We still don’t know exactly what happened in the Jussie Smollett case that has dominated the news cycle for the past week. What we do know is that after the Empire star revealed he was allegedly the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime, conflicting reports started to emerge suggesting that Smollett may have been involved in orchestrating the incident. Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, the two brothers who were originally considered suspects, both knew Smollett in advance of the attack and told Chicago police that they were hired by Smollett. After the Chicago PD announced they were “shifting the trajectory” of their investigation, Smollett said in a statement that he is “angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with” and that anyone claiming he played a role in his own attack “is lying.”
While it’s too soon to render a verdict on what exactly went down, if the case does prove to be a hoax, the ramifications are hard to overstate. As we’ve seen in the extremely rare cases involving false rape allegations, they serve as ammo for people looking to undermine the credibility of genuine victims (like clockwork, Donald Trump Jr. is already tweeting about Smollett’s story, in which his attackers were originally described as two men shouting, “This is MAGA country”). But what would motivate someone to pretend to be the victim of a hate crime? We called up Dr. Marc Feldman, who is not involved in the case but is an expert on factitious disorder and Munchausen syndrome by proxy, to learn more about “factitious victimization” — a disorder that causes people to feign victimhood for psychological reasons — and how it could come into play in the Smollett case.
What did you think when you first heard this case might be a hoax?
Munchausen syndrome refers to the most extreme examples of “factitious disorder,” which is the official psychiatric term for people who feign illness or injury for intangible reasons. Ever since I encountered my first case of a woman who faked cancer for emotional reasons back in 1989, I’ve obviously been more sensitive to that possibility than most people ever would be. I try not to falsely accuse people and that’s why I am approaching this subject with a little timidity. But when it does arise I think it’s important that we identify it and help educate the public about it. READ MORE: https://www.thecut.com/2019/02/why-would-somebody-fake-a-hate-crime.html
Michael Jackson’s damaged reputation began to recover the day he died.
The lurid accusations of child molestation that had dogged him for years fell to the background as fans around the world celebrated the entertainer who had gone from pop prodigy to global superstar over a four-decade career. Flash mobs from Stockholm to the Philippines re-enacted his video scenes, and his music sales again broke chart records.
Now, nearly 10 years after his death, the dark side of Mr. Jackson’s legend has returned through a documentary that rocked the Sundance Film Festival and is being championed by Oprah Winfrey. In addition to delivering a hit to his mended reputation, the film poses a significant risk to the Jackson estate, which has engineered a thriving posthumous career, including a Broadway-bound jukebox musical.
The four-hour documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” to be broadcast on HBO in two parts on Sunday and Monday, focuses on the wrenching testimony of two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say Mr. Jackson abused them for years, starting when they were young boys. While the accusations are not new, their revival in the #MeToo era, with its momentum of accountability for figures like R. Kelly, Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, gives them new meaning.
“There has always been this shadow or cloud about Michael,” said Charles Koppelman, a longtime music executive who once served as a financial adviser to Mr. Jackson. “With this documentary about to be shown to millions and millions of people, and all the notoriety that it’s now getting, I think it will have a detrimental effect to the legacy and the estate.”
The estate has already begun its war on “Leaving Neverland.” It issued a series of fiery statements around the time of the film’s Sundance debut in January and has filed a petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court for arbitration, seeking $100 million in damages from HBO. In making its case, the estate — whose beneficiaries are Mr. Jackson’s mother and three children, as well as children’s charities — portrays Mr. Robson and Mr. Safechuck as “serial perjurers” for whom HBO has become “just another tool in their litigation playbook.”
The debate over the film is likely to be intense in black communities, where figures like Mr. Jackson and Mr. Kelly have their strongest defenders, said Yaba Blay, a professor at North Carolina Central University whose specialty is black racial and cultural identities.
“If you think R. Kelly tore black America apart, this is going to destroy us,” Dr. Blay said.
On Monday night, after the conclusion of “Leaving Neverland,” HBO and the Oprah Winfrey Network plan to broadcast Ms. Winfrey’s interview with Mr. Robson, Mr. Safechuck and the film’s director, Dan Reed.
In “Leaving Neverland,” Mr. Robson, 36, and Mr. Safechuck, 41, tell parallel stories of being drawn into Mr. Jackson’s inner circle as boys. Mr. Robson met Mr. Jackson on tour in Australia at age 5 and moved to the United States two years later to be near his idol. Mr. Safechuck was 8 when he was cast in a Pepsi commercial and met Mr. Jackson.
Both men say Mr. Jackson abused them while charming their families at his 2,600-acre Neverland compound in Los Olivos, Calif. He also warned them to keep their sexual relationship secret, the men say. READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/03/business/media/leaving-neverland-michael-jackson-estate.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Farts&action=click&contentCollection=arts®ion=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront
A new day, a new chapter in the everlasting drama between Tinashe, her ex-boyfriend Ben Simmons, and his new girlfriend Kendall Jenner (who he might have gotten together with while he was still with Tinashe). Kendall, for one, is apparently “annoyed” by the whole thing.
TMZ caught up with Tinashe outside a club in Los Angeles and asked her what she thinks of Ben’s plan to hire more security because he thinks she’s stalking him, and she reacted simply by laughing in the reporter’s face. Tinashe didn’t do much other than laugh during this interview with TMZ, which, to be fair, seems like a pretty chill response for someone accused of stalking. Tinashe has said previously that she is “done” dating basketball players after this whole mess with Ben, but if reports are true, she did appear to enjoy at least part of the drama surrounding his new relationship with Kendall. The three found themselves at the same club earlier this month, and TMZ caught TInashe just as she was leaving. The reporter asked how she felt seeing him, and she replied by saying he had been texting her the whole time he’d been in there with Kendall. That was big news for gossip lovers online for a few hours, but soon Ben’s camp denied the rumors, with TMZ reporting that Tinashe admitted she lied about the texts. It was this texting ordeal that triggered reports about Ben’s wish to beef up his own security.
Whatever happens next—and judging by the amount of news generated by these three so far, something will definitely happen—one thing is for sure: TMZ will be right there filming it.
Frank Ocean has been sued by Chipotle for backing out of an ad campaign. According to the fast food chain, they paid Ocean $212,500 to record a song that would be featured on an ad to promote local food and responsible farming. Ocean was then promised an additional $212,500 upon completion of the song. Instead of recording the song by the agreed upon deadline, he sent Chipotle a legal notice informing the company that he would not participate in the campaign. Ocean claims that he did not know that Chipotle’s logo would be on the advertisement, and that he was initially promised the right to approve the master. Chipotle denies this claim and is now suing for the initial $212,500 payment and additional damages.
UPDATE: Frank Ocean has shared a link to a Wikipedia entry for the word “defamation,” which is possibly a response to the lawsuit from Chipotle.
UPDATE 3/10/14 5:15PM: It appears as though Frank Ocean has conceded in his legal bout with Chipotle. However, it wasn’t without some entertainment from the 26-year-old R&B artist.
In a Tumblr post from earlier today, Ocean shared a screenshot of a cashier’s check he wrote out to Chipotle. The amount is $212,500, which is what the Mexican-style restaurant chain had initially requested in their lawsuit. In the memo box, he wrote, “FUCK OFF.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you get your point across with purpose.
UPDATE 3/11/14: A representative from Chipotle has told Rolling Stone, “If/when we get a check from Frank, we should be able to close the books on this. Right now, all we have is a photo online.”
3:45PM EDT October 26. 2012 – Justin Timberlake says he’s “deeply sorry” for the “distasteful,” “unsavory” and “silly” video that went viral this week — in which homeless people in Hollywood congratulate the singer and new wife Jessica Biel. In a rare open letter posted to his website, Timberlake calls the 8-minute clip, shot by his friends — “good people” — a “lapse in judgment which I’m sure no one who is reading this is exempt from. But, I don’t believe it was made to be insensitive.” That said, he writes, “I think we can all agree that it was distasteful. “I am deeply sorry to anyone who was offended by the video,” he adds. The newlywed also insists he knew nothing about it: “I had absolutely ZERO contribution to it,” and that, contrary to reports, it was not shown at his wedding. “But, I do understand the reaction and, by association, I am holding myself accountable.” And the friend who filmed it: “You can bet your (vulgarity) that I’m having my friend do at least 100 hours of community service… Boom.”
Word on the e-streets is that Drake and Chris Brown were involved in an altercation. But now there is new information saying that Drake is not responsible for the bloody gash on Brown’s chin. According to TMZ, sources say that the fight started after Brown and a rapper at Drake’s table were trash-talking each other. Last night at WiP, Meek Mill was spotted hanging out with Drake. The source says that Meek and Brown got into a shouting match. It is also reported that a member of Brown’s entourage got involved. The latest reports assert that the argument was not about Rihanna, and that Brown was hurt when Meek hit him with a bottle. A representative for Drake gave an official statement: “Drake did not participate in any wrongdoing of any kind last night at W.i.P. He was on his way out of the club when the altercation began. [Drake] did not engage in any activity which resulted in injury to person or damage to property.” See some photos of the aftermath above.