Connect with us

Entertainment

Jussie Smollett Indicted Again Over Alleged Hate Crime Hoax

Published

on

  • Actor Jussie Smollett was indicted again on six counts of disorderly conduct for falsifying a police report. 
  • This comes almost a year after he was indicted on 16 counts of the same charge, which prosecutors abruptly dropped.
  • In January 2019, Smollett claimed he was the victim of a brutal homophobic and racist hate crime. After Chicago police investigated, they claimed the actor had actually staged the attack himself. 
  • These new indictments come from prosecutor Dan Webb, who was appointed to look into Smollett’s case as well as the way the Cook County State’s Attorney Office handled it.

New Indictments

Actor Jussie Smollett is facing six new indictments of disorderly conduct for falsifying a police report for allegedly staging a fake hate crime in Chicago in 2019.

These indictments come after special prosecutor Dan Webb spent six months investigating the case. Back in August a judge appointed Webb to look into Smollett, who was previously indicted on 16 counts of the same charge in March, only for those charges to be abruptly dropped by Cook County prosecutors. Webb was assigned to look into further prosecuting Smollett, as well as any potential mishandlings of the case by the Cook County State’s Attorney Office.

“The grand jury’s investigation revealed that Jussie Smollett planned and participated in a staged hate crime attack, and thereafter made numerous false statements to Chicago Police Department officers on multiple occasions, reporting a heinous hate crime that he, in fact, knew had not occurred,” Webb’s office wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “Therefore, Mr. Webb has determined that reasonable grounds exist to further prosecute Mr. Smollett.”

He added that further charging Smollett is “in the interest of justice.” 

Webb has not made any conclusions as to whether or not the Cook County State’s Attorney Office mishandled the case and is still investigating this aspect. The statement did note that he disagreed with their choice to drop charges. 

The Jussie Smollett Case

Back in January 2019, Smollett, who is black and gay, said that two men attacked him in a hate crime. He claimed that they yelled racist and homophobic things at him, beat him, tied a noose around him, and poured chemicals on him. After Chicago Police investigated the matter, however, they said they found Smollett actually staged the attack and hired two people to do this.

Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx, who was assigned to oversee the case, recused herself in February before indictments were handed out. In March, Smollett was handed the 16 indictments, to which he pleaded not guilty. When they were dropped a few weeks later, he had to forfeit his $10,000 bond and do community service but did not have to admit any wrongdoing.

This news upset Chicago city officials and police, with then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel calling it “a whitewash of justice.”

The city of Chicago ended up filing a civil suit demanding that Smollett cover the $130,000 that was spent in overtime pay to investigate his report. Smollett later sued the city for malicious prosecution.

Responses

Foxx’s office released a statement disagreeing with the latest charges. Foxx faces a primary election in just a month, and her handling of the Smollett cases has been one of her campaign’s biggest hurdles. Her office believes the timing of these new charges is politically motivated. 

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office charged Jussie Smollett with multiple counts, and today the Special Prosecutor did the same,” her office’s statement said. “What’s questionable here is the James Comey-like timing of that charging decision, just 35 days before an election, which can only be interpreted as the further politicization of the justice system.”

Smollett’s legal team also mentioned the upcoming election while expressing their disapproval of the new indictments. 

“The charges were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence,” Smollett’s attorney Tina Glandian said in a statement. “The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice.”

On the other side, when Emanuel was asked about the indictment, he told ABC7 in Chicago that the news “speaks for itself.”

The city of Chicago also released a statement of its own. They noted that the civil case against Smollett still stands.

“We look forward to reviewing the indictment and, as we have said previously, the City stands by our original complaint seeking to recover costs for Mr. Smollett’s false statements,” the city’s statement said. “We again thank the Chicago Police Department detectives for their hard work on the original investigation.”

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

Entertainment

Disney Eviscerates Scarlett Johansson’s “Black Widow” Lawsuit as “Callous,” but Report Suggests Emma Stone and Emily Blunt May Follow Her Lead

Published

on

“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” the company said in an uncharacteristically blunt statement that was heavily criticized online. 


Johansson/Disney Lawsuit Gets Bitter

Disney has described a recent lawsuit from “Black Widow” actress Scarlett Johansson as “sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” but Johansson may have just unleashed what is to become an even bigger legal challenge for the House of Mouse. 

At the center of this dispute, Johansson alleges she lost $50 million because Disney opted for a dual streaming/theater release of “Black Widow,” which debuted in theaters and for $30 on Disney+ with Premier Access earlier this month. 

According to Johansson’s suit, her contract with Disney — which was negotiated prior to any hint of a pandemic — stipulated that “Black Widow” would see an exclusive theater release. Notably, the actress also said her contractual bonuses were tied to the movie’s box office performance, which is an extremely common practice with films featuring A-list celebrities.

Of course, when the pandemic hit — like many other industries — movies were upended. Pandemic-related changes meant that despite having an initial release date of May 2020, Marvel fans wouldn’t get a chance to see “Black Widow” for over a year. 

Still, Johansson said she tried to contact Disney to renegotiate her contract prior to the film’s ultimate release, but she claims the company was unresponsive. 

On Thursday, she then filed a complaint with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, with her attorney arguing that “Disney has enjoyed the benefits of having one of Hollywood’s top actresses promote its wholly owned subscription service at no additional cost to Disney, and with the intended effect of taking money out of that actress’ own pocket.”

Later Thursday, Disney claimed that it has “fully complied” with Johansson’s contract and that the streamed release of the film “has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date.”

“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” the company said in its uncharacteristically blunt statement.

Are Emma Stone and Emily Blunt Next?

Speaking of blunt, it was reported Friday that both Emily Blunt and Emma Stone may also file lawsuits against Disney’s dual streaming release of their films. 

In fact, according to an exclusive newsletter run by former Hollywood Reporter Editor Matt Belloni, Stone “is said to be weighing her options” over the dual release of “Cruella” in May. Meanwhile, he suggested Blunt could also take action or speak out following this weekend’s release of “Jungle Cruise.”

Belloni went on to describe Disney as “notoriously difficult to deal with” regarding such matters and claimed that many have simply been waiting for someone powerful enough to speak out. 

Disney Criticized for Its Response

Much of the public perception of the situation has led to overwhelming support for Johansson’s camp. Online, a slew of people lambasted Disney’s response, with many calling it a deflection. 

See what others are saying: (ScreenRant) (Newsweek) (Variety)

Continue Reading

Entertainment

Candace Owens and Logan Paul in Talks to Debate

Published

on

A spokesperson confirmed to Insider Wednesday that the two have had “productive” conversations about the prospect offline.


Candace Owens Challenges Logan Paul to a Debate

Right-wing commentator Candace Owens and controversial YouTuber Logan Paul are in talks to engage in a political debate. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. 

Owens — best known for making false claims about the George Floyd protests, spreading COVID-19 misinformation, and seemingly saying that Adolf Hitler “just wanted to make Germany great” — first challenged Paul to a debate on Friday. It started with her sharing a year-old clip from Paul’s podcast where he spoke about the importance of fighting racism in the United States. 

“It is not enough to be ‘not racist.’ You have to be anti-racist,” he said.

“If you’re white, if you look like me, use your privilege,” he added. “And for those who do not think white privilege exists, you are fucking blind.” 

Because merely acknowledging the existence of racism appears to go against Owens’ core beliefs, she asked Paul to duke it out with her. 

“Logan loves to challenge people in the boxing ring,” she wrote. “I’d like to publicly challenge him to go a few rounds with me in a political debate. @LoganPaul—how about you stop by my show and explain to me how you’re *checks notes* more privileged than me because you’re white and I’m not?”

Spokesperson Confirms The Two Are in Talks

Paul  — best known for launching a boxing career and filming a YouTube video that showed a dead body in Japan’s “suicide forest” — said on Tuesday that he was “perplexed” by the offer, but was taking it seriously. 

I started to entertain this action, I ended up speaking with her, and there may be a future where we sit down and have a civil discourse because I think there’s some meat on this bone,” he said during the most recent episode of his “ImPaulsive” podcast. 

The internet star acknowledged that Owens’ main arena is politics, while his main arena is being a “fucking idiot” online. Still, he said he does care about these issues and has a “semi-intelligent brain,” so he thinks he could “hold [his] own.”

“Candace Owens, whether you can admit it or not, is a smart person,” Paul continued. “And so I guess I’m just curious because I just fucking fundamentally disagree with her and again, I think there’s room for a conversation.” 

A spokesperson for Owens confirmed to Insider on Wednesday that the two had a “productive” offline conversation and said a public political debate between the two is “very likely.”

“Although both of them disagree on a variety of topics, they are both much more interested in learning from one another and think people would benefit from hearing an honest discussion between two parties rather than a ‘gotcha’ moment that might play well for social media,” the spokesperson added.

See what others are saying: (Insider)

Continue Reading

Entertainment

Finneas Slams Billie Eilish Troll Account for Attributing Fake Quotes to the Singer

Published

on

Eilish’s big brother said the account is spreading “relentless lies” and asked that it at least label itself as a satire account.


Troll Account Shares Fake Billie Eilish Quotes

Billie Eilish’s brother and collaborator Finneas took to Twitter Tuesday to address an account that has been sharing fake quotes attributed to his sister.

The account uses the handle @BilliesUpdatess and goes by the name of “Billie Eilish Updates” in its profile. It was created in July of 2021 and as of Wednesday morning, it had amassed a following of 1,100 people. On a quick glance, it looks just like any other update account a fan might make to share news about their favorite celebrity.

@BilliesUpdatess, however, is far from the standard adoring fan page. Of the over 300 tweets it has posted, several include screenshots of forged articles that make it look like Eilish said something either offensive or totally outlandish. One post claims Eilish defended her boyfriend after he was accused of supporting former president Donald Trump.

“At the end of the day, I fucking love him you know?” the phony statement reads. “It doesn’t matter if he made some homophobic comments in the past, people change. If he [Matthew] supports Donald Trump then I don’t care if it makes him happy. I support EVERY decision Mathew has to make, even the ones some of my fans don’t agree with, like maybe some of his icky comments.”

Screenshot @BilliesUpdatess

In another sham passage, Eilish says she thinks queerbaiting “is a really good thing!” In several others, the person behind the account comes up with artificial quotes to make it looks like Eilish is feuding with “driver’s license” singer Olivia Rodrigo. 

Screenshot @BilliesUpdatess

One post with a fake article ended up being retweeted 12,000 times. That tweet included Eilish claiming she longs to be poor.

Screenshot @BilliesUpdatess

“When I got rich, I started balling my eyes out,” the fake piece says. “I wanted to be poor so I can relate to most of my fans. I still want to be broke and poor, it looks really fun and cute.”

Finneas Slams Account

As the troll account started to gain traction, Finneas asked that people report and block it to minimize the spread of its “relentless lies.”

On Tuesday, he responded to a fan that tagged him in the @BilliesUpdatess tweet alleging his sister wanted to be poor. 

“Fake obviously,” Finneas wrote. “Honestly I just wish they’d label this account satire like the onion or something. I have no problem with a joke as long as people know it’s a joke.”

Screenshot @BilliesUpdatess

The account made several jokes about the fact that Finneas was calling it out, but it seems Eilish’s big brother got what he asked for. @BilliesUpdatess added “parody account” to its bio and the account was deleted as of Wednesday afternoon.

See what others are saying: (NME) (Uproxx) (E! News)

Continue Reading