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Harvey Weinstein Reaches Tentative $44 Million Deal With Accusers

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  • Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 80 women, and his former studio have reached a tentative $44 million deal to settle lawsuits with his accusers and other parties.
  • About $30 million would go to the accusers, studio creditors, and former employees of Weinstein Co.
  • The remaining $14 million would cover legal fees that Weinstein’s associates faced, including board members who were named as defendants in lawsuits.
  • The settlement would be paid by insurance policies and will not affect ongoing criminal lawsuits against him.

Tentative Settlement

Harvey Weinstein and his former studio board have reached a tentative multi-million dollar deal with women who have accused him of sexual misconduct.

Adam Harris, a lawyer for Weinstein Co. co-founder Bob Weinstein, told a bankruptcy court judge on Thursday, “For the first time, as of yesterday…we now have an economic agreement in principle that is supported by the plaintiffs, the [New York attorney general’s] office, the defendants and all of the insurers.”

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times both reported that a $44 million deal was proposed. Of the proposed sum, about $30 million would be distributed to the accusers, studio creditors, and former employees of Weinstein’s company. The remaining $14 would pay for legal fees that Weinstein’s associates faced, including board members who were named as defendants in lawsuits.

The money to settle the civil suits won’t come from Weinstein himself but instead will come from insurance policies.

The tentative deal came about a year of mediation hearing. However, according to the Times, the proposed sum is less than half of what was initially discussed as a victims’ fund last year between an investor group that was interested in buying assets of the Weinstein Co. and then New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

The deal must still be approved by advisors who now run Weinstein Co. in bankruptcy proceedings. The outcome of this settlement will be especially significant because lawsuits are one of the main ways that Weinstein can be held responsible for his alleged actions.

“It’s been a long complex process and we do feel this settlement provides a measure of justice though it’s not everything one might hope for and it reflects a long effort to reach a compromise between different parties that have claims to some of the money from the whole Weinstein enterprise,” Aaron Filler, an attorney representing actress Paz de la Huerta, one of the plaintiffs, told the Times.

Background

Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by over 80 women, was one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood until 2017 when investigations from The New York Times and The New Yorker laid out numerous allegations of sexual harassment, abuse, and other forms of misconduct. Weinstein’s list of accusers includes high profile actresses like Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Cara Delevigne.

The accusations against Weinstein inspired more and more victims of abuse to speak out, sparking the massive #MeToo movement that has even reached industries outside of Hollywood.

Weinstein has denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty to rape and other sex crimes. However, since the settlement relates to civil lawsuits, it will not impact any pending criminal investigations against him.

He still faces a criminal case involving two accusers in New York, where he faces charges for rape and other crimes. Motions have been filed in that case to allow for other women to testify, which could help build a stronger case for prosecutors against the movie mogul.

In January of this year, a federal judge in California dismissed a sexual harassment claim filed by Ashley Judd. The judge sided with the defense lawyers who argued that the law cited in the lawsuit at the time of the alleged offense, did not cover movie producers like Weinstein. That marked the second instance where a judge dismissed the claims in Judd’s lawsuit.

The Weinstein Company filed for bankruptcy last year feeling the burden of the lawsuits brought forth by accusers, who say that Weinstein Co. had also engaged in and allowed for misconduct.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Wall Street Journal) (Fox News)

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“Saved by the Bell” Apologizes for Jokes About Selena Gomez’s Kidney Transplant

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  • NBC’s “Saved by the Bell” reboot was slammed for including jokes about Selena Gomez’s 2017 kidney transplant.
  • In episode six, two students argue about the identity of Gomez’s kidney donor. In another scene, the phrase “Does Selena Gomez even have kidneys?” appears to be spray-painted on a wall in the school’s hallway.
  • Fans called the scenes disrespectful and insensitive, with some accusing the show of mocking the singer’s health.
  • Peacock, NBCUniversal, and the show’s producers issued an apology and promised to donate to her charity, The Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research at USC/
  • Actress Francia Raisa, who donated a kidney to Gomez, then asked the groups to not forget about the donors they also “offended and dismissed.”

Selena Gomez References

Actress Francia Raisa responded Saturday to Peacock’s apology for jokes about Selena Gomez’s 2017 kidney transplant in the streaming service’s “Saved by the Bell” reboot.

The outrage appeared online this weekend after fans took issue with references in episode six of the series. That episode features two Bayside High students arguing about the identity of Gomez’s kidney donor.

“I know for a fact that Selena Gomez’s kidney donor was Justin Bieber’s mom. God, I wish that I had my phone so that I could prove it,” one student says.

“Prove what? That you’re an idiot? It was Demi Lovato’s kidney. They’re best friends, like you and I were,” the other responds.

In a later scene, the phrase “Does Selena Gomez even have kidneys?” appears to be spray-painted on a wall in the school’s hallway.

Reactions

Fans were confused by the jokes, saying they didn’t seem to serve a real purpose and instead came off as insensitive remarks about the singer’s health.

Since 2015, Gomez has been open about her struggle with lupus, an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that sometimes causes kidney failure. In 2017, she revealed that she had undergone a kidney transplant after receiving a donation from Raisa, one of her best friends.

After seeing the jokes, many fans accused the show of mocking Gomez, calling it disgusting and demanding an apology. At one point, “Respect Selena Gomez” even became a trending phrase on Twitter.

“Saved by the Bell” Apologizes

In response to the outrage, the streaming service, NBCUniversal, and the show’s executive producers released a statement Saturday,

“We apologize. It was never our intention to make light of Selena’s health,” they said. “We have been in touch with her team and will be making a donation to her charity, The Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research at USC.”

While Selena didn’t respond to the apology or the backlash, Raisa took to Twitter to say, “Appreciate the apology but let’s not forget about the donors that potentially felt offended and dismissed from the spray paint written on the wall.”

“As a kidney donor I want to show love and let other donors know that you are not alone. You are seen. You are appreciated. You are so brave and your selfless act is very much appreciated and valued!” she added.

For now, fans of both stars are sending them a ton of support online, with many calling on NBCUniversal to do more to rectify the situation.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Vulture) (PEOPLE)

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Why The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, and Nicki Minaj Are Slamming the Grammy Nominations

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  • The Weeknd accused the Grammys of corruption and a lack of transparency after he was snubbed with zero nominations this year.
  • Reports suggested that talks between the singer and the Recording Academy regarding his performance at the show and the Super Bowl turned sour, but the president of the Academy denies that it had anything to do with his lack of nominations.
  • Justin Bieber also slammed the Grammys for nominating him in pop categories when considered his album R&B. While genre is often a point of contention at the show, many think that his placement in pop is not unfounded.
  • Nicki Minaj also brought up her 2012 Best New Artist loss, when Bon Iver beat her out for the trophy. She pointed to this moment as an example of the Grammy’s history of exclusion when it comes to women and artists of color, which the show promises it is working on.

The Weeknd’s Major Snubs

Major artists including The Weeknd, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj slammed the Grammy Awards on Tuesday after the Recording Academy released their 2021 nominations. 

Heading into the announcement, The Weeknd was a favorite to be nominated in major categories for his album “After Hours” and his song “Blinding Lights” after both received huge critical and commercial success. “Blinding Lights” has broken Billboard records and The Weeknd is slated to perform at the Super Bowl, making him the perfect candidate not just for nominations, but for wins as well. So, when he ended up with a whopping zero nominations, it was largely considered the biggest snub of the day.

Kid Cudi took to Twitter to say the singer was “robbed” and Elton John wrote on Instagram that The Weeknd should have won Song and Record of the Year. The Weeknd chimed in himself, writing that the Grammys “remain corrupt.”

You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency,” he added.

The Grammys are no stranger to criticism of this kind and have long faced accusations of corruption for having “boys club” leadership and for excluding women and artists of color in nominations and performances. In this case, reports indicate that The Weeknd may have been referring to a specific situation regarding the potential of him performing at the show and how that may have clashed with his spot on the Super Bowl lineup. 

“There were many conversations between the Grammys and the Weeknd team about his performance slated for the 2021 Grammys,” a source told Rolling Stone. “There was an ultimatum given resulting in a struggle over him also playing the Super Bowl that went on for some time and was eventually agreed upon that he would perform at both events.”

A source told TMZ that the Grammys were the party that handed out that ultimatum, essentially saying “it’s us or it’s the Super Bowl.” While they did reach a place where both could happen, the talks were allegedly testy, and come nomination day, The Weeknd was left empty-handed.

As for why talks of this nature could get heated, the Grammys is a concert just as much as it is an awards show. Their slate of performers is arguably more precious than their nominations because those performances are what draw in the show’s much sought after viewers. Why the Recording Academy may have viewed The Weeknd’s Super Bowl performance as a threat to this is unclear, but its Chair and Interim President and CEO Harvey Mason Jr. denied that these discussions had anything to do with The Weeknd’s lack of nods.

“We understand that the Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated. I was surprised and can empathize with what he’s feeling,” he told Rolling Stone.

“We would have loved to have him also perform on the Grammy stage the weekend before [the Super Bowl]. Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists,” he added. “To be clear, voting in all categories ended well before The Weeknd’s performance at the Super Bowl was announced, so in no way could it have affected the nomination process.”

For what it’s worth, The Weeknd and other industry insiders likely knew about the Super Bowl performance prior to the public announcement, though exactly when is of course unknown. But Mason Jr. maintains that the nominations were not impacted by this. 

Still, The Weeknd took to Twitter again on Wednesday further expressing his frustrations by the ordeal. 

“Collaboratively planning a performance for weeks to not being invited?  In my opinion zero nominations = you’re not invited!” he wrote.

He also is receiving a lot of support for his comments. His initial tweet about the situation has over 1 million likes as of Wednesday morning, and his Instagram post saying the same thing has over 2 million. Big names including Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and Pharrell Williams are among those who liked his Instagram post.  

Justin Bieber’s Genre Placement

Justin Bieber also called the show out, though not because he was not nominated, but instead because of what he was nominated for. Bieber landed a handful of nominations, including Best Pop Vocal Album for “Changes” and Best Pop Solo Performance for “Yummy.” He took to Instagram to express that pop is not where he would have placed his work.

“To the Grammys I am flattered to be acknowledged and appreciated for my artistry. I am very meticulous and intentional about my music,” he wrote. “With that being said I set out to make an R&B album. ‘Changes’ was and is an R&B album. It is not being acknowledged as an R&B album which is very strange to me.”

“For this not to be put into that category feels weird considering from the chords to the melodies to the vocal style, all the way down to the hip-hop drums that were chosen, it is undeniably, unmistakably an R&B album!” he argued. 

Though, his complaints were met with less support than The Weeknd’s. Reviews for “Changes” were mixed at best. While both Rolling Stone and Pitchfork identified it as an album persuaded by both pop and R&B, the latter outlet said “Changes” “has all the glow and eroticism of an airport terminal.”

When it comes down to what genre an artist is placed in, that choice is made by experts in each genre, which include producers, artists and more. 

“Pop is a field that is often a point of contention or confusion: An artist who is popular, like Post Malone or Macklemore, may be rejected by a genre committee, like Rap, because the people on that committee consider them to be Pop artists,” Jem Aswad explained for Variety.  “In that context, it is difficult to imagine the R&B committee considering Bieber’s lite take on R&B music to be suitable for the category.”

Aswad also said that genre confusion and overlap could have contributed to some of The Weeknd’s snubs. However, Bieber and this year’s nominations aside, genre placement, in general, has historically been a hot topic when it comes to the Grammys, specifically when it comes to how artists of color are treated and excluded. Many artists have spoken out about this, including Tyler the Creator, who chimed in on the subject after the 2020 show. 

“It sucks that whenever we — and I mean guys that look like me — do anything that’s genre-bending or that’s anything they always put it in a rap or urban category,” he said. “I don’t like that ‘urban’ word — it’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me.”

The “Urban” category has since been renamed to “Progressive R&B” but the conversation about these categories and what they mean is still very much ongoing. Regarding where Bieber fits into this narrative of issues with genre at the show, many thought a pop placement for him was fair and some even mocked him online for complaining. Mason Jr. also defended the genre and nomination process while speaking to Variety

“The people [in the committees] are music professionals — they are excellent, at the top of their craft in songwriting and producing, and there are a lot of artists,” he explained. “They critically [listen] to every song that comes across their desks.”

Nicki Minaj Talks Diversity

The Grammys are still not in the clear when it comes to their issues with representation and diversity. Rapper Nicki Minaj tweeted about her Best New Artist loss in 2012, which many feel showcases the issues the Recording Academy still has.

“Never forget the Grammys didn’t give me my best new artist award when I had 7 songs simultaneously charting on billboard & bigger first week than any female rapper in the last decade- went on to inspire a generation,” she wrote. “They gave it to the white man Bon Iver.”

While you could argue whether or not Bon Iver, Nicki Minaj, or any of the other nominees that year deserved the trophy, what can’t be argued is the show’s history with a lack of representation when it comes to celebrating women and people of color in music. This is something the Grammys claims to be working on.  According to the L.A. Times, the Academy invited over 2,000 new voters this year that were 48% women and 37% from traditionally underrepresented communities.

“It’s really a new era for us and a time of transformative change,” Kelley Purcell, the Academy’s Senior Director of Member Outreach told the outlet. “It’s important for us to not only be reflective of what’s happening in the music industry but also to be a leader and to set a positive example for the music industry.”

For what it’s worth, some of the nominations this year do show progress, particularly with gender inclusion. For the first time ever, all the nominees in Best Rock Performance are female. Female-led acts also took up every nomination in Best Country Album, and dominated other country categories. 

See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Variety) (Los Angeles Times)

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YouTube Launches “World’s First Infinite Music Video” to Celebrate Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” Hitting 1 Billion Views

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  • In honor of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” reaching 1 billion YouTube views, the platform created an “infinite” music video that seamlessly brings together thousands of covers of the song.
  • YouTube says “watching every combination of covers would take at least 1.46 x 10^100 years, which is longer than the lifespan of the universe.”
  • The company considers this a growing experiment, which means fan-generated videos created after the initial launch will eventually be mixed into the video as well.

YouTube’s Announcement

YouTube launched what it calls “the world’s first infinite music video” on Tuesday in celebration of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” surpassing 1 billion views on the platform.

“This unique AI experiment uses machine learning to bring thousands of covers together, seamlessly aligning them in endless combinations, creating a music video that’s different every time you watch it,” YouTube explained in a blog post.

Because of technical requirements, the experience can’t live online as a traditional YouTube video. Instead, the organizers gave it its own site: billie.withyoutube.com 

When fans visit the site, they are automatically placed on the #Everything category, which shows a range of different covers of “Bad Guy.” However, viewers can also hop around specific categories to hear the song with different instruments or in different genres. 

Viewers can even search for dance routines, parodies, animations, tutorials, and more  – all without losing their spot in the song. 

Some of the categories available on the project’s site.

Hitting pause on the infinite video also allows users to scroll down and read stats about their unique viewing experience.

Plus, fans can see their video history and click through to any creator’s channel to subscribe if they find someone they would like to support. 

Could We See More of This?

When asked about the project, Google Creative Lab Producer Jay Chen told Rolling Stone: “This project is a loving monument to YouTube fan culture, in all its diverse and wonderful glory. With billions of combinations, every viewing is unique and we can’t wait for you to play it.”

What’s more interesting about this is that YouTube sees it as a growing experiment, which means fan-generated videos created after the initial launch will eventually be mixed into the video as well.

That just makes the possible combinations even more insane. As is, the experience is not exactly “infinite,” thought it’s definitely impressive. 

In fact, YouTube says “watching every combination of covers would take at least 1.46 x 10^100 years, which is longer than the lifespan of the universe.”

Still, it’s worth noting that YouTube’s global head of artist relations, Vivien Lewit, said this is just a one-off project — at least for now — and won’t necessarily be created for every music video that surpasses 1 billion views from now on.

It could be something the company does again in the future, but as far as why YouTube chose Eilish to pilot the idea, the company said it was because “Bad Guy” was one of the most covered songs on YouTube.  

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Rolling Stone) (NME)

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