Jordan Peele and ABC President Channing Dungey to Be Honored by African American Film Critics Association

Filmmaker Jordan Peele (l), ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey (r) [photo credit: Getty Images via hollywoodreporter.com]

by Arlene Washington via hollywoodreporter.com

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 JenkinsWonder 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.

Source: Jordan Peele, ABC’s Channing Dungey to Be Feted by AAFCA | Hollywood Reporter

Jamila Hunter Named New Head of Comedy at ABC

Jamila Hunter ABC comedy

Jamila Hunter, New Head of ABC Comedy (PHOTO COURTESY ABC)

article by Elizabeth Wagmeister via Variety.com

ABC has named Jamila Hunter senior vice president of comedy, Variety has learned.

Hunter’s promotion follows the exit of longtime head of comedy Samie Falvey, who recently departed for AwesomenessTV where she is now head of content.

In her new position, Hunter — previously ABC’s vice president of comedy — will manage the network’s comedy department, heading development and production of all comedy pilots.

“As one of our industry’s most accomplished executives, Jamila has been instrumental in ABC’s comedy resurgence. She brings a unique perspective to this important role, and I’m thrilled to have her leading our efforts,” said ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey, to whom Hunter will report.

Hunter commented: “I’m honored to join Channing’s senior leadership team. Over the years, our network has built a strong comedy brand featuring unique, culturally relevant shows. I’m excited by this new opportunity and looking forward to working with my talented colleagues at ABC as we continue this tradition.”

Hunter became vice-president of ABC comedy in 2011. Over the past five years in that position, she has worked on “Black-ish,” “Fresh Off The Boat,” “The Real O’Neals” and Tim Allen’s “Last Man Standing.” In late 2015, her role was expanded with multi-platform comedy development added to her purview, thus working with talent who develop and produce original short-form content for ABC’s app, plus collaborating with the net’s digital team on marketing and launching each digital series.

Prior to ABC, Hunter was part of the creative team that launched Oprah Winfrey’s OWN, and before that, was senior vice president of alternative and digital programming NBC.

To read more, go to: http://variety.com/2016/tv/news/jamila-hunter-head-of-comedy-abc-network-1201881702/

ABC Renews ‘Scandal,’ ‘How to Get Away With Murder’, ‘Black-ish’ and More for 2016/2017 Season

Scandal

Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in “Scandal” (photo via blogs.indiewire.com)

article by Tambay A. Obenson via Shadow And Act

New ABC president Channing Dungey, who replaces exiting Paul Lee (making her the first African American to not only head ABC, but a major TV network) is already making her presence felt a mere 2 weeks into the job, announcing today the early renewals of a handful of ABC series.

Of note, “Scandal” will return for a 6th season (recall the show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes, said that she knows exactly how and when it will end, adding that it would be a 6 or 7 season series, at most. So can we assume that “Scandal” is near its end, now that it’s been renewed for a 6th season?); Also “How to Get Away With Murder” has been renewed for a 3rd season; and “Black-ish” will get a 3rd season.

Also renewed are: “Agents of SHIELD,” “Dancing With the Stars,” “Modern Family,” “Quantico,” “The Goldbergs,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Fresh Off the Boat,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Shark Tank,” and “The Bachelor.”

No announcement on the fate of John Ridley‘s critically-acclaimed anthology series “American Crime,” unfortunately. Although it’s still early, so I wouldn’t count it out yet.

Ridley is working on another series for the network. In December, ABC gave an early pilot order to a new crime drama from Ridley titled “Presence,” with the 2016/2017 season eyed for a premiere – assuming it goes to series eventually.

To read more, go to: http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/abc-renews-scandal-how-to-get-away-with-murder-black-ish-and-more-for-2016-2017-season-20160303

“Alias” Actress Merrin Dungey Joins ABC Pilot “Conviction”

merrin dungey conviction pilot

“Alias” actress Merrin Dungey (Photo Credit: Peter Brooker/REX SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Laura Prudom via Variety.com

“Alias” actress Merrin Dungey has joined the cast of ABC drama pilot “Conviction.”  The pilot centers around a young attorney (Hayley Atwell), the brilliant but ne’er-do-well daughter of a former U.S. president, who is blackmailed into taking a job as the head of Los Angeles’ newly created Conviction Integrity Unit.

She, along with her team of lawyers, investigators and forensic experts, work together to examine cases where there’s credible suspicion that the wrong person may have been convicted of a crime.

Dungey will play Maxine, the lead investigator for the Conviction Integrity Unit. Maxine is a former NYPD detective from a cop family who is described as being tough and no-nonsense. She’ll find her previously unfailing loyalty to the badge tested as she delves into her former colleagues’ cases.

Dungey will next be seen in HBO’s limited series “Big Little Lies,” starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, and has recently appeared on ABC drama “Once Upon a Time” and Fox comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” She’s the sister of newly promoted ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey, who replaced outgoing ABC topper Paul Lee earlier this month.

 

To read more, go to: http://variety.com/2016/tv/news/conviction-merrin-dungey-abc-pilot-1201718659/

 

Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes Join Essence to Celebrate Black Women in Hollywood, Honor Debbie Allen

Honoree Debbie Allen and family (photo via blackamericaweb.com)

article by Sandy Cohen, AP via blackamericaweb.com

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Oscar host Chris Rock, producer Reginald Hudlin and film academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs took an afternoon off from Academy Awards preparations to celebrate black women in Hollywood.

Rock, Hudlin and Boone Isaacs were among the guests at Essence magazine’s ninth annual awards luncheon Thursday at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Rock and Boone Isaacs didn’t speak publicly; Hudlin took the stage to present an award to legendary entertainer Debbie Allen.

The annual Essence event celebrates the achievements of black women in entertainment. Actress Tracee Ellis Ross, entertainment attorney Nina Shaw and filmmaker Thais Francis were also recognized.

Francis thanked the magazine “for creating a platform of visibility.”

“A lot of us in this audience know the importance of visibility, especially during a time, in a society, in a world, in an industry that’s telling us that we’re invisible,” she said.

Shonda Rhimes, who introduced Allen as the new producing director of “Grey’s Anatomy,” called the writer-director-choreographer-performer “a force of nature.”

Producer/writer Shonda Rhimes attends the Essence 9th Annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision/AP)

Shonda Rhimes (photo via blackamericaweb.com)

“Debbie blows through an environment and changes the landscape forever,” Rhimes said.

As Allen accepted the Legend Award, she said she felt like she was in church, preaching to her sisters.

“The only plate I’m going to pass is the plate of purpose,” she said, urging the women in the audience to make real connections with each other — not just to meet up for drinks, but to work on ways of changing the world.

Shaw gave similar advice as she accepted the Power Award. The attorney for such entertainers as Laurence Fishburne, Lupita Nyong’o and Ava DuVernay was introduced by Nick Cannon and Channing Dungey, who became the first African-American to head a broadcast network when she was named president of ABC Entertainment last week.

“If you are a woman who wants to be empowered, then empower other women,” Shaw said.

“Black-ish” star Ross, accompanied by her father and older sister, Rhonda, accepted the Fierce and Fearless award. Ross said she had been sick for the past week and worried she wouldn’t be able to attend the luncheon.

“I got dressed in the car,” she said. “I’m unclear if what I’m wearing is see-through. If it is, I’m sorry.”  She said the recognition from Essence “is truly one of the proudest moments I’ve experienced.”

Oprah Winfrey opened the program, which will air Saturday on OWN.

To read more, go to: http://blackamericaweb.com/2016/02/26/oprah-winfrey-shonda-rhimes-join-essence-to-celebrate-black-women-in-hollywood-honor-debbie-allen/

Channing Dungey Makes TV History, Becomes 1st African-American Network President

Channing Dungey

New ABC President Channing Dungey (photo via eurweb.com)

article via eurweb.com

Television history and black history has crossed paths today.

Channing Dungey, executive VP of drama at ABC, was today named entertainment president of ABC, replacing Paul Lee, who was removed after a reported power struggle with Disney/ABC Television President Ben Sherwood, according to reports.

Dungey is now the first African-American woman to lead a major broadcast network. The ABC veteran, known by industry insiders as the Shonda Rhimes’ whisperer, will now report directly to Sherwood.

“Channing is a gifted leader and a proven magnet for top creative talent, with an impressive record of developing compelling, breakthrough programming that resonates with viewers,” said Sherwood. “We thank Paul for his many accomplishments at ABC and his devotion to the ABC brand, and we wish him continued success in the future.”

Dungey, a UCLA grad who’s been with the network since 2009 (and Disney since 2004), is credited with developing many of ABC’s successful dramas, including “Scandal,” “Quantico,” “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” and “American Crime,” according to Variety.

Said Dungey, “I’m thrilled and humbled that Ben has entrusted me with this tremendous opportunity. And I am truly grateful to Paul for being a valued mentor and friend. I’ve had the great honor of working alongside the talented team at ABC for many years and look forward to starting this exciting new chapter with them.”

Dungey began her career as a development assistant at 20th Century Fox-based Davis Entertainment, and did stints at other companies including Steamroller Productions and Warner Bros.

Read more at http://www.eurweb.com/2016/02/apollonia-calls-vanitys-death-the-end-of-an-era-for-me/#Ff0TQ4cW3ec6B2x4.99

Networks Casting More Actors of Color This Pilot Season

More Minority Actors Showing Up on

ABC knew going in to the casting process for its drama pilot “Runner” that it was looking for a Latino leading man, as specified in the script. But the female lead role had no racial or ethnic specificity.

Paula Patton, an African-American actress, landed the role of a woman whose life is ripped apart when she learns her husband, played by Adam Rodriguez, is wrapped up in a Mexican gun-running cartel.

“Runner” is but one example this pilot season of a surge of minority actors landing starring roles in prospective new series. Industry insiders say there’s an undeniable openness to African-American, Latino and Asian thesps on the heels of the success ABC and Fox have had with shows led by diverse casts.

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TV executives have talked for years about the need for the airwaves to reflect the growing cultural diversity of America. But the 2014-15 television season has marked a turning point in the embrace of diversity as a business strategy. Fox has fielded the biggest network TV hit in years with “Empire,” a soap with a largely African-American cast. ABC has scored with Viola Davis leading “How to Get Away With Murder” and the family comedies “Blackish” and “Fresh Off the Boat.”

Such hits prove that broadcast TV in particular can no longer afford to ignore the value of discrete racial and ethnic groups. The role of  “How to Get Away With Murder’s” Annalise Keating was not specifically envisioned for an African-American actress, but the casting of Davis undoubtedly helped generate sampling among black viewers — a demographic group that has boosted the overall turnout for the show.

ABC’s success this season “proves the point that audiences are hungry for shows that are well done but also reflect the world around us,” said Channing Dungey, executive VP of drama development, movies and miniseries for ABC. “It’s not about just diversity, it’s about authenticity. Audiences are really excited to see more of themselves on the screen.”

“Runner” is an example of how this pilot season, minority actors are much more in demand than they have been in the recent past. And with “Black-ish” and “Fresh Off the Boat” drawing crossover demographics, there’s a greater appetite for shows with ethnically specific settings.

“It’s been interesting to see how much more competitive it is with diverse actors and actresses now,” said Dungey, who added that she is proud ABC helped lead the way, not just with “Murder” but with the blossoming of Kerry Washington and “Scandal” into the first successful drama in decades led by an African-American actress.

“The thing I really hope is that this isn’t a passing phase,” Dungey said. “I’m hoping this is a trend that will continue.”

article by Cynthia Littleton via Variety.com