Jul 21, 2017 Last Updated 2:00 PM, Jul 21, 2017


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R&B singer R Kelly has denied allegations that he is holding several young women in an "abusive cult".

The singer's lawyer said he would work "diligently and forcibly to pursue his accusers and clear his name".

 A Buzzfeed report accuses the singer of brainwashing women, who got closer to him in an effort to boost their musical careers.

Kelly has faced previous accusations of sexual misconduct, but was never found guilty. He denies any wrongdoing.

The report, which quoted three unnamed sets of parents, said they had not seen or spoken with their daughters for months, and that the women, all of them over the age of consent, had their routines controlled by the singer.

That included rules about what they could eat and wear, when to bath and sleep and how to engage in sexual encounters recorded by him, they said.

Three former members of Kelly's inner circle were also interviewed, saying that six women lived in properties managed by the singer in similar conditions.

If they broke the "rules", they said, the women could be punished physically and verbally by the singer, according to to report.

Some of the parents reported their concerns to the police, but the women said they were not being held against their will.

The singer's lawyer, Linda Mensch, said in a statement: "Robert Kelly is both alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations attributed to him. Mr Kelly unequivocally denies such allegations."

BuzzFeed has said it is standing by its reporting.

In 2008, R Kelly was acquitted of 14 charges of making child pornography after a videotape emerged allegedly showing him having sex with a 14-year-old girl.

Kelly is one of the most successful R&B artists of all time, with 40 million records sold worldwide. His best known his include I Believe I Can Fly and Ignition (Remix).

Charlize Theron has called Hollywood "caveman-like" for so rarely allowing women to direct big-budget films.

"I am ashamed I'm part of an industry that has never allowed a woman to work with a budget higher than what the budget has been on Wonder Woman," the Oscar-winning actress told Variety. 

Directed by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman was made for a reported $149m (£116m) and has made $746m (£582m) worldwide.

Theron, 41, also bemoaned the lack of female-driven action films.

Her comments come ahead of the release of Atomic Blonde, in which she stars as a British MI6 agent in 1980s Berlin.

The actress, who won an Oscar after working with Jenkins in Monster, played another action-oriented role in 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road.

Speaking to Variety, though, the South African-born star rued the way the rare female successes in the traditionally male-dominated genre were not capitalised upon.

"We've had moments like this, where women really showcase themselves and kind of break glass ceilings," she said.

"And then we don't sustain it. Or there's one movie that doesn't do well, and all of a sudden, no one wants to make a female-driven film."

Theron sustained various injuries while shooting Atomic Blonde, among them a twisted knee and two cracked teeth.

"It was tough," she said of the film, released in the UK on 9 August. "You want to be in your best fighting shape, and it's hard."

Theron's other films this year include Fast and Furious 8, in which she played a villainous role opposite Vin Diesel and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson.

Earlier this year Michelle Rodriguez revealed she was considering leaving the action franchise over the way it treated its female characters.

"I hope they decide to show some love to the women of the franchise on the next one," she wrote on Instagram.

Wonder Woman became the most successful live-action film to be directed by a woman last month after exceeding the takings of 2008's Mamma Mia!.

Halle Berry was the first black woman to win the best actress Oscar when she won for Monster's Ball in 2002.

Fifteen years on, she still is the only black woman to have won the award - and she's not happy about it.

Speaking in Cannes last week, the actress said she had been "profoundly hurt" when no black stars were nominated for major acting awards at the 2015 Oscars.

"It was probably one of my lowest professional moments," the 50-year-old told Teen Vogue's Elaine Welteroth. 

The actress said she had thought back to the night she won her Academy Award and thought: "Wow, that moment really meant nothing."

"I was profoundly hurt by that and saddened by that and it inspired me to try to get involved in other ways," she continued.

"Which is why I want to start directing, I want to start producing more [and] I want to start being a part of making more opportunities for people of colour."

On the night in question, Berry dedicated her win to "every nameless, faceless woman of colour who now has a chance because this door has been opened".

Since her victory, though, only four black actresses have been nominated for the best actress Oscar.

They include Viola Davis - winner of this year's best supporting actress Oscar - and Ruth Negga, who was nominated this year for Loving.

Precious star Gabourey Sidibe and Quvenzhane Wallis, the young lead in Beasts of the Southern Wild, were also shortlisted for the best actress award in 2010 and 2013 respectively.

Four nominations in 15 years is hardly something to write home about. Yet it's worth remembering that in the 72 years of Oscar ceremonies before Berry's win, only six black actresses had ever been up for her award.

Two of those nominations came in 1973, when Diana Ross and Cicely Tyson - nominated respectively for Lady Sings the Blues and Sounder - lost out to Cabaret's Liza Minnelli.

Before that the only black actress to come within touching distance of the statuette was Dorothy Dandridge, who was nominated in 1955 in Carmen Jones.

Four black men have won the best actor Oscar since the first ceremony was held in 1929, while nine more have been nominated.

The issue of black representation at the Academy Awards became a matter of public concern in 2015 and 2016, years in which no person of colour was nominated for any of the acting prizes.

This led to the "OscarsSoWhite" campaign and moves by the Academy to make both its membership and nominations more diverse.

So is Berry right to feel aggrieved? We put that question to Sarita Malik, a professor of media, culture and communications at London's Brunel University who specialises in diversity and screen media.

"What Halle Berry says reveals the burden of representation that has historically been placed on black actors, films and representations more widely - the idea these have to deal with the persistent problem of under-representation," she told the BBC.

"Her disappointment has come to characterise our expectations, where we are led to believe that more and better kinds of diverse representation will follow these rare successes.

Carrie Fisher had three drugs including cocaine in her system when she died, her post-mortem has concluded.

The report released on Monday stated the star may have taken cocaine three days before she fell ill on a flight on 23 December, US media reported.

Traces of heroin and MDMA, popularly known as ecstasy, were also found in the Star Wars actress's system.

But investigators could not determine what impact the cocaine and other drugs had on her death.

The findings were based on toxicology samples taken when Fisher arrived at a Los Angeles hospital.

Investigators could not say when the actress had taken the MDMA or heroin.

The star, who played Princess Leia in the film series, died on 27 December.

On Friday, a statement from the Los Angeles coroner said the exact cause of death was unknown but cited factors including sleep apnoea, heart disease and drug use.

Sleep apnoea is a common condition in which a person stops breathing during sleep, either for a few seconds or minutes.

In a statement released by People magazine after the cororner’s ruling, Fisher's daughter Billie Lourd said: "My mum battled drug addiction and mental illness her entire life. She ultimately died of it.

"She was purposefully open in all of her work about the social stigmas surrounding these diseases."

Her manner of death will be listed as undetermined, the coroner's statement said.

Fisher's death certificate, issued in January, stated that the cause of death was "cardiac arrest/deferred".


Now that Bill Cosby's first sex assault trial has ended in deadlock, the difficulty of seating an unbiased jury for the famed entertainer's retrial may have ratcheted higher, thanks to blanket media coverage of the sensational case, legal experts say.

Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven O'Neill has kept secret the names of the 12 jurors who spent 52 hours in an unsuccessful effort to decide whether Cosby, now 79, drugged and sexually assaulted Andrea Constand at his home in a Philadelphia suburb in 2004.

O'Neill may have a concern that naming them publicly could lead to another spate of stories  on what led to the jury room logjam, further affecting potential jurors' thoughts on the case.

"It's one thing if they preview the evidence," said Wesley Oliver, a law professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. "If the jury's analysis of the evidence has been previewed, that's much more of a tainting issue."

The judge will consider whether to release the jurors' names at a hearing on Tuesday.

Concerns about the case's visibility had already prompted O'Neill to import jurors  for the first trial from Pittsburgh, around 300 miles (480 km) from the courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia.

Prosecutors, who intend to retry Cosby, filed a motion on Monday urging O'Neill to refrain from identifying the jurors, arguing that widespread coverage of their deliberations could influence jurors for the retrial.

But David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor, said he doubted such coverage would make much of a difference given the countless stories already published.

"You have at least to ask the question, would it really have more influence than what's already out there?" he said.

Even so, Oliver cautioned that the emergence of a particular narrative - that Constand's testimony was not believable, or that only one or two holdouts refused to convict Cosby - could affect potential jurors' view of the case.

Also on Monday came the first public comments from a Cosby juror - one of six alternates who heard the evidence but did not deliberate - who said he was "sick" to hear a mistrial declared.

Mike McCloskey told a Pittsburgh radio station that he had served as an alternate and would have voted to convict Cosby.

Juror names are normally a matter of public record and judges must justify the decision to seal them, legal experts said.

In some cases, such as terrorism or mob trials, anonymity is aimed at ensuring jurors' safety.

It has become increasingly common for judges to keep juror names secret during high-profile trials, though not after the case has ended, said Paula Hannaford-Agor, who studies juries for the nonprofit National Center for State Courts.

"Once the risk to the integrity of the trial has dissipated, there is no legitimate reason for maintaining the anonymity of the jurors," she said.

Some jurors in highly visible cases have endured post-trial harassment. After Casey Anthony was acquitted of suffocating her 2-year-old daughter in 2011, one juror quit her job and moved due to death threats she received, Hannaford-Agor said. 

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