It’s hard to think that after roughly 30 years in the music industry and blessing the culture with hits like “F**k the Police” and both the Barbershop and Friday series’, that Ice Cube hasn’t already gotten a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But in reality, he actually hasn’t. That is, until today (June 12), when the hip hop icon was honored with his very own star on Hollywood Boulevard.
Director of Boyz in the Hood, John Singleton, was one of people who spoke at Ice Cube’s star ceremony Monday afternoon. “The mark of a true man is how many people he influences in his lifetime,” Singleton said. “That’s how I see Cube.” Dr. Dre was also in attendance to watch his longtime friend and former N.W.A partner be honored. While the multi-faceted artist has definitely influenced many, he suggested the honor was still somewhat surprising.
“When you coming up doing music, movies, just trying to be creative, you never figure you’ll be on the Hollywood Walk of Fame one day,” he said.Ice Cube’s Walk of Fame ceremony comes only three days after the release of the 25th anniversary edition of the rapper’s politically-charged album, Death Certificate. Coincidentally, it is only three days before his 48th birthday.
Charlie Murphy, the older brother of Eddie Murphy, a “Chappelle’s Show” star and an accomplished comedian in his own right, died Wednesday in New York City. He was 57. Murphy’s publicist confirmed the comedian’s death, and the cause of death was leukemia.
“We just lost one of the funniest most real brothers of all time. Charlie Murphy RIP,” Chris Rock, Murphy’s CB4 co-star, tweeted. “Charlie Murphy changed my life,” tweeted “Chappelle’s Show” co-creator Neal Brennan. “One of the most original people I’ve ever met. Hilarious dude. Habitual Line Stepper. So sad.”
After making his big screen debut in 1989’s “Harlem Nights,” directed by his younger brother Eddie, and appearing in bit roles in Spike Lee films like “Mo’ Better Blues” and “Jungle Fever,” Murphy’s big break came as a cast member on “Chappelle’s Show,” where “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories” resulted in a pair of that series’ most memorable sketches.
Both sketches featured Murphy reminiscing about he and Eddie’s celebrity encounters in the Eighties, with Dave Chappelle portraying Rick James and Prince in the now-legendary sketches. Charlie Murphy also co-wrote “Vampire in Brooklyn,” another film directed by Eddie, as well as 2007’s “Norbit.”
Murphy also appeared in 1998’s “The Player’s Club,” directed by Ice Cube. The rapper paid tribute to Murphy on Twitter Wednesday, “Damn, sorry to hear about my friend Charlie Murphy. He took a chance on a young director in The Player’s Club. Always made me laugh. RIP.”
Growing up in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn, Charlie often stuck up for his younger brother; in defending Eddie, Charlie joked about fearing his mom’s wrath if bullies picked on Eddie more than the bullies themselves. That guardian role made Charlie a natural to serve as Eddie’s security guard as the comedian quickly ascended to stardom.
Due to Charlie’s propensity toward overreacting while guarding his brother – “Whoever say something, I almost gave this old man a heart attack on a plane because he asked us if we were a basketball team. I took that personally,” Murphy said in a Chappelle’s Show outtake – forced Murphy to embark on his own career.
One night at an Eddie Murphy stand-up performance, Charlie went after one heckler “who tried to squeeze the lemon.” “I took it as a personal crusade until they were like, ‘You’re a little overzealous in how you’re performing your job.’ So that’s how I ended up not doing [security] anymore,” Murphy said.
According to Variety.com, Cube Vision, rapper, actor and producer Ice Cube’s production company, has signed a comprehensive first-look deal with 20th Century Fox TV and Fox 21 Television Studios.
The two-year deal sets up Cube Vision to develop projects for broadcast, cable, and digital outlets. Ice Cube has brought in manager Jeff Kwatinetz to run Cube Vision’s TV production. Cube and Kwatinetz will both executive produce on the projects, which will run the gamut from traditional comedy and drama to animation and reality.
Under the deal, Fox also gets access to Cube Vision’s music library to use in its existing shows.
“It’s hard to think of a more multidimensional artist than Ice Cube, whose influence on the culture and enormous talent is virtually unrivaled,” Fox Television Group chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman said. “We’ve been dying to be in business with him for years, and we think the combination of Cube and his incredibly talented producing partner Jeff Kwatinetz is going to result in some very compelling television.”
Cube echoed the sentiments. “I’m very happy and excited to work with the talented and creative people at Fox,” he said. “Their ability to bring groundbreaking television of every type through both cable and broadcast makes them the perfect partner for Cube Vision.”
Ice Cube is one of the executive producers behind VH1’s “Hollywood Squares” reboot “Hip Hop Squares”, and will next be seen in the New Line film “Fist Fight” opposite Charlie Day on Feb. 17.
One of the most exclusive clubs in the world just got a whole lot bigger.
In the latest and most dramatic step by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to diversify the overwhelmingly white and male institution, 683 industry professionals were invited Wednesday to join the nearly 90-year-old organization.
The group of invitees, which included Idris Elba, Brie Larson, John Boyega, America Ferrera, Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman, was touted as the academy’s largest and most diverse new class ever, more than double the 322 members invited last year.
The academy’s expansion is part of a diversity push that took on heightened urgency this year in the #OscarsSoWhite uproar, which reached a fever pitch in the run-up to this year’s awards telecast.
In January, facing blistering criticism over the lack of nominations for any actors of color for the second year in a row, academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced sweeping changes aimed at doubling the number of women and minorities — then about 1,500 and 535, respectively — in the academy’s ranks by 2020. “The academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” Boone Isaacs said in a statement announcing the new initiative.
In an interview following Wednesday’s announcement, Boone Isaacs said that the large and diverse class is the result a concerted campaign to show that the academy is opening its arms to groups that have been underrepresented.
“What we found is that, as much we tried to get the information out there, it wasn’t penetrating in a way that we wanted it to,” Boone Isaacs said. “So we’ve asked all our members to be the ambassadors and pay attention to men and women who have particular skill levels in their area of expertise and get them encouraged and tell us their names so that we can make sure and reach out and connect.”
According to the academy’s figures, the new class is 46% female, bringing the representation of women in the organization from 25% to 27%. Forty-one percent of the invitees are people of color, bringing minorities’ share of total academy membership from 8% to 11%.
Other names on the list include actors Emma Watson, Tina Fey, Oscar Isaac, Tom Hiddleston and Ice Cube and directors Ryan Coogler, Julie Dash, Adam McKay and Patty Jenkins.
Ice Cube and Kevin Hart did it again. “Ride Along 2”, the second installment in what is sure to become a series of “Ride Along” movies, opened in the number-one spot in its debut weekend, taking in an estimated $39.5 million in domestic grosses, according to Variety. “Ride Along 2” also has the distinction of displacing the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” juggernaut from its four-week run at the top, as well as besting critical darling “The Revenant” ($34 million) as it continues to gain momentum from awards season.
Universal spent $40 million re-teaming Ice Cube and Hart for “Ride Along 2,” which finds the bickering police officers working to bring a Miami drug ring to justice.
“It’s a very funny movie,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s domestic distribution chief. “We have a very committed group of filmmakers and our cast has been promoting the heck out of it.”
The first “Ride Along” movie ultimately earned $134.9 million and even though its sequel debuted a few million shy of its predecessor, the audience skewed slightly more female, with women making up 52% of the opening weekend audience, implying the film will have legs as it clearly appeals to both sexes.
On TV talk shows, the host introduces a guest, then music plays while the guest emerges from backstage. On podcasts, the etiquette is still being worked out. The host often launches into an introduction while the guest sits quietly in the same sound booth. A couple of years ago, the co-hosts of a podcast called “Alias Smith and LeRoi” began this way, speaking about their guest, the comedian Leslie Jones, as if she were not there.
“This is gonna be kind of a hot one,” Ali LeRoi said.
“I’ve been waiting to sit her ass down for a minute,” Owen Smith said. “One of the funniest women in the game.”
“Funniest comedian in the game,” Jones interrupted. “Not just woman. I hate that shit.” End of introduction.
Comedians are combatants: they “kill,” they “bomb,” they “destroy.” Such bluster can mask insecurity, and Jones had good reason to feel defensive. She was forty-six, and had been a standup comedian for more than a quarter century; her peers respected her, but that respect rarely translated into high-paying gigs. “I remember some nights where I was, like, ‘All right, this comedy shit just ain’t working out,’ ” she told me recently. “And not just when I was twenty-five. Like, when I was forty-five.” She was a woman in a field dominated by men, and an African-American in an industry that remained disturbingly segregated.
Although she had opened for Katt Williams and Dave Chappelle, acted in movies alongside Ice Cube and Martin Lawrence, recorded a standup special for Showtime, and made several appearances on HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam” and BET’s “ComicView,” she worried that the gatekeepers of mainstream comedy—bookers for the “Tonight Show,” casting directors of big-budget films—had never heard her name. “Every black comedian in the country knew what I could do,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean everyone else is paying attention.” Chris Rock, who met Jones when they were both road comics in the late eighties, told me, “Black women have the hardest gig in show business. You hear Jennifer Lawrence complaining about getting paid less because she’s a woman—if she was black, she’d really have something to complain about.”
Jones spent much of her career performing in what she calls “shitty chitlin-circuit-ass rooms, where you’re just hoping the promoter pays you.” She told me that, around 2010, “I stopped only doing black clubs. I stopped doing what I call ‘nigger nights’—the Chocolate Sundays, the Mo’ Better Mondays. I knew how to relate to that audience, and I was winning where I was, but I wasn’t moving forward.” She lived in Los Angeles at the time, and she began asking for spots at the Comedy Store, where David Letterman and Robin Williams got their starts. A comedian named Erik Marino, who befriended her there, said, “She felt very strongly that she was being pigeonholed as a black comic—a BET comic.”
For a while, Jones performed at the Store at odd hours. Then, she said, “I went to the booker and I threw the race card at him. ‘Why you won’t let me go up at ten on a Friday? ’Cause I’m black?’ ” The booker gave her a prime-time slot. “She destroyed, obviously,” Marino said. “Bookers are the ones who care about black rooms versus white rooms. To us comedians, it’s, like, if you know what you’re doing and you can connect with an audience, they’re gonna laugh.”
Rock saw Jones perform at the Store in 2012. After her set, he told her, “You were always funny, but you’re at a new level now.”
“You’re right,” she responded. “But I’m not gonna really make it unless someone like you puts me on.” Rock took out his iPhone and added her name to a list labelled “Funny people.”
Universal Pictures has purchased the script “Humbug” from writers Todd R. Jones and Earl Richey Jones with Ice Cube attached to star and Tim Story to direct, sources confirm to Variety.
The script is a contemporary retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic story of a wealthy real estate mogul who is shown a path to redemption by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Cube will produce alongside Jeff Kwatinetz. Jones & Jones will co-produce.
The film marks another collaboration between Cube and Story that began with the box office hit “Barbershop,” which spawned two two sequels, the third recently wrapped production with Malcolm Lee at the helm. The two also worked on the “Ride Along” series for Universal with the sequel bowing this January with Story directing and Cube and Kevin Hart co-starring.
Cube just produced box-office smash “Straight Outta Compton” and is about to start filming the New Line Comedy “Fist Fight” with Charlie Day.
The Jones brothers’ past credits include “Rio” and “Johnson Family Vacation.”