Category: Entertainment

LeBron James Named Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year

LeBron James (photo via usatoday.com)

by Kia Morgan-Smith via thegrio.com

Although he’s been sidelined for the next several games with a groin injury, it hasn’t overshadowed the moves LeBron James has made on and off the court

So for the third time the LA Lakers forward has been named the Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year, the Associated Press reports.

“I would describe it as a success because I was able to inspire so many people throughout the year,” James said. “I got to go back to China, to Paris, to Berlin, I opened up a school. And all these kids I was able to see, all over the world and in my hometown, I was able to inspire, to make them think they can be so much more than what they think they’re capable of being. That was my outlook for 2018.”

“So yes, it’s been a pretty good year.”

James received 78 points in the ballots given to U.S. editors and news directors, the AP reports. The Boston Red Sox Mookie Betts was second with 46 points. The Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin placed third, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes came in fourth and Triple Crown winner Justify was fifth, according to the outlet.

In his 16th season, James still reigns on the court. He’s continued to be a force helping to usher his teams to the NBA Finals for eight consecutive years. He left Cleveland to make magic happen with the LA Lakers. And in the midst of aligning his career goals with his life goals and dreams he opened a school called “I Promise” in his hometown of Akron, Ohio for at-risk kids.

James is also an involved father who takes time out to be his kids’ biggest cheerleader from the sidelines during their basketball games. And he’s been an advocate off the court, using his voice and influence to speak out on social justice causes.

Read more: https://thegrio.com/2018/12/28/lebron-james-ap-male-athlete-of-the-year/

Fabolous Spends 100K+ on Gifts for Brooklyn Youth in Annual Toy Drive

Fabolous made Christmas come early for kids in the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club of Brooklyn this year with his annual Christmas Toy Drive. The event was made possible by the Brooklyn rapper’s foundation A Fabolous Way (which is designed to merge communities and the arts), Def Jam and D’usse.

“On behalf of The Boys and Girls Club, we would like to thank Fabolous and Lisa for bringing joy to some of our families this holiday season,” said the Director of Clubhouse Operations, Antonio Fort. “Fab has visited us in the past and we appreciate his positive message of inspiration to the youth.”

The event was held at the lavish Red Rabbit in New York City’s Meat Packing District neighborhood. According to Page Six, Fab spent over 100K on the presents. “I don’t put a money amount on Christmas — I just want to show people that they are special to me,” he said. “But, it is safe to say I have spent over $100,000.”

Although he’s definitely generous, he admits that doing the actual shopping is tough for him because of his busy life. What matters most to him is making sure he’s giving someone a thoughtful gift.

To read more: https://www.vibe.com/2018/12/fabolous-brooklyn-annual-toy-drive

Former ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey Joins Netflix as VP of Original Content

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Credit: Photo by Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock

According to Variety.com, outgoing ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey is joining Netflix as Vice President of Original Content for the streaming service. Dungey will report to Cindy Holland, also Vice President of Original Content, and will officially start working there in February.

“We’re delighted to be adding Channing’s expertise, leadership and deep experience to Netflix, and I look forward to partnering with her as we continue to grow and evolve our global network,” said Holland. “I have been a fan of her character and approach from our early days as executives.”

Dungey is to partner with Holland in setting strategic direction as well as in overseeing a large portion of Netflix’s slate, including some of the company’s overall deals with former ABC-based producers Shonda Rhimes and Kenya Barris, “Orange Is The New Black” and “Glow” producer Jenji Kohan, “Unreal” and “Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce” producer Marti Noxon, producer Steven DeKnight, and Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, among others.

“Channing is a creative force whose taste and talent have earned her the admiration of her peers across the industry,” said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of Netflix. “She’s a risk taker and ground-breaker and talent love working with her. I couldn’t be happier to welcome her to Netflix.”

Prior to presiding over ABC, Dungey lead the network’s drama development team. She helped develop several popular shows in that role, including huge hits “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder.” Other shows she shepherded during that time include “Quantico,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “American Crime,” and “Once Upon a Time.”

“I’m drawn to the forward-thinking, risk-taking and creative culture at Netflix, and the deeply talented people there, especially Ted and Cindy, with whom I’m excited to partner on setting the strategy for original content,” said Dungey. “Given that ABC, the place I’ve called home for nearly 15 years, represents the gold standard of traditional broadcast, it feels like the perfect next step for me to join Netflix, the unparalleled leader in streaming. I’m invigorated by the challenges ahead and the opportunity to forge new relationships, and excited for the very welcome reunion with incredible talent.”

Dungey also famously canceled ABC’s revival of “Roseanne” after series star and creator Roseanne Barr tweeted that former Obama administration aide Valerie Jarrett, who is black, looked like a cross between the “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes [sic].”

Dungey previously partnered with Pamela Post at Dexterity Pictures, a production partnership focused on making both studio and independent films, as well as developing television series. She also served as president of Material, Jorge Saralegui‘s film production company based at Warner Bros. Prior to that, she worked for five years as a Warner Bros. production executive.

Dungey, a magna cum laude graduate of  UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, has been a visiting professor there and serves on the school’s executive board. She is also a founding and current board member of Step Up, a national non-profit membership organization dedicated to helping girls living in under-resourced communities to fulfill their educational potential. 

R.I.P. Grammy Award Winner, Legendary Song Stylist and Civil Rights Activist Nancy Wilson, 81

by Jim Farber via nytimes.com

Nancy Wilson, whose skilled and flexible approach to singing provided a key bridge between the sophisticated jazz-pop vocalists of the 1950s and the powerhouse pop-soul singers of the 1960s and ’70s, died on Thursday at her home in Pioneertown, Calif. She was 81.

Her death was confirmed by her manager, Devra Hall Levy, who said Ms. Wilson had been ill for some time; she gave no other details.

In a long and celebrated career, Ms. Wilson performed American standards, jazz ballads, Broadway show tunes, R&B torch songs and middle-of-the-road pop pieces, all delivered with a heightened sense of a song’s narrative.

“I have a gift for telling stories, making them seem larger than life,” she told The Los Angeles Times in 1993. “I love the vignette, the plays within the song.

Some of Ms. Wilson’s best-known recordings told tales of heartbreak, with attitude. A forerunner of the modern female empowerment singer, with the brassy inflections and biting inflections to fuel it, Ms. Wilson could infuse even the saddest song with a sense of strength.

In her canny signature piece from 1960, “Guess Who I Saw Today”(written by Murray Grand and Elisse Boyd), a woman baits her husband by dryly telling him a story in which he turns out to be the central villain. In her 1968 hit, “Face It Girl, It’s Over” (by Francis Stanton and Angelo Badale), Ms. Wilson first seems to throw cold water in the face of a deluded woman who fails to notice that her lover has lost interest in her. Only later does she reveal that she is the benighted woman scorned.

“Face It Girl,” an epic soul blowout, became one of Ms. Wilson’s biggest chart scores, making the Top 30 of Billboard’s pop chart and Top 15 on its R&B list.ing News

Her biggest hit came in 1964, when “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am”(Jimmy Williams and Larry Harrison), a rapturous R&B ballad delivered with panache, reached No. 11 on Billboard’s pop chart.

Three years later she became one of the few African-Americans of her day to host a TV program, the Emmy-winning “Nancy Wilson Show,” on NBC.

Ms. Wilson released more than 70 albums in a five-decade recording career. She won three Grammy Awards, one for best rhythm and blues recording for the 1964 album “How Glad I Am,” and two for best jazz vocal album, in 2005 and 2007. In 2004, she was honored as a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. Nancy Wilson’s album “How Glad I Am,” from 1964, won a Grammy Award for best rhythm and blues recording.

For her lifelong work as an advocate of civil rights, which included participating in a Selma to Montgomery, Ala., protest march in 1965, she received an award from the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta in 1993 and an N.A.A.C.P. Hall of Fame Image Award in 1998.

In 2005, she was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, also in Atlanta.

“As an artist then, taking such a political stand came with professional risks,” she told the blog Jazz Wax in 2010. “But it had to be done.”

Continue reading “R.I.P. Grammy Award Winner, Legendary Song Stylist and Civil Rights Activist Nancy Wilson, 81”

Issa Rae and Columbia Pictures Sign Multi-Picture Production Deal Promoting Diverse Screenwriters

(PHOTO BY PETER YANG)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to deadline.com, creator/writer/actor Issa Rae, via her production company ColorCreative, has signed a multi-picture production deal with Columbia Pictures. ColorCreative will work primarily with and support projects from emerging, diverse screenwriters.

Globally successful, profitable films such as “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” have demonstrated the commercial appeal of movies with leads of color and from their perspective, but so far movies like these remain the exception, not the rule. A recent study from USC  stated that only 29.3% of characters in the 100 top grossing movies of 2017 were from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

Selected participants, to be announced in spring 2019, will work with Rae and Columbia to develop and write features based on their original ideas.

“Issa is a force of nature, and a magnet for talented people,” said Sanford Panitch, president of Columbia Pictures, in a statement. “We couldn’t be more excited to join her in her mission to pave the way for fresh and authentic voices.”

Bryan Smiley, VP of production at Columbia Pictures, oversaw the deal and will oversee production and development with ColorCreative for the motion picture group. Sara Rastogi, VP of production for ColorCreative, will also help guide the deal for the company along with Deniese Davis, COO of ColorCreative.

“Working with Bryan Smiley and Columbia Pictures to further the mission ColorCreative set out to achieve four years ago in creating access for underrepresented writers, has been a dream come true,” Rae said in a statement. “All of the projects we are working on are fresh and promising and we can’t wait to continue the work. We hope to set a precedent and inspire the industry at large to invest in undiscovered talent, original IP, and fresh stories and perspectives.”

Meet Lena Waithe’s Black Women Who Brunch, the Next Big TV Scribes | Hollywood Reporter

splash_blackfemalewriters-thrby Rebecca Sun via hollywoodreporter.com

For The Hollywood Reporter’s largest shoot ever, members of Black Women Who Brunch, a networking group co-founded by Lena Waithe, gather to discuss how the industry can better understand black women in Hollywood: “We have to be exceptional.”

In 2014, Nkechi Okoro Carroll was an executive story editor on Bones when she met an up-and-coming scribe named Lena Waithe at a WGA Committee of Black Writers event. The two hit it off, so much so that Okoro Carroll got the future Emmy winner — whose major credit at the time was writing for the Nickelodeon series How to Rock — hired as a staff writer on her Fox procedural, making Waithe the second black woman in the room. “Aren’t you worried she’s going to take your job?” a fellow writer on staff asked Okoro Carroll.

“You should be worried she’ll take your job,” retorted Okoro Carroll, now showrunning The CW’s All American. What the duo felt was not competition but kinship: “We often felt like unicorns,” Okoro Carroll says. “When someone asked me to recommend mid-level female writers [of color] for a job, I was appalled to realize I didn’t know many names.”

Together with Erika L. Johnson, then writing for BET’s Being Mary Jane, the women decided to create a network of black female TV writers themselves. Twelve assembled for the March 2014 inaugural meeting of what came to be known as Black Women Who Brunch (BWB); today, the membership nears 80. “This group is the proof” against and antidote to “people saying, ‘We can’t find any black female writers,'” says Johnson, now a co-executive producer on NBC’s upcoming The Village.

BWB holds potlucks at Okoro Carroll’s house every few months (usually about 30 members are available at one time) to toast triumphs and troubleshoot challenges. “It’s not just a community we’re building, but a resource,” says Waithe. “We really are able to recommend eight or nine black women for certain jobs.”

In August, BWB took its first off-site trip — a weekend getaway to Palm Springs. And in November, 62 members gathered for THR‘s biggest photo shoot ever, where they revealed what they wish their colleagues knew about being a black woman in the business.

To read and see more, go to:  Meet Lena Waithe’s Black Women Who Brunch, the Next Big TV Scribes | Hollywood Reporter

They Couldn’t Find Beauty Tutorials for Dark Skin. So They Made Their Own | The New York Times

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The beauty industry often shuts out women with darker complexions, but Nyma Tang, Monica Veloz and Jackie Aina are video bloggers working to change that (Credits From left: Nyma Tang; Juan Veloz; Angela Marklew)

by Sandra E. Garcia via nytimes.com

Women are not born knowing how to do a flawless cat eye or a shadowy, smoky eye, so they often turn to makeup tutorials on YouTube. A search for “smoky eye” pulls up endless videos showing how to perfectly blend eye shadows to achieve the look.

Simple.

But what if you had dark skin and most of the videos showed lighter-skinned women applying hues that would make you look as if you had a black eye? What if you couldn’t relate to these women, because you couldn’t see yourself in them?

The answer to that is also simple: You make your own YouTube channel.

That is what Jackie Aina, 31, Monica Veloz, 26, and Nyma Tang, 27, did. The three women collectively have nearly four million YouTube subscribers, with Ms. Aina alone having over two million.

The women, all self-taught, turn on their cameras at home, and show us how to put on foundation, apply lashes and highlight our cheekbones, step by step. They teach us what tools to use and which hair products work.

“I think everyone looks for someone that looks like them,” Ms. Tang said. “I was definitely looking for that, especially on YouTube, and it was hard to find tutorials on products for women with deeper skin.”

The beauty bloggers provide darker-skinned women with something they may not have a tutorial for: the confidence to wear bold colors, to stand up to haters, and, more important, to choose how they present themselves.

They try different makeup brands to show that they do work on dark skin or, of course, that they don’t. They teach women not to be afraid of color, like red lipstick, bright yellow eye shadow or holographic highlights.

Their videos and social media posts are finding an audience of black women who are ready to spend money on beauty products, studies show, but have few choices to pick from.

“Most beauty launches never worked for me,” Ms. Tang said.

“A lot of times they don’t want to take the time to make the product,” Ms. Veloz said, adding that beauty companies often treat women with darker skin as “an afterthought.”

“Dark-skinned women are always kind of at the bottom of the totem pole,” Ms. Aina said. “I don’t understand that.”

To read more, go to: They Couldn’t Find Beauty Tutorials for Dark Skin. So They Made Their Own. – The New York Times

Viola Davis Stars As Shirley Chisholm in New Movie “The Fighting Shirley Chisholm”

viola-davis-shirley-chisholm-now-113018.pngThe first Black actress to earn a lead dramatic Emmy will bring another pioneering Black woman, Shirley Chisholm, to life on screen.

Deadline reported yesterday (November 29) that Viola Davis will produce and star in “The Fighting Shirley Chisholm.” This will be the “Widows” star’s first project under the first look deal that JuVee Productions, the company she co-heads with husband Julius Tennon, recently signed with Amazon Studios. Davis confirmed the project today (November 30) by retweeting JuVee’s tweet with one of the late Democratic politician’s quotes:

Read more via Viola Davis Stars As Shirley Chisholm in New Movie | Colorlines

Common’s Freedom Road Productions and Lionsgate to Bring Zora Neale Hurston’s ‘Barracoon’ to TV

Zora Neale Hurston (l), Cudjo Lewis (r) [photo via blackyouthproject.com]
by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Deadline.com, hip hop artist and Academy-Award winner Common‘s Freedom Road Productions in conjunction with Lionsgate Entertainment, has optioned the rights to Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo’, the recently discovered book by Zora Neale Hurston, to develop as a limited television event series.

Barracoon centers on 86-year-old Cudjo Lewis, who Hurston identified as the last known formerly enslaved person to survive the Middle Passage.

Hurston’s book chronicles Cudjo’s time of slavery and the profound complexities of reconstruction and freedom after the Atlantic slave trade was abolished.

This is the second project to emerge from Lionsgate and Freedom Road’s TV deal. They are already developing the Saturday Night Knife and Gun Club TV adaptation starring and produced by Common.

Viola Davis’ JuVee Productions Signs Exclusive Feature Production Deal with Amazon Studios

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Variety.com, Oscar, Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor Viola Davis and her producer husband Julius Tennon’s JuVee Productions has just signed an exclusive first-look feature production deal with Amazon Studios, putting the streaming service in business with one of the most acclaimed and honored thespians of the modern day.

JuVee Productions signed an overall deal with ABC in early 2016, for television development and production. But Davis has been working with Amazon as a producer on the upcoming movie comedy “Troupe Zero,” which co-stars Allison Janney and Jim Gaffigan. The film will be released in 2019.

“Amazon Studios is passionate about building a home for both new and established filmmakers of all backgrounds, who share the same vision in telling incredible and engaging human stories,” Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “Viola and Julius Tennon’s JuVee Productions brings distinctive, fresh voices and high-quality content to our customers in both theaters and on Prime Video.”

Davis continues to headline the ABC hit “How to Get Away With Murder” and is starring in movies like this fall’s “Widows.”