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Recently fired anchor Matt Lauer a "weak and broken" man, friends say

Disgraced anchor Matt Lauer may never bounce back from his firing, according to a new report in People.

“He is weak and broken and ashamed by his own admission,” one of Lauer’s former “Today” show  colleagues told People magazine.

>> Read more trending news

“He is my friend,” the source adds. “He is human, and he is flawed. But is he going to use his power to be a predator on women? Until I see solid evidence of that, I just can’t believe it. We don’t know the details.”

The news of Lauer’s inability to recover from the fiasco comes a few days after a report in Us Weekly. The report suggested that a “really terrible vibe” had swept over the “Today” show set in the wake his firing.

“Savannah [Guthrie] is devastated,” an insider told the magazine. “She and Matt were really close.”

On the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 29, NBC News chairman Andrew Lack sent an email to staffers saying Lauer had been fired following a complaint of “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”

Lack continued, “We were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”

In the wake of the news, Lauer released a statement in which he addressed the allegations against him.

>> Related: Creepy Matt Lauer interview with Sandra Bullock, I’ve ‘seen you naked’

“There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have cause others by words and actions,” Lauer said in the statement. “The last two days have forced me to take a hard look at my own flaws.”

Apparently, many of Lauer’s co-workers were surprised by the news. 

“They knew Matt was flirty and playful and may have had relationships over the years, but what they knew of those relationships was that they were consensual, and they weren’t aware they went beyond that,” the source told Us.

The mood in Studio 1A became solemn after Lauer was fired. 

“Execs treated it as if Matt had died. It was very somber,” a separate source told Us. “The usual editorial meetings that have about 30 or so people were now 200 people, because execs were addressing the situation with everyone. They were transparent and opened the floor to questions.”

In 2016, the disgraced anchor appeared on “The Meredith Vieira Show” and she told the audience that she once found a “huge bag of sex toys” in Lauer’s closet.

“Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute,” Lauer responded. “We had a guest on the show who was a sex therapist…. I think you did the segment, actually.”

Vieira didn’t remember the segment but sex therapist Dr. Laura Berman recently revealed that he was telling the truth.

>> Related: Elton John mourning the death of his mom after years of estrangement

“We were in the makeup room and he sort of asked the makeup artist to leave,” Berman said in an interview with Inside Edition. “He asked me about sexual aids and devices. He confided in me about some of the struggles he was having in his married relationship.”

Berman said that Lauer was uncomfortable going into a sex shop himself so she gave him items from her own line of adult toys.

WATCH: Beyoncé presents Colin Kaepernick with Sports Illustrated's Muhammad Ali award

Surprise!

Former San Francisco 49ers star Colin Kaepernick, who sparked NFL players' recent protests during the national anthem against racial injustice, received Sports Illustrated's Muhammad Ali Legacy Award from a special surprise presenter – Beyoncé.

>> Instagram star gaining attention for resemblance to Beyoncé

"Colin took action with no fear of consequence or repercussion, only hope to change the world for the better, to change perception, to change the way we treat each other – especially people of color," she said Tuesday night at SI's Sportsperson of the Year ceremony.

>> Watch the moment here

"I accept this award not for myself, but on behalf of the people because if it were not for my love of the people, I would not have protested," Kaepernick said after an introduction by "Daily Show" host Trevor Noah. "And if it was not for the support from the people, I would not be on this stage today. With our without the NFL's platform, I will continue to work for the people because my platform is the people." 

>> Read more trending news 

The ceremony airs at 8 p.m. Friday on NBC Sports Network.

‘The Voice’ singer Melanie Martinez accused of rape, denies allegations

Melanie Martinez may have impressed judges when she appeared on season three of “The Voice” in 2012, but what she’s making headlines for in 2017 is less than positive.

In a lengthy and graphic statement posted on Twitter, Timothy Heller accused Martinez, 22, of performing sexual acts on her despite her protests.

>> Read more trending news

Heller told her followers that her “best friend” Martinez had repeatedly asked her to have sex when the pair shared a bed during sleepovers. According to Heller, she rejected the offers over the course of several nights making different excuses, including that she had a boyfriend, until one evening when Martinez kept asking to touch her and, she said, went on to rape her.

Heller wrote, “The bottom line that I need to always remind myself is that: I said no. For TWO NIGHTS STRAIGHT.”

“If you begin to doubt the abuse taking place in this story, I beg you to imagine her role in this being a man,” Heller wrote. “Girls can rape girls. Best friends can rape best friends. Friendship does not equal consent. Silence doesn’t equal consent. I wish it wasn’t so hard for me to convince myself of these things.”

Following the accusation, Martinez took to Twitter to issue a response, claiming that any and all contact between the women had been consensual.

“I am horrified and saddened by the statements and story told by Timothy Heller,” the singer said. “What she and I shared was a close friendship. We tried to help each other. We both had pain in dealing with our individual demons. She never said no to what we chose to do together. And although we parted ways, I am sending her love and light always.”

Actress Abigail Breslin was one of many who responded online to the statement, slamming Martinez for her “unacceptable response.”

“Not saying no doesn’t mean yes. But for the record, she did and has stressed that numerous times,” Breslin tweeted. “Shame on you for this disgusting reply that contributes to the victim blaming culture we live in.”

Martinez shot to stardom in 2012 during the third season of “The Voice,” when she turned three judges’ chairs with her cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” She became one of the top six contestants before her elimination in the live shows.

John Mayer hospitalized for emergency appendectomy

Musician John Mayer was hospitalized early Tuesday to undergo an emergency appendectomy, according to an announcement from his bandmates in Dead & Company.

>> Read more trending news

The band announced that Mayer’s hospitalization prompted them to postpone a planned concert Tuesday in New Orleans.

The group said tickets for Tuesday’s show will be honored when the performance is rescheduled, although a date for the show was not immediately set. Refunds will also be available at the point of purchase.

It was not immediately clear whether any other upcoming Dead & Company tour dates would be affected.

 People magazine reported that Mayer, 40, has been touring with the band, an offshoot of the Grateful Dead, this fall. He joined the group in 2015, alongside Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti and former Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann.

His fellow band members took to social media to wish him a speedy recovery:

The band is scheduled to play the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on Dec. 7.

Serena Williams plays tennis for first time since giving birth, wedding

Serena Williams is back in action for a good cause.

Over the weekend, the tennis ace hit the court again for the first time since welcoming daughter Alexis Olympia in September and getting married in November.

>> Read more trending news

People reported that Williams and her sister, Venus Williams, played at “A Family Affair, Presented by Oath,” an event in Washington, D.C., to raise money for their Compton-based Yetunde Price Resource Center, which the Women’s Tennis Association says “assists individuals adversely affected by community violence to identify, access and utilize support services that already exist in the community.”

Related: Serena Williams welcomes baby girl with fiance Alexis Ohanian

Williams’ new husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, was there cheering on his bride. 

“For a great cause. Great community. #AFamilyAffair for the Yetunde Price Resource Center. Thanks to everyone who came out to support the fundraiser,” he wrote in an Instagram post on Saturday.

The Williams siblings started the initiative in 2014 after their eldest sister, Yetunde Price, was killed in a drive-by shooting. The sisters also participated in a panel and opened up about how violence affected their family. 

Related: Serena Williams shares wedding photos in new interview

“Violence has affected our lives personally — we lost our sister, she was the oldest — to violence,” Serena said. “There’s a lot of times where people are in the communities and they don’t have a place or an area or somewhere they can go to put that energy – to get some of that negative energy out and be creative.”

While pregnant with Alexis, Williams kept herself in shape by regularly hitting tennis balls, even in her third trimester.

“Wimbledon got me like: Easy standing drills this morning. Go easy,” she wrote in July, just two months before giving birth.

Elton John mourning the death of his mom after years of estrangement

Elton John is in “shock” after announcing the death of his mother.

The 70-year-old performer shared a photo of the pair on his social media announcing the loss of Sheila Farebrother early Monday morning.

>> Read more trending news

He wrote, “So sad to say that my mother passed away this morning. I only saw her last Monday and I am in shock. Travel safe Mum. Thank-you for everything. I will miss you so much. Love, Elton.”

>> Related: Creepy Matt Lauer interview with Sandra Bullock, I’ve ‘seen you naked’

John’s heartbreaking loss came mere months after the “Tiny Dancer” singer reconciled with his estranged mother, Sheila Farebrother. According to the Daily Mail, the once-close knit pair had not spoken for nearly nine years until they reconnected in May of this year. The long estrangement was reportedly a result of Farebrother remaining in contact with friends her son had fallen out with, reported Hello Magazine. John and his mother had been extremely close beforehand, especially since his father was primarily absent from his life. Sheila and her husband, Fred Farebrother, were reportedly one of the biggest supporters of John’s singer/songwriter career and helped him get a job as a pub pianist as a teenager, reported the Daily Mail.

John was reportedly performing in Barcelona, Spain, before he heard news of his mother’s death. It is currently unknown if the performer was aware of his mother being previously sick.

John announced that he and his mother had reunited by sharing a throwback photo of them together on Twitter for Mother’s Day, saying, “Dear Mum, Happy Mother’s Day! So happy we are back in touch. Love, Elton xo #MothersDay.”

>> Related: Pink says she and Carey Hart are raising gender neutral children

>> Related: Photos: JAY-Z through the years

John has not said if he will be cancelling the remainder of his performances, including one on Dec. 5 in Hamburg, Germany.

Pink says she and Carey Hart are raising gender neutral children

Pink shared in a recent interview that she and her husband, motorcycle racer Carey Hart, do not want to raise their two children with gender roles.

The “What About Us” singer told British tabloid The Sunday People her 6-year-old daughter, Willow Sage Hart, wants to marry an African woman when she grows up.

>> Read more trending news

“We are a very label-less household,” Pink said. “Last week, Willow told me she is going to marry an African woman. I was like, ‘Great, can you teach me how to make African food?’ 

“And she’s like, ‘Sure mama, and we are going to live with you while our house is getting ready.’”

Pink also shared that, despite her career success, being a mother to Willow and 11-month-old son Jameson Moon Hart is her top priority.

“I’m much more mom than I am anything else. Absolutely 100 percent. They are my everything. It’s the two best decisions I ever made. 

“Every decision I make is a choice because it affects my family,” she said. “I do bake sales and lemonade stands. I take my kid to school and try to get there on time. 

“I’m a (expletive) grown up now. It’s so weird. I’m still a 12-year-old boy.”

Bill O'Reilly, Fox News sued by woman who settled harassment complaint

A woman who settled a harassment complaint against Bill O’Reilly more than a decade ago filed suit Monday against the former television news show host and his former employer, Fox News, for defamation and breach of contract.

>> Read more trending news

In court records obtained by The New York Times, Rachel Witilieb Bernstein said statements made by O’Reilly and Fox News after the allegations were made public have painted her as a liar and an extortionist, while also violating the settlement’s confidentiality clause.

According to The Times, Bernstein, who worked as a junior producer for Fox News, settled with O’Reilly and the news network in July 2002 after she made multiple complaints about O’Reilly’s behavior.

>> Related: Fox News ends relationship with Bill O’Reilly, O’Reilly responds

“O’Reilly portrayed himself as a ‘target’ and claimed that complaints against him are extortionate,” the lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said, according to The Times. “This is false. In fact, he is a serial abuser and Ms. Bernstein’s complaints about him were far from extortionate.”

As part of the 2002 settlement, all involved parties agreed to say only that the matter had been settled if asked about the allegations.

“Knowing Ms. Bernstein and Mr. O’Reilly’s other victims are afraid to speak out because he and Fox forced them to sign nondisclosure agreements, O’Reilly and Fox have made false and disparaging claims,” Neil Mullin, an attorney for Bernstein, said in a statement obtained by The Times. “They should release all victims from their NDAs and let the truth out. It is cowardly to publicly attack these women knowing they have been subjected to contractual provisions requiring absolute silence.”

O’Reilly has denied any wrongdoing.

>> Related: 7 things to know about former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly

Fox News cut ties with O’Reilly in April after multiple women claimed the popular news show host sexually harassed and verbally abused them. Bernstein did not accuse O’Reilly of sexual harassment. Among other incidents, current and former Fox News employees told The Times that O’Reilly “stormed into the newsroom and screamed” at Bernstein in 2002.

The Times reported that about $13 million was paid out to five women who have accused O’Reilly of harassment, including Bernstein.

At least one other settlement has since been reached involving O’Reilly and allegations of sexual harassment. In October, The Times reported that Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl settled for $32 million.

Billy Bush says Trump 'Access Hollywood' tape is real in scathing op-ed

Former "Access Hollywood" and "Today" host Billy Bush is back in the spotlight.

In a scathing New York Times op-ed published Sunday, Bush said the 2005 tape that captured now-President Donald Trump making explicit comments about groping women is real.

>> 'SNL': Trump meets ghosts of Flynn, Billy Bush, Putin, Hillary Clinton in 'Christmas Carol' parody

"Of course he said it," wrote Bush, who was heard laughing and egging on Trump in the hot-mic audio that surfaced during the 2016 election. "And we laughed along, without a single doubt that this was hypothetical hot air from America's highest-rated bloviator."

Bush said he and the seven other witnesses on the bus during the recording assumed Trump was just performing.

>> Billy Bush hospitalized after being hit on the head with a golf ball

"We now know better," Bush wrote.

Bush, who was fired from his job as a "Today" host last year in wake of the controversy, said he believes the women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct after the tape surfaced.

"To these women: I will never know the fear you felt or the frustration of being summarily dismissed and called a liar, but I do know a lot about the anguish of being inexorably linked to Donald Trump," Bush wrote. "You have my respect and admiration. You are culture warriors at the forefront of necessary change."

>> Read more trending news

The editorial came amid reports that Trump is now privately questioning the tape's authenticity, even though he previously apologized for his comments.

"President Trump is currently indulging in some revisionist history, reportedly telling allies, including at least one United States senator, that the voice on the tape is not his," Bush wrote. "This has hit a raw nerve in me."

Read the full op-ed here.

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