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#FreeBritney Protests Break Out in West Hollywood

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  • Protestors in West Hollywood are fighting to get Britney Spears out of her decades-long conservatorship with her father.
  • Earlier in the month, reports claimed that the singer checked herself into a mental health facility, but fans believe she might be there against her will.
  • Many also believe her father made her go there months before we knew she was checked in.

#FreeBritney Protest in West Hollywood

Britney Spears fans gathered for a #FreeBritney protest in West Hollywood on Monday to fight the singer’s conservatorship with her father.

This protest follows Britney’s recent admission to a mental health facility at the beginning of April. Reports say the singer was experiencing emotional distress because her father, Jamie Spears, has been struggling with severe health issues. However, some fans believe that Britney did not enter the facility on her own, and is being forced to be there.

Since 2008, Jamie has been Britney’s conservator. This gives him control over her finances, assets, estate, and personal life. He shared estate control with attorney Andrew Wallet until Wallet resigned in March.

Conservatorships are court-ordered and are mainly used when someone is in a coma, suffering from dementia, or has another very serious illness that makes them incapable of making judgments. Fans started #FreeBritney to remove her from the conservatorship, as they think it gives Jamie too much power in the pop star’s life and gives him the ability to abuse her finances.

“We just kind of believe that through the proof of her work, that through the past X number of years, that she’s proven herself that she’s capable of being her own person,” said co-host of the Britney’s Gram podcast, Barbara Gray, who attended the protest. “We can’t speak exactly to her mental health, but we can speak to what we’ve seen as fans and as the public, and what she’s able to do. And it’s obvious that she shouldn’t be under that control.”

How #FreeBritney Started

While Britney has been a conservatee of Jamie’s for over a decade, theories on how he might be using this power started when she canceled her second Vegas residency in January. Soon after announcing the show, she said needed to spend time with her father and help him recover from surgery.

“A couple of months ago, my father was hospitalized and almost died,” she wrote on Instagram. “We’re all so grateful that he came out of it alive, but he still has a long road ahead of him. I had to make the difficult decision to put my full focus and energy on my family at this time.”

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I don’t even know where to start with this, because this is so tough for me to say. I will not be performing my new show Domination. I’ve been looking forward to this show and seeing all of you this year, so doing this breaks my heart. However, it’s important to always put your family first… and that’s the decision I had to make. A couple of months ago, my father was hospitalized and almost died. We’re all so grateful that he came out of it alive, but he still has a long road ahead of him. I had to make the difficult decision to put my full focus and energy on my family at this time. I hope you all can understand. More information on ticket refunds is available on britneyspears.com. I appreciate your prayers and support for my family during this time. Thank you, and love you all… always.

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Fans were suspicious and found her decision to be abrupt. Their suspicions were only furthered after the hitmaker went off the grid. For several months, there were no public sightings of the well-documented star, and her Instagram remained vacant of new content.

News that Wallet would be leaving his role as an attorney, handing sole conservatorship off to Jamie, broke during this time. However, there was still no sign of Britney.

The early-April, reports of Britney checking into a mental health facility hit the internet. On April 3, she posted a quote to Instagram and captioned it, “We all need to take time for a little “me time.” :)” Fans found the post to be off-brand for the star, leading them to believe she was not there on her own admission, and that her dad pulled the strings to enter her to the center.

Tip on Britney’s Gram Podcast

The theories only grew from there. On an April 18 episode of Britney’s Gram, the hosts reveal they received a tip on Britney’s status. While the source was anonymous, Gram and co-host Tess Barker said they verified his credibility. The call came from a man who claimed to be a paralegal in the office working on Britney’s conservatorship case.

In his tip, he backed up many of the fan theories that were circulating on social media. He said that while Britney was rehearsing for her second Vegas residency, Jamie learned she was not taking her medications as prescribed. He told her she could take her medication, meet with a doctor to find a new medicine program, or cancel the show. When she refused the first two options, Jamie did the latter and chose to blame it on his health.

The source also said that while the public only learned about her treatment in April, she actually had been in the facility since January, when the tour was canceled.

“She did not want to go,” he added. “From what I understand, this is not a decision she made, at all.”

One the same day, however, an article from the Blast cites a source who claims the songstress “would be dead” if she had not been checked in.

Where Are We Now?

Since Britney has been checked into the mental health facility, there have been two sightings of her in public. The most recent, for an Easter outing, left fans worried.

They think the singer looks out of sorts, and like her health is on the decline, based on the paparazzi photos.

The Britney’s Gram podcast has reported that Britney has filed a motion in court this year, potentially regarding her conservatorship. However, the court records on this are sealed, so this is not verified.

As of now, no one on Britney’s team has commented on the protests or the #FreeBritney movement.

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (Entertainment Tonight) (Forbes)

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Netflix Cuts Controversial Suicide Scene from ‘13 Reasons Why’ Season 1

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  • Netflix has removed a controversial and graphic suicide scene from its popular series “13 Reasons Why,” more than two years after the scene originally aired. 
  • The company and show creator said they made the decision after hearing concerns from medical experts.
  • The decision to re-edit the scene has been met with mixed reactions, with some praising the move, some saying it should have been done long ago, and others saying that it should have remained in the show because it is powerful and important to watch.

Netflix’s Announcement 

Netflix announced Monday that it has edited out a graphic suicide scene from the first season of “13 Reasons Why,” more than two years after it was released. 

The show, which centers on the suicide of a fictional teenager named Hannah Baker, stirred up controversy when it first aired in March of 2017. While many praised the show for raising awareness about suicide and bullying, others, including organizations like the National Association of School Psychologists and the Parents Television Council, accused Netflix of glorifying and romanticizing suicide to vulnerable teens.

Critics of the show found one scene that aired during the season 1 finale particularly upsetting because of its graphic depiction of Hannah taking her own life. 

“We’ve heard from many young people that 13 Reasons Why encouraged them to start conversations about difficult issues like depression and suicide and get help — often for the first time,” Netflix said in a statement.

“As we prepare to launch season three later this summer, we’ve been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show. So on the advice of medical experts, including Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we’ve decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season one.”

Suicide Scene Re-edited 

The nearly three-minute-long scene aired about midway through the episode and showed Katherine Langford’s character Hannah looking at herself in the mirror before she was shown cutting her wrists in a bathtub. The camera held on Hannah during her graphic final moments before showing her parents finding her body. 

The re-edited scene now shows Hannah looking at herself in the mirror, then cuts directly to her parents finding her body in the bathroom. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that Netflix will also monitor and issue take-downs for any pirated clips that feature the original scene.

“Our creative intent in portraying the ugly, painful reality of suicide in such graphic detail in Season 1 was to tell the truth about the horror of such an act, and make sure no one would ever wish to emulate it,” show creator Brian Yorkey said in a statement before also mentioning that concerns from experts helped him reach this decision. 

“No one scene is more important than the life of the show and its message that we must take better care of each other. We believe this edit will help the show do the most good for the most people while mitigating any risk for especially vulnerable young viewers,” he added.

Mixed Reactions 

The decision to re-edit the scene was met with support from the American Association of Suicidology, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American School Counselor Association, Dr. Helen Hsu from Stanford, advocacy group Mental Health America, the Trevor Project and Dr. Rebecca Hedrick from Cedars-Sinai, according to THR.

We support the decision to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from 13 Reasons Why. There has been much debate about the series in the medical community,” the groups said in a joint statement. “But this positive change will ensure that 13 Reasons Why continues to encourage open conversation about mental health and suicide prevention — while also mitigating the risk for the most vulnerable teenage viewers.”

However, the move was met with mixed reactions online, with some arguing that the scene was painful but powerful and should have remained in the show.

Meanwhile, others said the scene should have been cut from the series a long time ago.

If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741 for free, anonymous 24/7 crisis support in the US from the Crisis Text Line. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (NPR) (The Washington Post)

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Scarlett Johansson Clarifies “Politically Correct” Casting Comments After Backlash

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  • In a recent interview with As If magazine, Scarlett Johansson was quoted saying that she should “be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job.”
  • Her comments reignited a debate on social media about Hollywood casting and diversity in the film industry.
  • After facing backlash, Johansson released a statement saying that her interview was “edited for click bait and is widely taken out of context.”

As If Cover Story 

Scarlett Johansson says her recent remarks about “political correctness” in casting were taken out of context after the comments sparked much backlash online. 

The actress was previously criticized for accepting the role of a transgender man in the film “Rub & Tug.” She stepped down from the role last summer amid calls for the character to be played by a trans actor instead.

Before that, Johansson also faced backlash for playing a Japanese character in “Ghost in the Shell,” which critics again argued should have been played by a Japanese actor. 

In a cover story for As If magazine published last week, Johansson discussed her viewpoints on the issue. Then different media outlets quoted selections of her comments from the interview.

Johansson was quoted saying: “You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job.

“There are a lot of social lines being drawn now, and a lot of political correctness is being reflected in art,” she added.

“I feel like it’s a trend in my business and it needs to happen for various social reasons, yet there are times it does get uncomfortable when it affects the art because I feel art should be free of restrictions.”

Twitter Users React

Headlines about Johansson’s comments began circulating on Twitter, prompting many users to speak out.

Still, some users came to Johansson’s defense on the issue. Some specifically pointed to the reactions that appeared when Halle Bailey was cast as Ariel in Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid.”

Johansson Clarifies Comments

Johansson released a statement on Sunday through her reps saying that the interview, as it’s been quoted, “has been edited for click bait and is widely taken out of context.”

She explained that the question she was answering was about the “confrontation between political correctness and art.”

“I personally feel that, in an ideal world, any actor should be able to play anybody, and art, in all forms, should be immune to political correctness. That is the point I was making, albeit didn’t come across that way.”

“I recognize that in reality, there is a wide spread discrepancy amongst my industry that favors Caucasian, cis gendered actors and that not every actor has been given the same opportunities that I have been privileged to,” she added. “I continue to support, and always have, diversity in every industry and will continue to fight for projects where everyone is included.”

See what others are saying: (Fox News) (Entertainment Weekly) (The Hollywood Reporter

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R. Kelly Facing Two New Federal Indictments For Sex Crimes

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  • R. Kelly was arrested on Thursday in Chicago after he was hit with over a dozen federal charges including child pornography and enticement of a minor.
  • A second federal indictment in New York accused the singer of other crimes, including kidnapping, transportation for prostitution and sexual exploitation of a child.
  • His attorney said Kelly was not surprised by the charges, but claimed that these accusations are an attack on his client.

Federal Indictment in Illinois

Singer R. Kelly was hit with two federal indictments accusing him of criminal sexual activity in Illinois and New York.

A 13-count indictment from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois includes charges of child pornography, enticement of a minor and obstruction of justice. Kelly was arrested on Thursday for these counts. 

According to this indictment, Kelly “did knowingly employ, use, persuade, induce, entice and coerce a minor, namely Minor 1, to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct” on multiple occasions. The charges also involve four other minors between the ages of 13 and 17-years-old, whom Kelly had also allegedly engaged in sexual conduct with.

Federal Indictment in New York

On Friday, the United States District Court in the Eastern District of New York unsealed a five-count indictment against him. The charges here include racketeering, kidnapping, transportation for prostitution, forced labor and the sexual exploitation of a child.

The New York indictment says that Kelly made rules for his sexual partners, which included women and young girls. These rules included partners not being allowed to leave their rooms, not being allowed to look at other men, being forced to wear baggy clothing when they were not accompanying Kelly to events, and being forced to refer to Kelly as “Daddy.”

Kelly’s Attorney Responds

In a statement, Kelly’s attorney, Steve Greenberg, confirmed that Kelly was arrested in Chicago while walking his dog. He says the charges appear to “largely be the same as old conduct previously alleged.”

“Mr. Kelly was aware of the investigations and the charges were not a surprise,” Greenberg added. “He had already assembled a team of outstanding federal litigators. He and his lawyers look forward to the truth coming out and to his vindication from what has been an unprecedented assault by others for their own personal gain.” 

Kelly already faces over 20 sex abuse-related charges handed to him by Cook County in February and May. He is pleading not guilty to all of those charges. 

The charges, in this case, followed the release of a Lifetime docu-series, Surviving R. Kelly. The series featured interviews with accusers and their families and prompted a boycott of his music along with the hashtag #MuteRKelly. 

Kelly is expected to appear in a Chicago federal court on Tuesday for his arraignment for the new federal charges. No timing has been set for his appearance in New York. 

See what others are saying: (CBS Chicago) (Associated Press) (NBC New York)

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