t*Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira’s ‘Americanah’ series with HBO has been cancelled due to production delays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nyong’o was set to star in and executive produce the adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s acclaimed, best-selling novel. The project was greenlit as a 10-episode limited series last year, with Gurira serving as writer and showrunner.
“I’m involved with every angle of it,” Gurira told EW of the series earlier this year. “It’s not a small thing to be taking on a 600-page novel and bringing it to the fore as a TV show. But I realized that if I didn’t do it I would never, ever forgive myself. Taking it on will require everything I’ve got, and then some.”
The COVID-19 pandemic reportedly forced Nyong’o to drop out over scheduling conflicts. HBO Max ultimately decided to cancel the series, according to the report.
Here’s more about the project from EW:
The Oscar winner planned to star as Ifemelu, described as “a young, beautiful, self-assured woman raised in Nigeria, who as a teenager falls in love with her classmate Obinze.” The two flee their military-ruled country, with Ifemelu heading to America and Obinze heading to London. While Ifemelu is forced to grapple for the first time with what it means to be Black, despite her academic success in the U.S., the post-9/11 climate closes America off to Obinze, who’s then forced to live undocumented in the U.K. Zackary Momoh and Uzo Aduba were also attached to star as Obinze and Ifemelu’s aunt Uju, respectively.
“I’ve always wanted to helm a creation for the screen,” Gurira told the publication. “I’m an avid TV watcher. I watch a lot of things. I’ve watched how television has evolved over the last couple decades. Great television really, really excites me.”
Aaliyah Book Titled ‘Baby Girl: Better Known As Aaliyah’ Dropping in 2021
*Christmas has come early for Aaliyah fans, as an upcoming book has been announced that will chronicle her life and career.
Written by journalist and author Kathy Iandoli, the title “will focus on the span of Aaliyah’s life and career — from her earliest beginnings singing in Detroit all the way through to her game-changing musical era with Timbaland, Missy Elliott, and the late Static Major,” revealed in a press release. “The book also includes a deep dive into her tumultuously abusive entanglement with R. Kelly and an intense investigation on the crash that ended her life.”
Says Iandoli: “I wrote this book as an Aaliyah fan. This is for all of us who for the last twenty years can spot her influence everywhere, while wishing she was still here. I left no stone unturned, and I hope I’ve added to her legacy properly.”
— Aaliyah (@AaliyahHaughton) August 25, 2020
News of the book follows confirmation from Aaliyah’s estate that they are bringing her music to streaming services.
“To our loyal fans: We are excited to announce that communication has commenced between the estate and various record labels about the status of Aaliyah’s music catalogue, as well as its availability on streaming platforms in the near future,” read the announcement from Aaliyah’s Twitter account. “Thank you for your continued love and support. More updates to come!”
Check out the official announcement via the Twitter embed above.
In a 2016 story from Complex on the singer’s uncle, Barry Hankerson, who owns her catalog under his Blackground Records label, writer Stephen Witt said of the absence of Aaliyah’s music on the internet, “Aaliyah’s internet absence is different—there’s no logic to it. It’s not an artistic statement or a play for more money, and there’s no dedicated Aaliyah-only streaming service in the works.”
Witt continued, “Instead, there’s a single, stubborn man, sitting on a catalog that includes almost all of her most famous work. … The situation puts her entire musical legacy at risk of fading from memory. Year by year, streaming accounts for a greater portion of an artist’s visibility and reverence among the next generation of listeners. And he refuses to budge.”
JAY-Z: Rapper Launches ‘Monogram’ Cannabis Line
*Jay-Z announced Friday that he is launching his first line of cannabis called Monogram in a joint venture with California-based weed company Caliva.
Monogram debuted its website and Instagram account Friday, providing fans with a glimpse of the product.
According to a press release, Monogram aims to “redefine what cannabis means to consumers today,” with “careful strain selection, meticulous cultivation practices and uncompromising quality.”
Jay-Z joined Caliva as Chief Brand Strategist last July as part of a multi-year partnership.
The rapper detailed his role in a statement, noting that he will help the company with creative decisions, outreach efforts and strategy — focusing on the social justice issues surrounding legalization, Rolling Stone reported.
Hand Finished pic.twitter.com/jFHoCQj7av
— MONOGRAM (@monogramcompany) October 23, 2020
Per a statement, Jay’s efforts will include “advocacy, job training and overall employee and workforce development.”
“Anything I do, I want to do correctly and at the highest level,” the hip-hop star said in a statement at the time. “With all the potential in the cannabis industry, Caliva’s expertise and ethos make them the best partners for this endeavor. We want to create something amazing, have fun in the process, do good and bring people along the way.”
After conducting an extensive search to find the perfect partner in the cannabis industry, Jay-Z reached out to Caliva.
“For Jay-Z to seek out Caliva as a partner is humbling and confirms our mission of being the most trusted name in cannabis,” says Caliva CEO, Dennis O’Malley. “To find that we were in complete alignment around our values and ethos was just a home run. We believe this partnership is unparalleled in this or any business and we could not be more pleased to be working with him and have him as our Chief Brand Strategist.”
Jigga is the latest rapper to enter the legal marijuana business. He joins the likes of Snoop Dogg, 2 Chainz, Wiz Khalifa, Freddie Gibbs and Juicy J and Cypress Hill’s B-Real.
Viola Davis Remembers ‘My Baby’ Chadwick Boseman at ‘Ma Rainey’ Event
*Netflix dropped the first trailer for the upcoming “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” on Monday, along with a conversation with star Viola Davis and director George C. Wolfe.
The film is based on August Wilson’s award-winning play from producer Denzel Washington.
The official synopsis from Netflix reads; “Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary Mother of the Blues, Ma Rainey (Academy Award winner Viola Davis).” The late Chadwick Boseman plays an ambitious trumpeter named Levee.
Boseman died in August after a private battle with colon cancer. He was 43.
During the “Ma Rainey” preview event this week, Davis described the “Black Panther” star as the epitome of “an artist.”
“That’s just who he was,” she said, reminding viewers she played his mother in “Get On Up.”
“Chadwick is my baby,” said Davis.
Davis went on to say, “We are in the business, that a lot of times people have business conversations that masquerade themselves as artistic conversations. They don’t understand the difference between getting on set and demanding their vegan food being brought to them or their vegetarian dishes, or the dietary concerns, having that car ready. They don’t know the difference between that and making choices as an actor and getting down and dirty and doing the work and leaving your ego and your vanity at the door. He loved it. He demanded it.” she added, “He demanded it in every single way.”
Wolfe said of casting Boseman, “Chadwick put his entire being into Levee and Levee demands that because of the scale of the role. He put every ounce of his heart and passion into it.”
Davis also praised Washington for honoring Wilson’s legacy. The actor also produced “Fences” and plans to bring nine of Wilson’s plays to the small screen.
“August lets us talk as people of color. I think other people may look at it and say, ‘Why do they go on and on and on?’ My whole thing is why not? We have a lot to say. There has been a muzzle placed on those for so long. This work has got to be in the hands of a great artist,” Davis said.
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” premieres Dec. 18 on Netflix.
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