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Renée Zellweger to PEOPLE: ‘I’m Glad Folks Think I Look Different’

10/22/2014 AT 12:10 AM EDT

Renée Zellweger has responded to Internet chatter about her appearance. In an exclusive statement to PEOPLE, the Oscar winner says she looks different because she is healthier and happier than ever – and she’s fine with people taking notice.

“I’m glad folks think I look different! I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows,” Zellweger, 45, says of the attention she received after an appearance at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards in Beverly Hills on Monday.

Calling the conversation about her appearance “silly,” she says she is choosing to address it because “it seems the folks who come digging around for some nefarious truth which doesn’t exist won’t get off my porch until I answer the door.”

“My friends say that I look peaceful. I am healthy,” Zellweger continues. “For a long time I wasn’t doing such a good job with that. I took on a schedule that is not realistically sustainable and didn’t allow for taking care of myself. Rather than stopping to recalibrate, I kept running until I was depleted and made bad choices about how to conceal the exhaustion. I was aware of the chaos and finally chose different things.”

That healthier, slower-paced lifestyle – and her happy relationship with boyfriend Doyle Bramhall – helped her turn a corner. “I did work that allows for being still, making a home, loving someone, learning new things, growing as a creative person and finally growing into myself,” she says.

Renée Zellweger to PEOPLE: Im Glad Folks Think I Look Different

Renée Zellweger (left) and Nanci Ryder at the Walk to Defeat ALS in Los Angeles

Matt Sayles / Invision / AP

And if some people don’t recognize the new Renée Zellweger, one thing they should understand is she’s comfortable in her own skin.

“People don’t know me in my 40s,” says Zellweger, who prefers to lead a quiet life with Bramhall and a close circle of friends. Recently, she pitched in to help her pal and longtime publicist, Nanci Ryder, who is battling ALS, at the ALS Association Golden West Chapter’s annual Walk to Defeat ALS in Los Angeles.

“People don’t know me [as] healthy for a while,” says Zellweger. “Perhaps I look different. Who doesn’t as they get older?! Ha. But I am different. I’m happy.”

Renée Zellweger to PEOPLE: Im Glad Folks Think I Look Different

Reese Witherspoon and Renée Zellweger at the Walk to Defeat ALS in Los Angeles

Matt Sayles / Invision / AP

Renée Zellweger to PEOPLE: Im Glad Folks Think I Look Different
Source: Renée Zellweger to PEOPLE: ‘I’m Glad Folks Think I Look Different’

The Voice: Gwen Stefani Makes a Strategic Steal as Battle Rounds Conclude

The Voice: Gwen Stefani Makes a Strategic Steal as Battle Rounds Conclude

Clockwise from top: Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams

Courtesy The Voice

Gwen Stefani is one sly stealer.

The No Doubt frontwoman was the only Voice coach to have a steal going into the final night of the battle rounds Tuesday – and she used it with aplomb to steal one of two “divas” who performed a commanding rendition of the Christina Aguilera hit “I Turn to You.”

Coach Adam Levine paired four-chair-turning Beth Spangler, 30, an X-ray technician from Aiken, South Carolina, against fellow four-chairer Mia Pfirrman, 19, of Temple City, California, because “there’s only room for one belter on my team,” he said during rehearsal.

But their powerful performance left the veteran coach with a difficult decision, as all four coaches praised their battle match-up.

“That was definitely a couple of divas up there giving it all they had,” declared Blake Shelton, who called out the “raspy roughness that blows your mind” in Pfirrman’s voice.

“Mia, this song I felt was way more suited to your voice and you sang it so beautifully and confidently,” said Stefani. “And Beth, you kept surprising me. All of the sudden you’d do a note and I’d say, ‘Wow, she has a lot of potential. She really is a good singer.’ “

A pained-looking Levine ultimately chose Pfirrman – but the night didn’t end there for her opponent.

A defeated Spangler kept her bright smile as she hugged the coaches one last time, and when she embraced Stefani, the coach cunningly leaned back and pressed her button for the steal.

“She was showing her range,” Stefani explained of her decision. “And clearly she has a real presence to her. She could go really far.”

The two singers weren’t the only winners on the show Tuesday.

The evening kicked off with a strong pairing from Team Pharrell, who pitted jazzy 21-year-old Boston music student Brittany Butler against Ricky Manning, a 19-year-old Florida native who moved to New York to pursue his musical dream.

The duo sang “On Broadway” and both brought their strengths to the classic tune.

“Ricky, I am so impressed to see you realize being soulful in your own way is okay,” coach Pharrell Williams said after the performance. “Brittany, I felt like you reserved it at first, then let it fly.”

Levine praised Manning for making a “huge leap” from what he heard during the blinds, then couldn’t help pointing out how much he looked like Joaquin Phoenix.

Williams ultimately chose the movie star look-alike, explaining he selected Manning “just because I’ve seen so much improvement.”

Shelton faced another tough choice as he was forced to choose between teen singers Kensington Moore, 16, of Nashville, and Reagan James, 15, of Burleson, Texas, who performed “Team” by Lorde.

Moore battled kidney stones during rehearsals, which forced her to miss the final dress rehearsal with advisors Little Big Town, but managed to keep up with the soulful James during their battle performance.

“I have no idea what you are going to do,” Williams said to Shelton after the song, while also praising James for “playing it cool” after she dropped a word but didn’t panic.

Levine also praised James for “walk[ing] up here like you’ve been a pop star for 20 years – and you’re 15 years old,” while commending Moore for having a voice “that really filled this entire room.”

In the end, Shelton chose James, explaining, “I just got to go with my gut on this one.”

The Voice‘s knockout rounds kick off on Monday (8 p.m. ET) with special advisor Taylor Swift.

The Voice: Gwen Stefani Makes a Strategic Steal as Battle Rounds Conclude
Source: The Voice: Gwen Stefani Makes a Strategic Steal as Battle Rounds Conclude

Michael Sam Cut from Dallas Cowboys Practice Squad

10/21/2014 AT 10:10 PM EDT

Michael Sam will have to wait for a third team to give the NFL’s first openly gay player a chance to appear in a regular-season game.

The Dallas Cowboys released Sam from the practice squad Tuesday, dropping the rush end as they prepare for several potential reinforcements to return to the defensive line.

Sam spent seven weeks with the Cowboys after joining their practice squad Sept. 3, four days after he was among the final cuts by the St. Louis Rams at the end of the preseason. He was never placed on the 53-man active roster.

The Rams drafted the former SEC defensive player of the year from Missouri late in the seventh round in May. He was pick No. 249 out of 256. Sam had three sacks in the preseason with St. Louis playing mostly against second- and third-stringers.

Sam thanked the family of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Twitter, along with “friends, family, teammates, and fans for their support.”

“While this is disappointing, I will take the lessons I learned here in Dallas and continue to fight for an opportunity to prove that I can play every Sunday,” Sam wrote.

The signing of Sam by the Cowboys brought an overflow crowd to coach Jason Garrett’s daily news conference, and he was surrounded by about two dozen reporters in the only interview he conducted on the same day.

But he mostly blended in after that, making occasional appearances in the locker room when it was open to the media and earning praise from Garrett and defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli the few times they were asked about him.

“Comes to work every day and practices hard,” Garrett said last week. “One of 10 practice roster guys that we have, so he’s working on his skills, trying to develop, but also doing a lot of other things. Playing offense, defense, playing the kicking game. That’s what a lot of those guys do.”

Sam came out to his Missouri teammates before his senior season. He told the rest of the world three months before the May draft. After Sunday’s 31-21 win over the New York Giants, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told USA Today that Sam’s sexuality was “a dead issue.”

While releasing Sam, the Cowboys added linebacker Troy Davis of Central Florida and defensive tackle Ken Bishop of Northern Illinois to their practice squad.

Michael Sam Cut from Dallas Cowboys Practice Squad
Source: Michael Sam Cut from Dallas Cowboys Practice Squad

Kesha Accused of Previously Denying Abuse by Dr. Luke

Kesha Accused of Previously Denying Abuse by Dr. Luke

Kesha, Dr. Luke

Gregg DeGuire/WireImage; Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

10/21/2014 AT 09:10 PM EDT

The ongoing legal battle between Kesha and Dr. Luke continues to take new and surprising twists and turns.

Just one week after The “Timber” singer filed documents accusing her producer of mental, physical and sexual abuse, PEOPLE has learned that Dr. Luke’s legal team has successfully petitioned a judge to unseal documents from an unrelated 2011 case in which Kesha denies any such abuse.

“[Dr.] Luke’s latest legal maneuver comes as no surprise,” Kesha’s lawyer Mark Geragos tells PEOPLE.

Dr. Luke, 41, has adamantly denied the abuse claims since the accusations were filed on Oct. 14, but Geragos believes this request to unseal documents is just Dr. Luke making good on the threats they say the mega-producer made to keep Kesha, 27, silent.

“As detailed in our complaint, [Dr.] Luke walked Kesha down the beach and threatened to destroy Kesha’s life and the lives of her family if she didn’t cover up his sexual assaults in a 2011 deposition,” says Geragos.

In the documents in question, Kesha is quoted as affirming that she and Dr. Luke had shared a bed at least once, but she explicitly denies that they ever had an “intimate relationship” or that he ever gave her a “roofie.” Kesha’s mother Pebe Sebert is also quoted as denying that anyone – including her daughter – ever informed her that Dr. Luke had “slipped Kesha a date rape drug” or that “they had had a sexual relationship of any kind.”

Geragos suggests that Kesha’s 2011 denials stemmed from her close relationship with the producer, whom she signed with when she was just 18.

“Unfortunately, protecting abusers out of fear happens all too often with battered women,” Geragos says. “[But] after being driven to the brink of death and into rehab, she’s no longer going to allow herself to wither away at the hands of her abuser as he tries to blame the victim.”

Kesha Accused of Previously Denying Abuse by Dr. Luke
Source: Kesha Accused of Previously Denying Abuse by Dr. Luke