“Pandemic phenomenon” isn’t enough to accurately describe what WME partner Richard Weitz and his 18-year-old daughter, Demi, created with RWQuarantunes.
What started in March 2020 as a Zoom experiment from their Beverly Hills kitchen became a go-to virtual event that over the past 15 months has featured hundreds of iconic artists performing for an invite-only audience of industry power players like Bob Iger, Casey Wasserman, Dana Walden, Jennifer Salke and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Along the way, they raised more than $26 million for causes ranging from COVID-19 relief to racial justice.
On June 19, the pair took their show to the Clive Davis Theater at L.A.’s Grammy Museum for a final event in partnership with the NAACP to coincide with Juneteenth. It proved to be a fitting location for the big event as Davis had been an instrumental figure in RWQuarantunes almost from the beginning. For much of the series, he acted as a co-host of sorts, helping book legendary artists while also regaling the virtual crowds with stories behind the songs. The music mogul appeared virtually and helped the Weitzes celebrate their run while also teasing his upcoming mega-concert in Central Park in August, an initiative to help toast New York’s pandemic recovery.
Iconic music producer Jimmy Jam appeared at the Grammy Museum alongside Richard and Demi to host the five-hour show that also featured NAACP president Derrick Johnson and special guests DJ Cassidy, Mike Muse and Siedah Garrett, among others. Jimmy Jam explained to The Hollywood Reporter the magic of RWQuarantunes.
“They believe that music is the universal language. It’s the thing that brings us all together. We had a situation [during the pandemic] where people were stuck in their homes and couldn’t do anything. Music, to me, was always the balm that made it better,” he said. “The Zoom screen was like a quilt with different colors, textures and themes welcoming in old people, young people, Black people, white people, everybody. When the music started playing, everybody had a common head nod or hand clap. The music speaks to everybody. Richard used the healing power of music not only to help people mentally but to inspire them to give back. [RWQuarantunes] was the perfect thing at an imperfect time.”
He continued: “In the music industry, we spend so much time in recording studios, doing our own thing, and we don’t often get a chance to interact with people unless it’s at an award show or an event. This was a chance to spend two or three hours of quality time from your house with some of the greatest people of all time, brought together by Clive Davis and all the people who contributed to what Richard created. It’s been an experience like no other, and the relationships that have been made through this will last forever.”
Summing up his experience, Richard signed off with: “God and the world chose us to do this together.”
With much of the country returning to normalcy — and many of the artists who appeared heading back out on the road to resume touring and live performances — it made sense to pause the virtual productions. But maybe not forever?
“It’s the end of this chapter of being home staring at our computer screens, but it’s not the end of RWQuarantunes,” explained Richard before displaying his top-tier agenting skills. “There’s always a possibility of a season two.”
A version of this story first appeared in the June 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.