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Paris Hilton launches metaverse business on Roblox
PARIS Hilton commands as much as $1 million a night working as a celebrity DJ, entertaining partiers at clubs in China, Dubai, and on the Spanish vacation island of Ibiza.
This New Year’s Eve, she will be playing an electronic set for the revelers who drop by a venue of a different sort — her virtual island on Roblox.
Ms. Hilton created an island in the online virtual world, dubbed Paris World, where visitors can explore digital replicas of her Beverly Hills estate and its dog mansion, stroll a boardwalk inspired by the neon carnival wedding celebration she and husband Carter Reum hosted earlier this year at the Santa Monica Pier in California, and explore the island in a luxury sports car or Sunray yacht.
Like other virtual hangouts, Paris World will collect small payments for purchasing virtual clothing or booking a ride on a jet-ski.
“For me, the metaverse is somewhere that you can do everything you can do in real life in the digital world,” said Ms. Hilton, who worked to create aspects of her globe-trotting life for fans. “Not everybody gets to experience that, so that’s what we’ve been working together on over the past year — giving them all my inspirations of what I want in that world.”
Ms. Hilton, 40, joins a clutch of celebrities and brands rushing to embrace the metaverse, a broad term referring to a persistent virtual world. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg popularized the term this year he renamed the company to Meta to emphasize the metaverse’s central role to the company’s future.
Brands such as Tommy Hilfiger launched a line of digital ready-to-wear fashion for Roblox avatars. Nike opened a virtual world called Nikeland in November, where visitors can play dodgeball with friends, lace on a pair of virtual Air Force 1 sneakers and win medals. Rappers Lil Nas X and Travis Scott have also held concerts last year for millions of virtual concertgoers.
For the socialite and reality TV-star turned entrepreneur, Paris World is the latest venture launched by her new media company, 11:11 Media. She and veteran media executive Bruce Gersh aim to capitalize on the burgeoning creator economy, in which celebrities like Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James leverage their influence to produce films, television shows, and podcasts, brand marketing and to sell merchandise.
Ms. Hilton is most widely known for the reality television show The Simple Life, in which she and celebrity socialite, Nicole Richie, ditched their limos to travel America aboard a Greyhound bus.
Ms. Hilton says the dumb blonde act was a put-on, “I was always in on the joke, but I knew exactly what I was doing. Behind the scenes, I was building a brand.”
She has leveraged her gossip pages notoriety into 19 different consumer product lines, including perfumes, apparel, lingerie, cosmetics, sunglasses watches, shoes, handbags and jewelry, which together generated an estimated $4 billion in revenue over the past decade, the company disclosed.
Investment-banker husband Mr. Reum introduced Ms. Hilton to Mr. Gersh, a former Walt Disney Co. and Time, Inc. executive, to create a media enterprise around one of pop culture’s original influencers.
Since those early discussions, 11:11 Media has launched This Is Paris, a podcast in which she speaks candidly about her family and friends, and a pair of reality TV series, Cooking With Paris on Netflix and Paris In Love, about her engagement and marriage to Mr. Reum.
Ms. Hilton has also tapped into the mania for non-fungible tokens, collaborating with designer Blake Kathryn to sell three unique pieces of digital art — one of which fetched in excess of $1.1 million, according to online auction platform Nifty Gateway.
“The final piece of the digital space is the metaverse,” said Mr. Gersh. “We think that there’s a real opportunity for Paris to influence, even at a younger level than who her core customer is. We’ve built a fantastic, whimsical world that we believe her fans and new fans will just love.” — Reuters
Hugh Jackman tests positive for COVID
BROADWAY’S revival of The Music Man, the hottest ticket in town, on Tuesday canceled performances for five days after star Hugh Jackman tested positive for COVID.
In the latest New York City show to fall victim to the surging coronavirus, Mr. Jackman said on Twitter that he had only mild symptoms, including a scratchy throat and runny nose, and that as soon as he was cleared, he would be back on stage.
Producers announced that all performances of the musical would be canceled through Jan. 1.
Mr. Jackman tested positive after his co-star Sutton Foster came down with the coronavirus last week and was replaced by an understudy. Ms. Foster will return on Jan. 2 but Mr. Jackson is expected to be out until Jan. 6.
Dozens of Broadway shows, including Hamilton, The Lion King, and Aladdin, have been forced to cancel performances over the past two weeks as the virus has raged through the city despite vaccine mandates for cast, crew, and audiences.
Some, like the annual Christmas show by the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, shut down entirely, while musicals Jagged Little Pill and Ain’t Too Proud have closed weeks earlier than scheduled because of breakthrough cases and sluggish ticket sales during the normally busy holiday season.
The surge couldn’t have come at a worse time for Broadway, which reopened only in September after an 18-month closure because of the pandemic. January and February are traditionally the leanest months to bring in audiences, and large musicals need full houses to make money.
Music Man is currently running in preview ahead of an official opening scheduled for Feb. 10. Ticket demand has been strong despite an official top price of $699 a seat, and are changing hands on secondary websites for more than $2,000 each. — Reuters
Britney Spears not ready to return to music business
LOS ANGELES — Britney Spears has signaled she is not yet ready to return to making music after 13 years under a conservatorship that took away control of her personal and business affairs and left her scared of the entertainment business. Ms. Spears, 40, who last month was freed from the court-imposed arrangement in 2008 sought by her father, said in a lengthy Instagram post on Monday that she wanted to “push myself a bit more and do things that scare me but not too much” in 2022.
“I guess it seems odd to most why I don’t even do music anymore… People have no idea the awful things they have done to me personally and after what I’ve been through, I’m scared of people and the business!!!,” wrote Ms. Spears, who last performed publicly in Oct. 2018.
“Not doing my music anymore is my way of saying ‘Fuck You’ in a sense when it only actually benefits my family by ignoring my real work. It’s like I’ve subconsciously let them win,” the “Toxic” singer added.
Ms. Spears, who is engaged to boyfriend Sam Asghari, complained to the judge in charge of her conservatorship case earlier this year that she found her father Jamie Spears, who was in charge of her career, controlling.
Jamie Spears was removed as conservator in September. He has said his only goal was to help his daughter rehabilitate her career after she suffered a mental health breakdown in 2007 and that he always acted in her best interest. — Reuters