Oprah Winfrey Joins Ava Duvernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time” Adaptation for Disney

Oprah Winfrey Ava Duvernay

Oprah Winfrey and Ava Duvernay (DAVE ALLOCCA/STARPIX/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Justin Kroll via Variety.com

Oprah Winfrey is in final negotiations to join the cast of Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time” adaptation that Ava Duvernay is on board to direct.

Jennifer Lee, who wrote and co-directed “Frozen” with Chris Buck, is penning the adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s book for Disney. The story follows children as they travel through time and visit strange worlds in order to find their missing scientist father.

“A Wrinkle in Time” is the first book in L’Engle’s “Time Quartet” series, which includes “A Wind in the Door,” “Many Waters” and “A Swiftly Tilting Planet.”

Winfrey will play Mrs. Which, one of the three Mrs. Ws that helps guide the children along their journey.

Winfrey and Duvernay have a relationship going back to “Selma,” which Winfrey appeared in and Duvernay directed. Sources say Duvernay always had Winfrey in mind for one of the three Mrs. Ws.

To read more, go to: http://variety.com/2016/film/news/oprah-winfrey-a-wrinkle-in-time-movie-1201823788/

NBA Legend Michael Jordan Speaks Out on Police-Related Violence, Donates $2M to Help Facilitate Change

Michael Jordan (photo via cbssports.com)

Michael Jordan (photo via cbssports.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson and Lesa Lakin

According to usatoday.com, former NBA great Michael Jordan has today not only spoken out against police violence towards people of color and the retaliatory violence that has ensued, but in an effort to help ease tensions, he has also put his money where his mouth is, donating $1 million each to the NAACP Legal  Defense Fund and the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly-established Institute for Community-Police Relations.

In a statement shared via The Undefeated on Monday morning, Jordan said the following:

“As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers. I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.

“I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race or background, so I am saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late. I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent. We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers – who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all – are respected and supported.

“Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family. I have the greatest respect for their sacrifice and service. I also recognize that for many people of color their experiences with law enforcement have been different than mine. I have decided to speak out in the hope that we can come together as Americans, and through peaceful dialogue and education, achieve constructive change.

“To support that effort, I am making contributions of $1 million each to two organizations, the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The Institute for Community-Police Relations’ policy and oversight work is focused on building trust and promoting best practices in community policing. My donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s oldest civil rights law organization, will support its ongoing work in support of reforms that will build trust and respect between communities and law enforcement. Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference.

“We are privileged to live in the world’s greatest country – a country that has provided my family and me the greatest of opportunities. The problems we face didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved tomorrow, but if we all work together, we can foster greater understanding, positive change and create a more peaceful world for ourselves, our children, our families and our communities.”

Donna Brazile to Take Over as Interim Democratic National Committee Chair

DNC Interim Chair Donna Brazile (photo via apbspeakers,com)

DNC Interim Chair Donna Brazile (photo via apbspeakers,com)

article by Mark Joyella via adweek.com

CNN and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile will take over as interim chair of the Democratic National Committee following the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Wasserman Schultz announced her resignation Sunday, following revelations this weekend from leaked DNC emails. She said she would focus on party unity as the Democratic National Convention begins in Philadelphia Monday. “Going forward, the best way for me to accomplish those goals is to step down as Party Chair at the end of this convention.”

Brazile will serve as the DNC’s interim chair through the November election. Earlier in the day, Brazile said on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos that she had apologized to the campaign of Bernie Sanders, after leaked emails appeared to show DNC leaders working to advance the primary campaign of Hillary Clinton at Sanders’ expense.

Update: CNN released this statement: “With news of Donna Brazile stepping in as interim chair for the Democratic National Committee, CNN and Brazile have mutually agreed to temporarily suspend her contract as a contributor for the network effective immediately. As a valued voice and commentator, CNN will revisit the contract once Brazile concludes her role.”

Dr. Robert J. Jones Hired as New Chancellor for University of Illinois’ Flagship Campus

University at Albany Chancellor Dr. Robert Jones (photo via www.albany.edu)

University of Illinois Chancellor Dr. Robert Jones (photo via http://www.albany.edu)

article by David Mercer via abcnews.go.com

The University of Illinois has hired a top administrator from a State University of New York campus who has a background in agricultural research to be the new chancellor at the Urbana-Champaign campus.

State University of New York at Albany President Robert J. Jones was named chancellor on Tuesday, pending formal approval by the University of Illinois board of trustees on Thursday. He will take over the university’s flagship campus after a period of turmoil that saw the last permanent chancellor resign under pressure and alleged mistreatment of players by a football coach.

Jones took over at Albany-SUNY after a period of turnover and low morale, which faculty leaders there say he handled well.

Jones is the first black chancellor of the Urbana-Champaign campus and called his new role his “dream job.”

“I have the land-grant mission in my blood. I am a product of it. It is what brought me into higher education, from a sharecropping family in Georgia,” the 65-year-old said in the release.

University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen, who came to the university from SUNY and says he knew Jones well, praised his work since taking over at Albany-SUNY in 2013 in developing the campus and linking it to the community around it.

“It comes down to, Robert checks so many of the boxes,” Killeen said in an interview. “His background in academia, in the Big Ten, agronomy. … His leadership building out a research university in Albany.”

Jones, who spent 34 years at the University of Minnesota, will be paid $649,000 a year but with no package of potential bonuses, according to university spokesman Tom Hardy. The last permanent chancellor, Phyllis Wise, was paid $550,000 plus a $100,000 retention bonus that she eventually agreed not to take after her resignation.

Jones will lead a campus with about 46,000 students, 11,400 employees and an annual operating budget of $2 billion. He also will be the vice president of the University of Illinois system, which also includes campuses in Chicago and Springfield and a total of more than 80,000 students.

Jones earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Fort Valley State College, a master’s degree in crop physiology from the University of Georgia and a doctorate in crop physiology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

To read full article, go to: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/chancellor-university-illinois-flagship-campus-40698680

WNBA President Lisa Borders Withdraws Player Fines Regarding Anti-Violence Shirts

WNBA President Lisa Borders (photo via nytimes.com)

WNBA President Lisa Borders (photo via nytimes.com)

article via espn.go.com

NEW YORK — The WNBA has withdrawn its fines for teams and players who showed support of citizens and police involved in recent shootings by wearing black warm-up shirts before games.

WNBA president Lisa Borders applauds the league’s players for taking a stance on social issues. She just wishes the activism was kept off the court.  Borders said in a statement Saturday that the league was rescinding penalties given to the Indiana Fever, New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury and their players for wearing the shirts during pregame protests, which began after shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“While we expect players to comply with league rules and uniform guidelines, we also understand their desire to use their platform to address important societal issues,” Borders said. “Given that the league will now be suspending play until August 26 for the Olympics, we plan to use this time to work with our players and their union on ways for the players to make their views known to their fans and the public.”

Borders also tweeted her support for the players.

Each organization had been fined $5,000 and players were each given a $500 penalty because WNBA rules state that uniforms may not be altered in any way. The normal fine for uniform violations is $200.

The fines seemed to galvanize the players, who have used postgame interview sessions and social media to voice their displeasure. There has also been public criticism of the fines, including from New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.

“It’s a huge win overall,” said Fever All-Star Tamika Catchings, who is president of the WNBA players’ union. “I think more than anything I told [Borders] at times you’re going to agree to disagree. With this, I’m really proud of the players standing strong and for utilizing their voices. Change starts with us. We have a social responsibility as well.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton said early Saturday that his organization, the National Action Network, would pay the $500 fines. He called the penalty “unacceptable.”

The Liberty wore the plain black shirts four times, including Wednesday against Washington. Indiana and Phoenix donned the shirts Tuesday night before their nationally televised game.

“We commend Lisa Borders for recognizing how the players of the WNBA felt and the sensitive time that we’re living in and being willing to re-evaluate their decision,” Liberty president Isiah Thomas said. “We are also very proud of our players; the world is seeing what we already knew. They’re truly incredible, thoughtful and talented individuals. Our league, our partners and our society are better because of our players’ willingness to enter the political and social activism arena.”

The fines were administered Wednesday, and neither the Fever nor the Liberty wore the shirts at their matinee game Thursday. Tina Charles did wear her warm-up shirt inside-out in honor of a shooting in Florida that morning.

Charles said she was happy that the league rescinded the fines. She has donated her entire salary this year to her charity — Hopey’s Heart Foundation — so the withdrawn fine means more money that will help buy automated external defibrillators.  Still, she said it was “embarrassing” that the players had been fined in the first place.

To read full article, go to: http://espn.go.com/wnba/story/_/id/17131967/wnba-withdraws-fines-regarding-anti-violence-shirts

“Bad Feminist” Author Roxane Gay Becomes 1st Black Woman to Ever Write Marvel Comic Book

Zenzi, in green, a revolutionary in Wakanda, the home of the Black Panther. (Photo via Marvel Entertainment)

Zenzi, in green, a revolutionary in Wakanda, the home of the Black Panther. (Photo via Marvel Entertainment)

article via theroot.com

Roxane Gay is set to write a new Marvel comic book in the World of Wakanda, which delves into the lives of the women of the Black Panther comic book series universe. It will be released in November, the New York Times reports.

The Purdue College professor and “Bad Feminist” scribe will team up with writer Ta-Nehisi Coates who has written his Black Panther series set in the fictional African nation.

Complex reports that the new series will involve several black women as writers and illustrators in addition to Gay. Alitha Martinez is the illustrator, and Yona Harvey and Afua Richardson will co-write and illustrate, respectively, a special “backup” story that will appear in the series’ debut issue.

Gay’s story will feature two members of Black Panther’s all-female security team—Ayo and Aneka—who fall in love. Harvey’s first story will revolve around Zenzi, a female revolutionary introduced in the first issue of Coates’ Black Panther series.  “It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever done, and I mean that in the best possible way,” said Gay to the Times.

Coates recruited both writers because he thought it important to have a woman’s perspective. “The women in Black Panther’s life are very, very important,” he said.

Read more in the New York Times and Complex.

“The Story of God With Morgan Freeman” Gets 2nd Season on National Geographic Channel

'The Story of God with Morgan

Morgan Freeman (JONATHAN HORDLE/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Variety.com, the Emmy-nominated series “The Story of God with Morgan Freeman” will get a second season and another three episodes on the National Geographic Channel, premiering in early 2017.  Topics like “Is there a Chosen One?” will be covered, as well as whether it’s possible to find proof of a singular deity.

“I had quite a journey last season, but not just in miles covered,” said Freeman, who serves as both host and executive producer. “I met incredible people who opened my eyes and my mind to new ideas and new ways of thinking about faith, the world and all of humanity. I barely scratched the surface of what we can learn, and I’m looking forward to continuing this search for the meaning of life and religion and everything in between.”

Originally billed as an “event series,” “The Story of God with Morgan Freeman” quickly became National Geographic Channel’s most-watched series over its six-episode first season.  Watch a clip from the first season of the series below: