Muse Reporting on the arts and culture

Reputation rebound

Culture | Christian and British rocker Cliff Richard wins court case
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 7/20/18, 03:55 pm

A court awarded British rock icon Cliff Richard damages this week in a privacy lawsuit against the BBC for coverage that Richard said ruined his reputation. In 2014, police raided Richard’s home as part of an investigation into sexual abuse. British media usually don’t give the names of people suspected of crimes until they are formally charged, but the BBC identified Richard and sent a helicopter to circle above his house as police searched it. The 77-year-old singer, one of the most popular early British rockers prior to The Beatles, was never charged. The Independent later reported that the investigation stemmed from false accusations made by a man who wanted to blackmail the singer.

Richard shot to fame in Britain in the late 1950s. His single “Move It,” released in 1958 with his band the Drifters (later known as the Shadows), was one of the first British rock ’n’ roll songs. He endured to become one of Britain’s most successful solo acts. In 1964, he became an active Christian. He recorded some faith-based music and appeared at Billy Graham crusades but also kept his ties with the Shadows and the secular music industry. Richard refused to engage in stereotypical rock star behavior like promiscuity and drug use, and he criticized singers who did. He had several romances but never married, saying he could not commit to both his music career and a family. He denied widespread rumors he was gay and complained that the media could not accept his choice to remain single.

The abuse complaint against Richard was first reported to a special sex crimes task force of London’s Metropolitan Police. The BBC said someone inside the task force leaked information about the complaint and the search of Richard’s home to the network. In the lawsuit, Richard claimed he suffered profound damage to his reputation, and a court awarded him $273,000 in damages. Richard’s lawyer said the judgment vindicated his view that the BBC’s reporting was intrusive, but journalists complained the court’s decision would have a chilling effect on reports about sexual abuse.

Associated Press/Photo by Annie Rice Associated Press/Photo by Annie Rice Chance the Rapper at a rally in Chicago on June 15

Media mogul

Chance the Rapper, the mainstream hip-hop artist who regularly professes Christ, announced this week he’s getting into the news business, buying Chicagoist, a local news site covering his hometown.

“I look forward to relaunching it and bringing the people of Chicago an independent media outlet focused on amplifying diverse voices and content,” the rapper said in a statement.

The website went dormant in November 2017 after employees voted to join the Writers Guild of America. WNYC acquired it and revived its sister site the Gothamist. Chance has donated millions of dollars to help underperforming public schools in Chicago, and he released an explicit new single this week complaining about unfair treatment of him and the city’s African-American population by police, city officials, and the media.

As a woman sings the F-word over and over in the background, Chance raps, “I bought the Chicagoist to run you racist [obscenity] out of business. … I’ll make you fix your words like a typo suggestion.” The rapper displays his dualism in that single, as in many others, when he says he values his relationships with his child and significant other: “I know the devil’s a liar / I know that players is quitters.”

Chance doesn’t fit what most people would define as a “Christian rapper,” though that’s what he calls himself. “A Christian who raps” might be a better way to describe him or, even more accurate, one of God’s many works in progress. —L.L.

Associated Press/Photo by Steven Hirsch/New York Post Associated Press/Photo by Steven Hirsch/New York Post Harvey Weinstein appears in court June 5 in New York to plead not guilty to rape and criminal sex act charges.

The Weinstein Company officially dead

When private equity firm Lantern Capital bought The Weinstein Company on Monday for $289 million, it said goodbye to the last Weinstein brother involved with the company, co-founder Bob Weinstein, who stepped down from the board of directors Friday.

After Delaware bankruptcy Judge Christopher Sontchi approved the deal last week, Lantern acquired the studio’s extensive assets: a 277-film library, unreleased movies such as Benedict Cumberbatch’s The Current War, and TV shows such as Project Runway. The firm plans to rebrand itself as Lantern Entertainment.

Co-founder Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct scandals left the studio in shambles. In a scramble to survive, it filed for bankruptcy in March, gutted its staff, and announced its intent to sell. While various bidders expressed interest, some shied away after former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman blocked one sale with concerns that victims would not be compensated.

One company persisted. Lantern originally agreed to pay $310 million until prominent actors, including Meryl Streep, Bradley Cooper, and George Clooney, objected to the sale, claiming it would jeopardize outstanding contract payments. Lantern whittled the price to $289 million after agreeing to set aside funds to pay outstanding debts.

Several other board members resigned Friday, as well. Only one, Ivona Smith, a consultant who joined to advise the board, remains.

None of the proceeds will benefit the Weinstein brothers but will go to lawyers, bankruptcy advisers, creditors, and actors. It is unclear how much—if any—will remain to compensate Harvey Weinstein’s alleged victims. —Harvest Prude

Amazon vs. the world

Walmart announced a five-year partnership with Microsoft on Tuesday to fend off their shared rival, Amazon.

Walmart is Amazon’s biggest retail competitor, while Microsoft’s Azure duels with Amazon Web Services for the top spot among cloud computing services.

“The difference is staggering,” wrote Eugene Kim for CNBC. “Amazon grew its gross profit by $7 billion during the first quarter. That’s nearly five times as much gross profit growth as Morgan Stanley expects for the top five retailers combined.”

Walmart and Microsoft hope to give Amazon some competition and share the profits. Their strategy will include “new projects focused on machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data platforms,” according to The Verge, a technology news site. It also means Walmart will use Azure and Microsoft 365 throughout its operations. 

The effort is Walmart’s latest to adapt to the world of cybershopping. Last summer, Walmart formed a partnership with Google, another of Amazon’s tech rivals, to let customers order Walmart products through Google Home, the alternative to Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa. Walmart also purchased in 2016 and woman’s clothing boutique ModCloth and outdoor retailer Moosejaw last year. The world’s top retailer hopes those trendy websites and their online savvy will give it the boost needed to keep pace with Amazon. —Charissa Crotts

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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  • Matthew L
    Posted: Mon, 07/23/2018 01:29 pm

    Amazon Drive is actually just Amazon's cloud storage application, not their cloud computing service. That's called AWS (Amazon Web Services).

  • Web Editor
    Posted: Mon, 07/23/2018 05:49 pm

    Thank you for pointing out the error. We have corrected it.