New York, Jul 11 (AP/UNB) — In her first public appearance since discovering her masters were in the hands of someone she's not a fan of, Taylor Swift didn't directly address the issue, but she did play music from that rich catalog, including songs from her groundbreaking sophomore album to her first full-blown pop project to her latest title.
There was one moment, though, where Swift may have called out Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta on Wednesday night when she headlined Amazon Music's Prime Day Concert in New York City. When singing her final song, the upbeat hit "Shake It Off," she was extra loud as she uttered the words: "Liars and the dirty, dirty cheats of the world."
Some viewers on social media felt like Swift was throwing shade, but the pop star seemed to shake off the drama with a fun, entertaining performance that came two weeks after she wrote that she was sad and grossed out that her music catalog now belongs to Braun, who she accuses of subjecting her to years of incessant and manipulative bullying.
Swift's die-hard fans were as loud as ever Wednesday, erupting before she hit the stage at the Hammerstein Ballroom, chanting her name minutes before opened her set with a colorful performance of the song "ME!"
She sang tunes from all of her albums except her 2006 self-titled debut. She strummed her guitar while she sang "Delicate" from "reputation" and "Welcome to New York" from "1989," which won the Grammy for album of the year. She reminded the audience she was a former country singer before performing "Love Story" from "Fearless," which also won the top Grammy prize. And she whipped her head back and forth as she belted "I Knew You Were Trouble" from her "Red" album.
Swift sang her "You Need to Calm Down" live for the first time at the event, which also featured performances by singers SZA, Dua Lipa and Becky G. On the song Swift addresses her own haters but also calls out those who attack the LGBTQ community. It will appear on her new album, "Lover," to be released Aug. 23.
"It's really, sort of, a love letter to love itself. And I think that love is such an inspiring thing to write about," she said of the upcoming album. "Love is complexity. Love is struggle. Love is pain. Love is joy. Love is hope. Love is equality."
Emmy-winning actress Jane Lynch hosted the event, which featured clips of Amazon Prime programming between performances, from "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" to "Jack Ryan."
New York, Jul 11 (AP/UNB) — With one lawyer bolting amid public backlash and another saying he and his client just couldn't get along, Harvey Weinstein is recasting his defense team yet again, this time a mere 60 days before he's due to stand trial in New York on sexual assault charges.
Lawyer Jose Baez is going to court Thursday to get a judge's permission to leave the case in the latest defection from what was once seen as a modern version of O.J. Simpson's "dream team" of attorneys.
Baez, known for representing high-profile clients such as Casey Anthony, told Judge James Burke in a letter last month that Weinstein has tarnished their relationship by communicating only through other lawyers and by failing to abide by a fee agreement.
"Mr. Weinstein has engaged in behavior that makes this representation unreasonably difficult to carry out effectively and has insisted upon taking actions with which I have fundamental disagreements," Baez wrote.
As Baez leaves, Weinstein is adding two new lawyers who've promised Burke that they won't seek to postpone the trial from its scheduled
The swap comes after another Weinstein lawyer, Harvard law professor Ronald Sullivan, left in May amid backlash about his involvement.
Sullivan's involvement in the case drew protests from some students and faculty on the Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus.
Buildings were defaced with graffiti that included the slogans "Down w Sullivan!" ''Your Silence is Violence" and "Whose Side Are You On?" And the university removed him from his position as head of a student house citing "concerns about the climate" within the house.
Weinstein, 67, is charged with raping a woman in 2013 and performing a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006. He denies the allegations.
Baez and Sullivan started representing Weinstein in January, when the former movie producer overhauled his legal team for the first time. That happened after his original lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, lost a hard-fought bid to get the case thrown out.
Pamela Robillard Mackey, who represented Kobe Bryant in his 2003 Colorado sexual assault case, and ex-Manhattan prosecutor Duncan Levin were also hired in January and have since left.
Weinstein's new lawyers, Donna Rotunno and Damon Cheronis, both of Chicago, did not return phone calls on Wednesday.
They join Arthur Aidala, a New York City lawyer whose clients have included rapper 50 Cent, former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and the late Fox News chief, Roger Ailes.
Baez and Sullivan didn't respond to email inquiries on Wednesday.
Sullivan wrote about the backlash to his representation of Weinstein in a June 24 op-ed in The New York Times, noting that during the 10 years he served as a faculty dean he has represented both sexual assault defendants and accusers in criminal court and student victims in campus Title IX proceedings.
Sullivan said he was "willing to believe that some students felt unsafe" about his involvement in the Weinstein case, but that "feelings alone should not drive university policy."
"Unchecked emotion has replaced thoughtful reasoning on campus," he wrote. "Feelings are no longer subjected to evidence, analysis or empirical defense. Angry demands, rather than rigorous arguments, now appear to guide university policy."
Baez first gained fame representing Anthony, the Florida mom whose televised trial in 2011 ended in an acquittal on charges of killing her young daughter.
Baez and Sullivan teamed up to successfully defend New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez against murder charges in 2017. Hernandez, in prison for a 2015 murder conviction, killed himself five days later.
Weinstein's selection of Baez and Sullivan generated some controversy.
One of Weinstein's accusers, actress Rose McGowan, blasted Baez and Sullivan for agreeing to represent Weinstein after defending her in a drug case last year.
Actress Rose McGowan, one of the first of dozens of women to accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct, called it a "major conflict of interest."
Baez and Sullivan denied that, saying McGowan's case had nothing to do with Weinstein. She is not an accuser in his criminal case.
New York, Jul 11 (AP/UNB) — From corrupt, brutal overseers to the fraught world of inmate hierarchy to unlikely friendships and romances, "Orange is the New Black" told deeply rich and complex stories about life for women behind bars that resonated far beyond prison walls.
While it was originally centered around the privileged white character of Piper Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling), the supporting characters — some quirky, some volatile, some comic, some tragic — became the show's breakout stars.
The award-winning Netflix series also became a showcase for actresses of color, thanks to nuanced story lines with depth that have often proved elusive.
It's no surprise that some of them went on to become the show's biggest draws.
Uzo Aduba won the dramedy's only acting Emmys, while Emmy-nominee Laverne Cox, Danielle Brooks, Samira Wiley and Dascha Polanco all gave masterful performances that lifted their careers far beyond life in Litchfield federal penitentiary.
As the hit dramedy winds down with the seventh and final season on July 26, those actresses take a look back at the profound impact the series had on their lives.
ADUBA (Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren)
A not-so-funny thing happened to Uzoamaka Nwanneka Aduba on her way to audition for a different part on the show: She was late.
She thought maybe the faux pas was the universe trying to tell her that acting wasn't her destiny. Aduba, 38, had been trying professionally for about 10 years, with small victories, but she quit after her tardiness, thinking maybe a law career was the way to go as her parents, of Nigerian descent, preferred.
That's when the life-changing phone call came. There was bad news: She didn't get the part of track star-inmate Janae Watson. But there was also good: She was offered Crazy Eyes instead, though only for a couple of guest appearances. She wore the bantu knots that became the signature style of the character to the audition.
Thank goodness she didn't listen to the universe. Aduba's role was extended and she won two Emmys, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and a Golden Globe.
Like Crazy Eyes sometimes does, she let the muses rule.
"My phone wasn't ringing, with regards to film and television anyway, before our show came out," she told The Associated Press. "It just felt surreal, I think, for a lot of us to even be having this sort of experience."
Now, with her higher profile, she has a goal: "I am trying to tell the stories of the missing, the people and the voices that are missing in the tapestry."
For so many in the cast, the Medfield, Massachusetts-raised Aduba said, "We had been living on the Island of Misfit Toys and being made to feel as though there was no place for us when the truth of the matter is space just needed to be made."
WHAT'S NEXT: Upcoming projects include the film "Beats" and the FX series "Mrs. America."
COX (Sophia Burset)
The LGBTQ activist didn't quit her day job at the drag spot Lucky Cheng's in Manhattan until after the first season of Orange wrapped. But it wasn't long until she made history as the first trans person on the cover of Time magazine.
"I just cried," she said.
The magazine's story accompanying the cover on the transgender tipping point had her describing her childhood in Mobile, Alabama, growing up bullied and harassed for presenting as feminine. She came out as trans years later while working in New York City, where she took up acting.
Thanks to OINTB, where her character rode out cycles of acceptance, hatred and violence, Cox has used her star platform to educate the world and push for just treatment of LGBTQ people everywhere.
So much has changed for Cox in the show's seven-year run.
"Seven years ago I turned 40 and I had not had the big breakthrough in my acting career that I had wanted. I was in tons of debt. I thought it was time for me to do something else," she told the AP. "I was like, 'I should go back to graduate school' and I bought some GRE study materials from a friend of mine."
Then she auditioned for Orange, "and here we are."
Cox was the first openly trans person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in an acting category and the first to be nominated for any Emmy since composer Angela Morley in 1990.
For years at Lucky Cheng's she'd tell co-workers she wanted to be an actor and win awards, "and they'd be like, yeah, right whatever," Cox recalled. "A black trans woman in 2010 saying she wants to be a big star was like, 'Yeah right, yeah cool.' Who knew?"
WHAT'S NEXT: She has several projects pending, including the film "Promise Young Woman."
BROOKS (Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson)
As the brash Taystee, Brooks showed the way not just for other actors of color, but for women of size.
"Cornbread fed, baby, cornbread fed," she laughed.
The Augusta, Georgia-born Brooks was well on her way doing theater when "Orange" happened after she graduated with a bachelor's from the Juilliard School.
Brooks is also a singer, earning a Tony nomination for Sofia (Oprah's film part) in the 2015 Broadway production of "The Color Purple." She dropped a music video in February for Black History Month featuring herself all glammed up and wet in a bathtub singing "Black Woman," which includes the lyrics: "The world tells me there is space for me, if I cinch it up and I sew it in, the world tells me it'll all be mine, with some lashes on and some lighter eyes."
The song, Brooks told the AP, was "my way of healing myself" while encouraging others to accept who they are.
Brooks' mom is a minister and her dad a church deacon. Church taught her a lot about how to present herself to the world and the importance of prioritizing self-love. Now, she wants to "show the industry, look what happens when you give people opportunity."
The 29-year-old Brooks was working as a waitress in New York City ("I was a horrible waitress") when her agent got her an audition for "Orange," though initially only two episodes were promised.
"I almost said no to it because I didn't get to read the script and when I saw the scene that I was going to be in I had to be topless. I was like, oh no. I'm from South Carolina. I grew up in a very religious household. I was nervous also about playing a stereotype, of the black woman who the world might consider sassy and loud and angry. To put that on TV, I was not sure about it."
She's obviously glad she did.
"It has completely changed my life," Brooks said. She believes it also opened doors for nontraditional shows featuring full casts of color on TV.
"How much has the world changed, how much has Hollywood changed where you can have shows like 'Pose,' you can have 'Insecure' and 'Atlanta' and a plethora of other shows out there where the lead can look different from what we've seen before?"
WHAT'S NEXT: She appears in the film "Clemency" and is working on an EP. She is also expecting her first child.
WILEY (Poussey Washington)
Wiley was a bartender for two and a half years after she, too, graduated Julliard when she auditioned for Orange. There were no promises that lesbian character Poussey would be a recurring role. After she got the job, she stayed at Fred's Restaurant in Manhattan for the first couple of seasons.
"I didn't want to be stupid about it and quit my job and then end up nowhere," she told the AP.
Like her character, Wiley is gay. Raised in Washington, D.C., Wiley's sexuality was embraced by her liberal pastor parents, which she considers key to her success. She's now an advocate for LGBTQ, immigration and prison reform causes.
Wiley, 32, was not publicly out in those early seasons of Orange. She credits Poussey with giving her the strength and confidence to come into her own, both as an actor and a gay black woman. Wiley appeared on the cover of Out magazine for its 20th anniversary to seal the deal.
"I think deep down, the both of us, Poussey and I, are just like really open and honest people with our hearts," Wiley said. "There are real Pousseys out there, in prison, not in prison, being thrown away because people think they don't matter."
Wiley won three Screen Actors Guild Awards for Poussey. She went on to receive an Emmy nomination in 2017 for her portrayal of Moira in the Hulu series "The Handmaid's Tale" and won an Emmy for that part the following year.
WHAT'S NEXT: Wiley appears in the film "BIOS" and is working in a comedy, "Breaking News in Yuba County."
POLANCO (Dayanara "Daya" Diaz)
She had dreamed of becoming an actor as a child but thought her weight might hold her back, so she put herself through Hunter College instead, going to school as a teen mother raising a young daughter.
The Dominican Republic-born Polanco went on to earn a bachelor's in psychology and worked in a hospital as she studied to be a nurse (and eventually had a second child, a son). But over time, she decided to pursue acting.
After minor roles in two TV series, she was cast in OITNB in 2012.
"I had three jobs at the time and I was also finishing my nursing clinicals," she told the AP of life before "Orange."
"We are the reality." she added. "Hollywood has been very exclusive in who they consider an actor, who they want to depict on screens."
Polanco, who is also a songwriter, now values her versatility as an actor who doesn't fit the Hollywood mold, though the early years were nerve-wracking.
"We can all relate to that, not feeling enough. I was very fearful of going out to auditions and being told, well you have to lose weight, well your hair is curly," she said. "You come across this discrimination and this prejudice and you don't realize how much they affect you. ... It's learning how to embrace those scars and how we use it as foundation and not as identity."
It's not always easy. While acting and music are passions, "I'm still out here not getting roles," Polanco said.
WHAT'S NEXT: She plays Cuca in the film version of the stage musical "In the Heights" and worked in the film "iGilbert."
New York, Jul 11 (AP/UNB) — Cristela Alonzo is telling her story in words and music, what she calls a "mixtape memoir."
The actress and producer's book, "Music to My Years," comes out Oct. 8. She will track her rise from living with her family in an abandoned diner to her fame as creator and star of the sitcom "Cristela," and stand-up performer featured in the Netflix special "Lower Classy." The link is music and television and how they helped define moments in her life, like how the theme to "The Golden Girls" led to a trip to the principal's office.
In a statement issued Wednesday through Atria Books, Alonzo said she wasn't inspired by "ego" but out of a desire to connect her story to others.
"Also," she says of her book, "there's jokes in it."
Los Angeles, Jul 11 (AP/UNB) — Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith are looking to expand their brands under a new corporate umbrella.
The Hollywood power couple on Wednesday announced the launch of a new media venture.
According to a statement, Westbrook Inc. will be a cross-platform holding company "formed to execute the Smith family's global content and commerce business strategy."
In a statement, the couple said Westbrook's mission is "to spread positive ideas, art and products that entertain and empower the greatest number of lives."
Westbrook Studios will serve as the studio home to all new premium TV and motion picture projects. It currently serves "Red Table Talk," the Facebook Watch series featuring Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Norris.
The company will also develop projects as starring vehicles for Will Smith.