No, Higher Ground isn’t where the Obamas plan to move to from their beachfront Martha’s Vineyard mansion when they flee the rising ocean levels caused by climate change. It’s the name of their production company, which in May 2018 inked a “high eight-figure” production deal with Netflix to go along with their $65 million contract with Viking Press to write their memoirs. Announcing the Netflix partnership, the former president promised that “these productions won’t just entertain, but will educate, connect, and inspire us all.” (That’s what Oprah always says, too, about her own noble but inert efforts as producer.)
Anyway, a year after their big announcement, the Obamas — apparently not wanting to rush too precipitously into anything — finally made public their first slate of Netflix projects. One is a biopic of Frederick Douglass. (That topic took a year to come up with?) Others include Bloom, a drama series about the “barriers faced by women and by people of color” in New York’s post-war fashion business, and Fifth Risk, a documentary series about “everyday heroes” in government. (Can I write the one on Maxine Waters?)
But the project we’re here to talk about is the just-released We the People. It’s a series of 10 civics lessons for kids, each in the form of a four- or five-minute piece of animation. (Somehow, the word “cartoon” seems inappropriate, given that this show is almost entirely lacking in humor.) Nine of the 10 episodes are music videos featuring original songs performed by some of the biggest names in the music business today. (I know that they’re some of the biggest names in the music business today because I’ve only ever heard of two of them.) The 10th features a poem. Perhaps needless to say, all of these videos exhibit the hyper-Benetton-ad-level diversity — e.g., hijabs galore, and more people in wheelchairs than you’ll ever see in real life — that is de rigueur everywhere in the entertainment industry nowadays.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings donated a staggering $3 million to defend California Governor Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) from the upcoming recall election, according to Fox News.
As per the report from the California Secretary of State’s office, the hefty donation was made on Thursday to the Stop the Republican Recall committee, marking the committee’s largest single donation thus far. In addition to the bulk donation to the committee, Hastings himself had donated over $60,000 directly to Newsom’s actual campaign in February, donating $32,400 and nearly $29,600 on two separate occasions.
Hastings has been active in California Democratic politics, and has made even larger donations in the past. In the 2018 gubernatorial primary, Hastings poured over $7 million to a pro-charter school PAC that supported former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D-Calif.), who lost the primary to then-Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.
Netflix is raising most of its U.S. prices by 8% to 13% as its video streaming service rides a wave of rising popularity spurred by government-imposed lockdowns that corralled people at home during the fight against the pandemic.
The increases imposed Friday boost the cost of Netflix’s most popular U.S. streaming plan by $1 to $14 per month, while a premium plan that allows more people to watch the service on different screens simultaneously will now cost $2 more at $18 per month. Netflix’s basic U.S. plan remains at $9 per month. It marks Netflix’s first price changes in the U.S. since an increase rolled out early last year.
Millions of Americans continue to watch network TV shows—not exactly a favorite pastime of the chattering class. The primary audience for these programs is older Americans living out in flyover country, the kind of people who aren’t aware of the latest trendy show on Amazon Prime or Netflix. The audience generally prefers more conservative programming that doesn’t feature gratuitous violence, nudity, or overbearing political messages. They just want to be entertained as they relax at night.
A Texas grand jury has indicted Netflix, Inc. for “lewd visual material” in the movie “Cuties,” a Texas state representative said Tuesday.
Republican Texas state Rep. Matt Schaefer announced Tuesday afternoon that a grand jury for Tyler County, Texas, indicted Netflix, Inc., for “promoting material in Cuties film which depicts lewd exhibition of pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 yrs of age which appeals to the prurient interest in sex.”
U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is sounding the alarm about Netflix over the streaming service’s plans to adapt and promote a Chinese sci-fi book series written by an author who expresses support for the Communist government’s “re-education” camps for Muslim Uyghurs.
On Wednesday, Blackburn and U.S. Sens. Rick Scott (R-FL), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Martha McSally (R-AZ) signed a letter to Ted Sarandos Jr., co-CEO and chief content officer for Netflix.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost called on Netflix to remove the controversial new movie “Cuties” from their platform.
In a joint letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Yost, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton requested that the platform “voluntarily remove” the movie “from your service due to the great harm it causes to our children.”
Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley demanded that Netflix remove “Cuties” Friday after Netflix defended the film in a Thursday night statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“In early 2019, journalists first began to report that YouTube videos of children in partial states of exposure were being ‘inundated with comments’ by pedophiles, exposing the children involved in the videos and other children visiting the platform to potential harm,” Hawley wrote in the Friday afternoon letter.
Movie theater chain AMC warned Wednesday that it may not survive the coronavirus pandemic, which has shuttered its theaters and led film studios to explore releasing more movies directly to viewers over the internet.
All of AMC’s theaters are shut down through June, which means the company isn’t generating any revenue. AMC said it had enough cash to reopen its theaters this summer, as it plans to do. But if it’s not allowed to reopen, it will need more money, which it may not be able to borrow.