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Early in March, Constantine Maroulis took to the stage for a performance at the legendary New York City Jazz Club, Birdland. Little did he know, he would be one of the last entertainers to grace an NYC venue before the lights went out on Broadway.
“My last show in New York city turned out to be the last show, maybe, of the year,” the two-time Tony Award nominee (for lead actor in “Rock of Ages” and Best Revival as producer for “Spring Awakening”) tells Variety. “There was definitely something in the air that night. The next day, Tuesday March 10, there were rumors spreading like wildfire that Broadway was going to be canceled. At first they said it’s going to be a month and then we’ll be back. But I don’t think anyone really believed that.”
News reports suggest Broadway shows may be looking to raise its curtains in January, but Maroulis thinks that’s unlikely. “I think that’s optimistic,” he says. “Tons of Broadway actors got sick.” Among them: Maroulis’ “dear friend” and fellow “Rock of Ages” alum Nick Cordero, who’s been hospitalized for the better part of six weeks after contracting Covid-19. “He’s clinging to life,” says Maroulis.
Watching the death toll climb to over 11,500 in his home state of New Jersey, Maroulis felt he had to take action, teaming up with the lifestyle television program HIP New Jersey and New Jersey News 12 to produce a virtual reality telethon raising money for the NJ Pandemic Relief Fund set for Sunday (May 31) at 8 p.m. EST. The benefit will also stream live on the News 12 Facebook page.
“I know so many doctors in the fight right now that are stressed out,” he says. “Their families, their support staff, nurses, other healthcare workers, and so many families affected by this,” he says. “It’s really the the least I can do. I’m so happy to be a part of it.”
Maroulis teamed up with HIP NJ creators Maria Falzo and Lisa Marie Latino, hitting the ground running as one of the producers blowing up the phones to line-up talent — including Tony winning composer and Bon Jovi keyboardist Dave Bryan, who was one of the first celebrities diagnosed with coronavirus, and is now recovered. Bryan was set to launch his newest show, “Diana, The Musical,” when the pandemic hit, and fans waiting to hear music from the show will get their own special preview this Sunday.
“He was wiped out for weeks, and got very, very sick,” says Maroulis. “He was able to stay home for the most part during that and, and recover. But he really got hit very hard with it and you know, so he was just so happy to be a part of this. He is contributing a song from ‘Diana,’ and he has such a great voice. I just love when he plays piano and sings. This will be how the songs are really kind of meant to be heard, for the first time at least.”
The “American Idol” alum, who finished in sixth place the year Carrie Underwood was crowned the winner, reached out to fellow “Idol” alum (and “Dr. and the Diva” co-host) Kimberley Locke (Season 2), Jim Babjak of The Smithereens, country duo Williams Honor, “Real Housewives of New Jersey” star Melissa Gorga, Bobbi Brown, New York Giants Daniel Jones and Danny Dimes, David Burke, Golden Tate, comedian Vic DiBitetto, “Sopranos” star Vincent Curatola, George Oliphant to participate in the one-hour special. Musical performances also include Garden State Radio, The Happy Fits, Williams Honor, The Benjamins, The Nerds, Robin DiLauri, Marco Benevento (from the Grateful Dead tribute band, “Almost Dead”), Samantha Blossey, and Eliza Neals, and of course, a performance by Maroulis.
Maroulis will perform a new song from his forthcoming album, “Until I’m Wanted,” which is set for release on July 10. “I got a few thousand physicals being shipped to my house this weekend, which I’m pretty excited about,” he says. The album includes songs co-written with heavyweights like Sam Hollander (Panic! At The Disco) and will be released on the independent label, Noble Steed.
Also keeping him busy: virtual master classes mentoring kids pursuing careers in the arts and homeschooling his own nine-year old daughter, Malena (“She wants to go to Yale,” he laughs), as well as keeping up with “American Idol.”
“I was happy for Just Sam,” he says of this season’s winner. “She had a great story and a great trajectory and she really did sort of change. And that’s what the essence of it — it’s about the journey and that process.”
In the meantime, Maroulis, whose television credits include “Mozart in the Jungle,” “Madame Secretary,” “Law & Order SVU” and “America’s Got Talent,” is continuing to put up virtual quarantine content, teaming up with Richie Castellano’s “Band Geeks” for a cover of Van Halen’s “Right Now” — which has already amassed 22,000 views. He is also planning a future cover of “Message in A Bottle” by the Police with an “all new arrangement… very poignant for this time, because it feels like we’re sometimes alone on on a deserted Island right now with what we’re going through. So it’s like I’m sending out an SOS.”
The untimely death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis law enforcement officers has prompted global protests in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
In Berlin, thousands of protestors gathered on Saturday outside the U.S. embassy — located on Pariser Platz, next to the iconic Brandenberg Gate — to protest Floyd’s death. Attendees held up signs that read “Black Lives Matter,” “Justice for George Floyd” and “I Can’t Breathe.”
Floyd died on May 25 after he was pinned to the ground by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was seen on video kneeling on the neck of a handcuffed and unarmed Floyd, who repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.” Chauvin has since been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
The incident has sparked nationwide protests in the U.S., and demonstrations are now spreading across the globe.
Hundreds of protestors took to the streets in Peckham, south London, on Saturday to protest Floyd’s death, at one point stopping all traffic on the main road. The U.K. has had its own turbulent history between police and the black community, which came to a head in the 2011 Tottenham Riots, a series of riots in response to the police killing of 29-year-old Mark Duggan.
A number of events are planned in the coming week in London, although none originate directly from the official Black Lives Matter U.K. group, which has said it is still “discussing the implications of calling a mass march in the middle of a pandemic that is killing us the most.”
The U.K. has felt the brunt of coronavirus in Europe, with a staggering death toll of 38,376. The Office of National Statistics reported in early May that black men and women are almost twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white people in England and Wales.
However, a number of social media posts have begun circulating, indicating a mass protest planned in Trafalgar Square on Sunday afternoon, where attendees are being called upon to “Knee for Floyd.”
“If you can’t attend, please kneel in your area in solidarity and share. We are doing this to place pressure on the American government and show that this is a a world-wide issue,” reads the post, which is being shared under the hashtag #LDNBLM.
Peaceful protests are also scheduled to take place in Hyde Park, Parliament Square and the U.S. Embassy on June 3, 6 and 7, respectively.
In Canada, thousands turned out at Toronto’s Christie Pitts Park on Saturday and marched throughout the city to police headquarters downtown to protest the deaths of both Floyd and Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a woman who died last week after falling from her 24th-floor balcony after police officers were called to her home. Toronto Police are currently investigating the incident.
Argentina’s “Mother Dough,” a four-part doc series portraying how women have fed humanity through their work at home and their doughs, has won the first Iberseries Pitch, ending first year activities at this year’s Iberseries, an event which is setting out to become the foremost Spanish-language drama series festival in the world.
“‘Mother Dough’ is innovative and, at the same time. universal in its treatment, channelling the principal issues of the 21st century in a proposition that is distinctive, with multiple values in its visuals and content, a nexus connecting with our emotions,” said a jury made up of Ana Celia Urquidi, general manager, production at Mexico’s Hemisphere Media Group, Arantxa Écija, Mediaset España fiction director, and Alex Medeiros, director of development at Globo Channels, Brazil.
The winner will walk away with a €3,000 ($3,300) cash prize, manna from heaven for any Argentine producer at this time.
The Pitch also showcased two high-profile drama series projects from Spain – “Nada” and “Black Gold” – as well as animation skein “Trip to Antarctic” and Colombian life-on-the-margins anthology “Cartegenes.”
Held online, and featuring select highlights from what was once imagined to be an industry agenda taking place this week in Granada, Spain, Iberseries proved notable for its high-powered backing. On May 19, Movistar Plus presented “La Unidad,” a just-released anti-terrorist squad action thriller which had set an all-time first weekend viewership record for the Telefonica pay TV/SVOD service.
At a May 28 trans-Atlantic Zoom panel, executives from Miami’s ViacomCBS International Studios, Spain’s Movistar Plus and RTVE and Colombia’s Caracol TV debated a post-COVID future, setting out sometimes quite candidly their priorities as well as likely post-pandemia change.
Iberseries also served to underscore the ever-rising but logical quality of Spanish-language drama series as the sector is increasingly viewed as a priority sector for governments and a potentially sustainable future for film-TV producers. For independent producers, getting a series made is still, however, no slam dunk. Following, a drill down on Iberseries Pitch winner “Mother Dough,” announced Friday, and the other four finalists, all presented on Thursday.
Punching all the right buttons – it’s feminist, ethno and gastronomic – “Mother Dough” already has broad producer backing – by lead Argentine producer Brava Cine; Jaque Content, the dynamic Argentina-Mexico production house (“The Cleaning Lady”); and respected Alfredo Federico at Italy’s 39 Films. The Iberseries boosts the credentials of a project which already scooped the CTT EXP & Rentals Award for series in development from Los Cabos Festival’s Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund last November. The four half-hour episodes will mix cinematography, experts’ opinions, photos and archive footage, writer-director Mercedes Córdova said during her Iberseries presentation. Multi-media – a series, TV special, feature, podcast, book, web-platform – added producer Valeria Forster at Brava Cine, the title’s narrator will change from country to county of release. Particularly arresting is the series’ revisionist history. Ep. 1, for example, will show how women gatherers’ development of agriculture allowed nomads to settle, opening the door to patriarchy, said Cordóva.
The first drama series from Aquí y Alli Films, one of Spain’s most successful young production houses (Cannes Critics’ Week winner “Aqui y Allá,” 2014 San Sebastian Golden Shell winner “Magical Girl,” Variety favorite “Life and Nothing More”), “Nada” has Jorge Dorado (“The Department of Time,” “The Head”) on board to direct a story which wraps deep relationship issues – the damage a parent often wreaks on a child – in Patagonia Noir. Creator-writer Nicolás Britos – again from Argentina, no confidence as its deep well of writing talent is increasingly tapped throughout the Spanish-speaking world – used the presentation to double down on what called the “fifth wall,” the mobile phone Nada uses a second memory after, 30 years before, aged eight, she felt through the ice of frozen lake, suffering permanent brain damage. When her father, a egomaniacal novelist, disappears, Nada return to her birthplace in Patagonia to find her father and also, as all children must do, finally confronts her own life trauma.
Brought to its knees by a 1936-39 Civil War, 1940s’ Spain was effectively up for sale, its tungsten, used to strength Nazi German munitions, creating the equivalent of a California Gold Rush in 1944 in North-West Galicia and Northern Portugal. For a time, said series creator Paula Cons, some villages had 60 bars, four cinema theaters and multiple brothels. “Black Gold” has classic Western beats, such as (echoing William Wyler’s “The Westerner”) its protagonist, a drifter, Nuno, a former Portuguese miner, determined to run the racketeering business, and replace its kingpin who takes him under his wing in a lawless land of easy money. What sets it apart is its “unique universe”, she added. Set up at Galicia’s Agallas Films, where Cons’ works as head of development, “Black Gold” was selected for last November’s Content London.
‘Trip to the Antarctic’
A short format 2D animation series, “Trip to the Antarctic” turns on the extraordinary Arctic Tern, a bird with the longest migration journey of any in the world, flying anywhere up to 57,000 miles a year from the Arctic or Northern Europe to a second summer in the Antarctic and back. Yet chicks, such as Timmia, the heroine of “Trip,” fit in the palm of a hand, said series creator Eva Pérez. They are also highly animation-friendly. Illustrations which accompany the series online suggest an engagingly dainty 2D style. In “Trip,” thanks to quaking slow-coach twin brother Ungal, Timmia gets lost on her first trip South. The series’ unspools against a background of climate change. But it is at heart an adventure series, Pérez said.
Set in Cartagena de las Indias, the six-part comedy-drama “Cartagenes’” turns on a half dozen characters from its marginalized quarters, each with their own epiode. One dreams of leaving, stowing away on a boat, but he can’t swim; another dreams of finding her father; yet another of becoming a doctor, bur he has to care for his father instead. Most face dashed dreams, seemingly insurmountable circumstances. “All these stories are full of humor, tragedy, magic,” series director Felipe Solarte during Iberseries Pitch. “They breath the chaotic, vibrant soul of the Caribbean.”
Pablo Sandoval contributed to this article.
“We dance in the streets because we don’t have anywhere to go now.” There is much that sticks and stutters and loops in the mind after watching “Dark City Beneath the Beat,” a bright, ebullient and simultaneously seething musical documentary dedicated to the Baltimore club scene, but that’s the line that lingers longest. An apparent expression of joy, chased by an admission of crushing, unequal reality, it’s said matter-of-factly by a young black choreographer trying to keep art alive in the face of diminished creative space. It distils the push-pull impulses of TT The Artist’s unique film, which mixes and remixes fluorescently staged performance and candid sidewalk-level vérité to offer an abstract history of a city’s rich musical subculture, a busy snapshot of the black community in which it flourishes, and a consciousness-raising statement of resistance against political and economic oppressors. All that in 65 minutes, and the beat never lets up once.
“Dark City Beneath the Beat” ought to have entered the festival circuit with a bang. It was set to premiere at South By Southwest in March, before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered the event, and it’s hard to envision any scenario in which this short, sharp blast of a doc wouldn’t have set Austin crowds alight with its combination of audiovisual dynamism and amplified social protest. Now streaming as part of the Hot Docs festival’s digital program, it plays persuasively on any size screen, but will hopefully see future theatrical bookings where its restless soundscape and scorched, radiant visuals can be best experienced. “Insecure” creator Issa Rae’s involvement as a producer is an additional selling point, though director-editor-performer TT The Artist — a Baltimore rapper and club queen who immediately proves a fluent, adventurous filmmaker — is the woman whose identity seeps from her debut’s every pore.
With no conventional narration and a bare minimum of talking heads, the film doesn’t pedantically walk unfamiliar viewers through the origins and particulars of Baltimore club music: a blend of hip-hop and house that, since its inception in the 1990s, has cultivated multiple interdependent communities of rappers, DJs, dancers and club promoters. Rather, it trusts us to pick things up on the fly, evoking the scene from the inside out — beginning with a throbbing, unflagging breakbeat score, expertly curated by the director and music supervisor Mighty Mike, which gets viewers quite literally in the groove as the film’s world unfolds.
Just as a DJ controls the vibe of a club with their set, so TT The Artist uses the changeable registers and BPM of the music to mark the doc’s shifts in focus from celebratory street portraiture to blunt Black Lives Matter activism to heartfelt mourning for departed artists. “There are a thousand ways to tell this story,” an introductory title card declares, and the film sets out to try as many as possible. Though its brisk running time will help the film slot easily into further festival programs and ancillary slots, “Dark City Beneath the Beat” could easily run another half-hour without pausing for breath.
And so we segue swiftly and seamlessly between moods and modes, with cinematographer Kirby Griffin’s humid, fluid imagery excelling across the aesthetic spectrum. Vox-pop interviews with black Baltimore residents — as they explain their love-hate relationship with their troubled hometown — bleed into music-video interludes, exquisitely art-directed in blazing primary hues, including one where jazz-rap artist Olu Butterfly offers an ode to creators and creating (“Woe to those/who try to stop these/killer African bees/from making honey”). Baltimore club insiders such as Mighty Mark and Uneek, founder of talent development program BMore Than Dance, reflect on the scene’s legacy and offer us a whirlwind tour of such influential hotspots as the Paradox nightclub. Rough-and-ready footage from intensive local dance-off contests sits happily alongside gleamingly polished, choreographed cinematic setpieces addressing gun violence and race hate: In the most beautiful and startling of these, two dancers enact a heated face-off between a white cop and a targeted black civilian with a blend of ballet, breakdancing and mime.
Tightly and intuitively edited by the director, these transitions stress the point that Baltimore club is a multitude of things to a large, lively population: Spanning multiple media and disciplines, it’s both a stylistic umbrella for many idiosyncratic artists and an open-to-all platform for community empowerment, inviting further minority groups — notably an outspoken and expressive LGBTQ faction — to the ball. Above all, it’s a soundtrack for Baltimore itself, with a fevered rhythm determined by the city’s socioeconomic hardships and cultural wealth. “Why do we give all our time to streets that don’t love us back?” one Baltimore resident asks. Dancing with a raised fist throughout, this superb documentary makes a case for the effort.
The internet was abuzz late Saturday night with speculation that Anonymous — the decentralized hacker collective — had successfully disabled the Minneapolis Police Department website, in retaliation for the murder of George Floyd.
By early Sunday, the sites were still experiencing access problems, sporadically requiring visitors to enter “captchas” verifying they weren’t bots in a front-end hosted by internet security firm Cloudflare — a signal the sites were experiencing a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, designed to render an internet service unusable by flooding it with bogus traffic. (A separate site for the Minneapolis Police Department, insidempd.com, appears to be unaffected.)
The disruption to the Minneapolis municipal sites came after a Facebook page claiming to be affiliated with Anonymous posted a video on May 28 warning the Minneapolis PD that it “will be exposing your many crimes to the world” and that “this week’s brutal killing of George Floyd… is merely the tip of the iceberg in a long list of high-profile cases of wrongful death at the hands of officers in your state.” The video, which has been viewed over 1.8 million times, features a figure wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and an electronically altered voiceover, which are hallmarks of the group.
The death of Floyd, who was killed May 25 while in the custody of Minneapolis PD, has ignited nationwide protests and rioting. On Friday, former police officer Derek Chauvin, who had kneeled on Floyd’s neck, was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
The chatter about Anonymous’ apparent resurfacing to join the Black Lives Matter protest in the wake of Floyd’s murder also led “Mr. Robot” — USA Network’s dystopian hacker drama starring Rami Malek — to become a top-trending topic on Twitter in the U.S. through early Sunday. “Mr. Robot,” which concluded its fourth and final season last fall, made direct references to Anonymous via the show’s anarchic hacker network called “fsociety.”
Amid the ongoing civil unrest Saturday in Minneapolis, the city’s police pepper-sprayed and arrested NBC News’ Simon Moya-Smith; that came after Minnesota state troopers arrested CNN’s Omar Jimenez and his crew on Friday. Also Saturday in Minneapolis, two L.A. Times staffers said state police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into a group of journalists at point-blank range, and photographer-author Linda Tirado tweeted that she was blinded in her left eye by what she thinks was a rubber bullet.
The @LatestAnonNews Twitter account, which claims to be run by “multiple Anons,” did not explicitly take credit for the outages of the Minneapolis Police Department and city government sites, but it retweeted others who suggested those were the result of an attack carried out by the group.
Joe Biden has urged Americans to protest peacefully, and to not let their anger over the death of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement officers overshadow the “reason we protest.”
In a Medium post published early Sunday morning (full post below), Biden said “protesting such brutality is right and necessary. It’s an utterly American response. But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not. Violence that guts and shutters businesses that serve the community is not.”
The presumptive Democratic nominee’s comments came after another night of widespread unrest across the U.S., where protests — many of them violent — are ongoing in at least 30 cities. California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County on Saturday night and authorized the National Guard deployment in response to requests from the city and county.
Biden, whose response followed extensive calls for his leadership during the crisis, said, “The act of protesting should never be allowed to overshadow the reason we protest. It should not drive people away from the just cause that protest is meant to advance.”
He highlighted that people nationwide are suffering the losses of loved ones due to “intolerable circumstances,” including “entrenched inequalities” as well as COVID-19, which still grips the U.S. with a heavy death toll of 105,000. “And I know that a grief that dark and deep may at times feel too heavy to bear. I know,” he said.
“And I also know that the only way to bear it is to turn all that anguish to purpose. So tonight, I ask all of America to join me — not in denying our pain or covering it over — but using it to compel our nation across this turbulent threshold into the next phase of progress, inclusion, and opportunity for our great democracy.”
Biden urged, “We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us.”
The politician vowed to “help lead” the conversation and promised he “will listen.”
“I will keep the commitment I made to George’s brother, Philonise, that George will not just be a hashtag. We must and will get to a place where everyone, regardless of race, believes that ‘to protect and serve’ means to protect and serve them,” said Biden. “Only by standing together will we rise stronger than before. More equal, more just, more hopeful — and that much closer to our more perfect union.”
Earlier in the week, during a Memorial Day event, Biden hit out at President Donald Trump, calling him an “absolute fool” for not wearing a face mask during a CNN interview.
Trump was on hand Saturday following the launch of NASA’s SpaceX capsule, where he also spoke out on the nationwide protests.
“We understand the pain people are feeling. We support the right of peaceful protestors, and we hear their pleas. But what we are now seeing on the streets of our cities has nothing to do with justice or peace,” said Trump. “The memory of George Floyd is being dishonored by rioters, looters and anarchists.”
“We cannot and must not allow a small group of criminals and vandals to wreck our cities and lay waste to our communities,” Trump continued.
Read Biden’s full post below:
These last few days have laid bare that we are a nation furious at injustice. Every person of conscience can understand the rawness of the trauma people of color experience in this country, from the daily indignities to the extreme violence, like the horrific killing of George Floyd.
Protesting such brutality is right and necessary. It’s an utterly American response. But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not. Violence that guts and shutters businesses that serve the community is not.
The act of protesting should never be allowed to overshadow the reason we protest. It should not drive people away from the just cause that protest is meant to advance.
I know that there are people all across this country who are suffering tonight. Suffering the loss of a loved one to intolerable circumstances, like the Floyd family, or to the virus that is still gripping our nation. Suffering economic hardships, whether due to COVID-19 or entrenched inequalities in our system. And I know that a grief that dark and deep may at times feel too heavy to bear.
And I also know that the only way to bear it is to turn all that anguish to purpose. So tonight, I ask all of America to join me — not in denying our pain or covering it over — but using it to compel our nation across this turbulent threshold into the next phase of progress, inclusion, and opportunity for our great democracy.
We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us.
As President, I will help lead this conversation — and more importantly, I will listen. I will keep the commitment I made to George’s brother, Philonise, that George will not just be a hashtag. We must and will get to a place where everyone, regardless of race, believes that “to protect and serve” means to protect and serve them. Only by standing together will we rise stronger than before. More equal, more just, more hopeful — and that much closer to our more perfect union.
Please stay safe. Please take care of each other.
In an unusual move, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO, Starz and other major Hollywood players are using their corporate social media accounts to take a stand and support the Black Lives Matter movement amid the ongoing nationwide protests decrying the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers. Meanwhile, CEO of ViacomCBS-owned Paramount Jim Gianopulos sent an internal memo to employees, expressing that “Too many members of the Black community have had their breath stolen from them through racial injustice.”
Netflix tweeted on Saturday afternoon: “To be silent is to be complicit. Black lives matter. We have a platform, and we have a duty to our Black members, employees, creators and talent to speak up.”
The move drew accolades on the platform, including from director Ava DuVernay and “Orange Is the New Black” and “Mrs. America” star Uzo Aduba.
And Alphabet-owned YouTube on Friday posted that “We stand in solidarity against racism and violence. When members of our community hurt, we all hurt. We’re pledging $1M in support of efforts to address social injustice.”
A number of other entertainment brands have followed suit as of Saturday night, as protests have gained momentum throughout the nation, now in their fifth day.
Notably, Disney-owned Hulu tweeted and posted on Instagram the message that “We support Black lives. Today, and every day. You are seen. You are heard. And we are with you.”
No other Disney corporate brands appear to have issued statements on the matter.
Several WarnerMedia entertainment brands’ social media accounts joined in the support. HBO, HBO Max, TBS, TNT all changed their Twitter handles to #BlackLivesMatter and posted the following:
Amazon Studios posted on Twitter and Instagram that “Together we stand with the Black community — colleagues, artists, writers, storytellers, producers, our viewers — and all allies in the fight against racism and injustice.”
Lionsgate-owned Starz also lent its corporate voice to the cause. “We cannot stand silent while our Black communities under the weight of violence, discrimination and injustice,” wrote Starz on Instagram. “Color of Change and the NAACP are among the organizations taking the lead in the fight for racial justice in America. We support them in their mission and you can too.”
Quibi changed its Twitter bio to read, “We stand together against injustice. #BlackLivesMatter.”
Social media platforms also echoed that support for the movement, with Twitter changing its bio to simply read “#BlackLivesMatter” and TikTok issuing the following statement:
“At TikTok we deeply value the diverse voices among our users, creators, artists, partners, and employees. We stand with the Black community and are proud to provide a platform where #blacklivesmatter and #georgefloyd generate powerful and important views with over 1 billion views. We are committed to fostering a space where everyone is seen and heard.”
Twitch similarly posted a statement:
“Black people have been suffering under the oppressive weight of racism in America for far too long. We cannot delight in the creative contributions of the Black community on Twitch and remain silent while they are in pain. We’re asking you to come together to and stand up for Black lives whether it’s through your time, treasure, or talent. Don’t let today’s injustice stop us from creating a better tomorrow for our community.”
Here’s the full internal memo from Gianopulos to Paramount employees:
TO: Paramount Employees
FROM: Jim Gianopulos
DATE: May 30th, 2020
Across our nation, we are witnessing the real-time expression of years and years of collective pain. The addition of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor to an already unbearable tally of those who have been killed because of the color of their skin has brought to a boiling point the outrage over the systemic racial injustice in this country.
As children, we learn the pledge of allegiance, with the concluding promise that ours is a country built on “liberty and justice for all.” What we have seen in these past several weeks, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, centuries, is example after example of the gap between this promise and the reality in which many live. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” That these words bear repeating today is a painful reminder of how far we have to go as a society in ensuring justice for all. Too many members of the Black community have had their breath stolen from them through racial injustice.
As a nation, our heartbreak and outrage are not enough. The fabric of our society, the founding promise that all men are created equal, is broken, and it is the responsibility of all of us to raise our voices and be part of the solution. At the same time, we have an opportunity for internal reflection as we ask ourselves hard questions about the beliefs that are entrenched in our culture, and explore how we can become better citizens and stewards for one another. We must be better, and we will be better, with love and humanity leading the way.
I know that this comes at a time when tensions are already high and anxiety is ubiquitous as we continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic. In the midst of this incredibly difficult time, know that we are here for you and we remain a community and company that is stronger together and committed to racial and social justice.
Please take care of yourselves and your families and we will strive together to overcome these troubled times.
With my heartfelt wishes to you all,
The National Guard is deploying to Los Angeles on Saturday night as the fourth day of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd once again turned violent.
At 10:30 p.m., Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County, and authorized the National Guard deployment in response to requests from the city and the county.
Several cities throughout the Los Angeles area declared 8 p.m. curfews, including Pasadena, Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. About 1,000 National Guard troops were expected to be called in to help restore order, as looting took place in the Fairfax area and in downtown L.A.
“This is no longer a protest,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told NBC4. “This is vandalism. This is destruction.”
The Los Angeles Fire Department was working to put out fires at several stores in the 7600 block of West Melrose Avenue.
A group of people was seen walking along the famous L.A. shopping street — home to boutiques and specialty stores — breaking storefront windows and causing destruction along the way. Other stores included Altivo, a watch store and a nail salon where a group were seen breaking an ATM on the street. An Adidas flagship store on Melrose was looted.
The National Guard was expected to be on scene starting around midnight.
“What happens tonight really depends on the citizens of L.A., what we can do and what we can allow to happen,” said LAPD Chief Michel Moore.
About half of the LAPD’s force was on the streets on Saturday night, and reinforcements were also called in from surrounding counties.
“Curfew in LA is in place,” the L.A. Sheriff’s Department said in a tweet. “Anarchists go home.”
Earlier in the day, protesters clashed with police at Fairfax Avenue and Beverly Boulevard.
As a demonstration moved toward The Grove, there was looting at the two-floor Nordstrom department store and a Ray Ban sunglasses flagship boutique. As news of an 8pm Los Angeles curfew began to spread via broadcast news and mobile phone alerts, nearby shops like the luxury sneaker consignment store Flight Deck were fully robbed of inventory. Moving further west into the border of Beverly Hills, a CVS Pharmacy superstore on La Cienega Blvd was stormed by masked people breaking safety glass with abandoned electric scooters.
A police department kiosk was set ablaze at The Grove.
As protesters made their way into Beverly Hills along Santa Monica Boulevard on Saturday afternoon, the City of Beverly Hills tweeted that residents should stay home and motorists should avoid the area.
At about 2 p.m., Beverly Hills police closed Rodeo Drive to traffic. At one point a group flooded the famed shopping street and sidewalks and took a knee in silent protest.
Looters broke into Alexander McQueen and were seen running from the store with arms full of merchandise. The front window was tagged with red paint that said, “Make America Pay for its Crimes Against Black Lives.” Blue wood that boarded up the windows and entrance of Gucci was tagged with “Eat the Rich,” and “Can’t Be Silenced.” Similar tags were painted into plywood protecting the windows of Hermes.
“Protestors are entering the city of Beverly Hills,” read a tweet on the city’s Twitter feed.
ABC7 reporter Carlos Granda was among those hit by tear gas while covering the Beverly Hills protests.
TV images also showed looting at the Target at San Vicente Boulevard and La Brea Avenue.
Protests took place in at least 30 cities around the country on Saturday.
Jazz Tancay, Matt Donnelly and Marc Malkin contributed to this report.
NBC News and ABC News broke into their networks’ Saturday-night schedules to cover protests breaking around the country in reaction to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, while the nation’s three main cable-news networks featured ongoing coverage of public dissent instead of regularly scheduled programming.
Viewers saw surprising scenes of protest in cities ranging from Los Angeles and New York City to Salt Lake City and Chicago across the course of Saturday evening. In some instances, reporters like NBC’s News Ali Velshi got close to tear gas being fired. In others, anchors worried openly on air that correspondents in crowds might be in danger from the crowds they were covering.
At 10 p.m. eastern, NBC News anchor Chris Jansing led a report during what would normally have been a re-air of an old “Saturday Night Live” on NBC. Meanwhile, ABC News took up the entire hour with a report lead by anchor Terry Moran that featured correspondents from across the nation.
Cable-news networks covered the situation throughout primetime. CNN’s Don Lemon led coverage that included dispatches from Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C., and told audiences, “I am waiting for a call for calm… from the leadership in this country. Where is it?”
MSNBC relied on Jansing as well as Joshua Johnson, who recently joined the network.