Produced by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock and created by Meredith Scardino — a team that has collaborated before on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Mr. Mayor” and “Saturday Night Live” — the sitcom “Girls5eva” is about a formerly popular 1990s girl group that attempts a comeback. The band is played by a mix of real-life comedians and musicians: Sara Bareilles, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Paula Pell and Busy Philipps. Expect plenty of jokes about ageism and sexism in the music industry, cushioned by the kind of goofy absurdism common to Fey and Carlock’s comedy.
Whether or not you’re a fan of Formula One auto racing, you can learn a lot from this gripping 2010 documentary about Ayrton Senna, a Brazilian driver who fought against an establishment that resisted his more aggressive, daring approach. The director Asif Kapadia (who later won an Oscar for his equally thorough and compelling Amy Winehouse documentary, “Amy”) here combines exciting archival footage with some fascinating history lessons, detailing the ways that traditionalists and bureaucrats sometimes suppress innovation and stifle competition.
‘The Bold Type’ Season 5
The final season of this soapy drama will wrap up the sometimes triumphant and sometimes troubling stories of three millennial ladies: the soul-baring journalist Jane Sloan (Katie Stevens), the social media influencer Kat Edison (Aisha Dee) and the aspiring fashion designer Sutton Brady (Meghann Fahy). It might also reveal the fate of the once-indomitable women’s magazine they’ve all worked for. Over the course of its first four years, “The Bold Type” evolved from being a portrait of a generation to becoming an unusually plugged-in (if somewhat fantastical) commentary on the state of modern media. It has also featured fantastic performances from its three leads, whose powerful presence in these roles will be missed.
Also arriving: “My War on Drugs” (May 3), “Basketball: A Love Story” Season 1 (May 5), “Belushi” (May 6),“Bloods” (May 6), “The Flood” (May 6), “Lassie” (May 6), “Pinocchio” (May 11), “Domina” (May 15), “The Lost Kingdom of the Black Pharaohs” (May 12), “Liar” Season 2 (May 15), “Generation Gifted” Seasons 1-3 (May 19), “Battle of the Sexes” (May 22), “Fighters” (May 23), “Black Monday” Season 3 (May 24), “You Cannot Kill David Arquette” (May 25), “Deep Water” Season 1 (May 26), “Endangered Wildlife Sanctuary” (May 27), “Madagascar: A Little Wild” (May 28), “Venus and Serena” (May 29).
Corporate America takes on anti-Asian discrimination
Top business leaders and corporate giants are pledging $250 million to a new initiative and an ambitious plan to stem a surge in anti-Asian violence and take on challenges that are often ignored by policymakers, Andrew and Ed Lee report in The Times.
Donors are a who’s who of business leaders. Individuals who are collectively contributing $125 million to the newly created Asian American Foundation include Joe Bae of KKR, Sheila Lirio Marcelo of Care.com, Joe Tsai of Alibaba and Jerry Yang of Yahoo. Organizations adding another $125 million to the group include Walmart, Bank of America, the Ford Foundation and the N.B.A. The initiative has echoes of the recent effort by Black executives to round up corporate support to push back against bills that would restrict voting.
Anti-Asian hate crimes jumped 169 percent over the past year; in New York City alone, they have risen 223 percent. And Asian-Americans face the challenge of the “model minority” myth, in which they’re often held up as success stories. This shows “a lack of understanding of the disparities that exist,” said Sonal Shah, the president of the newly formed foundation. For example, Asian-Americans comprise 12 percent of the U.S. work force, but just 1.5 percent of Fortune 500 corporate officers.
The group’s mission is broad. It is aiming to reshape the American public’s understanding of the Asian-American experience by developing new school curriculums and collecting data to help influence public policy. But its political lobbying efforts may be challenged by the enormous political diversity among Asian-Americans, Andrew and Ed note.
nearly 402,000 cases on Saturday, a global record, and another 392,000 on Sunday. A business trade group is calling for a new national lockdown, despite the economic cost of such a move. The C.E.O. of India’s biggest vaccine manufacturer warned that the country’s shortage of doses would last until at least July.
Credit Suisse didn’t earn much for its Archegos troubles. The Swiss bank collected just $17.5 million in fees last year from the investment fund, despite losing $5.4 billion from the firm’s meltdown in March, according to The Financial Times.
Verizon sold AOL and Yahoo. The telecom giant divested its internet media business to Apollo Global Management for $5 billion, and will retain a 10 percent stake. It’s a sign that Verizon is giving up on its digital advertising ambitions and focusing on its mobile business.
A third of Basecamp employees quit after a ban on talking politics. At least 20 resigned after the software maker’s C.E.O., Jason Fried, announced a new policy preventing political discussions in the workplace. The company isn’t budging: “We’ve committed to a deeply controversial stance,” said David Hansson, Basecamp’s chief technology officer.
stormed the field yesterday, forcing the postponement of its highly anticipated match against Liverpool. They called for the ouster of the Glazer family, United’s American owners, over their support for the new competition meant mostly for European soccer’s richest teams.
Succession hints and other highlights from Berkshire’s meeting
At the annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway on Saturday, Warren Bufett and Charlie Munger spoke out on a typically broad range of topics, from investing regrets to politics to crypto. (They also picked fights with Robinhood and E.S.G. proponents, for good measure.) Buffett watchers also got their clearest hint yet as to who will succeed the Oracle of Omaha as Berkshire’s C.E.O. when the 90-year-old billionaire finally steps down.
It’s Greg Abel. CNBC confirmed with Buffett that Abel, the 59-year-old who oversees Berkshire’s non-investing operations, would take over as C.E.O. “If something were to happen to me tonight it would be Greg who’d take over tomorrow morning,” Buffett said. Charlie Munger, Buffett’s top lieutenant, dropped a hint on Saturday, saying, “Greg will keep the culture.”
Buffett took on Robinhood. The Berkshire chief said the trading app conditioned retail investors to treat stock trading like gambling. “There’s nothing illegal about it, there’s nothing immoral, but I don’t think you’d build a society around people doing it,” Buffett said.
Robinhood pushed back. “There is an old guard that doesn’t want average Americans to have a seat at the Wall Street table so they will resort to insults,” tweeted Jacqueline Ortiz Ramsay, the company’s head of public policy communications.
And Buffett got blowback on E.S.G. Berkshire shareholders followed his lead and rejected two shareholder proposals that would have forced the company to disclose more about climate change and work force diversity. But each proposal got support from a quarter of Berkshire shareholders, a relatively high percentage. And big investors spoke publicly about their backing for the initiatives: BlackRock, which owns a 5 percent stake in Berkshire, said the company hadn’t done enough on either front.
Other highlights from the Berkshire meeting:
Munger let loose on crypto. “Of course I hate the Bitcoin success and I don’t welcome a currency that’s so useful to kidnappers and extortionists,” he said. “I think the whole damn development is disgusting and contrary to the interests of civilization.”
Ajit Jain, who oversees Berkshire’s insurance operations, and Buffett traded quips about whether the company would insure Elon Musk’s trip to Mars. “This is an easy one: No, thank you, I’ll pass,” Jain said. Buffett said it would depend on the premium and added, “I would probably have a somewhat different rate if Elon was on board or not on board.”
“We will not be anywhere near as focused on buybacks going forward as we have in the past.”
— Intel C.E.O. Pat Gelsinger told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that in the future the semiconductor giant would focus less on buying its own shares and more on expanding production capacity to alleviate severe chip shortages.
an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal to tell executives about it. The Republican senator from Texas criticized company chiefs for what he said were ill-informed criticisms of Georgia’s new voting laws. “For too long, woke C.E.O.s have been fair-weather friends to the Republican Party: They like us until the left’s digital pitchforks come out,” Cruz wrote. These companies “need to be called out, singled out and cut off,” he added.
Cruz’s rejection may not make a big difference. After the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, many corporations pledged to withhold donations from lawmakers who voted against certifying the election results, at least for a period of time. Cruz, who is viewed as a key player in the efforts to reverse the vote, could be shut out for longer than others. But he’s not strapped for cash: He brought in more than $3 million in campaign funds in the three months after the riot, largely from individual donors.
It highlights a new schism between Republicans and corporate America. Those ties were already fraying under President Trump’s unpredictable administration. President Biden’s proposed tax hikes and regulatory push would have typically driven companies into the arms of Republican allies, but Cruz, for his part, said he’s no longer interested in what the corporate donors and lobbyists have to say. “This time,” he wrote, “we won’t look the other way on Coca-Cola’s $12 billion in back taxes owed. This time, when Major League Baseball lobbies to preserve its multibillion-dollar antitrust exception, we’ll say no thank you. This time, when Boeing asks for billions in corporate welfare, we’ll simply let the Export-Import Bank expire.”
meet in court for a trial that could have implications for the future of the App Store and the antitrust fight against Big Tech. DealBook spoke with Jack Nicas, a technology reporter for The Times, about what’s at stake.
Why is Epic suing Apple?
Many companies, including Spotify and Match Group, have complained loudly and publicly about the control that Apple has over the App Store, and the 30 percent commission it charges. Epic basically set some bait for Apple: It began using its own payment system in Fortnite, a very popular game, which meant Apple couldn’t collect its commission. It knew how Apple would react: Apple kicked Fortnite out of the App Store. Then Epic immediately sued Apple in federal court, and simultaneously launched a sophisticated PR campaign to paint Apple in a bad light. [Epic is suing Google for the same reason.]
Read the full report about the case from Jack and Erin Griffith.
THE SPEED READ
Legendary Studios, the producer of movies like “Godzilla vs. Kong,” has reportedly held talks to either merge with a SPAC or buy another studio. (Bloomberg)
Politics and policy
Why investors have largely shrugged off President Biden’s proposal to raise capital gains taxes. (NYT)
As the head of the nonprofit Venture for America, Andrew Yang pledged to create 100,000 jobs nationwide. The group created about 150. (NYT)
An internal Amazon report warned management that its sales team had gained unauthorized access to third-party seller data, which may have been used to help its own products. (Politico)
Tesla is reportedly stepping up its engagement with Beijing officials as it faces greater pressure from the Chinese government. (Reuters)
LONDON — The body that awards Britain’s equivalent of the Oscars has suspended a prominent actor and director weeks after he received one of its top awards, following accusations of sexual assault, sexual harassment and bullying from 20 women.
Producers, actresses and production assistants said the actor, Noel Clarke, secretly filmed auditions in which they were naked, groped or forcibly kissed them, and sent unsolicited intimate pictures. The testimonies were detailed in a lengthy exposé published by The Guardian on Thursday evening.
Mr. Clarke, 45, grew up in London and established himself as an actor in the 2000s with the television series “Doctor Who.” He is well-known in Britain as a filmmaker and performer for his trilogy “The Hood,” about the lives of teenagers in West London, and for the TV police dramas “Bulletproof” and “Viewpoint.” His production company, Unstoppable Film & Television, has made more than 10 movies and television shows.
Mr. Clarke denied the all accusations through his lawyers, according to The Guardian, with the exception of an episode in which he was accused of making inappropriate comments about a woman. He said he later apologized in that case.
revelations about Harvey Weinstein in The New York Times that touched off the #MeToo movement. Mr. Clarke is one of the first prominent actors to face such allegations in Britain.
In a statement provided to The Guardian, Mr. Clarke said, “In a 20-year career, I have put inclusivity and diversity at the forefront of my work and never had a complaint made against me.”
“If anyone who has worked with me has ever felt uncomfortable or disrespected, I sincerely apologize,” Mr. Clarke said, denying any sexual misconduct or wrongdoing, and dismissing the accusations as false.
The extent of the potential consequences for Mr. Clarke became clear on Friday when the television network ITV took the unusual step of saying in a statement that it would not air the finale of “Viewpoint,” a drama starring the actor, on its main channel Friday night because of the accusations against him.
rising star award in 2009, said in an earlier statement, released shortly after the article was published, that it had suspended his award and membership of the academy “immediately and until further notice.”
The Guardian report cited nearly two dozen women in the movie industry who said they had been subjected to a range of abuses that include unwanted physical contact, groping and forced kisses, as well as unsolicited sexual behavior on set, including eight on the record.
The Norwegian film producer Synne Seltveit said Mr. Clarke slapped her buttocks in 2015, and later sent an unwanted explicit sexual picture. The actress Gina Powel said Mr. Clarke exposed himself to her in a car and later groped her in an elevator, also in 2015. Anna Avramenko, an assistantfilm director, said Mr. Clarke had forcibly kissed her on set in 2008 and had tried several times again after the incident.
intimacy coordinators,” are becoming a common presence on set. Their job is to ensure sex scenes don’t compromise or exploit the performers, and recent British and Irish shows like “It’s a Sin” and “Normal People” have featured intimacy coordinators among their crew.
Onscreen, the plots of some recent British hits, like “Sex Education” and “I May Destroy You,” have turned on questions of sexual consent.
The British actress and writer Michaela Coel, who created “I May Destroy You,” in which she plays a young Londoner who investigates her own rape, said in a statement she supported the women who accused Mr. Clarke.
“Speaking out about these incidents takes a lot of strength because some call them ‘gray areas.’ They are, however, far from gray,” Ms. Coel said.
“These behaviors are unprofessional, violent and can destroy a person’s perception of themselves, their place in the world and their career irreparably.”
In his speech at the BAFTA Awards this month, Mr. Clarke, who is Black, dedicated his award to the “underrepresented, anyone who sits at home believing that they can achieve more.”
last year announced a series of changes in its nomination and prize-giving process.
For this year’s awards, BAFTA’s 6,700 voting members had to undergo unconscious bias training and watch every nominated movie before they could cast their ballots for each category — an attempt to deter voters from focusing on the most hyped films.
In the statement on Friday, BAFTA said it had asked individuals to come forward with their accounts and identify themselves.
“We very much regret that women felt unable to provide us with the kind of firsthand testimony that has now appeared in The Guardian,” it said. “Had we been in receipt of this, we would never have presented the award to Noel Clarke.”
Consumers shook off the pandemic blues as 2021 began, putting stimulus checks to work buying cars and other goods and helping set the stage for what could be the fastest economic growth in decades.
The initial reading on the country’s first-quarter economic performance, delivered Thursday by the Commerce Department, showed that much remained far from normal. Even with a big jump in personal income, there was only a modest increase in spending on services like travel, dining and even health care.
But economists say that is already changing as more vaccinations are delivered and coronavirus-related business restrictions are eased. With better weather, savings accumulated during a long year of lockdowns, and an itch to make up for forced inactivity, Americans will have plenty of reasons to go out and spend.
“Consumers are now back in the driver’s seat when it comes to economic activity, and that’s the way we like it,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics. “A consumer that is feeling confident about the outlook will generally spend more freely.”
the first-quarter growth rate was 6.4 percent.
profit more than tripled last quarter to over $8 billion, while sales jumped 44 percent to $108.5 billion.
One striking aspect of the quarter’s economic activity was spending on motor vehicles and parts, which increased by almost 13 percent from the previous three months. Strong consumer demand and tight inventories drove prices higher.
Low interest rates, readily available credit, rising home values and stock prices, and strong trade-in values for used models are also easing the path for consumers.
At AutoNation, the country’s largest dealership chain, many vehicles are being sold near or at sticker price even before they arrive from the factory. “These vehicles are coming in and going right out,” said Mike Jackson, the chief executive.
Even if economic output is back to where it was before last year, as Mr. Daco estimates, it is short of where it would be without the pandemic. What’s more, economists say it is likely to take until sometime next year for employment to regain the ground it lost as a result of the pandemic.
unemployment rate for high school graduates was 6.7 percent in March, while it stands at 3.7 percent for Americans who hold a college degree. Members of minority groups have also suffered heavily, with the jobless rate for Black Americans at 9.6 percent, compared with 5.4 percent for whites.
Still, hiring does seem to be catching up. Last month, employers added 916,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 6 percent, while initial claims for unemployment benefits have dropped sharply in recent weeks. On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that initial claims for state unemployment benefits had fallen to the lowest level of the pandemic for the third consecutive week.
Tom Gimbel, chief executive of LaSalle Network, a recruiting and staffing firm in Chicago, said: “It’s the best job market I’ve seen in 25 years. We have 50 percent more openings now than we did pre-Covid.”
Hiring is stronger for junior to midlevel positions, he said, with strong demand for professionals in accounting, financing, marketing and sales, among other areas. “Companies are building up their back-office support and supply chains,” he said. “I think we’re good for at least 18 months to two years.”
Ample savings and rising consumer optimism are giving businesses the confidence to bet on the future as well. Business investment rose 2.4 percent in the first quarter and surpassed its prepandemic level. Residential construction spending rose 2.6 percent.
Economic growth would have been even stronger had it not been for a fall in inventories, said Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays. Supply chain constraints and shortages of parts like semiconductors are causing halts in production, he said, most notably in the automobile sector.
That should ease in the months ahead, he added, especially as businesses take their cue from more bullish consumers.
“We’re at the opening stages of what could be a very strong six to nine months for the U.S. economy as it emerges from the pandemic,” he said. “The best is still yet to come.”
Ben Casselman, Neal E. Boudette and Sydney Ember contributed reporting.
The first-quarter economic recovery, when the economy expanded 1.6 percent, was powered by spending. Specifically, by spending on stuff.
Consumer spending rose 2.6 percent in the first three months of the year, with a 5.4 percent increase in spending on goods accounting for most of the growth. Americans ramped up spending on cars, furniture, recreational vehicles and other long-lasting items, as well as on clothes and food. Spending on services, which has slumped throughout the pandemic, rose by a more modest 1.1 percent.
Services spending is likely to pick up in the second quarter, as the acceleration of the vaccine rollout allows more Americans to return to restaurants, airplanes and other activities that they avoided during the pandemic. The data released Thursday by the Commerce Department largely predates that surge.
What the first-quarter data does capture is the impact of two rounds of relief checks from the federal government. After-tax personal income, adjusted for inflation, jumped 12.7 percent in the first quarter, with the government payments accounting for most of the increase. There was a similar jump in income when the first round of relief checks hit last year, which was followed by a similar surge in spending on goods.
“To some extent, when people have money, they’re going to spend it,” said Ben Herzon, executive director of IHS Markit, a forecasting firm. “If they’re not spending on services because they’re not going to movies or amusement parks, they’re going to derive utility from goods.”
He said he expected goods spending to ease in the second quarter as services spending begins to rebound more strongly.
Americans still have plenty of cash to spend. Households were sitting on a collective $4.1 trillion in savings in the first quarter, up from $1.2 trillion before the pandemic began — although such aggregates can obscure the fact that many families have seen their finances wiped out by the crisis.
Ample savings and rising consumer optimism are giving businesses the confidence to bet on the future as well. Business investment rose 2.4 percent in the first quarter and is now above its prepandemic level. The housing market has been juiced by low interest rates and strong demand; residential construction spending rose 2.6 percent in the first quarter.
Procter & Gamble is raising prices on items like Pampers and Tampax in September. Kimberly-Clark said in March that it will raise prices on Scott toilet paper, Huggies and Pull-Ups in June, a move that is “necessary to help offset significant commodity cost inflation.”
And General Mills, which makes cereal brands including Cheerios, is facing increased supply-chain and freight costs “in this higher-demand environment,” the company’s chief financial officer, Kofi Bruce, said on a call with analysts.
These price increases reflect what some economists are calling a major shift in the way companies have responded to demand during the pandemic.
Before the virus hit, retailers often absorbed the cost when suppliers raised prices on goods, because stiff competition forced retailers to keep prices stable. The pandemic changed that.
It created chaos and confusion in global shipping markets, leading to shortages and price increases that have cascaded from factories to ports to stores to consumers. When the pandemic hit, Americans’ shopping habits shifted rapidly — with people spending money on treadmills and office furniture instead of going out to eat in restaurants and seeing movies at theaters.
This, in turn, put enormous pressure on factories in China to produce these goods and ship them across the Pacific in containers. But the demand for shipping outstripped the availability of containers in Asia, yielding shortages that resulted in higher shipping costs.
The Consumer Price Index, the measure of the average change in the prices paid by U.S. shoppers for consumer goods, increased 0.6 percent in March, the largest rise since August 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Higher costs aren’t affecting just the United States. British inflation hit 0.7 percent in March, fueled by the prices of oil and clothing.
In the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, companies were focused on responding to the surge brought on by panic buying, with people stocking up on items like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, canned food and masks, said Greg Portell, a partner at Kearney, a consulting firm. The government was watching for price gouging, and customers were wary of being taken advantage of.
“When the pandemic first struck paper, toilet paper was like gold,” Mr. Portell said. “The optics of trying to take a price increase during that time just weren’t going to be good.”
Today in Business
Thus, despite the spike in demand, companies weren’t in a position to balance out the price-and-cost equation. Now that the economy is beginning to stabilize, companies are starting to make different economic calculations, rebalancing pricing so that it better fits their profit expectations and takes into account inflation, which will drive up prices.
“This isn’t an opportunistic profit-taking by companies,” Mr. Portell said. “This is a reset of the market.”
The government’s pumping of money into the economy through recent stimulus packages has also given retailers more room to raise prices. People who have received unemployment benefits or stimulus checks are able to spend that money on consumer goods like toilet paper and diapers.
Many of those who have kept their jobs during the pandemic also have been able to increase their savings. That means they have disposable income to spend on more expensive items like printers or desks for working at home, or on luxuries like televisions, hot tubs or kitchen remodels.
“Right now, demand is fiscally stimulated and very strong,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist for the firm Oxford Economics. “So even if you raise your prices, you’re not necessarily going to lose market share, because most other producers are doing the same thing and because people have the means to buy.”
It’s likely that retailers, from big-box stores to grocery stores, will pass on the majority of the increased costs from suppliers to consumers.
“Consumption is likely very strong the next couple of quarters, which will give companies a bit more pricing power to pass through some of those cost increases, which otherwise they might have had to absorb in their margins,” said Tim Drayson, head of economics at Legal and General Investment Management, an asset management firm.
However, businesses will still have to keep price increases reasonable and in line with competition.
“Businesses will tend to pass on what the consumer can stomach,” said John Ruth, chief executive of Build Asset Management, an investment advisory firm. “You’ll notice some price increases, but your hamburger isn’t going to double in your local favorite drive-through.”
Price increases for necessities like toilet paper and diapers will affect low-income Americans most profoundly, placing an additional burden on those already hard hit by the pandemic.
Whether the increased prices will stick, or eventually come down, is a topic of debate among economists. Some predict that prices will normalize within one to two years, as the economy continues to gain steam, the job market improves and those who lost jobs during the pandemic increasingly return to work.
“People are not going to buy used cars, or even new cars, forever,” Mr. Daco said. “At some point, demand will be saturated, and that will be the start of an environment of reduced price.”
LOS ANGELES — In a break with tradition, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to end its Oscars ceremony on Sunday with the prize for best actor instead of the one for best picture.
It was easy to understand why. The late Chadwick Boseman, nominated for his visceral performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” was the runaway favorite, and an acceptance speech by his widow was sure to be an emotional moment. Further, the best actor prize had gone to a Black man only four times in 93 years, and celebrating Mr. Boseman at the night’s climax — after a year in which racial justice was at the forefront of the country’s consciousness — would put an exclamation point on the academy’s aggressive diversity and inclusion efforts over the past few years.
It backfired in spectacular fashion.
The film establishment instead went with Anthony Hopkins, rewarding his performance in “The Father” as a man suffering from dementia. Apparently certain that Mr. Boseman would win, Mr. Hopkins had decided not to attend the ceremony. With no one there to accept the award, the Oscars telecast abruptly ended, leaving the academy to face questions about whether it had misjudged its voting body.
“At 83 years old, I did not expect to get this award — I really didn’t,” Mr. Hopkins said in a video speech released Monday morning from his hometown in Wales and during which he paid tribute to Mr. Boseman.
all-white slates of acting nominees in both 2015 and 2016. It has scrambled to enact diversity-focused reforms, most notably inviting about 4,000 artists and executives — with a focus on women and people from underrepresented groups — to become members. The organization now has about 10,000 voters. It says that about 19 percent of its members are from underrepresented racial and ethnic communities, up from 10 percent in 2015.
This year’s ceremony had a chance to be a showcase for those efforts. Going into Sunday night, some awards handicappers predicted that movie history would be made, with all four acting Oscars going to people of color for the first time. Along with Mr. Boseman, Viola Davis was seen as a leading contender for the best actress prize for playing a blues singer in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Best actress instead went to Frances McDormand for playing a dour van dweller in “Nomadland.” It was her third best-actress statuette.
Daniel Kaluuya, who played the Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and Yuh-Jung Youn, for her comically cantankerous grandmother in “Minari.” She was the first Korean performer to win an acting Oscar, and only the second Asian woman. Chloé Zhao, who is Chinese, took home the best director prize, only the second woman to do so in Oscar history and the first woman of color.
Two Black women, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson, won Oscars for makeup and hairstyling for the first time. Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”) was the first woman to take home a solo screenwriting Oscar in 13 years. And the director Travon Free was the first Black man to win in the best live-action short category. He was recognized for “Two Distant Strangers,” a film about police brutality that he made with Martin Desmond Roe.
revealed that he did not accept the academy’s overtures.
Last year, the academy announced a plan that will require films to meet diversity criteria to be eligible for a best-picture nomination, starting with the 2024 awards.
Still, those who have been critical of the way the film industry operates are not ready to heap too much praise on the academy’s efforts.
“What we have to constantly recognize is that an institution like the academy didn’t give anything to Black people,” said Rashad Robinson, president of the racial justice organization Color of Change. “What the academy has done over the years is have a system and a set of rules that has stalled Black careers, which has prevented people from being able to be fully seen, which has had an economic impact on folks. Now that they are working to make some changes, let’s acknowledge those changes but let’s not give them any awards that they haven’t earned.”
resigned from the academy’s board in 2018.
“We have settled on numeric answers to the problem of inclusion, barely recognizing that this is the industry’s problem far, far more than it is the academy’s,” Mr. Mechanic wrote in his resignation letter, which was leaked to the news media. “Instead we react to pressure. One governor even went as far as suggesting we don’t admit a single white male to the academy, regardless of merit!”
At the same time, some people have turned away from the Oscars because of its lack of diversity. Under 10 million viewers tuned into Sunday night’s telecast, according to Nielson, a 58 percent drop compared with last year. One member of the academy’s board of governors, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules, said that market research had shown that people of color, upset about the racial disparity of nominees (and tired of seeing many of the same people get nominated over and over), had become less interested in the ceremony. A couple of smaller civil rights groups have called for viewing boycotts.
That was the case for April Reign, the campaign finance lawyer who originated the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag in 2015. Despite the changes at the organization, she said she believed the academy’s efforts to diversify its voting body had fallen short.
“It’s still a popularity contest among all the white men,” she said.
Others see reason for optimism in this year’s Oscars, no matter how they ended.
“To have a film about Fred Hampton that doesn’t demonize him but instead celebrates him, and provides this broader story from a group of Black filmmakers is, you know, kind of hard to believe that it would even be made much less be nominated,” Mr. Boyd said of “Judas and the Black Messiah.” “And we could go through each of these examples. It’s great. It’s wonderful. I just don’t want it to be an isolated incident.”
LOS ANGELES — For the film industry, which was already fighting to hold its place at the center of American culture, the Nielsen ratings for Sunday night’s 93rd Academy Awards came as a body blow: About 9.85 million people watched the telecast, a 58 percent plunge from last year’s record low.
Among adults 18 to 49, the demographic that many advertisers pay a premium to reach, the Oscars suffered an even steeper 64 percent decline, according to preliminary data from Nielsen released on Monday. Nielsen’s final numbers are expected on Tuesday and will include out-of-home viewing and some streaming statistics.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences declined to comment.
The academy had been bracing for a sharp ratings drop. Award shows have been struggling mightily during the pandemic, and the Oscars have been on a downward trajectory for years. But some academy officials had hoped Sunday’s telecast still might crack 10 million viewers and attract as many as 15 million.
Humiliating? Certainly. But hundreds of millions of dollars are also at stake.
Under a long-term licensing deal with ABC, which is owned by Disney, the academy stands to collect roughly $900 million between 2021 and 2028 for worldwide broadcasting rights to the Oscars. The funds are crucial to the academy’s operations, especially at a time when it is spending to open a museum in Los Angeles. But some of that money is threatened. Payments to the academy include a guarantee and then revenue sharing if certain ad sales thresholds are reached.
keep ad rates high because of the fragmentation of television viewing. Oscars night may be a shadow of its former self, but so is the rest of network television; the ceremony still ranks as one of the largest televised events of the year. Google, General Motors, Rolex and Verizon spent an estimated $2 million for each 30-second spot in Sunday’s telecast, only a slight decline from last year’s pricing, according to media buyers. ABC said on Thursday that it had sold out of its inventory.
ABC does not guarantee an audience size to Oscar advertisers, thus removing any potential for so-called make-goods (additional commercial time at a later date) to compensate for low ratings.
Some people in the entertainment industry, whether out of optimism or denial or both, believe award shows are going through a temporary downturn — that declining ratings for stalwarts like the Emmys (a 30-year low) and the Screen Actors Guild Awards (down 52 percent) reflect the pandemic, not a paradigm shift. Without live audiences, the telecasts have been drained of their energy. The big studios also postponed major movies, leaving this year’s awards circuit to little-seen art films.
The most-nominated movie on Sunday was “Mank.” It received 10 nods. Surveys before the show indicated most Americans had never even heard of it, much less watched it, despite its availability on Netflix. “Mank,” a love letter to Old Hollywood from David Fincher, won for production design and cinematography.
Still, the Oscars have been on a downward slide since 1998, when 57.2 million people tuned in to see “Titanic” sweep to best-picture victory.
Game Awards, which celebrates the best video games of the year and is streamed on platforms like YouTube, Twitch and Twitter.)
In many cases, analysts say, the telecasts are too long for contemporary attention spans. The ceremony on Sunday was one of the shorter ones in recent years, and it still ran 3 hours 19 minutes. Why slog through all that when you can catch snippets on Twitter? On Sunday, video from the ceremony showing Glenn Close twerking to “Da Butt” went viral.
down 53 percent) and Golden Globes (down 62 percent). Still, the Oscars ratings plunge in recent years has been more dramatic, and the Grammys is closing in on becoming the most-watched awards show, once an inconceivable notion. It had nearly 9 million viewers for its telecast last month.
The academy itself has played a role in the show’s demise, bungling efforts to make it more relevant (hastily announcing a new category honoring achievement in “popular” films and then backtracking) and refusing ABC’s plea to reduce the number of Oscars presented during the show.
housing and health care for Hollywood seniors.
A spokeswoman for the academy said the producers of the Oscars were not available on Monday to discuss their decisions.
SEOUL — “Minari,” the critically acclaimed movie about a hard-luck family of Korean immigrants in the United States, was not exactly a commercial blockbuster in South Korea: Fewer than a million people watched it in 54 days of screening across the country.
But when one of its stars, Yuh-Jung Youn, won the Academy Award for best supporting actress, South Koreans rejoiced not only because it was a first for a Korean actor, but also because of the recipient.
On Monday morning, the South Korean media sent out news flashes when Ms. Youn won her Oscar. Cable channels announced plans to screen her previous films. Social media was abuzz with fans congratulating her.
“Her performance brilliantly helped us relive the memories of our own mothers and grandmothers,” President Moon Jae-in said in a statement, referring to Ms. Youn’s character in the film.
“Woman of Fire,” but left acting to marry Jo Young-nam, one of South Korea’s best-known singers. In the 1970s, she followed him to the United States, where Mr. Jo tried on a career as a gospel singer. The marriage ended in divorce in the 1980s.
“A Good Lawyer’s Wife” (2003), many female actresses declined the role of a woman who has sex with another man while her husband is terminally ill. Ms. Youn took the role, saying she could used the money to redo her living room.
She once performed the role of a spiteful queen in a Korean soap opera so well that people often cursed when they saw her on the street.
“People like her because they know her life story,” said Huh Eun, a retired college media professor in Seoul. “When they think of her, they don’t think of the glorious spotlight usually associated with film stars, but of a woman who has struggled to make a living all these years like the rest of us.”
Ms. Youn’s global breakthrough came when she was offered a role in “Minari.”
quoted Ms. Youn as saying. “This is our first time living this life, so we can’t help but feel regretful and hurt.”
Ms. Youn’s Oscar acceptance speech went viral for a characteristic tongue-in-cheek attitude. The award was presented by Brad Pitt, whose production company financed the film. “Mr. Brad Pitt, finally, nice to meet you!” she said to the American superstar. “Where were you when we were filming in Tulsa?”
“Minari” depicts a Korean family struggling to build a life as farmers in rural Arkansas in the 1980s, when many poor Koreans headed for the United States for a better life. It is the second film about Koreans to make history at the Academy Awards, after “Parasite,” directed by Bong Joon Ho, won four Oscars last year.
“Parasite” grossed more than 10 million viewers within two months of its release. Part of the reason “Minari” failed to achieve the same commercial success in South Korea is because the immigrant experience of the 1980s that it portrays is quickly fading.
These days, far fewer Koreans emigrate to the United States, and those who do are usually the children of rich families who go there to study. That may change, too, as Koreans watch hate crimes involving Asian-American victims soar in the United States.
But Ms. Youn struck a chord with South Koreans in her role as Soonja, the foul-mouthed but loving grandmother in “Minari” who moves from South Korea to the United States to take care of her grandchildren. Her grandson doesn’t consider Soonja a “real grandma” and complains that she “smells like Korea.” They slowly build a bond by playing cards together and sharing Mountain Dew, which Soonja seems to think is a health drink because it is made from “dew from the mountains.”
After “Minari” began accumulating awards at film festivals in recent weeks, fans started calling Ms. Youn “the Meryl Streep of Korea.” She has done what no other Korean actor or actress has done: while “Parasite” won best picture and best director, none of its actors were nominated for Oscars.
On Sunday night during the award ceremony, Ms. Youn said her true inspiration was her two children. “I’d like to thank my two boys who made me go out and work,” she said while holding her statuette.
“This is the result because mommy worked so hard.”
Chloé Zhao’s historic Oscar win should have been met with jubilation in China, the country of her birth. On Sunday night, she became the first Chinese and woman of color to be named best director, for “Nomadland,” which also took home the prize for best picture.
Instead, the Chinese government imposed a virtual news blackout, and censors moved to tamp down or scrub out discussion of the award on social media.
Chinese state-run news media outlets — which are typically eager to celebrate recognition of its citizens on the global stage — made nearly no mention of the Oscars, let alone Ms. Zhao. Chinese social media platforms raced to delete or limit the circulation of articles and posts about the ceremony and Ms. Zhao, forcing many internet users and fans to use homonyms and wordplay to evade the censors.
No reason has been given for the suppression, though Ms. Zhao has recently been the target of a nationalist backlash over remarks she had made about China in the past.
recent escalation in tensions between the United States and China.
“People should be celebrating — both Americans for giving her credit as a film director, and Chinese, for the fact that one of their own won a very prestigious international award,” Ms. Hung said. “But the politics of the U.S.-China relationship seem to have filtered down to the cultural and art circles, which is a shame.”
By midafternoon on Monday, The Global Times, a Communist Party-owned newspaper, broke the silence to urge Ms. Zhao to play a “mediating role” between China and the United States and “avoid being a friction point.”
“We hope she can become more and more mature,” the paper wrote in an editorial that was published only in English.
Although some posts about Ms. Zhao’s success made it through the filters, for the most part, the censors made it clear that the topic was off limits. Searches on Weibo, a popular social media platform, for the hashtag “Chloé Zhao wins the Oscar for best director” returned only the message: “According to relevant laws, regulations and policies, the page is not found.”
sensitive portrait of the lives of itinerant Americans, had been scheduled for release in China last week, as of Monday, there were no screenings in theaters.
The Oscars also came under fire last month for the nomination of “Do Not Split,” a film about the antigovernment protests in Hong Kong in 2019, for best short documentary. The Global Times said then that the documentary “lacks artistry and is full of biased political stances.”
Not long after, reports emerged that broadcasters in mainland China and Hong Kong would not be airing the Oscars ceremony for the first time in decades. (One of them, TVB, a Hong Kong broadcaster, said the decision was commercial.)
“Do Not Split,” lost to “Colette,” a film about a French resistance member who visits a concentration camp where her brother died. But its nomination alone had already helped raise awareness about China’s crackdown in Hong Kong, Anders Hammer, the documentary’s director, said in an interview before the awards.
“The ironic thing is that this censorship and the actions taken in Beijing and also Hong Kong have brought much more attention to our documentary and also brought much more attention to the main theme of our documentary, which is how basic democratic rights are disappearing in Hong Kong” Mr. Hammer said.
Chinese reporters working at state-controlled news outlets had been ordered weeks ago to refrain from covering the awards ceremony altogether, said two employees of Beijing-based news outlets, speaking on the condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the issue.
On Monday afternoon, there was no mention of the Oscars in the entertainment section of the flagship People’s Daily website. Instead, the top stories included a report on rural tourism in China and another on a “World Tai Chi Day” event in Malta.
But Ms. Zhao’s fans were undeterred by the censorship. On social media, they resorted to tactics that are by now familiar to many Chinese internet users: blurring out the names of Ms. Zhao and the film, writing backward, turning images on their side or adding slashes or exclamation marks between Chinese characters.
In their posts, many people praised Ms. Zhao’s acceptance speech, in which she said she had been “thinking a lot lately about how I keep going when things get hard.” For inspiration, she said she often looked to a line from a 13th-century classical text that she had memorized as a child growing up in China: “People at birth are inherently good.”
The line resonated with many Chinese who had also grown up memorizing those texts.
“It’s so hard to describe how I felt when I heard her say onstage those six characters in a Beijing accent,” one user wrote. “It may not be my favorite classical phrase — I would say I don’t even really agree with it — but in that moment I cried.”
For many observers, the censorship was something of a lost opportunity for the Chinese government, which has long sought to replicate the success of Hollywood in projecting American soft power around the world.
“The way she drew from her Chinese heritage in tackling difficulties is inspiring,” said Raymond Zhou, an independent film critic based in Beijing. “It’s sad she got massively misunderstood due to a string of cross-cultural events.”
He declined to say more, given the political sensitivity of the issue, adding only that “her body of work speaks for itself.”
Austin Ramzy and Joy Dong contributed reporting from Hong Kong. Claire Fu contributed research.