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CNN’s Anthony Bourdain dead at 61

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Anthony Bourdain, the gifted chef, storyteller and writer who took TV viewers around the world to explore culture, cuisine and the human condition for nearly two decades, has died. He was 61.

CNN confirmed Bourdain’s death on Friday and said the cause of death was suicide.

Bourdain was in France working on an upcoming episode of his award-winning CNN series, “Parts Unknown.” His close friend Eric Ripert, the French chef, found Bourdain unresponsive in his hotel room Friday morning.

“It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain,” the network said in a statement Friday morning. “His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. “His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this iincredibly difficult time.”

Bourdain joined CNN five years ago. In an email to employees, the network’s president, Jeff Zucker, remembered him as an “exceptional talent.”

“Tony will be greatly missed not only for his work but also for the passion with which he did it,” Zucker wrote.

Viewers around the world felt connected to Bourdain through his fearless travels, his restless spirit and his magical way with words. Fans, fellow chefs, celebrities and friends reacted to his death with stunned sorrow.

After spending two years at New York’s Vassar College, he dropped out and enrolled in culinary school. He spent years as a line cook and sous chef at restaurants in the Northeast before becoming executive chef at Manhattan’s Brasseries Les Halles.

But it was his writing that put him on the map in his early 40s.

Bourdain drew widespread public attention with his 1999 New Yorker article, “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” about the secrets of kitchen life and shady characters he encountered along the way.

“In America, the professional kitchen is the last refuge of the misfit. It’s a place for people with bad pasts to find a new family,” he wrote.

The article morphed into a best-selling book in 2000, “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly,” which was translated into more than two dozen languages.

“When the book came out, it very quickly transformed my life — I mean, changed everything,” he told NPR.

Bourdain found himself on a path to international stardom. First, he hosted “A Cook’s Tour” on the Food Network, then moved to the Travel Channel with “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” a breakout hit that earned two Emmy Awards and more than a dozen nominations.

In 2013, both Bourdain and CNN took a risk by bringing him to a network still best known for breaking news and headlines. Bourdain quickly became one of its principal faces and a linchpin of its prime-time schedule.

Season 11 of “Parts Unknown” premiered last month on CNN, with destinations including Uruguay, Armenia and West Virginia.

In his final weeks, Bourdain said he was especially looking forward to an episode about Hong Kong, which aired Sunday.

He called it a “dream show” in which he linked up with longtime Hong Kong resident and cinematographer Christopher Doyle.

“The idea was just to interview him and maybe get him to hold a camera. He ended up being director of photography for the entire episode,” Bourdain told CNN in April. “For me it was like asking Joe DiMaggio to, you know, sign my baseball and instead he joined my Little League team for the whole season.”

The show’s website on Friday posted an homage to Bourdain featuring one of his many oft-repeated quotations — one that seemed to embody his philosophy: “If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food.”

How to get help: In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also can provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.

 

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‘Young and the Restless’ actor Kristoff St. John dead at 52

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“Young and the Restless” actor Kristoff St. John has died at age 52.

Officials say Los Angeles police were called to his home on Sunday and his body was turned over to the Los Angeles County coroner. The cause of death was not available.

St. John had played Neil Winters on the CBS soap opera since 1991, earning nine daytime Emmy nominations. He won a Daytime Emmy in 1992 for outstanding younger actor in a drama series and won 10 NAACP Image Awards.

He announced in September that he was engaged to model Kseniya Mikhaleva.

St. John was twice married and divorced and was the father of a son and two daughters. His 24-year-old son, Julian, died in 2014.

On Jan. 21, St. John retweeted “Grieving the loss of a child is a process. It begins on the day your child passes, and ends the day the parent joins them.”

This is an ongoing development, so please keep check with Prestige for updates.

 

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‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett assaulted in possible hate crime, police say

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Empire” star Jussie Smollett was assaulted early Tuesday morning in Chicago and hospitalized after an attack police are calling a possible hate crime.

The actor endured a racially charged and homophobic attack, the Chicago Police Department said in a statement on Tuesday. Police identified him only as “a cast member of the television show ‘Empire.’”

Around 2 a.m., two people approached the 36-year-old actor while he was walking and got his attention by yelling racial and homophobic slurs, the statement said. They then hit him in the face and “poured an unknown chemical substance” on him, police said.

“At some point during the incident, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck,” the statement said. “The offenders fled the scene.”  

The actor took himself to Northwestern Hospital where was listed in good condition, police said. The actor was discharged Tuesday morning.

Detectives are investigating and said Smollett is “fully cooperating with investigators,” police said. They are working to gather video and potential witnesses.

LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD told The Times that it reached out to Fox, which broadcasts “Empire,” and Smollett’s team Tuesday to offer assistance as well as support for him.

“Jussie is a true champion for LGBTQ people and is beloved by the community and allies around the world,” a GLAAD spokesperson said.

Representatives for Smollett did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

 

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Atlanta News & Entertainment

Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly Sparks Criminal Investigation

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Prosecutors urged alleged R. Kelly victims to come forward in a press conference on Tuesday night following the airing of “Surviving R. Kelly,” in which several women accused the singer of sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Cook County, Ill., state attorney Kim Foxx told reporters (via TMZ), “The recent allegations against entertainer R. Kelly in a recent Lifetime docuseries are deeply, deeply disturbing. It is our job at the Cook County state attorney’s office to investigate claims in the interest of justice and of public safety. I should stress that it takes courage to re-live and re-experience trauma by telling your story of sexual victimization, but we rely heavily on victim accounts and witness statements to prosecute cases involving sexual assault and domestic violence.”

“I’m here today to encourage victims of sexual assault or domestic violence related to these allegations to please get in touch with our office. The number to call is 773-674-6492. There are dedicated professionals in our witness unit who do this work on a daily basis and can work with you through this process,” Foxx continued. “Please come forward. There is nothing that can be done to investigate these allegations without the cooperation of both victims and witnesses. We cannot seek justice without you.”  Kelly has been accused of holding women and girls against their will in Chicago, where he has a recording studio, and Georgia, where he has property.

The docuseries also claimed that he preyed on and had sexual relations with underage girls who he kept in an alleged “sex cult.”

Kelly has maintained his innocence since allegations of abuse first emerged. The singer’s attorney, Steven Greenberg, told the Associated Press that the “Surviving R. Kelly” accusations were false, and simply “another round of stories [being used to] fill reality TV time.” He added that it was inappropriate for a D.A. to characterize allegations she’d seen on TV before actually filing charges or launching an investigation into the claims.

He was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008 after he was accused of making a sex tape with a 14-year-old girl. Meanwhile, Timothy Savage, who appeared in “Surviving R. Kelly” with his wife, alleged that Kelly threatened him for being involved with the docuseries.

Andrea Kelly, Lisa VanAllen and Kitti Jones star in the lifetime documentary series, “Surviving R. Kelly,” 2019.

A Henry County, Ga., police report obtained by the Associated Press says Savage told an officer on Jan. 3 that Don Russell had texted him saying it would be best for him and his family if the documentary didn’t air. The report claims Russell called Savage while the officer was there and Savage put the phone on speaker. Russell accused Savage of lying to Lifetime and that if he continued to support the series, Russell and Kelly would be forced to release information that would show Savage was a liar.

According to TMZ, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office has officially opened up an investigation focusing on R. Kelly due to the several allegations made against the singer in lifetime’s documentary. In the final 2 parts of the documentary it was alleged that Kelly has been holding several women against their will.

TMZ also reports that investigators have been reaching out to several survivors featured in the TV project. In fact, the outlet confirmed investigators reached out to Asante McGee, one of the women who allegedly escaped R. Kelly’s home. Meanwhile, the attorney for Joycelyn Savage’s family was contacted by Chief Investigator Cynthia Nwokocha and the family has been fully cooperating in the investigation. We’re told investigators have been asking for contact information from others who have lived in Kelly’s former Atlanta home or have direct knowledge of what happened in the home. We’re told investigators were flooded with calls once the docuseries aired.

The D.A. is not commenting.

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