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Jennifer Hudson Shades Nat Geo’s Aretha Franklin Project: ’If It’s Not a Film, It’s Nothing’

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Jennifer Hudson & Aretha Franklin (getty)

Jennifer Hudson & Aretha Franklin (Getty)

*Jennifer Hudson has spoken out about her Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect” competing with National Geographic’s limited series on the queen of soul.

The Oscar-winning actress shared a special connection with Franklin. Before her passing in 2018, the music icon gave Hudson her blessing to play her on the big screen.

Meanwhile, Cynthia Erivo has been tapped to play Franklin in Nat Geo’s Genius: Aretha.

In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Hudson had this to say about the two projects: “I know that Aretha was adamant that [her life] be a film. If it’s not a film, it’s nothing. I’m just honored that she picked me to play her. I mean, who can say that? And again, I would have never done it without her wishes.”

READ MORE: Jennifer Hudson on Playing Aretha Franklin: ‘I Still Feel Like She’s In Me’

“Respect” was set for release in theaters in August 2020, but has been pushed back due to the coronavirus. It will have a limited release in the U.S. on Dec. 25, before a wide release on Jan. 15, 2021.

The film’s director Liesl Tommy previously said this of Hudson, “Jennifer may be one of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with,” she says. Adding, “we were both so humbled by the task that we just agreed that there would be no ego in the process and that Aretha would be the diva in the room at all times, not us.”

Months after filming wrapped, Hudson said this of Franklin: “I still feel like she’s in me, I really do. I just hope to meet her requests. You think you respect Aretha, but once you see the film and you learn her story, you can’t help but to have a newfound respect for her.”

Of her personal connection with Franklin, Hudson shared, “I still have the text chains, so every now and then I look back at them. The last time I spoke to her was Aug. 8, [2018,] and I can honestly say she sang until her last breath.”

Filming on National Geographic’s Genius: Aretha has been halted after a background actor tested positive for COVID-19, Deadline reports. .

Genius: Aretha is slated to debut in early 2021. 

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Nicki Minaj: Rapper Announces Six-Part HBO Max Documentary Series [VIDEO]

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*Nicki Minaj has teamed with Emmy-nominated director Michael John Warren for a new six-part HBO Max documentary series. 

“Nicki Minaj is a multi-faceted artist, businesswoman, and innovator as well as a force to be reckoned with,” said Sarah Aubrey—head of original content at HBO Max. “It’s a privilege to bring this project to HBO Max and provide our viewers with unprecedented access to her life.”

Here’s more from Complex: Per an HBO rep, fans can expect six half-hour episodes, each of which will offer a look inside Minaj’s “brilliantly creative mind” while telling the larger story of both her personal and professional trajectory. 

READ MORE: Nicki Minaj Reveals Gender of Newborn Baby: ‘I Am So In Love with My Son’

Minaj announced the project in a video posted on social media — check it out via the Twitter clip above.

“I love that this series not only provides an all-access glimpse at one of the most iconic musicians of our generation; it also profiles the brave woman behind the artist, Onika,” Warren said Friday. “I believe all of us can learn a great deal from her remarkable professional and personal life. It’s an honor to be entrusted with this dynamic story.”

Warren’s prior credits include Jay-Z’s “Fade to Black.”

Nicki’s HBO Max series is currently untitled.

Meanwhile, this month also marks 10 years since the release of Minaj’s “Pink Friday” anniversary. The artist celebrated by giving fans a “complete edition” of the album featuring eight bonus tracks, Billboard reports. Stream it here via Apple Music:

Minaj, who gave birth to her first child this year (a son), is said to be working on a fifth album, the followup to 2018’s “Queen.”

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NBC Relaunches ‘Saved By The Bell’ on Peacock TV

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*When your favorite tv show goes off the air do you think about the lives of their characters?

Wondering where would they be now, what would they be up to now? “Saved By The Bell” fans will get those answers in the relaunch of the show on NBC’s Peacock.  

A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez) is a PE teacher and coach and Bayside and Jessie Spano ( Elizabeth Berkely) is a counselor at the school. What is Zack Morris (Marc-Paul Grosselaar) doing, well he is the governor of California, of course, Zack Morris became a politician. And as we saw in the wedding special “Saved By The Bell: Wedding In Vegas” he and Kelly Kapowski got married. They now of a son, Mac Morris who is attending their high school alma mater Bayside High. Mac Morris, played by Mitchell Hoog, seems like a Zack Morris 2.0. He is the popular kid at school who finds himself living in the shadow of his infamous father.

We talked with Mitchell Hoog about his role as Mac Morris and if he himself felt any pressure playing Zack Morris’ son. 

“ I don’t think I felt pressure to live up to the legacy of the Morris name, me as an actor I always put it within the story. So within the storyline, I have pressure to live up to my dad,” says Hoog. 

MORE NEWS: LeVar Burton Reacts to Petition to Make Him New Jeopardy! Host

Mitchell Hoog’s character isn’t the only character following in their parents’ footsteps. Jamie Spano, played by Belmont Cameli, is Jessie Spano’s (Elizabeth Berkely) son who also has to live up to his mom’s high school reputation.  

This reboot’s main focus is the new generation but having the original cast be so a large part of the show brings enough nostalgia for old fans to enjoy this new version of “Saved By The Bell.” It is said that the whole season is full of little Easter eggs that fans of the original should pick up on.  

Don’t miss “Saved By The Bell” streaming on Peacock from November 25.  

 

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Jada Pinkett Smith Announces Animated Short ‘Cops and Robbers’ About Police Brutality [VIDEO]

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*Jada Pinkett-Smith has announced her timely new animated short “Cops and Robbers,” is set to premiere Dec. 28 on Netflix.

Directed by Arnon Manor, the project was written and performed by Timothy Ware-Hill in response to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. Manor used one of Ware-Hill’s poems for their collaboration, Variety reports. 

The duo said they made this film “for all the Black men, women and children who have been victims of racial profiling, police violence, loss of life and other injustices just for being themselves.”

Pinkett-Smith apparently serves as a producer on the animated short, and she spoke with Variety about getting the title to Netflix, and why the message resonates with her. 

Hear/watch the actress tell it via the clip above, and check out a few excerpts from her interview below. 

READ MORE: Months After Announcing Split Lena Waithe’s Wife, Alana Mayo, Files For Divorce

Over 30 individual artists, students and VFX companies from around the world collaborated to each create a short segment of the poem with their own visual interpretation of the subject matter and individual animation technique. Half the animators on the “Cops and Robbers” are Black animation artists,” per Variety.

“I’m so proud of this project and I can’t wait for you to see it,” Pinkett Smith wrote on Twitter. Here’s what she told the publication about the upcoming film:

Why was it important for you to be a part of “Cops and Robbers?”
As an African American woman, it was one of those pieces that I could feel powerful messaging with such compassion from the perspective of the African American community. It was this explanation with this bleeding heart of what we are experiencing during this particular time.

For me, it was this emotional connection that pierced my heart and soul.

It was also written by a very talented African American male, and then, I realized how many minorities had contributed their talent as animators to the project. It’s important that I flow resources in any way that I can to voices and the talent I feel as though doesn’t always have equal opportunity.

My friend Ramsey Naito is president of Nickelodeon animation and she said, ‘I wish there was something we could do with it at Nickelodeon.’ I told her I wanted to be involved and I was down with it. I had a conversation with Lawrence Bender who is a producer and I wanted to help.

The story is such a powerful one with its messaging.
It had so much vulnerability. A lot of times, you could get this messaging and sometimes it can be militant and have power to it. The way this particular expression that we don’t often see while talking about topics of this kind had so much vulnerability, especially through the lens of a Black man. You do not see that a lot and that for me was important because it humanizes Black men. It also humanizes Black people and marginalized communities.

We can talk about the issues, but if you don’t feel, if you don’t really see and understand that and see that there’s nothing to fear — we are human and we bleed just like you. I found that be a very powerful component.

“Cops and Robbers” didn’t find a home at Nickelodeon. It found a home at Netflix, which is global and will raise this global awareness to Black Lives Matter and police brutality, how did that happen?

We got together and had a conversation with quite a few people at Netflix who had seen the project and absolutely loved it. As a team, we just came together. We said, ‘Look, you know as well as we do that this is a powerful piece. It’s not only powerful, but it’s important. We feel that your platform is the place that this piece needs to be.’ And thank goodness they were in agreement and they took it on. We really felt that Netflix was the best place for the short.

Read her full interview here.

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