RE Features

OWN ANNOUNCES PREMIERE DATE FOR NEW ROMANTIC DRAMA “LOVE IS__” DEBUTING TUESDAY, JUNE 19 AT 10 P.M. ET/PT

New Series Created and Executive Produced by Mara Brock Akil (“Being Mary Jane,” “The Game,” “Girlfriends”) and Salim Akil (“Black Lightning”)
Inspired By the Power Couple’s Real-Life Relationship

Photo Caption (l-r): Michele Weaver, Will Catlett
Photo © 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. / Courtesy of OWN
https://owncomm.box.com/s/4756u2qcplpci5stx2xbg9qtttscuzdk

Los Angeles – OWN has announced that its new original one-hour romantic drama from award-winning producers Mara Brock Akil (“Being Mary Jane,” “The Game,” “Girlfriends”) and Salim Akil (“Black Lightning”) will premiere on Tuesday, June 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT (after Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and the Have Nots at 9 p.m. ET/PT). Brock Akil serves as showrunner on the series, which she and Akil created and executive produce through their company Akil Productions, in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television.

Set primarily in 1990’s Los Angeles against the backdrop of Black Hollywood, “Love Is__” follows Nuri (Michele Weaver) and Yasir (Will Catlett), a couple from seemingly opposite worlds, as they chase their dreams and learn to follow their hearts. Told from the perspective of the couple’s present-day selves, the romantic drama also revisits the social issues and vibrant black culture of that time reflecting on how it all aligned to shape the couple they have become nearly 20 years later — a power couple navigating a complex set of social codes while also balancing successful careers and a beautiful family. Drawing inspiration from creators Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil’s own relationship journey, the series explores the highs, the lows, and the magic of falling (and staying) in love.

The cast includes series regulars Michele Weaver (“Illicit”) as ‘Nuri,’ a bubbly personality with big dreams who is struggling to make a name for herself as a sitcom staff writer while juggling an assortment of romances that only leave her partly fulfilled; Will Catlett (“Black Lightning”) as ‘Yasir,’ an aspiring writer/director who is down to his last two unemployment checks and lives (unhappily) with his on-and-off again ex ‘Ruby,’ played by Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing (“Alles Voor Elkaar”). Tyrone Marshall Brown (“Bull”) portrays ‘Sean,’ Yasir’s opinionated friend who possesses great taste and is full of ideas but lacks follow through; and Idara Victor (“Mad Men”) stars as ‘Angela,’ a member of the same writing staff with Nuri who doesn’t always agree with everything Nuri says, mainly because she is a disgruntled drama writer stuck in a comedy she doesn’t believe in. TV veteran Kadeem Hardison (“A Different World”) is ‘Norman,’ the executive producer of the hit sit-com “Marvin” and tough boss of Nuri and Angela who is hard to impress and even harder to amuse; Clarke Peters (“The Wire”) portrays present day ‘Wiser Yasir,’ handsome, still-confident and Nuri’s husband of many years; and Wendy Davis (“Army Wives”) is ‘Wiser Nuri,’ who is a more relaxed, happy, and comfortable version of herself both in life and in her marriage to Yasir.

“Love Is___” also features Primetime Emmy®-winner Loretta Devine (“Grey’s Anatomy”), NAACP Image Award-nominee Vanessa Bell Calloway (“Coming to America”), NAACP Image Award-winner Tim Reid (“Sister, Sister”), Tosin Morohunfola (“The Chi”), Tammy Townsend (“Sherri”), and Michael King (“Black Lightning”), all with recurring roles.

For a Sneak Peek of the Series Please Click Here: WATCHOWN.tv/LoveIsIntro.

About Akil Productions
Founded in 2000 by prolific producers Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, Akil Productions has become one of the foremost creators of television and film projects that poignantly explores the nuances of human experience through diverse characters and storylines. With hundreds of hours of content to their credit, The Akils have earned a reputation for being two of the most influential African-American storytellers in Hollywood while entertaining millions of viewers along the way. The company’s most recent project is the critically-acclaimed series “Black Lightning” based on the first African-American superhero created by DC Comics. Since debuting on The CW earlier this year, the series has been hailed by fans and critics alike for elevating the ever-popular superhero genre through thoughtful, honest conversations about the African-American experience. Developed for television by Akil, who also serves as showrunner, the series has already been renewed for a second season. Up next for Akil Productions is the romantic drama “Love Is__,” which will premiere this June on OWN with Brock Akil leading the project as showrunner. Drawing inspiration from their own relationship journey, the series explores the highs, the lows, and the magic of falling (and staying) in love. The Akils executive produce both projects through their overall deal at Warner Bros. Television, which they inked in 2016 through the Akil Productions banner. The Akils, through the shingle, are responsible for producing over 350 episodes of television, including the popular BET drama “Being Mary Jane,” the record breaking ensemble comedy “The Game,” and the seminal sitcom “Girlfriends,” the last of which is still considered groundbreaking for its portrayal of black womanhood through an honest, authentic, and intelligent lens throughout its eight season run. Additionally, Akil Productions has been behind such films as “Jumping the Broom,” which Akil made his directorial debut on; the high-profile remake of “Sparkle,” which Brock Akil wrote and Akil directed. Prior to forming their professional partnership and launching Akil Productions, the pair earned credits individually playing pivotal roles on such beloved television series as “Soul Food,” “Moesha,” and “The Jamie Foxx Show.”

About OWN: OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK
OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network is the first and only network named for, and inspired by, a single iconic leader. Oprah Winfrey’s heart and creative instincts inform the brand – and the magnetism of the channel. Winfrey provides leadership in original scripted and unscripted programming and attracts superstar talent to join her in primetime, building a global community of like-minded viewers and leading that community to connect on social media and beyond. OWN is a singular destination on cable. Depth with edge. Heart. Star power. Connection. And endless possibilities. OWN is a joint venture between Harpo, Inc. and Discovery Communications. The network debuted on January 1, 2011. The venture also includes the award-winning digital platform Oprah.com. Access OWN anytime, anywhere on WatchOWN.tv or across mobile devices and connected TVs. For more information, please visit www.oprah.com/own and https://press.discovery.com/us/own/.

About Warner Horizon Scripted Television
A division of the Warner Bros. Television Group, Warner Horizon Scripted Television was founded in 2006 and is one of the entertainment industry’s leading producers of dramatic and comedic programming for the cable and subscription/on-demand marketplace. Series produced by Warner Horizon Scripted Television include “Animal Kingdom” and “Claws” for TNT; “People of Earth” for TBS; “American Woman” for Paramount Network; “Famous in Love” for Freeform; “Fuller House” and “Longmire” for Netflix; “Krypton” for SYFY; “Love Is___,” “Queen Sugar,” and the Untitled Tarell Alvin McCraney Project for OWN; and “You” for Lifetime.

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Power: Season 5


Premieres only on STARZ on July 1, 2018 at 8:00 PM ET / PT, and on the STARZ app and STARZ ON DEMAND starting at 12:01AM ET
View the trailer here.

“Power” is a visionary drama that straddles the glamorous Manhattan lifestyles of the rich and infamous and the underworld of the international drug trade. The cast is led by Omari Hardwick as James “Ghost” St. Patrick, a man trying to escape his role as a drug kingpin for a legitimized life in the elite of NYC; Joseph Sikora as his brother in arms in the drug business, Tommy Egan; Naturi Naughtonplays Ghost’s fierce wife Tasha St. Patrick; Lela Loren is his first love, Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela Valdes; andCurtis “50 Cent” Jackson as Ghost’s former boss and mentor, Kanan Starks. La La Anthony and Rotimi Akinosho also star.

Season 5 picks up with James “Ghost” St. Patrick in a dangerous alliance with his former drug partner and brother-in-arms Tommy Egan and mortal enemy Kanan Stark. As Ghost mourns the death of his daughter Raina, he searches for vengeance and throws himself into his work, reaching of new, professional heights. But with this newfound publicity, his quest for blood threatens to dismantle his legitimate legacy. Ghost is blind to new enemies, and as the Feds grow closer to unmasking his true identity, Ghost must remain vigilant toward those wanting to take him down for his past criminal enterprises.

Creator Courtney Kemp also serves as showrunner and executive producer on the series. “Power” is also produced by G-Unit Films and Television, the production company launched by executive producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, and Canton’s Atmosphere Entertainment MM.

Running Time: 60 minutes / 10 Episodes

LANDMARK DOCUMENTARY STOLEN DAUGHTERS: KIDNAPPED BY BOKO HARAM

REVEALING THE LIVES OF NIGERIAN SCHOOL GIRLS IN THE
YEAR AFTER THEIR MAY 2017 RELEASE FROM CAPTIVITY,
TO DEBUT THIS FALL, EXCLUSIVELY ON HBO

NEW YORK, May 7, 2018 – Today marks the one-year anniversary of the release of 82 of the 276 Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped in 2014 from a school in Chibok, Northern Nigeria, and hidden in the vast Sambisa forest for three years, by Boko Haram, a violent Islamic insurgent movement.
This fall, HBO Documentary Films will present the revealing film STOLEN DAUGHTERS: KIDNAPPED BY BOKO HARAM, telling the story of the girls’ time in captivity and following their lives over the past year.
Granted exclusive access to the freed girls, who upon their release last year were taken to a secret government safe house in the capitol of Abuja, the film shows how the young women are adapting to life after their traumatic imprisonment and how the Nigerian government is handling their re-entry into society.
Following a global social media campaign with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, featuring global celebrities such as Michelle Obama, huge pressure was brought to bear on the Nigerian Government to get the girls back. Four years later, more than 100 of the girls have been freed. STOLEN DAUGHTERS: KIDNAPPED BY BOKO HARAM chronicles reunions with family members they have not seen since they were kidnapped, as well as their process of coming to terms with what has happened to them.
The kidnapped girls, known as “The Chibok Girls,” are required to live in a protected environment, where contact with the outside world is severely limited, although they are provided with education and counselling. As the film documents, they eventually progress to a residential, government-funded program at the American University of Nigeria.
Their fate could not be more different than that of thousands of other Nigerian women and girls who have fallen prey to Boko Haram and are known as the “Forgotten Girls”. In the northeastern city of Maiduguri, which has been the site of numerous attacks by Boko Haram and remains extremely volatile, some of the “Forgotten Girls” share deeply disturbing stories of their abduction and treatment at the hands of the terrorist group – and eventual escape from captivity.
Their troubles haven’t ended with their escape from the Sambisa forest, however. With female suicide bombers having killed scores of people in the city, they are often treated with suspicion because of their connection to Boko Haram. “Forgotten Girls” enjoy none of the privileges afforded “The Chibok Girls.” Many live hand-to-mouth in the slums and refugee camps, abandoned by the Nigerian state, but are determined to tell their stories and move forward with their lives, despite the obstacles.
STOLEN DAUGHTERS: KIDNAPPED BY BOKO HARAM is a coproduction with BBC2and ARTE France; directed and produced by Karen Edwards, director Gemma Atwal, executive producer, Fiona Stourton, executive producer for BBC This World, Sam Bagnall. For HBO: executive producer, Nancy Abraham.

Black Lightning

Jefferson Pierce is a man wrestling with a secret. Nine years ago, Pierce was gifted with the superhuman power to harness and control electricity, which he used to keep his hometown streets safe as the masked vigilante Black Lightning. However, after too many nights with his life and his family on the line, he left his Super Hero days behind. Almost a decade later, Pierce’s crime-fighting days are long behind him…or so he thought. But with crime and corruption spreading like wildfire, Black Lightning returns — to save not only his family, but also the soul of his community.

NETFLIX Premiere Date
1/23/2018

Lost in Space

Season 1

is a Netflix Original dramatic and modern reimagining of the 1960’s classic science fiction series.

Set 30 years in the future, colonization in space is now a reality, and the Robinson family is among those

tested and selected to make a new life for themselves in a better world. But when the new colonists find

themselves abruptly torn off course en route to their new home, they must forge new alliances and

work together to survive in a dangerous alien environment, lightyears from their original destination.

Produced by Legendary Television and written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (Dracula Untold, Last

Witch Hunter), Zack Estrin (Prison Break) serves as showrunner. All 10 hourlong episodes will become

available to Netflix members worldwide in spring 2018. “We’ve kept the core emotional content and values of the original

Lost in Space series, but updated it for today,” says Estrin. “We explore relationships that are a bit more complicated, and there are going to be some questions from the original series that get answered.”

The series stars Toby Stephens (Black Sails, Die Another Day) as John Robinson, and Molly Parker (House of Cards, Deadwood) as Maureen Robinson, the family’s parental leaders who are struggling with their

estranged relationship while trying to keep their family safe. As the Robinson kids, Taylor Russell (Falling Skies) is the strong-willed and confident Judy, the eldest of the Robinson children. Mina Sundwall

(Maggie’s Plan, Freeheld) is the quick-witted and definitive middle-child Penny, and Maxwell Jenkins

(Sense8, Betrayal) is the curious and sensitive Will, the youngest and the most vulnerable.

As the family adjusts to life on their new planet, Will forms an unlikely and inexplicable bond with a

sentient robotic alien being.

“The Robinsons are unique because each one of them is a hero in their own story,” adds Estrin. “They all

have different skills, strengths and weaknesses – but it’s about the way they all come together to work

as a team.” Stranded on the lost planet along with the Robinsons are two outsiders who find themselves thrown

together by circumstance and a penchant for deception. The cunning and charismatic Dr. Smith is played

by Parker Posey (Café Society, Mascot, A Mighty Wind), and the roguish but equally charming Don West

is played by Ignacio Serricchio (Bones, The Wedding Ringer). “What’s great about Lost in Space is that anything is possible,” says Estrin. “You never know what challenges are going to be there. And you never know what you can find inside of yourself to survive.” Sazama, Sharpless and Estrin are executive producers alongside Synthesis Entertainment’s Kevin Burns and Jon Jashni with Applebox’s Neil Marshall and Marc Helwig. The original Lost in Space series was

created by Irwin Allen. “At its core, Lost in Space is a family show and it’s ultimately about these great characters,” says Estrin. “They just happen to be in a different situation than everyone else.”

THE RETURN OF A CLASSIC: ABOUT THE REIMAGINING OF LOST IN SPACE The original Lost in Space

series aired between 1965 and 1968. The story centered around the Robinson family, as well as the troublesome (and humorous) antics of Dr. Smith.The producers of the 2018 Lost in Space felt it was an opportune time to reimagine the series for a new audience. “When you look at the television landscape, there’s not a lot of shows that you can watch with your kids and not feel like you’re watching a show that’s just for them,” says Estrin. “ Lost in Space is a show that I

can finally watch with my children. We can sit together as a family and all find something in the show to

fall in love with.”

While they remain true to the classic in many ways, the reimagining of the series allowed the team to

put their own spin on the story and its characters. “The original had something really special that connected with an audience – that at its core, it’s a family show and these people were good,” says Estrin. “We wanted to hold onto those core values of the original and those original character dynamics, but bring the story into a more contemporary setting.

The relationships between the characters are a bit more complicated.” The reimagined series will also give fans of the original a chance to see how far television production and technology have come in the last 30 years.

“I think that people who love the original show will really be drawn to this because we can do things

today that they could only have dreamt about back then,” says Estrin.

ABOUT NETFLIX

Netflix is the world’s leading Internet television network with more than 109 million members in over

190 countries enjoying more than 140 million hours of TV shows and movies per day, including original

series, documentaries and feature films. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, on nearly

any Internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials

or commitments.

###

Chris Rock

THE WEEK OF

When the families of a soon-to-be-married couple come together a week before the big day, a series of mishaps threatens to turn the fairy-tale wedding into a nightmare, much to the dismay of the bride’s doting, working class father, who is determined to pay for everything and not take a penny from the groom’s deep-pocketed dad.

The new comedy from Happy Madison Productions, THE WEEK OF puts a big-hearted spin on the classic wedding movie, featuring a wide ranging crew of characters who contend with cantankerous relatives, five-foot bottles of booze, penis-shaped lipsticks, and a bat-infested City Hall. In his fourth film with Netflix, Sandler leads a cast that includes : Chris Rock (who recently released his Netflix stand-up special Tamborine) , Rachel Dratch (S NL , That’s My Boy ), and Steve Buscemi (T he Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire) . Longtime Sandler collaborator Robert Smigel (S NL , Jack and Jill) makes his feature directorial debut, working from a script he wrote with Sandler, who also produces. Adam Sandler and Allen Covert produced with Barry Bernardi, Tim Herlihy and Kevin Grady serving as Executive Producers.

ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

Adam Sandler and Robert Smigel have worked together for 28 years, collaborating on almost as many projects, including Saturday Night Live (where they first met in 1990), You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Jack and Jill , and the animated Hotel Transylvania films. They are close friends with a similar comedic sensibility who are each other’s go-to sounding board for sketching out new movie concepts. “We bounce ideas around a lot,” says Smigel, who is also known for creating and voicing Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. “Adam pitched two ideas to me in late 2016. We fleshed out both of them and settled on The Week Of , which at the core was Adam’s pitch of the middle-class father of the bride determined to pay for the wedding on his own without help from the richer dad.”

The story opens five days before a young couple, Sarah (Allison Strong) and Tyler (Roland Buck III), tie the knot. For the ceremony, the bride’s budget-constrained contractor dad, Kenny Lustig (Sandler), books the local Quality Lodge, a chain hotel that looks like it was last renovated during the Electric Slide era. Ceilings leak, guest rooms are dank, and the wryly eccentric manager (Nasser Faris) has no intention of fixing any of it. Dr. Kirby Cordice (Chris Rock), the groom’s high-roller heart surgeon father from L.A., offers to foot the bill and move the party to the ritzy Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, but Kenny won’t hear of it. As a result relatives from both sides begin to pour into the Lustigs’s modest Long Island home. When Kenny’s 87-year-old WWII veteran uncle Seymour goes into a coma after overindulging at the bachelor party, that turns out to be the least of his problems.

The idea of a movie that finds laughs in the chaos leading up to a wedding is what Sandler liked when he was first brainstorming the movie. “I t’s the actual fun of having families get to know each other and see if they like each other or not and then eventually clicking—sort of, ” Sandler says. Smigel said “This is primarily a movie about the dads, and so I thought a little about Planes, Trains & Automobiles and started imagining Adam’s character as a determinedly genial guy (a little like John Candy) who doesn’t want to let the cracks show as things fall apart over the course of the week.”

THE WEEK OF manages to tap into heartfelt emotions amid all the mayhem: Kenny is a dad trying to do right by his daughter as she prepares to leave the nest, and Kirby wants to make amends for being an absent father to his own kids. “I think lots of good comedies have

emotional character arcs, and in this case, it was fairly easy because the entire plot was rooted in the essential character flaws of Kenny and Kirby,” Smigel explains. “So we didn’t have to ‘find’ the emotional arcs and shoehorn them into the story like some movies do.”

Sandler and Smigel wrote the screenplay with certain performers in mind. For Kirby, they knew they wanted Chris Rock, another comedian friend from way back in the day. (All three worked together at SNL in the 1990s.) They only had one concern: In a cast of outrageous characters, Kirby was the “normal” one. “We were worried about confining him to a straight man role,” Smigel says. “It’s a different energy for Rock, more reactive…a little more like real-life Chris than you normally see. But we found places to give him funny lines. … Because his character doesn’t really connect with anyone else in the film, it worked to give him acerbic observational comments throughout the film. And we also discovered it’s fun to see Chris Rock get hurt once in a while.”

Another character conceived with a specific actor in mind was Kenny’s oddball brother Charles, who rolls into town with massive bottles of Absolut, Kahlua, and Chivas Regal fit for a giant’s wedding. (“Duty free!” Charles proclaims, beaming.) Steve Buscemi, who’s appeared in Sandler’s movies since 1995’s Billy Madison, plays him. “Buscemi’s part was written entirely for him, and I can’t imagine anyone else in that role,” Smigel explains. Sandler and Rock, meanwhile, knew they had to raise their game when Buscemi was on set. “He’s really into the acting part of it,” Rock says. “He’s tough acting, that Buscemi.” Adds Sandler: “He reminds you on occasion that he’s a better actor than you. When you’re shooting a scene and you look deep in his eyes and they call ‘Cut!’ and then he says, ‘I’m a better actor than you,’ that’s when you go, ‘This guy’s trying to say something.’”

Rounding out the cast is yet another familiar face from the Happy Madison moviescape,

Rachel Dratch. In her fifth pairing with Sandler, she plays Debbie Lustig, the bride’s benevolently clueless mom who interrupts Kirby in the middle of open-heart surgery to ask him about the risks of potentially salmonella-tainted peppermint bark and drizzled peanut brittle. “Rachel Dratch is a great wife for many reasons,” Sandler says. “Funny as hell, loveable, made me look like I’m six seven because I think Rachel is about, what, four feet?” Chiming in Rock adds, “Good lady. She is a funny, funny lady.”

“Rachel was always one of my favorite SNL performers because she’s just a natural clown who could never be too broad for me on that show,” Smigel says. “For this, she had to play a character who listens to the other people in the scene, which is often not a requirement on a live sketch show! And she pulls it off while still being the lovable goofball she always is.”

Over the years, Smigel has written, produced, or appeared in some of Sandler’s most successful movies. It was only here, with THE WEEK OF, that he finally agreed to add a new title to his long list of credits: director. “Adam has asked me to direct over the years, and I’ve always resisted,” he says. “I’m a writer first, and I liked writing and then coming to the set at my leisure and offering notes to Adam. I also never felt like my directing would help the movies much because, in most comedies, the best directors are the ones you don’t notice. You’re supporting the jokes and not calling attention to your cool camera shots. And there are plenty of people who do that very well. But for this one, Adam said he wanted it to feel a little different, a little more vérité, like an independent film, and that sounded like a fun challenge.”

So in place of a glossy romp filmed on brightly-lit studios, THE WEEK OF shot almost entirely on location in various parts of Long Island, New York. The Lustigs’ abode was a real house and it served as a cramped, but happy home base for the production. “It forced everyone to be close to each other at all times,” Smigel explains. “It was harder to hide in a dressing room or in the trailers. Everyone hung out in the backyard and our Italian neighbors made cannolis and cookies for us every day. The film was shot in sequence, so if some of the actors look like they’re getting fatter over the course of the week, that’s why.”

Once the cameras started rolling, a buoyant energy defined the set, as Sandler, Rock, and the rest of the cast fell into a comfortable groove. “W e had a great time!” Sandler says. “It’s a different looking movie—it looks different than stuff I’ve done in the past. Our buddy Robert Smigel, he’s a very funny genius of a man. We did some shooting differently than usual—long takes, three-minute scenes where we had to know our stuff.” (“We actually had to know our lines in this movie,” Rock quips.) While the movie was tightly scripted, there was always room for improvisation. One of Sandler and Rock’s favorite improvised scenes takes place in Kenny’s car, when Kirby just wants to get some rest after a red-eye flight and Kenny won’t turn on the air conditioning to make the ride more comfortable. “I loved that!” Rock says. “I try to keep Sandler on his toes.” Which he does—and then some, according to Sandler. “He

throws in random stuff all the time. He gives you about 60 options of jokes. He says it and we put it in there.”

As for Smigel, stepping up to the director’s chair for the first time on a feature film turned out to be less nerve-wracking than he anticipated. “It was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in all these years of showbizzery,” he says. “I had expected that the responsibility of directing, rather than just getting to show up and correct the few things you want to fix, would make the whole experience more tense. But the cast was so talented, I rarely had to give an acting note to anyone.” Then there was the all-star crew. “I had a brilliant DP, Federico Cesca, who completely understood what we were going for and helped come up with shots that supported it. David Thompson, our “a” cameraman, was incredibly skilled, and I leaned on his knowledge as well, and of course, Adam’s. So I had all that, and (EP) Barry Bernadi provided a crew that was so professional, there were times when I actually felt like I didn’t even need to be there and the movie would be fine. But I hung around anyway cuz the food was so good.”

Well, that and maybe one other tiny reason. In a key sequence, Sandler, Dratch, and Buscemi are huddled on a staircase, discussing a typically nutty solution for the latest calamity. “I had one of those moments where I’m watching them do it perfectly, funnier than I’d imagined, and I suddenly felt like a contest winner, getting to watch three actors I’ve loved for years perform a scene I’d submitted as an entry,” Smigel says. “I can usually act like I know what I’m doing. But watching people that good snaps you back into remembering how lucky you are to get to do this kind of stuff.”

THE WEEK OF will premiere globally on Netflix on April 27, 2018.

OWN Announces Two New Series From Prolific Producer Will Packer

Multi-Episode Straight-to-Series Orders Include Scripted Drama “Ambitions” and Unscripted Dating Show “Ready to Love”

Los Angeles – April 18, 2018 – OWN has announced two new series from prolific hit-maker Will Packer (“Girls Trip,” “Straight Outta Compton,” “Ride Along,” “Roots”) and his Will Packer Media banner: the soapy new drama series “Ambitions” from global content leader Lionsgate and the unscripted dating series “Ready to Love.” Packer will serve as executive producer for both series. The new shows mark the first television series to be created under Packer’s first-look deal with the network.

The announcement comes as OWN’s momentum and diversified programming slate continues to grow. The network recently delivered its highest rated first quarter in four years in the network’s key W25-54 demo with year-over-year gains of +6% in W25-54, +15% in African American women and +5% in total viewers. In addition, year-to-date OWN is the #1 cable network for African American women in primetime.

“Will is a creative powerhouse who knows what audiences want,” said Erik Logan, president of OWN. “He has an insightful approach to relationships and a keen eye for great storytelling that resonates with viewers across the board. We can’t wait to bring these two new series to our viewers.”

“Partnering with OWN to bring ‘Ambitions’ and ‘Ready to Love’ to their fast-growing lineup of critically acclaimed series is a win-win scenario,” said Will Packer, CEO and founder of Will Packer Media. “OWN has been on an incredible streak with its recent slate, and we’re looking forward to extending the network’s primetime success with these new shows created specifically with the OWN audience in mind.”

“Ambitions” (working title) is a multigenerational family saga centered around one woman who, having recently relocated and intent on revitalizing her marriage, finds herself going head to head with some of the most powerful and deceitful players in the city. “Ambitions” will begin production later this year and will debut on OWN in 2019. The new series will be produced for OWN by Will Packer Media in association with Lionsgate/Debmar-Mercury. Will Packer is executive producer. Will Packer Media’s Sheila Ducksworth also serves as executive producer and writer Jamey Giddens serves as co-executive producer.

“Ready to Love” (working title), which begins production in Atlanta this spring, will join OWN’s popular Saturday night unscripted programming lineup later this year. The dating series will focus on successful men and women of all shapes, sizes and shades, each of whom is looking for lasting love. A unique twist on a typical dating show, “Ready to Love” will specifically bring the perspective of men to the forefront. It will present a unique opportunity to see what men say about dating, when women aren’t around. “Ready to Love” will be produced by Will Packer Media and Lighthearted Entertainment. Will Packer is executive producer. Will Packer Media’s Kelly Smith and Lighthearted’s Rob LaPlante and Jeff Spangler will also executive produce.

The two new series join OWN’s primetime programming slate including the popular dramas “Queen Sugar,” “Greenleaf,” “The Haves and the Have Nots,” and “If Loving You is Wrong” – four of the top eight original scripted series on ad-supported cable in 2017 for women 25-54; the hit sitcom “The Paynes,” the upcoming dramedy “Love Is__” premiering this summer, and the successful Saturday night unscripted series “Iyanla: Fix My Life,” “The Book of John Gray,” “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” and “Black Love.” In addition, the network’s new drama series from Academy Award winner Tarell Alvin McCraney (“Moonlight”) will go into production this summer.

About Will Packer Media
Led by Hollywood producer Will Packer, Will Packer Media is a first-of-its-kind production and branded content company focused on the New American Mainstream audience, with an urban millennial core. In partnership with Discovery Communications and Universal Pictures, the company produces episodic scripted and unscripted series across television and digital platforms, compelling content for brand clients, and short-form digital content for millennial audiences. Will Packer’s films have earned more than $1 billion, with nine opening at number one at the box office.

About Lighthearted Entertainment
For over 25 years independently owned Lighthearted Entertainment has been prolific in unscripted entertainment, specializing in unique and loud formats that break through the noise. Recent successes include multi-season relationship hits “Are You the One?” on MTV and “Dating Naked” on VH1.

About OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network
OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network is the first and only network named for, and inspired by, a single iconic leader. Oprah Winfrey’s heart and creative instincts inform the brand and the magnetism of the channel. OWN is a leading destination for premium scripted and unscripted programming from today’s most innovative storytellers. OWN connects with its audience wherever they are, inspiring conversation among a global community of like-minded viewers on social media and beyond. Launched on January 1, 2011, OWN is a joint venture between Harpo, Inc. and Discovery Communications. The venture also includes the award-winning digital platform Oprah.com. Access OWN anytime, anywhere on WatchOWN.tv or across mobile devices and connected TVs. For more information, please visit www.oprah.com/own and https://press.discovery.com/us/own/.


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Jim Jones Visits Chinatown with Yo Gotti in “Chicken Fried Rice,” Announces Wasted Talent


Diplomats Emcee Jim Jones Recruits Cam’Ron, Yo Gotti, Jadakiss, and More for Wasted Talent, Releasing on April 13th
The Hard-Nosed NY Icon Mobs with Yo Gotti and Trav in Chinatown for the Neon-Lit “Chicken Fried Rice” Video

The Announcement:
With a percussive flow, infectious ad-libs, and a gruff demeanor, Jim Jones reps the Five Boroughs wherever he goes. Delving into his personal life and reflecting on his success, Jim Jones announces Wasted Talent, his upcoming album. Inspired by (and interspersed with quotes from) the 1993 Robert DeNiro intersectional crime drama A Bronx Tale, particularly the quote “the saddest thing in life is wasted talent,” the upcoming album finds Jones reflecting on the life lessons learned during childhood and during his decades in the rap game. Bringing grit, emotion, and a modern spin to the classic sounds of New York, Wasted Talent finds the Harlem rapper reuniting with Diplomats cohorts Cam’ron and Juelz Santana over beats from the likes of The Heatmakerz, chopping it up with NY mainstays like Jadakiss and Trav, meshing styles with Southern stars like Yo Gotti and YFN Lucci, and recruiting West Coasters Mozzy. Eric Bellinger, and Ball Greezy for cross-regional smashes. With production from The Heatmakerz, 808 Mafia, Jahlil Beats, Cool & Dre, Dougie on the Beat, DJ Relly Rell, and additional appearances from Lil Durk, 5AM, and Alexza, Wasted Talent arrives on April 13th.

Born and raised in Harlem, Jim Jones came to the rap forefront as a member of the Diplomats, the legendary rap crew headed by Cam’ron. As the most colorful personality in a very colorful crew, Jones quickly became a beloved cult figure, lending a raucous outro to the smash hit “I Really Mean It” and providing the hook to rap radio classic “Crunk Muzik.” In 2006, Jones broke out with “We Fly High,” a massive platinum hit that reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, topped the Billboard Hot Rap Chart, and became the official anthem for the Super Bowl winning 2007 New York Giants. The Capo followed up the success of that Super Bowl hit with “Pop Champagne,” which reached the top 25 of the Hot 100, reached #3 on Rap and R&B radio and earned a Gold certification from the RIAA. Jim Jones parlayed his rap success into mogul status, founding the popular Vampire Life clothing brand in 2011, following it up with the VampBerry energy drink, and starring in several VH1 and BET shows like Love & Hip-Hop, Irv Gotti’s Tales, Chrissy & Mr. Jones, and Vow or Never. He currently stars in WeTV’s Marriage Bootcamp Family Edition.

To accompany the album announcement, Jim Jones shares “Chicken Fried Rice,” a Manhattan-spanning new video. Featuring a memorable auto-tuned hook from Trav and a drawling verse from Yo Gotti, “Chicken Fried Rice” is a for-the-ladies standout with references familiar to any true New Yorker. Following the Capo as he spends a night traveling from Chinatown to Harlem and back again, “Chicken Fried Rice” is a cinematic and neon-lit clip, packed with mouth-watering shots of bodega cuisine.

Pre-order Wasted Talent: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/wasted-talent/1362905502

Watch “Chicken Fried Rice”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2T48VYoVjY

Jim Jones is a Hip Hop Icon, Television Star, Entrepreneur, and Entertainment Mogul under Roc Nation Management. He is known for successful hits such as “We Fly High” and “Pop Champagne” along with starring television roles on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop, Chrissy & Mr. Jones, Vow or Never and currently Marriage Bootcamp Family Edition on WEtv. Jim recently starred in Irv “Gotti” Lorenzo’s anthology series TALES on BET. He is the owner of the Richmond Roughriders AFL football team and he founded wildly popular Vampire Life clothing brand in 2011, as well as the VampBerry beverage brand in 2014. Jones is one of the most notable music personalities whose contributions left a significant and innovative imprint in various aspects of entertainment. Jim has a significant social media following, with over 5 million followers on Twitter and Instagram combined, and is dedicated to various humanitarian efforts have displayed his affinity for giving back to the inner city youth community. His new album Wasted Talent is scheduled to be released on April 13th.

EMPIRE Background:
EMPIRE was founded in 2010 as an artist-friendly, progressive digital distribution company. After early success, and identifying future icons such as Kendrick Lamar, Sage The Gemini, and Rich Homie Quan, EMPIRE was quickly regarded as a tastemaker in the industry and throughout the past five years evolved into a full-fledged record label, distributor and publisher for independent musicians. With the company and roster growing at a breakneck pace, EMPIRE has effectively disrupted a stale business model by bringing its energy, expertise, and acumen to its artists and labels. Given its reputation, EMPIRE works with today’s hottest talent from superstars such as T.I. and red-hot newcomers such as Anderson .Paak. While remaining 100% independent, EMPIRE has also partnered with Atlantic Records for a joint venture, home to breakout star D.R.A.M.and joined forces with Republic Records for the release of Sage The Gemini’s Remember Me album.

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“Chicken Fried Rice”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2T48VYoVjY

Pre-order Wasted Talent: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/wasted-talent/1362905502

LL Cool J Strikes Hip Hop Gold with ROCK THE BELLS RADIO

Who could ever imagine that the Hip Hop Pioneer, living Entertainment Legend and one of the Greatest Emcees of all time, would also be a Hip Hop Junkie.

LL COOL J does it again! When LL Cool J burst on the scene in 1985 with that iconic masterpiece – Radio, he didn’t just deliver energetic genius lyrics and hard core beats, he delivered a bold image and intrepidity that would inspire an entire generation. Let’s face it, If LL Cool J didn’t exist you probably wouldn’t have this very network! (Rap Entertainment Television). He was a key ingredient in a stew of Hip Hop Pioneers that helped to cultivate a powerful commodity that refuses to be ignored or suppressed.

We watched LL with family pride when he stood on American Band stand with Dick Clark. “I’m on Band Stand,” said the 17 year old confident rapper who demanded to be put on the same plateau as pop and rock greats such as Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna.

We rushed to the theaters to see movies that only featured LL on the soundtrack! (Less than Zero, Wild Cats) I think he may have gotten a Cameo in Wild Cats – Google that one. By the time we saw him devastate the show in “Krush Groove,” James Todd Smith was already folklore in every Hip Hop circle. And while still dropping multi platinum hits and selling out collesiums, we saw our hero move more aggressively toward acting. “Nicky – Baby” that Classic line from the 1991 Michael J Fox and James Woods cop flick – “The Hard Way.” He went on to star in his own sitcoms, did a slew of more movies. His role as God, in the Omar Epps film “In Too Deep,” is regarded as stellar making the film an instant Classic. The rest is as they say – history.

Now in 2018, as we patiently await his Hall of Fame Induction (stop stalling Us!) We continue to be amazed by LL’s longevity and ability to break new ground. Now a Film and Television veteran, the 50 year old multimedia mogul looks to be gaining intense momentum.

His incredible success in Hip Hop forced the then teenager to drop out of High school but that didn’t stop him from going back to school and then later attend the Harvard Business of Entertainment, Media, and Sports program.

ROCK THE BELLS RADIO

The radio show is just what the doctor ordered for a Hip Hop fiend who has been deprived of a steady stream of classic Hip Hop and nostalgic moments that they cherish and hope to share with their children (If they are willing).

But you can tell that a master is at the helm just by listening to the launch party that was held at a historic Los Angeles shaking rink. It seemed like an endless flow of Hip Hop pioneers came through to not only praise LL’s entrepreneurial efforts and to preserve a precious culture, but to also to solidify their relevancy in an unforgiving industry that suffers from chronic amnesia.

LL promised to support these icons by first and foremost playing their material and not conforming to the Ad supported terrestrial radio format of repetition, payola and incompetence. He further promises to be hands on! Now this is significant because we are talking about a Hip Hop God who has had numerous beefs and battles with Rap Stars through the years. He humbles himself as an expression of love for an art-form that he helped to construct.

So it’s mind blowing to listen to his historic antidotes and find out that he really loves to work of Kool Moe Dee, Ice T or any of the classic artist. The haterism is definitely checked at the door of Rock The Bells Radio. When you listen to the playlist you are quickly impress by his selection of the gems that quickly make you feel good inside and yearn for those moments in time long passed.

So there are endless free refills of Classic material, exclusive access to all Artist and more importantly you get 24 hours of LL COOL J! Rock The Bells Radio sounds and feels like an oasis for the diehard Hip Hop head.

But is it a business model that can be successful on subscription radio. All of my friends that I told about the goldmine do-not have a subscription to SiriusXM.
But that’s the projection part of it. From where I sit Sirius is banking on the Howard Stern effect by partnering with LL as well as his experience and knowledge of this vast game that we call Hip Hop.

We know that LL is the best man for the job so we’ll just have to wait for his vision to come into full focus. We’ll be sure to ask him about that the next time we catch up to him.

But for now the G.O.A.T has Hip Hop in a tight headlock and I’m not tapping out anytime soon! – ROCK THE BELLS!

Read more about this monumental achievement.

Airing on channel 43, LL COOL J’s Rock the Bell’s Radio features a wide range of classic hip-hop content, music, interviews and in-depth retrospectives curated and presented by LL, as well as other innovators of hip-hop music, including Ice Cube, Stetsasonic, Eric B. & Rakim, Snoop Dogg, Outkast, Kool Moe Dee, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, Ultramagnetic MCs, Too Short, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Canibus, Wu-Tang Clan, Run-DMC, Brand Nubian, De La Soul, Black Moon and Ice T.

Rock the Bells Radio is allowing its audience to look at and listen to classic Hip-Hop through the lens of our current culture and music. “If you wanna be a fly on the wall in the world of Classic Hip-Hop, SiriusXM’s Rock the Bells Radio is for you,” LL says. “It’s where fans can come and be immersed in the music, the culture, the energy and the history of Classic Hip-Hop. We’re gonna have great artists, legendary artists, lyricists, superstars, sex symbols. This is the place to be if you want uncut, raw, pure, classic Hip-Hop, but there’s one catch — it’s strictly for OGs.”

To help launch the channel, a special invitation-only roller skating event kicked it off at World of Wheels in Los Angeles. The Rock the Bells Radio launch hosted by LL COOL J along with the acclaimed DJ Z-Trip; a live broadcast of the event kicked off the launch at 7pm PT/10pm ET on Rock the Bells Radio (Ch. 43)!

Rock the Bells Radio is named after a combination of one of LL’s hit tracks, Rock the Bells, and the title of the groundbreaking, debut album it came from, Radio. The channel logo for LL COOL J’s Rock the Bells Radio was created by the acclaimed and influential American contemporary street artist, Shepard Fairey, famous for creating the iconic Barack Obama “Hope” poster during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Rock the Bells Radio will air on channel 43, available on satellite radios, the SiriusXM app, and other connected devices.

SAMUEL GOLDWYN FILMS ACQUIRES WORLDWIDE RIGHTS TO SUNDANCE FILM ‘A BOY. A GIRL. A DREAM’ STARRING OMARI HARDWICK & MEAGAN GOOD

Los Angeles, CA – Samuel Goldwyn Films has announced that the company has acquired world-wide rights to the acclaimed Sundance Film A BOY. A GIRL. A DREAM directed by Qasim Basir and written by Qasim Basir & Samantha Tanner. The film stars Omari Hardwick (“Power”), Meagan Good (A GIRL LIKE GRACE), and co-stars Jay Ellis (“Insecure”), Dijon Talton (“Glee”), Wesley Jonathan (ROLL BOUNCE), and Affion Crockett (THE WEDDING RINGER).

The story follows a Los Angeles club promoter named Cass (Hardwick), who on the night of the 2016 Presidential Election meets a woman named Free (Good) who challenges him to revisit his broken dreams. This happens during a series of unfortunate events during the time that Trump is surging ahead of Hilary Clinton.

“We’re thrilled to be working with such remarkable talent such as Omari Hardwick and Meagan Good, whose relationship over the course of this one night is a powerful yet understated emotional journey,” says Meg Longo, Sr. Director of Sales and Marketing at Samuel Goldwyn Films.

“I can’t think of a better company to partner with for this next phase of the journey of getting our film out to the world,” says director/writer Qasim Basir.

“Samuel Goldwyn has a solid track record. They were extremely passionate about our film and the talented people involved with making it so we believe we are in good hands,” added producer Datari Turner.

A BOY. A GIRL. A DREAM was produced by Datari Turner through his Production Banner Datari Turner Productions. Executive producers on the film are Jash’d Belcher, Louis Steyn, TJ Steyn, Jamal Chilton, Tim Weatherspoon, Phil Thornton, Meagan Good, and Omari Hardwick. Follow the film on Instagram at @boygirldream_movie and Facebook.com/boygirldream.

The deal was negotiated by Meg Longo, on behalf of Samuel Goldwyn Films.

CAA, Producer Datari Turner, and Attorney Linda Lichter of Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler & Feldman, Inc, negotiated on behalf of the filmmakers.

For media requests, contact Nakia Hicks (nakia@one35agency.com).

ABOUT SAMUEL GOLDWYN FILMS
Samuel Goldwyn Films is a major, independently owned and operated motion-picture company that develops, produces and distributes innovative feature films and documentaries.

The company is dedicated to working with both world-renowned and emerging writers/filmmakers and committed to filmed entertainment that offers original voices in uniquely told stories. This is best exemplified by the Academy Award® nominated SUPER SIZE ME; Sundance winner GOOK written and directed by Justin Chon; the critically acclaimed feature debut by Francis Lee GOD’S OWN COUNTRY; SXSW winner MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND; the high-school drama BLAME directed, written, and starring Quinn Shephard; and LGBTQ musical drama SATURDAY CHURCH. Upcoming films include ALLURE starring Evan Rachel Wood; Warwick Thornton’s Australian western SWEET COUNTRY starring Sam Neill, Bryan Brown, and Hamilton Morris; and the Wim Wenders film, starring James McAvoy and Academy Award winner® Alicia Vikander, SUBMERGENCE.

ABOUT DATARI TURNER PRODUCTIONS
Datari Turner Productions is a California-based Film and Television production company founded by Datari Turner in 2010. Follow @datariturner on Instagram and Twitter for more information.

ABOUT DATARI TURNER
One of the most prolific independent producers in film and television, Datari Turner is crafting a career like no other. As founder of Datari Turner Productions in 2010, he has produced 30 feature films, including six (6) films that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival: A Boy. A Girl. A Dream(2018); Gook (winner of the NEXT Audience Award in 2017), Ten Thousand Saints (2015), Luv (2012), Another Happy Day (2011) and Salvation Boulevard (2011). All told, his films have earned 98 festival award nominations.

Datari has worked with 4 Academy Award winners (Jennifer Connolly, Common, Marisa Tomei and Ellen Burstyn) and 13 Academy Award nominees, including Ethan Hawke, James Franco, and Ruby Dee.Possessing a keen eye for talent, Turner gave actors Ryan Destiny (“Star”) and Michael Rainey Jr (“Power”) their big screen debuts and cast rapper Common in his first lead film role (Luv).

On the television side, Datari has produced 100 hours of original programming for networks such as WE tv, BET, TV One, Starz and Oxygen. Datari is creator of the hit WE tv franchise “Growing Up Hip Hop,” currently in its 4th season and the network’s highest-rated program.

In 2015, Datari signed a first-look deal with CodeBlack/Lionsgate Films. In 2016, he signed a first-look deal with Entertainment One to produce original, unscripted programming for the studio. He is currently executive producing a new Showtime series about the NBA Draft with Lebron James.

A native of Oakland, CA, Datari attended the University of Oklahoma on a full football scholarship and later became a model for top brands such as Banana Republic, Tommy Hilfiger and Sean John. An alum of the ABC/Disney program, Datari resides in Beverly Hills and sits on the board of The Blackhouse Foundation. He is repped by CAA.