As our cover package underscores, 2020 will be a year to remember in so many profound ways — both for the world at large and the industry we cover.
Looking back, we will not forget the shock of Tom Hanks’ March 11 announcement on Instagram that he and his wife, Rita Wilson, had tested positive for the coronavirus — becoming the first celebrities in Hollywood’s backyard (though the couple was in Australia at the time) to divulge they had been stricken by the deadly virus.
We published a cover story that very day titled “Hollywood in Freefall,” chronicling how the pandemic was forcing the business to navigate unprecedented territory as movie and TV productions were halted, concerts and other live events were canceled and movie theaters abroad closed down. Media stocks tanked, but more alarming, people were beginning to be furloughed and laid off in heartbreaking fashion.
A week later, our cover story, “Shutdown,” documented how the pace of cancellations and delays had accelerated, putting a heightened strain on business in Hollywood. And on April 29, our cover story, “The Great Depression,” featured a grim illustration of industry workers lined up to collect unemployment checks to reflect the dark reality that hundreds of thousands had been thrown out of their jobs.
We of course are still reeling as cases of COVID-19 are once again surging across America and internationally, reaching “catastrophic” levels in L.A. alone, with nearly 13,000 new daily cases reported as of Dec. 13.
Witnessing the chilling video footage of George Floyd’s life being choked out of him by Minneapolis officers will forever be seared into our collective memory. We can only hope that the resulting outrage and passion of the Black Lives Matter movement will pressure decision-makers in every white-dominated corner of the media business to finally wake the hell up to the inequities in the industry — and do something about them!
“I think it’s incumbent on all of us to hold people’s feet to the fire and keep pushing these people in positions of power to be more inclusive,” George Clooney told me when I interviewed him for our cover story.
On the eve of the new year, I can only hope that we all do our part to stand up, speak out and take actions that will have real impact and make our world a saner, more fair-minded place to work and live.