MAN ARRESTED IN JACQUELINE AVANT CASE
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) – Police in Beverly Hills, California, have arrested a 29-year-old man in connection with the fatal shooting of philanthropist Jacqueline Avant, the wife of music executive Clarence Avant. Police say Aariel Maynor was taken into custody after a burglary at a different residence. Officers recovered an AR-15 rifle at the home that is believed to have been used to shoot Jacqueline Avant, who was found wounded at her home early Wednesday. Maynor is being treated for injuries after he shot himself in the foot with a gun. Maynor is currently on parole. Authorities do not believe there are any other suspects in the Avant case.
ALICIA KEYS SHOWS OFF TWO VERSIONS OF NEW MUSIC
MIAMI (AP) – Alicia Keys previewed some of her new music at a small show in Miami on Wednesday, but only after she led the audience in a 10-minute meditation session. Then she asked them to choose which version of the three songs they liked better: the relaxing piano versions or the produced tracks with different beats. Keys seemed surprised when it was an even split. Keys will release her new album “Keys” with two versions called “Originals” and “Unlocked” on Dec. 10.
KELSEA BALLERINI RELEASES BOOK OF POETRY
NEW YORK (AP) – Kelsea Ballerini figured if she was going to share her life in her new book of poetry, she might as well go all in. Ballerini says she lays out her struggles with an eating disorder and body image issues. She also wrote a poem about her time as a high school student when she witnessed a classmate shoot another classmate in the cafeteria. Ballerini says she felt if she was truly showing who she is, she could not leave stuff like that out. The book is called “Feel Your Way Through” and it’s out now.
KENTUCKY HEADHUNTERS WILL MAKE OPRY DEBUT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The Kentucky Headhunters will make their Grand Ole Opry debut tomorrow, 30 years after they were first invited. Singer Richard Young says Bill Monroe and Roy Acuff had discussed having the Headhunters perform at the Opry in the early 1990s. He says Acuff told him, “‘I think they are probably good boys and would do a fine job, but let’s get ’em a haircut first.” It never happened. Young says they’re looking forward to their Opry debut and they still have most of their hair.
TONI BRAXTON TAKES ON LIFETIME MOVIE ROLE
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Toni Braxton will star as an ex-con in a book club in the Lifetime movie “Fallen Angels Murder Club.” Braxton will play Hollis Morgan, who served time for insurance fraud and comes under suspicion when members of the book club turn up dead. The movie is in production and is set to air next year.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS WILL HONOR CHRISTINA AGUILERA
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Christina Aguilera will receive the first-ever Music Icon Award at the People’s Choice Awards. Becky G will present the award at Tuesday’s ceremony outside Los Angeles, which will be carried on NBC. Aguilera will perform a medley of her hits and music from her upcoming Spanish-language album.
ALEC BALDWIN SAYS HE ISN’T RESPONSIBLE FOR “RUSH” CINEMATOGRAPHER’S DEATH
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Alec Baldwin says “someone is responsible” for the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of “Rust” in October. But he says he is not that person. The actor spoke about his role in the shooting in an interview that aired last night on ABC. And he says while he feels sadness and regret, he doesn’t feel guilty. He says he hopes authorities in New Mexico investigating the shooting will find the person who put a live round in the gun that killed Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza on Oct. 21.
ALEC BALDWIN ON SHOOTING
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Alec Baldwin has explained in further detail what happened when a prop gun went off on the set of “Rust,” killing the movie’s cinematographer. Speaking in an interview that aired on ABC last night, the actor said he was walking through the scene with cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, following her instructions on how get the right camera angle. Baldwin says she asked him to pull the gun’s hammer back – and when he released it, the bullet fired. Baldwin said if he thought he was to blame, he “might have killed” himself. He said it’s important for investigators to find out how live rounds got on the set.
STATE RESTS IN JUSSIE SMOLLETT TRIAL
CHICAGO (AP) – It’s now the defense’s turn to share its side of the Jussie Smollett case with the jury. The state of Illinois rested its case against the former “Empire” star yesterday – after having the jury hear from the second of two brothers who say they were paid by Smollett to beat him. Prosecutors have charged Smollett with staging his own hate crime. Neither brother withered on cross examination, denying defense claims that they beat Smollett because they didn’t like him. They also denied beating Smollett because they’re homophobic and Smollett is openly gay. There will be no testimony today – and the judge says the jury will likely get the case early next week.
DEFENSE REQUEST FOR A MISTRIAL DENIED
CHICAGO (AP) – There were some sparks between the judge in the Jussie Smollett case and lawyers for the fired “Empire” actor. Yesterday, defense attorney Tamara Walker got into a verbal battle with Judge James Linn. It began when the judge shut down a line of questioning to the second of two brothers prosecutors say launched a staged attack on Smollett. Walker asked for a mistrial. It was denied. The judge also verbally sparred with a second defense attorney. Each accused the other of making faces when objections were raised.
ARREST MADE IN SHOOTING DEATH OF JACQUELINE AVANT
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) – Police in Beverly Hills, California feel they’ve closed the case of the shooting death of philanthropist Jacqueline Avant. They say a 29-year-old man is in custody. Avant was shot at the home she shared with her husband, legendary music executive Clarence Avant. Police say they recovered an AR-15 rifle they believe was used in the shooting. Clarence Avant and a security guard at their home weren’t hurt during the shooting.
BIDEN LIGHTS NATIONAL CHRISTMAS TREE
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden helped light the National Christmas Tree, even as he remembered those lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before flipping the switch, the president credited the American people for their optimism and thanked service members for their sacrifices. It was Biden’s first time handling the nearly 100-year-old tradition in the nation’s capital. Singer-actor LL Cool J hosted the program, which featured performances by Billy Porter, Chris Stapleton, H.E.R., Kristin Chenoweth and Patti LaBelle.
ROCKEFELLER PLAZA TREE LIT IN NEW YORK CITY
NEW YORK (AP) – It was back to the past when it came to the Christmas tree lighting at New York’s Rockefeller Center. Last year’s event was subdued, with no one allowed near because of the coronavirus. But last night, the crowds returned for the event televised by NBC. Among the musical performers were Harry Connick Jr., Norah Jones, Brad Paisley and Alessia Cara. The Radio City Rockettes also performed.
MEGHAN MARKLE PREVAILS IN ANOTHER PART OF HER LAWSUIT AGAINST BRIT TABLOID
LONDON (AP) – Meghan Markle has won another round in her legal fight in a privacy lawsuit against a British newspaper. Three senior judges ruled the Duchess of Sussex had her privacy breached by two publications that printed parts of a letter she wrote her estranged father. Markle calls the ruling a victory of right vs. wrong. The losers, the company that puts out The Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, says it’s considering an appeal to the U.K. Supreme Court.