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Debra Lee the CEO and Chairman of BET Networks resigns 

Debra Lee the CEO and Chairman of BET Networks resigns. 

Via Deadline:

Lee’s exit is not completely surprising. Viacom laid the groundwork for the move in December when Scott M. Mills was named BET president, a role in which he would oversee overall strategy and day-to-day operations of BET Networks including oversight of the brand’s programming, ad sales and digital teams. At the time, Lee was set to continue in her chairman and CEO role but was going to step back from running the network, and was to serve as an advisor to Mills. Most Viacom cable networks have undergone leadership changes as part of reorganizations implemented by Bob Bakish since he became Viacom CEO in early 2017.

Scripted series launched on Lee’s watch include Being Mary Jane, The Real Husbands of Hollywood, and In Contempt. She also oversaw the creation of “The BET Awards,” as well as the launch of the first festival weekend under the Viacom umbrella, The BET Experience.Some of BET’s biggest success stories with Lee at the helm include the 2014 series premiere of The Game, the most-watched sitcom premiere in cable TV history with 7.68 million viewers, and the 2017 hit mini-series The New Edition Story, which brought in 28.4 million viewers from the initial run through subsequent encores, making it the highest-rated TV biopic of all time. With her in charge, BET Networks has remained the #1 network among African-American viewers for the past 17 years.

Lee also oversaw the launch of the network’s website, BET.com, developed BET Her, the first network for African-American women, and acquired television rights to Black Girls Rock! Lee also launched Leading Women Defined, an annual conference where notable African American women, including Former First Lady Michelle Obama, Venus Williams, Issa Rae and Erykah Badu, gathered each year for insightful debates and conversations on issues that impact their community and families. Additionally, she championed BET’s breast cancer campaign “BET Goes Pink,” the education platform “BET Next Level,” voting campaign “BET Vote Your Voice” and several telethons for Florida, Haiti and Katrina under the “SOS: Saving OurSelves” initiative.

Per BET, following her departure from the company, Lee, a well-respected industry executive, plans to stay involved in the media industry and continue her role on corporate and non-profit boards. In addition, Lee also plans to continue her commitment to diversity and inclusion by advancing the rights of women and girls as well as people of color through her work with Times Up and The Recording Academy Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, to name a few. Lee’s annual gathering of prominent African American women, Leading Women Defined, will also continue under her leadership.

‘Hair’ slated to be NBC’s next live musical

Broadway theater lovers, we now know what musical NBC will be tackling next -- the iconic ‘60s show “Hair.”

The peacock network made the announcement this week that it will produce the show for spring 2019. It will be helmed by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, Entertainment Weekly reported.

“Its recent Broadway revival showed how timeless the show is and that it’s relevant to any era. ‘Hair’ is filled with heartfelt emotion, joy and thrilling music and it really will be the new dawning of the Age of Aquarius,” Zadan and Meron said in a joint statement.

>> Read more trending news 

Zadan and Meron have executive produced each of NBC’s musicals since its first, “The Sound of Music,” NBC said in a press release.

“Hair” originally hit Broadway in 1968 after an off Broadway run in 1967. It was revived in 2008 and 2009. There was a feature film released in 1979.

There is no word yet as to who will star and how they will adapt the show, which was cutting edge at its time, for a network TV audience, Entertainment Weekly reported.

The most recent musical television adaptation was April’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” which starred John Legend, Sara Bareilles and Alice Cooper.

Elizabeth Sung, ‘Joy Luck Club,’ ‘Young and the Restless’ star, dies

Elizabeth Sung, who had a long career on the small and big screen, has died.

Sung may be most well known as her character as Luan Violen Abbott on “The Young and the Restless” soap opera. She was on the show in 1994 through 1996, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

She also appeared on the small screen in series across networks, including “Hawaii-Five-O,” “The Sopranos,” “Bones” and “Charmed.”

>> Read more trending news 

On the big screen, Sung starred in “The Joy Luck Club,”  “Memoirs of a Geisha” and “Lethal Weapon 4.”

She was born and raised in Hong Kong, studying ballet. She graduated from The Julliard School, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Sung’s cause of death has not been released. She was 63 years old and survived by her husband, Peter Tulipan, Fox News reported.

Adam Levine, James Corden pulled over by cop in ‘Carpool Karaoke’ episode

Adam Levine is the latest musician to join late-night talk show host James Corden for an episode of “Carpool Karaoke,” but they may have had too much fun.

In a promo clip for the episode, which aired Thursday, Levine and Corden sing along to the Maroon 5 lead singer’s song “Moves Like Jagger,” but at one point a police car drives alongside them, prompting them to roll their windows down.

>> Read more trending news 

“I’m gonna pull you over so he can sing a song for me,” the officer says from his vehicle, referring to Levine.

“You want us to pull over so he can sing a song for you?” Corden asks as he and Levine laugh.

“Just because you caused a traffic hazard,” the officer said. 

“Just be careful,” the officer said before driving off.

Toward the end of the episode, Corden quizzes Levine with trivia questions while Levine is behind the wheel on a driving course full of twists and turns.

Watch the full clip of Levine’s “Carpool Karaoke” episode on YouTube. The pair’s chat with a police officer happens at the 3:44 mark.

25th James Bond film, 5th with Daniel Craig, to be directed by Danny Boyle

Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle will direct the 25th James Bond film, the spy film franchise confirmed the news on Twitter Friday.

In August, Daniel Craig confirmed during an appearance on “The Late Show” that he would return as Bond in the franchise, which will be distributed internationally by Universal, according to Variety.

>> Read more trending news 

Deadline reported that John Hodge wrote the original screenplay for the film, which was written based on an idea from Boyle.

“We are delighted to announce that the exceptionally talented Danny Boyle will be directing Daniel Craig in his fifth outing as James Bond in the 25th installment of the franchise,” EON Productions’ Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said in a statement, according to Variety. “We will begin shooting ‘Bond 25’ at Pinewood Studios in December with our partners at MGM and are thrilled that Universal will be our international distributor.”

Specifically, Bond 25 starts filming Dec. 3.

The 25th James Bond movie will be in US theaters Nov. 8, 2019, two weeks after an Oct. 25 release date in the UK.

Morgan Freeman friend defends actor after misconduct allegations, speaks out against accusers

At least eight women have accused actor Morgan Freeman of inappropriate behavior, according to a report from CNN. The women said the behavior happened on and off movie sets.

>> Read more trending news 

Freeman is an Academy Award-winning actor, but he's also a business owner in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Two blocks around the corner from Ground Zero, the blues club Morgan Freeman owns, WHBQ-TV met with Celia Bobo. Bobo and  Morgan Freeman have been friends for two decades, and she said she does not believe the accusations.

"I find it hard to believe. I mean, I have known Morgan for many years," Bobo said. "Morgan has been nothing but a southern gentleman in my presence and the presence of my three daughters," she said

A number of Freeman's accusers said he "repeatedly (behaved) in ways that made women feel uncomfortable at work. Two even said they were subjected to unwanted touching, according to the CNN report.

Bobo told WHBQ she believes Morgan Freeman might actually be the victim in this case.

"With the current situation of the sexual harassment, I think it has become easier for a lot of people to say they have been sexually abused or harassed," Bobo said.

She said she believes the women who are accusing Morgan Freeman of misconduct are doing it to “show out.”

"He is a great guy, and I have been around him in many different circumstances."

>> Related: Morgan Freeman apologizes after 8 women accuse him of inappropriate behavior

In a statement released Thursday, Morgan Freeman apologized.

"Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would willingly offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy," Freeman said in the statement. "I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected -- that was never my intent."

Prince Harry called ex Chelsy Davy before royal wedding, sources say

Prince Harry reportedly called his ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy ahead of his royal wedding to Meghan Markle last week.

>> Read more trending news 

According to Vanity Fair, Davy was invited to the royal wedding but learned she wasn’t invited to the evening reception. 

A family friend told Vanity Fair that Harry called Davy out of courtesy and they shared a “tearful phone call.”

“It was their final call, a parting call in which they both acknowledged Harry was moving on,” the source told Vanity Fair. “Chelsy was quite emotional about it all, she was in tears and almost didn’t go to the wedding. In the end, she went and promised Harry she wouldn’t try and gate-crash the party.”

Harry and Davy dated for seven years, from 2004 to 2011, PEOPLE reports

Before their split, it was rumored that Davy was uncomfortable with being in the spotlight.

The pair are reportedly still friendly and have several mutual friends.

Davy, 32, was born in Zimbabwe. Her father, Charles Davy, is a safari farmer and her mother, Beverly Donald Davy, is a former Coca-Cola model and was Miss Rhodesia 1973, according to Elle Magazine

Davy studied economics and earned a law degree in 2009. She launched her own jewelry brand, Aya, in 2016. 

Davy wasn’t the only ex-girlfriend at the wedding.

Harry also invited Cressida Bonas, who he dated from 2012 to 2014.

Vanity Fair reports that Bonas, an English model and actress, was not invited to the exclusive evening reception, either. 

'The Chew' canceled: ABC kills foodie talk show amid Mario Batali allegations

ABC’s appetite for afternoon talk show “The Chew” is over after seven years.

Instead, a third hour of “Good Morning America” will air at 1 p.m. starting this fall. 

>> Mario Batali faces criminal investigation, NYPD officials say

“The Chew,” currently hosted by Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly and Michael Symon, replaced “All My Children” in 2011. Former co-host chef Mario Batali was fired late last year after several women alleged he sexually harassed them at his New York restaurants. Batali is now under criminal investigation by the New York Police Department.

>> Read more trending news 

The chat/food show’s ratings have fallen sharply this season to its lowest levels since its debut.

New episodes of “The Chew” will continue to air through the summer.

Details on who will host this third hour of “GMA” will be released later.

T.I. rails against Houston's restaurant after actresses' arrests from bathroom

Renewed criticism is emerging for Houston’s restaurant in Atlanta as three actresses say they were wrongfully arrested and attacked at the Peachtree Road restaurant after using the restroom.

>> T.I. arrest: Petition urges police to drop charges against rapper

The Atlanta Police Department is investigating whether an off-duty officer working security at the restaurant used excessive force, the agency told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday

Gerald Griggs, an attorney representing the women, said they asked for and were given permission to use the restroom. They were in the process of leaving when the officer escalated the situation, Griggs said.

>> Police report details events leading to T.I.’s arrest outside gated community

The incident is the latest in recent months to lead to accusations of mistreatment of black people at the restaurant chain. The allegations led to calls for a boycott, including from Atlanta rapper T.I., who eventually met with the company and announced that he approved of a plan to address the concerns.

“Absolutely unacceptable behavior!!!!,” he wrote Tuesday on Instagram, renewing his complaints about the chain.

The restaurant said in a statement that it is cooperating with Atlanta police on the investigation. The statement also said the women were asked multiple times to leave by employees because the restaurant was closed.

Griggs told the AJC that the women’s displeasure is with the restaurant as well as the off-duty officer. 

Brittany Lucio, Asia'h Epperson and Erica Walker, who described themselves as actresses, went to the restaurant on May 13, Mother’s Day, after attending an event nearby. 

What happened next is in dispute.

>> On AJC.com: Boy, 9, tries to save brother from carjacker at QuikTrip, cops say

The police report, which Griggs believes contains inaccuracies, said they went into the restroom at 10:26 p.m. and twice refused to leave before an employee asked Officer Jose Guzman to intervene. The restaurant closes at 10 p.m.

At 10:39 p.m., Guzman had a female employee open the door in case the women were using the toilet, the report said. He asked them to leave multiple times, but they ignored him.

The officer had a worker open the restaurant’s back door. Guzman said he grabbed Lucio’s wrist and said, “Let’s go,” but she told him not to touch her and still refused to leave.

Walker walked out of the restaurant.

>> LISTEN: 911 call released in rapper T.I.’s arrest

Guzman said Lucio punched him in the head. Once outside, he held Lucio and Walker to the ground while Epperson filmed with her phone before more police arrived and the women were arrested.

Griggs said the video and his clients’ statements don’t fit with the officer’s report.

First, the attorney emphasized, that despite the stated hours, the restaurant was not closed when the women arrived; it was a “full house.” 

They had been in the restroom 10 minutes or less when staff asked them to leave. The women said they would finish up in the restroom and leave.

“Next thing they know the police officer comes in,” Griggs said.

While the officer complained in the report of small lacerations on his face, Griggs said Lucio and Walker had markings on their bodies to prove they were attacked by the officer. 

The women were each charged with trespassing, and Lucio was also accused of obstruction. 

Griggs said he’s contacted the offices of the district attorney and solicitor to request that the charges be dismissed. He called for the officer to be placed on unpaid leave while the police department investigates the situation.

>> Read more trending news 

The police department said it will review “all aspects” of the incident.

“The Atlanta Police Department is aware of the excessive force accusations made by the arrestees and the Office of Professional Standards has opened an investigation into entire incident for appropriate action and whether proper procedures were followed, the agency said in a statement.

Griggs has been in touch with the legal team at Houston’s in hopes of setting up new meetings to discuss what he said appears to be a “climate” of racial mistreatment at the restaurant.

Stormy Daniels Day: West Hollywood honors adult film star with key to city

The city of West Hollywood, California, proclaimed May 23 Stormy Daniels Day and honored the adult film star with a key to the city.

>> Read more trending news 

The city said in a Twitter announcement that it’s honoring Daniels for her leadership in the #Resist movement.

“In these politically tumultuous times, Daniels has proven herself to be a profile in courage by speaking truth to power, even under threats to her safety and extreme intimidation,” the statement said.

>> Related: Porn star Stormy Daniels sues Trump over hush agreement, says it’s void, reports say

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has been embroiled in a lawsuit she filed against President Donald Trump last year in California state court, claiming a “hush agreement” she signed over their alleged affair a decade ago is null and void.

>> Related: Trump confirms Cohen represented him in 'crazy Stormy Daniels deal'

She was paid $130,000 by Trump attorney Michael Cohen shortly before the 2016 presidential election in exchange for keeping silent about the alleged affair with Trump. But Daniels’ attorney argued the agreement was no good because Trump never signed it.

Cohen has admitted using his own money to pay off Daniels and, while records have revealed Trump made payments to Cohen, the president has denied any involvement with the porn star.

Daniels has said she wants to tell her story, like other women who have had alleged encounters with the president, but the hush agreement prevents her from legally doing that.

>> Related: Trump acknowledges he reimbursed Cohen, lawyer who paid Stormy Daniels

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