In a time of great political turmoil, people are seeking a respite from the madness through humor – a trend evident through the recent success of Comedy Central’s late-night talk shows.
The Daily Show With Trevor Noah just marked its most-watched quarter, with an average of 1.5 million nightly viewers, according to a Comedy Central press release. The quarter contained the show’s most-watched and highest-rated week (May 29), since Noah took over from Jon Stewart.
The Daily Show’s strong ratings were reflected on social media, with more than 12 million likes, shares, comments and other interactions during the quarter across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
No one deserves to be fired for their sexual orientation.
This is the logic behind Viacom and 49 other companies’ decision to sign a formal legal petition asking the U.S. 2nd Court of Appeals to extend a federal law prohibiting employers from firing workers for being gay. This is the first time businesses have explicitly taken this position, according to Freedom for All Americans, a bipartisan campaign group that Viacom consulted with on this issue.
“All Americans deserve the right to go to work and provide for their families without having to fear that they might lose their job simply because of who they are,” said Freedom for All Americans Acting CEO Katie Belanger in an email to Viacom.
“Unfortunately, most states do not have laws explicitly prohibiting employment discrimination against LGBT individuals. That is why this case is so important. We are grateful for the leadership of Viacom and the 49 other businesses who have called on the court to ensure the fair and equal treatment of gay and bisexual employees,” said Belanger.
Viacom’s global footprint is massive. A 53-story headquarters embedded in New York City’s Times Square anchors an office network spread across dozens of countries. We host a constant stream of more than 200 annual high-profile events, such as last month’s Bellator MMA fights at Madison Square Garden and the BET Awards at L.A.’s Microsoft Theater. Threaded among these offices and events is our thousands of employees and guests.
Fernandez, via LinkedIn.
Such a huge presence requires robust security, which is why Viacom has hired FBI legend Carlos T. Fernandez as our new Global Chief Security Officer, leading all security teams at Viacom events and facilities around the world.
“Carlos is a highly decorated security and intelligence expert who is widely recognized for his exceptional leadership, planning and problem-solving abilities,” wrote Viacom Chief Administrative Officer Scott Mills in a memo to employees last week.
A Times profile last week outlined how Fernandez repaired frayed relationships between his agency and local law enforcement in New York through constant communication, coordination and information-sharing. Critically for someone about to enter a large, diverse, employee-centered corporation, he understands how to work with people.
“You can have all the memorandums of understanding in the world, and they really don’t mean anything if people don’t like you,” Don Borelli, a former counterterrorism special agent, told the Times, explaining how Fernandez worked inexhaustibly alongside his police department counterparts to unify the NYPD and FBI following last year’s bomb attack in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.
Fernandez, a New York City native, will start at Viacom later this month.
Throughout history, art has defended the human spirit. Especially in times of political crisis, art and activism become inextricably related.
This was clear after attending Logo’s Trailblazer Honors, which celebrates the work of honorees who have made indelible contributions to LGBT civil rights—through writing, dancing, singing and producing. This year’s honorees included Cyndi Lauper; activist and author Cleve Jones (his memoir, When We Rise, inspired ABC’s miniseries by the same name); the late Alvin Ailey, who is credited with making modern dance an inclusive space for LGBT African-Americans; and the creators of NBC’s Will and Grace, Max Mutchnick and David Kohan.
It was a digital yearbook thrust six stories over Times Square, with 400 high school students from 38 states grinning from the side of Viacom’s world headquarters. They had good reason to smile. These self-assigned “change makers” were about to be acknowledged by DJ Khaled for their commitment to improving their schools and communities.
Khaled Key Day – as the whole activation was dubbed – was part of Get Schooled’s Yearbook Day. In particular, they acknowledged the impact of the Shorty Award-winningMajor Keys campaign and honored Khaled’s role in helping it to flourish. The program – which challenges students to master seven “Major Keys,” or focus areas via Get Schooled’s gamified online interface – has been immensely successful, reaching more than 250 million people in just the past year.
While the digital yearbook photos flashed on the billboard outside, several New York City area high school students piled into Viacom’s studio inside to watch a catered question-and answer session between Khaled and radio host Sway Calloway. The students waved their “Grateful Khaled Keys” in the air and learned a bit more about the program’s Keys to Success.
“I’ve never really experienced anything like this before,” one student told Complex. “Everyone’s really excited and hyped up, and I’m excited to be here. It showed me that you can be who you are, and I’ve always struggled with that, so learning to be myself has gotten me to where I want to be when I graduate.”
Students also shared their aspirations and accomplishments with Khaled. “I am grateful for the positive impact we have had on so many young people and even more grateful for their talent and leadership,” said Khaled. “I am excited to work with Get Schooled to inspire and engage even more young people next year.”
On June 1, the day that President Trump announced that he was withdrawing the United States from the 195-nation Paris climate agreement, Paramount confirmed that Al Gore would edit his forthcoming Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, to include the executive turnabout.
The last-minute changes to the Jon Shenk- and Bonni Cohen-directed film should only inject more poignancy and relevance into a film that earned standing ovations and critical praise when it opened this year’s Sundance Film Festival, on the eve of Trump’s inauguration.
In both a nod to Gore’s courage and an emphatic statement of its own commitment to environmental causes, the studio has launched a Pledge to #BEINCONVENIENT, a social activation where concerned citizens can articulate their solidarity with the movement to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Those who take the pledge can record a video explaining their passions for the environment:
A companion site offers resources to help pledgees choose renewable energy and communicate their priorities to others.
The Pledge follows Paramount’s longstanding commitment to environmental action, a philosophy that permeates the organization, from employee events organized by the studio’s Green Team to helping fund the Green Production Guide for making sustainable Hollywood films.
In a sweeping global affirmation of Viacom’s deep brand stable, adaptability across platforms, and overall marketing excellence, the company rolled up an impressive 103 awards between PromaxBDA’s 2017 North American and global Promotion, Marketing and Design Excellence Awards.
Nickelodeon, Spike, BET, TV Land, Comedy Central, Viacom18, Viacom Velocity, Viacom International Media Networks, and Viacom Catalyst all received honors at the ceremonies in Los Angeles on June 8. Juries of best-in-craft peers chose the winners in each category, infusing each nod with a coveted expert’s stamp of approval.
“That Gold Statue stands for the highest level of marketing and creative excellence in our industry,” Andy Baker, chairman of the PromaxBDA awards committee, wrote in his letter to honorees.
Here’s a look at all of Viacom’s 2017 winners:
Image courtesy of PromaxBDA. Used with permission.
CHANNEL: HOLIDAY OR SPECIAL EVENT CAMPAIGN
1) GOLD Kids Pick The President Campaign, Nickelodeon
Those passing in and out of Viacom’s Times Square Headquarters throughout June found a collection of Gibson Les Paul guitars nestled in a sunlit corner of the lobby. The exhibit flows effortlessly with the building’s groovy aesthetic, and could easily be an installation at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. It’s the brainchild of VH1 Save The Music Foundation, executed in collaboration with Art at Viacom and over 40 renowned visual artists and musicians.
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of VH1 Save The Music, the artists worked in pairs to create 20 stunning, ornate instruments—enough to make any music fiend, art collector or investor swoon. And they will get their chance to do more than just admire them when VH1 Save The Music auctions off these guitars in October, partnering with Julien’s Auctions Los Angeles as part of their Idols & Icons: Rock and Roll sale. The proceeds are expected to fund musical instruments for at least 30 school band programs in the U.S.
Until then, these guitars are on tour—starting at Viacom headquarters and touring the New York-metro area until the fall, so fans and admirers can appreciate the majestic endeavor.
The Gibson installation at Viacom Headquarters. Photo by Bart Stadnicki.
I spoke with VH1 Save The Music Executive Director Henry Donahue to learn more about what promoted this massive, creative collaboration, and what he hopes to achieve with such campaigns.
In early June, country’s hottest stars rocked Nashville’s Music City Center at the 2017 CMT Music Awards. Despite competing with the highest-rated NBA Finals in two decades, the show drew in more than 3 million fans to watch a night packed with performances, award presentations and a tribute to country legend Gregg Allman.
Nashville star and show host Charles Esten started the night with a celebrity-filled parody showcasing another of his many talents: comedy. Playing his Nashville character, Deacon Claybourne, Esten explored the “AirCMT” mansion – the commandeered home of Rayna Jaymes – alongside “The Darius” Rucker, who assumed the role of CMT president. Inside, stars such as Kellie Pickler, Billy Ray Cyrus and Little Big Town interact in an odd houseguest skit that creates a hilarious segue into the awards ceremony.
As Viacom refocuses under the leadership of CEO Bob Bakish, this rapid-fire concentration of noteworthy properties distills the impressive breadth and depth of Viacom’s multi-brand portfolio.
Here’s a day-by-day look at what’s already dropped and what’s to come over the weekend:
Wednesday, June 21 – Transformers: The Last Knight – Paramount Pictures
It is the fifth installment in the live-action Transformers spectaculars directed by Michael Bay, an intriguing collision of ancient epochs with the robot alien present, and a special effects masterpiece.
“…[I]f you’re not staggered by the technique on display here – the stuff that sets Bay’s work miles above the Fast & Furiouses, X-Men: Apocalypses and Tom Cruise-chasing Mummies of this world – you’re not paying attention,” writes The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin.
Here’s a preview of what he’s talking about:
Since the first Transformers movie hit theaters in 2007, the franchise has raked in nearly $4 billion for Paramount and redefined important elements of the movie industry. “Ever since the first movie in the robo-franchise was released into theaters a decade ago, the film industry has changed its approach to producing, releasing and reporting on movies,” writes The Street’s Buster Coen, noting that the films legitimized toy-to-cinema adaptations, stamped June as a month for movie blockbusters, and set the template for international distribution of American films.
Transformers: The Last Knight is in theaters around the world now. A Bumblebee spin-off is scheduled for release next summer.
With a cast of complex characters unified by their small-town setting, the deft use of suspense and drama, and some imaginative writing, Spike has transformed Stephen King’s 1980 novella about a sinister, monster-filled cloud descending upon a small Maine town into a 10-part serial that debuted last night.
And it’s really good, according to a platoon of critics who got an advanced look at the pilot. “Spike’s new series based on The Mist … wasn’t written by King, but it does the author proud ,” writes CNET’s Gael Fashingbauer Cooper.
The series was written, rather, by a team led by Denmark native Christian Torpe, who is a lifelong King fan and consulted with the author at the project’s outset. King simply told him, “Don’t do anything ordinary.”
Torpe appears to have succeeded, leaving even those familiar with King’s original work in suspense. “It’s hard to judge where this newer, looser adaptation might progress from just the first hour, but Torpe has said that, like King, he intends to explore the nature of fanaticism, and how fear so often compels people to seek out unlikely prophets,” writes The Atlantic’s Sophie Gilbert. “If so, The Mist could be a satisfyingly complex chiller, scaring viewers not just with unexpected jumps and amped-up creepy crawlies, but with the more human monsters who are all trapped together inside, waiting out the weather.”
The Mist premieres at a time of incredible momentum for Spike, which will evolve into the premium TV Paramount Network in January of next year. While the network is still determining an exact programming lineup, they have already announced Yellowstone starring Kevin Costner, a six-part documentary on Trayvon Martin produced in conjunction with The Weinstein Company, American Woman starring Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari, a six-part Waco series documenting the 1993 stand-off at the Branch Dividian compound, and a television adaptation of the 1988 classic film Heathers.