“Get Out” Writer/Director Jordan Peele Signs 1st-Look Deal With Sonar Entertainment

Jordan Peele (photo via Variety.com)

article by Oriana Schwindt via Variety.com

Jordan Peele has just signed a first-look deal with Sonar Entertainment for his production company, Monkeypaw Productions. The agreement encompasses all content for television, including digital. The news comes just ahead of the premiere of Peele’s feature directorial debut with horror film “Get Out,” which is already earning rave reviews.

Peele and Keegan-Michael Key created and performed in the Emmy-winning sketch series “Key & Peele,” which concluded a five-season run on Comedy Central in 2015. “Jordan Peele is one of the brightest stars in our business — a true hyphenate — actor, writer, producer and director. We are excited to partner with him and Monkeypaw,” said Sonar CEO Thomas Lesinski.

“I am thrilled to partner with the incredible folks at Sonar Entertainment as they are committed to truly elevated quality content. Especially now as I move into this next chapter in television, my aim is to help develop untapped voices as well as my own dream shows, and continue to push the boundaries of television,” Peele said.

Monkeypaw Productions was founded by Peele in 2012.  In TV, Monkeypaw produced “Key & Peele” and is also behind Tracy Morgan’s TBS comedy series, which is set for production later this year.

To read more, go to: Jordan Peele Inks First-Look Deal With Sonar Entertainment | Variety

R.I.P. Clyde Stubblefield, 73, James Brown’s Legendary ‘Funky Drummer’ 

Clyde Stubblefield (photo via nytimes.com)

article by  via nytimes.com

It took only 20 seconds for Clyde Stubblefield to drum his way to immortality. They came near the end of James Brown’s “Funky Drummer,” recorded in a Cincinnati studio in late 1969. Brown counts him in — “1, 2, 3, 4. Hit it!” — and Mr. Stubblefield eases into a cool pattern, part bendy funk and part hard march. It’s calm, slick and precise, and atop it, Brown asks over and over, “Ain’t it funky?”

It was. That brief snippet of percussion excellence became the platonic ideal of a breakbeat, the foundation of hip-hop’s sampling era and a direct through line from the ferocious soul music of the civil rights era to the golden age of history-minded hip-hop of the 1980s and 1990s.

Though Mr. Stubblefield wasn’t enamored of the song — “I didn’t like the song. I still don’t really get off on it,” he told Paste magazine in 2014— its mark became indelible. Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out,” Boogie Down Productions’ “South Bronx,” Sinead O’Connor’s “I Am Stretched on Your Grave,” George Michael’s “Freedom! ’90” and Kenny G’s “G-Bop”: Mr. Stubblefield’s “Funky Drummer” break appeared as a sample in all of those songs, and over a thousand more, from the 1980s to the present day. It made Mr. Stubblefield, who died on Saturday in Madison, Wis., at 73, perhaps the most sampled drummer in history.

The cause was kidney failure, said his manager, Kathie Williams.

Mr. Stubblefield was born on April 18, 1943, and grew up in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he was drawn to the rhythms of local industrial sounds, from factories to trains. “There was a factory there that puffed out air — pop-BOOM, pop-BOOM — hit the mountains and came back as an echo,” he told Isthmus in 2015. “And train tracks — click-clack, click-clack. I listened to all that for six years, playing my drums against it.”

By his late teenage years, he was already playing drums professionally, and he moved to Macon, Ga., after playing with Otis Redding, who hailed from there. There, he performed with local soul acts, and was introduced to Brown by a club owner. Soon, he was flying to join Brown on the road, and became a permanent band member.

He performed with him on and off for about six years, one of two key drummers — the other was John Starks, who was also known as Jabo — playing on the essential James Brown albums of the civil rights era: “Cold Sweat,” “I Got the Feelin’,” “It’s a Mother,” “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud” and “Sex Machine.” He performed at some of Brown’s most important concerts, including at the Boston Garden after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and for United States service members in Vietnam.

His sharp funk provided the anchor on anthems like “Cold Sweat,” “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud,” and “I Got The Feelin’.” Always, his playing was complex but collected — his flourishes between beats were as essential as the beat itself. Brown demanded a lot of his band, and Mr. Stubblefield, with playing that had punch, nimbleness and wet texture, never appeared to be breaking a sweat.

To read full article, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/18/arts/music/clyde-stubblefield-dead.htmlrref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Farts&action=click&contentCollection=arts&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=9&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0

“Atlanta” Creator Donald Glover to Play Simba in Disney’s Live-Action “Lion King,” James Earl Jones is Mufasa

Live-Action “The Lion King” stars Donald Glover (l) and James Earl Jones (r) [Photo via Variety.com)

article by Justin Kroll via Variety.com

Donald Glover and James Earl Jones are ready to sing “Hakuna Matata.” The “Atlanta” star is in talks to play Simba in Disney’s live-action “The Lion King” remake directed by Jon Favreau, (“The Jungle Book,” “Iron Man”). Jones, who voiced Simba’s father Mufasa in the original, will return to reprise the role.

Favreau is directing with Jeff Nathanson writing. “Lion King” was originally released in 1994 and is one of the highest-grossing animated films of all time, ultimately hauling $968.5 million at the global box office. The studio’s emphasis on live-action reboots follows the successes of “Maleficent” (2014) and “Cinderella” (2015), while “Beauty and the Beast” is already one of the most anticipated movies of the year.

To read full article, go to: ‘Lion King’ Remake: Donald Glover Is Simba, James Earl Jones Is Mufasa | Variety

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank Walks Back Trump Praise after Backlash from Brand’s Top Celebrity Endorsers

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank (l); Misty Copeland, Stephen Curry, Dwayne Johnson (photos via thegrio.com)

article via thegrio.com

BALTIMORE (AP) — The CEO of Baltimore-based sports apparel company Under Armour is responding to criticism he received after calling President Donald Trump “an asset to the country.” Kevin Plank wrote an open letter to Baltimore published as a full-page advertisement in The Baltimore Sun Wednesday.

He wrote that his choice of words during an interview with CNBC last week “did not accurately reflect my intent.” Three celebrities the company sponsors — basketball star Stephen Curry, actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and ballerina Misty Copelandwere among those voicing concerns about his praise of Trump.

Plank says the company stands for equal rights and job creation and believes “immigration is a source of strength, diversity and innovation for global companies based in America.” He says the company opposes the president’s travel ban.

Source: Under Armour CEO walks back Trump praise after backlash from brand’s top celebrity endorsers | theGrio

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Joins Hollywood Reporter as Contributing Editor on Pop Culture, Race and Politics

NBA legend and author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (photo via Getty Images)

article via hollywoodreporter.com

The Hollywood Reporter, one of entertainment media’s flagship outlets, announced that NBA legend, actor, activist, cultural commentator and New York Times bestselling author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has joined the publication as contributing editor. In his role, Abdul-Jabbar will pen a regular column and conduct select celebrity interviews.  Abdul-Jabbar’s first column on race and romance in La La Land will run in the Feb. 24 print issue and online at THR.com.

“With decades of experience in the media spotlight and a keen eye on the pop culture landscape, Kareem will bring a unique perspective to The Hollywood Reporter’s readers on critical issues like race, gender and the role of media in society,” said Matthew Belloni, editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter. “His voice will be an especially important one as The Hollywood Reporter continues to expand its coverage and grow its global audience.”

On his new role, Abdul-Jabbar said, “I’m excited to join The Hollywood Reporter because it allows me to continue to write about the intersection of politics and pop culture, which is where our values and beliefs are forged.”

Abdul-Jabbar has contributed a number of guest columns to The Hollywood Reporter in recent months. In November, he conducted a wide-ranging interview with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, who appeared together in the film adaptation of August Wilson’s classic 1983 play, Fences. Abdul-Jabbar also recently penned columns focusing on the issues of the day, calling on black celebrities to be “fearless” in standing up to the current president, intoning on the social and psychological effects of reality-romance series The Bachelor and comparing Trump’s refugee ban to a “bad horror movie.”

In addition to The Hollywood Reporter, Abdul-Jabbar has contributed to publications like The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time, Esquire and The Huffington Post.

To read full article, go to: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Joins Hollywood Reporter as Contributing Editor | Hollywood Reporter

R.I.P. Grammy Award-Winning Jazz, Pop and R&B Vocal Master Al Jarreau

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

According to the New York TimesAl Jarreau, a versatile vocalist who sold millions of records and won numerous Grammys for his work in jazz, pop and R&B, died on Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 76.  Jarreau is perhaps best known for his 1981 album Breakin’ Away, which contained his highest-charting hit “We’re In This Love Forever,”  He also sang the theme song of the late-1980s television series Moonlighting, and was a performer in the 1985 charity song “We Are the World“.

His death was announced by his manager, Joe Gordon, who said Mr. Jarreau had been hospitalized for exhaustion two weeks ago.

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Al Jarreau (photo via amazon.com)

A preacher’s son, Jarreau started singing in public as a boy but did not begin a full-time musical career until the late 1960s, when he was nearly 30. Before that, he had worked as a psychologist and rehabilitation counselor.

By the 1970s he had become a popular jazz singer, touring extensively and appearing on television.  Critics praised his voice, his improvisational skill and, in particular, his virtuosic ability to produce an array of vocalizations, ranging from delicious nonsense to clicks and growls to quasi-instrumental sounds – a more extended form of the jazz style “scatting.”

To learn more about this masterful singer’s life and career, click here.

Mara Brock Akil & Salim Akil’s DC Comics Drama ‘Black Lightning’ Gets Pilot Pickup at CW

“Black Lightning” via DC Comics

article via eurweb.com

Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil (photo via eurweb.com)

DC Comics drama “Black Lightning,” from executive producers Mara Brock Akil and husband/producing partner, Salim Akil (“Girlfriends,” “The Game,” “Being Mary Jane”) has moved from Fox to The CW with a formal pilot order, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Greg Berlanti, who produces several other DC properties for the CW (“Supergirl”, “The Flash”, “Arrow”) is also executive producing the project.

“Black Lightning” was one of DC Comics’ first major African-American superheroes when it debuted in 1977 from creators Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden. Should the drama move to series, it would be one of the first broadcast shows to feature an African-American superhero as its lead, joining Netflix drama “Luke Cage,” which hails from Marvel Comics.

The hourlong drama will center on Jefferson Pierce, who hung up his suit and his secret identity years ago. However, with a daughter hell-bent on justice and a star student being recruited by a local gang, he’ll be pulled back into the fight as the wanted vigilante and DC legend Black Lightning.

“Black Lightning” marks the first pilot pickup to come from the Akils’ overall deal with Warner Bros. Television. It was originally set up at Fox in September following a multiple-network bidding war.

Source: Mara Brock Akil & Salim Akil’s DC Comics Drama ‘Black Lightning’ Lands at CW | EURweb