TIME celebrities

Tracy Morgan Visits Disney World as He Celebrates Daughter’s Birthday

(July 2, 2015): Actor-comedian Tracy Morgan, fiancée Megan Wollover and daughter Maven Morgan, 2, take flight July 2, 2015 on Dumbo the Flying Elephant at Magic Kingdom theme park. The family celebrated Maven Morgan’s second birthday at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Chloe Rice, photographer)
Chloe Rice—Disney/Getty Images Actor-comedian Tracy Morgan, fiancee Megan Wollover and daughter Maven Morgan, 2, take flight July 2, 2015 on Dumbo the Flying Elephant at Magic Kingdom theme park

Tracy Morgan and his family kicked off their July 4 holiday weekend with a visit to Disney World in Florida on Thursday.

The former 30 Rock star was accompanied by his fiancée Megan Wollover and daughter Maven as they hit the rides at the Magic Kingdom to celebrate the little girl’s second birthday.

Morgan, 46, has come a long way in the year since a fatal bus crash left him in critical condition and fighting for his life.

The funnyman had to re-learn how to walk, sit and stand, and continues to work with therapists as he deals with the lingering effects of traumatic brain injuries.

“I am happy to be alive,” Morgan told PEOPLE last month. “I have my good days and I have my bad days … I just want to get better and become healthy.”

Morgan said that he’s looking forward to walking his fiancée down the aisle, and is “determined to play with my little daughter and chase her around.”

“All of those things [are] what keeps me going.”

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME celebrities

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs Won’t Face Felony Charges Over UCLA Scuffle

Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic/Getty Images Producer Sean Combs attends the premiere of Dope at The Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on June 8, 2015, in Los Angeles, Calif.

Sean “Diddy” Combs won’t face felony assault and battery charges stemming from his dispute with a UCLA football coach last month.

Prosecutors declined to file felony charges related to his June 22 arrest, Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, confirmed to PEOPLE on Thursday. “The case was referred to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office for misdemeanor filing considerations,” he said in an email.

Combs, 45, whose son Justin is a member of the college’s football team, got into a heated altercation with a strength and conditioning coach, allegedly swinging a kettle bell weight during the skirmish.

He was arrested on suspicion of three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, making criminal threats and battery.

A spokesman for the music mogul later released a statement saying that “any actions taken by Mr. Combs were solely defensive in nature to protect himself and his son.”

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME Television

How Melissa Benoist Felt When She Put on Her Supergirl Costume for the First Time

"It’s impossible not to feel empowered when you put it on"

Melissa Benoist, the star of the upcoming television series Supergirl, felt a range of emotions the first time she put on her signature leotard and cape to play Kara Zor-El—but most of all she felt empowered.

“It’s impossible not to feel empowered when you put it on,” the former Glee cast member told Entertainment Weekly. “I feel like a different person almost. It really is an alter ego, where I feel inspired, hopeful and empowered.”

Benoist’s new show premieres on CBS in October.

Read more at Entertainment Weekly.


TIME Television

Donald Trump’s Miss USA Pageant Finds New Home at Reelz

2014 Miss USA Competition
Stacy Revere—Getty Images Miss Louisiana, Brittany Alyson Guidry, reacts after advancing in the 2014 Miss USA Competition at The Baton Rouge River Center on June 8, 2014 in Baton Rouge, La.

NBC dumped the event after Trump's comments about immigrants

The Donald Trump co-owned Miss USA pageant has found a new broadcast partner after being dumped by NBC: Reelz announced Thursday that it will broadcast the event on July 12 from Baton Rogue, Louisiana.

“The decision on the part of Reelz to acquire the rights to the Miss USA Pageant was based on our belief that this special event, and the women who compete in it, are an integral part of American tradition,” Stan E. Hubbard, CEO of Reelz, said in a statement. “As one of only a few independent networks, we decided to exercise our own voice and committed ourselves to bringing this pageant to American viewers everywhere. For us, this decision is about the dreams of the contestants who come from all walks of life across the United States, the city of Baton Rouge that has proudly come together to host this pageant and the viewers who will be watching and celebrating its 54th year on television. The Miss USA Pageant is a perfect fit on Reelz where movies, entertainment and celebrity come together every day of the year.”

Reelz didn’t mention Trump by name in announcing the decision, but it was his statements about Mexican immigrants that caused NBC to cut ties with the Miss Universe Organization, the company behind the Miss USA pageant.

“The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems,” Trump said last month while announcing his candidacy for President of the United States. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

“At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values. Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump,” NBC said in a statement last week. “To that end, the annual Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants, which are part of a joint venture between NBC and Trump, will no longer air on NBC. In addition, as Mr. Trump has already indicated, he will not be participating in The Celebrity Apprentice on NBC. Celebrity Apprentice is licensed from Mark Burnett’s United Artists Media Group and that relationship will continue.”

In the wake of Trump’s statements, co-hosts Cheryl Burke and Thomas Roberts quit the Miss USA pageant, while judge Emmitt Smith and performers Flo Rida and J Blavin also dropped out. Roselyn Sánchez and Cristián De La Fuente, co-hosts on the Spanish-language simulcast of the show for Univision, left the pageant as well. (Univision had previously dropped the pageant from its schedule.)

“I have been through so many different things. I think we’re starting a new chapter, honestly. I don’t think it’s a question of not coming back,” Miss USA/Miss Universe president Paula Shugart told EW before the Reelz deal was announced. “We’ll just have to see. We’ve been around 64 years in different ways and many different forms so I think we’re just entering our next chapter. And I was here [as organization president] 13 years ago when we went from CBS ownership, where it had been so long, to NBC. No one had expected that either.”

This isn’t the first time Reelz has acquired a controversial property after it was pushed aside by an original home. Back in 2011, Reelz picked up the Katie Holmes miniseries The Kennedys, which was initially set to air on History.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

TIME new orleans

Essence Festival Day of Service Offers Snapshot of New Orleans Recovery

The annual Essence Festival kicked off with a day of community service

Thursday morning was bittersweet for Shanti Taylor.

The 34-year-old had returned to the old Frederick Douglass High School building in New Orleans’ Upper Ninth Ward, where she was a student in the mid-’90s. As she walked through the building at 3820 St. Claude Avenue, she recalled the artwork that once lined the hallways, including images of the school’s Bobcats mascot.

“It was a little dated, but we liked it,” she said. “It was fun.”

But Taylor hadn’t just returned to reminisce—she was part of a team of volunteers carrying in stacks of chairs and sorting books in the library, getting the building ready for KIPP Renaissance High School to move in next month.

The school was one of a handful of locations the Essence Festival chose as host sites for its day of community service on Thursday. The annual festival, thrown by Essence Magazine, which is also owned by TIME’s parent company Time Inc., devoted a day to giving back to the local community ahead of the weekend’s entertainment.

The day of service at KIPP Renaissance High school was like a snapshot of the work that has taken place across New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In the 10 years since the levees broke and flooded 80% of the city, 94% of metro New Orleans’ 2000 population has returned. The economy is on the rebound with big businesses and startups popping up all across the area, though poverty remains pervasive in pockets of the city. The city’s all-charter school system has been held up by local officials as a potential model for the rest of the country, though reports from Mother Jones and Think Progress have found there is cause for concern in some areas, namely standardized test scores. Ask anyone—from the Mayor to Thursday’s volunteers—and they’ll acknowledge how far the city has left to go, but they can’t help but note how far it has come.

“There’s a lot to be proud of,” Ericka McConduit-Diggs, the president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, told TIME via telephone. “The city has made tremendous progress, but [the] reality is communities of color face real inequities.”

“I don’t think there’s any city in America that has suffered as much as we have suffered and as broadly,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu told TIME last week, naming storms including Katrina, Rita, Ike and Gustav, the national recession and the BP oil spill among the disasters the city has faced. “It has been amazing, the resilience that the people of this city have shown and how much they’ve built back and how fast they’ve built back.”

That recovery is due in large part to the individuals and community groups who put the city back together piece by piece. That work was on full display Thursday in a steamy stairwell in Renaissance where an assembly line of folks in sweat-stained powder blue T-shirts carried desks to the second and third floors of the building. As that team worked, older volunteers lent a hand by sorting books in the school library. At every turn, there was movement. Some volunteers, like Efua Darley of Washington, D.C., had come to help out ahead of the weekend’s more lively festivities. Others, like Taylor and her mother Linda Fernandez, 58, felt compelled to give back given their past connection to the school.

Kyle Jones, dean of operations at KIPP Renaissance High School, said Thursday that it was important to have the community’s help in getting the school ready.

“Obviously, as a school we give education, but we want to make sure we give more than just educating somebody’s children,” Jones told TIME. “I’m hoping to become more of a part of the community.”

Jones, a New Orleans native, now works down the street from where his mom Jocelyn Jones spent a part of her 34-year career as an educator. He’s seen a lot of change in the city over the years, which he said can be difficult even as some of the changes are positive.

“It’s always bittersweet, but it’s always great to see new traditions and new growth happen in a city that hasn’t always had new growth,” Jones said. “And to see people come and embrace it is great too.”

One of those changes is KIPP, a nationwide network of charter schools aimed at helping kids in underserved communities succeed, which took over the old Frederick Douglass school after it suffered academically. KIPP Renaissance opened in the Frederick Douglass building in 2010 but moved elsewhere for the past several years as part of a school reshuffling. The program is now returning home to its original spot.

For Taylor, KIPP Renaissance will represent a new tradition for her family as her 14-year-old daughter Breon will start ninth grade at Renaissance when school begins on Aug. 3.

Breon was on hand Thursday, sporting the same powder-blue shirt as the other volunteers, and helping carry desks and chairs to the classrooms she’ll soon occupy.

“It’s going to be her school,” said Fernandez, who brought three of her five grandchildren to Thursday’s service event. “She should be here to help get the school together.”

TIME Television

FX’s Donald Glover Comedy Atlanta Gets Its Cast

attends the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Magic Mike XXL" at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on June 25, 2015 in Hollywood, California.
David Livingston—2015 David Livingston Donald Glover attends the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Magic Mike XXL" at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on June 25, 2015 in Hollywood, California.

The show will follow two cousins navigating their way through the Atlanta rap scene

Donald Glover’s pilot for FX, Atlanta, has officially found its leads, the network announced Thursday. The rapper and comedian best known for playing Troy on Community will not only write the show but also star alongside Brian Tyree Henry (The Knick, Boardwalk Empire), Lakeith Lee Stanfield (Short Term 12, Dope) and Zazie Beetz (Applesauce).

Glover, who received a Writer’s Guild Award as a writer for 30 Rock, will play Earnest “Earn” Marks. Earn snags the opportunity to manage the career of his rapper cousin, Alfred Miles (Brian Tyree Henry). The two come into conflict over music, money and race. Stanfield will play Darius, Alfred’s collaborator, and Beetz will play the mother of Earn’s child.

Hiro Murai, who has directed several of Glover’s music videos (the actor raps under the name Childish Gambino) and worked as a cinematographer on shows such as Drunk History, will direct the pilot. The show begins production this month.

TIME celebrity

Bill Cosby Avoids Sexual-Assault Charges in Atlantic City Case

Bill Cosby at the 2014 Jazz at Lincoln Center Gala in New York City on May 1, 2014.
D Dipasupil—Getty Images Bill Cosby at the 2014 Jazz at Lincoln Center Gala in New York City on May 1, 2014.

Lili Bernard claimed Cosby drugged and raped her in Atlantic City in the 1990s

Comedian Bill Cosby will not be charged following sexual assault charges made by Lili Bernard this past May. The actress claimed Cosby drugged and raped her in Atlantic City in the 1990s, but according to a statement from Cosby’s New Jersey lawyer, Edwin J. Jacobs, charges will not be filed.

“Whatever she was claiming was far beyond the applicable statute of limitations,” Cosby’s New Jersey lawyer Edwin J. Jacobs said in a statement obtained by EW. “That was my analysis and the analysis of the Atlantic County Prosecutor. Ms. Bernard’s lawyer apparently thought other wise, but was wrong.”

While New Jersey does not presently have a statute of limitations on sexual assault cases, the state did before 1996. Jacobs told Press of Atlantic City that the allegations pre-date the law change. As such, the investigation has been terminated and its file closed.

Multiple allegations of sexual assault from over 30 women have come against Cosby since early 2014. The 77-year-old has said he will not address the claims. Cosby has never been charged with a crime.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

TIME Television

Sesame Street‘s Maria Is Retiring After 44 Years

Sonia Manzano, who plays Maria Rodriquez on "Sesame Street," and the muppet Grover at an event in New York City on Feb. 27, 2002.
George De Sota—Getty Images Sonia Manzano, who plays Maria Rodriquez on "Sesame Street," and the muppet Grover at an event in New York City on Feb. 27, 2002.

Sesame Street won't be the same

She’s helped generations of children grow up and she’s met many a Muppet in her day. But after 44 years playing human Sesame Street resident Maria, actress Sonia Manzano is retiring.

Manzano, 65, made the announcement on Tuesday during an address at the American Library Association Annual Conference. She has since fielded an outpouring of grief from fans.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME Video Games

The Fallout 4 Pip-Boy Replica Won’t Work With These Phones


Anything over 6 inches is a no-go

The Fallout 4 limited edition, honking big, bona fide replica Pip-Boy won’t work with the iPhone 6 Plus, in case you’re rocking Apple’s 6.22-by-3.06-inch phablet.

Mind you, Fallout developer Bethesda’s $120 not-so-smartwatch, modeled after the gigantic arm-computer players wear in the series, still looks like something a Ghostbuster might strap on — the antithesis of fashion feng shui, but kind of cool anyway. It’s for diehard fans of the upcoming post-apocalyptic free-for-all, which is to say, probably not you.

But even if you are secretly jonesing to cosplay one of the game’s survivors, you’ll need a phone smaller than 6 inches to get the thing to actually do something recognizably Pip-Boy-like via Bethesda’s companion iOS and Android app. The list of compatible smartphones includes all models of the iPhone from 4 until the iPhone 6. You can apparently insert foam to jury-rig a snug fit for other devices, but the top-end size to jam a phone into the Pip-Boy’s frame is 6 inches. That, among others, means no to the Huawei Ascend Mate 7, no to the Nokia Lumia 1520, and definitely no to Sony’s monstrous Xperia Z Ultra.

The Pip-Boy is essentially a green-screen gauntlet, an old-school IBM mainframe screen you clap to your arm. In the game, it’s the interface to all the fiddly roleplaying minutia like characters stats and inventory. It’s also a pretty slick portable radio, say you want to listen to the Ink Spots croon something ironic as you probe the game’s post-nuclear mutant-scape. The limited edition replica version is mostly fan service most likely to grace display shelving. But if you really want your second screen experience served on your forearm (and you managed to snag one of the things before they sold out), bear in mind it’s not phablet-friendly.

TIME Television

What Did The Dukes of Hazzard Really Say About the South?

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Fotos International/Hulton Archive/Getty Images From left to right: John Schneider, Tom Wopat and Ben Jones as Bo Duke, Luke Duke and Cooter, respectively, in the TV series 'The Dukes of Hazzard', circa 1983.

Yes, it was a dumb car-chase show. And it was a mythmaking story about traditionalists recasting themselves as rebels.

“Someday the mountain might get ’em / But the law never will.” –Waylon Jennings

In the end, it was neither the law nor the mountain that got them Duke Boys. It was TV Land, which pulled reruns of The Dukes of Hazzard–whose muscle car the General Lee was emblazoned with the Confederate flag–amid the controversy after the racist massacre in Charleston whose perpetrator had posed with the banner. (The network hasn’t given a reason, but the timing is tough to overlook.) The move prompted an outraged reaction from costar John Schneider: “The Dukes of Hazzard was and is no more a show seated in racism than Breaking Bad was a show seated in reality.”

From many other folks, I expect, the reaction was more like: “Someone was rerunning The Dukes of Hazzard“? If you grew up with the show as I did, your memories probably mostly involve jean shorts, cars jumping over ponds and “Enos, you dipstick!” Was there really anything else to it?

The show’s no longer on TV Land, but you can watch the pilot free on Amazon (where subsequent episodes are $1.99 a pop). So I did.

It is still as gloriously shiny and empty as a collectors’ metal lunchbox, a Southern-fried cartoon (which later became an actual cartoon) jacked up with ’70s T&A. The plot involves the Dukes hijacking a shipment of illicit slot machines from Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane in order to save an orphanage; there’s a climatic prison escape involving a blow-up doll. The dialogue includes Luke’s immortal line, “Bo, you drive like my Aunt Fanny whips apple butter!” (Sidebar: They’re cousins. Isn’t it our Aunt Fanny?) There are some notable performances–Sorrell Booke’s gluttinously avaricious Boss Hogg, especially, is like Big Daddy filtered through John Waters–but the sensibility is more Tennessee Ernie Ford than Tennessee Williams.

But Dukes is also a fascinating document of its time in history–both TV and American. Dukes premiered in 1979, at the height of jiggle TV (Three’s Company, Charlie’s Angels) and the Carter-era pop fascination with Southern good-ole-boy stories (Convoy, Smokey and the Bandit). It was still firmly the post-Watergate era, in which the suspicion of The Man became mainstream, and some of the most popular screen heroes were charming rogues whose broke laws enforced by corrupt authorities (Han Solo, say, or many of Burt Reynolds’ ’70s roles). But the Reagan revolution, and its embrace of America’s past, was just a year away.

So the first messages you get from Waylon Jennings’ theme song are also the most essential: Bo and Luke were “good ol’ boys” but they were also “fightin’ the system.” They were traditionalists, but they were also rebels. The Duke boys weren’t political, but they were at least small-c conservative–they stood for old ways and ancient traditions.

And the show came along at a time when conservatism was figuring out a different way to present itself, not as the establishment but as the underdogs, the outsiders–essentially repurposing the hippie ideas of the people vs. the power into the little folks vs. the big government. (First Blood, which came out a few years later, cast Reagan-era icon Rambo as a solder betrayed by the powers-that-be–including, like the Duke Boys, a venal Southern sheriff.) Even the little things, like the Dukes’ bow-hunting, are about anti-government individualism: poor folks need food, and “Jesse don’t take kindly to no government assistance. He’d rather starve.”

This isn’t William F. Buckley’s elitist conservatism, standing athwart history and yelling “Stop!” It’s leaning out the window of a Dodge Charger and yelling “YEEEEHAWWWW!”

So about that rebel flag. The Dukes pilot doesn’t talk about it directly, but it does allude to the Civil War, in a scene that explains why Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle) gave up the 200-year-old family moonshine business to save his nephews from jail: “They fought everybody from the British to the Confederacy to the U.S. government to stay in it.” On the one hand, the Duke boys’ car is the General Lee; on the other hand, their ultimate enemy–Jefferson Davis Hogg–is named for the president of the CSA.

There’s nothing about slavery or states’ rights in there, but the mythmaking is familiar enough. The Dukes fly the Confederate flag, the setup assures us, but they’re outside any negative ideas you have about the Confederacy. They’re just little guys going up against a succession of big guys. Just’a good old boys! There’s nothing overt there about the flag–and the series didn’t dwell on it after that–but it’s very much part of the “history not hate” message that led, by now, to a majority of American whites seeing the flag as a symbol of pride while most black Americans see it as one of racism, according to a CNN poll.

Of course, Ben Jones–the former Georgia congressman who played the Dukes’ coconspirator Cooter and now owns a chain of Hazzard-themed museums–recently insisted, “in Hazzard County there was never any racism.” More accurately, there just wasn’t much race. The black characters in the pilot are limited to a construction worker with no lines in the first chase scene, and a small part for the Dukes’ friend Brodie–played by Champ Laidler, credited with two episodes in total. (Later, there would be a minor recurring role for the African American sheriff of a neighboring county.)

That’s not to say The Dukes of Hazzard was some kind of diabolical historical whitewash so much as it was a network TV series in 1979, trying to pull in viewers nationwide for a story about the South without touching anything that inflamed people a decade or a century before.

So Northerners get a funny story of backwoods tricks played on backwoods hicks, loaded up with getaway music and casual stereotypes. (“If you weren’t my cousin, I’d marry you,” Bo tells Daisy in the pilot. “When did that ever stop anyone in this family before?” she asks him.) Southerners get a populist version of pride and rebellion without baggage. The kids get car chases with CB radios. The grown-ups get Daisy on a roadside in a bikini and/or Bo and Luke with their shirts unbuttoned to the waist. (There are more ’70s hormones floating around Hazzard County than during happy hour at the Regal Beagle.)

It may be right to say that no one ever tried to write politics into The Dukes of Hazzard, racial or otherwise. (Though there was a lot more politics in the pilot than I would have thought: there’s an election going on for Sheriff, and Coltrane went crooked when he lost his pension after a local bond initiative got voted down.) But that doesn’t mean it isn’t about them all the same. You can’t feature the flag of Dixie and not be about the South and race, like it or not, even if only by passively feeding into the argument that the flag is only about family pride, good ol’ boys and good ol’ times.

Does that mean the show should have been pulled off the air? I am a white man from the North: there may be no opinion on the Confederate flag less relevant than mine. But as someone who believes that pop-culture history is important history all the same, I agree with the Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg, who argued for reading and watching Gone with the Wind despite and because of its race problems, as “a valuable document of the way the Lost Cause curdled into a regional religion.” The Dukes of Hazzard–like any TV in our past–is part of us, whether we watch it or not.

But you’re also not a killjoy if you watch it, get a kick out of it–and yet are weirded out by the awesome stunt car flying the flag of slavery. The Duke boys, like Waylon told us, wouldn’t change if they could. But the times, they change anyway.

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