All Articles Tagged "Queen Latifah"

Bet You Didn’t Know: Secrets Behind The Making Of Bessie

September 13th, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
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Source: HBO

The four-time Emmy-award winning HBO film Bessie, directed by Dee Rees, depicts the life and times of songstress Bessie Smith, a.k.a., the Empress of the Blues. Starring Queen Latifah as the openly bisexual, Chattanooga music legend who rose to prominence in the 1920s, Mo’Nique as fellow performer, mentor and friend Ma Rainey, Tika Sumpter as Smith’s girlfriend Lucille, and Michael K. Williams as Jack Dee, Smith’s first husband, the film is replete with great performances, visuals and overall storytelling. And it’s no wonder, considering that Bessie was also co-written by Dee Rees, who wrote and directed Pariah. If you haven’t seen the film, do yourself a favor and check it out ASAP. And in the meantime, read on for secrets behind the making of Bessie.

Bet You Didn’t Know: Secrets Behind The Making Of The Wiz Live!

September 12th, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
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Source: NBC

Source: NBC

The Wiz Live!, NBC’s third and by far most popular live musical event (especially with Twitter) since 2013 took audiences by storm last year. Not that the cast, featuring newcomer Shanice Williams as Dorothy, David Alan Grier, Elijah Kelley, Ne-Yo, Queen Latifah, Common, Mary J. Blige, Uzo Aduba and Stephanie Mills, to name a few, had any real pressure – what with the beloved Broadway musical and 1978 film starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Lena Horne to boot. But they did an amazing job bringing the beloved musical to audiences – new and old alike. Want to know how they pulled it off? Here are some secrets behind the making of The Wiz Live!

Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa, Missy Elliott & Lil Kim To Be Honored At VH1’s ‘Hip Hop Honors: All Hail The Queens’

June 20th, 2016 - By Ashley Monaé
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It’s been six years since VH1’s Hip Hop Honors has graced our television screens, but the staple celebratory ceremony known for “recognizing luminaries who broke new ground and propelled the genre into the cultural phenomen it has become,” is making its return live from New York City on July 11. And y’all, it’s about to be one for the history books. Trust!

Dubbed All Hail the Queens, this year’s focus is the ladies of rap who infiltrated the male-dominated industry and laid out the blueprint for female’s who wanted to have their voice heard and make it known that they could go bar-for-bar with the guys, too. So who would be deserving of such a revered status? As expected, the lineup is one of epic portions: Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, Lil Kim, Salt-N-Pepa, and Spinderella. All pioneers and trailblazers that truly deserve to be honored by the community for their artistry.

VH1’s Hip Hop Honors will air Monday, July 11 at 9pm ET. Will you be tuned in?

Was “Living Single” Really Better Than “Friends”?

April 15th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook

Yesterday, I stumbled across the above meme on my Facebook timeline. Naturally, my first reaction was hell yeah. Of course, “Living Single” was better than “Friends.”

But then I had to ask myself, do I really believe “Living Single” was better than “Friends” simply because I can relate to the Black characters a little bit more than the White ones?

In all fairness, I watched a lot more “Living Single” than “Friends,” still with the way the latter show dominated in ratings and influenced pop culture, it was difficult to avoid altogether. So I’ve seen enough episodes to know the characters’ personalities, their storylines and of course, Phoebe’s “Smelly Cat” song.

But when I think about the show as a whole, I generally found it to be mindlessly entertaining. You might have watched the show and chuckled once or twice, but ultimately found it hard to describe what you just watched. Like “Seinfeld,” it was perhaps designed to be a show about nothing. Unlike “Seinfeld” though, the dialogue surrounding these everyday occurrences was rather surface. I posed the question to my boyfriend afterward and he agreed that “Friends” was mostly just a series of jokes, back to back to back, about a particular situation.

He said, basically, that when you’re done watching “Friends,” you’re just done watching “Friends.” But when you finish an episode of “Living Single,” even if it wasn’t particularly serious, often times you asked yourself what you would have done or would do in a similar situation. And I think that speaks not only to the writing of the show but also the fact that the characters on “Living Single” were just more developed. They were all so distinct yet it still made sense for them to be friends. I could be wrong, but I don’t recall that distinctiveness with the characters from “Friends.”

And for those who might be wondering, despite the ways in which “Friends” eventually eclipsed “Living Single” ratings wise, (“Friends” was rated number 3 out of 114 shows, while “Living Single” was 85.) it didn’t air until the year after “Living Single” premiered.

As Kim Fields said in a Los Angeles Times interview, “Living Single” is not the Black friends, instead, “Friends” is the White “Living Single.”

I don’t know how much development “Friends” had undergone before it was released, but the similarities to its all Black predecessor are uncanny. 20-something New York implants, living in the same building. There’s the slightly slow guy Overton—> Joey. There’s the quirky and offbeat girl, Synclaire —> Phoebe. There are the potential relationships between the characters. Overton and Synclaire or Kyle and Max—> Chandler and Monica and Ross and Rachel. I could go on, but you get the point.

Aside from the fact that White people, a clear majority in the early ’90’s, were more likely to support and identify with a show that featured characters like them, it was also exaggerated by the fact that Warner Bros., the company that produced both “Living Single” and “Friends,” invested much more money into “Friends” than into “Living Single.”

In that same LA Times interview, Queen Latifah, remarking about the size of the “Friends” billboard, in comparison to the piece of billboard “Living Single” shared with other Warner Bros. shows, expressed her anger toward the discrepancy.

“It just pisses me off every time I see that ‘Friends’ billboard and the little piece of our billboard. I mean how much more of a push do they need?”

Yvette Bowser, “Living Single’s” creator and executive producer, said that neither Warner Bros., or Fox, the network that aired the show, were not there for them.

“It’s disappointing that we have never gotten that kind of push that ‘Friends’ has had. I have issues with the studio and the network over the promotion of this show.”

Being that Bowser was one of only a few Black women producers in the the television industry at the time, I’m sure there were other factors, beyond the show’s content, that made it less than the top priority for Warner Bros. or Fox.

Still, despite the failing of the network and studio, “Living Single” was still one of the most popular series for Black, Latino and teen audiences. I wonder how different those numbers would be today.

If you ask me “Living Single” is still getting the shaft. Today, over a decade after it went off the air, you can still find “Friends” merchandise being sold by NBC. And you better believe that all seasons are available on DVD. Meanwhile, I don’t even recall any “Living Single” merchandise. And as for DVDs, Warner Bros has only agreed to release the first season, alleging that there isn’t enough demand for the release of the other seasons.

Since Warner Bros. is still hellbent on downplaying the show’s brilliance, we’ll just have to celebrate our show ourselves. “Living Single” was easily better than “Friends.” And while we don’t have to put down one to uplift another, as Latifah said back in 1996, they don’t need another push.

For The Netflix Addicts: 10 Movies To Stream Right Now

April 11th, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
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If you’re like me, and you’re honest with yourself, you’re not afraid to admit that you have a Netflix addiction.  It’s not exactly unhealthy but it hasn’t helped you get the sleep you desperately need, either.  And maybe your not-fully-unhealthy addiction has prevented you from interacting with fellow human beings.   But we’re not judging. We know it’s not your fault!  Netflix is a never-ending bastion of cinematic goodness.  But there’s little variety to the films Netflix promotes on their home page and their search parameters aren’t the best.  That means you really have to comb through their archives and dig for the cinematic jewels that will please your movie palette.   You being the uber Netflix fan that you are, you try to have the time and the patience to find those treasures, but your patience is wearing a little thin.

Lucky for you, we went ahead and compiled a list of the 10 best movies you need to stream on Netflix right now. You’re welcome.  Now, proceed to Netflix and chill or Netflix and whatever it is you do before these titles vanish from their catalog altogether.

Queen Latifah + The Travel Channel = “The Best Place To Be”

March 30th, 2016 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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The Travel Channel

The Travel Channel

Adding another production credit to her resume, Queen Latifah will premiere a new show, “The Best Place To Be,” on the Travel Channel this July.

The show will follow A-list celebrities who allow viewers to “travel” with them to their favorite cities. Okay, so you won’t exactly be laying in a hammock with Idris Elba on a beach in Jamaica; however, viewers will be able to see where participating celebrities like to eat, drink, shop and sight-see off the beaten path.

“The Best Place To Be” is just one of many new shows coming to the Travel Channel. Senior Vice President of the network, Courtney White, shared what fans of the cable channel can expect to see on TV in the coming year.

“Look for more Travel Channel shows like ‘Expedition Unknown’ and ‘Bizarre Foods’ that provide much-needed escape from the daily grind. We’ll travel to plenty of farflung and fascinating places, eat mouthwatering foods and have lots of laughs along the way. We’ll spend time in warm-climate locales that viewers can’t get enough of – like Hawaii, Florida and the Caribbean. And we’ll even embark on a worldwide search with Josh Gates for the legendary Yeti in ‘Expedition Unknown: Hunt for the Yeti.”

With the network’s  latest revamp in their content, Travel Channel junkies can also expect to watch their old-time favorite shows and find gems in the network’s latest pilots.

What’s your favorite Travel Channel show?  

DeVon Franklin Talks Miracles From Heaven, Church Hurt & Why He Had To Check The Woman Who Came For Meagan

March 16th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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DeVon Franklin proved himself to be husband extraordinaire last month when he came to his wife, Meagan Good’s, defense. But during the day, he’s also an author, preacher, motivational speaker and film producer. With the box office smash, “Heaven Is For Real”, under his belt, Franklin is producing another faith-based film, “Miracles From Heaven.” This one is about the incredible, true story of a little girl being healed from an incurable illness through a strange accident. In our exclusive interview with Franklin, he talked about what drew him to this project, dealing with church hurt, the discussion about his wife’s attire and working while waiting on God. 

How did you first come across the Beam story and what were your first impressions?

I came across the story about the Beam family right when the story was being sold to the book publisher. And when I read it, first of all, it moved me. It’s a very, very powerful story. When you have the “normal life,” everything is going well and then something happens. And that came in the form of their middle daughter getting sick. And you don’t know where it came from or why. And then the details of the pain and the challenges they faced, not only to make ends meet, but to figure out how to live a normal life while treating a sick kid.

And then the mom (Christy Beam, played by Jennifer Garner) being the champion for her daughter’s healing. All of these things really spoke to me and moved me personally. I’m the middle child of three boys, raised by a single mom. And so reading this story, in its very early stages, reminded me of the sacrifices my own mother made for me to do what I’m doing today. So, for all of those reasons I thought it was going to make for, hopefully, a good movie.

How did Queen Latifah become involved with the project?

I worked with Queen Latifah…my first studio job, back at MGM, about 12 years ago, one of the first movies I worked on was Beauty Shop. So, I’ve known her and her manager Shakim since then. And Shakim has been like a mentor and a friend. So when this opportunity came about, I just called him up and I said, ‘There’s a role. I don’t know if she’d ever want to do it but I think she’d be great.’  I think she really connected to not only the character, but the story. And the idea of being able to put something positive out there and be a part of a story that’s so family affirming, faith affirming and life affirming. I think those things really spoke to her.

devon franklin talks miracles from heaven

Source: Columbia Pictures

Is Queen Latifah’s character based on a real person?

She sure is. There is a real Angela, except that she’s White. She is from Boston. From what Christy tells me, she smokes like a chain smoker and curses like a sailor but has a heart of gold. It was kind of funny because, given that character is based on a real person, we were a little trepidatious like, ‘Oh, are they going to be cool…’ So I remember calling Christy and I was like, ‘Heey, here’s the good news, we found somebody to play Angela.’ And she said, ‘Great.’ And I said ‘Here’s the other part of that good news, it’s Queen Latifah.’ And she was like, ‘Oh, that’s awesome!’  And she said, ‘Let me tell the real Angela.’ And so she called up the real Angela and told her and the real Angela said, ‘That’s amazing! Queen Latifah would be the perfect me!’ So it was really cool to be able to cast her and knowing that she really embodied the larger than life and heart of gold that the real Angela had.

In the movie, Christy leaves the church after people say some hurtful things to her. What really is the best way to handle people who say nasty things in church?

I think the best way to handle it is, first of all in love and understanding. The saying has been that ‘hurt people, hurt people.’ And the church is very much an emergency room. So, when you go to an emergency room, the idea that people are there and they are sick, doesn’t surprise you. And it also shouldn’t surprise us in the church. It is a place where the wounded come for refuge. And sometimes while they are healing, they can wound others. So I think it’s important to know that. And I think it’s also important to know ok, don’t allow the negativity of the church to keep you away from it. When I go to church, I’m there to get a word, I’m there to experience God, I’m there to worship. And I do my best to not allow other distractions, other people to stop me from doing that because that’s what I want to do and it’s valuable to my life.

And I think sometimes the reason why we get hurt so much in church is because it’s relative to what we expected to happen. And so many times people do view church as a safe place. And in some regards, it is. But there are also people there that have not yet matured in the Lord and do things that can be very detrimental, if you allow it, to your spiritual growth. So anytime I have ever gone through it myself or tried to help someone else, I try to get them to look at the bigger picture, that it’s about God. It’s about the practice of going to church because it helps you in your life. And don’t allow people to stop you from doing the things that you need to do to survive day to day. Which is having a community of people that you can find that can help you worship.

Because going to church, Hebrews 10:25, don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves because it’s important. It matters. It helps. I’ve been in Hollywood for a very long time and I still go to church because I enjoy it. It’s a really big part of my spiritual growth. [People saying mean things in the church is] definitely not an easy thing to deal with especially when you’re hurt. When you get hurt by someone you didn’t expect to get hurt by, that’s painful. I think that Christy’s response to it in the movie is very authentic. Because when you do get hurt, the first thing you say, ‘I’m not going to that hospital ever again.’ But I love the restoration that she experiences at the end of it. Because she was able to forgive, she was able to understand that maybe that person said what they said from a place that even they regret it, in hindsight. And because she had experienced God in such a miraculous way, that maybe one of the benefits of that was that she could offer forgiveness in a way that maybe she couldn’t have otherwise. So I love that in the real story, the real Chirsty was able to forgive and not to harbor any resentment or harbor any pain as it related to how that person in the church spoke to her.

Queen Latifah To Star In Lee Daniels Pilot

December 8th, 2015 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Queen Laitfah

Splash News

“Empire” is only in its second season and Lee Daniels is already plotting on his next music-themed project. According to Deadline, Daniels is creating another Fox pilot and Queen Latifah recently signed on for the starring role. Up-and-comers Jude Demorest, Ryan Destiny and Brittnay O’Grady, have also been cast in the project.

The drama series, which is co-written and directed by Lee, will follow the journeys of “three young women who form a girl group with hopes of making it big in the music industry, and the choices with which they’re faced along the way.” Queen will be playing the role of Carlotta, an Atlanta beauty salon owner with musical talents of her own who becomes somewhat of a surrogate mother to the trio—even though she’s not really in support of their musical dreams.

As previously reported, transgender actress Amiyah Scott has also been cast in the series; however, details surrounding her character have not been revealed.

Vulture is reporting that the 20th Century Fox-produced pilot is set to begin filming next month.

Follow Jazmine on Twitter @JazmineDenise

“It’s A Part Of Who I Am, It’s A Part Of Why I Am”: “The Wiz Live” Cast Share What The Story Means To Them

December 1st, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: NBC

Source: NBC

Just when I thought I couldn’t be any more invested in “The Wiz Live,” we had an opportunity to speak with the cast members about their experience rehearsing for this live, televised event on Thursday, December 3. We interviewed some of the biggest names in entertainment and they had a lot to say about this project. But more than anything, the cast members kept reiterating how important The Wiz, both the play and the feature film, were to not only themselves but to the African American community as a whole.

Check out some of the thoughts, memories and passion shared by both the on-stage talent as well as the folks behind the curtain.

Source: NBC

Source: NBC

Stephanie Mills, Auntie Em

I knew of Shanice (who plays Dorothy) before they actually cast her because Kenny and I were having a talk and he said, ‘There’s this girl and I know she’s Dorothy, I know she’s Dorothy.’

I’ve given her love. I told her you can’t–I don’t want you to try to do what I did. She’s her Dorothy, the 2015 Dorothy. It’s her. I did my part 40 years ago.

It’s emotional because I see myself in her. I see the innocence, how young I was doing it and how afraid I was at that time. It brings back all those memories.

Executive producer, Craig Zadan: I don’t think we had any pressure. We took it on because we love it and we thought it would make a great show for us to do. What we were surprised at was the amount of people who called us. I would say this was the first time in our lives that very prominent African American artists, actors, directors, producers called us to say ‘Do you know how important this is to the community? Don’t blow it.’ And we realized at that moment that there’s a reverence for this material. We didn’t take it on for the reverence. We took it on because we loved it. But then you realize that there is that added responsibility of making sure that it’s done correctly. And we’ve done it correctly. We hope. We hope when you all see that you feel it’s done correctly too.

MN: Was there a moment when you felt like ‘ok, this is right’?

Executive producer, Neil Meron: Yeah. At the table read when it was all the talent in one room and we heard how much they collectively felt the same way about the material and what we were about to do. It felt good.

(Photo by: Paul Gilmore/NBC)

(Photo by: Paul Gilmore/NBC)

Amber Riley, Addaperle (Good Witch of the North)

I don’t know how old I was but I remember watching [The Wiz] and rewinding it over and over again. And I remember trying to do “Ease on Down The Road.” I remember the music, I specifically remember the music.

Before even hearing what names were going to be a part of [this production], I wanted to be a part of it anyway. I didn’t really care who was going to be in it. You know, this is iconic. The fact that my mom has seen it and that was her first Broadway show and then I saw it in the movie and now my niece is four is going to be able to watch it. Anything that can withstand generations has to be amazing. There’s something special about it and I really wanted to be a part of that.

Bet You Didn’t Know: Celebs Who Own Production Companies

November 23rd, 2015 - By Nneka Samuel
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Splash News

Splash News

We all know about Spike Lee’s 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, Shondaland and the empires belonging to Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, but did you know the following stars have production companies?