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The daily gossip: Justin Timberlake apologizes, Jared Leto insists he never gave Margot Robbie a dead rat, and more

1.

After facing heavy criticism in light of a new documentary about Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake has issued an apology and promised to “do better.” Timberlake came under renewed scrutiny in the wake of Framing Britney Spears, which alleges the singer “essentially weaponizes” the music video for his song “Cry Me a River” to incriminate Spears “in the demise of [their] relationship,” and that Janet Jackson faced career repercussions after he briefly exposed her breast during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show. “I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism,” Timberlake said Friday on Instagram, calling his apology a “first step” that “doesn’t absolve the past.” Read his full apology here. [Instagram, The Week]

2.

Jared Leto seems like a bit of a weird dude, which is why it was totally believable when his Suicide Squad co-star, Adam Beach, claimed Leto gifted Margot Robbie a “beautiful” rat while he was in character as the Joker on the set of the film in 2015. Robbie even appeared to confirm the story in 2016, saying she “ended up keeping [the rat] as a pet.” Leto, however, now claims that the rat story took on a life of its own. “I never gave Margot Robbie a dead rat. That’s not true,” he told GQ. “I actually gave her — I found this place in Toronto that had great vegan cinnamon buns, and that was a very common thing.” As for ever giving her a live rat, Leto didn’t say. [Vulture, GQ]

3.

Earlier this week, People broke the news of a romance between Axios political reporter Alexi McCammond and TJ Ducklo, a White House deputy press secretary — basically, a real-life West Wing side-plot. The article said both McCammond and Ducklo handled their semi-forbidden relationship responsibly, informing their respective bosses: Axios reassigned McCammond from the Biden beat, to prevent a conflict of interest. But the real story might not be as cute as it sounds: Ducklo allegedly threatened to “destroy” Politico reporter Tara Palmeri, who was working on an article about the couple’s relationship, Vanity Fair writes. Ducklo also supposedly accused Palmeri of being “jealous” that another man “wanted to f—” McCammond “and not you.” According to Vanity Fair, Ducklo later apologized to Palmeri and said he was “sorry he lost his cool.” [Vanity Fair, The Week]

4.

Literally no one was wondering what Pitbull thought about the Britney Spears situation — and the renewed concerns about her conservatorship after the release of the new documentary Framing Britney Spears — but here we are! The rapper volunteered to Entertainment Tonight that “I’m all about freedom, I’m all about independence. As far as what’s going on with Britney, that’s been going on for many, many years.” He added that he hopes Spears will get a chance to control her own destiny, because “they’re not called mistakes, they are called ‘must-takes’ … You know, you don’t make mistakes, mistakes make you.” He concluded with the hope that Spears will “get a chance to be herself” and “with that said, from Mr. 305 Mr. Worldwide … Free Britney!” Pitbull … thanks. [Entertainment Tonight]

5.

Fans of Issa Rae were understandably disappointed to learn that the forthcoming fifth season of Insecure will be the last. But Rae won’t be leaving HBO anytime soon: the company’s streaming arm, HBO Max, has officially picked up her eight-episode half-hour comedy series Rap Sh*t. The show — which, yes, is stylized with the asterisk — will be about “two estranged high school friends from Miami who reunite to form a rap group,” Variety reports. Here’s to hoping that Rap Sh*t features a rap as so-bad-it’s-good as Issa’s infamous open-mic performance of “Broken Pussy.” [Variety]

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