Quvenzhané Wallis Lands Four-Book Deal with Simon & Schuster

Quvenzhané Wallis - ANNIE

Quvenzhané Wallis – ANNIE (photo via blogs.indiewire.com)

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Publishing, has announced a 4-book deal with Quvenzhané Wallis – three chapter book series, and a picture book.

The yet-to-be-titled chapter book series launches in January 2017, followed by the second chapter book and the picture book in Fall 2017. The third chapter book is scheduled for Summer 2018.

Illustrators for the series and the picture book are yet to be selected.

Loosely based on the author’s own experiences, Miss Wallis’s picture book follows a spunky young heroine who is very much looking forward to a night out with her mom at an awards show. The duo has a grand time getting dressed up, riding in a limo, and walking the red carpet.

Meanwhile, a precocious and talented third grader is the star of Miss Wallis’s chapter book series. The books follow Shai Williams, a star in the making, who has a flair for the dramatic – both onstage and off.

Both the chapter book series and the picture book will be for readers ages six and up.

“Reading is very important,” said Wallis in the press statement. “It allows people to form a visual experience in their minds of what is going on in the story. I hope all readers enjoy using their imaginations along with me and take a journey into my books.”

Christian Trimmer, Executive Editor of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers added: “I’m thrilled that Quvenzhané is turning her estimable abilities to books. Her dedication to great storytelling is readily apparent. Readers of all ages are in for a big treat.”

“The characters Quvenzhané has portrayed have an alluring mix of self-possession and vulnerability,” adds Dawn Davis, Vice President and Publisher of 37 INK, a division of Atria, who jointly acquired (along with Simon & Schuster) world rights to Ms. Wallis upcoming 4 books. “We look forward to her bringing that same electric combination to the page. We also hope these books will help expand the diverse array of voices in the children’s book space.”

Wallis, who was last seen in “Annie” last Christmas holiday season, will next appear in “Fathers and Daughters,” and “Counting by 7s” – neither has a release date set.

article by Tambay A. Benson via blogs.indiewire.com

NYPD Cop In James Blake Arrest Used Excessive Force, Panel Rules

2015 U.S. Open - Day 12

James Blake (Getty Images)

An undercover officer who assaulted tennis star James Blake on a Manhattan sidewalk last month used excessive force, “according an investigation by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, New York City’s independent agency for police misconduct,” reports The New York Times.

The board substantiated the charge of excessive force against New York Police Department Officer James Frascatore and recommended punishment that could result in suspension or dismissal, writes the news outlet.

Blake received word about the findings Tuesday in a letter from the panel. The incident took place during the U.S. Open on Sept. 9 in front of the Grand Hyatt Hotel on 42nd Street in Midtown. The assault, captured on video surveillance camera, reignited national outrage over the use of excessive force by police against people of color.

From The New York Times:

[Frascatore] will now face an internal Police Department trial; the police commissioner, William J. Bratton, has the final say on discipline of officers.

“I want to express my appreciation to the Civilian Complaint Review Board for their quick and thorough review of the incident where I was attacked,” Mr. Blake said in a statement. “I have complete respect for the principle of due process and appreciate the efforts of the C.C.R.B. to advance this investigation.”

Blake’s lawyer, Kevin H. Marino, told The Times that his client “looks forward to participating in the forthcoming trial.”

article by Lynette Holloway via newsone.com

Jon Platt Named CEO of Warner/Chappell Music

Jon Platt 2015

Jon Platt speaks onstage at the 2015 SESAC Pop Music Awards at New York Public Library on May 4, 2015 in New York City. (Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for SESAC) 

Jon Platt will lead Warner/Chappell Music going forward.  As part of a transition plan, Platt, who joined Warner/Chappell in 2012, will be promoted to the company’s CEO on Nov. 1 from his current position as president, North America. Subsequently, in May 2016 (most likely when Cameron Strang’s contract ends), Cameron Strang, currently chairman & CEO, will step down to devote his full focus to serving as chairman & CEO of Warner Bros. Records.

Platt is known for being a doubled-edged sword, having great creative skills combined with top-notch leadership. On the creative side, he has helped attract such artists and songwriters as Jay Z, BeyoncéVance Joy and Echosmith to Warner/Chappell.

“Jon has a deep understanding of the creative process, an outstanding devotion to songs and songwriters, and an innate ability to nurture the next generation of talented publishing executives,” Warner Music Group CEO Steve Cooper said in a statement. “His combination of artistic sensibility and commercial savvy is very rare, and is clearly why so many of the world’s greatest songwriters want him as their partner and champion.” Cooper added that Platt will enhance Warner/Chappell’s “position” as the best home for songwiters.

Over the last five years, Warner/Chappell’s revenues have steadily declined, from $582 million for the year ended Sept. 30, 2009 to $503 million for the year ended Sept. 30, 2013, before rebounding last year to $517 million. In the first nine months of this year, Warner/Chappell revenue stands at $359 million, down from $387 million, or 7.2 percent.

Platt’s ability to attract top flight songwriters should help boost the company’s bottom line. Over the last several years, Warner/Chappell has added such songwriters as Pharrell Williams’ pre-2010 repertoire, Taio Cruz, Aloe Blacc, Sean Douglas, Belly, Mano, Julia Michaels, Steve Kipner, Nico & Vinz, Slash, Dave Mustaine, Mike WiLL Made It, Lady Antebellum, Liz Rose, and Lee Miller, as well as the Roc Nation publishing catalog.

“Ever since Jon came on board in 2012, he has played a pivotal role in our success story, making enormous contributions to the company’s rapid development,” Strang said in a statement.”Warner/Chappell is now ready for the next phase of its ongoing evolution, and Jon is exactly the right executive for the job. He is a force of nature: a brilliant creative collaborator; a principled leader; and an inspiring mentor. He will be a terrific CEO, as he brings his dynamism and expertise to our songwriters, teams and business around the world.”

Cooper added that “with a smooth transition underway at Warner/Chappell, Cameron will lead our plan to build on [Warner Bros. Records] existing success, turbocharge its long-term growth and deepen our commitment to A&R and artist development.”

Prior to joining Warner/Chappell Platt, who received SESAC’s Visionary Award in May, spent 17 years at EMI Music Publishing, where he signed an early-career Jay Z, Kanye West, Usher, Drake, Ludacris, Mary Mary, Young Jeezy, Fabolousand Snoop Dogg, according to Warner/Chappell’s announcement.

“Warner/Chappell is an iconic music company with an incomparable roster of extraordinary songwriters,” Platt said in a statement. “Our mission is to develop, grow, reward and sustain a prosperous and healthy creative community — the community of songwriters who make it possible for music to have such a special place in all of our lives. My vision for Warner/Chappell is one of peerless commitment to the songwriter and unmatched advocacy for the value of music.  I see us leading the industry in our service not only to our songwriters, but also to the partners and fans that help make their livelihoods possible.”

article by Ed Christman via billboard.com

Gina Prince-Bythewood and Sanaa Lathan Reunite for Racially-Charged Police Shooting TV Project at Fox

Sanaa Lathan


Fox is developing a new event series revolving around a racially-motivated police shooting.  The project hails from “Love & Basketball” writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood and will star Sanaa Lathan, who starred in the 2000 film.

The untitled event series examines the dangerous aftermath of a police shooting when an African-American cop kills a white teen in Tennessee. Lathan (“The Perfect Guy”) will play an expert investigator who digs into the case, alongside a yet-to-be-cast special prosecutor sent to the town by the Department of Justice. The duo must navigate the media attention, public debate and social unrest that accompany such a volatile case, as they seek justice before the divided town erupts into a race war.

The announcement of the project comes amidst of an uproar of recent media attention on racially-motivated police attacks, most notably the Trayvon Martin case, in which the African American teenager was fatally shot by George Zimmerman. The Fox project, however, features a race-flipped scenario with a white teen being killed by a black cop.

Prince-Bythewood, along with Reggie Rock Bythewood, will serve as writers and exec producers on the 20th Century Fox project, which will be directed by Prince-Bythewood. Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo will also exec produce. Prince-Bythewood’s Undisputed Cinema and Imagine Television will also produce.

The event series reunites Lathan and Gina Prince-Bythewood, who worked together “Love & Basketball.” Prince-Bythewood and Bythewood also worked together on “Beyond the Lights.”

article by Elizabeth Wagmeister via Variety.com

Cleveland Cavalier J.R. Smith Sinks Half-Court Shot, Wins $30K for Member of the Military

J.R. Smith (CREDIT: Getty Images) 

The Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard/small forward celebrated the basket in style by doing his signature air guitar move during Cleveland’s annual Wine and Gold scrimmage game, and we’re sure that military man was celebrating even more. Smith reposted the video of his shot on IG with the caption “#JustDoingWhatIDo #ForTheTroops30k.” They don’t call him “J.R. Swish” for nothing.

The Cavs’ first preseason game will be Wednesday, Oct. 7 against the Atlanta Hawks. Check out the impressive bucket below.

article by J’na Jefferson via vibe.com

Ice Cube to Play Scrooge in Christmas Movie ‘Humbug’

Ice Cube to Play Scrooge in


Universal Pictures has purchased the script “Humbug” from writers Todd R. Jones and Earl Richey Jones with Ice Cube attached to star and Tim Story to direct, sources confirm to Variety.

The script is a contemporary retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic story of a wealthy real estate mogul who is shown a path to redemption by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.  Cube will produce alongside Jeff Kwatinetz. Jones & Jones will co-produce.

The film marks another collaboration between Cube and Story that began with the box office hit “Barbershop,” which spawned two two sequels, the third recently wrapped production with Malcolm Lee at the helm. The two also worked on the “Ride Along” series for Universal with the sequel bowing this January with Story directing and Cube and Kevin Hart co-starring.

Cube just produced box-office smash “Straight Outta Compton” and is about to start filming the New Line Comedy “Fist Fight” with Charlie Day.

The Jones brothers’ past credits include “Rio” and “Johnson Family Vacation.”

article by Justin Kroll via Variety.com

Laurence Fishburne to Star in Nelson Mandela Miniseries ‘Madiba’ for BET

Laurence Fishburne Nelson MandelaLaurence Fishburne is set to play the lead role of Nelson Mandela in Madiba, a miniseries for BET Networks executive produced by the late South African hero’s grandson Kweku Mandela. The six-hour mini, directed by Kevin Hooks (Prison Break), is based on two Mandela books, Conversations With Myself and Nelson Mandela by Himself. Named after Madiba, the Thembu clan to which Nelson Mandela belonged, the project tells the story of a younger Nelson Mandela during the early-60s as he deals with the political unrest engulfing South Africa.

Madiba will be produced and financed by Toronto-based Blue Ice Pictures and also produced by UK-based Left Bank Pictures and South Africa’s Out of Africa Entertainment in association with Fishburne’s Cinema Gypsy Productions. Blue Ice Pictures president Lance Samuels executive produces alongside Kweku Mandela of Out of Africa and Daniel Iron, Neil Tabatznik, Steven Silver, Andy Harries, Marigo Kehoe and Loretha Jones.

Pre-production will begin later this year, with production slated for early 2016 in South Africa.
nelsonmandelabyhimselfconversationswithmyslef“Nelson Mandela’s journey of political activism and leadership is deeply inspirational and we are proud to have the talented and award-winning actor Laurence Fishburne join Madiba to tell this triumphant story” said Stephen Hill, President of Programming, BET Networks.

Fishburne executive produces and co-stars on the ABC comedy series Black-ish and will be seen next summer in Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice. He recently signed on to star in the A&E remake of Roots and is in production on Sony’s romantic sci-fi drama Passengers starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence.

There have been a number of feature and TV movies about Mandela, with the Nobel Peace Prize-winning anti-apartheid activist and political prisoner-turned-president portrayed by such actors as Morgan Freeman, Sidney Poitier, Idris Elba, Dennis Haysbert, Terrence Howard and Danny Glover.

article by Nellie Andreeva via deadline.com


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