A planned “Bad Boys” spinoff series starring Gabrielle Union has landed at NBC with a pilot production commitment. Union will star as Syd Burnett, her character from “Bad Boys 2,” who was last seen in Miami taking down a drug cartel. As an LAPD detective, she can now pursue all the pleasures Los Angeles has to offer and leave her past behind. But things will get complicated when her new partner, Nancy McKenna, learns that Syd’s unapologetic lifestyle may be masking a greater personal secret.
Union will also serve as an executive producer in addition to starring. The drama series will be written and executive produced by Brandon Sonnier and Brandon Margolis, who previously worked together on NBC’s “The Blacklist.” Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced the “Bad Boys” films, will executive produce along with Jonathan Littman, KristieAnne Reed, Jeff Gaspin, Jeff Morrone, Doug Belgrad.
Sony Pictures Television Studios will produce in association with Jerry Bruckheimer Television, Primary Wave Entertainment, and 2.0 Entertainment. News of the development of this series comes as Union prepares to wrap up her role in BET’s “Being Mary Jane,” which wrapped up its fourth season in September. Union stars as successful broadcast journalist Mary Jane Paul. The network announced that the show will end its run in 2018 with a two-hour finale movie.
OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) has given a series order to “Love Is __,” a new drama from Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil. The Akils will create and executive produce the series through their company Akil Productions. Mara Brock Akil will serve as show runner. The series, which had previously been in development at ABC as a multi-camera comedy, will be produced in association with Warner Horizon. It is slated to premiere in 2018.
“I’ve dreamed of working with the Akils,” said Oprah Winfrey. “I’ve been a huge fan of their work since first viewing ‘Girlfriends.’ They know just how to hit the cultural nerve to make you think and laugh at the same time.”
“To have a partner that brings the attention to detail and sheer excellence that Oprah has built an empire on is an absolute dream come true for Salim and me,” said Mara Brock Akil. “That, and it’s Oprah! ‘Love Is ___’ is not only a passion project, but is a personal one for us as well. We’re grateful to have her wholehearted support and magic touch behind this story.”
Based on the Akils’ relationship, the series will tell the story of a power couple navigating the landscape of Black Hollywood. Mara Brock Akil is the creator of “Girlfriends” and “Being Mary Jane.” She and husband Salim Akil, director of the film “Jumping the Broom,” co-created “The Game.” The two are executive producers of the CW’s upcoming DC Comics-based superhero series “Black Lightning,” on which Salim Akil serves as showrunner.
Legendary actress Cicely Tyson is adding more awards to her repertoire.
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Incorporated (CBCF) recently announced that the 91-year-old actress will be a recipient of a lifetime achievement award in the arts. Tyson will also be joined by “Being Mary Jane” actor Richard Roundtree and music icon Dionne Warwick during the foundation’s 20th Annual Celebration of Leadership in the Fine Arts.
“With a lifetime of entertaining and educating us, this year’s honorees have also distinguished themselves as remarkable leaders and passionate advocates for the arts and arts education,” said CBCF president and CEO A. Shuanise Washington in a press release.
“Their outstanding contributions and continuing commitment to the arts make them ideal to help elevate the visibility of the CBC Spouses Visual and Performance Arts Scholarship Program. The awards are conferred on artists whose legacy includes not only extraordinary works but a commitment to cultivating future generations of artists.”
The awards ceremony, which will take place Sept. 14 in Washington, D.C., is organized in cooperation with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Spouses Visual and Performance Arts Scholarship program, Shadow and Act noted.
The House of Cards and How To Get Away With Murder guest star is no stranger to recognition.
During Tyson’s illustrious 65-year career, she has won an Emmy, a Tony, a SAG and a Drama Desk Award for her work in television, film and on and Off-Broadway. She has also been nominated for a Golden Globe, Academy Award and BAFTA to name a few. And just recently, it was announced that the American Theatre Wing will honor Tyson at its annual Gala September 26 at The Plaza Hotel.
When Dehanza Rogers first heard of the Four Sisters Endowed Scholarship, she wondered at the meaning of the name.
“I mean what sisters are we talking about?” she remembers thinking to herself. “It could have meant any number of things.”
Then a first-year MFA student at the UCLA School of Theater Film and Television, the 2014 graduate applied for the scholarship to help fund her thesis film years late.
But when she saw the names behind the scholarship, she knew what sistas they were actually talking about: Sara Finney-Johnson, Mara Brock Akil, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Felicia D. Henderson. From Being Mary Jane and Moesha to Love & Basketball and Soul Food: The Series, these four women have created some of the most important talking points in Black television and film lexicon.
Indeed, for decades, they have consistently been telling stories of the Black experience, navigating an industry that is notorious as much for its lack of diversity in storytelling as its storytellers. Each had her share of pushback and difficulties. And it was from these experiences that the idea —- to endow a scholarship towards filmmakers wanting to create African-American themed projects — was born. And the four friends agreed to endow it in a place that molds future industry influencers: film school.
Atlanta lived up to its reputation as the Hollywood of the South on Saturday with the advance screening of BET’s upcoming film Being Mary Jane. The movie, starring Gabrielle Union, debuts on the cable channel on July 2 at 10:30 pm. The hour-long production will serve as a teaser for the anticipated Being Mary Jane series scheduled to hit the screens in January 2014. It is just one of a handful of shows drawing attention to BET’s newfound shift towards original programming.
A protagonist who is far from perfect
Being Mary Jane, which was shot in Atlanta, revolves around the main protagonist Mary Jane Paul (played by Union), a successful talk show host, who on the surface has an enviable lifestyle. Still, her life is far from perfect.
“It’s in her [Mary Jane Paul’s] low moments where she most expresses her humanity,” said creator Mara Brock Akil in a Q&A with entertainment journalist Kelly L. Carter after the screening at the stylish W Hotel in Midtown Atlanta.