"The Rookie" star Afton Williamson drops out of Season 2, alleges bosses ignored complaints of sexual harassment and racial bullying
Afton Williamson took to Instagram on Aug. 4 to explain why she dropped out of Season 2 of ABC's "The Rookie," on which she starred as LAPD training officer Talia Bishop. The actress alleges that from the time she started shooting the pilot, she experienced "racial discrimination" and "racially charged inappropriate comments" from the head of the hair department, as well as bullying from executive producers and sexual harassment on the part of a recurring guest star, which "escalated into sexual assault" at the Season 1 wrap party. She claims that her complaints to the series' showrunner went "undocumented" and were not reported to HR or investigated. According to Williamson, it took a year for the head of the hair department to get the boot — in spite of "outward racism/racially charged language and bullying behavior in and out of the hair and makeup trailer." She went on to say that although she was promised the actor who sexually harassed her would be fired, he wasn't — in fact, she was forced to shoot scenes with him after complaining about his behavior. "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. The following day, Williamson returned to Instagram to name the individuals she claims harassed her: actor Demetrius Grosse and hair department head Sally Nicole Ciganovich.
"Peyton Place" star Barry Coe dies at 84
"Bonanza" actor Barry Coe, who starred in the "Peyton Place" movie, died in Palm Desert, California, on July 16 following a battle with myelodysplastic syndrome, a bone marrow disease, his family announced in late July. He was 84.
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Netflix cancels "The OA" after two seasons
Netflix announced on Aug. 5 that "The OA" will not be back for a third season, leaving many questions about the series' plot unanswered. The second season of the sci-fi mystery, on which Brit Marling starred, debuted in March 2019 — more than two years after Season 1 first streamed in late 2016.
Beanie Feldstein to play Monica Lewinsky on "Impeachment: American Crime Story," former White House intern explains why she decided to produce the show
FX announced on Aug. 6 that the third season of "American Crime Story" will center around the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal and will be titled "Impeachment." According to the network, the third installment in the Ryan Murphy-created anthology series — on which Beanie Feldstein will portray the former White House intern — "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." Sarah Paulson will portray Tripp, who secretly recorded Lewinsky's phone calls about her relationship with the president, and Annaleigh Ashford will star as Jones, who sued Clinton for sexual harassment. Murphy, who previously said he wouldn't tell the story unless Lewinsky signed on to serve as a producer, managed to convince her to do just that: "I was hesitant, and truthfully more than a little scared to sign on," Lewinsky said in an email statement to Vanity Fair. "But 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." "Impeachment: American Crime Story" is set to debut in September 2020.
Jussie Smollett's "Empire" final season fate confirmed
FOX exec Charlie Collier confirmed on Aug. 7 that despite the network's decision to extend Jussie Smollett's "Empire" contract through the end of the musical drama's sixth and final season, there are "no plans" for him to return to the show — as series creator Lee Daniels previously stated. The scandalized star was written out of the final episodes of Season 5 after he was accused of filing a false police report alleging that he'd been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack. According to Collier, FOX made the decision to extend Smollett's contract because they wanted "to make a good decision at the time." But with "time and information and conversations with all the right people," they ultimately realized that the best option was to move forward sans Smollett. "[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. As for the fate of Smollett's on-screen alter ego, Jamal Lyon, who got married toward the end of Season 5, "You'll see pictures of him in the background. He's on his honeymoon in the storyline," said the exec, who added to The Wrap that Jamal will also be "working on some projects abroad." Said Collier, "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."
Andy Cohen says he's blacklisted several "annoying" celebrities from "Watch What Happens Live"
During an interview with AOL Lifestyle that hit the Internet on Aug. 4, Andy Cohen revealed that "there are a few people" who've been blacklisted from his talk show, "Watch What Happens Live," over the years. "You would be surprised, there are a few people who we have deemed 'not worth the trouble,'" he said, adding that the guests who bother him the most are the ones who try to limit which topics they can address in their interview. "Like, you can't talk about this and you can't ask about that," explained the Bravo host. "Or there are a couple people who have been on the show that we deem too annoying to come back." Though he refrained from naming names, he later cleared up that none of his Bravo colleagues fall into the "too annoying" category.
Ryan Seacrest on the verge of "massive deal" with Disney
TMZ reported on Aug. 6 that Ryan Seacrest is close to signing "a massive new deal" with Disney that goes "way beyond" his current work on "American Idol" and "Live with Kelly and Ryan." According to TMZ's sources, the new deal is "much sweeter" than the host's current contract with Disney and includes "a massive production deal for new TV shows, produced through his production company."
Tamron Hall says "Today" made "wrong choice" giving 9 a.m. hour to Megyn Kelly and not her
During an Aug. 5 press conference, Tamron Hall said that NBC News "made the wrong choice" in 2017 when they gave Megyn Kelly the 9 a.m. hour of the "Today" show, which Tamron had been co-hosting with Al Roker. "I knew the day I left that it was the wrong decision, that's why I left," she said. "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." NBC officially parted ways with Megyn in October 2018.