Day: July 2, 2017


Boat built by Maine high school students washes up in Scotland

It’s not every day that a U.S. high school’s class project ends up washing ashore in Scotland.

But that is, in fact, what happened to a 4-foot drifter boat that students at a Maine high school launched in December.

The boat landed on an island in Scotland last week, exactly 168 days and 12 hours after it was launched by students at Kennebunk High School’s Alternative Education program.

Not surprisingly, it is named the “Little Boat That Could.”

The boat was equipped with a GPS that enabled students and their teacher to track its movements. It also had a camera and sensors – designed by the KHS students — for wind speed, according to the Bangor Daily News.

Currents pushed the boat northeast toward Spain, then west past Ireland – wherethe KHS students originally had envisioned it ending up — and onto Scotland’s Western Isles, the Daily News reported.

This boat went completely against what it was supposed to do…and then all of a sudden it ended up where it was supposed to go.

– Leia Lowery, Kennebunkport Conservation Trust

United Kingdom officials retrieved the boat and delivered it to a school teacher in Scotland who will ensure it gets any repairs it needs before being sent on its way for another adventure. Plans call for the boat to be launched from Scotland and end up in South America, the newspaper said. The Scottish students plan to send data chips to their American counterparts for analysis.

“It’s super exciting,” Leia Lowery, director of education at the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust — which took part in the project with KHS students – was quoted as saying in the newspaper. “We kind of felt like it was sort of an epic journey for them in that all of it was so metaphorically perfect. This boat went completely against what it was supposed to do … and then all of a sudden it ended up where it was supposed to go.”

Lowery said she would like to see KHS and Scotland students speak via video and go over steps for repairing the boat.

Lowery noted that the experience of tracking the boat teaches students about the ocean and how people have an effect on it.

“As we’re doing this we’re talking about some of those things, like how our trash follows the currents as well and we have entire microplastic trash areas in our oceans,” she said. “We’re trying to teach them a little bit about that.”

Some students at Kennebunk High School were skeptical about its odds of making it as far as it did, said Alternative Education Teacher Ed Sharood.

“There were a couple that said, ‘There’s no way this things going to make it, it’ll be eaten by a whale or hit by a ship and sink,” Sharood told the newspaper. “I sent out texts to all of them and got responses like, ‘No way, I can’t believe it,’ or ‘Are you serious?’”

The alternative education program serves students with an individualized teaching style.

Some students said projects such as the one involving the boat prompted them to consider certain careers. Kristen Cofferen, a junior, said the alternative education program’s more creative approach to learning kept her from quitting school.

Lowery, meanwhile, sees a connection between the boat’s journey and the students.

“(The boat is) just like them in that they end up where they’re supposed to be and sometimes they just take a different route,” Lowery said, adding that the boat project “really kind of [showed] the kids that they can be part of something a lot bigger than themselves. That even just building just a little boat in Kennebunk can have this reach.”

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Downey Jr. lost BIG role

The roles that got away

Some of the most famous onscreen performances could have gone a totally different direction.”>Fox News

Robert Downey Jr. as J.D.



John Lithgow as Joker

John Lithgow told Vulture he was considered to play Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 film, “Batman.” “I was doing ‘M. Butterfly’ on Broadway and it was an exhausting show,” said the 71-year-old actor. “It would have meant leaving that show and going right into a movie, and I said, ‘I just don’t think I can.’ How about that for stupid? Actors are not necessarily smart people.” The role would go on to Jack Nicholson. MORE: Ranking All of the Jokers in the Batman-verse



Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep in ‘Thelma & Louise?’

In the upcoming book “Off the Cliff,” author Becky Aikman claims actresses Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep were desperate to star in the 1991 film “Thelma and Louise.” “They didn’t have their agents make the call; they did it themselves. No one would have expected the two friends, box-office champs, and Oscar winners, to campaign for parts, but they showed up prepared to kill,” wrote Aikman. However, the roles ultimately went to Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis.



Joseph Fiennes as Obi-Wan Kenobi

Joseph Fiennes revealed he nearly landed the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in “Star Wars.” ““It was whittled down after many auditions to myself and another fine actor who I was at that time at drama school with,” Fiennes told The Wrap. The role eventually went to Ewan McGregor who went to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London around the same time as Fiennes.



Connie Britton as Olivia Pope

“Scandal” creator Shonda Rhimes told The Hollywood Reporter that an insider originally thought the 50-year-old “Nashville” star would have been a good choice to play Olivia Pope. “When the show got picked up [to pilot], I got a phone call from somebody who said, ‘This would be the perfect show for Connie Britton.’ I said, ‘It would be, except Olivia Pope is black.'” Kerry Washington was ultimately chosen to take on the iconic role, which was inspired by Judy Smith, a former Bush Administration press aide turned real-life crisis management expert.



Ian McKellen as Dumbledore

Ian McKellen, left, didn’t explore the possibility of playing Dumbledore in the “Harry Potter” films after the original actor Richard Harris died because he knew Harris wasn’t a fan of his. ““When they called me up and said would I be interested in being in the ‘Harry Potter’ films, they didn’t say in what part,” he told BBC’s “HARDtalk.” “I worked out what they were thinking, and I couldn’t… I couldn’t take over the part from an actor who I’d known didn’t approve of me.” Michael Gambon, right, got the role in the end. 



Annette Bening in “Batman Returns”



Emma Watson in “La La Land”

Emma Watson, left, was supposed to have Emma Stone’s role in “La La Land,” but she opted to go film Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” remake instead. “La La Land” earned 14 Academy Award nominations, including a Best Actress nod for Stone. We’re guessing Watson may have some regrets. 



Andrew Garfield in “Narnia”

Andrew Garfield, left, revealed he missed out on a “Narnia” role and Ben Barnes, right, ultimately got it. “I really wanted to play…This is so silly. There was a ‘Narnia’ movie. The ‘Prince Caspian’ film…” he dished to ET. “Ben Barnes ultimately got it… I think the feedback was ‘he’s not handsome enough.’ What can you do? Hey, I’m not handsome enough for Prince Caspian.”



Eddie Redmayne in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

Redmayne really wanted to play Kylo Ren in “The Force Awakens” but he lost the role to Adam Driver. Redmayne recently said he had a “catastrophically bad” audition for the part. 



Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘Star Wars’

Leonardo DiCaprio revealed in a new interview that he turned down the role of Anakin Skywalker. “I did have a meeting with George Lucas about that, yes,” DiCaprio told Shortlist. “[I] just didn’t feel ready to take that dive. At that point.” The role went to Hayden Christensen instead.



Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis turned down Jack Lemmon’s role in 1959’s “Some Like it Hot” because he didn’t want to appear in drag. The comedian told director Martin Scorsese at a conversation Tuesday night at the Museum of Moving Image that he regrets his decision. “I would have had a chance to kiss Marilyn Monroe,” Lewis said according the The Post. Lewis said the film’s director called him the idiot who turned down “Some Like it Hot” and Lemmon, who earned an Oscar nom for the role “sent me chocolates every year until he died.”

(Reuters/Metro Goldwyn Mayer)


Cameron Diaz in ‘Mortal Kombat’

“Mortal Kombat” producer Lauri Apelian told the Hollywood Reporter that they originally cast Cameron Diaz in the leading role but the film’s production company was concerned that Diaz was “not a household name” at the time. In the end, they went with Bridgette Wilson-Sampras. “We were very happy with Bridgette. It was great she was available.”



Christina Applegate in ‘Legally Blonde’

Christina Applegate passed on the leading role in “Legally Blonde” because she was scared of being typecast. She told ET, “The script came along my way and it was right after I had just finished, ‘Married [With Children],’ and it was a blonde who in that first script is dimwitted but ends up going to Yale, or Harvard, I don’t remember. But I was scared. I got scared of, kind of repeating myself.” While we’re sure Applegate would have done a great job, we’re glad she passed because it’s hard to imagine anyone besides Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods.



Angelina Jolie, Reese Witherspoon and Gwyneth Paltrow in ‘Clueless’

“Clueless” director Amy Heckerling knew Alicia Silverstone was the right actress for the lead role in the iconic ’90s film, but that didn’t stop the film’s executives from exploring other options. Heckerling revealed actresses Angelina Jolie, Reese Witherspoon, Gwyneth Paltrow and others were considered for the part of Cher Horowitz. Nearly 20 years after the film was released, it’s hard to imagine anyone besides Silverstone for the role.



Jada Pinkett Smith in ‘The Matrix’

Jada Pinkett Smith was almost cast as the female lead in “The Matrix” but lost it to Carrie-Anne Moss because she had no chemistry with Keanu Reeves. The actress told Howard Stern on his radio show that she and Reeves “didn’t, uh, really click.” While she admitted she was bummed to have lost the role in the series, she now thinks Moss was the right choice.



Timothy Olyphant

“Justified” star Timothy Olyphant told Conan O’Brien he screen tested for the role of Tony Stark for “Iron Man” on the same day Robert Downey Jr. did. “I’m still waiting to hear back,” Olyphant said. “It could be a real game changer.”



Jeremy Sisto in ‘Titanic’

It’s hard to imagine anyone but Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack in “Titanic,” but “Clueless” star Jeremy Sisto revealed he almost nabbed the part. Sisto eventually lost the part to DiCaprio but has since gone on to star in “Suburgatory” and had a reoccurring role on HBO’s “Six Feet Under.”



Reese Witherspoon in ‘Gone Girl’

“Gone Girl” director David Fincher didn’t feel Reese Witherspoon was right for the part of Ben Affleck’s wife in the 2014 thriller. “We had a long conversation where [Fincher] was like, ‘You’re not right for it. And this is why,” Witherspoon told The Hollywood Reporter. No hard feelings though, Reese agreed with Fincher and the role eventually went to Rosamund Pike.



Neil Patrick Harris

Belive it or not, Neil Patrick Harris turned down a role in the mega-hit series”American Horror Story” for personal reasons. He said he and husband David Burtka were offered a role after they had just played a couple that disliked each other in a movie. “…I thought, it just seems weird to do that twice… So I said, ‘No,’ that we shouldn’t do it. And David wanted to, and I said, I just don’t want us to be known as a couple that don’t like each other, that seems weird.” Click here to find out what else he had to say about the show.



Bill Murray as Forrest?



Reba in ‘Titanic?’

Country superstar Reba McEntire was director James Cameron’s first choice for Molly Brown in “Titanic.” The role, which eventually went to Kathy Bates, was turned down by McEntire due to scheduling conflicts. Although “Titanic” went on to be a huge success, we think Reba’s done pretty well for herself.



Jennie Garth in ‘Saved by the Bell?’

Before Jennie Garth and Tiffani Thiessen became BFFs on the set of “Beverly Hills, 90210” only to have a mysterious and public falling out years later, the two were up for the same role on another early 80s late 90s TV classic. Garth was up against Thiessen for the role of Kelly Kapowski on “Saved By the Bell.” Thiessen eventually won out and we can’t help but wonder if that created some tension that eventually led to their famous feud. PHOTOS: Biggest celebrity feuds ever



Katie Holmes in ‘Orange Is the New Black’

“Orange Is the New Black” creator Jenji Kohan revealed she originally wanted Katie Holmes to play the lead role on her Netflix hit. “I’m a big fan of [Holmes]. I met with her originally for Piper, I believe,” Kohan told E! News. But because no one knew the show would be such a success and Holmes was “busy” with other projects at the time, Taylor Schilling (R) was cast as Piper Chapman.

(Reuters/Jill Greenberg/Netflix)


Lucy Hale in ’50 Shades of Grey?’

Actress turned country singer Hale (L) recalled her “uncomfortable” “Fifty Shades of Grey” audition. “It was a two-page monologue of exactly what you would think it would be,” she told MTV News. “Very uncomfortable,” Hale continued about her audition. “But it was sort of one of those things where you just had to go for it or you’re just gonna look lame—hopefully, I didn’t look lame.” In the end, the gig went to Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith’s daughter Dakota Johnson (R).



Mel Gibson in ‘The Terminator’?

Ah-nold’s iconic role was reportedly offered to Mel Gibson, who turned it down. And thankfully so, because the words “I’ll be back” just wouldn’t have the same effect coming from Mel.




Robin Williams as the Joker?


Nicolas Cage as ‘Iron Man’

Nicolas Cage as ‘Iron Man’

It’s hard to picture the Marvel trilogy being as wildly successful without Robert Downey, Jr. starring as Tony Stark, aka “Iron Man.” But this movie was a long time in the making before Rob signed on to play the comic book character. 

Back in 1997, Nic Cage was one of the first actors to express interest in the part. Luckily for audiences, filming didn’t actually begin until a decade later and Robert Downey, Jr was there to save the day, literally.

Check out which other stars were in the running for some of Hollywood’s biggest parts.

(Reuters/Paramount Pictures)


Zooey Deschanel in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

Jennifer Lawrence may have taken home the Oscar for starring as recently widowed Tiffani Maxwell, but that role almost went to Zooey Deschanel. Producers also considered Vince Vaughn for Bradley Cooper’s part. 

(Reuters/The Weinstein Company)


Tom Cruise as Salt

The 2010 spy thriller, “Salt” was supposed to have a male lead portraying the title character of Edwin A. Salt and Tom Cruise was reportedly slated to play the part. But then Angelina Jolie apparently caught wind of the script and showed interest in playing the lead, and that’s how Evelyn Salt came to be.

(Reuters/Sony Pictures) 


Thomas Jane as Don Draper?

“I started, literally, on the very, very bottom,” Jon Hamm says of getting the part of Don Draper on AMC’s “Mad Men.” “I wasn’t on anybody’s lists… The funny thing was, I think they went to Thomas Jane for it, and they were told that Thomas Jane does not do television.”

Thomas has since clearly changed his tune, as he now stars in HBO’s “Hung.”

Women everywhere are quite happy with both outcomes.



Lindsay Lohan in ‘The Hangover’?

The first two installation of “The Hangover” were wildly popular and a third will hit screens on May 23. All the stars in the movie became household names and revamped their careers with this laugh-out-loud comedy. But Lindsay was not one of them. 

She reportedly turned down the role of Jade, the stripper, which was later given to Heather Graham. Lindsay, back in 2009, apparently felt that the script “had no potential.”

Boy, was she wrong. 

(Reuters/Warner Bros.)


Lindsay Lohan in ‘The Hangover’?

“The Matrix” trilogy was wildly successful with Keanu Reeves as the star, Neo. But would it have been the same if Will Smith accepted the part? Will doesn’t think so. 

“You know, ‘The Matrix’ is a difficult concept to pitch,” he explains. “In the pitch, I just didn’t see it. I watched Keanu’s performance – and very rarely do I say this – but I would have messed it up.”

(Reuters/Warner Bros.)


Hugh Jackman as James Bond?

Before Daniel Craig was dubbed the new Bond in 2006, Hugh Jackman was approached to play the MI6 agent.

“‘I got a call from my agent saying, ‘There is some possible interest in you for Bond, are you interested?'” Hugh Jackman recalls. “At the time I wasn’t. I was about to shoot ‘X-Men 2’ and Wolverine had become this thing in my life and I didn’t want to be doing two such iconic characters at once.”

(Reuters/MGM Columbia Pictures)


Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Twilight’?

The Oscar winner tried out for the role of Bella Swan in the “Twilight” series. She was likely better off spending her time working on “Hunger Games” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” Leave the “Twilight” series and Razzy awards to Kristen Stewart.

(Reuters/Summit Entertainment)



Emma Stone in ‘Heroes’?

The funny actress tried out for the lead in “Heroes” after starring opposite Jonah Hill in “Superbad.”

“I could hear that, in the other room, a girl had just gone in and they were saying, ‘You are our pick… On a scale of one to 10 you’re an 11,'” Emma recalls. Hayden Panettiere was the lucky gal who got the role. “I went home and just had this meltdown,” she says.

We couldn’t picture her in that cheerleader uniform anyhow.



Burt Reynolds in ‘Pretty Woman’?

The actor was offered the role of Edward Lewis in “Pretty Woman” but ultimately declined. 

He later joked with Piers Morgan in 2012 that after he saw the film and the love-making scenes with Julia Roberts, that he regretted not taking the part. 




Robert De Niro in ‘Big’?

The 1988 hit wouldn’t have been the same without Tom Hanks as Josh, but that role almost went to Robert De Niro. Luckily, De Niro was too expensive and the producers gave it to Tom.

(Reuters/20th Century Fox)


Susan Sarandon in ‘Rocky’?

Susan read for the role of Rocky’s love interest, Adrian (Talia Shire), but producers thought she was “too attractive” to play the part.

(AP/United Artists)


Susan Sarandon in ‘Rocky’?

Quentin Tarantino recently told Vanity Fair that Daniel Day-Lewis was in the running to play Vincent Vega in “Pulp Fiction.” Day-Lewis had apparently read the script and wanted in on the movie, too. But after much debate, the role eventually went to John Travolta. 


(Reuters )


Susan Sarandon in ‘Rocky’?

The 1990 mobster flick wouldn’t have been the same without Ray Liotta in the lead as Henry Hill. But if producer Irwin Winkler got his way, Tom Cruise would have starred instead. 

“Tom Cruise was discussed. Marty [Scorsese, the director] wanted Ray [Liotta],” he explains.  “Frankly I thought we could do a lot better.”

That was until Ray won him over. “My wife [and I] were having dinner one night in a restaurant and lo and behold, Ray Liotta came over to me. He said, ‘Look, I know you don’t really want me for it, but…’ And he sold me on the role right that evening.”

Let’s check out some other flicks that almost starred someone else.

(AP/Warner Home Video)

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Frank Sinatra as ‘Dirty Harry?’

The music legend was in talks to play the dirty cop, but reportedly dropped out during contract negotiations because the handgun was too heavy. He was cautious to put added stress on his wrist, which he broke on the set of “The Manchurian Candidate.”

But that wasn’t the only reason he stepped away from the script. His father had also recently passed away and he wanted to spend some time doing lighter material. 

Once ol’ blue eyes dropped out Marlon Brando and Paul Newman were considered for the role before Clint Eastwood was ultimately cast.

 (AP/Warner Home Video)

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Sarah Polley in ‘Almost Famous?’

Director Cameron Crowe had originally chosen Sarah Polley to play the enigmatic Penny Lane in “Almost Famous” but changed his mind during pre-production.  

“Sarah is like a Bob Dylan song, more ’60s than ’70s,” he says. “That’s why it didn’t work. Kate Hudson is Zeppelin.”

The 2000 hit ended up being Kate Hudson’s breakout role.

(AP/Dreamworks Video)

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Nicolas Cage as ‘The Wrestler?’

The 2008 role that revamped Mickey Rourke’s career and won him a Golden Globe, almost didn’t happen. Nicolas Cage was previously in talks to star as Randy “The Ram” Robinson.

It probably all came down to the fact that nobody wants to see Nic Cage with his shirt off. 

(AP/20th Century Fox)

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Eminem in ‘Wanted?’

Mark Millar, the writer and creator of the comic on which the movie was based, reportedly started the rumor that Eminem was attached to the flick. The illustrations of Wesley Gibson in his stories clearly look like the rapper. 

“I’m really excited about the possibility of [Eminem] playing the lead role,” Mark said at the time. “Universal have already been in talks with his people.”

Apparently that wasn’t actually true since Em’s people came back saying it was news to them. James McAvoy ended up playing the lead.

(Aftermath/Universal Studios)


O.J. Simpson in ‘Terminator?’

This one is so good it seems made up, but famed footballer O.J. Simpson was considered for the part of the “Terminator” in 1984. According to one report, producers thought he was “too nice” to be taken seriously as a killer.

Turns out a jury thought that, too.


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Haley Joel Osment in ‘Harry Potter?’

When the book series was first in negotiations to make it to the big screen, Steven Spielberg was in talks to turn it into an animated movie. He envisioned Haley Joel Osment from “The Sixth Sense” reading for Harry Potter. 

Luckily for Daniel Radcliffe that plan didn’t work out. 

(AP/Warner Home Video)

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Kate Winslet in ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary?’

Lots of ladies were considered for the leading role of Bridget Jones. 

British actresses Kate Winslet, Helena Bonham Carter and Rachel Weisz were all in the running to play the British singleton. Ultimately Renee, a Texas native, snagged the part that would forever change her career.


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Eric Stoltz in ‘Back to the Future?’

Fans of “Back to the Future” almost didn’t get to see Michael J. Fox in the starring role as Marty McFly. 

When he was first offered the part, Michael was busy shooting “Family Ties” and had to turn down the role. So producers began filming the trilogy with Eric Stoltz.

They reportedly weren’t happy with how things were going and eventually found a way to make it work with Michael J. Fox by having him film at night after “Family Ties.” 

Who knows if the movie would have been the cult hit it is without Michael as the star. 

(AP/Universal Studios)

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Molly Ringwald in ‘Pretty Woman?’

Molly Ringwald was a star in the ’80s and reportedly the first choice to play Vivian Ward in “Pretty Woman” (1990). Some other actresses considered for the part? Meg Ryan, Kim Basinger, Sandra Bullock and Heather Locklear. 

Oddly enough, Richard Gere wasn’t the first choice to play Edward Lewis either. Al Pacino and Christopher Reeve were reportedly originally considered for the part. 


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Val in Dirty Dancing?

“Nobody puts Baby in the corner” was almost uttered by tough guy Val Kilmer.

He reportedly turned down the role of Johnny in “Dirty Dancing” because he didn’t want to be viewed as a heart throb. 

You definitely don’t have to worry about that, Val!

(AP/Lions Gate)

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Nicole Kidman in ‘The Reader?’

The lead character in “The Reader” was originally supposed to be played by Kate Winslet, but she was replaced by Nicole Kidman due to a scheduling conflict with “Revolutionary Road.”

However, it seems as though Kate was meant to play the WWII vet in “The Reader” since Nicole Kidman had to bow out when she became pregnant. 

Kate ultimately got the role back and it earned her an Academy Award.

(AP/The Weinstein Company)

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John Travolta in ‘Forrest Gump?’

John Travolta reportedly still regrets turning down the title role in “Forrest Gump.”

But fans of the movie couldn’t picture anyone other than Tom Hanks playing the slow-talking Gump.

Tom did such a good job that it snagged him his second Oscar win.

That’s all I gotta say about that…


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John Travolta in ‘Forrest Gump?’


Katherine Heigl’s big film debut in “Knocked Up” only happened because other leading ladies turned down the part.

“I turned down another movie because it was going to show a vagina–not mine, but somebody else’s,” said Anne Hathaway at the time. “And I didn’t believe that it was actually necessary to the story.”


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Tom Cruise in ‘Shawshank Redemption?’


The 1994 movie seemed practically made for Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. But if Rob Reiner was in the director’s seat he would have had it differently.

He wanted Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford to star as Andy Dufresne and “Red” respectively. Luckily Frank Darabont directed the cult classic instead. 

(AP/Castle Rock)

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Christopher Walken in ‘Star Wars?’


Harrison Ford may be an awesome Han Solo, but he wasn’t the only one considered for the part.

Nick Nolte, Al Pacino and Christopher Walken were all considered to play the lead in “Star Wars.”

(AP/20th Century Fox)

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Gwyneth Paltrow in ‘Titanic?’


Can you picture Gwyneth Paltrow posing for her portrait in the buff, just wearing a necklace?

Neither can we. 

But she was apparently considered for the lead as Rose Dewitt. 

The studio also wanted director James Cameron to consider Matthew McConaughey for the part of Jack, but he wanted Leonardo DiCaprio.


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Mark Wahlberg in ‘Brokeback Mountain?’


Tough guy Mark Wahlberg was reportedly “creeped out” by the graphic sexual nature of “Brokeback Mountain” and turned down the part of Ennis Del Mar that was ultimately played by Heath Ledger. 

Joaquin Phoenix was also considered to play Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Jack Twist. 


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Mark Wahlberg in ‘Brokeback Mountain?’

The 1981 movie was almost made with Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones instead of Harrison Ford.

Unfortunately Tom had to turn down the role due to his recently signed contract to star as “Magnum P.I.”


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Paul says Senate health bill 'lit up like a Christmas tree' with spending – VIDEO: Sen. Rand Paul on push to repeal, then replace ObamaCare

Washington Republicans are taking no July 4 holiday on the Senate’s ObamaCare overhaul bill — with President Trump calling senators and Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul pushing a conservative alternative to the existing measure that he says is “lit up like a Christmas tree” with spending.  

“I don’t think we’re getting anywhere with the bill we have,” Paul said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Every time you add more federal money, more spending for the big-government Republicans, it offends the conservatives. … Senate leadership is loading the bill like a Christmas tree, with billion dollar ornaments.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., didn’t have enough support last week to vote on the measure, leaving it behind as Congress departed for the July recess.


The Kentucky Republican will need support from at least 50 of the chamber’s 52 GOP senators to pass the bill.

Paul is pushing a plan to divide the Senate bill into two parts — a vote on repealing ObamaCare and a separate vote on replace it.

Forty-nine GOP senators voted in 2015 in favor of repealing the 2010 health care law, formally known as the Affordable Care Act. However, they knew that then-President Barack Obama would veto the effort.

President Trump over the past few days has expressed his support for a separate repeal-and-replace plan, in an effort to fulfill Republicans’ long-standing promise to end ObamaCare, struggling under increasing premium cost and fewer policy options for Americans.  

However, McConnell said Friday that he wants to stick with the existing bill.

Paul said Sunday that he would support the repeal effort but seemed unlikley to back the replace effort in its existing form, which he said includes roughly $200 billion in insurance “bailouts.”

Mac Short, Trump’s director of legislative affairs, told “Fox News Sunday” that the White House has already stated its “preference” for passing the existing Senate bill.

He also said Trump is talking to GOP senators over the weekend and expressed confidence about the bill being passed this summer so the president and Congress can move to tax reform by the fall.

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EXCLUSIVE: Pentagon sails destroyer near disputed island in South China Sea, officials say

For the second time since President Trump took office, the Pentagon dispatched a U.S. Navy warship to sail near a disputed island claimed by China in the South China Sea, two U.S. defense officials told Fox News.

The USS Stethem, a guided-missile destroyer based in Japan, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, which is part of the Paracel Islands located in the South China Sea between China and Vietnam.

The destroyer was trailed by a Chinese warship during its Sunday voyage.

While occupied by China, Vietnam and Taiwan also lay claim to the island. A defense official said the operation challenged Vietnam and Taiwan’s claims to Triton Island in addition to China. 

Twelve nautical miles is the territorial boundary that extends beyond the shores of all nations, sailing inside that distance sends a signal the United States does not recognize the claim.

The move comes as the Trump administration appears to be losing patience with Beijing over its continued military build-up in the South China Sea. The U.S. has been frustrated with Beijing’s failure to reign in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Triton Island is not of of China’s artificial islands in the region which were constructed in the past few years atop former reefs, but is located among the landmasses in the Paracel chain. The U.S. Navy last sailed a warship off the coast of Triton Island in October. The Obama administration conducted similar operations.

The Pentagon wants to conduct what it calls “freedom of navigation” operations, or FONOPS, to challenge China’s claims with enough frequency in the hopes they become more routine and not as newsworthy, according to an official with knowledge of the discussions.  

Lt. Cmdr. Matt Knight, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, would not confirm the operation but said in a statement to Fox News, “We conduct routine and regular FONOPs, as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future.”

In late May, another guided-missile destroyer, USS Dewey, sailed approximately six miles from one of China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea, a first for the Pentagon since Trump assumed office.  The American warship conducted a “man-overboard” drill off the coast of Mischief Reef sending a signal to Beijing that the United States does not honor its claim to the reef–one of seven former reefs China has turned into artificial islands.  Three contain runways and other military fortifications.

“Fake islands should not be believed by real people,” said the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, in a speech Wednesday in Brisbane, where the United States is participating in the largest ever joint military exercise with Australia, aimed in part to send a message to Beijing. 

“China is using its military and economic power to erode the rules-based international order,” Harris added. 

Friday, new satellite imagery published by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) part of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think-tank showed new military facilities including radar systems being installed on Mischief, Fiery Cross and Subi Reefs in the Spratly Islands located south of the Parcel Islands in the South China Sea. 

While U.S. officials had seen the build-up for months, they are more concerned about the potential for China to place advanced surface-to-air missiles on the artificial islands, which could challenge U.S. military flights in the region.   Fox News first reported in December that China moved SA-21 missile batteries with a 250-mile range to the island province of Hainan for training, which could be sent to the artificial islands at a later date.  For the time being, they remain inside China. 

The last time the U.S. Navy challenged China’s claims in the South China Sea, the Trump administration pushed back on accusations it was turning a blind eye to China’s military build-up on its artificial islands, while looking for Beijing to help with negotiations to halt North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

“While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out.  At least I know China tried!” Trump said in a tweet last month.

On Friday, the Trump administration unveiled new sanctions against a Chinese bank linked to North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, a day after announcing a new $1.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan. 

Announcing the sanctions, Treasury Secretary Steve Munchin said the move was not in retribution for Beijing failing to rein in North Korea.  “This is not directed at China, this is directed at a bank, as well as individuals and entities in China,” he said.

China is sending messages of its own.

As Beijing marked the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from British rule this weekend, President Xi Jinping presided over the largest military parade ever held in the territory.  Standing in the back of a jeep, Xi was driven past more than 3,000 assembled troops in formation in a show of strength.  

On Wednesday, China launched the first of its newest class of destroyer called the Type 055, which many analysts say resembles the size and capability of the U.S. Navy’s Arleigh-Burke class of guided-missile destroyers, like the one which conducted the operation near the contested Chinese island this weekend. 

According to the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), China has 183 cruisers, destroyers, coastal ships and submarines compared with 188 for the U.S. Navy.  CNAS projected in a March report that China will surpass the United States Navy in these types of warships by the end of the next decade, one of the reasons the U.S. Navy has requested a buildup to a 350-ship fleet, a view shared by many in Congress.  

China claims most of the South China Sea where more than $5 trillion of commerce passes through each year.  

Last week, the U.S. State Department called out China for being one of the worst human trafficking offenders–dropping Beijing to its lowest designation joining Iran, North Korea and Russia.   The report said China had done little to stop what has amounted to modern slavery and sex trafficking affecting millions. 

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews

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SEAL's July 4 wish

With our nation’s Independence Day upon us, there is a devastating reality out there marring the celebratory reverie typical of this joyous time.  Specifically, that we are losing a tragic number of those entrusted with protecting our great country to suicide.  According to NPR, a staggering twenty veterans who risked their lives for us are now taking those same lives every day.

The factors behind this cruel irony are many and varied.  The causes may be debatable, but the effects are not.  Numbers don’t lie.

I served my country as a Navy SEAL but, prior to deploying, looked my own demons in the eye close enough to recognize them in the faces of others who were not as fortunate as I.  They came home traumatized, putting on a brave face to mask the inner torment they were experiencing that, ultimately, left them without hope or, in their minds, anything to live for.  They’d lost their sense of connection, nothing to replace the camaraderie that dominated their lives when the mission was everything. 

They, like me, were serving something bigger than themselves, a greater purpose that defined their self-worth.  They felt as if they were in control because the mission before them was always clear, with markers that delineated success and victory, benchmarks they would do anything to achieve.  As warriors, they protected the freedoms of this land; have been through blasts, explosions, firefights, and their brains bear the scars even if they managed to emerge with their bodies intact.   

I know about this all too well. You mask your pain and you mask your problems, because that’s what you’re called to do to complete the mission.

Until you get home.  Then the mission isn’t there anymore, but the problems still are and you can’t mask them anymore.  In that moment, the world feels dark and empty, riddled with a cold that can permeate even a beautiful July 4th day.  You don’t know what’s coming next and the prospects of whatever it might be terrifies you.  Almost like what SEALs refer to as the “black silhouette;” when you have someone in your scope but can’t get a clear focus.  That’s life dominated by pain and ripped of clarity.  You don’t understand what you’re missing, even as you’re convinced no one’s going to miss you.

As a young boy, I was told I’d probably never walk again due to degenerative hip condition.  But I overcame that and convinced myself I could overcome anything.  Then I ruined the same hip in a parachuting accident while preparing to deploy.  I wallowed in self-pity, seeking answers from within myself that weren’t to be found.  They gave me drugs that turned me into a zombie, one of The Walking Dead. When I took them, I couldn’t feel much except a dull pain, and life was just cloudy. I didn’t care what I was doing to my wife or my friends or my family. I wanted the pain to be gone. And the more it was gone, the more I wanted to take the drugs so it wouldn’t come back.

The specialists, doctors, and therapists all agreed: I could either reclassify or leave the Navy entirely. My SEAL career was finished.

That’s when I gave up on myself, that’s when I hit rock bottom. And maybe that’s what I needed to force me to look in a different direction for help. In my case, that meant toward God.  If I wanted to get better, if I wanted my life to change, I knew I needed help I couldn’t get from medicine, physical therapy, or even from my SEAL brothers.

I needed God. And not just God Himself, but trusting that God had a perfect plan for me. Because I couldn’t find the answers I needed inside me. And if they weren’t there, it stood to reason that only by surrendering to a greater truth, that there is something bigger and better for me, would I find hope again.

This wasn’t an easy thing for me to do, because I had never truly surrendered my life, my dreams, my goals, my future, or my desires to anyone at any time, celestial or otherwise. I had always done things my way and if others didn’t agree with me, I’d ignore their wisdom and move on. This was different. I had tried everything to heal, to make my body right and whole. Having failed physically, I had to look elsewhere; inward, toward my soul. If I couldn’t heal myself from the outside in, maybe I could heal myself from the inside out. It was my soul that had to change, especially if I wanted my body to as well, after undergoing hip replacement surgery that was my only chance to remain a SEAL.

In giving myself up to Jesus, I found purpose, community, and hope. Though my outer self was wasting away, my inner self was being renewed day by day.  I was no longer chained to whatever past I’d been dragging along with me, and I fully believe that the twenty veterans we lose to suicide every day can be saved from the turmoil into which they’ve sunk by finding a personal relationship with Jesus, just as I did.

Our soldiers’ minds have slipped into the darkness, much like our country has slipped, and turned away from their Father. Our founding fathers, great leaders and God fearing men that they were, made sure we remembered the need for this by putting “in God we trust” on our coins and “One nation, under God” in our pledge to the flag our soldiers fight to make sure waves strong and proud.

Do not let our brothers and sisters turn to emptiness, but go and be the light that they need. Serve them as they chose to serve our nation, putting you before themselves to protect this land, protect our freedoms, protect the very spirit that we celebrate on the 4th of July. Now it is our turn on the home front to pay it back to them, because we understand that freedom is not free; it comes at the highest cost our heroes are now paying. They need our help today and every day after. From organizations where soldiers can get help like Mission  and the Navy SEAL Foundation.  From you and me.

Let us show them there is hope, that we the people are one nation and one body, together fighting the good fight.

Because my wish for this and every 4th of July is simple:  That the day comes when the number twenty dwindles to zero.

Patrick Bisher is a decorated Navy SEAL for his service in Iraq and the author of “No Surrender: Faith, Family, and Finding Your Way”, published by Post Hill Press out July 4th.

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'Fixer' reaching new heights?

JetBlue passengers already have plenty of in-flight entertainment options to choose from, but that list just got bigger.

Scripps Networks Interactive announced on Wednesday that JetBlue will soon be offering on-demand programming from Scripps’ most popular channels. Beginning July 1, Scripps reports that JetBlue will beef up “The Hub” — i.e., JetBlue’s in-flight entertainment system — with content from HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel.


“It’s never been easier to tap into all kinds of content on the go, and starting Saturday, JetBlue customers will have a new way to access our signature home, food and travel content,” said Scripps in a press release.

Scripps also notes that JetBlue has already offered HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel as live-streaming options on their flights for over a decade, free of charge. But now, passengers will also have the option of streaming content on-demand, meaning that passengers can watch nothing but hours of “Fixer Upper,” “Chopped” or “Expedition Unknown” if they so choose.

“Meeting fans where they want our content is one of Scripps Networks Interactive’s top priorities,” Scripps stated.


In addition to the newest on-demand content offered by Scripps Network Interactive, JetBlue offers 36 channels of DIRECTV® and 100 channels of SiriusXM Radio® on every JetBlue flight in the continental U.S. The airline’s Hub also offers newly released movies on all flights longer than two hours.

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Model’s body transformation

Good news for anyone who hates the treadmill. Weightlifting might be the key to getting the body of your dreams, as an Australian bikini model just proved with her Instagram transformation post.

Karina Irby, owner of Moana Bikini and the blogger behind Bikini Body Burn, recently shared her four-year fitness journey on social media and the results may surprise you.

Irby posted three side-by-side photos, one from 2013, 2014 and 2017, showcasing her dramatic progress. Of the photo from 2013, Irby writes, “I was a total cardio head! I loved going for long runs…I wasn’t eating nearly enough of the right food, or food at all to be fuelling my body.”


By 2014, Irby began to show some progress, but nothing compared to the current results. “I started at a gym and maybe went twice/three times a week. I had no idea what I was doing and how to perform the exercises correctly,” she wrote.

As time goes by, you can see in the photos that Irby started gaining more muscle, which she attributes to switching from cardio to weight-lifting. “I’ve been working out, hard, for the past 2-3 years,” the blogger wrote. “I lift weights, heavy weights! I only do cardio once or twice a week, but still incorporate weights into my exercises. I eat well and I eat a lot.”


Whether you choose strength training or cardio should be based on your fitness goals. According to a study by Duke University, after eight months of tracking overweight individuals, those who focused on cardio training lost about four pounds, while the strength-training group gained weight. “Minute per minute, cardio burns more calories, so it works best for reducing fat mass and body mass,” study co-author Cris Slentz, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at Duke University told CNN. 

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Hot dogs dropped in new way

First pizza, then donuts, now hot dogs.

Recent events clearly suggest fast food fans will be very well catered for once full-fledged drone delivery services get off the ground.

Oscar Mayer is the latest to join the party, this week unveiling the WienerDrone as part of its WienerFleet, which of course includes its famous WienerMobile.

The WienerDrone can whizz along at speeds of up to 50 mph for the super-fast delivery of its “1 hot dog” payload. It can fly up to 1200 feet from the ground, too, which Oscar Mayer helpfully informs us is a distance equivalent to “2400 hot dogs end-to-end.”

The unique quadcopter looks a lot like the WienerMobile, only smaller and with propellers attached. If we’re honest, the delivery method looks rather haphazard and could result in a messy rearrangement of any sauces slathered on your snack. Instead of landing on the ground and gently plopping out the goods la Amazon Prime, or carefully lowering the item via a winch la Project Wing, it simply releases the hot dog from a great height for the customer to catch. Good luck with that.

No, we don’t expect to see the WienerDrone coming to a barbecue near you anytime soon, but it was fun seeing Oscar Mayer’s take on this whole delivery drone malarkey.

Besides the drone and the car, the new WienerFleet also includes the WienerMini for guaranteed rapid delivery, the autonomous WienerRover for off-road missions, and the WienerCycle for fast navigation of busy urban streets. Thefleet plans to hit the road on the July 4 holiday, heading for Weiner, Arkansas where the drone will no doubt be lobbing a hot dog or two into an expectant crowd.

Pizza and donuts

Domino’s Pizza in New Zealand is already offering a limited drone delivery service for fans of the cheesy delight, flying orders from one of its outlets to customers in under 10 minutes. The service complements its bike-based delivery riders, and Domino’s has no plans to replace them, though the company has noted that as many as 70 percent of its customers would be more than happy to receive a drone-delivered pizza.

Domino’s flying machine, built by Nevada-based drone specialist Flirtey, lowers the boxed pizza using a tether. Safety features include low-battery return-to-safe-location programming and auto-return-home commands in case of a low GPS signal or communication loss.

More recently, a number of donut deliveries were made by the flying machine to city officials in Denver in a trial run organized by LaMar’s Donuts. Denver mayor Michael Hancock, who was one of the recipients of the sugary snack, described the delivery as exciting stuff, adding that autonomous technology is our future [and] this is how were going to become a more efficient 21st-century nation. And with all that fast food flying about, possibly a slightly-larger-around-the-waist nation, too.

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Beyoncé and Jay-Z's mansion is the talk of Malibu

Malibu, Calif., locals are buzzing about the mansion Jay-Z and Beyoncé have holed up in with their new babies, sources tell the New York Post.

The rent is reportedly $400,000, which some residents think is overblown.

“In the past, it rented for probably $250,000 max,” said an insider.

Then again, the recording royals are not your usual renters.

Said a source: “They literally have a full staff on the property — housekeeping team, chef, and one of Beyoncé’s old assistants is now the full-time nanny/assistant for Blue Ivy, while each of the twins gets their own baby nurse.”

The source added of the pad: “It ­rivals only Cher’s residence as one of the most magnificent in Malibu.”

Click here to read more in the New York Post.

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Little Rock nightclub shooting: US Marshals arrest rapper, second suspect on unrelated charges in Alabama

A Memphis rapper was taken into custody early Sunday in Alabama along with a second suspect on unrelated charges after a shooting at an Arkansas nightclub that left 28 people injured, authorities said.

Ricky Hampton, 25, of Memphis, Tennessee, also known as Finese 2Tymes, was arrested on outstanding warrants out of Forrest City, Arkansas, police in Little Rock said on Twitter. No arrests have been made in the shooting at the Power Ultra Lounge in downtown Little Rock, which police have said they believe stemmed from a dispute in the crowd and may be gang-related.

Hampton, also know as Finese2Tymes, along with another suspect was arrested outside of Side Effects Club in Birmingham, Alabama, FOX 6 News reported. 

U.S. Marshals, along with the ATF and FBI apprehended Hampton and the other male, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Cliff LaBarge told Fox News.. Both are currently being held at the Jefferson County jail. The Marshal Service says the men were arrested on a “fugitive from justice” warrant.

Twenty-five people between the ages of 16 and 35 suffered gunshot wounds at the Power Ultra Lounge in downtown Little Rock at Power Ultra Lounge early Saturday, officials said.

Three others were hurt, perhaps while fleeing, Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner said. Two people were in critical condition Saturday afternoon. 

Courtney Swanigan, 23, told The Associated Press that when the gunfire rang out, “I just closed my eyes, got down on the ground and put my hands on my head.”

Frankie Bledsaw told FOX 16 he drove from Stoddard, Arkansas, to Little Rock with his brother and a few friends for the concert.

He said he didn’t know what sparked the dispute, but shortly after the concert began shots rang out.

“Everything was good, that’s why I don’t understand,” he said. “I mean, crowd was in a good mood. Just senseless really. Come out to have a good time and this what happens.”

Bledsaw said his first instinct was to run but as the gunfire continued and the club erupted into chaos, he hit the ground.

“Took about 10 minutes to get up out of there,” he said, later adding that it was a “blessing” that no one died. He was able to walk away with a minor bruises and scratches.

Related stories…

City officials said they would move Monday to shut down the club under a “criminal abatement” program. State regulators suspended the club’s liquor license earlier Saturday.

On Saturday night, a representative for the landlord’s office posted an eviction notice on a door to the club. The notice stated that the club must move out of the property within three days “due to your failure to maintain the premises in a safe condition.”

Mayor Mark Stodola said the city must “keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people” and suggested that people refuse to patronize clubs that seem to promote violence. Material advertising the concert by Tennessee rapper Finese 2Tymes showed a man pointing a gun at a camera.

“A promotional video with a gun on the front cover inviting people to a concert … should also be totally unacceptable in our community,” the mayor said.

The shooting capped a violent week in Arkansas’ largest city. Police had responded to a dozen drive-by shootings over the previous nine days.

“I’m sick of all the killing and I’m tired of all the shooting. The kids getting hurt,” said Raida Bunche, who was waiting outside the club after hearing from a friend that her son had been inside. She found out later that he had run from the club when the shooting started and was not hurt.

The shooting occurred around 2:30 a.m. about 1 mile east of the state Capitol building. First-responders are stationed through the central part of the city and hospitals are a quick ride away.

“We had professional people responding to that incident and they did what they were trained to do, and I know they probably had something to do with the fact we didn’t have any fatalities,” Buckner said. He also credited divine intervention.

About 100 people gathered at Second Baptist Church on Saturday night for a candlelight vigil, seeking healing for those injured, and the community. Stodola sat in the front row.

“God bless our community. … God bless our first responders,” Robert Holt, president of Let Our Violence End and pastor at Healing Waters Outreach Center, said at the vigil.

Top state officials offered to help the city respond to an increasing number of incidents.

“Little Rock’s crime problem appears to be intensifying,” Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement. “Every few days it seems a high-profile shooting dominates the news, culminating with (Saturday) morning’s event. I have spoken this morning with Mayor (Mark) Stodola and I have offered both my heart felt concern over this senseless violent tragedy and state assets as needed to address the continued threat of violence in our community.”

A Facebook video posted from inside the club included audio of at least 24 rounds fired in about 11 seconds. Darryl Rankin, who posted the video, said a friend of his who attended the concert with him had a bullet “stuck in his spine.” Buckner said police had not yet spoken with the rapper, who he said has outstanding warrants in the state.

Calls to a number listed for Finese 2Tymes’ booking agent weren’t returned Saturday, but a message was posted on the artist’s Facebook page offering thoughts and prayers for those injured: “THE VIOLENCE IS NOT FOR THE CLUB PEOPLE. WE ALL COME WITH 1 MOTIVE AT THE END OF THE DAY, AND THATS TO HAVE FUN.”

Before Stodola announced that the city would shutter the club, officials at the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control office suspended the club’s liquor license and set a July 10 hearing on three potential charges: disorderly conduct, allowing possession of weapons on the premises and “failure to be a good neighbor.”

The club’s license has been suspended 11 times for failing to pay taxes, and it has been cited seven times for 14 various violations including unknowingly furnishing alcohol to minors and allowing alcohol to leave the premises since 2012, ABC Director of Enforcement Boyce Hamlet said.

Arkansas lawmakers this year passed a law allowing concealed handguns in bars, with permission of the businesses’ owners and if the gun permit holder completes additional training. The law takes effect Sept. 1, but the training likely won’t be available until next year.

Read more from FOX 6 News.

Read more from FOX 16.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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