According to Variety.com, Academy Award-winning producer/writer/director Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight“) and his PASTEL production banner have landeda first-look television deal at Amazon.
Jenkins is planning to direct the entire limited series “Underground Railroad” at Amazon, based on Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning novel from 2016. Under the deal, Jenkins will exclusively develop television series for Amazon Studios.
“Barry is clearly a master of groundbreaking, authentically emotional storytelling and we are so proud to have him share that gift with us,” said Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios. “We are incredibly fortunate to have also secured his directorial vision for the entire limited series The Underground Railroad.”
“We at PASTEL are excited to continue our Amazon relationship begun on ‘Underground Railroad’ and look forward to growing that partnership on projects near and beyond,” said Jenkins.
Jenkins’ feature film debut, “Medicine for Melancholy,” was lauded as one of the best films of 2009 by The New York Times. He recently debuted his latest film, “If Beale Street Could Talk,” based on James Baldwin’s novel and starring Regina King and Brian Tyree Henry, at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. The U.S. release in theaters is scheduled for November 30 of this year.
Nearly two weeks after the ad provoked calls for boycotts, shares hit an all-time high, closing at $83.47 Thursday — an all-time high for the company.
According to a report from Bloomberg, Nike had previously faced a dip in its stock price immediately after its Kaepernick announcement, dropping nearly 3 percent in the next day of trading at the New York Stock Exchange. That fall has since been made up and more, per Yahoo.
Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ‘Just do it’ campaign is a two-minute video featuring the former 49er narrating stories of athletes who have beaten the odds, ending with the words: “It’s only crazy until you do it,” then changing to “Just do it.”
Artist Chelle Barbour’s first solo show, You Is Pretty!, at Band of Vices gallery in the West Adams district of L.A. through Oct. 13, is a photo montage series examining portrayals of African-American women in media. And if you look closely at the curator credits, one very famous name jumps out: Angela Bassett.
Longtime friend and fan of gallerist Terrell Tilford, Bassett, who serves as co-curator of Barbour’s show, frequented his gallery throughout the aughts when it was called Tilford Art Group. After closing in 2010, he rebranded as Band of Vices in 2015 and reached out to Bassett about playing a larger part. “I’ve been a lover of art for many, many years, so it was just a new venture for me. And when he introduced me to Chelle’s work, I was excited about it as well, about this young artist that I heretofore wasn’t familiar with but found her work to be really strong and really striking in many ways,” Bassett explains.
Barbour’s practice includes painting, digital video, photography, writing and curating. She collaborated on projects with Black Lives Matter at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in 2016; and has participated in a number of group shows. But to have Bassett play a part in her first solo show is just too much, she quips.
“When I saw her name as a curator, I was like, ‘What?!?” Barbour explains. “I have been a fan of hers for years. I’m pleased that she likes the work, that she’s seen it. Her endorsement just leaves me speechless.”
With You Is Pretty!, Barbour poses questions about agency and beauty by layering visual metaphors over imagery of black women to evoke what writer and essayist Amiri Baraka called Afro-Surrealism. The women in her collages are alluring and confident, the opposite of more common depictions emphasizing a lack of economic value, or worse, irrelevance. By incorporating motifs like butterflies, flower petals and industrial machinery, she conjures archetypes of strength and potential.
“Chelle’s work explores that notion of the other or the alien or the marginalization, but she uses the black woman as her muse,” offers Bassett. “When I, as an artist, look out into the world, I find those voices, whether it be art or music or narration, that celebrate our beauty, our being different, as a strength, as something positive.”
HBO has renewed “Insecure” for a fourth season and fellow comedy series “Ballers” for a fifth season.
The renewals come nearly a month after the two series returned for new seasons Aug. 12 on HBO and its digital platforms.
Created by Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore, “Insecure” follows the friendship of two women dealing with their own real-life flaws while attempting to navigate different worlds and cope with an endless series of uncomfortable everyday experiences. Issa Rae, Yvonne Orji, Lisa Joyce, Natasha Rothwell, Amanda Seales and Y’lan Noel star. Executive producers are Rae, Prentice Penny, Melina Matsoukas, Michael Rotenberg, Dave Becky, Jonathan Berry, Jim Kleverweis and Dayna Lynne North.
Starring Dwayne Johnson and created by Stephen Levinson, “Ballers” explores the world of pro football through a group of past and present players striving to stay in the game. Johnson plays ex-superstar Spencer Strasmore, who has reinvented himself as a financial manager for today’s players. Other cast members include John David Washington, Rob Corddry, Omar Benson Miller, Donovan Carter, Troy Garity, London Brown and Brittany S. Hall. Levinson, Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, Peter Berg, Rob Weiss, Denis Biggs, Karyn McCarthy and Julian Farino serve as executive producers for the series.
According to hollywoodreporter.com, Nike unveiled the face of its campaign celebrating 30 years of its “Just do it” campaign – none other than that of Colin Kaepernick. In the ad, the former NFL quarterback is looking at the camera, and printed over the image is: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt.”
Kaepernick has been a Nike athlete since 2011, but the Super Bowl QB has not played on a team since 2016. Kaepernick created a national firestorm when he began kneeling during the National Anthem in an effort to protest African-American inequality and police brutality in America. Since then, a number of players on all teams have kneeled or raised a fist during the anthem for the same protest.
Last season, as the debate over protesting was burning ever hotter, the NFL and the NFL Players Association defended the right for those who wanted to protest peacefully.
According to bleacherreport.com, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the Niners in March 2017 and hasn’t been able to find a new team since. An April visit with the Seattle Seahawks was postponed after he did not assure the franchise he’d stand for the anthem if signed, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche of NFL Media about the decision he made in 2016. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
The 30-year-old quarterback filed a collusion grievance against the league, which claimed he was being kept out of the league because of the protests he started. His argument received a boost last week when arbitrator Stephen B. Burbank ruled there was enough evidence to require a full hearing.
Meanwhile, NFL owners approved anthem rules in May that would force players to stand if they are on the field or they must remain in the locker room during the anthem. Teams with players who did not comply with the new policy would be subject to league fines, and teams could also hand out individual punishments. Those guidelines are on hold, however, as discussions between the NFL and the players’ union continue with the 2018 season set to start this Thursday.
The winners of the Hugo Awards, considered some of the most prestigious science fiction and fantasy literary prizes, were announced on Sunday, with science fiction author N.K. Jemisin making history as the first writer ever to win the best novel award three years in a row.
During her acceptance speech at the World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose, CA, Jemisin said, “I get a lot of questions about where the themes of the Broken Earth trilogy come from. I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m drawing on the human history of structural oppression, as well as my feelings about this moment in American history.”
But she also sounded a note of optimism.
“I want you to remember that 2018 is also a good year. This is a year in which records have been set,” Jemisin said. “A year in which even the most privilege-blindered of us has been forced to acknowledge that the world is broken and needs fixing — and that’s a good thing! Acknowledging the problem is the first step toward fixing it. I look to science fiction and fantasy as the aspirational drive of the Zeitgeist: We creators are the engineers of possibility. And as this genre finally, however grudgingly, acknowledges that the dreams of the marginalized matter and that all of us have a future, so will go the world.”
Jemisin’s fans took to Twitter to celebrate her historic hat trick. Among them was her cousin, the television host and comedian W. Kamau Bell, who noted that Jemisin’s books have yet to be adapted into film:
So which writer &/or journalist is writing the story of the Black woman (@nkjemisin) who's the 1st person to win 3 #HugoAwards IN A ROW? Focusing on the significance of a Black woman doing this & the telling fact that her books have yet to show up onscreen as films/TV shows?
Despite a 14-month maternity leave, Serena Williams has topped Forbes’ “Highest-Paid Female Athlete” list for the third consecutive year.
Due to her pregnancy in January 2017, Williams was off the court for the majority of the past year, leaving her with only $62,000 in winnings. Still, the 23-time Grand Slam champion collected twice as many off-court coins than any other female athlete.
Earning $18.1 million in endorsements, Williams was able to top the list by over $5 million, with Australian Open winner Dane Caroline Wozniacki second in line.
Though Forbes did not include a woman in their ranking of the world’s top 100 highest earning athletes of 2018 after Williams’ earnings fell by approximately $10 million since the year prior, only 16 male athletes earned more than Williams in sponsorship money over the last 12 months.
In addition to over a dozen sponsors including Nike, Intel, Audemars Piguet, JPMorgan Chase, Lincoln, Gatorade and Beats, Williams also launched her first solo fashion compilation, Serena, in May.
Williams is currently gearing up to match Margaret Court’s 24 grand slam title record at this year’s US Open.
According to the Associated Press, Alice Allison Dunnigan, the first African-American woman journalist credentialed to cover the White House, will be honored with a life-sized statue to be erected next month in Washington D.C.
Dunnigan, a Kentucky native who died in 1983, was the first Black female journalist to cover a presidential campaign — President Harry Truman’s whistle-stop campaign tour in 1948. She subsequently received credentials to cover the White House.
As head of the Associated Negro Press’ Washington bureau for 14 years, Dunnigan supplied stories to 112 African-American newspapers across the nation. She was also the first Black woman to obtain press credentials to cover the U.S. Congress, the State Department, and the Supreme Court.
“Throughout Dunnigan’s career, she battled the rampant racism and sexism that dominated the mostly white and male professions of journalism and politics. She once famously stated, ‘Race and sex were twin strikes against me. I’m not sure which was the hardest to break down,’” the Newseum, the non-profit news museum in the nation’s capital that will be displaying the sculpture, said in a statement.
The bronze sculpture, created by fellow Kentuckian Amanda Matthews, will be displayed at the Newseum from Sept. 21 until Dec. 16, before moving to Dunnigan’s hometown of Russellville, KY.
It will be installed on the grounds of the West Kentucky African American Heritage Center as part of a park dedicated to the Civil Rights Movement, the Newseum said.
Kenya Barris has become the newest big-ticket addition to Netflix’s lineup of television producers.
The “Black-ish” creator has signed a three-year overall deal with the streaming service that will see him produce series exclusively for Netflix. According to a source with knowledge of the negotiations, the deal, which carries an option for an additional two years, is valued at roughly $100 million — putting Barris in the same ballpark as recent Netflix recruits Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy.
Barris’ departure from ABC Studios, where he was under an overall deal, became official last month. But according to insiders, his release from his ABC deal had been secured several months ago, and the basics of his new Netflix agreement had also been in place for some time.
Barris’ relationship with ABC began to show signs of strain in March when Variety reported that the network had indefinitely shelved an episode of “Black-ish” that he wrote and directed, titled “Please, Baby, Please,” which touched on current events, including controversy over athletes kneeling during performances of the national anthem. Barris told Variety at the time, “Given our creative differences, neither ABC nor I were happy with the direction of the episode and mutually agreed not to air it.”
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, Disney-owned ABC’s concerns were related to comments that characters made in the episode about President Donald Trump, not to the football storyline.
A month later, reports surfaced that Barris was being courted by Netflix for an overall deal. But his ability to pursue a Netflix deal was complicated by the renewal of his ABC agreement that he signed last year, and which ran through 2021. Barris had to secure an exit from ABC before moving to Netflix.
With his departure from ABC Studios last month, Barris stepped away from his post as co-showrunner of “Black-ish,” but will continue to serve as executive producer. Barris also has “Black-ish” spinoff “Grown-ish” at Disney cable channel Freeform, where he will continue to be an EP.
“Black-ish” has been a rarity among broadcast comedies in recent years — drawing solid ratings and robust critical praise, particularly for episodes addressing complex social issues. It also, when it premiered in 2014, was the first broadcast comedy in years to feature an African-American family. It has been nominated for 12 Primetime Emmy Awards over its run, and this year received its third Emmy nomination for outstanding comedy series. It received a Peabody Award in 2016, and a Golden Globe Award in 2017 for actress Tracee Ellis Ross.
“Kenya Barris is one of our great modern storytellers,” said Cindy Holland, vice president, original content at Netflix. “Kenya uses his voice to make audiences more aware of the world around them, while simultaneously making them laugh. His honesty, comedic brilliance and singular point of view, combined with the creative freedom he will enjoy at Netflix, promises to create powerful new stories for all our members around the world.”
Barris added, “When my agents reached out to me about this little garage start-up called Netflix, I wasn’t sure what to think. But after I talked to Ted and Cindy, I started to believe that maybe this mom-and-pop shop with only 130 million subscribers might just be something… so I decided to take a swing… a leap of faith if you will, and take a chance with the new kids on the block.”
With his new agreement, Barris joins the ranks of television’s highest paid creators. In the last year, Netflix has signed Rhimes and Murphy to nine-figure deals as it continues to grow its original-programming volume in an increasingly robust challenge to the traditional pay-TV business. The streaming service last month revealed an initial programming slate from Rhimes that includes eight new series projects.
As GBN’s resident biracial, millennial nerd, I place a lot of importance on diversity at Comic Con and in the entertainment industry.
Pop culture has the power to influence how people see the world around them, and, thankfully, there are people in the entertainment industry who understand this and work to make content that showcases the positive aspects of diversity and uniqueness.
A prime example of this content is Steven Universe, an out-of-this-world show that isn’t afraid to show just how diverse this planet really is.
On the surface, Steven Universe is a cartoon about a boy trying to save the world. But on a deeper level it’s a show about love and friendship, and a show that teaches kids lessons about healthy relationships, anxiety, and how important it is to be true to yourself. Estelle, who plays Garnet (the fierce leader of the Crystal gems and fusion of LGBTQ+ couple Ruby and Sapphire), killed it at the Superheroes of Body PositivityPanel this Comic Con.
Estelle, along with the rest of the Crewniverse (people who work on Steven Universe) recently participated in Dove’s Self Esteem Project. Rebecca Sugar, the creator of Steven Universe and Estelle joined Dove on the Panel to talk about body positivity and open up about their own experiences with body image. “My body works, it’s gorgeous. It gets me from point A to point B. If someone, doesn’t like my body, that’s too bad,” Estelle explained.
Another show featured at Comic-Con was Black Lightning, a badass superhero show that celebrates Black Americans. Series co-creator Mara Brock Akil took the stage to express that “celebrating our culture is important to remind us that we are also a part of the fabric of American culture. Tracking our history and our path is important.”
Then there are the women of the Women Who Kick Ass Panel. Amandla Stenberg, who I’ve been a fan of since their portrayal of Rue in The Hunger Games, said “The topic of ‘strong female roles’ is tricky. There’s an awareness I have. I create representation because of the accessibility I have. When it comes to roles there is a give and take time. We continue to sacrifice in order to see the representation we want.” I will definitely be purchasing a ticket for their new movie The Darkest Minds.
And of course, there’s Regina King, who will be starring in HBO’s new Watchmen series. “There weren’t many like me kicking ass. I was a Lynda Carter fan. Even though Wonder Woman was wearing a skimpy outfit, she had ownership and confidence that exuded female strength,” Regina King explained about her own experiences with superheroes.
For me, cartoons and superheroes have shaped core aspects of my personality and morality, so it means a lot to me to see so many badass women of color involved in so many amazing projects share their experiences.