‘The Power of We: A Sesame Street Special’ Addressing Racism to Stream on HBO Max, PBS Kids Oct. 15

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind “Sesame Street,” will address racism — and model how children can stand up to it — in The Power of We: A Sesame Street Special to stream on HBO Max and PBS Kids starting Oct. 15.

Designed as a co-viewing experience for children and families, the special will also debut on PBS stations the same day and will re-air throughout October and November on PBS stations and the PBS Kids 24/7 channel.

“‘Sesame Street’ has the ability to entertain children while explaining complex issues like no other program and equips families and caregivers with the support they need to have empathetic conversations,” Kay Wilson Stallings, EVP of creative and production at Sesame Workshop, said in a statement. “We believe that this moment calls for a direct discussion about racism to help children grasp the issues and teach them that they are never too young to be ‘upstanders’ for themselves, one another, and their communities.”

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The Power of We features Elmo and Abby Cadabby, who are joined by 6-year-old Muppet Gabrielle and her cousin, 8-year-old Tamir, as they learn how to become “upstanders” to unfair treatment based on skin — or fur — color. Current and former “Sesame Street” human cast members Alan, Charlie, Chris, and Gordon take part in the special alongside celebrity and musical guests Yara Shahidi, Christopher Jackson and Andra Day. The Power of We includes two new songs, “How Do You Know?” and “Listen, Act, Unite!,” the latter written and performed by Jackson and featuring Day.

Sesame Workshop has also created a companion guide for families and caregivers to use as they discuss the special with children, available at SesameStreet.org/PowerofWe.

CBS Inks Deal With NAACP to Create Content for Broadcast, Cable and Streaming

CBS Television Studios and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) July 15 announced an agreement to develop and produce scripted, unscripted and documentary content for linear television networks and streaming platforms.

As part of the agreement, CBS Television Studios will work with the civil rights organization to establish a team of executives and infrastructure to acquire, develop and produce programming. The partnership will focus on producing premium content that expands the number of diverse voices contributing to an ever-evolving society, and by telling inclusive stories that increase the visibility and impact of black artists in a growing media landscape.

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The CBS/NAACP partnership includes a commitment to develop content for the CBS Television Network as well as the ability to sell programming to third-party platforms across the media landscape.

“An important way to diversify and grow our storytelling is to expand our horizons beyond the traditional studio-producer system,” George Cheeks, CEO of the CBS Entertainment Group, said in a statement. “There is no better partner than the NAACP to help us find, develop and tell these inclusive stories.”

Derrick Johnson, CEO of the NAACP, said the current moment of “national awakening” on racism in America presents an opportune time to tell stories of the “African-American experience.”

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“Programming and content have the power to shape perspectives and drive conversations around critical issues,” Johnson said. “This partnership with CBS allows us to bring compelling and important content to a broad audience.”

BET Unveils Programming to Address Systemic Racism, Violence Faced by Black People in America and Possible Solutions

ViacomCBS’s BET June 2 announced a series of programming addressing systemic racism, the violence faced by black people in America and the solutions it claims can help move the country forward. BET is utilizing its linear TV and over-the-top video platforms to deliver the programming.

Scott Mills, president of BET, said the programming underscores a critical need for change in America, as evidenced by the careless murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the tragic history of systemic and lethal racism and inequality in this country.

For the month of June, BET will air a series of programming specials to provide information, insights and strategies that spark meaningful dialogue and help provide solutions to eradicate the racial inequities plaguing our society.

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“We stand in steadfast solidarity with George Floyd’s family, the many victims of racist brutality, and those who are using their voices and platforms to challenge it,” Mills said in a statement. “There are no easy solutions for these systemic issues of racism, injustice, and trauma. BET is leveraging every platform and resource at our disposal to support and inform our community and help identify strategies and viable solutions in this time of crisis.”

The first special airs June 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. “Justice Now: A BET News Special,” hosted by Marc Lamont Hill, feature dialogue with George Floyd’s family, former NBA player Stephen Jackson, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), singer John Legend, rapper Tip “T.I.” Harris, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, activist Tamika Mallory, NAACP President Derrick Johnson, Princeton University Department of African American Studies Chairperson Eddie Glaude, Scholar Peniel E. Joseph, Emerald Garner (daughter of Eric Garner), youth activists Michael McDowell and Luis Hernandez and other African American voices in activism, politics and entertainment to reflect on the killing of Floyd on Memorial Day, the protests that have ensued and systemic racism that have led us to where are today.

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BET News will also produce “Justice Now: A BET Town Hall,” a special virtual telecast that will give voice to the collective grief, anger, fear, needs and hopes of our community and feature community leaders and activists to share their views on the reforms necessary in America’s political and criminal justice systems and the importance of voting at state and federal levels. The panel of experts will also provide tangible solutions for sustainable change. This virtual Town Hall will air later in the week.

Additionally, on June 19, BET will air a presidential forum with President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden invited to “face black America” on national television to address their concerns. Interviewed individually, Trump and Biden will be asked to address a range of critical issues, including the institutional racism that has led to disparities in housing, health, income and the law enforcement and criminal justice systems. They will be asked to provide their specific plans to improve these issues and move America forward.

Netflix’s $12 Billion Stock Drop Due to Racism?

NEWS ANALYSIS — The close of Netflix’s first business day (June 25) following the ouster of its communications boss for racist comments saw the subscription streaming video pioneer’s stock lose $12 billion in valuation.

Netflix shares closed down 6.7% — the largest drop since 2016 when it elected not to renew a content license agreement with Epix, the multi-platform pay-TV channel co-owned at the time by MGM, Lionsgate and Paramount Pictures.

To some, the decline reflected short sellers reacting to co-founder/CEO Reed Hastings’ decision to terminate Jonathan Friedland, head of Netflix’s PR team, for repeated racist comments in the workplace.

Hastings, in a June 22 email to employees, attempted to intellectualize his reasons for not terminating Friedland the first time he used the “N-word” in a company meeting reportedly about insensitive words.

“We hoped this was an awful anomaly never to be repeated,” Hastings wrote.

The executive then went on to say that his “privilege” had likely caused him to not comprehend the seriousness of the issue and how offensive the use of the racial slur by “non-black people” is.

“There is not a way to neutralize the emotion and history behind the word in any context,” Hastings wrote.

But does Wall Street really care about social issues, including race?

Starbucks last month closed 8,000 stores in the United States for racial-bias training after two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia store while waiting for a friend — and not buying anything.

The April 12 incident caused a national uproar regarding ongoing concerns about racial profiling (the Starbuck store’s manager called police) and police response. The two men said they feared for their lives when the authorities arrived.

Regardless, Starbuck’s stock went up slightly following the event.

To Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, Netflix’s market correction wasn’t directly due to social issues.

Instead, the analyst contends some investors used the episode to cool an overheated stock. Netflix’s market capitalization in May briefly topped Disney and Comcast.

“It has appreciated more than any of big tech this year, so it was a little frothy,” Pachter said in an email.

 

 

Netflix Fires Communications Boss for Racist Comments

Netflix has fired communications boss Jonathan Friedland for reportedly “unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity” following separate uses of the racist “N-word” in meetings.

Friedland, who had led the subscription streaming video pioneer’s PR team since 2011, was dismissed by Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings. The latter announcing the move in an employee email – first disclosed by The Hollywood Reporter.

“Jonathan contributed greatly in many areas, but his descriptive use of the N-word on at least two occasions at work showed unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity and is not in line with our values as a company,” Hastings wrote.

Friedland’s first use of the derogatory word occurred ironically in a PR meeting about insensitive words. Hastings, in the email, said Friedland apologized after the first occasion.

“We hoped this was an awful anomaly never to be repeated,” Hastings wrote.

Friedland allegedly used the racist term again speaking to two black human resources employees. The second use, which Hastings said he only learned about this week, occurred just days after the first offense.

Hastings attributed his lack of action following Friedland’s first offense to “my privilege” and attempt to “intellectualize or otherwise minimize race issues like this.”

The CEO went on to explain that for “non-black people” use of the “N-word” is unacceptable.

“There is not a way to neutralize the emotion and history behind the word in any context,” wrote Hastings.

Although criticized by some for its lack of black senior executives, Netflix has long sought diversity in its programming. The service recently ordered a third season of “Dear White People,” which deals with racism.

Netflix, which saw its stock top a record $400 per share this week, this year named former Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice to its board of directors.

It also inked original production deals with former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

No ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ for Roseanne

Years ago, the predecessor to Media Play News (Home Media Magazine) interviewed Roseanne Barr regarding a pending DVD release. Barr, who was long past the original “Roseanne” TV show at the time, was charming, witty (“I’m only talking to you for the money”) and bored.

“I sit around the house and watch a lot of TV,” she chuckled. “I like ‘Nancy Grace.’”

Unfortunately for Barr, boredom these days apparently includes wading into the social media abyss — and leaving common sense to others.

Which is what happened to the former standup comic this morning, resulting in a tirade of offensive tweets, including a racist post about a former Obama Administration official. All that was missing was a noose.

Not even Nancy Grace could (or would) save Barr from the swift blowback in the media and on social media condemning her comments. Comic Wanda Sykes, a writer on the “Roseanne” reboot on ABC quickly quit the show in protest.

Barr apologized for her tweets, adding she would be leaving Twitter for good.

Of course, no one should really be surprised considering Barr’s questionable public statements in the past, unrepentant support of President Trump, who launched his campaign on the back of bigotry, and politically incorrect tone in the new “Roseanne” show.

Barr’s comments are protected under the First Amendment, not unlike the Second Amendment affording gun rights to individuals who should never have access to a firearm.

Indeed, Harris Faulkner, a black female host on Fox News, defended Barr.

“I don’t understand it to be anything other than free speech,” Faulkner said.

Yes, but free speech is a slippery slope. Just because you can spout bigoted thoughts, doesn’t mean you should. Especially when you are in the public eye — and advertisers are footing the bill.

ABC wisely canceled “Roseanne,” despite the show’s top ratings in a media landscape under siege by over-the-top video.

“Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” Channing Dungey, entertainment chief at ABC, said in a statement.

Barr’s agent, ICM Partners, agreed, dumping her as a client.

“We are all greatly distressed by the disgraceful and unacceptable tweet from Roseanne Barr this morning,” ICM said in a statement, as reported by The Wrap. “What she wrote is antithetical to our core values, both as individuals and as an agency.”

Paramount Network, TV Land, CMT and Hulu dropped airing/streaming “Roseanne” re-runs. The show is still available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

And thus, in a matter of hours, Barr went from TV’s biggest comeback story to social outcast, joining “Seinfeld” legend Michael Richards (Kramer) – whose 2006 racist outburst during a standup gig sent the actor’s career into extinction.

Maybe, Barr should start watching “Dr. Phil.”