Thelma Adams [Podcast]

“Lincoln” is rising, and “Les Miserables” is wobbling in the best picture competition according to Gold Derby Founder Tom O’Neil in his regular podcast with our Thelma Adams. O’Neil noted that on his site, “Lincoln” rose while “Les Miserables” fell – but Adams counseled that we’ve yet to see the box office boost for the beloved musical that bound to be the big winner at theaters nationwide on Christmas Day.

O’Neil and Adams, an advocate for “Zero Dark Thirty,” wondered whether the real battle is “Lincoln” versus “Argo.” O’Neil stated that while buzz for “Lincoln” has apparently burst, “Argo” has had the most sustained attention over two and a half months. Not only that, but its box office has surpassed the $100 million mark and it registered critical approval. Also, “Argo” has a great backstory: the rise of Ben Affleck from actor to acclaimed director, and his comeback from the “Gigli” era with J. Lo.

Other topics discussed were:

- The rise of “Zero Dark Thirty” star Jessica Chastain, going head-to-head for best actress honors against previous frontrunner Jennifer Lawrence of “Silver Linings Playbook.”

- The rise of “Lincoln” star Tommy Lee Jones in the best supporting actor category, in what could be a one-two punch for the biopic alongside Daniel Day Lewis in the title role.

- The wacky possibility that Golden Globe supporting actress nominee Nicole Kidman could find herself in the unusual position of being nominated for both an Academy Award and a Razzie for her over-the-top Southern floozy in “The Paperboy.” O’Neil said it would be only the third time in movie history, with Amy Irving managing the feat for “Yentl” and James Coco for “Only When I Laugh.”

Adams and O’Neil signed off for 2012 and will return in 2013 with more coverage of the season leading up to the Academy Awards on Sunday, February 24th.

Pennsylvania family gets awarded $109M

A Pennsylvania jury awarded one family $109 million in a wrongful death verdict, after a woman was electrocuted for 20 minutes while waiting for utility crews to shut off the power from a fallen utility line.

The jury deliberated for less than two hours in the case of Goretzka vs Allegheny Energy Inc., and juror Thomas Swogger told the Associated Press the panel “wanted to send a message that not applying safe practices across the board is not acceptable.”

In June 2009, 39-year-old Carrie Goretzka stepped outside her Allegheny County house to call 911 after seeing the trees in her backyard on fire from an overheated power line, which had also cut off power to her house. While dialing, the power line snapped and fell on her. The incident happened in front of Goretzka’s mother-in-law and two daughters, who were 2- and 4-years-old at the time.

At first, they tried to help, but were burned in the process and had to watch as Goretzka endured powerful electric shocks.

She died three days later in the hospital.

“We were in disbelief. You see these things like this on TV and you read about them in the paper see it on the news, but when it happens you can’t believe this is your family that it happened to,” Goretzka’s brother-in-law, Chuck Goretzka told ABC News.

Goretzka says the jury’s decision was bittersweet for the family, who were all in attendance for the three-week long trial against West Penn Power Co.

“There’s definitely relief knowing that the company’s recklessness and carelessness was taken into account,” Goretzka said. “Carrie was heard yesterday in court. This was a human being that died. We finally got some justice.”

Michael Goretzka, Carrie’s husband, hired attorney Shanin Specter to represent the family. Specter claimed in court the power company didn’t properly train its workers to use a wire brush to clean the power lines before they were spliced, causing rust to form, which resulted in the lines overheating and falling.

Michael Goretzka had also contacted the company twice in 2003 and 2004 after the power lines had dropped into his backyard, telling the company he “feared for his family’s life.”

“I’m gratified by the verdict. But I remain very concerned about the public safety issue of First Energy‘s power lines falling. This dangerous situation must be fixed,” Specter told ABC News.

In closing arguments, West Penn attorney Avrum Levicoff said Goretzka put herself in harm’s way by standing under the power line while dialing for 911. According to AP, Levicoff said, “I’m not blaming anybody. What I am suggesting is you need to determine why that occurred.”

Calls to Levicoff’s law firm have not been returned to ABC News, but First Energy Spokesman Scott Sturgeoner says the company is reviewing the verdict to determine if they will appeal the jury’s decision.

“Let me say first that we respect the work and efforts of the jury during the lengthy trial, and we do thank them for their service,” Sturgeoner said. “We will carefully review the verdict over the next several days to determine if a repeal, if any, of the verdict is warranted.”

Condom Dispensers in Philly Schools

Condom Dispensers in Philly Schools (ABC News)

 

Philadelphia is installing condom dispensers in 22 city high schools where students as young as 14 will be able to receive condoms for free in an effort to combat an “epidemic” of sexually transmitted disease among the city’s teenagers.

Students returning to school from Christmas break will find clear plastic dispensers filled with condoms in the offices of nurses whose schools have the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases.

“We believe distributing condoms is part of our obligation to keep students healthy and to remain healthy,” said school district spokesman Fernando Gallard. “The health department has described this as a continued epidemic of STDs among teenagers in Philadelphia.”

Condoms have in the past been provided to students in Philadelphia as part of wider program in which the teenagers are provided “free, voluntary and confidential” testing for sexual diseases in their schools, Gallard said.

It was the results of those tests that led officials to launch the current program to distribute condoms regularly in schools instead of once a year when the tests are administered.

Of the 130,000 student who have received testing in the last five years, some 6,500 or 5 percent of them have tested positive for diseases including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Parents were made aware of the distribution program in October and were given the chance to opt their children out of receiving the prophylactics.

Gallard said the school district has not received “specific calls” from parents objecting to the program. The total number of parents who chose to disallow their children from receiving condoms, however, is unknown.

According to Advocates for Youth, a nonprofit organization that advocates for sexual health among young people, there are at least 418 schools nationwide providing condoms.

In August, despite outrage from some parents, the school board in Springfield, Mass., approved a plan to distribute condoms in public high schools, as well as middle schools, providing free contraception to students as young as 11.

 

Until next blog, wrap it up it your not married or engaged like I am :)