May 17, 2022

Bad Bunny Has the Biggest Week of 2022 on the Chart, for Now

The streaming total for “Un Verano” — which accounted for about 95 percent of its consumption in the United States — was certainly big, but it was less than half that of Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy,” which opened with 744 million last September. As a digital album, “Un Verano” sold only 12,000 copies.

Not so long ago, a common chart tactic was to bundle copies of albums, as downloads or CDs, with sales of concert tickets or merchandise. But after an industry uproar that such deals were distorting the picture of fan demand and skewing the charts, Billboard changed its rules two years ago to prevent most such deals from affecting chart positions.

Even without the rule change, appetites for albums, purchased whole, have been declining for years. Adele’s latest, “30,” opened last year with 839,000 “equivalent sales units” — a measurement that incorporates both sales and streaming — of which 692,000 were for sales of complete albums; in 2015, her previous album, “25,” opened with 3.4 million. No new album has sold a million copies in a single week since Taylor Swift’s “Reputation” had 1.2 million in 2017.

Among other notable new releases on this week’s chart, the rapper Jack Harlow opens at No. 3 with “Come Home the Kids Miss You,” which had the equivalent of 113,000 sales, including 137 million streams, and Arcade Fire’s “We” arrives at No. 6.

Future’s “I Never Liked You,” last week’s chart-topper, falls to No. 2, while Morgan Wallen’s “Dangerous” is No. 4 and Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour” is No. 5.

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Madison Avenue’s Biggest Event Returns, to a Whole New World

The rapid changes in viewing habits have caused many marketing executives to shift toward ads placed through automated auctions and “away from legacy models like upfronts” where “advertiser choice is limited,” said Jeff Green, the chief executive of the ad-tech company The Trade Desk.

“As advertisers are seeing reach and impact erode from traditional cable television, they are focused on moving to premium streaming content,” he said during his company’s earnings call last week. “Increasingly, this is the most important buy on the media plan.”

But streaming will not be the only topic at the upfronts — the events themselves will also be center stage.

After two years of upfront pitches recorded from executives’ living rooms, buyers will fly into New York from around the country. They will shuttle among grand venues to watch presentations while seated alongside their competitors. Some venues are asking for proof of vaccination, while masks are a must at some; Disney is requiring a same-day negative Covid test.

To many networks, hosting an in-person upfront was nonnegotiable this year.

“This show cannot be too big,” Linda Yaccarino, the chairwoman of global advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal, said she told producers of the company’s presentation at Radio City Music Hall on Monday. “Having everyone in the room together, there is no surrogate for that.”

“Every single brand and marketer and advertiser comes in for the upfront week,” said Rita Ferro, the president of Disney advertising sales and partnerships. “It’s going to look and feel very different because it is very different — there’s so much more that we’re bringing to the stage.”

Many of the week’s showcases will eschew a detailed rundown of nightly prime-time schedules and instead offer a more holistic view of available content platforms.

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How Hollywood and the Media Fueled the Political Rise of J.D. Vance

The fact that a rising star in the Republican Party, which has recently emphasized cultural grievances with the likes of Twitter, CNN and Disney, came to prominence through elite media institutions is not surprising to scholars and cultural critics who have long understood the symbiotic relationship between those ostensible antagonists: the conservative movement and the media-entertainment complex.

“To establish populist bona fides — since they represent economic elites — cultural elites are the ones they can rally against,” said Neil Gross, a professor of sociology at Colby College.

Frank Rich, an essayist, television producer, and former New York Times critic and columnist, said that some of the contemporary Republican Party’s biggest stars — including Mr. Vance, Mr. Trump and Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri — are “the products of elite institutions” whose “constant railing against the elites is just odd, because it’s so disingenuous.”

“Where would Vance be if it hadn’t been for mainstream publishing and book promotion, if it hadn’t been for Ron Howard — an important person in show business who identifies as liberal — and Glenn Close and Netflix?” Mr. Rich asked. “Where would Trump be without NBC Universal, Mark Burnett, the whole showbiz world?”

Kathryn Cramer Brownell, an associate professor of history at Purdue University, situated Mr. Vance in a lineage of figures from the entertainment world who became Republican politicians, including George Murphy, an actor turned senator from California; Ronald Reagan, whose success as a film actor helped him become California governor and president; Arnold Schwarzenegger, another movie star and California governor; and Mr. Trump, a longtime tabloid fixture who gained newfound celebrity during the 2000s as host of the NBC reality competition show “The Apprentice,” created by Mr. Burnett.

“This is something they are really quick to criticize the left for — relying too much on Hollywood for support and glamour,” Brownell said.

“But,” she added, “the Republican Party has been more successful at turning entertainers into successful candidates than Democrats.”

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Richard C. Wald, Leader in Print and Network News, Is Dead at 92

Mr. Chayefsky “was very charming, and he was very funny about some of the people he’d seen,” Mr. Wald told Dave Itzkoff for his book “Mad as Hell: The Making of ‘Network’ and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies” (2014). “Which led me to believe that he was not going to treat them kindly.”

Mr. Wald resigned from NBC News in 1977 after disputes with the network’s upper management over issues like the signing of exclusive and expensive contracts with former President Gerald R. Ford; his wife, Betty; and Henry A. Kissinger, the former secretary of state, to appear on special NBC News broadcasts.

Although he endorsed the signings at the time, he later came to feel that the fees paid had led to cuts in his budget for special news reports and documentaries, The New York Times reported at the time.

After leaving NBC, Mr. Wald consulted with PBS on the future of news-gathering on public television and for three months was a special assistant to Otis Chandler, publisher of The Los Angeles Times.

When Mr. Arledge recruited him to join ABC News in 1978, Mr. Wald had to adjust to the culture there, especially in the Washington bureau, which did not greet him happily.

“If you think we need some guy from NBC to help us, you’re mistaken,” Frank Reynolds, one of three anchors on ABC’s “World News Tonight,” said, according to Mr. Arledge’s memoir.

Mr. Wald adapted and stayed for 21 years.

In addition to his sons Matthew, a former reporter for The New York Times, and Jonathan, a former executive producer of “Today” and “NBC Nightly News,” Mr. Wald, who lived in Larchmont, N.Y., is survived by a daughter, Elizabeth Wald; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandson. His wife, Edith (Leslie) Wald, died in 2021.

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After Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle Attacks, Comedy Venues Increase Security

Comedy clubs have long employed bouncers and security guards to deal with the occasional patron who has been overserved, or who is heckling a tad too much. And long before Mr. Smith strode onto the Academy Awards stage to slap Mr. Rock as retribution for a joke about his wife, there have been scattered instances of people confronting comedians during their sets, or in some cases, physically assaulting them.

In the aftermath of the Oscars slap, some comics warned of the potential for copy cats. Mr. Smith was not only not removed from the Dolby Theater after hitting Mr. Rock but was given a standing ovation soon afterward when he was awarded the Oscar for best actor. (He was later banned from the Oscars for 10 years.)

“These people gave him a standing ovation and no punishment,” Ms. Gold said of Mr. Smith. “We all said there will be copycat assaults. And there was.”

The attack on Mr. Chappelle was murkier. A man carrying a weapon tackled Mr. Chappelle onstage at the Hollywood Bowl, where he was appearing as part of “Netflix Is a Joke: The Festival.” The Los Angeles city attorney charged Isaiah Lee, 23, with four misdemeanors in connection with the attack, including battery and possession of a weapon with intent to assault; Mr. Lee has pleaded not guilty.

The Los Angeles police have not released any information about Mr. Lee’s motive for the attack on Mr. Chappelle, whose comedy has provoked controversy in the past. Mr. Chappelle discussed the encounter at another comedy show in Los Angeles later that week, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Mr. Chappelle told the audience that he had spoken to Mr. Lee after the incident, and said that Mr. Lee had said he did it to draw attention to the plight of his grandmother, who had been forced out of her neighborhood by gentrification, the trade publication reported.

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Shireen Abu Akleh of Al Jazeera Is Killed in West Bank

As he continues to yell for an ambulance, the camera moves toward Ms. Abu Akleh, who is slumped face down.

Next to her in the video, another journalist, identified by the network as Shatha Hanaysha and also wearing a vest marked “Press” and a helmet, crouches down and tries to reach out to Ms. Abu Akleh. But she was forced back by gunfire.

Ms. Hanaysha told Al Jazeera that there had not been any confrontations between Palestinian fighters and the Israeli Army when the shots were fired toward the journalists, adding that she believed that they had been targeted.

“We were four journalists — we were all wearing vests, all wearing helmets,” Ms. Hanaysha told Al Jazeera. Israeli forces, she said, “did not stop firing even after she collapsed. I couldn’t even extend my arm to pull her because of the shots. The army was adamant on shooting to kill.”

Another Al Jazeera journalist, Ali Samoudi, who was also wearing a protective vest, was shot in the back, according to the official Palestinian news agency, which cited the Health Ministry. Al Jazeera reported that he was in stable condition.

In a phone interview from his hospital bed, Mr. Samoudi said: “There were no armed Palestinians or resistance or even civilians in the area,” adding: “We walked toward the soldiers for about 20 meters. Then all of a sudden the first bullet was fired.”

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Bloomberg Aims to Compete Directly With British Press

Justin Smith said he was leaving Bloomberg Media as its chief executive four months ago to start Semafor, an online publication aimed at English-speaking, college-educated readers around the world. He teamed up with Ben Smith, a former media columnist for The New York Times, who will serve as Semafor’s editor in chief. Mr. Micklethwait and Mr. Havens said Semafor, which is expected to start publication this year, had no bearing on the timing of Bloomberg’s global strategy.

“We’re not page-watching on that necessarily but wish them the best of course,” Mr. Havens said.

Mr. Micklethwait and Mr. Havens, who became chief executive after Justin Smith stepped down, jointly pitched the initiative as part of a broader strategy to Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire founder of Bloomberg L.P., in December. He responded enthusiastically, Mr. Havens said.

Both executives declined to say how much the company was investing in the effort, but Mr. Micklethwait said Mr. Havens was spending “large amounts of money” on journalists, engineering and marketing for Bloomberg UK. Revenue at Bloomberg Media in 2021 was up 50 percent from the previous year, and it is up an additional 26 percent in the first quarter of 2022, Mr. Havens said.

Bloomberg Media has nearly 400,000 digital subscribers, four years after putting up a paywall on its websites. More than 40 percent of the subscribers are outside the United States, with Britain the second-biggest market, Mr. Havens said.

“At a time when the U.K. is at risk of following the U.S. down a path toward media that is hyperpartisan and highly sensationalized — and suffering the kind of severe consequences we have seen here in America,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement, “we are expanding our commitment to high-quality and fact-based journalism there, focused especially on business and economic news.”

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Disney+ Added 7.9 Million Subscribers Last Quarter

The company initially refrained from speaking out against the bill publicly but reversed itself after an internal revolt. Mr. Chapek then denounced the legislation, which earned him the ire of conservatives, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Last month, Republican lawmakers in Florida revoked a 1967 law that allowed Walt Disney World to function as its own quasi government. In the wake of the uproar, Geoff Morrell, who joined Disney in January as its most senior government relations and communications executive, resigned last month.

Revenue at Disney increased 23 percent compared with last year, to $19.2 billion, but missed analyst expectations. Disney said it took a hit from a decision to pull some of its content back from other distributors in favor of its own channels, which meant a reduction of $1 billion in licensing revenue as part of a trade-off to grow its direct-to-consumer business.

Disney reported earnings per share of $1.08, missing analyst expectations of $1.17.

Disney’s theme parks unit came roaring back from a year ago, when the Covid-19 pandemic stunted in-person attendance. Revenue in the division doubled compared with the same period last year, with a new line-skipping system driving increases.

As streaming services look for more subscribers, India is shaping up to be an important market. Deep-pocketed media companies are preparing to bid for rights to show cricket matches from the popular Indian Premier League. Disney currently has the rights to stream the matches on its Hotstar service, which it acquired in its 2019 megadeal with 21st Century Fox. Losing those rights could be a blow. However, Mr. Chapek has said that Disney can reach its subscriber targets even if it does not retain those rights.

On a call following the earnings announcement, Mr. Chapek said that Disney would eventually become more aggressive about moving major live sports onto the ESPN+ streaming service. The cash generated by the lucrative portfolio of ESPN cable channels currently makes that untenable, so the company is taking a measured approach to sports streaming, Mr. Chapek said.

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John Leo, Columnist Who Took Aim at Liberal Pieties, Dies at 86

As a columnist for U.S. News World Report in the late 1980s and ’90s, Mr. Leo played a lead role in the era’s roiling culture wars, which were marked by contentious debates about race, gender and inequality that can seem remarkably similar to today’s battles over the same issues.

He was not a reactionary — for example, he supported gay rights at a time when many conservatives still trafficked in open homophobia. He preferred to take aim at excess, especially in college humanities departments, where dismantling the Western canon and the proliferation of “studies” programs — disabilities studies, cultural studies — struck him as absurd and dangerous.

With one eye on campus, he kept the other on popular culture and what he saw as its debasement in the service of corporate greed. Along with other conservatives, like the former secretary of education William J. Bennett, he called out Time Warner in the mid-1990s for its ownership of Interscope Records, a major producer of gangsta rap. Largely as a result of their pressure, Time Warner sold its stake in Interscope in 1995.

But unlike some of his fellow combatants, Mr. Leo was too funny a writer to come off as a complete bluenose. He poked fun at himself, and he wore his erudition lightly. He insisted that his favorite painter was Sherwin Williams. He titled his first book, published in 1989, “How the Russians Invented Baseball and Other Essays of Enlightenment.”

“Leo is funny in the way that Frank McCourt, the actor-writer, is funny,” the journalist Dennis Duggan wrote in 1990 in Newsday. “When they are on, which is almost always, you might as well prop your chin on your elbow and enjoy, because whatever you say is going to play like chocolate sauce on pasta.”

John Patrick Leo was born in Hoboken, N.J., on June 16, 1935 — Bloomsday, he was fond of noting — and grew up in nearby Teaneck. His father, Maurice Leo, designed kitchen and hospital equipment, and his mother, Mary (Trincellita) Leo, was a homemaker.

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Slate Names Ex-HuffPost Editor as Its New Top Editor

Slate has named Hillary Frey, a former top editor at HuffPost, as its new editor in chief.

In a memo to the staff on Wednesday, Slate’s chief executive, Dan Check, said Ms. Frey was “the exact right person to lead Slate’s newsroom in this new phase of growth,” highlighting both her years of experience and her understanding of “the challenges and opportunities of this current news environment.”

Slate, one of few surviving original digital media outlets, has struggled in recent years to find its way in the new media landscape and figure out a sustainable business model. It has been without an editor in chief since early January, when Jared Hohlt stepped down. Mr. Hohlt, who had the job for three years, will soon join The New York Times’s T Magazine.

Ms. Frey is currently a creator in residence at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at City University of New York. She was previously the executive editor of HuffPost, a role she left in 2021 after HuffPost was acquired by BuzzFeed. Ms. Frey has also run newsrooms at NBC News, Adweek, Yahoo News and Fusion.

“I feel a very longstanding, deep connection with Slate and what they do,” Ms. Frey said in an interview this week. “Being smart, being irreverent, having fun, putting out just great and interesting ideas that may be sitting right in front of you but nobody has put into words yet and just having really sharp analysis.”

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