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Howie Mandel Shuts Down Captivity Rumors With the Help of David Dobrik

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  • A series of odd TikToks from Howie Mandel prompted users to believe that he was being held captive inside his home.
  • Mandel eventually debunked the theory with the help of YouTuber David Dobrik. 
  • While the entire ordeal with Mandel seems lighthearted, unfounded conspiracies have been easily spreading across social media in recent days.
  • The now-debunked theory that Wayfair is running a human trafficking operation, for instance, resulted in at least one person coming forward, angry that she was falsely identified online as a missing victim.

Why People Think Howie Is in Trouble

“America’s Got Talent” judge Howie Mandel has found himself at the center of one of the latest conspiracy theories circulating on TikTok.

Recently, his followers were worried because they believed he was being held captive inside his home and was trying to send signals to the outside world through his social media posts. Concerns began popping up in early July when TikTok users started commenting about how odd some of his uploads were. 

While some chalked it up to him just having an eccentric personality, others thought there was possibly more going on. One particular video that caught people’s attention was a crafting video where he showed his audience how to use a brown paper bag for “shoe stuff.” 

When he wrote the words on the bag, his viewers claimed each letter S looked like the number 5. So people thought this was a secret signal because when you call 999 for an emergency in the UK and can’t speak, you can be asked to dial 55 to be put through to police. 

At this point, people began analyzing his behavior and looking for more “secret messages.” Then, in another post, Mandel wrote a message in a bottle over a song by the same name, perhaps intentionally feeding into the conspiracy. He also uploaded a video of him dancing in a captain’s outfit along with a few other odd posts.

The comments were loaded with conspiracies and Mandel’s friend, YouTuber David Dobrik, even acknowledged the concerns writing, “Howie I think your phones been hacked youre sending some scary stuff. Plz reach out to me or nat.” 

@daviddobrik

Eventually, users began making tons of TikToks to explain why they think he’s in danger using the hashtags #SaveHowie or #SaveHowieMandel 

Some people claimed they spotted figures in the reflection of his sunglasses. Others claimed they left instructions in his comments of signal he should send if he needed help that he followed. However, they’re usually instructions like start your video with “hello” or wear a certain color in your next video – general things that could just happen by coincidence. 

Rumors Debunked 

There are dozens of different rabbit holes to go with this and tons of “evidence” people claim to have found.

On Sunday, Mandel uploaded a post in response saying he was fine. However, he was performing a nonsensical dance that people still found suspicious. 

But of course, as many have pointed out, we’d probably be hearing real concern from people close to him if he wasn’t okay. Still, to keep fans calm, Dobrik headed over to check on Mandel in his latest TikTok.  

@daviddobrik

Finally got to check on Howie!! Everything is all good @officialhowiemandel

♬ original sound – daviddobrik

When Dobrik explained that people are worried because his TikTok’s are weird, Mandel said, “Weird? I’m 65! I’m on TikTok.  that’s weird!”

“I’m okay. Nobody’s holding me. I can go wherever I want.” Mandel added.

It seems like TikTok has been home to a lot of baseless conspiracies lately, and while this one seems pretty lighthearted, people should be careful about the content they spread online. For instance, there’s recently been a now-debunked theory floating around about Wayfair secretly conducting a human trafficking operation through expensive furniture sales online. However, that’s not completely TikTok’s fault. It’s a theory that grew from Qanon and Reddit conspiracy theorists that has now spread all over social media.

As part of it, you might be seeing images floating around with missing persons who are alleged victims of the fake scheme. Now, at least one those individuals has recently taken to social media, angry that people were claiming she was missing when she isn’t. 

See what others are saying: (Distractify) (Metro UK)

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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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