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Lee Daniels On Defending Jussie Smollett: “I’m Beyond Embarrassed”

Lee Daniels opened up about Jussie Smollett in a new interview expressing his embarrassment for defending the Empire star after he was attacked in Chicago in January only to be accused of orchestrating the incident.

“I’m beyond embarrassed,” Daniels told Vulture when asked of how he felt about rushing to Smollett’s defense. “I think that when it happened, I had a flash of me running from bullies. I had a flash of my whole life, of my childhood, my youth, getting beaten.”

Still, Daniels doesn’t exactly believe that Smollett planned the attack as he has been accused of doing by Chicago Police. The 36-year-old actor initially faced felony disorderly conduct charges stemming from the incident.

Charges against Smollett have since been dropped but Daniels admitted that it would feel like a huge betrayal, “If it turned out that he did it, was guilty, and all of it’s accurate.”

“Of course, there’s some doubt,” Daniels continued. “I’m telling you that because I love him so much. That’s the torture that I’m in right now, because it’s literally if it were to happen to your son and your child, how would you feel? You would feel, Please, God, please let there be that glimmer of hope that there is some truth in this story. That’s why it’s been so painful. It was a flood of pain.”

The Empire creator said that he bypassed all of the Chicago Tribune’s detailed reporting on the incident because he was busy “putting out fires,” and maintains that no one knows the real truth.

“We weren’t there. I can’t judge him. That’s only for the f**king lady or man with that black robe and God. I had to detach myself and stop calling [Smollett], because it was taking away the time I have for my kids, the time I have for my partner. It was affecting my spirit and other shows, everything.”

Despite being unsure if Smollett had anything to do with the assault Daniels pointed out that, “If he didn’t do it, he’d be Martin Luther King right now. He’d be some sort of god.”

Daniels went on to confirm that the attention from the Smollett incident played a “major part” in Fox’s decision to cancel Empire after the upcoming sixth season. Elsewhere in the interview, Daniels talked about wrapping up Empire's final season, and refused to comment when asked if Terrence Howard should have been booted off the show due to previous accusations of domestic violence.

Click here for the full interview

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Will Smith Is Working On A ‘Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’ Spin-Off Series: Report

An updated installment of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air could be making its way to TV with Will Smith in the driver's seat. According to the The Hollywood Reporter, Smith is working on a spin-off series based on the '90s sitcom.

The series will be developed through Westbrook Inc., a cross-platform holding company launched last year by Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith. According to the company’s website, Westbrook's mission is to “be the leader in global family entertainment.”

THR's story outlines how Smith, 51,  used social media to revamp his career, and whether or not his digital popularity has directly improved his box office stats. The feature details a number of Smith's upcoming projects, as well as other business ventures, which include his and Jaden Smith's JUST Water brand.

It's unclear if the Fresh Prince spin-off has a projected premiere date, but next year may be the perfect time to premiere it since the original series will celebrate its 30-year anniversary in 2020.

Last week, Smith announced a new Fresh Prince-inspired clothing line. Bel-Air athletics line — which is named after the fictional school that his character attended on the show —  includes hoodies, tees, sweatpants, socks, and a reversible track jacket.

The items are for sale on willsmith.com until Oct. 14.

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Fan-Made Trailer Imagines Aunt Viv's Return To Bel-Air In 'Auntie'

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has been the center of various fan-made movie plots with its most recent one gaining the attention of its star Will Smith. Now, another visionary is taking a chance at promoting a new take that centers on the original Aunt Vivian Banks.

According to Shadow And Act, the trailer is shot from the inspiration of Jordan Peele's Us and Get Out, placing Aunt Viv as the central character who returns to Bel-Air, Los Angeles after a stint at a mental facility. Created by Bobby Huntley, Auntie takes a look at the aforementioned character's life after their role has been recast.

"Our goal isn't to pit the two real-life actresses against each," Huntley said. "They both did an amazing job bringing that character to life in their own unique way. We love every actor and actress affiliated with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. It's just human nature to contrast and compare.

"For people to still debate over 25 years later is really a testament to their talents and longevity. We are just simply asking the question, 'What If?'" Originally played by Janet Hubert, her role was later filled by Daphne Reid.

Upon Aunt Viv's return home, she realizes her family has no idea who she is "and every evidence of her existence has been erased. She must find out who was behind the hostile takeover before it is too late to reclaim her family and her home," the plot outlines.

Other storylines that are featured include Claire Kyle from My Wife and Kids, and Family Matters' Judy and Harriet Winslow. 

Watch the trailer above.

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Lil Kim performs onstage at the BET Hip Hop Awards 2019 at Cobb Energy Center on October 5, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.
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BET Hip Hop Awards 2019: Watch All The Performances Here

There were awards given out at the 2019 BET Hip Hop Awards, but this year's festivities were all about the performances. Hip-hop's biggest up and comers (Megan Thee Stallion, DaBaby, YBN Cordae, Saweetie), more established names, (Rick Ross, Rapsody, Chance The Rapper), and flat out legends (Lil Kim) all blessed the stage.

This year also saw the return of the annual Cyphers and connected with URL to integrate battles into the show for the first time. Look below for the performances from the 2019 BET Hip Hop Awards.

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Lil Kim Performs Medley Of Hits with Junior M.A.F.I.A., O.T. Genasis, and Musiq Soulchild Megan Thee Stallion And DaBaby Perform "Hot Girl Summer" And "Cash Shit" Lil Duval, TOM. G, And KaMillion Team Up For City Boys Performance YBN Cordae And Anderson .Paak Perform "RPN" Saweetie Performs "My Type" With Lil Jon And Petey Pablo Rapsody Performs "Nina" And "Serena" Chance The Rapper Performs "Sun Come Down" DaBaby Performs "Intro" And "Baby Sitter" With Offset Rick Ross and T-Pain Perform Medley Lil Baby and DaBaby Perform "Baby" T-TOP Vs. Shotgun Suge – Battle DNA vs. Geechi Gotti – Battle
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