- YouTuber David Dobrik has stepped down from the board of Dispo, the photo-sharing social media app he co-founded, according to The Information.
- The departure comes amid growing backlash for past content he made with his YouTube Vlog Squad, some of which led to the alleged sexual assaults of a former member and a 20-year-old college student.
- Major brands like Dollar Shave Club, DoorDash, EA Sports, and others have dropped their partnerships with Dobrik in light of the allegations.
- Vlog Squad member Jeff Wittek also drew new scrutiny towards Dobrik and his group after criticizing an Insider reporter’s coverage of one sexual assault claim, despite not fully reading the article himself.
David Dobrik Loses Brand Deals
YouTuber David Dobrik is stepping down from the board of Dispo, a photo-sharing social media app that he founded, as he continues to face backlash over a rape accusation against a member of his Vlog Squad.
Last week, Insider published a report detailing a woman’s claim that Dom Zeglaitis, known online as Durte Dom, raped her in 2018 when she was too drunk to consent to any sexual activity. The accuser said she was 20-years-old at the time and was with Dobrik and other Vlog Squad members to film a video.
Following this piece, Dobrik has been dropped by major brands, including Dollar Shave Club, DoorDash, EA Sports, and Hello Fresh. He is also no longer an owner of Angel City Football club, a U.S. women’s soccer team.
“Angel City was built to lead by example, to set higher expectations, and to do the right thing, even when the right thing is hard,” the club’s president, resident Julie Uhrman, said in a statement. “To that end, David Dobrik is no longer an owner of Angel City.”
On Sunday night, Spark Capital, a major investor in Dobrik’s Dispo app, said it was severing all ties with the company in light of the allegations.
“We have stepped down from our position on the board and we are in the process of making arrangements to ensure we do not profit from our recent investment in Dispo,” Spark Capital said on Twitter.
Later that night, Dispo told The Information that Dobrik would be leaving the app.
“David has chosen to step down from the board and leave the company to not distract from the company’s growth,” it said in a statement.
Seven Seven Six, a venture capital firm that invested in Dispo, released a statement saying it agreed with the app’s decision to part ways with Dobrik. It promised to donate any profits from their investment to organizations that work with sexual assault survivors.
Dobrik previously addressed the allegations in a brief video last week. He said he has separated himself from Zeglaitis.
“With people in my life that I don’t film with anymore, like Dom, I chose to distance myself,” he said. “I don’t align with some of the actions, I don’t stand for any misconduct. I’ve been really disappointed by some of my friends. For that reason, I’ve separated from a lot of them.”
“Consent is something that is super super important to me,” he added.
Jeff Wittek Slams Insider Investigation
Dobrik is not the only person facing backlash for his alleged involvement in the situation. Vlog Squad member Jeff Wittek has also hopped on the defense, as the Insider piece suggests he may have supplied the alcohol that the accuser and her friends drank.
In the piece, two sources — former Vlog Squadder Trisha Paytas and a separate witness who was friends with the accuser — said they remember Wittek buying whiskey. Wittek is quoted in the piece denying that he did so.
On Sunday, he uploaded a video called “MY TRUTH” slamming the article and the reporter who wrote it, Kat Tenbarge. At one point, he put Tenbarge’s Twitter on the screen in an attempt to send people to attack her. He said Tenbarge wrote the story for “personal profit” because it was initially behind a paywall, something she had no control over. He also said he has lost partnerships as a result of his involvement in the story.
“The only one that was allegedly saying that I bought the alcohol was Trisha. Trisha wasn’t even there,” Wittek said multiple times in his video, despite the fact that the report included a second source who implicated him.
Wittek also included excerpts of two conversations he had with Tenbarge: one where she interviewed him before the piece was published, and one where he confronted her after the fact. In one clip, Tenbarge said she was sorry that Wittek was facing backlash for being mentioned in the article, but stood by her reporting. At no point do any of his clips show that his quotes were taken out of context.
Wittek further denied buying the alcohol and said he was not at the apartment when the alleged incident happened. He said both he and other members of the Vlog Squad were completely unaware of the allegation.
Kat Tenbarge Responds to Jeff Wittek
Tenbarge hit back at Wittek for actively ignoring the fact that she included a second person who said he purchased the drinks.
“Jeff spends his video trying to undermine my credibility by making false statements and playing out-of-context clips from our conversations,” she wrote. “I stand by my reporting and so does Insider.”
Tenbarge also included a longer excerpt of their conversation where she clearly states that two sources told her about Wittek allegedly buying alcohol.
She also addressed frustrations Wittek had with a line in the article that read: “He didn’t think [Todd] Smith would have bought it either, though he said Smith ‘loves whiskey.’” Wittek argued that she took that last comment about whiskey from a separate part of the conversation and used it to make it seem like he was suggesting Smith could have bought it. According to a clip Tenbarge shared, that’s is what he said and it was not taken out of context.
In a later thread, Tenbarge said she only apologized because Wittek told her “people were calling him a rapist & pedophile.” She said during their second conversation, he used manipulation tactics so he could get soundbites to later use against her.
Jeff Wittek Goes on Frenemies
The situation with Wittek escalated on Sunday when he appeared on the “Frenemies” podcast with Paytas and Ethan Kein. During that live show, Wittek admitted that he had not read the article in its entirety prior to making his video that slammed it.
He also changed his story about how long he was with the Vlog Squad the night the rape allegedly happened. Wittek previously said he was at the apartment for 15 minutes, but then said on the Frenemies podcast it was closer to 30 or 45 minutes at around 11:00 P.M. Then Klein pulled up a photo timestamped at 1:18 A.M. That photo included Wittek, Dobrik, and the accuser, who was being supported up by her friends as she was too drunk to stand. Still, Wittek maintained he was not there the whole night.
“I certainly was not there when they were having sex,” he said.
“Well yeah they were in a private room,” Klein said.
“No. I wasn’t in the apartment,” Wittek claimed.
“So, you left and then you came back at the end of the night?”
“I guess I did come back, yeah as ridiculous as it sounds, but I live down the street.”
At another point, he claimed Dobrik did the same.
“To my understanding, I think David left too… I think everybody left,” he explained.
“That doesn’t make any sense Jeff…I have this photo of all of you guys at the end of the night,” Klein said.
Wittek continued to deny any wrongdoing that night and claimed certain parts of the video were entirely staged. He also said he had no idea who was drinking and who was or was not 21-years-old.
See what others are saying: (Insider) (Newsweek) (The New York Times)
Disney Says Talent Deals Must Change Amid Pandemic as It Battles Scarlett Johansson Lawsuit
CEO Bob Chapek said talent is Disney’s “most important asset” and claimed the company is undergoing a “reset” regarding its contracts.
Bob Chapek Says Talent Contracts Are Going Through a Reset
Disney CEO Bob Chapek said Tuesday that going forward, talent contracts at the studio “will have to reflect the fact that the world is changing.”
His remarks come as Disney battles a lawsuit from actress Scarlett Johansson alleging breach of contract for her work on “Black Widow.” While making his claims at a virtual Goldman Sachs conference, Chapek did not mention Johansson by name, but he did directly address the issues Hollywood is facing when it comes to compensating talent amid the pandemic.
As COVID-19 halted filmgoing, many movies expected to be box office hits were instead released directly to streaming, while others were released in theaters and on streaming platforms the same day. These models are drastically different from the exclusive theatrical release that films and the stars in them have come to expect over the last several decades.
“We’re sort of putting a square peg in a round hole right now where we’ve got a deal conceived under a certain set of conditions, that actually results in a movie that is being released in a completely different set of conditions,” Chapek said during the conference via numerous reports. “So there’s a bit of a reset that’s going on right now, and ultimately we’ll think about that as we do our future talent deals and plan for that and make sure that that’s incorporated.”
“But right now, we’ve got sort of this middle position where we’re trying to do right by the talent,” he added. “I think the talent’s trying to do right by us, and we’re just sort of figuring out our way to bridge the gap.”
Chapek also referred to talent as Disney’s “most important asset” and said that historically, the company has had a “very symbiotic” relationship with its talent regarding the deals they strike together.
Scarlett Johansson Vs. Disney
That symbiotic relationship is now being put to the test by Johanssen, who hit Disney with a lawsuit in July over its decision to release her “Black Widow” standalone picture for a premium fee on Disney+ the same day it hit the big screen. The actress claims that her contract guaranteed an exclusive theatrical release for the film and that her salary was largely based on what it grossed at the box office. Because viewers had the option to purchase it for streaming at home, she claims she did not see “the full benefit” of her deal.
Disney claimed the lawsuit had no merit. It also released a scathing statement saying that Johansson’s legal effort showed a “callous disregard” for the harmful and prolonged effects of COVID-19, especially since she allegedly received $20 million upfront for “Black Widow.”
Disney is hoping to solve the matter via private arbitration. Johannson’s legal team wants to take the dispute to court.
So far, “Black Widow” has raked in $377 million worldwide. It broke pandemic box office records during its opening weekend but still has not made nearly as much as it likely would have prior to the pandemic.
As for whether or not the dual release strategy actually tanked the film’s earnings, that is hard to say. By comparison though, Marvel’s “Shang-Chi,” which was released exclusively in theaters, is already set to catch up to “Black Widow” at the box office. The film has been out for just under a month and has already made $306 million worldwide.
While many expected to see other A-list actors follow Johannson’s lead and likewise file lawsuits against studios who threw their titles on streaming, so far Disney has had seemingly no issue striking more deals with its talent. In the past several months, it has locked in sequels with stars like Emma Stone, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Emily Blunt.
See what others are saying: (The Wrap) (The Hollywood Reporter) (Los Angeles Times)
Alissa Violet Sues FaZe Clan Over Stock It Allegedly Owes Her
The social media star says she was promised stock in FaZe Clan as part of a previous settlement but has yet to receive her shares.
Alissa Violet Sues FaZe Clan
Social media influencer Alissa Marie Violet Butler, known online as Alissa Violet, is suing digital entertainment and esports collective FaZe Clan over stock she is allegedly owed.
According to a Monday report from The Washington Post, Butler’s case stems from a previous lawsuit that involved both her and FaZe Clan. The report says that in 2018, Butler transferred her shares in a media company she co-founded called Clout Gang to a different company called Hubrick Limited as part of an agreement with FaZe Clan. At the time, Hubrick and FaZe Clan were partnering to develop both businesses.
Per The Post, several other FaZe Clan members were part of a similar exchange where they transferred their FaZe Clan shares for Hubrick shares as well. The partnership between the two companies crumbled, however, leading to a legal frenzy. Butler, FaZe Clan, Clout Gang, and more ended up accusing Hubrick of fraud in a lawsuit. Hubrick tossed the allegation right back at them in a countersuit.
To resolve the matters, The Post says Butler and FaZe Clan “entered into an oral agreement to settle the lawsuits with Hubrick,” which involved Butler giving up her Hubrick stock and dropping her claims against the company. In return, she would then receive FaZe Clan common stock.
Butler says that despite holding up her end of the bargain, she has still not received stock in FaZe Clan.
Responses to Lawsuit
Butler has over 10 million followers on Instagram and another 3.7 million subscribers on YouTube. She has had a career in modeling and picked up a handful of acting credits in television shows and music videos. She previously dated the co-owner of FaZe Clan, FaZe Banks.
According to The Post, FaZe Clan is valued at around $300 million.
“If Faze Clan simply abided by its promise to compensate her, Alissa would not have had to sue Faze Clan,” Butler’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, said to The Post.
FaZe Clan defended itself in a statement to the outlet, saying it “denies generally and specifically each and every allegation contained in the Complaint.”
FaZe Clan CEO Lee Trink also sent an email to The Post claiming that the matter will likely be resolved.
“Stories get created out of any disagreement or dispute, big or small,” he wrote. “On this particular matter we’re in close communication and confident it’ll be resolved amicably.”
It is unclear how much Butler is seeking in her suit.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post )(Dexerto) (Esports.com)
Priyanka Chopra Jonas Says “The Activist” Reality Series “Got It Wrong”
The controversial series is now being reworked into a documentary, which Chopra Jonas hopes will better “highlight the actions and impact” of global activists.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas Apologizes For “The Activist”
Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas responded to controversies surrounding “The Activist,” a CBS reality competition series she was slated to co-host that is now being reworked following widespread backlash.
“The Activist” was going to show real activists competing against one another in various challenges in an effort to promote their philanthropic causes. After many expressed disgust at the premise, CBS said it would scrap the footage already shot and turn the idea into a one-time documentary special highlighting the work and impacts of different activists.
“The show got it wrong, and I’m sorry that my participation in it disappointed many of you,” Chopra Jonas wrote on Instagram. “The intention was always to bring attention to the people behind the ideas and highlight the actions and impact of the causes they support tirelessly. I’m happy that in this new format, their stories will be the highlight.”
“I’m proud to collaborate with partners who have their ear to the ground and know when it’s time to hit pause and re-evaluate,” she added.
Chopra Jonas closed her post by thanking the “global community of activists” for their hard work, which often goes unacknowledged.
Controversies Surrounding “The Activist”
Musician Usher and dancer Julianne Hough were cast to host alongside Chopra Jonas. After a release announcing the show and their casting went out last week, it was slammed online by activists and journalists alike.
Actress and activist Jameela Jamil wrote that the network would have been better off donating the presumably large production costs to charity instead of “turning activism into a game.”
Women’s activist Gina Martin thought turning charity into a competition was counterintuitive, arguing “the whole *essense* of activism is solidarity and community.”
Writers from The Verge, The Washington Post, Essence, and countless other outlets likewise published pieces slamming the program. The Post’s Michele L. Norris accused CBS of “trying to capitalize on the current avalanche of doom in the daily news cycle.”
Norris added that the show’s “prize,” which was to attend the G20 summit in Italy, boiled down to activists fighting “merely for the right to crash an international conference and try to shake down world leaders for cash.”
Responses From Those Involved
Chopra Jonas is not the only host to address the criticism. Before the idea was canned, Hough wrote a lengthy Instagram post saying she was listening to the dialogue regarding the program.
“There is a feeling of insult, dehumanization, insensitivity and hurt that is being rightfully felt,” she wrote.
“I do not claim to be an activist and wholeheartedly agree that the judging aspect of the show missed the mark and furthermore, that I am not qualified to act as a judge,” she added, though she stopped short of actually stepping down from the gig.
CBS ended up releasing a joint statement with Global Citizen and Live Nation acknowledging the failings of the concept.
“It has become apparent the format of the show as announced distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day,” the statement said. “The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort.”
The statement said the new documentary will “showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in” without any competitive element.