Producer/director Ava DuVernay is working with Netflix on a Prince documentary, two sources have confirmed to Variety. The project has the full cooperation of the late artist’s estate, which is providing with interviews, archival footage and photos. The multiple-part documentary will cover the artist’s entire life.
While renowned for her work on “Selma,” “Queen Sugar” and others, DuVernay made her big-screen debut in 2008 with “This Is the Life,” which chronicled the alternative hip-hop scene in Los Angeles in the 1990s.
A source also said that a documentary about Prince and the Revolution’s legendary concert at Minneapolis’ First Avenue in August of 1983 has landed at Apple Music. The show featured the premieres of several songs that would appear on the “Purple Rain” album and film nearly a year later, and, in fact, the album versions of three of those songs were recorded at the show (albeit with overdubs added later). The concert marked the debut of guitarist Wendy Melvoin and the “Purple Rain”-era incarnation of the Revolution.
Video and audio recordings from the concert and its rehearsals have been circulating on bootleg for many years, and feature a longer take of “Purple Rain” with an additional, seemingly ad-libbed verse that was dropped from the official version. Another song from the concert, “Electric Intercourse,” was originally mooted for the album but was replaced by the similar but superior song, “The Beautiful Ones.” A studio version of “Electric Intercourse” was finally released on the “Purple Rain” deluxe edition in 2017, although many fans consider the live version to be better.
Apple and Oprah Winfrey have a signed a multi-year content partnership. Under the deal, Winfrey and Apple will create programs that will be released as part of Apple’s original content lineup.
The deal marks one of the first such agreements struck between Apple and a content creator. This is also the latest addition to Winfrey’s media empire. The former hit talk show host formed her own cable network, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, in 2011 in partnership with Discovery Communications. The channel has become one of the fastest-growing cable networks among women and has produced hit shows like “Queen Sugar,” which boasts Oscar nominee Ava DuVernay as showrunner.
Winfrey recently extended her contract with Discovery through 2025. Sources tell Variety that Apple’s deal with Winfrey does not conflict with the Discovery agreement. Winfrey remains exclusive in an on-screen capacity to OWN with limited carve-outs, such as her role as a correspondent for CBS’ “60 Minutes” and her recent acting work for HBO.
Via her Harpo Productions banner, Winfrey has also developed several long-running hit syndicated shows including “Dr. Phil,” “The Dr. Oz Show” and “Rachael Ray.” Through her Harpo Films, she has produced several Academy Award-winning features including “Selma,” which was directed by DuVernay. Winfrey also had a featured role in that film, and recently starred in other films like “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” and HBO’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”
Winfrey also runs O, The Oprah Magazine and published the New York Times best-selling cookbook “Food, Health and Happiness” last year. As a noted philanthropist, Winfrey has contributed more than $100 million to provide education to academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2017.
Even before the Oprah deal, Apple has a robust slate of originals prepared to launch. In addition to the previously mentioned morning show drama, the streamer is prepping shows like a reboot of Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories,” a psychological thriller series from executive producer M. Night Shyamalan, the true crime podcast drama series “Are You Sleeping?” starring Octavia Spencer and Aaron Paul, and an Emily Dickinson series starring Hailee Steinfeld among many others.
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.
“Black Panther” continues to dominate the North-American box office for the fourth weekend in a row, earning $41.1 million , according to Variety.com. In second place is the Ava DuVernay‘s family-friendly fantasy adventure “A Wrinkle in Time” with $33.5 million, not only giving Disney the two top movies for the weekend, but the first weekend in box office history where the top two movies are directed by African-Americans.
With $562 million in 24 days, “Black Panther” is now the seventh-highest domestic grosser of all time. It’s the first film since “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” to lead the North American box office for four straight weekends and it’s grossed $1.08 billion worldwide, 21st highest of all time. The Ryan Coogler tentpole is the 33rd movie to gross $1 billion. It’s the 16th Disney film to reach this milestone, and the fifth Marvel film to do so — joining the ranks of “The Avengers,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Iron Man 3,” and “Captain America: Civil War.”
“As we radically reimagine Hollywood, it is critically important that young people are included in our vision,” Ava DuVernay said today at the unveiling of the Evolve Entertainment Fund in Los Angeles.
“Real change happens when we take tangible action, and that means giving young women and people of color opportunities in the industry early on so they have the chance to shape its future,” the A Wrinkle on Time director and ARRAY founder added of the new partnership between the City of L.A, studios, networks and nonprofits that seeks to provide placement in the industry for those traditionally left on the outside.
“What is one thing that people can do to instigate inclusion on film set? Hire a woman,” Oscar nominee DuVernay also made a point of noting. “Films directed by women have 76% percent more inclusion across people of color and women.”
Teaming-up with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Issa Rae Productions, Dan Lin’s Rideback, ARRAY, WME, Netflix, HBO, Film Independent, CAA, UTA, Anonymous Content, Lionsgate, Charles D King’s MACRO, Oprah Winfrey Network, the Sundance Institute, Shondaland, Ryan Murphy, Innovative Artists and Warner Bros, among others, the EEF intends to raise over $5 million to fund programs up to and beyond 2020.
Taylor Richardson, a 14-year-old aspiring astronaut from Jacksonville, Fla., exceeded her goal of raising money to send 1,000 girls to see the upcoming film A Wrinkle In Time. As of press time, her GoFundMe page for the goal has raised $17,455 of her $15,000 goal.
“This campaign is so very important to me because it will give me the opportunity to change not only girls perception of STEM [science, technology, engineering, mathematics] and space exploration but boys as well,” explains Richardson in her original post about her goal.
A Wrinkle In Time stars Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon, and is directed byAva DuVernay. The story tells the tale of a young girl, her friend and her brother, who are transported through time and space to a new world to rescue the girl’s father, a scientist who is being held prisoner on another planet.
Richardson was recently named a member of Teen Vogue’s Class of 2017 21 under 21 for girls who are changing the world. The self-proclaimed “STEMinist” recently attended the publication’s first ever Teen Vogue Summit in Los Angeles, and also spoke on the panel of TEDxFSCJ [Florida State College at Jacksonville] Salon: Rediscovering Space. Last year, Richardson raised money to have 1,000 girls see the science film, Hidden Figures.
“This campaign [“Send 1,000 Girls To Wrinkle In Time”] means a lot to me because it shows a female protagonist in a science fiction film,” she wrote in her most recent update. “Girls will know that the possibility of going into space, exploring other planets, being rocket scientists, engineers, mathematicians and astronauts for them is not that it is limited but limitless!”
The winners of the 49th NAACP Image Awards were announced last night during the live broadcast from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium which aired on TV One. The two-hour live special was hosted by Anthony Anderson and opened with a powerful moment in support of #TIMESUP featuring Angela Robinson, Kerry Washington, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Laverne Cox, Lena Waithe and Tracee Ellis Ross.
Ava DuVernay was honored as the NAACP Entertainer of the Year. NAACP Chairman Leon W. Russell presented the NAACP Chairman’s Award to William Lucy, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson presented the NAACP President’s Award to Danny Glover and several members of the Memphis Sanitation “I Am A Man” Workers were also in attendance – they were presented with the NAACP Vanguard Award earlier in the week during a press conference at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN.
Gap Band leader Charlie Wilson was honored with the Music Makes a Difference honor which is bestowed upon an individual within the recording industry who has achieved worthwhile success and inspiration for civic engagement, criminal justice, education, economic opportunity, or criminal justice.
“Girls Trip” triumphed as the winner in the Outstanding Motion Picture category, and picked up a second award for its breakout star Tiffany Haddish in the Supporting Actress category.
Jordan Peele‘s horror opus “Get Out” received three awards, including Best Actor honors for lead Daniel Kaluuya, and Best Director and Best Writing wins for Peele. “Black-ish” took home the award for best television series, while host Anderson won Best Actor, Tracee Ellis Ross repeated as Best Actress and Marsai Martin won for Best Supporting Actress in a TV series.
In recording, Bruno Mars took home awards for Outstanding Male Artist, Outstanding Music Video/Visual Album and Outstanding Song – Traditional for “That’s What I Like.” Kendrick Lamar owned the Outstanding Album, Outstanding Song – Contemporary and Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration categories (the latter with Rihanna).
The winners of the 49th NAACP Image Awards in the non-televised categories were announced during a gala dinner celebration that took place Sunday, January 14, 2018, at the Pasadena Conference Center – the event was hosted by The Real’sAdrienne Houghton, Loni Love, Jeannie Mai and Tamera Mowry-Housley.
The NAACP Image Awards is the premiere multicultural awards show. It celebrates the accomplishments of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature and film, and also honors individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors.
Jay Z released his video for his single “Family Feud” last night exclusively on Tidal, although it was more than a standard music video premiere. Much like anything else he and Beyoncé create, it was a cultural event to punctuate 2017 with the most inclusive, woke A-list cast you will ever see in a music video.
Helmed by Ava DuVernay, the seven-minute-plus video is a short film, serves up some sci-fi, futuristic realness that can very well be a taste of what’s to come in the celebrated director’s adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. Joining JayZ, Beyoncé and the heiress to their throne, Blue Ivy, includes an inspiring roster of actors from every part of the color spectrum: Michael B. Jordan, Trevante Rhodes, Thandie Newton, Jessica Chastain, Irene Bedard, Omari Hardwick, David Oyelowo, Emayatzy Corinealdi, AmericaFerrera, Aisha Hinds, Henry G. Sanders, and Storm Reid — who is the star of Wrinkle in Time. Rounding out the cast is the “founding mothers”, which feature Mindy Kaling, Rashida Jones, Rosario Dawson, Janet Mock, Brie Larson, Constance Wu, Niecy Nash, and Susan Kelechi Watson, who, as the video shows, are different women from all walks of life who are enlisted to change the country’s constitution.
Even though there is a cinematic scope to the video, which was co-written by Jay-Z and DuVernay, it is highly personal for the Grammy-nominated rapper, who uses the track from his critically acclaimed 4:44 album to confess his sins to his wife and all-around queen of everything, Beyoncé. Where Beyoncé used her visual album, Lemonade as a platform for working through her personal issues with Jay-Z, he used 4:44 to respond and tell his side of the story. In other words, it’s an artistic way of saying, “Yea, I messed up.”
Jay’s track serves as an atonement and one key lyric sets the tone for the short film: “nobody wins when the family feuds.” Of course, he is referring to his familial relationships, but it goes beyond that and applies it to feuding within the country and the world. There’s layers of meaning in the short that starts off with a poignant James Baldwin quote and goes into a Godfather-meets-Game of Thrones scene, moments of war, moments reflecting today’s volatile political climate, and a group of empowering females looking to build a utopian rather than dystopian future.
DuVernay took to Twitter to share her thoughts, inspiration and behind-the-scenes photos from the video.
According to billboard.com, DoSomething.org’s annual Celebs Gone Good list for 2017 is topped by Chicago artist and philanthropist Chance The Rapper. Chano is s followed by Arianna Grande, Rihanna, and Colin Kaepernick. Nicki Minaj and Ava DuVernay also appear, making their debuts on the list. The list recognizes celebrities who used their impact to affect social change in the world, as they helped raise awareness for causes such as mental health, education, gun violence, LGBTQ, sexual assault, hurricane/disaster relief and the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
The organization also selected eight Celebs to Watch in 2018, featuring young talent who give back. Teen actress Skai Jackson and Beyonce’s protégé Chloe X Halle made the cut, by inspiring young women and speaking out about women’s rights and bullying. Halima Aden also made the list for promoting diversity in the fashion industry, becoming the first hijab-wearing fashion model.
The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) has named Get Out writer-director Jordan Peele and ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey among the recipients of its special achievement honors.
Alcon Entertainment’s co-CEOs Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove and Los Angeles Film Festival president Claudia Puig will also be recognized at AAFCA’s special achievement luncheon in 2018, which along with its annual awards ceremony will be a “Celebration of Women in Cinema.” The success of female-helmed films this year, from big-budget features including Patty Jenkins‘ Wonder Woman to Dee Rees‘ anticipated Mudbound (which recently screened at New York Film Festival), has inspired AAFCA — the largest group of black film critics — to proclaim 2017 the “Year of the Woman in Cinema.”
The organization stated that with films including The Zookeeper’s Wife, A United Kingdom, Detroit and The Beguiled, “women are rightfully being recognized for their long overdue equity in potential for quality, successful filmmaking.” “There is no argument that women have made a bold step forward this year in Hollywood,” says AAFCA president Gil Robertson, who co-founded the organization in 2003 with Shawn Edwards. “The evidence demonstrated during the past year speaks for itself both in terms of box office and critical recognition by women, and we predict that there will be continued momentum going forward. We are also pleased that African American women are a part of this progress and are taking advantage of increased opportunities to make their cinematic imprint.”
The organization also said that future projects, including Ava DuVernay‘s A Wrinkle in Time in March 2018, show that women and African American directors are heading toward a normalcy in getting more big-screen opportunities. “Women wrote, produced and directed some of the year’s most compelling, provocative and culturally relevant movies,” adds Edwards. “However, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that women have a permanent place at the table with equal representation.”
In addition to the AAFCA special achievement luncheon on Feb. 3 in Marina del Rey, Calif., the organization’s annual awards program will take place on Feb. 7 at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood.