative? I think that's something very freeing for artists to realize. There's no way to escape that which formed you as an artist."

Peele is a lifetime fan of horror films and thrillers and on one level wanted to make something for the underserved black audience — but not exclusively so.

"The black horror movie audience is a very loyal fan base," Peele said. "We come out and we enjoy horror movies and there's this extreme lack of representation of black characters, black protagonists, but also the values that you see demonstrated in a theater — people yelling at the screen, 'get out! Get out of the house!'"

That's part of the reason Peele created the character of Chris's friend (played by comedian Lil Rel Howery), who serves as the voice of reason and caution. He's warns his friend not to go and demands he leave when things seem off.

"There's an element to being African-American where you are perceptive to things that somebody else may not be," Peele said. "That, to me, became a cool special power and kind of helped justify what would make a horror movie with black people in it unique."

But it was also important to Peele that "Get Out" wasn't "just a black movie."

"It had to be an inclusive film. If it doesn't work for everybody then it's not worth it There's this mix of the movie itself being about the fact that there's never been a movie like this," he said. "Part of what's special about this movie is that it is about representation. It's about giving someone like me a chance and a platform to make a movie from my perspective and trust that an audience will come and see it."

The same theory applied to casting his lead actor, Kaluuya, a name likely unfamiliar to most audiences. You might recognize him — he was in the TV show "Skins," and in films like "Sicario" and "Kick-Ass 2" — but he hasn't had the chance to stand out on his own yet. Peele realized early on that there wasn't a large pool of 26-year-old African-American leading men to drawn from.

"When I was putting this movie together, the black actors who are this age that would have been considered stars of films were Michael B. Jordan, maybe Chadwick Boseman and ... you got any more?" Peele said. "We very quickly realized that the only answer here is somebody who is a star but who we haven't seen get to be a star yet."

But Peele is optimistic. He sees a renaissance happening in Hollywood where people are finally being given chances, apparent in the rise of talents like Donald Glover and the worldwide success of films like "Straight Outta Compton."

"That's why it's cool to be in the industry right now," he said. "You see the emergence of people who should have been in the picture the whole time."

___

Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

Dresses that tell a story: Princess Diana's life in fashion

The dresses tell the story of a life cut short: first the frilly debutante frocks Princess Diana wore before she married Prince Charles, then the elaborate gowns that stunned the world, and finally the power suits she favored shortly before her death.

It's been 20 years since Diana died in a Paris car crash at the age of 36, but the public's fascination with her life — and her clothes — lives on. A new exhibition that opens Friday at Kensington Palace, her home for many years, will give the public a chance to see extraordinary fashion pieces up close for the first time.

The workmanship is refined, some of the designs are simple in concept and execution, while others clearly took careful thought and meticulous preparation.

One room features designers' sketches for Diana dresses, offering insight into the vision behind many of her choices.

Deirdre Murphy, senior curator at the Historic Royal Palaces, said Diana was unique in the way she used clothes to communicate — and also a risk-taker willing to challenge the unwritten conventions of royal dress. She said Diana captured the "mystique" of being a princess even as she occasionally dressed down in jeans and a baseball hat.

"Somehow women all over the world saw a piece of themselves in the princess," the curator said. "She got her image across and her ideas across using clothing in a really sophisticated, really smart, really thoughtful way."

The display opens with a lacy party dress Diana wore to a ball at her family home, Althorp, in 1979 and includes many of her most famous outfits. Here are some of the most illustrious:

___

DANCING THE NIGHT AWAY, WITH JOHN TRAVOLTA.

Diana was married to Prince Charles, and a guest of President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy, but that didn't stop her from tearing up the dance floor with John Travolta at a White House state dinner in 1985.

Photographers of Diana and the dashing young Travolta dominated newspapers throughout the world, showcasing the midnight blue silk velvet evening dress designed by Victor Edelstein. It remains one of her most famous outfits.

___

DIANA'S ELVIS PERIOD

Catherine Walker became one of Diana's favorite designers. To prepare for an official visit to Hong Kong in 1989, she designed a strapless white silk crepe and jacked embroidered with sequins and pearls. Its sparkly look, and high collar, reminded fashion writers of the jump suits favored by Elvis Presley late in his career.

She looked resplendent in the outfit, topping it with a jeweled tiara. "She shone in the dress and the dress shone around her," Walker said.

___

THE BOXY LOOK

Diana turned to Emanuel, designer of her wedding gown, for a 1985 official royal visit to Italy. A coat and skirt in green, blue and black was cut in the boxy shape in favor at the time.

The tartan wool day suit was not well received by critics who didn't find it flattering.

___

HONEYMOON HOPES

For her honeymoon photos with Charles taken in the lovely Scottish countryside, Diana turned to designer Bill Pashley for a casual, comfortable brown tweed woolen day-suit.

She had two versions made — and chose to wear the larger one on her honeymoon because the extra room allowed her to participate in outdoor activities more easily. Its tweed motif pays tribute to the countryside traditions.

___

POWER DRESSING PRINCESS STYLE

Diana relied heavily on Walker at various times in her life, and she turned to Walker again in the years just before her death to help her refine a "working princess" style in line with her plan to devote more time to charitable activities.

She wore a red day suit by Walker to launch an AIDS charity appeal in 1996. Walker called the outfits she was working on at this phase a "royal uniform" for Diana, who was outspoken in her support of AIDS victims.

Dresses that tell a story: Princess Diana's life in fashion

The dresses tell the story of a life cut short: first the frilly debutante frocks Princess Diana wore before she married Prince Charles, then the elaborate gowns that stunned the world, and finally the power suits she favored shortly before her death.

It's been 20 years since Diana died in a Paris car crash at the age of 36, but the public's fascination with her life — and her clothes — lives on. A new exhibition that opens Friday at Kensington Palace, her home for many years, will give the public a chance to see extraordinary fashion pieces up close for the first time.

The workmanship is refined, some of the designs are simple in concept and execution, while others clearly took careful thought and meticulous preparation.

One room features designers' sketches for Diana dresses, offering insight into the vision behind many of her choices.

Deirdre Murphy, senior curator at the Historic Royal Palaces, said Diana was unique in the way she used clothes to communicate — and also a risk-taker willing to challenge the unwritten conventions of royal dress. She said Diana captured the "mystique" of being a princess even as she occasionally dressed down in jeans and a baseball hat.

"Somehow women all over the world saw a piece of themselves in the princess," the curator said. "She got her image across and her ideas across using clothing in a really sophisticated, really smart, really thoughtful way."

The display opens with a lacy party dress Diana wore to a ball at her family home, Althorp, in 1979 and includes many of her most famous outfits. Here are some of the most illustrious:

___

DANCING THE NIGHT AWAY, WITH JOHN TRAVOLTA.

Diana was married to Prince Charles, and a guest of President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy, but that didn't stop her from tearing up the dance floor with John Travolta at a White House state dinner in 1985.

Photographers of Diana and the dashing young Travolta dominated newspapers throughout the world, showcasing the midnight blue silk velvet evening dress designed by Victor Edelstein. It remains one of her most famous outfits.

___

DIANA'S ELVIS PERIOD

Catherine Walker became one of Diana's favorite designers. To prepare for an official visit to Hong Kong in 1989, she designed a strapless white silk crepe and jacked embroidered with sequins and pearls. Its sparkly look, and high collar, reminded fashion writers of the jump suits favored by Elvis Presley late in his career.

She looked resplendent in the outfit, topping it with a jeweled tiara. "She shone in the dress and the dress shone around her," Walker said.

___

THE BOXY LOOK

Diana turned to Emanuel, designer of her wedding gown, for a 1985 official royal visit to Italy. A coat and skirt in green, blue and black was cut in the boxy shape in favor at the time.

The tartan wool day suit was not well received by critics who didn't find it flattering.

___

HONEYMOON HOPES

For her honeymoon photos with Charles taken in the lovely Scottish countryside, Diana turned to designer Bill Pashley for a casual, comfortable brown tweed woolen day-suit.

She had two versions made — and chose to wear the larger one on her honeymoon because the extra room allowed her to participate in outdoor activities more easily. Its tweed motif pays tribute to the countryside traditions.

___

POWER DRESSING PRINCESS STYLE

Diana relied heavily on Walker at various times in her life, and she turned to Walker again in the years just before her death to help her refine a "working princess" style in line with her plan to devote more time to charitable activities.

She wore a red day suit by Walker to launch an AIDS charity appeal in 1996. Walker called the outfits she was working on at this phase a "royal uniform" for Diana, who was outspoken in her support of AIDS victims.

Skepta, Beyonce and Bowie up for prizes at Brit Awards

Britain's music industry will salute chart-topping talent and departed icons at Wednesday's Brit Awards, where nominees include Drake, Beyonce and David Bowie.

Bowie, who died in January 2016, is nominated in the album of the year category for valedictory release "Blackstar" and male British artist category at the U.K. equivalent of the Grammys.

Organizers said the show will also include a tribute to George Michael, who died on Christmas Day at age 53.

Performers during the flashy show at London's O2 Arena include pop-friendly Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry and Bruno Mars, as well as grime musician Skepta, nominated for British breakthrough artist.

Grime artists Stormzy and Kano are also award contenders, reflecting the growing artistic and commercial clout of the distinctly British rap genre.

Robbie Williams, indie-pop band The 1975 and girl group Little Mix also are slated to perform at the ceremony, a showcase for British sound and style with a sprinkling of big-name international acts.

The awards — which celebrate international as well as British acts — have been accused of failing to represent the industry's ethnic diversity.

All last year's British nominees were white, and protesters rallied under the hashtag #britssowhite.

Organizers responded by expanding the diversity of the voter base of 1,000 music-industry figures.

This year's list is more diverse, with chanteuse Emeli Sande, soul singer Michael Kiwanuka and singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas among non-white British contenders.

Keith Harris, who was appointed to head a diversity taskforce for the British music industry, said "people feel there might actually be a breakthrough."

"The question is whether this is going to be long-term or short-term," he said. "That's my concern."

Most Brits winners are chosen by music-industry members, with several selected by public vote - including a best video category decided by social-media ballot during the broadcast.

Skepta, Beyonce and Bowie up for prizes at Brit Awards

Britain's music industry will salute chart-topping talent and departed icons at Wednesday's Brit Awards, where nominees include Drake, Beyonce and David Bowie.

Bowie, who died in January 2016, is nominated in the album of the year category for valedictory release "Blackstar" and male British artist category at the U.K. equivalent of the Grammys.

Organizers said the show will also include a tribute to George Michael, who died on Christmas Day at age 53.

Performers during the flashy show at London's O2 Arena include pop-friendly Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry and Bruno Mars, as well as grime musician Skepta, nominated for British breakthrough artist.

Grime artists Stormzy and Kano are also award contenders, reflecting the growing artistic and commercial clout of the distinctly British rap genre.

Robbie Williams, indie-pop band The 1975 and girl group Little Mix also are slated to perform at the ceremony, a showcase for British sound and style with a sprinkling of big-name international acts.

The awards — which celebrate international as well as British acts — have been accused of failing to represent the industry's ethnic diversity.

All last year's British nominees were white, and protesters rallied under the hashtag #britssowhite.

Organizers responded by expanding the diversity of the voter base of 1,000 music-industry figures.

This year's list is more diverse, with chanteuse Emeli Sande, soul singer Michael Kiwanuka and singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas among non-white British contenders.

Keith Harris, who was appointed to head a diversity taskforce for the British music industry, said "people feel there might actually be a breakthrough."

"The question is whether this is going to be long-term or short-term," he said. "That's my concern."

Most Brits winners are chosen by music-industry members, with several selected by public vote - including a best video category decided by social-media ballot during the broadcast.

Polish play investigated for blasphemy, inciting violence

Prosecutors in Poland are investigating a new theater production that alludes to murdering the country's most powerful politician and has sexual scenes involving the cross and an image of the late Polish pope, St. John Paul II.

Prosecutors said Wednesday they opened the investigation to determine if the play, "The Curse," offends religious feelings and acts as an incitement to murder. Those are crimes that can be punished with prison terms of two and three years, respectively.

The play, directed by Croatian director Oliver Frljic, debuted Saturday at Warsaw's Teatr Powszechny.

The politician named in the production is Law and Justice party Chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

The Polish Bishops' Conference calls the play blasphemous and says the scenes involving the cross and John Paul II are "extremely painful" to people in predominantly Catholic Poland.

Polish play investigated for blasphemy, inciting violence

Prosecutors in Poland are investigating a new theater production that alludes to murdering the country's most powerful politician and has sexual scenes involving the cross and an image of the late Polish pope, St. John Paul II.

Prosecutors said Wednesday they opened the investigation to determine if the play, "The Curse," offends religious feelings and acts as an incitement to murder. Those are crimes that can be punished with prison terms of two and three years, respectively.

The play, directed by Croatian director Oliver Frljic, debuted Saturday at Warsaw's Teatr Powszechny.

The politician named in the production is Law and Justice party Chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

The Polish Bishops' Conference calls the play blasphemous and says the scenes involving the cross and John Paul II are "extremely painful" to people in predominantly Catholic Poland.

Jimmy Fallon donates $100K to fund art at his high school

Jimmy Fallon has donated $100,000 to help fund the art program at the high school he attended, with some of the money going toward the school's TV studio.

The host of NBC's "Tonight Show" is a 1992 graduate of Saugerties High School in upstate New York. Fallon tells The Associated Press in a statement that he's glad to be able to give something back. He adds: "And if anyone there wants to return the favor with a statue of me or something, I'm totally cool with that, too."

While there's no word on a statue, district Superintendent Seth Turner thanked Fallon for the gift and joked that he's willing to completely eliminate Fallon's disciplinary record in return.

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