New Year, New News

Photo via @wilmervalderrama

Nikki Bella and Artem Chigvintsev are engaged after one year of dating. Us Magazine.  

Wilmer Valderrama  and his girlfriend of seven months Amanda Pacheco are engaged. People

Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden are parents. LA Times

Actress Michelle Williams is engaged and expecting her first child with Tony Award-winning director of Hamilton Thomas Kail. Billboard

Leonardo DiCaprio has become Jack Nicholson. Mirror

Halsey and Evan Peters are heating up. NYP

Kathy Griffin tied the knot with her longtime beau. Just Jared

Dua Lipa and Anwar Hadid are making waves. Daily Mail

Tyler Cameron is dating Kylie Jenner’s BFF. TMZ

The Affair’s Sarah Treem Responds to THR Article – Not Good Enough?

Core cast of The Affair on Showtime

We’ve learned a lot about what went on behind the scenes of Showtime’s The Affair, and though there’s still many mysteries afloat, one thing we know for sure is … that show was a mess. For those who have not yet read The Hollywood Reporter’s somewhat thorough account of the insider drama, here’s some nutshell bullet points to catch you up:

  • Despite having agreed to on-set nudity, Ruth Wilson felt its use in certain scenes was gratuitous, and she made her discomfort known. She also took issue with her male co-stars’ comparative lack of nudity.
  • Ruth Wilson felt Showrunner Sarah Treem applied undue pressure for her to appear naked, using a tone-deaf approach akin to men from the 1950s telling her she “looked beautiful” in an effort for her to disrobe.
  • Monitors were left on, which showed the sex scenes to someone not involved in production. (Note: this complaint was also raised against the female Showrunner of Showtime’s Smilf, Frankie Shaw).
  • Wilson objected to the content of certain scenes, including one that felt “rapey.” That scene was ultimately performed by a body double who later sued for alleged mistreatment.
  • Last and perhaps most important, executive producer Jeffrey Reiner is alleged to have told Girls creator Lena Dunham and executive producer Jenni Konner something disturbing about Wilson, in addition to showing a graphic photo of another actress that was taken on set.

Sarah Treem’s defense of the last and perhaps most disturbing item is so anger-inducing she released a follow-up defense to Deadline, stating that “not much of [her] perspective made it into the story, nor the perspectives of many of the half dozen senior level producers, director and other key crew members who spoke up.” So did her follow-up, first-person response serve to exonerate her character? In short, no.

The Deadline article is largely about the ins-and-outs of Treem’s complicated relationship with Ruth Wilson, who by Treem’s account “had been disagreeing on the character’s choices since the second episode.” Treem furthers that she “tried to protect [Wilson] and shoot sex scenes safely and respectfully.” She altered scenes entirely, even it removed their original intent.

While it might be true that Treem had pure intentions and did the best she could to illicit comfort, she obviously failed in doing so, and it’s not my job to assign fault. All I can say is, if Ruth Wilson did not feel comfortable, then I respect that something on set was perhaps not up to snuff, instead of pointing fingers and implying she’s difficult. She’s a brilliant actress, so she’s obviously doing something right. Treem’s essay is more about defending Treem’s creative integrity than her moral integrity.

The Deadline piece doubles down on Treem’s statements to The Hollywood Reporter about her handling of the immensely disturbing Reiner incident. Treem stated that she “asked Showtime if we could shut down production for weeks” and “asked for sensitivity training.” She wanted “Reiner to address the cast and crew.” Instead, she “was told that Showtime had to be the one to handle it.”

If we take Treem’s words at face value, it’s still not good enough. Reiner’s behavior should be subject to a zero tolerance policy. Sensitivity training?! Treem should have asked for his removal. How much sensitivity training does an adult male need to know he shouldn’t show compromising pictures of another actress from a sex scene on a closed set? Her defense sounds painfully similar to the don’t-blame-me-blame-the-network defense from The Chi’s Lena Waithe (another Showtime series).

It should be noted that being a Showrunner is an EXTREMELY difficult job. Treem has admitted to its challenges in a very powerful, revealing essay for Red Online about “having it all.” When that article is cross-referenced with the issues on The Affair, it is not surprising that she was perhaps unable to get ahead of the on-set issues and react appropriately. Had she shown an inch of that vulnerability in her Deadline article, I’d be way more forgiving. She said that the Reiner incident overlapped with having had a new baby, and the Red Online article indicates that this was a trying time in her personal life, and she should have asked for more help. But there’s no “I wish I would have done things differently” in the Deadline piece. Instead, she points fingers, avoids responsibility, and implied Wilson was the issue.

Julianne Hough is not required to Stand by Gabrielle Union

The greatest trick the devil ever played was pitting women against one another to benefit men. The second greatest trick the devil ever played is demanding women unite to go against men, and punishing them when they don’t. When Julianne Hough was asked about Gabrielle Union’s controversial firing from America’s Got Talent, she said a whole lot of NOTHING, and even threw in the laughable non-word “integrily.”

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Howard Stern Takes Aim at Simon Cowell — And I’m Here for it

AMERICA’S GOT TALENT — “Judge Cuts” — Pictured: (l-r) Howie Mandel, Gabrielle Union, Jay Leno, Julianne Hough, Simon Cowell — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

It’s not surprising that Howard Stern took aim at Simon Cowell — the man did come for his AGT job after all. And nothing provides greater entertainment than Stern on a tear. In response to Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough’s firing from America’s Got Talent, Stern rightfully proclaimed:

“He sets it up that the men stay. No matter how ugly they are, no matter how old they are, no matter how fat they are, no matter how talentless they are. What he manages to do on all his shows is he constantly replaces the hot chicks with hotter chicks and younger chicks. Howie’s [Mandel] doing a fine, serviceable job — why don’t they change him? And why don’t they change Simon? … This is the ultimate example of a boys’ club.” 

I’ve certainly noticed the revolving door of hot chicks on all the Simon Cowell-produced shows, especially when it’s set up against the long-term reign of his male judges. In short, it’s a gross double standard. Furthermore, if there was any level of diversity in upper management at all, the tone-deaf comments Union alleges were made about her appearance likely would not happen (and let’s not forget what happened to Nick Cannon). Louis Walsh stayed on his X Factor panel long after he groped Mel B. and according to Stern — Mel B. was later fired from AGT while Walsh kept his job.

It is also of note that Stern defended his longtime nemesis Jay Leno over a joke Leno made, which is also the subject of a bitter brawl between NBC and Gabrielle Union. Union allegedly complained to the higher-ups about Leno joking that a painting of Simon Cowell with his dogs looked like it belonged “on the menu at a Korean restaurant.”  As Stern rightfully points out,  “one million dogs are still eaten annually in South Korea, and if Gabrielle Union wants to effect positive change, maybe focus on the horrors of Korean dog farms and let the old irrelevant comic live in peace.”

Stern fans know that the Leno/Stern beef dates back to Leno “stealing” Stuttering John out from under Stern, in addition to some accusations of joke thievery, including a chicken. Stern recently proclaimed that one particular comedian would not accept his personal apology for his savage attacks, and I’m guessing the comedian in question is Leno. 

Jada Pinkett Smith Tries and Fails to Knock Sense Into T.I.

I appreciate Jada Pinkett Smith’s efforts to turn T.I.’s horrific “protection” of his daughter’s hymen into a “teachable moment,” but not even Jada can jam sense into T.I’s tiny brain. While visiting Red Table Talk to clear up his controversial comments about accompanying his daughter to the gynecologist to ensure her virginity is intact, he instead doubled down. The most shocking revelation is his insistence that when a woman loses her virginity, she immediately becomes and adult, and with that, comes adult responsibilities. This sounded more like a threat than an education, as if living in T.I.’s house as a non-virgin means more chores, and demanding job, and a clearly defined life plan. When T.I. asked the “purpose of a father,” it was more of a statement than a question, insisting his desire to be “involved” is cloaked with love, and if he doesn’t have a say in his daughter’s choices, he’s then just a man who “donates sperm and pays for things.”

Continue reading “Jada Pinkett Smith Tries and Fails to Knock Sense Into T.I.”

American Music Awards – Review + Recap

(ABC/Image Group LA)

The American Music Awards aired last night, and with the exception of some standout performances, not everyone was at their best. Below is a recap for your reviewing enjoyment.

Halsey

Halsey first grabbed my attention during her performance at Rihanna’s Fenty fashion show (yes, I’m late to the Halsey party). She’s hypnotic, and her AMA performance is no exception.

Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes

I’m over these two. Sure they have chemistry, but it’s so played up it’s now played out. Also, their chemistry is literally the only element of the performance. The non-kiss tension worked for me at the VMAs, but now it’s just unoriginal.

Shania Twain

Shania Twain’s over-the-top fashion choices are almost as iconic as her greatest hits, and it was nice to see her return to form in this crazy pink ensemble. The entire performance felt like a concert-worthy moment rather than a pocket of a larger show. Does anything make you “feel like a woman” more than neon pink? Twain has been honest about her Lyme Disease has impacted her vocals, and she took a layover from the limelight as a result. It’s nice to see her return to the stage.

Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas can pretty much do no wrong in my eyes. I like her music, I like the presentation, and I love that she refused to go the standard sexy route. Weird is always welcome in my world. Plus, this power duo pens their own tunes, and that goes a long way in my book.

Green Day

Green Day makes the list of bands I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never seen live. I’m most embarrassed because by all accounts their performances are unprecedented. I’m told Billy Joe’s appreciation for his audience shows through from start to finish, which means it always surprises me when they take the stage at an awards show rife with some of a more apathetic crowd. One of the most legendary bands in history is on the stage in front of you, and you’re on your iPhone scrolling (see video below). If only he smashed his guitar and complained about the same way he did on that infamous Bieber moment.

Lizzo

Yes, I love Lizzo, but I almost fell asleep during her performance. She’s not a ballad singer, and this felt like something Adele would do (minus the “passionate” kneeling). The dress is also way off-brand.

Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa transported me to the 80s with a leotard-driven version of musical chairs amid balloons (white-girl shimmy included). After her fresh, intoxicating performance at the Grammys, this was hugely disappointing. Whose the stylist that got in her ear, told her to dye her hair blond and add extensions? This felt incredibly dated.

Selena Gomez

I don’t want to kick Selena while she’s down, especially since she had a panic attack immediately prior to her performance. That being said, her range is limited, and it shows. The original video for “Lose You to Love Me” is heavily auto-tuned, and the issue with that is — when you actually sing live — you’re exposed. The second song is better (it’s presumably lip-synced), but she looks so uncomfortable in her risque outfit, it’s hard to watch. She should take a page out of Billie Eilish’s handbook and start dressing in a way that brings out her best self.

Tabloid Gossip: Your Celebrity News Update

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kiss my ass, doh! 😩

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Kaia Gerber and Pete Davidson are going strong. Just Jared

Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union are out on AGT — but the men stay put. Access

Billie Eilish got booed by vultures — and she’s having none of it. E! Online

Kylie Jenner just pocked $600 million. Wonderwall

Miley Cyrus‘ sister-in-law thinks Liam Hemsworth deserves better. Hollywood Life

Justin Timberlake was spotted holding hands with Alisha Wainwright despite marriage to Jessica Biel. Us Magazine

Does Nicole Scherzinger have a new love interest? Mirror

Joycelyn Savage turned on R. Kelly. TMZ

Selma Blair and her boyfriend make a beautiful couple. Daily Mail

Justin Hartley and his wife are divorcing after two years. Dlisted

Lizzo just shut her haters down with one revealing shot on IG. Page Six

Scooter Braun publicly addressed Taylor Swift drama. Stuff

Coldplay is taking a stand on the environment. NYDN

Shark Tank’s Lori Grenier Calls Contestant a Chauvanist

I onced joked to Mark Cuban that the chairs on Shark Tank should be rearranged according to the most successful investors/sharks, and he replied, “Then the women would be sitting dead center.” The clip below brought me back to that moment, as Lori Grenier suggested (in one of the first moments in the history of the show) that the contestant was a “chauvanist.” Though the men didn’t seem to bite on her observation, I think she’s onto something. Furthermore, the contestant’s reaction is telling, as it’s more condescending than contrite.

It’s not easy to be the lone female on a panel of dudes, especially when making an assertion based on nuance only another woman might understand. In fact, any woman whose been to a car dealership (let alone a board meeting) beside a man would know what she’s saying 3.5 seconds into the clip below. Watch and judge for yourself.

Selena Gomez Takes Aim at Justin Bieber With New Tune

Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez are poster children for toxic relationships, but like most of America, I always rooted for their reconciliation and was baffled by his quick rebound with Hailey Baldwin. As for Gomez herself, she was equally baffled, especially given her new song, “Lose You to Love Me,” which will no doubt generate some confusion and cantankerous conversation in Casa Bieber. Gomez’s tune is equal parts prosaic and beautiful. She somehow seemlessly ebbs in and out of the public eye with grace. Listen below.

Taylor Swift Goes for Kanye . . . Again

RS1332 Taylor Swift Photograph by by Erik Madigan Heck for Rolling Stone

As long as Taylor Swift is going to parse out her Kanye West feud point-for-point, so is The Dishmaster, because as a current lawyer and former debater, I know how to read between the lines — and Taylor Swift’s lines are actually circles. 

Let’s review. Swift and West’s feud began at the MTV Video Music Awards when West interrupted her speech to boldly proclaim that Beyonce should have won. They briefly reconciled, but their new love took a left turn when West wrote a song about Swift, with the lyrics, “I made that bitch famous” and “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex.” When West’s wife, Kim Kardashian, came to her husband’s defense, Swift’s team attempted to demoralize her with a cutting, sexist quote, saying:

“Taylor does not hold anything against Kim Kardashian as she recognizes the pressure Kim must be under and that she is only repeating what she has been told by Kanye West. However, that does not change the fact that much of what Kim is saying is incorrect. Kanye West and Taylor only spoke once on the phone while she was on vacation with her family in January of 2016 and they have never spoken since. Taylor has never denied that conversation took place. It was on that phone call that Kanye West also asked her to release the song on her Twitter account, which she declined to do. Kanye West never told Taylor he was going to use the term ‘that bitch’ in referencing her. A song cannot be approved if it was never heard. Kanye West never played the song for Taylor Swift. Taylor heard it for the first time when everyone else did and was humiliated. Kim Kardashian’s claim that Taylor and her team were aware of being recorded is not true, and Taylor cannot understand why Kanye West, and now Kim Kardashian, will not just leave her alone.”  

Swift doubled down when she accepted the GRAMMY Award saying, “There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame.” Team West/Kardashian finally had enough and released the actual footage of Swift gleefully consenting to West’s use of the song. In the leaked footage, Swift can be heard calling West “awesome” for being “outspoken” in declaring that the VMA incident “made her famous.”

I suspect Swift was not aware she was being recorded, as there’s no way in hell her team would release the above quote if they had knowledge that it could be disproved in an instant. Furthermore, it’s illegal. California is a two-party state, which means that it is illegal for West to record anything without Swift’s permission or knowledge. West/Kardashian obviously knew that a lawsuit would serve to further soil Swift’s reputation, so they took the risk in releasing it. 

When Swift got word of the release, her entire argument hinged on West NOT asking to use the words “that bitch,” saying ” You don’t get to control someone’s emotional response to being called ‘that bitch’ in front of the entire world.” Though we don’t get to “control” her emotional response, we do get to judge whether its genuine. And the evidence suggests it is not genuine. She did not object to West declaring that he made her famous (yet Swift took aim at this line during her GRAMMY speech) and she did not object to a line involving the two having sex. On the leaked footage she is heard saying that the sex lyric is actually “tongue in cheek.” If she didn’t object to both those lines, it stands to reason she would also not object to being called “that bitch.” But a busted person gets desperate — and she did the best she could to remove the red paint from her hands.

In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Swift resurrected the feud, claiming Kanye is two-faced. Swift recounts being asked by West to present him with the Vanguard Award only to say on stage, “MTV got Taylor Swift up here to present me this award for ratings!” But Rolling Stone fact-checked her claim, and West’s EXACT quote is, “You know how many times they announced Taylor was going to give me the award ’cause it got them more ratings?” The difference between those two sentences is MASSIVE. Swift’s claim implies West baited her to present the award and then made it look like it was solely MTV’s decision. His actual quote implies that HE wanted her to present the award but it was MTV who capitalized on the kind gesture between friends for ratings. While it’s possible she does not understand the difference between those two quotes, it’s also possible that this is once again a desperate attempt to revive her reputation. 

For the life of me I do not understand why Swift won’t let this die. Part of me wants to believe she thinks she’s right and doesn’t understand the facts. But then I remember her sexist quote about Kim Kardashian and her deplorable GRAMMY speech and it hit me — she doesn’t think she’s right, she wants to win.