“Saturday Night Live” star and writer Michael Che has turned his grief into action to help others.
After his grandmother died from the coronavirus this month, on Instagram Wednesday Che offered to pay rent for all the residents in the apartment complex where she lived.
Che’s grandmother Martha died April 5 after contracting COVID-19. “I’m obviously very hurt and angry that she had to go through all that pain alone,” Che wrote at the time. “But I’m also happy that she’s not in pain anymore.”
During “SNL’s” home edition last weekend, Che paid tribute by signing off “Weekend Update” as “Martha’s grandbaby.”
Jada Pinkett Smith‘s “Red Table Talk,” one of the most popular shows on Facebook Watch, will stay exclusively on the platform with new episodes of the talk show streaming through 2022, according to Variety.com. The series features host and executive producer Smith, her daughter Willow Smith and mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris (aka “Gammy”).
In addition, “Red Table Talk” is becoming a franchise: Smith and Westbrook Studios will produce “Red Table Talk: The Estefans,” bringing the trademark red table to Miami and feature Grammy-winning singer Gloria Estefan, her daughter and musician Emily Estefan, and her niece Lili Estefan discussing trending and personal topics with celebrity guests and experts.
“Red Table Talk,” which was nominated for a 2019 Daytime Emmy, debuted in May 2018 and has aired 50 episodes on Facebook Watch over two seasons. The show has over 7 million followers on Facebook and spawned a main discussion group with over 600,000 members as well as other group forums. “Red Table Talk” promises candid conversations of current social and cultural issues including race, divorce, domestic violence, sex, fitness and parenting.
“I’m incredibly proud of ‘Red Table Talk’ and thrilled to build upon this franchise with my family and with Gloria, Emily and Lili,” Pinkett Smith said in a statement. “‘Red Table Talk’ has created a space to have open, honest and healing conversations around social and topical issues, and what’s most powerful for me is hearing people’s stories and engaging with our fans in such a tangible way on the Facebook Watch platform. I’m excited to see the Estefans put their spin on the franchise and take it to new places.”
Author Maya Angelou and performer/television series host RuPaul are among the inductees for the 2019 class of California Hall of Fame, according to sfgate.com.
California’s governor Gavin Newsom and his wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom announced the inductees on Wednesday.
The class includes civil rights leader James M. Lawson Jr., actor and comedian George Lopez, soccer player and two-time World Cup champion Brandi Chastain, skateboarder and entrepreneur Tony Hawk, chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck, astrophysicist France A. Córdova, author Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston,and winemaker Helen M. Turley.
The class will be inducted during a ceremony on December 10. The California Hall of Fame started in 2006 and inductees are selected each year by the governor and first partner.
According to jbhe.com and deadline.com, Howard University and Amazon Studios have announced the launch of Howard Entertainment, a program designed to diversify the entertainment industry by creating a pipeline for African-American students and other under-represented populations to train and study with entertainment executives.
The Howard Entertainment program will be an immersive two-semester experience located in Los Angeles, California, that offers Howard students the opportunity to take academic courses during the spring semester and participate in a fellowship in the entertainment industry during the summer semester.
The coursework will be applied toward the student’s graduation requirements and the fellowship provides much needed hands-on experience and an opportunity to make invaluable networking connections.
“The vision of Howard Entertainment is to offer a one-of-a-kind experience for students interested in all aspects of entertainment, from project greenlighting, to PR and marketing, to entertainment law and finance,” said Wayne A. I. Frederick, president of Howard University. “This relationship aligns with Howard’s strategic goals of enhancing academic excellence and inspiring new knowledge.
Collaborating with Amazon Studios will enable us to marry academia and industry efforts to build a robust workforce of diverse entertainment industry leaders. With Howard’s proven track record of developing some of Hollywood’s most notable actors, comedians and musicians, this next-level collaboration will enable us to have even greater impact.”
To qualify, students must be enrolled as a Howard University student, must be an upperclassman or graduate student and will have to complete an application and interview to be considered for the program.
Students will be taught by Howard faculty who will be supported by Amazon Studios employees and other industry professionals invited by Amazon. This will give students to work in projects that offer “real world” application and will help students develop “work ready” skills prior to graduating.
The new program is scheduled to begin with the Spring 2020 semester.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Diahann Carroll, star of stage and screen who changed the course of television history as the first African American woman to star in a TV series (1968’s ground-breaking sitcom “Julia”) and to win a lead actress Tony Award, has passed away. She was 84.
The Oscar-nominated actress and breast cancer survivor, who also starred in “Paris Blues” with Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, primetime soap “Dynasty” and “White Collar,” died of cancer, her daughter Suzanne Kay said Friday.
Born Carol Diahann Johnson in 1935 in the Bronx, Carroll moved to Harlem with her parents at a young age. With their support, she enrolled in dance, singing and modeling classes and attended Music and Art High School with Billy Dee Williams, who would later costar with her in “Dynasty.” By 15, Carroll was modeling for Ebony, and by 18 she got her big singing break after winning the televised talent show “Chance of a Lifetime” in 1954.
Carroll debuted as an actress in 1954’s Oscar-nominated adaptation of “Carmen Jones,” a retelling of the Bizet opera with an all-black cast alongside Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte and Pearl Bailey. In 1959, she headlined the musical “Porgy and Bess” with Dandridge, Sidney Poitier and Sammy Davis Jr.
Carroll was nominated for a lead-actress Oscar for her turn as a single mother in the 1974 comedy “Claudine” opposite James Earl Jones, and earned a Tony Award in 1962 for Richard Rodgers’ “No Strings.”
In the late 1960s, Carroll was cast in “Julia,” the enormously successful NBC sitcom that featured her as a war-widowed nurse raising a son.
Carroll won a Golden Globe for female TV star and a nomination for best TV show, among other nods. She also earned a lead actress in a comedy Emmy nomination in 1969. Because the show was sponsored by toymaker Mattel, she served as the model for one of the first black Barbie dolls and found her likeness plastered on a variety of merchandise, including lunch boxes and coloring books.
The Boondocks was a satirical animated series that followed two brothers, Huey and Riley Freeman, as they moved from the inner city to the suburbs known as Woodcrest. Throughout the comic strip and the animated series, The Boondocks blended political and social commentary through a wide range of exaggerated characters from Riley to Uncle Ruckus.
What isn’t known is whether or not the show will return to Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network. Also, it’s not clear whether Academy Award winner Regina King, who voiced both Huey and Riley, will return, though according to blackamericaweb.com, John Witherspoon will reprise his role as Granddad.
Netflix has ordered the single-camera comedy “Black Excellence” from Barris, in which he will also star opposite “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” star and “Claws” executive producer Rashida Jones.
Inspired by Barris’ approach to parenting, relationships, race, and culture, the series is said to pull the curtain back and reboot the “family sitcom.” The series is reported to be similar to HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in tone.
Barris and Jones will executive produce with Hale Rothstein, who has previously collaborated with Barris on his ABC series “Black-ish” and the Freeform spinoff “Grown-ish.” Barris will produce via his Khalabo Ink Society.
According to New York Amsterdam News, on Saturday the northeast corner of 123rd Street and Saint Nicholas Avenue in Harlem was renamed in honor of famed acting and civil rights couple Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee (Purlie Victorious, Countdown At Kusini, Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever).
The Dwyer Cultural Center hosted the ceremonial unveiling of ‘Ruby Dee Place’ and ‘Ossie Davis Way’. Dee and Davis’ children, Nora Day HasnaMuhammad and Guy Davis, attended the event, as did the Rev. Al Sharpton, former New York City mayor David Dinkins, Assemblywoman Inez Dickens and State Sen. Brian Benjamin.
The Dwyer opened its gallery to the public to view an exhibit dedicated to Dee and Davis with numerous storyboards displayed related to the work of the couple and Cliff Frazier. The public also participated in a community mosaic mural.
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.”
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)