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Billie Eilish Is Publishing Her Old Family Photos Ahead Of Her New Album’s Release 

Billie Eilish became one of the world’s biggest stars by the time she was 14-years-old. As the young singer gears up for the release of her sophomore album, ‘Happier Than Ever,’ she’s taken to social media to share some never-before-seen old family photos.

This promotion also comes along with a re-branding of sorts for Eilish, who recently debuted her bleached blonde hair on the cover of Vogue. Eilish claims she wants to release a book of her old family photos to help give her fans a bigger glance into her childhood, and life before fame. 

“I love my family photos but I wouldn’t risk taking them on the road with me because they’re way too valuable. I love going through them when I’m home though, I always make a point to sit and go through them every now and then.”

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She explained how the book itself felt like an intimate look inside her life, which is important due to the fact that she’s struggled throughout her whole career balancing the need for privacy and her fans wanting to be included in everything. 

“It’s too much for them and it’s too much for me and it’s not healthy. Every photo in the book is selected by me – and carefully. It was really difficult going through and deciding what to include, but I feel like I shared a lot in the book. There was some stuff that I almost put in but kept out, after I realized people didn’t need to know,” she continued.

Eilish’s success story was unlike many others for young pop stars who got their start as a teenager. She uploaded a song to SoundCloud at 13 which ended up exploding online, which led to her getting a record deal at just 14. 

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Family has always been an essential element of Eilish’s sound. Her older brother Finneas O’Connell produces and writes most of her songs with her, and both of their parents always join them on tour. 

“I love my parents and I choose to be around them a lot. They understand I need space, and they give it to me when I need it. They don;t do everything with me now but I like them, so I want them to be around.” 

“I spent so much time looking through old pictures throughout my life for this book and there were many things I looked through that made me nostalgic and made me miss a lot of parts of my life. But overall it made me more grateful for the life I have now, and made me realise I wouldn’t want to go back. I wouldn’t do it differently,” she says. 

‘Billie Eilish’ by Billie Eilish will be released alongside an audio version of the book in which the star and her parents reminisce about simpler times before fame. Both books will be available on May 11th.

Open Book

Richard Wright’s Unreleased Novel On Race Set To Be Released This Year 

Richard Wright was known as one of the most influential African American writers of the 20th century. His daughter, Julia, recently spoke with the press about how when they were younger it was difficult for her father to talk to her about race, especially because of how heavy and graphic of a topic it was/is. 

“It’s like soldiers who go to war and then come back. They don’t always find the way to share what they did at war with their family. My father didn’t really know how to share the pain of race with me.” 

Julia is 79 now, and told the media that Richard had other ways of educating her on racial issues within this country. “He would leave the doors of his office open so that I could have free range of his books and read everything I wanted to read, and that’s how I picked up some clues on what he was going through as a Black man.”

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Her dedication to her father’s work is what’s led to the release of an unseen Wright novel that was rejected by publishers about 80 years ago. The book is called ‘The Man Who Lived Underground’ and focuses on race and police violence; something that couldn’t be more relevant today with the recent verdict being made for the trial of Derek Chauvin. 

“The novel follows Fred Daniels, an African American man framed by police for a double murder he did not commit. He is beaten and tortured until he confesses but escapes into the city’s sewer system, beginning a journey into a modern underworld,” according to the Guardian.

Wright was known for his famous 1940 novel ‘Native Son,’ but he considered ‘The Man Who Lived Underground’ to be his best work yet, in fact at one point he claimed: “I have never written anything in my life that stemmed more from sheer inspiration. But publishers turned it down. Its uncompromising portrayal of police brutality may have rendered it untouchable.” 

Julia was still in her mother’s womb when Richard was writing this novel, so she jokingly refers to it as her “twin.” 

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“The publishers of the day were discounting black readership and they didn’t want to unsettle white readership. Discomfort is too gentle a word. I think they were afraid of what they read in those pages. It was too close to the truth. So it was a no brainer. This had to come out.” 

“The George Floyd video that little girl, Darnella Frazier, made on her cell phone also is too close to the truth. It has the same symbolic value that those pages on police brutality my father wrote so many years ago still have. People don’t want to see it.” Julia took the novel to the Library of America multiple times, and “then when George Floyd happened, I knocked at their door again and said ‘look here, let’s do it, because if we don’t do it now, we’ll never do it. And they said yes.” 

The novel is being published this week and will include an essay by Wright, and an afterword written by his grandson, Malcolm Wright.

“I am very fulfilled. This has been a 10-year uphill wait for it to come to light and out of the darkness, out of the underground, literally, of those unpublished papers. I think it’s going to change a lot for his reputation. People tend to think of Wright as a bit of a naturalistic disaster or a simple writer of protest novels but he’s so much more complex and people are going to have to reassess him with this book,” explained a joyful Julia. 

“He would have been very bittersweet about it. My father was so much in advance of his times that sometimes what he wrote was not recognized or was denied because it was too far ahead. So he wouldn’t say, ‘I told you so,’ because he was too kind a person to do that, but he would sort of chuckle and take his pipe and smoke placidly and say, ‘Well’. Almost what Malcolm X said: ‘Chickens come home to roost, don’t they?’”

Man Listening to Music at Home

Paul McCartney Joins Call From Musicians To Change Music Streaming Payments

Over 150 musicians signed an open letter to change the 1988 Copyright Act which prevents many musicians from receiving proper payments for their work on streaming services.

And the Oscar goes to

Academy Expecting 2021 Oscars To Have Lowest Ratings In History 

Based on the audience figures from this year’s Golden Globes and Baftas ceremonies the Academy is gearing up to potentially present one of the least watched Oscar ceremonies in history. The Oscars are currently expected to air on April 25th.

Steven Gaydos is the executive vice president of content for Variety, a film industry magazine, who recently spoke to the press about this year’s ceremony. “Before Covid hit the audience numbers were declining rapidly, year on year, for all awards shows. The Academy is essentially funded by the TV show, and they are about to open a big expensive museum. They have taken on a half-billion-dollar enterprise at a time when their primary source of income is declining. There could be an iceberg ahead for the Academy.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences typically receives around $75 million every year from ABC thanks to a contract that the two groups signed that will last until 2028. ABC makes a majority of their revenue from advertising, last year they brought in around $120 million, but last year’s figures were the lowest in history, which stunts how much profit is made. 

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“Further, the telecast itself has struggled to retain audience approval, with frustrations over its lengthy running time, choice of hosts (if any) and the quality of the spectacle on offer. The problems have been compounded by long-running complaints over the lack of diversity in nominees and winners, triggered in 2015 by the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag campaign,” according to film editor Andrew Pulver.

“I personally don’t think a host makes much impact. It’s more about whether the show as a whole entertains and feels fresh. The Oscars remain meaningful to the film industry, but to succeed as a mainstream TV special you’ve got to entertain,” said Jeremy Kay, Americas editor of Screen International magazine.

“The Covid delays have enabled smaller movies to go farther than they might have done had there been the usual barrage of studio heavyweights. It’s not been a banner year, but the quality across the board has been high. These movies, the film-makers behind them and the stories they tell have had more visibility than they might have expected in any other year, and we’re all the better for it,” Kay explained. 

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Gaydos, on the other hand, thinks that there’s a systemic issue between the way the Academy connects audiences with certain contemporary Hollywood films: “For some time the movies nominated for best picture represent only a tiny fraction of the tickets sold – there is chasm between the Oscars and the moviegoing public. The Marvel and DC films are hardly ever up for best picture, or Star Wars, while the Pixar movies are relegated to the animated category, so the pictures that constitute 90% of moviegoing just aren’t there.”

“At the point that the Oscars become all spinach and no dessert, they put themselves up quite a tree.”

Gaydos went on to explain how “the decline of ‘movie-star culture’ also plays a part, as most franchise films are not really star-driven. Part of the awards show fun is seeing these stars being themselves – nervous, emotional, passionate about their work – and you are effectively spending an evening with some very beautiful people at an important night in their lives. The more that is diminished the less of an event the Oscars is. If the franchise is the star, it doesn’t make you want to tune into an awards show. I love the Academy, I love movies, I love the Oscars, so this current concern gives me a lot of heartache.”

Popcorn and Netflix

Netflix Buys Kanye West Documentary That’s Been In The Works For 21 Years 

Netflix has acquired the rights to a documentary series covering the life and career of Kanye West. The series has been in the works for the past 21 years, and is set to cover the death of his mother, Donda, back in 2007, as well as his failed 2020 presidential bid.

The film/series is currently untitled, and will include unseen home videos of West that were taken by Clarence “Coodie” Simmons and Chike Ozah over the past two decades. Ozah is known for directing West’s music videos Jesus Walks and Through the Wire. 

Billboard reported that the series is likely to be released later this year, and Netflix acquired the rights to it for $30 million. It’s currently unknown if the documentary will discuss West’s pending divorce/ past relationship tribulations with reality star Kim Kardashian West. 

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Kris Jenner, West’s mother-in-law, did recently claim how the couple’s divorce will be featured in the final season of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, which is currently airing on E!

Within the past two decades Kanye West has had one of the most rollercoaster careers in the industry. He first became known as a producer, mainly for his work on Jay-Z’s The Blueprint, before launching his own successful music career with albums The College Dropout, Late Registration, and Graduation. 

In 2008 he released 808s and Heartbreak, and in 2010 with the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, West’s legacy as a musician was truly solidified. Those three albums were thought to really shoot West into the mainstream. 

In 2013 he went full on experimental with his Yeezus album, which was also widely regarded as one of his best albums by fans. Then, as the decade progressed West’s Christian faith became more central to the art he was creating, in fact, his most recent album, Jesus Is King, was a gospel-inspired body of work that won best contemporary Christian music album at the Grammys last month. 

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West is also no stranger to controversy. In the beginning of his career he made headlines by calling out George W Bush for his lack of care for Black people after Hurricane Katrina, and interrupting teenage Taylor Swift during her first ever major win in the music industry. 

In 2016, West also made it public that he supported Donald Trump until 2020 when he announced he was “taking the red hat off” to run for president himself. His support over Trump, claims that slavery was “a choice,” and anti-abortion rants led to him becoming one of the most controversial individuals in the music industry.

In 2014, he married Kardashian and the two would go on to have four children together before filing for divorce in 2021. Kardashian recently took to social media to ask the public to have more compassion for West, after implying a lot of his erratic behavior was triggered by his bipolar disorder. 

While the documentary has no set release date, it’s expected that we will likely see it around Summer.

Industry’s Top Songwriters Call For An End To ‘Artist Bullying’ Over Royalties

Songwriters for some of music’s biggest artist’s have penned an open letter to everyone within the industry calling on them to stop pressuring these writers to give up their publishing royalties. Writers for artists like Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga, and Ariana Grande have all signed the letter in a new collective known as the Pact.

The songwriters themselves don’t name any specific artists within the letter, however, they do claim that pop stars and their teams can “abuse leverage, use bully tactics and threats to prey upon writers who may choose to give up some of their assets rather than lose the opportunity completely.”

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The Pact claims that as a group they “will not give publishing or songwriting credit to anyone who did not create or change the lyric or melody or otherwise contribute to the composition without a reasonably equivalent/meaningful exchange for all the writers on the song.”

Besides the performance royalties, artists generally receive an income for ticket sales, advertising deals, and numerous other revenue streams that have to do with the artist’s image itself. Songwriters, on the other hand, need the publishing royalties as that’s their main source of income when it comes to producing music.

“Over time, the practice of artists taking publishing from songwriters have become normalised.”

Victoria Monét was one of the signatories of the letter. She’s written many of Ariana Grande’s songs, as well as Emily Warren, who wrote the Grammy-nominated track Don’t Start Now. Savan Kotecha has written numerous songs for Ellie Goulding and Grande as well, and Justin Tranter, writer for artists like Britney Spears, also signed the letter.

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“My hope is that new songwriters can operate with a little less fear and [a] little more money.”

These writer statements come after a long debate regarding streaming services and the revenue they provide artists. In the US, streaming services like Spotify had to increase the royalties they gave to songwriters from 11% to 15%.

Crispin Hunt, chair of the Ivors Academy whose yearly Ivor Novello awards reward songwriters, argued in March that “record labels were taking too great a cut of revenues. Record labels are still taking a manufacturing and distributing cut when all they’re doing is a marketing job.”

At the end of the day, songwriters are finally taking a moment to credit themselves for their contributions to the industry, and are demanding that they be treated with the same respect and admiration as the artists that bring their words to life, and wouldn’t have a career without them.

Business Conference

Global Business Leaders Working To End The Death Penalty 

Global business leaders have launched a campaign declaring their opposition to the death penalty, and urged government leaders all around the world to end the practice and consider asking their international peers to join them in this effort. 

Sir Richard Branson, one of the campaign’s leaders, recently spoke at the virtual South by Southwest festival in which he claimed that the “death penalty is broken beyond repair and plainly fails to deliver justice by every reasonable measure. It is marred by cruelty, waste, ineffectiveness, discrimination, and an unacceptable risk of error.” 

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“By speaking out at this crucial moment, business leaders have an opportunity to help end this inhumane and flawed practice.” 

The campaign is formally titled Business Against Death Penalty, and it includes a slew of notable members including billionare fashion mogul François-Henri Pinault, telecoms tycoon Mo Ibrahim, Ben & Jerry founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, tech entrepreneur and Twitter board member Martha Lane Fox, and co-founder of the Huffington Post Arianna Huffington.

The campaign is also being coordinated by the Responsible Business Initiative for Justice, which is a nonprofit human rights group led by former death row lawyer Celia Ouelette, who recently spoke to the press about the importance of these major figureheads joining this effort. 

“This campaign is an opportunity for business leaders to embrace their responsibility to speak out authentically on issues of racial and social justice in a way that delivers real impact.”

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Ouellette went on to explain that “in light of the business communities support for the Black Lives Matter and racial justice movement, there was a growing awareness of the long history of race and the death penalty among business leaders, and now many are prepared to stand against it.” 

Ben & Jerry founders Cohen and Greenfield also released a statement regarding their joining of the campaign: “Business leaders need to do more than just say Black Lives Matter. They need to walk the talk and be instrumental in tearing down all the symbols of structural racism in our society. The death penalty has a long history with oppression, and it needs to end. Now.”

Joe Biden is also the first US president to openly oppose executions and is facing growing pressure from Democrats to end the federal death penalty. Ouelette claims that she is hopeful that all the notable business leaders within the campaign can help make that a reality as well. “Bringing powerful voices to the table will be highly impactful,” she said. 

The group is going to be working for the next few months to build a greater public presence so that they can increase the pressure placed on the US government to make these changes by World Day Against the Death Penalty; which is scheduled for October 10th. More than 170 United Nations member states have abolished the death penalty. 

Pop Culture Artist Kaws Celebrates New Exhibition In Brooklyn

Brian Donnelly is the man behind Kaws, who is now considered one of the biggest pop culture phenomenon’s in the modern world.

HBO Max

HBO Max To Release Sitcom Inspired By ‘Multiple Scandals’ At Famous Food Magazine

Bon Appétit has been one of the most popular food magazines and online channels for cooking for quite some time now. After a slew of allegations that people of color working for Bon Appétit were unfairly treated and paid, the company lost a lot of its viewership, and now HBO is making a whole series inspired by it. 

While HBO Max is not mentioning Bon Appétit by name in the show, it does have a former worker serving as a consultant writer, and the streaming service is describing the show’s plot as “focusing on a cohort of young assistants of color who rise up to tear their cookie-cutter corporate culture apart.” 

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The series will be called Enjoy Your Meal, and Ryan Walker-Hartshorn is the former Bon Appétit employee who is working on the series as a consultant. The show claims it will “draw inspiration from the multiple media scandals of summer 2020 and today. 

Waler-Hartshorn was once the only Black employee at Bon Appétit, and served as an assistant to the former editor-and-chief Adam Rapoport. Her role in the Black Lives Matter Movement this summer is what led to a reckoning of Bon Appétit as a publication, in fact, a photo of Rapoport was released last summer in which the former editor was shown wearing black face. Waler-Hartshorn left the publication in August 2020. 

“I feel so blessed, humbled, honored, and freaking excited to be on this journey with these incredible women! Time to eat,” she tweeted out this week. 

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Amy Aniobi will be the writer for the series, she’s also known for her role as writer and executive producer on the Emmy-award winning show Insecure, also available on HBO Max. 

According to reports, “the announcement comes after a four part investigative series into Bon Appétit’s failings on diversity and inclusion by the podcast Reply All – The Test Kitchen – was cancelled, following allegations that some members of the podcast’s production team had contributed to a hostile workplace environment that one former colleague described as a ‘nearly identical toxic dynamic’ to the story they were reporting on.”

Within the first two episodes of The Test Kitchen, before it was cancelled, the hosts examined how Bon Appétit “sidelined” their culturally/linguistically diverse staff throughout its high profile relaunch in the years 2011-2018, and put all the white staff members at the forefront of the branding. 

After Rapoport resigned in June due to the black face photo, a multitude of other revelations regarding Bon Appétit’s unfair treatment of its staff members of color began unfolding, such as major pay disparities between white and non-white staff. By October of last year a majority of the magazine’s highest profile staff had quit due to the lack of progress shown within the pay disparities and other issues.

Holiday Cookies

Next Season Of The Great Celebrity Bake Off Hailed As ‘Best Ever’ From Fans 

Every summer the Great British Bake Off hosts a celebrity bake off event in which famous individuals come into the tent and show off their skills in the name of charity. Last year the “Great Stand Up To Cancer Bake Off” was one of the most popular programs released throughout the UK and US as well, and this year will likely be no different. 

The Great Celebrity British Bake Off will be returning to Channel 4 in the UK next week in what is being seen as a “wonderful celebration of people being terrible at baking.” This year’s series will also be raising money for Stand Up To Cancer, and will feature stars like Tom Allen, Daisy Ridley, Philippa Perry, and more!

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In the recently released trailer Tom Allen is seen getting his bake temporarily stuck in the bottom of the freezer while Daisy Ridley is seen sculpting what looks like a dessert toilet. Philippa Perry is then shown piping the word “help” on top of her creation, proving that the series is all about having fun, baking some questionable desserts, and raising money for a great charity. 

Robert Beckett is then shown talking about a technical challenge and referring to his as a “cow pat,” the camera then quickly pans to Allen who says: “I’m so embarrassed I could die.” 

The trailer alone has British Bake Off fans anticipating an amazing season of one of their favorite shows. One fan claims that this trailer could’ve shown our celebrity guests as dealing with a lot worse when compared to last year: “In a previous series, YouTuber and presenter Joe Sugg fainted after cutting his finger in the opening minutes of a challenge.”

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“This Morning presenter Alison Hammond thought that her oven door had gone missing (when it had retracted into the oven itself) and One Show presenter Alex Jones smashed a bowl after failing to attach it correctly to her KitchenAid, resulting in stitches. Incredibly, all of these incidents took place in the same episode.”

The pandemic has worked in the programs favor, as more celebrities had more time available to quarantine and be tested for the competition. The series will have five stand alone episodes as well that will not connect, so fans can watch whichever, whenever. 

Other celebrities projected to appear on this season include Dizzee Rascal, internet star KSI, James McAvoy, Katherine Ryan, Little Mix singer Jade Thirwall, and Dame Kelly Holmes. Ridley was recently interviewed regarding her experience in which she claimed that she had “the best time, I didn’t do a great job but I didn’t cry, it was so much fun.” 

For individuals in the UK The Great Celebrity Bake Off for SU2C starts on Tuesday, 9pm on Channel 4. For US watchers, they likely will have to wait for the series to be uploaded onto Netflix once it’s finished premiering in the UK; this is how the seasons are typically updated for the US.