The nominees for the 2017 Primetime Emmys were announced this morning, and among them are nods in the Best Comedy Series category for writer/creator/star Donald Glover‘s freshman FX half-hour “Atlanta” as well as writer/creator Kenya Barris‘ veteran ABC show “Black-ish,” which also garnered nods in the Lead Comedy Actor and Actress categories for its stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross. Glover also picked up a nod for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.
Emmy winner Viola Davis was recognized again for her role as Annalise Keating in ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder,” and Sterling K. Brown came through in the Lead Actor in a Drama Series category for his work on the popular NBC hit “This is Us.” Jeffrey Wright and Thandie Newton were acknowledged for their Supporting Roles in “Westworld,” as was Samira Wiley for her work in the original Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Up against Wiley in the same category is her former “Orange Is the New Black” castmate Uzo Aduba.
Additionally, Leslie Jones grabbed a nomination in the Supporting Role in Comedy category for her work on “Saturday Night Live,” and RuPaul Charles got some love in the Host for a Reality/Reality-Competition Program category for his work on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
Behind the scenes, Donald Glover earned his third Emmy nomination for “Atlanta” in the directing category, and his fourth, along with his brother Stephen Glover, for Writing for a Comedy Series. Ava DuVernay & Spencer Averick were nominated in the Writing for a Nonfiction Program category for their outstanding work on the Netflix documentary “13th.” The full list of nominees follows below:
“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“The Crown” (Netflix)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
“House of Cards” (Netflix)
“Stranger Things” (Netflix)
“This Is Us” (NBC)
Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder”)
Claire Foy (“The Crown”)
Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Keri Russell (“The Americans”)
Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld”)
Robin Wright (“House of Cards”)
Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”)
Anthony Hopkins (“Westworld”)
Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”)
Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”)
Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”)
Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”)
Milo Ventimiglia (“This Is Us”)
Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”)
Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”)
Zach Galifianakis (“Baskets”)
Donald Glover (“Atlanta”)
William H. Macy (“Shameless”)
Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”)
Freeform has greenly the “Black-ish’” college-set spinoff series, starring Yara Shahidi. The spinoff is titled “College-ish” and will center around Shahidi’s character Zoey Johnson, as she heads off to college and quickly discovers that not everything goes her way once she leaves the nest.
The show is set to debut with a 13-episode season in early 2018. “College-ish” is described as a contemporary take on the current issues facing both students and administrators in the world of higher education. Deon Cole will co-star with Shahidi, reprising his “Black-ish” role of Charlie, who moonlights as an adjunct marketing professor.
The rest of the core cast will be new characters and actors, not seen in the flagship series, both in the administration and student body who all reflect the complex and hilarious points of views on college campuses.
The spinoff was developed at ABC, which airs “Black-ish,” and aired as a planted pilot this spring. After ABC passed on the project, its sister network Freeform scooped it up. Insiders say the series was too young for ABC, which made it a perfect fit for the young-skewing cable network.
Kenya Barris, creator of ABC’s “Black-ish” and co-writer of “Barbershop: The Next Cut,” has signed an overall deal at Fox for the development of feature projects.
“We are thrilled to be in business with Kenya,” said Stacey Snider, chairman and CEO of 20th Century Fox Film. “He is a creator with an incredibly authentic voice — at a time when original storytellers are more valuable than ever.”
The film pact will be administered through Barris’ new production company, Khalabo Ink Society, aimed at telling compelling stories that pull back the curtain on the parts of our society that typically go unnoticed, and forging conversations that expose our own hypocrisies. “As we expand our comedic franchise we at Khalabo Ink Society are overjoyed to have found a partner in Fox, that shares our same sentiment in storytelling,” Barris said.
Khalabo also has a number of feature projects in the works, including “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “Stir Crazy,” “Girls Trip,” “Ruff Ryderz,” and “Shaft.” Erynn Sampson is head of development for Khalabo Ink Society.
Barris currently has an overall deal with ABC Studios where he will continue to executive produce “Black-ish,” in addition to developing new series and projects for network, cable, and streaming, including “Unit Zero,” which he will executive produce along with Toni Collette, who will also star.
When the third season of “Black-ish” arrives, the Johnson family will expand. Fresh from the Broadway smash “Hamilton,” Daveed Diggs will have a major Season 3 arc as Rainbow Johnson’s brother, Johan, Variety can exclusively reveal.
Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) and Johan, whose mother is a very laid-back, hippie-ish soul, had very different childhoods than Dre, and that’s partly why Johan will be a frequent thorn in Dre’s side. Dre Johnson (Anthony Anderson) has always feared that his kids will grow up to be overly pampered, and it sounds like Johan is the personification of those fears.
“He’s sort of a hipster, entitled kid who gets on Dre’s nerves,” creator and showrunner Kenya Barris said. “He’s constantly on a search for the best conditioner for his hair. He’s probably gone to Penn or Wharton and could have gotten a great-paying job, but he’s trying to find himself. That attitude more than anything makes Dre want to strangle him.”
For Diggs, who won a Tony for playing Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in “Hamilton,” there’s even a tiny link to French culture. Johan “has been to Paris twice and he’s like, ‘You Americans!’” Barris said. Johan, as it happens, doesn’t like his butter to be too cold and complains about Americans’ mania for refrigeration. “He’s like, ‘This butter’s making my croissant crumble,’” according to Barris. “Dre is constantly snatching food from him.”
The upside for Johan, who will have a “substantial” recurring arc in the third season, is that the Johnson kids think he’s extremely cool — except for Diane (Marsai Martin). “She’s not buying that sh*t,” Barris said.
The Feb. 24 episode of ABC’s “Black-ish” will take on police brutality. The episode, titled “Hope,” will revolve around a fictional incident of police brutality that Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross) and Andre “Dre” Johnson (Anthony Anderson) discuss with family members, including the couple’s four children. Much of the episode will focus on various characters’ reactions as they watch a news broadcast about the case, which involves an African-American teenager’s encounter with police.
As was the case when the family talked about the issue of guns in the home, members of the Johnson clan do not necessarily see eye-to-eye about what the kids should know and when they should know it. Rainbow would like to shield the kids, especially the younger ones, from life’s harsher realities as long as she can, while Andre feels that they need to know about the challenges of the world they’re living in as soon as is practical. Pops (Laurence Fishburne) and Ruby (Jenifer Lewis) tend to side with Dre, but the conversations are wide-ranging and impassioned on all sides. “Unfortunately the things that we are dealing with in this episode are not new, especially to the black and brown community. It’s something that’s been going on for quite some time,” Anderson told Variety.
Creator and executive producer Kenya Barris said the desire to take on the issue came from his own attempts to talk to his kids about various incidents of police brutality that made the news. “We’re not ‘Law & Order’ — we’re not trying to rip things from the headlines,” Barris said.
Bow and Dre talking to their kids about what they see on the news “is what this family would naturally be going through.”“What we’re really taking on is the notion of, how do you talk to your kids about what they’re seeing?’” Barris added. His own kids “were seeing people in the streets mad. And they were like, ‘What’s going on? Why are these people so angry?’ It was this big division at my house, because I had my feelings that I wanted to spout out. But my wife had her feelings and the biggest thing is, how do you talk about your frustrations and your angers, but at the same time not take away your kids’ hope and ability to still want to grow and thrive within a world that they have to live in?”
Screenwriters Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver are re-teaming with Malcolm D. Lee for the “Untitled Girls’ Trip Project” at Universal. This project marks the second time the trio have worked together after Barbershop3, which is currently in production.Barris is the creator of the ABC comedy series Black-ish and is also writing a feature adaptation of the 1970s TV show Good Times. Will Packer will be producing “Girls’ Trip” through his Will Packer Productions banner.
Packer’s next two titles at Universal are Straight Outta Compton as Executive Producer, bowing August 14, and Ride Along 2, which opens on January 15 in 2016. Lee’s highest-grossing film stateside was The Best Man Holiday. which made $71 million. Barbershop 3 will be released on February 19 next year.
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.
According to Variety.com, television projects featuring African-American leads have fared extremely well this season. ABC has given full-season orders to the Anthony Anderson/Tracee Ellis Ross comedy “Black-ish” and the Viola Davis vehicle “How to Get Away with Murder,” two of the highest-rated new programs on all broadcast channels. CBS, in turn, has picked up summer sci-fi drama “Extant” for a second season. “Extant” stars Halle Berry and is produced by Steven Spielberg.
“Murder” is the fall’s highest-rated new series in adults 18-49, and the premiere also set DVR playback records, gaining about 6 million viewers within the first three days of its airing. It is created and executive produced by Pete Nowalk (“Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy”). Shonda Rhimes (“Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy”), Betsy Beers (“Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy”) and Bill D’Elia (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “The West Wing”) also serve as executive producers.
“Black-ish” has come on strong as the fall’s top new comedy in 18-49 (2.9 rating) and total viewers (9.1 million) in same-day viewing estimates. This week, the show saw a 12% week-to-week increase in adults 18-49, retaining about 80% of its “Modern Family” lead-in. It was created by Kenya Barris and is executive produced by Anderson, Barris, Jonathan Groff, Larry Wilmore, Laurence Fishburne, Helen Sugland and E. Brian Dobbins.
You may recall in February when we reported Tracee Ellis Ross had signed on for the cast of Anthony Anderson’s pilot for “Black-ish” on ABC. Well congratulations to the pair, since ABC recently announced they will be picking up the show for their 2014-15 TV roster.
As mentioned, the series will center around Anderson’s character, an “upper-middle-class Black man who struggles to raise his children with a sense of cultural identity despite constant contradictions from his liberal wife, old-school father and his own assimilated, color-blind kids.”
Ross recently shared the news with her 300,000+ Instagram followers:
“Yup we’re #Blackish …this is a dream and yet it’s reality! @kenyab_in_imax3d #KenyaBarris #LaurenceFishburne @AnthonyAnderson #LarryWilmore and MEEEEE …thank you ABC.”
The actress will play alongside Anderson as his liberal wife and also expressed:
“This is how I feel right now…#goodthingshappening.”
Laurence Fishburne is an executive producer of the show and make some re-occurring appearances as the old-school dad. Anderson recently appeared in NBC’s short-lived comedy “Guys With Kids”. He’s also been tapped to host the NBC game show “Wall of Fame”. Tracee Ellis-Ross is arguably best known for her role as the ambitious Joan Clayton on the CW network’s “Girlfriends”. This will be ABC’s sixth comedy pilot this season and it’s second African-American themed drama pilot so far. We’re looking forward to some honest laughs.