Daily Beast News

Jamie Lynn Spears Talks Britney, the Tabloids, and Returning to TV in Netflix’s ‘Sweet Magnolias’

Jamie Lynn Spears has officially returned to television. After more than a decade away from the small screen since her Nickelodeon series Zoey 101 wrapped in 2008, Spears has taken a special guest role in Netflix’s Sweet Magnolias. The romantic drama, based on Sherryl Woods’ novels by the same title, takes place in a sleepy Southern town called Serenity, where everyone knows everyone else’s business. And Spears plays the subject of the town’s nastiest gossip.

Spears says that thanks to happy coincidences involving timing and location, joining the show “was one of those things where it was like the universe decided for me.” But if you learn one thing from speaking with Spears, even for just a few minutes by phone, it’s that she doesn’t need any help charting her path. Now a 29-year-old mother of two, Spears knows what she wants—and she’s making deliberate choices to get herself there.

Sweet Magnolias, which premiered Tuesday, follows three lifelong friends as they juggle career struggles, messy divorces, and the joys (and “joys”) of parenting teenagers. JoAnna Garcia Swisher, who played Reba McEntire’s daughter on the singer’s self-titled comedy series, plays our lead Magnolia, Maddie. Drop Dead Diva star Brooke Elliott and Broadway legend Heather Headley, meanwhile, play Maddie’s best friends Dana Sue and Helen.

Where does that leave Spears, you ask? She’s playing Noreen—the woman Maddie’s husband cheated with. And got pregnant. And left Maddie for.

“The thing that I connected to was that she was a young girl who made some mistakes but was trying to do her best to make them right or make the situation better,” Spears said of her role. “She’s learning how to be a young woman and be held accountable for her mistakes.”

It wasn’t too hard for Spears to imagine how it might feel to be judged by an entire town for one’s choices. After all, her hiatus from television came after she announced in 2007 that she was pregnant at the age of 16. After that, Spears retreated to Mississippi to regain some privacy as she learned how to be a mother—but early on, at least, the paparazzi and the gossip remained relentless.

“I totally connect to the fact of, you know, being judged for my choices,” Spears said. While navigating her own pregnancy, she said, “I was never trying to claim that I was doing the right thing or the wrong thing. I was just saying, Look, I’m a young girl trying to learn from this, trying to grow from this. And then the whole world is judging. And I feel like in Noreen—to her, the town of Serenity is the whole world, right? … And every time she tries to make it better, I think she just makes it a little bit worse.”

Spears felt she could bring compassion to the role of Noreen, who desperately tries to establish warm relationships with her stepchildren—even though at first they do not exactly reciprocate. Producers advised Spears against reading the original novels, which she was told are “not necessarily flattering to Bill and Noreen.” And even as Noreen says all the wrong things, it’s clear from the start that she’s trying to make things right.

“All of us as women just trying to navigate our way through this world,” Spears said. “And instead of having compassion for each other, we’re so quick to judge each other.”

Spears’ Nickelodeon show did not end because she was pregnant—although the timing did prove confusing for some, especially her young fans outside the industry. The final season of Zoey 101 had already wrapped by the time Spears found out she was expecting, and when it came time to speak with her team and the network brass, she said, the network was surprisingly supportive.

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NASA Space Flight News

Stennis returning as battle to protect SLS maiden launch in 2021 restarts

Hands-on operations with the Space Launch System (SLS) resumed this week, following a lengthy standdown due to the restrictions relating to COVID-19. This included a return to Green Run preparations at the Stennis Space Center, with “limited crews” preparing the Artemis-1 core stage on the B-2 test stand for what will be one of the most defining tests relating to the launch date. That maiden launch of NASA’s new rocket is awaiting a realigned launch date, which officials cite will be moved to “late 2021”.

The Green Run, which at one point was set to be deleted from the test flow to attempt to protect SLS’ schedule, will involve the Core Stage’s four RS-25 engines firing up on B-2 to provide key validation of the hardware’s readiness ahead of being shipped to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC).

The Green Run was still awaiting a firm date for the milestone firing, although the overall goal was to complete testing “in the summer” in preparation for a trip on the Pegasus Barge to Florida later this year.

However, Stennis moved to “Stage 4” – per the COVID shutdown – on March 16, with only the personnel needed to perform mission-essential activities related to the safety and security of the center allowed on site.

“Though Stennis remains in Stage 4 of NASA’s COVID-19 Response Framework, we assessed state and local conditions and worked with agency leadership to develop a plan to safely and methodically increase critical on-site work toward the launch of the next great era of space exploration,” noted Stennis Center Director Rick Gilbrech.

Key SLS centers, such as Marshall and Michoud are also are in Stage 4.

Work to bring the B-2 Test Stand out of its slumber includes restoring facility power and controls, as well as ensuring pressurized gas systems are at proper levels for SLS operators to proceed with testing activities.
Engineers return to working at B-2 - via NASA“The test facility has been in standby mode, so we allotted two days to reestablish some facility support of mechanical and electrical systems that will also assist the vehicle contractors in performing their operations,” added Barry Robinson, project manager for the B-2 Test Stand SLS core stage Green Run testing at Stennis.

Following modal testing to validate structural analysis on the vehicle, the Stennis team had connected feed and pressure lines. They had about 10 days worth of integration work to get to “phase one” test activity when the center halted operations due to COVID restrictions.

A handful of workers remained on-site to keep the Core Stage safe and watch for water intrusions during several documented “rain days”.

With more workers returning to the B-2 stand, teams will start the ramp-up to phase one testing, starting with electrical checkouts, working through an avionics checklist and driving the Trust Vector Control (TVC) system for the engines.

With the flagship event of the Green Run being an eight-minute, full-duration hot fire of the core stage with its four RS-25 engines, passing that phase – and being ready to ship the stage to KSC – will provide schedule guidance, which has been fluid throughout the lifetime of SLS.
The Green Run was tracking an August test, which is now expected to occur sometime in mid-autumn – followed by shipping to KSC at the end of the year, or early in 2021.

Ahead of the next schedule realignment, which is set to occur next week, Tom Whitmeyer – NASA assistant deputy associate administrator – provided an overview at the NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operations Committee.

Unsurprisingly, the anchor item for the overview was the status of the Green Run.

“The one thing that we’re really in the process of doing right now is that middle item, the core stage, it’s been manufactured and delivered to Stennis. It’s sitting in the test stand at Stennis, the B-2 test stand. We really need to get through what we call the Green Run test,” Mr. Whitmeyer said.

“When we complete the Green Run test, we’ll take that core stage, and literally begin to build up this integrated stack, test it at the Cape, and then fly it. We bring the motors in first, and then we drop the core stage in, and then we actually stack the rest of the vehicle. We’ll do a Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR) next year, then we’ll get ready to fly.”

When the Core Stage arrives at KSC, it will be greeted in the Vehicle Assembly Building by the Mobile Launcher with the two Solid Rocket Boosters already stacked on its deck. This follows a similar path to during the Shuttle era, where the boosters would be “built-up” on the Mobile Launch Platform, ahead of receiving the External Tank.

The booster segments for Artemis-1 are already built and preparing to make the train journey from Utah. The latest L2 schedule for transportation cites a NET (No Earlier Than) departure date of next week, on a journey that will take around three weeks before arriving into KSC.

“Right now we currently have all the motor segments we need for this flight out in Utah, (stored) there to keep them dry,” added Mr. Whitmeyer. “Then what we will do is we will begin to transport those motor segments towards the KSC, and they’ll be delivered by rail car to KSC in the mid-June timeframe.”

The final element to be stacked in the VAB will be the Orion spacecraft, which is currently in storage at KSC after completing most of its pre-flight assembly.

“We actually have Orion, almost in a completed state, put it in temporary storage at this point – (ready to) begin the flight preparation processes with the completed vehicle, which involves putting high-pressure helium in its tanks and beginning the bi-prop loading operations at the Cape,” Mr. Whitmeyer continued.

“And by the time we have that completed, we should be in a stacked configuration with the core stage, and we’ll actually begin the integration of Orion then, to the vehicle.”
Per the launch date, the latest realignment was tracking a Summer 2021 launch of Artemis-1, before the COVID restrictions halted the bulk of SLS preparations. The SLS schedule has been slipping an average of one year, each year – although recent schedules had begun to slip only by a matter of months.

“We had for a year now maintained our schedule, in terms of getting that work done. We had some earlier delays in the program, but I think (recent schedules were) an indication of things that had really turned around with manufacturing and processing activities,” added Mr. Whitmeyer.

“SLS, the Marshall folks working with the Boeing team, had created a lot of manufacturing practices and really improved how we were going through these operations. And they held schedule for the entire year, and they actually held schedule when we got to Stennis, up to the point when we had temporary hold operations for the virus.”

Although Mr. Whitmeyer wouldn’t commit to an actual launch date, several references to the end of 2021 were made, ahead of next week’s official schedule announcement.

“That’s the reason I started with the mission map. It’s an incredible journey, it’s going to be an incredible flight for this hardware. And we’re going to really take it a step at a time and make sure we’re ready to commit ourselves to a launch later next year.

“We’re feeling fairly comfortable that we will be having the Artemis 1 mission towards the end of next year.”

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News RT

‘I fear returning to the ice’ – Sochi Olympic figure skating champ Sotnikova after spinal surgery — RT Sport News

Russian Olympic figure skating gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova has discussed her fears of returning the ice after undergoing spinal surgery earlier this year.

Sotnikova, 23, propelled herself to national sweetheart status by becoming Russia’s first ever ladies’ singles figure skating gold medalist at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

But while that victory made Sotnikova a houshold name in her homeland, it failed to inspire further success as the Moscow-born star faced problems on and off the ice in the ensuing years.

Sotnikova officially announced her retirement from professional skating in March of this year, although she hadn’t competed internationally since 2015 due to persistent injury, restricting her appearances to gala shows.

READ MORE: Spinal implants & titanium screws: Sochi Olympic champion figure skater Adelina Sotnikova announces retirement following surgery

In March she announced that she was due to undergo spinal surgery, revealing that her injury pain had become so severe that she was even struggling to “sleep or sit” properly. 

After the surgery Sotnikova later revealed the scars of the operation, declaring that she would “not hide what decorates me.”

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‘Why hide what decorates me?’ Russian Olympic figure skating champion Sotnikova shows neck scar after spinal surgery

But as she continues to recover – including sharing lockdown fitness sessions on her social media pages – Sotnikova says she still fears a return to the ice due to her operation.    

“At the moment I have fear connected with the operation I had recently. I’ve got a whole construction standing back there [in my spine],” Sotnikova said in an Instagram Live chat. 

“The fear, heaven forbid, is from what could happen to this construction when I go onto the ice. I haven’t stood on the ice for three months.

“And when it starts all over again, it seems to me I’ll start to slow down – that applies to performances even at exhibition shows, because I’m really afraid.   

“Psychologically, I probably won’t be able to do triple [jumps]. I need to re-engage with a psychologist to get rid of this fear again.”

While Sotnikova was replaced by a younger generation of Russian skating stars such as Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova, she remains a popular figure in her homeland though appearances on TV and in gala shows.

However, she has suffered ill-fortune away from the ice, reportedly being defrauded out of $32,000 by fake fortune tellers who promised to help her with her boyfriend troubles.

READ MORE: Skating star swindled: Police arrest ‘fortune tellers’ who took $32K from Olympic champion Sotnikova ‘to solve boyfriend woes’

The fraudsters were later arrested by police, according to reports in Russia.

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