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Kasi Lemmons to Adapt ‘The Shadow King,’ the True Story of Female Ethiopian WWII Soldiers

Kasi Lemmons to Adapt ‘The Shadow King,’ the True Story of Female Ethiopian WWII Soldiers
After helming the tales of Harriet Tubman in Harriet and C.J. Walker in Self Made, filmmaker Kasi Lemmons is turning her sights to a new true story, seldom heard in our annals of history. Lemmons will be writing and directing the film adaptation of historical novel The Shadow King -- a story worth telling and then some. The Shadow King, originally written by Maaza Mengiste, tells the real story of Mussolini's 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, and the heroic female soldiers who fought back. Of working on adapting the novel, Lemmons said this: "Maaza Mengiste’s mesmerizing novel takes my …
See full article at Collider.com »

‘Harriet’ Filmmaker Kasi Lemmons to Write, Direct World War II Drama ‘The Shadow King’

  • Variety
‘Harriet’ Filmmaker Kasi Lemmons to Write, Direct World War II Drama ‘The Shadow King’
Harriet” director Kasi Lemmons has come on board to write and direct World War II drama “The Shadow King,” set during Benito Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia.

The Atlas Entertainment project is based on Maaza Mengiste’s historical fiction novel, set during the first real conflict of World War II and spotlighting the Ethiopian women soldiers who were left out of the historical record. The project will be produced by Charles Roven and Richard Suckle and executive produced by Stephanie Haymes-Roven and Curt Kanemoto, who will oversee the project for Atlas Entertainment.

Harriet” garnered an Academy Award nomination for Cynthia Erivo for her portrayal of slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Lemmons’ credits include “Eve’s Bayou,” “Dr. Hugo,” “The Caveman’s Valentine,” “Talk to Me” and “Black Nativity.”

“Kasi’s films are epic and intimate all at once,” said Roven and Suckle. “It makes her the perfect filmmaker to bring to life Maaza’s
See full article at Variety »

Self-Made and The Banker showcase the power of black-owned businesses

Self-Made and The Banker showcase the power of black-owned businesses
The Netflix series and Apple TV movie tell true stories of entrepreneurship at odds with an ongoing Hollywood narrative of black tragedy

While Hollywood has slowly started to embrace a more diverse landscape, inspirational depictions of African Americans prospering remain an unfortunate rarity. This year’s Oscars drove the point home quite clearly, with Cynthia Erivo as the lone black acting nominee, playing runaway slave Harriet Tubman. The same year saw snubs for Lupita Nyong’o in Us and Eddie Murphy in Dolemite is My Name, both playing more contemporary characters with agency. It added credence to the long-held suspicion that in order for a performance by a black actor to break out, there needs to be some form of abuse or subservience to gain recognition. Previous wins by Octavia Spencer in The Help, Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years A Slave and Mahershala Ali in Green Book highlight this. Yes,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

‘Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker’: TV Review

  • Variety
‘Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker’: TV Review
Last year, the director Kasi Lemmons did something interesting, if not consistently successful, with the character of Harriet Tubman: She turned her into a modern action hero. Lemmons’s film “Harriet” had the beats and the posture towards its audience of a thrill-ride multiplex feature, but set in the 19th-century South instead of the present day and starring Cynthia Erivo instead of, say, Liam Neeson.

Similarly, Lemmons’s new television project, “Self Made” — which she executive produced and episodes of which she directed — recasts a figure from black history in the argot of the present-day; though characters in the story of hair-care pioneer Madam C.J. Walker are dressed in turn-of-the-century garb, they speak with the frankness of characters from, well, contemporary television. If it’s a project that’s once again more fascinating than across-the-board well-made, fascination is not nothing — certainly not when applied to a figure whose contributions deserve to be better-heralded.
See full article at Variety »

Janelle Monae Time Travels Into a Slavery Nightmare in ‘Antebellum’ Trailer

  • Variety
Janelle Monae Time Travels Into a Slavery Nightmare in ‘Antebellum’ Trailer
Janelle Monae is dealing with a time-traveling nightmare of slavery in Lionsgate’s latest trailer for the horror film “Antebellum.”

In the footage released Thursday, Monae portrays modern-day author Veronica Henley, shown explaining how women are the future: “We’re expected to be seen, not heard. But we are the future. Our time is now.”

But suddenly, she’s being transported back into the 19th Century as a slave in the Southern United States to come face-to-face with her ancestors. The trailer’s tagline asks: “What if fate chose you to save us from our past?”

Antebellum” comes from the producers of “Get Out” and “Us” and is directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, also known as the team of Bush+Renz. Monae’s co-stars include Marque Richardson II, Eric Lang, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons, Tongayi Chirisa, Gabourey Sidibe, Rob Aramayo, Lily Cowles and Jena Malone.

Bush+Renz also
See full article at Variety »

John Mulaney Hosts SNL: Watch Video of the Best & Worst Sketches

John Mulaney Hosts SNL: Watch Video of the Best & Worst Sketches
John Mulaney‘s last two Saturday Night Live hosting stints ranked among the top five episodes of their respective seasons (according to TVLine readers). Will his third turn as host follow suit?

Once again, the former SNL scribe did away with a typical monologue in favor of a stand-up routine, which acknowledged the show’s first-ever Leap Day episode, as well as the current political climate (without explicitly referencing President Trump).

More from TVLine'snl' Takes on Coronavirus Crisis in Cold Open (Video)'SNL': Watch RuPaul HighlightsParenthood Turns 10: The Episodes to Rewatch If You Need a Good Cry

“Leap year began in the year 45 B.
See full article at TVLine.com »

As Black History Month Ends, Here’s the Case For Its Reboot: New Stories and Fresh IP

  • Indiewire
As Black History Month Ends, Here’s the Case For Its Reboot: New Stories and Fresh IP
Historian and scholar Carter G. Woodson created Negro History Week in 1926, against the backdrop of Jim Crow America. A half-century later, it would become Black History Month when President Gerald Ford officially recognized it in 1976.

Woodson wanted Negro History Week to help correct a national narrative that barely included African Americans and allowed errors and blatantly racist perspectives to stand uncorrected. It was a time of great change for black people: Just 50 years removed from slavery, racial “uplift” dominated discourse and media and African Americans struggled to find a place in the country.

It was also the early days of cinema, 11 years after the release of D.W. Griffith’s racially incendiary “The Birth of a Nation” (1915), and a year before the first talkie, “The Jazz Singer” (1927), which featured Al Jolson in blackface. Meanwhile, the career of black cinema pioneer Oscar Micheaux was on the rise, as he and other black filmmakers,
See full article at Indiewire »

The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar Sued Over Black Panther Soundtrack

  • MovieWeb
The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar Sued Over Black Panther Soundtrack
The Black Panther soundtrack could be in some legal trouble. The Weeknd And Kendrick Lamar are being sued by defunct experimental rock band Yeasayer over an alleged uncleared sample used in the hit song "Pray For Me." Director Ryan Coogler brought Lamar on to curate a soundtrack and brought up the idea of the rapper collaborating with a number of people he's never worked with before. The movie hit theaters in February 2018 and quickly became a hit, going on to earn over $1 billion at the box office.

As for the Black Panther soundtrack, that immediately blew up too. Released by Kendrick Lamar's Tod Dawg Entertainment, the album sold over 150,000 copies in its first week and soon went on to go platinum after selling more than 1 million copies. Now, Yeasayer is claiming that one of the album's biggest singles contains an uncleared sample from their 2007 song "Sunrise." It is unclear why the band,
See full article at MovieWeb »

Lead Category in NAACP Image Awards Reflects Spike in Diversity and Artistic Caliber

  • Variety
Lead Category in NAACP Image Awards Reflects Spike in Diversity and Artistic Caliber
To best appreciate the competitiveness and quality of the outstanding motion picture nominees for the 51st NAACP Image Awards, which takes place on Feb. 22, check the numbers.

All five of this year’s nominees — “Dolemite Is My Name” “Just Mercy” “Harriet” “Queen & Slim” and “Us” — scored well on Rotten Tomatoes. To wit, “Dolemite” nabbed a 97% “fresh” rating, “Us” landed at 93% and “Just Mercy” and “Queen and Slim” fielded an 84% and 83%, respectively. “Harriet,” starring Cynthia Erivo as the iconic Underground Railroad liberator, scored lowest with a still-respectable 73% rating.

Compare that to the dearth of choices as recently as seven years ago when “Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds,” which earned a 34% Rotten Tomatoes rating, was a contender in that same category. In other words, the Image Awards and the industry have come a long way.

“We created a nominating committee that’s diverse in terms of national perspectives around the art related to our community,
See full article at Variety »

Twitter’s Outraged Over Harriet Tubman Doing Black Panther’s Wakanda Forever Salute

Twitter’s Outraged Over Harriet Tubman Doing Black Panther’s Wakanda Forever Salute
There really is no inappropriate time to celebrate the life and valor of Maryland abolitionist Harriet Tubman, and since the official establishment of Black History Month by President Gerald Ford in 1976, February has become a particularly fitting period to commemorate the woman who earned the nickname of Moses for her successful liberation of more than 70 slaves by way of the network of secret routes and safehouses known as the Underground Railroad.

But while there’s no inappropriate time, there are certainly inappropriate ways, and one Boston-based bank has struck upon a remarkably tactless one. The African-American-owned OneUnited Bank, founded in 1968 as the Unity Bank & Trust Co., elected to observe the month by issuing limited edition Visa Debit Cards featuring Tubman’s likeness as what the company calls “a symbol of Black empowerment.” And while that alone may not have caused an uproar, the image portrays Tubman as displaying the Wakanda
See full article at We Got This Covered »

Is Harriet Tubman Really Striking a Wakanda Forever Pose on This Bank Card?

  • MovieWeb
Is Harriet Tubman Really Striking a Wakanda Forever Pose on This Bank Card?
Is Harriet Tubman really throwing the Wakanda Forever salute on OneUnited Bank's new debit card? It sure looks that way and people are not very happy about it. A lot of people are probably okay with the fact that Tubman's face is printed on the debit card in honor of Black History Month, even though she fought against racism and the capitalistic practice of buying and selling human beings. Whatever the case may be, more people seem to be fired up over the fact that she's using a symbol from Marvel's Black Panther.

When looking at the OneUnited debit card, it certainly looks like Harriet Tubman is doing the Wakanda Forever pose from Black Panther. Her arms are in a cross and she's looking right at us from the debit card. An advertisement for the card reads, "Our limited-edition Harriet Tubman Visa Debit Card is a symbol of Black empowerment.
See full article at MovieWeb »

First Trailer for Khalik Allah’s New Three-Hour Feature Iwow (I Walk on Water)

First Trailer for Khalik Allah’s New Three-Hour Feature Iwow (I Walk on Water)
Emerging on the scene with his remarkably-shot, poetic portraits of life, Field Niggas and Black Mother, director Khalik Allah is back with his third and most ambitious film yet. Clocking in at three hours, Iwow (I Walk on Water) finds him back on the streets of New York City. The filmmaker has now released a trailer and, as expected, it’s not of the standard variety. Clocking in at seven minutes, it features off-the-cuff freestyle voiceover from the director himself explaining the project over presumably footage from the film itself, which includes no shortage of stunning imagery (including a Black Mother poster cameo).

“Peace. I’m telling you ahead of festivals and ahead of my world premiere: I made the best film of 2020 and I don’t give a fuck what they write,” Allah wrote in a recent Facebook post. “It is my privilege to forgive and I’m forever
See full article at The Film Stage »

26% of Oscar viewers say Cynthia Erivo gave best musical performance: ‘It wasn’t even a contest’ [Poll Results]

  • Gold Derby
26% of Oscar viewers say Cynthia Erivo gave best musical performance: ‘It wasn’t even a contest’ [Poll Results]
With eight musical performances to drool over, the 2020 Oscars felt more like the Grammy Awards than ever before. Of the artists who entertained the crowd during Sunday’s telecast, who gave the best performance? We tasked Oscar viewers with answering that very question and the poll results are in: Cynthia Erivo‘s powerful rendition of “Stand Up” from “Harriet” leads all performances with 26% support. “It wasn’t even a contest,” commented Gold Derby reader Jonathan Goeschl. Do you agree or disagree with those poll results? Sound off down below.

SEEHow did Bong Joon Ho pull off that huge Best Director Oscar upset? Here are 5 explanations

Erivo was nominated for a pair of Oscars this year: Best Actress for portraying Harriet Tubman and Best Song for co-writing “Stand Up” with Joshuah Brian Campbell. She ending up losing her two bids to Renee Zellweger (“Judy”) and Elton John & Bernie Taupin (“I’m
See full article at Gold Derby »

Grey's Anatomy Vet Sara Ramirez Applauds Oscars Attendees for 'Showing Hollywood Barbies What a Queen Looks Like'

Former Grey's Anatomy star Sara Ramirez was a big fan of Janelle Monàe and Cynthia Erivo's showstopping performances during Sunday's broadcast of the Oscars.

The actress took to Twitter Monday to praise both performers.

"While everyone recovers from the woke speech industrial complex, I’m grateful for the multi-talented Woc @JanelleMonae (bi+ pan queer icon) & @CynthiaEriVo who owned in every way & remind princess Hollywood barbies what a Queen looks like. No shade just sharp reflective glitter," she shared with her followers.

Monàe opened the Oscars with a stunning performance that kicked off with her on a recreation of the Mister Roger's Neighborhood set.

She kicked went with a beautiful rendition of the theme song of the show. At one point, she was joined on stage by Billy Porter.

“Tonight we celebrate all the amazing talent in this room,” Monae said at the conclusion of her performance.

“We celebrate all
See full article at TVfanatic »

Oscars & Politics: Steve Martin Dings Iowa, Brad Pitt Skewers Senate In Mostly Apolitical Ceremony

  • Deadline
Oscars & Politics: Steve Martin Dings Iowa, Brad Pitt Skewers Senate In Mostly Apolitical Ceremony
The Oscars kicked off with an immediate political dig, not at not President Donald Trump but at the Iowa Caucuses. A few mild smacks at the Senate impeachment trial and health care followed, but the night was decidedly apolitical, even with U.S. politics stormier than ever. Maybe everyone’s had it. Maybe Parasite won so many awards that it limited the potential opining.

“Now, a couple of years ago there was a big disaster here at the Oscars when they accidentally read the wrong name. And it was nobody’s fault. But it’s guaranteed that this will not happen this year because the Academy has switched to the new Iowa caucus app,” Steve Martin joked in the non-host opening monologue with Chris Rock. He was referring to 2017, when Warren Beatty mistakenly gave the Best Picture win to La La Land over Moonlight, and to the February 3 Democratic debacle
See full article at Deadline »

14 Best and Worst Moments of the 2020 Oscars (Photos)

  • The Wrap
14 Best and Worst Moments of the 2020 Oscars (Photos)
Sunday’s 92nd Academy Awards were an eventful evening filled with both fantastic and cringeworthy moments. From Eminem’s surprise performance to James Corden and Rebel Wilson dressing up as cats, here are the best and worst moments of the 2020 Oscars.

Best: Janelle Monae’s Opening Number

First, the “Dirty Computer” singer put on a Mr. Rogers-style red cardigan and sang “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” Then she sang another number accompanied by backup dancers dressed as recent popular movies, some of which were not nominated for Oscars this year, including “Midsommar,” “Us” and “Dolemite Is My Name.”

Best: Chris Rock and Steve Martin

The pair of comedians joked that they’ve been “demoted” from their previous roles as hosts, and that the reason the Oscars are hostless now is because of “Twitter.” Other highlights include shouting out Jeff Bezos (“great actor!”) and telling Martin Scorsese to
See full article at The Wrap »

Renée Zellweger Thanks Her Immigrant Parents in Oscars Speech: ’How ‘Bout This?’

Renée Zellweger Thanks Her Immigrant Parents in Oscars Speech: ’How ‘Bout This?’
It was a big night for Renée Zellweger at the 2020 Academy Awards.

On Sunday, the actress won the Best Actress Oscar for her role in the film Judy — triumphing over fellow nominees Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saorise Ronan (Little Women), Charlize Theron (Bombshell), and Cynthia Erivo (Harriet).

Taking the stage at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, Zellweger, 50, gave an emotional acceptance speech, thanking her parents, father Emil Erich Zellweger and mother Kjellfrid Irene Zellweger.

“[Thank you to] my immigrant folks who came here with nothing but each other and the American Dream,” she said, holding up the Oscar and adding, “How ’bout this?
See full article at PEOPLE.com »

Best Actor Joaquin Phoenix (‘Joker’) detours from the decade’s trend of biopic Oscar winners

Best Actor Joaquin Phoenix (‘Joker’) detours from the decade’s trend of biopic Oscar winners
As a new decade has dawned, it is a good time to take a look back at an Oscar trend that became firmly entrenched when it comes to leading men. Namely, the majority of brand-name top-billed actors who have claimed an Academy Award over the past 10 years portrayed real people. Biopics and truth-based stories have been the rage of late, perhaps feeding our hunger for heroes from the past or capitalizing on our addiction for 24-hour cable news.

This embrace of real-life characters began to take hold in the 2000s, starting with Adrien Brody in 2002’s “The Pianist,” Jamie Foxx in 2004’s “Ray,” Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2005’s “Capote,” Forest Whitaker in 2006’s “The Last King of Scotland” and Sean Penn in 2008’s “Milk.”

See Joaquin Phoenix movies: 13 greatest films ranked worst to best

As for this decade, seven out of 10 Best Actor winners came from biopics: Colin Firth in 2010’s “The King’s Speech,
See full article at Gold Derby »

Renée Zellweger Celebrates the Legacy of Judy Garland in Oscar Speech

  • Variety
Renée Zellweger Celebrates the Legacy of Judy Garland in Oscar Speech
Renée Zellweger won best actress at the 92nd Academy Awards for her portrayal of Hollywood icon Judy Garland in “Judy.”

The actress took the stage celebrating heroes, and her hero Garland. “This past year of conversations celebrating Judy Garland across generations and across cultures has been a really cool reminder that our heroes unite us,” Zellweger said. “The best among us, who inspire us to find the best in ourselves, when they unite us, when we look to our heroes, we agree, you know? And that matters.”

She continued to list several famous figures of inspiration, including Neil Armstrong, Sally Ride, Venus and Serena Williams, Selena, Bob Dylan, Martin Scorsese, Fred Rogers and Harriet Tubman.

“Judy Garland did not receive this honor in her time,” the actress continued. “I am certain that this moment is an extension of the celebration of her legacy that began on our film set and
See full article at Variety »

Cynthia Erivo Receives Standing Ovation for Powerful "Stand Up" Performance at 2020 Oscars

Cynthia Erivo Receives Standing Ovation for Powerful
Cynthia Erivo certainly proved she's Egot-worthy during tonight's 2020 Oscars! The multi-talented actress and singer took the stage at Sunday's Academy Awards to perform the song "Stand Up" from her film Harriet and boy did she impress. Decked out in a stunning gold dress, Erivo began the ballad alone before being joined by backup dancers, who eventually made their way into the audience. "So I'm gonna stand up/Take my people with me/Together we are going/To a brand new home," Erivo, who plays slave liberator and abolitionist Harriet Tubman in the film, sings in the ballad. "Far across the river/Can you hear freedom calling?/Calling me to answer/Gonna keep on...
See full article at E! Online »
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