Throughout his historic career, Michael Phelps never appeared as anything but superhuman in the pool. But when he retired after the 2016 Olympics, Phelps joined the growing chorus of athletes coming forward to share the strain that the level of single-mindedness elite sports require can take on athletes’ mental health. For Olympians, who compete at the highest echelon of sport, the pressure and anxiety can rise to a fever pitch, affecting athletes long after the closing ceremony.
Now, Phelps is taking his advocacy even further, serving as executive producer for The Weight of Gold, a new HBO documentary that explores the mental health challenges faced by Olympic athletes. Phelps shares his own story alongside several other prominent Olympians, including figure skater Gracie Gold, hurdler and bobsledder Lolo Jones, short track speed skater Apolo Ohno, and diver David Boudia.
“I believe I have experienced a state of depression after every Olympics I competed in,” Phelps said in a press release for the film. “For a long time, I only saw myself as a swimmer, not a person. When I walked off the podium in Rio, I knew many of my teammates and competitors were not aware of — or prepared for – the post-Olympic transition.” In other words, when you’ve dedicated your life to a single competition, what do you do when it’s over?
It’s a question that’s especially relevant in 2020. The documentary will premiere on HBO on July 29 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, five days after the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony was set to take place; those Olympics are now postponed, and athletes are likely feeling the effects both physically and, as Phelps has noted, mentally, making the documentary even more timely. According to the press release, the film seeks to “inspire the discussion of mental health, encourage help-seeking behavior, and highlight the need for readily available help and support.”
It does this by chronicling “the uniqueness of the lives of Olympic athletes, beginning at very young ages, and the demands of their pursuit of the pinnacle in their sports.” While the rewards (medals, sponsorships, the glory of success) can be enormous, the mental cost “can also be very real, as detailed by the stories of some of the most recognizable Olympic names of the last few generations.”
Phelps’s hope is “that we can encourage others to open up, let them know they are not alone and that it’s OK to not be OK. For me, the opportunity to help break the stigma surrounding mental health and potentially save a life is way more meaningful than any Olympic medal.”
The documentary premieres Wednesday, July 29, on HBO, and will be available to stream on HBO Max.
WarnerMedia Begins Massive Round of Layoffs
The entertainment giant handed out hundreds of pink slips as Hollywood continues to reel amid the coronavirus pandemic.
WarnerMedia has begun a round of layoffs with the entertainment giant letting go hundreds of staffers amid the coronavirus crisis that has crippled Hollywood with shelved tentpoles and production shutdowns. Sources say the first wave of layoffs is expected to be around 600 staffers, with a heavy focus at Warner Bros.
The laid off employees include Warner Bros. CFO Kim Williams, Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution president Jeff Schlesinger and Ron Sanders, Warner Bros. president, Worldwide Theatrical Distribution & Home Entertainment and Executive Vice President, International Business Operations.
The pink slips were handed out in departments encompassing film and TV and come in the aftermath of a major restructuring at the company that saw WarnerMedia Entertainment and direct to consumer chairman Bob Greenblatt and content chief and TBS, TNT and TruTV president Kevin Reilly ousted last week. The cuts also follow a series of Hollywood layoffs and furloughs that have affected agencies like CAA and Endeavor and such studios as Universal, Disney and Lionsgate.
“Jeff, Ron and Kim are all highly valued members of my senior leadership team, and we will be forever grateful for the many meaningful and lasting contributions each of them has made to Warner Bros.,” said Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of Warner Bros. and newly announced head of WarnerMedia’s Studio and Networks Group. “I thank them all for their dedication and years of service, and wish them the very best in their next chapters.”
Added Sanders: “Warner Bros. is known for being the most celebrated studio in history for good reason. The talent is unmatched, both on the creative and business sides, and I’m honored to have been entrusted to oversee a great portfolio of businesses around the world for the last 30 years.”
Sources say Warners’ Atlanta base, which features scores of staff in cable TV operations and marketing divisions, was especially impacted. Like other media conglomerates, redundancies with other similar departments from other divisions are among the first to go.
On the film front, Warner Bros. has not been immune to the challenges that have rocked the industry. The studio moved its highly anticipated summer film Tenet multiple times (it is opening internationally on Aug. 26, followed by a U.S. release in select cities over Labor Day weekend). The studio also bumped the Wonder Woman sequel off its original summer release date as well as the John Chu-helmed and Lin Manuel Miranda-penned musical In the Heights (the former is scheduled to open Oct. 2, and the latter moved to summer 2021).
The changes arrive as WarnerMedia, under new CEO Jason Kilar, is putting its newly launched streamer HBO Max front and center. The service, which launched May 27, was hoping to convert many of linear cable network HBO’s 30 million-plus subscribers, which costs the same amount. But HBO Max only added 1.1 million HBO customers and 3 million retail customers in its first month. The rollout was hampered by the company’s ongoing negotiations with Amazon and Roku about bringing the app to their connected TV devices. More than two months after launch, HBO Max still isn’t available on either platform.
“It’s been a great 37 year run, with 26 as president of International Television Distribution, spanning six mergers, millions of miles traveled, thousands of programs sold and billions of dollars generated,” Schlesinger said. “In the end, it took a global pandemic and a complete reorganization of the company for me to trip over the last hurdle. I hope to always be remembered as the only studio executive to ride into an International Screenings party at the studio on the back of an elephant in the ‘good old days.’”
Added Williams: “Warner Bros. has a unique and wonderful history; heralded and iconic, it is one that I am proud to have been part of. It is also filled to the brim with the best and brightest. I will cherish my time at this great company.”
The restructuring comes as legacy media companies continue to make major executive suite changes amid a landscape that increasingly places streaming as the top priority. Last week, NBCUniversal outlined a similar strategy and folded all business operations under Frances Berwick, while a search continues for an exec to oversee entertainment programming across streamer Peacock as well as NBC and the company’s suite of cable networks. ViacomCBS, for its part, has also consolidated its executive ranks in the past year-plus, with Chris McCarthy adding a growing number of networks to his purview. The novel coronavirus has forced many legacy media companies to tighten costs amid declining profits, with many insiders noting the restructurings should have taken place well before the pandemic created an economic reason to do so.
The global pandemic has shuttered movie theaters from Beijing to New York as social distancing becomes the new normal across the globe. Studios including Warners have been forced to shutter production on major tentpoles like the most recent outing of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
A number of studio parent companies had addressed the fallout from the virus crisis including WarnerMedia owner AT&T and signaled cut-cutting measures to come. On March 20, as the pandemic’s fallout became more clear, the telecom giant said it was canceling planned stock buybacks, including an accelerated share repurchase agreement with Morgan Stanley to buy back $4 billion of its stock, in order to maintain financial flexibility. “The impacts of the pandemic could be material, but due to the evolving nature of this situation, we are not able at this time to estimate the impact on our financial or operational results,” AT&T said.
Kyle Richards: Here’s How I KNOW Denise Richards is a Liar!
On last week’s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Denise Richards tried to deflect by spreading lies about Lisa Rinna.
Kyle Richards is explaining why she doesn’t believe a word that came out of Denise’s mouth.
“I swear to god, if I can’t go to dinner with these girls and not talk about sex, I don’t think I can go to dinner with them ever,” Sutton Stracke comments.
In fact, she has thought of a way that she might have diffused the entire conversation.
“I should have just said, ‘it was me,’ to make it go away,” Sutton remarks, before acknowledging that she might not be believed.
Speaking of things that are unlikely to be believed, Sutton adds of Denise’s accusation: “It was a little … off.”
Sutton was not alone in not believing Denise’s claim that Brandi had made these wild claims about every woman, or about Lisa.
And Kyle was less inclined to mince words about it.
“I looked around the table,” Kyle describes, “and I was like … let me do the math, here.”
“She barely knows Teddi,” she notes. “She doesn’t know Sutton.”
Ultimately, Kyle says that she narrowed it down to: “Lisa Rinna … or me. Which is hilarious.”
“And I was like, ‘Just say it’s none of our business,'” Kyle recalls.
“Or say that it’s not true, believe who you want, who cares,” her list of suggestions continues.
“Whatever,” Kyle continues, clearly annoyed with how over the top Denise’s deflection ended up being.
“But to say that,” Kyle laments.
She recalls her internal reaction: “I was just like, ‘that didn’t happen.'”
“You just came up with that last night in your hotel room,” Kyle accuses.
Sutton very graciously — yet shadily — suggests that maybe, just maybe, Denise is telling the truth.
Not about Brandi’s alleged statements about boning every woman she’s met, of course. No one believes Denise there.
But Sutton is willing to accept that it’s possible that Denise never boned Brandi.
Kyle, like many fans, cannot get past the absurd degree to which Denise protested too much.
“She went in so hard with the ‘I don’t even know her, this is not true, it’s not true, it’s not true,'” Kyle points out.
We are then reminded that Denise claimed that she never said anything negative about anyone, a difficult claim to swallow.
“And then,” Kyle continues, Denise “came back 24 hours later, and sits down.”
She narrates “And said ‘well, actually, she said that she slept with one of you guys at the table, too.'”
Teddi laughs at the absurdity of that.
Many Housewives have claimed to have known all along things that they clearly did not know at the time.
To her credit, Kyle said, to Denise’s face, “I don’t believe that she said that” right there at the time at that table.
“After 24 hours?!” Kyle continues. “Just say it’s none of our business. Don’t do that.”
“It’s just so obviously made up and invented on the spot,” Kyle describes.
“Then,” she expresses, “I didn’t feel like we were dealing with anybody who wanted to be honest or speak the truth.”
In other words, this is why Kyle believes Brandi.
Denise has hinted at her intentions to sue Brandi in order to silence her.
Not only was this way too little, way too late, but it’s not exactly going to convince anyone that she’s telling the truth.
This isn’t Joanna Krupa’s lawsuit, where she just had to drag in some exes to declare that her vagina smells nice.
Garcelle Beauvais said it best.
Denise does not owe anyone (aside from, perhaps, her husband and also Brandi) any explanations about her sex life.
But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t interested. When you’re a public figure, you know that people will have questions.
Perhaps if Denise had done any of the things that her castmates have suggested, it would not have been a huge issue.
The tears, the “Bravo, Bravo, Bravo,” and then this incredible (as in literally, not credible) claim about Lisa are not cutting it.
They look like the actions of a desperate woman who is trying to hide the truth. So even if Denise is telling the truth, she’s making herself look like a liar.
Lindsey Buckingham Sings Live For The First Time Since Heart Surgery: Watch
Lindsey Buckingham had open heart surgery last year, which resulted in vocal cord damage. He’s been recovering, though — a couple months after surgery, he appeared at his daughter’s graduation to play “Landslide,” though he didn’t sing. Buckingham was scheduled to go on a solo tour in the spring, presumably where he would sing, but that tour was of course cancelled due to the pandemic.
So Buckingham’s first singing performance in over a year ended up happening on a Zoom call for the cloud computing company Nutanix, as Rolling Stone reports. He did four songs, two Fleetwood Mac ones (“Never Going Back Again” and “Big Love”) and two solo tracks (“Trouble” and “Shut Us Down”).
“This [pandemic] has been like a couple of years previous in which things occurred that I did not see coming,” Buckingham said during the interview portion of the Zoom call. “One was my split from Fleetwood Mac. Another one was having a bypass operation, which I did not expect to happen. You could say that this makes it a trifecta of events that were completely off the charts.”
Buckingham also talked about an upcoming solo record: “I do have an album coming out. We’re waiting to see where this is all going. We don’t have a release date. I was meant to be out on the road now promoting it. It should be out in the spring sometime. It’s just self-titled: Lindsey Buckingham. We’ll see where that goes.”
The performance is below. Buckingham’s songs are at 8m23s, 20m02s, 32m50s, and 44m54s.
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