‘Black Panther’ Becomes Top-Grossing Superhero Film of All Time in U.S. with $630.9 Million in Domestic Box Office

The Disney and Marvel tentpole wrests the crown from 'The Avengers.'
‘Black Panther’ (Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Director/writer Ryan Coogler‘s Black Panther, as of this weekend, has officially become the highest-grossing superhero film in North America, taking the title from another Disney/Marvel tentpole, The Avengers.

According to hollywoodreporter.com, the Chadwick Boseman/Lupita Nyong’o/Michael B. Jordan starrer achieved the milestone on Saturday after passingThe Avengers, $623.4 million gross from 2012. Black Panther is also only one of seven films to ever earn $600 million or more domestically, finishing Sunday with $630.9 million, putting it at No. 5 on the all-time list.Black Panther finished the weekend with $1.237 billion in ticket sales internationally, surpassing Iron Man 3 ($1.214 billion) to rank as the No. 3 superhero title of all time at the worldwide box office, just behind Avengers ($1.518 billion) and Avengers: Age of Ultron ($1.405 billion).

Black Panther finished in second-place overall in its sixth weekend with $17 million in sales, behind the newly-released Pacific Rim: Uprising, which earned approximately $28 million in its debut weekend.

Record Number of Black Women are Candidates in Alabama

Jameria Moore at campaign headquarters in a back room at her law office. (Andrea Morales for NBC News)

by Adam Edelman via nbcnews.com

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — It’s an unlikely location for a political uprising: A onetime drug rehab center in an office park, where metal bars still line the windows and the hum from the nearby I-20/I-59 overpass is constant. But it is here that Jameria Moore, a 49-year-old attorney, launched her campaign for a judgeship on the Jefferson County Probate Court. She is one of about three dozen African-American women who are running for office as Democrats across deep-red Alabama.

It’s an unprecedented number, according to party officials. Many, like Moore, are running for the first time. And many, like Moore, say Democrat Doug Jones‘ unexpected Senate victory in December inspired them to take a chance. But there’s more to this wave of black women candidates than that.

“It’s so important that we step up, that we show the nation that we can lead,” Moore told NBC News in a recent interview, as a small team of volunteers bustled about her law office and prepared for the campaign ahead. “That, here in Alabama, we’re ready to lead our state into the future.”

Her campaign is mounting a robust effort in a local race with a crowded Democratic primary field — all in an intensely conservative state with a history of racial division.

Jameria Moore is one of about three dozen African-American women who are running for office as Democrats across deep-red Alabama. (Andrea Morales For NBC News)

“I have friends in other states who say, ‘I don’t know how you live in Alabama,’ and I tell them, ‘Why wouldn’t I live in Alabama?'” she said. “This is an opportunity, that’s how I look at it.”

In the heady months after Jones’ winan upset fueled in part by exceptionally high turnout by African-American women — a new energy has fueled Jefferson County Democrats.

Ninety-eight percent of black women voted for Jones, according to an NBC News exit poll — a decisive factor in the former federal prosecutor becoming the first Democrat in 25 years to be elected to the Senate from Alabama. Now, just three months later, an unprecedented number of African-American women are taking the next step in building on that momentum by running for local and statewide office.

More than 35 black women have launched campaigns or re-election efforts, and more than three-quarters of them are running here in Birmingham, in state and county judicial races, or for seats in the state legislature. Organizers and local officials say it’s evidence of a small but significant Democratic burst of political activism that could put a blue-hued dent in a deep-Trump state.

“Alabama is not a state that is known for electing women to office, so, in some sense, this is surprising, historic and much needed,” said Richard Fording, a professor of public policy at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

The effort has been partly driven by national groups, which hit the ground during Jones’ campaign and, after his win, stuck around, sensing further progress could be made.

“This place that was so resistant to change, where, now, a group of women who were looked down upon and dealt first-hand with the vestiges of slavery and segregation are the ones who can lead us forward — it’s monumental,” said Quentin James, founder and director of the Collective PAC, a two-year-old group focusing on recruiting African-American candidates in statewide and local races across the U.S.

“Where better to demonstrate the progress being made than in Alabama,” he added.

‘A LARGER TREND’

The new wave of candidates, as well as the voters who have empowered them, say their efforts and progress are driven not only by the encouragement they felt after Jones’ win, but the wide-ranging impact of the #MeToo movement, Barack Obama’s presidency and Trump’s divisiveness and perceived animosity toward minorities.

A half-dozen African-American women now running for office said in recent interviews that the gains made in local races in 2016 — when nine African-American women were elected as judges in Jefferson County — helped light the fuse.

As anti-Trump fervor rose, so, too, did the desire of black women to enter politics. And by fall 2017, as the #MeToo movement swept the country in October, and Jones won in December, it erupted into a full-blown fire.

Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., a four-term congresswoman running for re-election this fall who was cited as a trailblazer by many of the black women now running for office, said it’s vital that women of all races be a part of the policy-making process “as the nation grapples with the realities of sexual harassment and assault.”

Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., said it’s vital that women of all races be part of the policy-making process “as the nation grapples with the realities of sexual harassment and assault.”

Richard Mauk, chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Party, said he first felt inklings of change in the majority-Democratic county about 10 years ago when Obama came to power. “It showed that black people can be elected,” he said. “While it took a few years to trickle down, he, along with Michelle Obama, gave a lot of black women the idea that, yes, this is possible.”

Mauk said the party does’t have reliable records of candidate demographics, but said he’d never seen anything like this year’s large number of black women running.Jones, for his part, pointed out that African-American women have long been part of the political process in Alabama, even though they are significantly underrepresented in the state legislature.”

The difference now is simply the fact that you have more voices rising up,” said Jones, who added that he recognized his own election as something that empowered this new wave of African-American women to seek office.Meanwhile, James, of Collective PAC, singled out Trump as the main motivator.

“You have a president who attacks black women,” James said, pointing to recent criticism out of the White House of two Democratic congresswomen, Maxine Waters of California and Frederica Wilson of Florida. “They’re fed up, we’re fed up, and … it’s crucial we have more voices on the public stage to fight back.”
Continue reading “Record Number of Black Women are Candidates in Alabama”

Scholars Lorna Goodison, John Keene, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Suzan-Lori Parks to Receive $165,000 Windham-Campbell Prizes From Yale University

via jbhe.com

Lorna G (photo via tallawahmagazine.com)

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University has announced the eight winners of this year’s Windham-Campbell Prizes in the fields of fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry. Each winner will receive a $165,000 prize at an international literary festival at Yale in September.

Four of the eight winners of this year Windham-Campbell Prizes are Black. Three have ties to academic institutions in the United States.

Lorna Goodison, a winner of a poetry prize, is a professor emerita at the University of Michigan, where she served as the Lemuel A. Johnson Professor of English and African and Afro-American studies. She currently serves as poet laureate of the nation of Jamaica. Professor Goodison has published 13 collections of poetry including Supplying Salt and Light (McClelland & Stewart, 2013).

John Keenes (photo via vice.com)

John Keene, a professor of English at Rutgers University-Newark is the recipient of a Windham-Campbell Prize in the fiction category. He is the author of the short story collection Counternarratives (New Directions, 2015) and the novel Annotations (New Directions, 1995). Professor Keene received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a master of fine arts degree from New York University.

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (photo via lareviewofbooks.com)

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, a native of Uganda who now lives in England, won a prize in the fiction category. Her debut novel Kintu (Transit Books, 2014) tells the parallel stories of the fall of a cursed bloodline—the titular Kintu clan—and the rise of modern Uganda. Dr. Makumbi earned a Ph.D. in African literature from Lancaster University in England. She has taught creative writing at several universities in the United Kingdom.

Suzan-Lori Parks

Suzan-Lori Parks won an award in the drama category. She is a professor of creative writing at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Parks is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. She is a former MacArthur Foundation “Genius Award” winner. Professor Parks was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for her play “Topdog/Underdog.” In addition to her plays, Parks is the author of the novel Getting Mother’s Body (2003).

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/03/four-black-scholars-to-receive-165000-windham-campbell-prizes-from-yale-university/

Civil Rights Leader and Educator Clara Luper Has Department Named in her Honor at University of Oklahoma

Civil Rights Leader and Activist Clara Luper (photo via blackthen.com)

via jbhe.com

The University of Oklahoma has announced that it is recognizing educator and civil rights leader Clara Luper by naming the department of African and African American studies in her honor.

Known as the “Mother of the Oklahoma Civil Rights Movement,” Luper led a sit-in at the segregated lunch counter at the Katz Drug Store in Oklahoma City in 1958. She later led campaigns for equal rights in employment opportunity, banking, open housing, and voting rights.

David L. Boren, president of the University of Oklahoma, said that “we honor Clara Luper as a trailblazer for human rights and as a symbol of the university’s commitment to equal opportunity for all people.”

Clara Luper was born 1923 in rural Okfuskee County, Oklahoma. She graduated from an all-Black high school and then enrolled at historically Black Langston University in Oklahoma. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1944. She later earned a master’s degree in history education at the University of Oklahoma.

Luper taught history in high schools in Spencer, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City for 41 years. She was the first African American vice president of the Oklahoma City Social Science Teachers Association and the first African American vice president of the Oklahoma County Teachers Association. Luper also hosted her own radio show for 50 years.

A state highway bears her name and the Clara Luper Scholarship Program has been established at Oklahoma City University. More on the life of this civil rights pioneer can be found in her autobiography Behold the Walls (1979).

Clara Luper died in 2011.

Source: https://www.jbhe.com/2018/03/university-of-oklahoma-names-an-academic-department-to-honor-clara-luper/

Producer/Director Deon Taylor Launches Dark Circus Banner, Sets Snoop Dogg-Produced Series “The Thrill”

Deon Taylor (Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

by Mia Galuppo via hollywoodreporter.com

Producer/director Deon Taylor and his Hidden Empire Film Group have launched a new shingle, Dark Circus, that will produce film and television content aimed towards urban audiences, with a focus on the comedy and horror genres.

The first project set up under the banner is a Snoop Dogg-produced horror anthology series, The Thrill. It centers on a mysterious hotel, The Last Stop Inn, situated on a lonely stretch of foreboding highway, where the unlucky guests who check in each week struggle to understand the supernatural events that unfold during their stay.

The first feature release under the new label will be The House Next Door, the previously announced sequel to Meet the Blacks. Taylor directed the comedy that stars Mike Epps and Katt Williams.

“We have the resources and market expertise to deliver branded content with a unique voice — one that speaks to an urban audience,” said Taylor. “I won’t say that this market is underserved, as there are a great deal of films still finding their way to the marketplace. However, our intention is to raise the bar with Dark Circus and create an enduring brand. Partnering with Snoop on this first anthology series will have us coming out of the gates strong, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Taylor — who directed and produced the upcoming Paula Patton-starrer Traffik and is attached to direct the police drama .38 — runs Hidden Empire with partners Roxanne Avent and Robert F. Smith.

Source: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/deon-taylor-lauches-dark-circus-banner-sets-snoop-dogg-produced-anthology-series-1094982

Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Acquires Weather Channel

Byron Allen (photo via thereelnetwork.com)

by Cynthia Littleton via Variety.com

Adding another pillar to his growing TV and film portfolio, Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios has reached a deal to acquire cable’s Weather Channel in a transaction valued at about $300 million.

Entertainment Studios is buying the Weather Group, parent company of the cabler and the Local Now streaming service, from Comcast and private equity giants Blackstone and Bain. That group purchased Weather Channel for $3.5 billion in July 2008. The digital operations of Weather Channel were acquired in 2015 by IBM in a deal pegged at around $2 billion.

“The Weather Channel is one of the most trusted and extremely important cable networks, with information vitally important to the safety and protection of our lives,” said Allen, who is chairman-CEO of Entertainment Studios. “We welcome the Weather Channel, which has been seen in American households for nearly four decades, to our cable television networks division. The acquisition of the Weather Channel is strategic, as we begin our process of investing billions of dollars over the next five years to acquire some of the best media assets around the world.”

The Weather Channel, which made its on-air bow in 1982, is one of cable’s most well-known brands but its linear prospects have been challenged by the ubiquitous availability of weather-related data via digital sources. Nonetheless it’s a big step for Allen’s company, which already operates eight linear TV channels including Pets.TV, Comedy.TV and Cars.TV that target niche audiences. Weather Channel will be the most widely distributed outlet in Allen’s portfolio.

“We are excited to join Entertainment Studios, and we are especially proud to be part of one of the largest emerging global media companies,” said Dave Shull, CEO of Weather Channel. “Byron Allen’s purchase of our innovative and forward-thinking organization will increase the value we bring to our viewers, distributors, and advertisers.”

Allen’s Entertainment Studios has also been moving aggressively in the independent film arena in recent years with the launch of Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures. Last year the fledgling distributor saw respectable box office returns last year from the thriller “47 Meters Down” and the Western “Hostiles.” Allen Group is the sole owner of Entertainment Studios.

Source: http://variety.com/2018/tv/news/byron-allen-weather-channel-acquire-entertainment-studios-1202733511/

Emmy Award-Winning Actor/Writer/Producer Lena Waithe Covers April Issue Of ‘Vanity Fair’

by Danielle Jennings via hellobeautiful.com

The last year has been a whirlwind for actress/writer/producer/creator Lena Waithe. After making history by being the first black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series (for the Netflix hit Master of None,) creating the new Showtime hit series The Chi and co-starring in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming film Ready Player One. Waithe is living her best life and now she can add Vanity Fair cover girl to the list.

You might as well get used to seeing and hearing about Lena Waithe for years to come, as the young Hollywood power player is breaking down boundaries and providing top-tier work with each project. As she covers the April 2018 issue of Vanity Fair magazine, Waithe gets candid about her career, her future and being a queer POC.

Excerpts from Lena Waithe x Vanity Fair interview:

[On how life has changed since her Emmy win]: “How has the Emmy changed me? It got me all these meetings that I go in and say I’m too busy to work with you—you should have hollered at me. You can take my call when I call you about this black queer writer over here who’s got a dope pilot, or this person over here who’s got really cool ideas, or this actress who’s really amazing but nobody’s seen her.”

[On being a black writer in Hollywood]: “The hardest thing about being a black writer in this town is having to pitch your black story to white execs,” she says. “Also, most of the time when we go into rooms to pitch, there’s one token black executive that sometimes can be a friend and sometimes can be a foe. I wonder if they think it makes me more comfortable, if that makes me think that they’re a woke network or studio because they’ve got that one black exec. It feels patronizing. I’m not against a black exec. I want there to be more of them.”

[On being a black gay woman in Hollywood]: “Being black and gay, having dreadlocks, having a certain kind of swag, and dressing the way I do,” she explains, she is sometimes told by certain well-meaning admirers or fashion wannabes, “ ‘That’s dope, you’re cool.’ I don’t feel validated by that. . . . I don’t want to be White. I don’t want to be straight. I don’t want to blend in. . . . I try to wear queer designers who happen to be brown and makin’ shit.”

In addition to her other projects, Waithe also just got the greenlight for her TBS series Twenties which is loosely based on her early years in Los Angeles and tells the stories of three black women making their way in Hollywood.

Source: https://hellobeautiful.com/2987441/lena-waithe-covers-april-issue-of-vanity-fair/

Paula Mae Weekes, The 1st Woman President of Trinidad and Tobago, Takes Office

Paula Mae Weekes (photo via twitter.com)

by Tiffany McGee via thegrio.com

For the first time, the twin island Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago has a woman president. After an electoral college win in January, Paula Mae Weekes, a retired Court of Appeal judge was sworn in on Monday, Latin American network TeleSUR reported. Weekes’ inauguration makes Trinidad the only nation in the region to have a woman as head of state after Chile’s Michelle Bachelet vacated her position on March 11.

Obstacles still remain

Despite making history, Weekes is taking office at a challenging time for the nation, known best for its Carnival and for robust oil and natural gas exports. She replaces Anthony Carmona who leaves behind an extremely high murder rate — nearly 400 people in Trinidad have been victims of homicide in in 2017, according to the Trinidad Guardian. She’ll also have to take on an increasing unemployment rate, which rose to 5.3 percent in the second quarter of 2017, Trading Economics reported.

In her inaugural speech, she pledged to take on these and other problems head on. “None of us is blind or foolish enough to deny that Trinidad and Tobago is going through dark times, but I echo the words of C.S. Lewis when I say: ‘this a good world gone wrong but it still retains the memory of what ought to have been’.”

Weekes, 59, worked in both the public and private sectors after graduating law school. Beginning in 1982 she worked in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for 11 years before going into private practice.  In 1996, she became a judge at the Criminal Division of Trinidad’s High Court, and in 2005 she was promoted to the Court of Appeal. She also served as Justice of Appeal in Turks and Caicos for three years. She was also Chancellor of the Anglican Church, where she oversaw all finances.

To read more: https://thegrio.com/2018/03/20/paula-mae-weekes-trinidad-inauguration/

Ava DuVernay to Direct DC’s Superhero Epic ‘New Gods’

Ava DuVernay (photo via Variety.com)

by Dave McNary via Variety.com

Ava DuVernay is stepping into the superhero universe. The filmmaker has come on board to direct “New Gods” at Warner Bros. as part of the studio’s DC Extended Universe. “New Gods,” based on the DC Comics series of the same name, is aimed at creating a new universe of properties for the studio. Created and designed by Jack Kirby, the comic was first released in 1971.

The movie marks the second major superhero tentpole directed by a woman, following another DC property: Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman.”

DuVernay directed Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” becoming the first woman of color in Hollywood to helm a live-action film with a production budget of $100 million. The time-travel fantasy has grossed $42.2 million in its first six days in North America.

The New Gods are natives of the twin planets of New Genesis and Apokolips. New Genesis is an idyllic planet ruled by the Highfather, while Apokolips is a dystopia filled with machinery and fire pits ruled by the tyrant Darkseid. New Genesis and Apokolips call themselves gods, living outside of normal time and space in a realm known as the Fourth World.

Half a dozen “New Gods” series have been published following the original. The most recent, “The New 52,” was issued in 2011.

DuVernay also directed the Oscar-nominated documentary “13th” and the civil-rights drama “Selma.” She is the creator and executive producer of the OWN series “Queen Sugar.”

“New Gods” would be a major addition to the DC Extended Universe, which Warner Bros. launched in 2013 to take advantage of the massive DC library and compete with Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. The DCEU launched with 2013’s “Man of Steel,” followed by “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Suicide Squad,” “Wonder Woman,” and “Justice League,” which was the lowest grosser of the five titles, with $657.9 million worldwide.

“Aquaman,” starring Jason Momoa, is the next title in the DC Extended Universe, set for release on Dec. 21. The studio is also moving ahead with a “Wonder Woman” sequel with Gal Gadot and director Jenkins returning. The pic hits theaters on Nov. 1, 2019.

In the wake of the box office under-performance of “Justice League,” Warner Bros. is re-organizing the DC film operations by promoting Walter Hamada to president of DC-based film production in an effort to exert more quality control over its big-screen efforts. Toby Emmerich, who was promoted in 2016 to president and chief content officer at Warner Bros., worked with Hamada at New Line, which he ran before moving over to the main studio.

To read more: http://variety.com/2018/film/news/ava-duvernay-superhero-movie-new-gods-dc-1202725043/

Salvation Army Opens Its 1st Nonprofit Grocery Store in Baltimore to Combat Food Deserts

The Salvation Army’s DMG Foods held its grand opening on Wednesday in the northeast Baltimore neighborhood of Abell. (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

by Nina Golgowski via huffingtonpost.com

The Salvation Army is adding healthy grocery shopping to its list of charitable endeavors.

The nonprofit opened its first full-service grocery store in Baltimore on Wednesday in what it hopes will be the first of many stores to help combat the nation’s number of “food deserts,” which are disadvantaged neighborhoods lacking stores that sell fresh meats and produce.

DMG Foods, which is named after the organization’s promise of “doing the most good,” opened in northeast Baltimore with the goal of providing local residents with nutritious, low-cost food as well as nutrition guidance, meal planning and job training. “If this works, Baltimore wants us to open two or three more stores,” Maj. Gene A. Hogg, the Salvation Army’s Central Maryland area commander, told HuffPost on Monday.

The store, which has an on-site butcher and deli, as well as prepared meals and salads by Maryland’s Food Bank, is in a former Salvation Army warehouse that was renovated to offer what Hogg described as “that upper-end grocery store experience” at affordable prices. Inside, it’s bright and spacious, he said, and it features food samplings, recipe ideas, cooking demonstrations and visits by guest chefs and city health department nutritionists.

Because it’s across the street from an elementary school, it also allows parents to pick up or drop off their children and shop for their family’s meals in the same trip, Hogg said. Previously, he said, people would have to travel more than a quarter of a mile to find a grocery store or market, which fits within the city’s definition of a food desert. The definition also includes more than 30% of the surrounding households having no vehicle access and the medium household income at or below 185% of the federal poverty level. “The idea is to strengthen the family table,” he said. “We want to do more than just sell groceries.”

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh attended the store’s opening ceremony to cut the ribbon. She encouraged the Salvation Army’s efforts. “This serves as a beacon for the rest of this community. If we can do this here, we can do this in other parts of the city,” she said, according to local station WJZ.

In addition to providing fresh food, the store will also offer a workforce development program that will help train prospective employees. It will also have special offers and discounts for those who are part of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps.  Any money that is made from the operation will be donated to Catherine’s Cottage, a local facility run by the Salvation Army that offers support to human trafficking survivors, Hogg said. “What we’re trying to do is create an environment where the community feels welcome and where they’re engaging for the betterment of their community,” Hogg said.

The Baltimore store is considered the Salvation Army’s test site. It hopes to open more stores around the country if this one succeeds and there is eagerness among outside communities to get involved. Thus far, Hogg said, he’s received calls from around the world inquiring about their efforts.

“We think that we’re going to be successful, but you can’t make any judgment calls after four days of work.”

Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/salvation-army-opens-grocery-store_us_5aa6a6b7e4b087e5aaec85d4