Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs files motion to dismiss some claims in a sexual assault lawsuit – Entertainment News

Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press – | Story: 484500

Lawyers for Sean “Diddy” Combs pushed back against a woman’s lawsuit that accused him of sexual assault, filing a motion on Friday to dismiss some claims that were not under law when the alleged incident occurred.

The motion filed in a New York court claims Combs cannot be sued because certain laws didn’t exist when Joi Dickerson-Neal made the allegations against him in 1991.

The music mogul’s lawyers want certain statutes from Dickerson-Neal’s claims such as revenge porn and human trafficking to be dismissed with prejudice.

In a filing last year, she said Combs “intentionally drugged” her, then brought her home and sexually assaulted her after a date in Harlem when she was a 19-year-old college student.

Without her knowledge, Combs videotaped the assault and later shared it with several friends in the music industry, the lawsuit alleges. He denied the allegations, accusing her of seeking to exploit the New York law that temporarily extended the statute of limitations.

While Friday’s motion seeks to dismiss the case on legal grounds, Diddy’s attorneys and the mogul “vehemently deny” what they called “numerous false, offensive, and salacious accusations” in the lawsuit.

Dickerson-Neal’s claim came nearly three decades after his alleged misconduct, and the New York State Revenge Porn Law was not codified until 2019, Combs’ lawyers said. His attorneys also pointed out a few others including the New York Services for Victims of Human Trafficking Law, which came into effect in 2007.

The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they have been sexually abused unless they come forward publicly, as Dickerson-Neal has done.

Last month, Combs’ properties in Los Angeles and Miami were raided by federal authorities in a sex trafficking investigation. The criminal investigation is a major escalation in the scrutiny of Combs, who has been the defendant in several recent sexual abuse lawsuits.

In a lawsuit Combs settled the day after it was filed in November, his former protege and girlfriend, the R&B singer Cassie, sued him alleging years of sexual abuse, including rape. The lawsuit said he forced her to have sex with male prostitutes while he filmed them.

In February, a music producer filed a lawsuit alleging Combs coerced him to solicit prostitutes and pressured him to have sex with them.

Another of Combs’ accusers was a woman who said he raped her two decades ago when she was 17.

Combs and his attorneys have denied all of the allegations in the lawsuits.

Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press – Apr 27, 2024 / 12:22 pm | Story: 484473

Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer said Saturday that the onetime movie mogul has been hospitalized for a battery of tests after his return to New York City following an appeals court ruling nullifying his 2020 rape conviction.

Attorney Arthur Aidala said Weinstein was moved to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan after his arrival on Friday to city jails.

“They examined him and sent him to Bellevue. It seems like he needs a lot of help, physically. He’s got a lot of problems. He’s getting all kinds of tests. He’s somewhat of a train wreck health wise,” Aidala said.

A message left with the hospital was not immediately returned Saturday.

Frank Dwyer, a spokesperson with the New York City Department of Correction, said only that Weinstein remains in custody at Bellevue. Thomas Mailey, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, said Weinstein was turned over to the city’s Department of Correction pursuant to the appeals ruling. Weinstein had been housed at the Mohawk Correctional Facility, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Albany.

On Thursday, the New York Court of Appeals vacated his conviction after concluding that a trial judge permitted jurors to see and hear too much evidence not directly related to the charges he faced. It also erased his 23-year prison sentence and ordered a retrial.

Prosecutors said they intend to retry him on charges that he forcibly performed oral sex on a TV and film production assistant in 2006 and raped an aspiring actor in 2013.

Weinstein remained in custody after the appeals ruling because he was convicted in Los Angeles in 2022 of another rape and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

For some time, Weinstein has been ailing with a variety of afflictions, including cardiac issues, diabetes, sleep apnea and eye problems.

Aidala said he spoke to Weinstein on Friday afternoon after he was in transit to New York City from an upstate jail less than 24 hours after the appeals ruling, which was released Thursday morning.

He said his client’s ailments are physical, adding that mentally he is “sharp as a tack. Feet are firmly planted on the ground.”

The lawyer said it usually takes state corrections and prisons officials a week or two to arrange to transport a prisoner.

“He was not treated well. They refused to give him even a sip of water, no food, no bathroom break,” Aidala said. “He’s a 72-year-old sickly man.”

Mailey, the state corrections spokesperson, had no comment when Aidala’s remarks about Weinstein’s treatment were read to him over the phone.

Aidala said he was told that Bellevue doctors planned to run a lot of tests on Weinstein before he can be returned to the Rikers Island jail complex.

The lawyer said he’s scheduled to meet with Weinstein on Monday. He added that he plans to tell a judge when Weinstein goes to court on Wednesday in Manhattan that a retrial should occur after Labor Day.

Pat Eaton-robb, The Associated Press – Apr 26, 2024 / 5:18 pm | Story: 484379

Harvey Weinstein will appear in a New York City court next week, the first step in potentially retrying the film mogul after his 2020 rape conviction was overturned.

New York’s highest court on Thursday threw out Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction, ordering a new trial. The Manhattan district attorney’s office has said it intends to pursue a retrial, but gave no indication about the agenda for Wednesday’s hearing.

“We will do everything in our power to retry this case, and remain steadfast in our commitment to survivors of sexual assault,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement Friday.

Meanwhile, a woman Weinstein was sent to prison for sexually assaulting said Friday she is considering whether she would testify at any retrial.

Mimi Haley said she is still processing Thursday’s decision by the state Court of Appeals and is considering numerous factors, including the trauma of having to prepare for another trial and again relive what happened to her.

“It was retraumatizing and grueling and exhausting and all the things,” she said during a news conference with her attorney, Gloria Allred. “I definitely don’t want to actually go through that again. But for the sake of keeping going and doing the right thing and because it is what happened, I would consider it.”

Weinstein was convicted in New York in February 2020 of forcing himself on Haley, a TV and film production assistant, in 2006 for oral sex and raping an aspiring actress in 2013.

The Associated Press does not generally identify people alleging sexual assault unless they consent to be named and Haley has agreed to be named.

Weinstein, 72, will remain in prison because he was convicted in Los Angeles in 2022 of another rape. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison in that case.

Thursday’s Court of Appeals court ruling in New York essentially resets Weinstein’s case, with next week’s hearing the first step in the process of potentially retrying him. Prosecutors will work off the same indictment, albeit excluding the charges he was acquitted of four years ago.

Among other things, authorities will need to sort out where Weinstein is incarcerated while he awaits a new trial in New York. He could be sent to the city’s notorious Riker’s Island jail complex, or to California to begin serving a sentence for his conviction there.

Allred said the New York decision shows how important it was to also bring charges in California, even when critics called that prosecution superfluous.

Weinstein’s attorney, Arthur Aidala, did not immediately respond to an email seeking a response to Haley’s comments. But on Thursday he called the state Court of Appeals ruling “a tremendous victory for every criminal defendant in the state of New York.”

The court overturned Weinstein’s 23-year sentence in a 4-3 decision, saying “the trial court erroneously admitted testimony of uncharged, alleged prior sexual acts” and permitted questions about Weinstein’s “bad behavior” if he had testified. It called this “highly prejudicial” and “an abuse of judicial discretion.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Friday that her office is analyzing the scale of the decision and how the state can make sure that all women feel safe coming forward.

“I don’t want this to be a moment of stifling the environment that was created where finally we were calling out people who were abusing women in their presence,” Hochul said. “We don’t want to have any setbacks where there’s this sense that you now have to be silenced, and that’s something that we have to protect.”

Allred said she welcomed the governor’s comments and likely would be suggesting possible legislation. She said she’s concerned that the ruling will lead to fewer cases being brought, especially against high-profile defendants.

“Then there will be not only no access to justice for the ‘Me too’ witnesses, prior bad-act witnesses, but in addition for the actual victim of the crime…where it could have been prosecuted, would have been prosecuted otherwise,” she said.

Haley said she has talked to other alleged victims of Weinstein about the ruling, but the subject of testifying again did not come up.

“What would make me want to do it again would just be, like I said in the past, this isn’t just about me,” she said. “It’s a really important case. It’s in the public eye. It’s really difficult for me personally, but it’s important for the collective.”

BANG Showbiz – Apr 26, 2024 / 5:13 pm | Story: 484377

Ellen DeGeneres says becoming the “most hated person in America” affected her marriage to Portia de Rossi.

The 66-year-old TV star entered a downward spiral in 2020 following the publication of claims suggesting there was a “toxic” environment on the set of her long-running ‘Ellen DeGeneres Show’, which led to the series coming to an end in May 2022 – with Ellen stepping away from the spotlight after the final episode aired.

She returned to the public eye this week with a stand-up show at the Largo in Los Angeles, California on Wednesday (24.04.24) and she admitted it’s been a tough few years.

Ellen told the audience: “I got kicked out of show business. There’s no mean people in show business … (I became the) most hated person in America… the hate went on for a long time and I would try to avoid looking at the news.

“The ‘be kind’ girl wasn’t kind. That was the headline.”

According to PEOPLE, Ellen went on to add that she found herself “in a funk” and it started to take a toll on her marriage. She added of her wife of 16 years: “She was watching it happen to me… she went through it with me.”

Ellen – who staged a question-and-answer session after her comedy set – said of her downfall: “It’s been such a toll on my ego and my self-esteem. There’s such extremes in this business, people either love you and idolise you or they hate you, and those people somehow are louder.”

The comic added: “It was so hurtful. I couldn’t gain perspective. I couldn’t do anything to make myself understand that it wasn’t personal… I just thought, ‘Well this is not the way I wanted to end my career, but this is the way it’s ending.

“I’m making jokes about what happened to me, but it was devastating. It took a long time for me to want to do anything again.

“I just hated the way the show ended. I love that show so much and I just hated that the last time people would see me is that way.”

The show was part of ‘Ellen’s Last Stand… Up Tour’, which will include more dates at the Largo in Los Angeles before heading to other cities in California over the summer.

Kathleen Foody, The Associated Press – Apr 26, 2024 / 1:35 pm | Story: 484325

The singer R. Kelly was correctly sentenced to 20 years in prison on child sex convictions in Chicago, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

Jurors in 2022 convicted the Grammy Award-winning R&B singer, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, on three charges of producing child sexual abuse images and three charges of enticement of minors for sex.

In his appeal, Kelly argued that Illinois’ former and shorter statute of limitations on child sex crime prosecutions should have applied to his Chicago case rather than current law permitting charges while an accuser is still alive.

He also argued that charges involving one accuser should have been tried separately from the charges tied to three other accusers due to video evidence that became a focal point of the Chicago trial.

Federal prosecutors have said the video showed Kelly abusing a girl. The accuser identified only as Jane testified for the first time that she was 14 when the video was taken.

The three-judge panel from the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Friday’s ruling noted that jurors acquitted Kelly on 7 of the 13 counts against him “even after viewing those abhorrent tapes.”

The appeals court also rejected Kelly’s argument that he should not have been prosecuted since the allegations occurred while Illinois law required prosecution of child sex crime charges within ten years. The panel labeled it an attempt by Kelly to elude the charges entirely after “employing a complex scheme to keep victims quiet.”

In a written statement, Kelly’s attorney Jennifer Bonjean said they plan to seek U.S. Supreme Court review of the decision and “pursue all of his appellate remedies until we free R. Kelly.”

“We are disappointed in the ruling, but our fight is far from over,” she said.

Prosecutors in Kelly’s hometown of Chicago had sought an even tougher sentence, asking for 25 years. They also wanted a judge to not let that time begin until after Kelly completed a 30-year sentence imposed in 2022 in New York for federal racketeering and sex trafficking convictions.

Judge Harry Leinenweber rejected that ask, ordering that Kelly serve the 20 years from the Chicago case simultaneously with the New York sentence.

Kelly has separately appealed the New York sentence.

In arguments last month before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, attorney Jennifer Bonjean asked the panel to find that prosecutors improperly used a racketeering statute written to shut down organized crime to go after the singer.

Jake Coyle, The Associated Press – Apr 26, 2024 / 9:27 am | Story: 484285

Jerry Seinfeld has been responsible for more movies than you think.

Yes, he co-wrote and lent his voice to 2007’s “Bee Movie.” But before that, “Seinfeld” — where going to the movies, with or without the aid of Moviefone, was nearly as regular a destination as the coffee shop — gave birth to dozens of (fake) films. “Rochelle, Rochelle.” “Prognosis Negative.” “Sack Lunch.”

But nearly three decades after Seinfeld was, in one episode, cajoled into bootlegging “Death Blow,” he has finally made his first film. Seinfeld directed, co-wrote and stars in “Unfrosted,” a star-studded comedy about the invention of the Pop-Tart premiering May 3 on Netflix.

The film, which co-stars Melissa McCarthy, Jim Gaffigan, Hugh Grant and others, is an outlandish, “Mad Men”-inspired ‘60s-set satire in which Kellogg’s and Post Cereal are engaged in a cutthroat race to “upend America’s breakfast table.”

“When you see any scene of it you go, ‘What is that?’ And I was very happy about that,” Seinfeld said in a recent interview. “I like that you look at it and go, ‘I don’t know what this is.’”

For Seinfeld, who has resolutely stuck to stand-up since “Seinfeld” ended in 1998, it’s a rare post-sitcom project, joining a short and sporadic list including the short-lived reality series “The Marriage Ref” and the popular streaming show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”

“Unfrosted,” though, returns Seinfeld to one of his abiding passions. Remember all those cereal boxes in his apartment on “Seinfeld”? The Pop-Tart is a particular fascination, though. In his 2020 comedy special “23 Hours to Kill,” it formed an extended bit beginning with the childhood memory: “When they invented the Pop-Tart, the back of my head blew right off.”

For Seinfeld, the Pop-Tart has an almost mythical quality. A movie about Oreos or Milk Duds or even Junior Mints wouldn’t work, he says. But the Pop-Tart is different.

“A lot of it is the word. It’s a funny word,” says Seinfeld. “I heard Mattel is trying to do a Hot Wheels movie. That could work. Certain things really got us when we were kids, you know?”

In a wide-ranging interview, Seinfeld discussed subjects large and small.

AP: Is it true that your moments on the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” finale were improvised with Larry David?

SEINFELD: The idea occurred right in that moment. I said, “Hey, let’s talk about the finale right now.” We had been talking about it all day because it was their finale. We were just talking about series finales all day. And I was saying that “Mad Men” was my favorite and I thought “The Sopranos” one was great, and obviously ours was what it was.

AP: What does that mean? You’re happy with it or not?

SEINFELD: Well, I think what we said in that scene. We thought, “Yeah, that would have been better.” (Laughs) It’s very hard to remember. The emotional state I was in after nine years was a little ragged. Maybe we weren’t thinking quite clearly. The idea of doing that on his show — the math of it is really amazing. To do that, two people have to have two successful long-running sitcoms and they have to be playing themselves, with a 25-year separation. When I was driving home that night on the 10 in LA, my head was exploding because of the math of what just happened — to set something up in ’98 and pay it off in ’23. For a joke person like me, I felt like I landed on the moon.

AP: “Unfrosted” began with an old stand-up bit of yours. Is it surprising to you that you’ve made a movie about it?

SEINFELD: It was all (“Seinfeld” writer) Spike Feresten’s idea. I did not want to do it. I did not think it would work. What’s a movie about inventing the Pop-Tart? That’s not funny. And (“Seinfeld” writer) Andy Robin came up with the idea that it’s “The Right Stuff.” And I went, “Oh, that’s funny.”

AP: I think you have a line about “splitting the atom of breakfast” so this is also like a snack-size “Oppenheimer.”

SEINFELD: Yes, “Oppenheimer.” I think it’s a fun game if anyone wants to play — how many movies we stole from. Obviously, “The Godfather,” obviously “The Right Stuff.” At one point, I was going to say, “I’ll bury you under the ground, Eli,” from “There Will Be Blood.” And we weren’t even going to explain it. The character’s name wasn’t Eli.

AP: You once in an interview suggested you only say you love Pop-Tarts to make the joke work.

SEINFELD: I probably just said that to make that point. But I do love Pop-Tarts. I had one yesterday. We were doing a social media piece with Jimmy Fallon and Meghan Trainor. I took a bite and I went, “This is fantastic.” What I like about it is the man-made quality of it. I love great objects that fit in your hand in a nice way. A pack of cigarettes is one of the greatest things you can put in your hand. It just feels great. Dice feel great. I like a nice spoon. I like things. (Laughs)

AP: Were you aware of the recent trend of movies based on products?

SEINFELD: Yeah, but we were started long before that. I was a little disappointed that I suddenly became part of a trend but there was nothing we could do about it.

AP: Do you have any guesses as to why we’ve turned our focus to American consumerism? Your film is a big, silly satire of American consumerism.

SEINFELD: For me, I love men in suits talking about something stupid, like cereal and puffs and sprinkles.

AP: You’ve often spoken about your dedication to sharpening and sculpting a joke. Are you still driven by that?

SEINFELD: I started a bit the other night about your kitchen sponge on the sink looking up at you going: “I don’t know how much more you think I have. I was done two months ago.” Now it’s just growing and growing into a monologue of your kitchen sponge telling you, “Let me go! Let me die a rectangle, not in pieces.” When I lock on to something like that, I just want to see how far I can go with it, how long will they let me talk about this.

AP: You’re about to turn 70. Is that meaningful to you?


AP: Some entertainers turn inward when they reach their 70s, like Steven Spielberg did with “The Fabelmans.” But maybe this is a very personal movie for you.

SEINFELD: Very much. This is my “Fabelmans.” Because I’m not interested in my life. I’m interested in eating.

AP: Why have you always avoided topically or politics in your comedy?

SEINFELD: I don’t have the fluency. Your comedic thing, whatever it is, it only works on certain things. My thing only works on these dumb things.

AP: Still, there is a kind of meaning in dedicating yourself to meaninglessness.

SEINFELD: I’ve discussed this at length with my friend Joel Hodgson (“Mystery Science 3000”) and he’s incredibly articulate on this subject, which is: The throw-away culture of our childhood was not throw-away to us. We deeply love these things and they were meaningful in their meaninglessness.

AP: You and Marc Maron had a great debate on his podcast as almost diametrically opposed comedians. He believes in baring his soul on stage and you pledge fidelity to the joke. I thought you were both right.

SEINFELD: My attitude, I think, was more talking to comedians. I think comedians, if they want to survive throughout their life doing this, they have to pay close attention to the laughs. No less value in what he’s doing, but I would worry about how long would this last for in your life. But, yeah, that’s a good point. We were both right, just different.

AP: You’ve said you want to do stand-up into your 80s and beyond.

SEINFELD: To the end. To the very end.

AP: You still feel that way?

SEINFELD: Yeah. The only hard part of my life is the other things. People do ask me about slowing down and I go, “The work part of my life is not stand-up. It’s all the other things.” Stand-up is an incredible, pure experience. Surfing is the great regret of my life that I never really got good at that. I did it for two weeks one time many years ago. But if you were a surfer, you would never stop doing it. That’s what stand-up is for me. Feeling that energy, that natural life-force energy under you and around you, I never get tired of that.

AP: Are you thinking about another stand-up special?

SEINFELD: No, I’m not. I’m not sure of it as a comedy form for me right now. I would love to think of something else, if I even wanted to do it — which I don’t right now. Like, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” the subtext of that is: I’m really sick of talk shows on TV. That’s why I did that. And let me show you why. We don’t want to see them sitting on a couch anymore. The people who are doing it aren’t having any fun doing it. That was my anti-talk show. So I would want to do an anti-stand-up special if I did one. I envy, sometimes, these little Italian artisans who don’t really care if anybody knows who they are or what they do. And stand-up can be like that. Any writing work is very lonely work. Stand-up, in a way, is kind of a private, lonely world. I’m going to Dayton, Ohio, on Friday. No one’s going to know what happened there. I’m very attracted to that. I’m more attracted to that than, “Hey everyone, I made a movie.” My way, if I had my choice, is that I would like to do this work very quietly and privately.

AP: It’s interesting you’d say that as someone who had one of the biggest TV shows ever. Maybe you had your fill of it.

SEINFELD: That’s possible. But it never felt like me. Larry and I, when we first started to do the show thought: This will be a really fun, little boutique thing that will just get our people that like this kind of quirky, off-beat thing, and that would be cool. What it became was never on our radar. Then, suddenly, you’re a big wave surfer. I think it was tougher on Larry than for me. Because you feel the pressure. I never minded the pressure.

AP: Have you experienced younger generations finding “Seinfeld” on Netflix?

SEINFELD: That age around 10 to 12, they seem to find it. They have no idea what it is at first. (Laughs) I think the credit all really goes to Jason (Alexander), Michael (Richards) and Julia (Louis-Dreyfus) — what they did with those characters, the color that they found in all of those characters. Larry and I, we were just doing these silly conversations, but they made it so accessible. They deserve the credit for the success of the show.

BANG Showbiz – Apr 26, 2024 / 6:49 am | Story: 484270

The Moody Blues keyboardist Mike Pinder has died aged 82.

His passing comes months after the death of the other surviving original member of the group Denny Laine – and was confirmed by the band’s current guitarist John Lodge and Mike’s family, who said on Friday (26.04.24) he died on Wednesday (24.04.24) in Northern California.

John and The Moody Blues confirmed Mike’s death in a Facebook post that said: “All the love possible goes out from the Lodge family to Mike’s family today.”

Mike’s family said in a separate tribute: “Michael’s family would like to share with his trusted friends and caring fans that he passed peacefully.

“His final days were filled with music, encircled by the love of his family.

“Michael lived his life with a childlike wonder, walking a deeply introspective path which fused the mind and the heart.

“He created his music and the message he shared with the world from this spiritually grounded place; as he always said, ‘Keep your head above the clouds, but keep your feet on the ground.’

“His authentic essence lifted up everyone who came into contact with him. His lyrics, philosophy, and vision of humanity and our place in the cosmos will touch generations to come.”

Denny’s widow Elizabeth marked Mike’s death by posting an image of him playing the piano with the caption: “Very sad news, the last of the original line-up of the Moody Blues has passed away.

“He is now reunited with Denny, Ray, Graeme and Clint; what a joyous reunion that must be.

“Rest in peace and give my Denny a hug.”

Mike’s cause of death has not yet been revealed.

The Moody Blues formed in Birmingham in 1964, and is probably best known for its hit ‘Nights in White Satin’.

It included members Mike, Denny Laine, Ray Thomas, Graeme Edge, and Clint Warwick.

All three of Mike’s sons are musicians.

He had Daniel with his first wife Donna Roth as well as two more boys, Matt and Michael, with his second wife Tara Lee.

His bandmate Denny died four months ago on December 5, 2023 after contracting Covid in 2022, leading to a series of hospitalizations.

Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press – Apr 26, 2024 / 6:44 am | Story: 484268

#MeToo founder Tarana Burke has heard it before. Every time there’s a legal setback, the movement is declared dead in the water. A legal success, and presto, it’s alive again.

So Burke, who nearly two decades ago coined the phrase “Me too” from her work with sexual assault survivors, found herself again declaring after New York’s highest court on Thursday overturned Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction: The #MeToo reckoning is greater than any court case. It’s still there, and it’s working.

The most obvious proof, Burke said: “Ten years ago we could not get a man like Harvey Weinstein into the courtroom.”

The movement, she said, was responsible for that huge cultural shift — regardless of the Hollywood mogul’s ultimate legal fate.

Also seeking to take the long view, following a legal setback that stunned many survivors and advocates, was Anita Hill. She testified against Clarence Thomas during his 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearing, becoming the face of the fight against sexual harassment more than a quarter-century before the Weinstein revelations launched the #MeToo movement.

Alongside her academic career, Hill now heads the Hollywood Commission, which seeks to fight harassment in the entertainment industry. She sought on Thursday to reassure survivors that progress is real.

“I want those who are saddened by the New York Court of Appeal’s decision to know that no single legal ruling can ever match the tremendous progress we have made together in the movement against sexual violence,” Hill told The Associated Press in an email.

“The movement will persist,” she added, “driven by the truth of our testimonies. And changes to our systems and culture will follow.”

It was, of course, a rough morning for sexual assault survivors across the country, as Burke acknowledged at a hastily arranged Manhattan news conference following the court ruling with activists including Ashley Judd, one of the earliest Weinstein accusers.

In what Judd called “an act of institutional betrayal,” New York’s highest court, in a 4-3 decision, ordered a new trial, saying the first one had prejudiced Weinstein, 72, with improper rulings, including letting some accusers testify about allegations that weren’t part of the case. Weinstein will remain in prison, however, because he was convicted in Los Angeles in 2022 of another rape.

Among those who testified in New York was Dawn Dunning, a supporting witness, who told the court how during a business meeting Weinstein slid his hand up under her skirt and fondled her genitals.

Dunning told the AP through her attorney, prominent #MeToo lawyer Debra Katz, that she was “shocked” by Thursday’s ruling and dealing with a range of emotions, including asking herself, “Was it all for naught?”

“It took two years of my life,” Dunning said. “I had to live through it every day. I had to live through the terror of confronting Weinstein. But would I do it again? Yes.”

She said that in confronting the producer, she had faced her worst fear and realized he had no power over her. And she was proud that her testimony helped other women earn some justice.

Katz said she had spoken to Dunning and other accusers — women who felt “gutted” — reminding them of the important role they’d played in the broader reckoning against sexual abuse and violence.

“They testified at great personal cost. … It was life-altering for them,” Katz said. “And to feel like this was maybe all for naught is a very, very, bad feeling.”

Still, Katz felt certain Weinstein would be convicted in a new trial.

“Their testimony was invalidated by the court today due to legal technicalities,” Katz said. But “no one doubted the truth of what they testified to, or the courage of their testimony. And so while this is a setback in this case, I do believe that their testimony changed the world.”

The testimony fundamentally altered how people view and react to issues of sexual assault in the workplace, she said.

“And their courage has grown beyond this case — people continue to come forward, people continue to support other victims who’ve reported sexual assault and violence, and I truly believe there’s no going back from that,” Katz said.

Many advocates saw the moment, however dispiriting, as an opportunity to call for a renewal of efforts to push the #MeToo message forward.

“Today’s decision does not erase the truth of what happened,” said Fatima Goss Graves, head of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. It’s important to remember, she said, “that one well known case does not define this movement. We are a force.”

Graves noted the fund has provided support for some 9,000 people with sexual harassment complaints since 2018, and has funded 300 lawsuits. The fund is run by the National Women’s Law Center in Washington; the broader Hollywood-based group, launched in 2017, shifted all its resources to the fund in January 2023.

Burke stressed in an interview that while legal advances are necessary for progress, “the judicial system has never been a friend of survivors. And so it’s the reason why we need movements, because movements have historically been what has pushed the legal system to do the right thing.”

Burke said she spent the morning speaking to accusers, including actor Annabella Sciorra, who testified at the 2020 trial that Weinstein raped her.

“I can understand how devastating and disgusted and angry, just the range of emotions that so many of them must feel,” Burke said. “And I hope they understand for those of us survivors who will likely never see a day in court, that they are still heroes to us.”

Burke, who has spoken out about her own past as a survivor of abuse, added she could never imagine facing her own perpetrator in court.

“So just the fact that they got to do that, to bring a person, a man like Harvey Weinstein to account for his crimes, is incredible,” she said.


Louise Dixon, The Associated Press – Apr 26, 2024 / 5:48 am | Story: 484258

Chicken Kiev, AI-generated press releases and the annoyance of fan selfies while performing — there was a lot on the minds of the Pet Shop Boys as the iconic British duo prepared to release a new album.

Their 15th studio album, “Nonetheless,” comes Friday — 40 years (and 50 million record sales) after Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe rose to fame with the single “West End Girls.” Bands of any longevity — especially such a long one — are often asked the cliche: “How do you stay relevant?” For them, it’s about never trying to be cool.

“That’s something a lot of people try and do, to be somehow cool, which is therefore completely uncool, because it’s trying too hard,” Tennant told The Associated Press recently. “So we have just followed our own instincts.”

“We’ll always be relevant in our world,” Lowe added, laughing.

A testament of that relevance? Classic Pet Shop Boys hits were used as plot points in two cult movies last year: a karaoke scene in “Saltburn” featuring “Rent” and a key Christmas scene in “All of Us Strangers” soundtracked by “Always on My Mind.”

This is worlds away from Hollywood past, where, Tennant says, “It’s a Sin” was always overused for the young guy walking into a gay club “reducing us to this sort of cliche of gay disco.”

“Nonetheless” remains upbeat despite being written in the U.K. during the coronavirus pandemic, when most people were locked down at home.

“Well, the weather was nice, wasn’t it?” Lowe jokes.

“It was a very productive time,” Tennant adds, noting that the cancellation of their tour eased the pressure.

“I think that’s why it sounds in a way quite optimistic, because life was different. It was a different sort of life with no pressure, apart from not trying to catch the virus,” he says.

The first single, “Loneliness,” addresses the social isolation of the pandemic but was written as a positive message. Another lockdown-themed track, “Why Am I Dancing?” was Tennant asking himself: “Why are you enjoying this situation of being by yourself so much so that you can actually dance?”

“And I’m probably cooking at the same time,” he is quick to add.

“Cooking and dancing, now that’s a little podcast idea, isn’t it?” Lowe jokes.

And while Lowe says he’d be popping a ready-made pie in the oven, Tennant would be making dal, brown rice and vegetables or a chicken Kiev.

“You’ve got a good story for that,” Tennant says, looking to his bandmate.

“I wrote to (U.K. supermarket) Marks & Spencer… asking them to change the spelling of chicken Kiev to chicken Kyiv because of the war,” Lowe says. They did eventually change it.

Despite living through big changes in the way music is consumed, the band remain philosophical. Despite new ways of listening and discovering music, “music is still music.”

And when it comes to Spotify, while Lowe says it has helped him discover a lot of new music, both hate the app’s recommendations.

“With us, The Pet Shop Boys, it will say, ‘If you like this, you might like Duran Duran,’ so it thinks you’re all ’80s,” Tennant explains. “And if you’re us you say: ‘You might like Years and Years electronic pop music or Kraftwerk from before us.’”

“Sometimes they might just think, ‘Well you’re gay so you might like Boy George because he’s gay as well.’ It’s very, very stupid,” he says.

Pet Shop Boys will perform five special performances at London’s Royal Opera House in July, but please don’t run to the front of the stage and then turn your back for a selfie.

“I just deliberately move out the way. Sorry to be a spoilsport but I find it really, really rude,” Tennant says.

Cellphone users aren’t all bad for business though.

“You now know when something is working because all the phones come out,” Tennant explains.

“Cigarette lighters are replaced with phones for a ballad it looks really quite gorgeous, it’s really quite moving,” he adds.

Artificial intelligence is changing the industry, but the band doesn’t have any plans to use it anytime soon — well, at least not in its music.

When their publicist called for a quote on the album for a press release, they turned to ChatGPT, which described the album as “a celebration of the unique and diverse emotions that make us human.” They went with it.

“It’s a great quote” Tennant admits. “We sort of agree with it. We normally make some flippant remark, whereas ChatGPT gave us this very earnest description which is actually accurate.”

BANG Showbiz – Apr 25, 2024 / 6:45 pm | Story: 484208

Kaley Cuoco managed to plan her daughter’s first birthday party all by herself.

The 38-year-old actress welcomed baby Matilda into the world in March 2023 with Tom Pelphrey and admitted that when it came to marking the little one’s first birthday, she took it upon herself to become “mom of the year” by throwing a Disney-themed party.

“I planned a Minnie Mouse-themed birthday party. I did it all by myself, I was mom of the year. All by myself, swear to God, on my own! It is shocking because I’m not great at stuff like that but, no, I did it!”

The former ‘Big Bang Theory’ star also joked that she is “very proud” to have made it to a year and joked that that everything should now be plain sailing until her little girl reaches adulthood.

She said: “I’m very proud of making it to a year, I feel like it’s going to be so easy now. The next 17 years are going to be nothing!”

The ‘Role Play’ actress previously shared that she and Tom end up getting emotional at every small milestone with their daughter.

She told People: “Tom and I were sitting with Matilda the other day, and she was literally staring at us, and she touched both of our faces, and just gave us this innocent, just really joyful, ‘Hi’ smile.

“I mean, I could cry right now. We both looked at each other and we started tearing up. He goes, ‘Is this our life now, where we just cry at everything she does?”

Kaley has four dogs named Ruby, Opal, King, and Blue and joked that little Matilda had been “thrown to the wolves” upon her birth and thought she might have to “send her back” had the tot not gelled with her canine companions.

She said: “Oh my God, she got thrown to the wolves literally. After she was born, I’m like, ‘If this child doesn’t like dogs, I might have to send her back. There’s no choice. This is your life. This is it.They have jumped on her. They have crawled across her. We have let them lick her, kiss her. Our pediatrician was like, ‘It’s okay.’ So they love her so much.”

BANG Showbiz – Apr 25, 2024 / 6:45 pm | Story: 484207

Billie Eilish has been “in love with girls for (her) whole life”.

The 22-year-old pop star is attracted to both men and women – but it took Billie years to really understand her own sexuality.

The ‘Your Power’ hitmaker told Rolling Stone magazine: “I’ve been in love with girls for my whole life, but I just didn’t understand.”

Billie resents the fact that public figures are often expected to put a “label” on their sexuality.

The Grammy-winning star said: “Nobody should be pressured into being one thing or the other, and I think that there’s a lot of wanting labels all over the place.

“Dude, I’ve known people that don’t know their sexuality, or feel comfortable with it, until they’re in their forties, fifties, sixties.

“It takes a while to find yourself, and I think it’s really unfair, the way that the internet bullies you into talking about who you are and what you are.”

Meanwhile, Billie previously revealed that she’s constantly battling “impending-doom feelings”.

The chart-topping star has enjoyed huge success over recent years, but Billie continues to struggle with her own fame and success.

Asked if she ever wants to hide from the exposure, Billie told Allure magazine: “All the time. But I can do that. That’s the thing about diving into the hurt – I don’t need to do that.

“I’m starting to do better, but I’ve not been doing so great, to be honest. For a while.

“I have impending-doom feelings most of the day. When I think too much about it, how I can never have privacy again, it’s enough to make you want to do all sorts of crazy things. But you have to let it go.”

BANG Showbiz – Apr 25, 2024 / 6:44 pm | Story: 484206

Travis Kelce is “in awe” of Taylor Swift.

The 34-year-old NFL star – who won the Super Bowl earlier this year – started dating Taylor in 2023, and he’s been wowed by the chart-topping pop star and her recently released new album, ‘The Tortured Poets Department’.

A source told PEOPLE: “He is always in awe of her.”

Taylor released the new record on April 19, and the award-winning singer seemingly refers to their high-profile romance on the song ‘So High School’.

In a previous interview, Travis was asked who he would marry, kiss and kill between Taylor, Ariana Grande and Katy Perry.

And on ‘So High School’, Taylor sings: “Are you gonna marry, kiss, or kill me (Kill me) / It’s just a game, but really (Really) / I’m bettin’ on all three for us two (All three).”

On another track, Taylor also referred to Travis and the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl success.

Taylor, 34 – who attended this year’s Super Bowl in Las Vegas – sings on ‘The Alchemy’: “Shirts off, and your friends lift you up, over their heads / Beer stickin’ to the floor, cheers chanted ’cause they said / ‘There was no chance trying to be the greatest in the league’ / Where’s the trophy? He just comes, running over to me.”

Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes – Travis’ teammate – recently credited Taylor for helping to turn the Chiefs into a “worldwide team”.

The 28-year-old NFL star hailed Taylor for raising the profile of the franchise.

Speaking to Time magazine, Patrick explained: “(The Chiefs) went from a nationwide team that was kind of global to a full global worldwide team. That came from Taylor’s fanbase.”

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