A former Today show staff member is detailing an alleged in-office affair with Matt Lauer that transpired 16 years ago.
In a piece for Variety published Thursday, Addie Zinone (née Collins) says her relationship with former Today show anchor Lauer — who was fired at the end of November by NBC News after the network received a “detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior,” with reason to believe “this may not have been an isolated incident” — began in 2000. Following her internship at the Today show, Collins was offered a job as an NBC News production assistant in 1999.
That same year, the West Virginia native landed an anchor position at WDTV Channel 5 in her hometown. With just weeks left of her position at NBC, Zinone says she received a message from Lauer — who was in his 40s and newly married to wife Annette Roque — on the morning of June 8, in which he told her “you look fantastic.” She says she thanked him and asked if she could “get a little advice” from him prior to her departure from the network, to which Lauer agreed. (Variety obtained photos of the messages.)
Lauer’s representatives did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
On July 12, Zinone, who was 24 at the time, allegedly received another message from Lauer: “OK…NOW YOU’RE KILLING ME…YOU LOOK GREAT TODAY! A BIT TOUGH TO CONCENTRATE.” Zinone initially thought it wasn’t Lauer, but he allegedly confirmed that it was him, and the duo set up lunch for the next day.
“We went to lunch. My intentions were purely professional. I thought this was a way to get real-world constructive advice. What that turned into was an opportunity for him to come on to me. It was flattering, confusing, overwhelming. I was nervous. I didn’t know what to do with it. He was clearly trying to guide the conversation. He was there to hit on me and manipulate the situation, and I fell for it,” Zinone says. “Here’s how I should have known what I was getting myself into. When we left, he told me: ‘You leave first, and I’ll leave after.’ In no lunch I’d ever had at Today had anyone suggested we leave separately, as if something was up.”
When they arrived back at the office, Zinone says she “couldn’t concentrate” and sent a message to Lauer, who allegedly told her to meet her in the studio dressing room, where their sexual encounters began.
“It happened in his dressing room above studio 1A, which was empty in the afternoons,” Zinone says. “He got in his car and I had to go back to work, and now my life had completely changed.”
According to Zinone, “it was a whirlwind. Over the next few weeks, we met several other times.”
She also details a time that Lauer, now 59, allegedly asked her to come to his office, where he pushed the button from his desk that shut the door. “It was embarrassing, because his secretary was sitting outside. He wanted to do stuff. I was like, ‘No. I’m so in over my head. I’m not a performance artist.’ ” (NBC previously told PEOPLE that many executives have the buttons.)
The last time that Zinone claims she saw Lauer was at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in California, when he allegedly told her to meet him in a nearby bathroom, where they proceeded to have “an encounter.”
“He was like, ‘Alright. I’ll see you later.’ He had no interest in making sure I was cool,” says Zinone, who admits that the encounter “took its toll” on her both physically and emotionally.
After Zinone had begun her anchoring position at WDTV Channel 5, she claimed that a National Enquirer staffer was waiting for her in the driveway of her home; she told the reporter she and Lauer “were just friends.” Zinone says she reached out to Lauer, who allegedly responded in writing with “Who did you tell?” and proceeded to “ghost” her.
“What happened with Matt held me hostage. I was under his spell. It was all-consuming. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t concentrate,” says Zinone, now 41.
For Zinone, who is now married and shares two children with her husband, the experience was “so traumatic that I quit” and she entered into a state of depression. After leaving her broadcast position, Zinone enlisted in the army and discovered that she could be a member of the Army Reserve. In 2003, she took a job at Access Hollywood; three months later, she was was deployed to Iraq for a year. Upon returning, she worked both as a correspondent and field producer for Access.
Five years later, Zinone was deployed to Iraq for a second time in 2008 when she says she received a call from Maria Menounos, who was a Today correspondent at the time. Menounos told Zinone that she wanted to pitch her as a story. But when Zinone returned to the U.S. from Iraq, Menounos called and told her that a producer at Today said, ” ‘We’re not going to cover her. Addie said something bad about the show.’ ”
“I was in complete disbelief. I had never met that producer, nor had I ever had anything negative to say about Today,” says Zinone. “That’s when I knew I could never get rid of this thing.”
Although Menounos’ pitch was allegedly squashed, Zinone was invited back to the Today show after former NBC News president Steve Capus saw her at dinner banquet in Philadelphia, where she was inducted into Temple University’s Lew Klein Alumni in the Media Hall of Fame. Lauer was also awarded that same evening.
In honor of Veteran’s Day, Zinone returned to the Today show with her husband to be interviewed by Curry; Lauer allegedly didn’t show up to work that day.
“Even though my situation with Matt was consensual, I ultimately felt like a victim because of the power dynamic. He knew that I was leaving, and that there was no better prey than somebody who is going to be gone. He went after the most vulnerable and the least powerful — and those were the production assistants and the interns,” says Zinone, who adds that Lauer, “felt like he was untouchable.”
Although Zinone says it was “not an easy choice” to come forward with her story, she put her “name and face out there to squash any doubts about the allegations from other women against Matt Lauer. I’m validating their stories because some of our experiences are similar. I want these women to know that I believe them, I want to help empower them and collectively we have a voice to change things.”
“The things that Matt Lauer did to me, there are men doing to other women. Although it wasn’t a crime in my case, it’s still not right,” says Zinone. “Matt took advantage of his power. It’s sickening. It breaks my heart that he did this for so long.”
Lauer addressed the original allegations in a statement last month.
“There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions,” he said. “To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this, I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC.
“Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly.”
“Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching, and I’m committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full time job. The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It’s been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace.”
Following his dismissal from the Today show, several insiders have told PEOPLE that the veteran morning host was allegedly often unfaithful to Roque, whom he wed in 1998 after meeting on a blind date and shares three children with: sons Jack, 16, and Thijs, 11, and daughter Romy, 14.
“He regularly cheated on his wife,” one source claimed. “Everyone knew. His wife lives in the Hamptons and he lives in the city, but we never heard he made unwanted moves.”
A former Today staffer echoed the first source’s claims, telling PEOPLE, “Everyone on staff knew he cheated regularly on his wife.”
Though Lauer and Roque are no longer wearing their wedding rings, an insider told PEOPLE that the parents of three are still under one roof and together.
The post Ex-Today Staffer Says Matt Lauer Cheated on His Wife with Her: He 'Took Advantage of His Power' appeared first on News Wire Now.
‘Visionary’ music producer Sophie dies aged 34
Sophie, the Grammy-nominated experimental pop musician and producer, has died aged 34 following a “sudden accident” in Athens.
The Glasgow-born artist worked with the likes of Madonna and Charli XCX.
In a statement, Sophie’s management said the musician had died at around 04:00 on Saturday in the Greek capital, where she had been living.
“Sophie was a pioneer of a new sound, one of the most influential artists in the last decade,” they said.
A further statement from Sophie’s record label Transgressive, explained how the “terrible accident” had occurred.
“True to her spirituality she had climbed up to watch the full moon and slipped and fell,” they posted online. “She will always be here with us.”
“The family thank everyone for their love and support and request privacy at this devastating time.”
Sophie was also known as a transgender icon, after affirming their identity in the 2017 video for It’s Okay To Cry.
The artist’s management said she would be remembered “not only for ingenious production and creativity but also for the message and visibility that was achieved. An icon of liberation”.
Sophie’s innovative productions drew on pop, trance and underground dance music, mixing them with warped, disorientating waveforms to create a sound that was both instantly recognisable and highly in-demand.
Madonna sought Sophie out to co-produce the 2015 single Bitch, I’m Madonna; while Charli XCX worked with the musician on her abrasive, avant-garde EP, Vroom Vroom and the hit single After The Afterparty.
Sophie’s debut album, Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, followed in 2018, exploring questions of identity, non-conformity and reinvention, while expanding her trademark sound with longer, more explorative tracks.
“Crossing boundaries of pop music and chasing transcendence, Sophie achieves the rare feat of making abstract, difficult electronic music that hits you straight in the heart,” wrote the NME in a four-star review.
The album was subsequently nominated for a Grammy for best dance/electronic album.
French pop act Héloïse Letissier, aka Christine and the Queens led the tributes to the late star, whose full name was Sophie Xeon.
Writing on Twitter, Letissier described Sophie as a “stellar producer”, “a visionary”, and “a pioneer”.
“She rebelled against the narrow, normative society by being an absolute triumph, both as an artist and as a woman” she added.
London-based Japanese singer Rina Sawayama echoed those sentiments, calling Sophie an “icon”. “The world and our community has lost a beautiful soul,” she tweeted.
Guitar hero Nile Rodgers said she was an “innovative”, “dynamic”, and “warm” person.
“Heart-breaking news,” added singer Sam Smith.
“The world has lost an angel. A true visionary and icon of our generation. Your light will continue to inspire so many for generations to come.”
After being given the Innovator gong at the Association of Independent Music (AIM) Awards in 2018, Sophie used the platform to promote trans rights.
“To be truly deserving of this award involved not only changing the sound of today’s music, but also ripping apart a deeply entrenched and deeply flawed patriarchal society,” said the producer while collecting the award.
“Creating a more diverse, inspiring and meaningful future for us and the generations whose lives our decisions affect and help shape.”
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-55860938
Ralph & Russo put Dubai on the fashion map
Ralph & Russo is an international luxury fashion brand known for its designs that are described as both contemporary and timelessly elegant. The brand was created in London in 2010 by Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo. In 2014, it became the first British guest member in almost 100 years to be invited by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture to show their first runway collection as part of the Spring/Summer season.
In an inclusive interview with founders, Tamara and Michael, Euronews’ Jane Witherspoon got the lowdown on the iconic brand.
How did the brand come about, what did you want that brand to stand for?
Tamara Ralph: It really grew out of a passion for luxury and craftsmanship and design. I come from four generations of fashion and haute couture in my family. And when we had a chance meeting, it was something that we talked about, setting up a luxury brand. And we always had a vision to have a global luxury brand.
You were invited to join the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris, the first British brand to showcase a Fashion Week in almost 100 years.
Tamara Ralph: It was really quite a big milestone and the first Australians ever to be invited. And you know it was always something that was very important for the brand. To be recognised by the Chambless Syndicale was an incredibly important achievement.
We had obviously, the support of Didier Grumbach, at the time who was the president and was actually responsible for discovering a lot of the big names in fashion and nurturing their careers. So it was wonderful to have the support.
How do you personally define couture?
Tamara Ralph: Couture is an art. You know, all of our clients that purchase couture, they purchase it for generations. It’s really something that’s an investment. It’s like a piece of jewellery. It’s something that you’ll pass down and keep forever. And for us, that’s really special.
How have dressmaking techniques changed over the years? How have you adopted the changes? Have you stayed traditional?
Tamara Ralph: So we have a really big atelier, actually, that specialises in the couture side. And then we have obviously craftsmen in the house that specialise in other product categories, such as ready to wear and things like that. But in the couture atelier, there’s forty-five languages spoken. There’s ages ranging from 16 all the way up until the 60s. And it’s really nice to have that mix of the old techniques get more modern applications and things like that. We like to push and constantly innovate. We run apprentice programmes in-house where we can train and develop and innovate as well. So that’s really important.
You’ve dressed many wonderful clients, like Meghan Markle. Is that a challenge? How exciting or daunting is it?
Tamara Ralph: No, I think it was very it was very exciting, obviously, you know.
I think it was such an iconic moment because obviously not just because of the two of them, but also because of her choice of piece for the day, which was, you know, a little bit different to what I think, you know, some people were expecting. And I think that’s nice. It showed her personality. It pushed the boundaries.
Do your clients have much input if you’re designing something specific and special for them, or do you come up with the idea and see it through to completion?
Tamara Ralph: Both
Michael Russo: We’ve had some really diverse celebrity moments from stage outfits for Beyonce to the costume outfits for Angelina Jolie, for Maleficent. It’s been so diverse. So the challenge is always there.
Tamara Ralph: Yeah but also I think with clients, all of our private clients, it’s a very personal experience, you know, no matter if they’re a celebrity or a private client. And, you know, we love to guide them and be part of the process and be very involved.
How hard has it been to showcase virtually?
Tamara Ralph: It was an evolution, that’s for sure. I think that it’s difficult to create the connection that you have with the physical show. I think that was something that was the hardest part to kind of keep, alive. But I loved the innovations and things.
I thought it was very interesting just to push the boundaries with digital, to play with new ideas. But, you know, I think that the traditional fashion shows are still very important and are important to get that sense of what the collection is about, So, you know, a balance of both going forward. I think one is just as important as the other.
Why did you choose to launch in Dubai?
Michael Russo: Well, I think Dubai has got such a multicultural following, and I think for us as well, it’s a product that’s well suited for the market.
It’s got a customer base that’s very akin to Ralph & Russo and well known to Ralph & Russo. For us in this region, it was definitely our first flagship in the region.
Would you say you have a different clientele in Dubai?
Michael Russo: I think in Dubai we find that there’s a lot of tourists here and those tourists are typically Ralph Russo clients already. So the products that we’re offering here are still akin to the ones that we use worldwide and I think relevant to our worldwide customer as well as the local market. So I think it’s a nice little mix of local and international clients.
Do you think that the fashion scene in Dubai is growing? How does it compare to known fashion cities like New York, Milan, London and Paris.
Tamara Ralph: Well, I think it’s definitely, you know, integral to the Gulf region. Yeah, you know, it’s really the hub of the region. It’s so incredibly international. And I think, you know, it’s a huge destination for fashion for the region. So, yeah, I think it’s incredibly important.
You’re about to become a mum for the first time, how is that going to change your work-life balance?
Tamara Ralph: Yeah, of course. I mean, it teaches you definitely to kind of find that balance, which I think I probably didn’t have before. And so, you know, I have a great team.
You know, we have an amazing support structure internally in the company. And we’ll find a way, you know, and plus it might be a chance to kind of venture into a full fledged childrenswear line. You know, well, I’m having a girl, so now we have our first model.
You’re expanding into accessories, are there beauty lines down the line?
Tamara Ralph: What’s been amazing actually through, just before Covid and also through Covid is, you know, a few different things. We were able to kind of reset our thinking, focus on what we’d like to achieve in the next couple of years. And so, you know, cosmetics and beauty is something we’re very interested in. Home and furnishings and everything connected to that sector is actually something that we’ve been slowly putting in the works for a little bit of time.
Michael Apted: TV documentary pioneer and film-maker dies aged 79
Film director Michael Apted, best known for the Up series of TV documentaries following the lives of 14 people every seven years, has died aged 79.
He also directed Coal Miner’s Daughter, Gorillas In The Mist and the 1999 Bond movie The World Is Not Enough.
The original 7 Up in 1964 set out to document the life prospects of a range of children from all walks of life.
The show was inspired by the Aristotle quote “give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man”.
The first 7 Up show was followed by 14 Up at the start of the next decade, which interviewed the same children as teenagers – and the pattern was set right up until 63 Up in 2019.
Throughout all those intervening years ITV viewers became engrossed with the stories of private school trio Andrew, Charles and John, of Jackie who went through two divorces, of Nick who went from jobless and homeless to Liberal Democrat councillor, and of working class chatterbox Tony, whose life ambition was to become a jockey.
Apted’s shows – which won three Bafta awards – have often been described as the forerunner of modern-day reality TV series, giving its participants the time to tell their own stories on screen.
But unlike their modern counterparts, the original Up children tended to fade away from the limelight in the seven years between each chapter.
In 2008, Apted was made a companion of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to the British film and television industries.
Thomas Schlamme, president of the Directors Guild of America, said Apted was a “fearless visionary” whose legacy would live on.
He said Apted, who was born in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, “saw the trajectory of things when others didn’t and we were all beneficiaries of his wisdom and lifelong dedication”.
ITV’s managing director Kevin Lygo said the director’s six-decade career was “in itself truly remarkable”.
He said the Up series “demonstrated the possibilities of television at its finest in its ambition and its capacity to hold up a mirror to society and engage with and entertain people while enriching our perspective on the human condition”.
“The influence of Michael’s contribution to film and programme-making continues to be felt and he will be sadly missed,” Lygo added.
Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, producers of the James Bond film franchise, said Apted “was a director of enormous talent” and “beloved by all those who worked with him”.
“We loved working with him on The World Is Not Enough and send our love and support to his family, friends and colleagues,” they said.
A post on the Twitter account of the band Garbage, who performed the theme for The World Is Not Enough, labelled Apted a “delightful, charming soul”.
Composer David G Arnold, who composed the Bond theme and worked with Apted on three other non-Bond movies, said he felt “lucky” to work with him.
“A more trusting, funny, friendly and, most importantly, kind, person you’d never meet. So pleased to have known him and so sad that he’s gone,” Arnold wrote on Twitter.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-55597263
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