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.
On his way to winning a best picture Oscar for “Moonlight,” a film made for a minuscule $1.5 million, writer-director Barry Jenkins took time between awards-season red carpet appearances for a six-city European promotion tour. It was time well spent.
“Moonlight,” about a poor black boy living in the projects of Miami and struggling with his sexuality, wasn’t supposed to be the kind of movie that wins the best picture Oscar. Its modest coming-of-age narrative, unconventional story structure and outsider characters with no mega stars made it, as filmmaker Mark Duplass said recently with admiration, “a bit of a miracle” that it even reached U.S. theaters. Certainly, it’s not the kind of movie that was expected to make money overseas. After all, says a longstanding Hollywood myth, black films don’t travel.
Yet as of Tuesday, “Moonlight” has made $28.6 million at the international box office — more than its $27.5 million domestic take — for a worldwide total of $56.1 million. With the film still in theaters, even more is expected.“This black film is definitely selling overseas,” Jenkins said to The Times on the red carpet for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, just after he’d returned from Europe.
“Every time there’s a success, it gets swept under the rug,” says Jeff Clanagan, president of Lionsgate’s Codeblack Films, which primarily produces films with African American casts. “It’s almost like there’s an asterisk on it. They chalk it off as an anomaly.”
For 1988’s “Coming to America,” the anomaly was the comedic genius of Eddie Murphy, who “transcended race” when the film grossed $160.6 million internationally for a $288.8 million worldwide take. (Samuel L. Jackson, Morgan Freeman, Will Smith, Kevin Hart, Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle are other box office champs for whom the “transcended race” label has been applied.)
For 1995’s “Bad Boys” and its 2003 sequel — which together pulled in a combined $210.3 million internationally and $414.7 million worldwide — it was the fact that the film was an action flick, never mind leads Smith, Martin Lawrence and Gabrielle Union. For 2015’s “Straight Outta Compton,” a $40.4 million payoff internationally (and $201.6 million worldwide), it was the popular music of rap group N.W.A.
Even as three-time Oscar nominee “Hidden Figures,” with its predominantly black cast, has so far made $48.8 million internationally — helping to push its $166 million domestic sales to nearly $215 million worldwide and counting — the myth persists.
When asked about the myth, Octavia Spencer, Oscar-nominated for her “Hidden Figures” role, responded simply: “I have two words for you: Will Smith.”
“He was told the same thing [at the beginning of his career] — that he wasn’t going to be taken to promote his film,” she said at the annual pre-Oscars Sistahs Soiree honoring women of color in the industry. “Had he not paid for himself to fly all over the world that very first time, he would not be an international box office star. So they have to start investing and taking black actresses and actors across the world just like they do with unknown white actors. They need to do the same thing for black actors. If you don’t know ’em, why would you go support the film?”
Essence, the nation’s preeminent brand for African-American women, will commemorate the 10th anniversary of its “Black Women in Hollywood Awards” by shifting from a daytime luncheon to an evening gala for the first time.
The Awards & Gala will honor Hollywood’s “Next Generation”— young women who are excelling and elevating their crafts—including actress/musician Janelle Monáe (Breakthrough Award); groundbreaking “Insecure” actress/writer/producer Issa Rae (Vanguard Award); “How To Get Away With Murder” Yale-educated actress Aja Naomi King (Lincoln Shining Star Award); and “Black-ish” actress Yara Shahidi (Generation Next).
Actress/Producer Gabrielle Union will serve as the program’s host and the red carpet ceremony will be held at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, CA, on Thursday, February 23, 2017.
“For the past decade, the “Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards” have paid homage to our modern image-makers—both in front of the camera and behind the scenes,” said Essence Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca. “This past year has been an exceptional one for diversity in film and television, and with the incredible contributions of Janelle, Issa, Aja and Yara, it is fitting that our 10th anniversary will honor the future of Hollywood and its continued steps on the path to inclusion.”
Also for the first time, internationally acclaimed visual artist and filmmaker Mickalene Thomas will be infusing the event with her elaborate imagery celebrating the power of female beauty as a facet of women’s empowerment.
To check out highlights and behind-the-scenes access to the “Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards & Gala,” go to Essence.com, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @essence #BlackWomeninHollywood.
The Birth of a Nation was the talk of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and now the nonprofit behind the annual Park City event is celebrating the pic’s director-star. The Sundance Institute said today that Nate Parker will receive its Vanguard Award.
Parker, who also wrote the screenplay, will be honored August 11 at Night Before Next, a summer celebration benefiting the Institute and its artists on the eve of Sundance Next Fest at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
“We are excited to honor Nate Parker as he prepares to release the extraordinary film TheBirth of a Nation, which we supported during development and premiered at our Festival,” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute.
The Birth of a Nation, which Fox Searchlight acquired for a festival-record $17.5M at Sundance, centers on Nat Turner (Parker), a literate, enslaved man and preacher whose financially strapped owner (Armie Hammer) accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities — against himself and his fellow slaves — Turner orchestrates an uprising in the hope of leading his people to freedom. The film also stars Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Penelope Ann Miller, Aunjanue Ellis, Mark Boone Junior and Aja Naomi King.
Nicole Ari Parker has landed a role in A Meyers Christmas, Universal’s comedy starring Danny Glover and Gabrielle Union. It revolves around an estranged family that is brought together for the holidays for the first time since the mother’s death. Parker will play Sonya, the loving wife of Jackson and mother of his two kids. Mo’Nique, Kimberly Eliseand Jessie T. Usher co-star in the pic, which is set to open November 11, 2016.
David E. Talbert (Baggage Claim) wrote and will direct A Meyers Christmas, which is produced by Will Packer and his Universal-based Will Packer Productions. Talbert also is executive producing alongside Lyn Sisson-Talbert, James F. Lopez, Union and Jeff Morrone. SVP Production Kristin Lowe and Creative Executive Chloe Yellin will oversee A Meyers Christmas for the studio.
Parker recurs as Katt on Fox’s freshman drama Rosewood starring Morris Chestnut and co-hosted the daytime summer talk show The Boris & Nicole Show.
Jill Scott,Regina Hall and Eve will be on a race to the alter for their upcoming Lifetime movie.
The network announced this week that it will be producing a romantic comedy aimed at black women titled With This Ring, Shadow And Act reports. The story centers on three girlfriends that make a pact to get married within a year after another one of their friends ties the knot!
With all of the biopics that Lifetime will be rolling out, we’re shocked they still know how to make anything else. There’s no word on who will play the bride just yet, but we’re interested to see who takes on the role.
Gabrielle Union has been attached to the project, but she probably won’t be appearing on screen. She’s signed on as an executive producer for With This Ring alongside Tracey Edmonds and Sheila Ducksworth.
Production for With This Ring, which is being directed by Nzingha Stewart, is slated to begin next month.
Lupita Nyong’o is having a banner year. Almost a month after winning the Academy Award, Nyong’o has landed a big-time beauty endorsement deal with Lancôme and is now the new face of the cosmetics line. The deal marks a milestone moment that acknowledges Nyong’o as the beauty brand’s first black ambassador.
“I am truly honored to join the Maison Lancôme, a brand with such a prestigious history and that I have always loved,” the 31-year-old said in a statement. “I am particularly proud to represent its unique vision for women and the idea that beauty should not be dictated, but should instead be an expression of a woman’s freedom to be herself.”
The Hollywood “It” girl now joins a roster of other big celebrities who have signed on as a Lancome brand ambassador, such as Kate Winslet, Julia Roberts and Penelope Cruz.
But perhaps the more significant league of women Nyong’o now joins is the small but growing group of black women whose beauty has also attracted the lure of billion-dollar cosmetic companies.
Halle Berry was one of the most notable women to first land a lucrative beauty endorsement in 2004 – a deal she made shortly after winning the Oscar that year. Beyoncé, Queen Latifah, Janelle Monae, Rihanna, Kerry Washington and Gabrielle Union are just a few other names of beautiful black women who have signed on to similar deals.
These women represent a growing number of African-American females whose allure has advocated for these brands’ premiere products. Nyong’o is now one of these few yet celebrated women. She has been praised for her delectable taste in fashion and stunning looks which reflect a unique combination often not seen nor praised enough in mainstream America.
Chris Rock has recruited Gabrielle Union to be the female lead in his upcoming film, Finally Famous, reports show. The actress will play Rock’s “popular reality TV star fiancée. Rock, who wrote and directed the film, plays a comedian-turned-film-star itching to be taken seriously by his peers in the acting world. He’s also a recovering alcoholic who owes his sobriety to his fiancée (Union). Her character, eager to be more famous, tries to convince Rock to get married on her show.
Rosario Dawson, who has been known to melt a heart or two in her own right, plays a journalist assigned to interview Rock’s character for a New York magazine. As time passes, their relationship builds, and sparks begin to fly. Here’s the project’s official synopsis:
Andre Allen is a comedian turned film star who, despite the expectations of his millions of fans, is determined to reinvent himself as a “serious” actor. Although his latest pretentiously historical film project is tanking, his upcoming television wedding to pretty, popular reality star, Erica Long, is the biggest media event of the year. In the midst of all the frenzy leading up to his televised nuptials, Andre agrees to be interviewed for the New Yorker by Chelsea Brown, a gorgeous but no-frills young woman with a sharp intelligence that matches his own. It’s a feisty, funny, no-holds-barred interaction that may well change the course of both their lives.
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.
Halle Berry, Gabrielle Union, Kelly Rowland, and Kerry Washington are featured in the 2013 People magazine ‘Most Beautiful’ issue. (Photos: Getty Images)
People magazine released details on its annual “Most Beautiful” issue, which featured Beyonce on the cover last year. This year, the ever-esteemed title goes to actress and mother of two, Gwyneth Paltrow.
The issue also features such beauties as Kerry Washington, Kelly Rowland, Halle Berry and Gabrielle Union. Halle, Kerry and Kelly win the distinction of being on the list of the 10 most beautiful people in the world according to People magazine, in the eighth, second and seventh spot respectively. It’s Kelly Rowland’s first time appearing in the issue, and Halle Berry once napped the top spot with a cover.