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R. Kelly Trial Date, A Hollywood Generation Gap

TONY COX, host:

This is NEWS & NOTES. I'm Tony Cox.

It's Friday, the day we dive in to entertainment, trends and celebrities. And here with me now is a woman who knows that star-studded turf all too well, Newsweek Arts writer Allison Samuels. Allison, nice to have you in here.

Ms. ALLISON SAMUELS (Writer, Newsweek): Thanks for having me.

COX: So let's step in the name of love to why R. Kelly has not gone to trial just yet.

Ms. SAMUELS: Yeah. That's - it's an interesting question because since he, you know, sort of had his indictment for child - child video pornography.

COX: Right.

Ms. SAMUELS: That's what he's being on charge with. Michael Jackson, you know, other people, Martha Stewart have gone to jail, gone to trial and gone to jail and who are out now, but R. Kelly is still not going to trial. And one of the things I was fascinated by is that if these were not young African-American girls, would this have proceeded a little quicker.

And one of the things that I found out in terms of talking to some of the prosecutors and people around the case is that his lawyers have gone through this really elaborate process of just putting motion among motion to the prosecutors, so it's just his paperwork that has held everything up. In talking to the - one of the major prosecutors, he said he has never had a case where he's gotten 30 motions over the course of three to four years.

COX: So they're trying to stretch it out?

Ms. SAMUELS: Basically. And the main reason is because by the time these girls get to trial, they won't be young girls anymore. They'll be 20-something years old. And that's going to be, you know, that's going to play a part in the sympathy the jurors have on them.

COX: But they will be able to see the video, right? The judge said the video was in…

Ms. SAMUELS: Yeah.

COX: …when the girl was only supposedly 13, 14, whatever she was.

Ms. SAMUELS: That's very true. They will be able to see the video but then when you have the girls up there and they're 21, 22, 23 - it still is this disconnect between the child that you see on the tape and this woman who's on the stand. I think all of it is just, sort of, to distance the memory of the jurors and his audience, you know, because he has had this great career that's continued on and on, and he has an album coming out.

COX: Yes, I heard it's something having to do with (unintelligible), right?

Ms. SAMUELS: Yes. And it's amazing to me because when you listen to the songs on the album, they're just graphic - they're so graphic. And that's the part that I'm sort of amazed at. I'm just sort of like, you know, there's no understanding on his part, let me tone this down a little bit. Let me be a little bit thoughtful about the charges I am facing.

No concept of that at all. But, in his defense, his audience has stayed with him.

COX: Yes. Made a lot of money doing that.

Ms. SAMUELS: You know, made a lot of money.

COX: I have a question for you I hope you can respond to. What about the comments that have been attributed to his brother that Kelly allegedly tried to bribe him to take the fall in exchange for $50,000 and a record deal. Was that ever investigated?

Ms. SAMUELS: Yeah. I mean, his brother has been very vocal about that. I only spoke with him briefly. He said he offered him a house and the $50,000 and you sort of wonder why he wasn't helping him anyways because that's his brother. But, I guess, from the tape, they look very much alike and he really wants him to say, look, that's you. It's not me. So his brother - I don't know why his brother would lie. It seems…

COX: His brother, I mean, his brother went on to slam him in another publication and said very damning things and here's a quote, "if you let him off, he's going to do it again. I bet my life on it." I mean, that's supposed to be his brother.

Ms. SAMUELS: That's true but, I mean, when you think of, if he's asking his brother to take the fall for him for something that his brother didn't do, I can see why his brother would also be a little bit angry, also my understanding is that he's not had the best relationship with his brother. It hasn't really help him out financially, you know? So it wouldn't really breed a lot of loyalty when you're not helping your family out. Why would they sort of come to your defense. So I think that's sort of the major problem in that as well.

COX: I know we have another topic to get to but one more…

Ms. SAMUELS: Yeah, absolutely. I'll just make it short.

COX: …R. Kelly, just one more. Is he going to go to trial, do you think? It is going to happen?

Ms. SAMUELS: It is. I talked to the prosecutors. They still are hoping. I guess they have a lot of trials sort of coming up and a lot of the arguments have been over, sort of, who the experts are and the forensic scientists. So I mean, you know, it's very interesting. I didn't realize that you could just really just, you know, draw it out by just every little thing, and that's what they've done. But she hopes to get it in trial. She says by the end of the summer or the fall. That's the plan at this point.

COX: R. Kelly took up a whole lot of our time today. But we do have a little bit of time left to talk about another topic and that's black folks in Hollywood…

Ms. SAMUELS: Right.

COX: …young and old, raising money for the candidates of their choice. But something interesting has taken place, what is it?

Ms. SAMUELS: I think there's a generational divide with African-Americans, in particularly with, you know, Clinton and Obama. I think that younger African-Americans are, you know, recently Obama had a fundraiser here in Los Angeles on - last Saturday, and it was definitely the young black Hollywood, you know, the Gabrielle Unions and the Joy Bryants and the Nia Longs and (unintelligible), and you can tell that that's where that energy is for his campaign. Whereas with the Clintons, and one of the most interesting people in that are - is just Clarence Avant, who was the former CEO of Motown.

COX: Right.

Ms. SAMUELS: He is a major fundraiser for Clinton and his daughter is on Obama's campaign.

COX: So is this old money versus new - old black money versus new black money?

Ms. SAMUELS: Yeah. And new sort of black thinking, I think, you know. I mean, when I talked to senior, you know, Avant, his thing is, you know, I don't if Obama has the sort of experience. I would really want to go with someone who has a little bit more experience. Where his daughter is just like, you know, I like the new. I like the hope of Obama. I like the freshness of Obama. So I think it's the age thing, you know, trusting someone, which I think is certainly something that older people want to feel like you have the wisdom.

COX: Right.

Ms. SAMUELS: And younger people willing to take a chance on someone young and fresh.

COX: We've got about 30 seconds left. Would you say that young black folks, who are putting their money behind Obama or if those who are putting it behind Clinton for that matter, are more energized now politically speaking and are becoming active in a way that they have not traditionally?

Ms. SAMUELS: I think so because they have someone, like Obama, who they feel like represents them that, you know, here's them and has this fresh new outlook on politics and on policy. So I think that is why you saw so many come out on Saturday because they feel like, you know, finally a candidate that, sort of, speaks my language and that I can sort of connect well. So yeah I think it's a whole new ballgame out there now.

COX: Well, you really are right on top of it, aren't you?

Ms. SAMUELS: I don't know about that.

COX: That's why we have you with us. I appreciate it. Newsweek Arts writer Allison Samuels has joined us in studio here at NPR West. Allison, thank you very much.

Ms. SAMUELS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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