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MTV VMA 2018 Recap

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For an awards show that has taken steps in recent years to de-emphasize gender — retiring the Best Male and Best Female categories, rebranding its signature astronaut-inspired trophy as a Moonperson — the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards were practically split in a guys’ portion and a ladies’ portion, with a string of male performers warming up the stage for a group of women who clearly ruled it.

The 35th iteration of the show, which returned to Radio City Music Hall for the 12th time, kicked off with not a bang but something more like a monsoon: Shawn Mendes held his own wet t-shirt contest with a rain-soaked performance of “In My Blood.” Newcomer Bazzi had no shortage of national-TV exposure as he followed up with “Beautiful,” his second performance in the evening following a bout during the pre-show not long before. Logic, with the help of Ryan Tedder, aimed for yet another statement-making moment with a performance addressing U.S. immigration policy. And then Panic! at the Disco made a stylish and energetic performance that began suspended in the air. The performances were solid, sure, but at times they didn’t feel any more vital to the show than presenters’ bits and banter, or some of the evening’s early acceptance speeches.

You also may notice that all of those performers have something in common. It took almost 45 minutes for the show to get to a performance by a woman: rising star Jessie Reyez, one of several Push Artist of the Year nominees who were given brief time slots — and even smaller stages — to introduce themselves to a larger audience. (One highlight? Hayley Kiyoko, the category’s ultimate winner, who breezed through an abridged version of her song “Curious” after charming the red carpet with shout-outs to her #20GAYTEEN slogan.) And it wasn’t until Nicki Minaj performed a medley of songs from her Queen album in a pre-taped, remote segment that it felt like the VMAs truly got started.

That’s no shade to Mendes by any means — it’s just that, when you think of classic VMAs moments and performances, you probably don’t think of young instrument-playing pop-rock artists showing off their musical chops and credibility. You think of the spectacle, which is what Minaj delivered with her phalynx of dancers and monarch-inspired attire from New York’s Oculus transportation hub. Minaj’s pal and frequent collaborator Ariana Grande had a similar sumptuous set, recreating an all-female version of The Last Supper with slow-motion choreography that turned the VMAs stage into a living music video during “God Is a Woman,” from her just-released Sweetener LP.

 

And then there was J. Lo. When MTV announced that Jennifer Lopez would be this year’s recipient of the Video Vanguard Award, many on the Internet seemed more concerned with crying justice for Missy Elliott, who was the subject of such inexplicably persistent rumors about the honor that she felt compelled to shoot down the chatter on Twitter. But as the first Latinx recipient of the video Vanguard Award — and during a year in which MTV introduced a Best Latin category — Lopez’s latest accolade isn’t insignificant. And in her first VMAs performance since 2001, she offered an abridged version of her Las Vegas residency show with a career-spanning medley that served the choreography you expected and the impressive live vocals you probably didn’t.

The only part of Lopez’s crowning moment that felt off was the person who introduced her and handed her the award: Shawn Mendes, whose connection to her as an artist is… well, what exactly? It was hardly the only odd-couple pairing of the evening: Producers shoe-horned in a tribute to Aretha Franklin by having Madonna come out and monologue about what Franklin meant to her. The Queen of Pop has a personal connection to the Queen of Soul beyond their shared Detroit roots — in typically wry fashion, Madonna shared a story about how singing Aretha Franklin helped her make an impression at an audition that set her career in motion. But the optics weren’t great, considering Madonna’s award-show history of delivering occasionally self-centered homages to black legends, and indeed, most of her tribute to Franklin was spent celebrating her own tenacity during her early days as a starving artist.

 

It wasn’t hard to figure out what Madonna’s original primary purpose was: handing out the video of the year award, which went to Camila Cabello for “Havana.” The singer was hardly the frontrunner in the category, which saw her go up against Childish Gambino’s much-dissected “This Is America” clip and the private Louvre party that was the Carters’ “Apeshit” — competitors who also weren’t in attendance.

But as surprising as it may have been, viewing the win as an at-large endorsement for Cabello is consistent with the show’s waning emphasis on actual music videos. That’s a perennial MTV complaint, sure, but that shift has certainly been reflected in the categories: Last year, the show introduced the artist of the year award, and the song of the year award followed this year — two star-studded categories whose nominees aren’t attached to particular videos. And the most teased and hyped award of the night wasn’t video of the year, either — it was best new artist, which came down to Cardi B and Hayley Kiyoko and, in what was no great shock to anyone given her unstoppable year, went to Cardi.

By the time Cabello won the evening’s big honor (her second award of the night), the show had returned to a male-performances-only third act with mixed results. Travis Scott’s tech-heavy Astroworld medley never quite found its footing, while a sponsored Lauv performance that played during a commercial break after the Madonna-Cabello segment was jarringly anticlimactic. (A Madonna monologue is a tough act to follow for anyone, let alone a still-rising artist fulfilling a brand partnership.) The home stretch wasn’t without bright spots, including Aerosmith — who, despite all the head-scratching news of their performance probably inspired, pulled off a lively grand finale by teaming up with Post Malone for a ripping rendition of “Toys in the Attic.” Still, when it came to this year’s oddly segregated run of show, it’s clear that — to paraphrase the song Grande performed — the women were the deities.

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‘Black Panther’ makes Oscar history with well deserved best picture nod

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Black Panther broke through an Oscar category wall for superheroes. The Marvel blockbuster hit became the first comic book-based film to earn a best picture nomination from the Academy Awards on Tuesday. It was a major step for comic book movies, which had previously been shunned from film’s top honor.

The most notable snub was 2008’s “The Dark Knight,” prompting the academy to expand the best picture category from five to up to 10 nominees.

It took a decade, but “Black Panther” cracked the category after becoming a box-office hit domestically and a cultural phenomenon. The film earned $700 million domestically during its theatrical run.

Overall, “Black Panther” was rewarded a total of seven nominations including Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart’s production design, Ruth E. Carter’s costume design and Kendrick Lamar and SZA’s song “All the Stars.” The film was also nominated for best sound editing, sound mixing and original score.

Beachler became the first African-American nominee for production design.

“To break down a wall like that, to be your ancestors’ wildest dreams, to show other young women of color and boys and girls that you can do whatever you want no matter what struggles you have in your life — all of that. That’s what it means to me,” said Beachler, talking by phone from the Cincinnati set of Todd Haynes’ latest film.

Ludwig Goransson, who scored the film, gave a lot of credit to the film’s overall success to director Ryan Coogler, who was shut out of the directing category.

“He’s an exceptional leader,” said Goransson of Coogler, who he’s known since college. The Grammy-nominated producer said his rapport with the director put together “memorable music” for the film.

“We’re not doing anything different than what we did 10 years ago,” said Goransson, a longtime producer of Childish Gambino. “I just tried to make the best music as I could to serve Ryan’s vision. When working with him, I try to make the best possible music as I can.”

Carter said she feels proud to be a part of a film like “Black Panther.”

“With this film, I felt like there was a paradigm shift,” said Carter, who was previously nominated for her designs for Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X” and Steven Spielberg’s “Amistad.” ”The nominations let me know that not only Marvel fans, people of Africa and African-Americans felt really happy about this film, and loved the costume designs.”

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Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly Sparks Criminal Investigation

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Prosecutors urged alleged R. Kelly victims to come forward in a press conference on Tuesday night following the airing of “Surviving R. Kelly,” in which several women accused the singer of sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Cook County, Ill., state attorney Kim Foxx told reporters (via TMZ), “The recent allegations against entertainer R. Kelly in a recent Lifetime docuseries are deeply, deeply disturbing. It is our job at the Cook County state attorney’s office to investigate claims in the interest of justice and of public safety. I should stress that it takes courage to re-live and re-experience trauma by telling your story of sexual victimization, but we rely heavily on victim accounts and witness statements to prosecute cases involving sexual assault and domestic violence.”

“I’m here today to encourage victims of sexual assault or domestic violence related to these allegations to please get in touch with our office. The number to call is 773-674-6492. There are dedicated professionals in our witness unit who do this work on a daily basis and can work with you through this process,” Foxx continued. “Please come forward. There is nothing that can be done to investigate these allegations without the cooperation of both victims and witnesses. We cannot seek justice without you.”  Kelly has been accused of holding women and girls against their will in Chicago, where he has a recording studio, and Georgia, where he has property.

The docuseries also claimed that he preyed on and had sexual relations with underage girls who he kept in an alleged “sex cult.”

Kelly has maintained his innocence since allegations of abuse first emerged. The singer’s attorney, Steven Greenberg, told the Associated Press that the “Surviving R. Kelly” accusations were false, and simply “another round of stories [being used to] fill reality TV time.” He added that it was inappropriate for a D.A. to characterize allegations she’d seen on TV before actually filing charges or launching an investigation into the claims.

He was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008 after he was accused of making a sex tape with a 14-year-old girl. Meanwhile, Timothy Savage, who appeared in “Surviving R. Kelly” with his wife, alleged that Kelly threatened him for being involved with the docuseries.

Andrea Kelly, Lisa VanAllen and Kitti Jones star in the lifetime documentary series, “Surviving R. Kelly,” 2019.

A Henry County, Ga., police report obtained by the Associated Press says Savage told an officer on Jan. 3 that Don Russell had texted him saying it would be best for him and his family if the documentary didn’t air. The report claims Russell called Savage while the officer was there and Savage put the phone on speaker. Russell accused Savage of lying to Lifetime and that if he continued to support the series, Russell and Kelly would be forced to release information that would show Savage was a liar.

According to TMZ, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office has officially opened up an investigation focusing on R. Kelly due to the several allegations made against the singer in lifetime’s documentary. In the final 2 parts of the documentary it was alleged that Kelly has been holding several women against their will.

TMZ also reports that investigators have been reaching out to several survivors featured in the TV project. In fact, the outlet confirmed investigators reached out to Asante McGee, one of the women who allegedly escaped R. Kelly’s home. Meanwhile, the attorney for Joycelyn Savage’s family was contacted by Chief Investigator Cynthia Nwokocha and the family has been fully cooperating in the investigation. We’re told investigators have been asking for contact information from others who have lived in Kelly’s former Atlanta home or have direct knowledge of what happened in the home. We’re told investigators were flooded with calls once the docuseries aired.

The D.A. is not commenting.

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Film “Three’s Complicated” Set to Premier Sunday January 13, 2019 on TV One

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Prestige readers one of TV One‘s latest original film, THREE’S COMPLICATED is set to premiere Sunday, January 13, 2019 at 7 P.M. ET/6C. The project stars Shanola Hampton (Shameless), Tyler Lepley (The Haves and The Have Nots), Kyanna Simone Simpson (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) and Charles Malik Whitfield (The Temptations).

(Photos Courtesy of TV One)

THREE’S COMPLICATED chronicles the complicated love story of Deja (Hampton), a 42-year-old divorcee who has just been passed over for a promotion. After a night out at the bar, Deja ends up having a weekend fling with Sonny (Lepley) – a young, attractive man ten years her junior. She later discovers her fling is also dating her daughter Eleni (Simpson). Deja struggles to control her attraction to him and protect her daughter’s heart, who is head over heels for her new beau. Meanwhile, Deja’s ex-husband Craig (Whitfield) re-enters the picture seeking a reconciliation. Conflicted and uncertain, Deja finds herself in a complex love triangle that brings her to the brink of heartbreak.


“It was such a pleasure working with TV One and Swirl Films for my first time as an Executive Producer,” said Hampton. “This was such a special experience with an amazing cast and crew!”

THREE’S COMPLICATED is written and directed by Shari L. Carpenter. The film is produced for TV One by Swirl Films. For Swirl, Executive Producer is Eric Tomosunas and Producers are Darien Baldwin, Keith Neil, James Seppelfrick and Gingi Rochelle. Shanola Hampton also serves as Executive Producer. The film was casted by Leah Daniels Butler. For TV One, Tia A. Smith is Executive Producer in Charge of Production, Donyell McCullough is Senior Director of Talent & Casting, and Robyn Greene Arrington is Head of Original Programming and Production.

For more information about TV One’s upcoming programming, including original movies, visit the network’s companion website at www.tvone.tv. TV One viewers can also join the conversation by connecting via social media on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (@tvonetv) using the hashtag #THREESCOMPLICATED.

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