Actress Jennifer Garner asked Kentucky lawmakers to spend $1 million on an early childhood education program. The star of the TV show “Alias” and movies including “Juno” and “Dallas Buyers Club” testified before the House budget committee on Tuesday on behalf of Save The Children.

Garner said the program works well in Kentucky, offering literacy and other development programs for children. Lawmakers said they support the program but noted the state does not have much money to spend because of shortfalls in public pension programs.

Garner is a native of West Virginia and testified along with Mark Shriver, Save The Children Action Network president and a nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy.

Russians offer DiCaprio Oscar statue

Residents of a town in Russia’s Far East have been donating their gold and silver for something near and dear to their hearts: Leonardo DiCaprio. More than 100 DiCaprio fans in the Siberian town of Yakutia have donated jewelry and precious metals to make a statue — based on an Academy Award — for the star who is nominated as best actor for his role in the Revenant. Sardana Savvina, a member of the Oscar to Leo initiative, said the group is hopeful that DiCaprio will walk away with two awards this year: a statue from Yakutia and a bona fide Oscar. DiCaprio, whose grandmother was Russian, is extremely popular in the country and famously met with Vladimir Putin in 2010 to discuss tiger conservation.

 

cancer fight: A publicist for Ken Watanabe says the Tony Award- and Oscar-nominated actor has been forced to delay his return to Broadway’s “The King and I” while he battles stomach cancer. The 56-year-old Japanese actor, who made his American stage debut last year opposite Kelli O’Hara in the show’s revival, was due to return to the musical from March 1-April 17. Watanabe’s press agent said Tuesday the actor has undergone endoscopic surgery and is recuperating. Watanabe also has been in Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” and “Inception.”

 

He’s Back: Country legend Merle Haggard has returned to the stage after canceling several shows in February because of pneumonia. The 78-year-old singer performed in Las Vegas on Saturday, his publicist said. He also was planning to perform at three shows in California this week, including a show with Kris Kristofferson.

 

suit dropped: A porn actress has dropped her $500,000 assault lawsuit against reality TV personality Josh Duggar amid evidence that her claims were fabricated. Duggar’s lawyer calls the accusations by Ashley Stamm-Northup, who performs as Danica Dillon, “fictitious.” Evidence shows Duggar wasn’t in Philadelphia at the time of the alleged attack.

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