Oprah Winfrey Network Orders Drama “Love Is_” from “Being Mary Jane” and “Black Lightning” Executive Producers Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil

Mara Brock Akil (l), Salim Akil(r) [photos via Variety.com]

by Daniel Holloway via Variety.com

OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) has given a series order to “Love Is __,” a new drama from Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil. The Akils will create and executive produce the series through their company Akil Productions. Mara Brock Akil will serve as show runner. The series, which had previously been in development at ABC as a multi-camera comedy, will be produced in association with Warner Horizon. It is slated to premiere in 2018.

“I’ve dreamed of working with the Akils,” said Oprah Winfrey. “I’ve been a huge fan of their work since first viewing ‘Girlfriends.’ They know just how to hit the cultural nerve to make you think and laugh at the same time.”

“To have a partner that brings the attention to detail and sheer excellence that Oprah has built an empire on is an absolute dream come true for Salim and me,” said Mara Brock Akil. “That, and it’s Oprah! ‘Love Is ___’ is not only a passion project, but is a personal one for us as well. We’re grateful to have her wholehearted support and magic touch behind this story.”

Based on the Akils’ relationship, the series will tell the story of a power couple navigating the landscape of Black Hollywood. Mara Brock Akil is the creator of “Girlfriends” and “Being Mary Jane.” She and husband Salim Akil, director of the film “Jumping the Broom,” co-created “The Game.” The two are executive producers of the CW’s upcoming DC Comics-based superhero series “Black Lightning,” on which Salim Akil serves as showrunner.

Source: Oprah Winfrey Network Orders Drama From Mara Brock and Salim Akil | Variety

MOVIES: Watch 1st Trailer for Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time”

by Seth Kelley via variety.com

The first footage from Ava DuVernay’s highly-anticipated “A Wrinkle in Time” is finally here. Disney did the honors during its D23 Expo on Saturday.

DuVernay, the director of “Selma” and the documentary “13th,” among other projects, joined “A Wrinkle in Time” in February 2016. The story follows a group of children as they travel through time and visit strange worlds in order to find their missing father. Storm Reid plays the oldest daughter, Meg Murray, in the movie.

The cast includes Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Which, Reese Witherspoon as Mrs. Whatsit, Mindy Kaling as Mrs. Who, and Chris Pine, who all joined the stage to present “Wrinkle” alongside DuVernay and Reid. Zach Galifianakis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw also star, but were not in attendance.

Jennifer Lee, who wrote and co-directed “Frozen” with Chris Buck, is responsible for the film adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic children’s book for Disney.

Earlier in the weekend, Winfrey was honored as a Disney Legend. During her acceptance speech, the legendary actress spoke about the studio’s impact on her life. “Disney, ABC 7 let me be me,” she said of her long-running “Oprah Winfrey Show.”

“A Wrinkle in Time” is expected to hit theaters March 9, 2018. The teaser can be seen above.

To read full article, go to: http://variety.com/2017/film/news/a-wrinkle-in-time-trailer-disney-ava-duvernay-watch-video-1202496728/

Ava DuVernay to Write and Direct Limited Series About Central Park Five at Netflix

Ava DuVernay (photo via Variety.com)

by Elizabeth Wagmeister via Variety.com

Ava DuVernay is continuing her relationship with Netflix, bringing a limited series about the Central Park Five case to the streaming giant. Netflix has greenlit the five-part scripted series for a 2019 debut. DuVernay created the project and will write and direct all five installments.

Participant Media, Tribeca Productions and Harpo Films are behind the limited series with Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Skoll, Jonathan King, Jane Rosenthal and Berry Welsh serving as executive producers alongside DuVernay. The project is the latest collaboration for Winfrey and DuVernay who worked together on the Oscar-winning “Selma” and OWN’s “Queen Sugar.”

For DuVernay, the project marks a return to Netflix for the filmmaker who wrote and directed the platform’s 2016 documentary “13th.” “I had an extraordinary experience working with Netflix on ’13th’ and am overjoyed to continue this exploration of the criminal justice system as a narrative project with Cindy Holland and the team there,” said DuVernay. “The story of the men known as Central Park Five has riveted me for more than two decades. In their journey, we witness five innocent young men of color who were met with injustice at every turn — from coerced confessions to unjust incarceration to public calls for their execution by the man who would go on to be the President of the United States.”

Based on the true story of the notorious Central Park Five case, each part of the limited series will focus on one of the five teenagers from Harlem — Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise — who were wrongly convicted of raping Trisha Meili in Central Park. The series will span from the spring of 1989, when each were first questioned about the incident, to 2014 when they were exonerated and a settlement was reached with the city of New York.

To read full article, go to: Central Park Five Limited Series From Ava DuVernay Greenlit at Netflix | Variety

“The HeLa Project” Exhibition Travels to NY, ATL to Honor Mortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Before Premiere of HBO Film

(image via wn.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

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. Wolfethe 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.

(image vialewis museum.org)

The  exhibition debuted last week in Baltimore at the Reginald Lewis Museum, and  will run April 7th – April 9th in 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 the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Oprah Winfrey to Join CBS’ “60 Minutes” as Contributor

Oprah Winfrey (photo via variety.com)

article by Brian Sternberg via Variety.com

Oprah Winfrey, the inspirational talk-show host, TV executive, billionaire and interviewer, will join CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes” in the fall, the network announced Tuesday.

“Her body of work is extraordinary, including thousands of interviews with people from all walks of life. She is a remarkable and talented woman with a level of integrity that sets her apart and makes her a perfect fit for ’60 Minutes,’” said Jeff Fager, the program’s executive producer, in a prepared statement. “I am thrilled that she will be bringing her unique and powerful voice to our broadcast.”

Winfrey has a longstanding and unique relationship with CBS. The company agreed red on 1999 to purchase King World Productions, a syndicated-TV powerhouse that launched Winfrey’s famous and durable talk show. At the time, Winfrey, a substantial King World shareholder, was expected to control one-half a percentage point of CBS stock.

The relationship stands today: Winfrey is an executive producer of CBS’ syndicated “Dr. Phil” program. CBS did not offer details of the types of segments Winfrey might contribute to “60 Minutes.” But she is known for her ability to get even the most famous actor or actress to disclose close-held feelings and emotions. One of the show’s most penetrating interviewers of celebrities, Morley Safer, retired from the newsmagazine last year, just days before passing away.

To read more: Oprah Winfrey Joins 60 Minutes as Contributor | Variety

National Museum of African History and Culture All-Star Tribute to Air on ABC Tonight

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National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. (photo via notey.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

The National Museum of African American History and Culture takes center stage on ABC Television tonight. The network will air “Taking the Stage: African American Music and Stories that Changed America” on ABC stations nationwide at 9 pm EST/8 pm CST.

Filmed live at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Grand Opening celebration of the Museum, the program features an all-star tribute of music, dance, and spoken word on the African American experience. Oprah Winfrey, Stevie Wonder, Mary J. Blige, and Tom Hanks are among the many artists who participated in the program, which includes a special salute to the Tuskegee Airmen.

The special will feature new film footage of iconic items from the museum’s collections – items ranging from a plane used to train the famed Tuskegee airmen for World War II combat duty to a bible owned by Nat Turner. The film is accompanied by music, dance and dramatic readings by a wide range of stage and screen actors.

#TakingtheStage

Ava DuVernay’s Mass Incarceration Documentary “13th” Opens to Standing Ovation at New York Film Festival

New York Film Festival 2016 opening

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay (GREGORY PACE/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Gordon Cox via Variety.com

Ava DuVernay’s “13th” opened the 54th New York Film Festival with a jolt of topical urgency, shaking up tradition as the first documentary to kick off the festival and addressing head-on the issue of mass incarceration and its historical roots. The crowd at the premiere screening rose to its feet when the credits rolled — and then did it a couple more times after that: once when the lights came up on the filmmakers, activists and academics involved in the film, and again when DuVernay appeared for a brief talkback after the movie.

Heightened security measures, a reaction to the Sept. 17 bombing in Chelsea, made the opening the first in recent memory to involve bomb-sniffing dogs and security wands. Famous faces including Oprah WinfreyCommon and Don Lemon turned out for the film, which confronts issues at the forefront of the current political conversation: race, inequality, the fallout of slavery, police brutality and Black Lives Matter.

“This moment, this Black Lives Matter moment, it’s not a moment. It’s a movement,” said DuVernay on the red carpet before the film’s world premiere (in words she would later echo when she addressed the crowd in the theater). “People thought, ‘Oh, will it last?’ Well, it has lasted. It’s changed things. It’s forced candidates to talk about things that they did not talk about in previous elections. It’s opened people’s minds. It’s changed art-making. It’s changed music. People are seeing things through a different filter now.”

To read full article, go to: http://variety.com/2016/film/news/new-york-film-festival-2016-opening-13th-ava-duvernay-1201875308/