- 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)
Recording Academy CEO Defends Nominations After Controversial Nods to Marilyn Manson and Louis C.K.
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)
Kevin Spacey Ordered To Pay “House of Cards” Studio $31 Million for Losses After Sexual Misconduct Claims
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)
Netflix Staffers Who Criticized Dave Chappelle Rescind Labor Complaint, One Resigns
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.”