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ABC Casts Its First Black Bachelor After 24 Seasons

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  • ABC has cast its first Black Bachelor, Matt James, after 24 seasons of the show, airing since 2002.
  • This comes as fans, as well as former stars of the show, have been demanding that it correct its lack of diversity.
  • Network executives claim this pressure did not impact their decision, but not everyone believed that.
  • Rachel Lindsay, the franchise’s only Black Bachelorette, said that while she is happy the show has finally cast a Black male lead, she thinks the timing is bad and that their intent may not spark the meaningful change she has been calling for.

ABC Casts First Black Bachelor

After producing 24 seasons of “The Bachelor” since 2002, ABC has finally cast its first Black lead: 28-year-old Matt James.

This is a major announcement for the hit dating series, which sparked one of the biggest reality franchises in television history, spanning over 40 seasons of shows including “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise.” James was originally going to be a contestant on the new season of “The Bachelorette,” which was supposed to be airing now but has been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout its 15 season run, “The Bachelorette” has only had one lead of color, Rachel Lindsay. 

James is known to fans of the show for being good friends with Tyler Cameron, a previous contestant. The two have regularly appeared in social media posts together, which fans often follow closely. He made his debut as the upcoming Bachelor during a Friday segment of “Good Morning America,” where he said he was honored to be taking the role. 

“Hopefully when people invite me into their homes on Monday night they’re going to see that I’m not much different from them and they see that diverse love stories are beautiful,” he said on the show.

Recent Calls for More Diversity

The decision to hire the first Black Bachelor comes as the show faced mounting pressure, both from fans and former contestants, to prioritize diversity. Over 85,000 people have now signed a petition calling for a more diverse cast. Lindsay recently wrote a blog post vowing to leave the franchise if the show did not bring on leads of color, contestants willing to date outside of their race, producers of color, and if the show did not stop making problematic storylines for people of color on the show. 

While this pressure has been building up over the last few weeks as most aspects of American culture are beginning to grapple with systemic racism, network executives claim this had nothing to do with their choice. 

“Matt was somebody who was on our radar and we were thinking about him,” Rob Mills, ABC’s top unscripted executive told Variety

“It wasn’t a response to that. We could have made this announcement earlier or later,” Mills said. “Certainly no one is blind to what is happening in the world, so hopefully this announcement serves as a bit of optimism during a time that we can really use this. But I don’t want this to look like we’re patting ourselves on the back or taking a victory lap.”

Lindsay Calls Casting a Band Aid Solution

However, not everyone is buying this. Traditionally, “The Bachelor” is announced after the previous season of “The Bachelorette” concludes, which is usually around August. “The Bachelor” then begins airing in January. The lead is often chosen from the pool of men who did not win.

Some think the choice to select and announce who the upcoming Bachelor would be six months in advance is not a coincidence, including Lindsay. She believes that regardless of what statements are being made by network heads, this is a direct response to the calls for change being made by herself and the fans.

“It’s a bandaid. It’s the easiest thing, to me, that you could do,” she said during a Friday episode of the popular podcast “Bachelor Party.” “It seems like it’s a knee-jerk reaction in response to what happened in our society. To what happened with George Floyd and the pressure that you’re getting from society. It’s almost like a man had to die in such a gruesome and public way for us to get a Black Bachelor. That’s what it feels like.”

While she says she is happy that the show has finally cast a Black Bachelor, she also thinks that the timing feels wrong, the process feels rushed, and the intent does not seem meaningful or heartfelt. 

“The whole point of calling them out was to say ‘We don’t feel valued. We don’t feel heard. We don’t feel included.’” Lindsay explained. “And you are saying ‘Okay, well, here’s a Black person to step into this role.’ It’s great to see it, love to see it, but it doesn’t make me feel as if you’re really taking it into consideration what it is we say, when I say systemic racism. The internal, embedded, deep-rooted issues within this franchise where it needs to change structurally.”

She also criticized ABC for its segment announcing James as the Bachelor. He spent much of his interview time talking about his mother, who they showcased during the segment. It is not commonplace for a Bachelor’s mother to be such an integral part of their introduction to the role. Lindsay thought they focused on this because James’ mother is white. 

“I think they wanted everyone to know his mother was white,” she said. “I will say it.”

Bachelor Alumni Express Support

Still, she has shared her support for James online, calling it “a step in the right direction.”

Elsewhere in Bachelor Nation, many other veterans of the franchise’s various programs also expressed congratulations to James, including former Bachelor Nick Viall. 

Cameron, who appeared on Hannah Brown’s season of “The Bachelorette,” also wished his close friend good luck. 

“This is all a testament of who you are as a person,” he said in an Instagram post. “Now the world gets to see the person you are and the heart you have. You can change the world. 

Brown, who recently started a separate conversation about racism within the Bachelor Nation when she said the N-word while singing on Instagram live, congratulated James as well. Through Cameron, the two have also become friends. 

“I cannot contain my excitement for this amazing human making history as the first Black Bachelor,” she wrote.

Right now, James’ season of the show is still slated to air in January, though that is all subject to change because of the coronavirus. The show usually involves up to 25 people in close quarters traveling together, so it is unclear what changes will be made going forward. It is also unclear what will happen to Clare Crawley’s season of “The Bachelorette,” which some executives hope can still film this summer. 

See what others are saying: (Variety) (People) (Good Morning America)

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Netflix Launches “Fast Laughs,” a TikTok-Like Feed of Funny Clips

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  • Netflix has created a TikTok-style feature it calls “Fast Laughs,” which is currently only available on its iOS mobile app in select countries.
  • Executives described it as a “new full-screen feed of funny clips from a wide variety of Netflix titles, ranging from films and series to our deep bench of stand-up specials.”
  • The clips can be shared on social media, and if users stumble across something they want to see more of, they can save that title to watch later or play it immediately. 

Netflix Announces “Fast Laughs”

Netflix is now the latest platform to introduce its own TikTok-like feature.

On Thursday, the company announced “Fast Laughs,” which is currently only available on its iOS mobile app in select countries.

It essentially looks like TikTok, but Patrick Flemming, director of product innovation at Netflix, told The Verge it is a “new full-screen feed of funny clips from a wide variety of Netflix titles, ranging from films and series to our deep bench of stand-up specials.”

In its announcement blog post, Netflix said, “You access the feed through your bottom navigation menu by clicking on the Fast Laughs tab. Clips will start playing – when one ends another begins, to keep the laughs coming.

If a user stumbles across a scene they want to see more of, they can save that title to watch later or play it immediately if they’d like. They can also share the clips individually on Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.

Could It Really Rival TikTok?

Adding this TikTok-style feature may seem surprising since Netflix is a streaming service rather than a social media platform.

However, Netflix’s last few earnings reports have actually referenced TikTok as a major competitor. It’s not because they make the same style of content but instead because people are spending more time on TikTok – which for some means less time on Netflix.

While “Fast Laughs” might not compete with TikTok the way some other copycats hope to, some believe it’s an interesting way to highlight the huge library of content the site offers.

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Tech Crunch) (USA Today)

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Court Sides With Sofia Vergara, Says Ex Cannot Use Embryos Without Permission

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  • A Los Angeles court sided with actress Sofia Vergara on Tuesday, ruling that her ex-fiance Nick Loeb cannot use their embryos without her consent. 
  • The court cited a document the former couple had signed agreeing that both parties needed to approve the use of the embryos, arguing that the document could not be void. 
  • In a response, Loeb appeared to plug his new movie, saying the judge was “clearly influenced by Hollywood, which is a pattern I expose in my upcoming film Roe v. Wade.”
  • Loeb had been trying to obtain custody of the embryos for many years and even argued in a Louisiana court that they should be treated as humans with rights, though the case was dismissed. 

Court Sides With Sofia Vergara 

Los Angeles County Superior Court sided with actress Sofia Vergara Tuesday, ruling that her ex-fiance could not use their embryos without her permission. 

Vergara has been involved in a court battle with her ex, Nick Loeb, for several years. The two split in 2014 and had reportedly undergone in vitro fertilization within a year before their break up. 

Loeb had been fighting to use those embryos on his own via a surrogate. According to TMZ, he at one point tried to take custody of them through a trust and named the embryos in a lawsuit. He also argued in a Louisiana court that the embryos should be recognized as humans with rights. The court dismissed that case in January and said Loeb was “forum shopping” for a court that might agree with his argument. At the time, his team said he would appeal their decision.

People Magazine obtained court documents from the Los Angeles court’s ruling, which granted Vergara’s request for a permanent injunction preventing Loeb from using the embryos “to create a child without the explicit written permission of the other person.”

Loeb Responds to Ruling

The court cited a document the former couple both signed at a fertility clinic, agreeing that both parties had to approve of any use of the embryos. Loeb tried to argue that he signed it under “duress” but the court still said that their agreement was not voidable based on that defense. 

Loeb also tried to argue that he and the Modern Family actress had an “oral agreement” that would allow him to use the embryos on his own terms, but court said there was no “material fact” to support this.

According to People, Loeb issued a statement that plugged his new movie after the ruling. He said the judge “was clearly influenced by Hollywood, which is a pattern I expose in my upcoming film Roe v. Wade.”

“It’s sad that Sofia, a devout Catholic, would intentionally create babies just to kill them,” he continued. 

Vergara’s team has not yet issued a statement on the case.

See what others are saying: (TMZ) (People) (Entertainment Tonight)

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Chris D’Elia Accused of Soliciting Child Pornography in New Lawsuit

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  • Comedian Chris D’Elia was sued in California on Tuesday for sexual exploitation and soliciting nude photos from a minor.
  • The lawsuit alleges that D’Elia “constructed a manipulative, controlling, and abusive dynamic” in order to get dozens of nude photos from a girl he knew was 17 at the time.
  • It also says he invited the minor to his hotel room before one of his shows, where she performed sexual acts at his request.
  • D’Elia’s spokesperson denied the accusations, which come just two weeks after D’Elia addressed months-old claims that he had sexually harassed underage women. He claimed sex “controlled” his life and admitted to having “a problem” but maintained all his relationships had been consensual and legal.

Chris D’Elia Accused of Soliciting Child Pornography

A federal lawsuit filed in the Central District of California on Tuesday accuses comedian Chris D’Elia of sexual exploitation and soliciting nude photos from a minor.

The allegations stem from 2014 when Jane Doe, now 24, was just 17-years-old. The lawsuit says D’Elia, who would have been 34 at the time, “constructed a manipulative, controlling, and abusive dynamic” in order to solicit the photos and pressure Doe into sexual encounters. 

According to Doe, their interactions began in September of that year when she contacted him on Instagram, thinking he would never reply. D’Elia, however, allegedly responded to her message right away and asked her to come to one of his shows. When she agreed to see him perform at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, she says they exchanged information on Snapchat. 

Once the two started communicating on Snapchat, the lawsuit claims that the messages D’Elia sent “became sexual very quickly.” He allegedly started to ask for nude photos of her, and if she did not reply, he would persist. While she tried to avoid sending the photos, the lawsuit claims he was “aggressive.” She eventually sent him 5-10 explicit photos before she met him. 

According to the lawsuit, when D’Elia came to perform in Connecticut in November, he invited Doe to his room before the show. Because she was nervous about the situation, Doe brought a friend with her, but D’Elia allegedly demanded that the friend leave or else he would not let Doe inside. 

Doe’s friend left and the lawsuit claims that D’Elia then began to request sexual favors from Doe within minutes of her arrival. It alleges that the two had sex while D’Elia knew her age. It even adds that during the acts, he repeatedly asked her to tell him she was 17 and still in high school, with him allegedly saying that this was “hot.”

Doe says that he invited her back to his hotel after the show and they had sex again. After this, she says she left feeling “disgusting and defeated.” The lawsuit says this was her first sexual encounter of any kind and she had not even kissed anyone prior to meeting him, leaving her unsure what to think or do in the situation. 

Over the following months, the lawsuit claims that D’Elia would limit his communication with Doe as a tactic to pry more photos out of her. It says he would demand she send explicit photos or he would unfollow her on social media until she compiled. The lawsuit says that over the course of six to seven months, she sent him over 100 explicit photos and videos, roughly half of which were taken while she was a minor. 

The lawsuit says Doe “suffered significant emotional, physical, and psychological harm as a direct result of Defendant D’Elia’s predatory conduct.”

D’Elia Says He “Has A Problem”

These allegations come nearly nine months after several women accused him of sexual harassment and predatory behavior. Many said they were underage at the time he harassed them. 

After months of silence, D’Elia recently addressed those allegations in a 10-minute video on February 19. He apologized and said he had been seeking help. 

“I mean sex, it controlled my life,” he said. “It was the focus, my focus, all the time. And I had a problem. I do have a problem.” 

However, he denied ever breaking the law in his sexual encounters. 

“I stand by the fact that all my relationships have been consensual and legal,” he said. 

A spokesperson for the comedian told the Los Angeles Times that the accusations in the lawsuit are false. 

“Chris denies these allegations and will vigorously defend against them in court,” they said. 

Jane Doe is seeking unspecified damages. 

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Hollywood Reporter) (USA Today)

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