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Disney Says Talent Deals Must Change Amid Pandemic as It Battles Scarlett Johansson Lawsuit

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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 Johansson’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)

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Ruby Rose Details Abusive and Unsafe Work Conditions on Set of “Batwoman” Series

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Rose said she and other crew members were seriously injured while filming, but executives insisted that production continue.


Ruby Rose Details Injuries During “Batwoman” Production

Actor Ruby Rose alleged in Instagram Story posts Wednesday that she and other crew members on the set of CW’s “Batwoman” series were seriously injured and subjected to abusive treatment during production.

Rose, who uses she/they pronouns, exited the series in 2020 but did not give explicit details as to why at the time. Now, they are accusing showrunner Caroline Dries, producers Sarah Schechter and Greg Berlanti, and former WBTV executive Peter Roth of fostering a toxic and dangerous work environment.

The original star of “Batwoman” tagged Dries, Schechter, and Berlanti in her Story posts, writing “enough is enough.”

“I’m going to tell the whole world what really happened on that set,” Rose continued. “I will come for you so what happened to me never happens to another person again. And so I can finally take back my life and the truth. Shame on you.”

Rose shared a video of a doctor detailing rib injuries she received on set. She claimed she had enough footage to make an hour-long documentary about these injuries, which allegedly also included a “broken neck,” a “rib split in two” and a “tumor.” In a later post, Rose wrote that in another instance she “got cut in the face so close to my eye in a stunt I could have been blind.”

Rose also shared footage of a surgery they underwent, claiming they had to return to set just 10 days after the operation otherwise “the whole crew and cast would be fired.”

Rose Claims Executives Fostered Dangerous Workplace

“Please to my dear, dear fans stop asking if I will return to that awful show,” Rose continued. “I wouldn’t return for any amount of money nor if a gun were to my head…NOR DID I QUIT. They ruined Kate Kane and they destroyed batwoman, not me.”

Rose added that they were not the only one who sustained traumatic injuries during filming. Rose claimed that the series “lost two stunt doubles” and that one crew member received severe third-degree burns all over his body while the cast and crew watched.

“We were given no therapy after witnessing his skin fall off his face,” Rose wrote. 

Rose even wrote that a woman “was left quadriplegic” during an accident but executives tried “to blame it on her being on her phone.”

“She’s a PA, they work via phones,” Rose continued. “Her accident occurred because our show refused to shut down when everyone else did because of Covid.”

Rose’s allegations regarding mishandling the COVID-19 pandemic continued from there. She wrote that Dries only visited the show’s set four times a year, but still insisted that production continue as COVID posed a threat. Rose said “Batwoman” continued running while other sets, including those of CW productions, were shutting down. 

“[Dries] has no heart and wanted us to finish the season throughout the pandemic and I told her it was a bad idea,” Rose wrote. “I told her everyone was too distracted, constantly checking Covid updates checking on friends.”

Rose claims that when production did finally halt, it was not because a production assistant had been severely injured but because “the government pulled it.”

Separately, Rose accused Roth of having young women steam the crotch area of his pants while he was wearing them. She also alleged that Roth sent a private investigator after her and that Dries encouraged her to comply with him. 

Rose admitted that they “fought people” on set, but claimed they only did so to advocate for safety. Rose said they never raised their voice, unlike fellow actor Dougray Scott, who they accused of going on abusive tirades.  

“Dougray hurt a female stunt double,” Rose claimed. “He yelled like a little bitch at women and was a nightmare. He left when he wanted and arrived when he wanted he abused women and in turn as a lead of a show I sent an email out asking for a no yelling policy, they declined.”

WBTV responded to the allegations Wednesday. The network gave a statement to Deadline accusing Rose of sharing a “revisionist history” that implicates “producers, the cast and crew, the network, and the Studio.”

“The truth is that Warner Bros. Television had decided not to exercise its option to engage Ruby for season two of Batwoman based on multiple complaints about workplace behavior that were extensively reviewed and handled privately out of respect for all concerned,” the statement continued.

See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (The Wrap) (Screen Rant)

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Netflix Reinstates Employee Who Crashed Director-Level Meeting After Criticizing Dave Chapelle

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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)

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Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch May Have Abandoned Plans To Participate In TikTok NFT Program

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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)

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