Dustin Diamond, the actor who famously played lovable Screech on "Saved by the Bell," passed away on Feb. 1 just weeks after he was diagnosed with stage 4 small cell carcinoma, more commonly known as lung cancer. Dustin had been hospitalized in Florida before his death. His longtime girlfriend was by his side when he died. Many of his "Bell" co-stars honored him on social media. Mark-Paul Gosselaar called Dustin "a true comedic genius." Tori Spelling, who played Dustin's love interest on the sitcom, said, "He's an icon to me professionally and personally." Mario Lopez added, "He was iconic. … His little looks and facial expressions and voice and the way it cracked, it was just the quintessential goofy, lovable fun nerd [character on 'Bell'] and it really resonated with the kids. And that was all him; he was kind of like Screech in real life. … He was an integral part of the chemistry and the comedy, and I don't know if it would have worked without him."
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Gina Carano was fired by Disney and Lucasfilm on Feb. 10 following what her bosses called her "abhorrent" social media activity. The straw that broke the camel's back appeared to be a post in which the star of "The Mandalorian" compared being a conservative Republican in the current political climate to being Jewish in Nazi Germany during WWII. Soon after, #FireGinaCarano was trending on Twitter and the actress was shown the door. In a statement, Lucasfilm said, "Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future. Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable." In the past, Gina has also faced backlash for mocking trans people's pronouns and sharing other incendiary messages on social media including anti-mask views amid the COVID-19 pandemic and voter fraud theories. After her firing, some conservatives were outraged and urged people to cancel their Disney+ accounts in protest. #CancelDisneyPlus even trended. In the wake of the drama, she signed a deal to star in and produce a movie for The Daily Wire. On the Feb. 21 episode of "The Ben Shapiro Show," she opened up about her firing as well as "Mandalorian" co-star Pedro Pascal, who holds more liberal views and was not fired for comparing undocumented children confined in cages to Jews locked away in concentration camps in a 2018 tweet. "I adore Pedro. I adore him. I know he's said and done some hurtful things," she said in part. "But we had an agreement after we realized we were a little bit politically different. We had an agreement that, first and foremost, you're a human being. And you're my friend first."
It's over. After months of speculation, Kim Kardashian West has pulled the plug on her marriage to Kanye West. On Feb. 19, TMZ reported that she filed for divorce, ending her nearly seven-year marriage. Kim is asking for joint legal and physical custody of the couple's four kids, and according to the webloid, Kanye's well-documented mental health issues will have no effect on custody. They "are committed to co-parenting together," the report said. The duo are also honoring their prenup and have already started negotiating a property settlement agreement, reports further confirmed. Kim, a source told People magazine, is keeping Kanye's mental state in mind during the proceedings. "She's worried about sending him into another tailspin, because that's not good for anyone, especially the kids," the source explained. "So she's being as gentle and kind as she can be, while still standing up for what she feels she needs to stand up for."
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Tony Bennett has been secretly living with Alzheimer's disease, his family revealed on Feb. 1 in an AARP The Magazine profile. The music star, 94, was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease in 2016, wife Susan Benedetto explained. Tony, she added is still capable of recognizing his family and friends and doesn't have some of the worst symptoms associated with Alzheimer's. Still, he's "incapable of understanding the disease," she shared. Tony is "not always sure where he is or what is happening around him" and "mundane objects as familiar as a fork or a set of house keys can be utterly mysterious to him," she noted, though he's still in good spirits.
On Feb. 2, a leaked video showing country music star Morgan Wallen using the N-word hit the internet. The fallout from his words was swift: Big Loud Records suspended him "indefinitely"; his agency dropped him; the Academy of Country Music awards said he wasn't eligible for awards this year; and nearly every radio station in the country took his music out of rotation. One week after the video emerged, Morgan apologized in a five-minute video on Instagram. The chart-topping singer said that at the time the video was filmed, he was "on hour 72 of 72 of a bender, and that's not something I'm proud of either." He added, "I let so many people down." Since then, Morgan has met with Black organizations to discuss his words. "I'll admit to y'all I was pretty nervous to accept those invitations from the very people I hurt, and they had every right to step on my neck while I was down, to not show me any grace, but they did the exact opposite," Wallen said. "They offered me grace and they also paired that with an offer to learn and to grow. And I'll be honest, that kindness really inspired me to dig deeper… This week, I heard first-hand some personal stories from Black people that honestly shook me." At the end of his video, Morgan asked his fans not to defend him for his actions. "I was wrong. It's on me to take ownership for this and I fully accept any penalties I'm facing," he said. "The time of my return is solely upon me and the work I put in." Still, his music didn't seem to suffer — his current LP, "Dangerous: The Double Album," sits atop the all-genre Billboard 200 chart.
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Feb. 2 was a big day for country music. That's when Brothers Osborne singer-guitarist T.J. Osborne publicly came out, making him the first openly gay man signed to a major country label. He's also the first mainstream country artist to come out in the prime of their career. "I'm very comfortable being gay," he told Time magazine. "I find myself being guarded for not wanting to talk about something that I personally don't have a problem with. That feels so strange." While excited to be out, T.J. is uncertain of how country music fans will see him. "I don't think I'm going to get run off the stage in Chicago," he said. "But in a rural town playing a county fair? I'm curious how this will go." In an Instagram video, he said of the Time article in which he shared his truth, "I'm very proud to put this out there It's going to help my relationship with my fans, my family, and honestly, it's going to help my relationship with myself."
Rainforest accident and rescue
Ashley Judd nearly lost her leg and her life in the Congo rainforest, she revealed this month. On Feb. 12, the actress said she was a part of a "catastrophic accident" after something fell on her leg in the dark. "I nearly lost my leg," she said. On Feb. 16, the actress shared more information as she posted several Instagram images that showed her being carried out of the jungle via a hammock and driven out on a scooter. It took her more than two days to get professional medical help. "Without my Congolese brothers and sisters, my internal bleeding would have likely killed me, and I would have lost my leg," she said on social media. "I wake up weeping in gratitude, deeply moved by each person who contributed something life giving and spirit salving during my grueling 55 hour odyssey." Her leg, she said, broke in four places and suffered nerve damage. One man, Ashley wrote, "stretched out his leg and put it under my grossly misshapen left leg to try to keep it still. While she bit down on a stick, another man adjusted her broken bones "back into something like a position I could be transported in, while I screamed and writhed." Six men, she said, carried her in a hammock through the rainforest for three hours. Ashley called the Congolese people who helped her "heroes."
Bruce Springsteen was arrested for DWI and reckless driving in New Jersey, according to reports, but somehow the news remained private for nearly two months. TMZ reported that the music icon was arrested on Nov. 14, 2020, at Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook, New Jersey, after an officer watched The Boss take a shot of tequila offered by fans then start his motorcycle. "Springsteen was cooperative throughout the process," a spokesperson for the National Park Service said. A police report indicated that Bruce smelled strongly of alcohol and that his eyes were glassy. He was also supposedly swaying during a field sobriety test and took 45 steps when he was supposed to take 18. Curiously, he wasn't legally drunk, according to reports. The Asbury Park Press reported that Bruce had a blood-alcohol content of 0.02 — but the threshold in New Jersey is 0.08. He'll appear in court via video conference on Feb. 24, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Since he was arrested on federal land, The Boss will appear before a federal judge.
In bombshell reality TV news, Chris Harrison announced on Feb. 13 that he's "stepping aside" from "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" — at least "for a period of time." Chris's announcement came after he apologized for defending season 25 "The bachelor" contestant and frontrunner Rachael Kirkconnell for what Rachael herself later admitted were "offensive and racist" actions, which resurfaced on social media. "This historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions," Chris wrote on Instagram. In the post — one of two mea culpas he shared — he said he was "deeply remorseful" for the pain and damage his "ignorance" had brought to his "friends, colleagues and strangers alike."
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The #FreeBritney movement is gaining momentum and Britney Spears is rapidly gaining supporters following the release of a new documentary from The New York Times called "Framing Britney Spears." The film, which was released on FX on Feb. 5, focuses on the intense media scrutiny the pop star was under in her 20s and her relationship with her father, Jamie Spears, who's been her conservator since she suffered a mental breakdown 13 years ago. Following the premiere, some viewers began calling for apologies from Justin Timberlake, Diane Sawyer, Sarah Silverman and Matt Lauer, whose treatment and regard for Britney back during the early years of her fame and as she battled mental health issues has raised eyebrows. "Britney finally feels like there is light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel," a source told Page Six. "There are parts of the film that were too hard and emotional for her to watch — the scenes that describe the most difficult times of her life, the relentless media circus and the harsh focus on her as a young mother. But, she feels, for the first time in many years, that people are on her side and things will get better for her."
Justin Timberlake issued a mea culpa to both Britney Spears and Janet Jackson for his actions nearly two decades ago. The pop star faced widespread backlash following the release of the Britney Spears documentary "Framing Britney Spears" in early February. The doc looked at the questionable way he handled their breakup all those years ago as Britney was branded a cheater and less-than for being intimate with him — something he perpetuated. "I've seen the messages, tags, comments, and concerns and I want to respond. I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or did not speak up for what was right. I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism," Justin wrote on Instagram on Feb. 12. "I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed." Janet, of course, was the victim of a wardrobe malfunction that occurred during the Super Bowl halftime show in 2004. She felt much more heat that Justin did after the incident that saw him pull off part of her bodice to expose her pierced breast, and many still feel he hung her out to dry. "I also feel compelled to respond, in part, because everyone involved deserves better and most importantly, because this is a larger conversation that I wholeheartedly want to be part of and grow from. The industry is flawed. It sets men, especially white men, up for success. It's designed this way," he added. "As a man in a privileged position I have to be vocal about this. Because of my ignorance, I didn't recognize it for all that it was while it was happening in my own life but I do not want to ever benefit from others being pulled down again." After his apology, Janet's 1986 album, "Control," shot to the top spot on Apple's Top 40 U.S. Pop Albums chart.
Evan Rachel Wood accused ex-fiancé Marilyn Manson of abuse in a powerful Instagram post on Feb. 1. "The name of my abuser is Brian Warner, also known to the world as Marilyn Manson," the "Westworld" actress wrote. "He started grooming me when I was a teenager and horrifically abused me for years. I was brainwashed and manipulated into submission. I am done living in fear of retaliation, slander, or blackmail." She continued, "I am here to expose this dangerous man and call out the many industries that have enabled him, before he ruins any more lives. I stand with the many victims who will no longer be silent." Evan and the music star dated in 2007 when she was 19 and he was 38. They got engaged in 2010 but split later that year. After Evan posted, several women came forward with abuse allegations of their own. The singer denied the abuse claims, calling them "horrible distortions of reality." He continued, "My intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners." The damage was done though. Just hours after Evan's post went up, Loma Vista Recordings dropped the shock rocker from its roster. On Feb. 2, his talent agency, CAA, also cut ties with him. His longtime manager also stepped away. Manson reportedly hired 24/7 bodyguards to protect him in the wake of the accusations and on Feb. 19, the Los Angeles County Sheriff Special Victims Bureau confirmed detectives had opened an investigation into allegations of domestic violence against the rocker concerning incidents that occurred between 2009 and 2011.
New girlfriend revealed
A few weeks after coming out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, JoJo Siwa officially introduced her girlfriend to her social media followers on Feb. 8. "After being my best friend for over a year, January 8th 2021 I got to start calling this exceptional human my Girlfriend… and Since then I've been the happiest I have ever been!" the YouTuber and singer wrote on Instagram of her girlfriend, Kylie. "She seriously is the most loving, supportive, happiest, protective, and just the most beautiful perfect person in the world. And I get to call her mine! Happy one month to my girl! I love you more and more everyday!"
Family of four! Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan are adding another royal to their brood. On Feb. 14, the couple announced that they're expecting a sibling for son Archie, who turns 2 in May. A spokesperson for the couple said Harry and Meghan are "overjoyed." A Buckingham Palace spokesman said the royal family is "delighted and wish them well." In other news, just days after the pregnancy announcement, Buckingham Palace announced that a year after Harry and Meghan exited as senior working royals as they sought financial independence, the split — characterized as a "divorce" from the royal family by the British media — was a done deal. The pair were stripped of their royal patronages and Harry, an army veteran, lost his honorary military roles, though they'll keep their royal titles.
Paris Hilton is going to the chapel, and she's gonna get married. On Feb. 17 — her 40th birthday — the heiress and DJ announced that she'd just gotten engaged to beau Carter Reum. "When you find your soulmate, you don't just know it. You feel it," she captioned a series of engagement pics. "My love & I have been together since our first date, and for my birthday, he arranged a special trip to tropical paradise. As we walked to dinner along the beach, Carter led us to a cabana adorned with flowers and dropped to one knee. I said yes, yes to forever." Vogue reported that the venture capitalist popped the question on Feb. 13 with an emerald-cut diamond ring designed by Jean Dousset. "There's no one I'd rather spend forever with," Paris said on social media. They've been a couple for about a year.