Editor’s Note: Whether on screen or off, Hollywood can always be counted on to keep us entertained. This is especially true when it comes to politics. Join us each week as we shine the spotlight on Tinsel Town’s A-listers and their wacky and sometimes inspiring takes on today’s current events.
Hotel Rwanda Hero a Terrorist?
The hero of the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda was inspired by Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu married to a Tutsi, who was the manager of the Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali, where he allowed more than 1,200 Tutsis to take refuge. Actor Don Cheadle portrayed Rusesabagina. Now, however, the real-life hero has been arrested under suspicion of being a terrorist, among other things.
“Through international cooperation, the Rwanda Bureau of Investigation wants to inform the general public that Paul Rusesabagina has been arrested,” police said in a statement on Aug. 31. “Rusesabagina is suspected to be the founder, leader, sponsor and member of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits including the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD) operating out of various places in the region and abroad.”
Rusesabagina is openly critical of President Paul Kagame and the government; family members suggest this arrest is bogus and just a ploy to stop his vocal protests. His daughter, Carine Kanimba, claims that he traveled from the United States to Dubai, where he was kidnapped and taken to Rwanda, according to the Associated Press. “What they’re accusing him of is all made up,” she said. “There is no evidence to what they’re claiming … We know this is a wrongful arrest.”
Police issued a warrant for Rusesabagina, claiming that he perpetrated arson, kidnapping, murder, and terrorism against unarmed innocent civilians on Rwandan territory. He is currently being held in Rwanda, and Kanimba fears her father is not receiving the proper care or his hypertension medicine, saying the police will not let family talk to him.
Chadwick Boseman Succumbs to Cancer
Hollywood and fans lost a favorite personality on Aug. 28 after Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman succumbed to a years-long battle with colon cancer. As celebrities find ways to give tribute to him, residents in the actor’s small hometown of Anderson, SC, has decided a statue of Boseman would be perfect to replace the 1902 Confederate one that currently sits in the town square. While removing statues that offend people is all the rage right now, this monument in particular has a message at its base that has upset citizens for decades: “The world shall yet decide/In truth’s clear far-off light/That the soldiers who wore the gray and died with Lee were in the right.”
Boseman was born and raised in Anderson, population 27,000, and its residents are proud of their native son. In a bid to honor him, a petition is circulating about the proposed new statue, stating: “His entire body of work has uplifted and inspired many Black Americans especially during the turbulent times our nation is going through. In addition to his illustrious film career, Mr. Boseman made it a mission to give back to his community.”
One of the signers, Molly Holcombe, said she lived in Anderson during 2018 when Black Panther was viewed in theaters. “Boseman did more to unite people in Anderson than any Confederate soldier could have done in a lifetime,” she commented. “One stands for divide, the other brought unity. Ultimately, unity is what we should be aiming for.”
However, despite the petition, it might not be so easy to replace the old symbol. In 2000, the South Carolina Heritage Act passed, and it protects Confederate monuments residing on public land. To get one removed or replaced requires a two-thirds majority vote of the state legislature. There is a lawsuit to overturn the act, calling it unconstitutional, but no word on the outcome yet.
Cheers and Jeers
Sometimes, HollyWeird players make headlines for silly or bizarre happenings, so here is a collection of newsworthy doings — honorable and dishonorable — by the tenants of Tinsel Town.
Bette Midler Attacks Melania in Tweet – Then Regrets It
During the Republican National Convention, when Melania Trump was speaking, Grammy award-winning actress and singer Bette Midler decided it was a good idea to insult the first lady in a tweetstorm. Referring to Melania’s anti-bullying initiative “Be Best,” the 74-year-old star tweeted: “#beBest is back!” Midler continued, “A UGE bore! She can speak several words in a few languages. Get that illegal alien off the stage!” The Hocus Pocus actress wasn’t finished with her rant, saying, “Oh, God. She still can’t speak English,” calling the Slovenian native an “awful person” and then attacking President Donald Trump: “I’m surprised Trump wants to destroy the #PostOffice. He got all his wives from it.”
Midler’s fans were not impressed with the attack. One commenter wrote: “Bette, I have seen you many times in concert and I think you are very talented. I won’t anymore. Making fun of someone’s accent! you are a mean, nasty, person and it shows on your face.”
In response, the actress tweeted out her somewhat apology: “Well, all hell has broken loose because I said Melania ‘still can’t speak English’ last night. I was wrong to make fun of her accent.” She added, “America is made up [of] people who speak with all kinds of accents, and they are all welcomed always.” Unless you’re the president’s wife, apparently.
Spike Lee Re-Creates Michael Jackson Video for Protests
In a tribute to Michael Jackson for what would have been his 62nd birthday and to bring awareness to the need for racial equality, Spike Lee adapted Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us” into a short music film. The work contains footage from George Floyd protests and strives to highlight the injustices of police brutality.
“Great protest songs can’t get old, stale or non-relevant because the struggle still continues. That’s why THEY DON’T REALLY CARE ABOUT US is the anthem during this chaotic, pandemic world we are all living in,” Lee said in a statement.
Johnny Depp Wants to Delay Trial
Pirates of the Caribbean star and all-around heartthrob Johnny Depp has requested a postponement of the trial against ex-wife Amber Heard for defamation of character and cites the COVID shutdown as the reason. Hollywood has had to rearrange its filming and producing schedules since social distancing and mask-wearing make it difficult, if not impossible, to create the magic. The actor has been cast in the role of the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, but filming has been pushed out until the beginning of next year, which conflicts with the court date.
In March 2019, Depp sued Heard for an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post. The title set the stage for accusations of spousal abuse: “I spoke up against sexual violence – and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.” Although the actor isn’t mentioned by name, Depp feels the implication is obvious. Plus, he has received a lot of backlash from fans and others about his alleged abuse. The Edward Scissorhands actor filed a motion for continuance on Aug. 21, asking for the trial to be delayed until between March and June of next year.
Kelly Attacked, Sent to Solitary Confinement
Rapper R. Kelly, who is being held in a Chicago jail awaiting trial for several rape allegations as well as creating a traffic ring to get girls, was reportedly attacked in his cell by a prisoner upset that they were on lockdown due to a pro-Kelly protest outside the facility.
According to reports, Kelly was asleep when an inmate with “F— the Feds” tattooed on his face began hitting him on the head. Later reports claim the inmate also tried to stab the singer with a pen but was stopped by other prisoners before any injury. For his own protection, Kelly was removed to solitary confinement.
Kelly has been seeking release on bail, using such excuses as being pre-diabetic, which makes him a target for the Coronavirus. As of now, his attempts have been denied.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Son Charged With Stabbing Neighbor
Adam Abdul-Jabbar, 28, the son of legendary L.A. Lakers player Kareem, was arrested after he got into an altercation with his neighbor over not removing trash cans from the driveway and then stabbed the neighbor seven times.
According to the victim, Ray Winsor, 60, he told Adam to move the garbage cans because it wasn’t fair to make his grandmother take them in while she was bound to a walker. Adam reportedly got upset and stabbed Winsor with a hunting knife. Winsor suffered severe injuries in the neck and on the back of the head which resulted in a fractured skull and brain bleed. Adam is scheduled for arraignment on Sept. 9. If found guilty, he faces up to nine years and eight months in prison.
Tune in next week to see what else Tinsel Town has planned.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.