Iconic wrestler Vader dead at 63
Professional wrestler Leon White, who was known as Vader and Big Van Vader, died at age 63 on June 18. His son, Jesse, broke the news on Twitter on June 20. "Around a month ago, my father was diagnosed with a severe case of Pneumonia. He fought extremely hard and clinically was making progress. Unfortunately, on Monday night his heart had enough and it was his time," he tweeted.
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ABC greenlights "Roseanne" spinoff "The Conners" for fall 2018
ABC has ordered a 10-episode "Roseanne" spinoff titled "The Conners," the network announced on June 21. John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson and Michael Fishman will return for the sitcom, which will air on Tuesdays in the fall of 2018. Disgraced comedian Roseanne Barr reached an agreement signing off on the spinoff. Under the terms, she will not have creative input into the new show or benefit from it financially. "I regret the circumstances that have caused me to be removed from 'Roseanne.' I agreed to the settlement in order that 200 jobs of beloved cast and crew could be saved, and I wish the best for everyone involved," she said in a statement. ABC also released the official description for the new show: "After a sudden turn of events, the Conners are forced to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before. This iconic family — Dan (Goodman), Jackie (Metcalf), Darlene (Gilbert), Becky (Goranson) and D.J. (Fishman) — grapples with parenthood, dating, an unexpected pregnancy, financial pressures, aging and in-laws in working-class America. Through it all, the fights, the coupon cutting, the hand-me-downs, the breakdowns — with love, humor and perseverance, the family prevails."
Jon Bernthal returning to Season 9 of "The Walking Dead"
Jon Bernthal is set to return to the upcoming ninth season of "The Walking Dead" as Rick Grimes' former partner and friend Shane Walsh. TVLine reported on June 18 that he'll appear on one episode of the AMC zombie drama. Expect to see him as a hallucination or in a flashback: Shane died at the end of Season 2, though he returned as a figment of Rick's imagination in one Season 3 episode. Reports that he would return to the series that made him a star kicked off after fans spotted Bernthal hanging out with Andrew Lincoln (Rick) and Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) near the show's set in Georgia.
AMC yanks "Talking with Chris Hardwick" from schedule after host's ex-girlfriend accuses him of sexual assault
The Wrap reported on June 16 that AMC pulled "Talking with Chris Hardwick" from its schedule after the comedian's ex-girlfriend, Chloe Dykstra, accused him of emotional abuse and sexual assault in a June 14 post on Medium. He'll also no longer moderate the network's panels during Comic-Con. "We have had a positive working relationship with Chris Hardwick for many years. We take the troubling allegations that surfaced yesterday very seriously," AMC said in a statement. "While we assess the situation, 'Talking with Chris Hardwick' will not air on AMC, and Chris has decided to step aside from moderating planned AMC and BBC America panels at Comic-Con International in San Diego next month."
Emilia Clarke says goodbye to "Game of Thrones" in emotional Instagram post
Emilia Clarke took to Instagram on June 17 to say goodbye to "Game of Thrones" after wrapping her scenes for the upcoming eighth and final season of the hit HBO series. "Hopped on a boat to an island to say goodbye to the land that has been my home away from home for almost a decade. It's been a trip @gameofthrones thank you for the life I never dreamed I'd be able to live and the family I'll never stop missing #💔#lastseasonitis," she captioned a photo of herself bundled up in a baseball cap and a heavy jacket while lying in a bed of flowers.
Seth MacFarlane dragged by Fox News exec after trashing network, donates $2.5M to NPR
Seth MacFarlane — who created and stars on the FOX series "The Orville," "Family Guy" and "American Dad!" — took to Twitter on June 16 to criticize Fox News host Tucker Carlson for telling viewers not to trust rival news outlets: "In other words, don't think critically, don't consult multiple news sources, and in general, don't use your brain. Just blindly obey Fox News. This is fringe s—, and it's business like this that makes me embarrassed to work for this company," he tweeted. The following day, Fox News and Fox Business senior vice president Michael Tammero, who oversees marketing and has been at the network since 1998, fired back, "Yet… NOT quite embarrassed enough to not cash that check … isn't that right @sethmacfarlane?" The funnyman then put his money where his mouth is, donating $2 million to NPR and $500,000 to an NPR affiliate station in Los Angeles, KPCC. The Hollywood Reporter reported on June 19 that the donation will directly benefit NPR's Collaborative Journalism Network, which connects NPR journalists so they can share resources and eliminate "news deserts."
"Modern Family" creator joins Seth MacFarlane in condemning Fox News
On June 16, "Modern Family" creator Steve Levitan re-tweeted Seth MacFarlane's criticism of Fox News, adding that he "couldn't agree more." Two days later, he tweeted, "Let me officially join @SethMacFarlane in saying I'm disgusted to work at a company that has anything whatsoever to do with @FoxNews. This bulls— is the opposite of what #ModernFamily stands for." ("Modern Family," which airs on ABC, is produced by the TV division of 20th Century Fox, which owns Fox News.) He added on June 19, "Fox Studio has been a wonderful home for most of my career – so many amazing people there who share the concerns about @FoxNews but aren't in the position to speak out. … I have no problem with fact-based conservatism (such as WSJ), but @FoxNew's 23-hour-a-day support of the NRA, conspiracy theories and Trump's lies gets harder to swallow every day as I drive onto that lot to make a show about inclusion." Levitan ended by saying that he looks forward to seeing "Modern Family" through to its conclusion and then "setting up shop elsewhere" — regardless of whether Disney or Comcast purchases 20th Century Fox's TV and film divisions.
CBS is expanding "Star Trek" TV universe, reportedly discussing five new shows
On June 19, CBS Television Studios announced a five-year deal with new "Star Trek: Discovery" showrunner Alex Kurtzman to oversee the production of five new "Star Trek" series, including one traditional series featuring Patrick Stewart's Captain Jean-Luc Picard, a traditional series set at Starfleet Academy, a limited series based on the 1982 film "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," another limited series about which nothing is currently known and an animated series. The new shows, which have not been officially confirmed, could potentially air on broadcast networks, cable channels or streaming services.
Former Miss Great Britain and "Love Island" star Sophie Gradon dead at 32
Former Miss Great Britain Sophie Gradon, who competed on the British reality dating show "Love Island" in 2016, was found dead in the U.K. on June 20. Police have not revealed how the 32 year old died but have said that there do not appear to be any suspicious circumstances surrounding her death. Katie Salmon, who romanced Gradon on "Love Island," took to Twitter on June 21 to share an emotional tribute to her former partner. (The duo were the first same-sex couple on the show.) She also implied that Gradon took her own life. "Isn't it crazy how someone so stunning, so smiley and appeared so happy can feel no way out. The world we live in behind social media," tweeted Salmon. "The world has failed you beautiful. I'm heartbroken for you soph to have felt this pain. I wish there was more help out there. Your smile will be remembered forever."
New season of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" to address Khloe Kardashian and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal
Us Weekly reported on June 19 that the upcoming 15th season of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" will address Khloe Kardashian's reaction to baby daddy Tristan Thompson's alleged infidelity. "They always discuss real-life things on the show. They've never ignored a topic," said a source close to the new mom. "It will definitely be brought up, but they don't know how much. They can film hours about it, but in the end, Khloe is one of the executive producers and will have final say on what actually makes air." According to a second source, the reality TV star promised the professional basketball player that the "cheating scandal won't be a huge storyline," but "he doesn't understand why it has to be addressed" at all. "Khloe has said if it's not dealt with on the show, questions will continue to linger," said the insider. "No one has heard from Khloe directly about what she felt or what she has gone through, and she pointed out to Tristan that she won't do anything to hurt him by briefly discussing the cheating. She has moved on from it." According to previous reports, Tristan himself will not appear on the E! series.
Jimmy Fallon says he didn't mean to "normalize" Donald Trump during memorable hair-ruffle interview
During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that hit the Internet on June 19, Jimmy Fallon addressed the backlash to his controversial September 2016 interview with then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on "The Tonight Show." (Critics accused the comedian, who memorably ruffled Trump's hair, of lobbing softball questions at the reality star-turned-politician, therefore paving the way for his path to the White House.) "I did not do it to 'normalize' him or to say I believe in his political beliefs or any of that stuff," he said, later adding that the backlash "just got bigger" and more "out of control" as other comedians began to target him. "They know the show," he said of his peers. "I'm just trying to make a funny show," he continued. "Of all the people in the world, I'm one of the good people — I mean, really. You don't even know what you're talking about if you say that I'm evil or whatever." Concluded Fallon, "But people just jump on the train, and some people don't even want to hear anything else. They're like, 'No, you did that!' You go, 'Well, just calm down and just look at the whole thing and actually see my body of work.'"