‘Black-ish’ Spinoff ‘College-ish’ Starring Yara Shahidi Lands at Freeform

Yara Shahidi (photo via variety.com)

by Elizabeth Wagmeister via Variety.com

Freeform has greenly the “Black-ish’” college-set spinoff series, starring Yara Shahidi. The spinoff is titled “College-ish” and will center around Shahidi’s character Zoey Johnson, as she heads off to college and quickly discovers that not everything goes her way once she leaves the nest.

The show is set to debut with a 13-episode season in early 2018. “College-ish” is described as a contemporary take on the current issues facing both students and administrators in the world of higher education. Deon Cole will co-star with Shahidi, reprising his “Black-ish” role of Charlie, who moonlights as an adjunct marketing professor.

The rest of the core cast will be new characters and actors, not seen in the flagship series, both in the administration and student body who all reflect the complex and hilarious points of views on college campuses.

The spinoff was developed at ABC, which airs “Black-ish,” and aired as a planted pilot this spring. After ABC passed on the project, its sister network Freeform scooped it up. Insiders say the series was too young for ABC, which made it a perfect fit for the young-skewing cable network.

To read more, go to: ‘Black-ish’ Spinoff ‘College-ish’ With Yara Shahidi Lands at Freeform | Variety

Oscar Winner Jennifer Hudson Joins ‘The Voice’ on NBC as a Coach for Season 13 

Jennifer Hudson (photo via variety.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Variety.com, Academy Award-winner and former “American Idol” contestant Jennifer Hudson will join Season 13 of NBC’s “The Voice” as a coach.  She will be coaching along with Miley Cyrus (returning for a second stint) and regulars Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. Hudson was the winning coach on the U.K. edition of “The Voice” earlier this year.

“Jennifer is an extraordinary vocal talent and one of the premier voices of our time. She embodies the experience, expertise, positivity and sheer talent that “The Voice” stands for,” said Paul Telegdy, NBC’s president of NBC’s alternative and reality group. “Her exceptional skills as a singer and actress have extended to film, television and Broadway, which makes her an incredible addition and a natural fit for our show.”

Hudson was just on NBC in December with her show-stopping performance in the “Hairspray Live” musical, and just released a new single, “Remember Me,” Variety reported.

‘Orange Is The New Black’ Character Poussey Washington Honored by Netflix With Commissioned Fan Art

(collage via eurweb.com)

article via eurweb.com

Netflix is celebrating “Orange is the New Black’s” dearly departed Poussey Washington with a series of portraits created by fans from around the world. Eight artists were chosen by the streaming service to create the pieces, and each were to include the slogan “Stand Up.” They’ll be unveiled in eight cities before the show’s June 9th season premiere: New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Melbourne, Sydney, Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco.

“I want to do the character justice and do the show justice because I think they have so many strong messages that are really relevant today,” said Detroit-based artist Michelle Tanguay, who created the above portrait. Tanguay told the AP that she cried while watching Poussey die at the hands of a white prison guard. “I’m a huge, huge fan of the show. I actually watch it while I paint.”

Tanguay said Netflix gave her free reign to do whatever she wanted with the piece, as long as she showed the character and used the show’s hashtag and slogan. Her hand-painted portrait (in black, blue and white) is 24-by-25 feet, and stands on a brick wall at the corner of Detroit’s Broadway Street and Grand River Avenue. “I viewed this project as paying tribute to the character,” Tanguay added. “I wanted to make it very positive and that’s why I chose the bright colors, the bright blues, to just do her justice.. I just wanted to be able to see her again… To see an African-American woman on the wall in Detroit, blown up huge, with the words ‘Stand Up’ — it’s just so empowering and that’s what I wanted everyone to feel when they see the mural.”

Samira Wiley, the actress who played Poussey, says she is honored by the portraits. “I think it’s our responsibility as artists to be able to reflect the time that we’re living in… she’s a fictional character that can elicit real change in thought and action from people.”

To read more, go to: Netflix Honors ‘OITNB’ Character Poussey Washington With Commissioned Fan Art | EURweb

Jay Z to Host and Produce New Docuseries on Race in America with National Geographic

Jay Z (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

article by Taryn Finlay via huffingtonpost.com

Jay Z is tackling race in the Trump era. The rap mogul is currently working on his third docuseries, “Race With Jay Z,” with National Geographic. The project, produced by Hov and The Weinstein Company, will explore systematic injustices such as incarceration and the wealth gap, social media, activism and family, Variety reported. It will look at how race became “the most pressing issue in the nation” following the election.

The six-part docuseries, hosted by Jay Z, will include documentary, animation and archival footage. It will also feature diverse voices from immigrants, first-generation Americans and others.“National Geographic and Jay Z are the world’s foremost storytellers in their own right, and we’re thrilled to be working with them on such an evocative and meaningful project,” Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, told Variety.

“By using highly cinematic storytelling techniques along with Jay Z’s singular point of view, the series will tell a dramatic, thought-provoking story on race in America.” “Race With Jay Z” is the artist’s latest reported docuseries. His first effort following the story of a teen unjustly incarcerated at Rikers Island, “Time: The Kalief Browder Story,” premiered in March. It was also recently announced that Jay Z is working on a project about the 2012 shooting and killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Source: Jay Z Is Working On A New Docuseries On Race In Trump’s America | The Huffington Post

Queen Latifah and Jill Scott to Star in Lifetime’s Flint Water Crisis Movie “Flint”

Queen Latifah / Jill Scott (photo via madamenoire.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Deadline.com, Queen Latifah and Jill Scott have signed on to the Lifetime TV movie about the Flint Water crisis.

Latifah will executive produce the project, reuniting with “The Wiz Live” and “Steel Magnolias” producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. “Steel Magnolias” was the network’s third-most-watched original telecast ever. Latifah will also portray a resident of Flint fighting to expose the poisoning of the community.

The script is inspired by the Time magazine cover story, “The Toxic Tap,” which “follows the story of three women from Flint who sought justice following the wrongdoing committed against the residents of the city who were unknowingly drinking and using lead-laden water.  Their actions inspired a national movement for safe drinking…”

Jill Scott is to play a real-life activist.

To read more, go to: https://deadline.com/2017/04/queen-latifah-betsy-brandt-jill-scott-marin-ireland-star-flint-lifetime-water-crisis-movie-1202069713/

R.I.P. Charlie Murphy, 57, Comedian, Writer and “Chapelle’s Show” Co-Star

Charlie Murphy (photo via rollingstone.com)

article by Daniel Kreps via rollingstone.com

Charlie Murphy, the older brother of Eddie Murphy, a “Chappelle’s Show” star and an accomplished comedian in his own right, died Wednesday in New York City. He was 57. Murphy’s publicist confirmed the comedian’s death, and the cause of death was leukemia.

“We just lost one of the funniest most real brothers of all time. Charlie Murphy RIP,” Chris Rock, Murphy’s CB4 co-star, tweeted. “Charlie Murphy changed my life,” tweeted “Chappelle’s Show” co-creator Neal Brennan. “One of the most original people I’ve ever met. Hilarious dude. Habitual Line Stepper. So sad.”

After making his big screen debut in 1989’s “Harlem Nights,” directed by his younger brother Eddie, and appearing in bit roles in Spike Lee films like “Mo’ Better Blues” and “Jungle Fever,” Murphy’s big break came as a cast member on “Chappelle’s Show,” where “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories” resulted in a pair of that series’ most memorable sketches.

Both sketches featured Murphy reminiscing about he and Eddie’s celebrity encounters in the Eighties, with Dave Chappelle portraying Rick James and Prince in the now-legendary sketches. Charlie Murphy also co-wrote “Vampire in Brooklyn,” another film directed by Eddie, as well as 2007’s “Norbit.”

Murphy also appeared in 1998’s “The Player’s Club,” directed by Ice Cube. The rapper paid tribute to Murphy on Twitter Wednesday, “Damn, sorry to hear about my friend Charlie Murphy. He took a chance on a young director in The Player’s Club. Always made me laugh. RIP.”

Growing up in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn, Charlie often stuck up for his younger brother; in defending Eddie, Charlie joked about fearing his mom’s wrath if bullies picked on Eddie more than the bullies themselves. That guardian role made Charlie a natural to serve as Eddie’s security guard as the comedian quickly ascended to stardom.

Due to Charlie’s propensity toward overreacting while guarding his brother – “Whoever say something, I almost gave this old man a heart attack on a plane because he asked us if we were a basketball team. I took that personally,” Murphy said in a Chappelle’s Show outtake – forced Murphy to embark on his own career.

One night at an Eddie Murphy stand-up performance, Charlie went after one heckler “who tried to squeeze the lemon.” “I took it as a personal crusade until they were like, ‘You’re a little overzealous in how you’re performing your job.’ So that’s how I ended up not doing [security] anymore,” Murphy said.

To read more, go to: Charlie Murphy, Comedian and ‘Chappelle’s Show’ Star, Dead at 57 – Rolling Stone

‘Moonlight’ Filmmaker Barry Jenkins to Adapt and Direct TV Series for Amazon Based on Colson Whitehead’s NYT Bestseller “The Underground Railroad”

Barry Jenkins (Photo: ROB LATOUR/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Joe Otterson via Variety.com

“Moonlight” director and Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins will write and direct a one-hour drama series about the Underground Railroad currently in development at Amazon. The series will be based on Colson Whitehead’s best-selling book, “The Underground Railroad.”

“Going back to ‘The Intuitionist,’ Colson’s writing has always defied convention, and ‘The Underground Railroad’ is no different,” Jenkins said. “It’s a groundbreaking work that pays respect to our nation’s history while using the form to explore it in a thoughtful and original way. Preserving the sweep and grandeur of a story like this requires bold, innovative thinking and in Amazon we’ve found a partner whose reverence for storytelling and freeness of form is wholly in line with our vision.”

Published by Doubleday, “The Underground Railroad” has sold over 825,000 copies in the United States across all formats. An Oprah’s Book Club 2016 selection, New York Times bestseller, and the winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction, the book chronicles young Cora’s journey as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. After escaping her Georgia plantation for the rumored Underground Railroad, Cora discovers no mere metaphor, but an actual railroad full of engineers and conductors, and a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil.

This will be Johnson’s first attempt at directing a TV series in its entirety. He recently directed an episode of the upcoming Netflix adaptation of the film “Dear White People,” and previously directed one episode of the PBS series “Futurestates.” Jenkins’ Pastel Productions will executive produce along with Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment. Pitt and Plan B also produced “Moonlight.”

To read full article, go to: ‘Moonlight’ Director to Write, Direct Underground Railroad Series | Variety