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Ashley Judd Says She and Other Family Members Agree to Disagree About How to Grieve Naomi Judd’s Death

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Ashley Judd has spoken up at greater length about the mental illness that led to the suicide of her mother, Naomi Judd, almost three months ago, and about the very different passages of grieving she and other family members have gone through, in an hour-long interview for the Spotify podcast “Healing With David Kessler.”

Judd and Kessler agreed that it was important for those in the audience who might be struggling with grief to hear from someone who is right in the throes of it, on top of the experts who have appeared on the podcast to address it from more of a distance. “It’s scary to be vulnerable and transparent and to talk about acute grief and suffering in real time,” she said. “And I certainly know that I do so in community with lots of other people who have had very visceral recent losses, and I hope that this can be something that is useful.”

Variegation in grief was a primary topic of the podcast. “One of the things that I think we have done well as a family — meaning my pop, my sister, Wynonna and me — is we have really given each other the dignity and the allowance to grieve in our individual and respective ways,” Judd told Kessler. “And yet we’ve been able to completely stick together. So we can be at the same supper table and recognize, ‘Oh, this one’s in anger; this one’s in denial. This one’s in bargaining; this one’s in acceptance. I’m in shock right now.’ And we don’t try to control or redirect or dictate how the other one should be feeling at any particular moment.” Ashley said Wynonna is “in a pretty different place than I am right now. And we don’t have to be congruent in order to have compassion for each other. … I had to let go of this controlling notion that yours needs to look like mine. I mean, that’s really egocentric, isn’t it?”

As for where she, herself, is at, Judd said, “I think for the first 10 days I was in high-functioning shock, because there are all the things in our society that one attends to. … I’ve definitely experienced some denial in the form of just this numbness… I haven’t experienced anger yet. I imagine it’s in there. I don’t think I’m exempt from the stages of grief. And I one-huuuuundred percent have the depression.”

Judd said that her mother had sought help, but in her eyes, not always the right help, something she had given up trying to have any control over through the years.

Naomi, she said, “walked with her better understanding of her mental illness for some years, because she did get a couple of correct diagnoses. And there was one particular thread of help on which she really wanted to rely very heavily. And there were a lot of other augmentations that could have been beneficial. and for whatever reason, those were not as attractive to her.”

Judd said she would disagree at different times with her mother about mental-health treatment. “There were times when she got excellent and expert professional help, and chose not to pursue that in the ways that I thought were better for her. And I had to respect her autonomy and give her the dignity of making those decisions for herself, even when I thought her thinking was distorted,” she said.

“I’m not the arbiter of right and wrong, and I resign from the committee that says you must accept my views. And then what that leaves me with, David, is my grief and the loss of my beautiful mother, and my discomfort over ‘What if this happens?… What if she doesn’t stay at this medical detox? What if she doesn’t get help with this place that treats dual diagnoses? What happens if she doesn’t go to these meetings? Oh my God. Now she’s fired that person.’ You know, it leaves me with my feelings of my responsibility, and that’s why I need my own recovery. And the best thing that family members can do for themselves is get their own help.”

Judd told Kessler that, for much of her life, Naomi’s illness wasn’t even recognized as such.

“I look back on my childhood and I realize I grew up with a mom who had an undiagnosed and untreated mental illness,” she said. “There are different behavioral expressions, interactions, flights of fancy, choices that she made that I understand were an expression of the disease. And I understand that and know that she was in pain and can today understand that she was absolutely doing the best that she could, and if she could have done it differently, she would have.

“And my most ardent wish for my mother,” she continued, “is that, when she transitioned, she was hopefully able to let go of any guilt or shame that she carried for any shortcoming she may have had in her parenting of my sister and me. Because certainly on my end, all was forgiven long ago. What I know for myself is that it takes a robust recovery program to be the woman that I am today. And I want wellness and vitality and to have the greatest chance at happiness that I can. And my family just happens to come from a lot of grief, a lot of trauma. We’re pushing back against generations of hurt. And I believe it’s in me to do things differently.”

Judd and Kessler also spoke about different kinds of grief she had experienced earlier in her life, including sorrow after abandoning the belief that adults were dependable after she was sexually abused at age 7 and had her accusation dismissed by those she told. She also spoke of, in recent years, contacting a man she said raped her in the 1990s, and convincing him to sit down with her to have a conversation about “restorative justice.” “I didn’t need anything from him,” she emphasized. “It was just gravy that he made his amends and expressed his deep remorse, because the journey with grief and trauma is an inside job.”

Other subjects addressed on the podcast related to her mother’s death included the language around suicide, like why it is important to say “died by suicide” instead of using the term “committed suicide.” And Kessler even called himself out for having used the word “triggered” in front of Judd, while acknowledging that those who deal with the issue professionally aren’t all in agreement that it should be banished.

“I was speaking at a national conference for therapists,” Kessler said, “and I took a poll of different therapists of whether we should still be using the word. And most of them said, yes, it’s the word that’s (most) commonly used. A lot of them have begun using other words like ‘heightened emotions’ or ‘activated.” But in using in conversation with Judd, Kessler said in the podcast, “I looked at your face and I realized what I had said, and how I had used a word that was so activating and heartbreaking for you.”

Judd said she appreciated the host’s “humility as a professional, saying that you are learning and growing too. And I understand I live in a world that’s not going to accommodate my very understandable sensitivity around that word, and that I will need to take care of myself. … You know, my mother did die by suicide with a gunshot wound, and I’m the one who found her and was with her and walked her home. And so this is exceedingly difficult for me. And as you helped me understand, it’s not just trauma and it’s not just grief — it’s traumatic grief. And I have lots of ways of modalities of working on the images and the graphics, but it’s gonna be with me for a long time.”

As an example of how things can suddenly kick in, Judd spoke of being in Germany recently with her partner and attending a Wild West-themed stunt show at an amusement park, being unprepared for her reaction when faux gunplay broke out at length.

“I mean, right now, I can feel my arms starting to go on fire even when I describe the memories,” she said. “I couldn’t get out of the audience because they had closed it due to the pyrotechnics that were going on. And I became so disregulated, my breathing was rapid and shallow. I got as far away from the stage and the sounds of it as I could. I was hunkered down in the back. There was actually an exit, but my thinking was so flustered that I couldn’t even perceive it. And I immediately started texting with my community of girlfriends of support and my wisdom teacher. I put my earbuds in and put on soothing music, and I knew that it was up to me to try to get through this, and that I had some choices, but it did a number on me without my permission. You know, this wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna have a moment here and revisit the moment of my mother’s… thing.’ This happened to me and escalated like the old supersonic jet.”

Judd found a metaphor to describe how she is currently compartmentalizing as she deals with grief. “It’s like Mom’s the furthest book down on the bookshelf in the library. So my daily life or my plans are the books that are closer — like, ‘Oh, I go to Switzerland on Saturday’ or ‘Oh, Brandi Carlile’s in town.’ And then there’s Mom, and I just have to kind of push the other books out of the way, and then it hits me again.”

Going forward, she said, “I believe it will add a few things to my life in terms of more mental health awareness advocacy. I already know from my speaking engagements, which I enjoy so much, that that’s a part of my life that brings me enormous meaning and connection, speaking about health and wellness — those types of requests are increasing, which is meaningful to me.” But, she said, these are still early days for processing the trauma, even as she picks up her humanitarian work with the United Nations and other organizations overseas.

“The word integration comes to mind. I think softness comes to mind,” she said. “Healing is not about abandoning a certain portion of the process. It doesn’t mean, oh, I don’t cry anymore, or ‘that part doesn’t hurt anymore.’ I think it’s the opposite of that, if anything.”

 

 



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Ethiopia Habtemariam to Step Down From Motown Records

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Ethiopia Habtemariam, currently chairwoman and CEO of Motown Records, will be stepping down from her position in order to pursue new endeavors, she and the company stated in a joint announcement Tuesday.

“It has been the greatest honor to work with some of the most incredible artists, songwriters and partners in the world,” she said in a statement. “I have always had a clear vision for the talent that I’ve had the privilege to work with, which has led Motown to global success and returned the label to the forefront of contemporary culture. I would not have been able to make that vision come to life without the support of my amazing team at Motown, my UMG colleagues around the world, and Sir Lucian.  I am incredibly proud of what we have created during my tenure, and I consider this the perfect finale to my 20 years at UMG spanning publishing and recorded music.”

Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of UMG said, “Under Ethiopia’s leadership, Motown has seen strong growth, continuing its legacy of bringing important new voices to modern culture.  Not only has Ethiopia been instrumental in developing and breaking incredible artists, but also she has strategically identified and amplified key partnerships that have been, and will continue to be, cornerstones of the UMG creative ecosystem.  While I will miss working with Ethiopia, I know she will achieve great things going forward and she leaves with our enduring love and respect.”

Habtemariam began her career as an intern at LaFace Records before joining Universal Music Publishing in 2003, ultimately rising to president of urban music & co-head of creative at the company. Beginning in 2014 she held a dual role as president of Motown as well as her UMPG post, before focusing on the label and being promoted to chairwoman/CEO in 2021.

Over her tenure at Motown, Habtemariam — a regular honoree on Variety’s annual Hitmakers lists — struck several partnerships with creative and entrepreneurial entities, including Atlanta-based Quality Control Music, a pact that has produced hits from City Girls, Migos, Lil Baby, Lil Yachty and others. Other companies and artists under Motown’s roof include Blacksmith Records (Ted When, Vince Staples), and Since the 80s (Asiahn, Njomza), along with artists Erykah Badu, Kem and Tiana Major9, among many others.

A successor to Habtermariam will be announced at a later date. Her internal announcement follows in full:

Team:

Some of you may or may not know that the top of 2023 marks my 20th year at Universal Music Group. And, after two amazing decades, I’ve made the incredibly hard decision to leave for my next adventure. I’ll address my future plans soon, but today is all about Motown, UMG and you.

First and foremost, to the Motown team, your commitment to our artists, the legacy of this label, and the community at large is not lost on me. It’s been a privilege and honor to work with each and every one of you and I’m so excited to see how you continue to move Motown forward. Over 60 years ago, Mr. Gordy forged a core for this company – one that respects and celebrates artistry and strongly supports creative entrepreneurship – and this continues to live on thanks to all of you. I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve built. 

When I think of my time at UMG, it occurs to me that my career really started at this company.  I was a creative manager at UMPG 20 years ago, then by 2010 worked as an A&R consultant and manager while building a creative team at UMPG that signed and developed some amazing songwriters such as Cardo, Childish Gambino, Chris Brown, Ciara, Big Sean, Hit Boy, J Cole, Jhene Aiko, Justin Bieber, Miguel, Stacy Barthe and Quavo among many others. In 2014, I was promoted to the position of President of Urban & Co-Head of Creative at UMPG and appointed to President of Motown Records. 

It was a busy time being in dual roles and laying the foundation for what was to come in an industry with an ever-changing landscape. While continuing to build at UMPG, I was also deeply dedicated to bringing a renewed vision of Black excellence to Motown – rooted in the past but connected to today, global in nature and a platform for the future.  In 2015, we signed a landmark deal for Motown with Quality Control which included a distribution agreement ensuring support in developing the next generation of global superstars. By 2016, as that strategy brought Motown success with new groundbreaking artists, Motown became my sole focus as we continued to grow the company with artists including BJ the Chicago Kid, Brandy, Kem, Diddy, Erykah Badu, Lil Baby, Lil Yachty, Migos, Sebastian Kole, Smino, Tiana MAJOR9, YoungBoy and Vince Staples among others. 

The business has changed so much over those twenty years but throughout its ups and downs, I’ve always felt blessed to have the opportunity to work in so many aspects of the industry. My hunger to learn and continue to evolve led me to the unique experience of working across publishing and recorded music simultaneously. The fact that I was empowered to this unique position reflects my passion for supporting those that are blessed with the gift of music but also speaks to the incredible opportunities I was offered here and for that I want to thank Lucian who recognized my talent as a creative in publishing and gave me the opportunity to lead at a label as well.  

But one thing that has never changed is the love I have for music—and the artists, songwriters and producers that make such incredible art.  That continues to drive everything I do professionally, and it always will. 

This is an exciting time in music and I look forward to exploring new creative and entrepreneurial opportunities. I will share more about my future plans but for now I want to focus on winding down my role as we get to the end of the year.

Thank you for this incredible journey. Know that I will always be here to support you all. 

With love, gratitude and respect,

Ethiopia



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Chuu Removed From LOONA Amid Back-and-Forth Reports Between K-Pop Group & Label

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Chuu is no longer a member of the K-pop girl group LOONA, and the events surrounding the exit have raised eyebrows in Korea’s media and music industry.

BlockBerryCreative, the K-pop girl group’s label, announced through LOONA’s online “fan cafe” on Friday that Chuu had been expelled and withdrawn from the 12-member outfit. The fan cafe post is only available to subscribers of the Korean site, but local media widely shared the news and statement. In the report, the agency cited an investigation that found Chuu using “violent language” and “misuse of power toward staff” (as shared by translations from Soompi).

BlockBerryCreative and Chuu’s relationship has been a source of concern among fans and prone to media speculation in the past year.

In the spring, rumors surfaced that Chuu took legal action in 2021 to cut parts of her exclusive contract with BlockBerryCreative. By summertime, the stories evolved to Chuu joining a new management label and setting up her own agency. BlockBerryCreative denied any management changes. Still, the 23-year-old did not participate in LOONA’s world tour that visited North America, Europe and Asia from August to October this year or their recent Japanese single “Luminous.” Chuu has stayed busy, with many television appearances, growing a YouTube channel, and releasing solo singles as LOONA’s most visible member.

In the spring, Chuu was rumored to have taken legal action in 2021 to cut parts of her exclusive contract with BlockBerryCreative. By summertime, the stories ranged from Chuu joining a new management label to setting up an agency all on her own. BlockBerryCreative denied that she was transferring management. Still, the 23-year-old did not take part in LOONA’s world tour that visited North America, Europe and Asia from August to October of this year, or their recent Japanese single “Luminous.” Chuu has stayed busy, with many television appearances, growing a YouTube channel and releasing solo singles as LOONA’s most visible member.

On Nov. 28, BlockBerryCreative followed up with another statement saying that the expulsion was not in retaliation. The label said it’s up to the parties involved to share specific evidence. It asked the media to refrain from speculative reporting, after noting articles that doubted BlockBerryCreative’s claims and intentions.

Billboard repeatedly reached out to a BlockBerryCreative representative for comment as the stories unfolded. The rep confirmed Chuu’s removal from LOONA and pointed to previously shared statements.

Several K-pop stars and industry professionals have shown public support for Chuu. Singer Sunmi posted a selfie of her with Chuu after the expulsion news dropped, while Korean music journalist Joy Park shared her memories of Chuu and a signed LOONA album on her Twitter account. Kim Do Heon, another Korean music critic, criticized BlockBerryCreative’s statement through a Twitter post.

For her part, Chuu shared a short statement through an Instagram Story post. On Monday, the star wrote that she was not contacted about nor does she know anything about the recent events. She shared that she would release another statement soon but told fans she hadn’t done anything they would disapprove of.

Another report surfaced on Monday saying that nine of the remaining 11 LOONA members (Heejin, Haseul, Yeojin, Kim Lip, Jinsoul, Choerry, Yves, Go Won and Olivia Hye) were taking legal action to break their contracts with BlockBerryCreative. The agency dismissed the rumor. A BlockBerryCreative representative told Billboard that the report is “groundless.”

LOONA (whose Korean name translates to “Girl of the Month”) began their journey in 2016 with the ambitious plan of introducing each member with her own solo music and splinter units between the members before all 12 members finally came together in August 2018 for the [+ +] EP. LOONA has since earned multiple entries on World Albums and even sent their [12:00] album to the Billboard 200. The group hit No. 1 on World Digital Song Sales with their songs “365” and “Shake It” and also became one of the few K-pop acts to enter the Pop Airplay chart with an English single, “Star.”



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Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Promotes Amy Homma to Chief Audience Officer – Film News in Brief

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Long-time Academy Museum of Motion Pictures executive Amy Homma was promoted to Chief Audience Officer Nov. 28, Director and President of the Academy Museum Jacqueline Stewart announced.

“Amy has proven herself to be a skillful, forward-thinking, and inspiring leader since she began at the museum in 2019, and I look forward to seeing her and her teams thrive in this new capacity,” Stewart said. “As a seasoned programmer, educator, and administrator who brings a deep knowledge of audience engagement and museology, Amy is the ideal person to steer our museum’s next chapter of external relations.”

Prior to her new appointment, Homma worked as vice president of Education and Public Engagement at the Academy Museum. Under her leadership, the museum developed K-12 programming and public programs rooted in accessibility and activism.

Homma’s introduction to the Academy Museum was as the inaugural director — a position she acquired following the conclusion of her tenure at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

In her new role, Homma will continue to facilitate community engagement while having a heavier hand in the museum’s upholding of inclusive values.

“I am eager to work across teams to further develop the museum’s impact and commitment to local, national, and global audiences through a visitor-centered approach,” Homma said.

Cinema Audio Society To Honor Alejandro González Iñárritu with Filmmaker Award

 Alejandro González Iñárritu will receive the Cinema Audio Society’s Filmmaker of the Year honor at the 59th CAS Awards on Saturday, March 4, at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown hotel.

“It is an honor to name director Alejandro González Iñárritu as the recipient of the prestigious 2023 CAS Filmmaker Award. His sobering portrayals of the human experience bring empathy and consciousness to perspectives often left untold and unconsidered,” said CAS President Karol Urban. “No doubt drawing on his history in music, his films experiment and utilize sound — uniquely embracing its capacity to emotionally engulf the viewer.”

Upon hearing the news that he was to receive the CAS honor, Mr. Iñárritu said, “Being singled out as a filmmaker by my colleagues in the Cinema Audio Society is a great honor. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with some of the most gifted sound designers in the industry and truly cannot emphasize the importance of the work they do in creating a fully sensorial experience for audiences when watching a film.”

Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival Announces 2022 Winners

The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival has announced this year’s winners. In its 37th year, the festival took place from Nov. 4-13 and screened 200 films.

Below is the complete winners list of the Jury and President Awards at the 37th annual Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival:

Best American Indie

“Corner Office,” directed by Joachim Black

Honorable Mention:

“American Dreamer,” directed by Paul Dektor

“The Drop,” directed by Sarah Adina Smith

Best Foreign Film

“Ride Above” (Tempete), directed by Christian Duguay

Best Documentary

“The Ghost of Richard Harris,” directed by Adrian Sibley

Honorable Mention:

“The Long Rider,” directed by Sean Cisterna

“Territorio Africano,” directed by Joaquin & Julian Azulay

“Tiger #24,” directed by Warren Pereira

Spirits of Independents Awards

“Abuella’s Family: The Sansgiving Episodes,” directed by Kevin Bosch

“American Dreamer,” directed by Paul Dektor

“Bobcat Moretti,” directed by Rob Margolies

“Camino Al Exito,” directed by Sebastian Rodriguez

“Combat Club,” directed by Mark Moorman

“D.O.A.,” directed by Kurt St. Thomas

“A Matter of Trust,” directed by Annette K. Olesen

“The Mistress,” directed by Greg Pritikin

“Trade,” directed by Corey Stanton

“The Artist and the Astronaut,” directed by Bill Muench

“Freedom on Our Mind,” directed by Chad Light

Special Jury Prize for Production

“D.O.A.,” directed by Kurt St. Thomas

Best Florida Feature

“Bridge to the Other Side,” directed by KT Curran

Best Florida Short

“Connections,” directed by Jennie Jarvis

“Lioness,” directed by Molly E. Smith

Best American Indie Short

“Lift” by Charles Burmeister

Best Foreign Short

“Viva,” directed by Esteben Steven Petersen (Dominican Republic)

Best High School Video

“The Interns,” directed by Sabrina Dubner (USA)

“Backspace,” directed by Ethan Ross (UK)

“White,” directed by Vivian Burmeister (USA)

Best College Short

“Dad We Shall Sing Something,” directed by Aidana Baurjanqizy  (Kazakhstan)

Best College Long Narrative

“Nahrani,” directed by Angelina Auer (Germany)

Best College Animation (TIE)

“There Is Exactly Enough Time,” directed by Oskar Salomonowitz (Austria)

“The Many Benefits of Heartbreak,” directed by Luke Schroeder (USA)

Best College Doc

“Resurgence,” directed by Krushan Naik (USA)

Best Filmed in Broward Short

“Un Pequeno Corte,” directed by Mariana Serrano

Best Filmed in Broward Doc

“The Halls of Power,” co-directed by Janay Joseph, Graciel Quezada & Bianca Vucetice

Lifetime Achievement

Sally Kirkland

Career Achievement

John Gray

Career Achievement

Taryn Manning

Star on the Horizon

Hopper Jack Penn

Star on the Horizon

Zoe Bleu



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