Monthly Archives: January 2012

Lionsgate Enters Witness Protection with Tyler Perry

Lionsgate together with Tyler Perry, today announced the commencement of production of Madea’s Witness Protection.  The film marks the prolific filmmaker and multi-media tycoon’s 14th feature film production with Lionsgate in seven years.

Comic Eugene Levy (American Pie franchise), Best in Show) stars in the film as George, a high level CFO at the center of a Ponzi scheme in New York City who is enrolled in the Witness Protection program along with his family in the one place that absolutely no one will think to look for them: Madea’s house down South.  Perry wrote the script, is directing and producing the film, and will reprise three of his best loved roles – as tough talking grandma Madea, as Madea’s indelicate cousin Joe, and as plain-spoken attorney Brian, who places the family with Madea, resulting in the hilarious scenario that unfolds under her roof.

Rounding out the cast are Emmy®-winning actress Doris Roberts as George’s mother, Tom Arnold as his business associate Walter, Denise Richards as his younger wife Kate, and Danielle Campbell and Devan Leos as the family’s youngsters – for whom Madea has plenty of valuable lessons lined up.  Actor and rapper Romeo also has a role in the film, playing Jake, a friend of Brian who was affected by the scam.  John Amos plays Jake’s father in the film, and Marla Gibbs appears as Madea’s neighbor.

“This is the ultimate fish out of water story, and I believe the funniest Madea story yet,” said Paseornek. “We loved the witness protection concept from the second we heard it, but when Tyler cast comedy icon Eugene Levy and put him under the same roof with Madea and Uncle Joe, he took this movie to a whole new level.”

When asked for her feedback on the project, Madea herself added, “Auh hell, now they want me to work with these white folks. Next thing you know they will be asking me to go on Dancing With The Stars. I need to talk to my agent.”

M.I.A. to Debut New Track and Video for “Bad Girls”

“Bad Girls,” the newest track to be released from global music revolutionary M.I.A., will debut on Monday, January 30th at 2:30 p.m. eastern time on Pitchfork.com.  “Bad Girls,” officially available worldwide on January 31st, was recorded in Miami and produced by Danja (Timbaland, Diddy, Madonna, Nelly Furtado, Pink).

The “Bad Girls” video debuts on the Vice network’s Noisey YouTube channel on February 3rd.  Directed by Romain Gavras (M.I.A.’s “Born Free” and JUSTICE’s “Stress”).

Named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time magazine, British singer-songwriter M.I.A. has been nominated for an Academy Award and two Grammys (“Paper Planes” and “Swagga Like Us”).  Her most recent original album, 2010’s Maya, went Top 10 on the Billboard 200 album chart and #1 on the Dance/Electronic chart.  M.I.A.’s fourth album is due in the summer.

Ne-Yo Appointed Senior Vice President of A&R, Motown Records

Acclaimed artist Ne-Yo will move from Def Jam Recordings to Motown along with his label imprint Compound Entertainment, and will also take on a creative role at Motown as the new Senior Vice President of A&R, it was announced today by Barry Weiss, Chairman & CEO of Universal Republic and Island Def Jam Motown, and

The multi-platinum, three-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist will continue to work on his fifth studio album, expected for summer release as his Motown debut.  At the same time, Ne-Yo will take on A&R duties at Motown, serving as a producer and mentor to the label’s artists, as well as seeking out and signing new talent to the label.  Ne-Yo, who has a co-starring role in Red Tails, the new George Lucas WWII movie about the U.S. Army Air Corps’ Tuskegee Airmen fighter pilots, will also be seen on NBC television’s upcoming season of The Voice, as a mentor for Cee-Lo Green’s team.

“Ne-Yo is an enormously talented artist, songwriter, and producer,” said Mr. Weiss, “In fact, he’s one of the greatest songwriters of our times.  His track record of success at Def Jam will always be a benchmark.  But this move to Motown will provide new and inspiring challenges for Ne-Yo, as both an artist and a key member of the new senior management team that is taking form at the label in 2012.”

“I’m a combination of excited, honored and terrified all at once!” said Ne-Yo.  “Excited about a new beginning here at Motown, honored that I’ve been given such a prestigious title and trusted with such responsibility, TERRIFIED because I know that playing this role, in the fashion of one of my idols and career role models Mr. Smokey Robinson, these are big shoes to fill…..but trust, I can handle it.”

Ne-Yo’s most recent album, 2010’s Libra Scale (his final album for Def Jam) was the follow-up to the RIAA platinum Year Of The Gentleman (2008), his third consecutive album to enter the Soundscan chart at #1.  In addition to containing a trio of RIAA platinum hit singles, “Closer,” “Miss Independent,” and “Mad,” Year Of The Gentleman generated five Grammy nominations in 2009 – with “Miss Independent” winning for Best R&B Song (song­writers award) and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.  Previously, Ne-Yo established himself as a core member of the Def Jam family with Because Of You (2007), which won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album, and In My Own Words (2006) – both #1 debuts on the Billboard 200 and R&B Albums charts.

 

Planet Asia Returns with Black Belt Theatre

Planet Asia helped jump-start the West Coast independent hip-hop movement, releasing a slew of popular 12-inch singles on upstarts like Stones Throw and ABB Records in the late 90s that established him as one of the leaders of a crop of talent that included the likes of Dilated Peoples, Madlib, Murs, and Jurassic 5.  Now a 15-year veteran, the Cali-based MC (born in Fresno, he’s spent most of his career living in Los Angeles and San Francisco) shows no signs of slowing down.  The first decade of the new millennium saw Asia briefly sign with major label Interscope, go independent again for his debut album The Grand Opening, release full-length collaborative projects with both Evidence of Dilated Peoples (The Medicine) and DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill (Pain Language), form his own label (Gold Chain Music), and work with everyone from Linkin Park to Bun B to Ghostface Killah.  Now, Planet Asia is back with his first retail album in four years, the star-studded Black Belt Theatre, which hits stores everywhere via Daddy Real/Wandering Worx/Greenstreets on February 28th, 2012.

Named after a 1980s Saturday-afternoon TV show and inspired by Planet Asia‘s favorite films, Black Belt Theatre combines the violent precision of classic kung-fu flicks with the calculated cool of classic blaxploitation movies.  “I wanted to make the album like a movie, something you would see in a theater,” says Asia.  “That’s why it has so many features.  All the guests feel like different characters in the movie.”  These guests include veterans like Raekwon, Talib Kweli, Paul Wall, Ras Kass, Camp Lo, and Strong Arm Steady, as well as newcomers like Fashawn, Willie The Kid, Torae, and Nio Tha Gift.  “They’re basically just all people I thought were dope,” says Asia.  “Both young cats I’m feeling and veterans I’ve always admired.”  Unlike on his albums with Evidence and DJ Muggs, Asia also got to determine the sonic direction on Black Belt Theatre, resulting in a soul-heavy, blaxploitation-influenced sound.  “It was fun because I got to reach out to guys like Oh No and Khrysis for beats, find the best tracks and put together a masterpiece,” explains Asia.  “It’s some esoteric gangster shit…a full plate for the listener.”

MC Pavy Explores Middle Class Ignorance

Progressive, ambitious and vigorous are just some of the words used to describe MC and self-proclaimed prophet, Pavy (Progressive Ambitious Vigorous Youngin’). Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Pavy began writing and rhyming at 14 and has grown into what will be known as “The Prophet”.

His passion and love for music isn’t hard to grasp when listening to his songs. What started out as a hobby for this young man became the one thing that others define as his “calling”. Two years ago he linked up with local label Straight Up Hustlin’ Entertainment to release his first project Jackin’ For Beats Vol.1. that spawned over 6,000 internet downloads. His main goal is to make music for the kindred souls who are orient of realness.

His latest album, Middle Class Ignorance, features  appearances from Capital K, Vic Spencer, The Boy Illinois, D2G, JDP, Ashley Laschelle and Ca$hflow Ellis“This project was crafted over a period of two years,” explains Pavy. “I was 18 when I started and when I finished I was what I am now, 20. So the idea of Middle Class Ignorance has changed as my mind frame has also changed. I feel ignorance – or the sense of obliviousness – is very important in life, because if I logically looked at the odds I would never attempt to succeed in music. I feel like this is the beginning of life for me and hopefully you guys like the music enough to tag along for the ride.” 

For more information on Pavy, check out www.pavyworld.com  and to listen to Middle Class Ignorance, visit http://pavy.bandcamp.com/

Jennifer Hudson Signs Copies of Her New Book in Chicago

Academy Award, Golden Globe and Grammy Award winner Jennifer Hudson recently (January 17, 2012) returned to her hometown of Chicago, IL to sign copies of her new book I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down.

Photos by Adam Bielawski

AT&T Brings Back 28 Days Speaker Series Featuring Common, Holly Robinson Peete, Kevin Powell and More

AT&T is bringing back the AT&T 28 Days speaker series to motivate consumers to have a voice, share their vision and move into action this Black History Month and throughout the new year.

The AT&T 28 Days campaign has always been centered around reflecting on the past and creating your own history and this year is no different. Now in its fourth year, the AT&T 28 Days campaign is giving consumers, especially youth, a new campaign sound to listen to that will empower them to achieve their dreams beyond February,” said Jennifer Jones, vice president of diverse markets, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets.

The AT&T 28 Days speaker series features some of today’s influential and respected leaders offering their own unique perspectives to inspire consumers to use their voices, creative visions and actions to shape their own future.

In 2012, four new cities will be added to the AT&T 28 Days speaker series tour: Dallas, Texas; Raleigh, N.C.; Cleveland, Ohio; and Detroit, Mich. AT&T 28 Days kicked off in Dallas, Texas at the House of Blues on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 16. Other stops on the seven-city AT&T 28 Days speaker series tour include: 

• Scottish Rite Center; Wednesday, Feb. 1 in Oakland, Calif.

• Fletcher Opera Theater; Wednesday, Feb. 8 in Raleigh, N.C.

• Howard University-Cramton Auditorium; Wednesday, Feb. 15 in Washington, D.C.

• Ohio Theatre; Monday, Feb. 20 in Cleveland, Ohio

• Park West Theatre; Thursday, Feb. 23 in Chicago, Ill.

• Shriners Silver Garden Events Center; Wednesday, Feb. 29 in Detroit, Mich.

The speaker series events are free and open to the general public and tickets are available at att.com/28days on a first come first serve basis. In addition, three of the speaker series events will be streamed live at facebook.com/att28days and the streaming schedule will be announced at a future date. This year’s speakers include: Kevin Powell, Jeff Johnson, Holly Robinson Peete, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Desiree RogersPast AT&T 28 Days speaker series lineups have included celebrities and thought leaders such as health fitness champion Laila Ali, and hip-hop media mogul and philanthropist Russell Simmons.

 With a new campaign rhythm, AT&T has included an interactive sweepstakes on att.com/28days that will interface with Facebook and Twitter, for consumers to share inspirational comments and photos in relation to the song. When consumers post comments and photos, they will be entered for a chance to win technology prizes and autographed merchandise. Prizes will be drawn weekly and consumers will be allowed one entry per person. For more information about AT&T 28 Days and AT&T’s Black History Month programs, visit att.com/28days.


Photo and video courtesy AT&T

De La Soul’s Plug 1 & Plug 2 Present ‘First Serve’ Album

The last we heard of First Serve it was 3AM in a Parisian suburb at an out of control house party with ‘The Goon Time Mixtape’ blasting into the night.  That was just a taste of things to come from De La Soul’s Plug 1 & Plug 2 present ‘First Serve’; a dynamic hip-hop group, an album, a concept, the soundtrack to a movie that has yet to be made and a fable for our times.

‘First Serve’ is many things, but at its heart it is the story of two young boys from Queens, New York with big dreams and larger rhymes. Two friends, Deen Whitter (aka Plug 2 / Dave) and Jacob ‘Pop Life’ Barrow (aka Plug 1/ Pos), friends from seventh grade, are by their own admission, “different, but the differences seem to complement everything we do.” Their name ‘First Serve’ comes from their motto, “First come, First Serve, get what you deserve.”

We get a glimpse into their world in the form of the ‘Mrs. Whitter’ skit where we see the duo during the early days in Deen’s mother’s basement, the location of years of laying down demos and mixtapes on the hustle in the hip-hop game.  With Deen’s mother Eleanor giving them endless flack, the duo don’t get much peace and quiet to sip on a 40oz beer and smoke a joint in their hyper-colour, animated world.

Due to hit the streets in April 2012, the ‘First Serve’ album tells the story of two dreamers in a basement struggling to start their musical career, the battles they face, through to the point that they eventually release their debut single, ‘make it big’ and their hard work and persistence finally pays off. As we know that is rarely where the story ends and the story of ‘First Serve’ is no different. Taking place in an animated world that could have been imagined by Hawley Pratt on Magic Mushrooms, the high spirited and often hilarious journey is pure old school hip-hop; skits, disco, beats, funk, quips, burns and hustlin’ all included.

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele Come to Comedy Central With New Series Key & Peele

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele make their mark on Comedy Central with the new half-hour sketch comedy show “Key & Peele,” debuting on Tuesday, January 31 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT, following the fourth season premiere of “Tosh.0.”  Key and Peele are best known for their impressive ability to do improv, conjure up original characters and celebrity impressions.

In this new series, these fresh, relevant comedic actor-writers, used to being on the outside looking in, will examine life in a provocative and irreverent way, through a combination of filmed sketches and live stage segments.  Whether it’s satirizing the President, spoofing Nazis, or ordering up some soul food, “Key & Peele” will showcase their chemistry, camaraderie and unique point of view, born from their shared background and experiences growing up biracial in a not quite post-racial world.

The premiere episode features Key and Peele as two browbeaten husbands who lie to each other in a game of one-upmanship, which leads into shorts that parody Lil’ Wayne rapping from jail about how he’s the baddest motherf*&ker around, but is constantly getting stabbed by the other much tougher inmates; an Obama sketch where Peele impersonates the President and Key plays his “anger translator” to show that Obama does lose his cool at times; and “Gideon’s Kitchen” a reality cooking competition where the head chef is impossible to read.

Keegan-Michael Key was a member of Second City Detroit’s main stage cast as well as the Second City Chicago the e.t.c. theatre, where he wrote and performed shows “Holy War,” “Batman!” and “Curious George Goes to War for which he won several Joseph Jefferson Awards (which honor excellence in Chicago theater). While still in Chicago, Keegan was hired as a regular on Fox’s “MADtv,” which he starred in for six seasons.  He dazzled the audience with original characters including Coach Hines, Eugene Struthers and Jovan Muskatelle; and his celebrity impressions including Dennis Rodman and Snoop Dogg.  Additionally, Keegan recurred as the ‘Theoretical Criminal’ on Comedy Central’s “RENO 911!” and was a series regular on CBS’s “Gary Unmarried” playing Jay Mohr’s best friend ‘Curtis.’  His guest star credits include NBC’s “ER and “Love Bites,” Adult Swim’s “Children’s Hospital,” and FX’s “The League.”

A former “MADtv” alum, Jordan Peele was a series regular for five seasons.  There he impressed the audience with original characters including Dontel LaMontrose, Noodles the Krumper and Melvin Dufrane; and celebrity impressions including Montel Williams, Forest Whittaker, President Obama and Morgan Freeman.  In 2008, Jordan received an Emmy® nomination for his music video “Sad Fitty Cent.”  Jordan presently recurs as ‘Dr. Brian’ on Adult Swim’s “Children’s Hospital” and has appeared on Comedy Central’s “RENO 911!and “Chocolate News,” and NBC’s “Love Bites.”

 

Key & Peele January 2012
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TV Land Picks Up New Series “Have Faith” Starring Cedric The Entertainer

TV Land has picked up its fifth original sitcom, “Have Faith,” starring Cedric “The Entertainer,” it was announced today at the TCA Winter Press Tour by Larry W. Jones, president, TV Land. The network has ordered 12 episodes for the first season, which is set to premiere in June of this year.

The sitcom, which was created by Cedric and “Hot in Cleveland” creator Suzanne Martin, revolves around Cedric’s character, Reverend Boyce “The Voice” Ballentine, an R&B superstar-turned-minister who takes over as preacher of his father’s church. Niecy Nash (“Reno 911”) also stars as the reverend’s wife, Lolli. The pilot also features John Beasley (“Everwood”) as his father, Wesley Jonathan (“What I Like About You”) as his younger brother, and Jazz Raycole (“My Wife and Kids”) as his daughter. The character of Reverend Boyce originated on a second season episode of “Hot in Cleveland” in which Cedric guest-starred.

“The show that Cedric and Suzanne have created is a fantastic family sitcom that you just don’t see as much on TV today,” said Jones. “That’s just one of the reasons we’re so thrilled to welcome him to the TV Land family. From the moment he appeared on ‘Hot in Cleveland,’ we knew we wanted to work with him in a greater capacity.”