John Singleton-Produced Documentary “L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later” to Air April 18 on A&E Network 

Director John Singleton (photo via Variety.com)

article by Cynthia Littleton via variety.com

A&E Network will mark the 25th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots next month with a two-hour documentary from filmmaker John Singleton. “L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later,” set to debut April 18, tells the story of the civil unrest that shook the nation from the perspective of those who lived through a week of upheaval following a jury’s acquittal of four Los Angeles Police Department officers charged in the 1991 beating of African-American motorist Rodney King.

King’s arrest and savage treatment at the hands of veteran LAPD officers was caught on videotape by a local resident who gave the incendiary footage to KTLA-TV Los Angeles. KTLA’s coverage and airing of the nine-minute recording depicting cops kicking and beating King with batons while he was lying on the ground set off a firestorm of outrage and protest over the LAPD’s treatment of minorities.

The incident coincided with the dawn of the 24/7 news cycle fueled by the growth of cable news and the spread of home video recording technology.Singleton, a native of Los Angeles, was fresh out of USC film school and had just launched his career as a movie director with 1991’s Oscar-nominated “Boyz n the Hood” when the riots erupted on April 29, 1992, the day acquittals of the four officers were handed down by a nearly all-white jury.

Five days of violence and unrest left at least 55 people dead, more than 2,000 injured and inflicted more than $1 billion in property damage.“I believe the 1992 L.A. uprising has never truly been given a voice until now,” Singleton said. “We’ve attempted to chronicle the untold stories and unique perspectives of people whose lives were profoundly affected by this event. As a native Los Angeleno I know the actions of that three-day event didn’t just appear out of thin air. The city was a powder keg boiling at the seams for many years under police brutality and economic hardship of people of color.”

Among those featured in the documentary are actor-activist Edward James Olmos, police officers, rioters, bystanders caught in the crossfire and reporters who covered the upheaval. “L.A. Burning” hails from Entertainment One and Creature Films. The doc is directed by One9 and Erik Parker.

“L.A. Burning” is one of several TV productions in the works to mark the anniversary of the violence that shook Los Angeles and the world. Filmmaker John Ridley is behind the two-hour ABC special “Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992,” set to air April 28.  On April 18, Showtime will air the documentary “Burn Mother—–r Burn!,” examining the history of racial tensions and rioting in Los Angeles.

To read full article, go to: A&E Network Sets Los Angeles Riots ‘25 Years Later’ Documentary From John Singleton (EXCLUSIVE) | Variety

Alicia Keys, John Legend, Pharrell and Others Perform at “Shining A Light: Concert For Progress on Race in America” Airing Tonight on A+E Networks & Several Others

John Legend at "Shining A Light" Concert

John Legend at “Shining A Light” Concert

A+E Networks and iHeartMedia are simultaneously airing “Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America” on Friday, November 20 at 8PM ET/PT.  The sold-out concert was recorded at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA on Wednesday, November 18th, and the two-hour special event will air across the entire A+E Networks portfolio in more than 130 territories globally, including A&E, HISTORY, Lifetime, H2, LMN and FYI, as well as on more than 130 iHeartMedia broadcast radio stations nationwide and the iHeartRadio digital platform.  Additionally, AOL has joined in the simulcast making the historic special event available to anyone with internet access across the globe on AOL.com.

Artists Aloe Blacc, Andra Day, Nick Jonas, Tom Morello, Smokey Robinson and Big Sean join the previously announced performers including Zac Brown Band, Eric Church, Jamie Foxx, Rhiannon Giddens, Tori Kelly, John Legend, Miguel, Pink, Jill Scott, Ed Sheeran, Sia, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Pharrell WilliamsLL Cool J, Marshall Faulk, Morgan Freeman, George Lopez, Mario Lopez, Nicki Minaj, Kurt Warner and Nick Young are among the presenters joining the telecast.

Alicia Keys has joined John Legend and Pharrell on extraordinary journeys to Baltimore, Ferguson and Charleston, where they met with a diverse group of residents in communities at the center of the national conversation on racial inequality and violence.  Joined by NPR’s Michele Norris with John Legend in Ferguson, award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien with Pharrell Williams in Charleston and ABC News’ Byron Pitts in Baltimore, these visits included intimate discussions and special private performances by each for those most effected.  These incredibly moving, heart wrenching and eye-opening moments will be featured throughout the two-hour concert, as well as in the one-hour special, “Shining a Light: Conversations on Race in America,” airing immediately following the concert on A&E Network and AOL.com at 10pm ET/PT.

To see Alicia Keys perform Donny Hathaway’s “Someday We Will All Be Free”, watch below:

The concert will kick off A+E Networks’ campaign to confront issues of race, and promote unity and progress on racial equity, inspired by the response of the Mother Emanuel family members in Charleston and others working for reconciliation and change around the country.

The concert and the ancillary programming will help raise money for the Fund for Progress on Race in America powered by United Way Worldwide (ShiningALightConcert.com).  The fund will provide grant funding to individuals and organizations fostering understanding, eliminating bias, as well as provide support to Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church and the broader A.M.E. denomination. The fund will support efforts to address racism and bias through public policy change, individual innovation, and community mobilization.

Tickets for the concert on November 18 sold out within 3 hours of the on-sale date raising more than $150,000 to benefit the Fund for Progress on Race in America powered by The United Way Worldwide.

To see a clip of John Legend’s performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” from the event, watch below:

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

“Roots” TV Movie Adds Forest Whitaker, Anika Noni Rose, Anna Paquin, More to Cast

Roots Forest Whitaker Anna Paquin

Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin (photo variety.com)

A+E Networks has announced additional casting for “Roots,” its epic miniseries based on Alex Haley’s 1976 novel as well as other researched material.

The four-night, eight-hour scripted miniseries has tapped newcomer Malachi Kirby to play lead Kunta Kinte, the Mandinka warrior captured in his homeland of the Gambia and forced into slavery in colonial America. Forest WhitakerAnna PaquinJonathan Rhys Meyers and Anika Noni Rose have also been added to the cast. Casting descriptions are below. They join Laurence Fishburne, who had already been cast as Haley.

The production, which hails from A+E Studios in association with Marc Toberoff and The Wolper Organization, also announced that Mario Van Peebles and Bruce Beresford will be directing the episodes set to air on nights two and four. Phillip Noyce and Thomas Carter had already signed on to direct the episodes for nights one and three and Grammy winner Questlove will serve as executive music producer.

“Roots” will air in 2016 and be simulcast on A&E, Lifetime and History. Will Packer, Toberoff, Mark Wolper, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal serve as executive producers. LeVar Burton, who played Kunta Kinte in the 1977 TV movie, and Korin D. Huggins are co-executive producers. Konner, Rosenthal, Alison McDonald, and Charles Murray are writing. Dirk Hoogstra, Arturo Interian and Michael Stiller serve as executives in charge of production for History. “Roots” is distributed internationally by A+E Networks under the A+E Studios International banner.

* Forest Whitaker (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “South Paw”) will play Fiddler, a slave who tries to mentor Kunta Kinte and ends up risking his own life to help him escape.

* Anna Paquin (“True Blood”) plays Nancy Holt, the wife of a Confederate officer who happens to have her own agenda when it comes to handling the slaves.

* Jonathan Rhys Meyers (“The Tudors”) plays Tom Lea, an uneducated slave owner who is desperate to claw his way into the elite company of Southern gentility.

* Anika Noni Rose (“Dream Girls,” “The Good Wife,” “The Princess and the Frog”) plays Kizzy, Kunta Kinte’s cherished, smart daughter who maintains her family pride and warrior spirit.

* Chad L. Coleman (“The Walking Dead,” “The Wire”) plays Mingo, the stern no-nonsense slave who really keeps the Lea plantation afloat.

* Regé-Jean Page (“Waterloo Road”) plays Chicken George, Kizzy’s son who is a handsome social magnet. He knows how to transfix a crowd with a story, yet doesn’t appreciate what he has until his luck abandons him.

* Erica Tazel (“Justified”) plays Matilda, a preacher’s daughter and love interest to Chicken George.

* Derek Luke (“Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Antwone Fisher”) plays Silla Ba Dibba, a military trainer charged with transforming teen boys into powerful Mandinka Warriors.

article by Whitney Frielander via Variety.com

Laurence Fishburne to Star as Alex Haley in “Roots” Remake for A&E Networks

Laurence Fishburne The Signial

Laurence Fishburne at NAACP Awards (photo via Variety.com)

Laurence Fishburne has been cast as Alex Haley in A+E Networks’ “Roots” remake, the History Channel announced Wednesday.

Haley is the author of the novel “Roots: The Saga of an American Family,” an American family origin story based around the life of Kunta Kinte. The “Roots” remake will be an original, contemporary production, incorporating material from Haley’s novel, as well as carefully researched new scholarship of the time.

“Roots” will be simulcast on A&E, History and Lifetime in 2016.

The Emmy-winning actor currently appears on NBC’s drama “Hannibal” and ABC’s half-hour comedy “Black-ish,” on which he also serves as executive producer. On the big screen, Fishburne will next be seen in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

“Roots” is described as a historical portrait of American slavery recounting the journey of one family’s will to survive, endure and ultimately carry on their legacy despite enormous hardship and inhumanity. Spanning multiple generations, the lineage begins with young Kunta Kinte who is captured in his homeland in Gambia and transported in brutal conditions to colonial America where he’s sold into slavery. Throughout the series, the family continues to face adversity while bearing witness and contributing to notable events in U.S. history — including the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, slave uprisings and eventual emancipation.

Will Packer, Marc Toberoff, Marc Wolper, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal serve as executive producers. LeVar Burton and Korin Huggins are co-executive producers. Konner, Rosenthal, Alison McDonald, and Charles Murray are writing.

article by Laura Prudom via Variety.com

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