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Harvey Weinstein Sentenced to 23 Years in Prison

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  • Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison on Wednesday for third-degree rape and a criminal sexual act. 
  • Weinstein was convicted of the crimes last month but was acquitted of more serious charges that carried a potential life sentence. 
  • This isn’t the end of Weinstein’s legal battles as he still faces charges in Los Angeles for other sex crimes he allegedly committed. 

What Was Weinstein Convicted Of? 

Disgraced Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in a New York state prison on Wednesday for his felony sex crimes conviction. 

On Feb 25, a Manhattan jury made up of seven men and five women found the 67-year-old guilty of a first-degree criminal sexual act and third-degree rape. The charges were based on testimony from Miriam Haley, a production assistant who said Weinstein forcibly performed oral sex on her in his Lower Manhattan apartment in 2006, and Jessica Mann, a then-aspiring actress who said Weinstein raped her at a Midtown hotel in 2013.

The jury made their decision after a seven-week trial and five days of deliberation, however, they did choose to acquit Weinsten of the most serious charges he faced: two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried the possibility of a life sentence.

Those charged required the jury to find that he had raped actress Annabella Sciorra’s in the early 1990s at her Gramercy Park apartment, but some jurors ultimately doubted her account and decided against that conviction. 

The jury also determined that Weinstein was not guilty of first-degree rape in the 2013 attack against Mann. That charge required the state to prove the use of force or a threat during the incident, so instead, the jury chose to convict him of third-degree rape, which only required prosecutors to prove a lack of consent.

In total, Weinstein faced a 29-year sentence; between five to 25 years for the criminal sex act charge and up to four years in prison for third-degree rape. Prosecutors asked for the maximum or near-maximum sentences, with an order for them to be served concurrently. Meanwhile, defense attorneys asked for him to get the minimum.

Weinstein’s Sentencing 

Haley and Mann read emotional impact statements ahead of his sentencing with Haley saying, “He violated my trust and my body and my personal right to deny sexual advances.”

“I could only hope whatever sentence, [it’s] long enough for him to acknowledge [what] he has done to me and others.”

For her part, Mann said Weinstein was “completely disconnected from the gravity of the crimes” he had committed against her and other women.

Weinstein also spoke during the hearing, talking in length about his charitable deeds. He at one point also compared the #MeToo movement to people being blacklisted for being communists during the Red Scare and according to Variety, said, “I think men are confused about all of this…this feeling of thousands of men and women who are losing due process, I’m worried about this country.”

He also suggested that he thought his relationships with the women were consensual and that he was “totally confused” by what they described. “We may have different truths, but I have remorse for all of you and for all the men going through this crisis,” he said to his accusers.

“I really feel remorse for this situation. I feel it deeply in my heart. I’m really trying, I’m really trying to be a better person,” he added. 

Judge James Burke ultimately handed down a 20-year sentence for the criminal sex act charge and a 3-year sentence for third-degree rape, which are to be served consecutively. He also said Weinstein will be formally registered as a sex offender. 

“I will say that although this is a first conviction, it is not a first offense,” Burke said when announcing his decision, adding that there is evidence of incidents of sexual assault against other women.

All six of the women who had given graphic accounts on the witness stand during the trial sat in the front row of the gallery in solidarity. They walked out of the courtroom together after the sentencing, some smiling and some in tears. 

Recently Unsealed Court Documents 

The sentencing is a major victory for the #MeToo movement, which gained momentum after several women came forward with accusations against Weinstein starting in late 2017. At least 80 women have made accusations against him for varying levels of harassment and assault. 

Recently unsealed court documents even showed that weeks after the first accusations were published by The New Yorker and The New York Times, Weinstein desperately reached out to wealthy friends for support,  including Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, and Mike Bloomberg. 

“I don’t need you to make any public statements — just a private one to my gmail address, saying that you support me getting therapy and the help I need before the board fires me. I’m in a tough spot. Many of the allegations are false, but I need your help with this private letter of support,” he wrote in a letter to the heads of Apple. 

“I need your friendship now,” he wrote to Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, asking him to provide a private letter to the Weinstein Company’s board.

The documents also showed how Weinstein dealt with all of the emerging claims against him. According to Variety, Weinstein was contacted in October 2017 by a reporter from the National Enquirer who said they were planning to publish a story reporting that Jennifer Aniston was sexually assaulted by him. Weinstein responded by email: “Jen Aniston should be killed.” 

Aniston’s representative has since told Variety that the Enquirer’s claims were false, saying,  “Jennifer has not been harassed or assaulted by Harvey.” 

Other documents showed that Weinstein compiled a “red flag list” of industry figures who he suspected might be talking about his sexual behavior to the media. That list was sent to his private investigators and included about 70 names like Ben Affleck, Rose McGowan, and several others. 

This New York decision does not mark the end of Weinstein’s legal battles by any means. Los Angeles prosecutors filed criminal charges of their own against him earlier this year alleging two incidents of sexual assault over a two-night period in 2013. 

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (Fox News) (AP News)

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Joe Rogan Says Grimes Did Not Give Dave Chappelle COVID-19

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  • Comedian Dave Chappelle is under quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. He is asymptomatic and his remaining shows in Austin, Texas have been canceled.
  • The news comes just days after Chappelle was photographed with Joe Rogan, Elon Musk, Grimes, and several others backstage at one of his Austin performances.
  • “Because people are asking, I was not exposed to the person who had covid and I have tested negative every day this week,” Rogan wrote on Instagram Friday. “Also, the person that gave covid to Dave was NOT Elon’s partner @grimes.”

Chappelle Tests Positive

Comedian Dave Chappelle has tested positive for coronavirus and is currently under quarantine, according to one of his representatives.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, that rep also confirmed that he is currently asymptomatic and has canceled all of his remaining shows at Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater in Austin, Texas.

“Chappelle has safely conducted socially-distanced shows in Ohio since June 2020 and he moved those shows to Austin during the winter,” the statement read.

“Chappelle implemented COVID-19 protocols which included rapid testing for the audience and daily testing for himself and his team. His diligent testing enabled him to immediately respond by quarantining, thus mitigating the spread of the virus,” it continued.

Joe Rogan Speaks Out After He Was Photographed With Chappelle

Two of the remaining Austin shows were supposed to include fellow comedian Joe Rogan. Rogan took to Instagram Friday morning to announce that they will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

Still, many fans had questions about Rogan’s current state of health. The news of Chappelle’s positive test comes just days after he was photographed maskless with Rogan, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, musician Grimes, and several others backstage at one of his Austin performances.

Since Grimes, who is also in a relationship with Musk, recently had COVID, many were concerned that she may have exposed the group. Others wondered if Chappelle may have spread it.

Rogan eventually updates his Instagram caption to dismiss the ideas.

“Because people are asking, I was not exposed to the person who had covid and I have tested negative every day this week,” he wrote.“Also, the person that gave covid to Dave was NOT Elon’s partner @grimes.”

See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (CNN) (AP News)

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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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