Mandalit del Barco

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Character actor Michael Parks has died after a career that lasted more than 50 years. He was 77.

Parks' agent, Jane Schulman, confirmed his death to news organizations but she did not specify the cause.

Parks, a California native, didn't begin acting until after years of fruit picking, truck driving and firefighting.

In the 1960s, he was on numerous TV shows, and was seen by some in Hollywood as the next James Dean. Most notably, he starred as the brooding ex-newspaperman riding a Harley — a sort of Easy Rider — on the TV series Then Came Bronson.

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Some people call Jeremy Fox the "vegetable whisperer," the California chef who can coax remarkable flavors out of every part of his produce, even the flowers and leaves that most chefs throw away. One of his famous first-course dishes combines twice-shucked spring peas with macadamia nuts and white chocolate. He has reinvented cooking with vegetables, and in the process, reinvented himself, too.

In some parts of the country, cold weather is threatening crops. Meanwhile, California has been so unseasonably wet that its deserts are experiencing what's called a "super bloom." After years of drought, the normally arid desert is lush.

"It just looks like a sea of flowers," says Janet Gordon, a geologist from Los Angeles.

"You got purple, red, yellows and blues," adds Joe Sheidness, visiting from San Diego.

The oft-overlooked Oscar category of best documentary short has a dramatic theme this year: Three of the five films nominated are about Syrians, and each offers an intimate, eye-witness account of the devastation in that country.

One of the shorts, The White Helmets, follows a group of civilian volunteers in Aleppo who search for and rescue bombing victims. They're the only first responders left and they've saved tens of thousands of people, digging them out from the rubble. (The sound of bombs blasting can be heard throughout the film.)

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After years of planning, negotiations and speculation, filmmaker George Lucas has chosen Los Angeles to be the home for his museum honoring visual storytelling. It will display his personal collection of fine and popular art, including Norman Rockwell paintings, Mad Magazine covers, photography, children's art, as well as Hollywood props and visual effects from his famous movie franchise Star Wars.

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