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People in the News

Report: Hank Azaria to quit voicing Apu on ‘Simpsons’

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hank Azaria says he has no plans to continue voicing the character of Apu on “The Simpsons,” according to an industry blog. But that isn’t to say the Indian immigrant convenience store owner Azaria brought alive for 30 years won’t live on.

Producers and Fox Broadcasting Co. wouldn’t confirm to The Associated Press Azaria’s exit or an end to Apu, a recurring character that has drawn criticism for reinforcing racial stereotypes. There was no immediate reply Saturday from Azaria’s publicist.

The actor, who is white, indicated Friday to slashfilm.com that there was no resistance to phasing out his voice.

“We all made the decision together,” Azaria said. “We all agreed on it. We all feel like it’s the right thing and (feel) good about it.”

Apu Nahasapeemapetilon runs the Kwik-E-Mart, a popular convenience store in the animated sitcom’s Springfield. Apu is known for his catchphrase, “Thank you, come again.” Azaria’s first turn as Apu came in the first season’s episode “The Telltale Head” in 1990.

Azaria speculated that among options going forward is transitioning Apu’s voice to an Indian actor.

In 2017, comedian Hari Kondabolu put out a documentary, “The Problem with Apu,” that examined the character’s cultural impact. Asked in the film’s aftermath if he had watched the documentary, Azaria said:

“Thank you for asking me. Yes, of course, I did see it, and let me see if I can tell you how I feel about that. The idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased or worse based on the character of Apu on ‘The Simpsons,’ the voice or any other tropes of the character is distressing,” he said. “And especially in post-9/11 America, the idea that anybody was marginalized based on it or had a hard time was very upsetting to me personally and professionally.”

Kardashian West pursues justice reform on TV show

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Kim Kardashian West is a step closer to becoming a lawyer, having finished her first year of study as an apprentice.

She told The Associated Press on Saturday that her next step is taking the “baby bar,” so-called because it’s a one-day exam. If she passes, she plans to study for another three years and then take the California bar exam.

“I’m super-motivated, and I really want to see it through,” she said in an interview after promoting a television documentary on criminal justice reform.

“Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project” airs April 5 on Oxygen. The two-hour documentary shows her being visibly moved by prison inmates recounting their stories of landing behind bars. She talks to their families and friends, lobbies public officials and consults with their attorneys as well as her own.

It features four cases, including a sex trafficking victim and a woman who murdered the family member who molested her. Each of them believe they received unfair sentences; two of them end up being released.

“Once you hear the circumstances that led them to make those decisions, your heart would completely open up,” Kardashian West told the AP. “I hope that this is a step to opening up people’s hearts and minds. And then hopefully they can help with changing some actual laws that really do have to be changed.”

Vince DiPersio, an executive producer of “The Justice Project,” said Kardashian West was taking on a “fair amount of risk” by advocating for the release of prisoners.

“She is a nationally known figure, and she has a big brand. God forbid someone gets out and does something terrible, but Kim is willing to take that risk,” he said.

Kardashian West said that no one she’s helped has tried to exploit her entertainment industry ties for additional assistance. At the same time, the 39-year-old reality star and beauty and fashion mogul refers them to organizations that help them find jobs.

“I love seeing the choices that they make in the exciting projects that they’re working on outside,” she said.

Kardashian West began advocating for criminal justice reform after helping Alice Marie Johnson, a great-grandmother serving a life plus 25-year sentence as a first-time non-violent drug offender. Kardashian West took Johnson’s case all the way to a White House meeting with President Donald Trump, who granted Johnson clemency in 2018.

“I’m raising four black children that could face a situation like any of the people that I help,” Kardashian West said. “So just to know that I could make a difference in my children’s lives and their friends’ lives and their children’s lives by helping to fix such a broken system, that is just so motivating for me. I’m not doing it for publicity. I really do care.”