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BuzzFeed to reduce staff by 16% in major cost-cutting move

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BuzzFeed to reduce staff by 16% in major cost-cutting move

BuzzFeed on Wednesday said it is reducing its workforce by 16% in a significant move to cut costs. The online media company also announced the sale of youth-oriented publisher Complex for $108.6 million to L.A.-based live shopping platform NTWRK.

The cuts come amid broader turmoil in the media and entertainment industries as companies look to slash costs and streamline their businesses.

In a memo to employees, BuzzFeed Chief Executive Jonah Peretti said that roles in the company’s business and administrative teams would be affected by the reduction, while groups such as HuffPost, Tech, BuzzFeed Studios, Tasty and First We Feast would not see cuts.

“The changes we announced today will enable an exciting next stage for our company, with increased focus on our iconic brands — BuzzFeed, HuffPost, First We Feast and Hot Ones, and Tasty; a more efficient cost structure and operational model; and the ability to accelerate innovation powered by AI and interactive content formats,” Peretti said in a statement.

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BuzzFeed’s stock price closed at 22 cents on the Nasdaq, a fraction of its value when it started trading publicly in December 2021 at $10.95 a share. The stock is in danger of being delisted by the Nasdaq because its share price was below $1 for at least 30 consecutive days. It has until May to regain compliance.

The shares doubled in value to 44 cents in after-hours trading following Peretti’s announcement.

“It’s a dark day for BuzzFeed and I think it’s just another head-scratching chapter in their history where there was so much optimism a few years ago about what BuzzFeed was going to do,” said Daniel Ives, a managing director at Wedbush Securities.

BuzzFeed said that though it was selling Complex, it would keep First We Feast, which was part of its original $300-million acquisition of Complex announced in 2021.

“The sale of Complex represents an important strategic step for BuzzFeed, Inc. as we adapt our business to be more profitable, more nimble, and more innovative,” Peretti said.

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BuzzFeed, which debuted in 2006, was a social media sensation in its heyday, known for its listicles, quizzes and funny videos that went viral online. The company later expanded into news, winning the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting in 2021. But BuzzFeed, like other media outlets, struggled as digital advertising was dominated by Facebook and Google and publishers had to deal with changes to platform algorithms.

Last year, BuzzFeed shut down its News division.

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Movie Reviews

‘Abigail’ is a Delightfully Gory Addition to Vampire Movies – Review

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‘Abigail’ is a Delightfully Gory Addition to Vampire Movies – Review

Becky checked out Abigail to see how it stacks up to other vampire movies.

I need to start off with a bit of blunt honesty: I initially thought it was a mistake for the trailers to give away that Abigail is a vampire. It would’ve been an immensely satisfying twist had the audience gone in completely blind to the truth of what Abigail really is.

That being said, having seen the film, I can now admit that it wasn’t a mistake at all. In fact everything given away in the trailer only serves to whet the appetite, so to speak, for what’s to come in the rest of the film.

Abigail, an extremely loose re-interpretation of Dracula’s Daughter (1936), follows a group of kidnappers as they snatch a wealthy mogul’s daughter, the titular Abigail, to hold her for ransom. It seems like a simple job: hold the girl until her father coughs up the ransom, everyone gets paid, everyone is happy. There’s just one little detail the kidnappers don’t know: Abigail is actually a vampire, and she’s very hungry.

The story does take a bit of time to properly get going, with a major chunk of time passing before anything remotely supernatural happens. However, once the creepy vampire activities start happening, the story kicks into a whole new gear. The basic set up is frightening, as these criminals find themselves locked in a house with a vampire and no exits. The thing is, the story also comes across as funny at times, in a weird and twisted sort of way.

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For instance, there’s a scene revealed in one of the trailers where the group debates how they’re going to take the vampire down and they list off the different kinds of vampires known in fiction (citing Anne Rice, True Blood, and Twilight among other things). It makes sense that this is how most people would have any information about vampires, yet the way it’s presented you can’t help but laugh a little when it comes up.

The cast is one detail that makes Abigail a very good film. Alisha Weir almost completely steals the show with her performance as Abigail and proves she has a bright future in movies. Kathryn Newton also rocks as Sammy the hacker. This is the second horror film I’ve seen her in this year and she is rapidly becoming one of my favorite actresses. However, all praise needs to be given to Melissa Barrera’s performance as Joey. She absolutely killed it throughout the film and it’s mesmerizing to watch her interactions with Abigail shift throughout the story.

One thing that needs to be noted is that Abigail is a very gory film. It’s not constant, but when it does happen, it’s a lot. The filmmakers definitely played these moments up for maximum effect and it works.

Something that worked unexpectedly well is the theme of ballet that is woven throughout the film. That is one detail I wasn’t sure would work, but if anything it serves to make Abigail even more terrifying. To be followed throughout the mansion by a vampiric ballerina is quite unsettling and definitely makes Abigail one of the more memorable additions to the lore of vampiric cinema.

In conclusion, Abigail is equal parts scary, gory, and believe it or not, fun. It likely won’t win any awards, but I truly feel that most people who go in to see it will leave feeling satisfied. Abigail is the very definition of a good ‘popcorn movie’ and one I wouldn’t mind seeing again.

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David Mamet slams Hollywood's 'garbage' DEI initiatives. 'It’s fascist totalitarianism'

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David Mamet slams Hollywood's 'garbage' DEI initiatives. 'It’s fascist totalitarianism'

David Mamet is not done lambasting the liberal establishment in Hollywood.

“DEI is garbage,” said the Pulitzer Prize-winning author to a packed house at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. It’s fascist totalitarianism.”

The playwright and director did not shy away from his trademark expletives or controversy as he spoke about his tell-all memoir, “Everywhere an Oink Oink,” with Times deputy entertainment editor Matt Brennan at USC’s Newman Recital Hall.

His book, published in the fall, details his last 40 years in the moviemaking business and falling out of grace as his politics shifted him from a progressive “red diaper baby” of two communist Jewish parents raised on the South Side of Chicago to a present-day Trump-loving conservative.

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For more than a decade, Mamet’s political and social statements have made as many headlines as his film and theater work. His latest gripe is with the new diversity rules that the Academy of Motion Pictures instituted for Oscar-eligible films to help advance the representation of LGBTQ+, women, ethnic minorities and disabled people.

The idea that “I can’t give you a stupid f— statue unless you have 7% of this, 8% of that … it’s intrusive,” Mamet said.

Although Mamet acknowledged that discrimination barred groups from participating in Hollywood for years, he thinks the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. In his book, Mamet describes the leaders of these diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives as “diversity capos and “diversity commissars.”

“The [film industry] has little business improving everybody’s racial understanding as does the fire department,” Mamet said to a few loud laughs in the crowd. He argued that his colleagues are better off selling popcorn than trying to improve representation for women, queer talent and other marginalized groups.

Mamet did not mince his words. He used the outdated term “transsexuals” when talking about transgender people and railed against gender-neutral bathrooms. “It politicizes the human excretory function,” he said to even louder guffaws in the crowd.

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He proudly claimed his defense of free speech in an amicus brief he wrote to the Supreme Court this year in NetChoice LLC vs. Paxton. “We see great attacks on freedom of speech in this country,” Mamet said.

Film executives and writers were not safe from Mamet’s critiques either. He blamed film studios for the “hegemony” that’s smothered the voices of independent filmmakers. “There’s no room for individual initiative,” Mamet said. He added that the film industry is experiencing the “growth, maturity, decay and death” that “happens to everything that’s organic.”

Back in 2007, Mamet was a vocal opponent of the writers’ strike and complained last year when writers reached an impasse with studios as they bargained for pay raises and protections against the use of artificial intelligence.

“There’ll be less work,” Mamet conceded. “But the scripts will be better.”

Does Mamet think of his children as nepo babies who’ve benefited from his illustrious career? Not at all, he said. He feels gratified that they’ve learned from being on set with him.

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“They earned it by merit,” he said of daughter Zosia Mamet, who starred in “Girls.” They haven’t benefited from any type of privilege, he said, and he thinks that DEI initiatives are taking away hard-earned opportunities. “Nobody ever gave my kids a job because of who they were related to.”

Mamet said he’s been pushed out of Hollywood less by his politics than by his age. Young directors want to work with friends of their own generation.

“Nobody’s going to pay me a lot of money anymore,” Mamet said. “Nobody’s going to let me have a lot of fun.”

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Short Film Review: Wooden Toilet (2023) by Zuni Rinpoche

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Short Film Review: Wooden Toilet (2023) by Zuni Rinpoche

“You separated from us”

Winner of Best LGBTQ Short Film’ at the International Kolkata Short Film Festival this year, “Wooden Toilet” had an extensive festival run before premiering in its country of production, Bhutan.

The 11-minutes short begins with a rather impressive sequence, of a procession of people dressed in white through the mountains, with an exception of one woman who is eventually revealed to be the one whose husband’s funeral the group of people were attending. The sudden laughter of a man breaks the ritualistic approach, and we find out that there is something unusual about this man, who is later on trying to explain it to the aforementioned woman. The back story of another man, where he is trying to reveal something to his father but is instead met with anger and scorn, highlights, to a point at least, what the issue with the two men is. One of the final scenes makes it rather clear, while the last scene connects the short with its title.

The first thing one would notice about “Wooden Toilet” is its impressive visuals. Starting with the initial procession, the close ups that emit a sense of horror, the hanging ropes and the red bedroom are all truly memorable, with Zuni Rinpoche implementing symbolism in order to make his comments. The symbolisms, however, are somewhat difficult to understand what they are about, although the comment about the racism and lack of understanding queer people have to face is made quite clear.

The non-linear approach, which also includes much surrealism, apart from the aforementioned symbolism, adds much to the narrative, particularly through the implementation of the aforementioned scenes. One could say, that on a number of levels, the film could be described as experimental, although there is also a basis in terms of story, that does not allow it to go fully towards that direction.

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All in all, “Wooden Toilet” is an intriguing short by Zuni Rinpoche, who would definitely benefit from a longer duration, that would allow the director to unfold his story and his symbolisms in more eloquent fashion. Still, the film deserves a watch for its visuals and the overall approach to the queer concept.

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