The 'Grifters': Spotify Exec Blasts Harry And Meghan

The Hollywood hopes of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, aka Harry and Meghan, have been broadsided by negative publicity over the last two weeks.

In the first of two gut-punches, the Netflix stars were blasted as “grifters” by an outspoken Spotify podcast executive.

The comments came a day after Spotify and the ex-royals severed a podcast development and production deal struck in 2020 that was said to be worth more than $20 million.

When the separation was confirmed on June 15, Spotify and the Sussexes issued a bland joint statement. 

“Spotify and Archewell Audio [part of the pair’s production company] have mutually agreed to part ways and are proud of the series we made together,” the statement said.



But a day later, the comments made by Bill Simmons, head of podcast innovation and monetization at Spotify, were anything but bland.

“I wish I had been involved in the ‘Meghan and Harry leave Spotify’ negotiation,” said Simmons June 16 on his own podcast, “The Bill Simmons Podcast.”

“ ‘The F**king Grifters.’ That’s the podcast we should have launched with them,” he said. “I have got to get drunk one night and tell the story of the Zoom I had with Harry to try and help him with a podcast idea. It’s one of my best stories … F**k them. The grifters.”

Simmons has a title at Spotify stemming from Spotify’s purchase of his podcast company, The Ringer, in 2020 for a reported price of $196 million. Simmons came out of the world of sports commentary and podcasting, where he earned a reputation for bluntness.

Simmons’ anti-Sussex tirade did not make headlines until this past Monday, probably because he made them on the podcast late on Friday.

Then, five days after Monday’s headlines came a front-page Wall Street Journal story that labeled the Duke and Duchess “Hollywood flops.” 

“Prince Harry and Meghan [Markle’s] Hollywood foray is looking like a flop,” said the WSJ story published this past Saturday.

“They arrived in Southern California three years ago with Duke and Duchess titles and plans to capitalize on a cash-rich streaming business desperate for star power.

“The big-ticket deals that followed [with Netflix and Spotify] have led to more cancellations and rejections than produced shows,” the story said.

The story cited instances in which the pair’s self-styled production company, Archewell, continually disappointed its two principal content partners.

Their Netflix deal, also struck in 2020, is said to be worth $100 million and reportedly runs well into 2025. Citing unnamed sources, the Journal said Netflix is unlikely to renew it at that time.

Just last December, Harry and Meghan were looking like a triumph for Netflix with the debut of their much-talked about docuseries “Harry & Meghan.” 

The series dropped on December 8, a month before the release of Harry’s best-selling memoir, Spare.

But while the show and the book attracted worldwide media attention for a period of a few weeks, the Sussexes and their stories of victimization at the hands of Britain’s royal family and the global news media had limited staying power.

The phenomenon was similar to the lead-up and aftermath of the prime-time interview the two conducted with Oprah Winfrey in April 2021.

This was the show in which the Duke and Duchess leveled their racism accusations at unnamed members of Harry’s family. 

In the same interview, Meghan accused the royal household of turning a deaf ear when she was suffering from depression and felt suicidal.

Their statements made headlines around the world, but much of the commentary was negative. At any rate, the whole thing was largely forgotten in about three weeks.

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