JUSSIE SMOLLETT’S FAMILY ISSUES STATEMENT
CHICAGO (AP) – Jussie Smollett’s family is calling the attack on the “Empire” actor in Chicago this week was a “racist and homophobic hate crime.” In a statement yesterday, the family says Smollett has been forthright with police. The statement says his story “has never changed” – and expressed hope that police will solve the case. It’s unclear from the statement who has been suggesting that Smollett has been less than forthcoming with authorities. Smollett, who plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox TV show, hasn’t publicly spoken about the attack, which took place Tuesday morning.
JUSSIE SMOLLETT – INVESTIGATION CONTINUES
UNDATED (AP) – Police continue to try to piece together what happened to actor Jussie Smollett – but the going isn’t as smooth as many might think. The city of Chicago has a large array of surveillance cameras – and many are concentrated in the upscale area of downtown where Smollett was when he was attacked. Collecting and sifting through the hundreds of hours of tapes from the time of the attack is a daunting enough task. But authorities note that the various cameras that may have footage of the crime are not all in sync – which can complicate the search for evidence. So far, authorities say they have not found footage of the attack itself – or clear images of the men Smollett described as beating him. They do have clips of Smollett returning to his apartment, still wearing a rope he says his assailants draped around his neck.
PRESIDENT TRUMP SPEAKS OUT ON SMOLLETT BEATING
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump has expressed sympathy for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett. When reporters asked Trump yesterday about the beating which took place early Tuesday morning, the president said what happened “is horrible” and “doesn’t get worse.” The area where Smollett was beaten is relatively close to the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago. The actor has told police his attackers mentioned Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” using the acronym MAGA.
HASTY PUDDING – BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) – Now that she has received the Harvard theater troupe’s Hasty Pudding award, actress Bryce Dallas Howard says she will do her best to live up to the ideals of the Woman of the Year honor. Howard says she doesn’t feel she has accomplished as much as some other women in the entertainment field – but will use the award as a motivation to do more. She did help make a bit of history at Harvard. Her event marked the first time women were allowed to perform in the annual Hasty Pudding presentation.
BILL COSBY’S ACCUSER SETTLES DEFAMATION SUIT AGAINST EX-PROSECUTOR
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The woman who helped put Bill Cosby in prison for sexually molesting her has settled a lawsuit against the former prosecutor who first handled her case. Andrea Constand sued Bruce Cantor for defamation after he suggested she had embellished her account of her encounter with Cosby over time. Neither side is commenting on details of the settlement – which is sealed. Though Cantor declined to prosecute Cosby over Constand’s claim, a successor did – and Cosby was convicted last year and is serving a 3-to-10-year prison term.
SUPER BOWL MUSIC
ATLANTA (AP) – Maroon 5 has declined to meet with media about its Super Bowl halftime show gig on Sunday. But that didn’t stop Lil Jon from speaking with reporters. And the rapper says he can understand why Adam Levine and the rest of the pop group decided to lay low. Lil Jon says speaking with the media may have been a distraction. This year’s halftime show has become politically and socially charged – because many top-name stars have reportedly rejected the NFL’s request to perform. They are at odds with the league for the way it has appeared to shun Colin Kaepernick – whose knee-taking during the national anthem sparked a political firestorm. Some feel he has been blackballed by the league.
SUPER BOWL ADS
UNDATED (AP) – If you wanted to by now, you could have caught just about every ad that will be aired during Sunday’s Super Bowl telecast. Except one: an ad produced by the NFL, itself. The league is keeping it under wraps. But it’s being done to mark the 100th anniversary of the pro football league. The league hasn’t provided details – but the 2 minute ad is expected to highlight some of the game’s great players over the decades. The NFL greats won’t be the only stars featured in Super Bowl ads – several other stars have done ads that will run during the big game.
STAN LEE REMEMBERED IN HOLLYWOOD EVENT
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Laurence Fishburne says he remembers trying to scrape together enough money to buy a comic book done by Stan Lee. And while the sum of 12 cents seems small now, he says the investment was well worth it. Fishburne says reading Marvel Comics helped him see that he could be much more than anyone thought a black kid like him could be. The actor was just one of many performers, colleagues and fans who turned out to remember Lee at an event in front of the TCL Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Lee died late last year.
DONALD TRUMP’S VISION FOR STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
WASHINGTON (AP) – “Unity.” That’s the theme that President Donald Trump says he will try to emphasize during his upcoming State of the Union Address. Trump will deliver the speech before a joint session of Congress this coming Tuesday – a week later than usual. The annual presidential address was delayed because of the partial federal government shutdown – and because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi withdrew an earlier invite for Trump to appear. Speaking to reporters yesterday, Trump said he has respect for Stacey Abrams, who will give the Democratic response. He says he hopes she does a good job. Abrams will be the first black woman ever to deliver the rebuttal to a president’s State of the Union address.
by Oscar Wells Gabriel II
Follow Oscar Wells Gabriel II on Twitter at https://twitter.com/OWGabriel2