Chip & Joanna Gaines: Any Couple Can Have What We Have
Setbacks happen all the time with renovations and just weeks into their TV launch, the Magnolia Network found itself facing quite the snarl.
In early January, multiple homeowners who participated in the series Home Work—which premiered on the network Jan. 7—came forward to accuse Candis and Andy Meredith of renovations that fell short of expectations.
In interviews with Today, three pairs spoke about their alleged experiences with the Merediths in 2019, including couple Vienna and Robert Goates, who said they began working with the Merediths after responding to a casting call for Home Work. “They said they would be able to do more with our budget than what we would normally be able to do because it was supposed to look good for our budget, so we were like ‘Oh my gosh,'” Vienna stated, later adding, “We had a lot of questions and we had talked to some other contractors and professionals, and we would ask these questions: ‘Can you really do it in that timeline? Can you really do that budget?'”
The project ended up taking more time than anticipated and went “tens of thousands of dollars over” the initial plan. And though the Goates understood that the coronavirus pandemic and other challenges posed limitations, they ended up pulling the plug on the project in September 2020. Vienna said of the decision, “We were ready to be done.”
Vienna said she told Candis about their decision and the Home Work hosts promised they would return the $50,000 the couple initially paid but the Goates have yet to recuperate their money even after they hired an attorney, who created a payment plan for the Merediths.
Today cited a judgement, signed by Candis Meredith, that confirmed that as of Sept. 30, 2021, the Merediths owed the Goates family $39,537.94.
Candis confirmed to Today that she and her husband had worked with these families on their home renovations and “mistakes were made,” but stated they “never intended to hurt anybody.” (E! News reached out to the Merediths for comment, but have not heard back.)
Still, on Jan. 7, the Magnolia Network pulled the series so they could review the complaints.
Noam Galai/Getty Images for Shorty Awards
Following the announcement, the Merediths tearfully spoke out on Instagram, writing that they wish to provide “more context to a one-sided narrative.”
“We adamantly deny that we have ever stolen money from these clients, we haven’t defrauded ‘so many families,'” the pair said in their written statement, adding that they worked with licensed general contractors. “It is true that we are sometimes left with outstanding balances, but we always pay, even if it takes some time for us to make arrangements. To say anything otherwise is truly not ok.”
The couple added that general contractors allegedly “misallocated” funds but declined to name who they worked with, explaining, “We can’t fully defend anything without taking down so many others and ruining their livelihood.”
“We also have ‘receipts’ of things that have happened, working with general contractors can be so challenging and we have tried to carry as much of that burden from anyone we have consulted with at great personal cost to us financially, mentally and physically,” the Merediths continued, later claiming they “have not made a single penny from the hundreds and hundreds of hours we have invested in [clients’] projects.”
Though now they have a chance to rebuild.
In a Jan. 14 statement, Magnolia Network President Allison Page confirmed the show will continue to air on the network, explaining in a statement issued Friday, Jan. 14, “Magnolia Network is dedicated to sharing hopeful and genuine stories. In doing that, we strive to meet people with compassion and to cautiously approach difficult moments with honest understanding.”
“After speaking with homeowners as well as Candis and Andy Meredith regarding renovation projects for Home Work, and hearing a mix of both positive and negative experiences, we do not believe there was ill or malicious intent,” she continued. “Our commitment now is to provide appropriate resolutions for those whose experience with Home Work fell short of our network’s standards.”
Moving forward, she acknowledged the network “can better support not only our talent, but those who put their trust in them and this brand.”
And though multiple clients were disappointed by their experience with the Merediths, at least one is still living for her renovation.
“Many of you know that I had to wait longer than I would have liked for my reading cottage to get finished, but ultimately I love what they did and would have done it all over again (even knowing how long it would take),” Home Work participant Jeana Quigley wrote on Instagram. “This little space brings me so much joy! But I don’t like people being canceled (however, I admit they did get in a little in over their heads). I don’t think their intentions were to hurt or steal from anyone, but they simply couldn’t take on all the projects they were trying to. I was able to wait and did get what I’d hoped for all along as the design turned out beautiful.”
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Proud Boy Brawler ‘Tiny’ Toese Jailed on Felony Charges in Washington State
Tusitala “Tiny” Toese — an infamous Proud Boy street brawler who was shot in the leg during a violent clash with antifascist protesters this summer in Olympia, Washington — has been arrested and jailed on felony warrants from both Washington state and Oregon.
Toese was booked into the Thurston County, Washington, jail system on Jan. 5 and is being held not far from the state Capitol. He faces three Washington state charges: Assault in the third degree, a felony, as well as obstructing a law enforcement officer and criminal trespass in the second degree, both gross misdemeanors.
Toese is also being held for extradition to Oregon on a warrant for a litany of serious charges, including three counts of assault in the second degree, three charges of assault in the third degree, two charges of riot — all felonies — as well as two charges of criminal mischief, and two unspecified weapons charges.
Despite Toese’s high profile as a right-wing militant, his arrest was not announced to the media. And details about what specific acts he has been charged for are not yet public. Neither the Thurston County prosecutor nor clerk responded to requests for Toese’s charging documents. The jail offers only sparse details, saying Toese was first arrested in a different jurisdiction: “He was brought in from another facility,” says Ken Rhoades, corrections technician with Thurston County. “I don’t know from what facility.”
While the specifics remain cloudy, there’s little doubt that the charges stem from Toese’s frequent and high-profile street fights with anti-fascists. Toese, who reportedly stands 6’ 4” and weighs nearly 300 pounds, goes by the nickname “Tiny.” He is in his mid twenties and a resident of Vancouver, Washington. And he has been a fixture at violent street protests in the Pacific Northwest in recent years. He has been affiliated with both the Proud Boys, as well as with a local far-right group called Patriot Prayer; both groups make sport of clashing with Antifa in the streets. (A Patriot Prayer member was killed on the streets of Portland in 2020, allegedly by the Antifa activist Michael Reinoehl, who was later gunned down by federal marshals, in an act President Trump touted as “retribution.”)
Toese has previously been jailed for charges stemming from a 2018 assault. Notwithstanding his criminal record, Toese has also reportedly served as sergeant-at-arms for the Clark County Washington GOP, providing security for local republican officials.
As Rolling Stone reported in a feature last summer about how the Pacific Northwest is turning into a proving ground for violent clashes between political militants of the far right and -left, Toese appeared at an (ironically named) “Summer of Love” event in Portland last August. It quickly degenerated into a brawl between right-wing militants and anti-fascists, and Toese was photographed riding around in the back of a red pickup truck with a paintball gun.
As the summer’s “fighting season” dragged on, Toese showed up at a right-wing anti-vax event in Olympia, the capital of Washington state. There, amid clashes between right wingers and black-bloc activists, Toese was shot in the leg. An independent journalist captured the aftermath:
Tiny of the #ProudBoys has been shot here in Olympia, Washington. The shooting took place .8 miles away from the state Capitol, after Proud Boys pursued #Antifa Black Bloc- who showed up within a square block of a Medical Freedom protest. pic.twitter.com/QMZxFasWRJ
— Jeremy Quinn (@JLeeQuinn) September 4, 2021
Officials in Oregon could not immediately be reached to discuss the charges facing Toese in Multnomah County, where Portland is located.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
Sex, Violence and Dali Masks: In Praise of ‘Money Heist,’ Netflix’s Crossover-Hit Crime Soap Opera
“My name is Tokyo…”
In the grand tradition of heist crews — and books/movies/TV shows about crooks coming together to pull off a big winner-take-all job — no one uses their real names. They are known only by cities. Those two burly, bearded guys? That’s Helsinki and Oslo. The Romani with a first-rate take-no-shit glare? She’s Nairobi. The baby-faced hacker is Rio, the father-son team go by Moscow and Denver, and the impeccably dressed gent who’ll turn out to be a bit of a sociopath (there’s one in every gang) answers to Berlin. And the young woman pointing a gun at the camera in the very first scene, already on the lam from the law? Meet Tokyo. She’s going to be your narrator over the next five seasons.
None of them are actually from those places, mind you; they’re all either Spanish or Serbian. It’s just that crafting code names using colors is so 1992, numbers aren’t a feasible option and planets are out of the question because no one wants to be “Mr. Uranus.” So cities it is. As for the mastermind who’s brought all of them together, the quiet, socially awkward guy with the glasses? He’s the Professor. The man with the plan intends to have his associates don Salvador Dali masks and red jumpsuits, enter the Royal Mint of Spain, and rob the joint. He knows it won’t be an easy in-and-out job. He’s well aware that the police (notably Raquel, the female officer heading up the response team), the government, and the media will be watching their every move. And the Professor understands that while all of this is happening, he’ll be able to execute his real caper, which is a lot more complicated than what appears to be happening on the surface….
You could call the Spanish TV show Money Heist a serial crime thriller, a bullet-pocked soap opera, an epic love story or, depending on your perspective regarding genres, a makeshift family drama and a pitch-black workplace comedy. What it is above all else, however, is a massive international crossover hit, and the sort of flex that’s allowed Netflix to both sell foreign-language entertainment in America and bingeable programming around the world. Originally a two-season, 15-episode series titled La Casa de Papel that aired on Spain’s Antena 3 channel in 2017, writer-producer Álex Pina’s story of a stand-off between smooth criminals and the state was purchased by the streaming service, diced up into 22 smaller installments and unleashed upon an unsuspecting global public. The result was so immediate that Netflix then commissioned three more seasons, complete with lavish budgets and blockbuster-level set pieces. What started as a popular regional show that went out with a whimper — viewership in Spain dropped by half during the original run of its second half — turned into a phenomenon that’s inspired copycat crimes and real-life resistance symbology.
And any attempt to describe what the creators and cast have crammed within the format of a typical caper story structure risks turning into a Stefon NYC club recommendation. This series has it all: Shoot-outs, stand-offs and screaming matches. A criminal chessmaster who always thinks 15 moves ahead. A Heat-style cop-versus-criminal scenario, only this time the De Niro counterpart is actively seducing the Pacino character. An insanely photogenic ensemble of actors. Not one but two major robberies, and mini-heists within the main heists. Drunken twerking, Stockholm-syndrome stripteases and a group dance-off to James Brown’s “Sex Machine.” A sympathetic, multidimensional trans character (albeit one played by a cisgender performer). A decades-old Italian anti-fascist song (“Bella Ciao”) resurrected as a chart-topping dance hit, and a pithy, slightly off-color description of quick-and-dirty hook-ups (“Boom, boom, ciao!”).
But wait, there’s more. Later seasons feature a blimp that rains money over downtown Madrid, discussions about the ethical ramifications of state-sanctioned torture and the fragility of the global economy, and a pregnant police inspector who admires Putin. Crew members come and go; you witness the death of several major characters, though that doesn’t stop them from returning in a narrative that prizes flashbacks, flip-forwards and a fast, loose approach to timelines. There are chase scenes, elaborate action sequences and a protracted siege that feels lifted from a war movie. “Good” guys become “bad” guys and vice versa, via double crosses, triple-crosses, quadruple-crosses. Violence? There’s lots of it. Sex? Lots and lots of it. The pile-up of plot twists within any given episode becomes dizzying. At certain points during Money Heist‘s five-season run, it doesn’t seem to jump the shark so much leap over an entire water park full of Great Whites. Prestige TV this is not.
Yet despite — or possibly because of — the sheer volume of ridiculous, logic-straining turns, Heist has not only translated well outside of Spain, it’s managed to become one of the single most watched shows around the world. Prior to Squid Game, the equally popular dystopian thriller from South Korea, the show was Netflix’s number-one foreign-language series by a large margin. (And in an act of God-level corporate synergy, Squid Game‘s Park Hae-soo will soon star in a South Korean version of the show, produced by Pina for Netflix.) And given the fact that the streaming service quietly dropped the first two seasons of the show shortly after it had concluded its run on Antena without any promotion whatsoever, the sudden broadening of its fanbase came as a shock. Virtually overnight, the show’s ensemble cast became stars and those Dali masks replaced the “Anonymous” Guy Fawkes masks as the face of worldwide rebellion. By the time the second part of the final season dropped in December of 2021, the series had won numerous awards and been the most-viewed television program in a half-dozen countries across Europe and Latin America. It was the most organic example of a Netflix bump imaginable, a word-of-mouth hit thanks to a lingua franca of style, a hot cast and a subversive anti-authoritarian streak.
That last aspect might be key to understanding why a Spanish “event” TV show which slightly petered out before its conclusion became such a worldwide sensation. A key part of the Professor’s plan is to turn his gang in to folk heroes — and by keeping the public on their side, they can keep the police and the military from storming the gates, should the presence of hostages stop being a deterrent. Never mind that they are, for practical purposes, a for-profit criminal organization, or the eventual revelation that the Professor has a very personal reason for staging this raiding of the country’s royal mint (and, later, the Bank of Spain). They brand themselves as both modern-day Robin Hoods and capital-R Resistance fighters, strategically using the media and surveillance tactics as a form of moral jujitsu against the state; the exposure of documents that indict Spain and other E.U. countries in war crimes and other dodgy activities plays a key part in the third season. They become the “good guys” by comparison.
Once you get into the Netflix-produced seasons, with their cash-infused production design and globetrotting location shoots, you can feel the show retrofitting that aspect — the gang members are now internationally recognized as outlaws who stuck it to the man, the Dali visage as meme-to-logo–friendly as Shepard Fairey street art or Che Guevara t-shirt. Actual activists and protestors in the Middle East, Asia and the U.S. had already adopted the red jumpsuits and masks as a uniform after Money Heist first took off, and the show then amplified that back to viewers. It became a melodrama with a built-in sense of one-size-fits-all rebellion. In Spain, critics might have singled out the pop resistance stance as a reaction to the country’s austerity measures or financial instability on the continent. Once Heist began playing in other regions, however, those audiences could view the Casa de Papel gang’s flipped bird as a mirror to their own issues, whether it was standing up for human rights, standing against totalitarianism or repression, you name it. It was possible to indulge in the usual wish-fulfillment you get with grand escapist entertainment — who wouldn’t be stage an elaborately complex heist and look impossibly cool while doing it, before retiring to your own tropical island? — while plugging in your own subjective machine to rage against. It may have taken stances against sanctioned torture, but the show’s overall political stance was a sexier version of this.
Still, that doesn’t explain how Money Heist managed to conquer the world in record time, or made the seismic impact it’s made everywhere from North Africa to South America. Or how it’s propulsive mix of high melodrama and lowbrow pulp, combined with a slew of genre mash-ups and relentless hit-or-miss twists — we’re still unsure why one already-established bad guy had to inexplicably become a sexual predator in addition to a standard heel — managed to strike a chord with American audiences, even ones weened on post-Reservoir Dogs pomo heist flicks. The fact that the dubbed version seemed to have an edge on its original-language iteration in the U.S. may make those of us who view subtitles as a necessity rather than a hindrance gnash our in teeth in frustration, yet if Netflix’s numbers are to be believed, the show seems to be making audiences more receptive to their foreign programming overall. (Money Heist crawled so Squid Game could sprint.)
Several of its stars have become bankable outside of Spain as well: Úrsula Corberó, who plays Tokyo, showed up a music video for the J.Balvin/Bad Bunny/Duo LIpa cut “Un Dia” and now has a recurring role in the G.I. Joe franchise; you can catch Álvaro Morte, the charismatic actor who plays the Professor, in Amazon’s bid for the GoT fantasy bullseye, The Wheel of Time. A spin-off series for Pedro Alonso’s Berlin character is in the works, and we assume other beloved characters from the show will drop by as well. Yet to dig into the fit-to-burst, crime-pays telenovela that first brought them to our attention, as it swerves from thriller to romance to camp to black comedy to WTF face-palming cliffhangers, is to feel like you’ve inhaled a gateway drug of sorts. Like the Spanish-Italian “Spaghetti” Westerns of the 1960s and early ’70s that took a familiar set of genre conventions and Euro-subverted them for their own means, Pina and Co.’s series feels like it bending and banging around heist-movie stories in order to make them its own. For every wrong move it makes, it gives you a dozen reasons to feel giddy over its sheer audacity and how high its getting off its own genre fumes. It manages to keep stealing you back to its side. That’s the real heist.
Abby Lee Miller Sues Hampton Inn and Suites, Says Falling Door Crushed Her
Abby Lee Miller Sues
Your Door Pinned Me in Wheelchair!!!
Goes After Hampton Inn for Millions
1/18/2022 1:15 PM PT
Abby Lee Miller endured a painful nightmare when a hotel door fell over on her, crushing her for nearly a dozen minutes … according to the lawsuit she just filed.
The “Dance Moms” maven says she was staying at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Santa Monica back in August 2020 when she wheeled herself into the bathroom of her room. Remember, Abby’s been in a wheelchair since 2018 due to her lymphoma battle.
In docs obtained by TMZ, Abby says she was leaving the bathroom when her back left wheel got caught under the sliding bathroom door — and when she attempted to free herself, the more than 300-pound door came crashing down. She says she was pinned in her wheelchair and trapped in the doorway for 6 to 12 minutes.
According to the suit, Abby screamed for help until 2 hotel staffers came to lift the door off of her. She was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, and Abby says she’s still going through physical therapy for the injuries she suffered to her head and shoulder.
The alleged falling door would’ve been more than enough trauma, but in the docs, Abby says she endured other hardships during an extended stay from March to October 2020. For instance, she claims the laundry room was not accessible to wheelchairs, her hallway was often blocked by housekeeping carts … and she was unable to open doors to the pool or gym areas, presumably due to her disability.
Abby is suing the hotel’s parent corporation for negligence, emotional distress, discrimination and false imprisonment … and she’s seeking compensation of at least $8.5 million.
We’ve reached out to Hampton Inn & Suites, but no word back yet.
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