On Tuesday, November 22, 2022, reality television stars Todd and Julie Chrisley were sentenced to a combined 19 years in prison for both bank fraud and tax evasion. The ruling comes after the couple was indicted in August 2019 with a new indictment that was filed in February of this year. AP News reports that the jury found the Chrisleys guilty back in June of this year of conspiring to defraud community banks out of more than $30 million in fraudulent loans as well as conspiring to defraud the IRS and tax evasion. In addition, Julie Chrisley was convicted of wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
Prosecutors argued that the Chrisleys submitted fake documents when applying for bank loans and that Julie submitted false credit reports and bank statements to rent a home for the family in California. An accountant for the couple, Peter Tarantino was also found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the United States and willfully filing false tax returns. The presiding judge over the case, Eleanor L. Ross issued the sentencing, giving Todd Chrisley 12 years in prison with three years of supervised release and Julie Chrisley 7 years in prison, also with three years of supervised release. Peter Tarantino was sentenced to three years in prison with three years of supervised release.
Alex Little, the family’s attorney gave this statement to CNN about the ruling, “Yesterday was a difficult day for the Chrisley family. But Todd and Julie are people of faith, and that faith gives them strength as they appeal their convictions.”
Todd and Julie share three children, Chase, 26, Savannah, 25, and Grayson, 16. Todd has two older children from a previous marriage with ex-wife Teresa Terry, Lindsie, 33, and Kyle, 31. Due to his battles with substance abuse, Todd and Julie have custody of Kyle’s daughter Chloe, 10, and are also grandparents to Lindsie’s son, Jackson.
Savannah Chrisley shared in her podcast, “Unlocked,” that she will have custody of both Grayson and Chloe (actual custody agreements have not yet been disclosed), saying, “I come home Tuesday, and I have custody of a 16-year-old and a 10-year-old, and we spend our first Thanksgiving not as a family. I’m trying to navigate how you teach two younger children who aren’t fully developed yet and … get them to understand the circumstances. That’s a really, really difficult thing.” As it pertains to her family and what happens now due to the sentencing, she shares this, “I don’t know what my family’s fate is. I know that the short-term is going to be really painful and really difficult.”
Abron’s Hot Take
I used to watch the Chrisley Knows Best reality show during the early seasons. I found the family intriguing and Todd specifically, to be very entertaining. Of course, as with most reality tv shows and personalities, I didn’t take the show seriously and always felt that the Chrisley family overexaggerated their wealth – because – no one looks at reality tv to watch regular people living their lives. We tune in for the drama and opulence to escape our own lives. But the harsh reality of it all is that reality tv is very rarely real.
The word that comes to mind is “storyline.” Meaning, some of your favorite personalities that have dominated the popular form of entertainment are oftentimes acting out a contrived series of events in order to entertain the viewers and their fans. It’s also a way to “secure their spot” for future seasons of their respective show so they remain a regular presence. The sometimes made-up drama has proven quite addictive and even the most sophisticated individuals find themselves tuning in each week to see which housewife is fighting with whom. Or in the case of the Chrisleys, what wild or crazy southern idioms will Todd dole out to his family?
Turns out my suspicions - albeit quiet - were pretty spot on as it pertains to the wealth of the Chrisley family. However, I never would’ve imagined that fraud would be involved, nor did I ever foresee prison sentences for the patriarch and matriarch of the family (talk about setting an example for your children). We all know by now or at least we should know that you don’t mess with the government. If anyone is going to get back their stolen money or ensure you pay the price for acquiring it illegally, it’s the IRS! You have to be pretty bold and narcissistic to think you could commit a crime of this caliber and not face the consequences. As the saying goes, you do the crime, you do the time as is such for Todd for Julie.
I do remember hearing speculations years ago that the Chrisleys weren’t as wealthy as they portrayed themselves to be on their reality show so their need to lie, defraud banks, and acquire millions of dollars in loans to fund their lavish lifestyle of luxury cars, designer clothes, real estate, and travel makes sense for people like them. Keeping up with the Joneses is a very real thing. What will become of the Chrisley family is yet to be determined as that story is still being written. However, from what I’ve seen with reality stars and their past experiences with legal troubles, Todd and Julie will most likely bounce back with a redemption show. But will the public care enough by that time is the million or better yet, the $30 million dollar question?
After nine seasons of telling audiences what’s best, it appears the Chrisleys don’t know what’s best after all.
On Sunday, September 25, 2022, international pop superstar and business mogul, Rihanna, 34, surprised her millions of fans around the world when she announced that she would be headlining next year’s Superbowl. This will be the first public performance by the singer since her Grammy performance back in 2018. Although fans seem to be excited about her return to the stage, the decision to headline isn’t without a little controversy. In 2019, during her interview with Vogue magazine, Rihanna unequivocally stated that she had turned down the NFL’s offer to perform during the halftime show in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick (former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers) who claimed he was being blackballed from playing football due to his kneeling during the national anthem in protest against police brutality against black people, “I couldn’t dare do that. For what? Who gains from that? Not my people. I just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler. There’s things within that organization that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way.”
This year’s Superbowl event is in partnership with Apple Music, replacing long-time primary partner, Pepsi. Oliver Schusser, Vice President for Apple Music and Beats said, “We’re excited to partner with Rihanna, Roc Nation and the N.F.L. to bring music and sports fans a momentous show.” The Superbowl is scheduled to take place on February 12, 2023, in Glendale, Arizona. Eight days before the pop icon’s 35th birthday. On May 19, reports confirmed that Rihanna had given birth to her first child, a boy with boyfriend ASAP Rocky.
Abron’s Hot Take
As a Rihanna fan, I’m super excited to see her return to what she has become well known for which is singing. I would imagine the hardest challenge she will have in preparing for this show is knowing which songs to perform as both her solo catalog as well as her feature songs have become some of the biggest hits in music history. How do you combine over a decade of music into a 15-minute show? I’m stressing out just thinking about it! But the main question I would ask Rihanna as I’m sure most journalists will should she decide to do any interviews leading up to the event is why now? What changed within her world that she now has agreed to do the halftime show after firmly standing against the idea after many offers? I don’t judge the decision, either way, I simply would just like to know why now?
If I were a betting man, I would say that it could have something to do with the fact that her boss and mentor, Shawn Carter – known well by his stage name, Jay Z, 52, has served as the NFL’s “live music and entertainment strategist,” for the past three years through his Roc Nation sports division. Rihanna is both signed and managed by Roc Nation. Since 2019, Jay Z has consulted on the Superbowl halftime show, influencing the acts of mostly black artists to show solidarity with the NFL and its Inspire Change activism campaign. I would imagine having him as part of this event made the decision a bit easier for Rihanna to say yes. This year’s Superbowl halftime show, made up mostly of the top names in hip hop was not only well received by audiences, but it won the Emmy award for both Outstanding Variety Special (Live) and Outstanding Production Design for a Variety Special.
Jay Z signed Rihanna to her very first record deal under Def Jam records back in 2005 when he served as the labels President. He has since served as a mentor, friend, and music collaborator. One thing I can say for sure is regardless of how some people may feel about her decision to perform, whether they agree or not or have issues with the sudden about-face, or change of heart, the show will undoubtedly be watched by millions. Rihanna is a beloved superstar and has always been “unapologetic,” about who she is, and we love her for it.
In her recent interview spread with Elle magazine, supermodel, Gisele Bündchen, 42, shared her thoughts on her husband, NFL quarterback and seven-time Superbowl champion, Tom Brady’s career. In the article, she says, “Obviously, I have my concerns—this is a very violent sport, and I have my children and I would like him to be more present,” she adds, “I have definitely had those conversations with him over and over again. But ultimately, I feel that everybody has to make a decision that works for [them]. He needs to follow his joy, too.” This interview, of course, was done prior to the start of the current football season when reports shared that Brady had missed eleven days of training camp, citing “personal reasons.” After announcing his decision to retire back in February of this year, Brady announced just two months later, that he would be unretiring and will play another season of professional football. At age 45, Brady is the oldest quarterback currently playing in the league.
Although Bündchen seemed understanding of her husband and wanted him to find his joy and do what makes him happy, the decision by Brady to return to the sport has caused a few problems within the marriage. Sources claim that “Tom and Gisele are in a fight right now.” Additional sources add, “There’s been trouble in the marriage over his decision to un-retire. Gisele has always been the one with the kids. They had agreed he would retire to focus on the family, then he changed his mind.” It has also been reported that Gisele has moved out of the family home the two share in Tampa, FL after numerous arguments over Brady’s decision to continue to play the sport she deems “violent.”
Bündchen was noticeably absent during Brady’s first game of the season opener; however, she shared her support for him on her Twitter page, tweeting, “Let’s go @TomBrady! Let’s go Bucs.” Brady plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Gisele and Tom met in 2006 and married three years later in 2009. Together, they share two children, a son, Benjamin,13, and a daughter Vivian, 10. Gisele is also the stepmother to Brady’s oldest son, Jack, 15, from a previous relationship.
Abron’s Hot Take
So, there’s obviously a breakdown in communication within this marriage. From what I’ve read and seen, I can deduce that clearly, both Tom and Gisele have had many discussions regarding his retirement from playing football. Gisele is right when she labels the sport violent because it is. There are many players throughout the history of the sport who have suffered life-altering injuries. Football has a very short shelf-life. I’m also sensing that Tom’s decision to unretire was something he didn’t consult with Gisele about and instead, he made the choice on his own and told her later as an afterthought. Reneging on a promise you make to anyone, especially your spouse is extremely problematic, and Tom looks very selfish right now.
In an interview Tom gave to Howard Stern in 2020, he shared that a few years back, Gisele basically told him that she didn’t think he was doing his part in the family, “She felt like I would play football all season and she would take care of the house. She wasn’t satisfied with our marriage. So, I needed to make a change in that. Her point was, ‘Well, yeah, of course, this works for you. It all works for you. But it doesn’t work for me.”
I understand loving something so much and being passionate about it that you never want to let it go. Especially if you’re really good at it. However, Tom has nothing left to prove. He has won many Superbowl championships, is the most recognizable face and name in the league and has been nicknamed the G.O.A.T (Greatest of all Time) of quarterbacking and has cemented himself and left an indelible mark on the sport. At his age, he should be considering retirement and taking on one of those nice and cushy sports analyst jobs at ESPN. Why he wants to continue to be on the field, having younger, and stronger players slamming into him and risking possible concussions is lost on me. I’ll tell you one thing – it’s better to retire on your own rather than be forced to due to an injury that permanently removes you altogether. Personally, I think Tom is seeking another championship and ring considering the Buccaneers didn’t make it to the Superbowl this year. I think his ego plays a part in this as well.
We should also note that in that same interview Gisele did with Elle magazine, she also stated as it pertains to Tom and his career, “I’ve done my part, which is [to] be there for [Tom]. I moved to Boston, and I focused on creating a cocoon and a loving environment for my children to grow up in and to be there supporting him and his dreams. Seeing him succeed and being fulfilled in his career—it makes me happy.”
There’s a reason why marriage is only relegated to two people. With two differing personalities deciding to share their lives together, with all the complexities that come with it, there isn’t much room for anything else. One thing is clear – Tom seems to love his wife, but he is 'in love' with the game of football, and vacillating on which to choose is a battle he most likely won’t win. Either way, nobody wins. If he retires before he wants to, he will become bitter – perhaps even resentful towards Gisele for forcing his hand and if he continues to play, it will push Gisele further way – a process that has seemingly already started.
It’s official! Nikki Bella, one-half of the Bella Twins phenomenon with twin sister, Brie Bella, has married Dancing with the Stars professional, Artem Chigvintsev. The couple met in 2017 during Season 25 of DWTS where a romance between the two soon followed. They became engaged in January of 2020 and in July of the same year, Nikki and Artem welcomed their first child, a baby boy whom they named Matteo. Sharing this message on both Twitter and Instagram, Nikki says, “We said I DO, can’t wait to share the entire journey with you all when our four-part special event, Nikki Bella Says I Do, premieres on E! Entertainment.” The two tied the knot on Monday, August 29, 2022, in Paris, France.
Abron’s Hot Take
I had the pleasure of interviewing both Nikki and Brie for their cover story in LaPalme Magazine where we discussed everything from career to relationships. Still engaged at the time, Nikki shared this about her relationship with Artem, “With Artem, things feel easier in a lot of ways. I don’t feel as much pressure and I can genuinely be who I am. I made mistakes in my last relationship. Sometimes we hold ourselves to certain expectations and when we don’t meet those expectations, we become hard on ourselves, and I did that which was ultimately just hurting myself. I’ve learned how to communicate differently and be firm in what I want, recognizing that if it works that’s great and if not, that’s fine too and I can move forward. It took me a long time to realize not to settle for less and whatever life you want, you go for it and live it because that’s what brings true happiness. Artem has just calmed my soul.”
I’m thrilled and excited that Nikki has her happily ever after! During our interview, I felt drawn to her infectious energy and bubbly personality. Sticking true to her word, she also shared in our talk that she would be open to having a wedding special to share with her fans, the “Bella Army,” and she’s doing just that in her upcoming E! special. I can’t wait to watch!
Congratulations Nikki and Artem! I wish you both a lifetime of happiness!
On June 1, 2021, after a tumultuous and invasive trial, a jury finally reached a decision in the case of Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard. The jury seemingly sided with Depp, 58, awarding him $10 million in compensatory damages and an additional $5 million in punitive damages. Heard, 36, was also awarded damages in the amount of $2 million. The decision comes after a six-week public hearing of testimony by the ex-couple, Amber alleging physical, verbal, and emotional abuse at the hands of Depp and him refuting said allegations. The two married in 2015 after four years of dating. They first met in 2009 while filming The Rum Diary. In 2016, Heard filed for divorce from the Pirates of the Caribbean star, accusing him of domestic violence. She also requested a restraining order which she later dismissed. Upon the finalization of their divorce, the two seemingly reached a mutual agreement, releasing a statement that in part said their relationship was “passionate and at times volatile but always bound by love.”
The impetus for the case came as a result of Amber’s 2018 op-ed for The Washington Post. Although she didn’t name him directly, she alleges in the article that she had been a victim of abuse. Depp responded by suing her for defamation and in return alleging that it was she who had been abusive to him. From there became what we all now know as the Depp vs. Heard case in which Depp sued Heard for $50 million as well as stating that the allegations in the op-ed caused him to lose work in Hollywood, most notably the role of Captain Jack Sparrow in the upcoming Pirates film.
Heard counter-sued Depp for $100 million and claims of defamation from Depp’s lawyers. Although he was not present during the reading of the verdict, Depp released an official statement on his Instagram page saying, “Six years ago, my life, the life of my children, the lives of those closest to me, and also, the lives of the people, who for many, many years have supported and believed in me were forever changed. All in the blink of an eye.” He added, “From the very beginning, the goal of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome. Speaking the truth was something that I owed to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing I have finally accomplished that.” Heard, in her own statement said, “The disappointment I feel today is beyond words. I’m heartbroken that the mountain of evidence still was not enough to stand up to the disproportionate power, influence, and sway of my ex-husband. I’m sad I lost this case. But I am sadder still that I seem to have lost a right I thought I had as an American — to speak freely and openly.”
Benjamin Chew, a lawyer for Depp spoke to reporters after the verdict was announced saying, “Now that the jury has reached its conclusive verdict, it’s time to turn the page and look to the future.”
Abron’s Hot Take
I’m not going to relitigate this trial because I feel like it’s been done to death at this point. In the beginning it felt like a case of he said, she said. Amber accuses Johnny of abusing her, Johnny says no, Amber is the one who abused me etc. But as more and more details became public during the trial, it appeared that Amber’s accounts of what happened during her marriage to Johnny were not as true as she claimed. But now that it’s over, I want to focus more on what it all means. I ask this question as the title of this blog post – is there a winner in the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard Case? If I were a lawyer, particularly Johnny’s lawyer, the answer to this question would be an obvious yes. And rightfully so as his team was able to provide enough credible proof to dispel Amber’s allegations. But as a journalist, I’m more focused on the court of public opinion. There seems to be a mixed reaction here. While the majority of viewers see Johnny as the victor, there are others who feel that Amber was not believed and therefore her loss is a blow to the #metoo movement. Will Johnny get his career back? Will Amber be victorious in her appeal and if so, what does that say about Johnny? What will become of Amber’s career after this?
These are the questions I think about which is why I don’t believe anyone actually “won,” the case because at the time of this writing, we have not yet seen any results to prove who Hollywood is supporting. But fair is fair and as it pertains to the claims of defamation, Amber did in fact defame Johnny by accusing him of actions he did not commit or that she couldn’t prove he committed in a court of law.
What happens next is yet to be determined. We know that Amber is planning to appeal the jury’s decision and Johnny seems to have already moved on and is focusing on getting his career back. It’s safe to say that this won’t be the last we hear of these two, but my hope is that for Johnny, now that he’s restored his name, that he can continue to work in Hollywood as he is one of the most prolific actors of his generation. There is no Pirates of the Caribbean without his character Captain Jack Sparrow. For Amber, I hope she can find peace within herself but that she also learns from this debacle. She basically filed false claims against Johnny that she knew weren’t true and then drug out a trial I’m almost certain she knew she wouldn’t win. I believe she banked on the “believe all women,” mantra as a way to gain public sympathy.
But unfortunately, her stories had so many holes in them that the jury just didn’t find her a credible witness and she lost a case that she pretty much started when she wrote that op-ed. I for one am glad this case is over. It will surely be talked about for years to come as it is now one of the most scandalous trials in Hollywood history.
Elizabeth Alexander Mary, most commonly known around the world as Queen Elizabeth II (the second), 96, recently celebrated her Platinum Jubilee. Having ascended to the throne on February 6, 1952, at just 25 years old, her Majesty the Queen has officially reigned for 70 years, making her the first monarch in British history to achieve this accolade. Although there have been a series of unfortunate events and scandals that have plagued the royal family in recent times such as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (the Duke and Duchess of Sussex) stepping down from their duties and leaving the royal family and the UK altogether, the sexual abuse allegations of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and the passing of the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the royals have remained steadfast in their duties of service.
In addition, the Queen has faced health challenges of her own, having recently recovered from COVID-19. The concern for her health resulted in her majesty’s decision to forgo a few of events scheduled throughout her Jubilee celebration. Speaking on her influence, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, the Queen’s grandson and future King of England said, “I think I speak for my generation when I say that the example and continuity provided by The Queen is not only very rare among leaders but a great source of pride and reassurance.” Tributes from other world leaders were also relayed to the Queen with President Emmanuel Macron of France saying, “You are the golden thread that binds our two countries, the proof of the unwavering friendship between our nations,” and former US President, Barack Obama saying, “Your life has been a gift, not just to the United Kingdom, but to the world.”
Although Prince Harry and Meghan officially stepped down as senior members of the royal family, they returned to the UK to celebrate The Queen’s jubilee where she also met the couple’s daughter, and her great-granddaughter, Lilibet for the first time since her birth in 2021.
Abron’s Hot Take
Congratulations are in order! That’s all one can really say when you think about this. Regardless of how you may feel about the royals, whether you like them or not, I think we can all agree that what Queen Elizabeth II has accomplished is extraordinary. Not to mention, she’s made history by becoming the first monarch to reign for as long as she has and she’s a woman! I think that pretty much defies the antiquated thinking that leadership positions are better served with men at the helm.
Hopefully, the lesson learned here is that globally, we embrace women as world leaders. In the US we’ve come pretty close with Hillary Clinton getting the presidential nomination back in 2016, Nancy Pelosi serving as the only female Speaker of the House of Representatives in US history, and with the inauguration of our first female Vice President in Kamala Harris. I don’t see this jubilee as just a celebration in the UK, but as a shining example and global representation of what true leadership and service to country looks like. Congratulations to her majesty The Queen. I guess Beyoncé was on to something when she declared back in 2011 that girls really do run the world!
In February of this year, it was announced that comedian, actress, and talk show host Sherri Shepherd, 55, would be getting her own talk show, essentially replacing The Wendy Williams Show and its host, Wendy Williams, 57. The announcement comes after Shepherd, along with a slew of other guest hosts filled in for Williams after she stepped away from the show due to ongoing health issues.
Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein, co-presidents of Debmar-Mercury, the production company behind The Wendy Williams show said in a joint statement, “Sherri is a natural who proved her hosting skills for many years as a panelist on ‘The View,’ on Fox’s ‘Dish Nation’ and again this season as a popular guest host of ‘Wendy.’ Like our viewers, we have been impressed by the unique comedic twist Sherri puts on our daily live ‘Hot Topics’ segment, her creativity, and interactions with our guests. Her love for the content and daytime fans is obvious, and we are excited to partner with her to create another long-term talk franchise.”
Shepherd shared her enthusiasm about the opportunity saying, “OMG! I am so excited to have my dream come true and debut my very own talk show ‘Sherri’ in the fall. I can’t wait until I return to NY to host the show and merge everything, I love…pop culture, talk, entertainment, and comedy. I am thankful to Debmar-Mercury and Fox for partnering with me on this show and look forward to this new journey.”
Wendy, on the other hand, has not taken the news well. During an Instagram Live chat with rapper Fat Joe she claimed that she will in fact be returning to her show saying, “I’m coming back to ‘The Wendy Williams Show.’ Absolutely. I wish I was there. I wish I was there right now to talk about it. I’m glad I’m able to talk about it when I come back, you know?” She also added that she would not be watching Sherri’s show, “I won’t be watching her because I know what she’ll be doing and that’s not really my thing … you know what I’m saying?” But I love, I love being on my own show. And I love that people love to watch it, you know, all the time.”
The Sherri show is set to premiere this fall.
Abron’s Hot Take
Okay, I say this with full respect and empathy for Wendy, it’s time for a reality check! Wendy, YOU.ARE.NOT.GETTING. YOUR.SHOW. BACK! Period, full stop. I think Wendy says this because she’s really trying to convince herself that she has not been replaced and that’s exactly what has happened. Yes, Sherri is not replacing “The Wendy Williams Show,” but her own show will air in Wendy’s old timeslot. So, what does that tell you? I know what it tells me. Now, we can’t blame Wendy for needing to take time away from the show to focus on her ailing health and other personal issues; however, working in TV is a business and at this point, Wendy being gone as long as she has been makes her a liability to the production company behind her show not to mention with marketing and advertisers.
It's only natural that they would start to move in a different direction. Just so we’re clear, The Wendy Williams show is over and doesn’t seem to be coming back anytime soon. Instead, viewers will be tuning in to The Sherri Show. I think Wendy needs to continue to focus on her health and when she’s officially ready, she can return to the public eye. What I’m sensing is that Wendy seems to be upset that she is being replaced and although her anger may be warranted, it is, however, misdirected at the wrong person which is Sherri. Sherri hasn’t done anything wrong. Some have argued that she essentially saved Wendy’s show with her appearances which producers found compelling enough to reward her with a show of her own. Wendy needs to discuss any issues she has with Debmar-Mercury, but I doubt she will because it’s much easier to hate the person replacing you rather than the powers that be behind the decision.
This is a very sad situation all around and I for one would advise Wendy to bow out gracefully and give a sincere and heartfelt goodbye to her audience that has watched her for the last fourteen years rather than hold on to this notion that she will be returning to her show when anyone whose been following this story can see the writing on the wall. Her actions are concerning and come off like an aging adult trying desperately to hold onto their youth.
It's over Wendy. Please accept that and use this time to rest, reimagine, and reemerge a better, stronger Wendy Williams!
The past four years have seen actress Selma Blair, 49 get very candid about her personal life. In 2018, the Cruel Intentions star revealed in an Instagram post that she was suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease that according to the National MS Society, impacts the brain and spinal cord which make up the central nervous system and disrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and body. In the post, Blair recounts her symptoms, sharing “I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken gps.” She further shares her battle with the disease in her very personal and emotional documentary, Introducing, Selma Blair. After receiving a stem cell treatment, Blair is now in remission of her MS, “My prognosis is great. I’m in remission. Stem cell put me in remission. It took about a year after stem cell for the inflammation and lesions to really go down.”
As if battling an autoimmune disease wasn’t traumatic enough, especially sharing such vulnerable moments with the public, she is now opening up in her new memoir, Mean Baby, about her experiences with alcohol addiction which she shares started at just 7 years old as well as other deleterious and unfortunate circumstances of suicide attempts and sexual assaults. In her cover story with PEOPLE, she shares, “I don't know if I would've survived childhood without alcoholism, that's why it's such a problem for a lot of people. It really is a huge comfort, a huge relief in the beginning. Maybe even the first few years for me because I did start really young with that as a comfort, as my coping mechanism.”
Mean Baby was released on May 17th and is available now.
Abron’s Hot Take
If you’re a 90s – early 2000s kid like myself, then you’re most familiar with Selma from her roles as Cecile Caldwell in Cruel Intentions, one-third of the girlfriend’s trio, Jane Burns in the comedy film, The Sweetest Thing, and as Reese Witherspoon’s nemesis Vivian Kensington in Legally Blonde. We’ve basically grown up with her as she’s portrayed characters in some of our favorite films that have defined our childhoods. So, naturally hearing about her traumatic battles with MS and now her recounts of alcoholism and sexual assault pierces our hearts. I’ve often said that if I were to ever meet Selma, I would wrap my arms around her and give her the biggest hug. Ten percent of that hug would be due to the struggles she’s faced because that’s what we’re naturally inclined to do as humans who are empathetic to others. But ninety percent of my hug would be to celebrate her bravery and strength in sharing her personal story with the world.
It's not easy to do something like this in a world that often finds fault with the victims or is so easy to speak negatively about others. But yet, she’s done exactly that in the most beautiful way. When I watch Selma, I’m reminded that we all have choices. We can either cave and give in to the unfortunate circumstances life deals us or we can choose to be strong and fight to the very end in hopes of changing the outcome. Selma has looked MS in the face and not only knocked it out of life, but she’s also using her platform to advocate against the disease and spread awareness so that others who are either facing the disease or know someone who is, can see a positive example of perseverance that they too will reach the other side. Through her memoir, she’s empowering other women and girls to own their stories, change their narratives, and frame who they are and who they want to be. I feel honored to know that I co-exist and I live in a world with the likes of Selma Blair.
Thank you, Selma. I’m rooting for you. WE ALL ARE!
The world of country music suffered a huge loss when reports announced that Naomi Judd, 76, had died. As one-half of the Grammy-winning duo, The Judds with daughter, Wynonna Judd, 57, Naomi was one of the most successful artists to grace country music. Wynonna, along with her sister and Naomi’s youngest daughter, actress Ashley Judd, 54 released an official statement on Ashley’s Twitter account, confirming that their mom had in fact passed away. The tweet stated that the sisters lost Naomi to the “disease of mental illness.”
On May 1, 2022, just one day after the announcement of her death, Naomi along with daughter Wynonna, as part of The Judds, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. During her tearful acceptance speech alongside sister Ashley, Wynonna said, “I didn’t prepare anything tonight because I knew mom would probably talk the most. I’m gonna make this fast because my heart’s broken, and I feel so blessed. It’s a very strange dynamic, to be this broken and this blessed. … Though my heart’s broken, I will continue to sing, because that’s what we do.” An emotional Ashley added, “I’m sorry that she [Naomi] couldn’t hang on until today.”
Although her initial statement only claimed that Naomi had passed from mental illness, no detailed explanation was given about the cause of death until recently when Ashley sat down with Good Morning America’s Diane Sawyer. In this candid interview, Ashley shared that Naomi used a gun to end her own life, committing suicide, “She used a weapon … my mother used a firearm. So that’s the piece of information that we are very uncomfortable sharing but understand that we’re in a position that if we don’t say it, someone else is going to.” Judd went on to add that she was the one who found her mother’s lifeless body, “I went upstairs to let her know that her good friend was there, and I discovered her. I have both grief and trauma from discovering her.”
Naomi Judd’s last performance was with Wynonna at the 2022 CMT Music Awards. A public memorial service was held on Sunday, May 15, at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or is experiencing a mental health crisis, call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255
Abron’s Hot Take
I can’t even begin to fathom what the loss of a parent feels like, nor can I imagine what Wynonna and Ashley are going through. Back in 2016, during an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, Naomi talked about her battles with depression and suicidal thoughts. To know that even back then, she struggled with this disease and then ultimately succumbed to it and took her own life is a hard pill to swallow. Although Naomi’s battle is not uncommon, it is, however, very alarming. Oftentimes, we look at the lives of celebrities and we assume that because they have money, and fame, their lives are far better than the average person. On the surface, that can be true. Being able to buy big mansions and expensive cars seems like the pinnacle of success. But what you can’t buy your way out of is your own mental health. It’s always with you and follows you everywhere you go.
Depression is something we all struggle with. No matter who you are, whether you’re famous or not, you will at some point, experience depression. And as we’ve learned from the passing of Extra TV correspondent, Cheslie Kryst, even high-functioning depression can still become so debilitating that suicidal ideation creeps in. My hope is that we as a society can not only normalize the topic of depression and mental health but that we can make seeking treatment a part of any other illness as that is in fact what it is. Suicide has claimed far too many due to their depression. It’s a dangerous disease that is far more lethal than cancer because it attacks slowly and can stay with you for years if not properly treated. My heart and condolences are with Wynonna, Ashley, the family of Cheslie, and anyone else who has lost someone to depression and suicide. For those who are suffering in silence, I encourage you to seek help from the many resources available. Trust me, you’re not alone in this fight as it is a universal one. Depression will always be here, but if we have better coping mechanisms to fight it without the stigma of shame, perhaps we can save more lives, including those of the rich and famous.
Sean Combs, also known by his many monikers throughout his career such as Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Diddy, and most recently, Love/Brother Love has announced the launch of his new music venture, Love Records. The label will serve as a partnership with Motown Records. Reports on the announcement share that the label “will be dedicated to R&B music and will release singles and collaborative projects from a collective of world-class artists, producers, and songwriters.” The first album that will be released under the new label will be none other than the rapper and business mogul himself, which will mark his official return to music since the release of his last solo studio album, 2006’s Press Play.
In his official statement on why he decided to start the label, the 52-year-old said, “Music has always been my first love, Love Records is the next chapter is about getting back to the love and making the best music of my life. For the label, I’m focused on creating timeless R&B music with the next generation of artists and producers. Motown is the perfect partner for my album and I’m excited to add to its legacy.”
This isn’t exactly new territory for the I’ll be Missing You hitmaker as he is the founder of Bad Boy Records which was founded in 1993 and launched the careers of artists such as Mase, groups Total and 112, Mario Winans, Day26, Danity Kane, Da Band, and most notably, the late Christopher Wallace, known by his stage name, The Notorious B.I.G. or Biggy Smalls. Diddy will executive produce, curate, and serve as A&R for his upcoming fifth studio album.
Abron’s Hot Take
I want to give credit where credit is due and first state that I believe Sean Combs is a fantastic businessman…for himself. He not only created his own record label with Bad Boy, but he also launched an impressive list of other business ventures such as his clothing line, Sean John, which won the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) award for Men’s Designer of the Year in 2004. In addition, he’s released successful fragrances (unforgivable being my favorite) and owns significant shares in businesses such as Cîroc Vodka and Revolt TV. As of 2022, Diddy is reported to have a net worth of $900 million, making him one of the richest rappers in the world.
With that said, while Diddy has managed to carve out a successful career for himself, we can’t ignore the elephant in the room which is his poor track record in managing other artists. It’s a bit of an open secret that many artists who’ve signed with Diddy through his label, Bad Boy, have unfortunately not become as successful as they may have hoped or once enjoyed mainstream success and have now disappeared from the public spotlight.
You may argue that it’s unfair to hold Diddy responsible for the failures of his artists but as the owner of the record label, his role in signing artists, helping to develop their sound and brand, as well as how to market them are huge reasons why that argument doesn’t hold weight. If one or two artists fail, then perhaps we can assume those were moments of bad luck. However, if most of your music roster is no longer making music today and you yourself are the only relevant success story, then it bares mention or suggestion that perhaps business practices were poor at the very least. I’m assuming Diddy is aware of this which is why he’s emphasizing that the artists that will sign under his new label, will have equity as he explains in this interview with 2Cool2Blog.
I certainly hope this is the case with Love Records. As Jay Z says in the song BOSS, featuring wife Beyoncé, “over here we measure success by how many people successful next to you, here we say you broke if everybody gets broke except for you.” Translation: if you’re the only one making money and everyone else in your circle is not, then you’re not really a boss, nor are you really successful. I am wishing the best of luck to Diddy and all of the new artists that will release music under the imprint.
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