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CBS responds to The Activist backlash by scrapping the reality competition for a documentary special

  • "We got it wrong," said Global Citizen, which teamed with CBS and Live Nation on the reality competition pitting activists against each other. The Activist received major blowback since the announcement last week that the five-part reality competition was scheduled to premiere on Oct. 22 with hosts Usher, Julianne Hough and Priyanka Chopra Jonas. CBS will now scrap the already-shot reality competition and film a documentary special featuring the activist competitors from scratch. Social media users, bloggers and opinion writers condemned The Activist for creating a show pitting activists against each other, contrary to the spirit of activism. "We’ve reached the sad place where activism has turned into a reality show," Michelle L. Norris wrote in a Washington Post Op-Ed. In a joint statement, CBS and producing partners Global Citizen and Live Nation announced the format switch, saying: “The Activist was designed to show a wide audience the passion, long hours, and ingenuity that activists put into changing the world, hopefully inspiring others to do the same. However, it has become apparent the format of the show as announced distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day. The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort. As a result, we are changing the format to remove the competitive element and reimagining the concept into a primetime documentary special (air date to be announced) It will showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in. Each activist will be awarded a cash grant for the organization of their choice, as was planned for the original show.” Global Citizen released a separate statement that included an apology. “Global activism centers on collaboration and cooperation, not competition. We apologize to the activists, hosts, and the larger activist community — we got it wrong,” the philanthropic org said. “It is our responsibility to use this platform in the most effective way to realize change and elevate the incredible activists dedicating their lives to progress all around the world.” The controversy prompted Hough to respond in a lengthy statement posted to Instagram, in which she admitted "I am not qualified to act as a judge." Variety notes that The Activist "had been announced in May but, with no celebrity names attached, drew almost no notice at the time. The info about the show hadn’t changed when the hosts were announced last week, but this time, it got attention — the wrong kind, with the competitive aspect provoking ire and accusations that the use of social media metrics in judging the winners amounted to a celebration of 'click-tivism.'"

    TOPICS: The Activist, CBS, Julianne Hough, Priyanka Chopra, Usher, Documentaries, Global Citizen, Live Nation, Reality TV