HBO has renewed “Insecure” for a fourth season and fellow comedy series “Ballers” for a fifth season.
The renewals come nearly a month after the two series returned for new seasons Aug. 12 on HBO and its digital platforms.
Created by Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore, “Insecure” follows the friendship of two women dealing with their own real-life flaws while attempting to navigate different worlds and cope with an endless series of uncomfortable everyday experiences. Issa Rae, Yvonne Orji, Lisa Joyce, Natasha Rothwell, Amanda Seales and Y’lan Noel star. Executive producers are Rae, Prentice Penny, Melina Matsoukas, Michael Rotenberg, Dave Becky, Jonathan Berry, Jim Kleverweis and Dayna Lynne North.
Starring Dwayne Johnson and created by Stephen Levinson, “Ballers” explores the world of pro football through a group of past and present players striving to stay in the game. Johnson plays ex-superstar Spencer Strasmore, who has reinvented himself as a financial manager for today’s players. Other cast members include John David Washington, Rob Corddry, Omar Benson Miller, Donovan Carter, Troy Garity, London Brown and Brittany S. Hall. Levinson, Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, Peter Berg, Rob Weiss, Denis Biggs, Karyn McCarthy and Julian Farino serve as executive producers for the series.
As GBN’s resident biracial, millennial nerd, I place a lot of importance on diversity at Comic Con and in the entertainment industry.
Pop culture has the power to influence how people see the world around them, and, thankfully, there are people in the entertainment industry who understand this and work to make content that showcases the positive aspects of diversity and uniqueness.
A prime example of this content is Steven Universe, an out-of-this-world show that isn’t afraid to show just how diverse this planet really is.
On the surface, Steven Universe is a cartoon about a boy trying to save the world. But on a deeper level it’s a show about love and friendship, and a show that teaches kids lessons about healthy relationships, anxiety, and how important it is to be true to yourself. Estelle, who plays Garnet (the fierce leader of the Crystal gems and fusion of LGBTQ+ couple Ruby and Sapphire), killed it at the Superheroes of Body PositivityPanel this Comic Con.
Estelle, along with the rest of the Crewniverse (people who work on Steven Universe) recently participated in Dove’s Self Esteem Project. Rebecca Sugar, the creator of Steven Universe and Estelle joined Dove on the Panel to talk about body positivity and open up about their own experiences with body image. “My body works, it’s gorgeous. It gets me from point A to point B. If someone, doesn’t like my body, that’s too bad,” Estelle explained.
Another show featured at Comic-Con was Black Lightning, a badass superhero show that celebrates Black Americans. Series co-creator Mara Brock Akil took the stage to express that “celebrating our culture is important to remind us that we are also a part of the fabric of American culture. Tracking our history and our path is important.”
Then there are the women of the Women Who Kick Ass Panel. Amandla Stenberg, who I’ve been a fan of since their portrayal of Rue in The Hunger Games, said “The topic of ‘strong female roles’ is tricky. There’s an awareness I have. I create representation because of the accessibility I have. When it comes to roles there is a give and take time. We continue to sacrifice in order to see the representation we want.” I will definitely be purchasing a ticket for their new movie The Darkest Minds.
And of course, there’s Regina King, who will be starring in HBO’s new Watchmen series. “There weren’t many like me kicking ass. I was a Lynda Carter fan. Even though Wonder Woman was wearing a skimpy outfit, she had ownership and confidence that exuded female strength,” Regina King explained about her own experiences with superheroes.
For me, cartoons and superheroes have shaped core aspects of my personality and morality, so it means a lot to me to see so many badass women of color involved in so many amazing projects share their experiences.
According to the Smithsonian Institute, next Tuesday, its National Portrait Gallery will recognize and honor the life of Henrietta Lacks with the installation of a 2017 portrait by Kadir Nelson on the museum’s presentation wall on the first floor. The portrait was jointly acquired by the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture as a gift from Nelson and the JKBN Group LLC, and will be shared by the two museums. The painting will be on display at the Portrait Gallery through Nov. 4.
Lacks, a mother of five, lost her life to cervical cancer at age 31. During her treatment, doctors took cells from her body and discovered they lived long lives and reproduced indefinitely in test tubes. These “immortal” HeLa cells have since contributed to over 10,000 medical patents, aiding research and benefiting patients with polio, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease and other conditions.
Considering the history of medical testing on African Americans without their permission, the fate of Lacks raised questions about ethics, privacy and racism. Rebecca Skloot’s 2010 best-selling book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, addressed those issues and later prompted Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions to adapt her story into a theatrical movie that first aired on HBO in 2017.
“It is fitting that Henrietta Lacks be honored at two Smithsonian museums, as each approaches American history from unique and complementary perspectives,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “Lacks’ story presents moral and philosophical questions around issues of consent, racial inequalities, the role of women, medical research and privacy laws, providing rich platforms for historical understanding and public dialogue.”
“The National Museum of African American History and Culture has always felt that the story of Henrietta Lacks is a significant and important moment that deserved greater recognition,” said Lonnie Bunch, director of the museum.
Commissioned by HBO, Nelson used visual elements to convey Lacks’ legacy. The wallpaper features the “Flower of Life,” a symbol of immortality; the flowers on her dress recall images of cell structures; and two missing buttons allude to the cells taken from her body without permission.
Tiffany Haddish has signed a first-look deal with HBO.
The two-year pact with Haddish and her She Ready production company comes on the heels of a breakout year for the comic, who won a New York Film Critics Circle best supporting actress award for her performance in 2017’s “Girls Trip.” Her book “The Last Black Unicorn,” released last month by Gallery Books, was named a New York Times best seller. Her new stand-up special “Tiffany Haddish: She Ready!” premiered on Showtime last year, and Haddish recently announced 2018 dates for her new stand-up tour.
Haddish will next star opposite Tracy Morgan in TBS’ “The Last OG,” which premieres in April on TBS. She will also star alongside Kevin Hart in Universal’s feature film “Night School,” set to premiere in September.
Among her other upcoming projects are starring roles in New Line’s “The Kitchen” and Universal’s “The Temp,” with Haddish set to serve as executive producer on the latter film. The comic also has “Limited Partners” in development at Paramount, and is set to star in and serve as an exec producer on the project. She recently wrapped production on “The Oath” alongside Ike Barinholtz.
“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.
“True Detective” is back on the case. HBO’s limited series will officially return for a third season, this time starring Oscar winner Mahershala Ali. Showrunner and creator Nic Pizzolatto is set to direct, along with Jeremy Saulnier (“Green Room,” “Blue Ruin”). The next installment tells the story of a macabre crime in the heart of the Ozarks, and a mystery that deepens over decades and plays out in three separate time periods.
Ali will play the lead role of Wayne Hays, a state police detective from Northwest Arkansas. It does not currently have an air date, nor is there a set date for the start of production.“Nic has written truly remarkable scripts,” said Casey Bloys, HBO’s president of programming. “With his ambitious vision and Mahershala Ali and Jeremy Saulnier aboard, we are excited to embark on the next installment of ‘True Detective.’”
by Nellie Andreeva (with Mike Fleming) via deadline.com
A century and a half after slavery was abolished in the U.S., the wounds left by one of the darkest periods in American history are far from healed, as evidenced by the controversy surrounding the recent announcement of HBO’s upcoming drama series Confederate, from Game Of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, which explores an alternate timeline of seceded southern states where slavery is legal and has evolved into a modern institution.
Another alternate history drama series, which has been in the works at Amazon for over a year, also paints a reality where southern states have left the Union but takes a very different approach. Titled Black America, the drama hails from top feature producer Will Packer (Ride Along, Think Like A Man) and Peabody-Award winning The Boondocks creator and Black Jesus co-creator Aaron McGruder.
It envisions an alternate history where newly freed African Americans have secured the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama post-Reconstruction as reparations for slavery, and with that land, the freedom to shape their own destiny. The sovereign nation they formed, New Colonia, has had a tumultuous and sometimes violent relationship with its looming “Big Neighbor,” both ally and foe, the United States.
The past 150 years have been witness to military incursions, assassinations, regime change, coups, etc. Today, after two decades of peace with the U.S. and unprecedented growth, an ascendant New Colonia joins the ranks of major industrialized nations on the world stage as America slides into rapid decline. Inexorably tied together, the fate of two nations, indivisible, hangs in the balance.
The Packer/McGruder project was announced back in early February, but at the time, it was untitled, and the producers would not divulge any details about the storyline beyond it revolving around an alternate universe in the vein of Amazon’s flagship The Man in the High Castle. It was HBO’s announcement of Confederate this month that prompted the Black America team to reveal the project’s premise.
“It felt this was the appropriate time to make sure that audiences and the creative community knew that there was a project that preexisted and we are pretty far down the road with it,” Packer told Deadline. Black America, which Packer said is in “very, very active development” with McGruder “off and writing,” originated at Amazon Studios. The service’s head of content Roy Price called Packer more than a year ago while the producer was on the set of his latest box office hit, Girls Trip.
Price soon reached out to McGruder with whom Packer had briefly worked in the past on Think Like A Man and had been looking to team up again. “Being a fan of Aaron, I thought he definitely had the right tone, the right voice, the right wit to handle a project like this,” Packer said. “Aaron and I sat together and talked about what a huge opportunity and responsibility it would be to do this project and do it right.” As for the tone of the hourlong series, it’s “a drama, but it wouldn’t be Aaron McGruder without traces of his trademark sardonic wit,” Packer said.
Black America creates the kind of utopia that has been on the minds of generations of black Americans for whom the series may have a sense of wish-fulfillment. “It was something that was personally intriguing for me as a black American,” Packer said. “You would be hard pressed to find many black Americans who have not thought about the concept of reparation, what would happen if reparations were actually given. As a content creator, the fact that that is something that has been discussed thoroughly throughout various demographics of people in this country but yet never been explored to my knowledge in any real way in long-form content, I thought it was a tremendous opportunity to delve into the story, to do it right.” Continue reading ““Straight Outta Compton” Executive Producer Will Packer and “Boondocks” Creator Aaron McGruder Reveal Alt-History Drama “Black America” in the Works at Amazon”→
Exhibition to Feature Artist Kadir Nelson and Poet Saul Williams.
HBO recently announced the official launch of “The HeLa Project,” a culturally-grounded, multi-media exhibition inspired by the highly-anticipated HBO film, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne, which will premiere on April 22. Directed by George C. Wolfe, the film is based on Rebecca Skloot’s critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller of the same name.
The film tells the true story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cells were used to create the first immortal human cell line that ultimately led to unprecedented medical breakthroughs, changing countless lives and the face of medicine forever.
“The HeLa Project” is designed to celebrate Henrietta Lacks, the woman – to give her a voice and to humanize and recognize her. The exhibition features an original portrait by two-time Caldecott Honor Award winning artist Kadir Nelson and an original poem by Saul Williams. Additional art, curated by Lewis Long of Long Gallery Harlem, includes works by Derrick Adams, Zoe Buckman, Madeleine Hunt Ehrlich, Doreen Garner, and Tomashi Jackson. The product of these elements, plus an educational, sculptural installation about the HeLa cells, all converge in this engaging experience.
The exhibition debuted last week in Baltimore at the Reginald Lewis Museum, and will run April 7th – April 9thin SoHo, New York (465 W. Broadway, Fri – Sat, 11am – 7pm, Sun 12pm – 5pm).
“The HeLa Project” will be making additional stops in Atlanta, GA on April 13th – April 16th at theNational Center for Civil and Human Rights.
JuVee Productions – the integrated film, television and digital production company created by Viola Davis and her husband, Julius Tennon, is embarking on an effort to raise $250,000,000 in a global expansion plan for the development, production and distribution of diverse and inclusive film and digital content.
The fund will be used to develop, finance, produce and distribute a slate of multiple feature films and branded digital content that will see the relatively young production company expand its footprint globally. “The shift in storytelling should be inclusive and we aim to make it a reality,” says Julius Tennon in a press statement.
Launched in 2012 by Davis and Tennon, JuVee Productions is a Los Angeles-based artist driven production company that develops and produces independent film, television, theater, and digital content across all platforms. JuVee Productions aims to become the go-to creative hub where the next generation of filmmakers and artists have the space to craft dynamic stories spanning the broad spectrum of humanity.
The company’s most recent project is the courtroom drama “Custody” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016, and aired on the Lifetime network last week. The short film “Night Shift” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of this year and continues to tour the film festival circuit.
Upcoming the production company has the film adaptation of “The Personal History of Rachel DuPree” which Davis is starring in; a biopic on Barbara Jordan (the first Southern African American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives), also with Davis starring; and a TV period series set up at ABC titled “The Zipcoders,” set in 1968, about a group of black teenagers form a rock ‘n’ roll band who aspire to be like The Beatles; and there’s also Davis’ Harriet Tubman film with HBO.
According to latimes.com, late rapper Tupac Shakur is among the group of six inductees into theRock and Roll Hall of Fame. Along with Shakur, folk singer Joan Baez, British progressive rock band Yes, Seattle grunge band Pearl Jam, English pop-rock group Electric Light Orchestra and pop-rock band Journey were chosen to join the institution for 2017.
In addition, Nile Rodgers, Chic founding member, producer and guitarist, will be inducted as an honoree for the hall’s award for musical excellence.
April 7, 2017 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn will be where the annual induction ceremony to induct new Hall members is held. Tickets available to the public will go on sale in January. The induction speeches and musical performances will be filmed for a highlights special scheduled to run on HBO after the event.