Entertainment

Ariana Grande And Ellen Pompeo Break Their Silence Over Gabrielle Union’s Firing From ‘America’s Got Talent’

American actress Gabrielle Union has had a 26-year long career in the entertainment industry. As a Black woman, the 47-year old actress has proven to be one of the most successful actors in her industry. She started her carer in minor roles working her way up from teen movies like “10 Things I Hate About You” to lead roles in films like “Bring it On” and “Deliver Us From Eva.” In recent years, she has also put herself at the forefront of activist movements in and outside of entertainment, speaking up for survivors of assault and frequently commenting on events that have sparked Black Lives Matter interests. When it comes to race, the actress has been particularly vocal. That’s why when reports that the actress had been fried from her work on the show “America’s Got Talent” we weren’t too surprised when it was reported that it was because she had vocalized concerns about racist incidents that had occurred on set.

According to recent reports, Union was let go from her role as a judge on “America’s Got Talent” after she spoke out against racism that had occurred on set.

According to Variety, Union’s firing comes at the hands of two incidents out of several in particular. One included a complaint by Union after comedian Jay Leno made a racist joke about Koreans. According to Variety  “in April of this year, former late-night host Jay Leno visited NBCUniversal in Los Angeles to appear as a guest judge on the network’s unscripted program “America’s Got Talent,” a variety show that seeks out undiscovered musicians, performers, and other quirky artists. On the second floor of a production building on the North Hollywood lot, Leno taped an interstitial segment in the presence of show judges including Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough. While taping, Leno made a crack about a painting on display in a hallway of Simon Cowell, the show’s executive producer and judge, surrounded by his dogs. Leno joked that the pets looked like something one would find “on the menu at a Korean restaurant.”

The joke, which perpetuated stereotypes about Asian cultures consuming dog meat, reportedly upset Union who told producers to report the joke to human resources at NBC. Variety says in their report the incident was “never escalated to that department.”

Other outlets have reported that Union had received numerous notes about her physical appearance including criticism of her hair. According to Variety, “Union was subjected to a very specific critique — that her rotating hairstyles were “too black” for the audience of “AGT,” a note she received over half a dozen times, according to four sources with direct knowledge of the exchanges who spoke on the condition of anonymity. One network insider disputed the volume of notes, saying there was only feedback about hair continuity for both judges.”

While Union has yet to give a statement about the incidents, other actors are speaking out on her behalf and SAG-AFTRA has reportedly launched an official investigation into her exit.

According to a report by Deadline, sources within SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) ” take issues of workplace health and safety very seriously. We immediately reached out to Ms. Union’s representatives when these reports came to light. It is our practice to work closely with members who reach out to us and their representatives in instances like this, as that usually affords the best protection and best resolution for the affected member.”

In response to the news, actress such as Debra Messing and Ellen Pompeo and singer Ariana Grande have spoken in defense of Union.

In a seperate tweet about the incident, Pompeo called out white actresses for not standing “with your sisters on the front lines” and “cut side deals.” While she never named any actresses in particular many have speculated that she was speaking about Julianne Hough, who worked with Union on the series and was also fired recently. However in a recent statement to Variety claimed that she “had a wonderful time on America’s Got Talent, I loved working with the cast, crew, and producers. I am happy to continue my working relationship with NBC.”

In a seperate tweet of her own, Grande thanked Pompeo for highlighting the incident and encouraged NBC to “be better.”

Hough is set to star alongside her brother in two Christmas specials for the network this month including “Holidays With the Houghs.”

After Two Weeks, A Jury Has Finally Been Selected For The Harvey Weinstein Rape Trial

Entertainment

After Two Weeks, A Jury Has Finally Been Selected For The Harvey Weinstein Rape Trial

@Current_Knewz / Twitter

After more than 100 women accused him of varying degrees of sexual assault, Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial is now underway. The jury selection process began almost two weeks ago in New York State Supreme Court, where a diverse pool of prospective jurors gathered, ready for the opportunity to participate in one of the most intense legal battles of the #MeToo movement. However, the process of selecting an impartial jury proved difficult—while 120 prospective jurors showed up that first day, many people admitted an inability to remain unbiased, which ultimately disqualified them from participating in the trial. This pattern continued the following day, when 47 of the additional 120 prospective jurors were dismissed for the same reason.

This past week, one of the people dismissed was supermodel Gigi Hadid. Hadid claimed that she could be fair and impartial if selected as a juror, but her involvement in the Hollywood social scene gave Judge James Burke pause.

Credit: Jim Haffrey / Associated Press

According to a pool reporter inside the Manhattan courtroom, Burke read a list of potential witnesses, asking the potential jurors to speak up if they knew anyone on the list. Hadid raised her hand and said, “I have met Salma Hayek.” She also affirmed that she had met Weinstein before.

“I think I’m still able to keep an open mind on the facts,” she said. But Burke was not convinced, and dismissed her from the selection pool.

Although Weinstein has been accused of harassing scores of women, the trial addresses just five charges from two accusers. The charges include predatory sexual assault, rape, and a criminal sexual act in the first degree. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. Yet Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, and he maintains that all of the sexual encounters in question were consensual.

The trial is estimated to last until March, with two weeks of jury selection and eight weeks of arguments and testimony—all before actual deliberations are due to start.

Credit: Associated Press / Mark Lennihan

According to Weinstein’s attorney, Donna Rotunno, one of the major challenges with securing a jury was finding people who are able to commit to such an extensive trial. Weinstein’s defense team has also expressed concern with a perceived inability to locate impartial jurors in New York City—as a metropolitan area heavily tuned in to the media, Weinstein’s team feared that most prospective jurors have been following the case and forming opinions about Weinstein’s misconduct since it was first brought to light in 2017. According to CNN, Weinstein’s team made multiple attempts to move the trial to different cities in New York, where the likelihood of locating unbiased jurors might be higher.

On January 16, seven jurors—four men and three women—were seated. But that day, prosecutors accused Weinstein’s team of deliberately eliminating young white women from the pool of prospective jurors, as Weinstein’s lawyers had used half of their peremptory challenges to excuse prospective white women jurors who were not dismissed for bias or previously deemed unfit by prosecutors.

Why is this important, you may ask? Well, first of all, it’s illegal to use peremptory challenges to eliminate potential jurors on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity or religion.

Second of all, while lead prosecutor Joan Illuzi did not clarify why a lack of white women jurors would be problematic for the prosecution, legal experts said that the defense seemed to assume that jurors of this demographic were especially likely to sympathize with Weinstein’s accusers. So, the idea is that the defense tried to limit jurors of this kind in a strategic attempt to prevent even subconscious opposition to Weinstein during the trial.

Yet defense lawyers dismissed this accusation, citing specific reasons for rejecting each individual white woman and claiming that the remaining white female jurors’ responses to a questionnaire ultimately deemed them unfit to sit on the jury.

Rotunno said that the responses to the questionnaire that aimed to determine whether prospective jurors had experienced sexual assault (or knew someone who had) ultimately determined who would be a viable, unbiased candidate for jury selection, and that the defense’s resistance to seating certain individuals “had nothing to do with race or sex.” But due to the high number of women—regardless of race—who have experienced sexual violence, this stipulation largely diminished the number of women deemed fit for consideration at all. On the first day of jury selection alone, roughly 30% of the 120 prospective jurors stepped down for bias linked to personal experiences of sexual assault.

Ultimately, the final 12-person jury is comprised of six white men, one black man, two white women, and three black women. The alternate jurors, who will only serve if one of the first 12 jurors must withdraw, include a white man, a Latina woman and a black woman.

The Hunger Games Prequel Is Here And Twitter Is Not Impressed

Entertainment

The Hunger Games Prequel Is Here And Twitter Is Not Impressed

Lionsgate Films

When news that beloved dystopian Hunger Games series was getting a prequel novel, fans were thrilled. After all, it had been years since the last of the Suzanne Collins trilogy had ended leaving devotees of the series with quite a few questions and heartbreaks. Welp, an excerpt from The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, is finally here and fans on Twitter are– well- unsurprisingly nonplussed. 

The upcoming science fiction novel by Suzanne Collins has already caught some fire for its content. 

Due to be released on May 19, 2020, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will revisit the world of Panem sixty-four years before the events of The Hunger Games, starting on the morning of the reaping of the Tenth Hunger Games.”

Sounds all fun and good but fans are proving to be the exact opposite of tickled by news of the prequel which was confirmed back in October. At the time,  author Suzanne Collins said that “With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival,” she said in a press release. “The reconstruction period 10 years after the war, commonly referred to as the Dark Days — as the country of Panem struggles back to its feet — provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity.”

Set 64 years before the first Hunger Games novel, the book won’t see characters like Katniss Everdeen.

In fact, as readers learned on Sunday, via the excerpt shared by Entertainment Weekly, the protagonist for the prequel ill be the villainous President Snow.

According to Entertainment Weekly, at the start of the book Coriolanus Snow is “a teenager born to privilege but searching for something more, a far cry from the man we know he will become. Here, he’s friendly. He’s charming. And, for now anyway, he’s a hero.”  In the excerpt shared by EW, Snow is seen becoming a mentor to a girl tribute from District 12,. 

Of course, the concept for the book has not boded well with fans on Twitter. 

Fans of the original series are expressing their outright contempt for the book which erases all of the work the original series did to inspire young female action heroes. Author Aiden Thomas of Cemetery Boys summed up the sentiments best saying  “I couldn’t be more disappointed by the next HUNGER GAMES being about f*cking President Snow and trying to paint him as a ‘misunderstood hero’ are you kidding me. the very last thing i’m interested in is humanizing a fascist dictator because he has a tragic past.”

Welp. That’s it for the prequel, here’s hoping that it all turns out way better than we had expected. Until then, at least we can ohh and ahh at the hope of one day seeing one of our very own represented in the series.

When Hollywood doesn’t have the courage to cast women or people of color in new films, they make reboots of older box office hits starring women or a more diverse cast. While we’d like to suggest that Hollywood simply make original films starring Latinos, especially since Latinos buy the most movie tickets than any other demographic groups in the US, but we also wouldn’t mind seeing a few reboots with a full Latino cast and not just playing token roles. The Hunger Games, a movie about children who grow up in extreme poverty who are taken from their families to a an opulent city that appears to be full of happiness and promise, but where they have to fight for their lives, is a good start, especially if Yalitza Aparicio played Katniss Everdeen.

Katniss Everdeen (originally played by Jennifer Lawrence)

Credit: The Hunger Games/Lionsgate

Little girls all over the world wanted to be like Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence, after The Hunger Games released in theaters. Vulnerable, tough, and caring, Katniss was the female hero we all needed in 2012, but as a young Xicanita, my niece wanted to be Katniss years before when she read all the books all the books in the The Hunger Games series written by Suzanne Collins

Katniss played by Yalitiza Aparicio

Credit: Pinterest

Freshly nominated for an academy award, Yaltiza Aparicio who can rock a braid like no other, could easily inhabit the role of Katniss, who volunteers a tribute when her sister Primose’s name is drawn at the reaping, is a great shot with a bow and arrow, and is no nonsense about doing what’s right. We can’t wait to see Aparicio in a less quiet role, and playing the scrappy Katniss shouldn’t be a stretch for her at all.

Gale Hawthorne (originally played by Liam Hemsworth)

Credit: The Hunger Games/Lionsgate

Gale, played by Liam Hemsworth, is Katniss’ faithful friend who also, of course, has romantic feelings for her, which complicates matters when she allows to go along with the fabricated love story between her and Peeta to gather attention from viewers.

Gale played by Juan Pablo Di Paci

Credit: Pinterest

Juan Pablo Di Paci’s smudge-print eyes alone are enough to get him the role, but he also resembles Liam Hemsworth, the square jaw, the thick head of hair, the movie-star good looks. His looks, however, won’t be enough to win Katniss over who ultimately winds up marrying Peeta. None of this will hurt, Di Paci, the Argentinian actor who played Fernando on Fuller House and who can also sing, dance, and direct.

Primrose Everdeen (originally played by Willow Shields)

Credit: The Hunger Games/Lionsgate

In order to protect her younger sister, Primrose, or Prim, Katniss volunteers to fight in her place. The sensitive Prim is spared fighting at a young age, but is still tormented by the fact that her older sister and stable member of the family must leave her side and go to the capital.

Primrose Everdeen played by Juliana Gamiz

Credit: juliannagamiz / Instagram

Up and coming child actor, Julianna Gamiz, would make a great Primrose, and hermana to Aparicio’s Katniss. A role in the Fierce by Mitú production of The Hunger Games could help Gamiz, who plays the adopted child of a white couple inInstant Family, broaden her roles.

Peeta Mellark (originally played by Josh Hutcherson)

Credit: The Hunger Games/Lionsgate

Peeta, also from District 12, is the male tribute chosen to fight in the Hunger Games with Katniss. As per the cruel Hunger Games’ rules Peeta and Katniss should have fought one another until the death, two teens from the same district, but they outsmarted the Capital with their manufactured love story.

Peeta Mellark played by Diego Boneta

Credit: Pinterest

Diego Boneta from Rock of Ages and Pelé could play Peeta Mellark, whose name we’d have to change to Pedro Mellark because this is our reboot. Like Hemsworth and Di Paci, Boneta and Hutcherson look similar, Boneta the Mexican version.

Cinna (Originally played by Lenny Kravitz)

Credit: The Hunger Games/Lionsgate

Lenny Kravitz is great in the role of Cinna, Katniss’ stylist and confidant who makes it possible for the taciturn Katniss to be likable by the masses.

Cinna played by Oscar Issac

Credit: Pinterest

With the kindly, wise Cinna, it’s all in the eyes, and as Oscar Isaac, certainly has the eyes. As much as we’d hate to replace Lenny Kravitz, especially when he wears leather pants, replacing Kravitz for the internet’s favorite boyfriend totally works for us.

Effie Trinket (originally played by Elizabeth Banks)

Credit: The Hunger Games/Lionsgate

Elizabeth Banks’ Effie Trinket is a great character, frivolous and self-absorbed but also a shrewd business woman and no nonsense.

Effie Trinket played by Salma Hayek

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Salma Hayek, who isn’t afraid to fully inhabit a role, would make a great Effie Trinket, she looks great in pink and pastel pallets and is great at no-nonsense characters. Like Hayek, Effie Trinket has penchant for fashion and having moved to Paris and married a François-Henri Pinault who heads a company that represents luxury designer clothes, Hayek has plenty to choose from.

Haymitch (originally played by Woody Harrelson)

Credit: The Hunger Games/Lionsgate

Mentor to Katniss and Peeta, a former winner of the games, Haymitch, now an alcoholic, seems to believe that it’s futile to train young people to kill when they have very little chance of winning. Clearly scarred by his own experiences, Haymitch vacillates between apathy and wisdom

Haymitch played by Eugenio Derbez

Credit: Pinterest

Eugenio Derbez has been making Latinos laugh for years, but he can also play it straight like he does as the skeptical Enrique in the Latinx favorite Under The Same Moon. Enrique’s skepticism in Under the Same Moon, is not unlike that of Haymitch toward Katniss and Peeta and the whole barbaric process that is the annual Hunger Games.

President Snow (Originally played by Donald Sutherland)

Credit:The Hunger Games/Lionsgate

President Snow is a classic totalitarian who believes he knows better than his citizens and has no care for the will of the people. His primary concerns are power and his image, sound familiar?

President Snow played by President Trump

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Credit: Pinterest

Let’s face it, the current state for Latinos in the US, or those hoping make the US a home in order to escape extreme poverty, violence, and failed states, is pretty dystopian. As much as we hate his face, Trump would make a great President Snow, especially because Snow says this:  “Why do we have a winner? Hope. It is the only thing more powerful than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine as long as it’s contained.”

Portia (originally played by Latarsha Rose)

Credit: The Hunger Games/Lionsgate

In The Hunger Games, Portia is Peeta’s stylist. While she does not speak many lines in the first movie of the trilogy, the distinctive style of her make-up and costumes cause her to jump off the screen, so to play her we choose Tessa Thompson, duh.

Portia played by Tessa Thompson

Credit: Pinterest

Tessa Thompson’s Afro-Latina beauty and smoldering eyes are perfect reasons to put her in the role of Portia. In our Latinx version, Portia will definitely rebel against The Capital by using her knowledge of the inner workings of the games to dress Peeta in items that will send messages of hope to District 12.