Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Misty Copeland is first black principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre

According to CNN, American ballerina Misty Copeland, a cultural phenomenon outside the dance world, has been promoted to the highest rank of the American Ballet Theatre, becoming the first African-American female principal dancer in the company's 75-year history.
The American Ballet Theatre announced the news Tuesday in a slew of promotions at one of the country's top ballet companies. Stella Abrera, a 19-year veteran of the company, was promoted from soloist to the rank of principal dancer.Copeland, 32, joined the company in April 2001 and was appointed a soloist in August 2007. She has been outspoken about her desire to become the first black woman to be named a principal dancer at the company.
"My fears are that it could be another two decades before another black woman is in the position that I hold with an elite ballet company," she wrote in her memoir, "Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina," published in 2014. "That if I don't rise to principal, people will feel I have failed them."
Copeland's 14-year career at the American Ballet Theatre has been a series of milestones drawing attention outside the rarefied world of ballet. She has appeared in a Diet Dr Pepper commercial and danced atop a piano in Prince's 2010 tour. When she became the first ballet dancer to appear in an Under Armour ad in 2014, the spot racked up more than four million views on YouTube within a week.  Born in Kansas City, Missouri, and raised in San Pedro, California, Copeland began her ballet studies at 13, a late start for a dancer of her caliber. Her rise from modest beginnings to ballet crossover star has been the subject of numerous magazine articles, TV segments, a "60 Minutes" episode and the forthcoming documentary "A Ballerina's Tale."Copeland was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in 2015 and was featured on one of five covers for the issue. Olympic gold medal gymnast Nadia Comaneci wrote in Time that Copeland's story was one "of someone who followed her dreams and refused to give up."  "In that way, she is a model for all young girls," Comaneci wrote. "It doesn't matter where you're from. If you have the passion like Misty, you can be the best at what you do."As the New York Times noted , whenever Copeland danced leading roles with the company, "her performances became events, drawing large, diverse, enthusiastic crowds to cheer her on."  In a time when ballet companies across the country are looking for new audiences, crowds of young autograph-seekers swarmed the stage door after Copeland made her debut in the starring role of American Ballet Theatre's production of "Swan Lake" -- the first African-American dancer to do so.  She has more than 500,000 followers on Instagram, who welcomed the news when she posted images showing the moment of the announcement.

Anthony Mackie To Play MLK Opposite Bryan’s Cranston’s LBJ In HBO’s ‘All The Way’

According to Deadline, Anthony Mackie has been set for the coveted role of Martin Luther King Jr., starring opposite Bryan Cranston in All The Way, the adaptation of the Tony-winning Robert Schenkkan play that Jay Roach will direct for HBO. Production begins in September. This one is being exec produced by Steven Spielberg. It covers LBJ from the moment the assassination of John F. Kennedy made Johnson the 36th president of the United States, and through a turbulent first year that included leveraging his power to pass Civil Rights legislation in Congress, up to his landslide re-election victory. Schenkkan adapted his play for the payweb. Cranston reprises the stage role that won him the Tony.  Mackie’s role in the script will be significant, and portrays a far more collaborative and complex relationship than was depicted in the Best Picture nominee Selma. That film’s Oscar chances were hobbled by a depiction of LBJ as a reluctant lackey who stubbornly opposed MLK’s historic march in Selma, drawing ire from LBJ’s confidantes who said he and MLK were in lockstep in manipulating a crisis to pass the historic Civil Rights law. Spielberg is exec producing with Schenkkan, Roach, Cranston, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey.  It caps a breakout period for Mackie, who is at work reprising his role as Falcon in Captain America: Civil War, and he has wrapped the Jonathan Levine-directed comedy Xmas, opposite Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt; the drama Shelter opposite Jennifer Connelly; and the Sandra Bullock-starrer Our Brand Is Crisis. Mackie is ready to step into another black icon’s shoes when he stars in the Jesse Owens biopic scripted by Jamie Linden and George Olson (Mackie is a producer), as well as the Paramount comedy Make A Wish

Monday, June 29, 2015

'Empire' Co-Creator Lee Daniels Inks Overall Deal With 20th TV

According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Empire co-creator has signed a multiyear overall deal with the studio, it was announced Monday.  Under the pact, Daniels will remain an executive producer on the runaway hit, which he also directs. He will also develop, write, direct and supervise new projects for the studio under his Lee Daniels Entertainment banner.
The move to further Daniels' relationship with the studio is no surprise given the enormous success of Empire, which became the No. 1 scripted series on broadcast of the 2014-15 season and ranks as the highest-rated broadcast drama in seven years. Twentieth TV also signed Empire show runner Ilene Chaiken to a rich overall deal in May.
Empire marks Daniels' first TV series following years of acclaimed film work on dramas including Lee Daniels' The Butler, Precious and Monster's Ball.  "Lee Daniels has a gift for telling authentic, provocative stories that are both truthful and wildly entertaining," said Fox TV Group chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman. "His casting instincts are incredible, whether he is discovering tomorrow’s stars or attracting the most accomplished performers to his projects. As a director, he elevates world class material to even greater heights, balancing heart-wrenching poignancy with surprising moments of levity that are over the top and fun. Quite simply, we love working with this inspired storyteller, and this deal is about extending and deepening our relationship."
Added Daniels: “I’m incredibly excited to continue my relationship with Dana and Gary and the rest of the Fox team. I’m looking forward to developing content and finding alternative voices for both in front of and behind the camera.”  Imagine Television produces the series in association with 20th Century Fox Television. Created by Daniels and Danny Strong, Empire is exec produced by Daniels, Strong, Imagine's Brian Grazer, Chaiken and Francie Calfo.  In addition to Empire, which went back into production last week, Daniels is also set to helm an untitledRichard Pryor biopic for the Weinstein Company. 

NeNe Leakes Is Leaving Real Housewives of Atlanta: 'I Feel Like a Weight Has Been Lifted'

According to People, after nearly eight drama-filled years on Bravo's hit Real Housewives of Atlanta, fast-talking fan favorite NeNe Leakes is calling it quits. Leakes, 47, – arguably the network's biggest star, who's been with the show since its inception – will not be returning for season 8. She says there comes a time when enough is enough. "This was definitely a hard decision for me," Leakes tells PEOPLE. "Me and my husband [Gregg Leakes] have been going back and forth on it for weeks now. But my contract is up and I just think this is the right time. This is my opportunity to spread my wings and do different things." The announcement comes with the news that Leakes will soon be focusing on totally new projects"I'm actually going to be doing a new primetime television show with a big legend," Leakes teases of the series she begins filming this week. "All of my fans will get to see me be really happy, witty and funny and tell all of those one liners that I always have said on Housewives." It's a positive new direction that the mother of two is more than happy to take. "I feel a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders," says Leakes, who throughout the years was the center of many arguments and altercations on the show. 

The Haves and Haves Not New Season Trailer [VIDEO]

WELL WE'RE BACK!!! The Haves and the Have Nots is back. Explosive new episodes start tomorrow at 9/8c, only on OWN. TEMPTATION TUESDAY!!! If you haven't seen this trailer, check it out.
Posted by Tyler Perry on Monday, June 29, 2015

Tia Mowry-Hardrict, Pooch Hall Return To 'The Game'

According to BET Centric, "The Game" has one final play in its playbook as the show heads into the final episodes-- Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Pooch Hall will make their return to the series finale.

The cast announced the news Sunday night at the 2015 BET Awards as they said their final goodbyes onstage. They were joined by Hall who confirmed his return as San Diego Sabers star Derwin Davis, as well as the return of his "med school" wife Melanie Barnett-Davis.

"I'm so full of emotions," Mara Brock Akil, the show's creator and executive producer, told the Los Angeles Times. "To bring these characters back to shore is such a blessing. They get an ending. They get closure."

Mowry-Hardrict and Hall made their departure in 2012 after five seasons and went on to pursue other television projects. The famous twin continued on with her reality series with sister Tamera Mowry-Housely and picked up a starring role on the Nick at Nite/TV land comedy "Instant Mom," while Hall was cast in Showtime's "Ray Donovan."  
But things just wouldn't be right on "The Game" without a proper send-off from Melanie and Derwin.  "I feel creatively we've been able to answer those who have been loyal to us," Akil added. "It's truly a tip of the hat to the fans who will get to see if Melanie and Derwin get their happily-evey-after."

Sidebar: They should have never left.

Dwyane Wade decides not to pick up option with Heat

According to ESPN, Dwyane Wade, a perennial All-Star and three-time NBA champion, has decided to not pick up his option with the Miami Heat for next year, a source said Monday.  Wade, who was scheduled to make $16.1 million next season, will automatically become a free agent Wednesday.The Heat and Wade were at a contractual crossroads as the 33-year-old veteran faced a midnight Monday deadline on whether to opt into the final year on his contract.Wade is believed to be seeking a deal that would average at least $16 million over the next three seasons. The Heat had preferred for Wade to opt in for 2015-16 and then work with the team on a new contract after next season that would give the Heat salary-cap flexibility going into the 2016 free-agency period, when Anthony Davis andKevin Durant are likely to highlight a deep group of available stars on the market.
Heat president Pat Riley wants no part of seeing Wade bolt for another team, especially after enduring LeBron James' brutal and abrupt departure in free agency last summer to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. But Riley is adamant about also maintaining salary-cap flexibility moving forward.
Wade has spent his entire 12-year career with the Heat. His age and recent injury history -- missing 48 games the past two seasons -- were major areas of concern while assessing his long-term value to the team at this stage of his career

Sunday, June 28, 2015

BET Awards Complete Winners List!

Best New Artist

Sam Smith 
Dej Loaf
Fetty Wap
Rae Sremmurd

Best Male Hip-Hop Artist
Kendrick Lamar 
J. Cole
Big Sean

Best Female Hip-Hop Artist
Nicki Minaj 
Azealia Banks
Iggy Azalea
Dej Loaf

Best Actor
Terrence Howard 
Anthony Anderson
Idris Elba
Jussie Smollett
Kevin Hart

Centric Award
The Weeknd – "Earned It" 
Avery Sunshine – "Call My Name"
Jazmine Sullivan – "Dumb (feat. Meek Mill)"
Mark Ronson – "Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars)"
Sam Smith – "Stay with Me (feat. Mary J. Blige)"

Humanitarian Award 
Tom Joyner

Ultimate Icon: Music, Dance, Visual
Janet Jackson

Fandemonium Award
Chris Brown

Best Female R&B/Pop Artist
Janelle Monáe
Jhené Aiko
K. Michelle

Best Male R&B/Pop Artist
The Weeknd
John Legend
Trey Songz
August Alsina
Chris Brown

Best Group
A$AP Mob
Rae Sremmurd
Rich Gang
Young Money

Best Collaboration
Chris Brown – "Loyal (feat. Lil Wayne & Tyga)"
Big Sean – "I Don't F**k with You (feat. E-40)"
August Alsina – "No Love (Remix) [feat. Nicki Minaj]"
Common & John Legend – "Glory"
Chris Brown – "New Flame (feat. Usher & Rick Ross)"
Mark Ronson – "Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars)"

Best Actress
Gabrielle Union
Kerry Washington
Taraji P. Henson
Tracee Ellis Ross
Viola Davis

Youngstars Award
Jacob Latimore
Jaden Smith
Mo'Ne Davis
Quevenzhané Wallis

Best Movie
Beyond the Lights
Think Like a Man Too
Top Five

Best Gospel Artist
Deitrick Haddon
Erica Campbell
Fred Hammond
Mali Music
Michelle Williams

Video of the Year
Beyoncé – "7/11″
Chris Brown – "New Flame (feat. Usher & Rick Ross)"
Chris Brown – "Loyal (feat. Lil Wayne & Tyga)"
Big Sean – "I Don't F**k with You (feat. E-40)"
Nicki Minaj – "Anaconda"
Common & John Legend – "Glory"

Video Director of the Year
Benny Boom
Beyoncé, Ed Burke & Todd Tourso
Chris Robinson
Fatima Robinson
Hype Williams

Sportswoman of the Year
Brittney Griner
Candace Parker
Serena Williams
Skylar Diggins
Venus Williams

Sportsman of the Year
Chris Paul
Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Lebron James
Marshawn Lynch
Stephen Curry

Coca-Cola Viewers' Choice Award
Beyoncé – "7/11″
Dej Loaf – "Try Me"
Kendrick Lamar – "i"
Nicki Minaj – "Only (feat. Drake, Lil Wayne & Chris Brown)"
Rae Sremmurd – "Throw Sum Mo (feat. Nicki Minaj & Young Thug)"
The Weeknd – "Earned It"

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

‘Empire’s Taraji P. Henson And Danny Strong Re-Team On Robin Bissell-Helmed ‘The Best Of Enemies’

According to Deadline,  Empire star Taraji P. Henson is poised to reunite with that hit Fox show’s creator Danny Strong by playing the lead in The Best Of Enemies. That film will mark the directorial debut for Hunger Games producer Robin Bissell, who wrote the script. Strong will produce the film with Material Picture’s Tobey Maguire and Matthew Plouffe. The film is based on the incredible true story of Ann Atwater and C.P. Ellis.  Henson, hot from a freshman performance as the irrepressible Cookie Lyon, will play Atwater, the ferocious civil rights activist in Durham, North Carolina. She had a decade-long battle with sworn enemy C.P. Ellis, the Exalted Cyclops of Durham’s Ku Klux Klan. Their feud came to an abrupt and unlikely end in 1971. After a court-ordered school desegregation decree threw the Southern city into turmoil, Atwater and Ellis reluctantly agreed to co-chair an intensive, two week community meeting to try to reach a compromise. The extraordinary events that followed changed Durham, and the lives of Atwater and Ellis forever. The film is inspired by the true events chronicled in The Best Of Enemies: Race And Redemption In The New South by Osha Gray Davidson. Filmmakers are aiming to begin principal photography in early 2016. Last seen on the big screen in Top Five and Think Like A Man Too, Henson is repped by Vincent Cirrincione Associates and SMGSBLaw. She most recently wrapped the Peter Billingsley-directed Term Life. She was Oscar-nominated for The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.

Nick Gordon sued for allegedly abusing and stealing from Bobbi Kristina Brown

According to TMZ, Bobbi Kristina was the victim of a nefarious plot by her boyfriend Nick Gordon, who secretly stole cash from her Whitney Houston inheritance, and physically abused her according to Bobbi's conservator. Bobbi Kristina's estate filed a $40 million lawsuit against Gordon on Wednesday accusing Gordon of regularly transferring funds from her account to his account, including $11,000 AFTER she'd fallen into the coma.  The docs also say Gordon was beating Bobbi Kristina, and on one occasion dragged "her upstairs by her hair." He also allegedly punched her in the face and knocked out a front tooth. 
Bobbi Kristina intended to reveal the abuse she was suffering to a close friend. According to the docs, she had set up a time to meet that friend on Jan. 31 but she never made it. Instead, Bobbi Kristina was found face down in her bathtub that morning with a swollen mouth and another tooth knocked out. The lawsuit doesn't squarely blame Gordon for those injuries, but it strongly hints at it -- and as we've reported police have been investigating Nick.  The suit was filed by Bedelia Hargrove -- who the court appointed in May as conservator over Bobbi Kristina's financial affairs.