Tag: Mike Epps

Producer/Director Deon Taylor Launches Dark Circus Banner, Sets Snoop Dogg-Produced Series “The Thrill”

Deon Taylor (Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

by Mia Galuppo via hollywoodreporter.com

Producer/director Deon Taylor and his Hidden Empire Film Group have launched a new shingle, Dark Circus, that will produce film and television content aimed towards urban audiences, with a focus on the comedy and horror genres.

The first project set up under the banner is a Snoop Dogg-produced horror anthology series, The Thrill. It centers on a mysterious hotel, The Last Stop Inn, situated on a lonely stretch of foreboding highway, where the unlucky guests who check in each week struggle to understand the supernatural events that unfold during their stay.

The first feature release under the new label will be The House Next Door, the previously announced sequel to Meet the Blacks. Taylor directed the comedy that stars Mike Epps and Katt Williams.

“We have the resources and market expertise to deliver branded content with a unique voice — one that speaks to an urban audience,” said Taylor. “I won’t say that this market is underserved, as there are a great deal of films still finding their way to the marketplace. However, our intention is to raise the bar with Dark Circus and create an enduring brand. Partnering with Snoop on this first anthology series will have us coming out of the gates strong, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Taylor — who directed and produced the upcoming Paula Patton-starrer Traffik and is attached to direct the police drama .38 — runs Hidden Empire with partners Roxanne Avent and Robert F. Smith.

Source: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/deon-taylor-lauches-dark-circus-banner-sets-snoop-dogg-produced-anthology-series-1094982

‘Def Comedy Jam 25’ Special to Be Produced by Netflix to Mark 25th Anniversary of “Def Comedy Jam”

Def Comedy Jam 25 (photos via thegrio.com)

via thegrio.com

Netflix announced on Thursday that it will produce “Def Comedy Jam 25” to mark the 25th anniversary of the comedy show, to air this fall. “Def Comedy Jam” originally ran from 1992 to 1996 before being revived in 2006. The show, which was produced by Russell Simmons, helped to launch the careers of the likes of Martin Lawrence, Cedric the Entertainer and Sheryl Underwood.

The lineup of performers for the special thus far include: Lawrence, Underwood, Bill Bellamy, Cedric the Entertainer, Dave Chappelle, Mike Epps, Adele Givens, Eddie Griffin, Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Kid Capri, Tracy Morgan, Craig Robinson, JB Smoove, Sommore, Joe Torry and Katt Williams.

To read original article, go to: Netflix announces ‘Def Comedy Jam 25’ to mark 25th anniversary | theGrio

Tracy Morgan Teams with Jordan Peele on FX Comedy Pilot

Tracy Morgan Comedy Tour
Tracy Morgan (MICHAEL BUCKNER/VARIETY/REX SHUTTERSTOCK)

Tracy Morgan’s plan to star in an FX comedy series is back on track now that writer-actor Jordan Peele and John Carcieri have signed on to write a pilot for the former “30 Rock” star.

Morgan’s life was up-ended 18 months ago by a car crash that came two months after he signed a straight-to-series pact with FX Networks.

The new project will see Morgan playing a career criminal who struggles to reintegrate into society after serving a 15-year prison sentence.

Peele and Carcieri will write the pilot and executive produce with Eric Tannenbaum and Joel Zadak, an alum of Peele’s Comedy Central sketch series “Key and Peele.”

“What an unbeatable combination – Tracy Morgan and Jordan Peele – two exceptional comics joining forces with a great team of writers and producers to create and produce this pilot for FX Networks,” said Nick Grad, president of original programming for FX Networks and FX Prods. “We’ve been committed to Tracy from the start and are thrilled that Jordan, John, Eric and Joel are joining him in developing this new project.”

Morgan’s deal with the cable network in 2014 called for him to work with the “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” gang — Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, and Rob McElhenney — on an unspecified concept for a comedy to air on FXX. It’s unclear whether the new pilot will be bound for FXX or the mothership FX.

Morgan suffered brain injuries and broken bones after his SUV was rear-ended on the New Jersey turnpike in June 2014. The crash killed another passenger in the car, Morgan’s longtime friend and fellow comedian James McNair.

The severity of his injuries forced the former “30 Rock” star to endure a long recuperation period. He began a slow return to the public eye last summer with emotional appearances on the Primetime Emmy Awards telecast and a hosting gig on “Saturday Night Live,” his alma mater.

Morgan at present is headlining a national comedy tour dubbed “Picking Up the Pieces” that is set to run through May. He also just wrapped work on the Weinstein Co.’s biopic “Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?,” in which he plays comedian Redd Foxx opposite Mike Epps in the title role.

Peele is coming off a five-season run on the much-praised sketch comedy “Key and Peele.” He was in the ensemble of the 2014 edition of FX’s “Fargo,” and he’s recently had recurring roles on CBS’ “Life in Pieces,” and Netflix’s “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp,” among other projects.

article by Cynthia Littleton via Variety.com

“Think Like A Man” Producer Will Packer Renews Overall Deal with Universal TV Through 2017

Will Packer Universal TV
COURTESY OF WILL PACKER PRODUCTIONS (via Variety.com)

Will Packer has renewed his overall deal with Universal Television. The two-year extension pact takes Packer’s Will Packer Productions banner through 2017 at the studio.

“The Wedding Ringer” and “Think Like a Man” producer is taking a major step into TV this fall, executive producing NBC comedy “People Are Talking,” and sitcom “Uncle Buck,” which debuts midseason on ABC. He’s also set to executive produce the “Roots” revival, which will air next year on History, A&E and Lifetime.

“Talking” stars Tone BellMark Paul-Gosselaar, Vanessa Lachey and Bresha Webb as two different couples who are neighbors and best friends. Packer executive produces alongside writer D.J. Nash with director Pam Fryman. “Buck,” a take on John Hughes’ 1989 film, stars comedian Mike Epps as the title character.

“Will Packer is energetic, passionate, creative and wants to win,” Universal Television president Bela Bajaria commented. “He is a collaborative partner, a hands-on producer and is absolutely the best dressed!”

NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke added, “Will Packer has become such a fantastic addition to our Universal family. We are lucky to have such an enthusiastic and prolific producer so engaged in network television. Will, Korin [Huggins], and their team truly have their fingers on the pulse of entertaining and fun.”

Packer’s other film credits include “Think Like a Man Too,” “Stomp the Yard,” “Ride Along” and its upcoming sequel, which will hit theaters in January. He’s repped by UTA.

article by Elizabeth Wagmeister via Variety.com

Mike Epps/Nia Long Comedy “Uncle Buck” Picked Up To Series at ABC

"Uncle Buck" cast (Image via ABC)
“Uncle Buck” cast (Image via ABC)

ABC has picked up multi-camera comedy Uncle Buck to series, Deadline.com reports.  The sitcom, starring Mike Epps and Nia Long, may air as a midseason replacement.  Written by Steven Cragg and Brian Bradley, the series centers on Uncle Buck (Mike Epps), a fun-loving but irresponsible guy who needs a job and a place to stay.  By happy coincidence, his brother’s nanny has just quit and his brother and sister-in-law need his help.  James Lesure, Iman Benson, Sayeed Shahidi and Aalyrah Caldwell co-star.

Cragg and Bradley executive produce with Will Packer, and Korin Huggins and Phil Traill co-executive produce.  This is the second series order for feature producer (“Think Like A Man”, “Ride Along”) Packer. In his first TV development season, he scored two comedy pilots through his Universal TV-based Will Packer Prods., People Are Talking at NBC and Uncle Buck at ABC. Both have now been given series orders.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Bessie Smith Celebrated with Upcoming “Bessie” Biopic and HBO-Sponsored “Bessie’s 81 Theater Tour”

tv_bessie_queen_smith_duo1a
Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in “Bessie” (l); Legendary Blues Artist Bessie Smith (r) [Photo via nypost.com]

For some reason, a decent portion of today’s entertainment news is all about Bessie Smith.  Which is a great thing, because the under-appreciated “Empress of the Blues” has deserved her due in the media as well as American musical history for well over half a century.  Thanks to Queen Latifah, who committed to bringing Bessie’s story to life after 22 years in development, HBO will air the biopic “Bessie”, written and directed by Dee Rees (“Pariah”), on May 16.  The movie also stars Khandi Alexander, Tika Sumpter, Mike Epps and Academy Award winner Monique as Ma Rainey.

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 2.53.04 PMNot only did Good Black News have the great fortune to be part of today’s HuffPost Live interview with “Bessie” director Rees (which you can watch by clicking the link above or right here), HBO also announced its launch of a special two-city event series in New York this week honoring the legacy of the blues-jazz singer called “Bessie’s 81 Theater Tour.”

The event, which will coincide with the New York and Los Angeles premieres of the biopic starring Queen Latifah, will feature a workshop lead by Grammy Award-winning producer Bryan Michael Cox and singer-songwriter Stacy Barthe. The workshop will be offered to local artists in an effort to mimic the creative music process once used by Smith and her peers.

“In today’s music, I believe the constant utilization of live instrumentation is missing,” Cox said in a statement emailed to HuffPost. “Whenever that element is injected into popular music in this era, the song usually becomes a hit. One great example of this is Mark Ronson’s ‘Uptown Funk.’”

In addition to the artist workshop, the two-city promotional tour will also feature a music showcase comprised of a series of performances from local artists. It will conclude with a private dinner for native influencers and a surprise performance by an “A-list artist.”

“When thinking about how we wanted to build buzz about the film, we wanted to do something that was completely unique and immersive,” Lucinda Martinez, SVP of HBO Multicultural Marketing said in a press release for the event.

“We’re confident that this event series properly honors the legacy of Bessie Smith by showcasing aspiring songwriters and producers. We want to raise awareness for the film, create connections and offer these young creatives a platform to share their craft.”

The “Bessie’s 81 Theater Tour” will conclude in Los Angeles next month leading up to the May 16 premiere of “Bessie” on HBO.

In the meantime, if you want a Bessie Smith fix before then, we suggest checking out her only appearance on film performing her iconic “St. Louis Blues” below:

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, Good Black News Founder and Editor-In-Chief

Queen Latifah’s Bessie Smith biopic “Bessie” Set to Debut May 16th on HBO (VIDEO)

Official Still of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in HBO's biopic
Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in HBO’s biopic (Courtesy: HBO)

Queen Latifah stars as legendary blues singer Bessie Smith in the HBO Films drama “Bessie,” which is directed by Dee Rees, from a screenplay written by Rees, Christopher Cleveland & Bettina Gilois.

With a story by Rees and Horton Foote, the film focuses on Smith’s transformation from a struggling young singer into “The Empress of the Blues,” one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s.

HBO has announced its movie will debut on Saturday, May 16 at 8PM.

The cast includes Michael Kenneth Williams as Bessie’s husband, Jack; Khandi Alexander as Bessie’s older sister, Viola; Mike Epps as Richard, a bootlegger and romantic interest; Tika Sumpter as Lucille, a performer and romantic interest; Tory Kittles as Bessie’s older brother, Clarence; Oliver Platt as famed photographer and writer Carl Van Vechten; Bryan Greenberg as renowned record producer and music critic John Hammond; with Charles S. Dutton as Ma Rainey’s husband, William “Pa” Rainey; and Mo’Nique as blues legend Ma Rainey.

The film will offer an intimate look at the determined woman whose immense talent and love for music took her from anonymity in the rough-and-tumble world of vaudeville to the 1920s blues scene and international fame, capturing her professional highs and personal lows, and ultimate legend.

Described by HBO as a labor of love for the filmmakers, “Bessie” has been 22 years in the making. The first draft was written by playwright Horton Foote. Queen Latifah was approached by producers Richard and Lili Fini Zanuck to take on the role of Bessie when she was just launching her acting career. She eventually came on board as an executive producer, along with producing partner Shakim Compere.

Director Dee Rees caught HBO’s attention with the buzz around her award-winning film, “Pariah.”

Says Latifah, “I have been excited about this project since the very beginning. When HBO got involved, we were thrilled and we worked together to make something that would capture Bessie’s life honestly and respectfully.”

Watch the telepic’s first full-length trailer below:

original article by Tambay A. Obenson via blogs.indiewire.com

Eddie Murphy Joins Cast of Richard Pryor Biopic Directed by Lee Daniels

Eddie Murphy Beverly Hills Cop
(PHOTO: GABRIEL OLSEN/FILMMAGIC)

Eddie Murphy is in talks to join the cast of Lee Daniels’ untitled Richard Pryor biopic, sources confirm.  He will play the late comedian’s father, LeRoy “Buck Carter” Pryor, a boxer and WWII veteran, in the Weinstein Co. drama.

Mike Epps is attached to star as the legendary comedian.

Daniels teased the Murphy casting Thursday night on Instagram with a photo of himself and the actor.

Murphy, who recently appeared in the “SNL” 40th Anniversary special, grew up idolizing and impersonating Pryor as a comedian in the ’70s.

“Richard’s the one that made me want to do comedy,” he previously said. “When I was little I used to sneak into my basement and put his albums on.”

Daniels is riding the success of his hit TV drama “Empire,” which Fox just renewed for a second season. He also directed “The Butler” for the Weinstein Co.

Murphy can be seen next in the culinary drama “Cook.”

article via Variety.com

Mike Epps and Nia Long to Star in ABC Comedy Pilot “Uncle Buck”

mikeepps

Mike Epps has been cast in the title role in Uncle Buck, ABC‘s single-camera comedy pilot based on the classic John Hughes film starring John Candy. Also cast in the project, from Universal TV and Will Packer Prods., is Nia Long.

nialongLike the movie, the series adaptation, written by Steven Cragg and Brian Bradley, centers on Buck Russell (Epps), a childish man who learns how to be an adult by taking care of his brother Will’s kids in a very childish way. Long will play Will’s strong-willed and smart wife.

The new Uncle Buck TV remake (there was a short-lived 1990s Uncle Buck CBS series starring Kevin Meaney) had been conceived with Buck as African American, giving the format a new twist. Packer is known for producing hit feature comedy franchises with Black leads, like Ride Along and Think Like A Man. On ABC, Uncle Buck would be a suitable companion for another single-camera African American family comedy, Black-ish.

article by Nellie Andreeva via deadline.com

“The Queen Latifah Show” Veteran Robin Thede Lands Head Writer Spot for Comedy Central’s “Minority Report”

Comedy Central’s The Minority Report With Larry Wilmore has found a head writer.

Robin Thede has been tapped to lead Larry Wilmore‘s upcoming late-night show, which replaces The Colbert Report in January when Stephen Colbert segues to CBS’ Late Show.

Thede was most recently head writer on syndicated daytime talker The Queen Latifah Show and also wrote for Chris Rock when he hosted the 2014 BET Awards, as well as the NAACP Image Awards. She was previously a writer on BET’s satirical comedy Real Husbands of Hollywood, which starred Kevin Hart, Boris Kodjoe and Nick Cannon for the first two seasons.

A Second City and Improv Olympic alumna, Thede’s sketch/improv credits includeI n the Flow With Affion Crockett, Mike Epps‘ sketch comedy series Funny Bidness and Clunkers. She has appeared in BET’s Second Generation Wayans, Fox’s Goodwin Games, TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland, UPN’s All of Us and Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, in addition to the Marlon Wayans film A Haunted House. 

The Minority Report, like the Daily Show and The Colbert Report, aims to provide a comedic look at news, current events and pop culture from different perspectives not typically seen on television.

The news comes three months after former The Daily Show showrunner Rory Albanese was tapped to head up the 11:30 p.m. show, reuniting him with Daily Show corespondent Wilmore. Jon Stewart also serves as an executive producer. Wilmore, a veteran producer in his own right, transitioned from his duty as executive producer/showrunner on ABC’s black-ish, which earned a full-season order this week, in September to focus on launching Minority Report.

article by Philiana Ng via hollywoodreporter.com

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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