Today’s Ankler Hot Seat podcast welcomes guest co-host Sonny Bunch, culture editor of The Bulwark and Washington Post contributing columnist, joining Janice Min and Tatiana Siegel. On today’s episode, Bunch discusses his latest for The Washington Post, “The Oscars are niche entertainment now. Just let Netflix stream them” and the dismal awareness numbers for some of the Best Picture nominated films. The show also tackles China’s decision to not broadcast the Oscars for a second-straight year and why, the puzzle of who is invited to be a presenter on the show, and predictions for Best Picture.
The hosts also tackle the controversy around Jay-Z’s Oscar afterparty, scheduled to be held at Los Angeles’s iconic Chateau Marmont, a hotel whose controversies have drawn a boycott supported by Issa Rae, Jane Fonda, Spike Lee, Amanda Seyfried, David Diggs and Alfonso Cuarón. The Chateau has faced damning accusations in the last few years, ever since they fired nearly their entire staff at the onset of the pandemic without benefits. Female employees have said they were subjected to sexual harassment, including from owner Andre Balazs (which he has denied); darker-skinned employees have said they were subjected to racist remarks and passed over for promotions, with The Hollywood Reporter reporting that the Chateau’s managing director, Amanda Grandinetti, referred to one staff member as a “blackie”, and told another to respond to her with “Yessa, massa.” April Blackwell, a Black Chateau worker, said Grandinetti fired her after she complained about a pattern of racist abuse from guests. She is one of two Black employees currently suing the Chateau. The boycott is also supported by the Writer’s Guild of America, and a picket line is expected on Sunday night.
Keisha Banks, a former Chateau events server, tells The Ankler: “We constantly see Black elites putting their fame and money before their fans. By now, Jay-Z and Beyonce must be aware that Chateau's workers have spoken out about being mistreated. They should be leveraging and moving their dollars elsewhere in solidarity with the people they claim to support and who are calling out for justice. At this point, the news on Chateau is out there, some celebs are willfully choosing to ignore it. The working class is sick of seeing the rich virtue signal.” Chateau Marmont workers and Black clergy leaders are set to hold a press conference and delegation outside ROC Nation in an attempt to make their voices heard and deliver a complaint alleging impending violations of a recently enacted state law protecting workers’ jobs.
Ed note: After this podcast was taped, a press release was sent out announcing that 22-year veteran employee Walter Almendarez, who was laid off by Chateau Marmont in March 2020, would present legal complaints today to the California Labor Commissioner, alleging that both the Chateau Marmont and Jay-Z’s entertainment company ROC Nation are in violation of SB-93, the state return-to-work law, by failing to rehire him and his coworkers in general and specifically for Jay-Z’s party. The complaint alleges that the entities failed to offer guest relations, valet, security, and other work to Almendarez and his colleagues, as last year’s state law requires. Of the 50 workers with the longest tenures at Chateau Marmont prior to the layoffs, approximately 46 were Latinx.
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