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NBC's unprecedented Golden Globes decision caps year of turmoil for Hollywood

Decades of failures around diversity and inclusion finally caught up with Hollywood Monday, when NBC made the unprecedented decision not to air the Golden Globes next year following backlash against the group that hosts the show.

Why it matters: NBC has been airing the event exclusively for decades. Its decision to pull back speaks to how big the backlash against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has become.


Driving the news: Over the weekend and on Monday, concerns that HFPA hasn't done enough to embrace diversity among its ranks hit a breaking point.

  • Leaders at Amazon, Netflix and WarnerMedia put out statements saying they refuse to work with the HFPA until new reforms are enacted. Stars including Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo have also joined calls against the group.
  • Ahead of the Golden Globes earlier this year, a report revealed that none of the HFPA's members are Black.

The latest: Following the news from NBC, the HFPA released a new timetable for its reform plan.

The big picture: Hollywood is facing a slew of unprecedented business and culture challenges following the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests last year.

  • A collapse in ratings for the industry's beloved award shows, and a slow recovery at the box office this year, show how much streaming has taken over the industry.
  • With streamers gaining power, more attention has been brought to shortcomings around diversity and inclusion. Initial calls to boycott the HFPA from Amazon and Netflix led legacy companies to later join the protest.

Be smart: Streaming has also made mid-budget movies less potent at the box office, forcing major studios to rally around big action and adventure franchises.

  • With most North American theaters still limited in capacity, major studios have pushed blockbuster hits further away on the release schedule, leaving an opening for mid-budget Chinese movies to capture international attention.
  • China's "Hi, Mom" has becoming the highest-grossing film globally so far in 2021, followed by China's "Detective Chinatown." Both films are comedies.
  • The Chinese box office overtook North America for the first time last year. It's expected to continue to surpass the North American box office for years to come.

What to watch: Legacy entertainment giants are trying to reorient their businesses around streaming, but can't let go of their more profitable businesses, like cable and theaters.

  • The result is that tech companies have been able to allocate much more resources towards streaming.

The bottom line: Hollywood shut down in 2020, only to reemerge upside down in 2021.

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Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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