Netflix Partners with BuzzFeed for New Documentary Series


BuzzFeed will partner with Netflix on a new original documentary series, the website announced in an internal email on Wednesday.

The series, “Follow This,” will chronicle the lives of journalists as they follow a unique story and from the looks of a Netflix press release — those journalists will mostly work at BuzzFeed.

“No platform for shows [is] bigger than Netflix right now,” said Editor in Chief Ben Smith in the internal company memo, a copy of which was obtained by TheWrap. Smith called the partnership “an auspicious sign of things to come.” Smith also revealed that two episodes had already been filmed and “in the can.”

Also Read: BuzzFeed Chief Defends Trump Pee Dossier: ‘I’m Proud We Published’

One of those episodes was teased by NetFlix themselves Wednesday.

“The first episode, The Internet Whisperers, follows BuzzFeed reporter Scaachi Koul, as she explores the curious world of autonomous sensory meridian response — or ASMR — and some of its most enthusiastic proponents,” a press release from Netflix said.

Simply put, ASMR refers to people who enjoy sensory stimulation and ASMR YouTube videos consist of someone or something creating some form of repetitive noise. A preview of the episode on YouTube reveals Koul listening to a lot of ASMR and describing her experience.

“For me when ASMR works it creates this sort of tingling feeling in my spine and my brain. I have a busy life and a hectic job. This is one thing that quiets my brain,” said Koul.

You can watch the preview above.

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Trump Attorney Michael Cohen Drops Libel Suits Against BuzzFeed Over Dossier Publication


Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s embattled attorney, has dropped two libel suits he had pursued against BuzzFeed over the website’s publication of the so-called dossier that allegedly contains damning details about President Donald Trump.
The move came late Wednesday and was first reported in Politico. Cohen has been scrambling to recover files and documents seized in federal raids of his home, office and hotel room last week.
BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the dossier…

Michael Cohen Withdraws Libel Suits Against BuzzFeed, Fusion GPS


Michael Cohen has withdrawn his libel suit against BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS, a lawyer for the Trump attorney revealed on Thursday.

“The decision to voluntarily discontinue these cases was a difficult one,” Cohen attorney David Schwartz told Politico Thursday, which reported the news. “We believe the defendants defamed my client, and vindicating Mr. Cohen’s rights was — and still remains — important. But given the events that have unfolded, and the time, attention, and resources needed to prosecute these matters, we have dismissed the matters, despite their merits.”

Schwartz did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.

Also Read: Fox News ‘Surprised’ by Hannity’s Ties to Trump’s Lawyer, Stands by Him Anyway

The longtime Trump fixer had been suing both companies for their role in the now legendary dossier compiled by ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. The dossier — which was paid for by Fusion and published by BuzzFeed — is the origin of the so-called “pee tape” and rumors that the president had a urine-filled encounter with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room in 2013.

In a statement to TheWrap, BuzzFeed defended its decision to publish the dossier.

“The lawsuits against BuzzFeed over the Steele dossier have never been about the merits of our decision to publish it. If there’s one thing Democrats and Republicans agree on today, it’s that the dossier was an important part of the government’s investigation into potential collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia,” said BuzzFlack Matt Mittenthal.

Also Read: ‘Morning Joe’ Feels Sorry for ‘Good Guy’ Michael Cohen: ‘Very Gentle’ (Video)

“Its interest to the public is, and always has been, obvious. Today’s news suggests that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer no longer thinks an attack on the free press is worth his time.”

Cohen’s decision comes as his own legal troubles mount. Last week, his offices and personal apartment were raided by the FBI and this week it was revealed that — in addition to Trump — Cohen had some legal relationship with Fox News host Sean Hannity.

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New LA Times Owner to Move Paper Out of LA City Limits… to El Segundo


The new owner of the Los Angeles Times told the paper’s staff Friday that he plans to move the paper out of downtown Los Angeles — and the Los Angeles city limits — to the suburban city of El Segundo, about 20 miles away.

The news was a bombshell to Times staffers, many of whom live on the east side of Los Angeles or in nearby Pasadena. If new owner Patrick Soon-Shiong was trying to get people to quit, he couldn’t have done much better than telling their commutes — in Los Angeles’ infamous rush hour — were about to get much longer.

“Wow. New owner is moving the LA Times to El Segundo. (which is like 20 miles across a traffic hellscape from its current home Downtown, for those not familiar with LA),” former Times staffer Tim Logan tweeted. “That’ll go over well.”

Also Read: Tronc Parts With Former LA Times Editor-in-Chief, Lays Off Dozens of Other Employees

A representative for Soon-Shiong did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment.

El Segundo, Spanish for “the second,” is far from the first choice of many staffers, judging from initial reaction.

“Walked back into newsroom after Patrick Soon-Shiong announces @latimes will move to El Segundo — and everyone has Google Maps open on their screens, calculating new commute times,” wrote Times’ business editor Kimi Yoshino.

“Congrats to the El Segundo Times!” wrote BuzzFeed Los Angeles bureau chief Jon Passantino.

Times reporter Matt Pearce noted Soon-Shiong wants to make the paper into a powerhouse like the Washington Post. “A big problem for many people in the newsroom, however: We no longer own our historic downtown headquarters (thanks Tribune), and our lease ends in June,” tweeted Pearce.  “So today Soon-Shiong announced we’re moving to El Segundo, by LAX, which will greatly lengthen many of our staffers’ commutes.”

On behalf of the Los Angeles Times Guild, the paper’s recently formed union, Pearce expressed concerns about the move in a comment to TheWrap.

“We were glad to meet Patrick Soon-Shiong and were very excited to hear about his plans for reinvesting in our journalism. We have some concerns, however, that a move to El Segundo will greatly lengthen the commutes of many of our workers and also take some reporters away from the institutions they cover downtown,” said Pearce. “So we’re hoping to come up with proposals that can help alleviate some of the strain of a move.”

When the Times will move to its new digs, and whether the move is permanent, remains unanswered.

The Times’ downtown headquarters — where it has been based since 1935 — is an Art Deco structure at 1st and Spring Streets within walking distance to City Hall and other Los Angeles landmarks, as well as the city’s Skid Row. But downtown has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years, becoming a hipster haven with a thriving art and restaurant scene. 

Times HQ to El Segundo City Hall is about 19 miles, per Google Maps

Also Read: LA Times Publisher Ross Levinsohn Out Even After Paper Clears Him in Sexual Harassment Investigation

It has been a tumultuous 2018 for Los Angeles Times staffers. In January, it ousted editor-in-chief Lewis D’Vorkin after two months, and replaced him with Jim Kirk, the former interim editor. On Thursday, the Times parted ways with him. (In a statement, he said the decision was mutual.)

Tension with upper management spilled into public view in February, when Yoshino, the business editor behind the tweet above — was suspended and escorted out of the building. No explanation for her suspension was given.

In January, publisher Ross Levinsohn was suspended after it emerged that he was accused of sexual harassment and made inappropriate remarks about women and gay people before he worked at Tronc, which owned the Times before Soon-Shiong announced his plans to take over. Levinsohn was cleared and given another job at Tronc.

Also Read: Tronc Acquires New York Daily News

The staff voted in a landslide to unionize in January.

Walked back into newsroom after Patrick Soon-Shiong announces @latimes will move to El Segundo — and everyone has Google Maps open on their screens, calculating new commute times.

— Kimi Yoshino (@kyoshino) April 13, 2018

The L.A. Times moving to El Segundo is like the N.Y. Times moving to Ronkonkoma. But if the LIRR didn’t exist. Godspeed, friends.

— Rebecca Keegan (@ThatRebecca) April 13, 2018

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CNN Executive Says He’s ‘Shocked and Disappointed’ After Gender Pay Gap Revealed


CNN International managing editor Tony Maddox said he stunned by results of an internal study which revealed that the global news corporation maintained a stark gender pay gap.

“To be absolutely candid with you, this survey has prompted us to do something we weren’t doing … I was surprised by this, shocked and disappointed,” Maddox can be heard telling CNN International staff earlier this week in a recording leaked to BuzzFeed News. 

“When you look around, you see senior women here, you see senior women there, you don’t realize until it’s portrayed in this stark kind of way that you need to take a look at it.”

Also Read: BuzzFeed Writer Resigns After Backlash Over Deleted Dove Post

CNN International was forced to take the survey — which you can read here — as part of an official requirement from the British government. The findings showed a notable difference in gender pay both in among base salaries and in bonuses.

A number of CNN employees, including Christiane Amanpour, voiced their dismay with the gender pay disparity.

“First and foremost the statistics are shocking not just here but around Great Britain,” Amanpour said. “One of the things they’re saying about this moment of legal requirement, it allows employees to get more of an insight, to get more transparency into the pay structure of their companies.”

In a statement to TheWrap, a CNN spokesperson said they were committed to shrinking the gap .

The data shows that an overall difference in pay between men and women exists, and we need to do better. And we will. We are proud of the success many women at CNN have achieved, both on the air and behind the scenes, in the UK and around the world. We have many highly successful and well paid senior women across our UK operation, and our newsgathering, programming, technical operations and digital functions in London all report into women based outside the UK. But we’re committed to addressing imbalance across all areas of the business, and to working with the industry as a whole to encourage more women into underrepresented roles.

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BuzzFeed Names Melinda Lee As First Chief Content Officer


BuzzFeed has named its first chief content officer, tapping former Meredith VP and general manager of video Melinda Lee.
Lee will join BuzzFeed next month and will be in charge of the BuzzFeed Media Brands division, which includes recipe site Tasty, fashion’s Nifty, the beauty site As/Is, healthy food-focused Goodful, and millennial parents platform Playfull, the latter a joint venture with NBCUniversal.
BuzzFeed Media Brands was created in December following a massive…

‘Ren & Stimpy’ Creator John Kricfalusi Accused of Sexual Misconduct by 2 Women (Report)


John Kricfalusi, the creator of Nickelodeon’s “The Ren & Stimpy Show,” has been accused of sexual misconduct, statutory rape and child pornography in a new report by BuzzFeed News.

In the report, Katie Rice and Robyn Byrd say that Kricfalusi pursued them sexually when they were teenagers. Byrd even became a live-in girlfriend. An attorney for Kricfalusi told BuzzFeed: “For a brief time, 25 years ago, he had a 16-year-old girlfriend.”

Tony Mora — an art director at Warner Bros. at the time — and Warner Bros. producer Gabe Swarr, also told BuzzFeed that Kricfalusi had a reputation for harassing female artists and teenage girls. “It’s always been there,” Mora said.

BuzzFeed’s report also cites old letters, emails and AOL transcripts from the years of the accused behavior.

Also Read: Former ‘The Four’ Judge Charlie Walk Exits Republic Records After Sexual Harassment Accusations

Representatives from Nickelodeon declined to comment, while a representative for Kricfalusi did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Rice told BuzzFeed that while Kricfalusi never had a physical relationship with her, he began hitting on her when she was a minor — sending flirty letters and masturbating while talking to her on the phone.

She also said that in 2017, she successfully reported Kricfalusi for child pornography, but that detectives could not obtain a warrant.

Rice also says that Kricfalusi invited her to Los Angeles when she was 16 and “touched her genitals through her pajamas as she lay frozen.”

Kricfalusi’s attorney also told BuzzFeed that Kricfalusi was struggling with alcoholism at the time, and was later diagnosed with mental illnesses in 2008.

Also Read: More R Kelly Sexual Misconduct Accusations Emerge From New Doc

The reports of Kricfalusi’s alleged sexual misconduct and relationship with then-underaged Byrd come in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations and the intensifying conversation around sexual assault and harassment.

Both women cited the recent change in the national conversation as a reason to now come forward.

Kricfalusi, now 62, has been heralded as a pioneer in the animation community, inspiring shows such as “SpongeBob Squarepants,” “Adventure Time” and “Rick and Morty.”

Kricfalusi was fired in 1992 from Nickelodeon after “The Ren & Stimpy Show’s” first year. The show ran for five years.

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