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Buzzfeed News

BuzzFeed News and Hulu are developing a feature documentary on the dark side of R. Kelly’s career, including his alleged abuse and exploitation of young black women, according to a Buzzfeed spokesperson.

Why it matters: The film marks the latest project in a series of new video documentaries from BuzzFeed News, including a new show for Netflix, which launches July 9.

Between the lines: Many digital and print-first media publishers are turning to premium video, or TV-quality content, to reengage their audiences where they spend the most time — the big screen.

  • From a business perspective, it also allows publishers to bring in money from new revenue sources, like revenue sharing agreements from TV-like video ads being sold around the content or content licensing agreements on platforms like Netflix.

The film will include key figures from the R. Kelly story, including survivors and R. Kelly’s associates. A title for the film has not yet been announced.

  • The reporting will be led by by music critic and radio host Jim DeRogatis — who has covered Kelly for almost two decades — and Buzzfeed deputy national editor Marisa Carroll, who has edited and overseen BuzzFeed News’ coverage of the R. Kelly drama, according to a Buzzfeed spokesperson.
  • It will be directed and produced by award-winning filmmakers, including Emmy Award-winning director Lyric Cabral, Academy Award-winner Laura Poitras and Charlotte Cook. The project was developed by Linzee Troubh and Shani Hilton of BuzzFeed News.

The bigger picture: The documentary is part of a larger Buzzfeed series called Follow This, which features 20 episodes at 15-minutes each as part of a weekly series, Buzzfeed is also investing in other video projects, like a morning news show on Twitter called AM to DM, a show on Oxygen network and a docu-series on Apple News.

Go deeper: In an interview with Bloomberg, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said "he wants his company to make money in TV and films, e-commerce, and licensing or merchandising ... [and] is also considering “focused subscription products” in topics such as education, gaming or lifestyle media."

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
15 mins ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."

Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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