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NBC pays ‘SNL’ audience to comply with COVID-19 restrictions

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Oct. 6 (UPI) — Each audience member for Saturday Night Live‘s season premiere walked out with a surprise $150 check.

A live audience of about 100 people attended the NBC sketch comedy show’s debut of its 46th season on Saturday live from Studio 8H in New York City’s Rockefeller Center.

New York’s COVID-19 guidelines prohibit live audiences at “media production activities,” including shows like SNL unless the audience is made up of paid cast, crew or employees.

Audience members requested free tickets through a third-party website earlier in the week.

Sean Ludwig, a freelance writer from Brooklyn, who attended Saturday’s live show said he and his fellow audience members were surprised by the $150 checks being handed out as they walked out the door.

SNL distributed the free tickets through the casting agency 1iota, but 1iota’s website did not mention compensation for audience members, prompting the state to issue a public warning Thursday, but NBC maintained that it had followed all the state guidelines and protocols.

Some of the free tickets were reserved for healthcare workers, who received a shout-out at the start of the show.

NBC was able to count the audience members as employees by paying them, which put the show in compliance with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, according to the state Department of Health.

SNL has confirmed that they followed the reopening guidance, including selecting audience members through a third-party screening and casting process and compensating them for their time as paid audience members,” Health Department spokesman Jonah Bruno said in a statement.

Among the strict protocols, they each received a rapid COVID-19 test as they entered Rockefeller Center and had to test negative before they could enter the studio. Audience members were also required to wear masks for the entire show and were seated in “pods” of seven, eight or nine people who requested tickets together.

The New York guidelines allow a paid live audience of up to 100 people or 25% of the audience capacity, whichever is lower.

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Watch: Joohoney takes the mic in ‘Psyche’ music video

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Oct. 21 (UPI) — South Korean singer and rapper Joohoney is back with a new music video.

The 26-year-old K-pop star, a member of the boy band Monsta X, released a video Wednesday for his song “Psyche.”

In the hardhitting “Psyche” video, Joohoney takes the mic, performs a dance and delivers a lengthy rap. The song explores the successes and failures of life.

“Psyche” appears on Joohoney’s new mixtape of the same name, released this month. The mixtape also features the songs “Intro: Ambition,” “DIA,” “Smoky,” “Dark & Cloudy” featuring Kim Boa, “King” and “Wingsuit” featuring Tem.

Monsta X shared behind-the-scenes photos from the “Psyche” music video set on Twitter.

Psyche is Joohoney’s first solo mixtape since DWTD, released in 2018.

Monsta X also consists of Shownu, Minhyuk, Kihyun, Hyungwon and I.M. The group will release its third studio album, Fatal Love, on Nov. 2.

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Vernon Davis cut from ‘Dancing with the Stars’ competition

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Oct. 19 (UPI) — Retired NFL player Vernon Davis was voted off of Season 29 of Dancing with the Stars in Los Angeles on Monday night.

Davis was partnered with professional dancer Peta Murgatroyd for the ABC competition series.

Charles Oakley, Carole Baskin, Anne Heche and Jesse Metcalfe were previously eliminated.

Still in the running for the coveted mirror-ball trophy are Cheer coach Monica Aldama, The Bachelorette alum Kaitlyn Bristowe, Selling Sunset star Chrishell Stause, actresses Skai Jackson and Justina Machado, reality TV stars Jeannie Mai and Nev Schulman, Backstreet Boys singer A.J. McLean, rapper Nelly and Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir.

Tyra Banks is the show’s host.

Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli and Derek Hough are the judges this season.

The Bachelorette‘s Hannah Brown and her pro partner Alan Bersten won Season 28 in November.

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‘Big Lebowski’ icon Jeff Bridges announces lymphoma diagnosis

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Oct. 19 (UPI) — Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges announced on social media Monday that he is battling cancer.

“As the Dude would say.. New S**T has come to light,” Bridges tweeted, referring to the iconic character he played in the 1998 comedy film, The Big Lebowski.

“I have been diagnosed with Lymphoma,” he added. “Although it is a serious disease, I feel fortunate that I have a great team of doctors and the prognosis is good. I’m starting treatment and will keep you posted on my recovery.

“I’m profoundly grateful for the love and support from my family and friends,” the 70-year-old actor concluded. “Thank you for your prayers and well wishes. And, while I have you, please remember to go vote. Because we are all in this together.”

Bridges is known for his roles in The Last Picture Show, Starman, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Fisher King, True Grit, Crazy Heart, The Giver and Hell or Highwater.

He is the son of the late screen star Lloyd Bridges and brother of actor Beau Bridges.

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