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MTV VMA 2018 Recap

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For an awards show that has taken steps in recent years to de-emphasize gender — retiring the Best Male and Best Female categories, rebranding its signature astronaut-inspired trophy as a Moonperson — the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards were practically split in a guys’ portion and a ladies’ portion, with a string of male performers warming up the stage for a group of women who clearly ruled it.

The 35th iteration of the show, which returned to Radio City Music Hall for the 12th time, kicked off with not a bang but something more like a monsoon: Shawn Mendes held his own wet t-shirt contest with a rain-soaked performance of “In My Blood.” Newcomer Bazzi had no shortage of national-TV exposure as he followed up with “Beautiful,” his second performance in the evening following a bout during the pre-show not long before. Logic, with the help of Ryan Tedder, aimed for yet another statement-making moment with a performance addressing U.S. immigration policy. And then Panic! at the Disco made a stylish and energetic performance that began suspended in the air. The performances were solid, sure, but at times they didn’t feel any more vital to the show than presenters’ bits and banter, or some of the evening’s early acceptance speeches.

You also may notice that all of those performers have something in common. It took almost 45 minutes for the show to get to a performance by a woman: rising star Jessie Reyez, one of several Push Artist of the Year nominees who were given brief time slots — and even smaller stages — to introduce themselves to a larger audience. (One highlight? Hayley Kiyoko, the category’s ultimate winner, who breezed through an abridged version of her song “Curious” after charming the red carpet with shout-outs to her #20GAYTEEN slogan.) And it wasn’t until Nicki Minaj performed a medley of songs from her Queen album in a pre-taped, remote segment that it felt like the VMAs truly got started.

That’s no shade to Mendes by any means — it’s just that, when you think of classic VMAs moments and performances, you probably don’t think of young instrument-playing pop-rock artists showing off their musical chops and credibility. You think of the spectacle, which is what Minaj delivered with her phalynx of dancers and monarch-inspired attire from New York’s Oculus transportation hub. Minaj’s pal and frequent collaborator Ariana Grande had a similar sumptuous set, recreating an all-female version of The Last Supper with slow-motion choreography that turned the VMAs stage into a living music video during “God Is a Woman,” from her just-released Sweetener LP.

 

And then there was J. Lo. When MTV announced that Jennifer Lopez would be this year’s recipient of the Video Vanguard Award, many on the Internet seemed more concerned with crying justice for Missy Elliott, who was the subject of such inexplicably persistent rumors about the honor that she felt compelled to shoot down the chatter on Twitter. But as the first Latinx recipient of the video Vanguard Award — and during a year in which MTV introduced a Best Latin category — Lopez’s latest accolade isn’t insignificant. And in her first VMAs performance since 2001, she offered an abridged version of her Las Vegas residency show with a career-spanning medley that served the choreography you expected and the impressive live vocals you probably didn’t.

The only part of Lopez’s crowning moment that felt off was the person who introduced her and handed her the award: Shawn Mendes, whose connection to her as an artist is… well, what exactly? It was hardly the only odd-couple pairing of the evening: Producers shoe-horned in a tribute to Aretha Franklin by having Madonna come out and monologue about what Franklin meant to her. The Queen of Pop has a personal connection to the Queen of Soul beyond their shared Detroit roots — in typically wry fashion, Madonna shared a story about how singing Aretha Franklin helped her make an impression at an audition that set her career in motion. But the optics weren’t great, considering Madonna’s award-show history of delivering occasionally self-centered homages to black legends, and indeed, most of her tribute to Franklin was spent celebrating her own tenacity during her early days as a starving artist.

 

It wasn’t hard to figure out what Madonna’s original primary purpose was: handing out the video of the year award, which went to Camila Cabello for “Havana.” The singer was hardly the frontrunner in the category, which saw her go up against Childish Gambino’s much-dissected “This Is America” clip and the private Louvre party that was the Carters’ “Apeshit” — competitors who also weren’t in attendance.

But as surprising as it may have been, viewing the win as an at-large endorsement for Cabello is consistent with the show’s waning emphasis on actual music videos. That’s a perennial MTV complaint, sure, but that shift has certainly been reflected in the categories: Last year, the show introduced the artist of the year award, and the song of the year award followed this year — two star-studded categories whose nominees aren’t attached to particular videos. And the most teased and hyped award of the night wasn’t video of the year, either — it was best new artist, which came down to Cardi B and Hayley Kiyoko and, in what was no great shock to anyone given her unstoppable year, went to Cardi.

By the time Cabello won the evening’s big honor (her second award of the night), the show had returned to a male-performances-only third act with mixed results. Travis Scott’s tech-heavy Astroworld medley never quite found its footing, while a sponsored Lauv performance that played during a commercial break after the Madonna-Cabello segment was jarringly anticlimactic. (A Madonna monologue is a tough act to follow for anyone, let alone a still-rising artist fulfilling a brand partnership.) The home stretch wasn’t without bright spots, including Aerosmith — who, despite all the head-scratching news of their performance probably inspired, pulled off a lively grand finale by teaming up with Post Malone for a ripping rendition of “Toys in the Attic.” Still, when it came to this year’s oddly segregated run of show, it’s clear that — to paraphrase the song Grande performed — the women were the deities.

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Y&R Star Kristoff St. John Autopsy Report rule Heart Disease as His Cause of Death

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According to the autopsy report, Kristoff St. John was discharged from a mental health facility just 2 days before his death. The report says he was admitted after threatening to harm himself.

The report also states that St. John died from heart disease and alcohol abuse … according to a report from the L.A. coroner’s office.

The ‘Young and the Restless’ star’s official cause of death is listed as hypertrophic heart disease and is categorized as accidental, according to the report. The disease makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood and often goes undiagnosed.

As for the “accidental” label — that’s because St. John was apparently on an alcohol binge at the time of his death.

News broke last month that 52-year-old St. John was found dead at his home in San Fernando Valley. Law enforcement sources say one of the actor’s friends went to check on him and found his body. Police and paramedics responded, and pronounced him dead on the scene.

Another source that was close to St. John’s states the actor checked himself into UCLA Medical Center in January for depression issues, and he had just been released a few days before his death. Reports also states that St. John’s depression was partially linked to his son, Julian’s suicide in 2014. It also seems to be the likely trigger for St. John’s heavy drinking at the time of his death.

As you know, around the 3-year anniversary of Julian’s suicide in 2017, St. John’s allegedly threatened to take his own life with a gun … and cops placed him under a 72-hour hold for psychiatric evaluation.

St. John had played Neil Winters on ‘The Young & the Restless’ since 1991 — earning 9 Daytime Emmy Award nominations for the role. He also won 10 NAACP Image Awards.

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Wendy Williams Reveals She’s Getting Treatment for Addiction

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Wendy Williams just made a very personal revelation — she’s now getting round-the-clock help to deal with addiction issues.

She made a very emotional announcement Tuesday on her talk show … revealing she’s currently living in a sober house somewhere in the Tri-State Area — of NY, NJ & CT — and has been for some time now. Wendy teared up quite a bit as her audience listened intently.

Wendy talked about battling cocaine addiction in the past, but never sought treatment to stay clean … until now, that is. She didn’t specifically say what substance she’s addicted to now. Wendy added she has a 24-hour sobriety coach, and spoke lovingly about the “brothers and sisters” in addiction with whom she’s living now.

She took an extended leave from her show back in mid-January and didn’t return until a couple of weeks ago. As you know … she also told viewers last year she was suffering from Graves’ disease before taking a 3-week hiatus.

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Attorney Gloria Allred says Third Sex Tape Surfaces of R. Kelly

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Another sex tape has surfaced that purportedly shows R. Kelly with minors – and attorney Gloria Allred is representing the guy who claims to have found it and turned it over to cops.

Allred just held a press conference in NYC, where her client, Gary Dennis, came forward to explain how he found the tape, and why he’s speaking out now.

Dennis, who says he has no connection to R. Kelly whatsoever, claims he recently found this new sex tape while going through old VHS tapes of his own. He says he initially discovered the tape as a “sports tape,” but that it also had R. Kelly’s name on it.

Dennis goes on to say that he thought the R. Kelly part of the tape would feature a concert of his, but later discovered it was a sex tape as he continued to watch past the sports content. He says he doesn’t know how this tape turned up in his possession but says he watched it and saw R. Kelly engaging in sex acts with what he perceived to be underage black girls … more than one.

Dennis didn’t go into much detail about what he saw on the tape but did say that the girls on camera were doing and saying things based on R. Kelly’s instructions. Dennis also says the girls appeared to be underdeveloped and that the only man on tape — who he claims looked a lot like R. Kelly — seemed to be in charge of the camera.

The guy says the tape appears to have been produced in the 1990s … adding there’s no indication of where it was filmed.

Allred says they’ve turned over the sex tape to law enforcement officials from U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. She wouldn’t comment one way or another on whether she’d personally seen this new tape herself. However, Allred says she believes more tapes of R. Kelly are in circulation.

This tape would be the third one handed to law enforcement in the last month. Attorney Michael Avenatti has already turned over 2 tapes to prosecutors in Chicago … one of which prompted the 10 count indictment against R. Kelly for aggravated sexual abuse.

Over the last week, we have had 5 other individuals contact us with tapes that they claim show R. Kelly having sex with underage girls. Upon investigation, they don’t and the individuals would have no reason to have such a tape. Publicizing this “evidence” undermines the process.

Speaking of Avenatti, he appears to have responded to Allred’s press conference … and seems to be casting doubt on the veracity of her client’s claims.

BTW … Allred already reps a number of R. Kelly accusers, including two women who say he targeted them after a Baltimore concert in 1995. One of those women, Latresa Scaff, says R. Kelly had sex with her without her consent in a hotel room … this after he’d already plied the then-underage girls with alcohol and drugs at an after-party following his concert.

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