Category: Entertainment

Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY to Open Independent Movie Theater, Offer Grants For Film Festivals

Ava Duvernay (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

According to Tambay Obenson‘s article on indiewire.com, filmmaker Ava DuVernay‘s distribution company ARRAY is building a state-of-the-art, 50-set movie theater, which will be able to screen independent movies as well as be available for rental. To quote the article:

“Located west of downtown Los Angeles — a part of the city that doesn’t house many media moguls — it’s also the area’s only independent theater. And it comes at a time when exhibitors are apoplectic over the impact of Netflix and other major streaming companies.

ARRAY VP Tilane Jones said that’s one reason they chose to open it. “It’s really a labor of love, which is all driven by a desire to be in service of people,” Jones said. “Our filmmakers and our audience.”

The ARRAY library is an eclectic selection of independent films, many of which were directed by women and/or people of color, united by singular visions and themes of social justice — a template that mainstream distributors often dismiss out of hand. For DuVernay, who worked as a movie marketer and publicist for more than 14 years, this represented an opportunity.”

ARRAY is also working to create opportunities for filmmakers of color. Last year, ARRAY teamed up with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and producer Dan Lin to launch the Evolve Entertainment Fund, which provides promotion, grants, and gap financing for communities historically excluded from the entertainment industry.

ARRAY Alliance, which is the company’s non-profit division, plans to create grants for African American, Latino and Asian American film festivals, societies and clubs, as well as support the screenings, curriculum, and teacher training that will help young audiences learn the value of art, independent film, and social justice.

To read more, go to: https://www.indiewire.com/2019/04/ava-duvernay-array-affrm-burial-of-kojo-1202053860/

Intersection of Crenshaw and Slauson in South L.A. to Be Named Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom Square in Honor of Rapper

April 9th, 2019, Los Angeles, CA – According to Ashley K. Thomas, Communications Director for South Los Angeles City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Harris-Dawson just announced that the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and West Slauson Avenue would be named in honor of one of its own, Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom. The rapper, entrepreneur and champion for the South LA historic “Destination Crenshaw” project was recently murdered at his flagship Marathon Clothing Store located adjacent to the intersection.

A petition to get the intersection named in his honor circulated online shortly after his passing with over 500,000 signatures to date. The outpouring of love for the rapper has come from all over the globe with fans from China, Australia, Canada, Brazil and more signing the petition.

The city councilman and Asghedom developed a relationship through their work on the Destination Crenshaw project. The naming of the project, which will memorialize the culture and history of Black Los Angeles on Crenshaw Blvd., came from Nipsey.

He passionately articulated that “Crenshaw should be a destination,” further implying that all of the individuals riding the Metro LAX Line should stop at Crenshaw and spend their dollars in the community.

“Ermias Asghedom known as “Nipsey Hussle” was an icon and West Coast hero,” said Councilmember Harris-Dawson. “Nipsey’s genuine nature allowed him to be a light to everyone he interacted with from family, friends, fans, and his larger community.  As a father, brother, and son, Nipsey was a rock helping to build an empire that will continue through generations. Nipsey will always be remembered for delivering a pure, authentic Los Angeles sound, his numerous philanthropic efforts, his innovative, community-focused business mindset, and his humble heart. ”

In addition to the square dedication, the Los Angeles City Council will adjourn the Council meeting in honor of Nipsey Hussle, officially adding his contributions to the city of Los Angeles and the world into the public record.

The Grammy-nominated artist invested heavily in South Los Angeles, including his groundbreaking Marathon Clothing “Smart Store,” his ownership and redevelopment plans for the property on Slauson Avenue, investment in the beloved World on Wheels, co-founding of Vector90 (the first co-working space in South Los Angeles) and its STEM program for youth, and partner on Destination Crenshaw.

WATCH TRAILER: Charleston Church Shooting Documentary “Emanuel,” Executive Produced by Viola Davis, Steph Curry and Mariska Hartigay, to Hit Theaters June 17 and 19

June 2019 marks the fourth anniversary of the Charleston, South Carolina tragedy at Emanuel A.M.E. Church. The feature-length documentary “EMANUEL,” opens in movie theaters nationwide as a limited release event with Fathom Events on June 17 and 19 only.

The new trailer, released today, gives a glimpse into the emotional documentary that recalls the events of June 17, 2015 and examines how faith, hope and forgiveness healed a devastated community after the heinous church shooting, carried out by white supremacist Dylann Roof.

The film is executive produced by Stephen Curry for Unanimous Media, Viola Davis and Julius Tennon for JuVee Productions, Arbella Studios and Mariska Hargitay, and is directed by Brian Ivie (The Drop Box) and presented by SDG and Fiction Pictures.

For more information on EMANUEL, visit www.emanuelmovie.com. You can also follow the film on social media:

Facebook and Instagram – @emanuelmovie and #emanuelmovie

R.I.P. Nipsey Hussle, 33, Grammy-Nominated Hip Hop Artist, Entrepreneur and Community Activist

Nipsey Hussle (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

Although the loss Nipsey Hussle, 33, is untimely and devastating, his life and all the good he was doing for his community must be honored and remembered. Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, grew up in the Hyde Park area of Los Angeles, an economically and educationally underserved community often affected by violence.

As he rose to prominence as a rapper, including a Grammy nomination for his LP “Victory Lap,” Hussle reinvested in his South L.A. community by buying real estate, opening businesses, and hiring local residents as his employees. To quote from the Los Angeles Times:

“He once gave a pair of shoes to every student at an elementary school in Hyde Park, where he owned a burger joint, a fish market and a barbershop. He helped fund upgrades to the campus playground and offered jobs to his struggling neighbors. If someone lost a loved one to gun violence, he would sometimes chip in for the funeral.”

Hussle was also working with community leaders to address issues that affected his neighborhood:

“The man was instrumental in a lot of stuff,” said community activist Malik Spellman. “Fighting gentrification, trying to stop gang violence.”

The shooting came a day before Hussle was scheduled to meet with LAPD Chief Michel Moore and Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff “to talk about ways he could help stop gang violence and help us help kids,” the commissioner said.

As Times writer Gerrick D. Kennedy wrote in his appreciation of Hussle and all that he meant to South L.A.:

“Here’s the thing to understand about Hussle, and why his death is exceptionally devastating not only to those of us who live and breathe hip-hop but also reside in his birthplace of South L.A.: He was more than a rapper. (Not that there’s anything wrong with just rapping, because there isn’t.)

Driven by a rapacious desire to reinvest in the streets that raised him and rebuild the community, Hussle became an entrepreneur, community organizer, activist and mentor as he transformed into a rap star. His death in front of the strip mall he was redeveloping a few blocks away from that celebratory banner feels particularly cruel.”

To read the rest of Kennedy’s tribute, click here.

Hussle is survived by a daughter and a son. May he rest in peace and may his good works not only never be forgotten, but let them be a blueprint for all those who come up behind him.

T.I. Honored by Georgia Senate For His Philanthropy

T.I. (photo by ConcertTour.org via commons.wikipedia.org)

Grammy Award-winning hip hop artist, actor and Atlanta native T.I. was honored at the Georgia State Capitol last Friday.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Democratic State Senator Donzella James sponsored a resolution applauding T.I. (née Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr.), for spearheading several non-profit organizations, including Harris Community Works, which works with the disadvantaged, and For The Love of Our Fathers, which aids people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

T.I. is also credited for mentoring youth at local area schools in his hometown, hosting Thanksgiving turkey drives and delivering Christmas presents to families in need throughout Atlanta. He also started a real estate company called Buy Back The Block to help rebuild his old neighborhood in the Center Hill section of Atlanta.

Jordan Peele’s “Us” Earns Weekend Top Spot at Box Office with $70M Debut

Filmmaker Jordan Peele is two for two with his horror-film offerings: “Us,” starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Elisabeth Moss, generated $70 million from 3,741 North American locations to top the box office charts in its debut weekend.

According to Variety.com, that haul is enough to give “Us” the second-best opening weekend of the year behind Disney’s “Captain Marvel” ($153 million). The psychological thriller about a family confronted by a band of doppelgangers now has the largest weekend for an original horror movie, surpassing “A Quiet Place,” as well as the biggest launch for an original R-rated film behind “Ted.” “Us” has also surpassed the benchmark set by Peele’s first horror film “Get Out,” which opened with $33.3 million in 2017 and went on to earn over $255 million worldwide.

Universal and Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions spent $20 million to make “Us,” not including marking and distribution fees, which means the movie has almost quadrupled its production cost in less than a week.

Watch the trailer below:

Ava DuVernay to Develop and Produce Romance Anthology Series ‘Cherish the Day’ for OWN

(Photo by Stephanie Moreno/Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications for Peabody Awards/University of Georgia)

According to Variety.com, creator/director Ava DuVernay has received a straight-to-series order from the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) for “Cherish The Day,” a romantic drama anthology.

Each season of the series will chronicle the romance of one couple, with each episode spanning a single day. The narrative will unfold to reveal significant moments in a relationship that compel people to hold true to the ones they love, from the extraordinary to the everyday. The show is scheduled to debut in winter 2020.

“OWN is home,” DuVernay said. “I’m honored to create television for a network headed by an artist with spectacular vision and unbridled passion for the stories that we want to tell.”

“Cherish The Day” will be the second series DuVernay delivers to OWN. The series adaptation of the novel “Queen Sugar” was DuVernay’s first for the network.  She directs and also serves as executive producer on the series. The fourth season will premiere in June.

DuVernay created “Cherish the Day” under her recently announced overall deal with Warner Horizon Scripted Television. She will executive produce “Cherish the Day” along with Oprah Winfrey. Tanya Hamilton, who has directed for “Queen Sugar,” will be the showrunner, an executive producer, and will also direct the series premiere. “Queen Sugar” executive producer Paul Garnes will also executive produce.

“Ava is a visionary storyteller,” said Winfrey. “She brings so much care, so much heart, so much love to the art she creates. I’m excited to continue collaborating together with our very first anthology series for OWN.”

Dancer Shaheem Sanchez Combines Sign Language and Hip Hop (VIDEO)

GBN just learned of dancer Shaheem Sanchez from the excellent post about him on inspirational website Ever Widening Circles. Sanchez, who is deaf, combines ASL (American sign language) with hip hop dancing. Read more about him here and watch his incredible story below:

Original Docu-Series “BET HER Presents: Exceptional Black Women” Premieres March 2, Celebrates MC Lyte, Maxine Waters and More

BET Networks recently announced its upcoming original docu-series BET HER PRESENTS: EXCEPTIONAL BLACK WOMEN will premiere tomorrow March 2, 2019 at 9pm ET on BET HER.

This season will document the lives of MC Lyte, Maxine Waters, Meagan Good, Terri J. Vaughn, and Regina Hall. “Exceptional Black Women” recognizes courageous, inspiring, and successful women who have overcome many of life’s obstacles, featuring never-before-seen photos, videos, intimate sit-down interviews and more.

On the premiere episode, legendary lyricist, DJ, author, actress, entertainer, philanthropist, and icon MC Lyte reveals her intimate stories of struggle, perseverance, and success in the music industry.

She also recounts her journey from growing up in a single-parent home in Brooklyn to being the first female solo rapper ever nominated for a Grammy and more. We also hear first-hand accounts from MC Lyte’s business partner Dr. Lynn Richardson and mother, Constance Moorer.

“BET HER PRESENTS: EXCEPTIONAL BLACK WOMEN” is Executive Produced by Keith Beauchamp, who also serves as series Director, and David Dessel for Till Freedom Come Production.

The episodes will air as follows:

  • MC LYTE (Premieres Saturday, March 2 at 9 pm ET/PT)
  • MAXINE WATERS (Premieres Saturday, March 9 at 9 pm ET/PT)
  • MEAGAN GOOD (Premieres Saturday, March 16 at 9 pm ET/PT)
  • TERRI J. VAUGHN (Premieres Saturday, March 23 at 9 pm ET/PT)
  • REGINA HALL (Premieres Saturday, March 30 at 9 pm ET/PT)

Spike Lee, Regina King, “Black Panther” and More Win at 91st Academy Awards

Best Supporting Actress nominee for ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ Regina King accepts her Oscar during the 91st Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 24, 2019. (Credit: Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

2019 is arguably the year of #OscarsSoBlack. According to the Los Angeles Times, this year set the record for the most individual Black winners of Academy Awards, with seven victors in six categories.

Regina King kicked it all off by winning first award of the evening for Best Supporting Actress for her work in “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Already a recipient of a Golden Globe for the same role, King gave an emotional, touching acceptance speech.

“To be standing here, representing one of the greatest artists of our time, James Baldwin, is a little surreal,” King said. “James Baldwin birthed this baby, and Barry [Jenkins, the director], you nurtured her, you surrounded her with so much love and support. So it’s appropriate for me to be standing here because I am an example of what happens when support and love is poured into someone.”

“Black Panther” collaborators Ruth E. Carter and Hannah Beachler made history with their wins, becoming the first African Americans to take home Oscars for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design, respectively.

“Marvel may have created the first black superhero, but through costume design, we made him an African king,” Carter said. Among those she thanked was director Ryan Coogler, whom she called “a guiding force.”

Beachler also acknowledged Coogler in her acceptance speech. “I stand here with agency and self-worth because of [director] Ryan Coogler, who not only made me a better designer, a better storyteller, a better person. When you think things are impossible, remember ‘I did my best, and my best is good enough.’”

Spike Lee accepts the Oscar for adapted screenplay for “BlacKkKlansman.” (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Spike Lee, along with writers Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott (who is black), won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Black KkKlansman.”

After full-body hugging presenter (and “Jungle Fever” alum) Samuel L. Jackson, in his acceptance speech Lee paid tribute to his grandmother, whose mother was a slave, who lived to be 100 years old and put him through Morehouse College and New York University film school.

Lee also made the first direct political comments of the night: “The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize, let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate,” he said.

“Let’s do the right thing!” Lee added. “You know I had to get that in there.”

Additionally, Peter Ramsey, co-director of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” won for Best Animated Feature.

Mahershala Ali won the Best Supporting Actor award for the second time in his career for his portrayal of pianist Don Shirley in “Green Book.” That movie also went on later in the evening to win the Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture categories.

Below is the full list of winners:

Best Picture

“Black Panther”
“BlacKkKlansman”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book” (WINNER)
“Roma”
“A Star Is Born”
“Vice”

Director

Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma” (WINNER)
Adam McKay, “Vice”

Lead Actress

Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite” (WINNER)
Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Lead Actor

Christian Bale, “Vice”
Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”
Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (WINNER)
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

Original Song

“All The Stars” from “Black Panther” by Kendrick Lamar, SZA
“I’ll Fight” from “RBG” by Diane Warren, Jennifer Hudson
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns” by Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
“Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice (WINNER)
“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch

Original Score

“BlacKkKlansman,” Terence Blanchard
“Black Panther,” Ludwig Goransson (WINNER)
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Nicholas Britell
“Isle of Dogs,” Alexandre Desplat
“Mary Poppins Returns,” Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman

Adapted Screenplay

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Joel Coen , Ethan Coen
“BlacKkKlansman,” Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee (WINNER)
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Barry Jenkins
“A Star Is Born,” Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters Continue reading “Spike Lee, Regina King, “Black Panther” and More Win at 91st Academy Awards”