“What it comes down to is you don’t want to leave and I don’t want to stay.”
In 2018, Sofia Franklyn and Alex Cooper debuted their podcast, Call Her Daddy. The two friends came up with the idea while on vacation, and a little over a month after its launch, Barstool Sports picked the show up.
Call Her Daddy focuses on the lives of Cooper and Franklyn by “exploiting the f**k out of their crazy lives and making you feel a hell of a lot better about yours”. In just over two years, the podcast has grown into a sensation – topping the podcast charts, building a dedicated fanbase and skyrocketing the girls from “broke NYC 20-somethings” to internet icons.
Recently, the weekly podcast has been the center of attention, but not for the girls’ racy dating advice. Since April, when the most recent episode of the podcast was uploaded, there has been a very public feud going on between Barstool Sports – in particular its founder, Dave Portnoy – and the pair.
What’s going on?
In April, Call Her Daddy uploaded two episodes: one on 1 April and another on 8 April, each with cryptic subtitles for the episodes. The 8 April episode featured the subheading “Kesha… The End”, which opened with a clip from Kesha’s 2017 single, Praying, which discusses her trying to free herself from her contract with Dr. Luke. Cooper and Franklyn stated, “We’re going to let you guys interpret that however you want,” and after the episode the feed went dark.
On 15 April, the first week without a new episode, the Call Her Daddy Instagram account posted “No new episode this week. Finally, the trail will be revealed,” causing the “Daddy Gang”, as their listeners are called, to panic. The next week, they shared the following post, causing many raised eyebrows and a lot of speculation.
Fast forward to May and everything seems to be going awry for the parties involved, as the drama starts to become more public.
On 17 May, the feud that seemed to be brewing came to a head when Portnoy posted a 30-minute episode to the podcast’s feed, telling his side of what was going on behind the scenes. In this contract dispute tell-all, Portnoy called both Franklyn and Cooper “unprofessional, disloyal and greedy”.
Reportedly, the girls signed a three-year contract with Barstool, with Franklyn and Cooper being able to renegotiate with Barstool or take another path upon its completion. The contract reportedly states they each making $75,000 annually as a base salary — going up to $100,000 after three years — with additional compensation for downloads.
However, going into year two of their contract, the girls were told what they were making was below industry standard and that they should renegotiate. Portnoy turned down the girls’ initial offer, but later met with them at his apartment and offered a new deal: a $500,000 annual salary, plus bonuses, six months off of their initial three-year contract, and they would reclaim the IP for Call Her Daddy. Portnoy thought that the girls were going to take this deal right away, but they didn’t.
Cooper, apparently, was willing to take the deal, while Franklyn was not. Franklyn continued to push boundaries and get more from Barstool.
On 19 May, Franklyn finally made a public comment on her Instagram Story. This has since expired, causing listeners to take Cooper and Portnoy’s side, since they posted on permanent platforms. In the video, Franklyn stated, “There’s been a lot of crazy s**t being thrown around and some of it is true, some of it is false.”
Full story on IG. Link in bio. pic.twitter.com/YG6mGK1Uey
— Sofia Franklyn (@sofiafranklyn) May 19, 2020
According to the New York Post, Franklyn acknowledged that Barstool Sports was responsible for turning them into an overnight success, but that she and Cooper wanted to explore other options for many reasons. She continued by saying she is willing to do Call Her Daddy, but that she “just can’t do it” under the circumstances Cooper wants. She claimed Cooper wants to be in control of the podcast, and since they have always been in a 50/50 partnership, this has put her in a tough position.
This then caused Portnoy to hop on Instagram and address what she had said, saying that she has said “a whole lot of f***ing nothing” and that he is willing to offer Franklyn her own podcast.
The same day, Kevin Clancy (AKA KFC Barstool), appeared on WFAN Sports Radio in New York and was asked about the situation. KFC confirmed on WFAN that the offer Portnoy gave the girls was “virtually unbeatable” and that one of them had wanted to take it, while the other didn’t, seemingly because of her boyfriend.
As well, 19 May, Portnoy and Barstool Sports put out a new line of merch on the Call Her Daddy web store, with the phrase “Cancel Suitman”. This caused one fan to go to Tik Tok, saying, “Tell me someone who moves faster than @stoolpresidente & @barstoolsports.”
With all the drama that has been ensuing, fans are upset. They expect transparency, which they seemingly have not gotten, so feel betrayed because the online persona Cooper and Franklyn put out is not accurately depicting their lives. As well, with everything Barstool is saying about how they handled negotiations, fans are questioning their character. For example, one fan tweeted:
The daddies are crazy… $500k a year to talk about sex once a week and that’s not good enough for you? Imagine having it THAT easy.. feel betrayed as a fan tbh #callherdaddy #CHD #freethefathers
— Sad Beth Tragic🩰💋 (@ballerinaswifts) May 18, 2020
An existing issue for online creators
Many are probably wondering why any of this matters, but those who follow online creators know this battle all too well. From Buzzfeed employees leaving to become full-time creators of their own, to FaZe Clan trying to get out of an exploitive contract, to Phillip DeFranco getting his news show back, to even the infamous Kesha vs Dr. Luke lawsuit, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.
As Taylor Lorenz explains in the New York Times, this is an example of the conflict that arises when talent outgrows a company:
“Media companies have long acted as talent incubators, providing content producers name-brand recognition and access to a larger audience. But, as that talent builds a following on social media, the balance of power shifts. Often, talent no longer needs the media company to operate as a middleman, and many realize they could monetize their own platforms more effectively by themselves.”
There is light at the end of the tunnel, though. According to a video posted on both Cooper’s personal YouTube channel and Call Her Daddy‘s, the show will, in fact, be returning on 27 May, with Cooper as host.
In the 34-minute video, Cooper recounts the “truth about Call Her Daddy“. She echos what Portnoy had already said about the deal he offered them and that Franklyn wanted more, but she goes into more detail, giving a full account of what has gone on between her and Franklyn regarding the negotiations.
For now, it seems that the drama has come full-circle and we can move on, but you never know what may arise in the future, as Franklyn hasn’t responded to Cooper’s video yet. In the meantime, you can check out how other Barstool Sports employees have responded to feud.
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