So Why Was Made In America Canceled? We Break Down the Theories

Plus, Stephen Starr does a sushi switcheroo.

Lizzo performing in July, several weeks before she was to headline Made in America, which has now been canceled

Lizzo performing in July, several weeks before she was to headline Made in America, which has now been canceled (Getty Images)

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Was Made in America Canceled Due to Crime, Lizzo — or Something Else Entirely?

Last week, the world canceled Lizzo. This week, Live Nation canceled Made in America, the huge Jay-Z-curated festival in Philly that Lizzo was to co-headline with SZA.

Canceling something like Made in America is a really, really, really big deal. Made in America isn’t some concert at the TLA or Met, both of which are Live Nation venues. Made in America is a huge two-day concert festival with logistics out the wazoo and a long roster of performers who now don’t have a gig. It’s hard to imagine such a cancellation won’t result in some sort of litigation.

So why on earth would Live Nation cancel Made in America? Just what are these “severe circumstances” the company referenced in its statement on Tuesday? Let me break down the main theories that have been buzzing around on social media since the shocking announcement, some of them filled with rampant speculation.

Theory #1: The Made in America Cancellation Is Lizzo’s Fault

It’s easy to arrive there. Live Nation had to cancel Lizzo or face a public relations nightmare and potential boycott in light of the allegations against her in a lawsuit filed by former Lizzo dancers. But if they yanked Lizzo from Made in America, they could face a potential lawsuit from her, right? Maybe? And what about the people who spent lots of money because they wanted to see Lizzo, some of whom probably still want to see Lizzo even if that’s not the most popular of choices these days? Then again, it’s not uncommon for festival producers to replace performers, even at the last minute.

Nope. I’m not buying the theory that there’s a straight line between the Lizzo cancellation and the Made in America cancellation. A factor? Maybe. Probably. But it can’t be as simple as “If A, then B.”

Theory #2: Don’t Blame Lizzo for the Made in America Cancellation — Blame Crime in Philly

I’ve seen it suggested that Live Nation couldn’t get insurance for the massive outdoor event due to Philly’s crime problem. I’ve seen it suggested that Live Nation couldn’t afford the amount of security Made in America would require. And I’ve heard some people say that the city wouldn’t let Made in America proceed due to concerns about violence that might erupt at the event.

Nah. Again, while the crime problem may be a factor (I’ll explain below), Live Nation is an international for-profit company in the business of producing gigantic shows that come with a host of problems and potential dangers. Besides, crime in Philly is actually trending downward. (I know, I know … I’m not saying the city is a beacon of light or a prime example of peace and prosperity.) There’s absolutely no way Live Nation would call this off because of crime that might happen.

Theory #3: It’s Not Lizzo. It’s Not Crime. Made in America Was Canceled Due to Low Ticket Sales

This seems to be the least-talked-about theory on the socials, based on my thoroughly unscientific observation. But this is actually the theory that NBC News is running with, attributing the information to an unnamed source close to Made in America. And if this theory proves to be true, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

Do you remember when Philly was unbearably hot for weeks on end? Do you remember when we couldn’t go outside due to wildfire smoke … from freaking Canada? And wildfire smoke from New Jersey, too? I remember distinctly a moment during all that mess when an ad for Made in America popped up on my screen. And I actually thought to myself: There’s no way I’m buying non-refundable tickets to an event like that when there’s the potential for a repeat of that weather and unhealthy air quality. If anything, I would definitely wait until the last minute to make a purchase.

And as for the crime thing, even though crime is trending in the right direction — and Center City is actually one of the safest parts of the city, according to Brookings — there’s certainly the perception that Philly is a dangerous place to be. People ask me all the time for recommendations for restaurants and things to do, and over the past year, I’ve definitely been hearing more things like “Just nothing downtown” from my suburban friends. They don’t want to go into the city because they think they’ll be killed or carjacked. So while crime itself didn’t shut down Made in America, it’s easy to imagine the perception that Philly is a dangerous place playing into somebody’s decision to buy or not buy tickets to an open-air festival in the heart of the city.

Plus, some of the likely candidates to buy tickets to Made in America might well have already blown out their 2023 entertainment budgets buying tickets to Taylor Swift and Beyoncé earlier this year.

Finally, let’s be honest: Made in America isn’t what it used to be. Sure, it would have been fun to see Lizzo and her co-headliner, SZA. But long gone are the days when Beyoncé and Jay-Z performed at Made in America. Long gone are the days where we saw cross-genre co-headlining like Pearl Jam and Jay-Z, Kanye West and Kings of Leon, and Beyoncé and Nine Inch Nails. Made in America went from something special to just another concert.

So, yeah, I’m inclined to believe that Made in America ticket sales weren’t great for all of the aforementioned reasons and that given the new Lizzo headache, Live Nation decided to cut its losses.

A Live Nation spokesperson declined to comment for this article.

Stephen Starr Pulls a Sushi Switcheroo

I don’t question much of what Stephen Starr does. He’s proven himself to be a winner time and time again. But once in a while, he makes a move that leaves me scratching my head. Case in point: turning his popular and oh-so-stylish West Philly sushi spot Pod, which had been around for 20 years, into a sorta-Korean restaurant, Kpod, which had not a bit of sushi on the menu. Well, after two years of the Kpod experiment, Starr has dropped the K and revived Pod.

“Pod was open for two decades pre-pandemic, host to countless celebrations and some of Philadelphia’s favorite memories with STARR Restaurants,” Starr said in a statement on Monday. “When we reopened the space as Kpod, our customers kept asking us, ‘Where’s the sushi?’ So, we listened and decided to transition the space back to its original conception — a Japanese restaurant and Izakaya. We are looking forward to Pod’s newest iteration and welcoming back those who’ve missed us. We’ve missed you too.”

Aw, so sweet.

Click here to read what Philly Mag restaurant critic Jason Sheehan has to say about Starr’s latest move.

By the Numbers

$9 million: Size of the fund launched by philanthropies to help Philly celebrate the nation’s 250th birthday.

16: Number of states that this Main Line doctor has been sanctioned in.

4: People injured when a driver going the wrong way hit a tractor trailer and a SEPTA bus in Delco last night. Yes, another crash involving SEPTA. I’ve lost count.

And from the Half-and-Half Sports Desk …

The Phillies went down 1-0 in the second in the first half of yesterday’s doubleheader when Keibert Luiz smacked a homer off starter Zack Wheeler; meantime, the guys weren’t getting jack off Nats righthander Trevor Williams. C.J. Abrams started the third with a double, and Lane Thomas made it 3-0 with a homer. “There’s gotta be a little concern for this rotation,” Larry Anderson said, and yeah, there is. But in the third, we finally got to Williams, with a Johan Rojas single and back-to-back homers by Kyle Schwarber and Alec Bohm to tie it at 3-3. This team doesn’t even give me time to despair anymore.

Trea Turner doubled in the fourth, and Jake Cave singled. Rojas reached on a fielder’s choice, and damn if Schwarbs didn’t slam a three-run homer! Baseball is fun!

Amos Willingham came in for Williams in the fifth after a two-out Bryson Stott single and got the job done in that frame, but in the sixth, Turner walked and Cave homered: 8-3. Matt Strahm, in for Wheels for the seventh, got ’em 1-2-3, but so did Joe La Sorso, spelling Willingham. Luis Ortiz, in for Strahm for the eighth, gave up a run on a single, a double and a single, then rallied for three straight. That was all she wrote, and all we needed. Final: 8-4 Phils.

We started Ranger Suárez for the second bout, and he went 1-2-3 in the first. In our half, we picked up one on a Nick Castellanos single and a Turner double off Josiah Gray. Then in the bottom of the second, with two outs, Garrett Stubbs singled and made it to second on an error, Rojas walked, but Schwarbs struck out. In the fourth, the Nats picked up two on a walk and an Ildemaro Vargas homer. However! In the fifth, Bryce Harper homered with two outs after Schwarber walked:

Man, the balls have been flying to the outfield the last few games. Turner then singled and stole second, and came home on a single by Stott against new pitcher José A. Ferrer. In the sixth, Ranger gave up back-to-back-to-back two-out singles and was out himself, for Jeff Hoffman, who ended the pain. A messy, complicated sixth brought another Nats pitcher, Andres Machado, but no runs. Uh-oh: walk and another homer, this one by Joey Meneses, and it was 4-4 in the seventh. And Seranthony in, with one on due to an error by Rodolpho Castro at third, to hold the tie. Gregory Soto pitched the eighth for us and notched three straight. Craig Kimbrel for the ninth … and he gave up another homer to Meneses. Yikes.

Kyle Finnegan in for the windup. Schwarber ground out. Castellanos struck out. Harper up for the final shot. He ran the count to 3-and-2 … and struck out. Bummer. Next game’s tomorrow at 6:40. Go Phils!

And in Doop News …

The Union, in their face-off with the New York Red Bulls at Subaru Park in the Round of 16 of the Leagues Cup, were down 1-0 just four minutes in, on a gorgeous break and pass by Omir Fernandez to Elias Manoel. Damn. New York barely missed another in the 15th, with the Union midfield looking shaky. They fought back, though, with three corners and plenty of shots before halftime … but no points, alas.

And in the second half? A damn-close by Jakob Glesnes at 58 minutes in a much more even matchup, an even better push at 61 — and then, in the 67th, nirvana! A Nathan Harriel header evens it out. A yellow card on Kai Wagner for a trip at 75 after Julián Carranza got banged on a foul that wasn’t called. Time for general shove-ticuffs! A credible Union shot in the 85th resulted in a corner, and Red Bull had a flurry during the five minutes of stoppage time, but the tie held. Penalty kicks! Oh my blessed heartburn.

Andre Blake blocked their first. Jack Elliott made ours. They made their second. So did we. They bounced one off the crossbar! Man, our team is lucky. Or not: They blocked our third. They made their fourth. So did we. They made their fifth. It was all up to up to Jésus Bueno:

Oh, José Martínez got a yellow card at 79. Well, he got two, actually.

All Philly Today sports coverage is provided by Sandy Hingston.