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Kobe Bryant Pulled From Jury At Animated Film Festival Due To 2003 Rape Allegation

After carefully reviewing the matter, festival founder Eric Beckman has made the decision to remove Bryant from the 2018 jury.

Kobe Bryant has been demoted. Originally set to rule on the jury for Hollywood's Animation Is Film festival this weekend (Oct. 19-21), Bryant has been pulled from his juror position due to the controversy surrounding his 2003 rape allegations.

Announced in a statement by festival founder Eric Beckman, the decision to remove Bryant from the 2018 jury was a last-minute call, made Wednesday (Oct. 17).

"We are a young organization, and it is important to keep our collective energies focused on the films, the participating filmmakers and our festival attendees" Beckman stated.

Though it's unclear what sparked the change of heart, last week a change.org petition was made for Bryant's removal, with signers urging that "keeping Kobe Bryant on the jury sets a precedent of leniency for sexual criminals and further undermines the visibility and respect that victims of harassment and assault deserve."

Responding to the removal in a statement made to The Hollywood Reporter, Bryant claims that the disappointing decision only further motivates him to change the world for the better.

"I was honored to have been originally invited by Animation Is Film to serve on the 2018 Jury, and am disappointed to no longer serve in that capacity," he said. "This decision further motivates me and my commitment to building a studio that focuses on diversity and inclusion in storytelling for the animation industry. I remain focused on changing the world in positive ways through diverse stories, characters and leadership, in order to inspire the next generation."

In July 2003, Bryant was arrested for the alleged rape of a 19-year-old hotel employee. Though the girl refused to testify and the case was later dropped, Bryant has since made a public apology, stating that although he had originally believed the act to be consensual, he now understands why the woman feels otherwise.

READ MORE: Kobe Bryant Sparks Debate On Twitter Following His Oscars Nomination

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Wendy Williams' Estranged Husband Reportedly Fired As Executive Producer From Talk Show

Wendy Williams’ estranged husband, Kevin Hunter, was reportedly fired as an executive producer on her eponymous talk show, Deadline reports. The news follows a tumultuous time for the host, who allegedly filed for divorce due to Hunter’s reported infidelity.

Since 2011, Hunter served as an executive producer of The Wendy Williams Show. Nationally syndicated and distributed by Debmar-Mercury, the company issued a statement on Hunter’s departure. “Kevin Hunter is no longer an Executive Producer on The Wendy Williams Show. Debmar-Mercury wishes him well in his future endeavors,” a spokesperson for the company told Deadline.

Williams tearfully admitted on her show in March that she relapsed and was living in a sober house. Prior to that, she embarked on a brief hiatus from the show due to health concerns as she was recovering from a fractured shoulder. The show then took another hiatus because of her bout with Graves disease.

Hunter recently spoke out publicly about the divorce and has expressed remorse for what he did to their marriage. “I am not proud of my recent actions and take full accountability and apologize to my wife, my family and her amazing fans,” Hunter told PEOPLE. “I am going through a time of self-reflection and am trying to right some wrongs.”

“Twenty-eight years ago I met an amazing woman: Wendy Williams. At the time, I didn’t realize that she would not only become my wife, but would also change the face of entertainment and the world," he said. "I have dedicated most of our lives to the business empire that is Wendy Williams Hunter, a person that I truly love and respect unconditionally."

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Hennessy To Allocate $10 Million To Thurgood Marshall College Fund

Herald as the first “corporate HBCU graduate program,” Hennessy announced its plan to allocate $10 million to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF). Over the span of the next 10 years, the donation will benefit graduate students seeking to continue their studies at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the “corporate, social and economic systems.”

Giles Woodyer, Hennessy US’ senior vice president, said the goal of the "Hennessy Fellows" initiative aims to establish “a pipeline of highly qualified talent over the next 10 years and help prepare these future leaders for success.” Only 10 students will be selected. Those chosen will be notified in June and be able to put their resources to use in Fall 2019. Per each academic year, grad candidates will receive a $20,000 scholarship, a chance to enter a competition for a $10,000 grant that’ll benefit the community, and access to tools that'll further their career through networking and training outlets.

Dr. Harry L. Williams, president and CEO of TMCF, said this decision is more than a "financial" gift.  "When such a tremendously successful global brand like Hennessy invests in a higher education non-profit like ours, it tells the world that HBCUs and PBIs have value and are worth investing in, and TMCF is the best steward to carry out such a monumental investment," Dr. Williams said. "This is major, and it can't be overlooked as just a financial contribution, it is a real partnership that is a game changer for the students and our community."

A portal for applications is now open here.

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Report: Ariana Grande Got Paid Twice As Much As Beyoncé For Coachella

Update: 12:42 pm ET (April 19, 2019) - There are conflicting reports regarding the earnings that Beyonce obtained for her Coachella performance. According to The Blast's sources, the singer received approximately the same amount as Ariana Grande.

This story is developing.

Original story below...

As fans continue to marvel at Beyonce's historical Coachella performance in the Netflix documentary, Homecoming, a new report about the pay discrepancy amongst the festival's headliners is also grabbing people's attention. According to Variety, Ariana Grande got paid double of what Bey earned for her performance.

Grande reportedly made $8 million from the festival, while Beyoncé only took home an estimated $3 to $4 million.

This certainly seems a little odd to fans due to a handful of reasons. For one, Beyoncé is a much more seasoned artist. Additionally, her headlining show, also known as BeyChella, was a historical moment that drew millions of viewers.

Grande also made history this year as the youngest artist to ever headline the three-day event, but the U.S. pay gap may have more to do with the huge difference between their paychecks. Black women make approximately 65 cents to every dollar earned by their white male counterparts. By contrast, white women earn 83 cents to every dollar earned by white men, according to the Pew Research Center.

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