Review: ‘Coming 2 America,’ starring Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, KiKi Layne, Shari Headley and Wesley Snipes

March 4, 2021

by Carla Hay

Bella Murphy, Akiley Love, Arsenio Hall, Eddie Murphy, Shari Headley, KiKi Layne and Paul Bates in “Coming 2 America” (Photo by Quantrell D. Colbert/Paramount Pictures/Amazon Prime Video)

“Coming 2 America”

Directed by Craig Brewer

Culture Representation: Taking place in the fictional African country of Zamunda and briefly in the New York City borough of Queens, the comedy sequel “Coming 2 America” features a predominantly black cast of characters (with a few white people) representing African royalty, working-class Africans and Americans of various classes.

Culture Clash: An African royal, who is shamed for not having a male heir, finds out that he has an illegitimate American son, who is brought to Africa to be groomed as an heir to the throne.

Culture Audience: “Coming 2 America” will appeal primarily to fans of 1988’s “Coming to America,” but this sequel lacks the charm of the original movie.

Wesley Snipes, Jermaine Fowler and Leslie Jones in “Coming 2 America” (Photo by Quantrell D. Colbert/Paramount Pictures/Amazon Prime Video)

The comedy film “Coming 2 America,” which is the sequel to 1988’s “Coming to America,” is a perfect example of a movie that was not worth the wait. It’s a dull and disappointing mess that trashes or wastes the character relationships that made the “Coming to America” a crowd-pleasing hit. Co-stars Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, who were a dynamic duo in “Coming to America,” don’t have very many scenes together in “Coming 2 America.”

The new characters that are introduced in “Coming 2 America” are bland or obnoxious. An endearing romance/courtship that was at the heart of “Coming to America” is largely absent from “Coming 2 America,” which rushes a predictable relationship between a young couple who have almost no believable chemistry with each other. And “Coming 2 America” is filled with misogyny and racist stereotypes about black people, from a mostly white team of filmmakers.

The title of this dreadful and boring sequel shouldn’t have been “Coming 2 America.” It should have been titled “Shucking and Jiving in Zamunda.” That’s essentially what all the main characters do throughout this idiotic movie that takes place mostly in the fictional African country of Zamunda, not in America.

The “fish out of water” premise of culture shock that worked so well in “Coming to America” is muddled and mishandled in “Coming 2 America,” which was directed by Craig Brewer. This entire film looks like a tacky TV-movie instead of what it should have been: a cinematic triumph in comedy. (It’s easy to see why Paramount Pictures chose not to release “Coming 2 America” in theaters and sold it to Amazon Prime Video instead.) It doesn’t help that the movie’s musical score is schlocky sitcom music by Jermaine Stegall. Kenya Barris, Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield wrote the awful and lazy screenplay for “Coming 2 America.”

Murphy and Hall do their expected schticks of portraying various characters (some in prosthetic makeup), just like they did in “Coming to America.” It brings some mildly amusing moments that are fleeting and recycled. (The barbershop scene is back, and it’s not as funny as it was in the first “Coming to America” movie.) But these moments are not enough to save “Coming 2 America,” which is ruined by too many stale jokes that would’ve been outdated in 1988.

In fact, there’s almost nothing modern about “Coming 2 America,” except for some of the contemporary costumes. The song selections and musical numbers that are used as filler in this movie are straight out of the early 1990s, as if the filmmakers are trying to relive the music of their youthful days. And there are several celebrity cameos from African American entertainers, to distract from the movie’s silly plot. However, sticking a bunch of talented black people in front of the camera doesn’t make the writing and directing of “Coming 2 America” any less moronic and cliché.

In the beginning of “Coming 2 America,” Prince Akeem (played by Murphy) and his loyal sidekick/best friend Semmi (played by Hall) are living an uneventful life in Zamunda. Akeem and his American wife Lisa (played by Shari Headley)—who met, fell in love, and got married in “Coming to America”—are now celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary, as well as peace and prosperity in Zamunda. Semmi is still portrayed as a bachelor who has nothing better to do with his life but to be Akeem’s glorified lackey.

Akeem and Lisa have three children, all daughters: eldest Meeka (played by KiKi Layne), who’s in her mid-to-late 20s, is the only daughter with a distinct personality, since she’s the most assertive and outspoken of the three. Middle teenage daughter Omma (played by Bella Murphy, one of Eddie Murphy’s real-life daughters) and youngest pre-teen daughter Tinashe (played by Akiley Love) don’t have much dialogue in the movie. Their only moments where they get to shine are in some choreographed fight scenes.

Lisa’s father Cleo McDowell (played by John Amos) has expanded his fast-food McDowell’s restaurant business to Zamunda. McDowell’s blatantly copies McDonald’s, even down to having a “golden arches” sign in the shape of the letter “M.” This copycat gag leads to a not-very-funny segment in the beginning of the movie about how much McDowell’s imitates McDonald’s. Cleo quips, “They’ve got Egg McMuffins. We’ve got Egg McStuffins.” That’s what’s supposed to pass as comedy in this horribly written film.

Oscar-winning “Black Panther” costume designer Ruth E. Carter did the costumes for “Coming 2 America.” The costumes in “Coming 2 America” are among the few high points of the movie. Unlike “Black Panther,” which treated its female and male characters as equals, “Coming 2 America” is a parade of misogyny that makes the female characters look inferior to the male characters in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

The running “joke” in the film is that Zamunda is a socially “backwards” country with laws where women can’t be the chief ruler of the nation, and women can’t own their own businesses. The Zamundan culture is that women exist only to cater to men. Females can’t make any big decisions without the approval of the closest patriarch in her family. It’s sexism that could be ripe for parody, if done in a funny and clever way. But “Coming 2 America” bungles it throughout the entire movie, except for the end when a predictable decision is made to resolve a certain problem related to Zamunda’s sexist laws.

That decision is rushed in toward the very last few minutes of the movie. And it looks like what it is: the filmmakers’ way of pandering to feminism. However, this fake feminist plot development doesn’t erase all the ways that “Coming 2 America” marginalizes and “dumbs down” the women in the movie in a way that’s so foul and unnecessary.

“Black Panther” proved you don’t have to make black women in an African country look like they’re incapable of being smart and strong leaders. The “Coming 2 America” filmmakers try to rip off a lot of “Black Panther’s” visual style, but it’s all a smokescreen for the way “Coming 2 America” makes the African country of Zamunda (and therefore the people who live there) look like a very ignorant culture that’s behind the times.

In “Coming 2 America,” the “rank and file” black female citizens in Zamunda are just there to literally shake their butts in the dance routines; act as servants who are required to bathe or groom the royal men; or be preoccupied with marriage and/or motherhood. Akeem is shamed and ridiculed by a rival named General Izzi (played by Wesley Snipes) because Akeem has no male heirs. Izzi is portrayed as a cartoonishly buffoon villain who’s power-hungry and jealous of Akeem’s status as a royal heir.

In order to gain power in Zamunda, Izzi would rather form some kind of alliance with Akeem, instead of fighting Akeem. When Izzi storms the royal palace with an army of men, Izzi tells Akeem: “I came here for blood, but not the murder kind. Family blood, marriage blood.” Izzi suggests that Izzi’s son Idi (played by Rotimi Akinosho) marry Meeka, but Akeem rejects the offer.

Akeem’s widower father King Jaffe Joffer (played by James Earl Jones) thinks he’s going to die soon. And the king isn’t happy that Akeem doesn’t have a son. “The throne must pass to a male heir,” King Jaffe declares. Jones, who is a majestic presence in many other movies, has his talent squandered in “Coming 2 America,” which makes him look like a sexist old fool who doesn’t think any of his granddaughters could be worthwhile leaders.

Izzi tells Akeem that it’s too bad that Akeem doesn’t have a male heir, because Izzi think his daughter Bopoto (played by Teyana Taylor) would be a perfect match for any son of Akeem’s. And just like that, Semmi and a crotchety elderly man named Baba (played by Hall, who’s made to look like a tall, African version of Gollum) tell Akeem that he actually does have a son that Akeem didn’t know about for all of these years. Akeem doesn’t really believe it, until he’s reminded of something that happened when he and Semmi were in the New York City borough of Queens, during the time that the “Coming to America” story took place.

Meanwhile, King Jaffe announces, “My funeral should be spectacular. Let’s have it now, while I’m alive.” This was apparently an excuse for the “Coming 2 America” filmmakers to have one of several dance numbers in the movie as a gimmick to fill up time.

King Jaffe’s “funeral party” features Morgan Freeman introducing performances by En Vogue and Salt-N-Pepa, who perform the 1993 hit “Whatta Man.” Also performing at the party is Gladys Knight, who is forced to embarrass herself in butchering her 1973 classic “Midnight Train to Georgia” because the filmmakers made her change the song to “Midnight Train to Zamunda.” At any rate, King Jaffe dies at the party (he falls asleep and doesn’t wake up), which is a good thing for Jones, because the less screen time he has in this garbage movie, the better.

After his father’s death, Akeem becomes king, but Akeem is now desperate to find a male heir. Akeem’s son (who is constantly called a “bastard” in this movie) was the result of a one-night stand that Akeem had in Queens. “Coming 2 America” then shows how this son was conceived. Akeem and Semmi, who were in Queens to look for a woman to marry Akeem, were at a nightclub, when Semmi spotted an American woman named Mary Junson (played by Leslie Jones) at the bar. (“Coming 2 America” uses flashbacks from “Coming to America” and some visual effects to recreate this moment.)

Semmi struck up a conversation with Mary and told her that he was working for an African prince who was looking for a bride. Mary takes one look at Akeem and doesn’t need any encouragement to hook up with Akeem. She invites Akeem back to her place. And as Akeem remembers it in the present day, Mary blew smoke from marijuana (which he calls “wild herbs”) in his face, thereby impairing his judgment.

Akeem describes Mary and his sexual encounter with her in this way: “A wild boar [Mary] burst into the room and rammed me and rammed me.” The sex is shown in a flashback in a very problematic scene, because it portrays Mary as someone who sexually assaulted Akeem. He definitely wasn’t a willing partner, by the way it’s portrayed in the movie, but it’s played off as something to laugh at in the movie. It makes Mary look like she’s so desperate for sex that she will incapacitate and rape a man.

And the dialogue in this sexual assault scene is just so cringeworthy. Before Mary attacks Akeem, she says to him, “I hope you like pumpkin pie, ’cause you goin’ to get a whole slice.” Mary can’t speak proper English in the movie because the filmmakers want to make her look as dumb and uneducated as possible.

It’s also downright sexist and racist to call a black woman a “boar,” which is an animal that is an uncastrated male swine. It doesn’t make it okay if another black person says this insult, just because he was paid to say it as an actor. It should be mentioned that two out of the three screenwriters of this crappy “Coming 2 America” screenplay are white. Had there been more black people on the filmmaking team, it’s doubtful that there would have been so many insulting and offensive portrayals of black people (especially black women) in this trash dump of a movie.

Portraying Mary as a desperate sexual assaulter isn’t the only problematic thing about this character. The entire character of Mary is problematic, because it’s all about reinforcing the worst negative stereotypes that movies and TV have about black women who are single mothers: loud, crude, stupid, broke/money-hungry and promiscuous. Mary (who doesn’t seem to have a job) calls herself a “ho” multiple times in the movie.

Akeem also calls Mary a “morally bereft” woman when he describes his memory of her. And when Akeem and Semmi inevitably go back to Queens to find Mary and the mystery son, Mary isn’t sure if Akeem is the father of her child. That is, until she finds out how rich Akeem is (Semmi accidentally drops open a suitcase full of cash in front of her), and suddenly Mary can’t wait to move to Zamunda and live in the royal palace.

The filmmakers go out of their way to make Mary as mindless and vulgar as possible. When Mary goes to Zamunda and she’s served caviar, she doesn’t know what this delicacy is and calls it “black mashed potatoes.” And in another scene in the movie, Mary shouts, “I am so hungry, I could eat the ass out of a zipper!”

Mary and Akeem’s son Lavelle Junson (played by Jermaine Fowler) is a good guy overall. But the filmmakers force a negative stereotype on him, by making him yet another black male who breaks the law. Lavelle and his Uncle Reem (played by Tracy Morgan, using the same shady clown persona that he usually has in his movies and TV shows) are ticket scalpers. Clearly, the “Coming 2 America” filmmakers wanted yet another ghetto stereotype of black people who commit illegal acts to make money.

“Coming 2 America” has a very racially condescending scene of Lavelle and Reem (who is Mary’s brother) at a corporate office on Lavelle’s 30th birthday. Lavelle is at this company (a firm called Duke & Duke) to apply for some kind of computer job. Lavelle tells Reem that he’s tired of having an unstable income from ticket scalping, and he wants to earn an honest living in a steady job. Reem thinks Lavelle is a dolt for wanting to get a legitimate job, and he asks Lavelle if he’s going to use his “white voice” in the interview.

In the interview with the firm’s racist scion named Calvin Duke (played by Colin Jost), Lavelle is subjected to a barrage of bigoted assumptions that are meant to make Lavelle feel inferior. When Calvin finds out that Lavelle was raised by a single mother who’s unemployed (she got laid off from her job), Calvin makes a snide remark: “They say that not having a dominant male figure at home is detrimental to a child.” There are some more racist insults (Calvin asks Lavelle if his mother is addicted to drugs or gambling), before the interview ends predictably, with Lavelle angrily telling Calvin he doesn’t want the job.

The thing is that even though the character of Calvin is supposed to represent white elitists who are racists, the “Coming 2 America” filmmakers do everything to make a lot of the movie’s black characters (especially Mary) the very degrading stereotype that racists like Calvin have of black people. And that’s why the movie’s job interview scene is very phony in its intentions to make it look like racists are most likely to be spoiled white rich kids. The reality is that people from all walks of life can be racists.

It turns out that Lavelle isn’t going to need a job because Akeem soon finds Lavelle (who’s scalping tickets outside of Madison Square Garden), introduces himself as Lavelle’s long-lost father, and tells Lavelle that his new identity is as a wealthy royal heir in Zamunda. Lavelle says he won’t move out of New York without his mother. And quicker than you can say “stupid comedy sequel,” Lavelle and Mary are in Zamunda. And this time, the Americans are the ones who are the “fish out of water.”

Lisa isn’t too happy that Akeem has a son that they didn’t know about until recently. However, she’s willing to forgive Akeem because Lavelle was conceived before Akeem met Lisa. Someone who is even less thrilled about Lavelle is Meeka, who sees Lavelle as a threat to any leadership power she hoped to inherit as a legitimate member of this royal family. The sibling rivalry scenes predictably ensue.

Meanwhile, Lavelle meets a hair stylist named Mirembe (played by Nomzamo Mbatha), who works for the royal family. She’s single and available, so you know where this is going. Mirembe changes Lavelle’s hairstyle from the Kid ‘n Play-inspired fade that he had in Queens to a short-cropped locks hairstyle that Erik Killmonger from “Black Panther” would wear, but with a rat tail braid in the back.

Mirembe says that she would love to open her own hair salon one day (her biggest inspiration is the 2005 movie “Beauty Shop”), but she’s sad and discouraged because the law in Zamunda doesn’t allow women to own their own businesses. Lavelle thinks this law is wrong and he promises her that when he has the power, he’s going to change the law. Lavelle and Mirembe are good-looking, but there’s no believable romantic spark between them, so their inevitable courtship is very boring.

The only thing that looks authentic between them is a meta moment when Mirembe and Lavelle have a conversation about which of the “Barbershop” movie is the best of the series, and how sequels usually aren’t as good as the original. Mirembe says, “This is true about sequels. Why ruin it?” If only the “Coming 2 America” filmmakers took that advice for this movie.

It should come as no surprise that the movie relies on the cliché of a love triangle. Now that Akeem has a male heir, Izzi ramps up the pressure for Bopoto to become Lavelle’s wife. Akeem is open to the idea after Bopoto does a sexy dance for the royal family while showing her ample cleavage. However, Bopoto is deliberately written as a submissive airhead. More than once in the story, Lavelle says he wants to be with an intelligent and independent-minded woman, so it’s obvious which woman he’ll choose in the love triangle.

Fowler has an appealing screen presence as Lavelle, but he’s hemmed in by a character that’s written as average and unremarkable. “Coming 2 America” is also very unfocused, since it can’t decide if the story should be more about the Lavelle/Mirembe romance or the Lavelle/Meeka rivalry. Truth be told, even though Layne plays Lavelle’s half-sister, her scenes with Fowler are more dynamic and have more energy than the scenes with Fowler and Mbatha. Layne’s considerable talents are underappreciated in “Coming 2 America,” because her Meeka character isn’t in the movie as much as people might think she should be.

Continuing with the fixation on early 1990s music, there’s another out-of-place musical number where people do a big sing-along to Prince’s “Gett Off,” led by Akeem’s servant Oha (played by Paul Bates). And there’s an atrociously written scene where Queen Lisa gets drunk with Mary at a party, and they start dancing to Digital Underground’s “The Humpty Dance.” This scene is supposed to make it look like Lisa is getting back in touch with her New York hip-hop roots.

But when they have Lisa and Mary repeat the lines, “Uppity bitch what?,” it just goes back to making the black women in this movie look like they have a ghetto mentality. It says a lot that the “Coming 2 America” filmmakers make the woman who is literally the movie’s black queen incapable of being completely dignified. They try to make it look like Lisa has been suppressing her “true” self as a trashy party girl, when Lisa was never that way in the first “Coming to America” movie. Almost all the black women in this movie are marginalized as either existing only in the story because they’re appendages to the men, as wives/love interests/sex partners, servants or daughters.

One of the signs of a creatively bankrupt movie is when it relies too much on celebrity cameos without bringing any genuine laughs. (John Legend sings during a mid-credits scene, and it’s a useless appearance that has no bearing on the movie’s story.) Trevor Noah makes a quick and inconsequential cameo as a TV newscaster named Totatsi Bibinyana of the Zamunda News Network.

Eddie Murphy, who is the main attraction for the “Coming to America” franchise, should have been a producer and/or writer of “Coming 2 America.” His company Eddie Murphy Productions helped finance the movie, but Murphy himself was not a credited producer responsible for the movie’s content and day-to-day operations. If he had been a producer or writer, Eddie Murphy could have brought better creative clout to this movie, which makes him do silly sketches that are way beneath his talent. The comedy and tone, including the slapstick scenes, are monotonous and unimaginative.

Lavelle goes through an initiation process that includes taming a tiger and a “circumcision” ritual that are ineptly written and filmed. As part of his “royal training,” Lavelle gets criticism from Semmi, who yells at him: “You walk like an American pimp!” Lavelle shouts back, “You dress like a slave from the future!”

Doing a high-profile, highly anticipated sequel such as “Coming 2 America” isn’t just about the paychecks. It’s about making good entertainment and a fairly accurate representation of cultures to make the story look relatable. And it should be about celebrating people, instead of making them demeaning caricatures that embody what racist and sexist bigots believe.

Amazon Prime Video will premiere “Coming 2 America” on March 5, 2021.

New Year’s Eve specials ringing in 2020 will feature Post Malone, Gwen Stefani, LL Cool J and more

December 27, 2019

by Carla Hay

Watching a New Year’s Eve special on TV is a tradition for millions of people around the world. 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 2020 

Ryan Seacrest (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC)

Celebrating its 48th 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. Post Malone, who performed on the show last year, is headlining the show this year from New York City’s Times Square. 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. Former “Pretty Little Liars” star Lucy Hale, who previously hosted the show’s Central Time Zone segments from New Orleans, replaces Jenny McCarthy to provide on-site reporting in Times Square. McCarthy quit the show because she said she wants to celebrate New Year’s Eve with her family. Other performers in Times Square this year include BTS, Sam Hunt and Alanis Morrissette.

Additionally, country artist Jessie James Decker will reveal the first Powerball millionaire of the year during this year’s live broadcast. She will provide live updates from the First Powerball Millionaire of the Year party throughout ABC’s live telecast and the big reveal announcing the winner will air just after midnight on January 1, 2020.

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 Paula Abdul, Kelsea Ballerini, Blanco Brown, Dan + Shay, Green Day, Dua Lipa, Ava Max, Megan Thee Stallion, Anthony Ramos, Salt-N-Pepa and SHAED.

Meanwhile, Billy Porter will host the show’s third annual Central Time Zone celebration from New Orleans, where Sheryl Crow and Usher will perform. The show has added a segment from Miami, where Jonas Brothers will perform.

“Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020” is produced by Dick Clark Productions with Ryan 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 courtesy of 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, three-time Super Bowl Champion and Fox Sports NFL analyst Rob Gronkowski joins Harvey and Menounous 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 headliner LL Cool J with DJ Z-Trip, The Chainsmokers, The Lumineers, Florida Georgia Line, the Backstreet Boys, Lauren Alaina, Tyga and The Killers. Select musical performances will be broadcast in collaboration with iHeartRadio. Additionally, the special will include celebrity cameo appearances by Gordon Ramsay, Will Arnett and Jenna Dewan, plus an exclusive WWE match featuring Roman Reigns. “Fox’s New Year’s Eve With Steve Harvey: Live From Times Square” is produced by Endeavor Content’s Film 45 and Done + Dusted. Guy Carrington, Katy Mullan, Michael Antinoro and David Chamberlin serve as executive producers.

NBC’s New Year’s Eve

(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 Julianne Hough and correspondent Stephen “tWitch” Boss), but “The Voice” coaches Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton are also performing on the special. Other performers include Hough, X Ambassadors, Brett Eldredge, Ne-Yo, Leslie Odom Jr. and The Struts.  Keith Urban will once again perform at Jack Daniel’s Music City Midnight: New Year’s Eve in Nashville, taking place near the Tennessee State Capitol at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. “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 and John Irwin through NBCUniversal Television Studio and Irwin Entertainment. It is co-executive produced by Casey Spira and directed by Alan Carter.

Before “NBC’s New Year’s Eve,” the network will air the special “A Toast to 2019!” from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET. Hosted by Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager, the special will highlight the year’s biggest pop culture moments and trends. Celebrities interviewed for the show include Lauren Ash, Kristen Bell, Andrea Canning, Chris D’Elia, Dylan Dreyer, Ryan Eggold, Ben Feldman, Akbar Gbajabiamila, Willie Geist, Brad Goreski, Tony Hale, NBC’s Holt, Matt Iseman, Sheinelle Jones, Carson Kressley, Loni Love, Howie Mandel, Josh Mankiewicz, Craig Melvin, Natalie Morales, Brent Morin, Keith Morrison, Dennis Murphy, Patton Oswalt, Al Roker, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short, Ashley Tisdale, Johnny Weir and many more.

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

Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen (Photo courtesy of CNN)

For the third 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 12th annual New Year’s Eve Show, which is telecast live from New York City’s Times Square. Performers on New Year’s Eve Live With Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen will include Christina Aguilera, Lenny Kravitz, Shania Twain, Patti LaBelle, Keith Urban, 50 Cent, The Chainsmokers, and comedian/actress Dulcé Sloan. The show will also feature CNN’s Stephanie Elam, Randi Kaye, Richard Quest, Bill Weir and Gary Tuchman with daughter Lindsay at locations across America, including the Brady Bunch House and Key West. Then at 12:30am ET, CNN’s Brooke Baldwin and Don Lemon will do a New Year’s countdown from the Central Time Zone, live from Nashville for the Music City Midnight Celebration. In previous years, CNN’s Central Time Zone countdown took place in New Orleans.

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. The CNN live stream will be available on CNN.com and across mobile devices via CNN’s apps for iOS and Android. It can also be viewed on CNNgo. Leading up to “New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen” will be the CNN one-hour special “All the Best, All the Worst 2019,” beginning at 7 p.m. ET and hosted by Tom Foreman, covering the highlights and lowlights of the past year.

2019 Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve: Hollywood Party performers include Green Day, Dua Lipa, Dan + Shay, Megan Thee Stallion and more

December 6, 2019

Dick Clark Productions and ABC announced that multi-platinum selling artist and West Coast host, Ciara, along with Paula Abdul, Kelsea Ballerini, Blanco Brown, Dan + Shay, Green Day, Dua Lipa, Ava Max, Megan Thee Stallion, Anthony Ramos, Salt-N-Pepa and SHAED will all perform on the West Coast celebration of “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020.” Grammy-award winner Ciara returns for her third year as host of the Hollywood Party. YouTube returns as the presenting sponsor and will produce special content featuring top YouTube trends and stories from 2019 during the live broadcast. “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020” will broadcast LIVE on Tuesday, December 31, 2019 beginning at 8:00 p.m. EST on the ABC Television Network.

“Hosting ‘New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest’ has become something I look forward to every year and now my friend Lucy Hale and Billy Porter have joined the family, so the party just leveled up!” said Ciara. “I am going to be performing my new song ‘Melanin,’ so I hope all my melanin kings and queens tune-in to rock out with me and the amazing line-up of performers this year.”

“Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020” marks the 48th anniversary of America’s biggest celebration of the year and will include 5 ½ hours of special performances and reports on New Year’s celebrations from around the globe In addition to Ciara on the West Coast, Ryan Seacrest will continue his reign as host of the primetime festivities for his 15th year and lead the traditional countdown to midnight from Times Square in New York City, joined by newly announced co-host, Lucy Hale. Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award-winning actor, singer, director, composer and playwright Billy Porter will host the 4th annual Central Time Zone celebration from New Orleans, providing viewers with exclusive performances and celebrity and fan interviews leading up to the midnight countdown and stunning fleur-de-lis drop at the dawn of the New Year.

Additionally, country artist Jessie James Decker will reveal the first-ever First POWERBALL Millionaire of the YearSM during this year’s live broadcast of “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020.” Decker will provide live updates from the First POWERBALL Millionaire of the Year party throughout ABC’s live telecast and the big reveal announcing the winner will air just after midnight on January 1, 2020.

Special content produced by YouTube will run throughout the broadcast. Announcements on creators and talent featured will come at a later date.

Times Square and New Orleans performances to be announced in the coming weeks.

“Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020” is produced by dick clark productions with Ryan Seacrest, Barry Adelman and Mark Bracco serving as executive producers. Larry Klein is producer.

The complete lineup Tuesday, December 31 on ABC is:

8:00-10:00 p.m. EST – “Dick Clark’s Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020 – Part 1”

10:00-11:00 p.m. EST – “Dick Clark’s Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020 – Part 2”

11:30 p.m.-1:09 a.m. EST – “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020 – Part 1”

1:09-2:13 a.m. EST – “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020 – Part 2”

For additional photos, please visit www.disneyabc.com.

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About Dick Clark Productions
Dick Clark Productions (DCP) is the world’s largest producer and proprietor of televised live event entertainment programming with the “Academy of Country Music Awards,” “American Music Awards,” “Billboard Music Awards,” “Golden Globe Awards,” “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” and the “Streamy Awards.” Weekly television programming includes “So You Think You Can Dance” from 19 Entertainment and DCP. DCP also owns one of the world’s most unique and extensive entertainment archive libraries with over 60 years of award-winning shows, historic programs, specials, performances and legendary programming. DCP is a division of Valence Media, a diversified and integrated media company with divisions and strategic investments in television, film, live entertainment, digital media and publishing. For additional information, visit www.dickclark.com.

About ABC Entertainment
ABC Entertainment airs compelling programming across all day parts, including “Grey’s Anatomy,” the longest-running medical drama in prime-time television; riveting dramas “The Good Doctor,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” “A Million Little Things” and “Station 19”; the Emmy® Award-winning “Modern Family” and trailblazing comedy favorites “American Housewife,” “black-ish,” “Bless This Mess,” “The Conners,” “The Goldbergs,” and “Schooled”; the popular “Summer Fun & Games” programming block, including “Card Sharks,” “Celebrity Family Feud,” “Holey Moley” and “Press Your Luck”; star-making sensation “American Idol”; reality phenomenon “Shark Tank”; “The Bachelor” franchise; long-running hits “Dancing with the Stars” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos”; “General Hospital,” which has aired for more than 55 years on the network; and late-night talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”; as well as the critically acclaimed hit special ”Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons.’” The network also boasts some of television’s most prestigious awards shows, including “The Oscars®,” “The CMA Awards” and the “American Music Awards.” ABC programming can also be viewed on ABC.com, the ABC app and Hulu.

ABC’s multiplatform business initiative also allows viewers to watch current episodes of their favorite ABC shows anytime, anywhere on ABC.com and the ABC app for desktop, smartphone, tablet or connected TV devices.

About YouTube
Launched in May 2005, YouTube’s mission is to give everyone a voice and show them the world. We believe that everyone deserves to have a voice, and that the world is a better place when we listen, share and build community through our stories. YouTube is a Google company.

Ashley Stewart has Salt-N-Pepa, Faith Evans, Loni Love at 2019 Finding Ashley Stewart event

September 16, 2019

Salt-N-Pepa
Salt-N-Pepa at the 2019 Finding Ashley Stewart Finale Event at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, New York, on September 14, 2019. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Ashley Stewart)

The following is a press release from Ashley Stewart:

On September 14, Ashley Stewart, the leading lifestyle, fashion and social commerce brand, hosted its third annual, star-studded Finding Ashley Stewart finale event in search of their 2019 brand ambassador, naming Addlia Edwards as this year’s winner.

Edwards is a hairstylist and makeup artist, hailing from Atlanta, GA. She has a love for dancing, reading, singing, and bling things, and has always encouraged young girls to rise up and embrace their strength. Edwards uses her voice to empower others to “do what you want to do, and be who you want to be.”

2019 Finding Ashley Stewart finalists with host Loni Love (third from left) winner, Addlia Edwards (holding flowers) at the 2019 Finding Ashley Stewart Finale Event at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, New York, on September 14, 2019. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Ashley Stewart)

“‘I Am Ashley’ – always have been, always will be – but now, to say I am officially Ashley Stewart 2019, is truly an honor,” said Addlia Edwards Ashley Stewart 2019. “Ashley Stewart has always meant so much more to me than just another fashion brand. Visiting an Ashley Stewart store is like going to your best friend’s house. It’s a home away from home and a place to go to reignite your confidence and feel empowered, and now by telling my story, hopefully I can inspire other girls, teens and women across the country to embark on their own journey to becoming the best versions of themselves – and who knows, maybe even Ashley Stewart 2020.”

The sold-out event celebrated all women who stand for leadership, confidence, resilience, kindness and public service, with special feature performances that brought down the house by legendary American hip-hop duo Salt-N-Pepa, Faith Evans, Kid Capri, DJ Olivia Dope, BK United Drumline & Dancers, and more, along with Power 105.1’s Honey German, who hosted the pink carpet pre-show.

“We heard all about the Finding Ashley Stewart finale from year’s passed, but had no idea what we really signed up for until we stepped foot on that stage Saturday night,” said Salt-N-Pepa. “It was the most amazing night, with the most lively audience, celebrating a shared love of community. We were so honored to be part of this year’s event and are proud to say that ‘We are Ashley Stewart’.”

Loni Love at the 2019 Finding Ashley Stewart Finale Event at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, New York, on September 14, 2019. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Ashley Stewart)

The Finding Ashley Stewart finale was hosted by comedian, actress and Emmy Award-winning host of “The Real,” Loni Love, whose jokes kept the audience on their toes and entertained through the night.

Celebrity judges and special guests attended and had the crowd going wild, including producer and media mogul Yandy Smith, drag queen, performer and Season 11 contestant of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Silky Ganache, American journalist and essayist Charisse Jones, Partner & Chief Relationship Officer at Egami Group Mike Warner, and former 2018 and 2017 Ashley Stewart winners Tiffany Flamer and Theresa Larsen.

2019 Finding Ashley Stewart Scholarship winners with Sekou Kaalund, head of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Advancing Black Pathways (second from right) and James Rhee, chairman and CEO of Ashley Stewart (far right) at the 2019 Finding Ashley Stewart Finale Event at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, New York, on September 14, 2019. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Ashley Stewart)

As part of Ashley Stewart’s #ASGives initiative – a philanthropic platform for long-term investments in the communities that have supported the brand for close to 30 years – the 2019 Finding Ashley Stewart finale event awarded over $300,000 in scholarships and charitable donations, partnering with organizations such as Susan G. Komen, Black Retail Action Group, and others. Ashley Stewart surprised Loni Love at the end of the night by awarding scholarships to two students, Alexis Hunter and Jamelarmeshia Reddick, from her alma mater, Prairie View University. Sekou Kaalund, head of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Advancing Black Pathways, appeared on stage to help present additional $5,000 individual scholarships to Spelman College students Diop Russell and Chablise Davis, Montclair State University students Kristen Walsh and Jordanne Nelson, Rutgers University students Erica Lassiter and Heba Hallak, Hampton University student Jayla Brown, Medgar Evers College students Ginette Dimanche and Brooke Lugo Smith, Texas Southern University students Meghan Narcisse and Asia Bryant, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University student Zoë Mitchell, New Jersey City University students Evana Lyka Jornales and Georgina Moore, Georgia State University student Taylor McNeil, and North Carolina A&T State University student Lauren Atkinson.

For more information on this year’s Finding Ashley Stewart finale event, 2019 winner Addlia Edwards as well as past year’s winners Theresa Royals and Tiffany Flamer, watch the 2019 recap at YouTube.com/FindingAshleyStewart, and visit AshleyStewart.com/FindingAshleyStewart. Follow @ByAshleyStewart and @ByAshleyTV on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to learn more #FindingAshleyStewart and #AshleyCollegeTour news.

Judges Yandy Smith, Silky Ganache, Theresa Royals and Mike Warner at the 2019 Finding Ashley Stewart Finale Event at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, New York, on September 14, 2019. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Ashley Stewart)

About Ashley Stewart
Ashley Stewart is a global fashion and lifestyle brand that has propelled itself to be on the vanguard of social commerce and purpose-driven business. Since its founding in 1991 in Brooklyn, New York, Ashley Stewart has always stood for uncompromising style, fashion, confidence & empowerment for the woman who flaunts her curves. Today, Ashley Stewart offers the hottest looks with 88 stores across the United States, a leading and global  e-commerce presence at www.ashleystewart.com, a powerful social media presence @byashleystewart and a growing multimedia and events arm at AshleyTV. Every year, through the Finding Ashley Stewart Tour, Ashley Stewart traverses the country looking to recognize women who embody the ideals of the Ashley Stewart women:  leadership, confidence, resilience, kindness and public service. Through #ASGives, Ashley Stewart engages in programs such as the #AshleyCollegeTour to make long-term investments into the communities that have supported the brand for close to 30 years.

2018 Billboard Music Awards: presenters announced; Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes, Khalid, Kesha, Macklemore, Salt N Pepa, En Vogue, Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey added to performer lineup

May 17, 2018

Billboard Music Awards

The following are excerpts from press releases from Dick Clark Productions and NBC:

Dick Clark Productions and NBC announced today the full line-up of presenters for the “2018 Billboard Music Awards.” The film, television and music stars slated to take the stage throughout the night include Hailey Baldwin, Tyra Banks, Alison Brie, The Chainsmokers, Ciara, Andy Cohen, Simon Cowell, Darren Criss, Halsey, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Justin Hartley & Chrissy Metz, Nick Jonas & Mustard, Chloe Kim, Mila Kunis, Padma Lakshmi, Des Linden, Julia Michaels, French Montana, Ne-Yo, Derek Hough & Jenna Dewan, Evan Ross & Ashlee Simpson, Grace VanderWaal and Rebel Wilson.

They join host, performer and “The Voice” coach Kelly Clarkson, plus previously announced performances by BTS, Camila Cabello, Ariana Grande, Khalid, John Legend, Dua Lipa, Jennifer Lopez and Shawn Mendes, plus collaborations by Christina Aguilera featuring Demi Lovato, Macklemore and Kesha, Salt-N-Pepa featuring En Vogue and Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey on a night filled with music’s biggest names. Global superstar Janet Jackson will receive this year’s Billboard Music Awards ICON Award and will also take the stage for a highly anticipated performance of her greatest hits, marking her first performance on television in nine years.

Macklemore and Kesha will perform their heartfelt single, “Good Old Days,” together in a special performance presented by T-Mobile, as part of the “2018 Billboard Music Awards.” The duo will perform their feel-good hit – which debuted in the Top 10 on Billboard’s Digital Song Sales chart – just down the Strip from the main show on Toshiba Plaza outside of T-Mobile Arena. T-Mobile will provide fans exclusive, behind-the-scenes content with Macklemore and Kesha in addition to an inside look at the BBMAs throughout the evening. Fans can keep up with and join the conversation by using #AreYouWithUs and following T-Mobile’s social channels.

Khalid and Mendes will take the stage for a special collaboration and the world television premiere of Mendes’ new single, “Youth,” immediately following Mendes’ performance of his hit single ”In My Blood.”

Female rap trio Salt-N-Pepa will shoop onto the stage to perform several of their monster hits at the “2018 Billboard Music Awards!” Joining them for this one-of-a-kind special performance will be the highly celebrated female vocal group En Vogue. Salt-N-Pepa’s “2018 Billboard Music Awards” performance marks the 30th anniversary of them becoming the first female rappers to crack the Top 20 on Billboard Hot 100. The renowned group burst onto the hip-hop scene in 1987 with their debut Billboard chart hit “My Mike Sounds Nice,” and then notched their first crossover pop smash with “Push It” the following year.

“Thirty years later, we’re still Pushing It all over the world and we’re still loved and celebrated by fans we grew up with as well as new fans,” said Salt-N-Pepa. “Looking back at all the barriers we’ve broken as women in this very male dominated genre of music, being the first two female rappers to break the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 is right up there as one of the best moments of our amazing career. We are blessed.”

[May 18, 2018 UPDATE: Khalid and Normani will be teaming up for the Pepsi® Generations summer performance of their Billboard Hot 100 hit, “Love Lies.”]
The “2018 Billboard Music Awards” will broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, May 20 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on NBC. The three-hour telecast will feature performances from this year’s hottest musical acts, unexpected collaborations and buzzworthy moments that celebrate 60 years of the Billboard Hot 100.

Nominations for the “2018 Billboard Music Awards” were announced last month on NBC’s “Today” and on a livestream from Billboard’s New York office. Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran tie for the most nominations this year with 15 each.

Voting for the Billboard Chart Achievement Award and Top Social Artist is open. Fans can vote online and/or on Twitter through May 20, 2018 at 8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT (half an hour into the live broadcast).

“Billboard Music Awards” nominees and winners are based on key fan interactions with music, including album and digital song sales, streaming, radio airplay, touring and social engagement, tracked by Billboard and its data partners, including Nielsen Music and Next Big Sound. The awards are based on the chart period of April 8, 2017 through March 31, 2018. Since 1940, the Billboard charts have been the go-to guide for ranking the popularity of artists, songs and albums, and are the ultimate measure of success in music.

For additional information on the “2018 Billboard Music Awards,” visit us at www.billboardmusicawards.com or check out the Billboard hub at www.billboard.com/bbma.

About the Artists

Ed Sheeran

Multi-platinum, multiple Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has established himself as one of the world’s biggest musical artists with over 26 million albums sold, universal acclaim, and performing to sold out audiences around the globe.  His third studio album “÷” (pronounced divide) entered the Billboard 200 at No. 1 upon its March 2017 release, and went on to be the year’s biggest album in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music, with equivalent album units exceeding 2.764 million units.  “Shape Of You” – the album’s 8x-Platinum lead single – debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 2017, held the top spot for a remarkable 12 weeks, and remained in the top 10 for 33 consecutive weeks, the most ever in the chart’s 59-year history.  Sheeran dominated Billboard’s Year In Review, standing at #1 on 16 of their year-end charts including Top Artist of the Year and Hot 100 Song of the Year for “Shape Of You,” taking the honor for the second consecutive year  (Sheeran co-wrote Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” 2016’s Hot 100 Song of the Year). With his 2x-Platinum certified single “Castle on the Hill” also debuting at #6 on the Hot 100 after being released in tandem with “Shape Of You,” Sheeran also became the only artist in chart history to have two singles simultaneously debut in the Top 10.   One of the planet’s most popular live performers, Ed has sold out countless headline shows at some of the biggest and most iconic venues around the world, including his upcoming stand at London’s Wembley Stadium where he’s set to perform in front of 320,000 fans over 4 nights.  Last year, all 60 dates of the North American leg of his world arena tour in support of “÷” sold out in a matter of minutes, and, this summer, he’ll return for a cross-country stadium tour, kicking off at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, on August 18.

Macklemore

Two-time Billboard Music Award winner Macklemore has collected seven hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including a pair of No. 1s: “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us.” The tracks — recorded alongside Ryan Lewis and featuring Wanz and Ray Dalton, respectively — ranked as 2013’s Nos. 1 and 5 biggest songs of the year on the Hot 100 chart. Most recently, Macklemore topped the Rap Albums chart with his 2017 solo effort “Gemini,” which spun off a pair of Top 20-charting hits on both the Hot Rap Songs and Pop Songs charts: “Glorious,” featuring Skylar Grey, and “Good Old Days,” featuring Kesha. In total, as a solo artist and with Lewis, Macklemore’s albums have earned 5.2 million equivalent album units in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music, while his songs have sold 23 million downloads and have tallied over 2.5 billion on-demand streams.

Collectively, Macklemore’s music videos have been viewed over 2.7 billion times and he is one of only two rappers to have a diamond-certified single. His breakthrough album “The Heist,” with producing partner Ryan Lewis, earned the duo 4 Grammy Awards, 5 MTV Awards, 2 American Music Awards and 1 BET Award. In 2016, Macklemore was featured in an MTV special with President Obama about the opioid epidemic in America and was the first US citizen ever to participate in the Presidential Weekly Address. In 2017, Macklemore released “Gemini,” his first solo album in 12 years.

Kesha

Singer/songwriter Kesha has achieved more than 20 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart, including three No. 1s. Among those leaders is her breakout debut single “Tik Tok,” which spent nine weeks atop the list and was named 2010’s year-end top Hot 100 song. Her first album, “Animal,” opened at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, a feat matched by her most recent release, 2017’s “Rainbow.” The latter set launched the Top 10 Pop Songs hit “Praying” and the No. 1 Dance Club Songs single “Woman,” featuring The Dap-King Horns. Kesha’s catalog of albums have earned 6.7 million equivalent album units in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music, and her songs have sold more than 33 million downloads and garnered 1.8 billion on-demand streams.

Kesha’s latest album, “Rainbow” was praised by The New York Times, Billboard, Vanity Fair and more, and was ranked No. 4 in Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2017. ’Rainbow’ earned Kesha the first GRAMMY nominations of her career earlier this year, with “Rainbow” up for Best Pop Vocal Album and “Praying” getting a nod for Best Pop Solo Performance. She was recently named one of Time magazine’s Time 100, their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Kesha will also embark on “The Adventures of Kesha and Macklemore” co-headlining North American tour with Macklemore (along with several solo shows) on June 6 in Phoenix, AZ. The nine-week, 30-market tour pairs the two trailblazing artists for an epic summer trek of North American amphitheaters and arenas.

Shawn Mendes

Shawn Mendes recently released new tracks “In My Blood” and “Lost in Japan” from his highly anticipated third album. Both tracks have already experienced massive success, soaring to Nos. 22 and 64, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 1 and No. 2 on the overall iTunes chart in the U.S, Top 5 on iTunes in 50 countries, and holding the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on Spotify’s “New Music Friday” playlist. The tracks have received critical acclaim from outlets including Rolling Stone, Billboard, Idolator, Variety and Paste, with “In My Blood” topping Time magazine’s “5 Songs You Need to Listen to This Week” and The New York Times’ “The Playlist.” “In My Blood” and “Lost in Japan” are the first new songs released by Mendes since his 3x platinum hit “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” in April 2017. The track scored Mendes his second No. 1 single on Billboard’s Pop Songs chart, joining 6x platinum single “Stitches.” With “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” Mendes also became the first artist to ever have three No. 1 singles on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart before the age of 20. Throughout his career, Mendes has achieved two No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 with platinum albums “Handwritten” (2015) and “Illuminate” (2016),  and seven consecutive platinum and multi-platinum singles. Worldwide, he has sold over 10 million albums, 100 million singles, and has amassed over 11 billion song streams and 4 billion YouTube views. Mendes has completed two sold-out world tours with over one million tickets sold, selling out legendary arenas, including NYC’s Madison Square Garden, Toronto’s Air Canada Centre and London’s O2 Arena in minutes. He topped Billboard’s “21 Under 21” in 2017 and has been featured on Forbes “30 Under 30,” Spotify’s “25 Under 25,” and Time’s “Most Influential Teens” for 4 consecutive years. In February 2018, ROI Influencer Media recognized Mendes as the #1 Most Influential Artist and #1 Most Influential Teen across all social media platforms. Shawn Mendes BBMA Giphy stickers are available and can be found within Instagram Stories by clicking the GIF button and searching for “BBMAs.”

Khalid

Five-time Billboard Music Award nominee Khalid has seen great success since he released his first single “Location” right before his high school graduation. The song’s domination led to Khalid’s major label deal with Right Hand Music Group/RCA Records followed by the release of his debut album, “American Teen.” The album received mass critical acclaim with Rolling Stone calling Khalid a “pop prodigy” and Time magazine stating, ““His thoughtful, relatable reflections on modern youth culture and the limitations of love are just as pitch-perfect as his soulful, measured delivery.” “American Teen” shattered expectations as it stayed on the Billboard 200 chart for more than 60 weeks, peaked at No. 4 and stayed in the Top 30 of the chart for its first 60 weeks on that list. The singer-songwriter has over one billion streams worldwide across all partners, his first single “Location” is certified 4x platinum by the RIAA, and his previous single “Young Dumb & Broke” is certified 3X platinum. Since the album’s debut, Khalid has garnered five 2018 Grammy Award nominations, including Best New Artist and landed on the cover of Billboard’s 2018 Grammy Preview issue. He was also nominated for 2017 BET Award for Best New Artist, a Teen Choice Award for Choice R&B/Hip-Hop Song for “Location” and a 2017 American Music Award for Favorite Song-Soul/R&B for “Location.” Khalid also won Best New Artist at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards and an MTV’s Woodie to Watch Award. In addition to “American Teen,” Khalid has collaborated with some of music’s biggest stars. He has been featured on a number of songs, including megahits like Calvin Harris’s “Rollin” with Future, “1-800-273-8255” with Logic and Alessia Cara, “Silence” with Marshmello, “Lovely” with Billie Eilish, “Youth” with Shawn Mendes, and many more. Khalid’s current singles “Love Lies,” a duet with Normani, and “OTW” featuring Ty Dolla $ign and 6lack are burning up the airwaves. Khalid is currently on this third sold-out North American headlining tour.

Salt-N-Pepa

With truck gold ropes around their necks and a fire in their hearts to entertain, inspire, and slay the competition— three feminine figures emerged from the shadows and kicked in the door of the male dominated Hip-Hop industry. The legend of Salt-N-Pepa was born. Long before the days of high profile social media platforms, Salt-N-Pepa commanded the attention of millions of followers with their airtight rhyme flow, mass pop appeal, fashion, fun, and unapologetic femininity. They are the first female rap group to attain platinum status. They have sold more than 12 million albums. Their brand of girl power and strong feminine artistry changed the Hip-Hop landscape and blazed a trail for numerous female artists and groups in pop, R&B, and Hip-Hop genres. Included in their catalog of hits from five studio albums are such classics as Push ItShoopWhatta ManLet’s Talk About SexExpressionIndependent, and the Grammy Award winning hit None of Your Business.

In recent years Salt-N-Pepa has reunited for several successful tours in the United States and abroad. In 2018, in the aftermath of a successful 30th Anniversary of the influential group, the ladies are still headlining the “I Love the 90’s Tour” and prepping for their Las Vegas residency. Salt-N-Pepa’s residency is not only a first for them it is also the first Hip-Hop residency in Las Vegas. With the success of N.W.A biopic, Straight Outta Compton, interest has resurfaced from Hollywood executives in telling the epic story of Salt-N-Pepa. There will be a Salt-N-Pepa movie, and a documentary with both deals in development.  And what is sure to be sweet music to the ears of old and new fans alike, they are finally back in the studio working on new music.

Also, in 2018, C.E.O James” Jimmy” Maynes and Chief Operations officer, Tommaso Giuseppe have partnered with the legendary ladies of hip hop, Salt-N-Pepa on Eastwind Media Group (EMG!). Jimmy Maynes is a Grammy award winning music producer with a 30+ year history as an A/R executive hailing from the iconic record companies, Uptown Records, Def Jam, Jive Records and others. Tommaso Giuseppe is a former NY Nightlife promoter turned right hand to Jimmy Maynes. Powered by Salt-N-Pepa, EMG! not only manages the careers and brands of iconic pop/ hip hop & R&B artists such as Naughty By Nature, Kid N Play, ALL4ONE, Blackstreet & Case; EMG! also co-produces the hugely successful worldwide “I Love The 90s Tour” that is currently in its third year with no signs of slowing down.

En Vogue

En Vogue, currently consisting of Cindy Heron-Braggs, Terry Ellis and Rhona Bennett, has sold over 20 million albums and effortlessly transitioned into the digital age, amassing over 30 million streams and over 26 million YouTube views on their top six hit singles alone: the R&B and Pop smashes “Hold On,” “Free Your Mind,” “Never Gonna Get It,” “Giving Him Something He Can Feel,” “Don’t Let Go,” and “Whatta Man” feat. Salt N Pepa).  The group has won seven MTV Video Music Awards, three Soul Train Awards, two American Music Awards, and received seven Grammy nominations.   After 14 years En Vogue is back with their first studio album “Electric Café” that spawn the Top 10 Adult R&B Songs hit single “Rocket.”

Zedd

Multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning artist/DJ/producer Zedd made his debut with “Clarity” after signing with Interscope in 2012 and has been breaking down barriers surrounding music genres ever since. His latest single, “The Middle” with Maren Morris and Grey, was declared “catchy as hell” by MTV and Rolling Stone called it “an infectious earworm.” The track has already amassed over 500 million streams and spent five consecutive weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Pop Songs airplay chart. “The Middle” is his follow up to his 2017 hit singles “Get Low” with Liam Payne and “Stay” with Alessia Cara. “Stay” earned Zedd his first No. 1 on the Pop Songs chart and his second Grammy nomination. In 2015, Zedd released “True “Colors, which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Throughout his career, Zedd has worked with a diverse range of artists to create hits, including Hayley Williams on platinum hit “Stay The Night,” which racked up more than 400 million streams, and Selena Gomez on platinum track “I Want You To Know,” which spent four weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart.

Maren Morris

Twenty-eight year old singer/songwriter Maren Morris has quickly established herself with vocal stylings that reflect her country, folk and pop influences. Armed with sheer talent, honest lyrics and a completely magnetic presence, Morris’ label-debut album, the gold-certified “Hero,” released via Columbia Nashville on June 3, 2016. One week after it was available, “Hero” entered the Billboard Top Country Albums chart at No. 1 and No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart, which spans across all genres. With this, the Arlington, Texas native became the first artist in the history of Columbia Nashville to open at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart with a debut album in the Nielsen Music era. Morris’ debut single from “Hero,” “My Church,” set a record at country radio by having the most chart reporting stations to play a debut single by a country artist with 107 stations the week it hit the airwaves, in addition to being certified Platinum by the RIAA. Later in 2016 Morris tied for the most nominations with five at the 50th CMA Awards, including Album of the Year (“Hero”), Female Vocalist of the Year, Single of the Year (“My Church”), Song of the Year (“My Church”) and New Artist of the Year, which she won, marking her first CMA Award. She was tapped by Billboard magazine to receive the Billboard Breakthrough Artist Award at the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music Gala, as well as being awarded the Breakthrough Artist Award by the Music Business Association at Music Biz 2017. Kicking off 2017 Morris took home the Grammy for Best Country Solo Performance for “My Church” at the 59th Grammy Awards, in addition to having the most nominations for a country music artist with four to her credit, including Best New Artist, Best Country Album (“Hero”) and Best Country Song as the songwriter and performer (“My Church”). She received six nominations at the 52nd Academy of Country Music Awards, including Female Vocalist of the Year, New Female Vocalist of the Year, which she took home the trophy for, Album of the Year (as artist and producer) for “Hero,” and Single Record of the Year (as artist and producer) for “My Church.” Morris was also named Radio Disney’s Best New Country Artist at the 2017 Radio Disney Music Awards. Morris wrapped 2017 with the conclusion of her first-ever headlining “Hero Tour 2017,” which also included dates in the U.K. Looking ahead at 2018 Maren received her fifth career Grammy nomination for Best Country Solo Performance (“I Could Use a Love Song”) for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. In addition “I Could Use a Love Song” was Morris’ first No. 1 country radio single, as both the performer and songwriter, reaching the top of both Billboard Country Airplay and Mediabase Country charts the week of Jan. 15, 2018. Morris’ current single for country radio is the fun fan favorite song “Rich.” Though rooted deeply in country music, Morris has acquired a global, non-genre specific, fan base. It’s that global fan base’s appetite that Morris will satisfy in 2018 by collaborating with electronic house DJ and producer Zedd, along with electronic duo, Grey, for the smash hit, “The Middle,” in addition to joining Niall Horan on the “Flicker World Tour 2018” with dates in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the USA.

Grey

Since launching in late 2014, Grey—the Los Angeles-based production duo composed of brothers Kyle and Michael Trewartha—have quickly taken the music world by storm with their viral hit singles “Starving” and “I Miss You.” Grey stepped into the big leagues with their first original release, “Starving,” a collaboration with Hailee Steinfeld featuring their mentor, Zedd, released July 2016. The breakthrough track marks Grey’s crossover into the mainstream milieu as their first platinum-certified single. A bona fide hit, “Starving” reached No. 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaked at No. 5 on Billboard’s Pop Songs chart, and also went Top 10 in Australia, Canada, and the UK. Online, the track’s video counts over 250 million views on YouTube, with an additional 563 million streams on Spotify. With the success of “Starving” on deck, Grey followed up with “I Miss You,” their first official solo single. Released at the beginning of 2017 via Interscope Records, “I Miss You” delivers an emotionally intense romp through heartbreak and heartache, led by a seductive vocal performance from Southern California trio Bahari. The Top 40 track already claims impressive figures, with more than 30 million streams to date, including over 28 million plays on Spotify alone. Grey is now at the helm of their next artistic evolution with Chameleon, their debut EP released this fall. On Chameleon, a modern, freeform approach to production, no sound is off limits, no genre is taboo. For proof, take a spin through the title track “Chameleon” featuring vocalist Asia Whitacre. Structured atop a moving crescendo, the track dives headfirst into a matrix of filtered guitars and synthed-out bleeps. “Crime” feat. Skott, the first single off Chameleon, was called a “dreamy floor filler with a surprisingly huge drop” by Idolator. Grey go for the jugular on “Wings Clipped,” featuring special guest Avril Lavigne and Anthony Green, lead singer of Circa Survive and Saosin, Continuing their artistic evolution, Grey followed up their debut EP with “Crown,” a collaboration with Camila Cabello featured on the soundtrack to Netflix’s original film “Bright.” The New York Times described the track as “Bollywood-goes-trap mode” while Billboard heralded, “Grey smashed it with Middle Eastern drums and Arabic strumming.” As Grey readies new music in 2018, they reunited with Zedd for his hit single “The Middle,” featuring Grammy Award winning artist, Maren Morris.

Normani

Best-known as one of the four members in the multi-platinum group Fifth Harmony, Normani explores a new musical direction on “Love Lies” with Khalid. Since its release, the “slow-burning R&B ballad” (The FADER) has been streamed over 300 million times while the song’s official video has over 44 million views on YouTube. With over 195 million streams on Spotify alone, the song broke the Top 5 on the streaming platform’s US (#2) and Global (#3) Viral Charts. Featured as Zane Lowe’s World Record, “Love Lies” also went #2 on iTunes’ R&B/Soul Top Songs chart and #9 on the Top Songs chart across all genres. Born in Atlanta, Normani grew up in New Orleans before moving to Houston at 9 years old with her family after Hurricane Katrina.  Always excited about music, Normani began dancing at the age of 3 and grew up idolizing entertainers like Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, and Beyoncé.  Inspired by her love for pop and R&B, “Love Lies” offers a closer look to Normani’s personal style as an artist and demonstrates her “smooth vocals” (Billboard) and “velvety range” (Vulture). Outside of the recording studio, Normani is the Global Ambassador to the American Cancer Society and works with A Place Called Home, lending her name and time to various events. She is also a Diversity Ambassador for The CyberSmile Foundation, a multi-award winning anti cyberbullying non-profit organization.