VH1 is pushing out another stellar tribute for Salt-N-Pepa at this year’s Hip Hop Honors. The network announced on Friday (July 8) that Ashanti, Amber Rose, Keke Palmer and Dreezy will be paying homage to the first all-female rap crew, comprised of Cheryl “Salt” James, Sandy “Pepa” Denton and DJ Spinderella.
The ladies will be shaking their thang (SNP pun intended) alongside other surprise guests for the evening’s tributes to fellow honorees Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah and Lil’ Kim. As previously announced, Pharrell, Timbaland and Nelly Furtado among others will salute Elliot while Common, Da Brat, Naughty By Nature and more will be on-hand to hail Queen Latifah.
According to Variety.com, Academy Award-winning rapper and actor Common is set to star in a television adaptation of “Black Samurai.” The TV project is based on Marc Olden’s 1974 book series, which inspired the 1977 film of the same name. Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA is attached as an executive producer. Producers are working on selling the project to a distributor. Once a network, cable or streaming venue is attached, the search for a writer and director will begin.
“Black Samurai” follows the story of Robert Sand (played by Common) who is rescued by a Japanese samurai master and trained for seven years. After suffering from vicious racism in the military, and seeing his teacher and fellow samurai killed before his eyes by terrorists, Robert Sand becomes a killing machine, out to destroy the corrupt powers who had taken the lives of his friends.
Producer Andre Gaines acquired rights to the book, and is executive producing the potential series, making it the first television show developed under his Cinemation banner.
“Robert Sand is like black Jason Bourne. Black Samurai is one of the most unique, timely and fun experiences I’ve ever read, while at the same time tackling some serious subjects around race and diversity,” said Gaines. “With ‘John Wick 2’ and ‘Suicide Squad’ coming up, Common was an obvious choice for the role, and I’m thrilled to have him on board. I believe he’s the next great American actor.”
Along with Gaines and RZA, Wu Films’ Mitchell Diggs and Diane Crafford are also exec producing. “I could not be more pleased that such incredible talent is attached to Marc’s work,” said Crafford. “This series has always been one of my favorites and Robert Sand, the Black Samurai, is a fascinating character who I can’t wait to see brought to life on the screen.”
Speaking of RZA, Gaines commented, “There is a long tradition and storied relationship between hip-hop and martial arts. Having RZA and the WuTang brand on board to executive produce will validate the series even more and mobilize the fans.”
Aside from “Suicide Squad” and “John Wick 2,” Common’s acting career is on fire. He was recently seen in the latest “Barbershop” film and NBC’s “The Wiz Live” musical.
It’s Also the Most-Tweeted Live Special Program on Record
Two years after NBC stunned the industry with huge ratings for its live presentation of “The Sound of Music,” the network was back at it Thursday night with “The Wiz Live,” which drew impressive numbers of its own. The event also set a Nielsen Twitter record as most social live special program in the more than four years of tracking such numbers.
Despite facing a highly-rated NFL game on CBS, last night’s live musical, whose all-star cast included Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Ne-Yo, Amber Riley, Uzo Aduba, Stephanie Mills and David Alan Grier, averaged a 3.4 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 and about 11.5 million viewers overall from 8 to 10:45 p.m., according to preliminary Nielsen estimates. The only NBC entertainment series to fare better this fall is “The Voice,” whose season premiere averaged a 3.5/11 in 18-49 and 12.37 million.
According to Nielsen, roughly 269,400 people send 1.6 million tweets about “The Wiz Live!” on Thursday night and 6.4 million people saw those tweets a total of 128.9 million times. Last night’s production more than tripled the number of tweets for either “Sound of Music” (449,536) or “Peter Pan” (474,735).
Last night during the 8-11 p.m. EST window, global digital marketing technology company Amobee Brand Intelligence said “The Wiz Live!” attracted 1.374 million tweets during its three-hour telecast window — more than four times the number generated last year during the live telecast of “Peter Pan Live” (360,000). Roughly 30% of the sentiment was positive, 58% neutral and 13% negative — meaning the Twitter sentiment was 133% more positive than negative around the broadcast. Shanice Williams, the 19-year-old actress playing Dorothy, scored especially well, with only 2% of the sentiment surrounding her performance considered negative.
As expected, “The Wiz Live!” fared especially well in markets with large African-American populations. While the overall household average in Nielsen’s 56 metered markets was 7.9, the top scores came in Richmond (16.1), Norfolk (15.0), Baltimore (14.8), Washington, D.C. (13.2) and Atlanta (13.2). Joining D.C. and Atlanta as top-10 markets soaring above the national average were Philadelphia (10.3), New York (10.2) and Chicago (10.0).
NEW YORK — When “The Wiz Live!” airs on NBC this Thursday, it will come alive for the blind with a voiced description of the broadcast’s sights and action integrated into its soundtrack.
NBC parent Comcast says this will be the first live entertainment program in U.S. history to be accessible in this way to those who are blind. The vocal description is a narration track interspersed between existing pauses in dialogue that describes the show’s visual elements such as facial expressions, settings, costumes and stage direction.
This enhanced broadcast of “The Wiz Live!” will be a pilot program available on local NBC stations where SAP (Second Audio Program) feeds are available. The service will be provided by Descriptive Video Works, which has provided more than 1,000 hours of live description for certain news and sports events.
“The Wiz Live!” premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. EST, with stars including Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, David Alan Grier, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley, Uzo Aduba and Common, as well as Shanice Williams as the young heroine, Dorothy.
WGN America just released a chilling first-look teaser for Underground, the upcoming original scripted series scheduled to debut early next year. The dramatakes center stage as plantation slaves band together in the fight of their lives for their families, their future … and most importantly, their freedom.
Hailing from Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios, Underground was filmed in Baton Rouge, LA. John Legend and his production company are in charge of the score and soundtrack for Underground.
Legend most recently won an Oscar alongside rapper Common for Best Original Song “Glory” from Selma.
Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Jussie Smollett, Christopher Meloni, Aldis Hodge, Adina Porter, Alano Miller, and Mykelti Williamson round out the cast for the series.
Common has been acting for a while (“Selma”, “Now You See Me”, “Just Wright”, “Single Ladies”, “American Gangster”) , and now he’s starting to get in the game behind the scenes too. According to reports, Showtime picked up an untitled drama from Common, who will be producing a scripted drama with Lena Waithe, who is one of the producers of Dear White People.
The show will be a coming-of-age drama that will explore the life of a young African-American male, in which simply growing up can be a matter of life and death. Waithe will write the script and executive produce the Fox 21 drama along with Common.
“The two creative forces behind the show, both hailing from Chicago’s South Side, give this pilot an unparalleled authenticity. Lena Waithe is an extremely fresh, talented young writer with a unique voice and a deeply thoughtful perspective into the world where she grew up. I immediately gravitated to her script, which is emotional, funny, tragic and relevant, all at once. And, we are so fortunate to have artist and visionary Common for his first producing project in scripted television,” said Showtime president David Nelson in a statement.
I get the feeling that this story will be loosely based on Common’s own life growing up in Chicago. It’s cool that cable networks are starting to get more on board with diversity in TV programming.
WINSTON-SALEM — Award-winning hip-hop recording artist and actor Common encouraged nearly 1,000 graduating students from Winston-Salem State University to follow and trust in their paths to achieve their dreams.
“You want to surround yourself with people who believe in your path,” Common said Friday. “Belief is contagious. As you climb up the mountain, it will be difficult at times.”
Common, who was born Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., was the keynote speaker at WSSU’s graduation ceremony, which was held at Bowman Gray Stadium before about 12,000 people.
During his 27-minute speech, Common talked about his career as an actor, author and a hip-hop artist.
He mixed humor with his remarks that elicited laughter from the crowd. Some women in the audience screamed as he spoke.
He told the graduates that he was inspired by NBA star Michael Jordan, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, President Barack Obama and Jesus.
Common said he learned as a youth playing for a basketball team in Chicago that he had to practice and work hard to achieve greatness. Common said he dropped out of college to pursue a career as a hip-hop artist over the objection of his mother.
“I had found my path,” he said. “This voice of hip-hop would take me around the world.”
Common released his first album, “Can I borrow a Dollar,” in 1992, and he has since recorded nine others.
Common, 43, won a Grammy Award in 2003 for his song, “Love of My Life,” with singer-songwriter Erykah Badu. Common won a second Grammy for his 2007 album, “Southside.” He’s also a noted social activist.
During his speech, a young woman yelled to Common from the grandstand: “Here’s your wife.” Common replied, “Where are you; I want to meet you.”
The crowd laughed at the exchange.
Common told the graduating students they will face challenges in their lives, and they will not achieve their goals as quickly as they want. “If you see the mountaintop, you know you will get there,” he said.
After his speech, the WSSU Choir and Symphonic Band performed the song “Glory” from the 2014 movie “Selma.” The song, by Common and singer John Legend, won the Academy Award in February for Best Original Song.
Afterward, WSSU Chancellor Elwood Robinson presented Common with an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Common said he appreciated receiving the degree. “This is one of the best days of my life to get this honor for you all,” Common said. “I’m grateful. I got a doctorate.”
Common has committed to star in the ensemble cast of Barbershop 3, the MGM sequel that New Line will distribute. He joins Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainer, who are reprising their roles from the first two movies, and The Best Man franchise director Malcolm D. Lee, who’s helming. Cube Vision is producing and MGM will run production. Bob Teitel and George Tillman Jr. of State Street Pictures are the lead producers. The script is by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver.
Common has been busy since winning the Oscar for Best Original Song in the film Selma. He is starring in the Rob Reiner-directed Being Charlie as well as the David Ayer-directed Suicide Squad and the Martin Campbell-directed Hunter Killer.
Last night’s NAACP Image Awards was nothing but pure glam. Celebrities slayed on the red carpet while host Anthony Anderson kept the crowd laughing all night. But it was the winners who had us buzzing.
After being snubbed in the Academy Award race, Selma was the clear-cut winner in the film categories, snagging the award for Outstanding Motion Picture, Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture (David Oyelowo), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (Common) and Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture (Carmen Ejogo).
“We did this movie because we wanted to tell their story—our story,” said Selma producer Oprah Winfrey in her acceptance speech.
Meanwhile, “Blackish” swept the television categories, taking home all the top honors for comedy series, beating out shows like “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Lies.” The show won Best Comedy Series as well as the awards for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series (Anthony Anderson), Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series (Tracee Ellis Ross), Oustanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy (Laurence Fishburne) and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Yara Shahidi).
Shonda Rhimes‘ “How to Get Away with Murder” won for Outstanding Drama Series, and its star, Viola Davis, won for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series.
In the music categories, Pharrell Williams won for Outstanding Male Artist while Beyoncé won for Outstanding Female Artist. Taraji P. Henson took home the Image Award for Oustanding Actress in a Motion Picture for her role in No Good Deed, and Belle won for Outstanding Independent Motion Picture.