Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon apologized Friday for saying at a pro-Palestinian rally last month that people feeling afraid of being Jewish were "getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country, so often subjected to violence." The remarks drew criticism and soon afterward her agency, United Talent Agency, announced it dropped her as a client. In a statement posted to Instagram on Friday night, Sarandon said she had been trying to communicate her concern for rising hate crimes. "This phrasing was a terrible mistake," she said, "as it implies that until recently Jews have been strangers to persecution, when the opposite is true." "As we all know, from centuries of oppression and genocide in Europe, to the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh, PA," she said, referring to the synagogue shooting that killed 11 and wounded six others in the deadliest antisemitic attack in American history, "Jews have long been familiar with discrimination and religious violence which continues to this day." "I deeply regret diminishing this reality and hurting people with this comment," she said of her remarks at the Nov. 17 rally. "It was my intent to show solidarity in the struggle against bigotry of all kinds, and I am sorry I failed to do so."
Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald will serve as grand marshal of the 135th Rose Parade next year. The 53-year-old actor and singer was introduced Friday on the lawn of Tournament House in Pasadena. "As a California kid raised in Fresno -- very proud to be from Fresno -- the new year was always ushered in with the Rose Bowl," McDonald said. "Every January first I'd wake up early to watch the parade and the game with my family." On Jan. 1, she will ride the 5½-mile route down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena. McDonald will be part of the coin flip for the 110th Rose Bowl game later that day. "I'm actually practicing," she said. The parade's theme of "Celebrating a World of Music The Universal Language" represents different cultures and beliefs coming together. "For me growing up in Fresno, representation matters," she said. "When you can see someone that looks like you achieving things, it helps you to realize your dream even more fully and to see that it's absolutely possible. Those barriers have been broken down so I can walk through."