- 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.
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.
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)
Paris Hilton Recalls “Cruel” David Letterman Interview: “It Was Like He Was Just Purposefully Trying To Humiliate Me”
- Footage of David Letterman’s 2007 interview with Paris Hilton resurfaced last month, showing him repeatedly pressing Hilton about her time in jail.
- Despite Hilton’s visible discomfort and repeated attempts to avoid the topic, Letterman continued to ask about it for six minutes of the eight-minute-long segment.
- Hilton addressed the clip on Monday during her “This is Paris” podcast, noting that Letterman’s team had promised he would not bring the subject up at the time.
- “It was like he was just purposefully trying to humiliate me,” she said. “I thought he would keep his word on this and I was wrong…he just kept pushing me and pushing me and I was just getting uncomfortable and I was so upset.”
Letterman Interview Goes Viral
Paris Hilton called a 2007 interview she did with talk show host David Letterman “cruel” on Monday’s episode of her podcast “This is Paris.”
The clip started going viral in February as the “Framing Britney Spears” documentary prompted many to look at the culture of misogyny that dominated media in the 2000s. Many began to see the careers of young starlets of that era in a new light, including Spears, Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and more. Some started sharing old footage of these stars being mistreated or berated by prominent media figures.
In this 2007 clip, Letterman repeatedly asks Hilton about her time in jail even though Hilton asks to change the subject multiple times. Still, he spends over six of the eight minute segment hounding her about her experience.
“How’d you like being in jail?” He asked her almost immediately. “God that was just a horrible thing, wasn’t that horrible?
Hilton persistently asked to talk about her upcoming movie and fragrance, which she was on the show to promote in the first place. Letterman instead had her detail the meals she ate, asked if she made friends in jail, and pressed on several other aspects of her sentencing.
“I’ve moved on with my life. So I don’t really want to talk about it anymore,” Hilton said at one point.
“Well I appreciate that, but this is where you and I are different,” Letterman responded. “This is all I want to talk about.”
He then insisted that she might be able to serve as some kind of warning and example for other young people.
“Do you get correspondence like that from kids and teachers and clergymen and stuff?” he asked.
“I’m going on to the next question. I’m over it,” Hilton replied.
Letterman then told her that “in all seriousness now, this could be your legacy.“
He continued to bring the subject up for another minute until Hilton told him she was starting to regret appearing on the show.
“Now you’re making me sad that I came here because you’re hurting my feelings,” she said.
Hilton Recounts “Cruel” Interview
The clip generated a lot of outrage from people who were upset that Letterman was hounding a young woman who had just gone through a rough time. Others took issue with the fact that he blatantly refused her requests to change the subject. Now, Hilton has shared her own thoughts on the expereince.
The heiress said that she only agreed to sit down for the interview because her PR team worked out a deal with the show to make her stint in jail an off-limits topic.
“I felt like it was a safe place because I had been going on Letterman for so many years and, you know, he would always have fun with me and joke around but, you know, I thought he would keep his word on this,” she said on her podcast. “And I was wrong.”
“So there was not supposed to be one question and then he just kept pushing me and pushing me and I was just getting uncomfortable and I was so upset,” she continued.
Hilton said that after the interview was done, she walked off stage to her sister with tears in her eyes.
“It was like he was just purposefully trying to humiliate me,” Hilton explained. “And during commercial breaks I would be like, ‘please stop doing this, like you promised me you wouldn’t talk about this. That’s the only reason I came on this show. Please don’t bring it up again.’ He’s like ‘okay’ and then [he would] again.”
“It was just very cruel and very mean,” she said.
Hilton explained that after the interview, she told Letterman she would never return to his show because he had “crossed a line” with her. She said the host ended up sending her wine, letters, and continuously apologized until she agreed to go on his show again to promote another fragrance. Hilton said her next appearance on the show was far more pleasant.
She also said she is glad that the world is a more understanding place when it comes to topics like mental health, the MeToo and Times Up movements, and other subjects, meaning something like this would likely not happen again.
“I’m so happy that it’s different today,” she said. “Just for people who are coming up in the industry, who are new to this. You know, I wouldn’t wish what happened to me upon anyone, not even my worst enemy.”
See what others are saying: (USA Today) (The Independent) (Paper Magazine)
Taylor Swift Slams “Ginny & Georgia” for “Deeply Sexist” Joke About Her
- Netflix’s new series “Ginny & Georgia” is facing criticism for featuring a joke about Taylor Swift’s dating history.
- “You go through men faster than Taylor Swift,” a character in the show said, which the singer’s fans have denounced as a misogynistic remark.
- For many, the joke is especially frustrating because Swift has long been critical of this narrative and sexism in general in several interviews, songs, and even her own Netflix documentary: “Miss Americana.”
- “2010 called and it wants its lazy, deeply sexist joke back,” Swift tweeted Monday, adding, “Also, @netflix after Miss Americana this outfit doesn’t look cute on you 💔 Happy Women’s History Month I guess.”
“Ginny & Georgia” Sparks Outrage
Singer Taylor Swift criticized Netflix’s new series “Ginny & Georgia” on Monday for including a “deeply sexist” joke about her dating history.
In one episode of the show, which debuted last week, the character Georgia asks her daughter Ginny if she has broken up with her boyfriend.
“What do you care? You go through men faster than Taylor Swift,” Ginny replies.
After seeing this, were quick to defend the singer, slamming the remark as misogynistic and causing the phrase “RESPECT TAYLOR SWIFT” to start trending Sunday.
It even prompted fans to point to a 2017 episode of” Degrassi: Next Class,” which is also co-produced by Netflix, along with other companies.
In that episode, a character says, “Taylor Swift made an entire career off of her exes.”
“RESPECT TAYLOR SWIFT” Becomes Trending Topic
For many fans, these types of jokes are especially frustrating because Swift has long been critical of this narrative and sexism in general.
She’s addressed it in several interviews, songs, and even her own Netflix documentary: “Miss Americana.” Some online even pointed out that Swift trusted Netflix with that documentary as well as the concert film for her Reputation tour.
Swift took to Twitter Monday to address the joke herself.
“Hey Ginny & Georgia, 2010 called and it wants its lazy, deeply sexist joke back,” she wrote.
“How about we stop degrading hard working women by defining this horse shit as FuNnY. Also, @netflix after Miss Americana this outfit doesn’t look cute on you 💔 Happy Women’s History Month I guess”
Now, many are calling on Netflix and the series to apologize. Others are pointing to other stars who are often shamed for their dating history in the media, including Ariana Grande and Lori Harvey.
See what others are saying: (Cosmopolitan) (CNN) (PEOPLE)
Netflix To Invest $100 Million in Diversity Initiative
- Netflix will invest $100 million into a creative equity fund over the next five years in an effort to boost diversity both in front of and behind the camera.
- This comes after the streaming service released a report on diversity in its original programming, which found that the company made strides for women and Black characters on screen but lacked in other areas.
- For both film and television, Latino characters only made between 1.7% and 5% of lead roles and main cast members, despite being 12% of the U.S. population.
- The report also found that just 2% of speaking roles in film and 3.3% of speaking roles in series were for LGBTQ characters.
Netflix Invests in Diversity
Netflix announced plans on Friday to invest $100 million into a creative equity fund over the next five years in an effort to boost diversity in all areas of production.
Ted Sarandos, the co-CEO of Netflix, wrote in a blog post explaining that this fund will invest in company programs aimed at identifying, training, and providing job opportunities for-up-and coming talent in the industry. It will invest in numerous organizations with “a strong track record of setting underrepresented communities up for success in the TV and film industries.”
This comes as the streaming giant just released a massive report on its own diversity, done by Dr. Stacy Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. The study analyzed 180 scripted series and 126 films Netflix released in 2018 and 2019 to find where the studio has succeeded and where it needs to break ground.
Dr. Smith said a report of this nature is both unique and historic.
“At the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, we’re not aware of any other company taking a leadership role and making their findings as transparent and rolling out those results to all the communities,” she claimed in a video explaining the results of her research.
“Given the size and scope of Netflix content, particularly as it relates to its entertainment industry peers, the results show one thing very clear — Netflix is committed to inclusion across its content portfolio,” she continued.
Findings of the Report
Among the more positive findings, the report said that Netflix programs reflect gender equality when it comes to main roles, with 48% of films and 54% of shows having women leads or co-leads. It also found that 19% of lead roles went to male and female characters with unrepresented backgrounds, which is more than the industry at large did in the top grossing films of 2018 and 2019.
When it comes to behind-the-camera film roles for women, Netflix is also outpacing the progress the industry is making overall. The company hired women to direct 23% of its movies, compared to just 7.6% of women who directed the top grossing films of 2018 and 2019. Netflix also employed female writers and producers at a significantly higher rate.
The report found that the more women were working behind the camera, the more women wound up in front of it as well.
“Inclusion happens when women are given the keys to the kingdom,” Dr. Smith said in a video explaining the results of her research.
Still, there were many strides Netflix has yet to make when it comes to representation. While it did hire women of color to direct its films at three times the rate the industry in general did, they still only totaled just over 6% of directors for the studio. When it came to women of color directing television, Netflix fell behind industry-wide statistics.
The report found that 15% of leads and co-leads were Black characters and almost 20% of main casts were Black, which is on par for the U.S. population. However, when it comes to other underrepresented groups, the studio lacked.
For both film and television, Latino characters only made up between 1.7% and 5% of leads or main cast members, despite being 12% of the U.S. population. Additionally, the report noted that when it came to series, just 3% of creators and producers and 2% of writers and directors were Latino. For film, the studio employed just one Latino writer and director and only five producers.
LGBTQ characters and characters with disabilities were likewise underrepresented. Just 2% of speaking roles for film and 3.3% of speaking roles for TV went to characters that identified as LGBTQ.
Less than 2% of speaking film characters and 2.4% of speaking television characters had disabilities, compared to 27% of the American population identifying as having some sort of disability.
What Netflix Will Do Next
Netflix plans to take this data and build upon its findings.
“Great stories can truly come from anywhere, be created by anyone, whatever their background, and be loved everywhere,” Sarandos wrote. “And by better understanding how we are doing, we hope to stimulate change not just at Netflix but across our industry more broadly.”
During a virtual symposium, leaders at Netflix discussed the research and why it is important to the industry and the company.
“Part of young boys and girls seeing themselves, seeing who they are in those roles and making sure that we don’t have ‘Black Panther’ once a decade, that we have films where young people of color, young women can see themselves as heroes in active roles,” Netflix’s Vice President of Global film, Scott Stuber said.
He added that the new Netflix film “Jingle Jangle” starring Kegan Michael Key and Forest Whitaker was just one recent example of diversity on screen making a difference.
“The outpouring from the Black community, having a holiday film that represented them and their families, was an incredible thing for our filmmaker and for our company. And I think we have to continue to think in those terms.”
Sarandos says Netflix is committed to its work with Dr. Smith and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. The two will work together to release a report every two years between now and 2026.