REVIEW: Why Robin Thede’s “The Rundown” on BET Could Be Late Night’s Next Must-Watch

Comedian and host Robin Thede (photo via vanityfair.com)

by Laura Bradley via vanityfair.com

When Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show got canceled last year, many fans were understandably frustrated. Wilmore’s was one of only two programs in late night to feature a black host—and at the time, it was the only one with a female head writer. Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that Wilmore’s head writer herself, Robin Thede, has moved on to host her own late-night show.

The Rundown with Robin Thede premiered Thursday night on BET, and although it’s got a few kinks to work out—as any new show does—its host has already honed a distinct comedic voice and spirit. And that sensibility gives her program must-watch potential, even in its first week. Thede’s series opened with a tone-setting sketch: Thede spotting an extremely attractive man . . . who is, unfortunately, wearing a Trump/Pence T-shirt. She then embarks on an ill-fated quest to win his attention—first by wearing a Make America Great Again hat, and eventually by getting a Confederate flag tattoo on her bicep. Then she spots his wedding ring and scolds him for wasting her time before turning to her tattoo artist and asking, “Can you turn that into a Kaepernick jersey or something?”

The Rundown is true to its name; it’s a beat-by-beat recap of the week’s news, as curated by Thede and her team. Naturally, their curation yields a different mix of stories from those chosen by the various Jimmies on network TV.In her premiere episode, Thede zoomed her way through several topics, including Eminem’s anti-Trump rap, Jemele Hills’s suspension from ESPN, and a fireman who was dismissed from his predominantly black fire station after he brought a watermelon with a pink bow on it as a gift.

“It’s no surprise that Trump came for Jemele,” Thede said as she wrapped up her opening monologue. “Remember how he attacked Ms. Texas when she criticized him for not calling out the white supremacists in Charlottesville? Of course you don’t, because he didn’t. Trump likes his targets like we like our Magic Johnson theaters: black and loud.” Thede’s show is undeniably guided by her outlook as a black woman, which enables and guides her to tackle topics other programs might ignore.

As the comedian recently told Variety, “I’m going to be able to give a perspective that’s definitely not happening simply because I am a black woman, but I don’t want people to watch just because of that. If that’s the reason you tune in, that’s great, but the reason you’ll stay is because of what I’m saying,” she says. “The jokes will be pointed. The jokes will be sharp.”

Take, for example, this moment during her opening monologue, in which Thede introduced a viral video of one man’s confrontation with local police in California: “Does anyone else feel like they’re watching a magic show happen when white people interact with the cops?” Thede asked. “Well, abra kadabra, here’s a trick you haven’t seen before—and don’t worry, he lives!” The twist? The subject of the video actually was not a white man at all; he was later identified as 22-year-old Yaroub Assad. “He’s brown!” Thede said incredulously. “This cop thought he was letting a white guy work through a temper tantrum, but he was actually proving a great point: cops aren’t afraid of brown people—just brown skin.”

The Rundown could easily shoot to the top of late night’s must-watch list. Its success could come down to how the show uses its digital platform, which will likely attract fans who might not think to turn on BET for their late-night viewing. With a weekly podcast already set to launch Friday, though, it seems Thede and her staff know the game they’re playing—though as of Monday morning, it’s surprisingly difficult to find clips of the show anywhere but BET’s own Web site, which could hinder the show’s growth.

Once the network expands The Rundown’s web presence, though, it seems only a matter of time before a clip from it goes viral—which will go a long way toward establishing this show as the must-watch it looks like it’s going to be.

To read full article, go to: Why Robin Thede’s The Rundown Could Be Late Night’s Next Must-Watch | Vanity Fair

Netflix Orders Black Superhero Family Drama ‘Raising Dion,’ from Michael B. Jordan and MACRO

Michael B. Jordan to Executive Produce and appear in “Raising Dion” for Netflix (via shadowandact.com)

by Trey Magnum via shadowandact.com

A black superhero family drama from Michael B. Jordan and Charles D. King’s MACRO is coming to Netflix. The streaming giant has greenlit Raising Dion for a 10-episode, straight-to-series order. It is based on Dennis Liu‘s viral short film of the same name, which revolves around a black mother who discovers her young son has multiple and constantly changing abilities.

Jordan will executive produce and also appear in the series in a supporting capacity. Veteran showrunner Carol Barbee is on board and wrote the Netflix adaptation and will serve as showrunner and will executive produce. Liu will direct and executive produce MACRO’s Charles D. King, Kim Roth and Poppy Hanks are also executive producing along with Kenny Goodman and Michael Green. This is the first TV series order for MACRO.

The Netflix series will follow a woman named Nicole Reese, who raises her son Dion after the death of her husband Mark (Jordan). The normal dramas of raising a son as a single mom are amplified when Dion starts to manifest several magical, superhero-like abilities. Nicole must now keep her son’s gifts secret with the help of Mark’s best friend Pat, and protect Dion from antagonists out to exploit him while figuring out the origin of his abilities.

According to THR, the show, which first began development in 2016, was retooled and tapped a new showrunner in Barbee after the success of Eleven on Netflix’s Stranger Things, so the shows would not overlap. At the end of 2016 it got back on track and Jordan joined the project in early 2017. Casting started in February, but as of now, Jordan is the only one attached to appear.

The original Raising Dion short film is below. A comic book companion was also released.

To read full article, go to: Netflix orders black superhero family drama ‘Raising Dion,’ from Michael B. Jordan and MACRO

CULTURE: Poet and Activist Nikki Giovanni featured on “On Being with Krista Tippett” Podcast

Nikki Giovanni (Image by Furious Flower Poetry Center / Flickr)

via onbeing.org

Nikki Giovanni was a revolutionary poet of the Black Arts Movement that nourished civil rights. She had a famous dialogue with James Baldwin in Paris in 1971. As a professor at Virginia Tech, she brought beauty and courage by the way of poetry after the shooting there.

Today, she is a self-proclaimed space freak and a delighted elder — an adored voice to hip-hop artists and the new forms of social change this generation is creating.

Check out Ms. Giovanni’s On Being Podcast from August 24, 2017 by clicking below:

Source: Nikki Giovanni — Soul Food, Sex, and Space | On Being

‘Def Comedy Jam 25’ Special to Be Produced by Netflix to Mark 25th Anniversary of “Def Comedy Jam”

Def Comedy Jam 25 (photos via thegrio.com)

via thegrio.com

Netflix announced on Thursday that it will produce “Def Comedy Jam 25” to mark the 25th anniversary of the comedy show, to air this fall. “Def Comedy Jam” originally ran from 1992 to 1996 before being revived in 2006. The show, which was produced by Russell Simmons, helped to launch the careers of the likes of Martin Lawrence, Cedric the Entertainer and Sheryl Underwood.

The lineup of performers for the special thus far include: Lawrence, Underwood, Bill Bellamy, Cedric the Entertainer, Dave Chappelle, Mike Epps, Adele Givens, Eddie Griffin, Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Kid Capri, Tracy Morgan, Craig Robinson, JB Smoove, Sommore, Joe Torry and Katt Williams.

To read original article, go to: Netflix announces ‘Def Comedy Jam 25’ to mark 25th anniversary | theGrio

Octavia Spencer, LeBron James Team on Limited TV Series About Madam CJ Walker

LeBron James / Octavia Spencer (photos via variety.com)

by Justin Kroll via variety.com

NBA superstar LeBron James is continuing to make moves off the court. James’ production company, SpringHill Entertainment, is adding the first scripted drama to its growing slate. The project also boasts Oscar-winning talent: Octavia Spencer.

Spencer is attached to star in the limited series about entrepreneur and social activist Madam C.J. Walker’s life, with James executive producing along with his company’s co-founder, Maverick Carter. Sources tell Variety that Netflix is interested in the series and is the likely destination. The steaming service had no comment on their involvement in the project.

Nicole Asher is on board to write and co-exec produce and “Black Nativity” helmer Kasi Lemmons will direct the pilot and also executive produce. The series is based on the book “On Her Own Ground” by A’Lelia Bundles, Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, who will also serve as a consultant on the series.

Walker, the daughter of slaves, was orphaned at age seven, married at 14, and widowed at 20. She spent two decades laboring as a washerwoman, earning $1.50 a week. However, everything changed following Walker’s discovery of a revolutionary hair care formula for black women. By the time she died in 1919, she had built a beauty empire from the ground up, amassing wealth unprecedented among black women. She counted W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington among her friends.

Zero Gravity Management’s Mark Holder and Christine Holder optioned the book from Bundles in early 2016. Spencer got wind of the project and aggressively pursued the part. Once word spread that Spencer was attached, WME, who reps both Spencer and James, pitched the series to James as his production company’s entryway into the prestige genre.

SpringHill president Jamal Henderson brought the project to Carter’s attention and the two moved quickly to land the property. With Nicole Asher set to write, Spencer starring, and James and Springhill on board as producers, the package was presented to potential buyers, with Netflix acting fast and the favorite to land the series. “I am really proud of this project and that SpringHill will be partnering with Octavia to tell this important story,” James said. “Every American should all know the story of Madam C.J. Walker. She was an innovator, entrepreneur, social activist, and total game changer whose story has been left out of the history books. I hope this project lives up to her legacy with a story that will educate and inspire.”

To read full article, go to: Octavia Spencer, LeBron James Team on TV Series About Madam CJ Walker | Variety

Joy-Ann Reid’s ‘AM Joy’ beats CNN in Ratings for 5th Month in a Row

“AM Joy” Host Joy Reid (photo via msnbc.com)

via thegrio.com

Joy-Ann Reid‘s talk show AM Joy on MSNBC keeps pulling in the numbers. For the fifth straight month, her show beat out CNN viewership in the same time slot, according to Shadow and Act. In July, her Saturday edition averaged 1.02 million viewers, versus CNN’s 778,000, and her Sunday edition averaged 880,000 viewers versus CNN’s 878,000.

What’s more, AM Joy has seen double-digit growth in the 25-54 demographic, with 45 percent growth on Saturday and 74 percent growth on Sunday. That same demographic, for comparison, has been down for both Fox and CNN in that same time period. Overall, AM Joy enjoyed 53 percent growth for the Saturday edition and 72 percent for total viewers for the Sunday edition.

To read more, go to: Joy-Ann Reid’s ‘AM Joy’ beats CNN in ratings for fifth straight month | theGrio

U.K.’s Positive.News Publishes Good Black News Feature – “Black News Matters: the Website Dedicated to Positive News about People of Color”

Good Black News Founder and Editor-in-Chief Lori Lakin Hutcherson (photo: Atsushi Nishijima)

interview by Lucy Purdy via positive.news

Lori Lakin Hutcherson was shocked when she was unable to find a website dedicated to positive news about black people. So she started one 

Why did you start the Facebook page that became the website, Good Black News?

I actually started Good Black News by accident. It was 2010 and, in my work as a film and television writer and producer, I was collaborating with author Terry McMillan on the film adaptation of her new book. Before our writing session started one morning, she was telling me about a story she’d barely come across in the news: at an all-black academy in Chicago, 100 per cent of the seniors were accepted to college. Terry was wondering why there was no major news media coverage of this great achievement, and lamenting that the mainstream media primarily focused on negative news about African Americans. I figured that there must be a site dedicated solely to positive African American news, so searched the internet. To my shock, I couldn’t find one. In that moment I decided I had to create it, even if just a page on Facebook. So I did. And it slowly grew from there.

How do you think the mainstream media is biased towards people of colour? What damage can stereotypes do?

The media bias reflects the bias intrinsic in US culture and society. People of colour are often seen as threats or exceptions, but not commonly enough as typical human beings. More often than not, you’ll see adjectives or nouns that refer to someone’s ethnicity or skin colour rather than their name or age, or you will see images that are dour or intense instead of happy or light. The damage these micro-dehumanisations can do is reinforce prejudices about people of colour, as well as teach and perpetuate them. So every time I put up a positive story, I am conscious that I am combatting all of that, as well as offering a bit of uplift for anyone who comes across it.

What steps do you take with your stories; for example with headlines and photos, to make them more representative and balanced?

First of all, I make sure that they are accurate and informative, and properly credited and sourced. Secondly, I like to find the best image possible to represent the person or the subject of the story; if all anyone sees is the photo or the headline, I want to make sure either or both offer a story, as well as positive impact. Lastly, I like to put names in headlines. A person’s name offers individuality and acknowledgement that I think impresses on readers a level of humanity that descriptors just don’t. It may seem subtle, but to me, it’s not. Imagine, for example, the differing impact of The Autobiography of a Black Muslim v The Autobiography of Malcolm X or The Diary of a Jewish Girl v The Diary of Anne Frank.

What reactions have you had to Good Black News? Have any surprised you?

The majority have been positive, which isn’t surprising as much as it is heartwarming. It’s humbling knowing that what myself, my fellow editor Lesa Lakin and our volunteer contributors do is helping so many people access information and stories they might not otherwise have heard of. What has surprised me – even though, thankfully, it’s not a large number – is that there are people who spend their time trying to troll and mock and denigrate a site dedicated to sharing positive stories about people of colour. Each time I come across a wayward comment, reply or tweet and block it, I think ‘Who has time for this kind of vitriol in their life?

People of colour are often seen as threats or exceptions, but not commonly enough as typical human beings

Which sorts of stories are most popular?

Education stories. Whether it’s a boy or girl genius graduating college at 14, or a formerly homeless teen going to the Ivy League, or senior citizens finally getting their high school or college diplomas, education stories are always popular. Education has been the most accessible and democratic way people of colour have been able to improve their lives in the US. To go from it being a crime to learn to read and write, to earning PhDs and running universities – yeah, those stories always resonate.

To read rest of article, go to: Black news matters: the website dedicated to positive news about people of colour