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New Footage Released in Jussie Smollet Case

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  • Chicago Police released footage in the Jussie Smollett case, including footage of them arriving at his apartment after the alleged attack, which shows the actor still wearing a rope around his neck.
  • A special prosecutor was appointed on Friday to look into the case and look into a previous prosecutors’ decision to drop charges against Smollett.
  • Though Smollett has maintained his innocence, Chicago Police have been clear that they believe he staged a hate crime against himself in January.
  • Due to the recent appointment of a special prosecutor, Smollett could be charged in the case again.

Chicago police released video footage on Monday from the Jussie Smollett case, including body cam footage of their response after the incident. 

The footage, which was obtained by local media outlets, runs up to 70 hours long. Smollett, an actor best known for his role on Empire, was accused of staging a hate crime against himself in January. 

In the clip showing police arriving at his apartment after the alleged attack, a man who identifies himself as Smollett’s creative director greets the police and takes them upstairs. He quickly tells the police who Smollett is. 

“He, he is like a star,” he says. “He works on the show Empire…he doesn’t want this to be a big deal, you see what I’m saying.”

Once police enter the apartment, Smollett can be seen with a rope on his neck. Officers ask if he wants to remove it.

Yeah, I do,” Smollett responds. “I just wanted you to see.”

He then removes the rope and tells officers bleach was poured on him. When he learns that he is being recorded, he requests for filming to stop.

Officers also released videos from before and after the alleged attack. One video depicts the Osundairo brothers, the original suspects in the case, in a cab on the way to the alleged scene. Another video shows them fleeing a nearby area.

According to the Chicago Tribune, police also released documents about the case, including text messages between one of the Osundairo brothers and Smollett. The Tribune says that the messages show that Smollett may have reached out to the brothers for drugs on a regular basis. 

Previous document dumps have also shown Smollett texting the Osundairo brothers “Might need your help on the low” prior to the alleged attack.

Special Prosecutor Appointed

This footage dump comes several days after a special prosecutor was appointed to look into Smollett’s case. This opens the door for Smollett to be charged in relation to the incident again.  On Friday, a Cook County judge wrote a 21-page opinion about his decision. 

“The unprecedented irregularities identified in this case warrants the appointment of independent counsel to restore the public’s confidence in the integrity of our criminal justice system,” he wrote. 

Smollett was indicted on 16 criminal counts. Charges were later dropped against him in a reversal that angered the Chicago Police Department. The prosecutor will look specifically into the decision to drop all charges against Smollett. They will also look into Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx’s recusal from the case, and her choice to appoint one of her aides as a replacement. 

Chief Communications Officer for Chicago Police tweeted about the special prosecutor and maintained their belief in Smollett’s guilt. 

Background on Smollett Case

In January, Smollett claimed that two masked men attacked him by yelling racial and homophobic slurs, tying a rope around his neck, pouring bleach on him, and yelling “this is MAGA country.” When police identified and interrogated two suspects, the Osandairo brothers, they told officers they were paid by Smollett to stage the attack. 

Smollett was charged with several felony counts, including disorderly conduct and filing a false police report. He turned himself into authorities, but charges were dropped on March 26. He had to pay $10,000 in bond to the city of Chicago. 

Smollett maintains his innocence in the case. However, Chicago Police are suing the actor, and the Osandairo brothers are suing his attorneys. He will not appear in the next season of Empire

See what others are saying: (Chicago Tribune) (CBS Chicago) (ABC News)

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D.A.R.E. Accuses HBO’s “Euphoria” of Glorifying Drug Use

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The organization believes the drama series could have “negative consequences on school-age children who today face unparalleled risks and mental health challenges.


D.A.R.E. Slams “Euphoria”

HBO’s “Euphoria” has become synonymous with its explicit depictions of teen sex, violence, and addiction. The substance abuse awareness organization D.A.R.E. condemned the series for its lurid content, arguing that it glorifies drug use. 

While drugs can weasel their way into any aspect of the show at a moment’s notice, the primary storyline around addiction follows Rue, a high schooler who often resists the help she needs to recover. Zendaya won an Emmy for portraying the struggling protagonist in 2020. 

D.A.R.E., also known as Drug Abuse Resistance Education, told TMZ on Wednesday that “Euphoria” is reckless in its handling of such weighted subject matter.  

“Rather than further each parent’s desire to keep their children safe from the potentially horrific consequences of drug abuse and other high-risk behavior, HBO’s television drama, Euphoria, chooses to misguidedly glorify and erroneously depict high school student drug use, addiction, anonymous sex, violence, and other destructive behaviors as common and widespread in today’s world,” a representative for the group told the outlet. 

“It is unfortunate that HBO, social media, television program reviewers, and paid advertising have chosen to refer to the show as ‘groundbreaking,’ rather than recognizing the potential negative consequences on school-age children who today face unparalleled risks and mental health challenges,” the representative continued. 

“Euphoria” Cast and Creator Speak on Heavy Subject Matter

Ahead of the season two premiere, Zendaya warned her followers that much of the content in “Euphoria” is not suitable for all viewers. 

“I know I’ve said this before, but I do want to reiterate to everyone that Euphoria is for mature audiences,” she wrote on Instagram. “This season, maybe more so than the last, is deeply emotional and deals with subject matter that can be triggering and difficult to watch. Please only watch it if you feel comfortable.”

Sam Levinson, the creator of “Euphoria,” has been open about his own experience with addiction. Now over a decade sober, Levinson struggled with substance abuse as a teenager, much like Zendaya’s Rue. He feels a personal connection to the story, and therefore, a responsibility to honestly represent the tribulations of addiction.

“The hardest thing about portraying a drug addict is — there are a lot of cautionary tales, there are a lot of after-school specials — but what I really wanted to get to the core of is the pain and the shame about what you’re doing and you’re inability to get clean despite the havoc and destruction you’re wreaking around you,” Levinson said of the show during the ATX Television Festival in 2019, per Deadline.

Levinson noted that he does have to be “mindful of” the risk of glamorizing drug use “just by the sheer nature of it being on screen.” 

“We have to be authentic about it,” he explained. “If we’re pulling our punches and we’re not showing the relief that drugs can bring it starts to lose its impact. Drugs are not the solution but they can feel like it at times, and that’s what makes them so destructive.”

Drug Use on Euphoria

Still, D.A.R.E. is far from the first group to express concern over the impact “Euphoria” might have on younger viewers. Before the second season debuted earlier this month, the Parents Television and Media Council released a statement warning of the show’s “imminent threat to the health and well-being of children.”

Before each episode of “Euphoria” airs, HBO flashes a warning to alert viewers of the drug abuse, language, violence, nudity, and sex that will appear in the program. The show might be cavalier in the casual and frequent manner it depicts drug use and other dangerous behavior, but more often than not, characters await the consequences of their actions. 

In the most recent episode of “Euphoria,” Rue’s addiction lands her in a visceral screaming match with her sister. The scene underscores the tragic and harsh reality of substance abuse.

While critics push back against the show for a variety of other reasons, they generally praise Rue’s arc, largely thanks to Zendaya’s gripping performance. 

But D.A.R.E. argued that the show goes a bridge too far and offered to meet with HBO to hash out the issues. 

“We would welcome the opportunity for our team, including members of our high school-aged Youth Advocacy Board, to meet with individuals at HBO who are involved with producing Euphoria to present our concerns directly,” D.A.R.E.’s representative told TMZ.

HBO has not publicly responded to the criticisms.

See what others are saying: (TMZ) (Vanity Fair) (Complex)

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Neil Young Asks For His Music to Be Removed From Spotify Over Vaccine Misinformation

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The “Harvest Moon” singer told his representatives that the streaming service “can have Rogan or Young. Not both.” 


Neil Young Wants Music His Off Of Spotify

Musician Neil Young wrote an open letter to his management and record label demanding that his music be taken down from Spotify over concerns about vaccine misinformation. 

The “Heart of Gold” singer initially posted the letter on his website, but it has since been removed. According to Rolling Stone, which reported on the document before it was taken down, Young specifically took issue with podcast host Joe Rogan. 

“I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” he wrote. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.” 

“The Joe Rogan Experience” is exclusive to Spotify and was the most popular podcast on the platform in 2021. Rogan has regularly received criticism for spreading COVID-19 misinformation that contradicts public health recommendations, specifically when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines. 

Rogan previously said that young people should not worry about getting vaccinated against the coronavirus. He has also regularly cited faulty studies questioning their efficacy and interviewed controversial medical personalities who are known for promoting conspiracy theories about the vaccine. 

Young said he is afraid of the ramifications of these kinds of remarks.

“I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them,” the singer wrote. “Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.”

Concerns About Joe Rogan’s Vaccine Comments

Young’s manager, Frank Gironda, conf​​rimed the authenticity of the letter to The Daily Beast.

“It’s something that’s really important to Neil,” Gironda said.  “He’s very upset about this disinformation. We’re trying to figure this out right now.”

Young is far from the first person to express frustrations over the anti-vax views on the audio streaming service platforms. Earlier this month, a group of doctors and other medical professionals wrote a letter to Spotify urging the company to implement a policy to fight disinformation.

“We are calling on Spotify to take action against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform,” the letter said. “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, [The Joe Rogan Experience] is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Though Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, the company presently has no misinformation policy.”

“This is not only a scientific or medical concern; it is a sociological issue of devastating proportions and Spotify is responsible for allowing this activity to thrive on its platform,” the expert cautioned. 

Spotify has not made a public statement regarding Young’s letter.

See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (The Daily Beast) (The Verge)

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Ana de Armas Fans Sue Universal For Removing Actress From “Yesterday” Film

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The fans argue that because there were no scenes with de Armas as promised in the trailer, “consumers were not provided with any value for their rental or purchase.”


Ana de Armas Scenes Cut From “Yesterday”

Two fans of Ana de Armas are suing Universal Pictures for including the actress in a trailer for the 2019 film “Yesterday” even though she does not appear in the final cut of the picture. 

In a class-action lawsuit filed in California, Conor Woulfe and Peter Michael Rosza said they each spent $3.99 to watch the film after viewing the accompanying trailer on Amazon. They argue the studio’s “advertising and promotion of the movie Yesterday is false, misleading, and deceptive.”

The Danny Boyle-directed comedy follows a man, played by Himesh Patel, who wakes up in a world where no one knows who The Beatles are but him, so he starts playing their music and claiming it as his own. De Armas appears briefly in the trailer as a character competing with the primary love interest, played by Lily James. Writer Richard Curtis said they had to cut de Armas’ part to strengthen the character arcs.

“That was a very traumatic cut, because she was brilliant in it,” Curtis previously told Cinema Blend. “I mean really radiant. And [that] turned out to be the problem…I think the audience did not like the fact that his eyes even strayed. Because then some people would go, ‘Oh, he really doesn’t deserve her. He really doesn’t deserve Lily.’ You know, it’s one of those things where it’s some of our favorite scenes from the film, but we had to cut them for the sake of the whole.”

For Woulfe and Rosza, the choice to cut de Armas is a dealbreaker. They are seeking $5 million on behalf of all impacted consumers. 

Fans File Lawsuit Against Universal

“Because consumers were promised a movie with Ana De Armas by the trailer for Yesterday, but did not receive a movie with any appearance of Ana De Armas at all, such consumers were not provided with any value for their rental or purchase,” the lawsuit states. 

Patel and James each had credits of their own prior to the release of “Yesterday.” Still, the fans believe that Universal instead used the star power of De Armas, who had recently appeared in “Blade Runner 2049,” to “entice viewership.”

Unable to rely on fame of the actors playing Jack Malik or Ellie to maximize ticket and movie sales and rentals, Defendant consequently used Ms. De Armas’s fame, radiance and brilliance to promote the film,” the suit continued. 

Just a few months after the release of “Yesterday,” de Armas would go on to receive critical acclaim for her role in “Knives Out.” She has since appeared in the latest James Bond film, “No Time to Die.”

Now a much bigger name than in spring of 2019, the lawsuit claims de Armas still appears in trailers on services like Amazon and Google.

“Despite knowing that Ms. De Armas was not in the released version of the movie Yesterday, Defendant has consistently promoted Ms. De Armas as a character starring in the film, by including her scenes in Yesterday’s movie trailers,” the suit states. “Indeed, Defendant continues to promote Ms. De Armas as appearing in the film more than two years after its initial release, in advertisements for movie sales and rentals.”

Universal has not released a statement in response to the lawsuit.

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Variety) (IndieWire)

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