Vanessa Obioha

In a giant move by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last week, a ground-breaking record of 683 new members were added to its list of invitees.

The award in the past suffered backlash for its lack of diversity. Its last award ceremony was greatly pilloried and led to a protestation from many Hollywood actors with the hashtag #Oscarsowhite.

The new tweaks however reveal an increase in percentage of women’s participation; 46 per cent of the new additions are female while 41 per cent are people of colour.

Some of the big names that made it to the list include Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), Michael B. Jordan (Creed), Eva Mendes (Hitch), Ice Cube (Ride Along), Gabrielle Union (Top Five), John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Vivica Fox (Kill Bill) among others.

Interestingly, the Academy snubbed David Oyelowo for his outstanding performance in the Martin Luther King Jr, film ‘Selma’. It however added his co-star Carmen Ejogo.
The new class of 2016 is considered the largest and most diverse class ever in the history of the awards.

“We’re proud to welcome these new members to the Academy, and know they view this as an opportunity and not just an invitation, a mission and not just a membership,” says Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “We encourage the larger creative community to open its doors wider, and create opportunities for anyone interested in working in this incredible and storied industry.”
Despite the huge leap, the announcement was greeted with mixed reactions. Critics argue that the Academy still have a long way to go if they are to achieve their diversity goal.

WHO WILL SUE KANYE WEST?
That seems to be the question on everyone’s lips following the release of ‘Famous’ video last Friday night. The infamous video featured the artiste and his wife in bed with realistic and nude depictions of prominent celebrities. Apparently, the celebrities featured were carefully selected to spark controversies in the public space.

A controversial person himself, the celebrities in the video were a mix of political, artistic and controversial persons. From Caitlyn Jenner, Bill Cosby to his famous bully victim, Taylor Swift, whose name was mentioned in the lyrics.
The resultant reactions are varied with many memes floating on the internet. Yet, no one has publicly filed a lawsuit against the rapper. The depicted celebrities are only expressing a lukewarm reaction or livid silence.

Call it provocative, revenge porn, orgy or whatever, the rapper did a profound homework before making the video. He knew the legal implications of depicting such public figures in such an immoral way and cleverly covered his path. His braggadocio was clearly seen in his now-deleted tweet where he asked anyone to sue in.

Legal pundits who have analysed the video believe it’s a 50-50 chance for the rapper because of the various laws governing the work of arts and commerce in the States. The likely instances the rapper may be wrangled in will be defamation, invasion of privacy or libel. These too, they argued, have to be sufficiently proved in the courtroom.
Till then, the famous controversial rapper will be living the ‘Life of Pablo’ (pun intended).

OVER 1,000 ARTISTS PETITION YOUTUBE
YouTube is facing a petition by more than 1,000 artists who signed a letter to Europe’s leaders to address the disproportionate returns for the commercial exploitation of music.
The artists are fighting for a redress in the value gap for user-generated services like YouTube.

Just last month, 58 members of the European Parliament petitioned the European Commission (EC) over safe harbour provisions, while Paris-based International Artist Organisation (IAO) called for legislative action to address the “value gap.”
“This is a pivotal moment for music. Consumption is exploding. Fans are listening to more music than ever before. Consumers have unprecedented opportunities to access the music they love, whenever and wherever they want to do so.

But the future is jeopardised by a substantial ‘value gap’ caused by user upload services such as Google’s YouTube that are unfairly siphoning value away from the music community and its artists and songwriters,” reads the latest letter, which is signed by ABBA, Coldplay, David Guetta, James Bay, Mark Ronson, Maroon 5, Robin Schulz among others.
A similar legislative reform petition signed by hundreds of artistes like Katy Perry, Christina Aguilera, Lionel Richie, was addressed to the US Copyright Office early this year.

In defense, YouTube responded to criticisms from Trent Reznor and Nikki Sixx over the same issue a fortnight ago, insisting that the overwhelming majority of labels and publishers have licensing agreements in place with YouTube to leave fan videos up on the platform and earn revenue from them.

“Today the revenue from fan uploaded content accounts for roughly 50 per cent of the music industry’s YouTube revenue. Any assertion that this content is largely unlicensed is false. To date, we have paid out over $3 billion to the music industry and that number is growing year on year,” the statement reads.

In the letter addressed to the president of European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, the artists urged the Commission to fix the market distortion by clarifying the appropriate use of safe harbour provisions in its forthcoming review of copyright legislation, due to be published this fall.

LIONSGATE JOIN FORCES WITH STARZ
The move by Lionsgate Entertainment to acquire Starz in a deal valued at $4.4 billion, spread across cash and stock was greeted with mixed reactions. There is scepticism that the marriage would not last long because of the flirtatious nature of the film industry.

However, both entertainment companies will mutually benefit from the merger under the terms of the agreement. For instance, each share of Lionsgate common stock (LGF) will be reclassified into half voting and half newly created non-voting shares. Holders of Starz Series A common stock (STRZA) will also receive $18 in cash per share, as well as 0.6784 of a share of Lionsgate non-voting stock.

Essentially, that offer adds up to a total value of $32.73 per share, an 18 per cent premium for STRZA shareholders. Holders of Starz Series B common stock (STRZB) will get $7.26 in cash, 0.6321 of a share of Lionsgate voting stock and 0.6321 of a share of Lionsgate non-voting stock.

“This transaction unites two companies with strong brands, complementary assets and leading positions within our industry. We expect the acquisition to be highly accretive, generate significant synergies and create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Chris Albrecht and his team have built a world-class platform and programming leader, and we’re proud to marshal our resources in a deal that accelerates our growth and diversification, generates exciting new strategic content opportunities and creates significant value for our shareholders,” said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer and Vice Chairman Michael Burns.

Some of the shared properties of the merger include a 16,000-title film and television library; the largest independent television business in the world, including 87 original series on 42 US networks; the Starz Encore network with over 32 million subscribers and five OTT services and others. The deal is expected to be sealed by year-end.

LIL WAYNE’S PRISON MEMOIR DUE IN OCTOBER
The much-awaited memoir of rapper Lil Wayne ‘Gone ‘Till November: A Journal of Rikers Island’ will be released in October.
The memoir is an account of the New Orleans rapper’s time in the prison following his gun possession charge in 2010.

Initially planned to be released in November 2012 by Grand Central Publishing, the memoir will now be published by Plume, an imprint of the Penguin Group.
A representative for Penguin said the book was taken directly from Wayne’s own journal and reveal the true story of what happened while he was at Rikers Island, exploring everything from his daily rituals to his interactions with other inmates to how he was able to keep himself motivated and grateful.