"The Rookie" star Afton Williamson quit ABC series after her accusations of sexual harassment, racial bullying went unanswered
Afton Williamson has parted ways with "The Rookie." The actress, who played LAPD training officer Talia Bishop on the hit ABC series, explained her decision in an Aug. 4 Instagram post in which she alleged "racial discrimination" on set and "racially charged inappropriate comments" from the head of the hair department, Sally Nicole Ciganovich. She also claimed she was bullied by executive producers and sexually harassed by recurring guest star Demetrius Grosse, which "escalated into sexual assault" at the Season 1 wrap party, and said her complaints to the series' showrunner, Alexi Hawley, went "undocumented" and were not reported to HR or investigated. "I was asked to return this season, and promised that 'everything was handled.' The investigation hadn't even begun and Season 2 had already started filming. I turned it down and I walked," she wrote. Five days later, TVLine explained how, according to showrunner Alexi, the police drama will explain the absence of Afton's character: "She was never going to get a fair shake at the LAPD. So ultimately she's transferring over to a federal agency. There she can start with a clean slate and hopefully rocket to the top of the ladder," Alexi said, describing it as "an organic" exit for the character, who received a reprimand for failing to report her foster brother as a felon on her police academy personal history questionnaire toward the end of Season 1.
Bethenny Frankel's leaving "The Real Housewives of New York City"
It's the end of an era. Original cast member Bethenny Frankel announced that she's leaving "The Real Housewives of New York City" after appearing on the show off-and-on for eight seasons. "I have decided to leave the 'Housewives' franchise to explore my next chapter," the Skinnygirl mogul told Variety on Aug. 21. "It's time to move on and focus on my daughter, my philanthropy and my production partnership with Mark Burnett, producing and starring in shows which represent a shift in the conversation for women. With the changes in modern culture, I want to highlight the strength, confidence and unstoppable power that women have. My experience at Bravo has been an incredibly magical ride. I am so grateful to them for highlighting my entrepreneurialism and allowing me to pave the way for many women to achieve their goals. I am excited for my future. The best is yet to come." Bethenny joined "RHONY" in 2008, took an extended hiatus after Season 3 and returned for Season 7 in 2015.
"SNL" shocker: Leslie Jones is leaving the hit comedy show
On Aug. 27, it was announced that Leslie Jones would not be appearing on the upcoming season of "Saturday Night Live" — which came as a major shock to fans. Leslie's been a beloved staple on the NBC sketch-comedy series since 2014 and even earned three Emmy nominations for her work on the show. Meanwhile, it was also revealed that Kate McKinnon had extended her contract through the upcoming season. Leslie isn't, however, going to be absent from television screens for long: Deadline reported that she's signed on to host a reboot of the game show "Supermarket Sweep" and that networks are now in a bidding war to land the project.
Beanie Feldstein to star as Monica Lewinsky on "Impeachment: American Crime Story," former White House intern producing show
"American Crime Story" will next feature one of the biggest political scandals of all time. The third season of the FX series, which debuts in September 2020, will focus on the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal and will be titled "Impeachment," the network announced on Aug. 6. Beanie Feldstein will star as Monica on the show, which "unravels the national scandal that swept up Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp as principal characters in the country's first impeachment proceedings in over a century," according to the network. Sarah Paulson will play Linda, who secretly recorded the intern's phone calls concerning her relationship with the president, and Annaleigh Ashford will star as Paula, who sued the politician for sexual harassment. Creator Ryan Murphy, who previously said he wouldn't pursue the story unless Monica worked with him, was able to convince the activist to sign on as a producer. She explained her decision in an emailed statement to Variety: "…After a lengthy dinner meeting with Ryan, I came to understand even more clearly how dedicated he is to giving a voice to the marginalized in all of his brilliant work. I'm privileged to work with him and the other talented people on the team, and I'm privileged to have this opportunity. People have been co-opting and telling my part in this story for decades. In fact, it wasn't until the past few years that I've been able to fully reclaim my narrative; almost 20 years later. But I'm so grateful for the growth we've made as a society that allows people like me who have been historically silenced to finally reintroduce my voice to the conversation. This isn't just a me problem. Powerful people, often men, take advantage of those subordinate to them in myriad ways all the time. Many people will see this as such a story and for that reason, this narrative is one that is, regretfully, evergreen."
"Mythbusters" and "Overhaulin'" host Jessi Combs dies at 39 in attempt to break her own record
Former "Mythbusters" and 'Overhaulin'" star Jessi Combs, who was also a professional race car driver, died on Aug. 27. She was 39. She was killed in an accident while attempting to break her own land-speed driving record. Her teammate confirmed the sad news in an emotional Instagram post.
FOX confirms Jussie Smollett will not return for final season of "Empire"
There are "no plans" for Jussie Smollet to return for the sixth and final season of "Empire," despite FOX's decision to extend his contract, network exec Charlie Collier said on Aug. 7 — confirming series creator Lee Daniels' previous statements. Jussie was written out of the final episodes of Season 5 after authorities accused him of filing a false police report claiming that he had been assaulted in a racist and homophobic attack in January. FOX wanted "to make a good decision at the time" by extending Jussie's contract, Charlie explained, but with "time and information and conversations with all the right people," they ultimately decided that Jussie should no longer be involved on the musical drama. "[We worked hard to] make sure we gathered every piece of information we could, did the right thing, and then put the show back together," he said. Jussie's character, Jamal Lyon, who got married toward the end of Season 5, will be off celebrating his honeymoon during Season 6. "You'll see pictures of him in the background. He's on his honeymoon in the storyline," Charlie said, adding that Jamal's "working on some projects abroad." "That's how we hear about him at the beginning of the season. … I think [the writers] and the team have done a great job of creating a very realistic story for why he's not in the day-to-day lives of the Lyon family."
Sean Spicer responds to criticism after "Dancing With the Stars" casting
Sean Spicer has a few words for his detractors. The former White House press secretary addressed backlash that followed his Aug. 21 casting announcement — including a scathing piece by The New York Times critic James Poniewozik — surrounding his upcoming Season 28 appearance on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" while chatting with Mediaite. "This is an opportunity to have some fun," he said. "First of all I don't really care what [the critic] wants or what The New York Times wants. I'm going out and having some fun. I'm going to enjoy myself, and if more people like me, then that's great. I'm very happy with who I am." Critics of Sean's casting also include longtime "DWTS" host Tom Bergeron, who argued against Sean's inclusion and hoped that the show would be "a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate." "Tom's been a great host for 28 seasons," Sean said when asked about Tom's statement. "My hope is that the he sees how bringing diverse group of people can help instill a greater degree of stability and respect among people in this country."
Tamron Hall says "Today" made "wrong choice" giving 9 a.m. hour to Megyn Kelly
Tamron Hall said that NBC News "made the wrong choice" in 2017 when execs hired Megyn Kelly to host the 9 a.m. hour of the "Today" show, which Tamron and Al Roker had previously been hosting. The journalist opened up about her departure from the morning news program during a press conference on Aug. 5. "I knew the day I left that it was the wrong decision, that's why I left. For me, I didn't know what would come after leaving that situation. … But whether that show made it or not, I knew I was making the right decision for me," she explained. NBC officially parted ways with Megyn in October 2018.
Don Lemon denies assaulting male bartender
Don Lemon "categorically denies" allegations that he assaulted a former bartender who is suing the CNN journalist over an "unprovoked and offensive" attack. The anchor addressed the lawsuit, which bartender Dustin Hice filed on Aug. 11, through a CNN spokesperson on Aug. 13. He claims that his accuser "previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts." "This claim follows his unsuccessful threats and demands for an exorbitant amount of money from Don Lemon," the rep said. Dustin claims he ran into Don and offered to buy him a drink after his shift ended, but the journalist declined, according to USA Today. Don then allegedly approached Dustin and assaulted him while asking about his sexual preference, Dustin said. He reportedly suffered "severe emotional stress and loss of future earnings and opportunities" because of the alleged attack and is seeking unspecified damages. "When the cameras are turned off… Mr. Lemon's actions are in stark and disturbing contrast to the public persona he attempts to convey," Dustin said in his lawsuit.
Bill Maher fires back at Rep. Rashida Tlaib after she suggests boycott following BDS movement disagreement
Bill Maher isn't here for Rep. Rashida Tlaib's commentary. The HBO host lashed out at the Michigan congresswoman on Twitter after she suggested viewers boycott Bill's show, "Real Time with Bill Maher," following disparaging comments he made about the BDS movement. "Some people have one move only: boycott. Cancel. Make-go-away," he tweeted on Aug. 21. "But here's the thing, the house voted 318 to 17 to condemn the #BDS movement, including 93% of Dems. Does Tlaib want to boycott 93% of her own party?" Rashida previously criticized Bill for his comments on "Real Time," tweeting, "Maybe folks should boycott his show. I am tired of folks discrediting a form of speech that is centered on equality and freedom. This is exactly how they tried to discredit & stop the boycott to stand up against the apartheid in S. Africa. It didn't work then and it won't now."
Leah Remini's "Scientology and the Aftermath" to end with explosive special
Leah Remini's "Scientology and the Aftermath" is going out with a bang. The A&E docuseries, which kicked off its third season in early February, will conclude with an "explosive" two-hour special episode that will be filmed in front of a live studio audience of former members of the Church of Scientology, The Hollywood Reporter reported on Aug. 15. The finale, which is scheduled to air on Aug. 26, will reportedly focus on allegations that the church has stopped members from reporting sexual assault and physical violence to authorities. The episode will also cover rape allegations against former "That '70s Show" star and prominent Scientologist Danny Masterson, which he's denied. Danny is currently facing a lawsuit filed by four women who claim that he worked with the church to stalk and intimidate them after they filed police reports against him.
Sophie Turner reveals how she wanted "Game of Thrones" to end
Sophie Turner had a different ending in mind for the "Game of Thrones'" main characters. The newlywed shared her ideas in the August 2019 issue of TheWrap's Emmy magazine: "I thought Arya would kill Cersei. And I would like to have seen Sansa and Cersei reunited, or Arya and Cersei," she said. "But there were so many ways the story could have turned out. I felt very passionately about the ending for Sansa, and I was very happy with the ending that turned out for her." Sophie also addressed the controversial decision to name Bran as king. "I think it's true what Tyrion was saying: Bran holds all of our stories, and we can't move on unless we remember our history. Daenerys had to die. Cersei was a mad queen. Arya is too much of a free spirit. Sansa probably wouldn't want to rule the Seven Kingdoms anyway — she wanted to stay in the North and defend the North. I really think Bran might be the perfect person for the job," she said.
Kit Harington reveals where Jon Snow was headed in final "Game of Thrones" scene, joins Marvel Cinematic Universe
Sophie Turner wasn't the only "Game of Thrones" star to address their character's ending this month! During a pre-Emmys interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kit Harington revealed where his on-screen alter ego, Jon Snow, was headed in the final scene of the acclaimed HBO drama. "Seeing him go beyond the Wall back to something true, something honest, something pure with these people he was always told he belongs with — the Free Folk — it felt to me like he was finally free," Kit said in the Aug. 20 story. "Instead of being chained and sent to the Wall, it felt like he was set free. It was a really sweet ending. As much as he had done a horrible thing [in killing Daenerys], as much as he had felt that pain, the actual ending for him was finally being released." Later in the month, it was revealed what Kit's doing next: He's joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He'll be reunited with "GoT" alum Richard Madden in "Eternals."
"The OA" canceled after two seasons
It's time to say goodbye to "The OA." The Netflix series will not returning for a third season, the streaming platform announced on Aug. 5. The second season of the sci-fi mystery, which starred Brit Marling, premiered in March 2019 — more than two years after Season 1 first streamed in late 2016.
Sharna Burgess is "unbelievably sad" about "Dancing With the Stars" departure
Sharna Burgess is dancing solo. The "Dancing With the Stars" pro took to Instagram to announce her departure from the hit ABC competition show. "As I'm sure you've heard, I will not be returning to @dancingabc this season. I am unbelievably sad to not be back!!!" she wrote in a heartfelt post on Aug. 21. "However, what I can wholeheartedly tell you is that it's all good, ALL love and in this moment I can't help but be grateful for the time and the journey that I've had, the people I've met, the incredible talent I've shared the stage with and the memories I've made. To say the least… it's been epic. And to have finally won still feels as exciting and special as it did the moment @tombergeron said our names." "DWTS" will return on Sept. 16.
CBS cancels "Instinct" after two seasons
"Instinct" is coming to an end. The CBS drama has been canceled after two seasons, series creator Michael Rauch announced on Twitter on Aug. 18. "I'm very sad to relay the news that @instinctcbs won't be renewed for a 3rd season. We will double up this Sunday and our season/series finale will be Aug 25," he wrote. "Endless thanks to @Alancumming & @bojnovak for making Dylan & Lizzie more everything than I could have ever hoped & thanks to our incredible crew, cast, writers, producers & all who helped make our show, with respect, talent & kindness. And a giant thank you to our diehard fans for your love, loyalty & excellent taste (is it too soon to ask for a reboot?) @TVdub @SirWilliamHowe." The series aired back-to-back episodes on Aug. 18 and the finale is scheduled to air on Aug. 25.
Andy Cohen says he's blacklisted several "annoying" celebrities from "Watch What Happens Live"
Andy Cohen has no problem keeping certain celebs off his show. The "Watch What Happens Live" host and Bravo exec revealed on Aug. 4 that there are "a few people" he's blacklisted from his talk show over the years. "You would be surprised, there are a few people who we have deemed 'not worth the trouble,'" he told AOL Lifestyle, adding that the guests who limit what topics they'll address during the interview are the most bothersome. "Like, you can't talk about this and you can't ask about that. Or there are a couple people who have been on the show that we deem too annoying to come back." Andy didn't reveal any specific names, but later clarified that none of his Bravo stars fall into the "too annoying" category.
More celebrity deaths
"Bonanza" actor Barry Coe, who starred in the "Peyton Place" movie, died in Palm Desert, California, on July 16 after battling myelodysplastic syndrome, a bone marrow disease, news reports revealed in early August. He was 84. Former firefighter Dango Nguyen, who starred on several episodes of "The Walking Dead" as a guard for The Governor in Woodbury, died on Aug. 10 "after a hard-fought battle with cancer," the Athens-Clarke County Fire Department announced on Facebook. "Home and Away" star Ben Unwin died on Aug. 14 at 41. His cause of death has not yet been released.