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‘Abby’s’ Star Natalie Morales: ‘I Didn’t Grow Up With Anybody Like Me on Television’

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Ever wish you could go to a bar where everybody knows your name?

No, we’re not talking about “Cheers.”

“Abby’s” is a new NBC comedy about a makeshift backyard bar where San Diego locals come to drink and find camaraderie. 

Leading lady Natalie Morales is believed to be the first Cuban star of a broadcast comedy since “I Love Lucy’s” Desi Arnaz and is playing one of the few openly bisexual characters of color on broadcast television.

‘Late Night’: Natalie Morales Tells an Embarrassing Story

[NATL] 'Late Night': Natalie Morales Tells an Embarrassing Story

When asked about the personal significance that holds, Morales said it was a “huge huge thing” for her. 

“I didn’t grow up with anybody like me on television, so it’s really incredible to be a part of that and maybe there’s some brown queer kid out there who’s watching TV and going like ‘Oh, that’s cool,'” she said. “That’s like a normal person, and it’s okay and it’s fine and they’re on television so it must be normal and fine. And they’re living their life and they have friends and people who love them. I think the more we normalize the people around us, the less divided we’ll be.”

Morales, like her character, also identifies as bisexual. In 2018, Morales was featured on Out magazine’s Out 100 list. The Abby character was written before casting, so her sexual orientation was already decided, but her Cuban heritage was added after Morales came onboard. 

‘Tonight’: Natalie Morales Gets Confused for NBC Name Twin

[NATL] 'Tonight': Natalie Morales Gets Confused for NBC Name Twin

Previous credits for the star include the HBO series “The Newsroom” as well as “Girls” and “Parks and Recreation,” in addition to films like “Battle of the Sexes” and Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Morales also starred in “Santa Clarita Diet” and recently directed an episode of “Room 104.”

But throughout her career, she has often been confused with NBC anchor Natalie Morales.

“It happens constantly,” she said. “It happened last week! The “Today” show tweeted at me thinking it was her. Her own show!”

As for the comparisons between her character and Ted Danson of “Cheers,” Morales feels that while flattering, the similarities end with the bar setting. “We are outdoors in San Diego as opposed to underground in Boston,” she said.

“There are a lot of hospital shows and a lot of courtroom shows, so I feel like we’re okay to have another show set in a bar 35 years after ‘Cheers,'” Morales added.

In the show, bar owner Abby (Morales) is a former staff sergeant in the Marines who still has a penchant for rules, as long as they’re of her own making. Cell phones are strictly not allowed and patrons must earn their seat at the bar. Sugary drinks are doled out as punishment for losing “challenges.”

Morales said what she likes about the show is that it depicts the characters as well-rounded and multi-faceted people. 

“I think that often times vets are depicted as though that’s the only thing about them and they’re rich, full people like everybody else,” Morales said. “That’s a big part of their lives, but it’s not the only thing.”

For the pilot, Abby’s bar comes under threat when the new landlord Bill (Nelson Franklin), drops in and discovers the illegal set up. With a bit of coaxing from the bar patrons, he agrees to let Abby keep the bar, as long as she makes a few changes.

The show is a 10-episode multi-camera sitcom filmed entirely outdoors in front of a live studio audience. The outdoor studio is located on the Universal Studios lot, beside Burbank airport. 

“Luckily it never rained, so that’s nice,” Morales said. “There are some sound issues sometimes, planes flying over and such but most of the time we really luck out.”

“Abby’s” was created by Josh Malmuth, a San Diego native. Abby’s bar primarily serves beer, something that the city of San Diego prides itself on. As an homage to the city’s craft beer culture, viewers may spot a few local San Diego beers on the tap. 

In real life, Morales prefers an old fashioned, she said. 

In addition to her acting career, Morales is an activist, advocating on behalf of Best Friends animal society and Everytown for Gun Safety’s Creative Council.

“It’s not about taking people’s guns away. It’s just about gun sense and gun safety,” Morales said.

“It’s an epidemic in our country and I think if we all come together on that and start to realize that and put people before weapons, I think we can get somewhere great.”

“Abby’s” airs on NBC Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. ET. 

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company to NBC and this station.

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Cosby Prosecutors Defend Accusers’ Testimony, Fight Appeal – NBC4 Washington

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Prosecutors who won a conviction in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case defended their work as they fight the imprisoned actor’s latest appeal.

Cosby, 82, has asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review trial rulings that let five other accusers testify for the prosecution at the 2018 retrial. The same type of “prior bad act” witnesses are testifying this month in movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial in New York.

An intermediate appeals court rejected Cosby’s initial appeal. The state Supreme Court does not have to hear the case.

Montgomery County prosecutors, in their response Thursday, said the testimony from other accusers showed that Cosby “intentionally isolated and intoxicated young women in a signature fashion, then sexually assaulted them.”

Cosby, long beloved as “America’s Dad” for his role in a top-ranked television sitcom in the 1980s, is serving a three- to 10-year prison term after the jury convicted him of drugging and molesting an acquaintance at his home.

Cosby has also long argued that he an agreement with a former prosecutor that he would never be charged over the 2004 encounter. However, the trial judge found no evidence that any promise made was legally binding, the suburban Philadelphia prosecutors argued in their response.

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Halsey Apologizes After Unintentionally Calling for Collapse of One World Trade Center – NBC4 Washington

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Halsey is clarifying a controversial comment she made on social media.

Earlier this week, Pitchfork shared their review of the singer’s new album. “Too much of this album sounds like the amorphous pop that you might associate with a miserable Lyft ride,” the tweet shared.

Ultimately, Halsey saw the review and chose to respond. “Can the basement that they run p*tchfork out of just collapse already,” she posted (then deleted) online.

While it may sound like a standard clap back, one follower couldn’t help but point out that the Pitchfork offices are at the One World Trade Center building in New York City.

“Losing my mind thinking about the person on Halsey’s team who had to tell her she just called for the collapse of One World Trade,” NBC News reporter Ben Kesslen pointed out online. Ultimately, Halsey realized she made a mistake and quickly deleted the post.

Musicians Performing Live on Stage

“ABSOLUTELY deleted it upon realizing this. Was just trying to make a joke! Intended zero harm,” the “Without Me” singer shared on the social media platform. “Just figured I could poke at them back with the same aloof passive aggression they poke at artists with! Clearly a misunderstanding.”

Social media posts aside, Halsey has big plans for the year ahead.

Earlier this month, the pop superstar announced she will be heading out on the North American leg of her Manic World Tour this summer. CHVRHES and Omar Apollo will serve as special guests.

And although many believe Halsey was snubbed out of nominations for the 2020 Grammys, the singer is still feeling grateful for the music she has been able to create.

“My fans, please do not waste your anger or frustration,” she shared shortly after the nominations were announced. “I see a lot of you are upset. Of course I’m sad too. None of it matters. Literally none of it. You’re here. I’m here. Plus everything is gonna stay exactly the same and without me is still a super tight, record breaking song.”

This story first appeared on eonline.com. More from eonline:

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Taylor Swift Talks Eating Disorder, Politics in Revealing New Documentary – NBC4 Washington

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The normally private Taylor Swift premiered an intimate documentary Thursday at the Sundance Film Festival in which the pop star discloses a past eating disorder, chronicles her inner battle over speaking forthrightly about politics and says her victorious 2017 sexual assault court case was a dramatic turning point in her life.

“Miss Americana,” a Netflix documentary directed by Lana Wilson, was one the most feverishly awaited films in this year’s Sundance program, and the premiere at the Eccles Center in Park City on the festival’s opening day was a predictably frenzied scene. Outside the theater, dozens of Swift fans sang in unison.

The film, which will debut Jan. 31 on Netflix, plays like a coming-of-age drama for a performer who — despite finding mega-fame as a teenager — took some time to truly find her voice. In the film, she says she always strove to be “a good girl” and needed approving “pats on the head” for any sense of gratification.

But “Miss Americana” captures an evolution in Swift.

“It’s time to take the masking tape off my mouth, like, forever,” she says in the documentary.

Swift entered the theater after the lights went down to watch the film and appeared afterward on stage in a brief Q&A with Wilson. While Swift said she was a big fan of movies and documentaries, this was a new experience for her. After a standing ovation, Swift turned to Wilson and said, “So I’ve never done this before. What do we do?”

One of the film’s most dramatic scenes shows Swift, eager to speak out against the 2018 Senate campaign of Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn, meeting with her family to discuss it. Her father warns against it, citing the potential economic impact. Her publicist later advises President Donald Trump might come after her. Indeed, when Swift posted on Instagram against Blackburn and urged young voters to register, Trump said he liked Swift’s music about 25% less — a response Swift mocks in the film.

On the Eccles stage, Swift said she grew more political after she countersued, and won, against a Denver radio DJ whom she said groped her during a meet-and-greet before a concert.

“It was a really horrible experience to have,” Swift said. “I had all the privilege in the world, financial support and the ability to pay for a brilliant lawyer. I won that trial but without all that, I don’t know what would have happened. It taught me so much.”

Swift also talks in the film about coming to terms with body image issues that grew out of scanning the countless images that are shot of her, and the comments posted on social media. Swift says she would sometimes go into “a hate spiral” and starve herself after seeing photos that she felt she looked overweight in.

“Miss Americana” includes plenty of intimate scenes of Swift at home or at work. She drinks white wine with ice cubes and didn’t try a burrito until a few years ago, we learn.

But a continuous thread through the documentary is of Swift, who last month turned 30, crafting music. In scenes by the piano or in the studio, Wilson captures Swift writing lyrics and honing melodies with a relentless passion.

Swift said she was most nervous about sharing her writing process with Wilson. But the filmmaker earned her trust.

“For so much of my life in the public eye when I get sad or upset or humiliated or angry or go through a really horrible time, I feel like people lean in with, like, this hunger. And you never did that to me,” said Swift to Wilson. “That was what made me feel OK about feeling sadness, humiliation and anger around you.”

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‘Bachelorette’ Contestant Tyler Gwozdz Dead at 29 After Apparent Overdose – NBC4 Washington

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Former “Bachelorette” contestant Tyler Gwozdz has passed away at the age of 29.

E! News has confirmed that the reality star, who competed on Hannah Brown‘s season of the dating series, has died. Gwozdz was hospitalized last week after a suspected overdose.

The Boca Raton Police Services Department previously confirmed to E! News that officers responded to a call for a suspected medical overdose at around 10:45 a.m. local time on Jan. 13. Gwozdz was then transported to the hospital.

PHOTOS: A Brief History of Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” Finales

TMZ previously reported that Gwozdz was admitted to the intensive care unit in a Florida hospital and remained there for about a week.

Bachelor Nation will remember “Tyler G.,” as fans called him, as an early stand-out on Brown’s “Bachelorette” season in 2019, where he received the first one-on-one date. However, shortly after becoming a fan favorite, Gwozdz suddenly left the show without much of a warning to Brown or his fellow contestants, other than he “had to leave.”

Brown has yet to comment on the passing of Gwozdz a psychology grad student.

Gwozdz’s last Instagram post was shared in September. In the photos, he can be seen with fellow Bachelor Nation stars, including Matt Donald, Dylan Barbour and Clay Harbor.

Our thoughts are with Gwozdz’s family during this heartbreaking time.

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Elton John, Erivo, Menzel, Metz Among Oscar Performers – NBC4 Washington

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The singers from five Oscar-nominated songs will reprise their performances live at next month’s Academy Awards.

Producers said Thursday that best actress nominee Cynthia Erivo, Elton John, Idina Menzel, Chrissy Metz and Randy Newman will perform during the Feb. 9 ceremony.

Erivo will sing “Stand Up” from “Harriet.” John will perform “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from “Rocketman.” Newman will sing “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from “Toy Story 4.”

Menzel will be joined by singer-songwriter Aurora to perform “Into The Unknown” from “Frozen II.” Chrissy Metz will sing “I’m Standing With You” from “Breakthrough.”

The show will also feature an appearance by Questlove and a guest-conducted segment from Eímear Noone, who is the first woman to conduct during an Oscars telecast.

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Ousted Grammy Chief Suggests Awards Are Tainted – NBC4 Washington

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The ousted head of the Grammy Awards says that music’s biggest awards are tainted because of conflicts of interest that affect how certain songs and artists are nominated.

Nevertheless, Deborah Dugan said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday that she plans to watch the Grammys this weekend.

Dugan was fired only months into her job as head of the Recording Academy and this week filed an explosive complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission that alleged she was sexually harassed and that the music organization was a “boy’s club” that favors friends. The academy, which has accused Dugan of misconduct, has said it has launched an investigation.

The personnel allegations had largely overshadowed Dugan’s charges about the integrity of the Grammys’ awards process — a huge problem given that its annual ceremony is set to be televised on CBS in three days.

“The system should be transparent and there are incidents of conflicts of interest that taint the results,” Dugan said on ABC.

Her complaint charged that a “secret committee” that decides who gets Grammy nominations contains people with business and personal relationships with artists, and that they push their favorites ahead. The Grammy membership generally selects 20 potential nominees in categories and internal committees whittle those lists down to the five or seven eventual nominees.

She charged that an artist who was ranked 18th out of 20 in the initial song of the year process last year got a nomination and the artist was actually on the committee that decided the nominees. The same artist, who Dugan did not identify, is represented professionally by someone on the Recording Academy board.

Dugan suggested the conflict was behind two notable snubs in the category, of songs performed by Ariana Grande and Ed Sheeran, although there has been some question about whether Grande had submitted her indelible hit, “Thank U, Next,” for the award.

Brandi Carlile, Kendrick Lamar and Lady Gaga were among the nominees for this award, which was won by “This is America,” performed by Childish Gambino.

In the category of jazz vocals, Dugan alleged that an artist nominated for an award participated in the nomination process. Again, she did not name the artist involved.

Overall, she said some 30 artists whose work was not chosen as a potential nominee by the Recording Academy membership were added to that list because they had personal or business relationships with people on the nomination committees or the Academy’s board.

Dugan also said that nominations were handed out to songs or albums because the producer of the annual awards show wanted them to be performed on the show.

Producer Ken Ehrlich did not answer a message seeking a response to Dugan’s allegations.

Despite her charges, Dugan said she’s watching Sunday because she worked very hard on the show and loves the artists who will be performing.

“I couldn’t say more positive things about all of the nominations and everyone that performs,” she said. “Oh, my God, I hate that I’m in this situation because I’d much rather be talking about the artists and their music.”

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