Bobby Berk explains Queer Eye exit / Ukraine condemns HBO for The White Lotus casting / Allison Janney to play veep on The Diplomat
PLUS: Taylor Swift has appeared on camera for a total of 123 seconds over the last four Kansas City Chiefs games.
Bobby Berk explains Queer Eye exit as he confirms feud with Tan France
Berk, who announced his departure from the Netflix reality show last November, tells Vanity Fair that he assumed that the second New Orleans season would be the last as it wrapped up his and the rest of the Fab Five's seven-year deal. On the last day, “the Fab Five and the crew, we all stood there, and we took pictures and cried,” says Berk. “We thought we were done. Mentally and emotionally, I thought we all moved on. I know I did, and I started planning other things.” But last fall, Netflix decided to renew Queer Eye due to a shortage of original content because of the writers' and actors' strikes. So he, Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness and Tan France were all offered new deals. Berk decided not to sign and says the other Fab Five members were considering doing the same. “We’d just assumed that the show wouldn’t come back if we all didn’t come back,” he says. “I was like, I’m not going to be having FOMO ’cause the show is not going to happen. I had become at peace with it.” Then, shortly before the deadline, something happened that changed the other four cast members' minds. “And with only one of us not coming back, Netflix felt (it) could recast one person,” says Berk, adding: “There were definitely emotions. But each one of us had our reasons why we did what we did. I can’t be mad—for a second I was.” Berk also confirmed rumors of feuding with Tan France. “Tan and I had a moment,” says Berk. “There was a situation, and that’s between Tan and I, and it has nothing to do with the show. It was something personal that had been brewing—and nothing romantic, just to clarify that...Should I have unfollowed Tan (on Instagram)? No. Maybe I should have just muted him. But that day, I was angry, and that’s the end of it. We became like siblings—and siblings are always going to fight.”
Ukraine condemns HBO for casting pro-Russian actor Miloš Biković on The White Lotus Season 3
”Miloš Biković, Serbian actor who has been supporting Russia since the start of the full-scale invasion, is now set to star in HBO's The White Lotus Season 3," tweeted Ukraine's foreign ministry. "(HBO) is it all right for you to work with a person who supports genocide & violates international law?" Biković, whose casting was announced on Jan. 12, has starred in a number of Serbian and Russian films and TV shows, but The White Lotus will be his first U.S. production. Ukraine banned Biković from entering its country in 2019, a year after he was awarded the Pushkin medal, one of Russia’s top cultural awards, by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Allison Janney nabs guest-starring veep role on The Diplomat Season 2
The Emmy- and Oscar-winning former West Wing star will guest as Vice President Grace Penn on the Keri Russell political drama series.
Taylor Swift has appeared on camera for a total of 123 seconds over the last four Kansas City Chiefs games
"A romance between the pop star and Travis Kelce has dominated social media, but TV broadcasts are focusing on it less than many seem to think," says The New York Times' Benjamin Hoffman, who actually measured Swift's on-screen appearances since Christmas. Last weekend, for Chiefs-Bills, Swift appeared for 24 seconds. For the Jan. 13 Chiefs-Dolphins game, she appeared for 1 minute and 16 seconds, for Chiefs-Bengals on New Year's Eve, she appeared for 12 seconds. And for Chiefs-Raiders on Christmas Day, she was shown for 14 seconds. As Sunday Night Football coordinating producer Rob Hyland explains: “It is always a balance with what’s happening on the field and how you can enhance what’s happening on the field. It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, let’s, let’s show her this many times.’ It was, ‘Hey, when appropriate, let’s remind the audience that she’s there.’”
Jon Stewart is returning to The Daily Show thanks to The Problem with Jon Stewart's cancelation, Hasan Minhaj's standup controversy and Hollywood strikes
The Hollywood Reporter's Lacey Rose reports a deal with Minhaj "was all but done by late summer, when The New Yorker published an article alleging that he’d exaggerated and, in some cases, made up autobiographical details of his comedy. Though Minhaj called the piece 'needlessly misleading,' he was suddenly seen as a liability, and the host search began anew." At that point, the hosting search had already been delayed by the writers' and actors' strikes. "Those who have worked with Stewart speculate that the timing was ideal – and not simply because his post-Daily Show work had garnered mixed results," says Rose. "For those keeping track, there was a long-gestating topical animated show for HBO that never came to fruition, and a political comedy film, starring Steve Carell, that failed to get much traction. Then came his Apple TV+ series, which skewed more ‘eat your vegetables’ than laugh-out-loud funny — that is, until the entire partnership went south. Sources have cited creative differences between the iPhone maker and Stewart, a born provocateur and arguably our country’s foremost political satirist, over potential topics, including China, which led to The Problem with Jon Stewart being pulled in Oct. 2023. So, the married father of two was suddenly available, and about to be an empty nester. And, unlike that earnest Apple vehicle, the Daily Show platform allows him to be more topical and, thus, more relevant, particularly as an all-important election cycle heats up. What’s more, he didn’t have to commit to four nights a week..."
Justin Timberlake: Why I'm a musical guest and not a host on this week's SNL
Timberlake, a Five-Timers Club member who last appeared on Saturday Night Live nine years ago for the show's 40th anniversary special, says of being a musical guest this week: “I flirted with the idea of, should I host or ask to host? And then I just thought, ‘No, this album is really special to me in a different, different way.’…but I also cannot imagine that I won’t get pulled into a sketch or two. It’s only natural. And I’m here for it. That’s always fun. SNL, for me, in any capacity. I’ve hosted five, but I don’t even know how many times I’ve been on the show.”
Ex-WWE employee accuses Vince McMahon of sex trafficking in new lawsuit
Janel Grant, a former employee at WWE’s headquarters who received a payout from McMahon after she accused him of sexual misconduct, "said in a lawsuit filed Thursday that she was abused and sexually exploited by McMahon while he was chief executive," reports The Wall Street Journal's Khadeeja Safdar. "She alleged that McMahon lured her with promises of career advancement, and then he allegedly exploited her and trafficked her to other men inside the company. Grant signed a nondisclosure agreement in 2022 in which McMahon agreed to pay $3 million for her to not discuss their relationship or to disparage him. The WWE received an anonymous tip in 2022 about the relationship and started a board investigation, which uncovered other payments by the CEO to women. Grant’s lawsuit said McMahon stopped making payments under the 2022 deal after the initial $1 million installment. The suit seeks to void the agreement and unspecified financial damages." McMahon and his attorney didn't immediately respond to a request for comment."
CBS announces Dolly Parton’s Pet Gala celebrity-studded live variety special
Parton will co-host the Feb. 21 two-hour special with Jane Lynch, featuring a runway of doggy talent sporting recreations of Parton’s most iconic ensembles, plus singing, Kelly Osbourne and Rachel Smith as correspondents and celebrities including Iain Armitage, Drew Barrymore, Kristen Bell, Kristin Chenoweth, Margaret Cho, Neil Patrick Harris, Carson Kressley, Jim Nantz and Jessica Simpson.
Amazon acquires faith-based drama series The Baxters, starring Roma Downey and Ted McGinley
The six-episode series, based on author Karen Kingsbury's bestselling book of the same name, follows Elizabeth (Downey) and John Baxter (McGinley) and their five adult children, per Deadline. "Season 1 centers on Elizabeth and John’s daughter, Kari, who learns the shocking truth that her professor husband, Tim, has been secretly having an affair with one of his college students. As her relationship is tested, Kari must seek comfort in her faith and family to discover if love is truly a choice and if her marriage can be redeemed. In this deeply moving faith-based journey, The Baxters must come together as a family to work through the challenges of life."
Amazon orders The Money Game, a docuseries on the impact of NIL in college sports
Shaquille O’Neal is among the executive producers on the docuseries on the revolutionary impact of NIL (“name, image and likeness”), which since 2021 allows college sports stars to earn money via endorsements. The Money Game is billed as “an exclusive, all-access pass to the 2023-24 athletic season inside LSU Athletics.” The central element of the story is NIL, which was codified as official NCAA policy in 2021. LSU has some of the biggest names in college sports, including gymnast Olivia Dunne and basketball player Angel Reese, who are among the Top 10 NIL earners in the country. Recent Heisman Trophy-winning QB Jayden Daniels also plays for LSU.
The Recruit recruits nine for Season 2, including James Purefoy, Brooke Smith and Felix Solis
Alana Hawley Purvis, Omar Maskati, Devika Bhise, Do Hyun Shin, Young-Ah Kim, and Sanghee Lee are also joining the Season 2 cast of the Noah Centineo-led spy series, which has begun Season 2 production in Vancouver and will also film in Seoul, South Korea.
Abbott Elementary leads NAACP Image Awards TV nominations
The ABC comedy is up for best comedy series, plus acting nominations for Quinta Brunson, Tyler James Williams, William Stanford Davis, Janelle James and Sheryl Lee Ralph.
Las Vegas to get the docuseries treatment on CNN
Vegas: The Story of Sin City, premiering Feb. 25, will feature interviews with Vegas icons like Wayne Newton and Paul Anka, as well as showgirls and historians, as it explores “the past seventy years of America’s cultural maturation through the lens of this unique city, featuring the entertainment acts, the visionary entrepreneurs, the infamous mafia figures, and the colorful political history that put it on the map,” per CNN.
Robert Kirkman settles Invincible ownership lawsuit
"A legal battle between comic creator Robert Kirkman and an artist who says he was tricked into abandoning his copyright to Invincible has settled," reports The Hollywood Reporter's Winston Cho. "Lawyers for Kirkman and William Crabtree, a colorist for the first 50 issues who claims he co-created the series, notified the court of an agreement to resolve the case, according to a notice of settlement filed on Thursday. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. A jury trial was set to start Feb. 20."
Kit Harington producing Empire of Dirt, a “very British Western" TV thriller
Harington and Top Boy writer are teaming on the eight-part thriller which follows Jake, "a big name in the big city who reluctantly returns to his family farm in the Lake District for a distant cousin’s wedding," per Deadline. "He hasn’t been home for 15 years but following a tragic accident finds himself the unwilling head of his family, before discovering the unthinkable, that his father had been running a multimillion-pound drugs racket from a hidden corner of his family land."
Tubi picks up BBC coming-of-age dramedy series Boarders
Written by Daniel Lawrence Taylor, Boarders follows “five Black inner city school teenagers who find themselves on scholarships to one of Britain’s oldest and most prestigious boarding schools, St. Gilberts. The series will see these students navigate a new world, forming new friendships along the way while also going on journeys of self-discovery."
Emmy-winning Succession director Mark Mylod boards The Last of Us
Mylod, who recently won an Emmy for directing Succession, is one of four new directors joining the HBO post-apocalyptic zombie drama series for Season 2, alongside Nina Lopez-Corrado, Stephen Williams and Kate Herron.
Deon Cole sets his third Netflix comedy special
Cole will tape his untitled follow-up to 2022's Charleen's Boy and 2019's Cole Hearted as part of Netflix Is A Joke Fest in May.
Greg Gutfeld declares it's okay to use the R-word on Fox News
“It’s now acceptable,” Gutfeld said of the word "retarded" on last night's Gutfeld! show. “It’s now acceptable. I met with the associations, and they said yes.”
Jason Momoa films a T-Mobile Super Bowl ad with Zach Braff and Donald Faison
On Wednesday, the trio seemed to be filming a parody of "Flashdance... What a Feeling."
Anthony Ramos to star in a Bob the Builder movie from producer Jennifer Lopez
The hit British children's animated series is coming to the big screen, with Ramos playing Roberto “Bob," whose "journey will celebrate the vibrant and colorful textures of the Caribbean Latin nations and their people.”
Dr. Phil’s new cable network Merit Street Media announces two new live news-themed shows
Morning on Merit Street will feature a mix of news, entertainment and advice with hosts Dominique Sachse and Fanchon Stinger. The News on Merit Street, scheduled for 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET, will feature senior anchor Kris Gutierrez and co-hosts Lyndsey Keith and Loni Coombs.
James Corden's new SiriusXM radio interview show reveals launch date and first guests
The former Late Late Show host's This Life of Mine with James Corden launches Feb. 1 on the Stars channel. Martin Scorsese, Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Tom Ford, Jeremy Renner, David Beckham, Billy Porter, Julianne Moore and Odell Beckham Jr. are among the early guests.