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Quibi Staff Reportedly Outraged After Reese Witherspoon Was Paid $6 Million for Narrating ‘Fierce Queens’

Fern Siegel

Mobile streamer Quibi has come under fire for paying Reese Witherspoon $6 million for her narration of “Fierce Queens,” reports New York Post’s Page Six.

Outraged Quibi staffers have two points of contention. First, Witherspoon’s husband, Jim Toth, is Quibi’s head of content acquisition and talent. Second, a source told the NYP “Queens” been one of the worst performers for the troubled platform, which underwhelmed in its opening weeks.

The short-form nature doc, produced by the BBC’s Natural History Unit, explores the women of the animal kingdom, from cheetahs to seahorses to hyenas. The show posits: “Imagine a world where females call all the shots.”

The streamer debuted April 6, and founder Jeffrey Katzenberg has blamed its ills on the pandemic. Its quick-bites format didn’t click with shelter-at-home orders. (That may change as the U.S. gradually reopens.)

Quibi has “cut overtime for its lowest-level staffers and quietly let go of others,” said the NYP source.
Witherspoon is one of many celebrities associated with the streamer. Jennifer Lopez, Will Forte, Sophie Turner and Liam Hemsworth also have shows.

A PR staffer representing Quibi reached out to The Streamable calling the Post’s Page Six story “inaccurate” and that the assertion Witherspoon was paid $6 million for narrating “Fierce Queens” and that “Fierce Queens” was one of the worst performers on the platform was “simply untrue.”

The Post updated their Page Six story to include comments from a Quibi spokesperson who said Witherspoon’s salary was “inaccurate” and that they “are pleased with the performance of ‘Fierce Queens.’”

But the Post didn’t update the $6 million figure in their story or the information about “Fierce Queens” being “one of the weakest performers on Quibi.”

The PR staffer representing Quibi also shared a memo with The Streamable that Katzenberg and Quibi CEO Meg Whitman shared with their staff:

Good morning—
Many of you have already seen the NY Post’s Page Six story. The story was completely inaccurate. We are pleased with the performance of “Fierce Queens”; additionally, the talent compensation was utterly inaccurate. We are grateful for Reese’s continued support of Quibi.
We are proud of the work that Jim Toth and the Content team are doing every day. Their integrity and commitment to their work is unparalleled and we are fortunate to have them on our team. They have delivered compelling content that is working great with our audiences.
Nothing has changed since our last company meeting two weeks ago. Quibi is in a good financial position. As we said in that meeting, we will look for ways to tighten our belt. We are not laying off staff as a part of cost saving measures. We’ve recently added a dozen new Quibi employees.
And in regard to tightening our belt, our senior leadership team has volunteered to take a 10% pay cut because it’s the right thing to do.
We are excited about the future. As we shared in our most recent company meeting, the best is yet to come. We are confident in Quibi and the work that you are creating every day.
As the last several days have shown us, there are so many important challenges facing all of us, and we are thankful that we are all able to work together to support each other, and create a platform that can celebrate the diverse voices of our community.
Meg and Jeffrey

In mid-May, Sensor Tower ranked Quibi No. 125 in the App Store. Now it’s 1,007. To date, Quibi has generated about 4.2 million downloads, but only one-third are daily active users, according to Apptopia.

Editor’s Note: This post was updated to include comments from a PR staffer representing Quibi after the post had been published. The post was also updated to reflect that The Post had updated their Page Six story.

‘Fierce Queens’ Trailer