BALTIMORE (AP) — The CEO of Baltimore-based sports apparel company Under Armour is responding to criticism he received after calling President Donald Trump “an asset to the country.” Kevin Plank wrote an open letter to Baltimore published as a full-page advertisement in The Baltimore Sun Wednesday.
He wrote that his choice of words during an interview with CNBC last week “did not accurately reflect my intent.” Three celebrities the company sponsors — basketball star Stephen Curry, actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and ballerina Misty Copeland — were among those voicing concerns about his praise of Trump.
Plank says the company stands for equal rights and job creation and believes “immigration is a source of strength, diversity and innovation for global companies based in America.” He says the company opposes the president’s travel ban.
Some of Under Armour’s biggest celebrity endorsers – ballet dancer Misty Copeland, NBA star Stephen Curry and Hollywood icon Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson—are speaking out against the apparel brand’s CEO for referring to Donald Trump as “a real asset” to American businesses.
In an interview earlier this week with CNBC, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank shared several positive thoughts about Trump as a leader and supporter of corporations: “He’s highly passionate. To have such a pro-business president is something that’s a real asset to this country,” Plank said on Halftime Report. “I think people should really grab that opportunity. … He wants to build things. He wants to make bold decisions, and he wants to be decisive. I’m a big fan of people who operate in the world of ‘publish and iterate’ versus ‘think, think, think, think.’ so there’s a lot that I respect there.”
His comments led to a flurry of criticisms on Twitter and have now percolated to some of the brand’s top star athletes and performers. Copeland, star of the brand’s iconic “I Will What I Want” ad, uploaded a lengthy post to Instagram today. While she praises the brand for supporting her over the years, Copeland did not mince words about Trump. “I strongly disagree with Kevin Plank’s recent comments in support of Trump as recently reported,” she wrote in the Instagram post. “Those of you who have supported and followed my career know that the one topic I’ve never backed away from speaking openly about is the importance of diversity and inclusion. It is imperative to me that my partners and sponsors share this belief.”
She said she has spoken with Plank privately about his opinions in great detail but that, “as someone who takes my responsibility as a role model very seriously, it is important to me that he, and UA, take public action to clearly communicate and reflect our common values in order for us to effectively continue to work towards our shared goal of trying to motivate ALL people to be their best selves.”
With more than 10 million views, Copeland’s Under Armour ad from 2014 was a huge hit for the brand and resonated across the industry as an example of how marketing could celebrate strong women. Since the ad debuted, Copeland developed her own Under Armour clothing line, appeared on the cover of Time magazine and was named by the American Ballet Theater as its first African-American principal dancer. She hasn’t been alone in criticizing the brand’s founder and top executive.
Another major endorser for the brand, Golden State Warriors point guard Curry, also spoke out against Plank, although less directly than Copeland. When asked by The Mercury News about Plank’s description of Trump as “a real asset,” Curry responded by saying, “I agree with that description, if you remove the ‘et’ from asset.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson also posted his response to Plank on Instagram. “These are neither my words, nor my beliefs,” Johnson writes. “His words were divisive and lacking in perspective. Inadvertently creating a situation where the personal political opinions of UA’s partners and its employees were overshadowed by the comments of its CEO.”
According to usatoday.com, actor/producer and former professional wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has just been chosen by People Magazine to be this year’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”
Not since Denzel Washington was chosen in 1996 has a man of African-American descent earned the title.
“I thought, ‘Wow, we’ve pretty much reached the pinnacle,’” Johnson said, reacting to his new moniker. “I’m not quite too sure where we go from here. I’ve done it all, this is it.”
So what does he think makes him so sexy?
“Ah, a sense of humor,” he said in the story. “And I think probably just not trying to be sexy and just being cool and confident in your movies. I think with a lot of my fans, I’ve gotten to a very, very cool place where there’s a direct line between the man they know off-screen and the man they see onscreen.”
HBO is expanding its relationship with “Ballers” star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Johnson will produce and appear in a documentary for the network about youth prison boot camps, which is inspired by his young life. The film is set to premiere in May.
Titled “Rock and a Hard Place,” the documentary captures the lives of incarcerated young people who are granted a second chance: the opportunity to trade an extensive prison sentence for a fresh start by completing the famed Miami-Dade County Corrections & Rehabilitation Boot Camp Program. The doc chronicles the harsh six-month program, in which drill sergeants push inmates to their limit, encouraging them to learn from their past mistakes and become constructive members of society so that they’re less likely to return to prison.
Inspired by Johnson’s own experiences with the law as a youth, the wrestler-turned actor will appear in the documentary — a passion project for him — as he visits a facility to speak with a group of young offenders who are on the brink of serving long prison terms.
“By the time I was 16, I had been arrested eight or nine times for a variety of things, and can relate to what these kids are going through,” Johnson said.
Hailing from Johnson’s Seven Bucks Productions — which he co-founded with Dany Garcia — and 44 Blue Productions, Johnson, Garcia and 44 Blue president Rasha Drachkovitch will serve as executive producers, in addition to HBO’s Sheila Nevins and Matthew O’Neill and Jon Alpert who are directors on the film. HBO’s Jacqueline Glover is a supervising producer.
Garcia commented, “Miami-Dade is making a difference and truly changing lives in the process of all their hard work. That is why we wanted to make a film about it.” Drachkovitch added, “Something remarkable is happening behind the scenes of this program — we’re going to find out exactly what that is.”
“Rock and A Hard Place” marks the second collaboration between Seven Bucks Prods. and HBO, following “Ballers,” which is heading into Season 2. The project is the latest partnership between Seven Bucks and 44 Blue, following the companies’ co-produced docu-series “Hard Corps,” which is set in the competitive world of Drum Corps International and was recently greenlit at Fuse.
Aside from a stacked slate with “Hard Corps,” “Ballers” and “Rock and A Hard Place,” Johnson is staying plenty busy this year. News of the HBO doc right on the heels of Seven Bucks Prods. landing a script deal for a LAPD drama “Boost Unit” at Fox.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is off to a busy 2016. One week after announcing his return to WrestleMania, the pro wrestler-turned-actor/producer announced a new scripted series he’s developing through his Seven Bucks Productions company.
Fox has ordered a script for “Boost Unit,” a cop drama revolving around the newest recruit of the LAPD’s Auto Theft Task Force, who’s a notorious getaway driver with a hidden past. Described as a high-octane, action-packed hour, the project is said to capture Johnson’s trademark edge and humor, along with the turbo-charged speed of the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, in which Johnson has famously starred.
The project hails from Seven Bucks Prods. and Imperative Entertainment, and will be written by Jonny Umansky and Zach Hyatt. Seven Bucks was co-founded by Johnson and Dany Garcia. The duo will serve as executive producers with Umansky and Hyatt.
Johnson announced the script deal on social media on Tuesday — a news-breaking method that’s now become typical for the star who’s uber plugged into his fans with nearly 40 million followers on his Instagram account and more than 100 million across all of his social platforms. Just yesterday, he announced Kelly Rohrbach‘s casting in the upcoming “Baywatch” flick by way of posting a humorous video, which went viral.
In a statement, Johnson said, “We’re bringing to life the high stakes street pursuits and grueling work of this very specialized elite task force and we’re excited to partner with Imperative Entertainment to combine an epic mix of gripping action and sophisticated storytelling.” Garcia added, “This is a powerful partnership with Imperative. We couldn’t be more excited to work together in a world that we know and love – fast cars, high stakes and iconic characters.”
Tim Kring, co-founder of Imperative and creator of “Heroes,” commented: “Rarely do you hear a pitch that checks all the boxes and feels so immediately commercial, new and timely. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be involved with Seven Bucks Productions on ‘Boost Unit.”
“It’s not often a project comes together so perfectly. Seven Bucks and Imperative have already proven to be invaluable assets,” Umansky said, to which Hyatt added, “With both of them riding shotgun, we couldn’t be more excited to get ‘Boost Unit’ moving and shine a light on such a badass division of the LAPD.”
“Boost Unit” marks the first joint production between Seven Bucks and Imperative. For Seven Bucks, it marks yet another project in the works as of late, following the company’s unscripted marching band series “Hard Corps” getting the greenlight at Fuse.
For Johnson,“Boost Unit” only amps up his busy slate, as the multi-hyphenate is currently filming “Ballers,” which will be returning to HBO with a second season, in addition to the “Baywatch” movie revival, which is among his many projects coming up.
Forbes magazine has released its annual list of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood. This year, Robert Downey Jr. topped the list with $75 million in earnings from his work in the mega-blockbusters Iron Man 3 and The Avengers. Denzel Washington and The Rock were the two performers of color to make the top 10. For 1o straight weeks in 2013 Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had a film in the top 10 of the box office. This year he headlined hits like GI Joe: Retaliation and Fast & Furious 6. He earned a whopping total of $46 million this year, placing him at #5 on the list.
Washington is on an upswing following his 2012 hits Safe House ($126 million at the box office) and Flight ($93 million). His deal for back-end profits on the latter film, which earned $162 million worldwide on a $31 million budget, paid off for the actor. He earned $33 million last year, ranking him at #9 on Forbes‘ list. Washington is poised to capitalize on his A-list status again this summer with his highly anticipated action film 2 Guns, co-starring Mark Whalberg, which opens August 2nd.
I’ve got to give it to the folks at TNT – it was a smart choice to air a competition reality show hosted by wrestler-turned-movie-star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It’s completely entertaining, mainly because The Rock reminds the viewer very early on, well…that he’s got charisma in spades.
The Hero takes nine contestants and makes them endure physical challenges as well as ethical mind games while attempting to gain enough viewer appeal to be voted into the final where the winner’s pot could reach up to one million dollars. I usually get frustrated with the whole audience voter scenario, but The Hero has thrown in measuring a person’s moral compass, and that makes what the home audience thinks a little more appealing.
On top of jumping, rappelling, crawling, and conquering real fears, the participants have their principles tested with offers of cash on the sly. In other words, the show asks each of them the question: “If no one’s looking, how greedy will you be?” If every contestant selflessly resists the chance to pocket easy money when it’s offered in private, then it all goes into the team pot. The way the money is earned and the challenge scenario is tiered and a bit confusing. Nonetheless it’s easy to grasp that there is a one in nine chance to win up to a million dollars.
James Bond himself doesn’t have to do half the stuff these contestants do. And the casting is genius. They’ve got contestants with serious phobias. One can’t handle heights, another freaks out in the dark…um, hello…you signed up for a show called The Hero hosted by the Rock…and you’ve got phobias? It’s such a fun twist I was sucked into watching human behavior at its rawest.
In a pretty hilarious segment, a female contestant who is terrified of heights is asked to join The Rock atop the roof of a skyscraper. He eagerly awaits her as she chants, “I’m not going to fail … I’m not going to fail.” As she walks up two flights of stairs (yes, only two) to get to him he utters, “You’re not going to fail.” It’s just some stairs and there is railing but she is terrified. She makes it and leaps into the Rock’s bulging , welcoming arms. It’s a terrific human moment. He smiles, hugs and encourages her, but then offers her some money to pocket for herself or put in the pot. A moral dilemma ensues.
It’s a provocative scenario each time it occurs: “You’re broke…here’s some money and you need it… take it or put it in the pot.” As one contestant puts it (I’m paraphrasing here): “These people are not saying no to the money because they are good people. They are saying no because they want to appear to be good for the audience that votes so they will be voted to go to the end and have a chance at a more money.”
All on all, The Hero is a thoroughly watchable show, although I can’t say the title works. Are these people actually heroic? Not really. But Dwayne in all his Rockness and the challenges make for a fun summer series. Set in Panama, I’m not sure they’ll find a “Hero”… but they may just find the ratings.