Joe Biden Announces “Wartime Effort” Against Covid-19; Includes Speedier Vaccine Distribution, “Full Force Of Federal Government Behind Testing”

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January 21, 2021 12:55pm

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“There are moments is history when more is asked of a particular generation — more than is asked of Americans in another time. We are in that moment now,” said newly inaugurated President Joe Biden on Thursday. “History’s going to measure whether we were up to the task. I believe we are.”

Biden then previewed a nearly 200-page plan that was being released to the public. “This is the model we used to respond to Hurricane Sandy,” he said. He also signed 10 executive orders related to fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

On Day 2 of his presidency, Biden announced 100 federally funded vaccination centers. He said there would be “a Covid liaison for each state,” a move that would hopefully clear up recent confusion between those parties about allotments and delivery.

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He called for “a wartime effort by ramping up production … to accelerate the making of everything that’s needed.”

“We’re going to put the full force of the federal government behind testing,” said the president, adding that the American people will receive briefings “not from the president but from the real experts in science.” A short time later, in fact, Dr. Anthony Fauci lead the administration’s first Covid briefing.

Tune in as President Biden provides an update on the Administration’s COVID-19 response. https://t.co/xFHzMcVRti

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 21, 2021

Americans will need to wear masks for interstate travel. Biden said specifically that masks would be required on “planes, trains and buses.” He called masking up “a patriotic act.”

All international travelers coming into the U.S. will have to be tested before departure and quarantine for 10 days after arrival, the president said.

“Let me be clear: Things are going to continue to get worse before they get better,” he warned. “The death toll will likely top 500,000 next month.”

He added: “We didn’t get into this overnight. The brutal truth is, it’s going to take months to get Americans vaccinated.”

And that effort “will be one of the greatest operational challenges out country has even done.”

Biden also rattled off brief descriptions of each of the executive orders as he signed them. According to the president, they addressed:

  • Supply chain
  • Keeping workers safe
  • Ensuring equitable response
  • Promoting safe travel
  • Setting up a pandemic testing board
  • Studying a safe schools commission
  • Maintaining Covid data
  • Expanding access and care and treatment
  • Making sure the National Guard and FEMA are available
  • Our global response directive

Peter Bart: Donald Trump’s Exit Stirs Hollywood Optimism, But Biz May Still Require Some Federal Therapy

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January 21, 2021 12:30pm

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(L-R) Amy Poehler and then-Vice President Joe Biden were guests on Seth Meyers’ first “Late Show” in 2014
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It’s hard to remember a moment in Hollywood when more production starts were announced or star commitments unveiled — witness Netflix’s slate of 70 films (yes, 70). The stars glow brightly in streamer heaven. And Donald Trump’s messy exit helped stoke the hubris.

The flurry of announcements may be a bit misleading, of course, since cutbacks and retrenchments still pervade the small print. Streamer hits like The Queen’s Gambit generate heat but, overall, subscriber churn has increased as subscribers sample a show, then cancel the service. This hasn’t kept the Netflix subscriber list from topping 200 million for the first time.

Still, the film business continues to flicker: Top Gun: Maverick has been awarded a hopeful July 2 release and the latest James Bond film, No Time to Die, may (or may not) re-appear in April, but Morbius, the Spider-Man spinoff, has been pushed back to October 8 along with most other tentpoles.

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While the advent of a Biden Era fuels a sense of optimism (even on the vaccination lines), apprehension still prevails for the community of culture, which Trump had so famously disdained. Indeed, some leaders even speculate whether the time is ripe for a new FWP or even an FTP — more on that below.

On the bright side, the Netflix universe continues to thrive in its own ecosystem. Normally furtive about its plans, the streamer last week trumpeted a blockbuster slate emblazoned by Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot and Dwayne Johnson among others. The company that once implored Academy voters to discover Roma and venerate Alfonso Cuarón is now crowing about $150 million action pictures directed by Zack Snyder and the Russo brothers.

Presumably, Netflix is re-focused on features to boost its global subscriber list – a concern shared by its increasingly aggressive rivals. While Netflix may pick up an occasional festival favorite, like Concrete Cowboy with Idris Elba, it also wants to develop a new Chronicles of Narnia or find a sexy new teenage horror movie. Hence, audiences may be searching hungrily for what were once called “grown-up pictures” – the sort of specialty films that emerged from Sony Classics or Fox Searchlight or, more recently, from Neon and A24.

Indeed, this quest may be shared with other sectors of pop culture, intersecting the urgency felt by theater or museum directors and opera companies. Which brings us back to Washington: Trump’s first budget promised the extinction of every cultural program from PBS to the NEA. His leadership medals went to Rush Limbaugh and coach Bill Belichick (who turned him down).

By contrast, Emmanuel Macron, the French president, singled out culture as a sector in greatest peril. A program called Intermittence pays artists to dance and sing rather than wait tables. Such an effort would seem relevant to the U.S. where unemployment in arts and entertainment surpasses even that of the hospitality sector.

A 1939 travel poster from WPA’s Federal Art Project
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It seems relevant that some Biden Democrats this week were unfurling New Deal rhetoric that placed Franklin Roosevelt as a folk hero. They were spinning off hypothetical budgets accordingly. The post-depression Roosevelt model had to cope with a financial collapse far greater than that of today (minus a pandemic). This in turn yielded solutions that were then thought of as bizarre, such as the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and its cultural offshoots, like the FTP (Federal Theater Project) and the FWT (Federal Writers Program). These were designed to give starving writers and actors something to do while dams and bridges were being built.

Some intriguing things started to happen: Gorgeous murals appeared on courthouse walls from artists like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Writers like Saul Bellow and Studs Terkel not only wrote plays but also re-invented the idea of the guide book — works that, in the words of John Steinbeck, helped educate Americans about their own country. Former slaves contributed vivid accounts of their lives forming narrative collections now found in the Library of Congress.

To be sure, extravagant programs along these lines would seem alien in today’s culture, but would they? Concert halls and museums stand empty coast to coast; the youth demo regards movie theaters as quaint anachronisms. Broadway will make a comeback someday, but no one knows when. And the film business would benefit even if government provided a financial backstop on Covid insurance, thus easing access to completion bonds and bridge loans. It all would help.

The “Welcome Biden” parties were great showbiz. We await the hangover.

Jessica Rosenworcel To Serve As Acting FCC Chairwoman

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January 21, 2021 12:23pm

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Jessica Rosenworcel will serve as the acting chairwoman of the FCC, filling the slot after the departure of Ajit Pai this week.

“I am honored to be designated as the Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission by President Biden,” Rosenworcel said Thursday. “I thank the president for the opportunity to lead an agency with such a vital mission and talented staff. It is a privilege to serve the American people and work on their behalf to expand the reach of communications opportunity in the digital age.”

The FCC still will be split 2-2 between the two parties until a Biden nominee is confirmed to fill a vacancy. That would leave the agency in a stalemate on issues like net neutrality, which has long been a top communications priority among Democrats.

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As the senior Democrat on the commission, Rosenworcel, 49, had been a leading contender to serve as a chair. She is only the second woman to serve as acting chair, following Mignon Clyburn in 2013. No woman has ever led the agency on a permanent basis.

Rosenworcel was first confirmed to the commission in 2012, and served until January 2017. She was confirmed for an additional term in August that same year.

In the past four years, Rosenworcel has been particularly vocal about some of the Republican-controlled commission’s rollbacks of regulation, including an Obama-era set of net neutrality rules and longtime restrictions on media companies’ ownership of broadcast stations. She also has championed greater broadband access, something that has been especially important during the Covid-19 pandemic. She also countered Trump’s attacks on the media, including in 2017 when the then-president called for challenging NBC’s license.

Before she joined the FCC, Rosenworcel served as senior communications counsel for the Senate Commerce Committee, then chaired by Sen. Jay Rockefeller. She also has practiced communications law in Washington.

Pai, who was appointed chairman by Donald Trump, resigned on Wednesday.

He wrote on Twitter, “Best wishes to the @FCC leadership under the new Administration! Their success will be America’s success. I’ll be rooting for them as they strive to advance the public interest. We’re all in it together!”

Late-Night Laughs: Inside ‘The Daily Show’s Hopes For A Slower News Cycle Under A Biden Presidency

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January 21, 2021 12:03pm

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Trevor Noah had never hosted The Daily Show without Donald Trump as President or running for top office until yesterday.

The comedian began hosting the Comedy Central show on September 28, 2015, two months after the former host of Celebrity Apprentice came down the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his run for office.

Jen Flanz, showrunner and exec producer, tells Deadline that the team is now hopeful to be able to have some time to cover stories that do not involve Donald Trump.

“The thing that we’re looking forward to, and I’m not positive that it’s going to happen but I think it will, is that the news cycle won’t be completely dictated by Trump’s Twitter or him firing someone,” she said. “That type of news is a total adrenaline rush but also exhausting and, at some point, becomes a little boring because it’s more of the same. We’re looking forward to being able to talk about a lot of different topics and having a little more time to be able to develop things.”

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Flanz, who has worked on the show for over 20 years, says that there are plenty of issues, including racism, sexism and misogyny, that she would like Noah and its team of correspondents to get their teeth into in 2021.

For instance, she’d like to get Michael Kosta, a big fan of lakes and oceans, out to focus on environmental issues and do more segments such as If You Don’t Know, Now You Know.

“There’s so much for us to cover and I think we have been dying to cover a lot of those things… but we had less air time to do it,” she said. “We know what kinds of stories that we’re hoping to cover in the next year but obviously we do follow the news cycle so the stories we want to cover are going to keep getting bumped for the stories that we feel that we have to cover.”

She adds that there are plenty of things that they had planned four years ago when everyone expected Hillary Clinton to become President and a “run of the mill” Presidency would allow the show to talk about bigger issues.

But, she admits 2021 is a difficult year to plan for given the ongoing pandemic. “It’s a hard year to look ahead,” she said. “Even without Trump, things are changing every second because of Covid and where the country is at.”

Noah is still presenting the show from his home in New York and it is being produced remotely. Flanz said that they are constantly reassessing how they’re making the show but doesn’t expect this to change any time soon.

“Some shows have gone back and then had to go home again, which was part of my fear, confusing the viewer. We’ve chosen to do it to do it this way and I don’t fault anyone for doing it any way they’re doing it, I just think for us, we’ve figured out how to make a show that our fans like and it keeps everyone safe. That’s great until it’s safe to go back, which I think is when people are vaccinated,” she added.

The show, which was extended from a half-hour to 45 minutes in April, is performing well in spite of the pandemic.

A lot of this growth is happening online with interviews with the likes of Dr. Fauci and Gov. Cuomo getting close to 50M views with its best ever online performance in 2020 thanks to clips such as The Heroes of The Pandumbic and its latest viral video Saluting The Heroes of the Insurrection.

Ramin Hedayati, a supervising producer on the show who is in charge of its digital expansion team, said, “Any time we can synthesise what’s going on and put that out in a video and get people focused on a particular topic or focus, that’s ideal.”

One of the advantages that the digital team has is more of a fluid timeline than the linear show – they can put out content immediately, for instance, following a specific tweet, or let an idea percolate for a few days while they get it right. “When we have a couple of extra days to sit with something it benefits the piece that we end up putting out,” he added.

One of the show’s most viral stars is Jordan Klepper, who has spent much of the last four years spending time with Trump supporters. Clips such as him attending a Trump boat rally, a Covid rally and the Million Maga March as well as the recent Capitol insurrection, have secured hundreds of millions of views for the brand.

Hedayati said that you could sense in Klepper’s performance that the Capitol chaos had a different vibe and energy to other events he’s been to. Comedy Central provided the former host of The Opposition with Jordan Klepper extra security for that segment, which ran online first before airing on the show. “They weren’t messing around and you could feel it in the air,” said Flanz.

She added that the show will continue to use Klepper even though Trump is no longer President. “We’ll take it as it comes. I think there’s still going to be Trump rallies and we will want to know what people on that side are thinking. There’s a lot of stuff that Trump has touched in the last four years that is majorly messed up so how do we move forward from here? Things in this country are never perfect but they’re worse now so how do we get better and I think Jordan is a really good person to look into those kinds of things,” she said.

The digital growth has had an impact on how Flanz and her team put together the linear show. She said that it sometimes informs how they would structure an act of the show or break up a segment to make sure that each clip works as a standalone bit. “We [no longer] expect that somebody is sitting in front of their TV for 45 minutes and watching the show as one whole thing. It’s nice if they have that 45 minute experience but for the most part we assume it’s all going to be seen in clips all over the place.”

Last year, the producers were also working towards extending the show even further – moving from 45 minutes to an hour. However, this has become trickier in a Covid world so Flanz says that this plan is currently on hold. “It’s very hard to shoot with our correspondents in the field and it’s very hard to shoot a sketch where we can all be together because of Covid restraints so it’s hard to shoot as much content as we would want to for an hour. Right now, we’re sticking with 45 minutes. When we made that plan I think we thought we were going back to the studio. Like all plans, it’s become ‘let’s wait and see what happens’. Who’s making plans anymore? We’ll see. It would be a really hard lift given how we’re making the show right now,” she said.

Taking each day and week as they come seems to be The Daily Show’s mantra right now. “Everyone’s hopeful and optimistic but a little nervous about getting too excited about making all of these plans to do things on the show when you don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “It’s hard to think everything’s going to change now that Biden’s inaugurated and it will be sunshine and happiness. We are still dealing with a huge health issue that is going to roll over into a huge economy issue so I don’t think we’re dancing yet but hopefully one day we will be.”

‘Game Of Thrones’ Prequel Series ‘Tales Of Dunk & Egg’ In Works At HBO

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January 21, 2021 12:16pm

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HBO has put in development a series adaptation of Tales of Dunk & Egg, a prequel to Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin’s series of fantasy novellas.

Set in the world of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire on which Game of Thrones is based, the series would follow the adventures of Dunk (Ser Duncan the Tall) and Egg (the future king Aegon V. Taregaryen), some 90 years before the events of A Song of Ice and Fire, sources close to the project tell Deadline.

The project is in very early development, and a writer has not been attached yet. HBO declined to comment.

Tales of Dunk & Egg is one of a slew of GoT-universe projects that are floating around at HBO in various stages. The premium cabler has given a straight-to-series order to another GoT prequel series House of The Dragon, which is expected to debut in 2022.

House of the Dragon was the second Game Of Thrones prequel to receive a green light, following a project written by Jane Goldman, which went to pilot starring Naomi Watts, but was not picked up to series.

Martin has published three novellas — The Hedge Knight (1998), The Sworn Sword (2003), and The Mystery Knight (2010). The three novellas were published together in A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms on October 6, 2015.

Deadline’s sister pub Variety was first to report the project.

Wavelength Productions Unveils Recipients Of Second Annual WAVE Grant

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January 21, 2021 12:00pm

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Wavelength Productions is giving shine to more underrepresented voices with its second annual WAVE Grant, which stands for “Women at the Very Edge.” The grant helps first-time, female or non-binary filmmakers of color with the production of their first short documentary or narrative film. This year’s recipients include Fiona Kida, Camille Ramos, and Geena Hernandez.

The three filmmakers will receive $5,000 grant as well as mentorship in the producing, development and post-production of their story as well as fundraising and distribution strategy.

Wavelength, which is the production company behind Sundance pics Feels Good Man and Farewell Amor, received an overwhelming number of candidates and as a result, they tripled their current initiative with the aforementioned three winners.

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“Wavelength is honored to expand the WAVE Grant to include Fiona, Camille, and Geena to pursue their careers as young filmmakers,” said Jenifer Westphal, Founder, CEO and Executive Producer at Wavelength. “We found their projects to be nuanced, moving and powerful and addressed the complexities of being a young woman growing up in the world today.”

“Overall, the strength of this year’s submissions was unprecedented and we were blown away by the talent and vision of these up-and-coming filmmakers,” said Joe Plummer, President and Executive Producer at Wavelength. “We were impressed by each project submitted and although we wish we could have funded all 74, these three in particular stood out due to their wit and their willingness to tell a great f**king story.”

Fiona Kida, a Tanzanian-American filmmaker from Nashville and is currently in pre-production on Blue Hour, which she wrote and will direct. Kida is also planning on composing the score for the short which follows the protagonist Mel whose plans to confess her love to her close friend June are soon upended.

A native of Minneapolis and now based in Brooklyn, Camille Ramos is working on Sticky Fingers with her fraternal twin Chloe. The short follows urban newbie Moll who, feeling isolated and ignored in the big city, develops an unsavory habit to fulfill her desire to be seen.

Based in Atlanta, Geena Hernandez and works at Bento Box Entertainment. Hernandez’s short Chicks, is a horror-comedy about a shy teen who goes to her first slumber party and finds out what girls really do during sleepovers.

Last year’s WAVE Grant was announced at Sundance and went to recipient Eliana Pipes to help fund her project ¡Nails! which follows Catalina, a wide-eyed 15-year-old Latina taking dance classes to prepare for her Quinceañera. When Catalina develops an unexpected crush on a girl in her class, her fingernails suddenly begin to grow at a superhuman pace – a blessing for a Latina, but a curse for a lesbian (at least at first glance). Production on ¡Nails! was halted due to the COVID-19 virus and is being reimagined as an animated short.

Wavelengthhas two films premiering at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival including Cusp and The Blazing World. In addition to the WAVE Grant, Wavelength has partnered with the BTFC on the series “The System” which will help six black producers fund their projects on the Black experience in the American education system. The winners of “The System” will be announced in the coming weeks.

HBO’s ‘Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel’ Sets Companion Podcast

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January 21, 2021 12:00pm

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Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel is back for its 27th season next week and the long-running HBO series is adding a companion podcast to the mix.

The sports discussion show will launch The Real Sports Podcast following the show’s premiere on January 26.

The podcast will be hosted by Real Sports segment producer Max Gershberg and will feature additional interviews, special excerpts and behind-the-scenes details that offer listeners further insights into the show.

Each month, the podcast will drop two new episodes. One will expand on a segment from the show, while the other will delve into the archive to build on a classic segment.

The opening episode of the TV show will feature segments on Nike and its controversial Oregon Project, the story of how a group of Minneapolis police officers coached Minneapolis North High School to become a powerhouse and bridge communities as well as Covid-19 long haulers, athletes who continue to suffer debilitating symptoms months after contracting the virus.

Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel is exec produced by Joe Perskie.

Josh Hartnett Reteams With Guy Ritchie & Jason Statham For Miramax STX Thriller

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January 21, 2021 12:00pm

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Courtesy of Sarah Dunn

EXCLUSIVE: We have just learned that Josh Hartnett is set to star opposite Jason Statham, Cary Elwes and Aubrey Plaza in their latest Miramax/STX feature spy thriller which went by the title Five Eyes. The movie, which is temporarily untitled, reps the second collaboration between Hartnett and Ritchie after Wrath of Man, another Jason Statham-Ritchie combo which is set for release this year.

Ritchie directs and is producing the film from a screenplay written by Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies (The Gentlemen, Wrath of Man), with revisions by Ritchie. Atkinson will also produce. Bill Block is producing for Miramax, which is also fully financing the film, and STX acquired worldwide rights and will distribute directly in the US, UK and Ireland and in the rest of the world through its network of international distribution partners.

The feature follows MI6 guns-and-steel agent (Statham) who is recruited by global intelligence alliance ‘Five Eyes’ to track down and stop the sale of a deadly new weapons technology that threatens to disrupt the world order. Reluctantly paired with CIA high-tech expert, Fortune sets off on a globe-trotting mission where he will have to use all of his charm, ingenuity and stealth to track down and infiltrate billionaire arms broker. Pic is eyeing a February start in Turkey.

Hartnett will be seen in the upcoming Raoul Peck Exterminate all the Brutes for HBO. He starred last year in the crime thriller Most Wanted, and his feature credits include Pearl Harbor, Sin City, The Black Dahlia, Black Hawk Down, The Virgin Suicides, and the Quibi comedy action series Die Hart starring Kevin Hart and John Travolta.

Hartnett is represented by Management 360, ICM and Sloane Offer, Weber and Dern

Netflix Stock Rides Wall Street Bulls To New High In Wake Of Earnings Triumph – Update

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January 20, 2021 1:10pm

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UPDATED with closing price. After Netflix reported better-than-expected subscriber growth and marked a key financial milestone, the company’s shares surged 17% amid a wave of euphoric sentiment from Wall Street analysts.

Upgrades and increased price targets rained down on Netflix after Tuesday evening’s financial results as well as the company’s declaration that it will turn cash-flow positive in 2022 and won’t need more debt financing.

Shares in the streaming leader jumped at the opening bell today and never let up, reaching a high of $593.29 before closing at $586.34. Trading volume was more than seven times normal levels.

Eric Sheridan of UBS upgraded Netflix to “buy” from “neutral,” explaining that he sees it as a “long-term winner as more consumer habits shift globally toward a handful of streaming media platforms.” The quarterly earnings report “will act as a further validation point,” he added.

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Sheridan also lifted his 12-month price target to $650 from $540.

Along with UBS, another major institution issuing an upgrade was Wells Fargo, which moved from “equal-weight” to “overweight.”

Jeffrey Wlodarczak of Pivotal Research offered what he said was Wall Street’s loftiest projection for Netflix shares at $750, up from $660, with a “buy” rating still in place. Even though a U.S. price hike just took effect, Netflix “offers consumers an increasingly compelling unique entertainment experience on virtually any device, without commercials at a still relatively low cost,” the analyst wrote.

Michael Morris of Guggenheim described the earnings report and financial outlook as a “flex” on competitors. Benjamin Swinburne of Morgan Stanley also cited the cash-flow guidance as a major turning point. “After a debt funded business model shifting from licensed to original programming over the past five years, Netflix has scaled to a self-funded and now a highly free cash flow generative business. This will strengthen its competitive position, reduce the risks to the business, and reinforce our ‘overweight’ view.”

Along with expressions of awe, there were nevertheless a few more measured opinions to be found on the Street.

Michael Nathanson of MoffettNathanson maintained his “neutral” rating, but boosted his price target by $45 to $465. He sees tough comparisons with 2020 as a limiting factor for the stock, but praised the company’s execution in a note to clients.

“Looking back over Netflix’s 2020 results, it is still striking to see how the Covid-19 pandemic has been nothing but a major boon to the company’s operations,” he wrote. “As much of the world is still shuttered in their homes with nowhere to go and nothing to spend their money on, consumer adoption of streaming services has been accelerated by years. With theatrical releases still few and far between and a lack of new scripted programming, Netflix’s advantage vs. other entertainment choices has massively increased over the past year.”

Noted bear Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities is sticking with his “underperform” rating on Netflix, but he raised his price target dramatically, to $340 from $235. “While we are far more constructive about Netflix than we have been at any point in nearly a decade, we continue to question its valuation,” he wrote in a research note.

Michael Moore On Exiting Donald Trump: “We Are Not Done With Him…He Must Pay For His Actions”

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January 20, 2021 12:23pm

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As President Donald Trump flew away this morning from the White House, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore gave him a parting jab on Twitter, saying “He has just left the White House for good. We the people have evicted him. I will go ahead & cancel the U-Haul. He now flies over the wreckage he has created, knowing we are not done with him,” Michael Moore said. “Trial. Conviction. Imprisonment. He must pay for his actions – a first-ever for him.”

The U.S. Senate is expected to hold a speedy impeachment trial soon for Trump, even though he has left office, the ultimate result of which could see the former POTUS being blocked from running for the nation’s top office again. Senate leaders Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell met Tuesday about laying ground rules for a 50-50 chamber split.

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He has just left the White House for good. We the people have evicted him. I will go ahead & cancel the U-Haul. He now flies over the wreckage he has created, knowing we are not done with him. Trial. Conviction. Imprisonment. He must pay for his actions – a first-ever for him. pic.twitter.com/a0XVPvQzxh

— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 20, 2021

Moore can breathe a sigh of relief that one of his predictions didn’t come to 100% fruition. Back in December 2019 in a Democracy Now! interview, the Fahrenheit 11/9 filmmaker exclaimed based on his temperature of the flyover states: “If the vote were today, I believe, he would win the electoral states that he would need, because, living out there, I will tell you, his level of support has not gone down one inch. In fact, I’d say it’s even more rabid than it was before, because they’re afraid now. They’re afraid he could lose, because they watched his behavior. So they are voracious in their appetite for Donald Trump. That’s the bad news.”

President Donald Trump To America: ‘Have A Good Life, We’ll See You Soon’

Moore’s 2018 documentary Fahrenheit 11/9 (a title flip on his Palme d’Or-winning Fahrenheit 9/11) drew parallels between the rise of Hitler and Trump, the latter who he has viewed as a great threat to democracy and called “the last president.”

Moore, like Trump, has also been on the other side of social media censorship: This past summer the environmental doc he executive produced, Planet of the Humans, was removed from YouTube after a copyright claim was lodged against the film over four seconds of footage it contained.

Jeff Gibbs, the filmmaker of Planet of the Humans, issued a statement back in May, “This attempt to take down our film and prevent the public from seeing it is a blatant act of censorship by political critics of Planet of the Humans. It is a misuse of copyright law to shutdown a film that has opened a serious conversation about how parts of the environmental movement have gotten into bed with Wall Street and so-called “green capitalists.”

Moore also tweeted today:

Trump! STFU! GTFO! LOSER! HUGEST LOSER EVER!

Federal prison. 3 good meals a day. pic.twitter.com/SMzHDOvQkD

— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 20, 2021

 

Danny Masterson Pleads Not Guilty To Rape Charges, Faces 45 Years If Convicted; Actor Expected Back In Court In March – Update

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January 20, 2021 12:30pm

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UPDATED, 12:30 PM: After several delays and postponements, Danny Masterson on Wednesday finally entered a plea to multiple rape charges, sort of.

That ’70s Show actor was not actually in court in downtown Los Angeles this morning for the arraignment hearing. However, his main defense lawyer Tom Mesereau said his client was pleading not guilty to claims that he sexually assaulted three women in the early years of the last decade.

First charged in June last year and out on bail of $3.3 million, Masterson or at least his case will be back in Los Angeles Superior Court in the early spring, the L.A. County D.A.’s office said after the hearing had concluded.

Actor pleaded not guilty today to raping three women; he is due back in court on 3/24. https://t.co/evLUslZd6x #LADAOffice

— George Gascón (@LADAOffice) January 20, 2021

Looking at up to 45 years behind bars if found guilty at trial, Masterson’s criminal case is different that the civil cases he is acing. In a decision that stunned many, LASD Judge Steven Kleifield on the last day of 2020 ruled that the civil complaints must be settled by the Church of Scientology in “religious arbitration” because an arbitration agreement already exists that compels any disputes to be handled in that manner.

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As for the criminal case and any trial, anticipate more delays as the Covid-19 pandemic has seen Los Angeles courts closing and/or backlogged for months on almost all matters.

PREVIOUSLY, October 19 AM: Danny Masterson will face charges of rape, a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge ruled Monday.

In a masked and socially distanced hearing this morning in downtown L.A., Judge Eleanor Hunter rejected the defense stance that the case against the former That ’70s Show star should be tossed under the statute of limitations. Represented by his lawyers Thomas Mesereau and Sharon Appelbaum, Masterson was not present at the hearing.

Accused back in June of three counts of forcible rape, Masterson is out on a $3.3 million bail. If convicted as charged on assaulting the three women, he faces a possible maximum sentence of 45 years to life in state prison.

Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller of the Sex Crimes Division, who is prosecuting the case, said all of the alleged crimes occurred at the defendant’s Hollywood Hills home in 2001 and 2003.

As agreed among the attorneys and the L.A. County DA today, Masterson will be in court November 2 for his arraignment.

At the time of the warrants this summer, Mesereau released a statement saying his client “is innocent, and we’re confident that he will be exonerated when all the evidence finally comes to light and witnesses have the opportunity to testify.”

During today’s hearing, Hunter also rejected a move by the defense to keep the media out of the courtroom. Appelbaum argued without success that the presence of the press in the high-profile case “creates an unfair prejudice for the defendant.” Prosecutors from Jackie Lacey’s office had “no objection” to media requests to be the courtroom.

Masterson was co-starring with former ’70s Show castmate Ashton Kutcher on Netflix’s The Ranch in December 2017 when news of the rape allegations surfaced, prompting his departure from that series.

California Covid-19 Update: State Crosses 3 Million Infections As Deaths Spike; New Virus Variants Raise Concerns

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January 20, 2021 12:16pm

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A Covid-19 memorial in Grass Valley, Calif.
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In the past week there has been a lot of good news for virus-ridden California. The graph charting the number of new cases in the state looks like a downward staircase, from 42,655 on Thursday to 30,699 on Saturday to 22,403 on Wednesday. That’s a near 50% drop in less than a week.

The state’s director of public health, Dr. Mark Ghaly, pointed out that “ray of light” on Tuesday. “For the first time in some time we’ve had decreased numbers,” he said, before warning residents not to let down their guard. That warning may turn out to be warranted.

On Wednesday, the state recorded its second-highest total of Covid-19 deaths ever, at 694. That metric has remained stubbornly high, even as overall cases, hospitalizations and virus-related ICU use have declined. Deaths are, however, a lagging indicator and even that number may soon begin to drop.

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A bigger worry may be virus variants that could again spike numbers across the board, even as the state makes headway. Chief among those are the new strains of the virus that have been discovered in the state recently.

Over the weekend, Los Angeles Public Health Department announced that the much-talked-about UK variant of Covid-19, known as B.1.1.7, had been identified in the region. B.1.1.7 is thought to be up to 50% more transmissible than the more widely-spread form of the virus. The number of LA residents infected with the UK variant was thought to still be small.

Then, on Monday, the California Department of Public Health revealed that another lesser-known strain had been circulating in the county as well.

Dubbed CAL.20C, the variant is thought to have arisen in the state in July, but only began spreading significantly in November.

According to the New York Times, CAL.20C was found in over half the California test samples genomically analyzed in mid-January. The number of those samples analyzed, it should be noted, is vastly smaller than the total number of daily Covid-19 tests in the state.

But Eric Vail, the director of molecular pathology at Cedars-Sinai, told the Times that CAL.20C may have played a part in the surge in cases that overwhelmed Southern California’s hospitals earlier this month. “I’m decently confident that this is a more infectious strain of the virus,” said Dr. Vail.

Originally, researchers identified a mutation in the standard-issue virus strain which they called L452R. Dr. Vail and others soon realized that the samples they were seeing that carried the L452R mutation also consistently carried four other mutations. Thinking this was a unique variant, they identified any sample with all five mutations as CAL.20C.

Dr. Charles Chiu, a virologist and professor of laboratory medicine at UCSF who, in concert with state authorities, has been genetically sequencing California test samples to identify new variants said on Sunday that very early indications are the L452R might be less susceptible to the currently approved vaccines, but much more investigation is needed.

Asked if he was worried about that possibility, Dr. Ghaly said, “Absolutely,” but noted it is still far too early to make declarations with any certainty.

The Art Of Craft: ‘The United States Vs. Billie Holiday’ Costume Designer Paolo Nieddu Sculpts His Own Version Of Legendary Blues Singer

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January 20, 2021 12:00pm

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“[Bille Holiday] was such an avant-garde [figure], so it was trying to pull things that seemed new. There are so many pictures of her, it’s wild. She has so many looks within all these different times, so I just went towards images that drew me in, and stayed on the line of the year that we were working in. There would be times where we were coming directly from a moment, and matching to a moment in time, and then there were moments where we could take liberty. And that was where I got to create more.” — Paolo Nieddu

 On The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Paolo Nieddu crafted period-accurate looks for Holiday (played by singer-songwriter Andra Day), showcasing the “Black glamour and excellence” she represented.

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With script in hand, his first step was to create a timeline of historical images, charting her style trajectory from 1947 to 1959.

Takashi Seida/Hulu

 His lookbook featured materials from the Library of Congress, as well as Pinterest, Instagram and eBay.

 The pictured gown, made from crêpe black silk, silk chiffon and bugle beads, was worn for a comeback performance at Carnegie Hall. 

Paul Keng/Hulu

 The look was inspired by the work of Adrian, the iconic costumer behind The Wizard of Oz.

 It was sewn by hand in LA by Old Hollywood cutter/fitter John Hale, who worked on the iconic Some Like It Hot.

 Nieddu collaborated with the “timeless, elegant” House of Prada on nine other looks for Holiday. 

Courtesy of Paolo Nieddu/Hulu

For more from our conversation with the Billie Holiday costume designer—who previously collaborated with director Lee Daniels on the Fox series, Empire—read on.

DEADLINE: What were your first impressions of the script for Billie Holiday, when Lee Daniels approached you? And what excited you about telling this story?

Takashi Seida/Hulu

PAOLO NIEDDU: It was an amazing story because most people are familiar with Billie’s music and iconic images of her, but I don’t think the story that’s told in the movie is something that most people know, or have thought about, in terms of civil rights and protesting, in a certain time period, expressing herself through her music to do what she did.

So, when I read that, I thought, wow. What an incredible story to get to tell visually. And it wasn’t your usual biopic. It was very specific to a certain point in history and in her life, and what was going on, so it was really interesting and exciting to be a part of.

DEADLINE: How did you come to work with House of Prada on the film? And what did that collaboration entail?

NIEDDU: Lee had a personal relationship with Ms. Prada, and they had discussions [early on] about perhaps her and Prada producing some gowns for the film. So, when [we got] close to a production date, he put me in touch. I worked directly with two people—Verde Visconti and Antonella Lapetina—and we did everything, back and forth over email. The House of Prada, they were such a good fit, aesthetically. Their style works so well in the era that we were doing. So, Lee partnered me with them, and we had gone through and came up with eight moments in the movie that we were going to ask them to produce the garments [for].

I had sent them direct research and my sketch of what I wanted to do, and then they interpreted that. Then, I also had go through their archive. We used pieces that existed from Prada, from collections past—some, going into 2007—saying, “Can we take the shape of this dress, from this look on this runway, and then make it longer, or make it fuller? And can you make it white?” So, that was how I worked with them. I would send them those images, with my images of Billie, and then they would come back. It was sort of like this Frankensteined collaboration.

DEADLINE: Where did you source the vintage clothing worn by Day and other principals?

Takashi Seida/Hulu

NIEDDU: I did Palace [Costume & Prop], Western [Costume], Motion Picture Costume Company, also in LA. Those were probably our top three, and beyond Andra, we [sourced there] for Trevante [Rhodes] and for Natasha Lyonne, who played Tallulah Bankhead, and Garrett Hedlund. Then, it would be a mix. I found a few great pieces and great jewelry on 1stDibs, and I got a lot of random earrings, and bracelets, and pieces, and shoes on eBay. I would literally order things at night as we were going, trying to get things in to clear customs in time. Edwards Lowell also loaned us some vintage furs.

DEADLINE: What more can you tell us about the inspiration for, and the creation of Holiday’s Carnegie Hall gown?

NIEDDU: We see this in the film after Billie comes out of jail. She’s clean, she’s sober, she’s at her best. We see it kind of in the middle of the movie, and this was one that I sketched early on, based on a really grainy, tiny photo I found online of her at her Carnegie Hall performance. This one kind of morphed [over time] into what it was. I had one fitting, and it was a muslin fitting, which is when you fit it in a cotton, just to get the base and kind of see where we’re going. We tried that on; we scrapped it. I went back to the drawing board, and came up with this. I exaggerated the shoulder, and created this dramatic center-front piece. I wanted it to have some kind of a drama, when she walked out onto stage.

I drew it in black, and [then] I discussed it with Lee, about did we want to make it a color, or did we not. The curtains for the set that we were doing were red, and the band was going to be in tuxedos. We decided to put them in a white tuxedo, and so we decided to go with black for the dress.

Takashi Seida/Hulu

I took the interpretation from this photo and glamorized it using elements of the time, like the strong shoulders from the ’40s. The waist piece gives a nod to Adrian, an amazing, fabulous costume designer from the MGM Golden Era, and this is sort of like my tribute to Adrian on Billie.

And the jewelry was vintage. Eisenberg is the maker. [There was] a vintage bracelet and necklace set that I found on eBay [that accompanied] it. Then, she had vintage shoes that came from Motion Picture Costume Company. The gloves on her, she often wore those to cover up the track marks, and the scars on her arms from her drug use. These were a white silk jersey. At that time, there wouldn’t have been a stretch—like, elastic to make a glove stay up—so they’re tricky. That actually was a challenge. We were literally sewing them tighter on her, on the day, because she would put them on, and then they start to stretch out, and they won’t stay up. So, the set costumer was sort of taking them in, as we would go. We made four pairs of them because they were white, and they were going to get ruined otherwise, and just as backup.

We had to rush this dress because we fit it in LA. Andra had to go to Canada, and I was in LA for a little bit, so [John Hale] finished it and I met him. I picked it up and took it on the plane with me, because we didn’t want to risk any customs issues, and then we fit her again in Canada. So, I think she had four fittings on this dress—two in LA and two in Canada.

Paul Keng/Hulu

DEADLINE: From what I understand, the white gown you made for Holiday’s performance at the Earl Theater was one of the most challenging to work with. What was the story there?

NIEDDU: We were fitting this in California. I basically saw this fabric in the store, and it comes in these big sheets, almost. It was glass, bugle beaded fabric, so it probably weighed 20 or 25 pounds, this dress, if you just had the fabric in a bag. I would say we had about eight yards, and I bought the fabric and thought, “Oh, I want to make something,” and I didn’t know what. So, Andra was in. I think it was her second fitting, and I just held the fabric up and draped it on her. We had another piece of it cut, and I wrapped it around her waist like a towel, and we were just playing and taking pictures, and then I drew it out. Then, when I came back to Montreal, I sent Lee this picture of us. He was on a location scout, and he was like, “I love that.” And I was like, “Well, it’s not exactly that. This is just held up to her.” It was all smoke and mirrors.

So, we sort of built it off of that personal draping in the fitting. The fabric was [given to] Susana [Vera], my tailor in Montreal, and I would say this dress probably took 72 hours, or maybe more, of just handwork. They would have to smash the glass, to sew it. They’d have to remove the beads, so they were taking a rubber mallet, and they would break the beads. Then, after she patterned it all out, based on how we drew it, it was [made] into two pieces that swoop across her bust.

In the scene, the cops raid the performance, and she has to run down the stairs. Her band members grab her, and she gets into a car. So, she does all this action, and it was a difficult dress to do all these things in. But it was also so fitting. Because one thing I love to do with characters is, she didn’t put this dress on, knowing that she’s going to have to run off stage and run down a stairwell. So, it kind of added to the action, in terms of making it much more of a scene.

Takashi Seida/Hulu

But this dress, Oh my God, it went through the ringer. The leather gloves were Carolina Amato, this beautiful glove maker based out of New York, and the gloves were covered with the lipstick from her cigarettes. We went through probably five pairs of these gloves. Beads were coming off in little strands, on the dress. After the third or fourth day that this thing worked, it looked like it had been run over by a car. So, we did a little restoring on it. It was one of my favorites, but it was probably the most heavy, and a dress that had to be reset more than any other in the movie.

DEADLINE: How did you handle the challenge of dressing so many background actors in period attire?

NIEDDU: Basically, we were prepping as we were shooting, balancing that with fitting people in period clothes. We had a really huge team. We had an amazing woman, Monika Heredi, who was in charge of background. We basically had, within our Montreal office, an assembly line set-up, and they were just coming in for fittings. She told me on the extras breakdown, as of the first week of October, there was 3,200 background scheduled. It was just all these huge scenes that were constant. So, her team really handled all of the background coming in.

I had a team in LA that I worked with, early on in prep, just getting our general stock of vintage that we could use, and all the vintage clothes for the background were sourced. Then, I had a team in Montreal that was pulling from the rental houses there, and we combined it all together. It was an insane amount of work. I mean, we had storage [racks], with just hats, color coded, and muslins, and women’s gloves in the colors of the rainbow. It was like a store.

DEADLINE: What were the highlights of your time on Billie Holiday? And what are you most proud of, with the film now behind you?

NIEDDU: It was a real passion project, and working with Lee is always such an amazing experience. He pushes me, and gives me the liberty to create and step into his world, and tell such amazing stories. So, just being a part of this project was incredible. Telling this historical story, but also getting to do it through an artistic lens, was really incredible, and of course the collaboration with Prada. Getting to reach out to them and show them what I’m thinking, and have them actually put it together, was something that I never imagined I would be doing.

Inauguration Of President Joe Biden & VP Kamala Harris: The Day In Pictures

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January 20, 2021 12:00pm

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The past four years — five and a half, really — have been a long, strange trip for the United States of America. As we mark the end of the Donald Trump presidency and celebrate the beginning of the Joe BidenKamala Harris administration, here is a look at Inauguration Day 2021 in pictures. Click the image above to launch the gallery.

Amid the sad backdrop of fencing, razor wire and myriad security forces, the former vice president and U.S. senator and the former senator and California attorney general were sworn in as the 46th president and 49th VP, respectively. Biden overcame personal tragedy and two failed runs at the presidency, and Harris becomes the first woman and first person of color to be sworn in as vice president.

Hollywood Reacts To President Joe Biden & VP Kamala Harris Inauguration: Oprah Winfrey, Mayim Bialik, George Takei, Bill Maher, More

Outgoing VP Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, were on hand as the U.S. held its quadrennial cerebration of democracy. Newly minted first lady Dr. Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff — the nation’s first second gentleman — were there with their spouses to celebrate the moment. Guests also included Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton and congressional leaders including Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy.

Watch: Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez & Garth Brooks Sing In Biden-Harris Administration

There also were musical performances by Lady Gaga — who sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” — Jennifer Lopez (“This Land Is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful”) and Garth Brooks (“Amazing Grace”).

The American people and those who represent them looked past the terrible events of two weeks ago and reclaimed the U.S. Capitol for those people Wednesday. Here is how it looked in the camera’s eye.

Hollywood Reacts To President Joe Biden & VP Kamala Harris Inauguration: Oprah Winfrey, Mayim Bialik, George Takei, Bill Maher, More

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January 20, 2021 11:57am

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Doug Emhoff, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Dr. Jill Biden and President-elect Joe Biden wave to spectators arrive for the Inauguration Day ceremony of President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris held at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20, 2021. President-elect Joe Biden becomes the 46th President of the United States at noon on Inauguration Day.
Anthony Behar/AP

Hollywood has taken to Twitter to voice its support for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as they were sworn in as the 46th president and 49th vice president of the United States. Also capturing much attention and praise is Amanda Gorman, the youngest poet ever to speak at a presidential inauguration, and her poem “The Hill We Climb.”

Reactions are a mix of relief, excitement and renewed hope in what, for many, was a turbulent four years, as well as joy over Harris as the first woman and first person of color to serve as vice president.

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Oprah Winfrey wrote: “Decency and compassion restored. Hallelujah!! President @JoeBiden” followed by four images of the American flag.

Decency and compassion restored. Hallelujah!! President @JoeBiden 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/0lf7iHsgeT

— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) January 20, 2021

Winfrey noted Harris’ history-making day as not only the first woman to hold the VP role, but also the First African American and South Asian American to do so. “In tears watching this extraordinary moment for women in the U.S. and the world. Vice President @KamalaHarris”, Winfrey wrote.

In tears watching this extraordinary moment for women in the U.S. and the world. Vice President @KamalaHarris 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/nwsokkD3cY

— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) January 20, 2021

Big Bang Theory alumna Mayim Balik tweeted: “We did it. In so many ways. We, the people.”

We did it. In so many ways. We, the people. ❤️🤍💙#BidenHarris #InaugurationDay #Inauguration2021 #Inauguration 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/QfyOXwcJC1

— Mayim Bialik (@missmayim) January 20, 2021

Bill Maher celebrated Inauguration Day, and a birthday. “What a great day for America! And when you think about it, for the entire world, and maybe in time, worlds beyond…but enough about my birthday, congrats to Biden and Harris! (And thanks to everybody who sent birthday wishes!)”

What a great day for America! And when you think about it, for the entire world, and maybe in time, worlds beyond…but enough about my birthday, congrats to Biden and Harris! (And thanks to everybody who sent birthday wishes!)

— Bill Maher (@billmaher) January 20, 2021

Gorman’s beautifully written poem “The Hill We Climb” garnered universal praise, even prompting a Twitter exchange between Lin-Manuel Miranda and Gorman on her references to Miranda’s hit musical Hamilton.

Thx @Lin_Manuel ! Did you catch the 2 @HamiltonMusical references in the inaugural poem? I couldn’t help myself! https://t.co/22UTKkGTLq

— Amanda Gorman (@TheAmandaGorman) January 20, 2021

Winfrey also praised Gorman, writing “I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I.”

I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I. pic.twitter.com/I5HLE0qbPs

— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) January 20, 2021

More reactions follow below:

Congratulations to our new President @JoeBiden and VP @KamalaHarris We know you will do your best to make America good again.

— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) January 20, 2021

Congratulations to @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris 🇺🇸!!! What a happy day it is #InaugurationDay pic.twitter.com/xTis75bwd7

— Dionne Warwick (@dionnewarwick) January 20, 2021

“We must reject a culture where facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.” — President Biden

— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 20, 2021

Joseph R. Biden Jr. is the 46th President of the United States. Democracy exhales.

— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) January 20, 2021

I knew I’d be relieved, but good Lord, I didn’t realize the weight on my heart and soul was so heavy until it was just now lifted.
Praise God and
God Bless #PresidentBiden pic.twitter.com/li8LY0W6db

— Valerie Bertinelli (@Wolfiesmom) January 20, 2021

THANK GOD.
THANK. GOD.
#46

— Jeri Ryan (@JeriLRyan) January 20, 2021

In my lifetime, I’m not sure where the best Inauguration speech falls, by I am positive I just heard the most important inaugural speech of my lifetime just now.

— Josh Gad (@joshgad) January 20, 2021

It matters. Happy Inauguration everyone. pic.twitter.com/pphzCdsWIR

— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) January 20, 2021

He is finally gone. The nightmare has come to its fitful end. A bunch of trump elite criminals pardoned in the shroud of night. The Golden Toilet Presidency is over. A turd is a turd no matter where it lays.

— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) January 20, 2021