All Articles Tagged "tyler perry"

Now That Oprah Winfrey Network Has Finally Found Its Footing, It Needs Less Tyler Perry

September 14th, 2015 - By Nneka Samuel
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Image Source: WENN

Image Source: WENN

Television networks aren’t built overnight.  It takes time to develop and produce shows that not only gel with a network’s brand but speak to its target audience.  This is something Oprah Winfrey knows all too well.  In 2011, after saying goodbye to The Oprah Winfrey Show, one of the most iconic and game-changing programs in television history, she launched the Oprah Winfrey Network, better known as OWN.  But despite being dubbed the “Queen of All Media,” the television maven’s network initially struggled to find its way.

That is until Winfrey’s good friend Tyler Perry swooped in to save the day.  Perry now has four shows on OWN: The Haves and The Have Nots, If Loving You Is Wrong, Love Thy Neighbor, and For Better Or Worse.  OWN’s ever-growing ratings owe a great deal to Perry, who now virtually owns the network when it comes to original, scripted shows.  But what about non-Perry content?  OWN could flourish even more if it branched out and made room for content creators who aren’t Tyler Perry.

Love him or hate him, Tyler Perry does have an undeniable knack for drawing in Black women in particular.  His catalog of work, however, has been slammed by critics. It’s been called “insulting,” for promoting “coonery and buffoonery” (according to Spike Lee) and for repeatedly portraying Black women as being in need of “Jesus and penis.”  In an infamous CNN Newsroom clip, Touré even referred to Perry’s films in particular as “cinematic malt liquor.”  These critics would certainly agree that Perry’s brand is distinct and readily recognizable (though not for good reasons).  Whether or not you’re a fan of his work, if you watch Perry’s OWN shows, you can readily discern that his material skews to the overtly formulaic. It relies on the same tropes and, therefore, offers limited and very similar perspectives.

Seeing as how OWN is still a relatively new network, it has a unique opportunity to take daring chances and widen its appeal.  This could prevent the network from eventually becoming stale, predictable or overridden with too much of the same thing.  OWN has taken small steps to promote content diversity with the announcement of Queen Sugar, an adaptation of the novel of the same name, which will be helmed by Selma director, Ava DuVernay.  In July, it was also announced that a new drama series about a megachurch, Greenleaf, was greenlit.  But air dates for either show have yet to be released.  The network is also full of inspirational, self-help content that continues where The Oprah Winfrey Show left off and garners tremendous interest.  The OWN audience, however, clearly wants to see scripted content as well.

The issue of content diversity at OWN is two-fold.  As previously mentioned, Winfrey and Perry are indeed friends and seemingly kindred spirits.  When you meld that friendship into a working relationship, it’s often a formula for success.  Clearly, there’s a reason Spike Lee made so many films with Denzel Washington.  Or why Martin Scorsese consistently collaborates with Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio.  Or why Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo, who will be shooting their third film together next year, continue to work side by side.  Needless to say, working with someone you actually like, especially in an industry where incredibly long work days can be the norm, goes a long way.

Perry also has a proven track record, and networks, new and old, are much more likely to foster relationships with known talent, as opposed to those who have yet to establish themselves or their brand.  When millions of dollars and ratings are at stake, it’s easy to see why any network would readily promote a known talent like Perry, controversial or not.  But Perry shows being a majority part of a network that promotes “endless possibilities,” has the opposite effect.

The writer and director’s status at OWN puts him in a unique position.  He belongs to a small group of content creators that include Shonda Rhimes, who has numerous shows on one network (and as such, one could also argue that her dominance offers limited and similar perspectives, although I believe her shows and characters are nuanced in ways that create multiple perspectives and empower women in a manner that Perry has yet to master).  Both Perry and Rhimes have created minority-led shows that pull in huge ratings and go against the norm as far as racial diversity on-screen is concerned.  If you are distinctly Team Tyler Perry or Team Shonda Rhimes (or both), we can swap notes about their work for days on end. But what’s obvious is that there’s room and love for both, just like there’s room for new and upcoming content by new and burgeoning creators.  That’s the wonderful thing about television.  There are so many stories that have yet to grace our screens. Even though OWN is still in its growing phase, I hope it continues to succeed, and I look forward to seeing it expand its offerings of scripted content to include more than just Tyler Perry shows.

Fall TV Preview: Who Got The Answers To Last Season’s Biggest Cliffhangers?

September 14th, 2015 - By Anslem Samuel Rocque
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Whether it’s the jaw-dropping cliffhangers, post-show memes on social media or just great writing, there’s something to be said for a good show, especially when it comes back from hiatus.

The fall TV season is almost upon us and there are a host of new and returning shows we’ve been anxiously anticipating. From comedies and dramas to reality shows that are a little mix of both. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorites.

With so much great TV programming on the horizon, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with which shows to watch live or binge on later. Fortunately, with the X1 DVR™ from XFINITY®, you can record up to six shows at once, so you won’t have to miss an episode. Plus, with XFINITY On Demand™, you can catch up on entire past seasons so you’re ready for all the fall action.

Is Tyler Perry Treating His Workers Fairly?

August 12th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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Tyler Perry

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It’s really messed up when White folks don’t treat us well; but for some reason, it is probably more disappointing when our own people don’t treat us well either.

I am talking about Tyler Perry and how recently, two actors’ unions announced that they were barring members from participating in his newest play, Madea on the Run. According to Deadline, production, which was slated to begin on September 3, was put on the “Do Not Work” list for both SAG-AFTRA and the Actors’ Equity Association. Both are unions that represent stage actors.

According to the report, the boycott comes after Perry and other producers of the project neglected to sign a contract with Equity. The union contract would ensure things like a set minimum wage, health benefits, and safe working conditions. As Deadline reports, SAG-AFTRA doesn’t represent stage actors but is barring its members from participating in the show because of a reciprocal agreement it has with Equity.

This is not the first time that a Tyler Perry production has found itself trouble with unions. According to Shadow And Act, in 2008, the Writers Guild of America, West sued Perry’s production studio for an “unfair labor practice complaint.” This suit was filed after the studio fired four Black writers (all African American) from his TBS comedy series, House of Payne.

As reported by Shadow And Act, the four said that they were allegedly let go after Perry refused to agree to a WGA contract that “would give the writers health care benefits or pensions.” Likewise:

The WGA said that the four writers were fired after negotiations between the Writers Guild and representatives of Perry’s production company, broke down. The writers were also working on the development of what was then a new comedy being produced by Perry, “Meet the Browns.”

The Black film site also reports that the matter was eventually resolved, although the details of the agreement were not made public.

Madea on the Run, which as the title suggests, is about Madea being on the run from the law, is supposed to mark Perry’s return to the stage. No word yet on how this boycott will affect cast members, which include Cassi Davis, Claudette Ortiz and a slew of other Black actors and actresses.

I have heard of independent producers and directors, particularly Black producers and directors, going around the unions before. This often has to do with the costs associated with producing a union-approved film being too high (those insurance and retirement benefits have to come from somewhere). In the book, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (as well as the documentary Baadasssss!), famed Black director Melvin Van Peeples spoke rather frankly about how he had to pretend like he was making a porn film in order to psyche out the actors’ unions and get his cult-classic film produced.

But what makes Perry’s situation interesting is that he is no longer an outsider. In fact, some would argue that although he remains independent, he is still very much an insider with a lot of pull, and most importantly, money to spread around Hollywood. If I had to categorize Perry’s film empire, I would say he is like the Black version of George Lucas. Not only has he helped to get some Black films onto the screen that would have struggled to otherwise, including Peeples and Precious, but he is also credited with helping and reviving the careers of many long-forgotten Black actors. Then there is his fruitful relationship with the OWN Network.

All this to say that as a Black businessman with a vast empire made off the backs of Black people, he should be ensuring that all of his Black workers are protected and compensated fairly. And he certainly should not still be producing non-union productions. Productions are able, under union rules, to hire non-union actors and actresses (although they have to give a good reason why they didn’t go with union workers first). So it is not like the requirements are hurting his ability to create. The only benefit at this point to not hiring union labor is that it cuts down on the bottom line.

And if that is the case, it sucks because non-union employees are often paid very little for their services and are not guaranteed benefits, including health insurance. Perry, who is a man who grinded his way to the top, should be able to sympathize with the hardships of being a struggling creative such as a writer or an actor and actress. He should also be actively working to make sure that our people, who struggle already to break past Hollywood’s racial and gender glass ceilings, are paid fairly.

Perhaps Perry has some side deal with the actors and actresses (you know how our people do)? I surely hope so. But if the reports are correct, right now he is behaving no differently than your average right-wing, entitled, union-busting Republican. And in my opinion, that is unacceptable.

Dear World: 15 Tell All Celebrity Open Letters

April 20th, 2015 - By Rich
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Michael Jai White’s recent celebrity open letter where he discussed how wrong he was for dogging all of his former girlfriends made us start to think about just how intimate stars tend to get with their lives and their thoughts when writing open letters.

Take a look.

Sources: BET, The YBF

All images courtesy of WENN, except where noted.

Dear World: 15 Celebrity Open Letters

You’ll Never Guess Which Hollywood Actresses Tyler Perry Selected To Be His Son’s Godmothers

February 16th, 2015 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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the legendary Cicely Tyson and I celebrating @tylerperry's new baby boy. Gospel christening !

A photo posted by Oprah (@oprah) on

Over the weekend, while you were enjoying Valentine’s Day festivities with your bae, Tyler Perry and his ladylove Gelila Bekele were celebrating the christening of their son, Aman Tyler Bekele-Perry. The star-studded ceremony was held in the backyard of Perry’s Beverly Hills home inside of a custom-built church.

“I had this church built in my backyard. It’s almost a direct replica of the one my Mother grew up in. It was in her honor. I know she was with us in spirit,” Tyler expressed on Facebook.

The program for the dedication ceremony included Pastor Smokie Norful, Vashawn Mitchell, Yolanda Adams, Jennifer Hudson and Bill and Kori Withers.

Tyler and Gelila decided to name Cicely Tyson, Oprah Winfrey and Oliver Ripley as little Aman’s godparents.

It looks like everyone had an amazing time. Check out photos from the ceremony below and on the following pages.

School of Hard Knocks: 15 Famous High School Dropouts

February 5th, 2015 - By Rich
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Many of these famous high school dropouts left the books in order to conquer the world of Hollywood and most of them won that gamble, while others were forced out of high school for one reason or the other.

Sources: Ranker, Business Insider. All images courtesy of WENN except where noted.

School of Hard Knocks: 15 Famous High School Dropouts

Exclusive: “Addicted” Star Sharon Leal Talks William Levy, Omari Hardwick And Tyler Perry’s Kissing Skills

January 27th, 2015 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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When Sharon Leal was announced as the woman who would play Zoe Reynard in the film adaptation of Addicted, some people weren’t crazy about the idea. Leal hadn’t really played any provocative roles in the past, so fans of the book were wondering if she could really embody such a complicated character. But she did, and Leal was able to do so because her main focus was not on expectations or making a proper ‘sex film,’ but trying to tell a story many can relate to: How a person’s troubled past can have a major impact on their future.

I had the chance to chat with Leal recently, as Addicted is being released for digital download today, and DVD release on February 10. We talked about the actress initially being nervous about those intense sex scenes, why she wanted the role of Zoe, her track record of playing alongside some very hot men, her budding singing career and much, much more:

If She Read “Addicted” Before Taking The Role Of Zoe

No, I did not. I had not read it. But I was also told that they were going to reinterpret it because it’s very different doing it cinematically than what’s in the book. So we really tried to give it its own vibe. The seed was planted by Zane’s novel, but the movie was not verbatim or the same exact story. It was inspired by it.

Why She Wanted To Play Such A Stripped Down–Literally–Role

I think as actors, we want to challenge ourselves. I know I always get a little nervous when I’m playing the same woman or I keep revisiting the same role. This was doing something different and it felt like a challenge and I really wanted to push the envelope a little bit. Once I had the proper conversations with Billy Woodruff and the other actors, we got to a place where we thought, let’s dive in and get this done. At the core of the film, it’s really about a very successful woman suffering from a very serious disease. We get to live vicariously through her because of these amazing men she gets to romp around with and that sort of fantasy thing that it fulfills in us women. But at the core, we can’t forget that she is a woman who suffered from something very serious as a child and the consequences were that she developed a serious affliction. I really focused on that, and everything else was what it was.

If She Was Nervous About Being Fully Exposed On Camera

Soooo nervous. It’s not anything I’ve ever done before and it’s compromising. It’s difficult, and you’ll never have any guarantee that something is going to resonate the way that you picture in your mind. You hope something positive comes out of it. I didn’t want to just do a sex film just to do a sex film. I hoped that it would have a complete story and enlighten people to something that is very real. So that was daunting and definitely intimidating–terrifying to be quite honest. But I think that we did a good job and we were so fortunate because we had the most enthusiastic and supportive fans. They just really showed up and loved it. They made the whole experience worthwhile.

How Her Boyfriend Reacted To Her Work In The Film

He came to the set one day and I said, ‘Okay, you gotta go. You gotta go back to the hotel. Stop torturing me and we’ll just get this done.’ It’s just not anything I would wish on anybody. I know that if the shoes were reversed, I wouldn’t be there. I wouldn’t want to see it. So, that’s the really difficult thing that all of us actors have to go through. There are rules about all of that stuff. It’s tricky, but everybody was so respectful. We all know how awkward and technical those scenes really are, so nobody was having too much fun [laughs]. It’s not natural to watch your significant other in anything like that for sure. He did see it and he came to the premiere. He knows what it is. He tried it a couple of times saying, “Really??” But at the end of the day, he knows he can’t get upset.

Out Of Her Leading Men, Including Boris Kodjoe, Tyson Beckford And William Levy, Who Did She Have The Best Chemistry (And Kiss) With?

I gotta say, William Levy’s just got something. I’ve never had a Latin lover or Latin boyfriend or anything, but he’s just got this charisma where I didn’t have to work that hard. He would say a line in that accent, and he’s just so gorgeous, you were just there. ‘Let’s do it!’ [laughs] I think it’s because he just has this thing that all of us women just hear about. I was like, ‘I don’t know why this is pushing all the right buttons, but it is!’ He just has that and I was kind of caught off guard I gotta say. I was just like, ‘whoa!'[laughs]

Comparing Levy To Her Past Leading Man, Omari Hardwick

Omari is awesome! What did I do with Omari? Oh, Last Letter! Yeah, I think William just had this thing that I never experienced before. I’ve worked with gorgeous, gorgeous men before, but William came at me from another angle [laughs]. But Omari’s beautiful and so respectful and smart. Omari’s awesome because he’s so positive. You can tell that he loves what he does. He has a real positivity about him that’s very sexy and nice to be around.

Her Singing Career

Giant” is one of the songs on my EP called Leo. There are six songs on my EP, which is on iTunes. This year I’m finishing up my official album. So yeah, I’m pursuing that, but with no other intention than to pay attention to that outlet, which is something I sort of let go of. I started out as a singer and then I started acting. I wrote all the songs on the EP, and it’s just a real outlet for me. I’m just going to get that done and I’m having a blast doing it. It’s just another aspect of what I do. I started out in musical theater on Broadway, so singing is a big love of mine.

If There Will Be A Third Part To Why Did I Get Married?

I know! Well, we hope so. As you know, Tyler Perry is doing so many things and wears so many hats, but I really hope that we get to do a third installment. I’m asked that question often. We’ve kind of fallen in love with those couples and feel like we know them, so I think a third installment would do well. But I don’t know, we have to see. But the fans need to continuously write in and bombard Tyler [laughs]. That cast is so specific that it’s hard to kind of track down everyone, but wouldn’t that be great? I would love it!

What It Was Like Playing Tyler Perry’s Wife On-Screen In WDIGM?

[Laugs] This is a whole kissing interview! Tyler’s great. It’s not really fair because compared to everything else I’ve done, Why Did I Get Married was really PG, right? We didn’t really get to get in there and do anything crazy. We just did ‘muah, muah’ kiss, kiss. So I can’t really accurately judge his kissing, but I do adore Tyler as a person. But maybe in the third one we’ll get a little dirty [laughs]. Highly unlikely!


Tyler Perry Talks Adjusting To Fatherhood: “We Have No Nannies”

December 15th, 2014 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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While out at the premiere of Selma, new dad Tyler Perry chatted it up with The Grio’s Chris Witherspoon about how he’s adjusting to fatherhood as well as those sleepless nights that new parents know so much about.

“I wish I could say that I’m up all night, but Mommy is doing alot of work,” Tyler confessed. “She’s a great mother who just wants to be there for the baby.”

According to the 45-year-old producer and director, his girlfriend, Gelila Bekele, opted not to hire nannies to assist with their son, Aman.

“We have no nannies, we have no help. She wants to do it all. So we’re doing it all. I’m getting a little sleep, but she’s not getting any.”

As previously reported, Tyler and Gelila welcome their baby boy in November.

“The greatest gift I’m being given right now is the opportunity to give the little boy in me everything I never had, so that’s what I’m excited about,” Tyler gushed earlier this fall. “This beautiful human being that God has allowed to come into my life for me to get to know, because they come with their own personalities, who they are, to shepherd and usher him…”

Congrats again to the new parents!

Evening Eye Candy: “The Haves And The Have Nots” Hunk, Tyler Lepley

December 12th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Ladies, if you don’t already know him, meet “The Haves and the Have Nots” actor, Tyler Lepley. He plays Benny Young on the hit OWN show, and before he was a hit on-screen and with the ladies, the Philly-born cutie moved to Los Angeles and paid the bills by doing personal training. After auditioning for and nabbing a role in an independent feature, his first film role, Lepley caught the acting bug. He took some classes and eventually was cast in small roles in movies like Baggage Claim, and is now doing big things on Tyler Perry’s hit show, “The Haves and the Have Nots” alongside Tika Sumpter (he plays her half-brother). He’s a talented actor on the rise, and did we mention that he’s easy on the eyes? Check out this week’s evening eye candy and we think you’ll agree with us! 

Confirmation: Tyler Perry And Longtime Girlfriend Did Welcome A Son

December 4th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Tyler Perry And Longtime Girlfriend Did Welcome A Son


Just as we suspected. Yesterday, after following the social media presence of a woman close to Tyler Perry’s longtime girlfriend Gelila Bekele, blogs and news sites were able to guess that Bekele had given birth to Tyler’s son.

And all of that guess work turned out to be right.

Now, that the cat is out of the bag, a source close to the couple told E! News, that not only did the couple welcome a son on Sunday, November 30, this person also revealed the name.

The boy’s name is Aman Tyler Perry.

According to People, Aman means peace and represents ‘the true meaning of Thanksgiving and then, of course, the holiday season.'” 

The source also said: “Everyone is doing great. They are so happy.”

Earlier this fall, when he was promoting the film Gone Girl, Perry accidentally told E! that he was having a boy and the dreams he had for his soon-to-be born child.

The greatest gift I’m being given right now is the opportunity to give the little boy in me everything I never had, so that’s what I’m excited about. This beautiful human being that God has allowed to come into my life for me to get to know, because they come with their own personalities, who they are, to shepherd and usher him…”

He then stopped, laughed and exclaimed, “I said ‘him!'” Perry paused for a moment before clarifying, “…into whatever the child is supposed to be is what I’m going to do.”

Official congratulations to Tyler and Gelila on their new bundle of joy!