Category: TV

“Black-ish” and “Grown-ish” Producer Kenya Barris Signs $100 Million Netflix Deal

Kenya Barris (photo via deadline.com)

by Daniel Holloway via Variety.com

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.

Read more: https://variety.com/2018/tv/news/kenya-barris-100-million-netflix-deal-1202907726/

OPINION: Why I’m Here For the Badass Black Women of San Diego Comic-Con 2018

by Maeve Richardson

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 Positivity Panel 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.”

Amandla Stenberg (photo by Gage Skidmore)

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.

Octavia Spencer, LeBron James Limited Series About Madam C.J. Walker Lands at Netflix

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

by Debra Birnbaum via Variety.com

It’s official: Octavia Spencer and LeBron James’ limited series about entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker has landed at Netflix. The streaming outlet made the announcement at its Television Critics Assn. press tour session Sunday.

The project is executive produced by Spencer and James. Spencer will star in the eight-episode series, which is based on the book “On Our Own Ground” by A’Lelia Bundles, Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, who will also serve as a consultant.

The series will recount the untold story of how Walker, a black hair care pioneer and mogul, overcame hostile turn-of-the-century America, epic rivalries, tumultuous marriages and some trifling family to become America’s first black, self-made female millionaire.

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. Everything changed, though, 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.

“Black Nativity” directory Kasi Lemmons will direct the pilot and also executive produce, and Nicole Asher will write. Janine Sherman Barrois and Elle Johnson will also serve as executive producers, along with SpringHill’s Maverick Carter, and Zero Gravity’s Mark Holder and Christine Holder.

The Holders optioned the book from Bundles in early 2016, and Spencer pursued the part aggressively once she learned of it. With the Oscar winner attached, William Morris Endeavor Agency pitched the series to James as his production company’s entryway into prestige TV.

“It’s so exciting for all of us to keep building SpringHill, see it mature, and continue to find its voice. We are really focused on growing with authenticity and substance,” Carter said. “For us, this is totally about great stories and great partners. Partnering with Octavia to tell the story of Madam C.J. Walker is the ideal first project for SpringHill to take an important step into scripted drama.”

Source: https://variety.com/2018/tv/news/octavia-spencer-lebron-james-madam-cj-walker-netflix-limited-series-1202889368/

‘The Chi’ Creator Lena Waithe Sets First-Look Deal at Showtime for Hillman Grad Productions

Lena Waithe
Emmy Winner Lena Waithe (CREDIT: JORDAN STRAUSS/INVISION/AP/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

by Joe Otterton via Variety.com

Lena Waithe has signed a first-look deal with Showtime, the premium cabler announced Tuesday. Under the deal, Waithe will develop comedy and drama projects for Showtime that she will both write and produce through her company Hillman Grad Productions.

“I have been a fan of Showtime for as long as I can remember,” said Waithe. “They make shows that most networks wouldn’t touch and they’ve never been afraid of taking risks. I look forward to introducing my Showtime family to fresh and exciting new voices. I want to make content that will challenge audiences and take them places they never thought TV could go. It’s going to be a fun ride.”

Waithe most recently created and executive produces the Showtime drama “The Chi,” which was renewed for a second season in January.

“We fell in love with Lena’s voice when we ordered her pilot for ‘The Chi’ three years ago, and we have watched in awe at her powerful impact on our industry and our culture,” said Gary Levine, Showtime’s president of programming. “Lena is a creative force of nature and we are delighted that the force will be with us as she makes Showtime her creative home.”

“The Chi” was Showtime’s biggest launch for a drama series in two years and grew its audience in consecutive weeks.

The debut of that series came on the heels of Waithe winning the Emmy for outstanding writing in a comedy series for the “Master of None” episode “Thanksgiving” that she co-wrote. The episode adapted Waithe’s personal experience as a queer black woman coming out to herself and her family into the character of Denise, whom Waithe played.

It was recently announced that her latest script, “Queen & Slim,” will go into production in January starring Daniel Kaluuya for Universal. Waithe also serves as executive producer and writer of the upcoming series “Twenties” at TBS.

Her producing credits include the films “Step Sisters” and “Dear White People,” which later became a Netflix series in which she guest starred. She was also named one of Time magazine’s Most Influential People of 2018.

Source: https://variety.com/2018/tv/news/lena-waithe-the-chi-showtime-deal-1202882463/

American Black Film Festival’s Greenlighters Academy Returns to Los Angeles for 2nd Year July 22-25 to Help Train Future Filmmakers

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

ABFF Ventures, parent company of the American Black Film Festival, recently announced the current class of student fellows accepted into its 2018 ABFF Greenlighters Academy. The second annual event, sponsored by Turner, is a pipeline program designed to give students of color with an interest in the executive track, a firsthand look inside the corporate footprint of the film and television industry.

The ABFF Greenlighters Academy is a three-day intensive boot camp, where five students will attend sessions with top artists and industry executives. The program includes “Day in the Life” seminars, Power Lunch sessions, and “Ask Me Anything” roundtable discussions, as well as visits to corporate headquarters of film and television studios and talent agencies. Additionally, the program’s laser-interviews are designed to prepare students for summer internships.

“The ABFF Greenlighters Academy is another extension of our company’s 22-year commitment to fostering diversity in Hollywood. We could not be more pleased to partner with Turner, a major festival supporter, on this effort to usher in the next generation of industry executives,” states Nicole Friday, General Manager of ABFF Ventures, LLC.

“Diversity fuels our stories and more importantly, our future,” says Danette Johnson, Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion for Turner.  “We are proud to partner with ABFF’s Greenlighters Academy to invest in these talented students who will help shape Turner’s future as we seek to become an even better reflection of our audiences and build deeper connections with our fans.”

The ABFF Greenlighters Academy is open to sophomore students and above, matriculated in a four-year bachelor degree program at an accredited college or university, with a minimum GPA of 3.0.  This years’ fellows listed below were selected from over 100 submissions representing a wide-range of colleges and universities across the country.

Kiana Chambers, Howard University
Zontre City, Loyola University
Jazmin Johnson, Florida A&M
Jordan Landy, Drexel University
Stevee-Rayne Warren, Southern University and A&M College

Last year’s participants were able to secure internships and employment with companies including Viceland, Facebook Watch and Full Sail University.

ABOUT THE COMPANY

ABFF Ventures L.L.C. (ABFFV) is a leading entertainment company producing live events, film and television primarily targeted to African American audiences.  The company’s mission is to produce global platforms that showcase the work of people of African heritage and promote camaraderie among multicultural artists in Hollywood. Its tentpole properties are the American Black Film Festival (ABFF), cited by MovieMaker magazine as “One of the Coolest Festivals in the World,” and ABFF Honors, an award season gala saluting excellence in Hollywood. Together, they represent two of the most prestigious events in the Black community and parallel the Sundance Film Festival and the Golden Globes.  In creating ABFF Ventures, CEO Jeff Friday channeled his discomfort with the under-representation of people of color in Hollywood into an organization that has become a highly respected enterprise, generating goodwill throughout the industry at large.

Natural Hair Care Maven and Curls CEO Mahisha Dellinger to Guide Female Entrepreneurs on Summer Series “Mind Your Business With Mahisha” on OWN

Mahisha Dellinger(image courtesy OWN)

by  via deadline.com

The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has greenlighted new unscripted series Mind Your Business with Mahisha, featuring Curls CEO and creator Mahisha Dellinger, for premiere Saturday, August 11 at 10 PM.

In the hour-long series, Dellinger focuses on helping female entrepreneurs take their business to the next level. In each standalone episode, Dellinger meets with entrepreneurs and guides them with inspiration and a little bit of tough love. She tests their passion and determination while demanding that they give it their all – just like she did – in order to reach their goals.

This series will feature successful businesswomen including: Gloria Williams, Founder and CEO of Footnanny pedicure products and known as Oprah’s personal pedicurist; Bad Girls Club star Mehgan James, owner of 800 West clothing line; Lia Diaz, owner of The Girl Cave, a three-store chain of beauty bars and beauty supplies in Southern California; and Chef Shalamar Lane, owner of My Father’s BBQ, a family run BBQ restaurant in Carson, California.

Dellinger of South Sacramento, California, turned a creative idea into the multi-million-dollar hair company, Curls, a family of organic hair care products targeted for women embracing their natural textures.

Mind Your Business with Mahisha will follow Iyanla: Fix My Life, (9 p.m. ET/PT) for an all-female led
Saturday night lineup on OWN, the No. 1 network on Saturday nights for African American women.

Read more: https://deadline.com/2018/07/curls-ceo-mahisha-dellinger-summer-series-own-mind-your-business-with-mahisha-1202423965/

Official Trailer for ‘Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story,’ Released; Docuseries to Premiere July 30 on Spike

Trayvon Martin and father Tracy Martin (photo via mybrownbaby.com)

via shadowandact.com

The official trailer has been released for the docuseries Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story

The docuseries, produced by Jay Z, has been in the works for about a year. The Trayvon Martin Story comes after the Jay Z-produced Time: The Kalief Browder Storywhich debuted on Spike. This new docu-series will air on Paramount Network, the recently-rebranded Spike.

When the project was first announced, Jay-Z with the now-defunct The Weinstein Company, optioned the rights to two books,  Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It by Lisa Bloom and Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin.

Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story is based on the life and legacy of Trayvon Martin. The six-part non-scripted documentary series will be the definitive look at one of the most talked-about and controversial events in the last decade that spurred the impactful worldwide Black Lives Matter movement.

Executive producers for the series include Shawn Carter, Sybrina Fulton, Tracy Martin, Chachi Senior, Michael Gasparro, Jenner Furst, Julia Willoughby Nason and Nick Sandow. Furst and Nason will serve as co-directors on the project.

Watch the trailer below:

To read more: https://shadowandact.com/official-trailer-released-for-rest-in-power-the-trayvon-martin-story-produced-by-jay-z

Will Smith Honored with Mural in West Philadelphia (VIDEO)

Will Smith mural in West Philadelphia (photo via ambrosiaforheads.com)

by Kia Morgan-Smith via thegrio.com

Will Smith is the native son of West Philadelphia and the city that raised the mega movie star paid homage with the painting of a mural by British artist Richard Wilson.

Wilson reportedly envisioned Smith’s painting in the light of Kehinde Wiley’s presidential portrait of Barack Obama, except that Smith has on more casual attire.

Smith, said it was humbling to learn that Wilson, a renowned artist chose him as his subject to paint a mural which lives on the wall of Gevurtz Furniture store on Girard Ave in the city. “The idea that there would be a mural of me on the side of a school in West Philadelphia just wrecked me,” said an emotional Smith, wiping away tears in a video about the mural.

Will Smith’s mom, Caroline Bright, also was at a loss for words when she came to see the mural firsthand. Even Smith’s close friend and former bodyguard Charlie Mack, complimented Wilson on getting Smith’s protruding ears just perfect.

Dr. Naomi Booker, CEO of Global Leadership Academy was moved knowing that her school sits near the giant mural and her students can take a page from Smith’s book and dream big. “This man is an icon and he’s looking at GLA (Global Leadership Academy) so my kids everyday will see this image and know that you can be whatever you want to be,” Booker said according to Philly.com.

“This is a man who grew up in Philadelphia, went to Overbrook High School up the street was a part of this world, that he now is looking at us,” she said about the mural facing the school.

Smith hasn’t yet see the mural in person but reportedly plans a visit to the city to check it out. In the meanwhile, he’s launched a fundraiser and is selling merchandise where 100% of proceeds will go to West Philadelphia’s Global Leadership Academy Charter School and artist Richard Wilson.

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/07/03/will-smith-and-his-mom-celebrate-philadelphia-mural/

Jordan Peele to Produce Sci-Fi Anthology Series ‘Weird City’ at YouTube Premium

by Joe Otterson via Variety.com

YouTube Premium has ordered a comedic sci-fi anthology series from co-creators Jordan Peele and former “Key & Peele” writer Charlie SandersVariety has learned.

“Weird City,” as it is called, is set in the not-too-distant future metropolis of Weird. Each episode is an exploration of issues that pertains to present day life, stories that could only be told now through the prism of sci-fi and comedy.

The series is written by Jordan and Sanders and produced by Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions, Sonar Entertainment, Mosaic, and Raskal Productions. Jose Molina will serve as showrunner and executive producer. The six-episode series will debut on YouTube Premium in 2019. Emmy winner Adam Bernsteinis set to direct the first two episodes.

“Writer/creator Charlie Sanders and I collaborated on some ‘Key & Peele’ sketches that took on everything from the ‘Black Republicans’ to ‘Continental Breakfasts’ to ‘Family Matters’,” said Peele. “Now, with YouTube we present a series of comedy driven twisted-ass science fiction stories that take place in a world close to ours but just a little bit off.”

This is not the only anthology series Peele has in the works. He is also executive producing a reboot of “The Twilight Zone” at CBS All Access. 

In addition to his film work, Peele currently has multiple TV projects set up across a range of networks and streaming services. He is also an executive producer on the Tracy Morgan-led comedy “The Last OG” at TBS, which just wrapped up its first season. At HBO, he is executive producing “Lovecraft Country,” based on the book of the same name by Matt Ruff.

On the streaming side, in addition to “The Twilight Zone” reboot, Peele has set up the Nazi hunter drama “The Hunt” and a Lorena Bobbitt docu-series at Amazon. The Oscar-winner and his Monkeypaw Productions banner recently signed a first-look television deal with the streaming giant.

Source: https://variety.com/2018/tv/news/jordan-peele-youtube-premium-weird-city-1202861064/

Ava Duvernay, Alfre Woodard, Spike Lee and More Recreate Iconic ‘Great Day In Harlem’ Portrait

"A Great Day in Hollywood"
(Photo by Kwaku Alston)

by Shamika Sanders via blackamericaweb.com

Netflix re-imagines the iconic A Great Day in Harlem” photo that captured 57 notable jazz musicians in front of a Harlem brownstone. XXL Magazine did the same with their “A Great Day In Hip-Hop” cover in 1999 featuring artists like Run of Run DMC, Busta Rhymes and other hip-hop notables of the era.

Netflix’s homage to the famous photo features 47 creative and talented behind 20+ original shows/films/documentaries. A 60-second video of the event, directed by Lacey Duke, premieres during the BET Awards.

“It was a pretty magical couple of hours,” Duke said in the official release. “All these amazingly talented, beautiful individuals in one space being supportive and just looking stunning together, all here to pull off this one take wonder! Alfre Woodard even lead everyone in an epic rendition of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ before we started shooting. It was beautiful, and in a flash it was over. It was probably the most overwhelming two hours of my career haha. I was just so happy to be a part of history.”

To see and learn more about the original photo, click here.

To see a list of who in Black Hollywood is in the picture above, scroll down:

  • Ava Duvernay (13th, Central Park Five)
  • Spike Lee (She’s Gotta Have It)
  • Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage; Juanita)
  • Gabrielle Dennis (Luke Cage)
  • Simone Missick (Luke Cage)
  • Cheo Hodari Coker (Luke Cage)
  • Mike Colter (Luke Cage)
  • Antonique Smith (Luke Cage)
  • Mustafa Shakir (Luke Cage)
  • Vaneza Oliveira (3%)
  • Russell Hornsby (Seven Seconds)
  • Priah Ferguson (Stranger Things)
  • Caleb McLaughlin (Stranger Things)
  • Lena Waithe (Master of None; Dear White People; Step Sisters)
  • Chante Adams (Roxanne Roxanne)
  • Nia Long (Roxanne Roxanne, Dear White People)
  • Justin Simien (Dear White People)
  • Logan Browning (Dear White People)
  • Nia Jervier (Dear White People; Step Sisters)
  • Antoinette Robertson (Dear White People)
  • DeRon Horton (Dear White People)
  • Ashley Blaine Featherson (Dear White People)
  • Marque Richardson (Dear White People; Step Sisters)
  • Hayley Law (Altered Carbon; Riverdale)
  • Rev Run (All About The Washingtons)
  • Justine Simmons (All About The Washingtons)
  • Dawn Porter (Bobby Kennedy for President)
  • Kat Graham (The Holiday Calendar; How It Ends)
  • Quincy Brown (The Holiday Calendar)
  • Sydelle Noel (GLOW)
  • Britney Young (GLOW)
  • Kia Stevens (GLOW)
  • DeRay Davis (How To Act Black)
  • Sierra Capri (On My Block)
  • Brett Gray (On My Block)
  • Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black)
  • Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black)
  • Alisha Boe (13 Resons Why)
  • Samantha Logan (13 Reasons Why)
  • Ajiona Alexus (13 Reasons Why
  • Derek Luke (13 Reasons Why)
  • Steven Silver (13 Reasons Why)
  • Yance Ford (Strong Island)
  • Kano (Top Boy)
  • Marlon Wayans (Naked; Woke-ish)
  • Rapsody (Rapture)
  • Sacha Jenkins (Rapture)

Source: https://blackamericaweb.com/2018/06/24/ava-duvernay-spike-lee-more-recreate-iconic-great-day-in-harlem-portrait/