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Filmmaker, author and songwriter Melvin Van Peebles has died from natural causes. He was 89.

Melvin Van Peebles is best known for his cult classics Watermelon Man and Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song.

A family statement reads:

"In an unparalleled career distinguished by relentless innovation, boundless curiosity and spiritual empathy, Melvin Van Peebles made an indelible mark on the international cultural landscape through his films, novels, plays and music.

"His work continues to be essential and is being celebrated at the New York Film Festival this weekend with a 50th anniversary screening of his landmark film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song; a Criterion Collection box set, Melvin Van Peebles: Essential Films next week; and a revival of his play Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death, slated for a return to Broadway next year."

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Dubbed the Godfather of Black Cinema, Van Peebles shot to fame with his mainstream directorial debut, The Story of a Three-Day Pass, and landed the job of bringing Watermelon Man to the big screen in 1970.

The racial satire, starring Godfrey Cambridge, was a huge hit, landing Van Peebles a three-picture deal at Columbia.

However, movie executives were not supportive of his follow-up, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, which Van Peebles made anyway using cash loaned to him by Bill Cosby.

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Melvin wrote, directed, produced, scored and edited Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, while also starring as the title character.

Following its release, the movie became the highest-grossing independent film in history.

His filmmaking credits also include Identity Crisis, which starred his son Mario Van Peebles, and Posse, in which he co-starred with his son.

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Mario also adapted his father's novel about the growth of the Black Panther Party into 1995 film Panther, and the younger Van Peebles paid homage to his dad in 2003's Baadasssss.

Among his many accolades, Melvin picked up a Cinema Vanguard Award and a Special Achievement Award from the African-American Film Critics Association, a Daytime Emmy, a Gotham Tribute Award, the Humanitas Prize, and a NAACP Image Award.

Source: WENN.com

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William "Willie" Garson kept his sexuality secret to avoid the controversy of a heterosexual playing a ghey man on TV.

Garson died Tuesday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 57.

Willie Garson played openly ghey Stanford Blatch, a beloved talent agent who was referred to as the "Fifth Lady" in HBO's Sex and the City.

Garson played his role so well that fans of the show assumed he was homosexual in real life.

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Blatch was besties with Sarah Jessica Parker's character Carrie Bradshow on the HBO series.

In the last two seasons of the show, his character, Blatch, was romantically linked with Broadway dancer Marcus Adente (Sean Palmer).

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In real life, Garson was involved in a longterm relationship with a woman who didn't want children. So he adopted a boy, Nathen, as a single father.

"He's an adult and soon to be taking care of me which is really why I got him to be honest," Garson said about Nathen, now 20. "He's lovely and a really special guy. He's wonderful and he's in college in Ohio."

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In an interview with Page Six last year Willie explained how he kept his sexuality a secret "for years" over fears his heterosexuality would be "offensive to gay people".

"For years I didn't talk about it because I found it to be offensive to gay people. People playing gay characters jumping up and down screaming that they're not gay, like that would somehow be a bad thing if they were."

He added:

"When the question would come up during the show I would say, 'When I was on White Collar no one ever asked me if I was a conman, and when I was on NYPD Blue, nobody ever asked me if I was a murderer.

"This is what we do for a living, portray people."

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Dr. Dre can't catch a break in the courtroom.

Just 2 months after a judge ordered Dre to pay his estranged wife, Nicole Young, $300,000 per month in temporary spousal support, he is now ordered to pay an additional $1.5 million in attorney's fees.

According to legal documents, obtained by The Blast, the judge presiding over Dre's divorce case has issued a temporary order covering Nicole's attorney's fees.

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Besides the massive spousal support, the judge ordered Dre to pay an extra $1.55 million in attorney fees - for a total of over $4 million.

The legendary rapper has already shelled out a payment of $2 million to her lawyers. And in the past year, he made two separate payments of $500,000 each.

Dr. Dre objected to the excessive attorney's fees - which now total more than $4 million, but the judge dismissed his complaints.

The judge said Nicole's attorneys can charge exorbitant hourly rates because they are "certified family law specialists" with "significant years of experience".

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"Ms. Samantha F. Spector and Lisa Helfend Meyer, certified family law specialists, have significant years of experience in family law and have extensive practical experience in complex family law matters. Considering the level of the case's complexity, and the issues involved, an attorney of their level and skill is reasonably necessary; and therefore, the various hourly rates of the primary and secondary attorneys participating in this litigation are reasonable and justifiable."

Dr. Dre is being ordered to pay all of Nicole's lawyer's fees based on the "disparity" in their assets and income.

According to the court order, Nicole has assets totaling "approximately 39 million dollars" while Dr. Dre has a net worth of approximately "243 million dollars."

The judge also ordered the estranged couple to settle out of court for permanent spousal support before the case goes to trial. Otherwise, their divorce case could end up being the most expensive in history.

Either way, it's a lose-lose situation for Dr. Dre.

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Comedian Michael Blackson sparked outrage when he asked his fans to Cash app him money to help pay fellow comedian AJ Johnson's funeral expenses.

Johnson, 55, apparently suffered a heart attack in a store and died earlier this month.

His body lay in a morgue for weeks until the coroner used his dental records to identify him and contacted his family.

In a post on social media, Blackson said he received a call from Johnson's former management and his wife.

He said Johnson's wife -- who was separated from him for years -- was "in tears".

"Apparently no one has heard from AJ for about a couple of weeks," Blackson wrote.

"Get to find out he had a heart attack in some store on Sept. 6th and was taken to the hospital where he died a day later [shaking my head]. He had no identification on him and I'm shocked no one from the [Los Angeles] hospital recognized him to tell the world."

Blackson went on to say Johnson "left this world with absolutely nothing".

It's unclear how Blackson knew Johnson's financial status at the time of his death. He readily admitted that neither Johnson's former manager or wife had heard from him in years.

Then Blackson provided his Cash app ID, a mobile payment app, and asked his followers to send him money. He wrote: "at the end of the day I'll match it and send to his family to bury him. Thanks."

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However, his followers accused Blackson of pulling a "scam" and they wondered why celebs who display material wealth on social media while asking fans to send them money.

One Rhymeswithsnitch commenter wrote:

"Do these celebrities realize that most black folks are BROKE due to the unemployment of the pandemic? How about they budget THEIR money, and go a week without a $400k watch and contribute their own damn money! Folks got their own bills and loved ones to care for and bury. Y'all niggas (in Hollywood) love bragging on social media about what y'all got, so put your money where your mouth is and give that good brother a NICE send-off!"

Another reader wrote:

"MBlackstone was just on Cribs stunting. Just pay for the funeral already."

And a third person wrote:

"Everyday people already contribute by supporting these celebrities so it's only fair these celebrities contribute by supporting their own."

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Jada Pinkett Smith celebrated her 50th birthday milestone with a star-studded 70s-themed skating party at her home.

The A-list actress and her husband Will Smith built the skating rink at their Los Angeles home for the bash. They were joined by some of her showbiz pals, including MC Lyte, Toni Braxton and Charlie Mack.
 
READ ALSO: Willow Smith inspired mom Jada Pinkett Smith to shave head
 
A source told the New York Post newspaper's Page Six: "It was the happiest I've ever seen them."

Guests were all asked to provide shoe and sock sizes before arriving for the party to be fitted for custom roller skates.

The insider shared:

"It was probably the best time anyone has ever had, and the DJ played the best music. It was mostly '70s... it was like a '70s party."

Will, 52, didn't take to the rink because he's currently in the middle of shooting a film.

However, Jada "skated the whole entire time, and her mom was out there skating the whole time too".

And although guests were required to take a Covid test before attending the bash, the event was staged in typical "Smith family style".

The source said:

"There was no product placement. It was in Smith family style. They paid for everything."

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LaBelle co-founder, singer and actress Sarah Dash has died at age 76. No cause of death was disclosed.

Dash's death was confirmed by Trenton, NJ Mayor Reed Gusciora in a Facebook post late Monday.

"Our resident legend and Trenton's very first music ambassador, Sarah Dash, has passed away."

The Trenton, NJ native was best known as co-founder of Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles, which was later renamed to simply LaBelle in the 1970s.

Dash was born the seventh of 13 children to her pastor father and nurse mother.

She originally sang gospel but later sang R&B music when she moved to Philadelphia in the mid-1960s and met singers Nona Hendryx, Patricia "Patsy" Holte (Patti LaBelle) and Sundray Tucker.

The girls formed "The Ordettes" in 1961. In 1967, member Cindy Birdsong, who replaced original Blubelles member Sundray Tucker, left the group to join The Supremes.

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Dash, right, helped to transition the doo-wop R&B group into pop/rock/R&B group LaBelle that tackled controversial and sexually outspoken subjects. LaBelle opened for the Rolling Stones on tour.

Under Dash's direction the group ditched their bouffant wigs and glittery costumes for afros and jeans.

The group's biggest hit, "Lady Marmalade," was released in 1974 and went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

"Lady Marmalade," with its sexually suggestive French chorus of "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?" ("Do you want to sleep with me?") made the group a household name.

"Lady Marmalade" held the number-one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for one week, and was ranked number 479 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

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In 1978, Dash, center (with Nona, left, and Patti, right), released her self-titled debut album, which included the top-ten disco hit, "Sinner Man."

After working with The Rolling Stones, Dash also performed in The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1978.

She went on to release solo albums and reunited with Nona Hendryx and Patti LaBelle in 1995 to record new music.
 

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Rapper Gunna is giving back to his community by opening a grocery and clothing store inside his former middle school.

Th 28-year-old College Park, Georgia native surprised the students at Ronald McNair Middle School by opening Gunna's Drip Closet and Goodr Grocery Store inside the school.

The students can shop for groceries, toiletries, soap, clothing, and sneakers -- and everything is free!

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The Grammy-nominated rapper and Goodr Co. CEO Jasmine Crowe, right, said they received positive feedback from parents and teachers at McNair.

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"These are things I said I was gonna do when I got in a position to do it so I just gotta follow that," Gunna told The Atlanta Voice.

He is pictured with cheerleaders during his visit to McNair Middle School.

The rapper is best known for his debut studio album, Drip or Drown 2 (2019), which spawned his platinum track and lead single "One Call."

He is signed to Young Thug's YSL label and he has collaborated with Drake, Lil Durk, Nav, Young Thug, and Gucci Mane.

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Jeannie Mai has confirmed rumors that she and husband Jeezy are expecting their first child together.

The daytime TV host confirmed the rumors in an exclusive interview with Women's Health magazine.

"Jeezy and I have been kind of saving this and hiding this for five months," she tells Women's Health. "So, we're relieved to finally share the news."

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The Real co-host said she hid her growing baby bump from her friends and associates for months.

Her co-hosts, Adrienne Houghton, Loni Love, and Garcelle Beauvais, had no idea she was expecting.

Jeannie, 42, and Jeezy, 43, are middle aged, so she struggled to conceived.

They finally opted for in-vitro fertilization (IVF), a cost-intensive procedure that ranges between $8,000 and over $100,000. The price doesn't include a surrogate and is not covered by insurance.

Jeannie chose to carry their baby herself despite the high risks to mom and unborn child.

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"We both needed a bit of assistance, especially with me being 41 at the time," Jeannie explains. She told Women's Health she discovered she was pregnant about a month before the couple's March 2021 wedding at their Atlanta home.

However, soon after, she suffered a miscarriage. "I wondered if I was being punished. I wondered if I'd jinxed myself or cursed myself," says Jeannie.

A week after their wedding, she discovered she was pregnant again.

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"It was the most beautiful sign that anything's possible, that you're not in control, and God has a plan," she says.

The baby is the first for Jeannie and the third for Jeezy.

"Being a mom is hands down the hardest role in the entire world," says Jeannie. "Now that we're bringing another Jenkins into the picture. I have no idea what to expect... He's an amazing dad," Jeannie says, and it "overwhelms me with even more love."

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Wendy Williams' brother says his sister is stable, improving, and hanging in there during her stay at a hospital where she is reportedly "fighting" Covid-19.

As reported last week, the 57-year-old host was voluntarily admitted to a hospital in New York on Wednesday for a psychiatric evaluation after police responded to a 911 call about a "non-violent" 57-year-old woman behaving erratically.

However, insiders say Wendy was actually hospitalized after testing positive for Covid-19. A source tells Sandrarose.com that Wendy can't have visitors due to her diagnosis.

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According to Wendy's brother, Tommy Williams, she is "fighting" to get well and resume her hosting duties on The Wendy Williams Show season premiere in October.

"I really do believe and have the faith that Wendy's going to make it... We've been hit just like other families. You know it's not easy [but] you got to dig yourself out, you got to hold on to the memories and we have some good ones.

"She's doing well. Stable. I've spoken with her, and we're hanging in there. She's hanging in there. We're praying. She's fighting."

However, another source close to Wendy Williams said the fully vaccinated host is "asymptomatic and not showing any signs of COVID-19." The source added that Wendy's mental health "continues to improve each day."

The Wendy Williams Show season premiere has been pushed back to October 4.

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Actor and comedian Anthony Johnson died after he was found lifeless in a store and rushed to a hospital earlier this month. He was 55.

His death was confirmed by his nephew, who told TMZ Johnson was pronounced dead at the hospital earlier this month. No cause of death was disclosed.

Anthony is best known for his comedic roles in Friday (1995), Menace II Society (1993) and The Players Club (1998).

Johnson's career took off in 1990 after he landed the role of E.Z.E. in House Party and he went on to do stand-up comedy in Los Angeles clubs.

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He also appeared in the films Lethal Weapon 3 and in nearly 50 films and TV shows, including Moesha, Martin, Malcolm & Eddie, and I Got the Hook Up and its sequel. It's also rumored Johnson was cast to reprise his role in the upcoming Last Friday.

Fans and colleagues paid tribute to Johnson on Twitter.com.