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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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Jeezy speaks onstage during day 1 of REVOLT Summit x AT&T Summit on September 12, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.
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Jeezy Lands 'Worth A Conversation' Talk Show On Fox Soul

Rapper and entrepreneur Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins has teamed up with FOX Soul for his very own talk show, Worth A Conversation with Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins. Set to premiere next month on the live and interactive streaming channel, Worth A Conversation aims to hold conversations on topics that resonate within the Black community and intersect entertainment, politics, social justice, sports, and more.

“It has been my passion and my drive to inspire, motivate, and educate my culture," said Jenkins in the official press release. "Every song I’ve ever written, every word I’ve uttered came from a real place and this is no different. Worth A Conversation is self-explanatory. I will talk about issues that directly affect my culture and it’s people. From the front porch conversations to real-life situations, Worth A Conversation is bridging the gap. I’m excited to be a part of the FOX Soul family and can’t wait to introduce you to Jay “Jeezy” Jenkins.”

It's no surprise that Jeezy is taking the hosting route. His fiancée Jeannie Mai serves as a co-host on the daytime syndicated talk show, The Real, which began it's run on the FOX network. Guess it's safe to say talk show hosting will soon be family business.

On the production end, Jeezy will serve as the show's executive producer alongside Solomon Fornie and Travis Garrett, and Jill King will serve as showrunner and executive producer.

Debuting October 14th at 7 pm PT / 10 pm ET, Worth A Conversation will be streamable on the FOX Soul app (on your mobile app or smart TV) or on foxsoul.tv.

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Yara Shahidi Cast As Tinker Bell In Live-Action ‘Peter Pan’

Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi will portray Tinker Bell in Disney's forthcoming live-action version of Peter Pan, Deadline reports. The cast of Peter Pan and Wendy, directed by David Lowery, includes Oscar-nominated actor, Jude Law, as Captain Hook.

The casting of Shahidi, who is Black and Iranian, marks the first time that a person of color has portrayed the character, previously played on the big screen by Julia Roberts in Hook, a 1991 live-action reimagining of the classic fairytale.

Peter Pan & Wendy will be Shahidi’s second major feature film behind 2019’s The Sun is Also a Star. The 20-year-old actress scored her breakout role in ABC's Black-ish prioer to landing the spin-off Grown-ish. Additionally, Shahidi has appeared on several other hits TV shows such as Scandal, Family Guy, and Wizards of Waverly Place.

The release date for Peter Pan and Wendy is unclear but the film will reportedly debut in movies theaters versus an on-demand release.

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Chris Rock, Megan Thee Stallion Sign On For ‘SNL’ Season Premiere

Chris Rock is returning to Saturday Night Live as host of the upcoming 46th season. The 55-year-old comedian will helm the season premiere next week with Meghan Thee Stallion as the musical guest, NBC announced on Thursday (Sept. 24).

Airing on Oct. 3, the season premiere marks SNL’s return to its headquarters at Rockefeller Center since March. The long-running sketch comedy show went virtual last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The show will also be Megan’s first time performing solo on the SNL stage (she previously made a guest appearance with Chance the Rapper last November).

October. [email protected] @theestallion pic.twitter.com/J8KUYWngaL

— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) September 24, 2020

Rock, who has hosted the SNL three times, was a cast member from 1990 until 1993. After SNL, Rock joined the cast of In Living Color, and embarked on a successful career in stand-up comedy.

But he's not  the only In Living Color alum heading back to SNL this season. Jim Carrey has signed on to play former Vice President and presidential hopeful, Joe Biden, on the show.

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