All Articles Tagged "showtime"

Michael Jackson Never Wanted To Be White

February 9th, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
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Image Source: Showtime

Image Source: Showtime

Spike Lee’s Showtime documentary film Michael Jackson’s Journey From Motown To Off The Wall premiered last Friday.  As a diehard, straight out the womb Michael Jackson fan, I got my entire life watching mesmerizing clips and giddy interviews of the man himself, conversations with those who personally knew him and the “witnesses” (as they were labeled in the credits) who were touched by MJ’s indelible body of work.  I happily sang along to tunes that will forever bring me joy and gained further insight into the man they called King.

In the documentary, Lee honed in on MJ’s early years and made a conscious decision to focus solely on the music created during that impressionable, history-making time, instead of the myriad controversies and scandals that plagued later portions of Jackson’s solo career.  One of those controversies, which sparks conversation almost seven years after the late singer’s death, is Jackson’s changing appearance over the years.  Though MJ’s legacy lives in the music he created and shared with the world, it’s almost impossible to mention his name without hearing the widely-held belief that Michael Jackson wanted to look and be White. A belief that has made its way back into discussion due to the casting of Joseph Fiennes to play the pop star in the film, Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon. But I think the answer to his physical transformation lies in a note Jackson wrote to himself, which was shared in the film.

Jackson was only 21 years old when he wrote his future into existence, much like Octavia Butler did, as we recently learned.  “MJ will be my new name,” he declared.  “No more Michael Jackson. I want a whole new character, a whole new look. I should be a tottally [sic] different person. People should never think of me as the kid who sang “ABC,” [or] “I Want You Back.”  I should be a new, incredible actor/singer/dancer that will shock the world. I will do no interviews. I will be magic. I will be a perfectionist, a researcher, a trainer, a masterer [sic]. I will be better than every great actor roped into one.”

One of the things that was painfully obvious throughout the film was that executives, producers, businessmen, and directors alike constantly doubted Jackson.  They doubted whether he would have a singing career past childhood, whether he could have an acting career and star in The Wiz (or any other film for that matter), whether he could create his own music and be a solo artist.  It’s kind of crazy, considering that he had already proven himself so many times.  His talent was undeniable. Jackson combined his innate sensibilities with hard work, passion and an unwavering appreciation for and study of artists like James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and the Nicholas Brothers.  He combined those influences into a unique style all his own, yet he kept having to prove himself to people who didn’t share or understand his vision.

Jackson, who admittedly was never satisfied, was a complicated, misunderstood genius driven by an impossible quest for perfection. That quest led to a desire to physically reinvent himself with the release of each solo album, from Off The Wall to Invincible, the last album he recorded prior to his 2009 death.  Reinvention translated to numerous alterations to his nose, a cleft in his chin, his changing hair, and, yes, lighter skin, though induced by vitiligo.  Despite those changes, I don’t think Jackson was seeking to become a different race, that he saw flaws in his blackness, or that he equated whiteness with greatness and perfection.  Different was the name of the game.  He was striving to both outdo himself and to be in a league all his own.   He sought continually to distance himself from his boyhood image, though he longed for the childhood he claimed to have missed.  And he wanted to create an identity entirely separate from his brothers.

I recognize that there are so many issues that complicate this reading.  The fact that Jackson took in three White children, for example, and that he seemed to have body dysmorphic disorder.  He was also rendered untouchable by his exorbitant level of fame, which probably fed into a belief that he could alter his appearance and continue to go about his business without being questioned, like unexplained magic.  Born and bred in the shock value era, reinvention was also a way in which Jackson could remain relevant, or rather, talked about in the public eye.  Which is sad because the only thing that ever really mattered was the music, but that was overshadowed by his persona.

Of course, all of this conjecture is predicated on a single, handwritten note that seemed to play a crucial role in Michael Jackson’s adult life.  But only he knew his innermost thoughts, the real reasons why he changed his physical appearance time and again, and why the changes never seemed to be enough.

Regardless, it’s the music that remains of importance.  I am grateful to Spike Lee for creating a film that didn’t succumb to the easy, “But what happened to Michael’s skin?” trap.  That’s a different film for a different director entirely.  Michael Jackson’s Journey From Motown To Off The Wall gave us a glimpse into the makings of one of the greatest, most innovative entertainers to ever grace the earth, an enigma and cultural icon whose influence lives on in countless artists and in the hearts of countless fans.

5 Winners & 5 Flops: The TV Shows That Could & Could Not In 2014

May 14th, 2014 - By Candace Smith
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In the wake of this year’s television upfronts, one can’t help but wonder which of the recently ordered shows for the upcoming fall season will be abruptly cancelled before a second episode will see the light of day. Or which one will enjoy the same success like runaway hits Scandal and Girls. To celebrate our favorite renewed shows and mourn our beloved cancelled ones, here is our list of five successful shows that have either just premiered, or, in light of the merciless television industry, have been miraculously granted another season, and five TV programs that just could not cut the mustard.

Hova Heads To TV: Jay Z’s ‘Made in America’ Doc Coming To Showtime

September 8th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Jay Z announcing Budweiser Made in America in 2012. WENN

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Jay Z announcing Budweiser Made in America in 2012. WENN

Jay Z is taking over Showtime–for one night at least.

The premium cable network has acquired Made in America, a star-studded documentary that chronicles Jay Z’s two-day 2012 Philadelphia music festival of the same name, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Directed by Ron Howard and executive produced by Jay Z himself, the doc will have its television debut Friday, Oct. 11. This will be roughly a month after the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7.

“As soon as we saw this film we knew it was a perfect fit for Showtime,” Showtime’s entertainment president David Nevins said in a statement. “Ron Howard and Jay Z have crafted an inspirational portrayal of American resilience, drive and creativity, interwoven with an incredible showcase of musical talent.”

Passion Pit, Pearl Jam, Run D.M.C., Skrillex and Kanye West are just some of the diverse artists who perform and also discuss “making it in America” in the film.

“For Jay Z, the news comes the same week that the rapper made headlines for debuting his music video for ‘Holy Grail,’ a collaboration with Justin Timberlake, on Facebook,” reports THR. It became the first clip by a major music star to premiere on the social network, and it had  a 24-hour window of exclusivity.

The Showtime and Facebook deals are just some of Jay Z’ s recent business moves. He also sealed a $30 million partnership with Samsung and has pushed into the sports agency business.

Will you watch the Jay Z documentary?

Made For TV: Jay Z’s “Made In America” Documentary Heads To Showtime!

September 1st, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"Made In America"

Source: Twitter

The 2013 Made In America Festival is going on right now but it’s last year’s show that continues to bring Jay Z money.

Cable network Showtime has acquired Made In America, the documentary chronicling Jay’s road to creating the music festival to actual seeing it happen. The film was directed by former Happy Days star and famed director Ron Howard according to The Hollywood Reporter. Both he and Jay serve as two of the executive producers of the film along with Brian Grazer.

Showtime, over the last two years, has been dedicated in revitalizing their programming and this will certainly help them out with ratings and also bringing in a younger demographic.  David Nevins, Showtime’s entertainment released the following statement regarding the new project:

“As soon as we saw this film we knew it was a perfect fit for Showtime. Ron Howard and Jay Z have crafted an inspirational portrayal of American resilience, drive and creativity, interwoven with an incredible showcase of musical talent. We are proud to bring Made in America to Showtime where it joins our impressive roster of provocative and compelling documentaries helmed by award-winning filmmakers.”

That Jay Z…he just keeps the deals coming.  There was the deal with Samsung to release his latest album, Magna Carter Holy Grail, early to Samsung cell phone users, then the deal with HBO which premiered the Picasso Baby: A Short Art Film three weeks ago and now he’s added Showtime to the list. Jay also premiered his “Holy Grail” video on Facebook earlier in the week. In the words of Jay, he’s a “business man, not a businessman.”

Made In America will first premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on September 7th and then released to the world on Showtime on Friday, October 11th.

Check out the trailer!

“Do I Look Bitter?” Pooch Hall Talks Getting Over “The Game” And Whether He Still Watches

July 25th, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
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Are you all missing Pooch Hall on “The Game” as much as we are? Lucky for you, we had the pleasure of speaking with the handsome star in our office the other day and he was quite the character. Talking about everything from getting the boot from BET to moving on to bigger and better things like his new Showtime series “Ray Donovan,” and his affinity for Lauren London, not much was off limits with Mr. Hall — and that’s just how we like it.

Check out what this promising talent had to say about his future in the biz, his wife’s thoughts on his profession, and why he’s not mad at anybody over at BET.

“They Didn’t Return My Phone Calls”: Pooch Hall Talks His “Hurtful” Exit From BET’s “The Game” And His New Show “Ray Donovan”

June 17th, 2013 - By Clarke Gail Baines
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Pooch Hall

For all those folks who have been feeling some type of way about the abrupt exit of Tia-Mowry Hardrict and Pooch Hall from The Game (Melanie and Derwin), this one’s for you.

In an interview with, Hall spoke about a wealth of interesting things, including the importance of being a father. But the most revealing tidbit from his interview came from his admission that despite his character’s emotional exit from The Game during episode one of this new season, Hall didn’t appreciate the way BET forced him to exit the show. Here’s what he told the folks over at Theybf:

“My contract had ended and BET said, ‘We’re gonna get you on for season 6.’  I literally booked “Ray Donovan” a week out.  And when we were making my deal with Showtime, they knew how strong my fan based was so…..Showtime said you still can work over at “The Game.”  And when I went back to BET with news and was like let’s make this work, they didn’t return my phone calls or emails.  Everyone was like why’d you’d leave “The Game” and I was like “I didn’t leave.”  It was hurtful.  I felt that we all made “The Game” what is it today.”

This is all interesting considering the fact that before things really fell apart, Hall made it seem via Twitter as though things with BET and his contract were being worked out and all was going to be fine. But no hard feeling remain it seems, as Hall says he watched some of the first few episodes of season six of The Game, but has since kept it moving. Either way though, things aren’t just fine, but great for Hall, as he’s been cast in a regular role on the new Showtime series, Ray Donovan, starring Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight. In all honesty, the premise reminds me of a messier, white-man version of Scandal without a president and a sordid love story…sounds interesting!:

Ray is the man called in to make the city’s celebrities’, superstar athletes’, and business moguls’ most complicated and combustible situations go away. This powerful family drama unfolds when his father, Mickey Donovan, played by Oscar® winner Jon Voight, is unexpectedly released from prison, setting off a chain of events that shakes the Donovan family to its core.

One of the things set to rock the family’s core is when it’s revealed that Hall’s character, Darryl, a boxer who trains at the Donovan family gym, is Ray Donovan’s half-brother. Let the drama begin.

Click over to to read Hall’s full interview and be sure to watch Ray Donovan when it premieres on Showtime on June 30.

What do you think of what Hall had to say about his exit from The Game? Will you watch Ray Donovan?

Daughters Of ´Shameless´ Actress Vanessa Bell Calloway Turn To Crowdfunding To Land Emmy Vote For Mom

June 12th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Credit: Greg Tidwell/

Credit: Greg Tidwell/

Here’s a unique crowdfunding campaign: The daughters of actress Vanessa Bell Calloway have turned to Indiegogo in an effort to land the actress a Primetime Emmy nomination for her role as Carol on the Showtime series Shameless.

Calloway’s daughters, Ally, 18, and Ashley, 22, launched a crowdfunding campaign for an “Emmy Screening For Mom” to raise $5,500. (They’ve managed $220 as of this publishing.)  According to a press release, the pair want to raise money for a special screening of the Showtime program Shameless to inform Emmy voters of Calloway’s role on the hit show. The daughters hope the screening will help secure a nomination as Outstanding Actress in a Guest Role for Calloway’s work on series. The campaign will continue through June 21st.

Calloway is impressed with her daughters´move. On her Facebook page she posted: “You know you’re pretty awesome when your kids go around bragging about you!”

Calloway is currently in a recurring role as Carol, the mother of Veronica, in John Well’s popular hour-long drama. At the same time, she played mother to Tyler James Williams on the NBC show Go On. That show, which starred Friends’ Matthew Perry, was recently canceled.

Donations to the Emmy screening campaign can range from $10 to $1,000. Contributors to the screening will receive prizes ranging from an autographed photo of Vanessa Bell Calloway to a private lunch or workout with the actress.

What are your thoughts on this campaign?

Back To Work! Nia Long Hits The Small Screen In Showtime’s “House Of Lies”

February 23rd, 2013 - By MN Editor
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"NiaLong pf"

C. Smith/


Showtime’s hit series House of Lies has earned much attention since it debuted in 2012. Now in its second season, the clever comedy about an over-the-top consultant, played by Best Comedy Actor Golden Globe winner Don Cheadle, continues to up the ante with guest stars. Nia Long is among the selected actors to appear on the series this season and we hear her upcoming episode may raise some eyebrows.

Nia talks about her character, Tamara:

“The very first time you meet her, she talks about how she’s been out of the game raising children. She’s a wife. And coming back into the game she wants to have some sort of integrity for herself. When you look at the characters on House of Lies, they are all very twisted. They are not what they seem. They’re back stabbing. They’re just ugly people, not nice people. They go for theirs.  I think Tamara’s approach to things isn’t that way. She has a different way of getting what she wants.”

On what it’s like working with Don Cheadle:

AH-MAZ-ING! He is probably my new favorite person right now. At first I was so intimidated and nervous and I never get that way. I don’t know what it was about him. I don’t know what it was that made me feel that way. I think it was me coming on to a show that’s already established. I’ve seen almost everything he’s done. I’ve always wanted to work with him. I really like him because he stays under the radar and does great work. He doesn’t care about the fanfare or the fame.

Don’t you just love her? It’ll be great to see her back to work.  You can read the full interview on Essence.

Do you watch House of Lies?

Black Drama We Like: Pearlena Igbokwe Named Head Of Drama Programming at NBC

July 10th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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The images of black people on television may start to change after all now that Pearlena Igbokwe will have something to do with it, on one channel at least. The veteran program executive has left Showtime after 20 years to join NBC as its new Executive Vice President of Drama Development.

Igbokwe will oversee the development of all of NBC’s dramas and report to NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke who said in a press release:

“Pearlena has forged an impressive track record over her successful career that has earned her the admiration of the creative community. She will bring a unique perspective to development that will help us reach our goal of once again making NBC the home of some of the best and most respected dramas on television.”

Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment,whom Igbokwe worked with for seven years at Showtime also sung her praises:

“Pearlena is hands-down one of the best creative executives I’ve ever worked with and I’m thrilled she is coming to NBC,” he said. “She will be instrumental in reinvigorating our drama slate and making the network a haven for the top creative people in our business.”

Nurse Jackie” and “The Big C” are just two of the major network successes under Igbokwe’s belt. She was also instrumental in creating the “Soul Food” series and developed the pilot for the new upcoming Showtime series “Masters of Sex” starring Michael Sheen. Much is definitely expected of her as she fills the shoes left by Laura Lancaster and no doubt feels the pressure as the network struggles to develop a break-out drama with any longevity. Hopefully Igbokwe is up to task and will bring some black talent along for the ride as well.

Brande Victorian is the news and operations editor for Follow her on twitter @Be_Vic.

More on Madame Noire!

TV Shows With Little to No Black People That You Should Be Watching

October 11th, 2011 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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I’m all about diversity. There is something about watching a movie or television show without people that look like me (BLACK) that makes me a little bit confused. Even worse, sometimes I lose my concentration. I still get upset that they could only find like two black people to pop up in New York during the entire series that was Friends. So just like we have black publications, movies, books and more, a lot of black people, like myself, wind up watching black television shows, both scripted, or reality-based, both out of trying to be supportive, and to see other people that look like me. However, there are a wealth of shows with say, maybe one or two black (or zero) people out of a whole cast that make it possible for people to ignore the discrepancies, and just watch good television. Here’s a few that due to great scripts and some awesome acting,  always stand out for the good. Note, they’re all scripted (death to reality TV!):