2022 TheGrio Awards: Inaugural event honorees include Dave Chappelle, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, Tyler Perry, Patti LaBelle, Kenan Thompson

November 21, 2022

The following is a press release from CBS:

African American-focused news, lifestyle, sports and entertainment platform theGrio (www.thegrio.com) recently celebrated icons, leaders and legends at Byron Allen’s inaugural TheGrio Awards, a star-studded, black-tie event held at the Beverly Hilton. Co-hosted by Sheryl Underwood of “The Talk” and Taye Diggs, “Byron Allen Presents TheGrio Awards” will be broadcast Saturday, November 26, 2022 (8:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network and available to stream live on Paramount +*.

“Byron Allen Presents TheGrio Awards” celebrates excellence in film, music, comedy, television, sports, philanthropy, business, fashion, social justice, environmental justice and education, and the cultural icons and innovators whose many contributions positively impact America. The special pays tribute to and amplifies the history makers, change agents and artists who define and influence our world.

Honorees include Dave Chappelle (Cultural Icon Award), Ben Crump (Justice Icon Award), Allyson Felix (Sports Icon Award), Jennifer Hudson (Trailblazer Icon Award), Patti LaBelle (Music Icon Award), Queen Latifah (Television Icon Award), Norman Lear (Champion Award), Alena Analeigh McQuarter (Young Icon Award), Don Peebles (Business Icon Award), Tyler Perry (ICON Award), Robert F. Smith (Philanthropy Award) and Kenan Thompson (Comedy Icon Award). Also, the special features musical performances by Yolanda Adams, Tyrese, Fantasia and Patti LaBelle. Greg Phillinganes serves as musical director, and DJ Kiss acts as both D.J. and announcer for the awards special.

“I created theGrio Awards to celebrate and amplify African-American excellence and the incredible champions from other communities who truly support us,” said Byron Allen, founder/chairman/CEO of Allen Media Group. “As a child, strong, positive African-American icons such as Berry Gordy, Jr., Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King, Jr. helped me see myself differently and changed the trajectory of my life. Celebrating and amplifying iconic individuals is something we can never do enough of, especially for our children.”

“TheGrio Awards” is co-produced by Allen Media Group and Backhand Productions. Byron Allen, Carolyn Folks, Jennifer Lucas, Jeff Atlas and Michelle Willrich are executive producers.

*Paramount+ Premium subscribers will have access to stream live via the live feed of their local CBS affiliate.

About Allen Media Group

Chairman and CEO Byron Allen founded Allen Media Group/Entertainment Studios in 1993. Headquartered in Los Angeles, it has offices in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Charleston, SC. Allen Media Group owns 27 ABC-NBC-CBS-FOX network affiliate broadcast television stations in 21 U.S. markets and twelve 24-hour HD television networks serving nearly 220 million subscribers: THE WEATHER CHANNEL, THE WEATHER CHANNEL EN ESPAÑOL, PETS.TV, COMEDY.TV, RECIPE.TV, CARS.TV, ES.TV, MYDESTINATION.TV, JUSTICE CENTRAL.TV, THEGRIO, THIS TV, and PATTRN. Allen Media Group also owns the streaming platforms HBCU GO, SPORTS.TV, THEGRIO, THE WEATHER CHANNEL STREAMING APP and LOCAL NOW–the free-streaming AVOD service powered by THE WEATHER CHANNEL and content partners, which delivers real-time, hyper-local news, weather, traffic, sports, and lifestyle information. Allen Media Group also produces, distributes, and sells advertising for 68 television programs, making it one of the largest independent producers/distributors of first-run syndicated television programming for broadcast television stations. With a library of over 5,000 hours of owned content across multiple genres, Allen Media Group provides video content to broadcast television stations, cable television networks, mobile devices, and multimedia digital. Our mission is to provide excellent programming to our viewers, online users, and Fortune 500 advertising partners. Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures is a full-service, theatrical motion picture distribution company specializing in wide release commercial content. ESMP released 2017’s highest-grossing independent movie, the shark thriller 47 METERS DOWN, which grossed over $44.3 million. In 2018, ESMP also released the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Western HOSTILES, the historic mystery-thriller CHAPPAQUIDDICK and the sequel to 47 METERS DOWN, 47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED. The digital distribution unit of Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, Freestyle Digital Media, is a premiere multi-platform distributor with direct partnerships across all major cable, digital and streaming platforms. Capitalizing on a robust infrastructure, proven track record and a veteran sales team, Freestyle Digital Media is a true home for independent films. In 2016, Allen Media Group purchased The Grio, a highly rated digital video-centric news community platform devoted to providing African Americans with compelling stories and perspectives currently underrepresented in existing national news outlets. The Grio features aggregated and original video packages, news articles and opinion pieces on topics that include breaking news, politics, health, business and entertainment. Originally launched in 2009, the platform was then purchased by NBC News in 2010. The digital platform remains focused on curating exciting digital content and currently has more than 100 million annual visitors.

About Backhand Productions

Jeff Atlas founded Backhand Productions with a contract to produce 14 hours of live TV content for the Democratic National Connvention. From there, Backhand went on to produce a series of diverse, high-quality productions for ABC, NBC, FOX, TNT, Nickelodeon, MTV, and more. Notable projects include Kevin Hart’s theatrical blockbuster, Laugh at My Pain, the launch of YouTube Space LA, and the National Urban League’s National Annual Conference and NAACP Image Awards. His virtual event credits include The Gracie Awards, the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions, and the go90s live stream of the Outside Lands Music Festival in San Francisco. In addition, he co-created, and executive produced the limited series Blood Ivory for Animal Planet, which focuses on the non-profit group of American veterans (VETPAW) and their first mission to Tanzania to support the elephant anti-poaching effort. More recent projects include the Biden Inaugural in 2021, the NBA All-Star Game, and project launches for Instagram and Facebook. Backhand is represented by Robyn Lattaker-Johnson at A3 Artists Agency and Kerry Smith of Smith Entertainment Legal Group.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ‘Devil’s Pie – D’Angelo’

May 2, 2019

by Carla Hay

D’Angelo in "Devil's Pie - D'Angelo
D’Angelo in “Devil’s Pie – D’Angelo” (Photo by Carine Bijlsma)

“Devil’s Pie – D’Angelo”

Directed by Carine Bjilsma

Back in the mid-to-late ‘90s, the media singled out a select number of rising R&B artists and labeled them as part of a “neo-soul” movement—artists releasing music that had something more interesting to say than bump’n’grind of acts like Bobby Brown or Jodeci or safe crossover acts like Boyz II Men or Brandy. The so-called “neo-soul” artists included D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Maxwell, Angie Stone and Macy Gray. D’Angelo’s first album, 1995’s “Brown Sugar,” was a critical and commercial success. His follow-up was even bigger and remains his best-selling album. By the time D’Angelo’s Grammy-winning, chart-topping second album, “Voodoo,” was released in 2000, he was on a hot streak. And he became a bona fide sex symbol, thanks largely to his naked “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” video.

But then, fame, alcohol and drugs took their toll on D’Angelo (whose real name is Michael Eugene Archer), and he went on a very long hiatus. It took 14 years before his third album (2014’s “Black Messiah”) was released. D’Angelo went on a world tour in 2015 called “The Second Coming” in support of the album. The documentary “Devil’s Pie – D’Angelo” is a chronicle of that tour.

The concert scenes are very good, but the main reason why people want to see this film is to hear D’Angelo answer this question: “What really happened when you disappeared from the spotlight for all those years?” You have to sit through the expected footage of tour rehearsals and concert performances before “Devil’s Pie” director Carine Bjilsma gets to the heart of the matter about halfway through the movie. Watching the film, it’s apparent that it took a while for D’Angelo to open up to her on camera.

D’Angelo talks about his downward spiral, which included a serious car accident and arrest for DUI and marijuana possession in 2005. He was devastated by the deaths of his beloved grandmother Alberta, his Uncle Cece, and a close friend (not mentioned by name in the film but it’s widely believed to be MTV executive Fred Jordan), who all passed away within a short period of time of each other in the early 2000s. In 2010, D’Angelo was arrested again, this time for soliciting an undercover cop posing as a prostitute. He doesn’t talk about those arrests in the film, but he does admit that his addictions were the main reasons why he faded from the public eye.

“I started going down a dark path,” D’Angelo says in the movie. “I started drinking and getting high. It was tough to get out of it.” He also says that the car accident was a “second chance” at life, and he went to rehab three times before he could get his life back in order. However, D’Angelo says with his eyes tearing up, he can’t talk about certain things because “they’re too deep.”

One of D’Angelo’s personal issues is dealing with anxiety, according to him and people interviewed in the documentary. Questlove, who was a drummer in D’Angelo’s band on the “Voodoo” tour, says of his longtime friend: “It’s a struggle for him to do simple stuff, like leave his apartment and coming somewhere to play. He has fears about being the chosen one.”

Through flashback archival footage, which is shown at different parts of this non-chronological story, we see what this “chosen one” description is all about. Raised in a strict, religious family in Richmond, Virginia, he was the son of a Pentecostal minister, and expectations were high for D’Angelo from a very early age. There is footage of him performing in church.

He was considered a musical prodigy by people close to him (he won The Apollo’s amateur contest three times in a row at the age of 13), and there was a lot of pressure put on him to pursue a religion-related career as a minister or a gospel singer. But D’Angelo chose R&B music, much to the disapproval of many of his family members. One of the key influences on him was his feisty grandmother Alberta Cox, who encouraged him to do his own thing, while other people in his family warned him not to do the “devil’s music.” (This movie’s title come from the D’Angelo’s song “Devil’s Pie” from the “Voodoo” album. “Devil’s pie” is also a phrase that can be found in the Bible’s Revelation 13 chapter describing the apocalypse.)

As for how he feels about religion now, D’Angelo says that “God, not religion” feeds his soul. We see early on in the film that he still prays (there’s the expected prayer session with his band), and he says of this ritual: “When we pray at night, it’s not a game.”

In addition to showing how religion still impacts D’Angelo’s life, this movie has a lot of talk (mostly from Questlove) about D’Angelo’s soul. Questlove says of D’Angelo: “He’s Superman, but a Kryptonite-filled Clark Kent is trapped in his soul.” In another scene, Questlove has this to say about D’Angelo’s sex-symbol status that began to overshadow the music: “Part of his soul was being consumed.” And then Questlove offers this explanation for D’Angelo’s tormented soul: “Survivor’s guilt is what every black genius wrestles with.” If D’Angelo needs someone to write a book about his soul, he might want to ask Questlove to do it.

There’s also some rare archival footage of D’Angelo in the studio recording his “Voodoo” album, with Questlove and Q-Tip hanging out in the background. Questlove says that it took a while for him to get used to D’Angelo’s avant-garde musical style: “He was blatantly, beautifully disrespectful of rhythm structure.”

Feeling emotionally paralyzed by intense pressure is a recurring theme in the story of D’Angelo, as he tells of wasted recording sessions in the years that people were expecting him to release the follow-up to “Voodoo.” There are also scenes of him backstage, usually accompanied by his hovering tour manager Alan Leeds, where it looks like D’Angelo is silently coping with stage fright before the concert starts.

There are a few signs that D’Angelo’s long hiatus means that he’s still catching up to a lot of the technological changes that affect how artists get feedback about their shows. After a concert, instead of waiting for critics’ reviews, his manager Kevin Liles explains to D’Angelo that he can just check out social-media comments about the show. Liles then shows the singer some of the comments on his phone.

The documentary also shows some of the famous guests who visited backstage during the tour, including Busta Rhymes, Dave Chappelle and Bobby Seale. Chappelle is seen asking D’Angelo how it feels to be back, which is somewhat ironic, since Chappelle took his own break from showbiz in the 2000s, after freaking out over being famous, and then made a comeback in the following decade.

Because D’Angelo has a reputation for being unpredictable, there’s a sense that his handlers are always on edge that he might disappear or be very late for a public appearance. Instead, toward the end of the movie, D’Angelo’s keyboardist Cleo “Pookie” Sample is the one who has a major flake-out, by disappearing right before D’Angelo is supposed to hit the stage at the high-profile Montreux Jazz Festival. A frantic search ensues, but they don’t find him before showtime, and D’Angelo and the band have to go on without him. The missing keyboardist isn’t seen for the rest of the movie, which means the split was not a good one.

“Devil’s Pie” ends with a mention that D’Angelo is working on his fourth studio album, but—D’Angelo fans are used to hearing this by now—no one knows yet when it will be completed or released. In the meantime, this movie will likely end up being a direct-to-video release, since a documentary about a faded R&B star’s tour from several years ago isn’t going to sell a lot of movie tickets. “Devil’s Pie” is what it is—a niche documentary made in a conventional (but not bad) way that might not have much appeal outside of die-hard D’Angelo fans.

New Year’s Eve specials ringing in 2019 will feature Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Sting and more

December 27, 2018

by Carla Hay

Watching a New Year’s Eve special on TV is a tradition for millions of people around the world. After taking a break from a New Year’s Eve Special in 2017, NBC is back with its star-studded party in New York City’s Times Square. Here’s what is planned for the four biggest New Year’s TV specials in the United States:

Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2019 

Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC)

Celebrating its 47th year, “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” (which is produced by Dick Clark Productions and airs in the U.S. on ABC) is still the most high-profile televised New Year’s Eve event. Mariah Carey headlined the show from New York City’s Times Square in 2018 and 2017. In 2018, another Grammy-winning diva—Christina Aguilera—is taking the headlining spot. Ryan Seacrest will once again host the show, which begins airing from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET, followed by 11:30 p.m. to 2:13 a.m. ET. Jenny McCarthy will provide on-site reporting. Other performers in Times Square include Bastille, Dan + Shay and New Kids on the Block. Airing just after midnight Eastern Time, Post Malone will perform from a stop on his current tour in Brooklyn, New York, marking the first television performance of the new year. Meanwhile, the special has partnered with YouTube Music for the first time this year for cross-promotional programming.

Ciara will once again host the Los Angeles segments of the show that will feature performances that were mostly previously recorded. Artists in the show’s Los Angeles segments will include Lauren Alaina, Kelsea Ballerini, Bazzi, Kane Brown, Camila Cabello, The Chainsmokers, Ciara, Foster the People, Halsey, Dua Lipa, Ella Mai, Shawn Mendes, Charlie Puth and Weezer, as well as collaborations from Brown featuring Alaina; Macklemore with Skylar Grey; and The Chainsmokers featuring Ballerini.

Meanwhile, actress Lucy Hale (former star of “Pretty Little Liars”) will host the show’s second annual Central Time Zone celebration from New Orleans. Florida Georgia Line and Maren Morris will perform from the Allstate Fan Fest, leading up to the midnight countdown and fleur-de-lis drop near Jackson Square.  “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2019” is produced by Dick Clark Productions with Seacrest, Barry Adelman and Mark Bracco serving as executive producers. Larry Klein is producer.

Fox’s New Year’s Eve With Steve Harvey: Live From Times Square

Steve Harvey (Photo by Brian Bowen Smith/Fox)

After televising its New Year’s Eve show (hosted by Pitbull) in Miami from 2014 to 2016, Fox changed locations and hosts in 2017, with the show now taking place at New York City’s Times Square with comedian/talk-show host Steve Harvey and former E! News personality Maria Menounous. This year, Harvey and Menounous return to co-host the show, which airs on Fox from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET and 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. ET live; CT/MT/PT tape-delayed. Performers will include Sting, Snoop Dogg, Robin Thicke, Florence + the Machine, Jason Aldean, Juanes and Why Don’t We. Additionally, the special will include celebrity cameo appearances by comedians Ken Jeong and Kenan Thompson, as well as “Fox NFL Sunday” commentators Curt Menefee, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Michael Strahan and Jimmy Johnson. “Fox’s New Year’s Eve With Steve Harvey: Live From Times Square” is produced by IMG Original Content and Done + Dusted. Guy Carrington, Katy Mullan, Mike Antinoro, Dave Chamberlin and Orly Anderson serve as executive producers; and Eddie Delbridge serves as co-executive producer. IMG also produces Harvey’s self-titled talk show, as well as the Miss Universe Pageant and “It’s Showtime at the Apollo,” which have been hosted by Harvey over the past several years.

[December 30, 2018 UPDATE: Dierks Bentley has been added to the lineup performing in Times Square.]

NBC’s New Year’s Eve

Carson Daly, Chrissy Teigen, Leslie Jones, Keith Urban
(Photo courtesy of NBCUniversal)

Stars from NBC’s “The Voice” are all over “NBC’s New Year’s Eve” special, which begins airing at 10 p.m. ET from New York City’s Times Square. Not only is “The Voice” host Carson Daly hosting the New Year’s Eve show (with Chrissy Teigen and assistance from Leslie Jones), but “The Voice” coaches Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton and John Legend are also performing on the special. Other performers include Jennifer Lopez, Bebe Rexha, Diana Ross and Andy Grammer.  Keith Urban and  Brett Young will perform at Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight: New Year’s Eve in Nashville. “NBC Nightly News” and “Dateline NBC” anchor Lester Holt will also appear on stage before the iconic ball drop. “NBC’s New Year’s Eve” will be televised from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET, followed by the New Year’s countdown segment 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. ET. “NBC’s New Year’s Eve” is executive produced by Daly, Teigen and John Irwin through NBCUniversal Television Studio and Irwin Entertainment. It is co-executive produced by Casey Spira.

New Year’s Eve Live With Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen

Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper (Photo courtesy of CNN)

For the second year in a row, longtime friends Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen will co-host CNN’s New Year’s Eve celebration, which begins at 8 p.m. ET. CNN’s 11th annual New Year’s Eve Show, which is telecast live from New York City’s Times Square has a more star-studded lineup this year than in previous years. Gwen Stefani is scheduled to perform from her Las Vegas residency, while Keith Urban (who also appears on NBC’s New Year’s Eve Special), Dave Chappelle, Patti LaBelle and Jack Black also round out the show’s celebrity lineup.  New Year’s Eve Live With Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen will also spotlight Broadway musicals such as “The Band’s Visit,” “Wicked,” “Tootsie” and “Come From Away.” CNN’s New Year’s Eve Show begins at 8 p.m. ET, and will end at approximately 1:05 p.m. ET. CNN anchors Don Lemon and Brooke Baldwin will host a countdown from New Orleans at 12:30 a.m. ET. In 2017, Cohen replaced Kathy Griffin, who was notoriously fired from the show in May of that year for publicly posting a photo of herself holding up a fake bloody head of President Donald Trump. Griffin and Cooper had co-hosted CNN’s New Year’s Eve Show since 2007, but the Cooper/Cohen duo brought in the show’s highest ratings so far. Cooper and Cohen have an established rapport, since they have done numerous speaking engagements together.

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