Category: TV

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)

BHM: “Queen Sugar” Marathon to Screen February 23 & 24 at Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills

(Credit: OWN Network)

In honor of Black History Month, on February 23/24 at 12pm PST,The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, CA is screening a FREE Queen Sugar marathon. It’s a chance for Queen Sugar fans to come together and enjoy several of their favorite episodes from the OWN series.

Exclusive merchandise will be given out to fans on a first come, first served, while supplies last.

Screening Schedule:

“First Things First”

In the series premiere, directed by award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay (Selma), Charley, a savvy wife and manager of a professional basketball star living an upscale Los Angeles lifestyle, returns to her family home—an 800-acre sugarcane farm in the heart of Louisiana—after her father suffers a stroke and she receives alarming news about her husband. There, she reunites with her estranged siblings Nova and Ralph Angel. Together, they must navigate the triumphs and struggles of their complicated lives in order to run an ailing farm in the New South. (2016; 44 minutes)

“Give Us This Day”

Charley continues to make calculated choices regarding Davis’s (Timon Kyle Durrett) basketball career and her desire to secure an investor. Nova and lover Calvin (Greg Vaughan) finally reunite, but their union causes controversy in the community. Davis attempts to repair his relationship with son Micah (Nicholas L. Ashe), but he faces resistance. Aunt Violet (Tina Lifford) learns of Hollywood’s (Omar J. Dorsey) departure and tries to make amends, and Ralph Angel makes a shocking discovery that changes everything. (2016; 43 minutes)

“After the Winter”

Charley and Davis remain entangled, Ralph Angel tries to find his footing on the family farm, and Aunt Violet confronts her feelings for Hollywood. Plus, Micah has a dangerous encounter with a police officer. (2017; 43 minutes)

“Dream Variations”

Charley’s shocking plan to save her business puts her relationship with Remy in jeopardy. Hollywood proposes to Violet, and Nova and Remy share an unexpected moment. Finally, Ralph Angel decides if he can forgive Darla. (2017; 65 minutes)

“From on the Pulse of Morning”

Ralph Angel receives some unexpected news, the fate of the correctional facility is revealed, and Charley makes a proposal on behalf of the farmers. Plus, Violet and Hollywood celebrate their love. (2018; 60 minutes)

About The Paley Center for Media:

The Paley Center for Media is a nonprofit organization with locations in New York and Los Angeles which works to expand the conversation about the cultural, creative, and social significance of television, radio, and emerging platforms. Drawing upon its curatorial expertise, an international collection, and close relationships with the leaders of the media community, the Paley Center examines the intersections between media and society.

The general public can access the Paley Center’s permanent media collection, which contains over 160,000 television and radio programs and advertisements, including the expanded collection of African-American Achievements in Television, and participate in programs that explore and celebrate the creativity, the innovations, the personalities, and the leaders who are shaping media.

For more information, visit paleycenter.org.

‘Genius: Aretha Franklin’ Greenlighted As Third Installment Of Nat Geo Series; Suzan-Lori Parks Set As Showrunner

 Credit: Photo by Roger Bamber/ANL/REX/Shutterstock 

by Nellie Andreeva via deadline.com

It’s official — the upcoming third season of National Geographic’s scripted anthology series Genius will be devoted to the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, who died in August at age 76. The announcement was made Sunday at TCA.

Suzan-Lori Parks, Pulitzer Prize award-winning playwright of Topdog/Underdog, will be executive producer and showrunner of the project, from Imagine Television and Fox 21 TV Studios. Music mogul and longtime Franklin collaborator Clive Davis as well as Atlantic Records chairman and CEO Craig Kallman also executive produce.

Genius was renewed for a third season in April, with author Mary Shelley revealed as its subject, to follow Albert Einstein and Picasso. The Mary Shelley story remains in consideration for future installments of the anthology series.

The idea of doing a Franklin-centered Genius came together quickly following the music icon’s August 16 death, spearheaded by Imagine’s Brian Grazer. The project had been moving full steam ahead since, with securing access to Franklin’s music considered the one key element that would clinch a green light.

Bringing David, Kallman and Warner Music Group on board was very important in that aspect, with the producers currently able to use about 80% of Franklin’s catalog and working to secure the remaining titles.

Read more: https://deadline.com/2019/02/genius-aretha-franklin-greenlighted-season-3-nat-geo-series-suzan-lori-parks-showrunner-1202553998/amp/

BHM: Let’s Honor Oprah! Entrepreneur, Media Maven, Philanthropist, Actor, Influencer… Genius

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Not many people on Earth have their names become synonymous with genius in their profession, let alone genius in general. Einstein, Shakespeare, Mozart, even Spielberg and Prince easily come to mind. Notably, they are all men, mostly White, and only one is known by his first name. But when you say, “Hey, where are the women? What women do you think of when someone says ‘Who are the geniuses?,'” an immediate response would (or should) be… Oprah.

It may seem like opinion, but I want to go on record that saying “Oprah Winfrey is a genius” is a fact, and one that should be touted widely. Oprah’s status as a cultural icon, media mogul and inspirational leader is taken as a given, but when you look back and reflect on her journey from rural poverty in Mississippi to global icon, you too will recognize how much intelligence, excellence and genius it took to get there and what’s more – stay there.

What follows below in regards to recognizable achievement, vision and success rightfully will only add credence to the “Oprah Winfrey is a genius” fact, but I submit that the secret sauce of Oprah’s claim to that title has been best articulated (and realized) by Oprah herself:

Everybody has a calling. And your real job in life is to figure out as soon as possible what that is, who you were meant to be, and to begin to honor that in the best way possible for yourself. – Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Gail Winfrey, originally named “Orpah” after the biblical figure in the Book of Ruth but had it misspelled and mispronounced so much that “Oprah”  stuck, recently celebrated her 65th birthday on January 29, 1954. Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, to Vernita Lee, an unmarried teenage mother and housemaid, and Vernon Winfrey, a coal miner turned barber turned city councilman who had been in the Armed Forces when Oprah was born.

According to wikipedia.org, Winfrey spent her first six years living with her maternal grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee, who was so poor that Winfrey often wore dresses made of potato sacks, and the local children made fun of her. Her grandmother, ever in Oprah’s corner, taught her to read before the age of three and took her to church, where she was nicknamed “The Preacher” for her preternatural ability to recite Bible verses and command the stage.

Despite parental neglect from her mother, sexual abuse by family members from the age of nine, and the stillbirth of a son at age 14, Oprah’s intellect and ability to speak powerfully in public earned her a full ride to HBCU Tennessee State University on an Oratory Scholarship.

As Oprah honed her skills through education and experience, she became the youngest news anchor and the first black female news anchor at Nashville’s WLAC-TV. Oprah then became an anchor in the larger market of Baltimore, MD before taking over the hosting position of low-rated AM Chicago in 1984.

Oprah aligned her talents, smarts, professionalism and relatability to catapult her over Phil Donahue’s long-venerated talk show Donahue for the top-rated slot. Oprah then wisely took advice from movie critic Roger Ebert to make a syndication deal with King World Media and have ownership in her program – the beginning of the Oprah brand.

The Oprah Winfrey Show debuted September 8, 1986 and topped daytime talk show ratings for 25 years until she retired from the show. Oprah really hit her stride and pinpointed her brand when she followed her instincts in the 1990s to shift away from “tabloid-style” shows to ones with a focus on literature, self-improvement, mindfulness and spirituality. Even though she briefly took a ratings dip during the change, she soared to the top again and outlasted several popular talk show hosts of the time such as Sally Jesse Raphael, Ricki Lake, Montel Williams, Donahue, Jenny Jones, and Jerry Springer. Continue reading “BHM: Let’s Honor Oprah! Entrepreneur, Media Maven, Philanthropist, Actor, Influencer… Genius”

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. 

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

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.

Barry Jenkins’ Production Company PASTEL Signs 1st Look TV Deal with Amazon Studios

Barry Jenkins
Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins (CREDIT: ERIK PENDZICH/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

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.

Jussie Smollett Surprises Kayden Kinckle, a 6-Year-Old Double Amputee, With Accessible Van

by Latifah Muhammad via vibe.com

Kayden Kinckle is quite the inspiration.

The 6-year-old bilateral amputee, who has been motivating people to “do great things” with his daily Instagram videos and children’s books, got a huge surprise on Monday (Oct. 15) thanks to Jussie Smollett.

Smollett bought Kayden a brand new van complete with a wheelchair lift so that he can get to school without delay. The Empire star stepped in to help Kayden after the Englewood Public School District (where he attends school) failed to provide a proper bus to pick him up on the first day of school.

“He’s the only double amputee in Bergen County [New Jersey] where we live,” Kayden’s mom, Nicole Sessoms, told VIBE on Tuesday (Oct. 16). “They had a bus the prior two years and this year they forgot about him, [after] he switched to a new school.”

Before the van, Sessoms had been putting Kayden’s wheelchair in her small Nissan sedan to drive her son to another school where he was forced to wait for a standard school bus to pick him, once all the other students were dropped off. An aide was on hand to carry him on and off the bus, according to CBS New York. The school district blamed the mishap on a paperwork mix-up and promised to provide Kayden with a proper lift bus.

Smollett, who learned about Kayden’s story through social media, has become a family friend. He tries to spend time with Kayden whenever his schedule permits, Sessoms said.

When Smollett found out about the transportation issue, he reached out to Sessoms with a solution. “He saw what was happening with the bus and he called me and said ‘Kayden needs his own van!’”

The 35-year-old actor arranged to have the van delivered while Kayden and his family were hanging out with him in New York City.

To read more, go to: https://www.vibe.com/2018/10/jussie-smollett-kayden-kinckle-wheelchair-accessible-van/

Former Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons Named Interim Chairman of CBS’ Board of Directors

Richard Parsons ( Photo by Donald Traill/Invision/ AP/REX/Shutterstock)

by Cynthia Littleton via Variety.com

Richard Parsons, former chairman and CEO of Time Warner, has been named interim chairman of the CBS board of directors.

The newly configured CBS board had its first formal meeting via teleconference on Tuesday after the shakeup that began Sept. 9 with the forced resignation of longtime CEO Leslie Moonves amid sexual misconduct allegations.

Parsons was appointed to the CBS board earlier this month along with four other new members. He’ll be tasked with leading the board at a time of great transition for CBS.

Also on Tuesday, two more long-serving CBS board members, Bruce Gordon and William Cohen, confirmed that they have resigned from the board. Their departures leave the panel at 11 members. It’s not immediately clear if their seats will be replaced.

Gordon, former head of the NAACP and a former top Verizon executive, was credited with stepping up and leading the negotiations that led to Moonves’ resignation and the settlement of the lawsuit CBS filed against its controlling shareholder, National Amusements Inc.

Source: https://variety.com/2018/biz/news/richard-parsons-interim-chairman-cbs-board-1202957772/