John Singleton-Directed “Tupac” Biopic Acquired by Open Road Films for Wide-Screen Release

Tupac ShakurAccording to Deadline.com, Open Road Films has acquired U.S. rights to Tupac, the long-awaited feature film on the life of hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur, directed by John Singleton. Written by Jeremy Haft & Ed Gonzalez and Singleton, the movie traces Shakur’s life from growing up as the son of activist Black Panther Party members in East Harlem, to reaching superstardom as a songwriter, music and movie star, to his position in the East Coast/West Coast rap war, to his untimely shooting death at 25 in Las Vegas after the 1996 Mike Tyson bout.

The film is being produced and financed by Morgan Creek Productions and Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films, and one of the executive producers on the project is Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur.  It’s a reunion of sorts for Singleton and Tupac, as Singleton directed him in the 1993 film Poetic Justice.

The casting will start shortly, for a late summer production start in Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

New Prince Album Coming Under Warner Bros. Partnership

Prince

A new album, a deluxe reissue of Purple Rain and more unheard music: That’s what Prince fans can expect from his new global licensing deal with Warner Bros. Records.  “A brand-new studio album is on the way and both Warner Bros. Records and Eye are quite pleased with the results of the negotiations and look forward to a fruitful working relationship,” Prince said in a news release.

The deal covers all of Prince’s albums, from 1978′s For You to the new one. The announcement comes two months before the 30th anniversary of the release of his best-selling album, 1984′s Purple Rain, which has sold more than 13 million copies in the U.S. Prince plans a digitally re-mastered deluxe version of the album to coincide with the anniversary.

Other planned projects will follow, according to the press release.

Lately, Prince has been playing with an all-female power trio called 3RDEYEGIRL, occasionally posting YouTube videos and releasing music through the group’s website.

article by Brian Mansfield via usatoday.com

More Than $100,000 Raised for Shanesha Taylor, Homeless Mom Accused of Leaving Kids in Car During Job Interview

shanesha taylorMore than $100,000 has been pledged to help Shanesha Taylor, 35, a single mother from Arizona who was arrested last month after allegedly leaving her 2-year-old and 6-month-old sons alone in a hot car while she went on a job interview because she was unable to find a babysitter.

Taylor was charged with two counts of child abuse. She has pleaded not guilty and was released on bail posted by a stranger, her lawyer told TODAY.com Wednesday. Her two boys are now in state care.  Her tearful mug shot has brought attention to issues facing the nation’s poor and unemployed, especially single mothers.

Amanda Bishop, a New Jersey woman who does not know Taylor, felt compelled to help. She launched an online fundraising campaign in support of Taylor, with pledges now totaling more than $106,000.  “There are some of us that feel that Shanesha was in an unfortunate situation that sadly an economy like ours is putting many single mothers in a position to make terrible mistakes like this,” the fundraising site says.

Bishop, 24, told MSNBC’s Tamron Hall that she launched the fundraising campaign after viewing Taylor’s Facebook page and finding nothing but posts and pictures featuring Taylor’s kids. “That convinced me she wasn’t a bad mom, she just made a terrible mistake,” Bishop said.  

Though there has been some criticism of the effort, Bishop said that it’s easy for people who have never struggled to judge Taylor harshly. Bishop said she herself was raised by a struggling mother.  “Nobody’s saying she’s right for her choice,” Bishop said. “It’s just a matter of what is more wrong here: The fact that she did this or the fact that there are so many people out there put in a position to make this decision or to make risks like this?”

Others agreed, including single mothers who left comments on the fundraising site saying they understood Taylor’s dilemma.

“I understand the struggle, I’ve been there before too. It’s VERY HARD being a single parent and having NO ONE to turn to for support,” wrote Dawn F. Edwards, who donated $25.

“Dear Shanesha, please accept this donation as a sign that you are not alone in this fight,” wrote Lauren Dunne, who donated $5. “Unfortunately, you had no options at this moment in your life… you are indeed a good mother that was only fighting for a better future for your children.” Continue reading

THEATER REVIEW: Audra McDonald Shines in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill”

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Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill Audra McDonald plays Billie Holiday at Circle in the Square. (Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

When Billie Holiday sang, history attests, her audiences tended to clam up. Even in the bustling nightclubs where she mostly performed, Holiday often insisted on total quiet before she would open her mouth. The quiet usually held, as one of the great singers of the last century turned jazz songs and standards into searching, and searing, portraits of life and love gone wrong that cast a shimmering spell.

When Audra McDonald takes to the stage and pours her heart into her voice in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” a similar sustained hush settles over the Circle in the Square, where the show opened on Broadway on Sunday night for a limited run. With her plush, classically trained soprano scaled down to jazz-soloist size, Ms. McDonald sings selections from Holiday’s repertoire with sensitive musicianship and rich seams of feeling that command rapt admiration.

Although Ms. McDonald, a five-time Tony winner and an accomplished recitalist, has her own natural authority onstage, in this show, she submerges her identity in Holiday’s as an act of loving tribute to an artist whose difficult career exacted a painful price. Holiday is as well known now for the grim travails of her short life — she died at the age of 44, her voice spent, her body destroyed by addiction to alcohol and heroin — as she is revered for the legacy of recordings she left behind.

We hear much (too much) of this sorry story during the show, written by Lanie Robertson and directed by Lonny Price, and first produced Off Broadway in 1986. The year is 1959, just months before Holiday died, and the show is set at the club of the title in Philadelphia, a city that, as Holiday notes, she had reason to loathe. It was the site of her trial and conviction for drug possession, which led to a stint in prison and the revoking of her New York cabaret card, limiting her opportunities to perform in the city during the latter years of her career.

Continue reading

Young Men Debunk Negative Racial Stereotypes In “Suit and Tie” Video

A group of young Black and Latino men are letting the world know that they are far from the image of violent, uneducated and unkempt individuals that the media often makes them out to be.

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 11.22.47 AMDressed in suits, button-down shirts and bow ties while serving plenty of bravado, 34 juniors and seniors from Illinois’ Central High School recently created a short video called “Suit & Tie In The 217″ to combat the negative stereotypes they face regularly — and we love every second of it!

Set to the Justin Timberlake/Jay Z collaboration “Suit & Tie,” the teens show off their superb style while the messages “we are not gangsters and thugs,” “we are employees and volunteers,” “we are scholars” and “we are athletes” appear across the screen. To be specific, they are Honor Roll students, poets, future collegiate athletes and National Honor Society members, just to name a few of their talents and accomplishments.

“The negative stories told daily in the media and in our culture about our young African-American men tend to ignore their successes and don’t tell the full story about how young Black men are becoming leaders within our community schools,” Tiffany Gholson, a Central High School counselor that helped with the project, told NewsOne.

Between Obama’s new initiative, My Brother’s Keeper, this awesome viral video and countless other groups and individuals attempting to reclaim the narrative of young black men — we’re hopeful the mission will be accomplished.

Check out the amazing video above and let us know what you think about it in the comments section.

article by Julee Wilson via huffingtonpost.com

Maya Rudolph’s NBC Variety Show: Guest List and Air Date Revealed

(Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

(Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

Maya Rudolph will make her return to NBC next month with some song and sketch — not to mention, a little help from her famous friends.  The network has slated her variety show special, titled The Maya Rudolph Show, to air on May 19 at 10 p.m., and the Saturday Night Live veteran — who recently starred in another Peacock comedy series, Up All Night — will be joined by Kristen Bell, Andy Samberg, Fred Armisen, Craig Robinson, Sean Hayes, and Chris Parnell.

Janelle Monáe will pop up as the musical guest, while Raphael Saadiq will serve as bandleader.  The one-hour special, which also could double as the pilot for an ongoing series, is being executive produced by Lorne Michaels.

article by Dan Snierson via insidetv.ew.com

Harvard Accepts Record Percentage of Black Students to Class of 2018

475924741.jpg.CROP.rtstory-largeCollege admissions letters are out, and for the Class of 2018, Harvard University has accepted a record-high percentage of black students.

According to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, of Harvard’s total acceptances for the Class of 2018, 11.9 percent are black, the highest ever for the university. The journal estimates that nearly 170 black students will enter Harvard this fall. Overall, Harvard accepted only 2,023 students from a pool of 34,295 applicants.

Harvard is not alone in its overall low acceptance rate. Other top-tier institutions accepted between 5 and 10 percent of the students who applied.

Williams College, the No. 1 liberal arts college in the country, also accepted a high percentage of black students. This year, the college has offered admission to 165 black students. Black students account for 14.3 percent of all Williams College’s acceptances this year. Half of the admitted students at Williams are black, Asian, Latino or Native American.

article by Diamond Sharp via theroot.com