Christina El Moussa Admits Cancer, Infertility and the Pressures of Fame Led to ‘Tension’ in Her Marriage

 

Flip or Flop’s Christina El Moussa opens up about her very public divorce and why she’s “genuinely happy” for the first time in years. Subscribe now for the exclusive interview — only in PEOPLE!

Tarek and Christina El Moussa‘s marriage may have appeared picture-perfect to fans of the couple’s hit HGTV show, but a lot of behind-the-scenes stress led the house-flipping duo to drift apart.

“Like any couple we had our share of issues,” Christina tells PEOPLE tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “But we went through a lot in a short amount of time.”

The California natives were already adapting to newfound fame after landing their gig on Flip or Flop and struggling to become pregnant with a second child when Tarek was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2013.

“I had never even known anyone with cancer, so it was a very scary time,” says Christina.

Watch the full episode of PEOPLE’s Cover Story: Christina El Moussa, streaming now on People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the app for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, Xfinity, iOS and Android devices.

The couple decided to bank Tarek’s sperm and try in vitro fertilization when doctors recommended radiation for the cancer treatment, but Christina suffered a miscarriage before finally becoming pregnant with their son, Brayden, who was born in 2015.

They tried to keep up with their busy schedule, so Christina was back to work four weeks after having her baby. Looking back, however, she says she needed more time off.

“It was too soon for me,” she explains. “I was overwhelmed. Tension between me and Tarek was high.”

Although Christina and Tarek joked about Tarek’s unwillingness to change a diaper during a 2015 interview and photo shoot for PEOPLE, those issues were no laughing matter at home.

“We weren’t able to properly communicate anymore,” Christina says. “It got to the point where we weren’t even driving to set together.”

For more from Christina El Moussa on how she’s coping with divorce in the spotlight, co-parenting and continuing to work with her ex, Tarek, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

The reality couple — who share daughter Taylor, 6, and son Braydon, 18 months — officially separated in May 2016 and continue to film their hit show.

“Taylor asked if we could get back together,” Christina shares. “We had to explain that sometimes couples get divorced but that she and Brayden are our No. 1 priority. We’ll always be a family.”

—With STEPHANIE PETIT

Democratic Congressman Says Trump Has ‘Already Done a Number of Things’ That Warrant Impeachment

Democratic Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison floated the idea of impeaching President Trump during a CNN debate on Wednesday between contenders for the Democratic National Committee chair position.

Debate co-host Dana Bash asked Ellison, a frontrunner to be the next chair of the DNC, whether he agreed with three of his colleagues in the House — Maxine Waters, Jamie Raskin, and Joaquin Castro — who “have publicly raised the specter of impeaching President Trump.”

“Do you stand with them or with House Leader Nancy Pelosi who believes impeachment talk is premature?” she asked.

Ellison replied that the president “has already done a number of things which legitimately raise the question of impeachment,” holding up as example what he called “Trump’s violation of the Emoluments Clause.”

“I mean, on day one he was – on day one he was in violation of the Emoluments Clause,” Ellison said. “This is a part of the Constitution that says as the president you can’t get payments from a foreign power. The day people checked into his hotel and started paying him, who were foreign dignitaries, he was in violation of that law.”

Just days after the president was inaugurated on Jan. 20, the nonprofit legal watchdog group CREW filed a lawsuit alleging that Trump’s business dealings violate the constitutional provision prohibiting officeholders from accepting “emoluments or presents” from foreign governments.

Ellison called for impeachment investigations, “not to go after Donald Trump but to protect our Constitution and the presidency of the United States so that nobody can monetize the presidency and profit off of it for their own gain.”

RELATED VIDEO: Watch: Natasha Stoynoff Breaks Silence, Accuses Donald Trump of Sexual Attack

Meanwhile, top Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said Thursday that she was confident the president would serve two full terms.

“We’re playing long ball here,” Conway said in a Fox and Friends interview. “He will be here for eight years. We recognize that there will be people who will be trying to throw crocodiles in our way.”

“This country, for 24 consecutive years, gave its presidents two terms,” she added. “This country decided that with presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama that four years is not enough for them to execute and deliver on their vision.”

Pigtails and Hula Hoops! Candace Cameron Bure Shares Photo of Her First Headshot at Age 5

Candace Cameron Bure took a trip down memory lane on Thursday back to when her acting career all began — 35 years ago.

To partake in #TBT (a.k.a. Throwback Thursday), the Fuller House star shared a photo to Instagram of her first headshot from when she was 5 years old.

“#TBT to my first headshot/composite shots- age 5,” Bure, now 40, captioned the super cute shot. “And I can still rock a hula hoop like no other.”

In the adorable picture, the smiling actress wears tennis shoes and a long-sleeve striped shirt, which is tucked into high-waisted jeans, as she twirls a hula hoop around her little waist.

And can we talk about her luscious locks? For the headshot, Bure’s long blonde hair was pulled up into two high pigtails and secured with little bows.

Since Bure got her start in entertainment as a child, she has had a successful career on camera. The actress starred in Full House as D.J. Tanner from 1987-95, and now stars in the Netflix revival, Fuller House, as well as works continuously with the Hallmark Channel.

Most recently, the married mother of three was a co-host on The View, which she said goodbye to in December.

“The commute of going West Coast to East Coast every single week for me has been tough on me and hard for my family as well,” she said of why she left her role as co-host. “And I want to make sure that I’m able to spend at much time with my children and invest in all the projects that I do to the fullest extent.”

Sitting down with PEOPLE Now, Bure said of leaving the show, “Honestly, it’s the travel. I have traveled coast to coast every single week so I could be at home on the weekends with my family, and then back to work in New York during the week,” and added, “I’ve enjoyed the experience so much. I really grew and learned a lot from the show, but I’m happy to be able to spend more time in LA and do more of my full-time jobs there.”

Inside Top Chef Alum Sam Talbot’s Cozy Compact Brooklyn Kitchen

 

Top Chef‘s Sam Talbot isn’t exactly a homebody: His comfort-food hotspot Pretty Southern opened in Brooklyn in January, so he’s not spending a ton of time at his apartment, just a mile from the restaurant.

“I’m basically in the kitchen from 8:30 a.m. til at least midnight every night,” he tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. But he still cares about making the cozy one-bedroom feel like home.

“The vibe and the brightness in the apartment, it comes from my upbringing,” says Talbot, who decked out the space with “calming” succulents and lush plants. “My mom always had giant cacti, they were like 6-ft. tall. I feel like they create a certain vibe that can’t be fabricated.”

Since the chef and cookbook author (his next book, 100% Real, is out in April) only really eats breakfast there, his “railroad-style” kitchen is minimalist. “It’s tiny, compact, so it has everything you need in an arm’s length away… Most of the stuff I’m doing here is quick,” he says of whipping up eggs or avocado toast before he leaves for the restaurant in the morning. “My refrigerator which has two things: baking soda and orange juice.”

RELATED: Top Chef’s Sheldon Simeon Breaks Down Everything You’re Dying to Know About This Season

Talbot designed the kitchen at Pretty Southern from scratch, with a lot of his cooking essentials actually coming from his own kitchen.

“I’ve taken all my tools— my zesters, everything—because when you’re opening a business, every penny counts. I’m like, ‘Wait, I have all of this stuff, I’m not buying it for the restaurant!’” he says. “I keep one cast iron pan at home, I have one Dutch oven, a sheet pan. I have 16 cast iron pans over at the restaurant, you know? This is for the bare essentials.”

For more on Talbot, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

Decorated with vintage estate sale pieces and Craig’s List finds, Talbot’s living room is his favorite place to hang. “This apartment is very calm, it’s my sanctuary, it’s where I come to turn off after long days at the restaurant,” he says. “I put on a little jazz music, some incense, maybe some Jay-Z depending on the mood I’m in. It’s all good.”

From Gene and Debbie to Ryan and Emma: The Movie Musicals That Influenced ‘La La Land’

From its opening, traffic-stopping number to its romantic ending, La La Land is a love letter to the city of Los Angeles — as well as to the classic movie musicals of the ’40s and ’50s.

In his six-year quest to get the film — which earned a record-tying 14 Academy Award nominations — made, director Damien Chazelle called upon those original MGM song and dance numbers for inspiration.

Some of the film’s homages are more overt — for example, there’s a scene in which Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) have a date at the Griffith Observatory after attempting to watch the James Dean classic Rebel Without a Cause on their first date — but even in its subtler moments, Chazelle’s love of Old Hollywood is clear throughout.

Luckily film buffs can catch up on the movies that paved the way for La La Land‘s fancy footwork …

SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
The film to which La La Land has been compared most often is, of course, the iconic 1952 Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds film, which Chazelle has often cited as an influence. In fact, Gosling revealed at the Palm Springs Film Festival in January that the cast watched Singin’ In the Rain on set for inspiration. “I wish I could’ve said this in person, but I’d like to thank Debbie Reynolds for her wonderful career of work. She was an inspiration to us every day,” Gosling said, while accepting the Festival’s Vanguard Award. “We watched Singin’ in the Rain every day for inspiration, and she was a truly unparalleled talent. So I thank her for all of that inspiration.”

And that inspiration can be spotted throughout the film, from the vivid reds and yellows used as a color scheme to the dream ballet at the very end of the film, but eagle-eyed viewers will catch Singin’ In the Rain references sprinkled into the film’s choreography. (Hello, Gosling’s lamppost swing at the start of “A Lovely Night.”)

“They looked like real people moving and having emotions that felt real, and they were telling stories that I think so many of us can relate to,” the film’s choreographer told PEOPLE, revealing she wanted the dancing to be “very colorful and alive” like “the greats”.

“And that dance played a part in that? I was very, very proud,” she continued.

Chazelle also revealed that he had specifically told Stone to watch Reynolds’ star-making performance in the film. “Emma was watching and re-watching a ton of Debbie Reynolds stuff, specifically,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “Talk about naturalism. Talk about doing these musicals, or these Old Hollywood movies full of sets and costumes, where it feels like there should be no room for naturalism at all, and yet you watch Singin’ In the Rain, you feel like you know her.”

AN AMERICAN IN PARISIn addition to inspiring Stone and Gosling’s performances, Singin’ In the Rain inspired the film’s famous “dream ballet” ending, along with another iconic Old Hollywood musical: An American in Paris.

“I knew that I wanted to tell a love story where the lovers didn’t wind up together at the end, where there was some kind of melancholy built into the narrative,” Chazelle told PEOPLE about the heartbreaking epilogue, which tells an alternate version of Mia and Sebastian’s love story. “And then it became about how do we explore that idea at the end purely through music.”

“So just the idea of having a full 10-minute chunk at the end of the movie with no dialogue where you could tell a whole story through image and score and dance,” he added. “And I was definitely inspired by An American in Paris and any of those ’50s musicals that had those big dream ballets like Singin’ in the Rain. That was just kind of a tradition that you used to see in musicals a lot but you just don’t see at all anymore that I kind of wanted to resurrect.”

THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURGDuring the six years that Chazelle was working on the script for La La Land, the director kept the films of French auteur Nicholas Demy on shuffle for inspiration, but it was Demy’s 1964 masterpiece that most heavily influenced the Best Picture contender. Its influence can be most obviously seen in the film’s style and color palette, and in the way the story of La La Land is broken up into four seasons, just like The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

SWEET CHARITY & WEST SIDE STORYEarly on the film, Mia is ushered out of her house to a “glamorous” Hollywood party by her roommates in “Someone in the Crowd.” And the way they play dress up around the apartment while trying to convince her to join is all inspired by Maria goofing around in the bridal salon in West Side Story. If you started hearing a few notes of “I Feel Pretty” when Mia tries on that blue dress, well, you’re not alone.

But while the girls’ skirt-swishing night-out choreography might invoke memories of Rita Moreno, the number owes more to Bob Fosse’s 1969 musical Sweet Charity — specifically, the number “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This.” From the bright, primary colors of Mia and her friend’s costumes to the way the girls dance from one location to another, to, of course, the iconic skirt-focused choreography, it’s hard not to see the ways this number follows in Shirley McLaine and Chita Rivera’s footsteps.

Chazelle has also cited Sweet Charity as an influence for how the camera moves around the party at the end of the number. “The stylized movement of the dancers is very Bob Fosse,” he told Vulture.  “Sweet Charity has a great party sequence.”

THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT & SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERSThough Chazelle has cited everything from Rear Window to Falling Down as inspiration for La La Land‘s elaborate opening number, “Another Day of Sun,” (which features people singing and dancing while stuck in a traffic jam on the freeway), the actual logistics of the number was influenced by two musical masterpieces.

“We were looking at Jacques Demy’s The Young Girls of Rochefort, which opens with girls not in traffic per se, but on a barge carrying their cars across the river,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “That sort of dance movement in and out of cars and between cars, that was very important to our choreography.”

“And then there was Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which used the widescreen for the dance so incredibly. And the athletic choreography. Our opening sequence wasn’t going to be a number like the ones that Ryan and Emma perform later in the movie — this was about busting-at-the-seams exuberance. Even though they’re stuck in traffic, these people are refusing to give up,” he explained.

“They’re refusing to be stuck in life. They’re plowing forward. That’s why we have stuff like a parkour dancer and a BMX biker. I was pulling from the sheer athleticism of the Michael Kidd choreography in Seven Brides, which a lot of times seems like you’re watching the most incredible stunt performers. It bleeds between stunts and dance in a really cool way.”

Once you put all of those influences together — and throw in a good amount of chemistry, courtesy of Stone and Gosling — you’ve got movie magic.

Watch the PEOPLE & EW Red Carpet Live Oscars preshow on Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT on the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the app on your favorite device. Then watch our Red Carpet Fashion Wrap-Up after the Oscars!

The Academy Awards kicks off live on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 26, with a 7 p.m. ET pre-show and 8:30 p.m. ceremony. See all the Oscar nominees and get your own ballot here!

The Strange Way Jack Falahee Found Out Who Killed Wes on How to Get Away with Murder

For the most part, Jack Falahee tries to stay away from social media, but the How to Get Away with Murder star couldn’t ignore the messages he received after it was revealed last week that his character had visited the crime scene at the center of the ABC drama’s current mystery.

“I start getting all these messages from people saying, ‘I hate Connor so much! You killed Wes!’ ” Falahee told PEOPLE Wednesday of how viewers reacted to his character being shown administering CPR to Wes (Alfred Enoch), whose murder has been at the center of the second half of HTGAWM‘s third season.

“There were a lot of theories that Connor killed him and then immediately regretted it. I’m confused why people were jumping to that conclusion when Connor was doing CPR on Wes. If anything, he was trying to be a hero and save Wes,” Falahee told reporters. “That would make him the worst killer ever!”

Falahee isn’t allowed to reveal who killed Wes — fans will have to wait until the 2-hour finale (tonight at 9 p.m.) — but he did share the unusual way he found out the news.

The rest of the cast found out the murderer’s identity when they had the first read-through of the finale script but “I couldn’t go. I had a stomach flu,” says Falahee.

In fact, he’d been shooting that day and was napping on the set of Michaela’s (Aja Naomi King) bedroom while the rest of the cast was reading.

“I was throwing up off the side of the bed and texting people, ‘What happened?!’ ” he says.

Without giving away the killer’s identity, Falahee explained he’s excited to see how the reveal will impact the world of the show.

“The show has been in a bit of an incubator of the house and the classroom and now the house has burnt down,” says the actor. “I’m interested to see how the writers spread their wings.”

The 2-hour season 3 finale of How to Get Away with Murder airs Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

It’s a Crab! It’s a Puppy! It’s Banana the Adoptable Dog

Sometimes photographers tell you to act natural. It turns out Banana the dog’s natural state is “crab.”

Lollipop Kennels recently posted a picture of the pup, who is now looking for a home, but he doesn’t look all puppy.

In the shot, 5-month-old Banana strikes a pose that one might be inclined to call “Confused Crab.”

While Banana isn’t always scuttling around on his back paws, the picture is an accurate depiction of his adorable personality.

“He’s a goofy guy. He runs around grabbing toys and stealing anything he can,” Lollipop Kennels tells PEOPLE in an email. “He’s always jumping around and doesn’t sit still long enough to get a ‘normal’ picture of him. He’s met kids and is awesome with them, he’s really just a playful, goofy puppy.”

The good news is that Banana is still available for adoption, so there is a chance this silly dog could clamor into your home and heart. If you are interested in learning more about this joker, contact Lollipop Kennels in Lubbock, Texas, at 806-746-6875.