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Sesame Street has a new resident. The Sesame Workshop has announced their newest character, a male Afghan muppet named Zeerak.

Zeerak, who will be used to "promote gender equity," according to Sesame Workshop, is the 4-year-old brother to Zari, a female Afghan character who was introduced in her home country's co-production of Sesame Street titled Baghch-e-Simsim in 2016.

The character, who has orange skin, glasses and regional clothing, is described as "an energetic and eager 4-year-old who is learning how to read and count and loves painting and playing games with Zari," whom he looks up to as a role model.

"We're thrilled to welcome Zeerak into the Baghch-e-Simsim family and continue our work to model the importance of girls' education and bring critical early learning to millions of Afghan children," executive vice president of global impact and philanthropy at Sesame Workshop Sherrie Westin said in a statement.

"We know children learn best when they can identify with characters, and research shows that Zari has been a powerful role model for boys and girls alike. The debut of Zeerak builds on the incredible impact we've seen Zari achieve over the past year," she continued.

The creation of Zeerak follows the debut of Julia, the first Muppet with autism on Sesame Street.

Hey, whatever happened to Herry Monster? Is Elmo to blame?

Be Well,
Steve


Comments? Questions? Nooz? Email Steve



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Rumer Willis celebrates six months of sobriety: 'I am really proud of myself'
Rumer Willis, the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, has celebrated being sober for six months on Instagram.

"I will be the first one to say I'm not perfect and I mess up sometimes and every once in a while I get it right but I wanted to share this because I am really proud of myself," the actress wrote Sunday alongside a makeup-free selfie of herself.

"Yesterday I celebrated 6 Months of Sobriety. It's not something I planned on but after the long journey of getting here I can honestly say I have never been more proud of myself in my entire life," she continued.

"Thank you all for the love and support and remember to be gentle with yourself."

Willis also shared a photo of herself rocking a light blue swimsuit with the caption, "Blue is the warmest color."

The 28-year-old last made headlines alongside Moore when they posed together for photos while attending a friends wedding.

Willis' sisters Scout, Tallulah, Mabel and Evelyn were recently spotted enjoying a day out with their father at Disneyland however Willis was not present.


Filming begins on 'Fantastic Beasts' sequel
Principal photography began Monday on the sequel to the 2016 fantasy blockbuster Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Warner Bros. said the next Beasts episode will see Harry Potter icon Albus Dumbledore -- played as a younger man by Jude Law -- and Fantastic Beasts hero Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) team up and battle the evil wizard Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) and his minions.

"Grindelwald will 'make a dramatic escape' from MACUSA custody, forcing Albus Dumbledore to join the wizarding world's efforts to stop him," the Pottermore website said. "The villainous Grindelwald has been busy 'gathering more followers to his cause -- elevating wizards above all non-magical beings.' Dumbledore will look to his former student Newt for help."

Five movies are planned for the Fantastic Beasts series, which serve as prequels to the eight-film Harry Potter franchise. The second Beasts feature -- which does not yet have a title -- is due in theaters Nov. 16, 2018.

Author J.K. Rowling penned the seven novels on which the Harry Potter saga was based. She also has written the screenplays for the two Beasts films, thus far.


LOOSE LIPS:
"That's like one of my biggest life regrets, ever."
--Jacob Tremblay, on being too "starstruck" to meet Harrison Ford, to PEOPLE Now



??? Guess Who ???

Which music superstar went nude for a Vogue magazine shoot?


Youtube star, mental health podcaster Stevie Ryan dead from suicide
Youtube star and podcaster Stevie Ryan committed suicide by hanging on July 1, according to the Los Angeles County medical examiner's office. She was 33.

Ryan, best known for her Youtube videos where she portrayed a character named "Little Loca" had also been hosting a podcast about mental health titled, "Mentally Ch(ill)." In her last episode, posted on June 28, the actress opened up about her grief over the recent death of her grandfather and worried how it might affect her depression.

"It's the hardest thing that I've actually ever dealt with in my entire life. And I'm sorry to get so emotional on here but it just sucks and I will miss him forever," she said. "This is just a part of life but I'm just worried this is gonna send me into a deeper depression or maybe it'll take me out of my depression a little bit to see that life is short and we just don't actually have as much time as we think we do with people we love and care about."

Her last tweet was also dedicated to her grandfather.

"The man of my dreams will now only be in my dreams. I'll miss you everyday, forever. I love you my Pa," she wrote on June 30.


John Blackwell Jr., former drummer for Prince, dead at 43
John Blackwell Jr., a former drummer for Prince and other famous musicians, has died at the age of 43 following a battle with cancer.

Blackwell's wife Yaritza announced his death on the drummer's Instagram page Tuesday alongside a photo of the couple holding hands.

"My husband incredible drummer John Blackwell Jr. passed the way peacefully in my company today. Thanks God for his life and thanks everyone for their support," she wrote.

Blackwell was diagnosed with brain tumors in 2016. A GoFundMe page was set up in his name to help cover his medical expenses.

Blackwell is best known for performing with Prince as part of the singers band, The New Power Generation starting in 2000. He appeared on two Prince releases, 2003's instrumental N.E.W.S. album and the Live at the Aladdin Las Vegas DVD.

Before joining Prince, Blackwell was a drummer for Patti LaBelle and appeared on her 1998 release, Live! One Night Only. Blackwell also toured with Justin Timberlake in 2006.

A number of musicians have paid tribute to Blackwell on Twitter, including Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, who wrote, "Rest In Peace #JohnBlackwell Your legend will live 4ever. One of the best to ever pick up drumsticks. Prayers to family and friends."

"We lost another brother... John Blackwell made his transition today!!! Our prayers go out to his wife and family!" added Morris Day who was also a member of The New Power Generation.


??? Guess Who ???

Which music superstar went nude for a Vogue magazine shoot?

Canadian singer Celine Dion posed naked for the magazine while in Paris for Couture Fashion Week. Vogue profiled Dion for the feature "Celine Takes Couture" as she took in such designers as Christian Dior.

"Here's a little naked fact to ponder while Celine Dion changes looks between shows: for the past five years she has worn haute couture near exclusively for her own performances (in Las Vegas and on her current 'mini-tour' of Europe)," Vogue captioned a photo on Instagram of Dion.

"She performs a minimum two hours a night, five or six nights a week, dancing and curtseying and generally gesticulating sans abandon, in handmade, hand-beaded delicacies designed solely to walk a catwalk or a carpet (and often with handlers)," the magazine added. "Armani Prive, Schiaparelli, Giambattista Valli, Versace...only a partial list."

Dion sat between Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and digital creative director Sally Singer at the Dior show Monday, according to WWD. The singer wore Atelier Versace while attending her first Met Gala in May.

"I'm wonderful," she told E! at the fashion-forward event. "My first impression [of my gown] was that I really insisted there was a pocket in this dress."

Dion kicked off her "mini-tour" in Europe in Copenhagen, Denmark, in June. The tour promotes her latest album, the French-language record Encore un soir, and will conclude Aug. 5 in Glasgow, Scotland.

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