Dustin Diamond's death, A-Rod's new cheating scandal, more news this week ICYMI
So long, Screech
Dustin Diamond — the actor who famously played lovable Screech on “Saved by the Bell” — passed away on Feb. 1 just a few weeks after he was diagnosed with stage 4 small cell carcinoma, which is also known as lung cancer. He was 44. Many of Dustin’s “Bell” co-stars honored him on social media. Mark-Paul Gosselaar called him “a true comedic genius.” Tori Spelling, who played Dustin’s love interest on the sitcom, said, “He’s an icon to me professionally and personally.” Mario Lopez added, “He was iconic. … His little looks and facial expressions and voice and the way it cracked, it was just the quintessential goofy, lovable fun nerd [character on ‘Bell’] and it really resonated with the kids. And that was all him; he was kind of like Screech in real life. … He was an integral part of the chemistry and the comedy, and I don’t know if it would have worked without him.”
RELATED: Stars react to Dustin Diamond’s death at 44
Secret health battle
Tony Bennett has been secretly living with Alzheimer’s disease, his family revealed on Feb. 1 in an AARP The Magazine profile. The 94-year-old Grammy winner was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease in 2016, his wife, Susan Benedetto, explained, adding that Tony is still capable of recognizing his family and friends (including frequent collaborator Lady Gaga!) and doesn’t have some of the worst symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s. Still, Susan said, the singer is “incapable of understanding the disease.” Tony is “not always sure where he is or what is happening around him” and “mundane objects as familiar as a fork or a set of house keys can be utterly mysterious to him,” she noted, though made it clear he’s still in good spirits. “But that’s because he already didn’t understand,” she said. “He would ask me, ‘What is Alzheimer’s?’ I would explain, but he wouldn’t get it. He’d tell me, ‘Susan, I feel fine.’ That’s all he could process — that physically he felt great. So, nothing changed in his life. Anything that did change, he wasn’t aware of.”
RELATED: Famous people who’ve had Alzheimer’s disease
COVID-19 issues (again)
Stop us if you heard this one before: Kelly Dodd said something controversial about the coronavirus. But this time, she’s paying the price for it. In late January, the “Real Housewives of Orange County” star happily celebrated the re-opening of outdoor dining in California by grabbing some drinks with friends. She then did a cheers to “super spreaders,” referring to people with COVID-19. Afterward, Kelly took to Instagram to claim, “I’m not a super spreader because there is nothing to spread.” She even added that she and her friends “all got the [COVID-19] vaccine. And we don’t have it. So there’s nothing to spread… The sheeple are mad.” On Feb. 1, Positive Beverage — a brand she had an endorsement deal with — had seen enough and dropped her. “Our core values of wellness, community, diversity and inclusion should be reflected by our brand and anyone associated with it,” the company said in a statement, adding, “it has become clear over the past few months that Kelly’s controversial views and opinions have distracted from our primary objectives, so effective today, we are no longer affiliated with Kelly Dodd-Leventhal.” The brand added that Kelly has no “respect” for people with a differing view than hers. On Feb. 2, E! reported that Kelly expects she’ll be fired from Bravo’s “RHOC.”
RELATED: Famous people who’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19
Abuse accusations, denial
In a Feb. 1 Instagram post, actress Evan Rachel Wood accused ex-fiance Marilyn Manson of abuse. “The name of my abuser is Brian Warner, also known to the world as Marilyn Manson,” the “Westworld” actress wrote. “He started grooming me when I was a teenager and horrifically abused me for years. I was brainwashed and manipulated into submission. I am done living in fear of retaliation, slander, or blackmail.” She continued, “I am here to expose this dangerous man and call out the many industries that have enabled him, before he ruins any more lives. I stand with the many victims who will no longer be silent.” Evan and Marilyn dated in 2007 when she was 19 and he was 38. They got engaged in 2010 but split later that year. The musician hit back, calling the allegations “horrible distortions of reality” and said in a statement that “my intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners.” Just hours after Evan’s post, Loma Vista Recordings dropped the shock rocker — who was also accused of abuse by several other women — from its roster. On Feb. 2, his talent agency, CAA, also cut ties with him. Evan had previously claimed before Congress that she was a victim of abuse, but she never named her alleged accuser until now.
Racial slur sparks backlash
On Feb. 2, video of country music star Morgan Wallen getting rowdy at his house days earlier emerged — and in it, he at one point loudly says the N-word. He apologized, telling TMZ, “I’m embarrassed and sorry. I used an unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back. There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I want to sincerely apologize for using the word. I promise to do better.” But by Feb. 3, country music radio powerhouse Cumulus Media had banned his songs from its airwaves, with iHeartRadio, SiriusXM and Pandora quickly did the same. Then his record label suspected him indefinitely, and the Academy of Country Music ruled him ineligible for its 2021 awards show, for which he was expected to score multiple nominations.
Coming out and making history
It’s a big moment in country music: Brothers Osborne frontman T.J. Osborne came out as a gay man in an interview with TIME magazine published on Feb. 3. The musician said he’s been out to his family and friends for years, but felt it was time to share the news with fans. “I’m very proud to put this out there,” T.J. said in a video he posted on Instagram. “I want you to know … the person you’ve gotten to know over the years is me. Now you’ve just gotten to know more about me.” This news makes T.J. the first and only openly gay man signed to a major music label in the country genre! The country music community as well as some Hollywood stars reacted on social media, with everyone from Kacey Musgraves and Reese Witherspoon to Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley voicing their heartfelt support.
New cheating rumors
On part one of the “Southern Charm” season 7 reunion, which filmed in late 2020 and aired on Jan. 28, Craig Conover accused Madison LeCroy of having an affair with an ex-MLB player. (During the reunion, Madison admitted that the mystery man “contacted” her and that they exchanged direct messages but insisted that “other than that, there was nothing” between them: She “never physically” saw him or “touched him.”) After the accusation aired, the Internet erupted with rumors claiming Madison had an affair with Alex Rodriguez, who’s engaged to Jennifer Lopez. The evidence? The baseball star follows the “Southern Charm” star on Instagram and has liked several of her recent thirst-inducing snaps. A-Rod and Madison also reportedly stayed at the same New York City hotel at the same time in December 2020. (As the scandal started heating up online, social media sleuths noticed Alex unliked several of Madison’s posts and also deleted the photo of himself at the NYC hotel from late last year.) Then on the Feb. 2 episode of the “Reality Life with Kate Casey” podcast, Madison’s “Southern Charm” co-star Danni Baird revealed that Madison told her “months before” the reunion that she and Alex “were FaceTiming or something.” The following day, Madison confirmed to Page Six that she and the former professional athlete — whom she described as “just an acquaintance” — have “spoken on the phone” but insisted that they “never met up,” have “never been physical” and “never had any kind of anything.”She added that they spoke “randomly” but not consistently and maintained that their communication was “innocent.” An Alex-friendly source told Page Six that A-Rod “doesn’t know” Madison and “definitely didn’t hook up with her.” (The source didn’t deny that he’d slid into her DMs, though.) A second Page Six source insisted that “Alex and Jennifer are very happy.”
Honored… but no thank you
Last fall, former President Barack Obama said he made a mistake by not awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Dolly Parton during his time in office. It turns out, she might not have accepted it anyway. On Feb. 1, the country music legend said she was twice offered the medal during former President Donald Trump’s term. “I couldn’t accept it because my husband was ill and then they asked me again about it and I wouldn’t travel because of the COVID,” she told “Today.” She added that President Joe Biden has spoken to her about receiving the country’s highest civilian honor, but she’s hesitant to accept because of the way it might be construed, especially since she didn’t take Trump up on his offer (albeit for legitimate reasons). “Now I feel like if I take it, I’ll be doing politics, so I’m not sure,” she said. “But I don’t work for those awards. It’d be nice but I’m not sure that I even deserve it. But it’s a nice compliment for people to think that I might deserve it.”
Golden Globe Awards nominations and SAG Awards nominations announced
It might not be a normal year, but some traditions — like Hollywood’s awards season — remain. This week, nominations for both the Golden Globe Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced. For the upcoming Globes, Netflix pulled in the most nominations with six for “The Crown,” four for “Ozark,” six for “Mank” and five for “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” For the SAG Awards, “Minari” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” scored three nominations in movie categories while TV favorites “The Crown” and “Schitt’s Creek” earned six nods each. Also of note? One day after earning his first Globe nod on Feb. 3 — albeit posthumously — Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020 following a secret battle with colon cancer, made history as he became the first actor to ever receive four SAG Award nominations in a single year.
Trump dumps Hollywood union before he can be expelled
Donald Trump just resigned from Hollywood’s most powerful union, SAG-AFTRA, before the guild could expel him, as it indicated it was ready to do following his role in the Capital riot on Jan. 6 as well as what it called his “reckless campaign of misinformation aimed at discrediting and ultimately threatening the safety of journalists, many of whom are SAG-AFTRA members.” On Feb. 4, the union released a copy of the letter the former president of the United States sent to its president, former “Beverly Hills, 90210” star Gabrielle Carteris. “I write to you today regarding the so-called Disciplinary Committee hearing aimed at revoking my union membership. Who cares!” he began, continuing, “While I’m not familiar with your work, I’m very proud of my work on movies such as Home Alone 2, Zoolander and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps; and television shows including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Saturday Night Live, and of course, one of the most successful shows in television history, The Apprentice — to name just a few.” He carried on in the same vein — read the whole letter here — and concluded things with the line, “You have done nothing for me.” The guild’s response? Two simple words: “Thank you.”
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