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Fiancee of Slain Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Asks Justin Bieber To Cancel Performance in Saudi Arabia

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“Do not sing for the murderers of my beloved Jamal,” Hatice Cengiz wrote in an open letter to the singer.


Khashoggi’s Fiancee Issues Plea to Justin Bieber

The fiancee of journalist Jamal Khashoggi penned an open letter published by The Washington Post on Saturday urging singer Justin Bieber to drop out of an upcoming performance he has scheduled in Saudi Arabia. 

Bieber is one of several artists slated to take the stage at the Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah. Hatice Cengiz hopes Bieber will bow out to instead use his platform to call out injustices in the country, including her fiance’s murder. 

Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. International groups and U.S. intelligence reports have since implicated Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the murder, though he has denied any involvement. 

Cengiz wrote that following her fiance’s death, “many human rights organizations and individuals, including myself, have been calling for justice and accountability.”

“That’s why I am writing to you with a plea,” she continued. “Cancel your Dec. 5 performance in Saudi Arabia. This is a unique opportunity to send a powerful message to the world that your name and talent will not be used to restore the reputation of a regime that kills its critics.”

Cengiz wrote that Bieber’s invitation “comes directly from MBS, as the crown prince is known.” While she said the star is likely traveling to the country out of devotion to his fans, there are “hundreds of Saudis” in prison just for expressing opposition to the leader — all of whom need vocalized support. 

“Last year, you wrote to your followers: ‘I want to use the platform I have to remind people that racism is evil and it is ingrained in our culture,’” she noted in her message to Beiber. “Considering this very honorable commitment that you have made to take a stand against injustice, please use your platform now to support the cause of human rights in Saudi Arabia. This year, you released an album that you titled ‘Justice.’ You also released one titled ‘Freedom.’ Saudi Arabia is in dire need of both.”

“Do not sing for the murderers of my beloved Jamal. Please speak out and condemn his killer, Mohammed bin Salman. Your voice will be heard by millions.”

Human Rights Watch Urges Bieber To Reconsider Performing

Cengiz is not the first person to recommend that Bieber back out of the show. Human Rights Watch released a statement last week telling Bieber and other artists on the lineup — including Jason Derulo, A$AP Rocky, and David Guetta ​​— to reconsider attending. 

“On the surface, the festivities are meant to show race attendees an amazing time. But a look beneath the hood makes clear the Saudi government’s intent is to use these celebrities to whitewash its abysmal human rights record,” the statement said. “Saudi Arabia has a history of using celebrities and major international events to deflect scrutiny from its pervasive abuses.”

According to Human Rights watch, stars like Emily Ratajkowski and John Cena have turned down events in Saudi Arabia over human rights concerns. The group added that Bieber and the other headliners should do the same in an effort to “follow through on their public commitments to human rights and social justice.”

Bieber has not publicly addressed the controversy as of Monday afternoon.

See what others are saying: (Washington Post) (BBC News) (Reuters)

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Gucci Family Slams “House of Gucci” as “Far From Accurate”

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The heirs to the designer legacy said they were not consulted during the production of the Ridley Scott picture.


Gucci Family Addresses “House of Gucci”

Members of the Gucci family released a statement Monday condemning their “far from accurate” portrayal in Ridley Scott’s latest film “House of Gucci.”

The film stars Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani, who was convicted for hiring a hitman to carry out the murder of her ex-husband Maurizio Gucci, played by Adam Driver. Other members of the designer dynasty are played by Academy Award-winning actors Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, and Jared Leto. 

“House of Gucci” has received mixed reviews from critics, but the Gucci family has made it clear they are not fans of the picture. They first released their scathing statement to Italian news agency ANSA. Variety published a full English translation of the release.

“The production of the film did not bother to consult the heirs before describing Aldo Gucci – president of the company for 30 years – and the members of the Gucci family as thugs, ignorant and insensitive to the world around them, attributing to the protagonists, events, a tone and an attitude that never belonged to them,” the statement said. “This is extremely painful from a human point of view and an insult to the legacy on which the brand is built today.”

The Gucci heirs specifically slammed the depiction of Reggiani. The family argued that the film crossed a line by “suggesting an indulgent tone towards a woman who [was] definitively convicted of having been the instigator of the murder of Maurizio Gucci.”

“[She] is painted not only in the film, but also in the statements made by cast members, as a victim who was trying to survive in a masculine and macho corporate culture,” the statement continues. “This couldn’t be further from the truth.” 

It closes by saying the Gucci family “does not deserve to be disturbed to stage a film that is not true and that does not do justice to its protagonists.”

“The members of the Gucci family reserves every right to protect the name, image and the dignity of their loved ones.”

Other Inside Criticisms of The Film

This is not the first time the family has criticized “House of Gucci.” Back in April, Patrizia Gucci, one of Mauricio’s second cousins, told the Associated Press that the production was “stealing the identity of a family to make a profit.”

Scott dismissed the criticisms in an interview with BBC

“I don’t engage with that,” he told the outlet. “You have to remember that one Gucci was murdered and another went to jail for tax evasion so you can’t be talking to me about making a profit. As soon as you do that you become part of the public domain.”

Designer Tom Ford, who is briefly played by Reeve Carney in the film, also slammed “House of Gucci” in an essay for Air Mail. He compared some scenes to a “Saturday Night Live” parody and said he felt as though he “had lived through a hurricane” when the film ended. Ford’s largest issue, though, was how the film treated a real-life death. 

“It was hard for me to see the humor and camp in something that was so bloody,” he wrote. “In real life, none of it was camp. It was at times absurd, but ultimately it was tragic.”

See what others are saying: (Variety) (BBC News) (New York Times)

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Recording Academy CEO Defends Nominations After Controversial Nods to Marilyn Manson and Louis C.K.

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CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said the Academy is not “in the business of restricting people” from getting nominated.


Recording Academy CEO Defends Nominations

Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. defended Tuesday’s Grammy nominations after artists like Marilyn Manson and Louis C.K. received nods for their work. 

Manson was nominated for his appearance on Kanye West’s album “Donda,” which landed in the Album of The Year category. Earlier this year, Manson was accused of sexual assault, rape, and psychological abuse by multiple victims.

C.K., who previously admitted to sexual misconduct, was nominated for Best Comedy Album. 

While speaking to The Wrap, Mason argued that the Recording Academy should not consider an artist’s personal life in its nomination process. 

“We won’t restrict the people who can submit their material for consideration,” he told the outlet when specifically asked about Manson’s nomination. “We won’t look back at people’s history, we won’t look at their criminal record, we won’t look at anything other than the legality within our rules of, is this recording for this work eligible based on date and other criteria. If it is, they can submit for consideration.”

Even though Mason believes artists with serious accusations levied against them should not be excluded from nominations, he did say the Academy will consider those factors when it comes to performances and other on-camera appearances. 

“What we will control is our stages, our shows, our events, our red carpets,” he explained. “We’ll take a look at anyone who is asking to be a part of that, asking to be in attendance, and we’ll make our decisions at that point. But we’re not going to be in the business of restricting people from submitting their work for our voters to decide on.”

Other Controversial Nods

Manson and C.K. were not the only controversial figures who received nominations. Comedian Dave Chappelle was nominated in Best Spoken Word Album for his special “8:46.” Last month, he faced severe backlash for transphobic comments he made in a separate special titled “The Closer.” Chappelle was slammed by several major LGBTQ+ organizations over the special but has defended himself against criticisms. 

Rapper DaBaby was also condemned by LGBTQ+ groups this summer after he made homophobic remarks during her performance at the Rolling Loud festival in Miami. He received Grammy recognition for his work on “Donda” and Justin Bieber’s “Justice.”

The Grammy Awards will be held in Los Angeles on Jan. 31, 2022.

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

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Kevin Spacey Ordered To Pay “House of Cards” Studio $31 Million for Losses After Sexual Misconduct Claims

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The studio argued that Spacey cost it millions after multiple sexual harassment and abuse claims against the actor forced it to suspend production, fire him, and shorten the show’s final season.


Arbitration Between MRC and Spacey Becomes Public

Actor Kevin Spacey and his production companies have been ordered to pay nearly $31 million dollars for breach of contract to MRC, the studio behind the Netflix series “House of Cards.”

The ruling was actually made by an arbitrator more than a year ago but was only made public Monday when MRC’s lawyers petition a California court to confirm the award.

Spacey was a centerpiece of the hit series and also served as one of its executive producers. However, during filming for its final season in 2017, an actor named Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of making a sexual advance towards him when Rapp was 14 in 1986.

Netflix suspected production in the wake of Rapp’s claims, but soon after, others came forward with allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Spacey, including several former and then-current crew members of “House of Cards.”

Netflix eventually fired Spacey, whose list of accusers grew to at least 15 people.

MRC Blames Spacey for Production Losses

In the secret arbitration last year, MRC argued that Spacey “repeatedly breached his contractual obligations.” It added that he and his companies are liable for his behavior, which allegedly caused the studio to lose millions given what it had already invested in developing, writing, and shooting the final season.

MRC also said the Emmy-winning series brought in less revenue when it finally aired because it had to be shortened from 13 to 8 episodes to write out Spacey’s character, Frank Underwood.

According to Variety, Spacey filed a counterclaim, alleging that he was owed money after he was dropped from the series and did not breach his contract. That claim was later rejected and the arbitrator ultimately agreed with MRC, issuing the massive reward, which includes compensatory damages and lawyers’ fees.

Spacey and his team have not commented on the news as of Tuesday, though the studio has since issued a statement saying, “The safety of our employees, sets and work environments is of paramount importance to MRC and why we set out to push for accountability.”

See what others are saying: (Variety) (CNN) (The New York Times)

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