At first glance, it seemed HBO was just pulling out all the stops last minute to boost the final season of “True Blood” — the power of Beyoncé. The network announced Thursday that right before the vampire drama airs each Sunday night, the channel will feature an episode of “BEYONCÉ: X10,” a new series with footage from the pop star’s recently completed Mrs. Carter Show World Tour.
Each segment will clock in at about four minutes and air at 8:55 p.m. beginning June 29; songs included over the run include “Drunk in Love,” “Ghost/Haunted,” “Get Me Bodied/Baby Boy/Diva,” “Girls” and more. HBO notes that it was the highest-grossing female solo tour of 2013, with 132 concerts in 27 countries.
It’s also worth reminding everyone that Beyonce and HBO are in business, as her documentary “Life is But a Dream” aired on the network last year.
Then we looked a bit closer: The timing for the announcement is coincidentally right after Billboard published a story insisting that Beyoncé and Jay Z’s upcoming co-headlining “On the Run” stadium tour is doing just fine, thank you very much. Knocking down tabloid rumors that ticket sales are “dismal,” concert promoter Live Nation bragged that the tour has “sellout nights across North America.” Another source boasts the tour has sold $86 million in tickets so far.
This is all very strange. First, it’s unusual that Beyoncé or her camp would even acknowledge a random tabloid report. Second, the sites claiming that the tour is in trouble are in no way reputable: Why would Live Nation care what they say? And if they did, why draw more attention to it?
Those reports must have hit a nerve for some reason, though, as the Billboard piece goes on to list why — even though tickets are selling very well! — “On the Run” might not be a sold out tour. For example: People want buy tickets closer to the date of the show, and that some fans will wait to see reviews before deciding to go.
That only adds to the weirdness, as that seems just a bit too defensive. (Also, do people seriously wait until the last minute to drop several hundred dollars on stadium show tickets?) Even if the tour isn’t a sell-out or doing as well as expected, it’s clearly doing fine. The fact that Live Nation jumped so quickly to refute the reports makes it seem like everyone is just a little too sensitive about the fact that not everything associated with Beyoncé and Jay Z can be perfect.
That sort of image control can be helpful, until it’s over the top and then it’s very much not. Because as a result, people will only wonder what really is the truth.