- Actor Michael B. Jordan partnered with nonprofit Color of Change to create an initiative called #ChangeHollywood, which aims to promote anti-racist and Black storytelling in the industry.
- The initiative sets out a roadmap for leaders to follow, including hiring more Black creators, divesting from police, changing the way the criminal justice system is represented, and supporting the Black community throughout production.
- Hollywood’s history of racism and poor representation is no secret. According to UCLA’s 2020 Hollywood Diversity Report, less than one-third of lead acting roles go to people of color, while less than 1.5 out of 10 directors are people of color.
- This initiative comes as many actors are calling for change in the industry, and as other facets of Hollywood are pledging to increase diversity on set.
As many facets of Hollywood are reckoning with the systemic racism that has permeated the industry for years, actor Michael B. Jordan has created an initiative to promote diversity and anti-racist storytelling in film.
The “Creed” and “Black Panther” star partnered with the nonprofit Color of Change to start the effort, which is called #ChangeHollywood. One of the main initiatives of #ChangeHollywood is to create a roadmap that leaders in the industry can turn to when working towards increasing representation on their sets. They hope that their concrete suggestions will lead to real actions that Hollywood can take in the fight for racial justice.
“The history of racism in Hollywood is long and unforgivable,” Jordan and Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change wrote in a statement.
“We can break the pattern, and change that trajectory,” the two added. “The understanding of Hollywood’s impact on society has never been more widespread, and the demand for addressing systemic racism in Hollywood has never been greater. We must answer the call to action.”
The roadmap breaks down into four recommendations. The first encourages the entertainment industry to divest from police and instead use that economic power to advocate for Black communities. In order to do this, #ChangeHollywood recommends that studios hire independent security instead of police officers, turn to authorities other than the police when it comes to shaping content about the criminal justice system, and put pressure on local governments to move funding to Black communities.
When it comes to storytelling, #ChangeHollywood recommends that the industry invest in anti-racist and authentic Black content and voices. This could involve hiring cultural consultants and Black executives, as well as changing the way the criminal justice system is represented on screen.
The roadmap further suggests that Hollywood invest in Black talent both in front of and behind the camera. One of the biggest suggestions is that filmmakers adopt inclusion riders in their contracts, which are clauses that mandate a certain level of diversity in productions. #ChangeHollywood also recommends anti-racism training, transparency about staff diversity, and proactive recruitment of Black industry workers.
The last suggestion encourages studios to work with Black-owned businesses and other companies that value social justice.
“Hollywood should use its economic power to support Black communities in all the cities in which it operates,” #ChangeHollywood’s website explains.
“This roadmap is just the beginning of the journey to racial justice. We are all accomplices in the fight to transform Hollywood, and we invite content creators and industry leaders to join us in working together to #ChangeHollywood,” Jordan told the Hollywood Reporter, which first broke the news about this initiative. “We look forward to including a variety of voices in doing what we do best: telling authentic stories, bringing people together, partnering with influential artists, and changing the rules of the game.”
Hollywood’s History of Racism
Representation has long been an issue in Hollywood. UCLA’s 2020 Hollywood Diversity Report found that people of color are underrepresented in every level of the industry. Roughly three out of every ten lead actors are people of color, while only 1.5 out of ten directors are people of color.
When it comes to film executives, diversity lacks even more. Around 91% of chairs or CEOS are white and 82% are male. Senior executives are similarly white and male.
When it comes to the Academy Awards, the absence of representation follows. In the last 50 years, only 10% of acting nominees have been actors of color. Only six Black directors have ever been nominated for Best Director.
In recent months, calls for change have increased. More stars like Kerry Washington, Anthony Mackie, and Viola Davis have spoken candidly about racism in the industry as well as the need for Black voices to be centered.
There have also been calls for more representation in hair and makeup departments, which some studios have vowed to listen to. ViacomCBS in the U.K. set new standards for diversity in front of and behind the camera across the pond, and in the U.S., CBS announced plans to diversify their writers’ rooms.
In other cases, Hollywood has done a cleanse of white people taking up space that they should not be. White actors like Jenny Slate and Kristen Bell opted to step away from projects where they were providing voices for Black and biracial animated characters. In reality television, several stars have been dropped from shows for past racist behavior.
See what others are saying: (The Hollywood Reporter) (The Wrap) (USA Today)
Joe Rogan Says Grimes Did Not Give Dave Chappelle COVID-19
- 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)
Netflix Passes 200M Subscribers as Other Streamers Struggle With Retention
- 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)
Paramount+ To Launch March 4
- 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.