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Harvey Weinstein Sentenced to 23 Years in Prison

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  • Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison on Wednesday for third-degree rape and a criminal sexual act. 
  • Weinstein was convicted of the crimes last month but was acquitted of more serious charges that carried a potential life sentence. 
  • This isn’t the end of Weinstein’s legal battles as he still faces charges in Los Angeles for other sex crimes he allegedly committed. 

What Was Weinstein Convicted Of? 

Disgraced Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in a New York state prison on Wednesday for his felony sex crimes conviction. 

On Feb 25, a Manhattan jury made up of seven men and five women found the 67-year-old guilty of a first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape. The charges were based on testimony from Miriam Haley, a production assistant who said Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in his Lower Manhattan apartment in 2006, and Jessica Mann, a then-aspiring actress who said Weinstein raped her at a Midtown hotel in 2013.

The jury made their decision after a seven-week trial and five days of deliberation, however, they did choose to acquit Weinsten of the most serious charges he faced: two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried the possibility of a life sentence.

Those charged required the jury to find that he had raped actress Annabella Sciorra’s in the early 1990s at her Gramercy Park apartment, but some jurors ultimately doubted her account and decided against that conviction. 

The jury also determined that Weinstein was not guilty of first-degree rape in the 2013 attack against Mann. That charge required the state to prove the use of force or a threat during the incident, so instead, the jury chose to convict him of third-degree rape, which only required prosecutors to prove a lack of consent.

In total, Weinstein faced a 29-year sentence; between five to 25 years for the criminal sex act charge and up to four years in prison for third-degree rape. Prosecutors asked for the maximum or near-maximum sentences, with an order for them to be served concurrently. Meanwhile, defense attorneys asked for him to get the minimum.

Weinstein’s Sentencing 

Haley and Mann read emotional impact statements ahead of his sentencing with Haley saying, “He violated my trust and my body and my personal right to deny sexual advances.”

“I could only hope whatever sentence, [it’s] long enough for him to acknowledge [what] he has done to me and others.”

For her part, Mann said Weinstein was “completely disconnected from the gravity of the crimes” he had committed against her and other women.

Weinstein also spoke during the hearing, talking in length about his charitable deeds. He at one point also compared the #MeToo movement to people being blacklisted for being communists during the Red Scare and according to Variety, said, “I think men are confused about all of this…this feeling of thousands of men and women who are losing due process, I’m worried about this country.”

He also suggested that he thought his relationships with the women were consensual and that he was “totally confused” by what they described. “We may have different truths, but I have remorse for all of you and for all the men going through this crisis,” he said to his accusers.

“I really feel remorse for this situation. I feel it deeply in my heart. I’m really trying, I’m really trying to be a better person,” he added. 

Judge James Burke ultimately handed down a 20-year sentence for the criminal sex act charge and a 3-year sentence for third-degree rape, which are to be served consecutively. He also said Weinstein will be formally registered as a sex offender. 

“I will say that although this is a first conviction, it is not a first offense,” Burke said when announcing his decision, adding that there is evidence of incidents of sexual assault against other women.

All six of the women who had given graphic accounts on the witness stand during the trial sat in the front row of the gallery in solidarity. They walked out of the courtroom together after the sentencing, some smiling and some in tears. 

Recently Unsealed Court Documents 

The sentencing is a major victory for the #MeToo movement, which gained momentum after several women came forward with accusations against Weinstein starting in late 2017. At least 80 women have made accusations against him for varying levels of harassment and assault. 

Recently unsealed court documents even showed that weeks after the first accusations were published by The New Yorker and The New York Times, Weinstein desperately reached out to wealthy friends for support,  including Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, and Mike Bloomberg. 

“I don’t need you to make any public statements — just a private one to my gmail address, saying that you support me getting therapy and the help I need before the board fires me. I’m in a tough spot. Many of the allegations are false, but I need your help with this private letter of support,” he wrote in a letter to the heads of Apple. 

“I need your friendship now,” he wrote to Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, asking him to provide a private letter to the Weinstein Company’s board.

The documents also showed how Weinstein dealt with all of the emerging claims against him. According to Variety, Weinstein was contacted in October 2017 by a reporter from the National Enquirer who said they were planning to publish a story reporting that Jennifer Aniston was sexually assaulted by him. Weinstein responded by email: “Jen Aniston should be killed.” 

Aniston’s representative has since told Variety that the Enquirer’s claims were false, saying,  “Jennifer has not been harassed or assaulted by Harvey.” 

Other documents showed that Weinstein compiled a “red flag list” of industry figures who he suspected might be talking about his sexual behavior to the media. That list was sent to his private investigators and included about 70 names like Ben Affleck, Rose McGowan, and several others. 

This New York decision does not mark the end of Weinstein’s legal battles by any means. Los Angeles prosecutors filed criminal charges of their own against him earlier this year alleging two incidents of sexual assault over a two-night period in 2013. 

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

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Billie Eilish Advocates for Climate Action Ahead of U.N. COP26 Summit

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The singer was joined by “The Office” actor Rainn Wilson and other big-name celebrities and activists in a pitch for world leaders to make substantial progress at the conference.


Billie Eilish Calls for Climate Action

Singer Billie Eilish partnered Tuesday with the environmental group Arctic Basecamp at the University of Exeter to call for meaningful climate action ahead of the U.N. COP26 climate conference. 

“This year our leaders are deciding the global actions required on the environment climate emergency in a critical decade for our planet,” Eilish said in a video. “We must stand together and speak up to save our planet, not just for us, but for our future generations. And we need urgent, urgent action now.” 

Eilish is no stranger to advocating for solutions to climate change. In September, the “Happier Than Ever” singer urged Congress to pass climate legislation as part of the #CodeRedClimate campaign. For her latest pitch with Arctic Basecamp, she was joined by other big names, including “The Office” actor Rainn Wilson, explorer Levison Wood, climate activist Daze Aghaji, and wildlife advocate Robert Irwin, who is the son of the late Steve Irwin.

“Courage. That’s what our world’s leaders need more than anything,” Wilson said in the video message. “The decisions that they make about the climate crisis in the next decade are the most important decisions in our planet’s history.” 

What is COP26?

Arctic Basecamp works with scientists and other high-profile organizations all over the world to call attention to climate issues and encourage effective solutions. It was founded by Gail Whiteman, a professor at the University of Exeter, who released a statement thanking the slew of stars and activists for their involvement in the COP26 initiative. 

“It is amazing to be working with such brave people that not only are using their voice but are using their voice for good,” she said. “This is a crisis and the Arctic is sounding the alarm. It is time that world leaders come together to create real change that ensures a safe future for humanity.”

COP26 will kick off in Glasgow on Oct. 31 and run through Nov. 12. Global leaders will discuss several actions regarding the environment, including pacts like the Paris Agreement and U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. They will also focus on a series of goals, including achieving global net-zero emissions by mid-century and protecting ecosystems, along with other infrastructure threatened by climate change.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pitched the event as a key moment for the world to come together and tackle climate change. This week, he described it as “our best chance to make the changes we need to protect our planet for our children and grandchildren.”

See what others are saying: (Billboard) (CNN) (The Independent)

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Dave Chappelle Says He’s Willing To Meet With Trans Community Under Certain Conditions

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After being criticized for transphobic comments, the comedian said he would give an audience to the transgender community even though he is “confused” about what they would be discussing.


Dave Chappelle Addresses Netflix Employees

Comedian Dave Chappelle responded on Monday to the recent backlash he has faced for making transphobic remarks in his new Netflix stand-up special “The Closer.”

Over the past several weeks, many employees at Netflix have protested against Chappelle’s program and numerous LGBTQ+ rights groups have condemned his comments. Netflix employees staged a walkout last week to call out “The Closer” and advocate for more trans and nonbinary employees to be included at the company. 

Some reports have alleged that Chappelle denied the opportunity to speak with the trans community and allies at Netflix. In a new video addressing the controversy, Chappelle refuted that allegation. 

“It’s been said in the press that I was invited to speak to the transgender employees of Netflix and I refused. That is not true,” he said “If they had invited me, I would have accepted it, although I am confused about what we would be speaking about.

“I said what I said, and boy, I heard what you said. My God, how could I not?” he continued. “You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. It seems like I’m the only one who can’t go to the office.”

Chappelle Says He Will Meet With Trans Community

Chappelle added that he would be willing to meet with the trans community but is not “bending to anybody’s demands.” 

“I have some conditions. First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end,” Chappelle explained. “You must come to a place of my choosing at a time of my choosing, and thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”

Gadsby is a comedian best known for her Netflix special “Nanette.” While defending Chappelle, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos name-dropped Gadsby and “Nanette” as examples of the service’s offerings that give voice to marginalized communities. Gadsby shot back at the executive, saying she did not want him to “drag [her] name into [his] mess.” 

“Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chappelle’s fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial world view,” Gadsby wrote on Instagram. “Fuck you and your amoral algorithm cult.”

During “The Closer,” Chappelle called himself “team TERF” while discussing author J.K. Rowling being “canceled” after making a series of transphobic comments herself. He said he agreed with Rowling and added that “gender is a fact.” He later made a slew of other comments, including a joke about Caitlyn Jenner and remarks comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.

As outrage poured in, Sarandos released a series of statements in support of Chappelle and his artistic freedom. During his video, Chappelle thanked Sarandos, claiming that he has lost a series of opportunities amid the controversy. Chappelle recently completed a documentary that he says was going to screen at film festivals, but he is allegedly no longer welcome at those events.

“When this controversy came out about ‘The Closer,’ they began disinviting me from these film festivals, and now, today, not a film company, not a movie studio, not a film festival, nobody will touch this film,” Chapelled claimed. “Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix, he’s the only one that didn’t cancel me yet.” 

Chappelle later announced that he will be taking his documentary on tour to cities like San Francisco, New York, Atlanta, and Toronto.

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

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Affidavit Outlines Alleged Events That Lead Up to Fatal Shooting on “Rust” Set

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Before the tragic incident that resulted in the death of the film’s cinematographer, actor Alec Baldwin was allegedly assured that the gun he was handed on set was not loaded.


Details of Events Leading Up to Shooting

An affidavit alleges that actor Alec Baldwin was rehearsing a scene that involved him pointing a gun at the camera when he misfired the weapon last week, killing the production’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, and injuring director Joel Souza. 

Multiple outlets obtained the affidavit from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday. The document details the alleged events that resulted in Thursday’s tragedy on the set of “Rust.” Souza told investigators that during a firearms safety announcement, he heard the prop weapon referred to as a “cold gun,” a term that means the gun is not loaded.

According to Souza, the guns on set were usually checked by two people: armorer Hannah Guttierrez-Reed and assistant director Dave Halls. Halls was in charge of giving the guns to actors, though sources said both Guttierrez-Reed and Halls did so at various times.

The affidavit said that Halls handed the gun to Baldwin while announcing it as a “cold gun.” Investigators say investigators that Halls got the revolver from a tray set up by Gutierrez-Reed.

Souza said the crew had spent part of the day preparing for a scene in a church and later left to take a lunch break at another location. He said he was unsure if the firearm had been checked again after returning from lunch. 

When the accident happened. Souza said he heard what “sounded like a whip and then loud pop.” He first noticed Hutchins grabbing her midsection and stumbling back before realizing he had been hit in the shoulder. 

The incident came after six camera crew workers reportedly walked off the set in protest of unfair and unsafe working conditions. According to the affidavit, a replacement crew had quickly been hired, but production on the day of the accident was off to a late start because of related issues. Regarding general on-set behavior, Souza claimed that “everyone was getting along” and that there had been “no altercations” to his knowledge.

The affidavit’s walkout claim backed up previous reporting from The Los Angeles Times. Sources from the set of “Rust” told the outlet on Friday that half a dozen workers left the set because they were frustrated by safety issues, long hours, long commutes, and a long wait for their paychecks. 

Safety Issues on Set of “Rust”

According to the report, standard industry safety protocols “were not strictly followed,” and at least one worker complained specifically about gun safety. Some sources told The Times that there had already been at least two accidental discharges of a prop gun. Around a week before the fatal accident, Baldwin’s stunt double allegedly fired two rounds after being told a gun was cold. 

“There should have been an investigation into what happened,” one source told the outlet.  “There were no safety meetings. There was no assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. All they wanted to do was rush, rush, rush.”

Another source told The Times that “corners were being cut” on set. 

The report also claimed that Hutchins was among those advocating for her team to have safer work conditions. 

Rust Movie Productions released a statement saying safety “is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company.” 

“Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down,” the statement continued. 

Baldwin, for his part, sent his condolences to Hutchins’ family on Friday. At the time, he said he was cooperating with the ongoing investigation. 

Vigils have been held in New Mexico and Hollywood to honor Hutchins. The American Film Institute also made a memorial scholarship in her name.

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (The New York Times) (The Hollywood Reporter)

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