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2020 Grammys: Billie Eilish Wins Big, Tyler the Creators Slams “Urban” Categories, and Other Major Moments

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  • The 2020 Grammy Awards took place last night, with Billie Eilish breaking records after sweeping in all four major categories.
  • Guests and viewers also mourned the loss of recently deceased LA legends Nipsey Hussle and Kobe Bryant with special tributes during the show.
  • While dealing with backlash over corruption accusations from its former president, the Recording Academy also faced criticism from Tyler the Creator and Diddy who slammed its treatment and categorization of black artists. 

Billie Eilish Wins Big

The biggest names in music gathered for 62nd annual Grammy Awards Sunday night, which proved to be a tough and emotional event mixed with celebration and mourning.  

The stand out winner of this year’s show was Billie Eilish, who took home awards in all four major categories: Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Album of the Year. 

Thanks to the success of her debut album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” and her smash hit “Bad Guy,” the 18-year-old has made history as the second artist to sweep in the top four categories, after Christopher Cross in 1981. She is also the youngest person and first woman to ever do so. 

On top of that, Eilish is now the youngest person to ever win in the Album of the Year category, beating out Taylor Swift, and the youngest to take home Record of the Year, a spot previously held by Sam Smith and Kimbra. 

Aside from the four major wins, the singer also won a 5th award for Best Pop Vocal Album.

Mourning Nipsey Hussle and Kobe Bryant

The Grammys also took a moment to celebrate the later rapper Nipsey Hussle with a star-studded tribute performance just hours after honoring him with his first Grammy posthumously. 

The performance, which included the likes of John Legend, YG, DJ Khaled, and others, concluded with an image of Hussle alongside Kobe Bryant, the 41-year-old basketball legend who passed away just hours before the show.

Bryant, his 13-year old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash Sunday morning– news that stunned family, friends, and fans across the country.

The two were on their way to a youth basketball game with Orange Coast College baseball coaching legend John Altobelli, his wife Keri, their daughter Alyssa, mother and daughter Sarah and Payton Chester, assistant coach Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan, who all died in the tragic accident.

Bryant’s shocking death was also addressed at the show’s opening by host Alicia Keys who said, “We’re all feeling crazy sadness right now.”

“Earlier today, Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero. We’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.”

After her opening remarks, Keys began a line from the Boys II Men song “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” and was joined by the ban itself moments later. 

Recording Academy Scandal and Tyler the Creator on Diversity Issues

Though grief seemed to overshadow much of the night, the award show also had to deal with ongoing scandals and criticisms.

Ahead of the ceremony, the Recording Academy was also already facing controversy surrounding its back and forth with its former president Deborah Dugan. 

Dugan was ousted earlier this month, and since then, accusations of harassment, corruption, and conflict of interests have been thrown each way. Dugan recently filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing the Academy of retaliation, sexual misconduct, improper voting practices, and more. Meanwhile, the Academy accused Dugan of creating a “toxic and intolerable” work environment and engaged in “abusive and bullying conduct.”

But concern over insider Recording Academy practices also made headlines when Tyler the Creator seemed conflicted after earning his first-ever Grammy for Best Rap Album. Following a gracious acceptance speech, Tyler spoke to reporters backstage about the Recording Academy’s voting process.

While he said he was “very grateful” to have his work acknowledged, he called the categorization of his music as rap a “backhanded compliment.” 

“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. I don’t like that ‘urban’ word — it’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me,” he said.

Sean “Diddy” Combs showed similar concerns at Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy gala on Saturday, saying the Recording Academy has never respected black artists. 

“Black music has never been respected by the Grammys to the point that it should be. So, right now, in this current situation, it’s not a revelation. This thing been going on and it’s not just going on in music. It’s going on in film. It’s going on in sports, It’s going on around the world,” he said.

He went to say that it was silly to allow “institutions that have never had our best interest at heart, to judge us.”

“We need transparency. We need diversity. This is the room that has the power to make the change. It needs to be made. They have to make the changes for us,” he continued. 

Tyler’s comments come just as the Recording Academy announced new diversity initiatives to “ensure that the Academy — and the music business — is truly representative of artists and their audiences.”

Chairman and Interim Chief Executive Officer Harvey Mason Jr. said in his message to Academy members Sunday morning: “The music we create has always reflected the best of ourselves and our world. But what was true of music has historically not been true of the music business as a whole.”

“Too often, our industry and Academy have alienated some of our own artists — in particular, through a lack of diversity that, in many cases, results in a culture that leans towards exclusion rather than inclusion,” he added.

See what others are saying: (Billboard) (Fox News) (Variety)

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Recording Academy CEO Defends Nominations After Controversial Nods to Marilyn Manson and Louis C.K.

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CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said the Academy is not “in the business of restricting people” from getting nominated.


Recording Academy CEO Defends Nominations

Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. defended Tuesday’s Grammy nominations after artists like Marilyn Manson and Louis C.K. received nods for their work. 

Manson was nominated for his appearance on Kanye West’s album “Donda,” which landed in the Album of The Year category. Earlier this year, Manson was accused of sexual assault, rape, and psychological abuse by multiple victims.

C.K., who previously admitted to sexual misconduct, was nominated for Best Comedy Album. 

While speaking to The Wrap, Mason argued that the Recording Academy should not consider an artist’s personal life in its nomination process. 

“We won’t restrict the people who can submit their material for consideration,” he told the outlet when specifically asked about Manson’s nomination. “We won’t look back at people’s history, we won’t look at their criminal record, we won’t look at anything other than the legality within our rules of, is this recording for this work eligible based on date and other criteria. If it is, they can submit for consideration.”

Even though Mason believes artists with serious accusations levied against them should not be excluded from nominations, he did say the Academy will consider those factors when it comes to performances and other on-camera appearances. 

“What we will control is our stages, our shows, our events, our red carpets,” he explained. “We’ll take a look at anyone who is asking to be a part of that, asking to be in attendance, and we’ll make our decisions at that point. But we’re not going to be in the business of restricting people from submitting their work for our voters to decide on.”

Other Controversial Nods

Manson and C.K. were not the only controversial figures who received nominations. Comedian Dave Chappelle was nominated in Best Spoken Word Album for his special “8:46.” Last month, he faced severe backlash for transphobic comments he made in a separate special titled “The Closer.” Chappelle was slammed by several major LGBTQ+ organizations over the special but has defended himself against criticisms. 

Rapper DaBaby was also condemned by LGBTQ+ groups this summer after he made homophobic remarks during her performance at the Rolling Loud festival in Miami. He received Grammy recognition for his work on “Donda” and Justin Bieber’s “Justice.”

The Grammy Awards will be held in Los Angeles on Jan. 31, 2022.

See what others are saying: (The Wrap) (Pitchfork) (Rolling Stone)

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Kevin Spacey Ordered To Pay “House of Cards” Studio $31 Million for Losses After Sexual Misconduct Claims

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The studio argued that Spacey cost it millions after multiple sexual harassment and abuse claims against the actor forced it to suspend production, fire him, and shorten the show’s final season.


Arbitration Between MRC and Spacey Becomes Public

Actor Kevin Spacey and his production companies have been ordered to pay nearly $31 million dollars for breach of contract to MRC, the studio behind the Netflix series “House of Cards.”

The ruling was actually made by an arbitrator more than a year ago but was only made public Monday when MRC’s lawyers petition a California court to confirm the award.

Spacey was a centerpiece of the hit series and also served as one of its executive producers. However, during filming for its final season in 2017, an actor named Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of making a sexual advance towards him when Rapp was 14 in 1986.

Netflix suspected production in the wake of Rapp’s claims, but soon after, others came forward with allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Spacey, including several former and then-current crew members of “House of Cards.”

Netflix eventually fired Spacey, whose list of accusers grew to at least 15 people.

MRC Blames Spacey for Production Losses

In the secret arbitration last year, MRC argued that Spacey “repeatedly breached his contractual obligations.” It added that he and his companies are liable for his behavior, which allegedly caused the studio to lose millions given what it had already invested in developing, writing, and shooting the final season.

MRC also said the Emmy-winning series brought in less revenue when it finally aired because it had to be shortened from 13 to 8 episodes to write out Spacey’s character, Frank Underwood.

According to Variety, Spacey filed a counterclaim, alleging that he was owed money after he was dropped from the series and did not breach his contract. That claim was later rejected and the arbitrator ultimately agreed with MRC, issuing the massive reward, which includes compensatory damages and lawyers’ fees.

Spacey and his team have not commented on the news as of Tuesday, though the studio has since issued a statement saying, “The safety of our employees, sets and work environments is of paramount importance to MRC and why we set out to push for accountability.”

See what others are saying: (Variety) (CNN) (The New York Times)

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Netflix Staffers Who Criticized Dave Chappelle Rescind Labor Complaint, One Resigns

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Two employees previously accused Netflix of trying to stop staffers from speaking out against the company.


Employees Rescind Labor Complaint

Two former Netflix employees who were critical of Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special have rescinded a labor complaint that they filed against the company, according to a statement released by their lawyer on Monday.

Terra Field and B. Pagels-Minor were outspoken about their issues with Chappelle’s special “The Closer,” which was widely accused of transphobia. Both protested the company’s decision to support Chappelle amid the controversy. They were also members of a resource group for transgender employees that staged a walkout in which staffers took to the streets of Los Angeles to call on Netflix to do more to support its LGBTQ+ employees. 

Field and Pagels-Minor filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in October claiming that Netflix was punishing its staffers for speaking up about Chappelle and LGBTQ+ related issues at the company. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, the two staffers accused Netflix of attempting “to quell [them] from speaking up about working conditions including, but not limited to, seeking to create a safe and affirming work environment for Netflix employees, speaking up about Netflix’s products and the impact of its product choices on the LGBTQ+ community, and providing support for employees whom Netflix has treated in an unlawful and disparate manner.”

On Monday, Netflix released a statement saying the complaint had been rescinded. 

“We have resolved our differences in a way that acknowledges the erosion of trust on both sides and, we hope, enables everyone to move on,” the statement said. 

A lawyer representing Field and Pagels-Minor confirmed that the complaint was voluntarily withdrawn. 

Terra Field Resigns From Netflix

Both Pagels-Minor and Field were subject to some level of disciplinary action during the Chappelle controversy. Pagels-Minor was fired from Netflix for allegedly leaking internal information, though Pagels-Minor denies ever doing so. Field was suspended from the company after reportedly attending a meeting she was not invited to. That suspension was quickly lifted after it was revealed that a miscommunication led to the incident. 

On Monday, Field released a statement announcing that she had resigned from Netflix. 

“This isn’t how I thought things would end, but I am relieved to have closure,” Field wrote. “Shortly after B. was fired for something I did not and do not believe they did, I made a decision: sink or swim, I was going to walk side by side with B. as they had for so many of us while they led the Trans* ERG.”

In a tweet, she added that she was “not happy that this is how things turned out” but believed “this outcome is best for all parties involved.”

Why Did Dave Chappelle Spark Backlash?

Chappelle faced backlash for defending author J.K. Rowling, who was previously accused of being a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) after releasing a series of statements many found to be transphobic. 

“I’m team TERF,” Chappelle said during “The Closer.”

“I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact,” he added.

Chappelle made a series of other jokes aimed at the transgender community in the special, including one about Caitlyn Jenner and another comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.

The comedian has defended himself against criticisms. According to The Daily Beast, he also recently continued to make transphobic jokes at screenings of his new documentary. The outlet reported that while Chappelle aired the film in New York, he made jabs about pronouns and “said the f-slur.” 

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (NBC News) (NPR)

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