All posts by PJ

usher-film

Usher Will Executive Produce Education Documentary ‘Unstoppable’

usher-film*The Hollywood Reporter posted that multi-Grammy winning artist Usher will act as executive producer for the documentary “Undroppable” which takes on America’s dropout epidemic.

Justin Beiber’s manager Scooter Braun hipped Usher to the film as he will be one of the five producers on the project. “I knew Usher was very passionate about the issue of education, so I felt this was a great project to bring him into,” said Braun. “His expertise will be invaluable as we continue this film and movement.”

The film’s launch will included videos uploaded through their social media campaign where they will share their personal struggles.

Usher is not stranger to the big screen and will also add to the his portfolio with the role of Sugar Ray Leonard.

“Undroppable,” which is written and directed by Jason Pollock, is expected to debut sometime this year.

tyra banks

Tyra Banks Sues Wig Companies For Using Her Trademark W/Out Permission

Tyra-Banks_2 (1)*Former supermodel and businesswoman Tyra Banks is suing several companies for $10 million for using her name on their line of wigs.

Banks filed the complaint against 10 different wig companies for using her “name, photograph, image and identity” as well as trademarks without permission.

TMZ reports that several of the companies are displaying Tyra’s photos and Tyra-inspired wigs on their websites; including the Yaki straight (Tyra-Banks style) wig, the Tyra Banks custom lace wig #046, and the Tyra Banks inspired human hair wig.

Included in the lawsuit is Tyra’s 11-page IMDB profile as proof of just how valuable her trademark is and further the claim of why they need to pay for its use.

Banks’ suit is asking for an injunction to stop the sale of the products bearing any likeness to her name, trademark or image; as well as $10 million in damages.

spike lee

Spike Lee on the Possibility of Trayvon Martin Film: ‘I Would Like to See It’ (Watch)

spike lee*Famed film director Spike Lee has expressed his desire to see the Trayvon Martin story told on the big screen.

During an interview with theGrio , Lee commended  27-year-old new director Ryan Coogler for bringing his acclaimed independent film, “Fruitvale Station,” the Oscar Grant story, to the big screen. He expressed his admiration for the film while stating that the film business isn’t built in favor of young directors like Coogler to succeed.

“Love it…. It’s great,” Lee said of Fruitvale Station. “But it’s something that I have been doing for 15 year [sic]. I teach film. That is my job to help young filmmakers to become professionals in this tough business, so I’m happy for him…I’m happy for any young filmmaker that gets their first feature film made, because Lord knows the odds are against you. This business is not set up for young people to succeed.”

The similarities between Oscar Grant’s story and Trayvon Martin’s are very apparent in how both left thousands of people around the country still demanding justice.

Similar to Grant’s story, Lee touched on the need for having a story like Trayvon’s turned into  a film.

“I’m not saying that I’m going to do it, but I hope that there is something,” the Malcom X director said. “The first thing I think is there should be a documentary [about Trayvon Martin] before they do a narrative of it. I’m not saying that I’m doing either, I’m just saying that I would like to see it.”

“This thing is not over yet,” he continued. ” So I don’t even know if it would be the right time to start, because it’s not over yet. Hopefully there will be some more time in court.”

ryan-leslie

Ryan Leslie Finances Continue to Deplete After Million Dollar Laptop Suit

ryan-leslie*Bad news for musician and songwriter Ryan Leslie. His financial battles have continued to intensify over time and resulted in him having to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last year.

His money struggles include a $1.180 million judgement he owes to Armin Augstein; the German guy who found Leslie’s lost laptop and returned it in 2010 for a promised reward. Unfortunately, Leslie went back on the promise and hasn’t paid; even after Augstein won his lawsuit. Leslie then faced serious action for reneging on the reward.

Even his car, a fully loaded mint condition Cadillac Escalade, was seized by marshals due to his inability to make good on the reward for the recovery of his lost laptop.

The car will be auctioned and the proceeds will be awarded to Augstein.

Bresha Webb

Bresha Webb on Her ‘Love That Girl’ Character: ‘I’m Not Imunique at All’

Bresha Webb as Imunique

*Actress Bresha Webb is hoping to keep viewers tuned in for season 4 of TV One’s “Love That Girl” with her over the top character Imunique Jefferson.

After Tatyana Ali left the show, executive produced by Martin Lawrence, after season one, it left the starring role up for grabs for Webb’s character.

“Imunique is more in the forefront, and you’ll get more of an understanding of why she is as crazy as she is,” she told Sister 2 Sister. “You get to meet her family, see her talents and it allows you to really appreciate her innocence.”

Though she’s obviously won viewers’ affections, some might be relieved to know that Imunique and Bresha don’t have much in common.

“I’m not Imunique at all. I’m just a regular Baltimore chick who believed in God enough to follow her dreams,” she said.

BONUS COVERAGE: The energetic Bresha Webb talks to “Humor Mill” Mag’s Frank Holden at the show’s wrap party:

octavia spencer

Octavia Spencer Says White Filmmakers Directing Black Movies is a ‘Catch-22′

Octavia Spencer*In “Paradise,” Octavia Spencer plays the character of Loray, who is described as an intellectual character comfortable in her skin but not defined by it; which is a contrast to her role in “Fruitvale Station.”

“She is an educated hipster with a point of view, and we get to see that point of view played out on screen,” Spencer tells theGrio. “It’s an archetype I definitely haven’t played.”

As an Oscar award-winning actress, Spencer has really come into her own and helps cultivate new found African American stories that are finally getting some shine in Hollywood.

Spencer believes her character in “Paradise” is a realistically good take on blackness that movies haven’t captured much of.

“I don’t think there is one way that black people are versus one way that Asians are, [etc.] I think it’s just how things are depicted that it becomes the norm,” Spencer says. “I have the most eclectic, wackiest group of friends that there are, and that, I think, for the most part is most of the people I know. There’s just not one way of being.”

Some voices in Hollywood have recently spoken out on white directors taking on black films, such as filmmaker John Singleton, who openly criticized “The Help,” which stars Spencer and was directed by Tate Taylor. Singleton told The Hollywood Reporter that the scenario of white-helmed African-American stories is a “troubling trend” that may hurt black filmmakers while taking away from the movies’ authenticity.

However, Spencer disagrees with Singleton’s criticism but does acknowledge a different issue.

“Black directors don’t get the funding for their films,” she comments. “That’s the problem, not that white directors are telling these stories. It’s a Catch-22 really.”

“Do I feel that white directors have to tell only white stories? No. Do I feel that black filmmakers should only tell stories about black people? No,” she continues. “If we say that, then that means Asian people cannot write about anybody but Asians. I don’t think a woman should only write about women…I think you, as an artist, you are driven by what compels you to tell that story.”

Read more at TheGrio.