In the Heights hit theaters and HBO Max on June 11, and we are absolutely blown away by the incredible cast. While the film’s lead Anthony Ramos is already pretty well-known for his role in Hamilton, you probably found yourself wanting to know more about the actor who plays his best friend Benny, Corey Hawkins. I mean, we don’t blame you. Not only is he super talented with an incredible voice, but he’s pretty dreamy, too. Though the 32-year-old has starred in a handful of films and Broadway shows before, people are really loving his portrayal of Benny in In the Heights. Learn more about the charming actor ahead.
The HBO Max revival of Sex and the City, officially titled And Just Like That…, is set to begin production this summer, and it’ll be bringing some of your favorite characters back to TV several years since we first saw them! The big news, of course, is that one of the original quartet of stars will not be returning: Kim Cattrall, who played Samantha Jones and who famously has not had great relationships with her former SATC costars, will be sitting this one out.
However, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis are all slated to return, along with other old familiar faces and new characters. So far, only a few people have been confirmed as part of the cast – check them out here, then speculate away at who else might put in an appearance!
After playing the free-spirited Lyn on the Starz series Vida, Melissa Barrera is gracing our screens again, this time as Vanessa in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s long-awaited In the Heights movie. Melissa plays a hairdresser who has dreams of becoming a fashion designer and the love interest of Anthony Ramos’s character, Usnavi. The film doesn’t premiere until June 11, so why not get to know more about Melissa in the meantime? After all, she does seem to have a pretty cool life and she and her husband, Paco Zazueta, are very cute together. Keep reading for some fun facts about Melissa ahead of the In the Heights premiere.
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Seventeen years after the release of Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s docuseries The Staircase, the story of Kathleen Peterson’s death is being turned into show. On March 31, Variety reported HBO Max’s plans to adapt the case for an eight-part limited drama, also titled The Staircase. The recent casting news of Sophie Turner as Kathleen and Michael Peterson’s adopted daughter Margaret Ratliff has people already buzzing about the show’s cast. Joining Turner is Colin Firth as novelist Michael, Toni Collette as Kathleen, Rosemarie DeWitt as Kathleen’s sister Candace Zamperini, Parker Posey as prosecutor Freda Black, and Juliette Binoche in an undisclosed role.
The series is set to explore the life of the Peterson family in North Carolina, the circumstances surrounding Kathleen’s suspicious death, and Michael’s involvement. While it’s unclear just how much the infamous case the HBO Max show will cover, it comes from Christine director Antonio Campos and American Crime Story writer Maggie Cohn, so we have high expectations. Before The Staircase drops on HBO Max, likely in 2022, here’s what you need to know about the strange true story behind Kathleen’s murder.
The Death of Kathleen
On Dec. 9, 2001, Michael called 911 after supposedly discovering Kathleen lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of a staircase in their home. While on the phone, he told dispatchers that she was unconscious but still alive. However, by the time paramedics arrived, Kathleen was dead. He also told paramedics that Kathleen had been drinking that night, but experts found her blood alcohol content to be below the legal driving limit. Scientists also examined her body at the scene and found her injuries consistent with a death by homicide. These injuries included seven deep lacerations on her head, scrapes and bruises on her face, and a crushed thyroid. Blood drops were also found on Michael’s clothing along with a bloody shoe print on Kathleen’s sweatpants.
For motive, the prosecutors put forth the idea that Michael had murdered before and was looking to cash in on Kathleen’s $1.4 million life insurance policy. Investigators also discovered gay pornography on Michael’s computer, suggesting the idea that he and Kathleen had fought over his bisexuality. The defense brought in their own forensic expert, who argued the scene’s blood-spatter evidence was consistent with an accidental fall. The investigation and trial lasted two years, resulting in Michael’s conviction and a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In 2010, Duane Deaver, the state’s blood-spatter expert for the case, was accused of forensic incompetence. A judge then found that Deaver’s testimony had been both misleading and a former North Carolina attorney general stated that any evidence gathered while Deaver was at the scene could be inadmissible in a new trial. After spending eight years in prison and six years out on bond, Michael’s case concluded when he accepted an Alford plea to the lesser charge of manslaughter in 2017. An Alford plea concedes that the prosecution has sufficient evidence to convict but the defendant does not admit guilt. He was then sentenced to time already served.
The Other Murder
Prosecutors felt that Kathleen’s death was eerily similar to the death of Elizabeth Ratliff, the coworker of Michael’s first wife, Patty, and biological mother to his adopted daughters, Martha and Margaret. When Michael was being investigated for Kathleen’s murder, prosecutors took another look at the circumstances surrounding Elizabeth’s 1985 death in Germany, exhuming her body in 2003. A forensic pathologist that worked on Kathleen’s case, Deborah Radisch, came to the same conclusion she did with Kathleen and classified Elizabeth’s death as a homicide. While Elizabeth’s autopsy was updated to indicate that she died from homicidal assault, and prosecutors for Kathleen’s case used the evidence to draw parallels in court, Michael was never formally charged with her death.
Gossip Girl is officially back, and it looks like she hasn’t taken her eyes off the Upper East Side. On Friday, HBO Max dropped the teaser trailer for the upcoming reboot, which is set to premiere on July 8. “Secrets, secrets are no fun . . . unless they come from Gossip Girl,” the show teased. “She’s back and badder than ever. See you on the steps.” The spinoff series will be narrated by our OG Gossip Girl Kristen Bell, and based off the one-minute clip, it looks like it’s going to be full of glamour and drama, just like the original.
Although the trailer doesn’t reveal much, it does give us a glimpse of the main characters at a party who are suddenly taken aback when they receive an alert on their phones. “You’ve gotten so comfortable,” the voice-over says. “Thinking you’re in control of your image, your actions, the narrative. But you forgot one thing: I can see you.” Watch the trailer ahead. XOXO.