December 6, 2019

Big news from the Garden State: Nicole Polizzi, better known as Snooki, has gym'ed and tanned her last laundry.

On the podcast It's Happening With Snooki & Joey, the Jersey Shore star announced her preemptive retirement from the fourth season of MTV's sequel series Jersey Shore: Family Vacation, reports Deadline.

Of course, Jersey Shore: Family Vacation hasn't even been ordered for a fourth season yet, so this might just be the reality-star equivalent of a "you can't fire me, I quit." Read more at Deadline. Scott Meslow

2:48 p.m.

The Harvey Weinstein trial officially has its jury.

Jury selection in the trial of the disgraced film producer ended Friday with seven men and five women set to serve, Variety reports. Three alternates, one man and two women, were also selected.

Lead prosecutor Joan Illuzzi during jury selection accused the defense and trying to "systematically exclude" young white women, The Hollywood Reporter writes. "They have eliminated every single white woman from this prospective jury panel," Illuzzi said, Variety reports.

The defense, in turn, accused the prosecution of trying to exclude men from the jury, but the Reporter writes Judge James Burke didn't accept either argument. The defense reportedly said it didn't seek to exclude young women but that, as The Associated Press writes, they "didn't want jurors who were too young to understand the way men and women interacted in the early 1990s."

The defense objected to one particular juror, a woman who wrote a forthcoming novel whose plot has to do with "predatory older men," Deadline reports. The judge ultimately said the woman could serve on the jury and denied the defense's subsequent request for a mistrial.

Weinstein is facing rape and sexual assault charges, which he has pleaded not guilty to. Opening arguments in the trial are set to begin on Jan. 22. Brendan Morrow

2:35 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is still promising "If you like your insurance, you can keep it" — with a twist.

In his endorsement interview with The New York Times published Friday, Biden is asked about that phrase both he and former President Barack Obama have said in the past. And after accepting that he actually did say it, Biden promised that "if you like your plan, you can keep it," provided "your employer doesn't take it away from you."

While the ObamaCare mantra of keeping the insurance you like ended up not exactly being true, Biden still modified it in a July 2019 primary debate to say under his presidency, "If you like your health care plan, your employer-based plan, you can keep it. If in fact you have private insurance, you can keep it." There's video proof of Biden saying that but, when confronted with it in his Times interview, Biden replied with "I didn't say that, by the way."

The interview moved on, and Biden was asked about how if there was a public health insurance option, employers may stop offering insurance altogether.

That all devolved into what Biden saying something that would look perfect on a campaign coffee mug as long as it fits: "If you like your plan, you can keep it, assuming — I should add the obvious — if your employer doesn't take it away from you. Okay?" Kathryn Krawczyk

1:52 p.m.

An era in the film industry has officially come to an end.

Disney is rebranding the 20th Century Fox film studio it purchased in its acquisition of Fox assets last year, Variety reports. Going forward, 20th Century Fox will instead be known as 20th Century Studios, and Disney will also rebrand Fox Searchlight Pictures as just Searchlight Pictures.

Audiences will start seeing these changes fairly soon, as The Call of the Wild will reportedly be released next month under the new 20th Century Studios branding, although the opening logo complete with that iconic fanfare will be kept unchanged other than the altered name being swapped in.

This decision, The New York Times notes, will mean that "consumers do not mistakenly think the movie studio has anything to do Rupert Murdoch's polarizing Fox News media empire." Indeed, an insider told Variety, "I think the Fox name means Murdoch, and that is toxic." Fox News was among the assets Disney didn't acquire in its $71 billion 21st Century Fox purchase, which gave it the rights to properties like Avatar, X-Men, and The Simpsons ahead of the launch of its streaming service, Disney+.

Still yet to be decided, according to Variety's report, is whether Disney will similarly rebrand 20th Century Fox Television and Fox 21 Television Studios, which produce shows like The Orville, This Is Us, and Pose. On TV, then, the Fox name lives on inside Disney — for now. Brendan Morrow

12:43 p.m.

Some major changes are apparently coming to Springfield.

Hank Azaria has revealed he'll longer voice Apu on The Simpsons, telling /Film, "All we know there is I won't be doing the voice anymore, unless there's someway to transition it or something."

The Simpsons faced renewed criticism over Apu since the release of the 2017 documentary The Problem with Apu, in which comedian Hari Kondabolu and others discuss the character who Kondabolu has described as "a white guy doing an impression of a white guy making fun of my father."

The documentary sparked a conversation about whether The Simpsons should write out the character some view as an offensive Indian stereotype, though others suggested keeping Apu but recasting Azaria with an Indian voice actor. Azaria, who also voices other characters on the show like Moe and Chief Wiggum, appeared to allude to that option Friday by referencing a possible "transition." But while Azaria said it's "up to them and they haven't sorted it out yet," he made clear that "I won't do the voice anymore," also saying, "We all made the decision together."

The Simpsons previously addressed the criticism over Apu in a meta 2018 episode, in which Lisa, looking directly at the camera, says, "Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect." She then looks at a picture of Apu and asks, "What can you do?" Marge and Lisa, again addressing the audience, promise this will be "dealt with at a later date," "if at all." That later date is evidently coming up.

Azaria previously expressed his willingness to step down from the role of Apu, saying on The Late Show, "the idea that anybody who is young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased based on the character of Apu, it just really makes me sad." No official announcement about the future of the character has been made. Brendan Morrow

10:51 a.m.

President Trump's impeachment defense team is getting the celebrity treatment.

As Trump prepares for House impeachment managers to share their case against him on Tuesday, he has reportedly tapped some big-name lawyers with impeachment and televised trial experience to defend him. Former Special Counsel Ken Starr, his successor Robert Ray, and famous defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz are all expected to join Trump's legal team, sources have told The New York Times, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow are slated to lead Trump's impeachment defense, the Times says. Dershowitz "will present oral arguments at the Senate trial," the legal team said in a statement, while Starr and Ray "are expected to play a constitutional and historic role," CNN reports. Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Trump's personal counsel Jane Raskin will reportedly also be on the team.

Both Starr and Ray are known for their work during former President Bill Clinton's impeachment, with Starr serving as the independent counsel whose report led to Clinton's impeachment, and Ray eventually replacing Starr and finishing up the reports in Clinton's case. Dershowitz was on defense team for O.J. Simpson and gained notoriety in that televised trial. His reported appointment fits with Trump's desire to turn his impeachment into a "TV spectacle." Dershowitz was also recently questioned over his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of running a sex trafficking ring. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:08 a.m.

Apparently Lara Trump didn't get the message about former Vice President Joe Biden's stutter.

Trump, who's married to President Trump's son Eric, decided to take a low blow at Biden during a Women for Trump event in Iowa on Thursday night. "I feel kind of sad for Joe Biden," she said, because "I'm supposed to want him to fail at every turn, but every time he comes on stage or they turn to him I'm like 'Joe can you get it out? Let's get the words out Joe.'"

Lara Trump probably should've heard by now that Biden worked to overcome the "debilitating stutter" he had as a child — a lesson former Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders learned when she mocked him for the same thing less than a month ago. Or perhaps she should've just followed first lady Melania Trump's "be best" advice and avoided sinking that low in the first place. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:40 a.m.

Eleven Americans were injured in Iran's recent missile strike on the Al Asad Air base in Iraq, which President Trump and the Pentagon previously said resulted in no injuries.

The military confirmed Thursday that 11 Americans were treated for concussions after Iran last week struck two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops, The New York Times reports. "While no U.S. servicemembers were killed in the Jan. 8 Iranian attack on Al Asad air base, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed," a United States Central Command spokesperson told the Times.

Trump last week said "the American people should be extremely grateful and happy," as "no Americans were harmed" in the attack. The attack on the two bases came in response to a Trump-authorized U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

CNN notes that "concussions are not always apparent immediately after they've been suffered," and a defense official told CNN that the Pentagon previously indicating that there were no injuries "was the commander's assessment at the time" but "symptoms emerged days after the fact, and they were treated out of an abundance of caution."

With this in mind, CNN's Jim Sciutto observed that "the crux" of the story "is not the Pentagon mislead," as "these injuries emerged only after the fact," but rather "that the Iranian missile strike was a nearer miss than advertised." Brendan Morrow

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