Jay Z and Weinstein Co. to Make Trayvon Martin Film and Documentary Series

Trayvon Martin (photo via variety.com)

article by Justin Kroll and Brent Lang via variety.com

Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and the Weinstein Company are partnering on an ambitious series of film and television projects about Trayvon Martin.  The indie label and the rap icon won a heated bidding war for the rights to two books — “Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It” and “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin.” The 2012 shooting of the 17 year-old Martin sparked a national debate about racial profiling and inequities of the criminal justice system that brought about the Black Lives Matter movement.

The African-American high school student was killed by George Zimmerman, 28, who was a member of the neighborhood watch in his Florida community. He claimed he shot Martin, who was unarmed, in self defense after the two became involved in a physical altercation. Zimmerman’s acquittal on a second-degree murder charge inspired protests around the country.

“Suspicion Nation” is by Lisa Bloom and recounts her experience covering the trial for NBC. She looks at the mistakes made by prosecutors that caused them to lose what she describes as a “winnable case.” “Rest in Power” is by Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. It tells a more personal story, looking at Martin’s childhood and the aftermath of his death.

The plan is to make a six-part docu-series with Jay Z producing as part of a first-look deal he signed with the studio last September. The indie studio will also develop a narrative feature film. The Weinstein Company earned critical raves for “Fruitvale Station,” another true story, about the death of Oscar Grant, an unarmed black man who was killed in 2009 by a BART police officer.

To read more: Jay Z to Make Trayvon Martin Film and Documentary Series | Variety

DANCE: Choreographer Dave Scott Tackles Reimagining Andrew Lloyd Webber Classic “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

Dave Scott (photo credit: Lee Perry); “Joseph” image: Mustang Marketing

article by Kristyn Burtt via dancenetwork.tv

Choreographer Dave Scott is well known for his work on So You Think You Can Dance and in films like High Strung, Step Up 2: The Streets, Stomp The Yard and You Got Served. He’s now tackling a new venture that is sure to bring a fresh spin on a musical theatre classic. Under the direction of Will North, Scott will be reimagining the choreography from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

The family-friendly show will run Oct. 13-22, 2017 at the Cabrillo Music Theatre in Thousand Oaks, California, and focuses on the trials and triumphs of Joseph, Israel’s favorite son and his “coat of many colors” from the Bible’s Book of Genesis. Although Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was first performed in 1968, it didn’t have its Broadway debut until January 1982.

North explained to Dance Network about his initial idea to collaborate with the hip-hop choreographer.

“I wanted to do a contemporary version of the show while bringing in different genres of hip-hop — including krumping. Dave is the perfect person to execute that vision,” he explains.

For Scott, taking on the project was a natural fit as he looks to diversify beyond his work in TV and film. The idea of live theatre not only adds an unexpected element, it’s giving him a new way to communicate through his artistry.

“I’ve always approached television and film with the mentality of the stage. To achieve the ‘wows’ and ‘splendor’ with no edits or cuts,” Scott shares. “I personally and creatively imagine my work in cartoon, like a superhero. I always aspire to go beyond the non-boundaries of dance, and this is a perfect platform.”

In addition to the upcoming production, Scott will also be back this summer choreographing on Season 14 of SYTYCD and he recently completed the film, Manifest Destiny Down: Spacetime, which will be out in 2018 with Broadway star Alexandra Winter.

Source: Exclusive: Why ’SYTYCD’ Choreographer Dave Scott Is Tackling A Reimagined Andrew Lloyd Webber Classic | Dance Network

Google Partners with Howard University to Develop Future African-American Engineers

Bonita Stewart, VP of Global Partnerships at Google, and Dr. Wayne Frederick, president of Howard University. (Photo: Google/Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

article via thegrio.com

On Thursday, Google announced a new program partnered with Howard University in an effort to recruit more young minds from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Howard has opened a campus at the Googleplex, called Howard West, “a physical space on campus where Howard students and Googlers can grow together,” and hopefully will encourage diversity in a field that sorely needs it.

In a press release, Howard University President Dr. Wayne Frederick said:

Howard West will produce hundreds of industry-ready Black computer science graduates, future leaders with the power to transform the global technology space into a stronger, more accurate reflection of the world around us. We envisioned this program with bold outcomes in mind — to advance a strategy that leverages Howard’s high quality faculty and Google’s expertise, while also rallying the tech industry and other thought leaders around the importance of diversity in business and the communities they serve.

The move comes as Google and other tech industry giants are still working to find ways to bring diversity to Silicon Valley in an industry where diversity in hiring has not been the norm. Bonita Stewart, Google’s Vice President of Global Partnerships says “students can expect an immersive academic and cultural experience at one of the most iconic companies in the world. Academically, they’ll acquire the skills necessary to excel on real-world projects, taught by the engineers who work on Google products and services every day.

The Howard graduate added, “Culturally, they’ll have a chance to experience daily life in Silicon Valley. On the flip side, we cannot wait to learn from our Howard West students and are excited to see the fresh creativity and innovation they bring to the table.”

Google hopes to expand the program to other HBCUs.

To read more, go to: Google partners with Howard University to develop future black engineers | theGrio

Documentary “The Duce’s Boxer” Details How Leone Jacovacci, an African Italian Boxer, Humiliated Mussolini

1928 European Middleweight Champion Leone Jacovacci (photo via eurweb.com)

article via eurweb.com

A documentary about Leone Jacovacci, a black Italian boxer who discredited 20th century Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s racist ideology by winning a European boxing title is making waves in Italy and abroad, reports Variety. “The Duce’s Boxer” tells the story of Jacovacci, an African Italian born in the Congo who won the 1928 European middleweight title by beating Mario Bosisio, a white Italian boxer supported by the country’s Fascist leaders, in front of 40,000 fans in Rome’s National Stadium.

Mussolini, outraged, then ordered Jacovacci and his achievement erased from Italy’s history books. But 89 years later, Jacovacci’s story has been resurrected. “The Duce’s Boxer” premieres today (March 21) in 25 Italian cities to mark the U.N. International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Based on the book “Black Roman” by Italian sociologist Mauro Valeri, a former head of the country’s National Xenophobia Observatory, “The Duce’s Boxer” is directed by first-timer Tony Saccucci. Saccucci used archive footage from Italian state film entity Istituto Luce and photos provided by Jacovacci’s family, according to Variety.

Saccucci found that footage of the title match had been tampered with by Fascist censors. Jacovacci’s story is reminiscent of American track-and-field athlete Jesse Owens’ feat when he won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, debunking Hitler’s creed of Aryan supremacy.

To read more, go to: New Documentary Details How a Black Italian Boxer Humiliated Mussolini | EURweb

Nancy Abu-Bonsrah Makes History as 1st Black Female Admitted to Johns Hopkins’ Neurosurgery Residency

(image via twitter.com)

article via thegrio.com

Nancy Abu-Bonsrah is making history after being admitted to Johns Hopkins as its first black female neurosurgeon. On Friday, March 17, fourth-year medical students participated in a Match Day event in which they discovered where they would be doing their residency training over the summer. Each student held an envelope with the name of their matched hospital, and when Abu-Bonsrah opened hers, it had the name Johns Hopkins.

Abu-Bonsrah was thrilled, saying, “Everything is special about the match. It will be a dream come true.”Nancy Abu-Bonsrah is making history during #WomensHistoryMonth Read her story on @BBCNews here https://t.co/9k4kaygRTz pic.twitter.com/rAx12tb2vF— Hopkins Med News (@HopkinsMedNews) March 20, 2017

Asked about herself, Abu-Bonsrah had this to share: “I was born in Ghana and spent the first 15 years of my life there. My family and I came to Maryland about 11 years ago. I did most of high school at Hammond High in Columbia, Maryland, and went to college at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. I came to Johns Hopkins right after undergrad. I will be the first physician in my family, including the extended family.”

As for her future plans, she said, “I am very much interested in providing medical care in underserved settings, specifically surgical care. I hope to be able to go back to Ghana over the course of my career to help in building sustainable surgical infrastructure. I will be matching into neurosurgery, a field that I am greatly enamored with, and hope to utilize those skills in advancing global surgical care.

To read full article, go to: Johns Hopkins admits its first black female neurosurgeon | theGrio

Sidney Keys III, 11, Founds Books N Bros to Help Other Boys Fall in Love with Reading

Sidney Keys III founded Books N Bros, a reading club that emphasizes making reading fun while lifting up works of African American literature and culture. (KELLY MOFFITT | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO)

article by Kelly Moffitt via news.stlpublicradio.org

Six months ago, 11-year-old St. Louisan Sidney Keys III started a reading club for boys his age to band together in their love of books. He calls it Books N Bros, and the club has an emphasis on making reading fun while lifting up African American literature and culture.

“Books N Bros is a book club for boys and we read books and African American literature because every time I go to the library at my school, there aren’t many African American literature books there,” said Keys in an interview on St. Louis on the Air. “I already love to read and since we don’t get that much time to read in school, we just discuss in groups. I wanted to read a book but I also wanted to discuss it with other people.”

Keys’ mom, Winnie Caldwell, said she knew Sidney had always loved to read because he’d often come to her wanting to talk about books.

About six months ago, they went to visit EyeSeeMe, a bookstore in University City focusing on African American children’s literature. While there, Winnie shot a video of Sidney reading in the store and it went viral on Facebook. Some 62,000 people have viewed the video and it has been shared 1,700 times.

Books N Bros card (KELLY MOFFITT | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO)

“He hadn’t seen [a bookstore] like that before and I certainly never had, so he was making himself comfortable on the floor, reading a book,” Caldwell said. “… When you get to a point when he is 11 years old and it was so shocking for him to relate to someone on the cover in a positive aspect rather than it be some negative urban story we see a lot. I would like to make sure he sees himself in being whatever he can be.”

After the video went viral, she and Sidney sat down to think about what he wanted to do next. A book club immediately jumped to mind.

“We specifically reach out to boys around ages 8-10 because that is statistically the age they stop reading — we wanted to combat that,” Caldwell said.

Keys added: “My motivation is I already love to read but it would be awesome, even better, to read with other people. I want to keep doing it because I don’t know what will make me stop reading because I love to read.”

The club meets once a month, discussing one book the club has voted on. While their numbers are still small, the book club has grown each month. Last month, two new members joined bringing the group to 7-10 members each month. The group is welcoming to boys of all backgrounds and races, but the club does focus on stories with African American protagonists.

Keys and Caldwell have also struck a deal with the Microsoft Store at the Galleria, where the book club meets. The boys discuss their books for an hour before each gets 30 minutes to play video games on a personal console at the store. A group called Serving with the Badge also donated 200 books to the book club so boys can take books home with them for their personal collection.

Some of the book club favorites so far have been “Danny Dollar,” “Hidden Figures” and “Supah Dupah Kid.” In February, for Black History Month, the group read “A Song for Harlem: Scraps of Time,” by Patricia McKissack, a St. Louis-based children’s book author.

For now, the book club has plans to stay boys-only, but Caldwell said there’s another book club called Nerdy Girls, which is aimed at girls between ages 6-12 and has over 75 members. Caldwell and Keys plan on partnering with Nerdy Girls in the future.

Caldwell said that if there are boys who are interested in joining the club, which costs $20 per month, they can find more information on the website https://www.booksnbros.com/ or email info@booksnbros.com.

To read full article, go to: Books N Bros’ 11-year-old founder wants to help boys love reading at an age when they often don’t | St. Louis Public Radio

“Get Out” Filmmaker Jordan Peele to Receive CinemaCon Director of the Year Award

Jordan Peele (photo via thegrio.com)

article via thegrio.com

During this year’s CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards, Jordan Peele will be presented with the CinemaCon Director of the Year Award for his 2017 blockbuster “Get Out.”

CinemaCon Managing Director, Mitch Neuhauser, announced the award on Monday saying, “With the phenomenon known as ‘Get Out,” Jordan Peele has instantaneously become a force to reckon with as a gifted and enormously talented director and filmmaker. He has audiences and critics around the globe enamored and spellbound, dare I say hypnotized, with his wildly inventive directorial debut, and we are ecstatic to be honoring him as this year’s ‘Director of the Year.’”

Peele will receive the award on March 30 at the ceremony at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, hosted by the Coca-Cola Company. The official convention of The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) will be held on March 27-30, 2017, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Peele’s thriller has received widespread acclaim and excellent reviews since its debut, including a 99 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

To read original article, go to: Jordan Peele to receive CinemaCon Director of the Year Award | theGrio