‘Twilight Zone’ Reboot Executive Produced by Jordan Peele Gets Greenlight at CBS

Jordan Peele (COURTESY: CBS)

by Joe Ottterson via Variety.com

“The Twilight Zone” reboot at CBS All Access has officially been ordered to series, the streaming service announced Wednesday.

Jordan Peele, Simon Kinberg and Marco Ramirez will serve as executive producers and collaborate on the premiere episode. Win Rosenfeld and Audrey Chon will also serve as executive producers. The new series will be produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions and Kinberg’s Genre Films. “Too many times this year it’s felt we were living in a twilight zone, and I can’t think of a better moment to reintroduce it to modern audiences,” said Peele.

The original “Twilight Zone,” created by Rod Serling, was an anthology series that delved into science fiction, fantasy, and horror in every episode. It aired on CBS from 1959-1964. CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves first announced plans for a new version of the series back in November. The series has been revived twice before. The first reboot premiered in 1986 on CBS and ran for 110 episodes. The second, featuring Forest Whitaker in Serling’s on-air role, premiered in 2002 on UPN and lasted 43 episodes. A 1983 feature-film version, “The Twilight Zone: The Movie,” included vignettes directed by John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller.

The news also comes after Peele made a splash in the horror genre with his box office smash hit film “Get Out” earlier this year. He is also attached as an executive producer on the anthology horror series “Lovecraft Country” currently in development at HBO.

To read full article, go to: http://variety.com/2017/tv/news/twilight-zone-reboot-cbs-all-access-jordan-peele-simon-kinberg-marco-ramirez-1202632108/

Angela Bassett Joins Cast of Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ Movie

Angela Bassett

Angela Bassett (JIM SMEAL/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Justin Kroll via Variety.com

“American Horror Story” star Angela Bassett has joined Marvel’s “Black Panther,” playing the mother of the title character.

Michael B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker, Lupita Nyong’o and “The Walking Dead’s” Danai Gurira are also part of the ensemble cast. “Creed” helmer Ryan Coogler will direct.

Chadwick Boseman will play T’Challa, the prince of the African nation of Wakanda, who must take over the throne after his father’s murder. Marvel unveiled the character in “Captain America: Civil War” last May and his standalone film hits theaters on Feb. 16, 2018.

Production is expected to start in the first quarter of 2017.  Joe Robert Cole is co-penning the script with Coogler. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is producing the movie.

This marks Bassett’s second turn down the comic book avenue having previously appeared in DC’s “Green Latern” movie starring Ryan Reynolds.

Bassett recently reprised her role as Secret Service Director Lynne Jacobs in “London Has Fallen.” On the small screen, she was just seen on “American Horror Story: Roanoke.”

To read more, go to: http://variety.com/2016/film/news/angela-bassett-cast-in-marvel-black-panther-1201923837/

TV REVIEW: “Roots”, airing Memorial Day on History Channel, A&E and Lifetime, Resonates in a Black Lives Matter Era

Malachi Kirby, center, as Kunta Kinte in “Roots.” (Credit: Casey Crafford/A+E Networks)

article by James Poniewozik via nytimes.com

The original mini-series “Roots” was about history, and it was history itself. Airing on ABC in January 1977, this generational saga of slavery was a kind of answer song to the 1976 Bicentennial celebration of the (white, often slave-owning) founding fathers. It reopened the books and wrote slaves and their descendants into the national narrative.

But as an event, it was also a chapter in that story. It shaped and was shaped by the racial consciousness of its era. It was a prime-time national reckoning for more than 100 million viewers. As a television drama, it was excellent. But as a television broadcast, it was epochal.

The four-night, eight-hour remake of “Roots,” beginning Memorial Day on History, A&E and Lifetime, is largely the same story, compressed in some places and expanded in others, with a lavish production and strong performances. It is every bit as worthy of attention and conversation. But it is also landing, inevitably, in a very different time.

Viewers who watched “Roots” four decades ago have since lived with racial narratives of moving forward and stepping back. They’ve seen America’s first black president elected and a presidential candidate hesitate to disavow the Ku Klux Klan.

So in timing and spirit, this is a Black Lives Matter “Roots,” optimistic in focusing on its characters’ strength, sober in recognizing that we may never stop needing reminders of whose lives matter.

The first new episode, much of it shot in South Africa, looks stunning, another sign of the cultural times. Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby, in the role made famous by LeVar Burton) is now not a humble villager but the scion of an important clan, and his home — Juffure, in Gambia — a prosperous settlement. Kunta is captured by a rival family and sold into slavery to a Virginian (James Purefoy), by way of a harrowing Middle Passage.

Mr. Kirby’s Kunta is a more regal and immediately defiant character than Mr. Burton’s. But his tragedy is the same: He rebels but fails and is beaten into accepting his slave name, Toby. The name — the loss of identity — is as much a weapon as the whip. As the overseer who beats him puts it: “You can’t buy a slave. You have to make a slave.”

Kunta stops running, but he preserves his traditions, including the practice of presenting a newborn baby to the night sky with the words, “Behold, the only thing that is greater than you.”

That theme of belonging to something larger, of the ancestral family as a character in itself, is essential to “Roots.” Although Alex Haley fictionalized the events of his novel on which the mini-series is based, his story offered black Americans what slavery was machine-tooled to erase: places, dates, names, memories. And that focus keeps the ugliness — the racial slurs, the gruesome violence — from rendering this series without hope. A person may live and die in this system, but a people can survive it.

Still, the individual stories remain heartbreaking, even in small moments, as when the slave musician Fiddler (a soulful Forest Whitaker) recognizes a Mandinka tune he overhears Kunta singing. He’s moved — and, it seems, a little frightened by what the recognition stirs in him. As much as he’s worked to efface his heritage as a survival strategy, it lingers, a few notes haunting the outskirts of his memory.

Kunta’s daughter, Kizzy (E’myri Lee Crutchfield as a child, Anika Noni Rose as an adult), is teased with the possibility of a better life; she grows up friends with the master’s daughter and learns to read. But she’s sold to Tom Lea (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a struggling farmer who rapes and impregnates her. Rape — there are several assaults in this series — is another weapon against identity, another way you make a slave. Ms. Rose burns with Kizzy’s determination to hang on to her sense of self.

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Forest Whitaker Works on Training Youth and “Overwhelming the World with Good” Through the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative

UNOCHA

Forest Whitaker (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

Three days ago, the world celebrated its 34th International Day of Peace. Two days from now, leaders from around the globe will gather at the United Nations and pledge their commitment to 17 Sustainable Development Goals, among them, Goal 16, promoting peace and justice. This week, then, is a perfect occasion for us to reflect on a concept that we all strive toward but whose true meaning often escapes us.

We usually think and talk about peace as the absence of bad things. Peace is a lack of war. Peace is a lack of violence. But true peace isn’t just the absence of bad; it is the presence of good. Peace is people having their most-basic human needs met. Peace is people exchanging knowledge and ideas. Peace is people sharing an abiding and mutual respect. Peace is people working together toward a common goal.

On the surface, this might seem like a small, semantic distinction. But, in practice, the difference between a negative peace — the absence of bad — and a positive peace — the presence of good — carries enormous consequences.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of former child soldiers. I’ve seen firsthand that, for these young men and women who have been forced to commit some of the most brutal atrocities imaginable, it is not enough to simply remove the violence from their lives. We can take a young man out of an army, but unless we fill that void with something positive — with an education, a job, a community — he is not truly free. He is still a soldier at heart, and when the next conflict breaks out five or 10 years in the future, he will be among the first recruited back to the battlefield.

True peace isn’t just the absence of bad; it is the presence of good. – Forest Whitaker

For these children — and in the world around us — building a lasting peace requires not only that we end conflicts and violence, but that we build societies that allow all women and men to learn freely, to become active participants in their local economies, and, most importantly, to feel safe in their homes and villages.

This principle is especially relevant in South Sudan, a country that has been at the forefront of my thoughts recently. A few weeks ago, the South Sudanese government and rebel forces finally signed a peace agreement after a 20-month civil war that has resulted in an unbearable amount of human suffering — tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of approximately 2.2 million people. This peace agreement is an important step in the right direction, and all of us in the international community hope that both sides honor its terms. But even this cessation of violence is no guarantee of a true peace.

The agreement makes me optimistic that the people of South Sudan will soon have some relief from this terrible conflict, but what truly gives me hope for that nation’s future are the remarkable young women and men I’ve met and worked with there. I’ve spoken with youths at the protection-of-civilians camp in the capital city of Juba who, in spite of all they’ve been through, speak with such unwavering passion about working together to rebuild their country. I’ve met teachers who have told me how excited they are to finish their training and go back to their communities and help ensure that every child in South Sudan receives the education she or he deserves. I have seen women and men reaching across ethnic lines to warn others of danger and coming together to advocate for non-violence and reconciliation.

That is what true peace — a positive peace — entails. All of these young women and men have identified some need in their communities, and they have been working in whatever way they can, despite the violence, to fill that need. Their courage is an example for us all.

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Academy Award-Winning Actor Forest Whitaker Joins Cast of “Star Wars: Rogue One”

Forest Whitaker Star Wars Rogue One

Actor/Producer Forest Whitaker (GETTY IMAGES)

Forest Whitaker is in negotiations to join the cast of Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars” anthology pic “Rogue One.”  The film stars Felicity JonesRiz Ahmed, Diego Luna and Ben Mendelsohn, with Gareth Edwards directing.  Disney and Lucasfilm had no comment on the casting.

At April’s Star Wars Celebration convention in Anaheim, Edwards revealed that the plot of “Rogue One” revolves around the heist of the Death Star plans by a group of rebel fighters, with Jones starring as one of the rebel soldiers. Sources say Ahmed and Luna also play Alliance fighters. Whitaker’s role is unknown at this time.

The film will take place between Episode III and Episode IV, but closer chronologically to “A New Hope.” It’s set to bow December 16, 2016.

Whitaker is currently filming Denis Villeneuve sci-fi drama “The Story of Your Life” opposite Amy Adams, and is in negotiations to follow that film with “The Crow” remake in the fall before jumping into production on “Star Wars: Rogue One.”

He’ll next appear in Antoine Fuqua’s boxing drama “Southpaw,” a potential Oscar contender bowing later this summer, and is a producer on critically acclaimed Sundance hit “Dope,” which opened Friday.

article by Justin Kroll via Variety.com

NAACP Image Awards: Kevin Hart Named Entertainer of the Year, “12 Years A Slave” Wins Best Picture

Kevin Hart wins Entertainer of the

(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Kevin Hart was named Entertainer of the Year while 12 Years a Slave racked up another four awards including for Outstanding Motion Picture at the NAACP Image Awards, which were held Saturday at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.  Hart said he was a “real mama’s boy” and dedicated his prize to his mother, who recently passed away.

Director Steve McQueen and writer John Ridley won kudos for “12 Years” during a non-televised portion of the show Friday, while Supporting Actress Lupita Nyong’o said she was honored to win for a film ”that has inspired discourse long overdue.”

Forest Whitaker and David Oyelowo were honored for their roles in Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Angela Bassett won the Lead Actress prize for Black Nativity. Whitaker was also honored with the NAACP Chairman’s Award.  “I’m one of those with a funny accent and an African name,” Oyelowo referencing emcee Anthony Anderson’s earlier jokes about Brit actors with their accents and African names in his speech who cross the Pond to grab roles in Hollywood.  Meanwhile, Whitaker quoted a song from Nat King Cole, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved.”

On the television side, Hart and his BET show Real Husbands of Hollywood were honored for comedy, while Kerry Washington, Joe Morton and ABC’s Scandal picked up three awards for drama. Since showrunner Shonda Rhimes was unable to attend, Washington accepted the Scandal award. In her own acceptance speech, Washington said, “The historic nature of this role is due not to lack of talent, but lack of opportunity.”

The NAACP Image Awards were broadcast live on TV One and hosted by Anthony Anderson. Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Director’s Guild (DGA) president Paris Barclay were inducted into the Image Awards Hall of Fame. Both are the first African-American presidents of their respective organizations. Barclay referenced his upbringing saying, “I’m the first in a long line of factory workers.”  Boone Isaacs said AMPAS invited more women and minority this year than it ever has. “We still have a lot of work to do. I look forward to it,” she said to applause.

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“12 Years a Slave” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” Among Top SAG Awards Nominees

Chiwetel Ejiofor in '12 Years a Slave'

Chiwetel Ejiofor in ’12 Years a Slave’ (Fox Searchlight)

The Screen Actors Guild released their list of award nominees this morning — one day before the Golden Globes announces their selections of the year’s best television shows and motion pictures.  Among the top nominees for the 20th annual SAG awards were 12 Years a Slave and Lee Daniels’ The Butler – which solidified their status as front-runners for the Oscars.

12 Years a Slave led the pack with four nominations: outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture, outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role (Chiwetel Ejifor), outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role (Michael Fassbender) and outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role (Lupita Nyong’o).  The film also scored big among other awards ceremonies after the Boston Society of Film Critics awarded the film its top prize while the New York Film Critics Online named it best picture of the year.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler was also a top contender with three nominations. Oprah Winfrey was nominated for outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role and Forest Whitaker was among the nominees for outstanding performance by male actor in a leading role. The film was also nominated for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture.

Meanwhile, in television Kerry Washington and Angela Bassett and Don Cheadle all earned nominations for their work this year, Washington for lead actress in the ABC drama Scandal, Bassett for her turn as Coretta Scott King in the Lifetime television movie Betty and Coretta, and Cheadle for his Showtime comedy series House of Lies.

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