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Over Half A Million Attended The 2018 ESSENCE Festival Sponsored By Coca-Cola

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The 2018 ESSENCE Festival® presented by Coca-Cola® attracted more than 510,0000 attendees to New Orleans this Fourth of July weekend, marking one of the largest gatherings in the event’s 24-year history. For the first time ever, all three nights of the ESSENCE Festival concert series at the Louisiana Superdome sold out. The extraordinary turnout underscores ESSENCE’s engagement of Black women around community, culture and content – which was brought to life in innovative ways at the annual celebration.

“This extraordinary gathering of nearly half a million attendees–on the eve of the ESSENCE Festival’s 25th anniversary–speaks to the unmatched convening power of our culture,” said Michelle Ebanks, President, Essence Communications.  “As one of the country’s largest curated live experiences, the ESSENCE Festival engages Black women globally—through a truly unique celebration of culture, connection to community and access to content that inspires and empowers.”

The annual 4-day Festival, which took place July 5-8, features entertainment, empowerment, and cultural experiences during the day and a state-of-the-art concert series with the world’s best performers each night to comprise a one-of-a-kind curated content experience:

  • Over 100 performing artists across the Superdome and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Many of the biggest names in the entertainment industry including Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Snoop Dogg, The Roots, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Miguel and others performed at the event’s nighttime concerts and dozens of others across ESSENCE’s Center Stage and 10th Anniversary All-Star Gospel Tribute honoring Dottie Peoples.
  • More than 100 influencers, leaders, creators and celebrities participated in the Festival’s daytime experience – rebranded as ‘Conference & Expos’ with programming across eight tracks spanning Beauty & Style to Business & Entrepreneurship. Powerhouse speakers included Lena Waithe, Lester Holt and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell as well as favorites Rev. Al Sharpton, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Iyanla Vanzant, among others.
  • First-time, simultaneous live streams of the daytime experience on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube; an ESSENCE Snapchat Live special and millions of #EssenceFest social media posts generating trending status on Twitter.
  • Expanded consumer Expos such as the ‘Beauty Carnival” and ‘Entertainment All-Access’ drew crowds of thousands each day to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Elevated VIP events and programs for attendees included the launch of the ‘ESSENCE House’ at the Ace Hotel, as well as the debut of the ‘E-Suite’ with exclusive access to career and business programming.
  • Community give-back and volunteerism at the Festival’s traditional ‘Day of Service’ focused on the theme “Adopt-a-Neighborhood – Central City” to encompass youth center beautification projects, as well as empowerment and entrepreneurship workshops for women & girls. ESSSENCE ‘Day of Service’ also presented the inaugural Excellence Awards honoring local change-agents in the community.

 

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TV One To Mark 25th Anniversary Of ‘Living Single’ With Marathon To Commemorate 25th Anniversary Of Beloved 90s TV Series

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Photo Credit: Earl Gibson, Courtesy of TV One

Prestige family, the iconic 90s sitcom LIVING SINGLE turns 25 this month and TV One is celebrating the milestone with a MEGA MARATHON! Join us starting TONIGHT at 5/6 pm ET and running through Sunday, August 26, at 4/5 am ET, the marathon will begin and end with the first and final episodes of the series to include all 118 episodes in sequential order.  Khadijah, Synclaire, Régine, Max, Kyle and Overton came onto the television scene and literally changed the game as characters in one of the first sitcoms to explore modern urban life through the stories of this hip, upwardly mobile circle of African American neighbors and friends on prime time television.

Every night, beginning TONIGHT at 5/6 pm ET, TV One viewers can rediscover their favorite TV crew of Brooklyn strivers and celebrate Living Single’s silver anniversary in a Mega Marathon will feature fun facts and trivia questions to test fans’ knowledge of the popular series’ five-year run.

The celebration will continue off-air on tvone.tv where viewers can find recent interviews with the cast, featuring Kim Fields, Kim Coles, TC Carson and John Henton, and connect with them on social media (@TVOne) where viewers can join the conversation using the hashtag #LIVINGSINGLE25 and #MEGAMARATHON.

 

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Michael Cohen Says at Trump’s Direction He Paid Off Woman Who Claimed Affair with Trump

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Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former fixer, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to campaign finance and other charges. He made the extraordinary admission that he paid a pornographic actress “at the direction of the candidate,” referring to Mr. Trump, to secure her silence about an affair she said she had with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cohen told a judge in United States District Court in Manhattan that the payment was “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016.

Mr. Cohen also pleaded guilty to multiple counts of tax evasion and bank fraud, bringing to a close a months long investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors who examined his personal business dealings and his role in helping to arrange financial deals with women connected to Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cohen, dressed in a dark suit and a yellow tie, entered the courtroom in United States District Court in Manhattan at about 4 p.m., nodded his head at reporters and smiled.

The plea agreement does not call for Mr. Cohen to cooperate with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, but it does not preclude him from providing information to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is examining the Trump campaign’s possible involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign.

If Mr. Cohen were to substantially assist the special counsel’s investigation, Mr. Mueller could recommend a reduction in his sentence.

The guilty plea could represent a pivotal moment in the investigation into the president: a once-loyal aide acknowledging that he made payments to at least one woman who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump, in violation of federal campaign finance law.

Mr. Cohen had been the president’s longtime fixer, handling his most sensitive business and personal matters. He once said he would take a bullet for Mr. Trump.

The investigation of Mr. Cohen had focused in part on his role helping to arrange financial deals to secure the silence of women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump, including Stephanie Clifford, an adult film actress better known as Stormy Daniels.

The charges against Mr. Cohen were not a surprise, but he had signaled recently he might be willing to cooperate with investigators who for months have been conducting an extensive investigation of his personal business dealings.

indeed, his guilty plea comes slightly more than a month after he gave an interview to George Stephanopoulos on ABC News and said he would put “his family and country first” if prosecutors offered him leniency in exchange for incriminating information on Mr. Trump.

In July, in what appeared to another public break with Mr. Trump, one of Mr. Cohen’s lawyers, Lanny J. Davis, released a secret audio recording that Mr. Cohen had made of the president in which it seems that Mr. Trump admits knowledge of a payment made to Karen McDougal, a model who said she had an affair with him.

As part of their investigation, prosecutors had been looking into whether Mr. Cohen violated any campaign-finance laws by making the $130,000 payment to Ms. Clifford in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

Mr. Cohen’s plea culminates a long-running inquiry that became publicly known in April when F.B.I. agents armed with search warrants raided his office, apartment and hotel room, hauling away reams of documents, including pieces of paper salvaged from a shredder, and millions of electronic files contained on a series of cellphones, iPads and computers.

Lawyers for Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump spent the next four months working with a court-appointed special master to review the documents and data files to determine whether any of the materials were subject to attorney-client privilege and should not be made available to the government.

The special master, Barbara S. Jones, who completed her review last week, issued a series of reports in recent months, finding that only a fraction of the materials were privileged and the rest could be provided to prosecutors for their investigation.

On Monday, the judge overseeing the review, Kimba M. Wood of Federal District Court in Manhattan, issued an order adopting Ms. Jones’s findings and ending the review process.

It was unclear on Tuesday what role the materials that Ms. Jones reviewed, which were made available to prosecutors on a rolling basis during her review, may have had in the charges against Mr. Cohen.

One collateral effect of Mr. Cohen’s plea agreement is that it may allow Michael Avenatti, Ms. Clifford’s lawyer, to proceed with a deposition of Mr. Trump in a lawsuit that Ms. Clifford filed accusing the president of breaking a nondisclosure agreement concerning their affair.

The lawsuit had been stayed by a judge pending the resolution of Mr. Cohen’s criminal case. Mr. Avenatti wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that he would now seek to force Mr. Trump to testify “under oath about what he knew, when he knew it and what he did about it.”

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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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