Gabrielle Union recounts her experience blowing a whistle on allegedly racist behavior at 'AGT'
"Gabrielle better watch who she calls a racist." According to Gabrielle Union, those are the words NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy uttered to Union's agent after she complained about racism and discrimination on the set of "America's Got Talent" during her tenure as a judge. The actress — who filed a complaint about the show, its producers and NBC with California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing on June 4 — opened up in detail this week on "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" about her experience with racially insensitive behavior on "AGT." Union maintains she was not rehired to the show because she spoke out about her concerns related to incidents including a white performer donning black gloves to impersonate a black celebrity, a racist joke Jay Leno made on-set, non-white contestants getting less time in hair and makeup than white contestants and "notes" she allegedly received indicating her hair styles were too black. On "The Daily Show" Tuesday, Union recounted how her initial complaints resulted in an "independent investigation" that was actually paid for — and in her opinion, controlled by — the network and production companies behind "AGT." "They turn over what they believe to be inflammatory things, or things that are not advantageous to me, over to the head of NBC, Paul Telegdy, who uses those things that he thinks are smoking guns to shoot down my claims," Union told Noah on Tuesday (via ET). "He then threatens my agent [by saying], 'Gabrielle better watch who she calls a racist,' in the middle of an investigation about racism and discrimination. This is what's happening from the top of the company." In response to Union's allegation, NBC reiterated a previous statement to outlets including ET, People and Deadline. "The allegation that anyone involved in this process threatened Ms. Union is categorically untrue," NBC said. "We took Ms. Union's concerns seriously, and engaged an outside investigator who found an overarching culture of diversity on the show." As Union told Noah, however, even issues like Simon Cowell's alleged habit of "smoking cigarettes inside" speaks to a larger problem with what happens, "When your boss — the person who has the ability to determine who gets opportunities and who doesn't — doesn't believe that the law applies to him or the rules apply to him …" She added, "What message do you think that sends to anyone that has an issue with the very real racism and the lack of accountability?" (Cowell previously told Variety he stopped smoking inside when he was told it was a problem for Union, who is severely allergic to smoke.) "There has to be an increase in representation across the board from the top to the bottom," Union said. "We have to be able to be OK with change that doesn't always benefit us. Some people believe that … the only way to lead is to center yourself in every argument. But what I'm learning throughout this whole process is, sometimes the best way to lead is to get out of the way and make room for someone else. We have to dismantle the whole thing. We can't put a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound."
Keep reading to see why Jennifer Lawrence is finally speaking up on Twitter …
Jennifer Lawrence goes public on Twitter: 'I cannot be silent'
Longtime social media avoider Jennifer Lawrence is now on Twitter because, as she put it in one of her first tweets Wednesday, she "cannot be silent" about Breonna Taylor's death. Taylor, 26, was a black medical worker shot and killed by white police who burst into her Louisville, Kentucky, home unannounced as she slept back in March. In the officers' incident report, which stars like Beyonce have noted features serious inconsistencies, they said they were looking for a male suspect related to a drug crime. It was later revealed the suspect was already in custody when they entered Taylor's home and killed her. On Wednesday, one day before a scheduled press conference about Taylor's death, Lawrence tweeted out a letter to Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron urging him to "take action to hold those responsible for [Taylor's] death accountable," imploring him to act, "as a Louisvillian, and as a human being." Lawrence continued: "Mr. Cameron, the longer you wait to bring criminal charges against officer Jonathan Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankinson, the more trust erodes." In another post, the actress addressed "how corruption has broken our criminal justice system—& what we can do to fix it," sharing a clip from the short film, "Unbreaking America," from Represent Us, an organization devoted to lobbying for legislation that will end corruption in American politics and "fix our broken elections," according to its website. Lawrence sits on the organization's board.
Kristen Wiig, Avi Rothman quietly welcomed twins earlier this year: Report
Remember the time Kristen Wiig launched into a seemingly hint-filled soliloquy about motherhood while appearing on the "Mother's Day at Home" edition of "Saturday Night Live"? It seems the hints were for real. According to People, the 46-year-old and her fiance, actor, writer and director Avi Rothman, became new parents to twins via surrogate earlier this year. The couple has largely avoided letting details about their private life go pubic, which made Wiig's comments about Mother's Day on "SNL" this past May seem even more personal. "I don't know if I truly appreciated my mom the first 45 years of my life," she said after telling her mom she loves her on the air. "But this year I'm feeling especially grateful for her advice, her love. I'm so thankful for all the things she's taught me, like preparing to be a mom myself." After that, she slipped back into joke-mode. The "Bridesmaids" star was first linked to Rothman in 2016.
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Kim Kardashian to produce, host criminal justice reform podcast for Spotify
For the past few years, Kim Kardashian West's focused much of her energy on advocating for criminal justice reform, a cause that inspired her to begin pursuing a law degree. Now, she's set to bring more attention to the plights of wrongfully convicted prisoners with a new podcast on criminal justice reform for Spotify. According to the Wall Street Journal, West will produce and host the as yet untitled show with veteran TV producer Lori Rothschild Ansaldi, whose credits revolve largely around true crime investigation shows. The show will reportedly delve into Ansaldi's investigation of the problematic case of death row inmate Kevin Keith. It's also expected to tackle some of the issues West's encountered in her work with the Innocence Project, a legal nonprofit that uses DNA testing and pushes for legislative change to help exonerate those who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes.
Rachel Lindsay says she's forgiven Hannah Brown after racial slur controversy
Rachel Lindsay, who was the first black "Bachelorette" star during Season 13, has forgiven Season 15's Hannah Brown for using a racial slur on social media. Lindsay appeared on "Watch What Happens Live" Wednesday, where she told Andy Cohen Brown apologized to her directly for using the "N"-word while singing along with a song on social media in May. Brown later posted an apology and took a break from social media, according to Us Weekly. After Lindsay suggested Brown should do more than a simple online mea culpa, she posted another, longer apology on Instagram Live in which she said she'd been drunk when she shared the offensive post and told followers she had since hired "an educator" to better understand the implications of her mistake. Asked where things stand between the former reality stars now, Lindsay told Cohen: "She reached out to me, she apologized to me, and she actually said something that was great, which let me know she's really taken the time to figure things out. She said, 'My privilege let me hide behind a written statement and hide for two weeks from social media. Your privilege didn't allow you to do that, which is why you had to make a video explaining why it's wrong to say the N-word.' I thought, my gosh, she really has taken the time to figure this out." Lindsay added that she decided "all is forgiven," telling Cohen, "I think we can move forward at this point," and that she's aware it was challenging for Brown to "reach out" to Lindsay "after everything that happened."
Lady Gaga fan reveals why the singer gave her the jacket off her back
When it comes to paying it forward, Lady Gaga doesn't waste any time. After a paparazzo photo of Lady Gaga handing a fan the leather jacket she was wearing surfaced online this week, Today caught up with the fan, who explained why the singer gave it to her. Shannon McKee, 27, said she's used to seeing celebs around Malibu, where she lives. When she saw Lady G at her local market, though, she mostly noticed the jacket. "I walked in and I was like, 'Hey, that's a really bad a– jacket you got on. And she said, 'Thank you.' I kind of recognized the voice, but I'm not one to really go up to celebrities," she shared, adding that she returned to her truck at first, then went back to talk to Gaga. "I did have a story that I wanted to share with her, and I felt this need that she needed to hear it from me. And so when I went back, I was like, 'Hey, you're Lady Gaga, right?'" she recalled. She then told the singer this moving anecdote about her best friend in high school: "'My best friend back in high school was a huge fan of yours. And you're the reason he actually came out to me. And his first five tattoos are all dedicated to you and my brother just recently came out to me, too," she said. "So I just wanted to say thank you for being such an incredible ally." McKee said Gaga asked her to tell the friend she loves him. "As I was telling her the story about my friend, she took off her jacket and was like, 'You loved my jacket so much. Here. It's yours. Put it on right now,'" she said. "You be bad a– with it now.'" In a video on Instagram, McKee later admitted how much the exchange had touched her. "I wanted to cry because it was so heartfelt in that moment," she said in the post. "I have been a fan of hers since I was in high school. Timing is everything. I truly believe in this moment of time… it needed to happen."
Michelle Williams, Thomas Kail welcome their first child together
Matilda Ledger is a big sister! Us Weekly reports Michelle Williams and her husband, director Thomas Kail, have welcomed their first child together. In March, Us confirmed the pair had tied the knot after meeting on the set of "Fosse/Verdon," on which Williams starred as dancer and choreographer Gwen Verdon. Kail directed and produced the show, which earned Williams her first Emmy in 2019. Williams' daughter, Matilda, whom she shared with Heath Ledger, is 14.
Rosario Dawson and Cory Booker are moving in together
Things are getting serious for Rosario Dawson and Cory Booker — and in a way, they have the complicated realities of 2020 to thank. After quarantining separately during much of the pandemic's early days, Dawson and Booker are moving in together. "I'm actually in the process of moving, by the way. I'm going to New Jersey. I'm moving to Newark," the actress recently told People. "It's time. We were thinking about moving in together anyway, but especially during all of this, it's been really intense." She added that she's "excited." The happy couple reportedly began dating in 2018.
Karamo Brown reflects on being the first openly gay black man on reality TV
In 2004, "Queer Eye" star Karamo Brown made history as the first openly gay black man on reality TV when he joined "The Real World: Philadelphia." But as he explains in Euphoria magazine's latest cover story, that "first" wasn't on his mind when he accepted the the offer — in fact, he says it didn't even occur to him that there'd never been another gay black man on a reality show until after he left the series. "I was just comfortable enough in myself then, and still to this day, just to be honest about who I am and just live my life freely. I was just fresh out of college and was like, 'Go on The Real World? Yeah, sure!'" he recalls. Then someone mentioned to him that he'd done something historic, at least in pop culture terms. "…I was like, 'Really? I thought that happened 40 million years ago!'" he says. "And it just shows why representation is so important because there are still so many groups that have never been seen on television." Brown also doesn't buy the notion this year's Pride celebrations have been stifled in any way by protests against racial injustice. Rather, he sees Pride getting back to its roots in a way. "What I think a lot of people don't realize is Pride movements are protest movements," he says. "At the core of it, we're all out there marching to say, 'You must see us, you must hear us, and you must give us equality.' And that's the same thing that's happening right now [with Black Lives Matter protests]. And so I would actually encourage people to reframe themselves, their mindset and say, 'No, Pride is still going on.' We have just now bundled up with another movement so that we can all fight for equality and for a better tomorrow."
Rob Lowe reveals he's old pals with a Supreme Court justice
After 40 years in film and television, Rob Lowe has forged some extremely unexpected friendships. He opened up about one of them this week on Conan O'Brien's podcast, the a propos, "Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend." The "Parks and Rec" alum was promoting his own new podcast, "Literally! With Rob Lowe," when he said he's leveraging the random relationships he's made over the years for his guest list. "It could be Brat Pack people, it could be 'West Wing' people, 'Parks and Rec' people," the star said, rattling off past shows *(via CNN). "It could be people (that) people are surprised I'm friends with… It's going to be really, really fun." Asked for an example of one of the more surprising people Lowe's become friends with, he ponied up a name O'Brien likely didn't see coming: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. According to Lowe, the two met when he was being inducted into an organization he said "provides scholarships for kids who come from just terrible, terrible backgrounds but they're the best and the brightest in their classes." He added that the other members "are pretty studly and [Thomas] is one of them. That's how we met. They put the medal on me in the halls of the Supreme Court." Lowe said Thomas ended up giving him his cell phone number, which Lowe used when his son was in law school. "I call this cell phone and he answers it," the actor recalled. "And you're like, 'Geez. Shouldn't there be, like, a vetting process?' And 45 minutes, he's giving me advice on what my son should do vis-a-vis law school and clerking."