My dearest and most inquisitive reader, ‘tis I, Lady Welpington of The Root, back with another roundup of Black entertainment buzz that I’m sure you’ll be most excited to hear about. This week, we have a handful of news concerning some very dazzling diamonds and dashing dukes of the show—but before we dive into things, I’d like to first say thank you. I’ve received so many thoughts and well wishes regarding the recent news of #BridgertonBae Simon Basset aka The Duke of Hastings’ departure from the ton. I was surely taken aback as many of you were, but I should like to think ourselves extremely honored to have been blessed by His Grace’s presence for the time that we did. All the welps in Welpington shall welp no more as we eagerly await his next visit to our screens.
Now that that’s settled, let us make haste to the roundup.
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Dazzling Diamonds of the Show
Dazzling Diamonds of the Show
Malcolm and Marie and all-around bomb multihyphenate Zendaya is lending her talents to the Toon Squad in the upcoming LeBron James-led film Space Jam: A New Legacy.
Entertainment Weekly reports that the Euphoria actress will be providing the voice of Lola Bunny in the film, helping to realize Girls Trip director Malcolm D. Lee’s vision for “a more fully-realized” character. More details from EW:
In preparing for the LeBron James-led New Legacy, the Girls Trip filmmaker set out to “reflect the authenticity of strong, capable female characters,” revealing Lola will be reintroduced alongside the Amazons of Wonder Woman. “We reworked a lot of things, not only her look, like making sure she had an appropriate length on her shorts and was feminine without being objectified, but gave her a real voice,” explained Lee. “For us, it was, let’s ground her athletic prowess, her leadership skills, and make her as full a character as the others.”
Space Jam: A New Legacy comes to town July 16, 2021.
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Activist and founder of the #MeToo Movement Tarana Burke, along with producing partner Mervyn Marcano have entered into an overall deal with CBS, I, Lady Welpington of The Root have learned.
Per a press release sent, as part of the agreement, Burke and Marcano will “partner with CBS Studios to develop scripted, unscripted and documentary content for linear television networks and streaming platforms. Burke and Marcano’s entity, Field/House Productions, is a development and production home for stories that embrace complexity and highlight underrepresented voices. Working across all mediums, Field/House aims to champion narratives driven by storytellers who represent ‘the rest of us.’”
“Creating space for new narratives has always been an integral part of cultural change work,” said Burke. “Field/House is a platform for those new narratives. This partnership gives us the reach and scale to ensure that we build new audiences for new voices.”
CBS Studios President David Stapf added, In our quest to partner with compelling storytellers, Tarana and Mervyn stand out, Their drive and leadership as stewards of change brings a powerful and distinct voice to advancing stories of inclusion and impact. They are clearly magnets for many whose voices need to be heard and we’re excited to work alongside them in this new venture.”
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Judas and the Black Messiah star and recent AAFCA winner Dominique Fishback will be getting the star treatment once again, only this time with her very own project.
Variety Manor reports that she and Project Power co-star Jamie Foxx will be teaming up to produce a film adaptation of Fishback’s one-woman play, titled Subverted. “Originally written and performed as Fishback’s honors thesis at Pace University, Subverted is centered around Eden (Fishback), an 18-year-old girl living in the inner city, and depicts ‘the destruction of Black identity’ as seen through her eyes. Fishback plays more than 20 characters in the piece.”
“I’m so excited for this! Been so long trying to find the perfect partner and now God done blessed ya girl with Jamie Foxx,” she wrote in a tweet when news broke, adding the hashtag divine timing.
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Focus Features has acquired worldwide rights to the upcoming Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrance-led film, Silent Twins.
In a press release sent to The Root, Silent Twins tells “the haunting story of June and Jennifer Gibbons, twins from the only Black family in a small town in Wales in the 1970s and ‘80s. Feeling isolated from that unwelcoming community, the pair turn inward and reject communication with everyone but each other, retreating into their own fantasy world of artistic inspiration and adolescent desires. After a spree of vandalism inspired by an American boy they both idolize, the girls, now teenagers, are summarily sentenced to Broadmoor, an infamous psychiatric hospital, where they face the choice to separate and survive or die together.”
The film, based on the book of the same name by Marjorie Wallace, recently wrapped production in Poland and marks the English language debut of director Agnieszka Smoczynska. As of now, there’s no word yet on when we can expect for Silent Twins to hit our big or small screens but rest assured, my dear reader—when I know, so shall you.
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Dashing Dukes of the Show
Dashing Dukes of the Show
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James will be making his Toon Squad debut in the aforementioned Space Jam: A New Legacy. ‘90s kids can remember the iconic original film, which saw Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan team up with beloved Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and more in an epic basketball showdown against a gang of space hooligans. Now, in this reimagined film, Lebron James picks up that mantle.
Variety Manor reports that Space Jam: A New Legacy will see James “playing a heightened version of himself, as he struggles to bond with his tech-savvy son Dom (Ceyair J. Wright), who dreams of being a videogame developer. In an attempt to steal some of James’ social media followers, a CGI humanoid named Al G Rhythm (Don Cheadle) sucks the father-son duo into a virtual reality called the “Warner 3000 entertainment Server-verse.” With Dom being held captive, James must defeat the formidable Goon Squad to save his son and escape the Server-verse. In order to do so, he must reunite the Toon Squad, which includes a banished Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Lola Bunny, Marvin the Martian, Porky Pig, Roadrunner and the rest of the Looney Tunes.”
“Welcome to the Space Jam!! What in the matrix hell did I get myself into?!?!,” LeBron tweeted in excitement. The film is set to hit theatres and HBO Max on July 16.
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Queen Sugar star and deliciously dashing duke Kofi Siriboe has officially launched his new media lifestyle company, We’re Not Kids Anymore (WKNA).
Per a press release sent to The Root, the company is dedicated to “celebrating nostalgia, culture and community” and has already debuted its initial phase with an online interactive web experience, titled Timeline. Timeline’s description, per the press release:
Timeline, a portal to the past and a preface to the future, features a curated selection of 1000+ pop cultural events from the past two decades (2000-2021). Timeline is built to reintroduce, repackage and reconnect the charm of education, to the youth by providing a virtual space for users to experience with the swipe of a finger. The new venture already connected with its audience and garnered over 200,000 + website impressions and counting.
“We set out to build a global archive celebrating and illuminating time, along with all the iconic cultural moments that helped shape our generation,” explained Siriboe, who partnered with tech creative Julian Lane to create the innovative experience. “WNKA is a network of nostalgia connected via media & memories. Our space is a hub for discovery and transformation. As students of alchemy, we believe the concept of education is long overdue for redesign. Content is our language. Media is our medium.”
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Country music singer Jimmie Allen is set to be recognized as the New Male Artist of the Year at this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards, The Root has learned.
Per a press release, Allen will also perform at the 56th annual ceremony live on Sunday, April 18 alongside New Female Artist of the Year recipient Gabby Barrett. Hosted by fellow country music stars Mickey Guyton and Keith Urban, the ACM Awards will feature additional musical performances from Guyton, Kane Brown, Cece Winans, Carrie Underwood, Dan + Shay, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, and more.
“Wow!!! This doesn’t even seem real,” Allen expressed in a tweet. “Thank you to everyone who voted for me and a huge thank you to everyone that supports my music. Y’all made this happen. Love is love.”
The Academy of Country Music Awards will air at 8 p.m.ET only on CBS.
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Carlos King, the executive producer behind the Oprah Winfrey Network hit shows Love & Marriage: Huntsville, Behind Every Man and Belle Collective, has inked a first-look deal with the network. In a press release sent to The Root, the deal will see King and his production company Kingdom Reign Entertainment developing original unscripted series that will be available exclusively on OWN, with King acting as executive producer.
“Carlos and his team understand what it means to create addictive and entertaining unscripted television that connects with our viewers,” said OWN President Tina Perry. “With the success of our expanded unscripted lineup to two nights, we look forward to our continued partnership with Carlos to develop buzzy new shows with big characters that attract audiences.”
Remember, dear reader, when we told you about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s overall deal with Netflix? Well, it looks like we’ve finally got a glimpse into their first project.
Variety Manor reports that their first project will be a docuseries on the Invictus Games, the global adaptive sports competition Prince Harry founded, titled Heart of Invictus. The series will follow “a group of international competitors, all service members who experienced life-changing injuries or illnesses on the road to the Invictus Games The Hague 2020, though the competition will now take place in 2022. The series will document their training and reveal their compelling life stories, as well as follow the Games’ organizers as they partner with each nation’s team to support their athletes.”
Oscar-winning duo director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara have been tapped for the project. It will also come under Harry and Meghan’s production banner Archewell Productions. The Invictus Games Foundation is also serving as executive producer. In a statement from Variety Manor, Prince Harry explained:
“Since the very first Invictus Games back in 2014, we knew that each competitor would contribute in their own exceptional way to a mosaic of resilience, determination, and resolve. This series will give communities around the world a window into the moving and uplifting stories of these competitors on their path to the Netherlands next year. As Archewell Productions’ first series with Netflix, in partnership with the Invictus Games Foundation, I couldn’t be more excited for the journey ahead or prouder of the Invictus community for continuously inspiring global healing, human potential and continued service.”
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Royal Casting: OWN’s Kings of Napa
Royal Casting: OWN’s Kings of Napa
Before we go, I must make you aware of some wonderful casting news from the Oprah Winfrey Network.
In a press release sent to The Root, it seems the upcoming drama series from Janine Sherman Barrios, Kings of Napa, has found their four leading actors: FBI’s Ebonee Noel, For All Mankind’s Yaani King Mondschein, Jack Ryan’s Karen LeBlanc, and Zero Issues Rance Nix. To help jog your memory, Kings of Napa will center around “a gorgeous and picturesque Napa Valley, California vineyard owned by the Kings, an aspirational African American family whose wealth and status lands them on the pages of design magazines and society pages. The wine business has brought the family success and acclaim, but following the patriarch’s sudden exit from the company, his three children must grapple for the reigns to the kingdom—to their own power, wealth, and legacy.”
The characters descriptions, per press release:
Ebonee Noel (“FBI,” “Wrecked”) plays the role of August King, the middle King sibling and the family’s brilliant marketing whiz. She is passionate about wine and always looking for new ways to expand the business.
Rance Nix (“Zero Issue,” “Amsterdam Ave.”) plays the role of Dana King, August’s older brother and the savvy CFO of the winery. He and August often butt heads when it comes to the family business.
Karen LeBlanc (“Ransom,” “Jack Ryan”) plays the role of Vanessa King, the matriarch of the King family. Vanessa is a former news reporter who gave up her career to help run the winery in Napa. She and her husband Reginald seemingly had a picture-perfect marriage — until she discovered things about his past.
Yaani King Mondschein (“For All Mankind,” “Bad Hair”) plays the role of Bridgette Peele, August’s cousin and right hand who works as the vineyard manager for King Estate Wines. When secrets threaten to change the family forever, her life turns upside down.