John Legend to Produce Jason Reynolds’ Best-Selling Novel ‘Long Way Down’ for Universal Pictures

Author Jason Reynolds (top); Producer John Legend (bottom) [Images via Kia Chennelle/Simon and Schuster; Owen Kolasinski/BFA/Rex/Shutterstock]

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Variety.com, Universal Pictures has optioned the rights to Jason Reynolds best-selling young adult novel “Long Way Down,” which was also a National Book Award finalist. John Legend‘s Get Lifted Film Co. and Michael De Luca‘s Michael De Luca Productions have signed on to produce the film.

Reynolds’ book has an unusual premise – the whole story takes place in 60 seconds, as a young man struggles to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the person who killed his brother.  Additionally, the book is written in free verse and is set in an elevator.

Although Legend is best known for his work as a singer and songwriter, but he has also racked up some major film credits, appearing in the likes of “La La Land” and “Soul Men,” and has produced the television series “Underground.” Legend also shared an Academy Award with rapper Common for best original song in 2015 for writing “Glory” from the film “Selma.”

Reynolds’ novels include “All American Boy” and “As Brave as You.” De Luca is the former president of New Line Cinema as well as an Oscar-nominated producer whose credits include the “Fifty Shades” trilogy, “The Social Network,” and “Moneyball.”

‘Englewood Four’ to Receive $31 Million in Settlement of Chicago Wrongful Conviction Case

Harold Richardson, from left, Vincent Thames, Terrill Swift and Michael Saunders were convicted of a 1994 rape and murder but later were cleared. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

by Fran Spielman via chicagosuntimes.com

Four Englewood teenagers coerced into confessing to a rape and murder they did not commit before being exonerated by DNA evidence will divide a $31 million settlement from Chicago taxpayers, one of the largest in the city’s history.

Michael Saunders, Vincent Thames, Harold Richardson and Terrill Swift were between 15 and 18 when they were arrested for the November 1994 murder of Nina Glover. An autopsy concluded that the 30-year-old prostitute had been strangled. Her naked body was discovered behind a liquor store at 1400 W. Garfield wrapped in a bloody sheet and stuffed in a dumpster.

In 2011, a judge overturned the conviction of the “Englewood Four,” freeing Richardson and Saunders after they spent 17 years behind bars. Swift and Thames, who served more than a dozen years, had already been released.

“These were four young men who no way possible they could have committed the crime they were manipulated and coerced into confessing to. They all spent . . . over a decade in prison for something they didn’t do. The number is very large and the magnitude of the injury is very large,” said attorney Locke Bowman, who represented Swift.

Bowman said the $31 million settlement would not have been possible if former assistant state’s attorney Terence Johnson hadn’t “broken ranks from the other law enforcement personnel” and provided a statement to the FBI that confirmed what the Englewood Four had long maintained.

“This was psychological coercion primarily in all four of the cases. They were tricked and coerced into confessing . . . They were fed the information. And they were the victims of police overreaching,” Bowman said Friday.

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Akron Board Greenlights Plan for LeBron James’ Foundation to Open “I Promise” Public School

LeBron James (photo via reviewjournal.com)

via newsone.com

NBA star LeBron James is using his platform to advocate for education. Through his organization—The LeBron James Family Foundation—he will open up a public school in his hometown Akron, Ohio, USA Today reported.

The educational institution—dubbed the “I Promise” school—was recently approved by the city’s board, the news outlet writes. It’s specifically designed for students who have faced obstacles and setbacks when it comes to excelling in school. In efforts to get students who have fallen behind in their studies on the right track, the new school will have extended school days and start classes during the summer season to ensure that learning and education becomes a priority in the lives of its students. The school is an extension of his foundation’s “I Promise” program that was created to prevent kids from dropping out of school. According to the news outlet, the school is slated to accept third and fourth graders next fall and other grades will subsequently be added in the coming years.

James said that his experiences while coming of age in Akron inspired him to open the school. Through his organization’s initiatives, he wants to provide the youth in his hometown with a sense of hope. “I walked those streets, and it was just like there’s no way I’m going to be able to get out of this situation. I just thought about that every day. I had dreams and I had mentors, and they allowed my dreams to become who I am today,” said James, according to the source. “The basketball thing, I love it and I enjoy it, but to give back and open up a school, that’s something that will last way beyond my years.”

USA Today reports that James’ company SpringHill Entertainment and the production company Warrior Poets will team up to work on a documentary about the creation of the school.

In an age where activism and sports are intertwined now more than ever, James has continually used his platform to speak out about social and political issues. This summer he called out Donald Trump for his failure to condemn White supremacists who were involved in the Charlottesville chaos, he’s been outspoken about the NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick, and during the Cavaliers’ season-opener against the Celtics this season he wore sneakers that read “equality.”

SOURCE: USA Today

Serena Williams to Have Building Named in her Honor at Nike’s World Headquarters

by Melissa Minton via teenvogue.com

Serena Williams, undoubtedly one of the most important athletes of all time, has certainly had an extraordinary year. Aside from her many professional accomplishments, the tennis player has gotten married and given birth. And now she will lend her name to something totally unexpected: a building in Nike‘s Beaverton, Oregon, world headquarters. The company announced Wednesday that four new structures will open in 2019 as part of its campus expansion. Two buildings will be named after athletes, Serena Williams and former track-and-field star Sebastian Coe, while a fitness center will be named after Mike Krzyzewski, better known as Coach K, of Duke University.

When completed, the Serena Williams building will be the largest structure at the headquarters (deserving), spanning more than 1 million square feet and nearly three city blocks. Serena, for her part, was so excited about the development that she took to Instagram to reflect on her year of major accomplishments.

She wrote, “What a year it has been. First a grand slam win followed by a awesome baby… than the most magical wedding. What next? How about a building!!… Nike announced yesterday that one of its new world headquarters buildings will be named after me. It will be the biggest on campus and is scheduled to open in 2019. I am honored and grateful! #TeamNike @nike.” Serena has been a Nike athlete since December 2003, and the company declared her “one of the greatest athletes of all time and one of the most inspiring people in sport” in their recent statement.

To read more, go to: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/serena-williams-nike-headquarters-building

‘Twilight Zone’ Reboot Executive Produced by Jordan Peele Gets Greenlight at CBS

Jordan Peele (COURTESY: CBS)

by Joe Ottterson via Variety.com

“The Twilight Zone” reboot at CBS All Access has officially been ordered to series, the streaming service announced Wednesday.

Jordan Peele, Simon Kinberg and Marco Ramirez will serve as executive producers and collaborate on the premiere episode. Win Rosenfeld and Audrey Chon will also serve as executive producers. The new series will be produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions and Kinberg’s Genre Films. “Too many times this year it’s felt we were living in a twilight zone, and I can’t think of a better moment to reintroduce it to modern audiences,” said Peele.

The original “Twilight Zone,” created by Rod Serling, was an anthology series that delved into science fiction, fantasy, and horror in every episode. It aired on CBS from 1959-1964. CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves first announced plans for a new version of the series back in November. The series has been revived twice before. The first reboot premiered in 1986 on CBS and ran for 110 episodes. The second, featuring Forest Whitaker in Serling’s on-air role, premiered in 2002 on UPN and lasted 43 episodes. A 1983 feature-film version, “The Twilight Zone: The Movie,” included vignettes directed by John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller.

The news also comes after Peele made a splash in the horror genre with his box office smash hit film “Get Out” earlier this year. He is also attached as an executive producer on the anthology horror series “Lovecraft Country” currently in development at HBO.

To read full article, go to: http://variety.com/2017/tv/news/twilight-zone-reboot-cbs-all-access-jordan-peele-simon-kinberg-marco-ramirez-1202632108/

Tracee Ellis Ross Guest Hosts “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”, Schools Men On Sexual Harassment With Children’s Book, ‘The Handsy Man’ (VIDEO)

by Nicole Hyatt, eurweb.com via blackamericaweb.com

While taking over hosting duties for “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on Tuesday, Tracee Ellis Ross used the platform to speak out about the current wave of sexual harassment allegations surrounding Hollywood.

“I wrote a book,” she said, introducing a bit about “The Handsy Man,” her new children’s book that breaks down the issue of sexual harassment so that grown men can understand.

“It’s kind of like a children’s book for men that is going to make it really simple and bring it back to the basics,” she said before opening the cover and reading a passage.

“There is a guy, with 10 long fingers/ creepy glares and hugs that linger./ If you’re a woman, you’re not a fan./ I speak, of course, of The Handsy Man,” she read.

Ross went on to read all the things that “Handsy Man” may not do. “You may not compliment my butt. You may not call me ‘ho’ or ‘slut.’ And even if you’re stoned or drunk, do not expose me to your junk,” Ross read, showing a drawing of “Handsy Man” exposing himself to a woman.

Other passages included instructions to not “grab my boobs while I’m asleep,” an apparent reference to the photograph of Sen. Al Franken groping a sleeping Leeann Tweeden’s breasts, and one final message: “I’ll say it clearly, nice and slow. If she doesn’t consent — the answer is NO.”

Watch the video below:

Source: https://blackamericaweb.com/2017/12/06/tracee-ellis-ross-schools-men-on-sexual-harassment-with-childrens-book/

T’yanna Wallace, Daughter of Late Rapper Notorious B.I.G., Opens Brooklyn Boutique “Notoriouss”

Notoriouss owner T’yanna Wallace (photo via Instagram)

via thegrio.com

T’yanna Wallace, the daughter of the luminary Notorious B.I.G., has just opened her first brick and mortar clothing store.

Notoriouss, which opened this weekend on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, not only draws from Biggie’s name and branding but from hip-hop as a whole as well as New York City itself, from which Biggie drew a lot of the inspiration for his songs.

On Saturday, people packed the newly opened shop to celebrate not only Wallace’s success but Biggie’s life as family members reminisced about him. Others in attendance included the likes of Jadakiss, Lil Cease, DJ Snuff and DJ Mr. Cee.

“This is a huge, huge, huge monument, huge milestone for her. We’re happy for her, and we’re just excited to be here,” said CJ Wallace, Biggie’s son and T’yanna’s brother.

As for how Wallace is distinguishing herself from her father while still paying tribute to him, CJ Wallace pointed to the spelling of the store: “Two S’s for her individuality. She wanted to do something a little different but still be tied to her father, our father.”

Notoriouss brand clothing has been available online since 2013, but the store in Brooklyn marks the first brick-and-mortar boutique for Wallace.

To see more, go to: https://thegrio.com/2017/12/04/biggies-daughter-opens-brooklyn-boutique-fathers-honor/