A Black-and-White Problem With Gold-Colored Films

Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, as well as Spike Lee, are among prominent blacks who’ve called for a boycott of the Oscars this year after the Academy failed to nominate a person of color in any of the four acting categories for the second straight year. “My wife’s not going. It would be awkward to show up with Charlize [Theron]. We’ve discussed it. We’re part of this community. But at this current time, we’re uncomfortable to stand there and say, ‘This is OK,'” Smith told Robin Roberts on Good Morning America. “There’s a position that we hold in this community and if we’re not a part of the solution, we’re part of the problem. And it was [my wife’s] call to action for herself and for me and for our family to be a part of the solution.”

Many other voices in Hollywood have echoed Smith’s sentiments and called for action and change on the part of the Academy. But not everyone, including some black entertainers, agrees. "I think it's ludicrous,” said actress and Fox News contributor Stacey Dash. “Because we have to make up our minds. Either we want segregation or integration. If we don't want segregation, then we need to get rid of channels like BET, and the BET Awards and the Image Awards, where you're only awarded if you're black. If it were the other way around, we would be up in arms. It's a double standard." Meanwhile, Viola Davis believes the problem is much bigger than just the Academy Awards. “The problem is not with the Oscars. The problem is with the Hollywood movie-making system. … How many black films are being produced every year? How are they being distributed? The films that are being made, are the big-time producers thinking outside of the box in terms of how to cast the role? Can you cast a black woman in that role? Can you cast a black man in that role?” Davis also said, “You can change the Academy, but if there are no black films being produced, what is there to vote for?"

In response to the controversy, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has, according to a press release, “approved a sweeping series of substantive changes designed to make the Academy’s membership, its governing bodies, and its voting members significantly more diverse.” Other changes under consideration include expanding the number of films selected for some of the ceremony's biggest draws, such as Best Picture and the acting categories. [variety.com, 1/18-21/16; etonline.com, 1/20-21/16; oscars.org, 1/22/16; latimes.com, 1/22/16]

Police Punish 'Hateful Eight'

Is a police boycott impacting the underperforming box office take for Quentin Tarantino's latest film, The Hateful Eight? Some of those who've been involved with the protest against the controversial filmmaker believe the answer to that question is a resounding yes. "With nearly 1 million law enforcement officers in this country who have families and friends who support them, the impact that police have economically on a product or project is immense. The law enforcement boycott of cop-hater Quentin Tarantino’s movie is one demonstration of that economic power," said Police Benevolent Association president Patrick J. Lynch. "Can we take full credit for the stinker’s failure? Well, one thing we can attest to is that many, many good citizens have told us that they were offended by Tarantino’s ignorant, anti-police remarks and, as a result, have refused to spend their money on this movie.” [pagesix.com, 1/14/16 c&e]

The Best Publicity Is … Dying?

The death of a famous musician often results in a posthumous sales spike and (these days) a bump in online interaction, too. And so it has been in the wake of David Bowie's Jan. 10 passing. Billboard reports that sales of the iconic singer’s music surged 5,000%. And Bowie's music videos on Vevo were viewed more than 51 million times the day after his death, the biggest single-day viewership of any artist in the video platform's history. (Up to that point, Adele's smash hit "Hello" held the record with 36 million views.) Spotify reports that streams of Bowie’s music surged 2,700%. Likewise, the Eagles have enjoyed big sales and streaming boosts in the wake of founding member Glen Frey’s Jan. 18 death. [billboard.com, 1/20/16; foxnews.com, 1/14/16; usatoday.com, 1/11/16 thewrap.com, 1/21/16]

Adele Says Oppa to Gangnam Style

Adele's song "Hello" has accumulated more than 1 billion views on YouTube since it was released Oct. 22, becoming the fastest video ever to reach that milestone. It took the song 87 days to cross into 1 billion territory, just a tad more than half as long as the 158 days it took the previous record holder, Psy's "Gangnam Style," to do so. [independent.co.uk, 1/22/16]

Judge Judy Seen Supreme

A poll recently conducted by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni asked 1,000 college graduates questions about the Constitution and governmental structure. The conclusion? That grads "are alarmingly ignorant of America's history and heritage." Don't believe it? Well, let's just say that nearly 10% stated they thought TVs Judge Judy was on the Supreme Court. [cnn.com, 1/19/16]

A Family’s Own Zombie Apocalypse

An Idaho teen is on trial for murdering his father and younger brother, and some are suggesting that the father's and son's shared interest in zombies may have played a role in the deaths. According to court documents, father Eldon Samuel Jr. was planning to take his son into the mountains to train for the zombie apocalypse. The elder Samuel allegedly spent a great deal of time watching movies and playing video games, and he purchased a number of mature-rated games for his 14-year-old son, including The Walking Dead. The boy says that his father was planning to leave home due to the threat of a zombie attack, and that he'd fired a weapon on the night of his murder. He later shot his dad with a shotgun four times, and his defense team says that three of those shots were inflicted postmortem—to keep his father from turning into a zombie. [nydailynews.com, 1/22/16 c&e]

Is 'Angel' the Work of the Devil?

CBS' new sitcom Angel From Hell has drawn a fiery response from the conservative activist group One Million Moms. The organization is urging people of faith boycott the show and to contact its sponsors because of its "blasphemous content." And that’s not the only group to have taken exception. "This is just the latest volley in Hollywood's war against faith," says Dan Gainor, vice president of business and culture for the Media Research Center. "Rather than simply deny the divine, Angel From Hell seeks to denigrate it. They picked Glee veteran Jane Lynch, who hates conservatives, to portray a disgustingly foul and perverted angel." Others believe that such groups are overreacting. "The title pretty much gives away the premise of the show," says pop culture expert Lisa Durden. "It's called Angel From Hell, so did they think the angel was going to be angelic? No!" [foxnews.com, 1/20/16]

The Realest Reality TV Show

"The Reality TV Primary is here, and it’s 2016’s top-rated show. The intersection of politics and entertainment—not a new phenomenon—has reached its zenith in the weeks before voting in the presidential race begins. … And some people involved in television’s most successful reality shows say this election is simply the culmination of what politics has always been: the original reality TV show. 'I think it’s always been there, but this year’s campaign is definitely different,' said Jeff Probst, host of the long-running Survivor. 'This year does seem to be unique in that, at times, it does feel as though we’re watching a reality show and not a presidential campaign, and I don’t ever remember feeling that way.'”

Time contributor Katie Reilly [time.com, 1/22/16]