JUSSIE SMOLLETT ISSUES STATEMENT
CHICAGO (AP) — First he was attacked on the street. Now “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett says he’s being beaten up on social media. Smollett has issued a statement disputing rumors flying around online that he’s been less than forthcoming with police in Chicago investigating the attack. He says he has been honest and “consistent on every level” with authorities. Smollett told police he was set upon early Tuesday by two men who peppered their blows with racist and anti-gay language. So far, authorities haven’t turned up surveillance video showing the attack. But they have found clips of Smollett returning to his apartment with a rope around his neck — a rope he says his assailants put on him. Meanwhile, authorities continue scouring through surveillance video in an effort to find those responsible for the attack.
050625-v-293:52-(Oscar Wells Gabriel, AP entertainment editor)-“I’m Oscar Wells Gabriel”-Family defends Smollett, video investigation continues (1 Feb 2019)
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050628-c-120:00-(Oscar Wells Gabriel, AP entertainment editor)-“of any suspects”-Family defends Smollett, video investigation continues (1 Feb 2019)
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JUSSIE SMOLLETT - STATEMENT
CHICAGO (AP) — “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett issued a statement through a spokesman Friday in response to what he told police was a racist and homophobic attack by two masked men in downtown Chicago earlier this week. Here it is:
Let me start by saying that I’m ok. My body is strong but my soul is stronger. More importantly I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words. I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level. Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served. As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily. I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident. We will talk soon and I will address all details of this horrific incident but I need a moment to process. Most importantly, during times of trauma, grief and pain, there is still a responsibility to lead with love. It’s all I know. And that can’t be kicked out of me.
With Love, respect & honor...
JUSSIE SMOLLETT - RALLY
NEW YORK (AP) — The attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has resonated with many people. That’s because he is, like the character he plays on TV, both black and gay — and he says his attackers not only beat him, but also hurled racist and anti-gay comments at him. This evening, members of black and gay right organizations are literally rallying to his defense. Several black activist and LGBTQ groups are planning to hold a rally in New York City. Organizers say they will demonstrate against attacks on Smollett and other victims of violent hate crimes.
GLADYS KNIGHT DEFENDS HER SUPER BOWL PERFORMANCE
ATLANTA (AP) — Usually the only time a Super Bowl performer has to apologize is if they get caught lip synching — or have a “wardrobe malfunction.” But these aren’t usual times for the Super Bowl — and so, Gladys Knight is defending her decision to sing the national anthem. NBC’s “Today” show reports Knight wrestled with whether to boycott performing at the game in support of Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback who protested racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. Kaepernick’s attorney says those who are performing are “crossing an intellectual picket line.” Knight counters, telling NBC she has been working for civil rights — and singing the anthem — since she was a little girl.
BILL COSBY ACCUSER SETTLES WITH FORMER D.A.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — It’s another loose end that has been tied up with the Bill Cosby sexual assault case. The victim whose testimony put the comedian in prison has settled her defamation lawsuit against a former prosecutor in the Philadelphia area. Andrea Constand sued Bruce Cantor for comments he made about what he considered inconsistencies in her account of the 2005 incident for which Cosby was convicted last year. The case would have gone to trial in April — but the settlement ends that. An attorney for Constand says the terms of the settlement are confidential — and both sides have agreed not to comment.
R. KELLY BACKLASH AMONG PERFORMERS CONTINUES
NEW YORK (AP) — For a time in the early 2000′s, R. Kelly was a white-hot commodity — not just as a performer but also as a producer. Now that he is facing renewed scrutiny of his sexual dealings with young women and girls, he’s on the verge of being blacklisted. His recording labels have parted ways with him. And now individual artists are putting distance between themselves and him. For example, the R&B artist Joe had a hit with “More & More,” a song written and produced by R. Kelly. In a statement to The Associated Press, Joe says he has “stopped performing the song.” Joe explains, “no music or intellectual property is worth being inconsiderate to the feelings or pain of others.” Other artists like Fantasia and Jennifer Hudson say they will no longer perform songs R. Kelly has written. And artists like Lady Gaga and Celine Dion have demanded that streaming services no longer offer duets they did with R. Kelly.
MARIAH CAREY FACING CRITICISM OVER SAUDI ARABIA CONCERT
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Mariah Carey continues to get blowback for performing a concert in Saudi Arabia. She is the biggest star to take the stage in the kingdom since it began loosening decades of restrictions on entertainment, music and other forms of fun. But some activists say Carey was used — or let herself be used — by the Saudi government to polish its image after last year’s killing and dismemberment of a Saudi journalist who wrote for The Washington Post. For her part, Carey, through her reps, says she sees yesterday’s concert as a way to advance gender equality. Some critics have begun reaching out to Carey directly — through her Twitter account.
TEKASHI 6IX9INE COOPERATING WITH PROSECUTORS
NEW YORK (AP) — Tekashi 6ix9ine has pleaded guilty to a number of felony charges against him. And now, authorities in New York say the Brooklyn-based rapper is cooperating with the feds. In a plea entered last week and unsealed today, prosecutors say 6ix9nine joined the Nine Trey Blood Gang in 2017 — and as a member, helped try to kill a rival gang member last March. With his plea deal, 6ix9ine can get a lighter sentence — if prosecutors are satisfied with his efforts to help. Otherwise, he’d have faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 47 years in prison. Meanwhile, his attorney says the rapper is concerned for his safety after receiving threats against him.
“HOMELAND” FINALE ROLLOUT DELAYED
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — “Homeland” is still going away. It’s just going away later than first thought. The Showtime drama was supposed to return for an eighth and final season starting in June. But now the network says the show won’t begin its final season until fall. Showtime says production issues are the reason for the delay. Showtime didn’t provide a specific date for the fall debut. Claire Danes stares in Homeland as a former CIA agent who shepherds herself through dangerous conflicts that sometimes mirror real-world events.
by Oscar Wells Gabriel II
Follow Oscar Wells Gabriel II on Twitter at https://twitter.com/OWGabriel2