Tragedy claims the life of “Glee” star Naya Rivera
On July 8, “Glee” star Naya Rivera, 33, went missing while out on a rented pontoon boat with 4-year-old son Josey on Lake Piru in the Los Padres National Forest north of Los Angeles. Authorities launched a search for Naya, who grew up in the area, but by July 9, the rescue had turn into a recovery mission. On July 13, her body was found and officials confirmed that she drowned after getting her son safely back onto the boat as it began to drift. In the wake of her tragic death, celebrities and colleagues took to social media to mourn Naya and reminisce about their time working with her. “You constantly taught me lessons about grief, about beauty and poise, about being strong, resilient and about not giving a f*** (but still somehow respectful),” Heather Morris, who played the wife of Naya’s “Glee” character, shared. “Yet, the utmost important lesson I learned most of all from you was being a consistent and loving friend. You were the first to check in, the first to ask questions, the first to listen..you cherished our friendship and I never took that for granted.” Josey’s father, actor Ryan Dorsey — whose divorce from Naya was finalized in 2018 — later took to Instagram to share in part, “This is so unfair…there’s not enough words to express the hole left in everyone’s hearts. I can’t believe this is life now. I don’t know if I’ll ever believe it. You were just here.”
RELATED: Stars we lost in 2020
Jada Pinkett Smith’s “Red Table Talk” episode addressing affair claim sets new record for Facebook Watch
On the July 10 episode of the Facebook Watch original series “Red Table Talk,” Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith addressed the rumors surrounding her alleged affair with August Alsina and the singer-songwriter’s claim that Will had given “his blessing” for them to see one another. Turns out, Jada did, in fact, have what she called a romantic “entanglement” with August, who’s 21 years her junior, around four years ago while she and Will were “separated amicably.” Will said of the Jada’s relationship with August, “I was done with your a**, but marriages have that, though.” He continued, “We decided that we were going to separate for a period of time and you go figure out a way to make yourself happy and I’ll figure out how to make myself happy.” The episode not only delivered some much desired answers but set a new record for the most views for a Facebook Watch series in 24 hours after garnering more than 15 million views within a day. That reportedly surpassed the previously held record of 7.6 million views, which belonged to the 2019 “Red Table Talk” episode that featured Kylie Jenner’s former BFF Jordyn Woods amid claims she hooked up with Khloe’s Kardashian’s ex Tristan Thompson.
The CW’s “Batwoman” finds new lead in Javicia Leslie
With the departure of former “Batwoman” star Ruby Rose, The CW needed to find a new leading lady to take on the starring role. Instead of recasting the role of Katy Kane/Batwoman, the decision was made to introduce a new character entirely. Enter Javicia Leslie. Best known for her work on the CBS dramedy “God Friended Me,” Javicia will be the first Black actress to take on the DC Comics heroine in a live-action project, EW.com reported, explaining that the new Batwoman’s civilian alter ego “is named Ryan Wilder and is the complete opposite of Rose’s Kate.” Javicia said in a statement, “I am extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of Batwoman on television, and as a bisexual woman, I am honored to join this groundbreaking show which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community.”
Regis Philbin, Hugh Downs, Grant Imahara among stars who died in July
On July 24, beloved television host Regis Philbin died at 88. Stars including former morning show co-stars Kathie Lee Gifford and Kelly Ripa took to social media to mourn and honor the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” host… On July 16, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “RoboCop 2” actress Galyn Görg lost her battle with cancer. She was 55… On July 13, Grant Imahara — who was best known as the host of “Mythbusters” — died at 49 after suffering a brain aneurysm… American television broadcaster Hugh Downs passed away on July 1 at 99 due to heart failure.
Tyra Banks announced as new host of “Dancing With the Stars”
Following the sudden news that longtime “Dancing With the Stars” host Tom Bergeron would be saying goodbye after 28 seasons — and that more recent co-host Erin Andrews had also been axed — it was announced that Tyra Banks would be taking over. “I’ve been a fan of ‘DWTS’ since its beginning…The fun mixed with raw emotion, seeing celebrities push past their comfort zones, the sizzling dance performances…it’s always transported me to my days of turning it up 10 notches on the catwalk,” said Tyra, who will also be one of the show’s executive producers. “Tom has set a powerful stage, and I’m excited to continue the legacy and put on my executive producer and hosting hats.” ABC has yet to comment on how the 29th season of the hit dance competition series will be filmed due to COVID-19.
TV real estate stars announce engagement
On July 26, “Flip or Flop” star Tarek El Moussa and “Selling Sunset” star Heather Rae Young announced some happy news: They’re engaged! The proposal came as the real estate TV personalities were celebrating their one-year dating anniversary with a romantic getaway.
Nick Cannon fired by ViacomCBS over anti-Semitic remarks
In July, ViacomCBS fired Nick Cannon, who famously hosted series including MTV’s “Wild ‘N Out” and Nickelodeon’s “Lip Sync Battle Shorties,” after the star made anti-Semitic comments on his “Cannon’s Class” podcast. Per a statement released by ViacomCBS, Nick “promoted hateful speech and spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.” Instead of offering up an apology at first, Nick initially defended himself. “Viacom’s goal to keep me from providing for my family and lineage will be foiled,” he said on Twitter and Facebook, accusing the company of trying to “kick me while I’m down or force me to kiss the master’s feet in public.” The longtime host eventually issued an apology to “my Jewish sisters and brothers for the hurtful and divisive words that came out of my mouth” during the interview. He continued, “They reinforced the worst stereotypes of a proud and magnificent people and I feel ashamed of the uninformed and naïve place that these words came from. The video of this interview has since been removed.” His decision to apologize rather than continue to push back ended up saving his job as the host of FOX’s “The Masked Singer.”
Former and current employees of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” speak out on “toxic work environment”
And the backlash continues. While she’s long urges her audiences to spread kindness, Ellen DeGeneres has been accused of not exactly practicing what she preaches on the set of her hit daytime talk show. On July 16, Buzzfeed News released a report that consisted of interviews with 10 former and one current employee of the talk show, all who dished the dirt on what it’s allegedly really like working there. According to the interviewees, the behind-the-scenes culture is far from kind. Claims included that a Black employee left her job after being subjected to repeated microaggressions and other employees being terminated for being absent due to family funerals and medical leave. “Whenever I brought up an issue to my white male boss, he would bring up some random story about some random Black friend that he had and how they managed to get over stuff,” said one former employee. “He would use his Black friend as some way to say, ‘I understand your struggle.’ But it was all performative bulls***.” As a result, producers Andy Lassner, Mary Connelly and Ed Glavin released a statement addressing the claims. “Over the course of nearly two decades, 3,000 episodes and employing over 1,000 staff members, we have strived to create an open, safe and inclusive work environment,” they said. “We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience. It’s not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us. For the record, the day-to-day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. We take all of this very seriously and we realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better.”
O: The Oprah Magazine to cease publishing print issue
On July 25, Business of Fashion reported that O: The Oprah Magazine — the joint venture between the former TV host and media mogul’s Harpo Inc. and Hearst Magazines, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in April — would cese publishing its print magazine with the December 2020 issue.
ABC confirms “The Bachelor” senior citizens spinoff still in the works
While the “The Bachelor” franchise has long been associated with pooling together a cast of incredibly attractive men and women typically in their 20s, ABC is in talks to launch a spinoff that will feature senior citizens looking for love. Before the coronavirus pandemic forced the entertainment industry to shut down this spring, ABC aired a promo that teased a casting call for “seniors looking for love” and according to Variety, the spinoff idea is still in the works. “Some of the casting interviews we got, they were just so touching,” ABC unscripted executive Rob Mills told Variety. “It’s such a different way of doing ‘The Bachelor’ because these people are just at a totally different place in their lives. There is an interesting thing about people who have hit the other end of the spectrum, who’ve lived their lives, they’ve raised their kids, some have been widowed or divorced and maybe some have never been in love. We thought that would be an interesting dynamic through the ‘Bachelor’ prism.” Rob also revealed that given the difference in ages, there would be significant changes made to the series, an example being that hometown dates would revolve around suitors meeting children instead of parents. Meanwhile, the next season of “The Bachelorette,” which stars Clare Crawley, kicked off production in its own bubble community at La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta, California, which is just outside of Palm Springs, in early July.
CBS announces plan to allocate 25% of script development budget to BIPOC projects
On July 13, CBS announced that the network would be allocating 25% of its script development budget to projects either created or co-created by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color). The network also vowed to have at least a minimum of 40% BIPOC writers in their writers’ rooms for the 2021-2022 season, with the hope of increasing that to 50% the following season. In addition to these reforms, CBS also plans to hire more BIPOC writers for television series in the 2020-2021 season. “While steady progress has been made in recent years both in front of and behind the camera, change needs to happen faster, especially with creators and leadership roles on the shows,” said CEO and President of CBS Entertainment Group George Cheeks. “As a network with ambitions to be a unifier and an agent of change at this important time, these new initiatives will help accelerate efforts to broaden our storytelling and make CBS programming even more diverse and inclusive.”
Colin Kaepernick signs first-look deal with Disney
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be the subject of a docuseries being developed by ESPN, it was announced in early July. The project is part of a first-look deal between Colin’s Ra Vision Media production company and Walt Disney Studios. The deal will focus on generating both unscripted and scripted stories regarding race and social injustice and will aim to spotlight creators of color. “I am excited to announce this historic partnership with Disney across all of its platforms to elevate Black and Brown directors, creators, storytellers and producers, and to inspire the youth with compelling and authentic perspectives,” Colin said in a statement. “I look forward to sharing the docuseries on my life story, in addition to many other culturally impactful projects we are developing.”
Yara Shahidi signs overall deal with ABC Studios
It was announced in July that “black-ish” and “grown-ish” star Yara Shahidi has inked an overall deal with ABC Studios. She and her mother and business partner, Keri Shahidi, will form the production company 7th Sun, which will develop and produce scripted content across broadcast, streaming and cable platforms. “I’m thrilled to be partnering with my home family, ABC Studios, in this exciting next chapter, alongside my family,” Yara said in a statement. “It’s exciting to add our production company to the roster of my peers and mentors who are also actively committed to sharing meaningful stories.” Kenya Barris, the creator of “black-ish” and “grown-ish,” shared his thoughts regarding the deal. “Yara is a force,” he began. “She is insanely talented, unreasonably smart and hardworking beyond compare. I’ve called her ‘McMogul’ for years and seeing all that she has accomplished should come as no surprise to anyone that knows her. This deal is just the beginning for Yara, and I’m excited to see where she takes this next chapter and the storyteller she becomes.”
Lucy Hale posts emotional video following “Katy Keene” cancellation
After news broke on July 2 that The CW’s “Riverdale” spinoff series “Katy Keene” had been canceled after just one season, Lucy Hale, the show’s star, posted an emotional video discussing the move. “I’ve had to do this a couple times just ’cause I was a blubbering mess and y’all don’t want to see that,” she said. “I’ve kind of struggled all day with what I wanted to say about this or if I shouldn’t say anything… nothing felt right.” She choked back tears as she admitted that “it will take some time to get over.” The series, which focused on Katy’s New York City dream of becoming a fashion designer, unfortunately failed to garner strong enough ratings to prompt a renewal. “I think that sometimes things just don’t work out and maybe it was just not the right time for it, I don’t know, I’m a little confused,” said the former “Pretty Little Liars” star. “The show is not coming back and that sucks, but I’ll hold my head high and who knows what I’ll do next.” The first season of “Katy Keene” is available to stream on HBO Max.
Idris Elba to receive special BAFTA Award
On July 31, Idris Elba will receive the BAFTA Special Award for his contributions and advocacy for increased diversity in the television industry. Past Special Award recipients include Cilla Black, Delia Smith, Lenny Henry, Nick Fraser, Henry Normal, John Motson, Clare Balding and Nicola Shindler. “It’s been a mission of mine to provide opportunity and access to emerging talent from diverse backgrounds in this industry, which is the same opportunity I received many years ago from open-minded and diversity-conscious casting,” Idris said in a statement. From his breakout role on HBO’s “The Wire” to his Golden Globe win for his starring performance on “Luther” to founding production company Green Door Pictures in 2013, the British actor has crafted an impressive career. “I thank BAFTA for recognizing myself and others who are dedicated to the same cause, as these are all necessary steps towards helping to shift the awareness and understanding of the diversity gap in entertainment,” he added.
Demi Lovato says TV industry normalized her eating disorder
In a July interview with Bustle, Demi Lovato opened up about growing up in the spotlight as a Disney Channel star and revealed how her former management team, along with the television industry as a whole, normalized her eating disorder. “I kind of looked around and had a moment where I was like, ‘Wow. This is so terrifyingly normalized,'” she said. The “I Love Me” singer continued, “When I went to treatment in 2010, I came out of the experience with the choice of talking about my struggles or my journey with the possibility of helping people, or keeping my mouth shut and going back to Disney Channel. And I was like, that doesn’t feel authentic to me. So I chose to tell my story. And I had this like, savior complex where I thought, ‘Oh, I made this pact with God when I was young’ and now I have to save people.” In terms of what her career holds, Demi shared her desire to have a career unrelated to body image. “I want it to be about my music and my lyrics and my message. And I want a long-lasting career that I don’t have to change myself for. Music brought me so much joy when I was younger, and I lost that joy throughout the hustle and bustle of the music industry. I got miserable. And I don’t ever want it to be like that again. That’s what I want.”
Elisabeth Moss signs first-look deal with Fox 21 Television Studios and Hulu
“The Handmaid’s Tale” star Elisabeth Moss signed a first-look deal with Fox 21 Television Studios and Hulu in July. She also launched production company Love & Squalor Pictures with plans to generate film and television content. She announced that her former agent, Lindsey McManus, would be brought on as the company’s president of film and television. “I am so excited to have formed this company and established this partnership with Lindsey to find material ourselves and have real ownership as producers. We want to develop strong, unique stories for the big and small screen that we feel are inclusive and represent the world that we all see around us,” said “The Invisible Man” actress in a statement. “We are very proud of the slate that we are building, comprised of projects that run the gamut from broad, commercial fare to darker, more challenging works.” Elisabeth plans to develop several series including “Black Match,” “Candy” and “Imperfect Women.”
Michele Eve Sandberg/Shutterstock
Erik McGregor / LightRocket via Getty Images
David J Phillip/AP/Shutterstock