Musical artist and Academy Award nominee Queen Latifah, acclaimed artist Kerry James Marshall and Robert Smith, founder, chairman and chief executive of Vista Equity Partners are among the honorees being recognized by Harvard University this year with the W.E.B. DuBois Medal for their contributions to black history and culture.
Harvard is set to honor Latifah, Marshall, Smith, poet and educator Elizabeth Alexander, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Lonnie Bunch III, poet Rita Dove, and Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television on Oct. 22, according to Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.
Past recipients of the DuBois Medal include Dave Chappelle, Colin Kaepernick, Bryan Stevenson, Kehinde Wiley, Quincy Jones, Donna Brazile and LLCoolJ.
When Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show got canceled last year, many fans were understandably frustrated. Wilmore’s was one of only two programs in late night to feature a black host—and at the time, it was the only one with a female head writer. Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that Wilmore’s head writer herself, Robin Thede, has moved on to host her own late-night show.
The Rundown with Robin Thede premiered Thursday night on BET, and although it’s got a few kinks to work out—as any new show does—its host has already honed a distinct comedic voice and spirit. And that sensibility gives her program must-watch potential, even in its first week. Thede’s series opened with a tone-setting sketch: Thede spotting an extremely attractive man . . . who is, unfortunately, wearing a Trump/Pence T-shirt. She then embarks on an ill-fated quest to win his attention—first by wearing a Make America Great Again hat, and eventually by getting a Confederate flag tattoo on her bicep. Then she spots his wedding ring and scolds him for wasting her time before turning to her tattoo artist and asking, “Can you turn that into a Kaepernick jersey or something?”
The Rundown is true to its name; it’s a beat-by-beat recap of the week’s news, as curated by Thede and her team. Naturally, their curation yields a different mix of stories from those chosen by the various Jimmies on network TV.In her premiere episode, Thede zoomed her way through several topics, including Eminem’s anti-Trump rap, Jemele Hills’s suspension from ESPN, and a fireman who was dismissed from his predominantly black fire station after he brought a watermelon with a pink bow on it as a gift.
“It’s no surprise that Trump came for Jemele,” Thede said as she wrapped up her opening monologue. “Remember how he attacked Ms. Texas when she criticized him for not calling out the white supremacists in Charlottesville? Of course you don’t, because he didn’t. Trump likes his targets like we like our Magic Johnson theaters: black and loud.” Thede’s show is undeniably guided by her outlook as a black woman, which enables and guides her to tackle topics other programs might ignore.
As the comedian recently told Variety, “I’m going to be able to give a perspective that’s definitely not happening simply because I am a black woman, but I don’t want people to watch just because of that. If that’s the reason you tune in, that’s great, but the reason you’ll stay is because of what I’m saying,” she says. “The jokes will be pointed. The jokes will be sharp.”
Take, for example, this moment during her opening monologue, in which Thede introduced a viral video of one man’s confrontation with local police in California: “Does anyone else feel like they’re watching a magic show happen when white people interact with the cops?” Thede asked. “Well, abra kadabra, here’s a trick you haven’t seen before—and don’t worry, he lives!” The twist? The subject of the video actually was not a white man at all; he was later identified as 22-year-old Yaroub Assad. “He’s brown!” Thede said incredulously. “This cop thought he was letting a white guy work through a temper tantrum, but he was actually proving a great point: cops aren’t afraid of brown people—just brown skin.”
The Rundown could easily shoot to the top of late night’s must-watch list. Its success could come down to how the show uses its digital platform, which will likely attract fans who might not think to turn on BET for their late-night viewing. With a weekly podcast already set to launch Friday, though, it seems Thede and her staff know the game they’re playing—though as of Monday morning, it’s surprisingly difficult to find clips of the show anywhere but BET’s own Web site, which could hinder the show’s growth.
Once the network expands The Rundown’s web presence, though, it seems only a matter of time before a clip from it goes viral—which will go a long way toward establishing this show as the must-watch it looks like it’s going to be.
Chance the Rapper wants to give educators the recognition they rightfully deserve. The Chicago rapper is organizing the inaugural Twilight Awards, set to be held in June 2018. The ceremony, hosted by James Corden, will celebrate “teachers, parents, principals and students that convey leadership,” Chance said in his announcement Friday. The show will be held in his hometown and will feature guest performances.
He announced news of the show at the very end of a summit for his charity SocialWorks, during which he pledged a $2.2 million donation to 20 Chicago public schools. The summit was a Steve Jobs-inspired event where Chance gave an update on the nonprofit’s progress since he launched it a year ago. “Every contribution … brings this city and this nation closer to providing a well-rounded quality education for each and every child,” he said at the event. “Funding quality education for public [school] students is the most important investment a community can make.”
Chance is on a mission to make a positive impact on Chicago. In the past, the rapper has advocated for better opportunities for the city by meeting with the state governor, donated money and supplies to students, donated outerwear to the homeless and led a march to voting polls. The 24-year-old was honored by former First Lady Michelle Obama when he received BET’s Humanitarian Award in June. Hear his full remarks from the SocialWorks summit in the video below:
Taraji P. Henson has been tapped to host BET’s 2017 Black Girls Rock Awards honoring “Insecure” creator, writer and star Issa Rae, “Black-ish” star Yara Shahidi and others. The ceremony will take place on Aug. 5 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. Rae is set to receive the Star Power Award while actress/activist Shahidi will take home the Young Gifted and Black honor.
Other honorees include singer Roberta Flack (Living Legend Award); financier Suzanne Shank (Shot Caller Award); and community organizers Derrica Wilson and Natalie Wilson of The Black & Missing Foundation (Community Change Agent Award).
The 2017 Black Girls Rock Awards will air on BET on Aug. 20.
Today before an enthusiastic crowd of fans, New Edition members Ralph Tresvant, Ronnie DeVoe, Michael Bivens, Ricky Bell, Bobby Brown and Johnny Gill were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in California, just a day ahead of the premiere of the group’s three-part miniseries The New Edition Storyon BET.
Their 35-plus year career has seen multi-platinum album sales as well as hit singles on the R&B and Pop charts such as “Candy Girl,” “Cool It Now,” “Mr. Telephone Man,” “If It Isn’t Love,” “Can You Stand The Rain,” and “N.E. Heartbreak.” To see a promo of the miniseries in advance of its January 24th debut, click below:
To watch the Walk of Fame ceremony in its totality, click below:
“The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah will sit-down with President Barack Obama, and their “in-depth” discussion will air on Monday, Dec. 12 on multiple channels such as Comedy Central, MTV and BET.
The interview, which will take place in the White House, will not be the President’s first time on the Comedy Central show. He was interviewed by former host Jon Stewart on the program seven times. He’s also no stranger to the late-night circuit, as he’s appeared on “The Tonight Show” with both Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon, “The Colbert Report,”“The Late Show With David Letterman” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Noah has interviewed former President Bill Clinton and the former chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, John Podesta. This will be the first time Noah has interviewed President Obama.
article by Nellie Andreeva and Erik Pedersen via deadline.com
BET has set the cast for Rebel, its two-hour police-drama pilot from filmmaker John Singleton. Stage actress Danielle Moné Truitt is set as the lead, Oakland cop Rebecca “Rebel” Knight, and Breaking Bad alum Giancarlo Esposito will play her lieutenant, who’s a friend and mentor. Mykelti Williamson, Cliff “Method Man” Smith and Brandon Quinn co-star.
The show examines the unique and conflicted relationship officers of color have with their jobs at a time when police forces are rife with brutality and misconduct. Officer Cole has excelled by playing by the rules but always has known that she must be better and smarter on the job because she is both black and female. After her brother is killed by police, Rebel soon becomes disillusioned with the system and is forced to take matters into her own hands and become a private investigator and a champion for her community. Caught between family loyalty and the fraternity in blue, Rebel’s actions set in motion a cause-and-effect crisis that can’t be undone.
Williamson will play Rebel’s father Rene Knight, a strong but broken man. Although he loves his daughter dearly, he blames her for the death of her brother, Malik. Smith is TJ, Rebel’s ex-husband. They share a history in the military that bonds them for life. Although he’s moved on, there is still a lot of passion between them, and he can’t seem to stay away. Quinn will portray Rebel’s partner Thompson “Mack” McIntyre, whose decision to shoot at Rebel’s brother places him squarely between her career and her family.
Rebel is produced by MarVista Entertainment for BET and co-written, executive produced and directed by Singleton. Dallas Jackson also is an Executive Producer. Production on the two-hour pilot began this week in Los Angeles.
According to Variety.com, ABChas renewed “The View” for its 20th season, which will start in the fall of 2016, and is naming Candi Carter as the show’s executive producer effective immediately. Carter has served as the interim showrunner on “The View” since September, working with consultant Hilary Estey McLoughlin and co-executive producer Brian Teta, to help reboot the talk show, which has struggled since creator Barbara Walters retired in May 2013. Carter is the first African-American executive producer in the show’s history.
It’s been an up-and-down period for “The View,” which saw viewership decline in season 18 after Rosie O’Donnell rejoined then departed the Hot Topics seat last February, and Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace left over the summer. But the numbers have slightly improved this season to date. “The View” is ranked first in viewers (2.97 million) for the second consecutive week, and it has beat CBS’ “The Talk” in the key demographic for four of the last six weeks.
In season 19, “The View” has tried to regain heat with its panel of Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Candace Cameron-Bure, Paula Faris, Michelle Collins and Raven-Symone. The show has increased its political debates during Hot Topics and landed interviews with presidential hopefuls such as Bernie Sanders, Carly Fiorina and Martin O’Malley.
Carter spent 15 years as a supervising producer at “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and has produced for BET. “It’s an honor to be part of the extraordinary legacy built by Barbara Walters, the exceptional, funny and smart women at the table led by Whoopi Goldberg and a terrific team behind the scenes,” Carter said. “Every day is a thrill.”
On TV talk shows, the host introduces a guest, then music plays while the guest emerges from backstage. On podcasts, the etiquette is still being worked out. The host often launches into an introduction while the guest sits quietly in the same sound booth. A couple of years ago, the co-hosts of a podcast called “Alias Smith and LeRoi” began this way, speaking about their guest, the comedian Leslie Jones, as if she were not there.
“This is gonna be kind of a hot one,” Ali LeRoi said.
“I’ve been waiting to sit her ass down for a minute,” Owen Smith said. “One of the funniest women in the game.”
“Funniest comedian in the game,” Jones interrupted. “Not just woman. I hate that shit.” End of introduction.
Comedians are combatants: they “kill,” they “bomb,” they “destroy.” Such bluster can mask insecurity, and Jones had good reason to feel defensive. She was forty-six, and had been a standup comedian for more than a quarter century; her peers respected her, but that respect rarely translated into high-paying gigs. “I remember some nights where I was, like, ‘All right, this comedy shit just ain’t working out,’ ” she told me recently. “And not just when I was twenty-five. Like, when I was forty-five.” She was a woman in a field dominated by men, and an African-American in an industry that remained disturbingly segregated.
Although she had opened for Katt Williams and Dave Chappelle, acted in movies alongside Ice Cube and Martin Lawrence, recorded a standup special for Showtime, and made several appearances on HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam” and BET’s “ComicView,” she worried that the gatekeepers of mainstream comedy—bookers for the “Tonight Show,” casting directors of big-budget films—had never heard her name. “Every black comedian in the country knew what I could do,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean everyone else is paying attention.” Chris Rock, who met Jones when they were both road comics in the late eighties, told me, “Black women have the hardest gig in show business. You hear Jennifer Lawrence complaining about getting paid less because she’s a woman—if she was black, she’d really have something to complain about.”
Jones spent much of her career performing in what she calls “shitty chitlin-circuit-ass rooms, where you’re just hoping the promoter pays you.” She told me that, around 2010, “I stopped only doing black clubs. I stopped doing what I call ‘nigger nights’—the Chocolate Sundays, the Mo’ Better Mondays. I knew how to relate to that audience, and I was winning where I was, but I wasn’t moving forward.” She lived in Los Angeles at the time, and she began asking for spots at the Comedy Store, where David Letterman and Robin Williams got their starts. A comedian named Erik Marino, who befriended her there, said, “She felt very strongly that she was being pigeonholed as a black comic—a BET comic.”
For a while, Jones performed at the Store at odd hours. Then, she said, “I went to the booker and I threw the race card at him. ‘Why you won’t let me go up at ten on a Friday? ’Cause I’m black?’ ” The booker gave her a prime-time slot. “She destroyed, obviously,” Marino said. “Bookers are the ones who care about black rooms versus white rooms. To us comedians, it’s, like, if you know what you’re doing and you can connect with an audience, they’re gonna laugh.”
Rock saw Jones perform at the Store in 2012. After her set, he told her, “You were always funny, but you’re at a new level now.”
“You’re right,” she responded. “But I’m not gonna really make it unless someone like you puts me on.” Rock took out his iPhone and added her name to a list labelled “Funny people.”
I have to admit, I wasn’t planning on watching it, mainly because these days I don’t have the opportunity to view much television outside of what my 9 and 6 year-olds are viewing. If you want to ask me what’s happening on the Disney Channel or PBS Kids – I’m your woman. BET and Centric, not so much. But when I got an email from former colleague and uber-producer Debra Martin Chase announcing the premiere of her new sitcom “Zoe Ever After”, I made a point of setting my DVR to record it so I could carve out a moment to watch and support.
That moment came this morning, and I am so glad it did. “Zoe Ever After,” created and executive produced by Chase, Erica Montolfo-Bura and former “Moesha” lead Brandy Norwood (who stars in the titular role), is a delightful, smartly-written, acted and executed half-hour comedy about Zoe Moon, a woman restarting her life with a new cosmetics business, new love interests and a new parenting arrangement after filing for divorce from her famous boxer husband Gemini Moon(Dorian Missick).
Set in Manhattan,”Zoe Ever After” is actually filmed in Atlanta, but unlike some other half-hours shot there, its look and feel don’t come off as claustrophobic or cheap. The sets and visuals, though limited, are beautifully styled and on point. The costume design is equally striking, and if the show keeps it up, Brandy could add “fashion maven” to her actor/singer calling card.
But even more important than the look or basic premise is how well “Zoe” deals with its themes – the difficulty of dating after a break-up, co-parenting with an ex, the struggles of running a new business (the air conditioning breaks down in Zoe’s office and she is stubbornly against taking her ex’s help to fix it, even though the contractor he sends (Ignacio Serricchio) generates more heat than the system he’s repairing), and the internal tug-of-war that occurs when you still have feelings for the person who broke your heart.
All of the actors, including intended comic relief characters, on-a-mission-to-get-married best friend and publicist Pearl (Haneefah Wood), fashionable, openly gay assistant Valence (Tory Devon Smith) and bright, adorable son Xavier (Jaylon Gordon), make strong impressions, but Brandy in particular shines as she charmingly and believably navigates dramatic moments like where she tells her ex how he always made her feel invisible, or sillier ones where she gets pooped on by a dove (which is a clever metaphor tied to a story point, believe it or not).
The preliminary ratings and social media on “Zoe’s” debut are also strong, so BET looks to have a good compliment/counterpoint to “Real Husbands of Hollywood” on its slate, and I am personally looking forward to finding more time away from “Lab Rats” and “Arthur” to see if Zoe does indeed get her “ever after.”
“Zoe Ever After” airs Tuesdays on BET. To view the premiere episode, check your local listings or access clips via BET.com.