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Sean Spicer Defends His Participation in Dancing with the Stars After Backlash

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  • Critics are using #BoycottDWTS online after Dancing with the Stars announced former Trump Administration Press Secretary Sean Spicer as a contestant on its 28th season.
  • Host Tom Bergeron also criticized the casting, saying he stressed not including any political figures during a meeting with the ABC show’s executive producer.
  • However, Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown, who will also appear on the season, defended Spicer, telling Access that he looked forward to respectful conversations with him.

Spicer on DWTS

Former Trump Administration Press Secretary Sean Spicer is responding to those critical of his participation in the upcoming 28th season of Dancing with the Stars after #BoycottDWTS began trending online.

“I am very happy with who I am and who I support,” Spicer said in an interview with CNN. “I’m not changing. I am giving people another opportunity to see a side of me that is different.”

Spicer also defended his appearance, calling the show entertainment and not news. “If people are looking for news, I suggest they tune into a news program,” he told CNN.

“It will make this show an example of how Americans can disagree about politics and tune into good entertainment shows and keep their politics at bay,” he told US Weekly in a statement.

On Wednesday, Good Morning America revealed the cast, which includes Christie Brinkley, Ally Brooke from Fifth Harmony, Kate Flannery from The Office, and Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown. Spicer will reportedly make six figures while on the show.

Before passing the position to Sarah Sanders, Spicer’s tenure as press secretary was embroiled in controversy. Following President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Spicer claimed it was the largest crowd to ever show up at a presidential inauguration.

“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe,” he said in a press conference

That claim was heavily disputed, and after he left the position, he later said he regretted making the comment.

Spicer also received criticism for comments about Hitler in relation to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

“You look, we didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II,” he said in a different press conference. “Someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” 

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Nazi soldiers under the command of Adolf Hitler killed millions of people using gas chambers.

While Spicer’s new appearance is also generating controversy, he is not the first political figure to appear on Dancing with the Stars. Fox News host Tucker Carlson competed in season 3. Former U.S. Representative Tom DeLay and now-Secretary of Energy Rick Perry also competed in different seasons.

More political figures connected to Trump such as Anthony Scaramucci and Omarosa also competed on other shows like Big Brother.

Host and Castmate Reaction 

Hours after Spicer’s casting was revealed, host Tom Bergeron jumped into the mix by criticizing the choice to cast a political figure. 

“A few months ago, during a lunch with DWTS’ new executive producer, I offered suggestions for season 28,” he said on Twitter. “Chief among them was my hope that DWTS, in its return following an unprecedented year-long hiatus, would be a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from ANY party affiliations. I left that lunch convinced we were in agreement.”

“Subsequently (and rather obviously), a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, ‘go in a different direction.'”

“For me, as host,” he continued. “I always gaze into the camera’s lens and imagine you on the other side, looking for a two-hour escape from whatever life hassles you’ve been wrestling with. That’s a connection, and a responsibility, which I take very seriously.”

Castmate Karamo Brown, however, said he looks forward to having respectful conversations with Spicer. 

Sean Spicer and I have been talking,” he said in an interview with Access Online. “I was most excited to meet him because the thing is, people would look at us and think that we’re polar opposites, but I’m a big believer that if you can talk to someone and meet in the middle, you can learn about each other each other both grow, and so, we have been chatting all day today. He’s a good guy, really sweet guy.”

Online Response and Boycott Culture

Many online directed their criticism at Dancing with the Stars and its network ABC for deciding to cast Spicer, with some calling for a boycott of the show.

“Let @ABCNetwork know that paying Sean Spicer a reported six-figure salary to appear on @DancingABC is a hard pass from loyal viewers,” one person tweeted. “We will not be tuning in this season if he remains on the lineup.”

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Many of those people who are urging for a boycott of the show said they are scared to normalize a political figure who, at times, provided misinformation to journalists.

“Shame on you ABC,” one person tweeted. “By having Sean Spicer on DWTS, you are helping to normalize a behavior, ie lying, that is helping to tear down our democracy.”

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Meanwhile, others have called the situation the latest trend in a series of calls for people to boycott media, including hashtags like #BoycottMulan and #BoycottSony that trended earlier this week.

See what others are saying: (Fox News) (Vanity Fair) (LA Times)

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Netflix Passes 200M Subscribers as Other Streamers Struggle With Retention

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  • In a letter to shareholders, Netflix said it has hit over 200 million subscribers following a successful year of growth.
  • The pandemic gave Netflix a significant subscriber boost in March and April. The company continued to perform well even in its final quarter, gaining 8.5 million subscribers when it was only projected to add 6 million.
  • The data also highlights how relatively unaffected Netflix has been by new streaming services entering the market. While companies like Disney+, HBO Max, and Peacock continue to grow, they also struggle to retain the subscribers that sign up.

Netflix Passes 200 Million Subscribers

Netflix has topped 200 million subscribers following a year of strong growth in 2020.

In its Tuesday letter to shareholders, Netflix announced that it added 8.5 million subscribers in its fourth quarter. This exceeds projections, which estimated the streaming giant would only add around 6 million. In total, Netflix gained 37 million new memberships throughout 2020, bringing the company to 203.6 million subscribers.

Pandemic lockdowns gave Netflix a substantial boost in March in April. In the company’s first two quarters, it added a combined 25.7 million subscribers. According to data from the letter, Netflix had added over 10 million more subscribers by May of 2020 than it had by May of 2019.

When it comes to the success of their fourth quarter, Netflix pointed to shows like “Bridgerton” and “The Crown.” The fourth season of “The Crown” hit the platform in November, prompting many to return to older seasons of the show. Netflix claims the series has been viewed by 100 million households since it first aired in 2016.

Success Amid Growth of Competition

The year 2020 could have been a difficult one for Netflix as new streaming services entered the market. Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock and more have all made waves with their original programming or by taking some of their brand’s content from Netflix to host on their own site. User-based content on YouTube and TikTok also became increasingly popular throughout the pandemic, further posing as a threat to Netflix. 

Still, it reached a massive milestone. 

“Our strategy is simple: if we can continue to improve Netflix every day to better delight our members, we can be their first choice for streaming entertainment,” Netflix said in the letter. “This past year is a testament to this approach.”

Netflix potentially sees Disney+ as the biggest competitor among new platforms. In its letter, the company noted that the streamer added 87 million subscribers in its first year. In a Q&A, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings seemed enthusiastic about this competition.

“It’s super impressive what Disney’s done,” he said. “It’s going to be great for the world that Disney and Netflix are competing show-by-show, movie-by-movie. We’re very fired up about catching them in family animation, maybe eventually passing them, we’ll see. It’s a long way to go just to catch them, and maintaining our lead in general entertainment that’s so stimulating like ‘Bridgerton,’ which I don’t think you’re going to see on Disney anytime soon.”

Streamers Struggle with Retaining Subscribers

Even as new streamers have had impressive years, there is one hurdle that many are still struggling to jump over: retaining the subscribers who sign up. The Los Angeles Times named Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Apple TV+ in particular, writing that people create accounts with these services, watch the TV shows or movies they are interested in, and cancel once they are done.

An October survey from Deloitte said that 46% of respondents canceled at least one streaming service in the last 6 months, which is up 20% from January of last year. Most who had canceled said they did so because they had finished watching whatever programming it was that brought them to that service. 

Places like Disney+ and HBO Max are really vulnerable to this because they have banked on drawing people in with exclusive marquis titles like “Hamilton” or “Wonder Woman 1984.” However, since they are newer, they are still building their original programming catalog, meaning that people can quickly burn through highlight titles. 

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Wall Street Journal) (The Hollywood Reporter)

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Paramount+ To Launch March 4

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  • ViacomCBS is launching Paramount+ in the United States and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out to other markets internationally later this year. 
  • The streaming service will be a relaunch and expansion of CBS All Access. It will include content from Nickelodeon, MTV, and more on top of the CBS-focused selection. 

Paramount+ Gets Launch Date

ViacomCBS will be launching its streaming service Paramount+ in the U.S. and Latin America on March 4 before rolling out in more countries throughout the year. 

It will be an expansion and rebrand of CBS All Access, the service the company currently offers that is used by nearly 8 million subscribers. Paramount+ will go beyond the CBS-centric content promoted there, including works from brands like Nickelodeon, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, and the Smithsonian Channel.

More details about their streaming strategy will be released during an investor event on February 24. Right now, ViacomCBS is boasting that the service will have over 30,000 episodes and movies in their catalog, which will also include live sports and breaking news. 

“The Paramount brand is known and loved all around the world, and is synonymous with great entertainment. It’s always brought people together, which makes it a perfect fit for a streaming service that’s uniquely positioned to do the same,” Josh Line the chief brand officer of ViacomCBS said during a brand announcement in September. “The Paramount+ streaming service will elevate ViacomCBS’ iconic family of brands.”

State of the Streaming Wars

Paramount+ has already announced a slew of original projects including a revival of “iCarly” and a series about the making of “The Godfather” titled “The Offer.”

The service is entering an already crowded battlefield as the streaming wars wages on. It will have plenty of uphill battles to fight since brand recognition for Paramount is not nearly as strong as it is for studios like Disney or NBCUniversal. It will also have to compete with Netflix, which leads the pack in subscribers and unveils new content regularly; HBO Max, which will be home to Warner Media’s new theatrical releases; and Hulu, which hosts original content as well as shows currently airing on cable and network television. 

ViacomCBS has not released information on pricing, but that will likely come during or before the February investor event.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (Deadline) (CNBC)

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Olivia Rodrigo Smashes Records with “drivers license”

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  • Olivia Rodrigo’s debut single “drivers license” has set multiple records on Spotify, becoming both the most streamed song in one day for non-holiday music and the most streamed song in a week.
  • It also has become the most globally requested song on Alexa in one day on Amazon Music. 
  • After its Jan. 8 release, the song became a trending audio on TikTok. Since TikTok’s rise to popularity, the app has helped many songs reach viral success at lightning speed. 

“driver’s license” Breaks Records

At just 17-year-old, Olivia Rodrigo is smashing records with her new single “drivers license” after debuting the tune on Jan. 8.

On Friday, Spotify announced the single set the record for most streams in a week. Prior to this, it set the record for most streams on the platform in one day for a non-holiday song.

As of Monday morning, the song has over 125 million plays on Spotify. According to Pop Crave, it was also the fastest song to reach 100 million streams on the popular music service. 

Over on Amazon Music, “drivers license” became the most globally requested song on Alexa in a single day. It also became the biggest global streaming debut on the site. 

Song Goes Viral on TikTok

Rodrigo is best known for her role as Nini on “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” She has also appeared in a variety of other Disney projects where she showcased her singing and songwriting capabilities. In “drivers license,” she croons about using the newly minted independence her license affords her to mourn a recent breakup.  

The pop ballad has become a popular audio on TikTok. Many use it for dances, to discuss the possibility that Rodrigo wrote it about her co-star Joshua Bassett, or to just wallow in its lyrics. It has been used by some of the app’s most popular creators, including Charli D’Amelio. 

Its success on the platform has likely contributed to its success on streaming platforms and charts. The app has had an immeasurable impact on the music industry by helping songs and artists reach the mainstream at lightning speed. Hits like “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X first found a home on TikTok before breaking records on the billboard charts. 

Rodrigo has been happy and surprised to see her song perform so well and be so positively received. 

“Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this,” she wrote on Instagram after learning that “drivers license” was the number one song on global iTunes charts. “thank u guys so much for listening. I can’t believe this is real life.”

See what others are saying: (Teen Vogue) (CBS News) (Billboard)

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