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How a New Kung Fu TV Series Is Reclaiming Much More Than Just the Martial Arts

How a New Kung Fu TV Series Is Reclaiming Much More Than Just the Martial Arts


At the start of her career, Olivia Liang was “anti-martial arts.” To the Taiwanese American actor entering the entertainment industry in 2016, this was a box that Asian performers had been placed in for years—a form of typecasting she would go on to experience herself. “I had several people, the follow-up question to, ‘You’re an actor?’ was ‘Do you do martial arts?’” Liang, 27, says. And so she made a promise to herself: she was not going to learn martial arts unless someone paid her to. “I didn’t want that to be the only way in for me,” Liang explains. “And now, of course I’m on a show called Kung Fu and I’ve really done a 180.”

This shift in attitude did not come without careful consideration. Liang was wary of one-dimensional Asian characters whose martial arts skills were their only defining trait. But her role in Kung Fu—the CW series premiering on April 7—offers something entirely different. She plays Nicky Shen, a Chinese American woman who, after dropping out of college and spending a few years in a monastery in China, returns home to San Francisco. Nicky’s journey unfolds as she faces an organized crime group that threatens the safety of her family and community, and searches for the person responsible for murdering her Shaolin mentor at the monastery.

“To have a fully fleshed out character who also does martial arts has really changed my perspective,” Liang says. Kung Fu is also the first network drama that features a predominantly Asian cast—which includes seasoned actors Tzi Ma (Mulan, The Farewell) and Kheng Hua Tan (Crazy Rich Asians).

The makeup of the cast carries extra weight given that Kung Fu is a reimagining of the 1972 television show of the same name by Ed Spielman, which followed the story of the half-Chinese, half-white Shaolin monk Kwai Chang Caine, played by David Carradine, a white actor. The new adaptation arrives at a time when calls for an end to Hollywood’s whitewashing of roles have gotten louder. In recent years, a pattern of white actors cast as Asian characters in particular—from Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange to Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi in the live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell—has sparked outcry for change.

The modern-day adaptation of Kung Fu is helmed by television writer Christina M. Kim. At a media event last month, Kim said that the original series was groundbreaking for its introduction of kung fu to a U.S. audience. But she also acknowledged the elements she wanted to alter. “The lead actor was not Asian. And for me, in developing the show, it was really important that we change that,” Kim said. “And for myself as a woman, I really wanted a strong female Asian lead who was kicking butt and was the role model that I wished I had growing up on TV.”

Liang echoes these sentiments. “Now we get to bring it into this modern world and make it the way that maybe it should have been made from the beginning,” she tells TIME.

The complicated history of Bruce Lee and the original Kung Fu

The original Kung Fu aired for three seasons between 1972 and 1975. In the show, Caine faces anti-Asian discrimination as he ventures across the American Old West. In one scene, a character called the Jerk tells Caine he smells “yellow,” calls him “Chinaman” and taunts, “no speaking English?” The blatant racism is complicated by the fact that Caine was played by a non-Asian actor. Carradine also starred in the 1986 film and a television series in 1993—both of which were sequels to Caine’s story.

Before Carradine was cast, Bruce Lee was considered for the role. Liang tweeted about Lee’s absence from the show shortly after promotional materials for Kung Fu were released: “Those in charge didn’t think people would want to watch an asian-led show, so enter the YT man. We have come a long way and i’m proud we get to reclaim this.”

Fred Weintraub, who was an executive at Warner Bros. when the first Kung Fu was being made, recounted Lee’s audition and the response to it in his 2011 memoir—Bruce Lee, Woodstock And Me: From The Man Behind A Half-Century of Music, Movies and Martial Arts. “I was as enthusiastic as ever to put Bruce into the role of Kwai Chang Caine,” Weintraub wrote, and described sending Lee to Tom Kuhn, who was the Head of Television Programming at Warner Bros. In the audition, Lee gave Kuhn a stunning demonstration with nunchucks. Weintraub recounted Kuhn’s reaction: “‘He’s amazing,’ Tom gushed. ‘I’ve never seen anything like that. But getting him the lead is still going to be a long shot. He might be too authentic.’”

Weintraub, who later produced the 1973 film Enter the Dragon starring Lee, expressed his frustration at Kuhn’s words being “right.” “The powers that be had a hundred different reasons why Bruce was wrong for the part: he was an unknown, he was short, his English wasn’t good enough, he lacked the necessary serenity to play the role… But at the end of the day, there was really only one reason,” he wrote. “In the history of Hollywood there had never been an Asian hero—unless you count Charlie Chan. But even that iconic Chinese-American character was never popular in films until he was played by Warner Oland, who was not only Caucasian, he was Swedish, for chrissake.”

After Lee died in 1973 shortly before the release of Enter the Dragon, his wife Linda wrote in her memoir Bruce Lee: The Only Man I Knew that he had conceptualized the story of a Shaolin kung fu master traversing America and pitched it to Warner Bros. “The studio contacted him and he was soon deeply involved, offering numerous ideas, many of which were eventually incorporated in the resulting TV success, Kung Fu,” she wrote. A 2018 biography—Bruce Lee: A Life by Matthew Polly—asserts that the 1972 series originated from a file that Ed Spielman had submitted in 1969 with Howard Friedlander, and Spielman said in 1974 that 10 years of his research led to the creation of Kung Fu.

Representation as one ‘long-term solution’ to combat anti-Asian violence

Kung Fu’s release coincides with a national reckoning with anti-Asian racism, as the number of hate incidents against Asian Americans surged in the past year. In the lead-up to the show’s debut, members of its cast have repeatedly spoken out against anti-Asian violence. Tzi Ma had posted a video at the start of the pandemic, in March of 2020, to address the growing number of attacks against the AAPI community—after the actor himself was told, “You should be quarantined.” Following the Atlanta-area shootings on March 16 that took the lives of eight people, including six women of Asian descent, Ma reposted the video saying: “Exactly 1 year today, I sent a message. Why has it gotten worse?” Members of the Kung Fu cast including Ma later shared personal experiences of facing discrimination and racism in a #StopAsianHate video.

“I’ve had a lot of mixed feelings over the past few weeks—this strange survivor’s remorse, this weird imposter syndrome,” Eddie Liu tells TIME. In Kung Fu, Liu, who is Hakka Chinese and grew up in New York, plays Henry Yan, a Chinese art history graduate student and Nicky’s new love interest. The 33-year-old actor talks about the strange experience of participating in recent activities promoting Kung Fu. “Here we are getting to talk about our show, which is this fabulous, wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And in stark contrast there are these other Asians in the news for getting beat up and killed,” Liu says. “Why does it have to live in such extremes?”

When asked about the March 16 shootings and anti-Asian hate at Kung Fu’s media event—which took place one day after the tragedy in Georgia—Ma said, “I’m not quite sure what the short-term fix is, and I believe we are the long-term solution.” To him and the cast, a story like Kung Fu moves the needle forward by humanizing Asian Americans. This is significant because, as Liu says, attacks are often carried out when perpetrators fail to see Asian Americans as humans. “It’s astounding to me that sometimes what it takes for people to recognize humanity in others is to see them on a TV screen,” Liu says. “I don’t think that should be a requirement.” And yet, he acknowledges, it is often television shows and movies portraying life experiences different from the viewer’s that changes their perspective.

Liang feels similarly. She notes the power that representation in media—whether through news or entertainment—has on shaping worldviews, and addresses the shortcomings of the entertainment industry. “Hollywood has kind of failed Asians for quite some time in representing us,” she says, referencing repeated portrayals of one-dimensional characters who are at times the butt of the joke. “If we only ever portrayed supporting characters and small little side characters who are the John Doe Number One and Dragon Lady Number Two,” asks Liu, “what does that do to the psychology of someone watching that over time—over a generation?” Liu emphasizes that the profound effect of Asian American characters being Kung Fu’s main protagonists “can’t be overstated.”

Pilot
The CW—© 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.Kung Fu — “Pilot” — Image Number: KF101fg_0004r2.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Olivia Liang as Nicky Shen, Shannon Dang as Althea Shen, Jon Prasida as Ryan Shen and Kheng Hau Tan as Mei – Li Shen — Photo: The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Part of Kung Fu’s authenticity is how the series centers a Chinese American family that just “exists,” as Liang puts it, and experiences the spectrum of human emotions. “They get to see us fight with our siblings, joke around with our siblings, be annoyed at our parents, want to figure out what we want to do with our life,” Liang says. “The story that we’re telling is so universal and it’s just being told from an Asian perspective.” And when cultural influences are incorporated into the show—for instance, members of the Shen family taking off their shoes before entering the home—there is no sense of obligation to explain Chinese customs and traditions. “We’re just existing, and bringing those nuances to the screen,” Liang says.

Liu also points to the significance of having diversity behind the camera. He gives a nod to Christina M. Kim, the executive producer of Kung Fu. “[Warner Brothers] came to her, an Asian American woman, and they didn’t have to,” Liu says about the new adaptation. “The fact that she is doing this and she’s our captain, that’s something we celebrated.”

‘Lending our microphone’ to address injustices

Greater representation in Hollywood is significant not just because TV series, films and other forms of entertainment have the power to shift culture, but because actors, producers and directors themselves also wield that influence as their platforms grow. With the arrival of Kung Fu comes a new group of several up-and-coming Asian American actors who are loudly speaking out against anti-Asian hate. “Regardless of whether or not we were public-facing we would want to be speaking out on these issues,” Liang says. When it comes to addressing attacks on Asian Americans, she says she often takes the approach of amplifying the messages of organizations doing much of the groundwork.

Liu says that if injustices in the world—including the hate crimes—were adequately addressed by politicians and other leaders, then actors like him would not need to discuss them. “I would love to be able to go to work and just think about being an entertainer,” he explains. “But we live in a world where issues are overlooked and people are ignored—and sometimes if it means lending our microphone a little bit to shed light on an issue, then yes, we’ll do that because we care.”

Pilot
Katie Yu/The CW—© 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.Kung Fu — “Pilot” — Image Number: KF101b_0252r.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Tzi Ma as Jin Shen and Olivia Liang as Nicky Shen — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved





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The Bachelor’s Cassie Randolph breaks her silence after ex Colton Underwood comes out

The Bachelor’s Cassie Randolph breaks her silence after ex Colton Underwood comes out


Bachelor star Cassie Randolph has spoken out for the first time after her ex Colton Underwood revealed he was struggling with his sexuality during their turbulent year-long relationship that ended in stalking and harassment claims. 

While she did not comment on Colton directly – it was clear the 25-year-old reality star has been reading the outpouring of supportive messages she has received since his coming out story broke. 

‘Thank you to everyone for the kind comments and messages,’ Cassie wrote on her Instagram Stories Friday alongside a heart emoji – while also taking the opportunity to link to her YouTube channel. Clearly needing some time away, Cassie informed fans that she had ‘decided to take the week off’ amid Colton’s news. 

Thankful after taking time out: The Bachelor's Cassie Randolph breaks her silence after ex Colton Underwood comes out... as she thanks fans for the 'kind comments and messages'

Thankful after taking time out: The Bachelor’s Cassie Randolph breaks her silence after ex Colton Underwood comes out… as she thanks fans for the ‘kind comments and messages’

Earlier this week, Cassie posted a video on Instagram from a luxury resort in Cozumel, Mexico, where she is currently vacationing with her bestie Lin Salas and other friends.

The star won season 23 of The Bachelor in 2019 and accepted Colton’s final rose.

But despite romantic beginnings, Colton, 29, became Cassie’s worst nightmare when he allegedly began stalking her, harassing her and her friends using fake phone numbers and even planted a tracking device in her car, according to court documents.

No more: Randolph, 25, escaped to Mexico with friends following her breakup from Underwood, 29 (the pair pictured in 2019)

No more: Randolph, 25, escaped to Mexico with friends following her breakup from Underwood, 29 (the pair pictured in 2019) 

Adding another twist to their ill-fated relationship, the Bachelor star revealed in a bombshell interview on Tuesday that he had been confused about his sexuality the whole time during their relationship that lasted over a year and ended in May 2020.

Colton, 29, wrote in his autobiography that he questioned whether he was gay as early as grade school, and had been struggling with his emotions. He told Good Morning America that despite his sexuality he was in love with Cassie during their relationship and apologized to her during the interview.

‘I’ve ran from myself for a long time. I’ve hated myself for a long time, and I’m gay. And I came to terms with that earlier this year and have been processing it,’ he told GMA.

Cassie Randolph, right, joined her sister and friends for a Mexico trip after her ex Colton Underwood came out as gay

Cassie Randolph, right, joined her sister and friends for a Mexico trip after her ex Colton Underwood came out as gay

Cassie Randolph posted an Instagram Story showing her Mexican getaway with friends

Cassie Randolph posted an Instagram Story showing her Mexican getaway with friends

On her trip to the Mexican island less than two weeks before her 26th birthday, Cassie posted a video following her brother Landon walking down from a wooden balcony to a jetty and into clear blue Caribbean water at Private Paradise Villa.

Her best friend and fellow Biola University graduate Lin also posted pictures this week from a cabana at the resort, sipping skinny margaritas with Cassie, her husband and friends, and enjoying dawn yoga sessions – though Cassie did not brave the early morning to join her seeing the sun rise over the Caribbean Sea.

In her Instagram story on Thursday, Lin wrote that she is ‘forever ignored by the group chat about working out in the morning’ and shared the sea view from her ‘morning movement session’ yoga class.

Randolph showed their expansive villa, with the garden beneath and the path to the sea

Randolph showed their expansive villa, with the garden beneath and the path to the sea

The resort’s website says it ‘blurs the lines between a luxury mega-villa and a theme park resort’ and boasts of a ‘250 feet long water slide – with Rock & Roll sound and light-show – that travels through the house’.

Though Cassie appears to be putting the debacle behind her and relaxing on her Cozumel vacation, a source close to her said that the Randolph family are concerned Colton’s alleged disturbing behavior last year – detailed in a restraining order she filed against him in September – is being forgotten amid the celebration of his coming out.

In a September 11 court filing, Cassie’s lawyer wrote Colton ‘goes on multiple walks a day to Ms. Randolph’s apartment building’, spied on her to catch other male visitors, was spotted in an alley outside her parents home at 2am, and ‘used alias phone numbers to anonymously send harassing text messages at all hours of the day to Ms. Randolph and to her friends.’

Randolph and Underwood in an Instagram picture, in which she announced their split

Randolph and Underwood in an Instagram picture, in which she announced their split

The restraining order application claims Colton at first pretended he was also receiving the messages, then later admitted to sending them himself.

According to the documents, Cassie even found ‘a tile tracking device taped to the bottom of the back bumper of her car,’ which allegedly Colton admitted to planting when she confronted him.

Underwood on Tuesday came out as gay

Underwood on Tuesday came out as gay

‘Because of the history of his behavior (which escalated from harassing and obsessive calls and messages, to obsessive walks to her apartment complex, to loitering outside her window at parents home at two (2) in the morning, to placing a tracking device)… Ms. Randolph fears for her safety and the safety of her family and friends,’ the filing said.

Screenshots of texts Colton sent to Cassie included in the filing showed the couple’s turmoil.

‘You would ditch Linda in a second if a new ‘opportunity’ came up,’ the Bachelor star wrote.

‘F*** you for saying that. Linda is my friend. So f*** off,’ Cassie replied.

‘Because your a selfish person who isn’t ready to be loved,’ Colton wrote. ‘I spent two years loving you the best I could and now I’m sitting here feeling like a fool. You’ve hurt me beyond words. I’ve always done nothing but be there for you and you still disrespect me all the time.’

Randolph's friend Lin Salas showed a series of photos of their Mexican break

Randolph’s friend Lin Salas showed a series of photos of their Mexican break

Salas shared photos of her morning yoga routine on the deck above the sea

Salas shared photos of her morning yoga routine on the deck above the sea

Salas laughed off people noting how she wore the same hat over and over again

Salas laughed off people noting how she wore the same hat over and over again

Michelle Randolph, Cassie's younger sister, was on the trip with the rest of their friends

Michelle Randolph, Cassie’s younger sister, was on the trip with the rest of their friends

In another text in the documents, Colton wrote: ‘I am sober. I also lived the toxic path for nearly 2 years.

‘Reflecting back on all the red flags I ignored [throughout] our relationship is what’s killing me… I promise I’m not crazy.’

And in texts Colton allegedly admitted sending from fake numbers, he wrote: ‘Hi Cassie. You like playing games huh? Let’s play some games then. Let’s just say we used to be family friends. Be young. Have your good time… you’ll have nothing but regrets later with how you treat people.’

Colton allegedly also texted Lin from a fake number in an apparent attempt to drive a wedge between the two friends, writing: ‘You think you know Cassie? You do know she’s just in this for fame?’

The former couple settled out of court in November, and Colton apologized in his GMA interview on Tuesday.

Underwood and Randolph at the CMAs in November 2019 in Nashville

Underwood and Randolph at the CMAs in November 2019 in Nashville

‘I would just say that I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart,’ the Bachelor star said.

‘I’m sorry for any pain and emotional stress I caused. I wish that it wouldn’t have happened the way that it did. I wish that I had been courageous enough to fix myself before I broke anybody else.’

Colton received an outpouring of support after his shock revelation of his sexuality – though some fellow reality stars noted the impact the news might have on his ex.

Season 15 Bachelorette contestant Mike Johnson tweeted: ‘I feel for Cassie, happy for Colton’ after the news broke.  

Cassie may have got a tip for her luxury getaway from fellow Bachelor contest Demi Burnett, who also posted on her Instagram from the luxury Cozumel villa five weeks ago.

Burnett told The Sun Colton needs to be ‘held accountable’ for his behavior towards his ex before he is ‘celebrated’ for coming out.

‘I know how that feels and I’m very proud of him for that. But I do want to make sure everyone respects Cassie who has gone through a lot and been very hurt by Colton,’ she said.

‘I know she would never have filed that restraining order unless she had no other choice. It must’ve been terrifying for her.

‘And I don’t want anyone to forget about that. We can praise Colton for being brave and coming out but he needs to be held accountable for what he did to Cassie.’



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Jeffree Star involved in ‘severe’ car accident after vehicle flipped multiple times

Jeffree Star involved in ‘severe’ car accident after vehicle flipped multiple times


Jeffree Star has been rushed to hospital after being involved in a ‘severe’ car accident, when his brand new Rolls Royce flipped multiple times after hitting black ice on the road. 

The 35-year-old YouTube star and cosmetics mogul was travelling with his friend Daniel Lucas in Natrona County, Wyoming, when the crash occurred early Friday morning. 

‘A few hours ago Jeffree and Daniel were in a severe car accident and the car flipped 3 times after hitting black,’ an update on Star’s social media page read.

‘We will update you all when the doctor gives us more info. So thankful they are both alive.’

The update was posted to the influencer’s Instagram Stories on top of a photo showing Star in a neck brace laying down on a hospital bed. 

Crash: Jeffree Star involved in 'severe' car accident as YouTuber is hospitalized after vehicle flipped multiple times (he posted this picture on Friday following the incident)

Crash: Jeffree Star involved in ‘severe’ car accident as YouTuber is hospitalized after vehicle flipped multiple times (he posted this picture on Friday following the incident) 

It’s believed Star was in his new $300,000 customized pink Rolls Royce, which he only acquired this past February. It’s unclear if he was behind the wheel of the luxury vehicle 

Star - real name Jeffrey Lynn Steininger Jr. - is based in Wyoming, where the crash took place, and has a net worth of over $200million thanks to his makeup empire

Star – real name Jeffrey Lynn Steininger Jr. – is based in Wyoming, where the crash took place, and has a net worth of over $200million thanks to his makeup empire

Star – real name Jeffrey Lynn Steininger Jr. – is based in Wyoming, where the crash took place, and has a net worth of over $200million thanks to his makeup empire. 

According to radio station K2 Radio, the Wyoming Highway Patrol said his vehicle was was heading northbound on Hat Six Road in Natrona County when it hit black ice. 

Both Star and his friend Lucas are currently being treated at Wyoming Medical Center.

It’s unclear which one of them was behind the wheel of the Rolls Royce at the time of the accident. 

TMZ reports that drugs and alcohol do not appear to have been involved in the accident, however investigators are still considering whether speed was  speed was a factor. 

Thankful: The 35-year-old YouTube star and cosmetics mogul was travelling with his friend Dan Lucas when the crash happened according to an update on his social media page Friday

Thankful: The 35-year-old YouTube star and cosmetics mogul was travelling with his friend Dan Lucas when the crash happened according to an update on his social media page Friday

Star moved from Wyoming to Los Angeles after his graduation from high school in the mid 2000s

He first gained attention on MySpace, before sharing his makeup tutorials on YouTube where he quickly amassed millions of followers. 

At present, Star boasts 16.5million subscribers on his YouTube channel, as well 13.5million followers on Instagram, and 6.9million Twitter followers. 

But while his career has brought him fame and fortune, Star has attracted a slew of negative headlines and has been accused of physical violence and sexual abuse. 

Last October, the makeup mogul  was the subject of a lengthy report published by Insider, which featured interviews with insiders who claimed he ‘groped men around him without consent’ and used a stun gun to intimidate people in the late 2000s. 

Star’s attorney denied the allegations in the article. 

While his career has brought him fame and fortune, Star has attracted a slew of negative headlines and has been accused of physical violence and sexual abuse.

While his career has brought him fame and fortune, Star has attracted a slew of negative headlines and has been accused of physical violence and sexual abuse.

In one instance, five people alleged to Insider that Star tased a homeless teen, then-17-year-old Gage Arthur, after he rejected his advances in a movie theater in 2009.

Someone who claimed to be with them that night told Insider that Star said he wanted to ‘f**k Gage’ and tried holding the teen’s hand, even though he is straight.

After Arthur failed to reciprocate, Star reportedly walked out of the theater. When the group joined him in the parking lot, he allegedly chased the teen around a car and tased him.

Arthur told Insider that later that night, when he stayed over Star’s house, the MySpace celebrity ‘gave him Ambien until he was intoxicated and forcibly performed oral sex on him without his consent.’

Star’s lawyer called the allegations ‘false and defamatory,’ saying Star ‘has never tasered or drugged anyone for sex.’

Meanwhile, Zach Neil, a former Warped Tour stage manager, told Insider that he has seen Star ‘grope both guys and girls.’

‘I think anybody that has seen him in concert has seen that. That’s just part of his thing, feeling people up and groping people and a**-slapping and d**k-grabbing,’ he added.

Neil said he didn’t like how Star would pull young-looking fans on stage to feel them up and have three-way kisses.

Hitting back: Star's attorney denied the allegations, calling them 'false and defamatory'

Hitting back: Star’s attorney denied the allegations, calling them ‘false and defamatory’

A spokesperson on behalf of Star told DailyMail.com: ‘While Insider may believe that generating click-bait is more important than honest reporting, facts still matter.

‘This so-called exposé is nothing but a defamatory collection of long-discredited allegations, misleading hearsay from more than a decade ago and outright lies. Tellingly, all of the key individuals involved have refused to substantiate Insider’s bogus claims, while many, including Jeffree’s representatives, presented the reporter with a mountain of evidence proving that these allegations are false.’

Star is no stranger to controversy, and earlier this summer, makeup retailer Morphe dropped his line because of his use of racist and offensive language in the past.   

Serious allegations: YouTuber Jeffree start has been accused of physical violence and sexual abuse in bombshell report by Insider

Serious allegations: YouTuber Jeffree start has been accused of physical violence and sexual abuse in bombshell report by Insider 

Most recently, YouTube star Tati Westbrook accused Star and fellow influencer Shane Dawson of ‘using’ her in a plot to destroy the career of beauty guru James Charles by ‘manipulating’ her into making a video exposing his alleged predatory behavior. 

Meanwhile, the wild headlines have continued into this year.  

In February, Star denied outlandish rumors that he was having an affair with rapper Kanye West amid his divorce from Kim Kardashian. 

He recently moved to Wyoming after listing his bubblegum pink ‘Barbie dreamhouse’ for near $3.6million in July last year.  

He recently moved to Wyoming after listing his bubblegum pink 'Barbie dreamhouse' for near $3.6million in July last year

He recently moved to Wyoming after listing his bubblegum pink ‘Barbie dreamhouse’ for near $3.6million in July last year 



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John Stamos Reveals How He Felt When Mary-Kate, Ashley Olsen Didn’t Do ‘Fuller House’

John Stamos Reveals How He Felt When Mary-Kate, Ashley Olsen Didn’t Do ‘Fuller House’



It turns out John Stamos was pretty “disappointed” about Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen not reprising their joint role as Michelle Tanner on “Fuller House,” Netflix’s follow-up series to “Full House.”

When Stamos and his “Big Shot” co-star Yvette Nicole Brown sat down with Andy Cohen for a virtual appearance on “Watch What Happens Live,” a pair of sisters called in to ask about a few things.

The women asked Stamos, 57, how emotional it was for him to film the “Fuller House” series finale, which aired last year. They also asked whether he was “surprised” that the Olsens never even made a cameo on the show.

Stamos said the finale for “Full House” was “emotional,” emphasizing that “when we did the original series, we got canceled, and we knew like a week before, and we were just doing a regular last show. We never really did the final show. So, it was pretty emotional.”

He divulged that his last day on set for “Fuller House” was full of its own tumult, since he had to “do all this crying” for his “Fuller House” scenes and then “scream and yell” while filming scenes for “Big Shot” on Disney+.

Cohen then pressed Stamos on the Olsen twins, asking: “Were you surprised that the Olsens never made an appearance on the show, or you knew when they said ‘We’re not doing it’ that they weren’t doing it?”

Stamos said that he and the rest of the cast were “disappointed, but we understood.”

“I remember Lori [Loughlin] saying to me, ‘They won two or three CFDA [Fashion] Awards.’ That’s like winning two or three Oscars,” he explained. “If you won three Oscars, would you come back and do this? I was like, ‘Eh, maybe not.’”

Producers reportedly attempted to get the Olsens on board for the show’s first Netflix season in 2016. Producer Bob Boyett told People at the time that Ashley had told him: “I have not been in front of a camera since I was 17, and I don’t feel comfortable acting.”

“Mary-Kate said, ‘It would have to be me because Ash doesn’t want to do it. But the timing is so bad for us,’” Boyett said.



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Chrissy Teigen RETURNS to Twitter just three weeks after quitting

Chrissy Teigen RETURNS to Twitter just three weeks after quitting


Chrissy Teigen returned to Twitter Friday morning, almost a month after disabling her account amid a barrage of negative comments.

Taking to the social media platform again Teigen, 35, admitted she had missed it too much and that it felt ‘terrible’ to silence herself.

‘I choose to take the bad with the good!!’ came Chrissy’s first tweet early Friday morning.

She's back! Chrissy Teigen returned to Twitter on Friday morning after quitting the platform three weeks ago

She’s back! Chrissy Teigen returned to Twitter on Friday morning after quitting the platform three weeks ago

‘turns out it feels TERRIBLE to silence yourself and also no longer enjoy belly chuckles randomly throughout the day and also lose like 2000 friends at once lol’ the model wrote.

Replying to a fan who asked how she’s been doing, Chrissy responded, ‘I’ve spent weeks just saying tweets to shampoo bottles’

Back on March 24, Chrissy appeared to be totally done with Twitter as she addressed her 13.7 million followers with a lengthy explanation of why she was exiting the platform.

It came amid a string of negative comments from trolls, which the model said had left her feeling ‘deeply bruised.’ 

Rolling with it: Chrissy, 35, wrote that she was choosing 'to take the bad with the good' after quitting Twitter because of negative comments from trolls

Rolling with it: Chrissy, 35, wrote that she was choosing ‘to take the bad with the good’ after quitting Twitter because of negative comments from trolls

Farewell: Chrissy deactivated her account on March 24 saying that Twitter was too negative and left her 'deeply bruised'

Farewell: Chrissy deactivated her account on March 24 saying that Twitter was too negative and left her ‘deeply bruised’

Change of heart: 'Hey. For over 10 years, you guys have been my world. I honestly owe so much to this world we have created here. I truly consider so many of you my actual friends,' she began

Change of heart: ‘Hey. For over 10 years, you guys have been my world. I honestly owe so much to this world we have created here. I truly consider so many of you my actual friends,’ she began

‘Hey. For over 10 years, you guys have been my world. I honestly owe so much to this world we have created here. I truly consider so many of you my actual friends,’ she began.

‘But it’s time for me to say goodbye. This no longer serves me as positively as it serves me negatively, and I think that’s the right time to call something,’ she admitted. 

‘My life goal is to make people happy. The pain I feel when I don’t is too much for me. I’ve always been portrayed as the strong clap back girl but I’m just not,’ wrote the star, referring to her frequent fiery Twitter exchanges.

‘My desire to be liked and fear of pissing people off has made me somebody you didn’t sign up for, and a different human than I started out here as! Live well, tweeters. Please know all I ever cared about was you!!!’ 

Negativity: Teigen noted that, over the span of her nearly 11 years of Twitter, she has 'said f**ked up s**t and killed myself over it as much as you killed me. But one thing I haven’t learned is how to block out the negativity

Negativity: Teigen noted that, over the span of her nearly 11 years of Twitter, she has ‘said f**ked up s**t and killed myself over it as much as you killed me. But one thing I haven’t learned is how to block out the negativity

‘I encourage you to know and never forget that your words matter. No matter what you see, what that person portrays, or your intention. For years I have taken so many small, 2-follower count punches that at this point, I am honestly deeply bruised.

‘I have made my mistakes, throughout years and in front of hundreds of thousands, and been held accountable for them. I’ve learned an incredible amount here.’

The most recent backlash Chrissy faced on Twitter – which she responded to – was for collaborating with Kris Jenner on plant-based cleaning product line, Safely.

Chrissy noted that, over the span of her nearly 11 years of Twitter, she has ‘said f**ked up s**t and killed myself over it as much as you killed me.  But one thing I haven’t learned is how to block out the negativity.

‘I’m just a sensitive s**t, okay!? I don’t wanna be this way! I just am! But I love you guys and I cherish our time together, I truly do. I also hate you,’ concluded the star, with a heart.

Deactivated: Shortly after posting her 'goodbye' tweets, Chrissy officially deactivated her Twitter account

Deactivated: Shortly after posting her ‘goodbye’ tweets, Chrissy officially deactivated her Twitter account

Shortly after posting her ‘goodbye’ tweets, Chrissy officially deactivated her Twitter account.

In the days leading up to her account’s deletion, Chrissy revealed that she and Kris Jenner (and Emma Grede) had teamed up to create a line of cleaning plant-based products,

‘Years in the making – excited to finally announce the launch of @GETSAFELY with two absolute bosses, Emma Grede and @KrisJenner,’ tweeted Chrissy two days earlier along with a photo of herself and Jenner.

Backlash: Two days before quitting the platform, Chrissy had responded to backlash she received for collaborating with Kris Jenner on plant-based cleaning product line, Safely

Backlash: Two days before quitting the platform, Chrissy had responded to backlash she received for collaborating with Kris Jenner on plant-based cleaning product line, Safely

‘Plant based with aromatherapy oils annnnnd it works. Could cry. Cannot wait to see this in your homes. (Really!!!)’

Despite her obvious excitement over the line’s launch, the Lip Sync Battle social media pages became flooded with criticism pertaining to her association with the Kardashian clan.

‘Love you but don’t like you getting involved with that family. Does not fit with your brand,’ tweeted one disappointed fan, adding: ‘You are better than this. Sad to see this.’

Backlash: Despite her obvious excitement over the line's launch, the star's social media pages became flooded with criticism pertaining to her association with the Kardashian clan

Backlash: Despite her obvious excitement over the line’s launch, the star’s social media pages became flooded with criticism pertaining to her association with the Kardashian clan

Another firmly stated that they would not be purchasing products from Safely because they refuse to ‘put a penny into a Jenner/Kardashian pocket.’ 

One Twitter user contested Chrissy’s claim that Safely was ‘years in the making’ and even speculated that it was a way to profit off the pandemic. 

‘Highly doubt this was “years” in the making. More like, let’s release a cleaning product just long enough after everyone forgot about hoarding hand sanitizer, so we don’t seem like we’re using the pandemic as a tool to profit from,’ their tweet read. 

Although many of the tweets were prefaced with how much they ‘love’ Chrissy, they also expressed a similar distaste towards the star coming out with ‘MORE products,’ on top of her already successful Cravings empire.

Not having it: 'Love you but don’t like you getting involved with that family. Does not fit with your brand,' tweeted one disappointed fan, adding: 'You are better than this. Sad to see this'

Not having it: ‘Love you but don’t like you getting involved with that family. Does not fit with your brand,’ tweeted one disappointed fan, adding: ‘You are better than this. Sad to see this’

Speculation: One Twitter user contested Teigen's claim that Safely was 'years in the making' and even speculated that it was a way to profit off the pandemic

Speculation: One Twitter user contested Teigen’s claim that Safely was ‘years in the making’ and even speculated that it was a way to profit off the pandemic

More? Although many of the tweets were prefaced with how much they 'love' Teigen, they also expressed a similar distaste towards the star coming out with 'MORE products,' on top of her already successful Cravings empire

More? Although many of the tweets were prefaced with how much they ‘love’ Teigen, they also expressed a similar distaste towards the star coming out with ‘MORE products,’ on top of her already successful Cravings empire

'You are a hero to me in SO many ways, so I say this I love! It just seems like the ever-widening chasm between those who have plenty and those who have nothing is exacerbated by this kind of venture'

‘You are a hero to me in SO many ways, so I say this I love! It just seems like the ever-widening chasm between those who have plenty and those who have nothing is exacerbated by this kind of venture’

‘I love you so much, Ms. Teigen… but really? MORE products? More profit?’ one tweet began.  

‘You are a hero to me in SO many ways, so I say this I love! It just seems like the ever-widening chasm between those who have plenty and those who have nothing is exacerbated by this kind of venture.’ 

Last year, Chrissy shared the heartbreak of a miscarriage on the site, posting an anguished picture of her in the hospital. Another image showed her and husband John Legend grieving over a bundle cradled in her arms. 

While her candor about the loss of their son won praise, some criticized her for putting such painful moments on social media.

Heartbreaking: Chrissy and John revealed in September that their son Jack was stillborn

Heartbreaking: Chrissy and John revealed in September that their son Jack was stillborn

In November, Chrissy announced that she was taking a hiatus from social media as she found herself in a ‘grief hole’ following the tragic loss of her baby son Jack.

‘I’m not tweeting much because I’m honestly in a bit of a grief depression hole but do not worry as I have so much help around me to get better and I’ll be fixed soon,’ wrote the model via Twitter on November 25.

She added: ‘they’ll call when im better and ready for pickup and u can swing by and grab me ok? thank u and love you!’ 

Chrissy revealed in an emotional Instagram post on September 30 that Jack was stillborn, after she endured several serious pregnancy complications.

Chrissy shares the late baby Jack, as well as daughter Luna, five, and son Miles, two, with husband of seven-years Legend, 41. 

Grief: In November, Chrissy Teigen stepped back from social media as she found herself in a 'grief depression hole' following the loss of her baby son Jack

Grief: In November, Chrissy Teigen stepped back from social media as she found herself in a ‘grief depression hole’ following the loss of her baby son Jack



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ENTERTAINMENT

Benedict Cumberbatch Is a Spy With Soul in The Courier—But He’s Not the Only Reason to Watch

Benedict Cumberbatch Is a Spy With Soul in The Courier—But He’s Not the Only Reason to Watch


The trappings of spycraft we see in the movies—the tiny cameras, the furtive code words uttered into pay phones, the trench-coated figures darting about in the shadows—are now so familiar that they come across as anything but secretive. But in real life, a spy has to merge into his or her surroundings like a whisper. You couldn’t cast a more convincing spy than Benedict Cumberbatch, a star whose chief attribute is an aura of charming anonymity. It’s not that he’s drably unnoticeable; it’s simply that his charisma is less bright gold than burnished bronze. He’s discretion personified, with a dash of savoir faire. His is the face of a man who keeps his secrets close to the vest, and would button yours in even closer.

In The Courier, which is based on a true story, Cumberbatch plays a businessman who ferried secrets between Great Britain and the then-Soviet Union during the Cold War. Greville Wynne was an engineer and a family man, recruited by MI6 in 1960 to connect with a member of Russian military intelligence named Oleg Penkovsky—here played by the superb Georgian actor Merab Ninidze—who, alarmed by escalating tensions between the U.S.S.R. and the West, had offered secret information about his country’s nuclear capabilities. Wynne didn’t know exactly what information he was carrying, but his mission was still extremely dangerous, and the second half of The Courier details the price he ultimately paid.

The Courier
Courtesy of LionsgateBenedict Cumberbatch, Angus Wright and Rachel Brosnahan in ‘The Courier’

Until that point, The Courier has a jaunty, larkish quality: when Greville is first approached by a CIA and an MI6 agent working in tandem—played by Rachel Brosnahan and Angus Wright—he’s more amused than bemused by their poker-faced professionalism, their aims disguised by almost comically vague language. “I can’t believe I’m actually having lunch with…spies!” he says, looking from one to the other as if he’s already weaving a story to tell his wife, Sheila (a marvelously wry and subtle Jessie Buckley), at the dinner table. That won’t come to pass: Greville is sworn to secrecy, though his mission at first only involves traveling to Russia to meet with a group of businessmen and make contact with Penkovsky, whom he’ll come to know as Alex. The mission seems harmless enough, until he’s pressed into service for further trips, bringing top-secret information back with him. Over several visits—and one in which Alex comes to England—the two men get to know one another and become friends. Greville and Sheila have a young son, and Alex has a family, too, a wife and a daughter. Before long, Greville has been drawn in both by the sober necessity of his mission—his handlers have scared him, manipulatively, with horror stories about what would happen to his family in the event of a nuclear attack—and by his loyalty to Alex. When he’s told he’s no longer needed—a withdrawal that would leave Alex dangling, with no way to defect to the West with his family, an escape the CIA and MI6 have promised to effect—he begs his handlers to let him return to Russia one last time, a trip that twists the story into more somber corners.

Read more reviews by Stephanie Zacharek

Directed by Dominic Cooke (On Chesil Beach), and written by Tom O’Connor, The Courier is almost two films in one: the second half is much darker and more intense than the first, but the shift is so delicately abrupt that at first you barely register it. That’s part of the movie’s edgily engaging artistry; what begins as a shadowy spy adventure ends in a place of mournful resignation. The movie is honest about the decidedly unglamorous side of spying: chiefly, that it’s a line of work in which human beings are often treated as easily discarded pawns. And beyond its depiction of the usual spy stuff (including those mini cameras, about the size of a disposable lighter, which somehow, even in an era of digital information still feel small and dangerous), the picture’s sober mood is embedded in its images. In a pivotal scene, Alex brings Greville to a performance of Swan Lake in Moscow; cinematographer Sean Bobbit pits the expressive brightness of the dancers onstage against the tension wound tight in Greville’s heart, which shows on his face in a few discreet but fervent tears—an Englishman’s tears, which are either a cliché or one of the deepest expressions of human feeling, depending, perhaps, on who’s doing the crying.

When it’s Cumberbatch, those tears are deeply believable, though it’s Ninidtze who sneaks off with the movie. Ninidtze’s list of IMDb credits, many of them in European, English and American TV series, is long, and he had a starring role in Caroline Link’s 2001 drama Nowhere in Africa. Overall, for casting purposes it appears that he’s a reliable go-to when you need a serious-looking Russian guy (as if there were any other kind). But his performance in The Courier made me hope to see more of him in the movies, and in bigger roles. As Alex Penkovsky he carries infinite gradations of feeling in his eyes: We see his anxiety for his family, his sense of responsibility about preventing nuclear destruction, but also his tangled love for his country. When Greville asks him where, if he were to defect, he might like to live, he says Montana—he’s seen pictures of it, and it reminds him of the countryside where he grew up. As it examines facets of betrayal and loyalty, The Courier speaks most directly through Ninidtze’s eyes. They tell us what it means to love a place that has betrayed you, a place on the map you can no longer call home, even as your wishes for what it ought to be throb in your heart.



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Kate Winslet’s Mare of Easttown Is the Rare Crime Drama That Cares About Its Characters

Kate Winslet’s Mare of Easttown Is the Rare Crime Drama That Cares About Its Characters


Mare of Easttown sounds like it’s going to be a YA equestrian novel or a Masterpiece miniseries set on a Victorian farm. In fact, deceptively stodgy title notwithstanding, it is a poignant, richly observed, if occasionally over-the-top HBO crime drama starring Kate Winslet, in her first big TV role since winning an Emmy in 2011 for Todd Haynes’ Mildred Pierce miniseries. Winslet’s Mare Sheehan is a human police detective (sorry, horse girls) in rural Pennsylvania. That the show is named for its protagonist and her hometown, in defiance of genre norms that favor ominous phrases (The Killing, The Sinner, The Missing), underscores that people and place are as crucial here as any investigation.

Like a Gen-X Frances McDormand character, Mare is an aggressive, no-nonsense woman with too many responsibilities and too little faith in the people around her. In an early scene, we see her simultaneously driving, choking down a foil-wrapped sandwich and lacing into her ex-husband Frank (Joe Tippett of The Morning Show) on the phone. Then, suddenly, she’s out of the car running after a perp she knows on sight, because he happens to be the drug-addicted brother of a woman Mare played basketball with in high school, on a team so fondly remembered around these parts that the school hosts a 25th-anniversary bash in its honor. This is Easttown: a working-class enclave so claustrophobically close-knit that everyone who isn’t family is a friend or foe, where you find out your ex is getting remarried because he throws a party at his house, next door.

It’s a tough place to be a detective struggling to find leads in the year-old disappearance of a young woman, whose cancer-stricken mother is exerting very public pressure on Mare and her superiors. More tragedy is on the horizon. From the moment we meet Erin (Devs‘ Cailee Spaeny), a teen mom scrambling to save money for an operation her baby needs and soothe hostility from both the child’s father and her own single dad, it’s easy to see she’s hurtling toward it. Hours after her ex’s new girlfriend jumps her at a kegger in the woods, Erin’s body turns up in a nearby creek. But the case isn’t as simple as it looks.

With scrutiny at an all-time high, the chief calls in a younger, apparently clueless state detective Colin (X-Men and Ryan-Murphy-verse fixture Evan Peters) to assist Mare in this new investigation. This is not primarily a story about mismatched cops forced to work together, though. Creator and showrunner Brad Ingelsby (The Way Back)—a native Pennsylvanian whose attention to detail is evident from the local beer everyone drinks, Yuengling, to the actors’ refreshingly subtle accents—offsets that familiar dynamic with story lines about the other Sheehans (standouts within an excellent cast include Jean Smart as Mare’s critical mother and Angourie Rice from Spider-Man: Far From Home as her punky, self-possessed teenage daughter).

Realism might be the hardest aesthetic to do well. The performances have to be genuinely moving and the setting vividly evoked; bonkers twists must be kept to a minimum. This probably explains why so many of TV’s biggest current hits are genre spectacles. Mare’s chronological structure, a welcome break from the tangles of timelines that obscure weak plotting in too many recent shows, adds another layer of difficulty. So it’s no small achievement that Ingelsby, director Craig Zobel (The Hunt, Z for Zachariah) and the always-superb Winslet (all executive producers) mostly succeed. Yes, a few melodramatic moments disrupt the naturalism midway through the season, and the choice to tease the revelation of an assailant’s identity by repeatedly placing them just outside the frame is a bit cheap. But Ingelsby nonetheless conveys the texture of life in a specific depressed rural community without descending into the misery porn of, say, Hillbilly Elegy. Easttown is not an ideal place. Mare is not an ideal detective or mom. But both have something more compelling than perfection going for them: they’re real.



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