Will Smith says he'll 'respect' viewers who can't support his return to the big screen after Oscars slap, plus more news

Will Smith talks public perception after Oscars slap as he returns to theaters

With his new film “Emancipation” due out this week, Will Smith hopes viewers can look past the now infamous Oscars slap to appreciate the value of the film and the hard work his team and co-stars put into it. “My deepest concern is my team,” Will told Fox 5 in an interview published Monday (Nov. 28). “The people on this team have done some of the best work of their entire careers, and my deepest hope is that my actions don’t penalize my team.” “Emancipation” tells the real-life story of an enslaved man who escaped a Louisiana plantation and joined the Union Army. Photos of his badly scarred body — the result of a vicious whipping on the plantation — were taken during an army medical examination and circulated widely, earning him the name, “Whipped Peter.” According to History.com, the images helped galvanize abolitionist, pro-Union sentiments. Speaking to Fox about the film, Will praised his fellow cast members and director Antoine Fuqua, calling “Emancipation” “the greatest work of his entire career.” Still, Will said he’d “understand” if some viewers aren’t ready to see Will return to the screen less than a year after he slapped Chris Rock onstage at the 2022 Oscars over a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. “I would absolutely respect that, and allow them their space to not be ready,” Will said. “I’m hoping the material, the power of the film, the timeliness of the story — I’m hoping that the good that can be done would open peoples’ hearts at a minimum to see and recognize and support the incredible artists in and around this film.” “Emancipation” hits theaters Friday and begins streaming on Apple TV+ on Dec. 9.

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Kim Kardashian is ‘reevaluating’ her Balenciaga relationship after its ‘disturbing’ ads featuring children

On Sunday (Nov. 27), Kim Kardashian said she’s “reevaluating” her collaborative relationship with Balenciaga in the wake of its controversial bondage-themed ads featuring children. “I have been quiet for the past few days, not because I haven’t been disgusted and outraged by the recent Balenciaga campaigns. But because I wanted an opportunity to speak to their team to understand for myself how this could have happened,” Kim wrote on Twitter, nearly a week after the fashion house took down ads in which children held bondage-themed Teddy bear-bags. Another campaign photo for the purse involved papers on a desk, including a print-out of a 2008 Supreme Court decision about child pornography, according to Forbes. “As a mother of four, I have been shaken by the disturbing images. The safety of children must be held with the highest regard, and any attempts to normalize child abuse of any kind should have no place in our society — period,” continued Kim, whose high-profile wardrobe choices this year have come largely from Balenciaga. “I appreciate Balenciaga’s removal of the campaigns and apology. In speaking with them, I believe they understand the seriousness of the issue and will take the necessary measures for this to never happen again.” She added that her future relationship with the brand will depend on the fashion house’s “willingness to accept accountability” for the images “and the actions I am expecting to see them take to protect children.” In addition to scrubbing its social media of the ads, Balenciaga apologized last week. The brand also filed a $25 million lawsuit against production company North Six and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins over their “malevolent” and “reckless” inclusion of the 2008 Williams decision in the ads, according to People.

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Jay Leno treated to standing o at first comedy set since hospitalization

Less than a week after he was released from the hospital following a gasoline fire that badly burned his face, neck, hands and wrists, Jay Leno took the stage again for his long-running Sunday set at Comedy Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, California. He was greeted with a standing ovation, according to “Access Hollywood.” “National Enquirer got the story all wrong, they said I was in the hospital because Nancy Pelosi hit me in the head with the hammer, that’s not what happened,” he joked to the outlet. Jay, 72, was working on a steam car in his garage earlier this month when a spark ignited a gas fire. He was rushed to the Grossman Burn Center, where he reportedly underwent multiple operations and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The serious nature of his 2nd and 3rd-degree burns, however, apparently haven’t dampened Jay’s sense of humor. “We got two shows tonight, regular and extra crispy,” he joked on Sunday, adding, “I never thought of myself as a roast comic.” Jay also told “Access Hollywood” that after his experience, he wants to organize “a benefit for that hospital to help people who are burned and can’t afford it.”

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Helena Bonham Carter defends Johnny Depp and JK Rowling: ‘You can’t ban people’

Helena Bonham Carter worked closely with two stars who’ve faced the wrath of cancel culture and she’s not afraid to defend them. Speaking to The Sunday Times in an interview published this week, Helena was asked about her frequent co-star Johnny Depp, who won his defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard earlier this year, and Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who’s been condemned for remarks she’s made about trans women. “I think he’s completely vindicated,” Helena said of Johnny (via ET). “I think he’s fine now. Totally fine.” Given the circumstances of Johnny’s case — he sued Amber for allegedly implying he abused her in a 2018 op-ed — Helena was asked if his win represented “the pendulum of #MeToo swinging back.” The actress said she believes Amber “got on that pendulum.” She continued: “That’s the problem with these things — that people will jump on the bandwagon because it’s the trend … to be the poster girl for it.” Asked about JK Rowling’s comments on trans women — she’s voiced concern trans activism aims “to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class,” Helena defended her, citing the author’s claims about suffering domestic violence and sexual assault. “I think she has been hounded. It’s been taken to the extreme, the judgmentalism of people. She’s allowed her opinion, particularly if she’s suffered abuse,” Helena said. “Everybody carries their own history of trauma and forms their opinions from that trauma and you have to respect where people come from and their pain.” Like Johnny, who maintains he never assaulted Amber, JK has repeatedly denied she’s transphobic. “You can’t ban people,” Helena said. “I hate cancel culture. It has become quite hysterical and there’s a kind of witch-hunt and a lack of understanding.”

Jon Batiste to perform for French President Emmanuel Macron at Joe Biden’s first state dinner

Former “Late Show” bandleader Jon Batiste kicked off 2022 by snagging five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, for “We Are.” He’s slated to cap off his milestone 2022 in similarly historic fashion with a performance at President Joe Biden’s first state dinner on Thursday (Dec. 1), where the guest of honor will be France’s President Emmanuel Macron. “From Kenner to the White House 🌟🙏🏾,” the Louisiana native shared on Instagram on Sunday, referencing his hometown, a suburb of New Orleans. The Juilliard alum, 36, has a slew of honors and achievements under his belt already, including an Academy Award and a BAFTA for his original score for the film “Soul.” Stephen Colbert announced Jon’s departure from “The Late Show” after seven years back in August, joking that he hopes the music star’s next album will be called, “More Grammys Please.”

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