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Ben Affleck names ancestor who owned slaves amid PBS inquiry

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Ben Affleck is seen from backstage as he presents the award for best director at the Oscars on Sunday

PBS is conducting an internal review following revelations that producers of “Finding Your Roots” may have violated the network’s editorial standards after a request by Ben Affleck that the program not reveal he had a slave-owning ancestor.

On Wednesday, Affleck disclosed the name of that ancestor after expressing regret for seeking to have the information omitted from the episode, which aired last October.

“Lots of people have been asking who the guy was,” Affleck tweeted Wednesday. “His name was Benjamin Cole — lived in Georgia on my Mom’s side about six generations back.”

Affleck issued a lengthier statement on Facebook on Tuesday night.

“We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery,” he wrote, acknowledging that, “I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed.”

The review by PBS and New York station WNET began Saturday, according to a PBS spokeswoman. Affleck’s request came to light last week in hacked Sony emails published online by whistleblower site WikiLeaks.


Officials say a pair of Elton John’s heart-shaped glasses has been stolen from a display case at a museum in Memphis, Tenn. Memphis police said Wednesday the glasses were taken from the Memphis Rock n’ Soul Museum. Officers were called to the museum Tuesday night, when employees noticed the glasses were missing. The glasses are valued at about $2,000.

Officers said the case holding the glasses sustained no real damage. Police said a museum manager told officers someone would have to use a set of tools to remove the item from the case. An officer processed the case for fingerprints.

No arrests have been made, and the search for the glasses continues.


Food Network star Sunny Anderson and chef Robert Lam of Butterfly will be aboard the SPAMERICAN Tour truck when it rolls into San Francisco today to dispense joy and Spam at AT&T Park’s Willie Mays Plaza. The truck will also be in Daly City on Friday and Pier 39 on Saturday. … Sandra Bullock, 50, is People magazine’s most beautiful woman in the world.


Actor Kal Penn (“The Namesake”) is 38. … Comedian John Oliver (“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”) is 38. … Professional wrestler John Cena is 38. … Actress Valerie Bertinelli (“Hot in Cleveland”) is 55. — Staff, wire report

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