Category Archives: Celebrity Cyber News

Celebrity Cyber Report – Kenya Barris

Netflix has netted yet another major black television producer. Kenya Barris, creator of the ABC comedy Black-ish and the spin-off Grown-ish, has signed a multi-year deal with the streaming television service.

Barris will remain an executive producer on those shows while exclusively developing new series for Netflix. According to Techcrunch Barris’ deal only covers his television work because Barris, who co-wrote Girls Trip, has a first-look movie deal at Fox. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Barris agreed to a three year deal with numbers in “high-eight-figure range.”

Barris joins Netflix after negotiating his way out of a contract with ABC Studios. Barris’ label, Khalabo Ink Society, will write and executive produce Netflix shows that “reflect culture through an urban- youth- and female-focused lens.”

Netflix Vice President of Originals, Cindy Holland said of Barris, “Kenya Barris is one of our great modern storytellers. Kenya uses his voice to make audiences more aware of the world around them, while simultaneously making them laugh. His honesty, comedic brilliance and singular point of view, combined with the creative freedom he will enjoy at Netflix, promises to create powerful new stories for all our members around the world.”

Netflix is bringing onboard some of television’s  greatest black talent. Television producer Shonda Rhimes  joined Netflix last year. But Netflix is not alone. It seems that streaming television is the medium of choice for black talent as heavyweight producers like Jordan Peele and Barry Jenkins have joined Amazon and Oprah Winfrey has joined Apple streaming television efforts.

 

Celebrity Cyber Report – Shonda Rhimes Reveals Netflix Shows

Television producer Shonda Rhimes, who joined Netflix last year and for the next 15 years, is finally talking about her projects for the streaming service. The shows will be produced under her Shondaland label. Rhimes has a series of television hits to her credit that include “Scandal“, “How to get Away with Murder” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” 

Rhimes will be producing a show about Anna Delvey best known as the “Socialite Scammer.” Delvey, whose real name is Anna Sorokin, pretended to be a German heiress and conned banks and individuals out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Her most recent exploit may have been the scam of Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland.

Rhimes’ work for Netflix has been cloaked in mystery until now. In a New York Times profile Rhimes described her upcoming projects under the Shondaland label. In all she has eight projects in the production phase. They include an untitled British Regency era series based on the novel of Julia Quinn and the fictional Bridgerton family. 

“A Warmth of Other Suns” based on the non-fiction book by Isabel Wilkerson portrays the mass exodus of  black Americas from the south to the north and midwest during the era of  Jim Crow. 

“Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change” a memoir written by Ellen Pao about her experience at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins. Pao filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins.

Rhimes will partner with Grey’s Anatomy star Debbie Allen for a documentary series about her re-imagining of the holiday classic “The Nutcracker” entitled “Hot Chocolate Nutcracker,” for her Debbie Allen Dance Company.

“Sunshine Scouts” is a post apocalyptic tale of teenage girls who survive while at summer camp and must deal with what remains of the world.

“The Residence” based on a book by Kate Anderson Bower, who writes about the lives of American presidents while they lived in the White House.

These shows are currently under production at Shondaland studios. However neither Rhimes or Netflix has announced when the shows will air…er stream.

Celebrity Cyber Report – Tyler Perry, Drake

Filmmaker Tyler Perry is warning fans of a Facebook hoax claiming he is giving away money and other prizes.

In a Facebook video Perry said “I am not giving away anything on Facebook. I am not giving away any money. My team has to shut down these things every day.” According to Perry his team shuts down as many as 30 fake websites and social media pages daily.

The actor and film producer did not go into specifics but reiterated that unauthorized people were using his name for “giveaways.” Fans searching “Tyler Perry” on Facebook will find hundreds of fake accounts using the actor’s name. Fans are warned that his real pages are are verified by blue checkmarks.

Perry said he is a giver saying “In my life, I’m a giver. I give a lot of things to a lot of people, to a lot of employees, random things, cars, houses, I do.” But he drew the line at scams using his name. “But that is not true. The Facebook stuff. I’m not giving away anything. Stop it, devil.” Perry did however give comedienne Tiffany Haddish a new Tesla electric vehicle wrapped in a red bow. Perry explained why he gave her the car saying he understands how rising stars worry about money at the start of their careers.

Drake

Drake

Canadian rapper Drake shattered records with his new album which hit a billion streams in its first week.  The first album ever to do so. According to Billboard.com the album entitled “Scorpion” also broke the U.S. streaming record with 745.92 million streams in its first week. The new record easily topped Post Malone’s Beerbong & Bentleys streaming record of 431 million streams in its first week. 

In a stunning 24 hours “Scorpion” scored record breaking totals of 300 million streams on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. Billboard.com reported that Drake now owns four of the top 10 streaming weeks ever for an album. “Scorpion” is Drake’s eighth consecutive No. 1 album on the Billboard 200.

 

Celebrity Cyber Report – Oprah Winfrey, Akon,

Apple, making a push into the streaming television market, scored a major coup by signing Oprah Winfrey to a multi-year deal to produce streaming content. The Wall Street Journal reported that Winfrey is expected to become part of Apple’s billion dollar push into direct-to-consumer video streaming.  Although what Oprah will produce has not yet been determined the programming is expected to debut in 2019.  

Apple stated to Reuters, “Together, Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world.”

Apple is in stiff competition with streaming giants Netflix and Amazon to produce original streaming content. Apple has signed other big name celebrities including Reese Witherspoon, Steven Spielberg, Octavia Spencer and Kevin Durant to produce shows for their platform.

Even with this huge deal Apple is in hardball competition with Netflix and Amazon. Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama signed a deal to produce content for Netflix. Netflix and Amazon have both invested heavily in their streaming content by spending $6.3 and $4.5 respectively in 2017 alone.  

Akon

Singer Akon (Courtesy Dagency)

Singer Akon is jumping into the cryptocurrency game. The singer announced at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity  the launch ofAkoin” to finance his “Akon Crypto City,” a 100 percent crypto-based city in Africa.

According to the Page Six website Akon said  “I think that blockchain and crypto could be the savior for Africa in many ways because it brings the power back to the people, and brings the security back into the currency system, and also allows the people to utilize it in ways where they can advance themselves, and not allow government to do those things that are keeping them down.”

According to the Akoin website Akon Crypto City is being developed in African on land donated by the President of Senegal. The city will be modeled on the fictional country of Wakanda from the movie “Black Panther.” According to Akon the new city will offer everything any normal city would including homes, retail businesses, parks, universities and schools.

The singer, who is of Senegal-descent, has moved his career efforts to giving back to African communities in recent years. In 2015 Akon  launched Akon Lighting Africa in an effort to solve chronic shortages of electricity in African nations.

 

Celebrity Cyber Report – Jordan Peele, Barry Jenkins

Oscar winning director Jordan Peele

Get Outproducer Jordan Peele has signed a deal that will give Amazon first pick of any new television series coming out of Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions company. Monkeypaw is responsible for “Get Out” and the Key & Peele comedy series. Peele gained fame as half of the comedy team of Key & Peele before winning an Oscar for Best Screenplay, the first African-American to win the award.

Peele has wasted no time and already has a list projects lined up for production. Among them are a documentary series based on the Lorena Bobbitt incident and a series titled “The Hunt,” the story of Nazi hunters in 1970s New York.

Peele also signed a similar first-look deal with Universal Pictures last year for his movies including a Twilight Zone reboot.

In a statement Peele said “I couldn’t be more excited about this new relationship with Amazon. They’ve been a fantastic partner to Monkey Paw over the last year because they’re committed to the same kind of fun and culturally relevant television we are.” 

Peele’s next project is “BlacKkKLansman” produced by Peele, Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions, and Spike Lee. The film is about a black cop infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan and recently debuted at the Cannes Film Festival. 

 

Oscar winning director Barry Jenkins

Barry Jenkins

Barry Jenkins, Oscar-winning writer and director ofMoonlight,” has agreed with Amazon to produce 11 episodes of the “Underground Railroad.” The dramatic series is based on the highly touted alternate-history book of the same name. The deal is actually an extension of last year’s effort to adapt the book into a dramatic series. Amazon like what it received and has moved forward with the series. Jenkins directed a single episode of “Dear White People” for Netflix.

 Jennifer Salke, Amazon Studios chief said in a statement, “It’s an absolute gift to have Barry Jenkins commit to directing all the episodes for our upcoming limited series The Underground Railroad. Barry’s eye for character and sustained exhilarating, emotional storytelling style ensures that this project is in the right hands. We can’t wait to get started and bring this significant story to our Prime Video audience.

Amazon has not yet announced a premiere date for the series but expect it sometime in 2019 on Prime Video.

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrity Cyber Report – What’s Up with R.Kelly and Spotify?

R-kelly.com

 Spotify, the most popular music streaming service, recently stopped promoting R. Kelly’s music along with rapper XXXTentacion from its playlists as part of its new policy on hateful content and conduct.  Now it seems that Spotify is admitting it may have been wrong.

According to a Spotify spokesperson the R&B balladeer’s music will remain on Spotify but the service will not actively promote it.  The objective of the policy is to remove anything that “expressly and principally promotes, advocates, or incites hatred or violence against a group or individual based on characteristics, including, race, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability.”

According to Spotify bad behavior by an artist can impact the decisions they make.  Jonathan Prince, Vice-President of Content and Marketplace Policy will head a committee that will decide what behavior is considered bad enough to exclude an artists from promotion. 

The committee focused on R.Kelly because of child pornography charges from 2008, multiple allegations of sexual abuse and accusations of coercion and holding women in a so-called sex “cult.” Already this year the singer has been hit with sexual abuse allegations from four additional women. While the popular singer has not been charged with a crime media coverage of the allegations against him have not gone away. Last month the #MuteRKelly campaign began an effort to hold the singer accountable and became a part of the larger #TimesUp effort to fight sexual harassment across several industries. Kelly has blamed the accusations on the media saying it is an attempt to “distort my character” and has denied holding women in a “cult.”

In addition to Spotify Pandora has also downgraded R.Kelly’s music. The streaming service said in a statement that, “Pandora’s policy is to not actively promote artists with certain demonstrable behavioral, ethical or criminal issues. We approach each of these scenarios on a case-by-case basis to ensure we address components true to Pandora’s principles while not overreaching and avoiding censorship.”  Apple Music has also been pulling R. Kelly’s material from its own featured playlists.

Spotify has now began to re-think it’s actions. Spotify’s CEO, Daniel Ek said Wednesday that the music-streaming service “screwed up” and could have done a better job informing the world about its playlist ban.

Ek spoke during an onstage interview at Recode’s Code Conference in Ranch Palos Verdes, CA. “I think we rolled this out wrong and could have done a better job communicating it. The goal for this was to make sure we didn’t have hate speech on the service. It was never about punishing one individual.” Ek went on to say, “What we wanted to be was just transparent. If you are talking about being KKK and doing that kind of stuff, I think it’s pretty obvious that we don’t want you on the service.”

Spotify’s action did not go unnoticed. Backlash came not only from Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar but reportedly sparked criticism among some of Spotify’s own employees.

R.Kelly was not the only artists affected by the new policy. Spotify also blocked the promotion of music by rapper XXXTentacion who was charged with aggravated battery of a pregnant woman. Lamar, a vocal supporter of XXXTentacion, threatened to pull his music from Spotify in response to the policy. 

Critics say that Spotify’s new policy is nearly impossible to enforce fairly. The conduct policy has proved to be especially onerous to hip-hop artists and executives, the best-selling genre in the U.S. music industry. Executives are questioning why the two acts singled out are black, while plenty of white men with histories of violence were not equally punished.

Spotify has been pushed by various groups to remove other artists from its playlists over accusations of abuse. The list includes popular rock group the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chris Brown and Eminem

Breaking It Down

I, for one, applaud the action by Spotify. We have to ask ourselves a question as a society; what are our children learning and from who? We need to hold these people, popular artists and athletes, accountable for their behavior. We cannot on one hand applaud their music or athletic prowess and then allow them to behave in ways that give people the idea they are above the law or norms of acceptable behavior. You child will see this behavior and eventually mimic it. We already see it everyday. We need to send the message that if you act like an asshole then we will treat you like one. If we can cancel ‘Roseanne” we should be able to block the works of rappers and artists who are charged with crimes. Yeah, I know, innocent until proven guilty. right. But the bottom line is these people need to know our children are watching and following their style and actions. And if the artist or athlete is using drugs or beating up women what are children likely to think? We need to stop playing this game where we entertain the right to free expression as a license to make money and act like a jerk. No. Spotify and other streaming services and record labels should warn these artists that their behavior must meet certain standards or they can go back to peddling their CD’s on street corners. This isn’t censorship by any means. Spotify did not ban R.Kelly or XXXTentacion. The just stopped promoting their work. Its nothing new here. Professional sports franchises suspend, or cut players all the time for bad behavior off the field. Ask Ray Rice! Why can’t we do the same for the stage?

Celebrity Cyber Report – Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent

Rapper/Entrepreneur Snoop Dogg

Rapper Snoop Dogg, like many rappers, is hell bent on growing his money. He has transformed his career in music into other businesses most notably the weed industry.

Now, according to TechCrunch, the D-O double G’s Casa Verde Capital venture firm recently closed its debut fund with a $45 million take.

Cannabis, weed, reefer, whatever you call it, is expanding nationwide as a business as legalization becomes the norm. Snoop’s venture firm invests seed money and Series A investments in businesses working alongside the cannabis industry. Casa Verde Capital’s website defines an ancillary cannabis business as company that it is “not touching the plant.”

Casa Verde Capital targets its investment capital on  marijuana businesses developing ag-tech, health and wellness, financial services, technology, media, compliance, and laboratory technology. According to Karan Wadhera, the firm’s managing partner,  Casa Verde has made eight “seed-stage to Series A-size investments” of “$1 million plus” so far, with the largest going to LeafLink, a marijuana marketplace for retailers and brands.

50 Cent

Now did he or didn’t he find millions of dollars in bitcoin he didn’t know he owned? The AACR reported that 50 Cent, born Curtis Jackson, claimed that he found he owned nearly $8 million dollars in bitcoins that he received off sales of a previous album.

But now Curtis Jackson is rapping a different lyric. According to TheBlast.com court documents showed that 50 admitted he never owned any bitcoin and knew the story was bull but went along because it enhanced him image. 50 Cent admitted that he never owned $8 million in bitcoin and said “so long as a press story is not irreparably damaging to my image or brand, I usually do not feel the need to publicly deny the reporting.”

But 50 Cent did a little bit more than just go along with the story. He  bragged about his sudden bitcoin windfall on Instagram and Twitter. The rapper posted  “Not bad for a kid from South Side, I’m so proud of me.” and “A little bitcoin anyone? LOL. l know l make you sick but excuse me…I’m getting to the bag.” On Instagram 50 said to his fans,  “Ima keep it real, I forgot I did that shit lol.”

 

 

Celebrity Cyber Report – 50 Cent, Drake

50 Cent

How would you like to find $8 million dollars you didn’t know you had? Rapper 50Cent did just that.

The rapper and actor recently learned that he was sitting on a stack of 700 bitcoins. 50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, forgot he had accepted the bitcoins from some fans as payment for his 2014 album, “Animal Ambition.”

According to IBTimes 50 Cent said he wanted to “stay with the times,”  when he released the album so he allowed fans to pay for it with the new cryptocurrency. At the time the bitcoins were worth about $660 each. Purchases made with bitcoin made up about a half a million dollars from album sales. But as bitcoin values skyrocketed past $10,000 that half a mil became a helluva lot more.  Jackson now owns 700 bitcoins in total worth close to $8 million.

The iconic rapper has had his share of controversy surrounding money. In 2015 he filed for bankruptcy but managed to hold on to properties and was photographed around that time with stacks of cash. At the time he had the 700 bitcoin but their actually worth was closer to $200,000.

Drake

Rapper Drake has dethroned singer Taylor Swift as the Queen of daily downloads. The new King took the throne at Apple Music and Spotify. According to Beats 1 host Zane Lowe, Drakes’ “God’s Plan” broke the first-day streaming record on that service as well with 14 million spins worldwide.

Spotify confirmed the news with Engadget. In a statement Spotify said,  “We can confirm ‘God’s Plan’ by Drake now holds the U.S. record as the most streamed track in a single day on Spotify.” Setting records is nothing new for Drake. In 2016 he was the most streamed artist and also set the record for Spotify’s most-streamed song of all time, “One Dance.”

 

Celebrity Cyber Report – Mo’Nique, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Kevin Durant

Oscar Winner Mo’Nique

Mo’Nique

Comedienne and actress Mo’Nique has called for a boycott against Netflix. According to the Oscar winning actress the streaming television service is guilty of gender and race-based pay inequities. Mo’Nique said she was offered $500,000 for a comedy special where white comedienne Amy Schumer was offered $11 million. Black comedian Dave Chappelle received $20 million for his three comedy specials . Mo’Nique said she challenged Netflix on the gap, but received contradictory answers. Mo’Nique said se was told by Netflix that  “we don’t go off resumés” when justifying her pay. But then  it reportedly defended Schumer’s revenue by citing her experience.

Mo’Nique also learned that she was not the only black female comedienne who may have been short changed by Netflix. According to a tweet from fellow comedienne Wanda Sykes Netflix offered her “less than half” of that $500,000 for a Netflix special. Mo’Nique hasn’t objected to the compensation Netflix offered other performers but is asking why the figures for her and Sykes were so much lower.

 

Jada Pinkett-Smith

Jada Pinkett Smith

Three generations of actress Jada Pinkett-Smith‘s family will join Facebook for a talk show that deals with social issues. Smith, her daughter Willow and mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris will come together to discuss their individual perspectives on various topics. According to Deadline, the inter-generational talk show will be executive produced by Pinkett-Smith along with Ellen Rakieten and Miguel Melendez. EntitledRed Table Talks the show was originally streamed in 2012 on the YouTube channel. 

 

NBA All Star Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

NBA superstar Kevin Durant is joining forces with YouTube to expand its sports content offerings. Durant and business partner Rich Kleiman have agreed to develop programming based on Durant and his fellow professional athletes under the umbrella of their Thirty Five Media video business.

After moving to the Bay Area to play for the Golden State Warriors Durant became interested in tech investments. He is not alone, teammate Andre Iguodala is another big tech investor. According to Kleiman, Durant became interested in YouTube after meeting YouTube executive Neal Mohan at the star’s 28th birthday party.

Durant’s YouTube channel is a fan favorite giving them documentary-style productions offering peeks into the life of an all-star professional basketball player. It also gives players a direct venue to interact with fans.  In less than a year, Durant’s channel has scored more than of 21 million views.

Durant told TechCrunch, “Outside of the incredible relationship that we’ve developed with the team at YouTube it’s a huge destination for video content where sports fans, including myself, spend a lot of time, and we really wanted to create content where fans are most likely to find and engage with it.”

Celebrity Cyber Report – Quincy Jones

Music legend Quincy Jones is working with a French TV producer to launch Qwest TV. Calling itself the “Netflix of Jazz” the  specialty streaming channel for jazz lovers will offer jazz, concerts and music centric documentaries.

Music Legend Quincy Jones

According to the New York Times Jones will personally select the first round of videos. Each video will be accompanied by an essay from either a journalist or a jazz expert. Jones’ goal of launching the channel is to help preserve and present jazz in a way that’s particularly suited for modern audiences. “I know I won’t convert the world to jazz,” said Jones. “If I serve high quality programs in HD, with good curation and have a good, close relationship with my audience, I’ll be fine.”

Qwest TV kicked off on December 15th and offered 50 videos from 30 to 90 minutes long. The launch featured a documentary on the late Al Jarreau, concert films featuring the pianist Jason Moran and his trio, European jazz-rock fusion band Kneebody and the Malian vocalist Oumou Sangaré.  Another feature for subscribers includes “The Sound of New York,” a 10-part series originally serialized in Italy. The series features half-hour portraits of musicians like Damion Reid, Mark Turner and Bilal.

Prices for Qwest TV will run between $8.83 – $11.68. The price will be slightly higher for HD/4K streaming. Qwest TV will also offer yearly subscriptions.