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Dozens Of Former “Ellen Show” Employees Say Executive Producers Engaged In Rampant Sexual Misconduct And Harassment - BuzzFeed News
Ex-employees said one executive producer “had a reputation for being handsy with women,” and that another solicited oral sex at a work party.
Being asked to join the control room inside TheEllen DeGeneres Show is a coveted spot in Hollywood, but according to dozens of men and women who work behind the scenes, the office is a place where sexual harassment and misconduct by top executive producers runs rampant. One ex-employee said head writer and executive producer Kevin Leman asked him if he could give him a hand job or perform oral sex in a bathroom at a company party in 2013. Another said they separately saw Leman grab a production assistants penis. In May 2017, another former employee also said she saw Leman grope a production assistant in a car and kiss his neck. Nearly a dozen former employees, who range from longtime, senior-level employees to production assistants, said it was also common for Leman to make sexually explicit comments in the office, like pointing out male colleagues bulges in their crotches, or ask them questions like, Are you a top or a bottom? Its masked in sarcasm, but its not sarcasm, a former employee said. Many of his targets, employees added, were lower-level and younger employees who felt they lacked any power to speak up. Hed probably do it in front of 10 people and theyd laugh because its just Kevin being Kevin, but if youre in a position of power at a company, you dont just get to touch me like that, a former employee said. In a statement after this article published, Leman said he categorically denied "any kind of sexual impropriety." "I started at the Ellen Show as a PA more than 17 years ago and have devoted my career to work my way to the position I now hold. While my job as head writer is to come up with jokes and, during that process, we can occasionally push the envelope Im horrified that some of my attempts at humor may have caused offense," he said. "I have always aimed to treat everyone on the staff with kindness, inclusivity and respect. In my whole time on the show, to my knowledge, Ive never had a single HR or inter-personal complaint made about me, and I am devastated beyond belief that this kind of malicious and misleading article could be published." BuzzFeed News spoke to 36 former employees, many of whom independently corroborated incidents of harassment, sexual misconduct, and assault from top producers like Leman. All of the ex-employees, many of whom had voluntarily left the show, asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution. Warner Bros. declined to comment on specific allegations, citing an ongoing internal investigation that was launched after an earlier BuzzFeed News report in which current and former employees said they faced racism, fear, and intimidation at work. But in a statement on Thursday, the studio said it "hoped to determine the validity and extent of publicly reported allegations and to understand the full breadth of the shows day-to-day culture." "It was important to both Warner Bros. and Ellen that as many people as possible attached to the program could be heard," Warner Bros. added. "The Ellen DeGeneres Show is, and has always strived to be, a place that brings positivity to the world. And though not all of the allegations were corroborated, we are disappointed that the primary findings of the investigation indicated some deficiencies related to the shows day-to-day management. "We have identified several staffing changes, along with appropriate measures to address the issues that have been raised, and are taking the first steps to implement them. In a letter to staff that was obtained by BuzzFeed News, DeGeneres on Thursday apologized, saying that from its inception, the show was supposed to be a place of happiness where everyone would be treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows its the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show, she wrote. Among the many allegations brought to BuzzFeed News, five former employees said executive producer Ed Glavin touched them in a way that made them uncomfortable by rubbing their shoulders and back, as well as placing his hand around their lower waist. Dozens of former employees also said Glavin had a reputation for being handsy with women, especially in the control room, and managed the team through fear and intimidation. You could definitely see the creep factor and the creepy touching. That was out in the open for everybody to see, one former employee, who said Glavin regularly touched her in the control room, told BuzzFeed News. Obviously, no one wants that and no one wants to be uncomfortably touched by someone but you didnt want to piss them off or you would be fired, so it was just that culture of fear. Another former employee said Glavin would call over producers and assistants to sit near him when the show was filming segments they had worked on and, in front of nearly 30 other people in the control room, would touch them inappropriately. Even though I was being abused [at work] constantly, Ed putting his arm around you in the control room was like the nicest experience you had all day, as messed up as that sounds, she said. But you had been crying last night and now your segment is going well and then you feel like you got credit for something from the executive producer directly. That friendly banter accompanied by a friendly hand. Glavin did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the allegations. In all, 47 former employees who spoke to BuzzFeed News said Glavin led with intimidation and fear on a daily basis. One former employee said when they turned in their notice, Glavin flipped over a table and chair while screaming. Five former employees also said they saw Glavin use a button at his desk to remotely shut his office door as an intimidation tactic during reprimands. It seemed like a power move, more than anything, one former employee said. Ex-workers also said they were uncomfortable when Glavin used his private shower in his office bathroom. Youd be going into his office for an important meeting and the shower door is open and youre like, thats a little weird, a former employee said. The shower is right when you walk in on the right. Before you even see his desk, you see his shower. Hed be openly showering and going into meetings with wet hair. Another former employee said co-executive producer Jonathan Norman groomed him over a period of time by taking him to concerts and other work-related perks, and then one night attempted to perform oral sex on him. Three of the employees former colleagues on the show corroborated that he told them about the incident at the time and said they have discussed it in the years since. Were young people who were forming our careers and were unfortunately subjected to a toxic work environment as some of our first jobs out of college, the former employee said. And some of us were sexually harassed and thats what was shaping our careers our first year out of school. In a statement after publication Thursday night, Norman said he is "100% categorically denying these allegations." "I have never had a single complaint against me in my career. I have never 'groomed' anyone," he said. "I have never done anything to harm another staff member. Ever. The person I believe you are referring to has ulterior motives for bringing down the show and has been acting with malice towards the show." Adding to the void of accountability, former employees said there was no formal process to confidentially file complaints, and that senior-level producers pressured them not to go to HR at the shows parent company. There was no such thing as a confidential conversation, a former employee said. There was no clear direction that if something happens to you, you go to this person, it will remain confidential, and you will not be retaliated against. A former Warner Brothers employee who worked with The Ellen Show said the company turns a blind eye to the alleged misconduct because the series is a cash cow. "Warner Brothers has a responsibility not just to the people who work on The Ellen Show, but to its viewers and its shareholders to make sure people are protected on the job, and that they're not harassed, and they're not working in an environment that is toxic and unhealthy, the former employee said. Some former workers said they dont think DeGeneres is aware of the scope of what goes on behind the scenes because she doesnt spend enough time in the office or interacting with the staff to have a strong sense of the culture. They also said executive producers insulate her from details and control the narrative on set. Everyone acted really differently around her, one former employee said. Theres a show thats happening behind the show, the show that the executive producers have us all put on for her when she comes to the offices. In her letter to staff on Thursday, DeGeneres said she had come to rely on others to stay on top of the daily operation, but added: My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that. As weve grown exponentially, Ive not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew Id want them done. Clearly some didnt, she added. That will now change and Im committed to ensuring this does not happen again. But other former employees told BuzzFeed News its implausible that DeGeneres hasnt been exposed to the same stories and behavior, particularly when they allegedly involve the senior-level executive producers she spends most of her time with. For someone whos so involved in the show and the creative aspect, and having been in those meetings with her, its very hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that she doesnt hear the same whispers, one former employee who worked closely with DeGeneres said. Unless she really is just in this bubble. Another longtime former employee who also worked with DeGeneres said the talk show host doesnt want to know about what goes on behind the scenes, and nobody wants to rock the boat because she is essentially the shows brand. She knows, the former employee said. She knows shit goes on, but also she doesnt want to hear it. This is a developing story. Check back for updates and follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.
WNBA Players Didn’t Kneel During The National Anthem — They Walked Out - BuzzFeed News
“We’re dedicating this season to Breonna Taylor,” said New York Liberty player Layshia Clarendon.
The players of two Womens National Basketball Association teams walked off the court as the national anthem was playing during a season-opening game in Florida on Saturday in an act of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. At the game in Bradenton, the Seattle Storm and New York Liberty players were also wearing black sweaters with the words Say her name written prominently on them, as part of a tribute to Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Black woman whose death at the hands of Louisville police has helped trigger national protests. Athletes have protested during the national anthem before, but this appeared to be the first time members from two entire professional teams had walked out altogether while it played. The players walk-off was part of a season-long initiative called the Justice Movement that the WNBA and the Womens National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) had announced earlier this month. Through a series of coordinated actions, the organizers of this collaborative effort hope to be a driving force of necessary and continuing conversations about race, voting rights, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and gun control amongst other important societal issues, according to a WNBA statement. The two organizations hope to raise awareness through community conversations, roundtable discussions, and podcasts among other initiatives. This is not the first time that WNBA players have protested during their games. As ESPN reports, Indiana Fever players knelt in solidarity with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 as part of his protests against the police killings of Black men. According to ESPN, the Los Angeles Sparks also walked off the court in 2017 to raise awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement, while in 2016 Minnesota Lynx players wore pre-game warm-up shirts that featured Philando Castile and Alton Sterling in an effort to draw attention to police brutality, according to the Guardian. There is a long history of basketball players protesting myriad social justice movements, including NBA players who boycotted games to highlight the racial segregation of hotels or those who marched in protests after Martin Luther King Jr.s death. President Trump and other high-ranking members of his administration have castigated athletes who take part in protests during the national anthem. Earlier during Saturdays game, the two teams had observed a 26-second-long moment of silence in honor of Taylor one second for each year of her life. Were dedicating this season to Breonna Taylor, an outstanding EMT who was murdered over 130 days ago in her home, said New York Liberty player Layshia Clarendon, who is also the first vice president of the WNBPA and is one of the leaders of the initiative. We will say her name." Clarendon further noted that the organizations are dedicating this season to the Say Her Name campaign which is committed to fighting for social justice for Black women, mentioning other victims, including Sandra Bland who died in police custody 5 years ago. As is the case for many American sports, the WNBA season was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Hill, all games for the abbreviated 22-game schedule will be held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. The Seattle Storm players won Saturday's game 87 to 71, according to ESPN.
Prince Harry And Meghan Markle Are Suing Paparazzi Over Photos That Were Taken Of Archie With A Drone - BuzzFeed News
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attacked the paparazzi's "relentless and quite frankly shocking" attempts "to profit from serial intrusions on the privacy of a 14-month-old child in his own home."
Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, are suing paparazzi photographers for invasion of privacy after unauthorized images of their son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, in the garden of their California home emerged for sale, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles. "This action arises out of the relentless and quite frankly shocking efforts of the tabloid media to profit from serial intrusions on the privacy of a 14-month-old child in his own home, and the desire and responsibility of any parent to do what is necessary to protect their children from this manufactured feeding frenzy," the couple said in the complaint. Harry and Meghan said they initiated legal action after learning a paparazzi agency was attempting to sell photographs of Archie and claiming the images had been taken on a public family outing in Malibu. "Archie has not been in public, let alone in Malibu, since the family arrived here," they countered in the complaint. "It is clear from a description of the photographs being shopped that they were taken of activities in the backyard of the residence, unbeknownst to the plaintiff." It is illegal in California to take photos of individuals "engaging in a private, personal, or familial activity, through the use of any device, regardless of whether there is a physical trespass." The law covering invasion of privacy also includes the capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of a person engaging in a private, personal, or familial activity and the invasion occurs in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person. In the lawsuit, the couple described in detail a campaign of paparazzi harassment that they have been subjected to for the past seven months. The Sussexes said in the lawsuit that they moved to a friend's home in a gated community in the greater Los Angeles area after the international media discovered the location of their residence in Vancouver, where they were staying when they announced their decision to step back from royal life. They lived peacefully in California for six weeks, they said, until the Daily Mail revealed their location. On May 7, the tabloid published a "world exclusive" claiming that the Sussexes were living in actor and producer Tyler Perry's home. According to their legal complaint, soon after the news was made public, paparazzi began aggressive attempts to photograph them, with some photographers using helicopters and drones several times a day and damaging their fence by cutting holes to "peer through it." "Some paparazzi and media outlets have flown drones a mere 20 feet above the house, as often as three times a day, to obtain photographs of the couple and their young son in their private residence," the complaint states. The couple said that paparazzi have been waking their neighbors and their son day after day "as early as 5:30 a.m. and as late as 7:00 p.m." Since Harry and Meghan don't know the identity of the paparazzo who took the photos, their lawsuit is filed against "unnamed parties, so-called 'John Does,'" according to the complaint. The complaint states: "By this action, the Plaintiffs seek the right to take discovery to uncover the identity of those who took the photographs and those who are seeking to profit by selling them. They also seek to put any prospective purchasers of the photos on notice that they were taken illegally and are not what they purport to be." In the complaint, Harry and Meghan said that they have done everything to stay out of the limelight except when it's their work, which they admit is newsworthy. They said the photos that prompted the lawsuit are not news. "They are not in the public interest. They are harassment," they said in the lawsuit. The lawsuit did not provide details of the photographs, but BuzzFeed News can confirm that 26 images of Archie and his maternal grandmother, Doria Ragland, dated July 6, are available for sale on the website of paparazzi agency X17. Based on images of the home posted to Tyler Perry's Instagram account, these 26 blurred images appear to have been taken at the residence. "Every individual and family member in California is guaranteed by law the right to privacy in their home," the Sussexes' attorney Michael Kump said in a statement to BuzzFeed News on Friday. "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are filing this lawsuit to protect their young sons right to privacy in their home without intrusion by photographers, and to uncover and stop those who seek to profit from these illegal actions.
Taylor Swift’s New Album: It's Good - BuzzFeed News
"Folklore" will have you feeling like a lovelorn teen again.
I dont think Im alone in feeling as though, in the past few months of lockdown, Ive regressed into a version of myself as a surly, overemotional teen. Stuck inside with nowhere to go, Ive been eating too much junk food and staring moodily out of windows and feeling bad about my body. (Im also yet again under the delusion that getting a bunch of tattoos will solve all my problems.) Into this sad, strange summer of adolescent redux comes Taylor Swifts new surprise album, Folklore. Ive been listening to it on repeat at my girlfriends house in the English countryside, but I could just as easily imagine bingeing the album on a portable CD player while lying spread-eagled in the front yard of my childhood home, wearing an oversize emo band hoodie and softly weeping. The writer Bolu Babalola tweeted that Folklore makes her feel like shes in a One Tree Hill episode, a super brooding CW teen soap heroine. And honestly, what more could you ask for? Its not only that Swift has taken a folksier turn after spending many months teasing out the Target commercial singles dominating 2019s Lover. (This new albums somber, reflective mood is more a natural followup to Lovers best songs, like The Archer and its titular track, which see her at her most poetic and personal, contrary to the saccharine universality of a bad pop ballad like ME!) Swift has long since incorporated fictional storylines into her music, but in Folklore, as she writes in the albums notes, the lines between fantasy and reality blur, and the boundaries between truth and fiction become almost indiscernible. Theres something about this dreamy worldbuilding that reminds me of the way I use to think and write when I was younger and chock-full of feelings, as well as chronically unsure of the future (the only thing that pandemic uncertainty reminds me of is my total inability, at 15, to imagine that high school would ever actually end). Without being able to live much of a life on my own terms, I had to write my way into one. All this isnt to say that Folklore is reductive or juvenile nor is it, as Laura Snapes notes in her 5-star Guardian review, any more authentic for its toned-down earthy feel and lack of overproduced bops. Not only would that assumption be facile, Snapes writes, but asserting some authentic self is also explicitly not her aim. She quotes Swift on her intentional blurring of the lines between fact and fiction, and argues that more interesting than parsing which [song] is which (many are obviously both) is the sense that Swift is interrogating her own self-conception and challenging that personal mythology: how helpful and true those ideas are to herself as a woman of 30. So much of Swifts most potent work, ever since she was a teenager herself, has depicted just how intense and earth-shattering it feels, as a young person, to fall in love with a boy, with a friend, with a song. Answering fan questions on YouTube upon the midnight release for the Cardigan music video, Swift explained that the song is about a lost romance and why young love is often fixed so permanently within our memories, why it leaves such an indelible mark. With Lana Del Reystyle ethereality and ahh-ahh-ayes, she sings on the lead single, When you are young, they assumeyou know nothing / But I knew you. The album was largely produced by the Nationals Aaron Dessner, with some assists by longtime collaborator and musical family member Jack Antonoff, which accounts for the tear-jerk-y throughline. I expected to reach my weepiest levels with Exile, since it features king sadboy Bon Iver, but instead found myself overcome by Invisible String, with its pretty guitar-plucking reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens. This song isnt about lost loves, but a present one: Isn't it just so pretty to think, all along, there was some invisible string tying you to me? My lesbian-heavy timeline is losing their minds over Betty, a tale of teenage crushes, that is bouncy with laid-back harmonica vibes; its very old-school, Fearless-era Taylor. Swift said shes written songs from the perspective of different people, both real and fictional, and this one is apparently from the POV of a boy named James who regrets the way he treated his classmate Betty. #Kaylor truthers and other queer Swifties were quick to note that Swift was named after James Taylor, so might she really just be writing about herself? The songs already been declared queer canon. As someone who was 99.9% convinced that Swift was going to come out as something other than straight during the Lover era and then got seriously burned Id like to think Im over Taylors longtime queerbaiting. I really do think shes guilty of it, subtle as she might be sometimes; shes an infamously frequent Easter egg deployer whos far too savvy about her own image-making to be completely unaware of how often shes courted speculation about her sexuality from her representation-hungry young fans. I also somewhat soured on her after Miss Americana, the artist-approved documentary about the star that came out earlier this year. (How was that this year????) After what I thought was a strong and provocative first half, in which Swift wrestles with the implications of broadcasting her political opinions after years of frustrating silence, the film devolves into one-note pro-Taylor propaganda revealing that, as she discloses early on, Swift is still just as obsessed with needing to be liked, to be seen as good (the very thing she embarked on the project to supposedly free herself from). And yet, with Folklore, I find myself not-so-begrudgingly taking on the mantle of Swift stan once again. This woman has weathered and instigated over a decades worth of page-one celebrity drama; shes become an avatar for the perils of White Feminism; shes a political disappointment turned sudden Democratic crusader. No matter what else she is, though, Swifts really, really good at her job, boiled down to its most essential elements. In isolation, alone with a paper and a pen and a guitar, shes yet again written some fucking great songs. My favorite track has probably got to be Mirrorball, a classic Antonoff number and very modern-indie-girl, perfect for drunkenly slow-dancing with your friends at the end of a long night. (Remember when we could do things like that?) Though my first couple listens I definitely thought that she was singing about being on her toilet spinning on her highest heels (shes on her tallest tiptoes, actually), I was still captivated by the lyrics, especially during the bridge: Im still a believer, but I dont know why / Ive never been a natural all I do is try, try, try / Im still on that trapeze / Im still trying everything to keep you looking at me. Perhaps this is Swift admitting that she never really rose above the need to be liked after all (I can change everything about me to fit in). And how could she have? To be an artist sharing her work with the world is to crave something from her audience, whether connection or admiration or absolution. I know they said the end is near, Swift sings on Mirrorball. But shes still singing, still dancing, shining just for you. Im grateful for it.
"Mythbusters" Host And Electrical Engineer Grant Imahara Is Dead At 49 - BuzzFeed News
The electrical engineer and reality show host died suddenly on Monday.
Electrical engineer and host of the science shows Mythbusters and White Rabbit Project Grant Imahara is dead at 49, the Discovery Channel said Monday. "We are heartbroken to hear this sad news about Grant," the network said in a statement. "He was an important part of our Discovery family and a really wonderful man. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family." The host's cause of death has not been publicly revealed, but according to the Hollywood Reporter, he "died suddenly following a brain aneurysm." Imahara began his career as an electrical engineer at Lucasfilm THX in 1993. In 1996, he moved to Lucasfilm's Industrial Light and Magic division. In his eight years at ILM, Imahara rose to the position of lead modelmaker, specializing in robotics and electronic and radio control. He was a chief architect of the technology behind the robot R2-D2 during the development of the Star Wars prequel films and one of only three people in the United States authorized to operate the robots used for filming. Imahara joined Mythbusters, a popular reality television show where the hosts used science to disprove urban legends, in its third season in 2005. As a member of the show's "Build Team," he used his expertise in engineering and robotics debunk myths for nine years, appearing in more than 200 episodes. In 2016, Imahara and two of his Mythbusters cohosts, Kari Byron and Tory Belleci, starred in a Netflix show with a similar premise, called White Rabbit Project. His colleagues and friends expressed shock and disbelief on social media in the wake of the news. Adam Savage, who worked with Imahara at Lucasfilm and the Discovery Channel, said he had "no words" after learning the news. On Reddit, thousands of Imahara's fans paid tribute to his legacy, with many people commenting that watching him on Mythbusters inspired them to pursue careers in science. "The engineering community has lost a big light today," wrote one commenter. "[Mythbusters] would not have been anywhere near the success it was without him, and for me he embodies everything about both the show's ethos and what a true engineer should represent."
The Search For "Glee" Star Naya Rivera Is Now Focused On Recovering Her Body - BuzzFeed News
Video footage released by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department shows Rivera and her son renting the boat she later disappeared from.
The search for former Glee actor Naya Rivera, who went missing after renting a pontoon boat in California with her son, has turned into a recovery mission, according to authorities. Rivera was reported missing Wednesday after failing to return a boat she rented on Lake Piru, which is located 50 miles north of Los Angeles. Her 4 year-old son, Josey, was found asleep aboard the boat but Rivera was missing. Josey told investigators they had been swimming but Rivera did not get back in the boat with him. The Ventura County Sheriffs Department said it couldn't locate the 33 year-old after a search involving 50 personnel, a helicopter, boat crews, divers, and drones on Wednesday night. By Thursday, 100 personnel were looking for Rivera, but the search was hampered by divers experiencing less than one foot of water visibility in direct sunlight. Rivera is presumed to have drowned ands the mission is now focused on recovering her body. "The difficult conditions have made the recovery operation a very slow process," said Ventura County Sheriffs Department Capt. Eric Buschow. The Sheriff's Department also released a recording of the 911 call reporting her missing, as well as surveillance video that showed Rivera and her son arriving at the boat launch and subsequently driving off in a rented pontoon boat. The 911 call was made by an unidentified woman connected to the boat rental company. "The emergency is we have a missing person. We found a little girl in one of the boats by herself and her mom's nowhere to be found," she told the operator, accidentally misidentifying Rivera's son as a girl. In a press conference Thursday, Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Kevin Donoghue said it's possible Rivera's body may never be found If the body is entangled in something beneath the water, it may never come back up. We dont know," he said.
Disneyland Won't Be Reopening In Mid-July After All - BuzzFeed News
There's been a significant increase in COVID-19 cases across California, including Orange County.
Disneyland will not be reopening in mid-July as the company had planned, a decision which was announced Wednesday as California has seen a troubling spike in the number of COVID-19 infections. Disney had previously planned on a phased reopening of Disneyland and California Adventure in Anaheim, with new restrictions such as reservations and limited attendance as a precaution against spreading the coronavirus. But just two weeks after announcing its plans which came after a 4-month-long shutdown Disney said it would delay reopening, adding that state officials would not be providing guidelines until after July 4. "Given the time required for us to bring thousands of cast members back to work and restart our business, we have no choice but to delay the reopening of our theme parks and resort hotels until we receive approval from government officials," the company said in a statement. It's unclear how long the delay will last, however, and company officials said they had yet to receive guidance from state officials. California is allowing theme parks to reopen under Stage 3 of its phased plan, but for now, the state remains in Stage 2 as coronavirus cases rise. Though the company had begun recalling theme park workers in anticipation of reopening, many employees said they feared it was too soon. "Once we have a clearer understanding of when guidelines will be released, we expect to be able to communicate a reopening date," the Disney statement read. The decision comes comes as state and local officials have noted a significant increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. In the past week, California has seen an average of more than 4,500 daily cases, an increase of 62% compared to two weeks ago. The daily number of COVID-19 cases have also been increase in Disneyland's backyard, with 354 new cases reported in Orange County on Wednesday. The increase has prompted California's Gov. Gavin Newsom to require face masks across the state, including in counties that earlier had only recommended residents wear. In Orange County, officials have said they will not enforce the state mandate. On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported the increase in coronavirus hospitalizations has been driven by just four state counties Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange counties.
Beyoncé Drops Surprise New Single "Black Parade" For Juneteenth - BuzzFeed News
"Being Black is your activism. Black excellence is a form of protest. Black joy is your right."
Beyoncé dropped a surprise single to celebrate Juneteenth on Friday that will benefit a new initiative she has started to support Black-owned businesses. The singer announced on Instagram that her new single, "Black Parade," "celebrates you, your voice and your joy and will benefit Black-owned small businesses." "Happy Juneteenth Weekend!" she wrote. "I hope we continue to share joy and celebrate each other, even in the midst of struggle. Please continue to remember our beauty, strength and power." The singer directed people to her website, where she outlined how the song will benefit the BeyGOOD Black Business Impact Fund. The fund, she said, will be "administered by the National Urban League to support Black-owned small businesses in need." "Being Black is your activism," Beyoncé wrote on the website. "Black excellence is a form of protest. Black joy is your right." The website also features a directory of Black-owned businesses across industries, from art, to beauty, to restaurants and bars. The directory was created and curated by Zerina Akers, an LA-based stylist who created "Black Owned Everything," an online directory of Black-owned businesses. Akers also happens to be Beyoncé's personal stylist and wardrobe curator, a role she has held since 2014.
Trans People With "Harry Potter" Tattoos Are Grappling With What To Do After J.K. Rowling's Anti-Trans Statements - BuzzFeed News
Some want to cover them up. But to others, the series just means too much.
Before J.K. Rowling revealed herself as an anti-trans activist, her Harry Potter novels were gobbled up and beloved by millions. Many of those fans even went so far as to get tattoos inspired by the series. Now, they're left wondering what to do about their ink. Vlad Caldwell, 22, grew up with his mom reading the series to him and his little brother. "It was like a whole other world to be in when I was little, especially because I was young and the movies were coming out," he told BuzzFeed News. Caldwell, who is a transgender man, got his very first tattoo at 18 a Death Eater symbol on his forearm. "I got Death Eater symbol because I was an edgy, emotional teen," he said. In the series, the Death Eaters are the bad guys, obsessed with blood purity, so Caldwell was already rethinking the tattoo. But given Rowling's more recent comments, he now wants it covered up. Rowling has a history of making anti-trans statements on Twitter, and on Wednesday she published an essay on her website doubling down on those comments. In it, she writes of her belief in the importance of "biological sex" and denies the identity of transgender individuals, like Caldwell. "Ill still watch the movies and get some enjoyment from that, but until she stops wagging her mouth and making money off of it, I cant disassociate her from the creation that much," he said. He now plans to transform the tattoo into something else. Finn H. is in the same boat. The 32-year-old transgender man grew up reading the books and eventually got his own Harry Potter tattoo Harry's iconic glasses and scar on his wrist. He also has plans to cover up the ink. "Honestly, I didn't feel hurt by J.K.'s comments so much as well, here we go again," he told BuzzFeed News. "I'm used to people with large platforms denying science, unfortunately. I've been thinking about covering up my tattoo for a while now because of her past comments, but this was the last straw." He added, "I have no issue with getting rid of everything Harry Potter from my life." And there are plenty of people willing to help. Molly Knox Ostertag is a graphic novelist in Los Angeles who writes stories about magic but also about gender identity and self-acceptance. She's cisgender, but offered on Twitter to create cover-up art for Harry Potter tattoos for transgender people or in exchange for a donation to a transgender organization. Ostertag told BuzzFeed News she had been a really big fan of Harry Potter for a long time, and it had even inspired her own work. But now, she can't separate the author from the work. "She went on this screed a couple of days ago and it both upset me because were in the midst of an exciting and important time in racial justice," she said. "And its also Pride Month and Black trans people have so many things against them, that affects them, and I was just so frustrated that shed use this money to be hateful in this way." People have been sending her images of their Harry Potter tattoos, and she has created cover-up art ideas that are magical but not related to Rowling's series. But not everyone with a Harry Potter tattoo wants to let Rowling's comments tarnish a beloved series. Emmett A. Speed, 29, lives in Utah and told BuzzFeed News that Harry Potter quite literally saved their life. They remember the exact moment they discovered the novels. "I was sitting next to Carly Hoffman in Mrs. Felixs fourth-grade class, and she had TheChamber of Secrets on her desk and I wanted to know what that was and if I could borrow it," they said. "I started basically being obsessed from that moment on." Speed was raised in what they called a "bad family situation," on top of dealing with gender dysphoria. Harry Potter was pure escapism. "I wanted to get a Hogwarts letter and be a part of a different world that I had no concept of," they said. Speed, who is transmasculine, said they used to reread The Sorcerer's Stone whenever they had suicidal thoughts in high school, marking a tally in the book each time. There are more than 175 marks in that copy. They felt a kinship with Harry someone thrust into the spotlight for something they had no control over and constantly critiqued for how they performed that role. It was how Speed felt about their gender. When they were 19, Speed spent two paychecks to get a large tattoo on their arm of the Sorcerer's Stone cover art, in tribute to the series that had meant so much to them. When Rowling started making problematic statements, Speed said it was just plain exhausting. "Why now would you choose to do that? Youre taking wind out of the Black Lives movement and directing attention in this awful way," they said. "I just had another wave of shame about my tattoo and feeling like maybe I should get it covered up." But they won't do it. They said even Rowling's statements can't take away what Harry Potter gave them, and they wrote a Twitter thread talking about it. "In the fandom for a while now, theres been talk about how Harry Potter doesnt belong to her anymore, it belongs to us, and how the good and beautiful things that came out of the Harry Potter didnt come out of the books themselves but of the community," they said. They have contributed to that community themself in writing fanfiction and attending conventions. "The beautiful feelings of acceptance and love that we get out of these books is in my view at least, knowing that so many other people have read them and had the same experience I have, isnt necessarily something J.K. Rowling gave us but something we created for ourselves," they said. They simply wouldn't be who they are now without the magic of Harry Potter. "It gave people hope in a lot of ways, I think, thinking about different ways magic can change your life. I cant deny that."
Local Health Officials Have Canceled Coachella And Stagecoach After They Were Postponed - BuzzFeed News
Health officials canceled the previously postponed music festivals because of concerns that coronavirus cases may resurge in the fall.
The Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals have been officially canceled for 2020 after health officials said they were concerned about a possible resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall. The two festivals had already been postponed from their usual April dates until October, but on Wednesday, the Riverside County Public Health announced both events would not take place this year because of the pandemic. "I am concerned as indications grow that COVID--19 could worsen in the fall," Riverside County Public Health Officer Cameron Kaiser said in a statement. "These decisions are not taken lightly with the knowledge that many people will be impacted. My first priority is the health of the community." Under the current guidelines from the California governor's office, large public events like Coachella and Stagecoach would have only taken place if an approved treatment, or vaccine, had been developed for COVID-19, Kaiser pointed out. That seems unlikely to happen before the October festival dates, which as of Wednesday evening were still listed on the festivals' websites. "Given the protected circumstances and potential, I would not be comfortable moving forward," Kaiser said in the statement. Coachella was to be held in Indio, California, with a lineup that included Frank Ocean, Travis Scott, Megan Thee Stallion, and Lana Del Ray. After the April concerts were rescheduled, Goldenvoice, which operates the festival, said refunds would be given for those who couldn't attend in October. County officials said they had been in contact with organizers of the festival, but Goldenvoice did not respond to BuzzFeed News requests for comment.