All Articles Tagged "television"
Writer and producer executive Mara Brock Akil rocked television networks’ boat with her story of black successful female friends, Girlfriends. The show became a favorite of black women who loved seeing their narratives play out on national television. After the CW network canceled Girlfriends, Akil moved onto her iconic show The Game. Modeled after the lives of professional football players, the show became an immediate success with fans. So much so that fans petitioned networks to bring it back after it, too, was canceled. Since returning to television The Game is still on a winning streak.
But Akil has a new baby on her hands and it’s the coolest kid on the television playground. Being Mary Jane starring Gabrielle Union, reaches on average of over 2.5 million viewers (more than the HBO hit show Girls).
BloombergBusinessWeek profiled Akil about her life and work. And here are three things you may not know about the woman who has created some of your favorite television shows.
She sees herself in the ladies of Girlfriends
Raised in Kansas City, Mo., and educated at Northwestern University, Brock Akil began her career in the writers’ rooms of UPN’s Moesha and WB’s The Jamie Foxx Show…
Girlfriends ran for eight seasons; when the CW canceled it, Brock Akil and her infuriated fans were powerless. “Girlfriends was my first expression in the medium, my full voice, and it allowed me to document myself,” she says. “It was: I’m here, I deserve to be here, and I’m entitled to it.”
She orchestrated a social media campaign to “Save the Game”
“Whenever a new network starts, they typically start with a black audience, then dump them once they get ratings and bring the other programming on,” Brock Akil says. But this was 2009, and the black fans who’d clogged phone lines in 2006 had grown into a powerful force on social media. So Brock Akil savvily coordinated a massive social media campaign. A “Save The Game” YouTube (GOOG) video featuring all her show’s stars implored fans to complain on their Facebook and Twitter accounts and CW’s message boards.“Before, the studio held the narrative,” Brock Akil says. “I heard that when Girlfriends got canceled, the fans broke the phone system. The mail was overwhelming. UPN or the CW didn’t have to report that the fans broke the phones! With social media, it was all out there.”
Mary Jane is purposely flawed
An earlier generation of black television writers felt a responsibility to provide Cosby-style role models. But realistic imperfection, more often afforded to white male characters than minority women, has become Brock Akil’s signature.“The thing about writing for African American characters is, people think you have to right all the wrongs that were done in the past, and I can’t do that,” she says. “I believe if we keep trying to fix something that’s over, we’re missing out on what is in the moment. If I do that, my art is stale. I’m chasing a ghost.”
To read more on Mara, click here.
Despite the increasing presence of women and minorities in the entertainment industry, the Writer’s Guild of America reports the picture isn’t quite so rosy when you look at the number of writers working behind the scenes. Even when there have been gains, they’re small. And where money is concerned, the wage gap is real.
“Female writers accounted for 15% of feature film work in 2012, the latest year tracked in the survey, down from 17% in 2009. Minority writers remained stuck at 5% of film jobs, unchanged from 2009, but the survey shows minority writer earnings declined over the same period even as paydays for white male writers increased. In TV, minority employment reached 11% in 2012, the highest level in a decade. Female employment dipped to 27%, down 1% from 2009, while the earnings gap between male and female writers closed ever so slightly (by 1 cent in 2012 compared to 2009) to 92 cents for every dollar earned by males.”
Deadline Hollywood notes that minorities watch disproportionate amounts of television and film despite their smaller presence in the industry. The median age of an industry writer is 41 to 50 years old.
The Writer’s Guild of America, West is a labor union that represents writers in film, television, radio and in internet programming.
“Before we are likely to realize meaningful, sustained change…other industry players – the networks, studios, and agents – will have to go well beyond what they have routinely done in the past to address the troubling shortfalls evident on the diversity front among writers,” said Darnell M. Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, the author of the study.
The WGA full study, “Turning Missed Opportunities Into Realized Ones: The 2014 Hollywood Writers Report,” will be made available in June.
Last year, measurement firm Nielsen announced they’d began tracking the viewing habits of 5 million households that consume entertainment on Internet-connected devices and TVs. Dubbed the “zero TV” households by Nielsen, these non-traditional viewers tend to be younger than 35 years old, childless; and 75 percent own at least one TV set that is connected to the Internet, not a cable or television service. Nielsen found that virtually half of the “zero TV” homes (48 percent) watch TV shows through online subscription services like Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus or Netflix.
With complaints of rising prices, sheer lack of interest and viewing limitations, zero watchers have left cable TV behind. It’s not always an option due to offerings in certain markets and the need for the high-speed Internet service, which is available through these providers, but many people are ready for the change. Here are several alternatives to cable you may want to explore:
Try networks/TV shows’ sites
Free is the perfect price, and there are ways to watch your current shows for that exact price point via the show or network’s website. So, let’s say you missed Scandal (and can wait about a week), you can watch it on ABC Go. Networks like CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS.org provide limited content for free on their websites as well.
You’ll want to catch the episodes within a few days of a new episode airing because many networks remove them shortly after posting.
Purchase to watch
If you’re not willing to wait and need to watch those recently released shows and movies, you’ll have to pay. Whether you decide to pay-per-episode or via subscription, you’re guaranteed to get the latest shows:
iTunes—The media management service allows users to either purchase single episodes or season bundles of numerous TV shows for no more than a of couple bucks. When you purchase a TV episode or movie through iTunes, you can download and watch them offline at your convenience. This comes in handy when traveling or bored and without a Wi-Fi connection. As long as you can access your Apple account, you’ll be able to watch your iTunes content. If you’d like to watch the content once, with no plans of watching it again, users can opt to rent content to save additional money.
iTunes is the favorable option because you don’t have to wait for an entire season to be released in order to purchase a single episode, which isn’t the case for all services.
Google Play— You can buy or rent single movies or television show episodes, as well as entire seasons of television content, from Google’s entertainment hub. While many Android holders use Google Play, anyone with a Google ID can use it online.
The following are supported by the majority of the TV streaming boxes and services—
Amazon Instant Video allows you to buy and watch single episodes, season packs or movies. An Amazon Prime subscription gives you access to some additional content, as well as unlimited streaming access to thousands of movies and TV shows through Instant Video. It’ll cost you $99 for a one-year membership, a $20 uptick from its original $79 price tag.
The delay between a season’s close and its arrival on streaming services is annoying, but Hulu Plus ($7.99) is pretty good on delivering the latest episodes. You’ll usually find shows the day after they air on Hulu, which can’t always be said for Netflix.
If you’re looking to binge watch and view a backlog of shows, Netflix is the likely pick. Its generous library of movies from every genre and shows that are currently airing is well worth the $7.99 per month.
We’ve listed the top but there are others, such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Crackle, among others, out there. The original programming provided through Hulu (Miss Fits, Fresh Meat, Line of Duty) and Netflix (House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black) has furthered the way consumers view TV content.
How do you watch TV? Do you stream or are you more of a traditional TV viewer? Let us know in the comments section below.
From The Grio
Numerous black actors have played the president of the United States over the years on film and television, including Morgan Freeman, Dennis Haysbert, Richard Pryor and Jamie Foxx. But with a new pilot called State of Affairs, NBC is offering up the first black woman POTUS.
Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning actress Alfre Woodward will play President Roberta Payton in the drama that is being billed as a cross betweenScandal and The West Wing. Woodard is joined by Katherine Heigl, whose character is a CIA operative who does daily debriefings with the president. Heigl’s character is also the ex-girlfriend of President Payton’s late son.
No further details about the pilot are available, but just the fact that a major network’s drama will star a black woman as the leader of the free world is a significant milestone in how black women are depicted in pop culture.
Scandal, flaws and all, was met with much fanfare when it debuted in 2012 partly because Kerry Washington’s power-wielding, smartly dressed lead character was a welcomed departure from prevailing depictions of black women in popular reality television and Tyler Perry creations. The show has since gone on to receive Emmy nominations, countless magazine spreads for its star and the social media buzz for Scandal is unmatched.
So, it’s not shocking that NBC has a pilot in the works that it is billing as a Scandal/West Wing hybrid. Political dramas have a proven track record in primetime television and Scandal’s ratings success with a black woman lead shows that America is ready to see powerful black women in charge at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
One consistent criticism of Scandal concerns the main character Olivia Pope’s love life. She might be able to handle any sticky situation that is presented to her at work, but Pope basically melts into romantic-hyperbole-blubbering butter as soon as her married lover is in her vicinity.
If the State of Affairs pilot is picked up, it will be interesting to see how President Payton’s love life is written. Is she a widow? If she has a husband, what is his race? Is she faithful? Often times, fictional presidents are presented as having complicated love lives, but for a black woman in that position, could she afford to have such messiness?
I’m thinking that the title State of Affairs is a bit of a play on words and the show will likely feature plenty of extramarital flings. With Woodard and Heigl as the named leads, the show appears to be following the Scandal (Shonda Rhimes) formula of having a diverse cast. This would be a win-win for the network.
Read more about Alfre Woodard’s new role at TheGrio.com
Alfre Woodard has snagged her next major role. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the “12 Years A Slave” actress has been cast to star in NBC’s new pilot drama, “State of Affairs”.
In the pilot, which has been described as “Scandal” meets “West Wing,” Woodard will be playing the role of President Roberta Payton, who enlists a CIA agent Whitney Tucker (played by Katherine Heigl), to counsel her daily on incidents occurring around the world and target America’s most pressing threats. Interestingly, Whitney also happens to be the ex-girlfriend of Roberta’s deceased son.
The script for the drama filled pilot will be written by Alexi Hawley and Joe Carnahan. Hawley will also executive produce the show along with Heigl and her mother-manager Nancy Heigl, Bob Simonds, Sophie Watts, Henry Crumpton, Julia Franz and Rodney Faraon.
Woodard joins a long roster of actors and actresses of color with leading roles in pilots this season. Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Romany Malco, Terrence Howard, Octavia Spencer and Jada Pinkett-Smith. This definitely sounds like the makings of an interesting series.
Does “State of Affairs” seem like a show you’d be interested in checking out?
Though “The Game” fans seem to be getting acquainted with newbies Keira and Blue, it’s obvious that fans are still missing Melanie and Derwin. Fortunately for those fans, actress Wendy Raquel Robinson (Tasha Mack) says the show’s beloved couple will definitely be returning to the series at some point.
“I think you will definitely see them back because it’s a mutual love, you know,” Robinson told Mara the Hip Hop Socialite during a recent interview. “Pooch and Tia they do want to continue on and do the show, but you know, things change, careers go in different directions and things like that.”
Interestingly, she adds that the duo were actually supposed to appear in the show’s upcoming season finale; however, their hectic schedules did not permit for them to be there.
“What they were trying to do – everybody’s schedule is so crazy – they did actually, they were written in to the season finale, but schedules just didn’t work,” she explained.
While it’s unfortunate that producers couldn’t make the Derwin/Melanie reunion happen this season, they did bring back Kelly Pitts—a move that Robinson says will really shake things up this season, as we can already see.
“If it’s thrown her [Chardonnay] off in episode 4, you can only imagine how much more it’s going to throw off everything,” the 46-year-old actress shared. ““If it’s thrown her [Chardonnay] off in episode 4, you can only imagine how much more it’s going to throw off everything.”
She also adds that the Kelly boomerang will lead into season eight of the long-lived series, which has just been green-lit by BET Networks.
“It’s definitely going to lead us to a season 8, which we just got, thank God. Because the way the finale ends, there’s no way that we could have walked away from the series in that capacity.”
What do you think of season seven so far? Do you miss Melanie and Derwin?
If rapper Q-Tip gets his way, we’ll be seeing a lot about his life during one of the most important times in the hip-hop era.
According to Deadline, the rapper has joined forces with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, stars of The Wolf of Wall Street, to create a television show based on Q-Tip’s life when A Tribe Called Quest and the Native Tongues were one of the most popular groups and hip-hop collectives, respectively, around.
The Native Tongues included De La Soul, The Jungle Brothers, DJ Red Alert, Queen Latifah, and of course, A Tribe Called Quest. While they would have been known today as “backpackers,” The Native Tongues were mostly a group of artists who didn’t necessarily fit into the mold of what hip-hop artists were back then but used their “eclectic” style to bring what some would call “conscious rap” to the forefront.
The show doesn’t have a primary writer behind it yet, but it is described as a drama project that “will draw from Q-Tip’s experiences with the group and with The Native Tongues collective that A Tribe Called Quest was a member of, which brought together late 1980s and early 1990s hip-hop artists known for their positive-minded, Afrocentric lyrics. The show will reflect on the stories of their friendship and how their music played a part in culture then and influenced the music of today.”
DiCaprio’s production company, Appian Way, will produce it and they are expected to shop the show to various networks next week. By the way, Tip and DiCaprio have been close friends for years.
You know what? I’m really excited about this idea. Members of the Native Tongues have influenced almost every one of our favorite rappers and it would be great to see that time recreated. The DiCaprio name alone can probably get the meetings to with almost every network but if HBO shows any interest, that would be an ideal situation.
Would you watch the show?
Time magazine has put together its annual list of the Most Influential Fictional Characters of 2013 and guess who almost came in first place. Scandal‘s Olivia Pope came in second place, topped by Breaking Bad‘s chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston).
Time said the D.C. fixer played by Kerry Washington had became a bonafide cultural icon this year. “Beyond juicing Scandal‘s viewership—season 3 premiered to 10.5 million viewers, up 71 percent from the year before—Pope was a real-world lifestyle tastemaker: the Crate & Barrel wine glasses she sips from on the show sold out at earlier this year, as did her $2,600 white Burberry trench coat,” reports the magazine.
Pope also beat out Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen. The sequel, Catching Fire, has grossed $600 million and counting.
At fourth place was Sophia Burset, the inmate hairstylist (played by Laverne Cox) on Orange Is the New Black. The character is a fan favorite for her biting one-liners and says Time “because she’s the most dynamic transgender character in TV history.” The character has caused a ripple effect: Showtime and E! Canada have both green lit shows about transgender people.
In the political arena, former New York mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner’s virtual persona made the list at number 5. Weiner used the name Carlos Danger to have X-rated chats with women online.
Speaking of fictional characters, Global Grind came up with its own list of the Most Influential African-American Woman on Television.
It’s no surprise that Clair Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad) came out on top. The Huxtables are one of the most beloved television families of all time. And it was Clair’s cool but strict mom that was a fan favorite. “Playing a very successful lawyer, Clair always had an allure of cool, calm confidence and stood her ground when it came to parenting,” notes Global Grind. “Her impact on pop culture was so influential that women aspired to be like her and she was named one of TV’s most influential mothers by AOL.”
In second place was Joan Crawford (Tracee Ellis Ross) from Girlfriends. The Carrie Bradshaw to African-American women, Crawford was a complete woman — smart, independent but loving, silly, funny, and a good friend. “She also was fabulous and unafraid to be the semi-awkward woman we all loved,” reports Global Grind.
In third place, the forever-loved, hard-working Florida Evans (Esther Rolle). The character actually got her start on the sitcom Maude as a housekeeper but fans loved Rolle’s character so much a show was created around her and her family called Good Times. Also on the roundup: Maya St. Germain (Bianca Lawson) from Pretty Little Liars; True Jackson (Keke Palmer) from the Nickelodeon hit True Jackson, VP; Raven Baxter (Raven Symone) on Disney’s That’s So Raven‘; and for soap opera fans, Angie Hubbard (Debbi Morgan) from ABC’s All My Children made the list.
Who is your favorite TV character?
She might play one on television, but actress Denise Vasi is no longer a single lady!
On Saturday afternoon, the 30 year old actress married 40 year old video director and photographer Anthony Mandler in front of their close friends and family members.
The wedding was held at a posh vineyard in Santa Ynez, California. Her beautiful dress was courtesy of Kleinfeld Bridal.
As the way everyone receives information evolves, people are almost forced to go with it. With that in mind, there was a sign outside the reception that said, “If you Instagram, #vasimandlermerge.” Trust, the guests took full advantage of it as pictures were all over Instagram the entire night.
Vasi, a former model, has been acting for years. Her biggest role came during her time on ABC’s All My children (from 2008 until it ended in 2011) and she currently plays Raquel on VH1′s Single Ladies which is slated to return later this television season. Mandler is a major video director, with his biggest client being the one and only Rihanna. He’s also working on his first feature film.
We’re sure the reception was everything as the DJ of the night was DJ D-Nice.
Congratulations to the happy couple on their new union!
In other wedding news: After rumors swirled that Pharrell would be tying the knot this weekend, it’s been confirmed that his nuptial to Helen Lasichanh did indeed happen on Saturday in Miami. Congrats to them too!
Finally, Julie Chen was able to ask one of the Big Brother houseguests about the racism going on inside the house. And not only did Howard Overby have an opinion, but as one of the two African Americans on the show, he was personally a victim of the racist remarks and treatment by other houseguests. Howard was voted off last week and Chen sat down and questioned him about the situation.
“How hard was it for you to hold your tongue?” Chen asked Overby.
“Probably the hardest thing in the world,” he answered. “Howard actually said he feared letting his temper out, and he was proud that he never did,” reports The Huffington Post. “I just chose to take the high road, you know? Let them have that. I’m not going to get down to their level. Just accept it as it is and pray about it. There it is.” Overby was open about his faith while he was on the show.
He added: “I definitely don’t promote that. I don’t look down on them and I’m not going to say anything bad about them. The only thing I’m going to say is we had a very young cast this year. We had a lot of young girls in there and for the most part I hope that some of those comments were coming from just being young and immature or wanting attention. None of it is acceptable. I don’t care how young or old you are.” (The Hollywood Reporter has a complete Q&A here.)
Even TV critics were supportive of Overby’s approach to handling the hostile situation. Bustle’s Molly Fitzpatrick applauded Overby for being a “nice guy ’til the end,” as well as for leaving the show gracefully. Todd Betzold, writing for Reality Rewind, also agreed and said he was sad to see such a “classy guy” leave the show.
Things will probably get more heated when Chen gets to interview not one but two ousted houseguests, as this week’s show features a double eviction.
Would you be able to keep calm with these sorts of comments being thrown around? Last night’s full episode is available here.