PETER TORK from THE MONKEES died yesterday, of complications from a rare, slow-growing form of head and neck cancer. He was 77. Peter was the group’s bassist, beginning in 1966 when the show launched – also sang a little. The Monkees have sold more than 75 million records worldwide. Among other things, Peter is known for contributing the piano introduction to “Daydream Believer”. Peter was the oldest member of the group. He was 24 when the show began. He was also the first to leave in 1969 by BUYING himself out of his contract. He reunited with the band four times and also toured with MICKY DOLENZ in recent years, without MICHAEL NESMITH. Peter is the second Monkee to die. DAVY JONES passed away in 2012 after suffering a massive heart attack. “Peter’s death comes almost exactly 10 years after he first revealed his cancer diagnosis. He documented his treatment on Facebook, so his ups and downs in the first year were fairly public.
Chicago Police say JUSSIE SMOLLETT staged his attack because he was unhappy with his “Empire” salary. They say he sent that racist, homophobic letter to HIMSELF on the set of the show . . . and when that didn’t get him the attention he wanted, he paid the Osundairo brothers to attack him. Not sure how he figured that would get him a raise. He turned himself in at 5:00 A.M. yesterday, and was released on $100,000 bond. He was ordered to surrender his passport. He’s facing up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine for falsifying a police report.
WILL SMITH announced an upcoming series of children’s books called “Fresh Princess” – inspired by “The Fresh Prince”. The books are about Destiny, a “cool, energetic, and strong-willed girl who approaches every day with her own signature style . . . until she moves to a brand-new neighborhood, where nothing looks quite the same as it did at her old house.” Will helped with the deal, but he ISN’T writing the books. The first book will be out on April 2nd, pre-order it HarperCollins.com for $18.99.
BROOKS & DUNN have revealed the track listing for their duets album, “Reboot”. It features 12 “younger stars” joining them for remakes of some of their biggest hits. KIX BROOKS said, “What’s intriguing to me is that we didn’t do any production meetings about how we might cut these things. We just went in, and it morphed in the process.” RONNIE DUNN said, “Each artist came at it from a different angle. When JON PARDI walked in, he said ‘I’m in, but we’re not changing anything”. and we didn’t musically, but his vocal speaks for itself.” Jon and Ronnie trade vocals on a new version of, “My Next Broken Heart”. Other tracks to look forward to include Kacey Musgraves on “Neon Moon” – “My Maria” with Thomas Rhett – and Midland joins them for “Boot Scootin’ Boogie”. “Reboot” drops April 5th.
FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE were on yesterday’s “Ellen”, and there were a couple of surprises. TYLER HUBBARD said that his daughter Olivia took her first steps . . . backstage – in the green room. And Ellen surprised Tyler and his wife Hayley with a gender reveal of their second child. BRIAN KELLEY and Ellen pushed a big red button sending blue streamers everywhere as a video board read, “It’s a boy.”
CARLY PEARCE will be keeping her stage name after she marries MICHAEL RAY. But she IS going to take his name legally. It’ll be on her driver’s license and other official documents. She’ll be signing stuff as Mrs. Carly Roach. That’s because his full name is Michael Ray Roach.
KACEY MUSGRAVES guest stars on a new song by JUDAH & THE LION. It’s called “Pictures” and it’s one of the tracks on their upcoming album, “Pep Talks”, which is out May 3rd.
TMZ found a video of Miranda Lambert’s husband, Brendan McLoughlin, from 2015, and he’s in full cop uniform dancing the “Cupid Shuffle” in Times Square. It was for an event during Pride Week.
A biopic about one of professional wrestling’s biggest stars is coming to the big screen. Chris Hemsworth is set to play wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan. Hogan will act as a consultant on the movie as well as an executive producer.
“How to Train Your Dragon 3” is out this weekend. It’s up against “Fighting with My Family”,
Sunday at 4:00 p.m. Eastern on ABC: A preview of the upcoming season of “American Idol”.
Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on ABC: “The (hostless) 91st Annual Academy Awards”.
Drew Barrymore is 44.
Julius Erving is 69.