- After Nick Jr. released the trailer for their upcoming series “Made by Maddie,” many pointed out how visually similar it was to “Hair Love,” an animated short that won an Oscar earlier this year.
- Silvergate Media, the production company behind the series, said that the show had been five years in the making and denied accusations of plagiarism. Still, many tweeted comparisons, some of which were retweeted by Matthew A. Cherry, the director of “Hair Love.”
- As criticisms continued to pour in, Nickelodeon announced Friday that it would be pulling “Made by Maddie,” which was scheduled to debut on September 13.
- “Out of respect to all voices in the conversation, we are removing the show from our schedule as we garner further insight into the creative journey of the show,” the company said in a statement.
Nickelodeon Pulls “Made by Maddie”
Nick Jr. announced on Friday that it has pulled its animated series “Made by Maddie” after many thought the show bore visual similarities to the Academy Award-winning animated short “Hair Love.”
While Silvergate Media, the production company behind “Made by Maddie” has denied that the show was inspired by or stole from Matthew A. Cherry’s “Hair Love,” Nickelodeon still opted to scrap the show, which was set to debut on September 13. It follows Maddie, a young girl living in New York with a keen eye for fashion.
After Nick Jr. released the trailer and images of the series, Twitter users quickly compared it to “Hair Love,” which follows a father learning how to do his young daughter’s hair as a video narrated by her mother, voiced by Issa Rae, explains the steps.
Excuse me?!?! pic.twitter.com/iqko9fsFZI— 𝒢𝒶𝒷𝓇𝒾𝑒𝓁𝓁𝑒 𝒲𝒾𝓁𝓁𝒾𝒶𝓂𝓈 (@gabbyjaye) September 1, 2020
Both feature a Black family with a young daughter at the center of the story. In both, the daughters’ hair is tied with a pink bow, the fathers both have locs similar in length, the mothers both have natural hair, and both families have a grey and white cat.
In a statement to Deadline, Nickelodeon claimed they acquired “Made by Maddie” several years ago after previously working with Silvergate Media. The company said it will be looking into the “creative journey” of the show.
“Since announcing the show’s premiere date this week, we have been listening closely to the commentary, criticism and concern coming from both viewers and members of the creative community,” the studio added. “In response, and out of respect to all voices in the conversation, we are removing the show from our schedule as we garner further insight into the creative journey of the show. We are grateful to Silvergate Media for all of their work. And we hold Matthew A. Cherry and the wonderful and inspiring Hair Love in the highest regard.”
“Hair Love” became a trending topic on Wednesday after Cherry retweeted a post highlighting the visual parallels. In other replies, he acknowledged how specifically similar the cats are, noting that “Made by Maddie” could have had any other pet, like a dog or a fish. Some thought this show might be related to the animated series based on “Hair Love” that is currently being developed at HBO Max, but Cherry said he had nothing to do with Nick Jr.’s show.
Criticism of the potential plagiarism also focused on the fact that “Made by Maddie” was created by Paula Rosenthal, a white woman, while “Hair Love” was made by Cherry, who is a Black man. While Silvergate Media, the studio behind the show, says that Rosenthal worked with Black artists, many believed this was an instance of Hollywood stealing ideas from Black creatives while a white person gets the credit, something that the industry’s history is riddled with.
But Silvergate Media previously insisted that “Made by Maddie” had been in the works for five years and had nothing to do with “Hair Love,” which came out in 2019.
“Silvergate Media has been working on the series for the last five years and throughout the production has taken steps to ensure a diverse production team and an appropriate voice cast lending their expertise and talent,” CEO Waheed Alli said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly this week. “As creators ourselves, we have the utmost respect and admiration for Matthew A. Cherry and Hair Love, and our hope is that when people watch our show, they will see it is its own story with its own adventures.”
NBC News and the Los Angeles Times received character designs and inspiration boards from Silvergate Media that date back to as early as September 2017. Studio representatives claim that one image was from 2015, but neither outlet could verify this. The project was first announced at Nickelodeon’s 2018 upfronts under the name “Fashion Ally.”
While these images predate the 2019 release date and 2018 production of “Hair Love,” the Oscar-winning short first became known to the public in July of 2017 when Cherry launched a Kickstarter to fund it. That Kickstarter had early illustrations attached to it, and even the earliest verified images from Silvergate Media come two months after this.
Cherry has not responded to the news of “Made by Maddie” being pulled. Nickelodeon has not announced any further plans in regards to the show.
See what others are saying: (Deadline) (NBC News) (Los Angeles Times)
Netflix Reinstates Employee Who Crashed Director-Level Meeting After Criticizing Dave Chapelle
Terra Field had publicly accused Chappelle of making transphobic remarks in his new stand-up special “The Closer” just days before she was suspended.
Netflix Reinstates Terra Field
Netflix reinstated a transgender employee who was critical of Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up special after suspending her for attending a director-level meeting without an invitation.
Terra Field tweeted on Tuesday that she was reinstated once the company determined “there was no ill-intent in” her decision to attend the meeting.
“I’m going to take a few days off to decompress and try to figure out where I’m at,” she added. “At the very least, I feel vindicated.”
Field also shared an email Netflix sent her regarding her suspension being lifted.
“Our investigation did not find that you joined the QBR meeting with any ill intent and that you genuinely didn’t think there was anything wrong with seeking access to this meeting,” the email said. “Additionally, when a Director shared the link it further supported that this was a meeting you could attend.”
Field’s suspension came just days after she tweeted a viral thread criticizing Chappelle’s latest program on Netflix, “The Closer.” She was one of many activists who claimed Chappelle’s set was transphobic and encouraged Netflix to take action. Field wrote that his comments attacked “the very validity of transness.” Netflix insisted those tweets had nothing to do with her suspension.
Field reportedly attended the director-level meeting with two other employees who were also suspended. A spokesperson for Netflix told Deadline that those two staffers have likewise been reinstated and the company “will be distributing broader guidance about meetings and clarifying which are for which people.”
Netflix’s Response to Dave Chappelle Controversy
Netflix, for its part, has defended Chappelle and rejected calls to remove “The Closer” from the streaming service.
“It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Srandos wrote in an internal memo. “You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.”
“We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line,” he added. “I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
Among other things, Chappelle took time in his special to defend author J.K. Rowling, who previously faced backlash over a series of transphobic remarks she made. Chappelle said he agreed with Rowling.
“I’m team TERF,” he added. “I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.”
Chappelle went on to make jokes about Caitlyn Jenner before comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
Many employees at Netflix are still frustrated with the way the platform has handled the controversy surrounding “The Closer.” According to The Verge, a trans employee resource group is planning a walkout on Oct. 20.
“Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter,” the group said in a memo. “And as an organization, Netflix has continually failed to show deep care in our mission to Entertain the World by repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content. We can and must do better!”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Deadline) (The New York Times)
Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch May Have Abandoned Plans To Participate In TikTok NFT Program
Lil Nas X’s TikTok NFT was scheduled to debut a week ago and is still not available to the public.
Creators Allegedly Leave TikTok’s NFT Program
Musicians Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch may have quietly exited TikTok’s new NFT collection, according to a report from Rolling Stone.
TikTok first announced the line, which is called “TikTok Top Moments,” at the end of September. It involves a series of creator-led NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are unique and tradeable digital assets. TikTok’s NFTs can be purchased with the cryptocurrency Ethereum. According to a press release, the money will “largely go directly to the creators and NFT artists involved.”
TikTok said that creators like Poarch, Lil Nas X, Grimes, Curtis Roach, Brittany Broski, and more would be participating in the program. The company called NFTs an “empowerment tool” that will allow these creators to “be recognized and rewarded for their content.” It planned to debut the collection on Oct. 6 with Lil Nas X’s NFT, but that token has still not been made available. A source told Rolling Stone that it may never be released.
NFT Rollout Described as “A Mess”
The outlet also reported that Poarch is “actively contemplating pulling out of the program due to worries about its execution.” According to Rolling Stone, three sources familiar with the rollout of the program have described it as “a challenge,” “a mess,” and “a complete joke.”
Those sources claimed that in order to secure Poarch’s initial participation, TikTok offered her marketing support worth potentially $4 million for her next release. The company also allegedly promised to use one of her songs in an end-of-year campaign. A spokesperson for TikTok, however, described these claims as “not accurate.”
Neither Poarch nor Lil Nas X has commented on their participation yet. Meanwhile, TikTok declined to answer Rolling Stone’s questions about the status of their NFTs.
Some of TikTok’s announced NFTs have gone public, though. Throughout Tuesday, Roach’s “Bored in the House” video was up for auction on the platform Immutable.
NFTs took the internet by storm in early 2021, but their popularity peaked in May and declined throughout the summer. Celebrities, tech moguls, and everyday people featured in viral memes have hopped on the trend and made millions doing so.
According to Rolling Stone, TikTok has valued some of its own NFTs at $1 million. Now, it’s unclear if those tokens will ever hit the market.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Dexerto)
Ariana Grande, Bella Hadid, and Others Honor World Mental Health Day
A slew of stars acknowledged the day by sharing personal stories and making hefty donations to organizations that offer mental health resources.
Celebrities Donate to Mental Health Organizations
Major celebrities honored World Mental Health Day on Sunday by speaking candidly about their mental health struggles and donating to nonprofits.
Singer Ariana Grande announced that she is donating $5 million worth of free therapy through the online counseling platform Better Help. The star previously partnered with the company over the summer to give $1 million in therapy to fans and opted to throw more money at the program following its success.
“I acknowledge that there are very real barriers when it comes to accessing mental health resources, and while this is only one small gesture (and a much larger systemic problem remains) I wanted to do this again with @betterhelp in hopes of bringing access to a few more people and perhaps inspiring a few of you to try something new and prioritize your own healing,” Grande wrote on Instagram.
Those interested can sign up for a free first month of Better Help and get an additional 15% off the second month.
Model Bella Hadid also pledged to donate to mental health resources. She teamed up with the beverage company Kin Euphorics, which will donate 10% of its October sales to Gurls Talk, a nonprofit that gives adolescent girls a space to talk about mental health, along with various educational tools to aid those discussions. Hadid will match those donations.
“Dealing with mental illness for most of my life, bringing awareness to the education of mental health through my platform is something that I will continue to do until our mental is just as respected as our physical,” Hadid wrote. “I want everyone who struggles daily to know that you are not alone.”
Stars Share Resources and Personal Stories
Meanwhile, actress and singer Selena Gomez used her new makeup brand Rare Beauty to share statistics about the prevalence of mental illness and the efforts to combat it. The company, which has previously focused on several mental health initiatives, shared that just 1.3% of philanthropic investments go towards supporting mental health.
The company additionally cited information from an American Psychological Association report, which revealed that young people are particularly vulnerable to mental health struggles. It found that seven out of 10 Gen Z adults are more likely to report experiencing depression symptoms compared to other generations.
Gomez shared Rare Beauty’s post to her own story as well.
Singer Olivia Rodrigo similarly opened up about mental health and therapy during an interview with CBS that aired Sunday. In it, she said she has been in therapy since she was 16, which she believes has helped her both personally and professionally.
“That was a really big, life-changing moment,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about myself.”
“I think there’s sometimes a stigma around it, too, like I was saying,” the singer continued. “Sometimes people are like, ‘Oh, you don’t need that. You have so much. Your life is so great. What are your problems?’ I think that’s definitely a thing that sometimes older people can do to younger people to kind of trivialize what they’re going through.”