- Multiple sources say Coachella and Stagecoach organizers are in talks to move the April festivals to October amid coronavirus concerns.
- The move will be challenging to organize but could save the company behind the events and Riverside County from losing millions in revenue.
- While some are upset by the change and inconvenience, others think this is a good move for public health and safety.
Calls for Cancellation
Organizers of the Coachella Music and Arts Festival and its sister festival, Stagecoach, are reportedly planning to postpone the upcoming events amid the growing global coronavirus outbreak.
The news has not been formally announced yet, but organizers are expected to make a statement about the future of the shows in the next day or so, according to Billboard. Officials with the promoter Goldenvoice are allegedly still in talks with several artist managers to discuss the festival postponement.
The annual Coachella festival was originally scheduled to take place in Indio, California over two back-to-back weekends: April 10-12 and April 17-19. It typically brings in around 250,000 guests annually and this year, music acts like Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott, and Frank Ocean were set to perform. Stagecoach was set to take place soon after, on April 24-26, with headliners Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood, and Eric Church.
But in recent weeks, concerts, festivals, parades, and other large gatherings were shut down over coronavirus concerns, including Miami’s Ultra Festival and South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin.
Concerned residents of Riverside County have been calling for Coachella to follow suit, noting among other fears, the large retirement community that could be at risk if the virus picks up in the area. Thousands even signed a petition calling for Coachella to be canceled, which was met with a smaller petition calling for it to go on.
Still, organizers and Riverside County officials know that the festivals bring in a ton of profit and have been hoping to save them. Revenue numbers for 2019 and 2018 weren’t available, but Coachella reportedly grossed a record $114.6 million in 2017.
In 2016, the two events combined brought in about $704 million in economic activity to the area, according to projections by the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership and Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. Numbers from that year also showed that the city of Indio earned over $3 million in tax revenue from the festival’s ticket sales alone. Daily attendance numbers have jumped up since then, so those profit numbers are likely much higher.
But pressure to move the festivals has intensified over the past few days as COVID-19 cases in California increased. California, in particular, has been one of the U.S states hit hardest by the outbreak, reporting over 130 cases as of March 10.
On Sunday, Riverside County declared a public health emergency after it announced that a patient was being treated for coronavirus at a local hospital. Then on Monday night, Riverside announced three new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of cases of COVID-19 in the county to six.
Potentially Moved to October
Later that night, Journalist Yashar Ali wrote on Twitter that the festival is being moved to October 9 and 16, per an industry source. Billboard reported that Stagecoach could possibly be moving to October 23.
Moving the festivals will not be an easy task since it involves quickly coordinating new plans with hundreds of artists, their representatives, contractors, vendors, and tens of thousands of employees. There is also no guarantee that the entire lineups can commit to October performances.
Internet users and Coachella ticket holders, in particular, have expressed mixed reactions over the reports of a potential October festival. Many are frustrated about having to cancel their flight and hotel arraignments, but others think this is the right decision for public health reasons.
Some, like YouTuber James Charles, seemed open and excited for the change.
And of course, plenty of people took it as an opportunity to joke about Coachella outfits and performers.
Elon Musk even chimed in, saying Coachella should instead postpone itself until “it stops sucking,” in a Tweet that has since gone viral. He said that too much corporate sponsorship “killed the vibe” and that it was much better years ago when more unknown bands were set to perform.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Billboard) (Variety)
Justin Bieber Apologizes After Supporting Morgan Wallen’s Music
Bieber said he had no idea the country star had recently faced backlash for using a racial slur.
Justin Bieber Apologizes
Singer Justin Bieber apologized on Wednesday after sharing support for music from embattled country singer Morgan Wallen.
In February, Wallen was caught saying the n-word on a video circulated by TMZ. He was subsequently dropped from major country radio stations and suspended by his label. Still, he has managed to have a successful year so far, and his album — “Dangerous: The Double Album” — has spent months at the top of the carts.
Bieber posted on his Instagram story this week that he was listening to “Dangerous” and said he loved the album. He ended up deleting that post after fans called him out. Bieber later explained that he was unaware of Wallen’s recent controversy.
“I had no idea that the guy’s music I posted was recently found saying racist comments, as you know I don’t support or tolerate any sort of racism or deicrimination,” he wrote on his Instagram story. “I had no idea, I sincerely apologize to anyone I offended.”
Bieber Addresses Previous Controversies
The “Sorry” singer then addressed backlash he previously faced for a similar reason. Two videos surfaced in 2014 depicting Bieber using racial slurs when he was younger. In the first, he was 15-years-old and told a racist joke using the n-word. Bieber was 14-years-old in the second video, where he made a racist parody of his song “One Less Lonely Girl” that likewise included the n-word. He apologized for both at the time and brought them up again on Wednesday in hopes others could learn from his mistakes.
“When I was a kid, I was incredibly ignorant and said some very hurtful racist jokes that were clearly not funny,” he wrote. “I hurt a lot of people, especially the Black people in my life but was fortunate enough to have had them educate me on the horrifying origin of the N-word. This brings those painful memories back up, I will always take ownership for my ignorance and my past because I know I am not that person.“
He added that even though he has already apologized for these remarks, he believes it is important “to bring this up to hopefully educate people who may be ignorant to the topic of racism and how hurtful it is.”
He added that he has a lot left to learn but is thankful for the patience he has received, particularly from the Black community.
Read more: (Entertainment Weekly) (Complex) (The Hollywood Reporter)
Selena Gomez Slams “The Good Fight” for Kidney Transplant Joke
The singer said the reference to her transplant was “tasteless” and encouraged writers to call out these kinds of jokes so they don’t make it on air.
Selena Gomez Addresses Joke About Kidney Transplant
Singer and actress Selena Gomez slammed a recent episode of “The Good Fight” Tuesday after it made a joke about her 2017 kidney transplant.
In one scene of the Paramount+ show, a group of characters brainstorm jokes and then start discussing what subjects are out of bounds. They ultimately agree that necrophilia, autism, and “Selena Gomez’s Kidney transplant” are not to be mentioned.
This led to swift backlash online from people who thought the series was making light of Gomez’s health struggles. Many argued on Twitter that the singer’s battle with Lupus is no laughing matter, prompting Gomez to join the conversation herself.
“I am not sure how writing jokes about organ transplants for television shows has become a thing but sadly it has apparently,” she wrote. “I hope in the next writer’s room when one of these tasteless jokes are presented it’s called out immediately and doesn’t make it on air.”
Gomez also encouraged people to register as organ donors if they are able to do so.
A source close to the production of “The Good Fight,” however, told Variety that some of the anger is being taken out of context.
“If you watch the episode in full, the reference to Selena Gomez is part of a discussion the characters are having about topics that are not okay to make fun of and the idea of cancel culture and being canceled for telling a bad joke,” the source explained. “The reference is that Selena Gomez’s transplant is not something you can joke about.”
Previous Joke in “Saved by the Bell”
Still, some believe that by referencing Gomez’s kidney transplant as something you can’t joke about, the show was in turn making a joke about it.
This is not the first time a show has made headlines for making a quip about Gomez’s procedure. In 2020, a scene from Peacock’s “Saved by the Bell” reboot was removed because it included several characters talking about the situation. In the scene, characters were asking if several people, including Gomez’s ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber and singer Demi Lovato, were secretly Gomez’s organ donor. At one point “Does Selena Gomez even have a kidney?” is written on a school hallway.
Gomez’s friend Francia Raisa gave her the kidney in an act Gomez previously described as “the ultimate gift and sacrifice.” NBC ended up apologizing for the scene, claiming they had no “intention to make light of Selena’s health.” The network also donated to The Selena Gomez Fund for Lupus Research at the University of Southern California.
After the apology, Raisa slammed the joke in “Saved by the Bell” as offensive and dismissive to organ donors. She made no specific remarks about the joke in “The Good Fight” but retweeted Gomez’s posts on the matter.
See what others are saying: (Variety) (Entertainment Weekly) (People)
Disney Eviscerates Scarlett Johansson’s “Black Widow” Lawsuit as “Callous,” but Report Suggests Emma Stone and Emily Blunt May Follow Her Lead
“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” the company said in an uncharacteristically blunt statement that was heavily criticized online.
Johansson/Disney Lawsuit Gets Bitter
Disney has described a recent lawsuit from “Black Widow” actress Scarlett Johansson as “sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” but Johansson may have just unleashed what is to become an even bigger legal challenge for the House of Mouse.
At the center of this dispute, Johansson alleges she lost $50 million because Disney opted for a dual streaming/theater release of “Black Widow,” which debuted in theaters and for $30 on Disney+ with Premier Access earlier this month.
According to Johansson’s suit, her contract with Disney — which was negotiated prior to any hint of a pandemic — stipulated that “Black Widow” would see an exclusive theater release. Notably, the actress also said her contractual bonuses were tied to the movie’s box office performance, which is an extremely common practice with films featuring A-list celebrities.
Of course, when the pandemic hit — like many other industries — movies were upended. Pandemic-related changes meant that despite having an initial release date of May 2020, Marvel fans wouldn’t get a chance to see “Black Widow” for over a year.
Still, Johansson said she tried to contact Disney to renegotiate her contract prior to the film’s ultimate release, but she claims the company was unresponsive.
On Thursday, she then filed a complaint with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, with her attorney arguing that “Disney has enjoyed the benefits of having one of Hollywood’s top actresses promote its wholly owned subscription service at no additional cost to Disney, and with the intended effect of taking money out of that actress’ own pocket.”
Later Thursday, Disney claimed that it has “fully complied” with Johansson’s contract and that the streamed release of the film “has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date.”
“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” the company said in its uncharacteristically blunt statement.
Are Emma Stone and Emily Blunt Next?
Speaking of blunt, it was reported Friday that both Emily Blunt and Emma Stone may also file lawsuits against Disney’s dual streaming release of their films.
In fact, according to an exclusive newsletter run by former Hollywood Reporter Editor Matt Belloni, Stone “is said to be weighing her options” over the dual release of “Cruella” in May. Meanwhile, he suggested Blunt could also take action or speak out following this weekend’s release of “Jungle Cruise.”
Belloni went on to describe Disney as “notoriously difficult to deal with” regarding such matters and claimed that many have simply been waiting for someone powerful enough to speak out.
Disney Criticized for Its Response
Much of the public perception of the situation has led to overwhelming support for Johansson’s camp. Online, a slew of people lambasted Disney’s response, with many calling it a deflection.