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SNL Drops Comedian Shane Gillis After Use of Slurs Resurface

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  • Saturday Night Live revoked Shane Gillis’ invitation to appear as a cast member following online blowback from Gillis’ use of racial and homophobic slurs.
  • In a statement, Gillis said he thought it was “ridiculous” to put out a serious statement but said he respected SNL’s decision then called himself a “mad tv guy.”
  • Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang expressed disappointment over Gillis’ comments but said he shouldn’t lose his job and offered to meet with Gillis, even after learning the comedian seemingly used racial slurs against him in a podcast. 

SNL Cuts Shane Gillis

Saturday Night Live rescinded an offer for Shane Gillis to join the sketch comedy show’s upcoming 45th season on Monday following backlash over resurfaced clips of the comedian using racist and homophobic slurs.

“After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL,” a spokesperson for Lorne Michaels said in a statement. “We want SNL to have a variety of voices and points of view within the show, and we hired Shane on the strength of his talent as a comedian and his impressive audition for SNL.”

“The language he used is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable,” the statement continues. “We are sorry that we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to our standard.”

The comedian was hired on Sep. 12, along with two other new series regulars, Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang. Gillis immediately attracted national attention when reports of slurs from his podcast, “Matt and Shane’s Secret Podcast,” surfaced online.

On Monday, Gillis also provided a statement via Twitter, saying he respects SNL’s decision while seemingly taking a jab at the show by calling himself a “mad tv guy.”

“It feels ridiculous for comedians to be making serious public statements but here we are,” he said. “I’m a comedian who was funny enough to get SNL. That can’t be taken away. Of course I wanted an opportunity to prove myself at SNL, but I understand it would be too much of a distraction.”

In his podcasts, Gillis uses a variety of slurs aimed at Asian individuals and gay men. Gillis also criticizes comedian Sarah Silverman for talking about women’s rights, criticizes comedians who discuss mental health, and uses caricatured racial accents. 

“Those guys are fucking gayer than ISIS. At least ISIS is out there, ‘We need to get the pussy. After we blow ourselves up, we get a bunch of pussy,” Gillis said in one podcast while using a faked Middle Eastern accent. “These white, fa***t comics they’re like, ‘I’m just sad life is hard and I’m gay.’”

In the same podcast, Gillis also said a Latino comic should go back to the Spanish-speaking TV station Univision. 

In a different podcast, Luis Gomez’s Real Ass Podcast, Gillis seemingly makes a slur against Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang about 46 minutes and 30 seconds into the recording. 

“Give me your next candidate, Dems. Jew ch**k, next,” Gillis said in the May podcast. “Actually, they are running a Jew ch**k.

Yang is not Jewish. 

Meeting With Andrew Yang

On Saturday, Yang posted a series of tweets regarding the situation and offered to meet with Gillis, saying he didn’t believe Gillis should lose his job.

“Shane – I prefer comedy that makes people think and doesn’t take cheap shots,” Yang said. “But I’m happy to sit down and talk with you if you’d like.”

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The offer apparently resonated with Gillis, because Monday, Yang posted another tweet, saying he will sit down with Gillis in the near future.

Reaction From Former SNL Cast and Host

Former SNL cast members and a former host also chimed in on the situation, with the responses among them mixed.

Sandra Oh, who hosted the show in March, praised the decision from SNL.

Rob Schneider, who was on the show in the 1990s, supported Gillis and said he “had the misfortune of being a cast member during this era of cultural unforgiveness.”

Schneider continued by saying he felt sad when he saw Gillis’ comments but suggested suspension as a more appropriate punishment.

On Lights Out with David Spade, Spade’s guests discussed SNL’s past history with racist skits, including John Belushi portraying a Samurai in the 1970s and Mike Myers playing a host on a Japanese game show skit where people cut off their fingers.

“I think, when I was younger on SNL,” Spade said, “when you get hired, the first move wasn’t to rifle through your past to make sure you get fired right away.”

See what others are saying: (NPR) (NBC) (CNN)

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Emmys Preparing Remote Telecast for September Show

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  • As has long been assumed, officials with the Emmys confirmed that the awards show will be conducting a remote telecast on Sept. 20.
  • A letter sent to nominees by host Jimmy Kimmel and several other producers said that aspects of the show will be coming to nominees’ homes to create a virtual show.
  • According to that letter, technicians, producers, and writers will work with the nominees and with Kimmel to create the show. Nominees will be filmed from their homes or other remote locations of nominees.
  • No further details about the show, including if segments will be pre-taped or if winners will be announced in advance, have been released. 

Emmys Go Remote

Instead of its traditional dazzling red carpet and Los Angeles backdrop, the 2020 Emmy Awards will be coming to you from the homes of television’s biggest stars. 

It has long been assumed that the show would not go forward in the Microsoft Theater, as coronavirus lockdowns, social distancing protocols, travel restrictions, and case increases in L.A. make that a seemingly impossible concept. Host Jimmy Kimmel, along with some of the show’s producers, confirmed this in a letter addressed to nominees, obtained by Variety on Wednesday. 

“At a time like this, we’re taking the opportunity to create a moment that is more relaxed, more entertaining, more enjoyable not only for you, but for the millions watching at home,” that letter stated. “It’s still television’s highest honor, and we never want to lose the significance of being nominated for, and maybe winning, an Emmy, but we’re going to do in a way that is appropriate to the moment (and guarantees you a memorable night).”

“But we cannot ignore the circumstances, and aside from NOT being able to come together in one place, we also acknowledge that our world is going through a challenging moment in many ways,” the letter continued. “We’ll be producing an event that is filled with warmth and humanity, which celebrates the power of television to bring us together and to help us shape our world.”

What to Expect

As for how this works come show night on Sept. 20, the letter further explains that a team of technicians, producers, and writers will work with Kimmel and the nominees to capture essential awards show moments from the homes of nominees or another remote location of their choice. 

Fashion wise, the letter said that the theme of the night is “come as you are, but make an effort!” So, if people want to suit up or throw on a ballgown, great. If they’d rather chill in their bed in PJs, that’s fine too, but powder those cheeks and make sure those pajamas are designer. 

While this COVID-19-era set-up now potentially gives Americans the unprecedented chance to get a peak at A-lister’s living rooms, it also leaves a few major questions unanswered. For example, it is still not known if the whole show will run live or if portions will be pre-taped. 

Likewise, we also don’t know if winners will be hearing of their victory for the first time during the broadcast or if they will be told in advance of the show. Setting up live cameras, audio, lighting and other logistics for every single nominee in the event they win is a difficult feat. 

While the letter states the intent for nominees to work with the show for some technical aspect like this, it is unknown if every single nominee will appear on screen and participate the way they would during a normal show. 

The Emmys will air on Sept. 20 on ABC. 

See what others are saying: (Variety) (The Hollywood Reporter) (Vanity Fair)

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#ChallengeAccepted Trend Faces Criticisms for Alleged False Activism

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  • 5.5 million people, including many A-list celebrities, have participated in the #ChallengeAccepted trend, where women post black and white photos of themselves to promote female empowerment.
  • However, the trend has been heavily criticized by people like The New York Times writer Taylor Lorenz and actress Emmy Rossum who both said it actually doesn’t do anything to actively help women.
  • Others have claimed the trend has lost focus and meaning, thinking it originated in Turkey, where people are sharing black and white photos of women to raise awareness for high rates of violence against women in the country. 
  • Instagram has stated that the trend in the U.S. is not tied to the trend in Turkey, but many are now using the hashtag to call attention to it and to encourage their followers to support the Istanbul Convention, which is meant to protect victims of domestic violence. 

#ChallengeAccepted Goes Viral

As black and white photos of women flood Instagram feeds for the #ChallengeAccepted trend, the campaign has become a contentious subject. What started as a simple photo challenge is now under fire for not actually empowering women as it claims to do. Many are also concerned that these glamour shots are clogging up space where information about important subjects like femicide in Turkey could be shared. 

Olivia Munn, Kristen Bell, Reese Witherspoon, Florence Pugh, Jennifer Lopez, and Kerry Washington are among the over 5.5 million people who have shared black and white photos of themselves using the hashtag #ChallengeAccepted. In addition to these photos, those who partake also often share messages about female empowerment and the importance of women supporting other women. 

But the trend’s purposes and murky roots have led many to criticize the movement, and it’s unclear if any one moment served as a specific catalyst for the trend. Many now claim that it was inspired by black and white photos being shared in Turkey to raise awareness for the high rates of violence against women in the country. This has led to a lot of frustration and outrage because most of the big name celebrities sharing these photos do not mention this aspect at all, leaving their posts to just a flattering photo and brief caption.

Though, in all likelihood, this trend probably has nothing to do with what is happening in Turkey. Instagram told The New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz that the resurgence of this challenge in the United States is actually unrelated to the trend in Turkey. Versions of this trend in the U.S. have actually existed since 2016. It has been used to spread awareness for serious diseases like cancer, as well as just to share general positivity online. 

Criticism of the Online Challenge

Lorenz further discussed #ChallengeAccepted on TMZ Live, where she criticized the campaign for masquerading as a form of female empowerment while doing nothing to actually empower women. 

“Just posting, you know, ‘I’m posting this beautiful photo of myself to support other women,’ that doesn’t actually do anything to, you know, move women forward or actually advocate [for] women,” she said. “It’s not highlighting impressive women, it’s not helping your company hire more women, so it’s ultimately pretty meaningless.” 

Lorenz was far from the only critic of the trend. Actress Emmy Rossum asked her Twitter followers: “How is it empowering to other women to post a selfie?”

Though, Lorenz did think that in some cases, #ChallengeAccepted has been used for good. Stars like Rashida Jones used it to call for justice for Breonna Taylor. Also, because many are under the impression that women in Turkey are the root of the trend, many more have been using it to spread awareness about that. 

Violence Against Women in Turkey

Various infographics have been created and shared on Instagram to educate users on the platform about femicide in Turkey. Some have been liked tens, if not hundreds of thousands of times. People all over are sharing these graphics to their Instagram stories so their followers can read up on the topic.

Violence against women in Turkey has been an issue for a long time, but it is facing renewed attention because a 27-year-old woman was recently murdered by her ex-boyfriend. This has prompted protests and calls for action when it comes to the common threats women face in the country. 

According to The Guardian, 42% of Turkish women between the ages of 15-60 have suffered some form of physical or sexual violence by their husbands or partners. In 2019 alone, 474 women were murdered, mainly by partners or relatives, which was the highest rate in a decade. This number has been increasing every year for the past ten years. It is expected to climb even higher this year because of coronavirus lockdowns leading to increases in domestic violence. 

Those using the challenge to discuss Turkey on Instagram are also pointing to efforts to protect the Istanbul Convention, which is a Council of Europe treaty designed to protect victims of domestic violence and other forms of violence against women. While Turkey was among the first countries to sign it, the convention is facing a new wave of threats against it. 

Legislation that provides basic human rights for women in Turkey is in jeopardy under the country’s conservative leadership. According to The Guardian, lobbyists are working to change the Istanbul Convention, leaving its future in question. 

Celebrities Refocus #ChallengeAccepted

With all this information going around, some celebrities have opted to refocus their role in this online challenge. Actress Florence Pugh, who shared a goofy black and white selfie, discussed the Istanbul Convention in her caption. She encouraged others to do the same. 

“Women are being subjected to violence and this convention is to end forgiveness for the attacker/murderers,” the “Little Women” star wrote. “With that in mind, adjust your hashtags if you didn’t already do so.”

Pugh is also sharing information about violence against women in Turkey on her Instagram stories. Likewise, Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman is also sharing articles about femicide in hers, while singer Demi Lovato is raising awareness on her page, as well. 

With celebrities changing the angles of their involvement in this, what initially appeared to be a surface-level girl power challenge has now started to highlight an international issue that many may have previously been unaware of. While its initial direct ties to the #ChallengeAccepted campaign have been disproven by Instagram, this issue has become a driving force behind the trend’s spread. 

See what others are saying: (New York Times) (The Cut) (Elle)

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Ellen DeGeneres Show Under Investigation For Toxic Workplace

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  • The Ellen DeGeneres Show” is under investigation after repeated reports of a toxic and hostile workplace on set.
  • Former employees have said they experienced racism and other intimidation tactics while working for the daytime talk show. In one case, a former Black employee said she experienced regular microaggressions and was reprimanded for speaking about race and representation.
  • Many have also said they had a hard time getting time off for deaths in the family or for medical emergencies.
  • So far, no representatives for Warner Brothers or for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” have made statements about the investigation. 

Allegations of Racism

“The Ellen DeGeneres Show” is being investigated after several former employees have claimed producers foster a toxic and demeaning work environment.

WarnerMedia will have a third party interview current and former staffers about their work experiences. Several recent reports have hurled scathing accusations against top producers on the show, while some have claimed the hostile workplace culture goes as high up as DeGeneres herself.

In July, BuzzFeed News reported that some current and former workers faced intimidation tactics and racism while on set. One former Black employee said she regularly faced microaggressions from her co-workers. In one instance, a senior-level producer told her and another Black employee, “Oh wow, you both have box braids; I hope we don’t get you confused.”

She also claimed that a main writer once told her, “I’m sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here.”

She was also allegedly called the “PC Police” for trying to bring up matters of race and discouraging people from using terms like “spirit animal.”

This same employee also claimed that an executive producer reprimanded her for bringing up issues about race and representation, and for asking about a raise because a newer person with the same job as her was making twice as much. After this, she never returned to set.

Struggles Getting Time Off

In other cases, employees had to struggle to get necessary time off. One employee had to request time off after getting in a car accident and having two family deaths within a year. They claimed that each request was a “battle with supervisors and HR.”

In another case, an employee took a month of medical leave to go to a mental health facility after a suicide attempt. When that employee returned to set, they learned their position was being eliminated. 

“Some of the producers talk openly in public about addiction and mental health awareness, but they’re the reason there’s a stigma,” they told BuzzFeed. “They definitely don’t practice what they preach with the ‘be kind’ mantra.”

They were not the only one to call the show out for hypocrisy when it comes to DeGeneres’ daily preachings on kindness. 

“That ‘be kind’ bullshit only happens when the cameras are on,” another source told BuzzFeed. “It’s all for show. I know they give money to people and help them out, but it’s for show.”

Regarding the money and goods the show gives out, BuzzFeed also alleges that the employees who are more liked by producers and do not speak out or complain about work conditions have been given leftover swag like iPhones and JetBlue gift cards.

Top Producers Respond

“We have strived to create an open, safe, and inclusive work environment,” executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly, and Andy Lassner said in a statement. “We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience. It’s not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us.

“For the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us,” they added. “We take all of this very seriously and we realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better.”

Despite their message, many claim that these three producers are directly responsible for the issues on set. 

“People focus on rumors about how Ellen is mean and everything like that, but that’s not the problem,” a former employee told BuzzFeed. “The issue is these three executive producers running the show who are in charge of all these people [and] who make the culture and are putting out this feeling of bullying and being mean.”

Still, some believe these issues ultimately fall on DeGeneres’ shoulders. 

“If she wants to have her own show and have her name on the show title, she needs to be more involved to see what’s going on,” another former staffer told the outlet.

Poor Communication During Lockdowns

Before this, in April, Variety reported that staff of the show were upset because of poor communication regarding pay and schedules during the start of coronavirus lockdowns. The crew had received no written communication about their working hours, pay, or inquiries about their health over the span of a month. To make matters more frustrating, the show hired an outside crew to help DeGeneres film remotely from her home. 

Eventually, the crew learned that they would be getting a 60% pay cut, even though the show was still airing.

So far, no spokespeople from Warner Brothers or “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” have made statements about the investigations. 

See what others are saying: (Variety) (New York Times) (Los Angeles Times)

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