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.
article by Ben Poston, Veronica Rocha, Joseph Serna and Kate Mather via latimes.com
Rappers and Los Angeles-area natives the Game and Snoop Dogg led a unification march for men of color Friday morning to the Los Angeles Police Department’s graduation of its newest officers, hours after five Dallas police officers were shot and killed and seven others were wounded during a sniper attack.
About 6:30 a.m., the Game posted on his Instagram account a call for black, Mexican and men of all races to march to the Los Angeles Police Department’s headquarters to “make the Californian government & its law branches aware that from today forward, we will be UNIFIED as minorities & we will no longer allow them to hunt us or be hunted by us!!!”
He said women and children should stay away, “THIS IS OUR MISSION FOR THEM,” he wrote.
The Game, a Compton native whose legal name is Jayceon Terrell Taylor, said in his announcement the march had to be peaceful.
“Do not: bring any weapons or anything illegal. Do not come high or belligerent … We don’t need any HOT HEADS or anyone there for the wrong reasons… We will stand as we are, UNIFIED. I’m calling ALL GANGS, ALL RACES, ALL GROWN MEN affiliated or not & we will stand UNIFIED.”
A post shared by The Game (@losangelesconfidential) on
Snoop Dogg, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, said organizers didn’t know there was an LAPD recruit graduation scheduled for Friday morning. The point of the march was to reintroduce the Police Department to members of the community it serves, he told reporters at the scene.
About 50 men joined the march to LAPD headquarters.
“The mission is to reintroduce our community to the LAPD… just to get some understanding and dialogue,” he said. “We’re the ones they’re going to be dealing with, we’re the ones that are going to be pulled over. … We’re here on peace.”
The group began planning the march before dawn, the Game said. Organizers spoke with marchers about their unifying, peaceful message so it couldn’t be misconstrued by police, and conversely, so they would listen when law enforcement responded.
“We don’t have to fear each other today,” he said.
Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons has announced that he’s launching his own movie awards show in response to #OscarsSoWhite, which is set to debut just four days before the Academy Awards.
As the A.V. Club reports, Simmons’ All Def Movie Awards “will see “Beasts of No Nation,” “Chi-Raq,” “Concussion,” “Creed,” “Dope,” and “Straight Outta Compton” compete for the best picture award.” Other awards will honor Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director, as well as Best Bad Muh F**ka, Best Helpful White Person and Best Black Survivor in a Movie.
The awards will be recognized by members of the All Def Academy, and members of the public can vote online for two categories – Best Picture and Most Quoted Movie – through midnight on Feb. 23 by clicking here.
“The All Def Movie Awards are not the Black Oscars,” Simmons said in a statement, “But they could be. This will be a fun, entertaining and hopefully thought-provoking celebration of the uncelebrated.”
The ceremony is set for February 24 in Hollywood at the Mann’s Chinese theater. Tony Rock, (Chris Rock’s younger brother), will host the event, which will feature a Black Carpet for celebrity presenters, arrivals and VIP guests.
“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself,” said Rock. “With that in mind I have teamed up — I guess I didn’t do it myself — with ADD to bring you the ‘all inclusive’ All Def Movie Awards. We’ll honor the entire movie-making process. Great acting, mediocre acting as well as horrible acting. Soundtracks. Wardrobes. Maybe even craft services — the best part of the set. This is the award show Hollywood has been waiting for.”
The All Def Movie Awards will be programmed as part of All Def Comedy Live, and admission to the show is by invitation only, with a select number of seats on reserved for fans by lottery.
“I don’t expect a 90 year-old Academy member to see ‘Straight Outta Compton’ or vote for it. I’m more concerned that in 2016 there continues to be a stunning lack of diversity in the studios, in the green light process, in the decisions of what films and television series get made, and what actors get chosen. This needs to be addressed institutionally,” said Russell Simmons.
According to The Wrap, the All Def Movie Awards will also feature a special live musical performance and a steady stream of “video content before, during and after the show on all of ADD’s social channels, including Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Periscope.”
LL Cool J received Hollywood’s biggest honor by snagging a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. The rapper is being lauded for his career accolades, including being one of the first rappers to sell 10 consecutive platinum plus selling albums, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Queen Latifah and Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combs were in attendance speaking during the ceremony about what the actor/rapper’s career has meant to the entertainment industry.
Other notable attendees included Mike Tyson, Russell Simmons and Magic Johnson.
Russell Simmons is developing a hip-hop musical that will draw songs from hip-hop’s “golden age” from between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s, in the same way that “Rock of Ages” pulled tunes from the hard-rock classics of the ’80s.
Simmons has teamed with “Rock of Ages” producer Big Block/Scott Prisand for the show, which aims to conjure the same fun, concert-like vibe that helped sustain the nearly six-year run of “Rock of Ages” on Broadway. The original story of “The Scenario” will be written by Dan Charnas, who wrote the book “The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop.”
The attachment of Simmons, who’ll produce through Def Pictures, lends “The Scenario” some notable cred. As the founder of Def Jam Recordings in 1984, he’s credited with playing a major role in hip-hop’s rise to the mainstream. He also founded the Def Comedy franchise in 1989, and he produced and conceived 2002 Broadway outing “Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam.”
Simmons and Big Block hope to get “The Scenario” into New York in late 2016, although they aren’t necessarily targeting Broadway. “Rock of Ages,” for instance, played an Off Broadway run before it shifted to Broadway; the producers could also consider putting the production in a nontraditional space outside the typical Broadway box.
“The Scenario” is being developed by a team of producers that includes Simmons, Def Pictures/Jake Stein, Big Block/Prisand, Scott Benson, Tom Pellegrini and Jamie Bendell, Brian Sher and Stella Bulichnikov.
HBO is moving forward with Steve McQueen‘s drama pilot Codes Of Conduct, giving the project a six-episode limited series order. The 12 Years A Slave helmer will direct all six episodes of Codes Of Conduct, on which he had teamed with World War Z co-writer Matthew Michael Carnahan; hip-hop mogul/producer Russell Simmons, who has a deal at HBO; Oscar-winning producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman (The King’s Speech); and HBO veteran Alan Poul (The Newsroom, Six Feet Under). All six will executive produce.
Co-written by McQueen and Carnahan, Codes Of Conduct is carrying McQueen’s signature style of provocative filmmaking and is described as an exploration of a young African-American man’s experience entering New York high society, with a past that might not be what it seems. It centers on Beverly Snow (newcomer Devon Terrell), a young man from Queens as talented as he is ambiguous. His self-confidence will enable him to break into the social circles of Manhattan’s elite, testing the boundaries of access and social mobility. Paul Dano, Helena Bonham Carter and Rebecca Hall co-star.
Codes Of Conduct follows the model employed by HBO’s buzzy drama True Detective, which also started as a limited series. The cable network also has upcoming miniseries True Justice. HBO’s 2015 drama series slate includes new entries Westworld, from JJ Abrams, Jonah Nolan and Jerry Weintraub; Untitled Rock ‘n’ Roll project, from Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger and Terence Winter; and Ballers, from Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg and Steve Levinson.
One of Hollywood’s most powerful black agents is making a new start. Charles King is leaving William Morris Endeavor to form MACRO, a startup that will focus on developing content for multicultural audiences.
With an unspecified “eight figures” in funding, Los Angeles-based MACRO initially will focus on developing and distributing feature films, TV series and digital content targeting African-American, Latino and multicultural markets.
King, 45, whose clients have included Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey, tells The Hollywood Reporter that MACRO’s goal is to focus on audiences that have long been underserved by the traditional entertainment industry. “I’ve been sitting in these rooms for the last 15 years. The studios aren’t focused on it; the packagers aren’t focused on it,” he says. “There’s a huge void and a huge opportunity.”
He points to the lack of capital available to minority-focused filmmakers and says he’s looking to change that with MACRO, which will leverage crowdfunding platforms and co-financing to target films that range from “artistically inclined independents” in the $1 million to $3 million budget range up to $20 million projects. He points to films such as Barbershop, The Butler and Ride Alongas examples of the types of projects he hopes to produce. “The one underlying theme is ‘premium,’ ” he says. “I’m looking for artistic integrity.”
King already has lined up projects from filmmakers Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) and Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow). Both were represented by King at WME and say they jumped at the opportunity to continue to work with him in a new capacity.
OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network recently announced a month-long celebration in January honoring civil rights legends who paved the way as we approach the 50th anniversary of the historic Selma to Montgomery marches led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The network will air the star-studded television event Oprah Winfrey Presents: Legends Who Paved The Way (Sunday, January 18 at 9 p.m. ET/PT) where Oprah Winfrey hosts a gala of events honoring some of the legendary men and extraordinary women of the civil rights movement, the arts and entertainment who made history and redefined what was possible for us all. Honorees include Ambassador Andrew Young, Berry Gordy, Rev. C.T. Vivian, Diane Nash, Dick Gregory, Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., Congressman John Lewis, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Juanita Jones Abernathy, Julian Bond, Marian Wright Edelman, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Quincy Jones, Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte.
On January 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, Oprah sits down for a special episode of her popular series Oprah Prime celebrating the life of Dr. King and the Selma marches 50 years later. The episode features an in-depth conversation with the star of the upcoming film Selma, acclaimed actor David Oyelowo who portrays Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., along with the film’s award-winning director Ava DuVernay. The episode will also feature stories of those who were impacted by the march and their reflections today on that time in American history.
The month of special programming begins on New Year’s Day as NBC News correspondent Tamron Hall hosts Race on The Oprah Winfrey Show with Tamron Hall (Thursday, January 1 at 10 p.m. ET/PT) which highlights those trailblazing Oprah show episodes that elicited shocking audience responses and sparked opportunities for growth towards greater connection, empathy and healing.
Other special programming airing throughout the month include special episodes of Oprah: Where Are They Now? (Thursday, January 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT) which spotlights memorable civil rights newsmakers and Oprah’s Master Class (Sunday, January 4 at 10 p.m. ET/PT) featuring powerful firsthand accounts from iconic “masters” such as Berry Gordy, Cicely Tyson, Dr. Maya Angelou, Diahann Carroll and many more.
In addition, the world television premiere of the OWN original documentary Light Girls will air on Monday, January 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT featuring an in-depth look into colorism and the untold stories of lighter-skinned women around the globe. The documentary features interviews with notable celebrities including Russell Simmons, Soledad O’Brien, Diahann Carroll, india.arie, Iyanla Vanzant, Michaela Angela Davis, Kym Whitley, Salli Richardson-Whitfield and more.
Following the announcement that police officer Darren Wilsonwould not be indicted for the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, several human rights groups have sprung into action to protest the decision and push back against undue violence at the hands of police.
In the entertainment community, Blackout for Human Rights, a “network of concerned citizens who commit their resources to immediately address the staggering level of human rights violations against fellow Americans,” has been active in the past few months with a series of videos calling for a nationwide boycott of all major retailers this Black Friday, the major shopping day following Thanksgiving.
One hope is that pressure from the community will cause Wilson to be held accountable at a federal level.
The group, which counts filmmakers Ryan Coogler, Shaka King, Terence Nance, Rick Famuyiwa and others among its members, is using the hashtag #BlackOutBlackFriday to put the call out on social media for supporters to participate in “a nationwide day of action for human rights awareness, as opposed to a day of consumerism.”
NEW YORK (AP) — A group of young people at a New York City jail complex got some words of encouragement on Thursday from hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and actor/rapper LL Cool J.
The two visited Rikers Island to mark the launch of a national anti-violence program from Simmons’ RushCard, a prepaid debit card. RushCard’s Keep the Peace initiative is giving grants to neighborhood organizations. One of those is LIFE Camp, a Queens organization that works with young people, including those at Rikers, to reduce violence.
Cool J told the audience that his rough upbringing could have had him where they are if things had worked out differently, and he encouraged them to believe in themselves. “You can absolutely without a doubt do anything you put your mind to,” he said.
Simmons told them to focus on what’s inside them. “It’s your spirit you’ve got to work on,” he said.
Deputy Warden Clement Glenn said partnering with programs like LIFE Camp is among the ways the Department of Correction tries to get young people to change their behavior.
“We’re trying to encourage them not to come back into the system, hoping they will integrate into society and become contributing members of their community,” he said.