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ABC Casts Its First Black Bachelor After 24 Seasons

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  • ABC has cast its first Black Bachelor, Matt James, after 24 seasons of the show, airing since 2002.
  • This comes as fans, as well as former stars of the show, have been demanding that it correct its lack of diversity.
  • Network executives claim this pressure did not impact their decision, but not everyone believed that.
  • Rachel Lindsay, the franchise’s only Black Bachelorette, said that while she is happy the show has finally cast a Black male lead, she thinks the timing is bad and that their intent may not spark the meaningful change she has been calling for.

ABC Casts First Black Bachelor

After producing 24 seasons of “The Bachelor” since 2002, ABC has finally cast its first Black lead: 28-year-old Matt James.

This is a major announcement for the hit dating series, which sparked one of the biggest reality franchises in television history, spanning over 40 seasons of shows including “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise.” James was originally going to be a contestant on the new season of “The Bachelorette,” which was supposed to be airing now but has been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout its 15 season run, “The Bachelorette” has only had one lead of color, Rachel Lindsay. 

James is known to fans of the show for being good friends with Tyler Cameron, a previous contestant. The two have regularly appeared in social media posts together, which fans often follow closely. He made his debut as the upcoming Bachelor during a Friday segment of “Good Morning America,” where he said he was honored to be taking the role. 

“Hopefully when people invite me into their homes on Monday night they’re going to see that I’m not much different from them and they see that diverse love stories are beautiful,” he said on the show.

Recent Calls for More Diversity

The decision to hire the first Black Bachelor comes as the show faced mounting pressure, both from fans and former contestants, to prioritize diversity. Over 85,000 people have now signed a petition calling for a more diverse cast. Lindsay recently wrote a blog post vowing to leave the franchise if the show did not bring on leads of color, contestants willing to date outside of their race, producers of color, and if the show did not stop making problematic storylines for people of color on the show. 

While this pressure has been building up over the last few weeks as most aspects of American culture are beginning to grapple with systemic racism, network executives claim this had nothing to do with their choice. 

“Matt was somebody who was on our radar and we were thinking about him,” Rob Mills, ABC’s top unscripted executive told Variety

“It wasn’t a response to that. We could have made this announcement earlier or later,” Mills said. “Certainly no one is blind to what is happening in the world, so hopefully this announcement serves as a bit of optimism during a time that we can really use this. But I don’t want this to look like we’re patting ourselves on the back or taking a victory lap.”

Lindsay Calls Casting a Band Aid Solution

However, not everyone is buying this. Traditionally, “The Bachelor” is announced after the previous season of “The Bachelorette” concludes, which is usually around August. “The Bachelor” then begins airing in January. The lead is often chosen from the pool of men who did not win.

Some think the choice to select and announce who the upcoming Bachelor would be six months in advance is not a coincidence, including Lindsay. She believes that regardless of what statements are being made by network heads, this is a direct response to the calls for change being made by herself and the fans.

“It’s a bandaid. It’s the easiest thing, to me, that you could do,” she said during a Friday episode of the popular podcast “Bachelor Party.” “It seems like it’s a knee-jerk reaction in response to what happened in our society. To what happened with George Floyd and the pressure that you’re getting from society. It’s almost like a man had to die in such a gruesome and public way for us to get a Black Bachelor. That’s what it feels like.”

While she says she is happy that the show has finally cast a Black Bachelor, she also thinks that the timing feels wrong, the process feels rushed, and the intent does not seem meaningful or heartfelt. 

“The whole point of calling them out was to say ‘We don’t feel valued. We don’t feel heard. We don’t feel included.’” Lindsay explained. “And you are saying ‘Okay, well, here’s a Black person to step into this role.’ It’s great to see it, love to see it, but it doesn’t make me feel as if you’re really taking it into consideration what it is we say, when I say systemic racism. The internal, embedded, deep-rooted issues within this franchise where it needs to change structurally.”

She also criticized ABC for its segment announcing James as the Bachelor. He spent much of his interview time talking about his mother, who they showcased during the segment. It is not commonplace for a Bachelor’s mother to be such an integral part of their introduction to the role. Lindsay thought they focused on this because James’ mother is white. 

“I think they wanted everyone to know his mother was white,” she said. “I will say it.”

Bachelor Alumni Express Support

Still, she has shared her support for James online, calling it “a step in the right direction.”

Elsewhere in Bachelor Nation, many other veterans of the franchise’s various programs also expressed congratulations to James, including former Bachelor Nick Viall. 

Cameron, who appeared on Hannah Brown’s season of “The Bachelorette,” also wished his close friend good luck. 

“This is all a testament of who you are as a person,” he said in an Instagram post. “Now the world gets to see the person you are and the heart you have. You can change the world. 

Brown, who recently started a separate conversation about racism within the Bachelor Nation when she said the N-word while singing on Instagram live, congratulated James as well. Through Cameron, the two have also become friends. 

“I cannot contain my excitement for this amazing human making history as the first Black Bachelor,” she wrote.

Right now, James’ season of the show is still slated to air in January, though that is all subject to change because of the coronavirus. The show usually involves up to 25 people in close quarters traveling together, so it is unclear what changes will be made going forward. It is also unclear what will happen to Clare Crawley’s season of “The Bachelorette,” which some executives hope can still film this summer. 

See what others are saying: (Variety) (People) (Good Morning America)

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Chris Pratt Denies Association With Hillsong Church: “I’ve Never Actually Been”

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The church has been accused of having anti-LGBTQ ties, something Pratt has taken a hit for. 


Pratt Addresses Hillsong Controversy 

After several years of facing criticism for his alleged ties to the controversial Hillsong Church, actor Chris Pratt said he has “never actually been” to the church and is “not a religious person.”

The Hillsong Church has been condemned for being anti-LGBTQ. The issue received increased attention in 2019 when actor Elliot Page tweeted, “If you are a famous actor and you belong to an organization that hates a certain group of people, don’t be surprised if someone simply wonders why it’s not addressed.” 

“Being anti LGBTQ is wrong, there aren’t two sides,” he continued.

At the time, Pratt responded to the allegations by saying that “nothing could be further from the truth” and that he believes “everyone is entitled to love who they want.” He doubled down on his denial in a profile published Tuesday in Men’s Health.

 “I never went to Hillsong. I’ve never actually been to Hillsong,” he told the outlet. “I don’t know anyone from that church.”

Instead, Pratt said he attends Zoe Church in Los Angeles, though not exclusively. According to Men’s Health, Zoe Church is not without its issues. The church was founded by a pastor who produced a film that equated “sexual brokeness” to “same-sex attraction.” Other outlets have also described it as a Hillsong affiliate. 

Pratt faced his biggest wave of backlash in 2020 when Internet memes declared him the “worst” Chris compared to other actors with the same first name, including Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Pine. A slew of celebrities quickly came to Pratt’s defense, arguing the criticism was unjustifiably mean. Their speedy responses only heightened the online conversation and many of the celebrities who spoke out were eventually mocked for doing so. 

Pratt Says He is Not Religious

As for why the Internet has become increasingly anti-Pratt, his alleged association to Hillsong was a major factor. Some also speculated he was a supporter of Donald Trump as he did not join his “Avengers” co-stars for a Joe Biden fundraiser, though Pratt is not usually politically outspoken in either direction.

Pratt believes the backlash against him started when he gave a speech at the MTV Movie Awards in 2018 where he said, “God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you.” He understands why those remarks may have rubbed people the wrong way. 

“Maybe it was hubris. For me to stand up on the stage and say the things that I said, I’m not sure I touched anybody,” he told Men’s Health. “Religion has been oppressive as fuck for a long time. I didn’t know that I would kind of become the face of religion when really I’m not a religious person.”

He went on to explain that in his eyes, there is a difference between adhering to certain customs and believing in God versus using God to control and harm people and justify hatred.

“The evil that’s in the heart of every single man has glommed on to the back of religion and come along for the ride,” he said.

See what others are saying: (Men’s Health) (The AV Club) (People)

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Jodie Sweetin Releases Statement After Getting Pushed By Officers at Pro-Choice Protest: “This Will Not Deter Us”

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“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote on Instagram.


Actress Pushed at Protest

After viral footage showed Jodie Sweetin getting pushed to the ground by officers with the Los Angeles Police Department while attending a pro-choice protest, the “Full House” actress said demonstraters “will continue fighting” for their rights. 

Sweetin was attending a protest off the 101 freeway on Saturday following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Photojournalist Mike Ade, who captured the video, said the actress was “trying to lead a group of peaceful protestors away from the freeway” when officers pushed her. Sweetin was standing on a curb when she was pushed and fell down on the cement road. Ade wrote that she was “fortunately…okay.”

Ade shared a handful of other videos depicting officers using similar tactics on other protesters. As these videos started circulating online, many became outraged by the LAPD’s response to the protests.

Sweetin Addresses Incident

Following the incident, Sweetin released a statement where she said the fight against the court’s decision is not over. 

“I’m extremely proud of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday to exercise their First Amendment rights and take immediate action to peacefully protest the giant injustices that have been delivered from our Supreme Court,” Sweetin said. “Our activism will continue until our voices are heard and action is taken. This will not deter us, we will continue fighting for our rights. We are not free until ALL of us are free.”

Sweetin also shared footage of the incident and other clips of officers clashing with protesters on her Instagram story. She cheered protesters in a comment on a video of the push shared by a social justice group called The Progressivists.

“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote.

According to a statement obtained by Deadline, the LAPD is looking into the matter. 

“The LAPD is aware of a video clip of a woman being pushed to the ground by officers not allowing the group to enter on foot and overtake the 101 freeway,” the statement said. “The force used will be evaluated against the LAPD’s policy and procedure.”

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Rolling Stone) (The Hollywood Reporter)

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Dave Chappelle Decides Against Having Former High School’s Theater Named After Him

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“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” the comedian reportedly said.


Theater Named Announced

Comedian Dave Chappelle opted on Monday to not have the theater at his alma mater high school named after him, according to a report from The Washington Post

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. previously planned to name its theater in honor of Chappelle, as he is a distinct alum and donor. While Chappelle formerly said such a gesture would be “the most significant honor of [his] life,” he announced during Monday’s naming ceremony that it would bear a different title. 

The school’s theater will instead be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression. 

A naming ceremony was initially set to take place in November, but was postponed after the comedian began facing backlash for transphobic jokes in his Netflix special “The Closer.”

Among other things, he said he was “Team TERF,” which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. He also made a joke about Caitlyn Jenner and remarks comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.

The jokes embroiled Chappelle in controversy, and reports claimed that some students at Duke Ellington took issue with the comments. When Chappelle ended up visiting the school amid the scandal, Politico reported that one student told the comedian, “I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child.”

Chappelle Defends Controversial Special 

According to The Post, Chappelle said the criticism against him “sincerely” hurt, but added that “the Ellington Family is my family.” He claimed he did not want the theater being named after him to distract students. 

“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” he said according to Josh Rogin, a columnist for the outlet.

Rogin also tweeted that Chappelle took time out of the ceremony to slam the criticisms levied against him, accusing upset students of promoting someone else’s agenda. 

“These kids didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression,” he reportedly said. 

“You cannot report on an artist’s work and remove artistic nuance,” Chappelle continued while denouncing the press coverage of his Netflix special. 

According to David Frum, a staff writer for The Atlantic who attended the ceremony, Chappelle suggested he was open to potentially adding his name to the theater at a later date when the community is ready. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Variety) (The Atlantic)

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