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China’s Senior General to Face Military Prosecution on Suspicion of Bribery

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 08:00 AM PST

The gossip that has been spreading for months about the fall of General Fang Fenghui was finally verified. On January 9, China’s state news agency Xinhua published a brief statement with only 82 Chinese characters, announcing that Fang, former member of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Central Military Commission (CMC) — the highest body that controls China’s military — and former chief of staff of the CMC Joint Staff Department, “has been transferred to the military prosecution authority on suspicion of offering and accepting bribes.”

Xinhua added that the transfer was made upon approval of the CCP Central Committee, without giving more detail.

Although the statement still claimed that Fang is only under suspicion, it’s almost certain that Fang will face life in prison based on the statement’s wording and on previous cases involving China’s high officials or military leaders. (By the way, there is another hidden indicator in Chinese politics that is worth keeping mind: usually the shorter the official statement, the more serious the case actually is. For example, Xinhua’s statement on the investigation of Sun Zhengcai, former Chongqing Party leader, had only 37 Chinese characters.)  

As The Diplomat has been following, signs that Fang was under investigation appeared in September last year, when he was excluded from attending the CCP’s 19th National Congress, the most important political event held every five years.

Yet before that, Fang, 67, had maintained quite a high profile and frequently showed up in front of cameras. In April 2017, Fang accompanied Chinese President Xi Jinping to Florida and met U.S. President Donald Trump at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. In August 2017, he also met Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Beijing and discussed the North Korea crisis. The meeting was publicly reported at home and abroad. However, weeks later, Fang suddenly disappeared from public and he was abruptly replaced as chief of staff of the CMC Joint Staff Department.

Together with Fang, General Zhang Yang, former director of the military Political Work Department, also disappeared from the public in the same period and was excluded from attending the 19th Party Congress.

Then on November 28, as The Diplomat reported, the information that Zhang Yang  “hanged himself at home” on the morning of November 23 was finally released by Xinhua, also in a brief statement.

Notably, Fang and Zhang had worked closely as same-level colleagues for decades in the military. Both of them also had close links to Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, the two highest ranking military officiers to have been brought down under the anti-corruption campaign launched by Xi Jinping. Xu died of cancer in 2015 before he could face trial; Guo was sentenced to life imprisonment for bribery in 2016.

Now, history seems to be somewhat repeating itself as the destinies of Zhang and Fang become clearer.

Trump’s Flawed Pakistan Policy

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 06:31 AM PST

On January 4, the United States announced the suspension of nearly all security-related assistance to Pakistan until Islamabad could prove its commitment to fighting terrorism and cut its ties with militant groups such as the Taliban. This decision came just days after U.S. President Donald Trump had accused Pakistan, on Twitter, of giving “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.” Pakistani leaders responded with a familiar refrain, claiming to have moved against all militant groups without distinction and pointing to the enormous costs in terms of money (over $120 billion) and lives (nearly 80,000 civilian and military dead) sustained by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism since 2001.

For Trump, it may feel good to vent his frustrations about Pakistan, especially now that his administration is desperate to salvage something from the United States’ prolonged and losing conflict in Afghanistan. These new sanctions, however, are unlikely to influence Pakistani behavior, which is rooted in realities on the ground that the United States has little ability to change.

Pakistan is a complicated country in a tough neighborhood. Its main strategic concerns are to contain the surging power of its neighbor and rival, India, and to combat Islamist militancy inside its own borders-in particular, it wishes to fight the Pakistani Taliban, which now operates from sanctuaries in Afghanistan. Pakistan launched a military operation in 2014 to clear the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of insurgents, including the Pakistani Taliban, many of whom escaped across the border into Afghanistan. Pakistan, however, is reluctant to please the United States, which it considers a distant and fickle ally, by moving against the leadership of the Afghan Taliban. The United States, for its part, regards Pakistan as a duplicitous partner that is willing to take U.S. funds but unwilling to cut ties with militant groups or eject Afghan Taliban leaders, particularly those affiliated with the Haqqani network, a Pakistan-based faction that has orchestrated high-profile attacks in Afghanistan, particularly in Kabul.

The dwindling and now relatively small amount of financial assistance that the United States currently provides Pakistan is another reason to suspect that its threats will be ineffectual. Pakistani officials have been defiant. Miftah Ismail, the adviser to the prime minister for finance, revenue, and economic affairs, told Reuters, “Aid cuts will not hurt us,” since U.S. aid has been “reduced drastically over the years.” (Annual U.S. aid to Pakistan peaked at about $3.5 billion in 2011, before declining to about $1 billion in 2016.)

Pakistan also has its own leverage against the United States. Islamabad could, for instance, threaten to cut off the United States’ air- and ground-based supply routes to Afghanistan. That leverage has been diminished somewhat in recent years, both by Washington’s reduction of U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan (thereby lessening its need for supplies) and by the proven efficacy of the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), which moves supplies through Russia and Central Asia. In 2011, for example, when Pakistan closed its ground routes to the United States, the NDN allowed the International Security Assistance Force commander, General John Allen, to store nearly six months of reserve supplies inside Afghanistan. Yet Pakistan’s ability to threaten U.S. logistics is still formidable: in 2015, Russia shut down the NDN, and there is always a chance that Moscow could decide to play hardball if the United States sought to reopen it. In 2014, the United States lost the use of its Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan, the last U.S. base in Central Asia, as the Kyrgyz government sought to win favor with Russia. Another option is for the United States to use an Iranian land route moving through the port of Chabahar, but this is likely off the table given the heightened war of words between the Trump administration and Tehran. Depriving the United States of its air routes into Afghanistan, moreover, would end Washington’s ability to conduct air support with Gulf-based fighters and bombers.

The current standoff is further complicated by this year’s electoral calendar. The United States faces midterm elections in November, Pakistan has a parliamentary election in June, and Afghanistan has one in July. India, too, might bring forward its elections, currently scheduled for 2019, to this year. In all of these countries, then, domestic politics will dominate decision-making for the foreseeable future. Pakistani Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif’s belligerent, rapid-fire Urdu tweets on the U.S. sanctions, which pronounced the death of the alliance, are a good illustration of how this domestic focus could make compromise with the United States difficult. Trump, meanwhile, is anxious to show that the United States is winning in Afghanistan, which might lead him to increase pressure on Pakistan by imposing additional sanctions. (As strategic thinker Harlan Ullman’s recent book Anatomy of Failure maintains, the United States has never won a war that it started.) Meanwhile, Afghanistan and India could support U.S. attempts to influence Islamabad. This would in turn fortify Pakistan’s perception of an international conspiracy against it.

A final obstacle in getting Pakistan to change its policy is the fact that it currently has an ersatz government run by a competent, albeit weak, prime minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Abbasi has no political clout within his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which still bears the name of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was forced to step down over corruption allegations in July but continues to call the shots. Dynastic politics in Pakistan weaken civilian governance and democratic legitimacy, allowing the well-organized military to dominate policymaking and take a strong position against U.S. demands. Since 2001, moreover, the United States has tied itself to successive unpopular, autocratic, and corrupt administrations in Pakistan, including that of the dictator Pervez Musharraf. In doing so, it has failed to build a relationship with the 200 million people of Pakistan, a majority of whom, even at the height of the Afghanistan war and U.S. drone strikes on their country, wished to have better relations with the United States.

Against this backdrop, it is unlikely that threats to cut off U.S. funding-or Trump’s inflammatory tweets-will have much effect in terms of changing Pakistan’s behavior. Rather, they will only inflame tensions between the two and worsen the situation in Pakistan. After all, the last time that such a break in ties took place was in the 1990s, in the wake of Pakistan’s development of a nuclear weapon and the United States’ withdrawal from the Afghan theater following the end of the Soviet occupation. Pakistan was left to cope with the aftershocks of the Afghan war on its own. The United States also stopped all U.S.-based training programs for Pakistani military officers, beginning with the Pressler Amendment in 1985 and lasting through the 1990s.  This “lost generation” was deprived of contact with its American counterparts, leading Pakistani officers to develop a view of the United States as an untrustworthy ally. Yet today, more than 200 of the brightest Pakistani officers come to the United States for training purposes every year. If the U.S.-Pakistani relations continue to deteriorate, this training program may disappear again.

Indeed, the current public contretemps will likely produce a train wreck for the U.S.-Pakistani relationship unless meaningful dialogue resumes. It is important that the discussions between the two be led by diplomats, rather than politicians, so that solutions can be found that build on the two countries’ dependence on one another and serve both of their interests. It is important, moreover, for Washington to inform and engage with the people of Pakistan in these exchanges. Washington is right to favor results-based assistance. Why not let Pakistan set attainable targets for aid, and agree with the United States on these before aid is disbursed, rather than quibble over reimbursements, as is the case now? The United States, meanwhile, could use its influence with India and Afghanistan to develop a more sustainable, long-term regional plan to fight terrorism and militancy. If Trump can pull this off, he can declare victory before exiting Afghanistan. If not, the current dispute could portend a messy defeat.

This article was originally published on

SoundExchange Re-Ups Chief Executive Michael Huppe Through 2021

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 06:30 AM PST

SoundExchange, the organization that collects and distributes digital performance royalties on behalf of more than 155,000 recording artists and master rights owners, has announced that president and CEO Michael Huppe will stay on in the chief executive position through 2021. He has held the titles since 2011.

A key player in SoundExchange‘s efforts before the Copyright Royalty Board, resulting in higher royalty rates for webcasters and satellite radio, Huppe also led in the development of SoundExchange Direct, the industry’s first publicly accessible International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) database, the database of choice for the global International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

“Mike’s vision and energy have driven SoundExchange through a remarkable period of growth and diversification, resulting in one of the most effective, efficient and transparent organizations in the industry today,” said Cary Sherman, chairman and CEO, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and a member of the SoundExchange Board of Directors. “Mike has identified and executed on opportunities to redefine service and efficiency. … He is a tireless advocate for musicians and the industry, and I’m thrilled he will be at SoundExchange’s helm for another term.”

Added SoundExchange Board member David Byrne: “Mike has the tricky job of navigating the interests of the various SoundExchange board members, myself included – interests which often converge, but often after a process, which Mike skillfully takes us through. The music business is never smooth sailing, to continue the metaphor, but with Mike as our captain we’ll adapt, prosper and grow. Mike is great at seeing the larger picture and has been adept at making SoundExchange a unique and trusted (trust, in the music business!) name in our world. I for one am happy to have him continue… everyone on the board seems to be thrilled to extend his contract and continue to work together.”

SoundExchange has distributed nearly $5 billion in digital performance royalties to artists and rights owners. In May 2017, the organization acquired the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency Ltd., which licenses and administers more than 85 percent of mechanical royalties for music publishers in Canada.

Golden Globes Shows Gender Parity Fight Starts With the Greenlight

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 06:30 AM PST

The #MeToo and time’s up movements have galvanized powerful women in the entertainment industry to work harder to effect social change and combat sexual
misconduct in the workplace. But on the heels of a historic night at the Golden Globe Awards, insiders are still questioning whether that progressive spirit will extend all the way up to the most supreme power in Hollywood: the greenlight.

It was impossible not to notice that the five big winners at the Jan. 7 ceremony were all female-led productions: movies “Lady Bird” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” on the film side and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Big Little Lies” in the TV series races.

The triumph came on a night when the vast majority of Globes attendees wore black in solidarity with women throughout the country who have experienced harassment and assault on the job. The Time’s Up initiative, spearheaded by a slew of bold-faced names — Reese Witherspoon, Eva Longoria, Oprah Winfrey and Shonda Rhimes, to name a few, has helped move many in the business from outrage to action.

“I’m especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories,” Winfrey said in a stunning speech after receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award that had many in the crowd hoping she’d make a run for political office.

One of the most insidious examples of gender bias in the industry remains the “chick flick” discount. It has been axiomatic from the days of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks that stories revolving around female protagonists typically aren’t as commercial as projects toplined by men. Female viewers will dive into a tale about a man more readily than males will watch a woman’s story, or so the thinking goes. It’s an especially pervasive mind-set when it comes to assessing a project’s foreign sales prospects.

On the film side, Globes watchers have to go back to 1984 to find an example of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. selecting two female-centric movies — “Terms of Endearment” and “Yentl” — for its best-picture winners. “Yentl,” as presenter Barbra Streisand noted with some bewilderment at this year’s show, represents the one and only time the HFPA has awarded a female filmmaker its best-director prize. Despite a wealth of choices, no women made the cut for a best-director nom at this year’s fete — a glaring omission that was pointed out Sunday night by presenter Natalie Portman.

Still, the 2018 Globe winners circle highlights productions that challenge conventional wisdom. “Big Little Lies” has been a glossy triumph and awards magnet for HBO and producer-stars Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. The Oscar winners banded together to get the project off the ground specifically because they were frustrated with the lack of meaty material for women coming across their desks.

“Lady Bird” and “Three Billboards” are both convention-defying stories fueled by female protagonists, with no skimpy outfits in sight. The overwhelmingly strong reception for “Lady Bird” has vaulted actress Greta Gerwig into the ranks of rising-star directors with her helming debut.

Awardees included (clockwise from top left): Frances McDormand; “Big Little Lies” team Laura Dern, Nicole Kidman, Zoë Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley; Elisabeth Moss; and Oprah Winfrey.
Paul Drinkwater/NBC

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” starring Rachel Brosnahan, has quickly become a signature show for Amazon, keeping it in the awards conversation that is so important to streaming services. The same is true for Hulu and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a Cinderella story that led the smallest of the three domestic streaming heavyweights to be the first to land an Emmy for best drama series.

Industry heavyweights say the wave of confrontation on the sexual harassment front can’t help but shift attitudes on the business end of showbiz. That’s a process that is already under way, or there wouldn’t have been “Big Little Lies.”

FX’s limited series “Feud: Bette and Joan,” the story of two aging Hollywood legends starring Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon, broke every rule in the book (actresses over 50, oh my), and yet it was successful for FX and has gone toe to toe with “Big Little Lies” in the awards derby.

It got made because it was a story that influential producer Ryan Murphy wanted to tell.

“What happens is, pressure gives way to change, and if you always have somebody saying: ‘Hello? Please do better,’ a lot of people can be moved to act. It’s powerful,” Murphy said. The parade of talent onstage at the Globes on Sunday night “was very important. It meant something to me,” Murphy told Variety.

To effect lasting change on the screen, it’s crucial that women and men across the business seize this tipping-point moment wrought by the sexual harassment revelations to open doors for all manner of creative visions.

“Putting women at the center of our stories isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s good business,” Kidman said backstage at the Globes. “Big Little Lies” proves “there’s an opportunity to have a spectrum of female behavior from different backgrounds. … It’s really important that when women are the architects of the stories, the stories change.”

“Putting women at the center of our stories isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s good business.”
Nicole Kidman

Murphy pointed to his own career experience as evidence that change has long been under way as women slowly but surely rise into the C-suites. He cites Fox Television Group chairman Dana Walden as his single most important influence.

“When your mentor is a woman, it’s a very different experience,” he said. “She not only encouraged me to take on [female-led projects] but she made sure they moved through the system.”

The push to bring more women and people of color into the director and showrunner ranks is important, as more diversity among creators inevitably influences the types of stories that are told. Among the initiatives that have real traction at present is the 50/50 by 2020 effort to strive for gender parity among directors in Hollywood. Murphy is doing the same through his Half Foundation, which mentors up-and-coming female directors.

“We have been known for a long time for having shows on the air that have strong, powerful women at the forefront,” said ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey. “But what I want to also think about is how do we continue to show workplaces that are diverse, where men and women are working together, where we are leading by example. If we’re saying 50-50 by 2020, then we should really be showing that on the air as well.”

Betsy Beers, partner with über-producer Rhimes in the Shondaland banner, was among those who cheered as women took the Globes stage at the Beverly Hilton.

“I hope people take it as a sign to all that viewers watch shows with strong female protagonists, and very often those are produced or created by women. It was a wonderful thing to see,” Beers said. “I feel like things are changing. I’m optimistic and hopeful because people are doing amazing work right now. And there’s always more amazing work to be done.”

Daniel Holloway and Debra Birnbaum contributed to this report.

As AT&T Merger Looms, Warner Bros. Revamps Its Film Ranks

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 06:15 AM PST

There’s been a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on at Warner Bros. movie studio over the past month. This week, in a major management shift, Toby Emmerich was put in charge of all film operations with expanded duties, and the studio’s veteran worldwide marketing and distribution chief Sue Kroll was moved out of her role into an exclusive production deal on the Burbank lot.

In early December, after the box office disappointment of “Justice League,” Warners pushed out Jon Berg, the executive overseeing the studio’s DC films (he’s now producing partner with filmmaker Roy Lee), and a week ago promoted its New Line executive Walter Hamada to a new role shepherding the DC superhero pictures and other comic-book movies to the big screen.

The elevation of Emmerich to chairman of the pictures group is a long overdue move by Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara, who had been reluctant to take a step back from the hands-on role he has insisted on playing in the day-to-day operations of the film division.

In contrast, when Tsujihara’s predecessor, Warners veteran Barry Meyer, was promoted to that job, he instantly tapped Alan Horn as president of the movie studio, which made sense, since Meyer had no experience on the film side and had a much bigger purview to worry about.

In theory, the move will give Emmerich more authority, empowering him to select the movies the studio makes, while freeing Tsujihara up to travel more and create more opportunities for the studio internationally. It also alleviates the power struggle between Kroll and Blair Rich, who will now serve as president of global theatrical and home entertainment marketing.

“This is the best organizational structure for Warner Bros.,” said Tsujihara, noting that Emmerich’s promotion means “you have one person accountable or responsible for putting the slate together.”

In an interview with Variety, Tsujihara emphasized that he will continue to have a hand in the film division even as he spends more time on bigger-picture issues.

“I’m going to still be involved with Toby,” said Tsujihara. “I’ll just have less direct reports. The overall management of the company requires you to juggle a number of different balls in the air. … This lets me focus on some of the things that we need to do strategically.”

Tsujihara, who will be under scrutiny by Time Warner’s would-be new corporate parent company AT&T, needs to focus on keeping his own job when (and if) the merger goes through. Once the acquisition is completed, as expected, he and all of Time Warner’s other division heads will have a new boss to answer to: AT&T vet John Stankey, who will succeed Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes in overseeing all of the company’s media brands. Bewkes has previously said that he plans to step down once the sale is finalized. Tsujihara stressed that he intends to remain at Warner Bros. going forward.

“I plan on being here and running the studio today and tomorrow and into the future,” he said. “I love the studio, and I love the people here.”

It’s widely known that Stankey is not a fan of companies having layer upon layer of top managers, as is standard operating procedure for most traditional media companies and studios. Already, executives on the lot are concerned that AT&T will bring greater scrutiny to their expense accounts and travel arrangements.

There will undoubtedly be more shake-ups at Warner Bros. and throughout the Time Warner media empire as Stankey looks for ways to cut costs. However, analysts believe that AT&T will take some time to make big changes as the telecom giant tries to wrap its arms around Hollywood’s way of doing business.

“My intuition would tell me that AT&T will be very cautious and hands off at the beginning until they get a feel for how the business goes,” said Hal Vogel, a veteran media analyst. “But you have to assume there will be some culture shock.”

Eventually, Vogel said, AT&T will start reshaping the studio management and will become, in his words, “the spoon stirring the soup.”

That day may never come.

AT&T and Time Warner, which struck a deal in October 2016, extended their merger agreement until April 22, 2018, in light of the lawsuit by the Trump administration’s Department of Justice to block the $85 billion takeover. The combined company would marry AT&T and its DirecTV satellite unit with Time Warner’s film and television studios, premium cable outlet HBO and Turner Broadcasting (which includes news channel CNN and TNT).

The parties are poised for an ugly courtroom showdown in April. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has vowed to vigorously contest the DOJ’s lawsuit and has insisted that his company is unwilling to part with any of its assets to get the deal approved.

Netflix Series Sale Marks Long-Form Expansion for Turner’s Super Deluxe

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 06:00 AM PST

A Turner-owned content studio known for minting Internet-friendly videos is making significant headway in TV.

Super Deluxe, an irreverent digital brand that started more than two years ago, has landed its biggest series commitment, with Netflix ordering 10 episodes of supernatural drama “Chambers.” Stephen Gaghan (“Traffic”) is attached to executive produce.

“Chambers” unravels the mystery of a young heart attack survivor in Arizona whose life gets more complicated as she learns the truth about the donor whose heart she received. The series was written by Leah Rachel, and Akela Cooper (“Marvel’s Luke Cage”) is attached as showrunner.

Gaghan will also executive produce with Super Deluxe a series adaptation of the 1985 indie sensation “My Beautiful Laundrette,” with Kumail Nanjiani (“The Big Sick”) attached to star and co-write. No deal has been finalized with a buyer for the series.

Also executive producing is Alec Berg (“Silicon Valley”) and Hanif Kureishi (the original “Laundrette”). The serialization of “Laundrette” will be based on the Oscar-nominated 1985 indie film of the same name starring Daniel Day-Lewis about a Pakistani Briton and his white boyfriend who run a laundromat in London.

The projects mark quite a leap forward for the studio, best known as a factory for irreverent comedic properties, from the singing animated characters in “Boss Bitch” to a live telenovela that Facebook dared to air. Now they, and many of Super Deluxe’s roster of stars who blossomed on social media — Joanne the Scammer, Philip Burgers and Vic Berger– are being groomed to make the jump from short-form to TV series.

That eventuality was the plan from the start for Super Deluxe president and founder Wolfgang Hammer, who sought a marketing base for the 45 million U.S. millennials the brand currently reaches monthly. “The idea was to be the first entertainment company to develop and produce long-form TV hours and half hours, scripted and unscripted, as well as having a channel presence on the Internet,” says Hammer, who operates independently of Turner but reports to its CEO, Kevin Reilly. “Both of those [goals] inform one another.”

Hammer will have seven shows on the air at this time next year — maybe more if its hot streak continues. Super Deluxe has also sold interactive game show “Popular Opinion” to Facebook’s Watch platform and will produce a late-night block for sibling unit TBS. Visitors to the Sundance Film Festival can get a glimpse later this month of other Super Deluxe properties getting the long-form treatment, with two productions lined up for the Indie Episodic showcase: “This Close,” a dramedy previously known as “The Chances,” starring two deaf comedians, which will premiere on AMC-owned streaming service Sundance Now, and scripted comedy featuring Burgers, “The Passage,” which has yet to find a buyer.

The momentum couldn’t come at a better time: Super Deluxe finds itself at something of a crossroads. Last fall, Turner executives were preparing pitch materials to lobby the new AT&T regime for additional funding for the digital unit; the IP incubated at Super Deluxe is a natural fit with the telco’s vision of turning smart phones into the central entertainment platform for young consumers. Turner had also been preparing to experiment with subscription-pricing options for Super Deluxe. All of that has been put on hold while AT&T fights the Justice Department’s lawsuit.

Hammer wouldn’t comment on such matters, saying his aim is to keep the focus squarely on “making Super Deluxe the most relevant youth entertainment brand in the country. Whoever ends up being the owner,” he adds, “I think will make great use of that.”

Rachel is repped by WME, Anonymous and lawyer Greg Slewett of Bloom Hergott. Gaghan is repped by CAA and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush & Kalle. Cooper is repped by ICM Partners, Rise Management, and attorney Gregg Gellman.

BroadbandTV Launches Interactive Games and Apps Division

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 06:00 AM PST

BroadbandTV, which operates a massive digital-video network, has formed BBTV Interactive, a new business division devoted to original games and mobile apps built around top digital talent.

The new BBTV Interactive division is led by Lewis Ball, VP of interactive, e-commerce and professional services for BroadbandTV. The company is poised to capitalize on its ability to directly market the apps to the fans of the creators in the BBTV network, he said.

The announcement, timed for CES 2018, comes after BBTV has already introduced several apps with its creator partners. Those include a mobile game for Fernanfloo, a Salvadoran gaming YouTuber, that has been downloaded more than 9.5 million times to date. BBTV’s upcoming mobile gaming app Squad Rivals, which will feature popular gaming and digital influencers, will launch in a private beta later this month.

“We’re placing an emphasis on building mobile games that are truly ‘broadcastable,'” Ball said. “We’re further connecting digital talent with their fans and expanding revenue streams — it’s a significant opportunity.”

In December 2017, BroadbandTV’s video network generated 34.2 billion views, according to Google Analytics. Total annual views for BBTV increased 66% from 2016 to 2017, from 206 billion to 341.4 billion.

YouTube creators in BroadbandTV’s network include Yousef Erakat (aka FouseyTube), Bart Baker, and H3H3 Productions’ husband-and-wife team of Ethan and Hila Klein. The company’s key brands include HooplaKidz (kids and family content), gaming network TGN, Opposition (hip-hop music), WIMSIC (electronic dance music), and NBA Playmakers, a fan-focused basketball video network in partnership with the NBA.

Founded in 2005, BroadbandTV is majority owned by media conglomerate RTL Group. A year ago, RTL said it would explore “strategic alternatives” for its stake in BBTV, but at this point nothing has changed in the company’s ownership structure.

‘Greatest Showman,’ ‘Young Pope,’ ‘Phantom Thread’ Earn Costume Designers Guild Nominations

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 06:00 AM PST

Industry favorites “The Shape of Water,” “Dunkirk” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” were among the nominees for the 20th annual Costume Designers Guild Awards Wednesday, keeping their awards profiles high in the thick of Oscar voting.

In the contemporary category, “Three Billboards” was joined by “Get Out,” “I, Tonya,” “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” and “Lady Bird.” Meanwhile, “The Greatest Showman,” “Murder on the Orient Express” and — in its first guild/industry group recognition — “Phantom Thread” rounded out the period field.

The sci-fi/fantasy showcase featured Disney’s billion-dollar blockbusters “Beauty and the Beast” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” along with Marvel’s high-key “Thor: Ragnarok” and Denis Villeneuve’s sci-stylish “Blade Runner 2049.”

On the small screen, HBO came away with three nominations, two in contemporary (“Big Little Lies” and “The Young Pope”), one in sci-fi/fantasy (“Game of Thrones”). FX pulled down a pair for “American Horror Story: Cult” (contemporary) and “Feud: Joan and Bette” (period). Networks were represented by ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” FOX’s “Sleepy Hollow” and CBS’ “Star Trek: Discovery,” all in the sci-fi/fantasy category, while streamers claimed nearly half the lineup.

Netflix took three of the period slots, for “The Crown,” “Glow” and “Stranger Things,” and one each in contemporary (“Grace and Frankie”) and sci-fi/fantasy (“Black Mirror: USS Callister”). Hulu added a contemporary bid for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” while Amazon found room for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” in period.

Short-form nominees included music videos for Elton John featuring Marilyn Manson, Katy Perry and P!nk.

Full list of nominees below. Winners will be announced at the 20th annual Costume Designers Guild Awards on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Excellence in Contemporary Film
“Get Out” (Nadine Haders)
“I, Tonya” (Jennifer Johnson)
“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” (Arianne Phillips)
“Lady Bird” (April Napier)
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Melissa Toth)

Excellence in Period Film
“Dunkirk” (Jeffrey Kurland)
“The Greatest Showman” (Ellen Mirojnick)
“Murder on the Orient Express” (Alexandra Byrne)
“Phantom Thread” (Mark Bridges)
“The Shape of Water” (Luis Sequeira)

Excellence in Sci-Fi / Fantasy Film
“Beauty and the Beast” (Jacqueline Durran)
“Blade Runner 2049” (Renée April)
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Michael Kaplan)
“Thor: Ragnarok” (Mayes C. Rubeo)
“Wonder Woman” (Lindy Hemming)

Excellence in Contemporary Television
“American Horror Story: Cult” (Sarah Evelyn Bram)
“Big Little Lies” (Alix Friedberg)
“Grace and Frankie” (Allyson B. Fanger)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Ane Crabtree)
“The Young Pope” (Luca Canfora, Carlo Poggioli)

Excellence in Period Television
“The Crown” (Jane Petrie)
“Feud: Bette and Joan” (Lou Eyrich)
“Glow” (Beth Morgan)
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Donna Zakowska)
“Stranger Things” (Kim Wilcox)

Excellence in Sci-Fi / Fantasy Television
“Black Mirror: USS Callister” (Maja Meschede)
“Game of Thrones” (Michele Clapton)
“Once Upon a Time” (Eduardo Castro, Dan Lester)
“Sleepy Hollow” (Mairi Chisholm)
“Star Trek: Discovery” (Gersha Phillips)

Excellence in Short Form Design
“Assassin’s Creed” – “I Am,” Commercial (Patrik Milani)
Elton John featuring Marilyn Manson: “Tiny Dancer,” Music Video (Sara Sensoy, Dawn Ritz)
Katy Perry – “Chained to the Rhythm,” Music Video (B. Ăkerlund)
“Miu Miu Women’s Tales #14: The End of History Illusion,” Short Film (Mindy Le Brock)
P!NK – “Beautiful Trauma,” Music Video (Kim Bowen)

Inside Turner Chief Kevin Reilly’s Plan to Reinvent TBS, TNT for a New Era

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 06:00 AM PST

“You guys have crushed it,” TBS and TNT president Kevin Reilly enthused as members of TBS’ programming team raised champagne flutes filled with mimosas.

Reilly had gathered TBS staffers at NeueHouse Hollywood for a daylong off-site get-together back in September. The first item on the agenda for programming chief Brett Weitz and a dozen other executives seated around a conference table in a sunlit room was celebrating the hot streak of seven consecutive scripted series launches that had gone the distance to season two and beyond. Another reason for the toast: Three days earlier, TBS earned its first Emmy Award, a writing win for the “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner” special produced by the “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” troupe.

All this activity indicates signs of new life for a channel that was mostly known for carrying “The Big Bang Theory” reruns at the time Reilly took the helm of TBS and its drama-centric sibling TNT, three years ago this month. Now Reilly is ready to take his biggest swing to date starting Jan. 22 with the launch of TNT drama series “The Alienist,” the most expensive series in the channel’s 30-year history.

Reilly, 55, a seasoned TV programming executive with stints at NBC, FX and Fox on his résumé, has made it his mission to radically change the programming mix at two of the cable industry’s most established — and most profitable — entertainment outlets. At the off-site, Reilly pointed to the Hollywood offices of a rival cable-programming powerhouse just down the street as a cautionary example of what happens when content companies fail to aggressively stay in the hunt for hits.

“I can’t tell you for sure what rebranding with new shows will bring you immediately,” Reilly says days later in an interview. “I can tell you with certainty what happens if you don’t have them: That’s called Viacom.”

It doesn’t take the struggles of Sumner Redstone’s cable empire to remind Reilly of the precariousness of the business he’s in. The landscape for Turner and its parent company, Time Warner, has shifted dramatically since Reilly signed on in January 2015. It’s even changed since the time of the TBS off-site three months ago.

In October 2016, Time Warner was wooed by AT&T into an $85.4 billion merger in an effort to give both companies more heft to go toe-to-toe with Netflix and other digital upstarts with programming budgets that dwarf those of Turner and even Time Warner’s HBO. But AT&T and Time Warner’s nuptials are in legal limbo, with the Justice Department suing in November to block the union on antitrust grounds.

And Turner is at the center of that brawl. Before the lawsuit, the government reportedly gave AT&T a choice: Divest either Turner or AT&T’s DirecTV unit to get the deal approved. Whether or not the government’s opposition to Turner being included in the merger is politically motivated — Turner’s CNN is a frequent target of President Donald Trump’s ire — the focus has put Time Warner’s basic cable division squarely in the spotlight.

Reilly wouldn’t comment on the legal fracas surrounding the AT&T-Time Warner deal. But the roller-coaster environment of the past year has only reinforced his conviction about what TNT and TBS need to do to survive.

“I was really clear from the get-go: You need to disrupt yourselves or there’s not going to be a path going forward,” he says of his initial conversations with Turner president David Levy back in 2014, before he took the job.

The architect of the rebuilding effort at TNT and TBS has felt the pressure of a ticking clock since the day he walked through the door.

Reilly was surprised to learn just how much revenue the two networks contributed to Time Warner’s bottom line. In 2017, TNT delivered an estimated $3.4 billion, and TBS $2.1 billion, according to research firm S&P Global Market Intelligence. That further raised the stakes of the plan to “radically reinvent” the programming mix on both channels.

In Reilly’s view, the most urgent needs were better and buzzier shows and a more aggressive effort to make them available to consumers for on-demand viewing across various platforms. Moreover, he’s put great emphasis on building up ancillary enterprises, from live events to merchandising to digital content, around Turner stars such as Samantha Bee and Conan O’Brien. He led the charge for Turner to partner with agency IMG in the launch of the video-game competition venture ELeague — contests that are now carried on TBS and Twitch — and he restarted the comedy-focused digital content venture Super Deluxe.

“Turner had massive profits, and the business was doing just fine,” Reilly says. “The idea of disrupting ourselves was saying, ‘Do we think three, four, five years from now this is going to be the same business?’ Absolutely not. So we’d better start aggressively going into the face of it. If what you’re doing today isn’t vital, you’re certainly not going to have a seat at the table in determining what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

“I was really clear from the get-go: You need to disrupt yourselves or there’s not going to be a path going forward.”
Kevin Reilly

Call it the “Rizzoli & Isles” conundrum. TNT’s signature detective drama averaged about 6.8 million viewers in its seventh and final season in 2016, but the average age was 60-plus and the show had little traction in social media. The same calculation went into the decision to cancel police drama “Major Crimes,” which is TNT’s highest-rated show (averaging about 4.3 million viewers per episode in L7 ratings) and will end with the close of its sixth season on Jan. 9. “That’s not to say [‘Rizzoli’] and other shows weren’t successful,” Reilly says. “But they were playing in a vein that was not driving forward what’s defining the medium. We were culturally out of step.”

Three years on, with one year to go on Reilly’s contract, the results of his reconstruction efforts have been mixed, according to the traditional measure of ratings. Primetime viewership of both networks has dropped over the past few years amid the general decline in linear TV-watching. TNT’s new slate of original dramas has taken a bigger hit than TBS’ original comedies, but both networks now reach a younger audience overall — a key goal.

TBS’ weekly late-night comedy “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee,” now heading into its third year, has been an unqualified home run. Scripted comedies “The Detour,” “People of Earth,” “Wrecked” and “The Guest Book” have had some resonance. “Claws,” an offbeat mix of crime and family drama set in a nail salon, has been gaining some of the critical traction that Reilly craves: The New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum put it on her 2017 top shows list, calling it a “guilty pleasure” that got “richer, wittier and more heartfelt with every episode.”

But “Claws” and other new dramas including “Animal Kingdom” and “Good Behavior” have delivered only modest linear ratings. Last summer, TNT served up an unmitigated ratings disaster with the Shakespeare-as-young-punk vehicle “Will,” which was axed in September after its 10-episode first season. The show delivered an average of 392,000 viewers per episode, at a cost of around $5 million per hour.

TNT is going deeper into the arms race of big-budget drama with an even bigger weapon in “Alienist.” The adaptation of author Caleb Carr’s 1994 best-seller, rooted in a serial killer mystery set in 1890s New York, arrives with a price tag estimated at $9 million an episode — about $7.5 million after production tax credits are applied. It was the first big drama project TNT bought after Reilly’s arrival, and he did it in part to make a statement about the cabler playing in a different league. Upcoming TNT drama series “Snowpiercer” (which has just been ordered to series) and “One Day She’ll Darken” are expected to inhabit the same high-budget territory.

“Alienist” is dark, moody, serialized and occasionally shocking in its portrayal of the killer’s handiwork. It’s a big departure from the tone and genre of procedural dramas TNT had served up during the past dozen years since the cabler decided to go deep into the arena of original series.

The show came to TNT through Paramount Television and Anonymous Content with the pedigree of a beloved book and director-producer Cary Fukunaga attached, along with screenwriters Eric Roth and Hossein Amini.

Reilly was prepared to provide a budget that was enormous by TNT standards. But he didn’t count on the inflation boom for high-end programming. During the pre-production process, it became clear that TNT and Fukunaga — who was red-hot off season one of HBO’s “True Detective” — were at odds over the budget required to re-create New York City in the Gilded Age. Fuku­naga wrote the initial drafts of all 10 episodes but bowed out as director, replaced on the first two episodes by Jakob Verbruggen. Fukunaga remains an exec producer on the series.

“Alienist” is banking largely on the brand-name value of the book to stand out in the sea of drama series choices. There are no marquee names in the cast anchored by Daniel Brühl as the doctor chasing the serial killer and Luke Evans as his cohort, a New York Times illustrator. Brian Geraghty limns police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, while Dakota Fanning plays Roosevelt’s enterprising secretary. The series was shot last year, with Budapest standing in for New York.

“We’re using every club in the bag to figure out how to target, recruit and incentivize people to watch this show,” Reilly says. “We need to recruit a body of audience — let’s call them the SVOD audience — that doesn’t expect this kind of show from TNT.”

The urgency for Reilly’s initiatives to produce results isn’t just fueled by the explosion of high-end programming competition and massive changes in consumer viewing habits. The time frame is also determined by the end date of Turner’s most recent round of MVPD affiliation deals.

Turner had the good fortune to complete its most important carriage agreements between 2013 and 2015, just before the worm began to turn on Wall Street on the basic cable business. Thanks to its long-term NBA and NCAA rights deals, Turner locked in top-market subscriber fees for its channels in pacts that typically run five to six years. All of that baked-in subscription revenue was a big factor in making Time Warner an attractive acquisition target for AT&T.

Reilly (left) has assembled a crack team at TNT and TBS that includes Turner business ops topper Sandra Dewey, TNT programming chief Sarah Aubrey, TBS programming exec Thom Hinkle and TBS head of programming Brett Weitz.
Cody Pickens for Variety

Given the gyrations in the pay-TV market — from the rise of Netflix to the accelerated pace of cord-cutting — it’s highly unlikely Turner will command the same level of fees in its next carriage renewal cycle, even if Reilly and his team come up with the next “Walking Dead.” That means TNT and TBS have at most a few more years of flush coffers before the economic foundation of the business resets.

Turner “experienced a huge step-up in the last renewal cycle,” says Alexia Quadrani, media analyst and managing director at J.P. Morgan. “Going forward it will be interesting to see if they have the leverage to continue to get those favorable rate increases or if the world will have changed.”

Quadrani gives credit to Turner for being proactive in trying to add more sizzle to the programming mix at TNT and TBS.

“They’re well aware of the more competitive dynamic out there,” she says. “They’re making the investments in the two areas that have proven in the past to drive affiliate fees — sports and original programming. Whether that’s enough is to be determined given the environment that we’re in.”

Reilly joined Turner after a 2007-14 run as head of entertainment at the Fox broadcast network. His last years at the network were bumpy as Fox, like other broadcasters, began to grapple with the harsh reality that it was no longer the center of the television business.

“We were living on a shrinking bottom line accelerated by ‘American Idol’ going down,” Reilly says. “When you’re just grinding the balance sheet — that’s no fun at all.”

Reilly came up in TV through the NBC ranks in the late 1980s and early ’90s, part of the executive finishing school that also produced FX Networks head John Landgraf, Showtime chief David Nevins and Freeform’s Karey Burke, among others. During the “Must-See TV” heyday, Reilly helped birth such series as “Law & Order,” “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “ER.”

Reilly is well regarded in the creative community for his track record of supporting talent in good times and not so good times. He fought to keep “30 Rock” and “Friday Night Lights” on the air at NBC (during his second tour at the Peacock) in the face of weak ratings. A photo of Reilly being hoisted in the air by the “Office” cast and crew backstage at the Emmys in 2006 is prominently featured in his office at Turner in Burbank. So is a Bruce Springsteen concert poster from 1980.

Shawn Ryan, showrunner and creator of “The Shield,” the drama series that put FX on the map during Reilly’s tenure as entertainment chief, says he also got an early boost from the exec. Reilly insisted that Ryan serve as the program’s showrunner despite his lack of experience and the importance of the series to FX.

“I asked him years later why he had that faith in me,” Ryan says. “He said he wanted the guy who wrote that [pilot] script to be making all the important decisions on the show.”

Ryan says Reilly brings a strong sense of storytelling to the table as an executive and also credits him as being a good listener. When the two had differences of opinion on creative decisions, “he was always very gracious about it,” Ryan says. “He was open-minded and flexible enough to allow that he might not always have the right answer.”

Period-set “The Alienist,” starring Daniel Brühl and Luke Evans, debuting Jan. 22, is the most expensive series ever commissioned by TNT.

Reilly made headlines during his final year at Fox for declaring, with dramatic flourish: “RIP, pilot season.” In front of a roomful of journalists, he laid out a plan to revamp Fox’s program-development process to avoid the traditional frenzy of pilot production in the winter and early spring. The plan was splashier in its announcement than its execution, in part because Reilly resigned his Fox post barely six months later.

Amid the regime change at Turner in 2014, which saw big management shakeups across the company, Reilly found a welcome outlet for his interest in systems management.

“I still love a great pilot as much as I did the day I started at NBC,” he says. “I’m a TV lover, but I’m over being on the front lines of [development]. I want to be part of the dialogue of rewiring the system.”

Reilly recruited “Friday Night Lights” producer Sarah Aubrey, the former partner of writer-director Peter Berg in the Film 44 banner, to oversee programming for TNT. It was a coup for Reilly because Aubrey had long been in demand for high-level network jobs.

Aubrey made the move into the executive ranks because of her respect for Reilly and because she was intrigued by the duality of the challenge: Develop distinctive shows that turn TNT into a trademark of quality. “Will,” with its blend of Elizabethan history and 1970s Brit-punk aesthetic, was a big swing that missed, but it was anything but a cookie-cutter drama.

“We have to love every show we do,” Aubrey says. “We have to ask ourselves, ‘Are we breaking through the cultural consciousness?’ We want to be a brand filter in the way that FX and HBO are.”

Weitz had been a programming executive at TNT and then TBS since 2008. He impressed his new boss by championing the Rashida Jones comedy “Angie Tribeca,” a spoof of police procedural dramas, which was in the works when Reilly arrived.

Tonally, the show was heading in the direction that Reilly wanted TBS to go — and it was like nothing else on TV. It also didn’t hurt that it was a passion project of Steve Carell’s production company and starred Jones, both talents Reilly knew well from “The Office.”

If there’s a criticism that Reilly’s newish staff at TNT and TBS have about the boss, it’s that he can sometimes be a whirling dervish who gets his hands into a little bit of everything at once, whether it’s the finer points of a marketing campaign or data systems software. But that’s probably to be expected for Turner’s chief of reengineering.

“The linear channels are still a huge and important business, and we want to be as vital as we can, and we want to have old-fashioned ratings, and we want to sell lots of ads,” Reilly says. “But that’s not the end goal of where the business needs to be.”

Reilly has spent a lot of time working on optimum ways to showcase TBS and TNT shows within the constraints of the current MVPD ecosystem.

TBS launched “Angie Tribeca” last January with a 25-hour marathon of all 10 episodes. Season one of TBS’ offbeat half-hour mystery “Search Party” was made available for binge-streaming over Thanksgiving weekend 2016, weeks before its linear premiere. The pilot for Jason Jones’ “The Detour” went up on Facebook before it hit TBS’ air. Reilly has also pushed to produce some of TBS’ comedies at an accelerated pace to avoid a yearlong gap between seasons. Just two years after its debut, “Angie Tribeca” is heading into season four this year.

“People say content is king? I think [consumer] experience is the kingmaker,” Reilly says.

The exec is quick to voice the exasperation of many programmers that the old-guard MVPDs have not adapted quickly enough to changing viewing habits in an increasingly on-demand world.

“Probably the biggest frustration of the age is that we’ve tied ourselves into a distribution partnership for the most part with partners who have not been focused on the consumer experience,” Reilly says. “Whether Amazon is good at making and sustaining an entertainment business remains to be seen. But they certainly are 100% focused every day on optimizing the consumer experience and reducing friction.”

Of his accomplishments so far, Reilly says he feels the most significant moves have been in reorganizing operations to deal with the hurdles ahead. There have been sweeping changes in programming and marketing. He’s amped up the company’s expertise in data analytics, e-commerce, multiplatform engagement and digital-first content, in tandem with other efforts across Turner.

“We ain’t Google,” he says. “But we’re trying to optimize everything we have, and build out our competency with data. There has been a massive amount of change across every aspect of the business. The thing I’m most proud of is seeing that people are not clinging to anything. They just want to compete.”

Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran Lead iHeartRadio Music Awards Nominees

Posted: 10 Jan 2018 06:00 AM PST

iHeartMedia and Turner announced today the nominees for the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards on Sunday, March 11, 2018 at the Forum in Los Angeles. The event will be simulcast live on TBS, TNT and truTV at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT; on iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide; and the iHeartRadio app, the free all-in-one digital music, podcasting and live streaming radio service.

“We have a guiding principle at iHeartRadio that fans rule,” said John Sykes, President of iHeartMedia Entertainment Enterprises. “In our fifth year we are still holding true to our original vision of staging an awards show that truly reflects the music fans loved listening to on iHeartRadio all year long.”

Artists receiving multiple nominations include Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, Justin Bieber, DJ Khaled and The Chainsmokers. All nominees are listed below. For a full list of categories visit

“We’ve expanded the iHeartRadio Music Awards categories each year to ensure it accurately reflects the tastes of the millions of listeners on our broadcast radio stations and on the iHeartRadio app,” said Tom Poleman, Chief Programming Officer for iHeartMedia.

For the first time, this year iHeartRadio will present seven awards in the seven nights leading up to the Sunday, March 11 telecast. Each night at 8 p.m. ET, an artist will be presented their award and give an acceptance speech.

Social voting for the Social Star Award and Best Fan Army presented by Taco Bell award began through iHeartRadio’s social sites and in the iHeartRadio app on January 9. Social voting for all other categories begin today, January 10 and will close on March 4, with voting for the Social Star Award and the Best Fan Army presented by Taco Bell award continuing through the evening of the awards on March 11. Fans can vote by visiting

Song of the Year:

“Despacito” – Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber

“Shape Of You” – Ed Sheeran

“Something Just Like This” – The Chainsmokers and Coldplay

“That’s What I Like” – Bruno Mars

“Wild Thoughts” – DJ Khaled featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller

Female Artist of the Year:

Alessia Cara




Taylor Swift

Male Artist of the Year:

Bruno Mars

Charlie Puth

Ed Sheeran

Shawn Mendes

The Weeknd

Best Duo/Group of the Year:

Imagine Dragons

Maroon 5


Portugal. The Man

The Chainsmokers

Best Collaboration:

“Despacito” – Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber

“Don’t Wanna Know” – Maroon 5 featuring Kendrick Lamar

“Something Just Like This” – The Chainsmokers and Coldplay

“Stay” – Zedd and Alessia Cara

“Wild Thoughts” – DJ Khaled featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller

Best New Pop Artist:

Camila Cabello

Julia Michaels

Liam Payne


Niall Horan

Alternative Rock Song of the Year:

“Believer” – Imagine Dragons

“Feel It Still” – Portugal. The Man

“Thunder” – Imagine Dragons

“Walk On Water” – Thirty Seconds To Mars

“Wish I Knew You” – The Revivalists

Alternative Rock Artist of the Year:

Cage The Elephant

Imagine Dragons

Judah & The Lion

Kings Of Leon

Portugal. The Man

Best New Rock/Alternative Rock Artist:

Greta Van Fleet

Judah & The Lion


Rag’n’Bone Man

The Revivalists

Rock Song of the Year:

“Go To War” – Nothing More

“Help” – Papa Roach

“Run” – Foo Fighters

“Rx (Medicate)”” – Theory of a Deadman

“Song #3” – Stone Sour

Rock Artist of the Year:

Foo Fighters

Highly Suspect


Papa Roach

Royal Blood

Country Song of the Year:

“Body Like A Back Road” – Sam Hunt

“Dirt On My Boots” – Jon Pardi

“Hurricane” – Luke Combs

“Small Town Boy” – Dustin Lynch

“Unforgettable” – Thomas Rhett

Country Artist of the Year:

Blake Shelton

Jason Aldean

Luke Bryan

Sam Hunt

Thomas Rhett

Best New Country Artist:

Brett Young

Jon Pardi

Kane Brown

Lauren Alaina

Luke Combs

Dance Song of the Year:

“It Ain’t Me” – Kygo and Selena Gomez

“No Promises” – Cheat Codes featuring Demi Lovato

“Rockabye” – Clean Bandit and Anne-Marie featuring Sean Paul

“Something Just Like This” – The Chainsmokers and Coldplay

“Stay” – Zedd and Alessia Cara

Dance Artist of the Year:

Calvin Harris

Cheat Codes


The Chainsmokers


Hip-Hop Song of the Year:

“Bad and Boujee” – Migos featuring Lil Uzi Vert

“Bodak Yellow” – Cardi B

“HUMBLE.” – Kendrick Lamar

“Rockstar” – Post Malone

“Wild Thoughts” – DJ Khaled featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller

Hip-Hop Artist of the Year:

DJ Khaled



Kendrick Lamar


Best New Hip-Hop Artist:

21 Savage

Cardi B


Lil Uzi Vert

Playboi Carti

R&B Song of the Year:

“B.E.D.” – Jacquees

“Location” – Khalid

“Love Galore” – SZA featuring Travis Scott

“Redbone” – Childish Gambino

“That’s What I Like” – Bruno Mars

R&B Artist of the Year:

Bruno Mars

Childish Gambino



The Weeknd

Best New R&B Artist:



Kevin Ross



Latin Song of the Year:

“Despacito” – Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee

“El Amante” – Nicky Jam

“Hey DJ” – CNCO

“Mi Gente” – J Balvin featuring Willy William

“Súbeme La Radio” – Enrique Iglesias

Latin Artist of the Year:


J Balvin

Luis Fonsi

Nicky Jam


Best New Latin Artist:

Abraham Mateo

Bad Bunny

Danny Ocean

Karol G


Regional Mexican Song of the Year:

“Adios Amor” – Christian Nodal

“Ella Es Mi Mujer” – Banda Carnaval

“Las Ultras” – Calibre 50

“Regresa Hermosa” – Gerardo Ortiz

“Siempre Te Voy A Querer” – Calibre 50

Regional Mexican Artist of the Year:

Banda Carnaval

Banda Los Recoditos

Banda Sinaloense MS de Sergio Lizarraga

Calibre 50

Gerardo Ortiz

Best New Regional Mexican Artist:

Christian Nodal

Edwin Luna y La Trakalosa de Monterrey

El Fantasma

Ulices Chaidez y Sus Plebes

Producer of the Year:

Andrew “Pop” Wansel and Warren “Oak” Felder

Andrew Watt

Benny Blanco

Justin Tranter

Steve Mac

Best Lyrics: *Socially Voted Category

“Bodak Yellow” – Cardi B

“Despacito” – Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee

“There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” – Shawn Mendes

“Look What You Made Me Do” – Taylor Swift

“Perfect” – Ed Sheeran

“Slow Hands” – Niall Horan

Best Cover Song: *Socially Voted Category

“All We Got” – Shawn Mendes

“Bad Liar” – HAIM

“Issues” – Niall Horan

“Lost” – Khalid

“Say You Won’t Let Go” – Camila Cabello and Machine Gun Kelly

“The Chain” – Harry Styles

“Touch” – Ed Sheeran

“The Tribute Song” – Thirty Seconds To Mars

Best Fan Army presented by Taco Bell: *Socially Voted Category

Arianators – Ariana Grande

Beliebers – Justin Bieber


Camilizers – Camila Cabello


Harmonizers – Fifth Harmony

Lovatics – Demi Lovato

Mendes Army – Shawn Mendes

Mixers – Little Mix

Selenators – Selena Gomez

Smilers – Miley Cyrus

Swifties – Taylor Swift

Best Music Video: *Socially Voted Category

“Bad Liar” – Selena Gomez

“Bodak Yellow” – Cardi B

“Despacito” – Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee

“I’m The One” – DJ Khaled

“Look What You Made Me Do” – Taylor Swift

“Malibu” – Miley Cyrus

“New Rules” – Dua Lipa

“Shape Of You” – Ed Sheeran

“Sign Of The Times” – Harry Styles

“Sorry Not Sorry” – Demi Lovato

“Swish Swish” – Katy Perry

“That’s What I Like” – Bruno Mars

“There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” – Shawn Mendes

Social Star Award: *Socially Voted Category

Andrew Huang


Christian Collins

Conor Maynard


Gabbie Hanna

JoJo Siwa

Mariah Belgrod

Max & Harvey


Cutest Musician’s Pet: (New Category) *Socially Voted Category

Batman – Demi Lovato

Bear Rexha – Bebe Rexha

Nugget – Katy Perry

Olivia – Taylor Swift

Pig Pig – Miley Cyrus

Toulouse – Ariana Grande

Best Boy Band: (New Category) *Socially Voted Category




In Real Life


The Vamps

Why Don’t We

Best Solo Breakout: *Socially Voted Category

Camila Cabello

Harry Styles

Liam Payne

Louis Tomlinson

Niall Horan

Best Remix: (New Category) *Socially Voted Category

“Bon Appétit” – Katy Perry, Migos and 3LAU

“Despacito” – Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber

“do re mi” ” – blackbear featuring Gucci Mane

“Friends” – Justin Bieber and BloodPop with Julia Michaels

“Havana” – Camila Cabello and Daddy Yankee

“Homemade Dynamite” – Lorde, Khalid, Post Malone and SZA

“May I Have This Dance” – Francis & The Lights featuring Chance The Rapper

“Mi Gente” – J Balvin and Willy William featuring Beyoncé

“Reggaetón Lento” – CNCO and Little Mix

Additional categories include Biggest Triple Threat, Best Tour, Label of the Year, Most Thumbed Up Artist of the Year and Most Thumbed Up Song of the Year. For a full list of categories