"Dancing With the Stars" hit with backlash over Sean Spicer casting as host Tom Bergeron calls out ABC, former White House Press Secretary responds to criticism
After "Dancing With the Stars" unveiled the cast of its upcoming 28th season on "Good Morning America" on Aug. 21, many fans of the long-running reality show took to social media to express their outrage over the casting of former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Even Tom Bergeron took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction with the prospect of politicizing the show by casting the divisive former Trump spokesperson, writing that he met with the show's producers earlier this year to express his hope that the upcoming season "would be a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from ANY party affiliations." Tweeted the show's longtime host, "It is the prerogative of the producers, in partnership with the network, to make whatever decisions they feel are in the best long term interests of the franchise. We can agree to disagree, as we do now, but ultimately it's their call." Spicer responded to the criticism during an Aug. 21 interview with Mediaite, saying that the show is "an opportunity to have some fun." He then addressed New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik's assessment that casting him on the show whitewashes the damage he did during his controversial time in the White House: "I've never really cared what they think," Spicer said of The New York Times. "I'm not going to care now. … I'm going out and having some fun. I'm going to enjoy myself, and if more people like me, than that's great. I'm very happy with who I am. … The idea that I need this to make myself feel better is preposterous." As for Bergeron's criticism, "Tom's been a great host for 28 seasons," said Spicer. "My hope is that the he sees how bringing a diverse group of people can help instill a greater degree of stability and respect among people in this country. … My overall hope is that at the end of this season that Tom looks at this and says, bringing people together of very diverse backgrounds, whether it's in politics or other areas, and allowing them to show America how we can engage in a really respectful and civil way, is actually a way to help bring the country together as opposed to bring it apart."
"Home and Away" star Ben Unwin dies at 41
Australian actor Ben Unwin — who starred on the Aussie soap "Home and Away" from 1996 to 2000 and then again from 2002 to 2005 — passed away at 41, the New South Wales Police Force announced on Aug. 14 after they discovered the late star's body during a welfare check. Authorities have yet to release the cause of death, which they are not treating as suspicious.
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CBS cancels "Instinct" after two seasons
CBS is not moving forward with more episodes of "Instinct" following the Season 2 finale on Aug. 25, series creator Michael Rauch announced on Twitter on Aug. 17. "I'm very sad to relay the news that @instinctcbs won't be renewed for a 3rd season," he tweeted before thanking the procedural's cast and crew, including star Alan Cumming. "A giant thank you to our diehard fans for your love, loyalty & excellent taste (is it too soon to ask for a reboot?)," he added in a second tweet.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib suggests boycott of Bill Maher's show after he criticizes the BDS movement, comedian responds
On the Aug. 16 episode of "Real Time with Bill Maher," the liberal comedian called the pro-Palestinian BDS movement a "purity test by people who want to appear woke but actually slept through history class." His criticism prompted Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib — a prominent supporter of the movement, which calls for boycotting, divesting and sanctioning Israel — to call for a boycott of his HBO talk show. In an Aug. 17 tweet, she compared Maher's criticism of the movement to "how they tried to discredit & stop the boycott to stand up against … Apartheid in [South] Africa." Maher responded to Tlaib on Twitter on Aug. 21: "Some people have one move only: boycott. Cancel. Make-go-away," he tweeted. "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?"
Kit Harington reveals where Jon Snow was going in final "Game of Thrones" scene
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that hit the Internet on Aug. 16, Kit Harington confirmed a popular fan theory about his "Game of Thrones" alter ego's fate: During Jon Snow's final scenes, he's seen heading beyond the Wall, away from Castle Black and the Night's Watch … to join the Free Folk, said the actor. "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," explained Kit. "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 [by killing Daenerys], as much as he had felt that pain, the actual ending for him was finally being released."
Why "Bachelor in Paradise" broke its rules for first same-sex romance
On the Aug. 20 episode of "Bachelor in Paradise," host Chris Harrison surprised contestant Demi Burnett, who identifies as sexually fluid, with Kristian Haggerty — the woman she was dating before she left home to shoot the reality show. After they affirmed their commitment to one another and Demi let down Derek Peth, whom she'd been seeing up until that point, she and Kristian, who's never appeared on a Bachelor Nation show before, announced their intention to stay on "Paradise" to pursue a relationship, throwing a wrench into the way the competition works. (Rose ceremonies alternate between the genders, with women handing out roses one day and men handing out roses the next, so it's unclear how the competition will work with Demi presumably giving her rose to a person of the same gender.) "We could have easily said that because Demi is in somewhat of a relationship back home that she won't find love here and we should send her home and go on our way. Instead, we all made the decision to break or bend the rules a little bit," Chris told The Hollywood Reporter. "And the good news is, there is no rulebook. I always say that to contestants and producers. We have no rules and can essentially do what we want with the show as long as we're treating everybody fairly and with respect. It was a pretty easy but big decision to go down that path with Demi, especially since it's with someone who is outside of our franchise and our family." Added the host, "I'm not exactly sure how we would have embraced Demi's situation in years past. But with the way we do the show now, we let it come to us. … When this situation presented itself to us with somebody we really love and care about in Demi, I think our initial instinct was the right one: 'Let's lean into it. Let's go there. Let's explore this.'"
Sharna Burgess is "unbelievably sad" to not return to "Dancing With the Stars" for Season 28
Reigning "Dancing With the Stars" champ Sharna Burgess is not returning to the ballroom for Season 28. The professional dancer, who won Season 27 with Bobby Bones in late 2018, took to Instagram on Aug. 21 to say goodbye to the show that made her a star: "I am unbelievably sad to not be back!!! However, what I can whole heartedly tell you is that it's all good," she captioned a slideshow of photos of herself with her former partners. She went on to express her gratitude for her time on the show, adding that "it's been epic" and that "to have finally won still feels as exciting and special as it did the moment @tombergeron said our names." Sharna then listed all the things she'll miss about the show — on which she "grew up" over the course of nearly nine years — and hinted at what's next for her. "Though nothing could ever replace my love for the show, there are things coming into my world that I'm excited to dive into now that I have time. Everything happens for a reason … you know me.. I'll share when I can," she wrote before wishing everyone luck on Season 28.
Ronda Rousey injured on the set of TV drama "9-1-1"
Ronda Rousey nearly lost a finger while shooting "9-1-1" in Mexico in mid-August. The former UFC champ, who's set to star as Los Angeles firefighter Lena Bosko on the upcoming third season of the FOX drama, somehow managed to stay in character after "a boat door" fell on her hand as she was shooting her very first take of the day, she explained in an Aug. 20 Instagram post, calling the incident a "freak accident." At first, she thought she just jammed her fingers, so she finished shooting before taking a closer look: "I know it sounds crazy, but I'm used to live audiences and never showing pain unless I'm supposed to," she said. When they realized how badly she'd actually injured herself, they called an ambulance to take her to a San Diego hospital, where she learned that she'd broken two fingers on her left hand — and severed the tendon in her middle finger. "I returned to filming the next day and finished my scenes before returning home to recover," she wrote. "Modern medicine amazes me, I already had 50% range of motion back in 3 days."