Entries in Florida (7)


Shaquille O’Neal Earns Doctorate Degree

Aaron Davidson/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- The four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal donned a cap and bright red XXXL-sized gown to receive his doctorate degree from Barry University on Saturday in Miami, Florida.

On stage, he showed his enthusiasm in a way only someone over seven feet tall can do, by lifting his professor into the air.

After leaving Louisiana State University early for the NBA, Shaq went back to school and earned his bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree and now, a doctorate in education.

O’Neal told ABC News there are three reasons he hasn’t just kicked his feet up and lounged on an island since his retirement.

“One, I promised my parents I would [follow my passion for education]. Two, I wanted to continue my education and three, I wanted to challenge myself,” he said.

“The hardest part was getting back into high school mode. You ever have that high school teacher that says you’ve got to read six chapters over the weekend?” he said.

He wrote his thesis on the value of humor in leadership, because he says he’s a natural leader who loves to laugh.

The graduate wants to become a motivational speaker and plans to go to law school.

O’Neal told ABC News there’s “no way” anyone is allowed to call him Shaq anymore.

“Only the children can call me Shaq, the adults have to address me as Dr. O’Neal,” he said.

“I’m proud to call you Dr. O’Neal!” said his mother.

A year into retirement, after 19 seasons on the court, Dr. O’Neal is not looking back. He says he doesn’t miss the game “Because I got a new walk, a doctor’s walk.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘Neighborhood Watch’ Teaser Pulled from Florida Theaters in Wake of Trayvon Martin Case

C Flanigan/FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) -- A teaser trailer and poster for Neighborhood Watch, an upcoming summer comedy starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill, have been pulled from Florida theaters in light of the Trayvon Martin case, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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The film, scheduled to be released July 27, revolves around a neighborhood watch group attempting to thwart an alien invasion. A poster of the film depicts a neighborhood watch sign featuring the silhouette of an alien. The sign is damaged by what appears to be bullet holes.

In the teaser trailer, which has been included with screenings of Hill’s film 21 Jump Street, Stiller, Vaughn and Hill are seen patrolling a neighborhood inside an SUV. At one point, Hill’s character mimics a shooting motion using his empty hand.

A rep for 20th Century Fox, the studio behind Neighborhood Watch, told The Hollywood Reporter, “We are very sensitive to the Trayvon Martin case, but our film is a broad alien invasion comedy and bears absolutely no relation to the tragic events in Florida.”

The rep added, “The movie, which is not scheduled for release for several months, was made and these initial marketing materials were released before this incident ever came to light.”

20th Century Fox said it does not plan to change the release date for Neighborhood Watch.

17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Florida late last month by a neighborhood watch volunteer who has claimed he acted in self-defense.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gene Hackman, Hit By Car; Rep Says Only Minor Injuries

Vera Anderson/WireImage(MIAMI) -- TMZ's report that actor Gene Hackman underwent emergency surgery in Florida after being hit by a car while riding his bike on Friday appears to have been a bit alarmist.  The website claimed that Hackman, 81, suffered head and body injuries and was airlifted from Key West to a trauma hospital in Miami.  But a spokeswoman for the Oscar-winning actor tells ABC News in a statement, "Gene Hackman was taken to a hospital for routine tests after being bumped from behind while riding his bike.  He’s suffered minor bumps and bruises and is already on this way home from the hospital."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mindy McCready and Son Found by Police in Arkansas

Frederick Breedon/WireImage(HEBER SPRINGS, Ark.) -- Police tracked down country singer Mindy McCready and her 5-year-old son overnight Friday after she defied a court order to return him to his grandmother.

Around 8 p.m. Friday, police took her son, Zander, from his mother at a lake home owned by McCready's boyfriend in Heber Springs, Ark., according to the Cleburne County Sheriff.

Zander is on his way to his legal guardian, his grandmother, in Florida, according to reports.

Authorities said the boyfriend was talking to police while the multi-platinum selling recording artist was hiding in a closet with her son.

There was no struggle, but they said McCready was quite emotional.

Child welfare officials said Zander is safe and in good health.

He never really was in any danger, but the FBI circulated flyers, called it a "parental abduction" and declared Zander "missing," last seen in a Ford Explorer outside the home of McCready's father.

It appeared that Florida officials may have known McCready's location all along, because police arrived at the home with a signed warrant from an Arkansas court.

After the singer's many troubles, including a stint on celebrity rehab for a serious drug problem, the court gave custody of her son to McCready's mother.

On Friday night, Gayle Inge, Zander's grandmother and McCready's mother broke into tears over the situation.

"I can't even explain it, I just can't explain it," Inge said.

McCready has spent the past few years turning her life around, and she's been fighting for custody of her son.

"The focus in custody cases is what's in the best interest of the child. If she wants to go to court, and she wants to say, you know what, I'd like this court order lifted and I wanna change the nature of this custody arrangement, great, go do that. But you can't just go in there, grab the child and evade authorities," said ABC News legal analyst Dan Abrams.

The court had ordered her to return the boy Thursday evening, but through her representatives, she told authorities she's seven months pregnant with twins and in no condition to travel.

The babies' father is believed to be McCready's music producer boyfriend David Wilson, according to the New York Daily News.

So far, no criminal charges have been filed against McCready for taking her son from his legal guardian.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mindy McCready Ready to 'Go to Jail' for Son

Frederick Breedon/WireImage(CAPE CORAL, Fla.) -- Mindy McCready now faces serious legal trouble after missing a judge's deadline to return her 5-year-old son Zander to Florida, but the troubled country singer has given no indication if or when she plans to bring him home.

Authorities are now calling this case a parental abduction. The FBI has released a missing person poster and Lee County, Fla., family court judge James Seals has signed a new order, telling law enforcement nationwide to take Zander into custody upon sight.

McCready responded by saying she's willing to risk jail to protect her son.

The Florida Department of Children and Families told ABC News, "Once the child is located, we will pick him up and bring him back to Florida. His safety and well-being are our number one priority."

The boy's father and McCready's ex-boyfriend Billy McKnight told NBC Friday that he spoke on the phone with the singer and their boy after the judge's deadline expired.

"He did sound healthy and ok. He wasn't crying or scared," McKnight said about Zander.

"I think she believes she has a case and doesn't realize she's pushing her luck on this one," he added.

McCready has been involved in a messy custody battle over the boy with her mother, Gayle Inge, and her ex. Zander lives in Cape Coral, Fla., with his grandmother, who has legal custody of him. He is allowed to stay with his father on occasion, but can only see McCready on supervised visits.

"Zander is used to being in Florida with me and her mother. I'm worried about him being moved around," McKnight told HLN Thursday.

At some point during a visit on Tuesday, McCready took Zander and fled to Nashville.

Seals ordered McCready to return to Lee County, Fla., by 5 p.m. Thursday, but the singer has now made it clear that she has no intention of doing that.

McCready could face felony charges for violating the court order and taking her son out of state, but right now authorities tell ABC News that they are focused on finding Zander.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio



Chris Tucker Facing Foreclosure on Florida Mansion

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images(LAKE APOPKA, Fla.) -- Despite making tens of millions of dollars for appearing in the Rush Hour movies, actor and comedian Chris Tucker is facing foreclosure on his multi-million dollar Florida mansion, according to court papers filed earlier this week.

The star of the Rush Hour trilogy and the comedy Friday purchased the 10,000-square-foot lakefront home in 2007 for $6 million.  The hefty home purchase was made just before the housing market took a nosedive later that year.

SunTrust Bank reportedly filed papers against the actor in Circuit Court in Florida’s Lake County.  The bank says Tucker owes over $4.4 million.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Tucker’s estate is located in the Bella Collina development, a nearly 2,000-acre community with waterfront homes and estates that overlook a massive golf course.

Tucker’s home reportedly features five bedrooms, three fireplaces, and a personal spa.  An outdoor kitchen overlooks a swimming pool, and the basement is fit to resemble a pirate ship, according to the Sentinel.

Though his last film -- 2007′s Rush Hour 3 -- was a sizable hit, taking in over $140 million at the domestic box office, he hasn’t been featured in a film since.  Earlier this year, Tucker returned to stand up comedy, touring theaters across the U.S.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Florida Producer Runs Deluxe Compound to Find Next Justin, Britney, Jonas Brothers

Kevin Mazur/WireImage(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Before he brought sexy back, she (oops) did it again, or they were burning up, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and The Jonas Brothers were kids who dreamed of making it big.

The pop stars' fairy godmother was Johnny Wright, a boy-band Bollettieri who turns scraggly teens into platinum-plated megastars. Every day Wright weeds through hundreds of demo tapes sent by aspiring young stars, all hoping some of that superstar magic will rub off on them.

Most of the tapes are derivative or dull, he said. The exceptions might earn the sender a visit to Wright's multimillion-dollar compound in the Orlando suburbs, its walls lined with trophies and mementos. More than a home, it's a star factory where he produces his next line of talent. There's a state-of-the-art recording studio, plus a swimming pool, tennis courts, golf course and jet skis.

"The compound [is] built just for that -- to stimulate people to make them feel at home. To give them diversions if they get stuck in writing a song, if they are having a tough time in the studio [so] that they can go jump on a jet ski, they can go fishing, they can bowl," Wright said.

Not that it's summer camp for the burgeoning artists lucky enough to get there. "It's what we call boot camp," Wright said. Up-and-comers spend weeks, even months there. While there are plenty of distractions, there is little time for play.

"In the mornings they have to do their workouts, and they have to do their vocal lessons, and they have to do their rehearsal, then they have to do their studio time," Wright said.

The new kids on the block are Y6, a pop group on the edge of stardom, six boys handpicked from thousands of online contestants to come to Wright's compound.

The boys have learned that getting here was the easy part. They say the hard work really began soon after they arrived. Their regimen: sing, dance, exercise, repeat.

Wright said he believes all the preparation is crucial -- a lesson he has taken from the failures and flame-outs that have accompanied his successes.

When he managed the Backstreet Boys, he signed one member's younger brother, Aaron Carter. At the age of 10, he sold a million records in six weeks, Wright said.

He was unprepared for such stardom, Wright said, and drugs destroyed his career.

Wright helped him get turned around, but now he is wary of kids who, however talented, only want to make it big.

"If you want to do this, to take a craft and gift God gave you and present it to the world and be successful, that's fine. Money will follow. But if your only motivation for this is to be rich, famous -- I have no time for that."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio